1.11.2017

A Writer's Daily Battle & Greatest Victory


I've been working on various writing projects for the last three hours.  And the above picture is much prettier than the reality at the moment.  I'm just sitting on my bed, wearing a Blazer v-neck, with an almost empty glass of wine nearby.  My eyes feel bloodshot from staring at this laptop screen for so long.  And my fingers are slightly achy from the constant typing.
But I still feel like I didn't achieve all that I wanted to.
I didn't get as much writing done as I wish I had.
I don't feel like everything I wrote was good.
I want to do better.
I wish I did better.
Sometimes I wonder why I still do it.  Or attempt to, anyway.
Are these words even coherent?  Did I convey my thoughts well?  Did I edit out all of my mistakes?

Should I just not continue?

Honestly, dear readers, the words don't always come easily.  You may think I'm a good writer.  You may picture me in a romantic scene, thinking up whatever words you read and enjoy reading and typing them away without a care in the world.
But, I'll be real with you.
Sometimes, it's painstakingly hard.  First of all, to sort through my thoughts; secondly, to know how to express them with words; and thirdly, to publish them on a public website for every eye to see.

I asked myself almost every day, "Why do you write?"

I always answer the same thing, "Because I couldn't live without being able to."

I do it because I find freedom in this gift of an outlet.
I find freedom in expressing myself with passion and purpose through beautiful, beautiful words.
Language is such a gift.  To have the ability to communicate to someone not just through facial expressions and hand movements but to actually speak and be understood is so wonderful.
And to be able to write and have a reader halfway across the world grasp your meaning and fervor in being vulnerable and revealing your heart, soul and emotions...  Now that's a blessing.

I write because I can't imagine not being able to write something and send it out onto the worldwide web to somehow, magically find someone and touch their soul.  For the heart to resonate with something I wrote, and to maybe later find an email or comment from that someone saying, "Hey, what you said really encouraged me" or "Your words were an inspiration".  Those little notes make it all worth it.  Just to know one person (yes, even the haters <3) read something I scribbled at one o'clock in the morning means the world to me.

Because, honestly, you don't have to.

You didn't have to type in my blog URL into your browser today.  You didn't have to click on the newest link to my blog that popped up in your email, on your dashboard or Facebook timeline.  You didn't have to read all the way until the end of this article.  But wow.  You did.  You're here.

So thank you.

A writer's daily battle may be figuring out what thought to write down first and how to and if we did it well and oh what if it doesn't make sense, etc., etc...
but our greatest victory is knowing one - even just one beautiful human being - chose to read our work.

Then yes, we have done well.

And if you're still reading this, then I have done well.

1.09.2017

Erratic Prose [first of 2017] | edition 6

Well, here I sit in my new home, which I have gotten quite settled into, thankfully.  I'm still learning my way around the new neighborhood, and challenging myself to find my way back home without using my GPS.  So far, I've impressed myself with how directionally talented I have become so hurray for me.

Also, I've been giddy with excitement at all the places I've encountered that are literally minutes away from me, such as - Ross, Nordstrom Rack, Chick-Fil-A, Chipotle, and Barnes & Noble.  The other day, I spent 6 (literal) hours in Barnes & Noble.  I walked down aisle after aisle, grabbing books of interest and finally sat in a corner of the store with a nice little pile around me.  I was in paradise.  I also ended up buying 3 books by the end of my time there.  I spent under $20 on them, so I was quite pleased.
A resolution I have for this new year is to make more time to read.  When I was younger, my parents had to pry me away from my books, but now, I find myself geared towards my computer and Netflix rather than to reading.  Going to Barnes & Noble that day really helped me rediscover my love for being nose deep in a good book, and I'm determined that these three I bought won't go unread.  I've been making time to read and journal before going to sleep each night and so far, I enjoy how easily it has fit in to my schedule.

Oh guess what?  I got a second job!  Yes, I'm still at my beloved Dutch (would never leave there, I promise), but I find my schedule not full enough so I decided to apply at Jamba Juice.  I got the job the day after applying!  I'm super excited about it and can't wait to start next week.  All I need is an evening bartending job and I'll be serving every kind of drink out there, right?;)

I transferred campus locations this week as well.  The one I was going to is about 1/2 hour away from where I moved to.  But now, I'll be going to one within fifteen minutes of me.  Cool fact: I get more of a winter break because the campus I transferred to doesn't start their term till the 23 of this month.  Pretty sweet, huh?

