An Open Letter To the Three Guys I Almost Dated, and To the One I Will

Guy #1:
You were my idea of perfect.  You were everything I wanted.  You met every requirement I had on my little 'list' that I had written when I was a fourteen-year-old, romance-lover little girl who knew nothing of the real world.  I first met you around my fifteenth year.  You were dating a girl.  I was happy for you.  But then, about a year and half later, we met up again.  You were single.  I had never dated.  And later, we both told each other that that night, watching The Dark Knight Rises, was a time that we both realized our deep attraction to each other.  I remember how caring and kind you were, asking after my family, making sure I was comfortable on the floor in front of the TV, asking if I was warm enough.  You were such a gentleman.  You still are.  And that's a word I'm thankful I can use - 'still'.  Because you're still in my life.  You are still considered a friend to me.  We talk, sometimes.  Off and on.  You always text me when you drive by my house and let me know that you waved.  That's a tradition we've had even before we almost started dating.  And why did we never start?  I remember that evening so clearly.  We were on the phone.  I was sitting, cross-legged, on my bed, holding the ear to my phone, hearing your deep voice I had grown to love.  But I didn't like what you were saying.  We got in an argument about something that I felt so strongly about in one way, and you the other.  And it was mutual.  We mutually agreed that a more serious relationship wouldn't work, because this topic would always come up in conversation and would mostly like ruin anything we started.  And you exited my life as a potential boyfriend.  But you're still here.  Just as a friend.  I hope you will always think of me as the same.  You blessed me and cared for and respected me during our whole time together.  And I never doubted your affection.  We never returned sentimental things to each other.  I still have the journal, the bracelet and the Valentine you made me.  I will always love your family, and look forward to seeing you whenever we're in each others' state.  I hope you keep smiling, keep adventuring, and keep living.  And hopefully, someday, we will meet each others' spouses and know that it didn't work out for us because the ones God has planned for us are so much better and perfect than we thought we were for each other.  You were my idea of perfect when I was a seventeen year old girl.  But I am very different now (I threw that list away).  And that's okay.

Guy #2:
Our friendship started off like the romance story where the hero and heroine hated each other at first.  I still remember the first time I met you.  I couldn't stand you.  You were good-looking but knew it, snobby, arrogant, and came off as the tough guy who played ultimate frisbee to show off.  Oh and I'll never forget how you bragged about how often people told you that Channing Tatum was your celebrity look-alike. We met through a mutual friend.  I'm sure you remember that.  You added me on Facebook, and sent me an apology message for 'what a jerk' you were the first time we'd hung out.  You wanted to 'make it up to me' by hanging out again.  So I gave you a chance.  Something about my view of you changed.  And I trusted you.  We spent time together as often as we could that summer.  I remember you picking me up from a friend's house early one morning and taking me for a walk around the lake.  It was a gorgeous day.  So warm and sunny.  And then one day, you called me.  And through much stammering and stuttering, finally managed to say that, against your will, you had developed feelings for me...and if I somehow felt the same.  I did (surprisingly).  And following that, was a time of 'getting to know each other before officially dating'.  We did well at hiding it from our friends.  To this day, many people don't know you and I were sort of a 'thing'.  But then, you told me that you felt God was encouraging you to stay single, to work on becoming a man, and not to involve a girl in your life yet.  So we backed off.  It was difficult.  I hated not having any closure.  It was like I felt committed to you, but at the same time, I didn't.  I had no clue what the heck was going on.  The fourth of July came around.  I invited you to come watch fireworks with my family.  'I'm gonna be out of state, staying with a friend and her family.'  Her?  Well that was interesting...  I should've known then.  The week after, you called to tell me that we couldn't be together because you had a lot of life things you needed to work on and you 'felt God telling you that you weren't ready for a relationship'.  I honored that.  Because all I ever wanted was to help, support, respect and bless you.  Four days after that phone call, I opened my Facebook and the first post to greet me was you smiling, your arm around a dark-haired girl, announcing that you were 'in a relationship'.  I cried the first day, was calm and cold the second day.  But then you had the guts to text me the following Sunday with 'At the lake.  It's not the same here without you:('  Oh I bet it wasn't.  And I hope that every time you go back there, you think of me and remember the wonderful times we had.  But most of all, I hope you remember how much I was always there for you, faithful to you even if we weren't 'official', and how I wish I would've seen how little of man you really are because obviously you didn't have the nerve to tell me to my face that you were interested in someone else.  And that that was the reason 'we couldn't work out'.

