Stepping out of my comfort zone

Plans are slowly, but surely coming together for the team that I am leading to Peru in December.

It's still so crazy to me that God is continuing to open doors for this amazing opportunity.  And that I get to lead a group of friends and acquaintances to a place that I have come to love so dearly.  And actually, we're not only going to the boys' home that I've been to twice before, but also to another one - near Machu Picchu.  The last time I was in Peru, I promised myself that the next time I came back, I would go see the Incan ruins.  I have Incan blood in my Peruvian lineage, so I've always felt a pull to visit the once-home of ancestors (pretty crazy cool, huh?)

Amidst all the exciting plans and team meetings and organizing, it's been a bit overwhelming - in an almost weird way, though, because I KNOW what I'm looking forward to and I KNOW that I am going to see my boys again, but at the same time, leading a team outside of the country, to a place that only a few of us have been to before, and being in charge of all the little details, etc. is kind of scary.  It's out of my comfort zone!  I am not a natural born leader.  I'm the type of person who will lead if a situation calls for it.  But I'm not the first one who would raise my hand in a crowd and be like 'Yeah, so this is what we're going to do'.  I'm the one standing behind that leader, encouraging the rest of the group to go along with the plan.

Little by little, though, throughout the process of getting organized for this team, God has really been teaching me a lot about leadership, and honing the skills that I do have, and using them to benefit this time and this season of my life.  It's been a definite humbling journey, and I know it will only continue to be.

December can't come soon enough.  My goodness.  I can't wait to get back to these sweet faces.


If you would like to know more about the trip and are interested in supporting the team, please check out our GoFundMe account!


40 Thoughts Of a Writer [On a Daily Basis]

1.  *yawn* "Okay, let me get my tea/coffee and then grab my laptop."

2.  "I need to find a quiet, comfy spot to sit and write..."

3.  "I guess my bed will do."

4.  *opens laptop, immediately opens Facebook*  "Oh look, someone else is engaged."

5.  "Okay, okay, Microsoft Word where are you?"

6.  "Should I work on something old or something new?"

7.  "What was that idea that I had last night before falling asleep?... Darn it."

8.  "Well I do have a bunch of draft ideas saved..."

9.  "Music.  I need music."

10.  *listens to same song 15 times in a row*

11.  "Actually...I don't need music."

12.  "Blah blah blah."

13.  "C'mon, fingers.  Type what my brain is thinking."

14.  "I wonder if there's an easier way to do this."


16.  "Okay, I got this."

17.  *stares at computer screen for a good 60 seconds*

18.  *slowly starts typing*

19.  First sentence.

20.  Second sentence.

21.  "There we go...  That's right.  Wait!" *backspace, backspace*

22.  "No more editing till I'm all finished writing."

23.  "Would somebody even read this?"

24.  "Stop being so critical.  You are your own worst critic."

25.  "Maybe I should take a break."

26.  "Where's that chocolate I've been saving?"

27.  *changes position on bed*

28.  "C'mon, brain, work with me here."

29.  *takes five-minute break*

30.  "Okay, let's finish this up..."

31.  *type, type, type*

32.  "YES!!  That last sentence was perfect.  Finished it with a bang...and a boom..."

33.  "Time to edit."

34.  "Okay, that's not too bad."

35.  "I need to get a second opinion on this."

36.  "On second thought, how about no?"

37.  "I think it looks good."

38.  *click Save As*

39.  "Aaaaaand we're out."

40.  "Wait...............that would be a good thing to write about..."


Originally published on Thought Catalog


Wordiness while in Montana

Greetings from a little house in western Montana...

I am sitting on a futon.  Some windows are open, letting in a cool breeze on this hot summer day.  I have been needing to write.

I decided to take a little breather and escape from my normal routine in my beloved Oregon.  I needed some space.  I needed to get away.  I needed to take a different path.

I thought that coming to Montana would help me figure stuff out.  And it has.  But it's also raised some more questions.
I thought I would have time to think and sort things out.  And I have.  But not as much as I've wanted to.  I want answers.  And I felt like I couldn't find them.  Or that I can't find them.  And it's frustrating.

Instead of getting answers, more questions have been raised.  Much has been on my mind, including - how do I make someone understand that the way they're headed will only have heartbreak?  How do I keep loving them even when they don't listen to me?
How do I get back something I once had?
How do I figure out what step to take next?
How can I speed up time to get to a point in my life that I am craving to be at already?
How do I know what God wants of me next?
How do I lead when needed?
How do I cultivate patience and selflessness?  Because Lord knows I'm neither of those.