By the way, do any of you use Apple Music?  I recently signed up with it (and got a discount because I'm a student. Yes ma'am.) and have been in love with all the new music I've been able to discover and acquire.  Give me some recommendations?  What are some of your current faves right now?

We got a crazy snow and ice storm this last weekend.  I had to trade a shift with a coworker because I wouldn't have been able to make it to work with the condition of the roads.  Thankfully most of it has melted and I think we're on the path to warmer days.  I'm ready for spring.

---

How has the New Year been for you so far?  Any fun plans for this first month?

1.03.2017

"Christian is not the definition of a perfect me."


It's a new year.

I thought I was ready for it, but once the clock turned midnight on December 31, I felt blindsided by the fact that 2017 was indeed upon us.

And yes, I am not publishing on the first day of our new year, but it's only because I've been very reflective these last few days.  Reflective on myself, my resolutions, who I am as a person, as an individual, as a human on this earth, and most importantly, as a Christian.

2016 was a difficult year for me.  I'm not going to go on a long rampage about why it was so hard and all the bad that occurred in it because 1) I hate complaining and 2) I know God had a reason for everything that transpired.
What I will say, though, is that I learned a lot.  About this world, about people, about who I can trust, about myself.  I learned how forgiving I am, and how often I give people too many chances to stay in my life when in reality, it's unhealthy for myself to allow them to be close to me.  I learned what it means to love and lose someone.  I learned that when I feel like I'm at the end of my rope, He is gonna be there.  Either to catch me when I fall out of pure exhaustion, or to come through at the last minute and be like "Oh hey, I got you."

One of the greatest examples of His provision is the fact that I am writing this, sitting on my new bed in my new home in a completely new town.  After house-hunting for almost 4 months, God provided a perfect little spot for me.  I was commuting 40-60 minutes (one way) to work and now, that time has been cut to more than half.  I am indeed blessed.  And He provided it at the last minute.  Isn't that how He likes to work?

Like I said, 2016 taught me a lot about myself.  And that's something I'll always be learning more about.  My personality, my heart, my emotions.  These are all good things to learn.  It's hard sometimes.  And the more I learn about myself, the more I see my need for a Savior, and how often I fall short of His glory.

The title of this post is a line from a song by one of my favorite rapper's.  I feel that many Christians try to put up a front about their lives and who they are and try to never appear like their life is hanging on by strings, or that they really screwed up in something recently, or how they really don't always want to make time for God.

These are all real struggles.

These are all part of life.

Being a Christian doesn't mean that we're suddenly perfect individuals.  I sin every day.  I do things I regret every day.  I say things I wish I didn't.  I go places I know I shouldn't.  I talk to people I know I shouldn't.  But you know the two things that override all of my mistakes?
The first is that I am trying.  Trying to be a better person, trying to be a better Christian, trying to live a better life.
The second, and ultimately, the most amazing point to all of my struggles and the greatest example of perfection amidst the mess is simply - God's grace.  His grace covers a multitude of sins.  His grace upon grace upon grace upon grace is sufficient.  Nothing can be added to it to make it perfect.  Nothing can be added to it to finally cover my imperfections.

The word "Christian" means Christ-follower.  It's not a definition of a perfect individual.  It's the definition of someone following the perfect One.  And I pray to God that this year I can live a better example of that lifestyle and calling.

God is good.  Welcome, 2017.  I'm ready for you.

12.17.2016

One Christian's View On Tattoos

Tattoos.

A topic that many people have many different opinions on.  There are more conservative views, and also very liberal ones too.  A lot of Christians have tattoos, while others are convicted against getting any.

In my opinion, neither is right or wrong.

The ones who are hardcore anti-tattoos may beg to differ, but lets take a look at Scripture, shall we?

The most popular verse that conservatives bring up when talking about how tattoos are "wrong" and "ungodly" is Leviticus 19:28, which says:

"You shall not make any cuts in your body for the dead, nor make any tattoo marks on yourselves: I am the LORD."
(NASB)

At first glance, it seems to indicate that God is telling His chosen people to not tattoo themselves.  And this is true. But, like any passage of Scripture, we need to read this verse in the entirety of its context.  Not only the verses before and after, but also the time period in which this was written.