Guy #3:
We didn't meet through a mutual friend.  I found you through a hashtag on Instagram.  Pretty cute way of finding someone, if ya ask me.  We commented back and forth for a bit before exchanging numbers (which I basically never do).  We talked and talked...everyday...for a couple weeks.  And then you told me that you still really liked your ex-girlfriend.  My attraction kinda spiraled downhill for a bit.  We lost contact for a while, but then you randomly called me (I was in the shoe section at Walmart), seeking advice on how to get back together with her.  And I helped.  Cuz that's what I do.  You said 'thanks', hung up, and I saw pictures of you two together on Instagram not long after.  Skip to about a year and a half later.  You texted me out of the blue.  Surprisingly, your name and number were still in my phone.  We texted back and forth...then had a phone call that was about 3 hours long...  Things quickly sped up.  We had so many things in common, yet balanced each other well.  The most attractive thing about you was your love and passion for God.  To this day, whenever I tell someone about you, I always stress the fact that you are, above all, a man of God.  Despite your flaws, despite the reasons we didn't 'end up together', you will always have my respect in regards to your strong beliefs, and confidence in defending the Word of God.  Things were going well.  Our friendship was definitely leading to something more serious.  But I didn't feel a full peace about it, about 'us'.  You did, though.  And that was when things started becoming more difficult.  You were persistent.  You were pushy.  You were possessive, and yes, even controlling.  All of these added up together gave me more of an unrest about pursuing something serious with you.  The last straw was when you told (not asked) me to 'make time for you because you were needy'.  Now, Guy #3, everyone is needy.  Even the strongest men I know have their needy moments.  But to voice your need for attention sounded like a five-year old little boy who wanted mommy to come hug him.  I don't want a boy.  I want a man.  And that, is why I said 'no'.  I have men in my life who have shown me what a real man is, have challenged me to raise my standards higher, and who are men I look up to for wisdom and advice.  You weren't really measuring up to that.  I am so glad I never gave you what you wanted, never did anything with you that I would regret now, never let you force me to do anything, and that above all, I kept open communication with my parents about you and me.  Because thanks to them, you were told to give me space, and when you didn't, they called you and just told you to leave me alone.  Maybe we'll reconnect in the future sometime.  But for now, I'm thankful for some breathing space.


In one way or another, I am thankful for these almost-relationships I had.  I learned a lot - about myself, about guys, about relationships, and about what I need/want and what works for me.  I had a good time too.  Made some good memories.  We made each other laugh and had fun together.  And I hope those will always stay good memories.


Dear future boyfriend,

I may have met you already.  We may be very close right now.  Whatever the case, I know someday you'll read this.  And this is my open letter to you.
This could be ridiculously long.  And I know I will never say everything I want to in this small blog post, but I do want you to know a few things.  About me.  About who I am.  About us.

I have witnessed a fair share of immature relationships, high school crushes, and painful heartbreaks.  I've also seen marriages fall apart, serious dating relationships end and friends being led on only to be told after a while that their heart was just being played with and that the person really didn't care for them afterall.

These are just a few reasons why I love being single.  Because I don't have to deal with any of that.  I know who I am, I love who I am, I love who I am going to become, and I haven't met anyone who could keep up with me.  Not only to love me too, but to challenge and embrace me.  I also know what I want and need and am looking for in a man.  My standards are high, sure.  But don't they have to be in today's world?

I have an amazing life.  I love my family, my friends, my busy schedule, my relationship with God.  I don't need anyone to make my life 'perfect'.  It is perfect.  It's the perfect life for me.  And something I think a lot of people don't realize is that we are all living a life as a whole human being.  No one is going to make us complete.  You are not going to complete me.

But that doesn't mean I won't need you.

