11.05.2014

No, We're Not Dating. Yes, We're Best Friends.


I tend to have more guy friends than girl friends.  Some people have a problem with that, but I don’t.  Honestly, most of the girls I've known just cause drama and I have enough personal things to deal with and don’t need a “friend” adding more.  Guys are fabulous.  I feel like I can be myself around them.  They don’t wear makeup, so I don’t feel like I have to.  They wear sweats and hoodies, so I feel totally comfortable being around them cuz that’s pretty much my favorite outfit ever.  They aren’t judgmental or stuck-up, and the good ones will always  l i s t e n  to me.  I’m not saying I don’t have any girl friends.  I can count my best girl friends on one hand.  The rest are just friends (ones who I’ll gladly talk to, text, hang out with, etc.) or acquaintances (ones who I’d much rather stay clear of...).

On the other hand, though, I am so blessed by the guys in my life.  The ones I am closest to, who I consider some of my best friends, are ones who I trust, respect and love being around.  Why?  Because they’re strong Christian men.  I know they are “safe” to be around.  And most importantly, they display Christian love and friendship towards me.  This is rare.  I’ve had many girls tell me how lucky I am to know such guys.  And I am.  I’m incredibly blessed by them.  One of my favorite things about my best guy friends is the fact that they’ll listen to me.  When I tell them about my day, about an achievement, about a dream.  Or even when I’m having an emotional break-down.  And when I’ve finished blubbering, they’ll tell me to suck it up, offer whatever advice they can, and tell me to move on.  It’s amazing.

But what also comes hand in hand with having opposite gender best friends?  Well, you get that lovely question.  One that a recent article I read referred to as “the golden question”.  (That article was also the one that inspired - and was the last nudge I needed - to write this one).  And what is this golden question?  Well, it can come in a few different forms:

“Do you like ____?  Cuz you two hang out a lot.”
“You guys are so cute in all your pictures together.  Are you dating?”
“So do you like him?”

Basically, “You can’t be just friends with him, Raquel.  When are you gonna start dating?”

First of all, I am really curious what determines the best friend/significant other line.  Hanging out a lot together?  Taking pictures together?  Calling each other “best friends”?  Secondly, why can’t people just accept the fact that guys and girls can be, yes, JUST friends without having romantic feelings for each other?

There have been countless times when I have had to explain to inquisitive super nosy people that no, me and (insert name of one of my guys friends) aren’t dating, aren’t interested in each other, and are just friends.  I really don’t prefer to use that term “just friends”.  It gives this air of “not that big of a deal”.  When, to me, these certain guy friends mean a heap to me.  I’ve just relented to saying it because it’s one of the only ways to get my point across to certain people sometimes.

I get really snippy when this golden question is asked of me.  And it’s because I get so frustrated that people have the mentality of: a guy and a girl cannot be best friends without dating each other.  Sure, I get the whole “you should marry your best friend” thing but who are you to assume that this particular best guy friend, at this particular time in my life is my future husband?  

I’m not saying that guys and girls who are friends will NEVER have romantic feelings for each other, that it’s impossible, that it’s stupid.  Nothing of that sort.  All I’m saying is that it IS possible for two people, a guy and a girl, to be best friends and just that.  Friends.  Good friends.  Nothing more.  And if a friendship turns into a relationship, that’s great.  Obviously you need to be friends with someone before you can think about dating them.  But don’t automatically assume that opposite gender friendships are ACTUALLY relationships.

I can honestly say that having close guy friends has been an incredible blessing in my life.  And I am very thankful for them.  So so thankful.  

I appreciate and love all my friendships - with guys and girls.  I especially love the diversity and uniqueness of each of my best friends because they each have different roles in my life, different outlooks, opinions, and personalities.  And all of these have helped and challenged me as an individual, as well as their friend.  I go to one of my guy friends for advice on this or that, and I’ll go to my girl friends when I need help or a good girly conversation.  Both are good.  Both are fun.  Both are healthy.  And both are a blessing.

9.17.2014

Tribute to Love

So many of my friends have found the love of their life and are taking that next big step.  So many of my friends are getting married.  
And this is something I wrote to them...

