10.13.2011

Am I Looking Right?



‘This generation is obsessed with how we look.’


That is no lie!  And I couldn’t have said it better than Elizabeth Knopp.

How many times have you looked in the mirror before walking out the door, after you had just had a nice long workout, and actually said, ‘Oh!  I’m looking great!’?

Um…I think I can safely guess that 10 out of 10 girls just now, said ‘What?  Nope!  I’d have to fix my makeup, change my sweaty shirt, do my hair, make sure my shoes match my outfit’, and it can go on.

Sometimes, I wonder if girls could just hear themselves talk like this and what they would think.  And this includes me, of course!  I fall short of this every single day!  I am a pretty self-conscious person.  I always have to look my best (or at least try to).  You don’t see bad pictures of me because I have the right not to post them.  And when I’m around really pretty friends I’m always running to a mirror to make sure that my hair looks as good as theirs. 

I know. 

Really vain.

But I believe that God has done a lot of work in me, in this area of my life.  Lately, I have just noticed that He’s been teaching me to accept myself the way I am, and not try to measure up to the ‘other girls’.  I have TONS of beautiful friends!  I mean – stunning, beautiful, gorgeous friends! (inside and out)  And like I said above – whenever I’m around them – I just get in this I-have-to-look-as-good-as-they-do frenzy.  It’s wrong of me.  I know it is!  God didn’t create me to try to be like someone else.  God created me to be Raquel…to be myself.

I know that every girl struggles with this. 

To every girl who is reading this: You are not alone.  We’re all in this together.  Do you know why?  Because we are all sinful creatures.  We are jealous of others’ beauty.  We want to be like that gorgeous person.  We don’t want to be ourselves, because…we’re boring and ugly.

But, my dear, let me turn you to a verse in the Bible that is one of my favorites.  Read it carefully. 
Read it slowly. 
Soak in each single word and really know what it’s saying. 

“I will praise You.  For I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  Marvelous are Your works and that my soul knows very well.”

Now read it again.

“I will praise You.  For I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  Marvelous are Your works and that my soul knows very well.”

And again.

“I will praise You.  For I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  Marvelous are Your works and that my soul knows very well.”

Are you overwhelmed yet??  I am.  Whenever I read that verse, I can’t just read it once.  I have to read it over…and over…and over again.  Because honestly, I can never hear it enough times. 

God made me fearfully and wonderfully.  God looked at me when He finished knitting me together in my Mama’s womb and said ‘She is beautiful!’ 
Since I was that little baby, being stitched together by Him, He said, ‘She is my daughter.’ 

His works are marvelous.  And my soul knows that very well. 

How?

Because He made me.  He loves me.  We are all equal in His eyes.  Outward beauty doesn’t matter to Him.  God could care less if one girl was more pretty than you.  He just decided to bless her with outward beauty…but is she really beautiful on the inside?

When you compare yourself to the girls who you think are so beautiful – that you wish you looked liked, that you wished you could be like – have you ever stopped and thought about their inward reflections?  Do you really want to be like that girl truly is, on the inside?  Or are you just admiring her outward beauty?  Stop and think about that.

God cares about what’s on the inside.  Do you?

9.29.2011

You Need To Get a Boyfriend



‘You need to get a boyfriend.’

These words were said to me just a couple weeks ago.

I sighed.  I need to get a boyfriend, I thought to myself.

Wait!  Do I really?

In today’s culture, it’s a norm for 13 year olds to have boyfriends.  It’s pretty cool to have one when you’re 12.  A bit of a new idea to have one when you’re 11.  And it’s okay if you have one when you’re 10.  I mean, better sooner than later, right?  How can a little girl who is allowed to watch chic flicks at the age of 9 not be allowed to have a boyfriend at age 10?

I remember the first time I was asked if I had a boyfriend.  I was about 13, maybe 14.  I honestly didn’t know how to respond at first.  A lot of my peers had boyfriends already. 

So how did I respond to people’s questions of ‘Do you have a boyfriend yet?’ or ‘When are you getting a boyfriend?

I answered, with my innocent 13-year-old heart, ‘I don’t date.’

Most people were a little shocked (probably thinking in their heads ‘Wow!  That’s one crazy little girl!).