I do want someone.  I want you.  And it's not for the sole purpose of just 'having a boyfriend', but because the man I date is the man I can see myself potentially marrying.  And the reason I can see myself marrying that man is because he is someone godly, someone who I can trust and who trusts me, someone who has proven his care and affection and loyalty to me.  A man who complements me, who understands me, who wants to study me even if we've known each other for years.  Someone who is strong, yet gentle; stubborn, yet willing to be wrong; firm, yet forgiving.  And that man will be one who will be there beside me through thick and thin and I would always be able to depend on his stability and compassion for me and everything life throws our way.  This man will have to be one who also needs me, who will fight for us, always pursue me and not give up at the first rough patch we hit.

I'm not perfect.  I'm not easy.  I'm a fighter and will argue for my point to win.  It takes a lot to earn my trust.  I speak what's on my mind.  And I'm also pretty selfish.  I can hide what I'm feeling very well.  I can cover up my pain when I feel it's needed, but I want a man who can gently pry my fingers away from clutching at my hurting heart and gently kiss the tears away.  I want a man who looks beyond my figure and physical appearance to love on and connect with my soul.  I want a friend, an equal, a man who I can respect and submit to, a lover, a fighter, a leader - not only for me, but for our future children.

Together we will define what love is.  An action, not a feeling.  A commitment, not an emotion.  The greatest bond between two people, and a union that will only grow stronger because the two challenge and help each other grow into better individuals.  And still love each other no matter what.

I ask one thing...
Don't give up on me.  In every sense of that phrase.  Don't give up on me when I push you away.  Don't give up on me when I disagree.  Don't give up on me when I don't show you affection.  Don't give up on me when I tell you to leave me alone.  Don't give up on me when I'm being impossible.  Because remember that I got along wonderfully without you for however many years.  And I've dealt with many different kinds of guys.  It'll take some getting used to for me to have a real man in my life who actually and genuinely cares for me - my heart, not just my body.

I am happy with my life.  I love where I am right now.  I am learning new things about myself with each passing day.  I enjoy being single because it allows me to dream of you and pray for you while pursuing my dreams.  And I know that God will allow us to meet at the right time, in the right way, in the right moment.

I hope you're looking forward to that as much as I am.

In love,
Your Future Girlfriend

P.S.  Just because I've 'been' with other guys doesn't mean you're not as important or significant.  You are everything and more than I deserve and will forever be blessed by your choice of me.


6 Do NOTs About Blogging

Below are five things you should beware of in the blogging world...

1)  Do NOT make your posts too long.
A lot of times, people want to read their favorite blogs but don't always have a ton of time to sit on their computer or phone reading, scrolling, reading, and scrolling through a super long post.  So try to keep yours at a good length (3 to 4 medium sized paragraphs is perfect).

2)  Do NOT be too wordy.
There's a difference between descriptive and wordy.  Learn that difference.

3)  Do NOT compare yourself to other bloggers.
Everyone has their own style.  Everyone is unique.  Everyone blogs about something particular.  You are you.  You have your blog.  Make it spectacular.

4)  Do NOT forget to be creative.
Add color and spice to your blogging corner.  You should try to include at least one photo in each post.

5)  Do NOT listen to the haters.
Yes, you will get haters.  For every good thing, there are at least ten people trying to find the bad in it.  Haters gonna hate.  There's a difference between constructive criticism - from people who are only trying to be helpful and give you pointers, etc. - and people who have nothing better to do than troll websites and try to find only the bad in your posts.  Listen to the former, not the latter.

6)  Do NOT forget to have fun.
This is your blog.  This is your creative outlet.  You started this blog for a reason.  Let it be your personal space online.


I wrote this in response to a comment I received on my last post about blogging.  I hope it's helpful and not too bossy-sounding.

To my fellow bloggers - am I leaving anything out?


5 Tips To Being a Successful Blogger

Although I do not regard myself as highly successful, people have been asking me for tips on blogging and suggested I write an article about how-to-be a successful blogger.  I wish it was a simple 1-2-3 process and boom!  You're this super famous, incredible blogger.  But it's not.  And different methods work for different people.
Below are a few tips that I have learned, personally, over the years of blogging.  Take them and apply them accordingly.


1)  Write well
If you can't write better than a three-year old (...who hasn't learned to write yet), then you shouldn't be allowed on the worldwide web.  Simple as that.  I'm not only talking about spelling here, but vocabulary, grammar, capitalization, punctuation, the whole nine yards.  This is literally the first step to being a successful blogger.

