Everyday Blessings // 12

>> spending time with Jesus in the early morning
>> applying for a job at a new fro-yo shop
>> decorating my mirror with song lyrics and verses from my bestie
>> snapchats from besties
>> starting a new IG account
(photog: wheretheraindropsfall / personal: itsjustraquel)
>> bonfires
>> little brothers
>> cuddling
>> movie nights with my bestie
>> having time to write
>> water
>> posters to decorate my room


If y'all could be praying for me tomorrow, I'd really appreciate it.  I have a big test that I'm going to be taking in the morning.  Just pray for wisdom, guidance and courage.  Thank you so much!:)


For what it's worth

    "So I like this girl..."

    I looked up from my laptop.  My friend was over, doing homework with me.  He sat on the couch across from me, his long legs stretched out, resting on the coffee table.  I sat in my favorite plush leather chair.  This was one of our favorite places to hang out.
    But wait.  Did he just say he liked a girl?
    "Yes?" I raised my eyebrows, waiting for him to go on.  "I didn't know you liked anyone."
    My heart started to feel like it was being gently squeezed.
    No, I told myself.  He's my friend.  Just my friend.
    "I've been meaning to tell you - since you're, like, my best friend," he smiled and winked at me.
    I swallowed hard and looked back down at my computer screen so he couldn't see my eyes.  "Well, I'm glad you finally told me."
    He swung his legs down from the table and sat up, resting his arms on his knees.  "Yeah, well I'm telling you cuz I wanted to ask you if you think I should tell her or not?  I don't want to make hers and my friendship awkward at all, so I don't know if I should just leave it the way it is or say something or what."  The way he moved his hands while he talked always made me smile.  But right now, my lips couldn't seem to cooperate to smile.  My heart was beginning to feel sad.
    I should've said something.  I should've told him sooner that my feelings for him have been changing.  But no!  He's always said how much he's glad he has me as a friend.  Just a friend.  Just as a girl-friend who doesn't like him, doesn't have a secret crush on him.  But, I guess I've already destroyed that...and now it's too late.
    "So what do you think?"
    I jumped a little, bringing my thoughts back to the present.
    "I think you should tell her," I said.  "You should tell her before someone else does."
    He nodded slowly, looking at the carpet.  "You're right.  I just don't know how to."
    "Well, for starters, what do you like about her?"
    He stood up from the couch and walked to the nearest window.  It overlooked my family's front yard.  Rain was gently falling and it gave everything a fresh, spring glow.  Silence reigned in the living room for a full minute before he spoke.
    "She's kind and gentle, but can be crazy and fun all at the same time.  She's absolutely beautiful.  When she smiles, my heart just kind of stops.  And the way she laughs makes me laugh too.  She's supportive.  She's a dreamer.  She wants to do great things with her life."  He turned and looked at me.  "She's amazing."
    I blinked.  "She sounds amazing."
    He rubbed his chin thoughtfully.  "I...I think I know what I would say to her."
    I squeezed my eyes shut for a second, trying to ward off the tears. 
    I'm his best friend.  I need to be supportive of this attraction he holds for this girl, regardless of if I wish it was...me.
    "I would go up to her and say," he paused for a breath, then continued. "I would say 'I know we've been friends for a long time.  But over the last few months, I've really felt my feelings changing towards you.  They've been changing into feelings that are ones of romance, and not of just friendship.  I'm sorry it's taken me so long to tell you this, but I wanted to tell you before some other guy does.  And for what it's worth, I just want you to know that...I like you.  A lot.' "
    Silence reigned in the room again.
    "That's beautiful," I told him.  "That's...perfect."  I sniffed.  "Sorry, my allergies."
    I grabbed a kleenex from a nearby tissue box that I'm so glad my mother insisted we have in the living room.
    "Any girl would be honored for you to tell her that," I tried to smile at him.
    He walked over to my seat, till he was standing directly in front of me.
    I looked up at him. "Really," I said, emphasizing how amazing his little speech had been.
    He reached down, took my laptop, and placed it on the coffee table.  Then he took my hands and gently pulled me up.
    "I didn't know allergies made people cry," he smiled, softly.
    I pulled one of my hands away from him and brushed a hand over my face.  I felt something wet on my fingers and scolded myself inwardly.  "They do sometimes," I mumbled.
    "Hey," he said, taking my hand again.  "Look at me."
    Stop crying, stop crying.  Hold the tears back.
    I slowly looked up at him.
    "I know we've been friends for a long time.  But over the last few months, I've really felt my feelings changing towards you.  They've been changing into feelings that are ones of romance, and not of just friendship.  I'm sorry it's taken me so long to tell you this, but I wanted to tell you before some other guy does.  And for what it's worth, I just want you to know that...I like you.  A lot."
    I stared at him, not knowing what to say.  How could he torture me like this?  I already told him that those words were beautiful.
    He smiled at me and gently brushed another tear away with his thumb.  His blue-green eyes twinkled.  "Do I need to say it again?"
    "I don't know," I sniffed.  "Why are you telling me anyway?  It's perfect.  Those words are beautiful.  You should go tell them to that lucky girl right now.  She'll fall for you after the first three sentences."
    "I am telling them to her right now.  Though I wouldn't consider her the lucky one.  If she fell for me, I would be the lucky one."
    I searched his face, trying to see if what he was saying was really meant for me.  Were these words meant for my ears?  Was everything he just said directed at me? 
    Everything about his eyes and his smile told me that he was telling truth.
    I didn't know what to do.
    I looked down and smiled.  I couldn't stop smiling.  I couldn't say anything, but at least my face could show how happy I was.
    He leaned close and touched his nose to my hair, his lips close to my forehead.