Others just kinda laughed.  To me, I didn’t really see anything so funny about it.  I didn’t date at age 13!  What use would a dating relationship be to me anyway?  I was just entering my teen years.  I had enough stress just figuring out who I was as a person. 

If you’ve read any of my other posts about guys, romance, etc. then you’d know that I’m a very romantic person.  Why am I so romantic?  

Well, #1I’m a girl.
#2God created romance and put it into each person.  (Yes, I know that’s hard to believe for some people, but really.  Everyone has looked at the opposite gender with attraction.)
And
#3Romance is beautiful.

But as a daughter of the King, I know and trust and have faith in HIM, that He will bring ‘that boyfriend’ to me soon…and as soon as HE pleases.

For now…I’ll just have to keep on being that romantic girl who ‘needs to get a boyfriend’. ;)

Trust God and stay strong!  I know there are other romancers out there too ;) 

9.16.2011

Interview with: Charmaine



 
Charmaine, thanks so much for taking the time to do this interview for my blog!  I really appreciate it – especially knowing that you have so much more important things to be doing.  Love you, girl!

Miss Raquel: Could you please introduce yourself to our readers…and tell us a little about yourself.

Charmaine: Well, I’m originally from Australia. I was born into a family that did full-time music ministry so I ended up being born on a Tour, in West Covina LA :) So the rest of my family in Australia didn’t get to meet me until the end of the Tour!

Miss Raquel: So how did you get started in the music career?  I hear that your parents were performing artists…?

Charmaine: I was born into it :)

Miss Raquel:  I heard that you sang back-up for Rebecca St. James.  Could you tell us a little about your relationship with her?

Charmaine:  It was her family that brought me from Australia to be a part of her managements Label which was “Elevate Records”,  I opened for her and also did back-up singing. It was such an amazing experience to be a part of her team. I learned a lot from her! At times we were the only 2 girls on the road. She was a great encouragement and example to me - my big sis!

Miss Raquel: Had you always wanted to be a singer?  If not, when did your passion for music begin?

Charmaine: For me there wasn’t much of a ‘beginning’ because i was literally immersed into it. I decided to make it my ministry when i was about 11yrs though.

Miss Raquel:  Do you play any instruments?

Charmaine: No. I wish my parents made me learn piano, though.

Miss Raquel:  Where did you find your band’s musicians?  Could you tell us a little about them?
  
Charmaine: At this point there has not been a set band. when i head out on tour this spring with ‘Press Play’ and Rachael Lampa, I will select peeps to join me on a regular basis.

Miss Raquel:  Who were some artists that really encouraged you to move ahead?

Charmaine: Rebecca. Stephanie Smith. Rachael Lampa

Miss Raquel:  When did your first album come out?  What was your first single?

Charmaine: Wow...ages ago. my first album was in Australia. But the 2nd album “All about Jesus” was done in the US. and i think the first single was “I love you Lord”.

Miss Raquel:  Have you toured very much?

Charmaine: Yes...A LOT.

Miss Raquel:  Are you coming out with a new album soon?

Charmaine: Well i’ve just released my first album last spring. New stuff won’t be out till the end of this year!

Miss Raquel:  What is one thing that the LORD has showed you through your experience as a recording artist?

Charmaine: To simply trust.

Miss Raquel:  Do you ever have back-up artists sing with you?

Charmaine: ummm only for fun :)

Miss Raquel:  What are some fun random facts that you could share with us? :)

Charmaine: I’m a nerd. Matrix is my number 1 fav movie.

Miss Raquel:  What are some things that you want people to see through you and your music?

Charmaine: A glimpse of the ‘real reality’. To know Love Himself a little better to know, in-spite of their situation (good or bad) that, ‘there’s more to the story then this”. To know this Love Reality is to know Him.

Miss Raquel:  In closing, if there was one thing that you could tell to every girl in the world, what would you say?

Charmaine: Look to Him. Love Himself. Find your value and joy in Him! In Him all things are Beautiful, New and Strong! Knowing that outward beauty, a boyfriend, a job, status, does not save you or make you! Only He can do what we cannot. He IS life. The life you’ve always wanted.

6.11.2011

My Faith Wavered

I was sitting in church.