2)  Know
Know what your blog is about.  Why did you start it?  What do you want people to learn from it?  What is your main focus?  What do you want people to think when they visit your blog?

3)  Visit & comment
Your followers like to know you're a real person who actually cares.  I'm not saying to visit and follow and comment on every single one of your followers' blogs, but head over there every once in a while.  You can leave a simple comment such as 'Thanks for your consistent commenting on my blog!' or 'Hey, just wanted to say thanks for being a follower!'  It makes them feel acknowledged and recognized.  And they obviously like you, since they follow your blog, so for you to make an effort and stop by theirs will boost their good opinion of you.

4)  Publicize
Don't be afraid to ask people to visit your blog.  Just once, though.  Maybe twice every 6 months or so.  There's nothing wrong with letting them know about it, but when you get too pushy, that's only a turn-off and will make them NOT want to visit your blog.  I heartily recommend that you make a Facebook page, invite ALL your friends (even people who you don't think will actually take the time to like it and look over it.  You never know if they might...), and update it consistently.  Interact with your followers and fans.  Share your blog posts on the blog page.  Do the same with Twitter.

5)  Consistency
That 'schedule' option becomes your new best friends.  So you can't be online for a week while camping?  Answer: Schedule.  You're working consistent 10-hour days this week?  Answer: Schedule.  Find a time to sit down and write a bunch of posts and then schedule them for throughout the week.


I hope these, or at least some of them, have helped you and given you good ideas to taking on the blogging world.  Comment with any other tips you have learned first-hand!  And feel free to leave your blog link for me to check out.

You can check out another post I did on blogging here.


Why People Don't Like Love

Too often, I think we refer to 'love' and 'romance' as one and the same.  
But are they truly?

They both have to do with a man and a woman, yes.  But only one can make their relationship flourish past friendship.
They can both easily be faked, but only one can withstand the test of time.
They are both beautiful things, but only one is eternal and imperishable.

Romance is what makes us want to watch cute movies in which attractive characters fall in love with each other and we think 'Oh how I wish I was him/her!' 
Romance is what makes your heart flutter when he sends those sweet texts late at night.  
Romance is what makes you smile when she calls you by your favorite pet name.

But love. What is love?

Love is the beautiful, tormenting, heart-attacking knowledge that wells up inside of you at just the sound of their voice.  
Love is the reason behind all the late-night phone calls where you fall asleep to the sound of the other breathing.  
Love is the confidence that no matter how much your hair color fades, no matter how many pounds you gain, no matter if your eyes grow dim.  Love is what keeps the romance alive.

“People don’t like love, they like that flittery flirty feeling. They don’t love love - love is sacrificial, love is ferocious, it’s not emotive. Our culture doesn’t love love, it loves the idea of love. It wants the emotion without paying anything for it. It’s ridiculous.”
- Matt Chandler

Love is not an emotion, like romance is.  Love is a knowledge. A pledge.  A vow.  It's what stands when everything around you both has fallen.  And when asked if you still romance the one you love, you can answer 'It is because I love, I am able to romance.  Forever and always.'  Love is a choice and action, not a feeling and emotion.  Love is a choice.  A decision.  And this isn't exactly an all-time favorite. 

Love isn't convenient.  It isn't easy.  It's complicated, it's difficult, it sometimes happens at the most unexpected times.
I think there are two types of love:
1)   Falling in love with who the person is.
2)   Reminding yourself why you chose to love that person.  Even when you don’t necessary LIKE them (during an argument, disagreement, etc.), you must still choose to LOVE them the way Christ loves the church. 

"In any relationship, there will be frightening spells in which your feelings of love dry up.  And when that happens, you must remember that the essence of marriage is that it is a covenant, a commitment, a promise of future love.  So what do you do?  You do the acts of love, despite your lack of feeling.  You may not feel tender, sympathetic, and eager to please, but in your actos, you must BE tender, understanding, forgiving and helpful.  And, if you do that, as time goes on you will not only get through the dry spells, but they will become less frequent and deep, and you will become more constant in your feelings.  This is what can happen if you decide to love."
- Timothy Keller

"I'm single, Raquel," you say to your computer screen.  "How does this apply to me?"