    "For what it's worth...I like you," he whispered.


Signed, Me

(Inspired by a question I received from a reader: What's one thing you'd like to tell your younger self?)


It's a bit of a cliche thing to say that you will experience many changes in your life.  But I'm going to say it anyway because looking back now, you really did.  You will experience hurt...happiness...pain...healing...but most of all, something I know you always will discover, is a deeper meaning of God's love for you.  It's unfathomable and unending.  And you will continue to learn about it with each coming day, week, month, and year in your life.

You will discover the sting of betrayal...the stab of guilt...the crushing feeling of being used...but through each of these, there awaits a greater joy.  A light at the end of that dark tunnel.
Don't ever give up hope.  Don't ever think that you're alone - because you really aren't.  No matter how much it seems like it.  God is always walking beside you.  And through the hardest times, He is holding you.  He's only a breath away.  If you feel that He's further than that, it's because you have things cluttering your life that shouldn't be there.  You will always have a hole in your life that only God can fill.  You will learn this by and by, but don't worry.  He won't be angry at you for not realizing it right away.  He is a patient and loving God.  He is an oh so gentle and caring Father.

He will bring people across your path to help you in your journey.
Two people who have always been - and will always be there for you - are your parents.  Don't ever feel like you can't tell them things.  Anything that's happening in your life.  They truly do care for you.  And you will realize just how much you need them.

Your brother is another big, important figure in your life.  No matter if he's away from home, remember that you can text or call him at any time.  He'll remind you of that too.  Outside, while you guys are getting wood for the woodstove, he'll pull you into his arms and you'll cry onto his shoulder telling him how much you miss him.  And he'll whisper to you, 'Raquel, I'm never really gone.  You know how to get a hold of me quickly.  And don't ever think you're interrupting me.  Because you are more important.'

Other people God will put in your life are friends.  People who claim to be your friends.  And then others who are really and truly your friends.  You'll meet some incredible people through your blog (mainly, incredible friends who live out of state).  And you will meet other friends through mutual friends.  And you'll form strong bonds with these people.  They will encourage you and challenge you and sharpen you.  Your character and your whole spiritual walk will be impacted by these people.  Don't take them for granted either.

You will want to do great things with your life.  You'll get restless by 'just being at home'.  But remember that God uses every single moment in our lives for a reason.  He is teaching us something through it.  He has a plan through it all.