It's so hard to even know where to start.  Which should I tackle first?

Life is so full of changes.  I wish I could write about all of them but some are just too personal.  I write about them in my journal, but I'm waiting for a time that I can share them with the world.  Some are still in progress.  Others have been completed.  Others are still waiting for my decision, my go-ahead, my leap of faith.

I want God to use me.  I want to be soft in His hands.  Wherever He takes me, I will go.  Whoever He allows across my path, I will love.  Whatever He wants me to do, I will do.

I have been reading a book by Matt Chandler since I have been here in Montana.  It is called 'To Live Is Christ, To Die Is Gain'.  It has been so wonderfully eye-opening, so encouraging and challenging at the same time.  I pray God teaches me much through it.  I need to hear from Him - not only through His Word, but through others.

LORD, make me more like You.
And always remind me that that ground is forever level at the foot of Your cross.


Everyday Blessings // 35

>> Cities In Silence's first show went amazingly well (about 85+ people showed up!)
>> road trips (currently in Montana - who wants to meet up?)
>> quiet time
>> starting a new book (current read: 'To Live Is Christ, To Die Is Gain' by Matt Chandler)
>> celebrating Father's Day with my family and some extended family
>> organizing team details for next trip to Peru
>> Inside Out
>> finishing a study through 1 John, and counting 46 times in five chapters that the word 'love' is used
>> helping lead worship at a local church
>> finding out that Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence are going to star in a movie together. (Whaaaaat?)
>> watching The Fellowship of the Ring while writing this
>> Jurassic World
>> it's officially summer now
>> detox water
>> berry-picking with a friend
>> having the honor to write about the late Elisabeth Elliot
>> house-sitting
>> frozen Greek yogurt
>> seeing Mockingjay 2's trailer
>> Montana sky sunsets
>> looking forward to the 4th of July
>> having a chance at a really rad job (prayers are appreciated!)


As I previously stated, I am currently in Montana.  I am meeting up with some blog followers this weekend.  Let me know which ones of you live here and we can try setting up a date to meet.

Also, just to be aware, blogging may be a bit slow this and next week.  But I am needing a break from people and internet and am hoping that being in Montana will give me some refreshing inspiration.
Feel free to still comment and email me.  I am also updating my Instagram (@itsjustraquel) and Snapchat (@froyogalrzd).  So find me on there and follow along on my adventures!


15 Lies About Homeschoolers

Below is a list of lies about homeschoolers compiled by yours truly and a few other homeschoolers and fellow homeschool alumni...


And to any homeschoolers reading this: feel free to comment any that I missed!


1.  We're socially awkward.

2.  We don't have any friends.  And the few we do have are homeschooled too.

3.  We only know how to sing hymns.

4.  Girls never wear makeup and always wear long dresses.

5.  Guys grow (or try to grow) beards and always wear waist-high jeans with belts.

6.  We don't really do any school subjects.  Just a lot of reading.

7.  We don't do many things online.  We're usually outside working on the farm or with the farm animals.

8.  We eat super, duper healthy.

9.  We only watch G rated movies.

10.  We aren't aware of current events and don't get pop culture references.

11.  We never, ever, ever say bad words.

12.  We are not open-minded.

13.  We don't listen to anything but strictly labeled "Christian" music.  (Think Steven Curtis Chapman, Michael W. Smith, and Chris Tomlin)

14.  We always do school in our pajamas.

15.  We only drive 10+ passenger vans.

Nice to meet you.


Life changes, and so you do...and it's okay

We've all had those times in our life when we do something we never planned on doing.

Let me give you a few examples...

Recently, I was thinking back over a few things I had said that 'I would never do'.  But that was a while ago.  And I have since done them.  Such as, hold hands with a guy (before we were engaged), worn a skirt above my knees, said a cuss word, driven somewhere alone with a guy, not washed my hair for a week (don't freak out; I did rinse it.), and walked barefoot, but forgot to wash my feet before crawling into bed.

The other day, I was thinking about a certain one of these and started [mentally] beating myself up about how it was something I thought I wasn't going to do, or that I was going to 'wait for'.  And why didn't I?  What was I thinking?

But then some practical part of my brain told me to calm the heck down and I heard it ask 'Was it really that wrong?'

Why was I freaking out?

Why was I beating myself up about this?

Why was it so important to me?

It wasn't a life and death matter.  It was simply a change of view.  A change of heart.  A difference between the me of a few years ago, and the me who I have become.

Life changes.  And it took me a while, but I realized that I change too.  I adapt.  I become the new me that the new life is requiring.