Maybe it doesn't...yet.  But it might in the future.  Maybe even soon.  The things is, you're living your wedding vows right now.  How are you staying committed to your future spouse right now?  How are you staying faithful to being theirs - in body and soul?  These are all ways that you can practice building a strong foundational love to your marriage even though you're currently single.

"But it's not easy."

Heck no, it's not.  Who says it would be?  Loving an imperfect person is gonna be really, really hard.  But guess what?  You're not perfect either.  And they're gonna have to put up with you.  Pretty humbling thought, huh?  I think about that a lot too.  I'm like 'What if I just can't deal with them anymore?' but then I remind myself of the vows that I plan on making on my wedding day and I tell myself 'Those are going to be one of the most important words I will ever utter from my lips.  And I will pledge them with my whole heart.  That means no backing out.  Ever.'

Love isn't going to be the Disney perfect happily ever after ohmygosh forever and ever kisses all the time kind of happiness.  Love is hard.  It's going to be hard.  Sometimes it'll be grand, and sometimes it won't be.  It will be fun, yes, but that doesn't mean it always will be or that it won't take work sometimes.  During the most difficult times, the most important thing you can do is to continue to love. 

Love is not about you.  It never will be.  The purpose is not about your own happiness and pleasure and self-gratification.  That is not true love.  Love is not about what the other person can give you and do for you, but what you can do for them.  

Love is the most selfless act in the universe.  

The purpose of love is the very essence of it, the act, the art, the life lesson of learning how to love another human being.  And that will probably be one - if not the most - darnest difficulty you will ever experience or have to face.  But it'll be worth it.  It will be so worth it.   

Love is choosing someone over everything else, including yourself, your ego, your pride, your desires, unfailingly, every day.  Forever.

It is not in our nature to love, but it isn't against our nature either.  Then what is it?  It is above our nature.  It's the greater good.  It is what God is (1 John 4:8).  And aren't we called to be like Him?  This is something we must reach for, strive towards, because it is inspirational, because it is noble.  Because it is right.
"The healthiest thing you can say to someone you love is, "I would be okay without you, but yet I choose to stay'."


This post was originally published by Raquel on Brave


Be Brave

As humans, we can be easily intimidated.

Life scares us.

Circumstances happen and we panic.
People hurt us.
Fear lurks in corners of our spirits and minds.

Because we let it.

Now lets look at the other side of the spectrum.
As Christians, we are not of this world.
Life is controlled by a holy and sovereign God.
Circumstances happen for a reason; with a purpose.
People are in our lives to teach us many different lessons.

And fear has no hold on us.

For God has NOT given us a spirit of fear.  But of power, of love, and of a sound mind.
- 1 Timothy 1:7

Listen to how much potential that verse holds.

In a later passage, Paul tells Timothy that God has 'called us with a holy calling'.  And with such a calling, fear has no place and should have no privilege.

It's a struggle - to live without fear.  In this dark world, sin has a habit of slithering its way into every second of our days.  This is why we must always be on the alert.  To be steadfast.  Not only to keep sin from entering, but to confront it.  To be brave.

We think of this bravery as something attainable.  Something we need to work for, work towards, and someday reach.  But the truth is that we are brave.  We live and breathe the power of bravery.  We must only act out on that form of being.  We must exercise it.  We must remind our own timid hearts that they were not created to be shy.  But great.  Wondrous.  God wants to shine through us and touch others with His love.

He desires us to be brave.

He wants to manifest His power and greatness through us.  What an awesome thought.

Who should you fear?
Who should you be afraid of?

You have salvation and a stronghold in the Creator of a million galaxies.  He is on your side.  You are on His.  He already won this war.  The battle of fear that you are facing is already claimed.  We are victorious.

Be brave.

This post was originally published by Raquel on Brave.


A Perspective on Secular Music

Is it okay for Christians to listen to and enjoy secular music?

I’ve been asked this question by many readers, multiple times.

And my answer is yes.

While deciding whether or not to listen to secular music, there are main factors to consider.  

