7.24.2015

12 Ways To Change Your Life [For the Better]


It's that feeling of a desire to do something different.  The little voice in your head that keeps you up late at night, thinking of the endless possibilities.  The first thought in the morning as you get out of bed, wondering how you can make this day different.  Or if it won't ever change.

We all have dreams and goals.  Some seem impossible to achieve.  Others are just fantasies that we would never attempt at making a reality.

All change starts with an idea, a thought, a passion that is begun in your head.  By you alone.  And I know, without a doubt, that you have potential, and you're big enough to make something happen.
Here are 18 personal tips that can help you start living today...


1.  Begin
One of the most daunting places you can be in is at the start of something new.  Many of us have tried and failed, so we are afraid to try again.  Some of us have started, but lost motivation.  What do I say to this?  Well, Ijeoma Umebinyuo said it best.

'Start now.
Start where you are.
Start with fear.
Start with pain.
Start with doubt.
Start with hands shaking.
Start with voice trembling, but start.
Start and don't stop.
Start where you are, with what you have.
Just...start.'

Start with a word, then a sentence, then a paragraph.  Start with a phone call, then a breath, then a smile.  Start with a key, then a car, then an ignition.  Start with a spark. 

2.  Fresh
Clear out the clutter.  Get a rid of anything or anyone who does not bring value, happiness or meaning to your life.  This includes the old toy that you used to play with when you were five.  And the guy/girl who only texts you to flirt and never has anything meaningful to talk about.

3.  Visualize
What do you want?  Consider the steps on how to get to it.  Write a list if you have to.  Step 1, 2 & 3.

4.  Connect
Who is someone you've always admired?  Who is someone you aspire to be like?  Who is someone you wish you could sit and have lunch with?  Don't be afraid to contact them.  The least you can do is try.  And remember - they are humans too.

5.  Explore
Go somewhere you've never been before.  Visit a museum.  Go camping.  Take a road trip out of state.  Inspire yourself.

6.  Celebrate
This is a big step in your life.  Celebrate it.

7.  Focus
What are the things in your life that make you love it?  Expand on these.  Do them more often.  Is it being with friends and family?  Singing?  Writing?  Hiking?  Star-gazing?

8.  Dream
What is your dream job?  Dream house?  Dream property?  Dream pet?  Who says it always has to stay a dream?  Have you tried pursuing it?  Don't let dreams take back burner.  Work towards making them a reality.  It will take time.  Remind yourself of that.


'There are times to stay put, and what you want will come to you.  And there are times to go out into the world and find such a thing for yourself.'


9.  Give 
It is better to give than to receive, right?  Give compliments.  Give gifts.  Give help.  Give without expecting anything in return.  

10.  Lose
Yourself - in a city, in a field, in a forest.
Others - who don't build you up.
Job - if it's one you hate, quit.
Roommate - if you like them, move out.

11.  Accept
Nothing worth having is easily acquired.  Change happens, but sometimes slowly.  Accept the fact that not all things will happen overnight.  It takes time.

12.  Live
You will never be as young as you are right now.  How are you enjoying your life?  How are you making it better?  How are you living a life that is worth leaving a legacy of?


'If we wait until we're ready, we'll be waiting for the rest of our lives.'

7.22.2015

Be Dangerous


A few months ago, I volunteered at Tenth Avenue North's merch table during the Chris Tomlin's 'Love Ran Red Tour' when it made its stop in Portland.  Rend Collective was the opening performance, and it was one of my favorites I have ever seen.  The lead singer, Chris Llewellyn, said something that has stuck with me...

"Lets welcome God's Spirit into this room right now and ask that He revive His people and His church.  Lets be dangerous."


As believers in the all-powerful God, I think we take for granted and underestimate the amount of power we, as His children, contain within our very spirits.

We are a danger.

To what?

To the sinful world we live in.  To satan himself.  We are dangerous.

We are as conquerors because we have Him in us, and He is greater than anyone of or in this world.

We can accomplish much in this world.  We have Him on our side.

How are we making use of the Holy Spirit's power in us?  How are we taking risks in this world and showing His power through us to people?  Are we grasping the truth that we ARE more than conquerors through Him?  We are fighting a battle, yes.  But the war has already been won.  We are fighting for a victorious and reigning King.  

What a stunning thought that is.

Are we living in that assurance today?