This letter really could go on.  There's so much I wish I could warn you about.  So much I wish I could tell you to not do.  But more than those times, I wish I could tell you about all the moments you will be struck down in awe at the beauty and love and forgiveness of your Creator.  Just writing that sentence right now makes me realize something, though.  Those moments aren't recordable.  They're something that you'll just have to keep in your heart.  I know you'll know what I'm talking about when they happen to you.  And I know you'll know what I mean by not being able to put into words those moments.

Treasure life, Raquel.  Every moment is a gift from God.  Live in those moments.  Spend time with your family.  Organize your priorities.  Stand for what you believe.  Know when to say 'no'.  Make time to spend with Jesus.  Offer to do things for others.  Write.  Sing.  Dance.  Glorify God.  Look around to find others you can bless.  And love on those people.  Pour your whole self into loving others.  Even if you get hurt by doing so, remember that Christ never let pain stop Him from loving you.



Refuge | a poem

Life is hard
Sometimes I feel weak
Of living another day.
I feel like burying myself
Under a blanket
In a poor attempt to shut out the world
And the misery it contains.
But through all the chaos
Through all the storms
Something whispers to my soul.
A small voice
Yet all the same, the richest I've ever heard
A loving hand touches me
I feel wholly embraced
A peace overflows me.
'Take heart, my child.'
My Maker tells me.
And with a small smile
I realize
This world is not in control of me
Even if it tries to beat me down
There's nothing I can't achieve
No dream too big to grasp
I can cut through this thicket of brambles
That's tearing at me
I can swim through these rough currents
That try to take me the other way
No mountain is too big for me to climb
No wind is too hard to walk against.
And the only way I can
The only way I'll be able to
Withstand against these many hardships
Is when I say
When I proclaim
With every breath in me:

In the LORD, I take refuge.


Inspired by Psalm 11:1


Everyday Blessings // 11

>> jamba juice with a bestie
>> Ironman 3 premier with friends
>> beach with friends
>> roadtrip along the Oregon coast

>> catching up with friends who I haven't seen in a long time
>> shorts and tank-top weather

>> summer tans
>> new books
>> a wedding invitation to a friend's wedding
>> planning another trip to California
>> getting a new phone
>> letters and packages in the mail

>> clean sheets
>> being able to sing again after being sick with the flu for TOO LONG
>> discovering a verse in the Bible that I wish I knew existed years ago

>> new ring
>> star gazing


What are some blessings you've experienced lately?


Being Broken

There’s no need to be healed, if we aren’t broken first.

This phrase has been going back and forth through my thoughts this past week.  I think it started with a sermon I heard by Steve Lawson, in which he was talking about how God creates a new heart in us when we become one of His children.  And even after we are believers, He continues to form us, shape us, prune us into the person He has designed for us to become.  And all of those processes are not easy.

I recently experienced a loss.  A disagreement caused for me to lose a close friend of mine.  We still talk every once in a while, but our relationship isn’t the same anymore.  And it never will be.  I was sad, yes.  Disappointed, greatly.  But through it all, I can honestly say that I’ve never felt God’s hand so gently surrounding me as I did while going through all of this.  I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that He only removed this person from my life because He has someone far greater, far more amazing planned to fill that spot.  And that gives me such joy to think about.

There are far greater pains than losing a friend.  Pain such as losing a child to the unforgiving claw of death.  Pain such as seeing a loved one turn away from Christ.  Pain such as having to let go of something dear and precious to you, to your happiness.  

But pain means that God is taking things out of our life only to get us ready for bigger and better things.  

Our God has a purpose and plan that we do not yet see.  And may never see.  Our job is to follow, to obey.  He is our Leader.  We have nothing to fear, nothing to worry about.  We must live in the moment, in the here and now.  To revel in the pure awesomeness of our God and the plans He has for us.  


‘Because in much wisdom, there is much grief.  And increasing knowledge, results in increasing pain.’
- Ecclesiastes 1:18