First of all, is the purpose of music solely for worship or did God create it to also be entertaining?  King David (the most famous musician in the Bible) used music in his worship to God. (Psalm 6:1, 54, 55, 61:1, and 67:1 are just a few examples)  It was also used in 1 Samuel, in the story that I’m sure we’re all familiar with, where Saul called David to play the harp for him, because he was being tormented by evil spirits.  The Israelites also used musical instruments during battle and to warn of danger.  In the New Testament, we are instructed in Ephesians 5 and Colossians 3 to encourage one another in ‘psalms and hymns and spiritual songs’.  So while music is primarily viewed as a form of worship in the Bible, it is most definitely allowed for other uses as well.

Secondly, many secular artists are very talented.  They perform well, are great entertainers, make catchy music, write songs that are thoughtful, insightful, and have positive messages.  Not all are as ‘of the devil’ as a lot of Christians have said in the past.  I will say, though, that much of secular music doesn’t match up to the standards in Philippians 4:8 regarding the purity and integrity of the mind.  Many modern songs talk about things that go against God’s Word or are considered abominations in His eyes.  Such songs as these, no Christian should listen to and glorify.  But there are also secular songs that hold no mention of God and are perfectly pure and enjoyable.  Some love songs, for example, even promote the purity of true love but don’t even mention God or the Bible.  These, I think, can be listened to and still enjoyed.  

Music is such a passion of mine.  And I consider my singing ability as a gift from God so what better way to worship Him than by using the talent He gave me?  But does that mean that He will be angry with me if I choose to blast secular songs while I'm driving?  Or listening to a film's soundtrack that is just instrumental?

I think we need to be more careful before we say that ‘listening to secular music is bad/wrong/sinful!’  Also, to quickly jump to the conclusion that someone who listens to secular music is ‘in sin’ or ‘not a Christian’ is ridiculous and downright stupid.  There is nothing in God’s Word that says not to listen to ‘non-Christian’ music; no Biblical basis that declares any specific kind of music to be ungodly.  Nowhere does it condemn the use of certain instruments or certain styles of music either.  And yes, there’s the given that obviously guitars and drums and pianos weren’t existent in Bible times, but as one of my favorite Christian artists pointed out: ‘Nearly all forms of modern music are variations and/or combinations of the same types of musical instruments, played at different speeds and/or with heightened emphasis’.  (By the way, percussion is mentioned in the Bible.  Check out Psalm 68:25.)

We are all convicted of things differently.  These are just my personal thoughts.  I will end with a warning and reminder: what a person listens to will eventually come out of him.  It will control his way of thinking, his speech and his actions.  It’s the lyrics of a song that are what should determine whether it’s something profitable or not for a Christian to listen to.  For some, certain kinds of music is tolerable.  While for others, it becomes a stumbling block and an addiction.  We must keep Philippians 4:8 and 2 Corinthians 10:5’s words as our standards for the kind of music we should or shouldn’t listen to.

Enjoy music for what God intended it for - to enjoy, entertain, and use for worship.


He Is Still Sovereign

Every year, on my birthday, I choose a Bible verse that I feel God wants me to memorize and apply to my new year.  The verses are always placed so strategically in my day that it couldn't be more of a clear sign that they are from God.

My birthday was last week.  I had been reflecting on this last year, and was repeating to myself the birthday verse of 2014.

"Come, let us return to the LORD.  For He has torn us, that He will heals us.  He has wounded us, but He will bind us up.  On the third day, He will raise us up so that we may live with Him forever..."
- Hosea 6:1-2

Believing in a sovereign God is not easy.  Many times it's so testing on my finite mind that I must remind myself 'You believe He is sovereign because He is God.'  Because if He is God, but not sovereign we're gonna have big problems.

Trusting God's sovereignty is applicable in every aspect of life.  But when difficulties hit us, when rough times slap us across the face, when storms of life lay us flat on the ground, believing in His sovereignty is easy to question.  Why would God allow something like this to happen?  Does He want us to get knocked down?  'But He is a loving God,' some will say.  'He would never intentionally afflict us.'

Oh but wait.  Read that passage from Hosea again.

It says that He breaks us.  And tears us.

But He won't leave us like that.  He will heal us.  He will bandage us up.

We may never known why He ordained certain things to happen in our lives but a trust and often-quoted verse is one that I am sure you're familiar with:

"For we know that all things work together for good to them that love God; to them who are called according to His purpose."
- Romans 8:28

With the comfort of that promise, we can rest in assurance and peace that no matter what great trials cross our paths.  He is bigger than it.  He has a purpose for it.  And He is never far from our grasp.  He is a God of comfort.