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When you showed me your ring, the diamond as bright as the smile on your face, my heart was so happy for you, my friend. To think that you finally reached the day that you'd been waiting for and praying about...and now, it was finally here.
When you told me of the look on her face, as you asked the special question that you'd been dying to ask, your eyes radiated with love as you described the beauty that you see in the woman of your dreams.
Little by little, one by one, I have seen God work mightily through your lives. Sometimes in small detail perhaps, but nonetheless, all-powerful. Every drop, every wave, every crash and cloud and clap of thunder through the rain, He composed a song and a dance only for you and yours. Until they collided into one, and you can't dance a note more unless you dance it together. But along the way, somehow, He had designed a passionate love to knit your hearts together, so that when you wed, it was as perfect as two puzzle pieces - so totally different but so perfectly designed for each other. A passionate love that grew over time. When your heart finds its match, it is as if a volcano will erupt unless the two be joined. And when they do, you must decide. Each for yourself. Shall you release all that you had known of before, everything you held dear, and cling with all your might to the one now before you? Will nothing ever stop you from parting ways? Is this love strong enough to withstand the most ferocious flame, the most threatening blizzard, the longest fall into sorrow? 
People don't believe in true love anymore. What with the way today's world has painted a picture of it as a fairytale sort of wispy love and a happy ending that can only transpire when the two love-struck individuals throw themselves into each other's arms, with no thought to the future. But wait. Is this what being in love really is?
I myself have never held this status before. I have never been in love. I do not know the feelings of losing one's breath when your beloved says your name, or of entwining your fingers with the one who you know will absolutely never let you go, or to lie awake at night knowing that someone somewhere is thinking of you - specifically of YOU.
I have not felt it. But I have seen it. And what I have seen with my own eyes far outweighs any love story that was ever written by any mere man.

And what of these people who make up silly stories of what 'being in love' is? Well, I believe they say such things because they don't understand something. They don't understand that amidst the troubling hardships and thorns of life, love is hidden throughout in a myriad of different details. 

It may subside, for love is a temporary madness. There will come a time when your kisses may not be as passionate. One of you may forget a special occasion or anniversary. One of you will unintentionally insult the other. And perhaps there will be raised voices during an argument. These are all just ruts in the road. Do you not know that anything can withstand time only by enduring the messy bits? Life is the messy bits. And oh what a beautiful life to live and to share with the one who has promised to love you, body and soul, through it all.

Stay with him, not for all the things he has done right, but for the choice that you made: to love and cherish him all the days of your life. Choose not to leave her for the one thing she did wrong, but to stay with her for all the things she had done right.
Society says 'oh but if such and such happens, he doesn't love you anymore' or 'if she says this or that, the love she promised you was a lie.'
So I challenge you. When those rough waves come, when the ship of your marriage is being tossed to and fro, hold tight to each other with one hand, and hold on for life with the other. To the main mast of your ship. The pillar of strength. The only One who can see you through any storm. Afterall, He is the designer of all things. Even such a story as slaying His own Son so that you might have a perfect example of what true love is. 

This is true love.
True love is breaking yourself in half so that you can be joined with another half to become one. There will be constant breaks, yes, constant bendings, and fittings, and stretchings...And with these comes pain, for this is a union of two hearts, two souls, two personalities. But true love is what stands when everything else has fallen. True love is what is left when all around you has burned away. 

Defy what society calls love and stand for what they call impossible. Success is the greatest revenge. Avenge the dying legacy of what true love really is, and with every passing day you live as one heart bound to another, I pray that the little spark that started this dazzling flame, will only continue to be fed and that soon, the world will stop and gaze in astonishment at something they deemed impossible.


9.09.2014

7 Reasons Why I Loved Being Homeschooled


I was homeschooled all through my highschool years.  I am a 2012 homeschool graduate - and I love being able to say that.  All of those hardworking school years were such a blessing.  And I wouldn’t trade them for any sort of education I could’ve gotten elsewhere. 

The following are seven reasons why I loved being homeschooled.  And also why I think it’s so special and incredible and, ultimately, the best way (yes, I may be biased) to educate your children.

And to any of my fellow homeschooler graduates (or if you are currently still being homeschooled), please feel free to comment with any points that I may have missed.



1)  The world was my classroom.
Everyday, everything my family and I did, everywhere we went was a learning opportunity.  School is a never-ending learning process.  Just because I wasn’t in a classroom doesn’t mean I wasn’t studying.  And I’ll be learning new things for the rest of my life.