Suddenly, the doors burst open and the congregation turned to see what had caused the sudden noise. A group of about eight people, all wearing masks, entered our small church building. Guns were in their hands, and they were all trained on us.

A couple screams echoed from around me, but I sat still, stunned.

What was going on?

Husbands, fathers, and brothers began to stand up around me and my family. Before any of us could ask the intruders of their purpose, one of them spoke up.

‘All of those who aren’t Christians…can leave.’

Silence reigned for about a few seconds. Finally, someone stirred near me, and I turned to see a friend and her family stand, and slowly walk down the aisle towards the doors that were still opened. The mother clutching her husband’s arm.

My faith wavered.

Next, an elderly couple. Another family. Then, the pastor and his wife and daughter. One by one, the church began to empty.

My faith wavered.

I turned to look at my family. My Dad’s face was set as stone, and my Mama’s was placid and calm. She held my baby brother in her arms.

The man who had spoken began to chuckle. I couldn’t see his face, but when he spoke, I could tell he was smiling.

‘So it’s just you guys, huh?’

None of us answered.

‘Step to the front of the church, please.’

I looked at Dad, and he nodded, ever so slightly, and gently prodded Mama and us kids, until we stood in front of the pulpit. All of the men left, except the ‘leader’, and we heard chains being put on the front doors.

‘The back door is still unlocked – for me,’ the man said. ‘If you try escaping, they have orders to shoot you.’

My faith wavered.

He moved slowly to a side window, and signaled to one of his men outside. He looked back at us, and began to talk. His voice seemed muffled as I dwelt on my own thoughts.

This was a joke. Some sort of evil joke that these people are playing on us. Perhaps, behind that mask, was a man that we knew. Everyone had left the church because they were in on the prank. They just wanted to scare us. Yeah, like that story that I heard one time. About a Russian police force storming into a church. They made all the hypocrites leave, but only the true Christians stayed. And the policemen were actually Christians themselves. Yes, that’s what was happening here. This couldn’t be real. We live in America! We are free to worship.

‘Pretty funny, actually,’ the man said, suddenly.

I jerked back to reality. What was he saying?

‘You and your family were the only ones who stayed.’

He was looking at my Dad as he spoke these words, but my Dad didn’t answer. Just held his gaze.

The man grunted and turned away, going to a corner of the church, near a window. He proceeded to do something at a little counter that I had never really noticed before. I looked around and saw my little sister, Grace, playing happily in a pew, oblivious to what was taking place.

Suddenly, the church was plunged into darkness. The only light was from a small window up above the pulpit. Even the windows on the sides of the sanctuary were dark. What had happened?

My faith wavered.

Grace echoed a small, startled scream and rushed into my Dad’s arms. Mama held Josiah tightly, while all of us children stood around them.

Suddenly, I heard a hissing sound and looked to the nearest wall. Greenish fumes were slowly ebbing out of small pipes coming from outside. I heard my Mama gasp softly. My little siblings began to whimper. I looked to see where our captor was, but he had disappeared.

My faith wavered.

Then, I heard my Dad begin to pray. Slowly, softly, calmly, like when we prayed at home – over a meal or before bed.

My eyes began to tear. Half from the gas, that slowly continued to fill the room and half from fear. I was going to die.

My thoughts raced a hundred miles an hour.

When I breathe in this gas and slowly fade away, will I wake up in heaven? Will Jesus be there to greet me?

No! I am a sinner. Worse than the worst. I’m not deserving to go to heaven. Jesus won’t want me there. Am I even truly saved?

‘God, I’m scared!’ I cried out. ‘Help me!’

Suddenly, a peace filled me. An assurance filled my heart. Jesus said that if you believe in Him, you will be saved. He said that when you repent of your sins that He is faithful and just to forgive them…and that He cleanses us from all unrighteousness. He came to earth to die for our sins. God only sees His Son’s blood when He looks at us.

I began to cry even more. But now, not from fear and guilt. But from happiness. I was going to meet Jesus face to face! I looked around at my family, but couldn’t see them, because the gas was creating a foggy effect. I heard my Dad’s voice continue to pray, and my Mama was whispering to my siblings.

I smiled.

My faith was renewed.

The gas began to stifle me, and finally, I breathed in deeply…



Then, I woke up from my dream.