Are we reminding ourselves of this beautiful truth?  - And having faith that no matter what battle we're facing, what doubts we may have, what sin we are fighting in our lives, that God is still God, and through Him, we are conquering warriors who are a dangerous threat to the sin-filled humanity.

Be dangerous.

7.18.2015

5 Reasons I Do [Not] Like Summer


I know what you're thinking.

'HOW COULD YOU NOT LIKE SUMMER, RAQUEL?!'

Well, hear me out.  And by the end of this, you may agree with me on these top 5 reasons.  Or at least one of them.


1.  Heat
C'mon, admit it.  sometimes it just gets too dang hot.  I've learned to always have a lemonade, smoothie or a pool nearby during the summer months.  And a fan or air conditioner with me at all times.  Not only does the heat make you too hot to DO anything, but if you're like me, you get pretty severe migraines because of it too.  And yes, I stay hydrated.

2.  Immodesty
This goes hand in hand with the heat.  There's only so much you can take off, you know?  And some people don't really know the limit.  (I'm talking about string bikinis here, haters.  Not shorts and a tank-top.)

3.  Smoking
Yes, I know, people smoke year round.  But during the summer, when the air is thick and the heat is unmoving, one of the worst smells to catch your nose is the smoke coming from a cigarette.

4.  Static
Because of the heat, there is more electricity everywhere and static is on everything metallic that you touch.  Not cool.  I get shocked pretty much everywhere I go.

5.  Creatures
All the creepy critters decide that now is the time to come out and enjoy the sun...WITH ME.  Yellow jackets, mosquitos, spiders, you name it.  No thanks.  I'll just go back inside where my room is cool and no bugs can even attempt to crawl on me.

---

I've always preferred colder months, honestly.  Sorry (not sorry) if this post offends you heat-lovers at all.
And yes, I will be writing a 5 Reasons I Love Autumn as soon as September rolls around.

7.16.2015

28 Advantages To Dating A Pacific Northwest Girl


Disclaimer: this doesn't necessarily pertain to every single girl from the northwest, but perhaps most of them...  Because we northwest girls are just pretty darn rad.


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1)  She's laid-back and not high-maintenance.
She doesn’t need tons of attention or to be lavished on with high-quality gifts.  She loves and enjoy simplicity, and would rather be given something thoughtfully handmade or that took effort to get, rather than something that cost a lot.

2)  She's adventurous.
She can find an adventure anywhere, or adventures just seem to come to her.  Getting lost is fun to her.  It doesn't matter where the two of you are going, all she needs is to hold your hand, blast the music and roll the windows down.

3)  She's always ready.
Ready for a road trip.  Ready for a classy event.  Ready to snuggle and make out.  Ready with a pocket knife.  Oh yes.  Pocket knives are handy.  And she has them basically 99% of the time.

4)  She doesn't wear a ton of makeup and is not too obsessed with a perfect hair look because she's used to rainy drizzles. 
She’s all about the natural.

5) She knows the best places to eat.
Whether it be the food carts on 10th Ave. in Portland, Calamity Jane's in Sandy, or Fuji Teriyaki in Longview, Washington.

6)  She's not one for extravagant dates.
Sure, eating a romantic dinner up on a rooftop while seeing the city lights turn on for the night is super romantic.  But she's also happy with snuggling up to you on the couch, drinking hot coffee (or tea) while it rains outside, and just...being together.

7)  She has good taste in music.
She has a pretty wide range of favorite music genres, so even if you don't agree on all of them, you'll have at least a couple that you won't fight over changing stations all the time.

8)  She's talented.
Whether as a writer, singer, rock-climber, dancer, barista, or flower arranger.  Your northwest girl kind of excels at many different things.

9)  She almost always has a camera handy.
She’s all about the moments that take her breath away.

10)  She's creative.
Whether that means in crafts, knitting, crocheting, cooking, camping, wedding planning...

11)  She's not fake.
Not only is she comfortable in her own skin, she's happy with it.  There's about 0% chance of her having any fake body parts.  She enjoys working out and staying active.  Oh and yoga pants. 

12)  She's aware...
of her impact on God's creation, and conscious of how she can try to treat the earth better and care for it, i.e. recycling, composting, etc.

13)  She knows where to find the good food.
She's all about farmer's markets and fresh food stands or carts.  She knows good fruit and where to find it.  Oh and county fair food booths are no exception.

14)  She's good at driving on the back roads.
Not only for fun, but to get somewhere fast - so she can avoid the freeway traffic.