2)  I could listen to music while working.
This is a huge thing for me because I can’t live without music, and I can actually concentrate better while listening to music.

3)  I could create my own schedule.
My day may have gotten interrupted by an emergency, a quick run to the store, or because my parents wanted to throw in a week-long vacation while the rest of the kids were in public school.  I could work with my own schedule, choose my own times to study, and decide on what subjects to study at which hours.  Cuz honestly, I hated doing math in the morning, but I could work with languages no problem.  

4)  No school outfits.
Three words: sweats and hoodies.

5)  Getting first-hand experience on teaching my own children someday.
I will, LORD-willing, continue this second generation tradition of educating my future children someday.  Being able to help my parents teach my siblings now is a great learning time for me.

6)  Instead of having to hear the world’s viewpoint on certain subjects and then come home and hear the Biblical worldview, being homeschooled is a way to filter the foulness of the world. 
And no, I’m not saying that I was always able to keep my ears innocent, but my parents were able to [try to] control what I would hear, when I would hear it and be able to be right there alongside me to teach me through it.  

7)  Learning at home gave me a love of BEING at home.
Not as homebodies who are scared of going outside, but to have a healthy love for the home and its atmosphere.  I love traveling, but there’s absolutely no better feeling than to come home to my parents and siblings after being gone for a while.


Homeschooling is hard, but trusting that God will provide and give you the strength and patience you need is all a part of homeschooling.  I am so thankful that my parents stuck with my brother and me through our school years, and continue to with my younger siblings.


2.21.2014

4 Types of Worship


There are so many different ways that we can worship God in our daily lives.  Here is a short list of a few ways that I have learned I can worship God the most through.  I’m not saying these are the only ways.  But I pray that these thoughts encourage you to search deeper into ways you can praise our God.


1) Time in the Word
‘Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.’
- Matthew 6:33

As children of God, we are called to learn about Him, to dwell on His words, to SEEK His face.  Just like any other relationship, you will always continue learning about the other person.  There won’t ever be a time when you know everything there is to know about them.  The same is in our relationship with Jesus.  To learn about Him, we must spend time in His Word, gleaning from it, and prayerfully asking Him to teach us more about Who He is.  And through doing this, we are worshiping Him by obeying Him.  Reading God’s letter to us should be a daily requirement in each of our schedules.  Make time to spend in His presence.  It’ll be the best part of your day.


2) Through Song
‘Praise Him with the trumpet sound!  Praise Him with harp and lyre!  Praise Him with timbrel and dancing!  Praise Him with stringed instruments and pipe!’
- Psalm 150:3-4

Music is such a passion of mine.  And I consider my talent in music as a gift from God so what better way to worship Him than by using the gift He gave me?  Praising God through song is one of my favorite ways to express my worship to Him.  And I’m thankful for the many songs that I know of that I can use as my own prayers of thanksgiving.


3) Prayer
‘Come, let us worship and bow down.  Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker.’
- Psalm 95:6

Prayer is so very powerful.  It’s our way of having a conversation with the One Who made us.  Bit of an overwhelming thought, huh?  And through prayer, we can worship Him through rejoicing in all He has done for us.  It’s just like thanking a parent for providing food for us.  We are giving them thanks through our words, so when we’re talking to God, it’s a form of praise.


4) Praising in the hard times
‘Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance, and let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.’
- James 1:2-3

It’s easy to praise and worship when things are going well and life is smooth and easy.  But what about the times when it’s hard to go a day without crying?  Or the moments when you just feel like giving up because whatever you’re facing is just ‘too hard’?  Yet it’s in these very times when worshiping God is the most crucial, and most beautiful.  Like the verse from James says above - we are to count it as JOY when we suffer trials and hardships.  And this verse goes hand in hand with Romans 8:28 where we are promised that God works all things out for our good.  Worship Him during the tough times because through them, He’s making you stronger to withstand whatever else is coming your way.  And you’ll for sure be thanking Him then.
Are you going through something difficult right now?  If so, what kind of attitude do you have?  Is it a good attitude (praising and thanking God amidst your pain) or are you harboring complaints and curses to God and are too busy blaming Him to understand the test He’s putting you through?  I’m not saying it’s easy to go through tough times and keep a positive attitude.  But we can, if we lean on the strength that God is so willing to give us.  He hasn’t abandoned us.  And He won’t start now.

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‘Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD!’
- Psalm 150:6