"(26) You shall not eat anything with the blood, nor practice divinations or soothsaying. (27) You shall not round off the side-growth of your heads nor harm the edges of your beard. (28) You shall not make any cuts in your body for the dead nor make any tattoo marks on yourselves: I am the LORD. (29) Do not profane your daughter by making her a harlot, so that the land will not fall into harlotry and the land become full of lewdness.  (30) You shall keep My sabbaths and revere My sanctuary; I am the LORD. (31) Do not turn to mediums or spiritists; do not seek them out to be defiled by them.  I am the LORD your God."
- Leviticus 19:26-31

I think it's pretty clear that God is talking to His covenant people of Israel in this passage, and that His commands were specifically for that era and those individuals.  He is commanding them to stay away from specific practices of any of the nearby religious groups - such as, eating bloody meat, practicing witchcraft, cutting hair and beards, prostitution, and cutting one's own skin in memory of dead relatives.  This was a very common practice in pagan cultures as a physical, outward show of mourning.  It's very important to note that it's specifically talking about cutting and tattoos for that specific reason.  It no way implies that it's for body decoration or art.

Let us also look at the original language that this passage was written in.
The word for "tattoo" that is used in Leviticus 19:28 is the Hebrew word "qa aqa" and is the only place in the whole Bible that it appears.  This Hebrew word means to literally "cut", but taken in the context, indicates a mark imprinted onto skin - and I feel that we can safely assume that it's still in reference to marking bodies in mourning for the dead.

Another simple reason why I believe Christians are free to tattoo their bodies is simply that we are living under the new covenant.  Therefore the old Law is done away with and we are no longer subjected to the rules that the Israelites were under.  If we still were, then why aren't we sacrificing animals to redeem ourselves, and why are we eating pork, and not wearing clothes made from two different fabrics?

Today, the tattoo is a decorative art form for self-expression.  (Personally, I don't think anyone should get a tattoo unless it has a personal meaning to them because, let's face it, would you really want something permanently inked into your skin unless it wasn't something that was significant to you?  I think not.)  Just how people use makeup, piercings, different hair styles, body-building, etc. as forms of modifying their appearance, so tattoos are used to change and decorate someone's body and look. And you know that phrase "Outward appearance reveals the inward heart?"  Well, whatever you choose to get tattooed on the outside of your body is a representation of your inward self.

I'm not saying that, since tattoos are not sinful then every Christian should go out and get them!  It's definitely something you need to consider and prayerfully seek God's direction in whether or not to get tattooed.  He convicts every individual differently.  I, personally, currently have 10 tattoos (and plan to get more).  If He has convicted you otherwise, then don't get any.

Tattoos are a life-changing and permanent choice.

Some questions you could ask yourself if you are considering getting some are:

  • Am I legally old enough to get a tattoo?
  • If I live with my parents, would they support my decision or would it be disrespectful to their house if I chose to get one?
  • Would I be defying their God-given authority at my current age?
  • Would I still want this tattoo on my body even when I'm fifty years old?
  • Is this tattoo something my future spouse would like to see on me forever?
  • Is this tattoo easy to hide in case of any future career opportunities that don't allow tattooed employees?
  • Would this tattoo bring glory to God in its phrasing, image, placement, etc.?
  • Do I feel fully convinced that Christians are permitted to get tattoos?

Let me know what you decide on;)

12.13.2016

Shoutout to You


Working in the coffee industry has been enlightening in the fact that I get to meet and interact with many different kinds of individuals.

It's also taught me something about life that I'm not sure I would have otherwise ever learned.

Since being a barista for over a year, one huge part of my job that I've come to realize is that a barista is almost like a therapist.  We serve so many different people throughout a shift and by the end of the day, we have had so many stories told to us, so many hugs given, sometimes tears shed.
We're entrusted with narratives of car accidents, weddings, funerals, pets.
We meet the businessman needing a strong cup of coffee to start his day at the office.  Or the mom running errands before picking up her kids from school.  Or the traveler, who is road tripping to this or that state.  Or the high schooler who just attended their best friend's funeral.

The reoccurring theme I see in the faces, the smiles, and the stories can be summed up in one word:

s u r v i v a l

We're all attempting to live this life, to get through it one day at a time.  We're all trying to survive.

And we all do it differently.