15)  She's great with animals.
She knows quite a bit about animals and doesn't mind being around them often.

16)  She's all about relationships.
She's very loyal to her family and close friends.  They mean a ton to her, and she values strong and healthy bonds.

17)  She's determined.
There is little that can stand in her way of achieving goals.  She's passionate about what she loves and dedicated to living life to the fullest.

18)  She can be comfortable in any situation.
She's not too prone to become awkward.  She loves meeting your friends and hanging out in group settings, or just having one-on-one quality time with you.  She makes the most out of whatever happens, is down-to-earth, and easy-going.

19)  She's friendly to everyone.
She loves saying hello to strangers, and genuinely loves striking up conversations with random people she may meet.  She isn't afraid to introduce herself to people and make them feel welcomed.  She has a friendly spirit about her and individuals feel warmed by her presence.

20)  She will always remind you for the important things.
She won't always have light conversations with you.  She knows when to get serious, she knows what's important, and she has no shame in talking about them honestly.  She'll encourage you to go visit your aging grandparents or reconnect with your childhood best friend.


According my informal poll of Oregonian males...

21)  She's real.

22)  She's [usually] really cute.

23)  She's [usually] a great writer.

24)  She also loves coffee.
So that's a great first date option, right?

25)  She's not afraid to speak her mind.

26)  She can [usually] hunt.

27)  She knows how to drive a manual car.

28)  She doesn't mind cooking dinner.

'Total outdoors ladies.  Not prissy or stuck up, like to get dirty, like to shoot guns, hunt, fish, and live life.  But then they know how to blow a guy's mind by getting all dressed up and take our breath away with how beautiful they are - both inside and out.  Not to mention they know how to have a badass party, bonfires, music, big trucks, and great friends.'
- Mathew, 22

'It's a fact that northwest girls are so much kinder and accepting than most regions of the USA.'
- Mitch, 21

'They don't need umbrellas.'
- Brenden, 20

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Originally published by Raquel on Thought Catalog

7.14.2015

Let us hold true


Our culture is all about the new stuff.

The newest model, the newest kind, the newest brand, the newest make.  And sadly, this perspective happens in our Christian lives too.

We want new revelations, new words from God.  We think that He's silent when He doesn't give us specifically tailored Scriptures to fit our particular needs.

"We demand to be taught something new", as Matt Chandler put it.  But in this demand, we are refusing to see, acknowledge and obey what has already been given to us - and what we already know.

Let's just face it.

We get bored.

Isn't that horrible to think about?  We get bored with what we have.  And that even includes the Bible.  We think that it 'just doesn't apply to us' in this day and age.  And we need something new, something we can relate to.  Why do you think there are so many versions of the Bible?  (Don't even get me started on The Message.)


"All Scripture is God-breathed and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, fully equipped for every good work."
- 2 Timothy 3:16-17
(I italicized the words and phrases that I think have particular meaning and that I really wanted to emphasis.)


That's pretty straight-forward and self-explanatory.

The Word of God is complete, unchangeable, signed, sealed and delivered.  And ALL of it was God-breathed.  He used men to physically write down His words, but ultimately, every letter in the printed pages of the Bible was directly ordained by His Spirit.  And every part of it is profitable for the life of one who is 'of God'.

God didn't make us and leave us on earth to just figure this life thing out.  He gave us a guidebook.  He provided us with a way of life to live.  And we are made complete through Him and through studying and knowing His Word.


"Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in any of you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you.  Only let us hold true to what we have attained."
- Philippians 3:15-16


I find it interesting that Paul actually had to remind the church in Philippi to 'hold true to what [they] had attained'.  Another word for 'attained' is 'accomplish' or 'acquire'.  So instead of 'thinking otherwise', we must hold firm to what we already know.  To what God has already given us, revealed to us, told us.

Some of you may be wondering 'Well God never talks specifically about _______.'  And no, He may not, but when you put other verses together and use common sense and conviction (which we get through prayer and study), there is nothing in life that cannot be answered or proven Biblically.

Everything we need for living is at our fingertips.  There's a difference between acknowledging and doing, or knowing and ignoring.

May we, as Christians, always strive to hold true to what God has already manifested to us.

For without His Word, we are lost.

---

Originally published by Raquel on Brave

7.13.2015

Music Monday | My Top 5 Favorite Live Performances

Out of the 58 bands I've seen live (so far), I've tried to narrow down my Top 5 favorites.