"I am filled with comfort.  I am overflowing with joy in all our affliction."
- 2 Corinthians 7:4

How could Paul be so joyful in his afflictions?  Because he is comforted by this sovereign God.  The LORD will never abandon us.  He won't see us going through the storm He designed without holding our hand and walking with us against the wind and sleet.  He is ever-present, ever-sovereign, never-changing.

Trust the sovereign God who tears, so He will heal; Who wounds, so He will bandage.  Look for and pray about the lesson He is teaching you amidst these.  And remember the comfort He offers.

I love how that passage in Hosea ends...

"Let us know.  Let us press on to know the LORD.  His going out is as sure as the dawn.  He will come to us like the rain, as the spring rain that waters the earth."
- Hosea 6:3


Everyday Blessings // 31

>> turning 20
>> two of my favorite guys hanging out with me at work
>> having friends over for a late birthday celebration on Saturday
>> blueberry muffins
>> pay checks
>> morning phone calls
>> long drives on back roads I've never been on
>> flowers, flowers and more flowers (I got two bouquets for my birthday, and a potted plant for my office desk)
>> spontaneous hang outs at a friend's house
>> getting paid to go watch movies and write reviews on them (Insurgent)
>> receiving a package with birthday gifts from a Twitter follower
>> thoughtful and heartfelt gifts from family and friends
>> dates with coworkers
>> yoga balls
>> receiving a video from a friend in Peru of my boys wishing me a happy birthday
>> ESV R.C. Sproul study Bible
>> long walks with friends
>> having a job
>> Insurgent (watching the movie, and receiving the book as a birthday gift)
>> a Guardians of the Galaxy mug
>> Easter Sunday dinner with relatives


How did your April begin?


20 Things I've Learned During My 20 Years of Life

Today is my 20th birthday.

All I can say is 'Wow'...

Teenager years are behind me.

Wasn't really sure how I felt about this, or what I wanted to write about on my blog.  But I decided on sharing with you my oh so grand wisdom that my 20-year-old brain now holds.  These are just life lessons I have learned over the years, with maybe a few memories mixed in there.



1.  My parents love me more than I could ever realize, though I may understand one day when I have children of my own.  They have always given me advice, encouraged my dreams, and cried with me over my mistakes.

2.  Stars are my obsession that was birthed on my second birthday when my Mama bundled me up and took me outside to watch as Comet Hale-Bopp shot across the sky in 1997.

3.  Even though my brother and I have grown apart and lead very different lives, he is and always will be my number one partner in crime, my protector, and one who will never judge my decisions but rather support and encourage me in my choices.

4.  My little sisters and brother are some of the daily challenges I face, but I can never imagine my life without them.

5.  I dislike money.  Sure, it's useful, but it's so freaking inconvenient.  And you have to worry about when to pay what and how much and where and and and...

6.  Rainy days make for some of the best days.

7.  The truth will set you free.

8.  Travel.

9.  It's okay to leave pieces of my heart in other parts of the world.

10.  Reading never gets old.  Make time for it.  And I can never have 'too many' books.

11.  When in doubt, choose black.

12.  Music is life.  It's not a passion.  It's part of who I am.

13.  Explore different styles until I find the one I feel cute and comfortable in.  And if that style is a little bit of everything, that's okay.

14.  Languages are addicting.

15.  Tea can heal.

16.  The most important quality a man must possess is his undying, passionate love and fear of God, coupled with his ability to lead - physically and spiritually.  Once that is distinguished, everything else will fall into place.

17.  I can never make someone understand anything.  All I can do is say what I feel needs to be said, and trust that God will use my words in whatever way He sees fit to.

18.  The world is full of people who will literally find pleasure in hating others.  These people are not worth my time and if I get down about what they say about me, I have let them win.

19.  True friends are very hard to find.  Friends who will stick with me through thick and thin, invest time and effort in my life.  When I find those individuals, never ever let them go.

20.  God laughs at what I think is impossible.  And then proceeds to show off (because He can) in allowing to happen what I could never have ever planned or accomplished.


As part of my new year as a freaking 20 year old, I will be doing a 365 day photo challenge on Instagram.  Follow along @itsjustraquel.