It kind of shocked me at first.  I was like 'Wait!  I would never have done something like this two years ago.  Is this...right?'

Not only was it right, but it was okay.  There's nothing wrong with change.  Sure, it should be a change for the better.  But in some instances, there's no specific right or wrong (sorry, black-or-white-thinking people), and it's all about personal conviction, personal preference, and personal decisions.

When you were four years old, you didn't have standards.  By the time you're 13, you will do things your four-year-old self wouldn't have even thought of doing.  And by the time you're 20, you'll probably do that exact same thing, but in a completely different way/point of view.

Why?  Because you change.

And it's okay.


16 Things You Need To Know About Dating a Girl Who Writes

You have to be willing to listen when we get excited about something, even if it doesn't make sense to you.
- Mirriam, 21

Don't be put off when we talk to ourselves.  We're just rehearsing dialogue.
- Candice, 25

We will try not to idealize you, but we will stumble.  And when you don't live up to the character we mistook you for, it will hurt.  Don't hold it against us.  Hold our hand and remind us that the real you is better.
- Bleah, 20

You better be a good reader, because you're going to end up proof-reading EVERYTHING.
- Tania, 19

We will probably try out 50 different variations of the same sentence on you and ask you which sounds better, even though you probably don't have a clue.
- Sierra, 16

1.  We do need our space.  This doesn't mean we don't want your presence, though.  Sometimes, we will have to focus on writing and reading, and we can't only put half-effort into that.

2.  If you talk to us while we're typing away, chances are we aren't listening.  Ask us to pause and listen to you.  If we're on a roll, we'll ask you to wait.  This isn't always in the most gentle tone of voice but it's only because we're concentrating really hard and you may or may not have broken our train of thought.

3.  We DO want your opinion, but we need it gently.  Constructive criticism >>>> negative criticism.  Tell us your honest thoughts on what we share with you, but please be kind and realize that what you say has the potential to affect what we write for a really, really...really long time.

4.  We may be working on something, and then you call us.  We'll answer our phone because duh, it's you, but if we can't talk long, we'll tell you.  Or you could even ask 'Hey am I interrupting anything?'  If you are, don't be offended when we say 'Yeah, I was in the middle of writing something.'  We just need to get back to our train of thought.

5.  We're easy to purchase gifts for.  Notebooks?  Yes.  Pens?  Fabulous (we're always losing ours).

6.  Speaking of notebooks, we always, always have at least one with us.

7.  Many times, we can be really bad at talking.  If we want to say something important, we might just write it down instead of speaking what we're thinking.

8.  If you happen to see internet history such as "how fast does a person bleed out" or "how to remove bloodstains" and other strange topics, don't worry.  It's just research.

9.  We would be perfectly content with a leisure Saturday of us writing and you watching your basketball game.  Just remember to always keep physical touch in the evening.

10.  Inspiration can come in many different forms...and we will verbalize it.  Again, it may not make sense to you, but at least be happy for us.

11.  Don't be offended when she corrects your spelling or grammar.  It really does annoy her, okay?  And hey, she's 'changing' you for the better.

12.  We will probably read into things too much and too often.  However, this also means that we're very perceptive.  So just know that what you say, how you say it and your facial expressions will not go unnoticed.

13.  We might get frustrated that our characters aren't doing what we want them to do.  Just sympathize with us, okay?  We can't control them.

14.  Even if you aren't the best writer in the world, chances are a girl who is a writer will be swept off her feet by a letter from her lover.  Words have such power.  And knowing who penned them makes them even more special and important.

15.  We people watch...a lot.  It might be a little creepy, but this is one sure way to get character inspiration.

16.  As much as you may want to read out stuff, don't push us to show you.  Especially with personal writing (poetry, journals, etc.), it may take a bit of time to let you have a peek at it.  And even then, you may never get to read it.  This doesn't mean we don't trust you.  It's just the caution of vulnerability that you need to be sensitive to.


This post was originally published by Raquel on Brave.


There comes a time

There comes a time when you realize something about yourself.

And the way you feel for another.

It's that longing to always be with them.
Beside them.
Watching them.
Touching them.

The desire to be the cup of tea touching their lips in the morning,
to be the bed they're resting on,
the blanket they're cuddling with,
the sunlight bathing their face with warm caresses.

You want to be the source that brings those lips to curl in that beautiful smile,
the light in their eyes,
the gasp of breath from their lungs.

And with those desires, you pledge to do whatever it takes to win those as your trophies, as the target.
And you will accomplish it by reminding yourself that they are the arrow.

You are merely the wind.