Honorable Mentions:

TobyMac
Toby is a great performer, always adds unexpected twists to his shows, and I love when he talks about his family in between songs.  His love for the LORD is very explicit and he is definitely still a Jesus freak.

'If You wanna steal my show, I'll sit back and watch You go.  If You've got something to say, go on and take it away.'


Parachute
I saw Parachute in a very small, intimate coffee shop venue in downtown Portland.  I loved it.  Especially when lead singer, Will Anderson, ran out into the crowd and I got a hug from him.  You should add them on Snapchat.  Their stories are fun! (@parachutemusic)

'Now I'm not sure what this is gonna be but with my eyes closed all I see is a skyline through the window, the moon above you, and the streets below.  And I hold my breath as you're moving in.  I taste your lips and feel your skin.  When the time comes, baby, don't run.  Just kiss me slowly."


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#5 - Tenth Avenue North
This group of guys is one of the most humble bands I know.  Lead singer, Mike Donehey, is an incredible spiritual influence on many people - including myself.  Each and every one of their walks with the LORD is so evident.  They're all great performers, keep the crowd active, and most importantly, they welcome the presence of God so beautifully into their time.  I always, always, always get chills whenever I see/hear them.  And I've had the privilege to help man their merch booths the last two times they've been in Portland.  If you ever get a chance to see them, do it.
Oh and there are always beautiful lights on stage at their concerts.

'So won't You empty my hands, fill up my heart, capture my mind with You..."


#4 - The Script
Fabulous live performance.  They're very interactive with the crowd, keep the energy going so well.  Danny is absolutely adorable, and has an incredible voice.  He ran through the crowd both times I've seen them, but I never got to touch his hand.  I grabbed Patrick Monahan's though (lead singer of Train) when The Script opened for them.
And I mean, c'mon.  Irish accents.  #what

"When you've been fighting for it all your life, you've been struggling to make things right - that's how superheroes learn to fly.  Every day, every hour, turn the pain into power."


#3 - Rend Collective
Another Irish band (can't go wrong with them, huh?), Rend Collective not only has the celebratory feel to them (they use super fun instruments!!), but they are one of the few Christian bands that I've seen live where I have been so completely overwhelmed by the presence of God while raising my hands in worship along with their songs.  I had one of those 'WOW' moments when I saw them...and I still remember the feeling so clearly.  Love these peeps.

"My lighthouse, my lighthouse, shining in the darkness.  I will follow You!  My lighthouse, my lighthouse, I will trust the promise.  You will carry me safe to shore!"


#2 - Owl City
Adam Young is not only talented, but he's just plain adorable.  I wasn't quite sure what to expect at his show because, as most people know - and as he readily admits - he's a pretty shy dude.  But I think, when he's on stage, surrounded by the sound of his music, and the energy of a crowd that absolutely loves him, he just loses himself in the moment.  And it's so beautiful to watch.  That was definitely an evening to remember.  It was in a venue with no seats, so my legs were aching by the end of the night.  But there's just something about being shoulder to shoulder with complete strangers, being fascinated by a favorite artist of yours, complete with live cellos, that just...gets to you.
Oh and if you haven't heard his latest single, My Everything, check it out now.  Like, why are you still reading this?!

"If the darkness falls and my angel calls, in my despair, will you be there?  In the darkest night, when I need your light, will you show me the way?  If my time runs out and the sky falls down, despite my fear, will you appear?  If the world goes blind and I lose my mind, will you show me the way?  Tonight."

#1 - OneRepublic
Literally, everything about this concert, I loved.  The band's entrance, the lights, the music, the voice, the talent, the pure epicness.  I was dazzled.  And I will still say that OneRepublic is my #1 Favorite Live Performance that I have seen TO DATE.  It'll take a lot for that placement to be moved.  Ryan Tedder is one of my biggest music inspirations.  Not only is he super freaking talented, but he has a super freaking incredible voice.  He sounds just as good live as he does on record...but better.  And he's super crazy and fun with trying out different trills, hitting risky notes, and changing up his songs - for the better (if that's even possible).  I literally will never be able to stop talking about how epic their show is, so I should probably just end this little paragraph now...
On my Instagram post of the night I saw them, this is what I said:
'Out of the 53 bands I've seen, OneRepublic took the Number 1 prize for Best Show.  Wow.  I'm still in awe.  Music is so powerful and emotional, and they know how to make someone stand in complete stillness but feel like they're flying.'