For example, I'm sitting here in bed, wearing an XXL men's hoodie, eating pizza, drinking pink moscato, and unwinding after a seven and a half hour work day and not getting home till 1am.  That's how I'm choosing to live my tonight.  That's how I'm deciding to survive.

And no, I didn't get everything accomplished today that I wish I had today.  And I may not finish my "to do" list tomorrow.  But you know what?  I'm going to try.  The sun will rise and I will try again.

And keeping trying.

And keep surviving.

And damn it, I hope you do too.

I hope you wake up tomorrow morning, eager for another day on this beautiful earth.  I hope you choose to make it even more beautiful.  I hope you stop and notice a little detail amidst your busyness and smile because you know God chose to do add a spark to your day.
And I hope you keep trying, keep surviving.

This is a shoutout to you.  

There's never going to be enough time to do everything you want to do, but at least try, okay?
Try to make time for yourself.  Reward yourself for getting things done, for getting through the day without snapping.  Because that's a huge accomplishment in and of itself.

Keep up the good work.  You're doing great.

12.08.2016

My Writing Adventure | an essay

In which I present to you: my first college paper.

Scribbling words here and there, at any chance I could, has been a lifelong habit of mine.  
Since first learning how to read, I have attempted to write my own stories, my own thoughts, and my own feelings onto paper.
My earliest memory of reading is one in which I clearly recollect a very patient dinner guest listen to me to as I read an entire children’s book about a fox who went to the dentist in an attempt to succeed with his plan of eating his mouse hygienist.  Another memory is of when my year and a half older brother would sneak into my bed, or I into his, and we would hide under the covers as I whisper read The Adventures of Curious George by the illumination of a flashlight.
Going to the library and checking out a dozen books a week was no rare occurrence.  After moving to a small town the year I turned ten, it took only a couple of years until I had read every book in the teen section.  The librarian always asked me for a synopsis on each book upon returning it, and soon began making suggestions to which ones I should read next.  She also became one of my biggest encouragers of my writing gift.
My Mama, though, has always been my main supporter and fan.  As my homeschool teacher as well, she never hindered me from purchasing new notebooks and pens.  I have a few boxes, in fact, stuffed with countless journals I filled during my preteen and young teenage years.  
During a year in high school, I took a novel-writing class at a private trade school in Clackamas.  
At the time, I was particularly fascinated by the Native American culture and the early pioneering days of America.  So I wrote a story of a young girl who grew up in an English settlement, only to discover, as a young adult, that she had actually been born as the daughter of a chieftain in a nearby Indian village.
When I was thirteen, I started an online blog as an outlet for my writings.  It has since grown in a domain-based website called It’s Just Raquel, with over 1.1 million views and has won three international blog awards.  I write, mainly, about personal growth topics, as well as spiritual encouragement, relationship advice, and diverse poetry.  I have written a myriad of short stories, novellas, completed two novels, been paid to write children’s stories for a small newsletter, and have also been published several times on one of the world’s largest leading writer’s websites, Thought Catalog.  In the future, I plan to compile certain articles from my website into a book format to publish as a non-fictional.
I used to journal more in-depth, but as of recently, I mostly bullet journal, record daily blessings, and take notes during sermons and Bible studies.  I also have an addiction to notebooks of any kind.  I’m a hoarder when it comes to spiral-bound journals.  Something about flipping through empty lined pages, begging to be written on, gives me extreme motivation to write and fill them.
I love to learn new things, researching about them, and writing down the knowledge I have gleaned.  This came in to very good use when I was offered a job as the main reporter for a small town newspaper my last year as a teenager.
How my instructor might best assist me in this class is to: challenge me.  I crave a good challenge, and I also receive constructive criticism very well.  I am a student eager to learn more, whether by assignments, pointers on what I have written or how I could have best written it.
What I hope to gain from this class is merely a means to exercise and strengthen my writing methods and techniques.  I am extremely ambitious and goal-oriented, and my perfectionist tendency always strives to do and be better than the writer I was yesterday.

12.03.2016

Erratic Prose [at my family's home] | edition 5

Sometimes in order to do something, you need to go back to the place you first did it.

That’s what I had to do to get out of this rut that I’ve been stuck in lately with my writing.

I’ve been so crazy busy, and there have been so many curveballs that I’ve had to dodge in life that I’ve barely had any time to be on my laptop, except for school.
I kept telling myself that I needed to make time to just sit and write but the couple times I’ve been able to, no words would come.