"I did it all.  I owned every second that this world could give.  I saw so many places, the things I did, with every broken bone, I swear I lived."


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Out of all the concerts you've been to, which artists/bands are your top 5 favorites?

7.10.2015

8 Step To Cleaning Out Your Closet


I had been needing to clean out the nooks and crannies in my bedroom.  But especially my closet.  When you opened it, sure you just saw clothes on hangers, but to the left and right of those clothes were boxes and bags and clothes that had fallen.  And on the shelf above were three boxes and random knick-knacks.  Pretty disgusting when I word it like that...
I am a clean freak.  But even the cleanest of freaks has areas of obvious failure in organization.  It just happens, okay?

Well, yesterday, I decided to tackle the horrendous closet.  And now, as I sit on my bed of clean sheets and blankets, I can sigh with relief that everywhere you look in my room - even inside my closet! - is neat and orderly.

And I'm happy.

Here are 8 tips on cleaning out your closet.  Which, yes, you should do sometime.

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Step 1: Grab three garbage bags, and a sibling or close friend
Bags - 1 to give away, 1 to throw away, and 1 to hand-me-down.
Sibling/Friend - for encouragement, help, and honest opinions.

Step 2: Put that music on
Everything is better with music.  Everything.
And don't be afraid to dance around while throwing stuff away or organizing your clothes, books or whatev.  It'll keep the mood light and get your mind off of throwing away that old blanket that you've had since you were five...and really don't need anymore.

Step 3: Hand sanitizer
You never know what you're gonna come across.  And you can't wash your hands too often (in my opinion).

Step 4: Take everything out
Yes, everything.  Everything off the shelf, everything off the hanger, everything off the floor.
THEN begin the sorting.

Step 5: Ask yourself...
When was the last time I wore this?
Who gave me this?
Will I ever see them again?
Does this hold good or bad memories for me?
Will this be something I'll want to pass down to my children?
Ask these questions every time you come across something that you're hesitating over whether to give away, throw away, or hand-me-down.

Step 6:  Boxes
Boxes are good, but limit yourself (depending on how big your closet is).  Sure, you can store things in them, but don't overwhelm the floor or the shelves with boxes full of non-essential items.  You're trying to get a rid of things, not hoard them.

Step 7: Clean
Be sure to clean as you clean.  Meaning: sweep, dust, mop as you move things around and reorganize.  Those dust bunnies need to go, and so does that layer of dirt, dust, grim or whatever it is.  Once you're finished, it'll not only look nicer, but smell fresher as well.

Step 8: Reward yourself
You did well.  You got a rid of a bunch of stuff (maybe some of it was really sentimental, but just not needed anymore), you cleaned, you're aching from all the bending over, lifting, folding, packing...  You deserve a shower and a treat.  Maybe some chocolate?

7.08.2015

HeyLets explore!

Have you ever been to a new place and had no clue where to go first?  Where to explore, where to find a good coffee shop or restaurant, where to go swimming?  Look no further!  

There’s an app for that.

And it’s called HeyLets!


HeyLets is a social iPhone App that allows its users to share and discover amazing experiences and adventures.  It’s a city guide, powered by locals and built on positivity.  It is available to download and use in any country around the world.  After downloading the app to your phone, you create a profile…explore...see what's trending...and share your own experiences with others who are looking to be inspired and discover amazing places too.




Users share an experience via photo or video, a 200-word length descriptive recommendation, a location and category.  These experiences can be ‘wishlisted’ by others with similar interests, and if you like enough of a certain user’s posts, you can choose follow them and stay updated on their experiences and reviews.

It’s kind of like an Instagram-Snapchat combined, where you have your own account, people can follow you, and your pictures and captions (aka reviews) are quirky and exciting.

Super cool thing about it too, is that there are NO negative reviews.  So you don’t have to wade through review after review trying to find a positive one, and then compare it to a negative one that you saw on the same location.  And blah blah blah.
Oh and another thing!  It's super easy to navigate and get the hang of.  Everything is pretty self-explanatory and you can search for things easily, 

Think you want to give this app a shot?  Don’t waste another second.  Download it now!  


(If you have an Android phone, no worries!  HeyLets will be released for Android in just a couple months.  If you’d like to be notified when it’s up for grabs, just leave your email address HERE and you will be notified when it can be downloaded.)