So I decided to go to my family’s.  
I hadn’t seen them since Thanksgiving and my siblings were blowing up my phone with texts about when I was coming to visit next.

So here I sit, in the living room, a Christmas tree in front of me, waiting to be decorated by all of us this evening.  My Christmas music playlist is on shuffle.  The wood stove is burning a cozy fire to keep us all warm.  And I’m craving hot chocolate…  

Give me one sec.  I’ll be right back.

Okay, so here’s what’s been going on lately…

I started school.  And am loving it.  It’s so exciting to finally be taking steps towards fulfilling a dream.  My class is pretty big.  I think there are about twenty of us.  We break into learning teams, which is nice cuz we get to know just a few students at a time on a more personal level.  I like it.  We have reading and writing assignments for this current class.  I got 97 on my first paper and was, needless to say, rather ecstatic.  Classes are held once every week so I definitely have enough time to work on my assignments, and have an evening to look forward to being in a classroom setting.

I got in a car accident the beginning of November.  Fourth one since last summer.  So stupid.  None of them have been my fault either.  I’ve gotten rear-ended twice, and t-boned/side-swiped twice as well.  This most recent one was my worst injury though.  I got a torn disc in my neck and torn disc in my lower back.  The whiplash was nasty too.  And my poor Oliver is no longer with us.  He was totaled.  Pretty sure he’s beyond repair, unless someone has magical hands to fix his poor damaged rear.  And since he’s out of commission, I went and bought myself a new ride.  The new boo is a 2002 matte black Honda Civic coupe.  His name is Wade Wilson.  We get along pretty dang well.

I transferred with Dutch Bros to a brand new location on West Burnside in downtown Portland.  I absolutely love my new Dutch family and working at this particular location has been amazing.  The one thing that hasn’t been too great is the commute.  I still haven’t found a place to move to in Portland, but I’m trusting that God will provide soon.  The sooner, the better would be nice in my opinion, but His timing is always perfect, right?  So I guess we’ll just see where He leads me.

So that’s me and what’s been happening in a nutshell.  I’ve been learning a lot of crazy lessons lately too.  Many of them emotional and spiritual.  It’s been good, though.  God is so good to me.  I feel myself finding Him more and more everyday and just falling more deeply in love with Him too.

Thank you for all the emails and comments!  I’ve been receiving so many even though I’ve been a little under the radar.  Please keep them coming and I will respond as soon as I can.

How was Thanksgiving for you all?  What are your Christmas plans?  Can you believe 2016 is almost at an end?!

Stay warm, peeps!
Sending lots of hugs to each of you.


11.28.2016

In A Perfect World | a poem


If I had been the writer of our story, I would’ve planned our meeting differently.

I would have planned it for a different time in my life.  
A time when I wasn’t so skeptical and quick to be a pessimist.  
I would have planned it for a time when I was more hopeful and not so scared to meet someone and develop feelings so quickly for them.  

For you.

In a perfect world, the first person you love is your forever love, the one who will never leave, the one love you will always have in your life till the end of time.  
In a perfect world, your first encounter with love is your best, your favorite, and your only.  
In a perfect world, love would always be a good thing, not something we would ever doubt, not something that causes us to be fearful.

But as many of us know - you included, I think - is that love happens at the most unexpected times.  You don’t even realize what’s happening until after the fact.  
Until after you’ve fallen for someone who, a week, a month or a year ago, was a complete stranger.  
And now they’ve become the most important, significant, special person in your life.  

That’s you in mine.

Do you know how often I’ve wished I could meet someone like you?  
And how often the thought has crossed my mind that I might never have that wish granted to me?  
All those 11:11 wishes were about you.  
Before I even knew you existed.  
You were the one my subconscious only dreamed of.  
And I think all that wishing and hoping and praying somehow brought you to life.  

Or at least I’d like to think it had some sort of effect on your wonderful existence.  

You are wonderful, you know that?

It’s 1:09am as I sit and write this.  
Your face keeps coming to mind. 
I keep replaying some of my favorite memories with you over and over in my brain and I smile to myself.  Not just because I love those memories, but because I’m so happy that even after not very much time has passed since that day you entered my life and exploded it with color, we have already made so many memories.  And I’m in love with them.

In fact, I’m in love with you.

And I’m so lucky to love you.


Thank you for letting me be the one to love you.