8.31.2015

Music Monday | Some Favorite Album Art

Below are just a few of my favorite album cover artwork.  Not listed in any particular order.

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Fall Out Boy's 'American Beauty/American Psycho'

Oh and here's a fun little interview with the model.



Fall Out Boy's 'Save Rock & Roll'

I just love the absolute contrast of culture in this one photograph.  It's striking.



Taylor Swift's 'Speak Now'

What girl doesn't love that dress...and those curls...and that lipstick?



Ellie Goulding's 'Halycon'

I love photograph captures of someone's hair being waved around.  I bet she had fun during this photoshoot.  I love the color flow too.




One Republic's 'Waking Up'

I have always wanted to hang a white cotton sheet up and attach balloons full of paint to it and then throw darts and yes the first time I saw this being done was in Princess Diaries.  Well, when I saw this cover of OneRepublic's album, that's the first thought that came to mind.  And I love both versions.



Tenth Avenue North's 'Cathedrals'

Cathedrals.  Stained glass.  The end.



Owl City's 'The Midsummer Station'

We can always appreciate Adam Young's beautiful brain - through his songs or his album covers.  This is ingenious.  Who wouldn't want to go visit this place?!



Christina Perri's 'Head Or Heart'

This photograph is simple, yet stunning.  Basically only two filters were used.  And Christina isn't wearing a whole lot of makeup (which I always admire in celebrities).  I just really like this album cover.



Panic! at the Disco's 'Vices and Virtues'

I must confess that I haven't heard much music from these guys, but the album cover alone makes me want to go listen to one of their songs!


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What are some of your favorites?  Am I missing any specific ones that are kind of no-brainers?  Comment below!

8.29.2015

God’s Sovereignty In Your Singleness




A friend of mine texted me the other day and asked “Why do you think I’m almost 23 and still single, Raquel?”  
I've also had single girls email me and ask "Why does this always happen to me?  I like a guy, we start talking, but then he leaves.  Why am I not enough??"

Gosh, how do you respond to something like that? 

First of all, I really wish I could tell you a-b-and-c of why this 'always happens to you'.  But I don't know.  I don't know God's plan for you.  

But [secondly], I do know that you are enough.  You are so much more than you even think you are.  And you're 'enough' for the perfect plan He has for you.  AND the person He has waiting for you too. - who, by the way, might just be experiencing the same feelings that you are right now.  

It's easy to think of ourselves as 'the problem'.  We're quick to blame ourselves for still being single and that we ourselves are the reason everything turns out wrong.  Even then, even when it feels like everyone is discarding you along the road, you know Who you can trust.  You know that God's timing is perfect - even though it's really, really, really hard to believe that sometimes.  And to wait.  (Honestly, the waiting part is probably the suckiest...)

If you believe that God is sovereign, you are acknowledging His sovereignty over EVERYTHING.  You can't say 'Okay, God, You're sovereign over my day-to-day activities, my meals, my friends...but not my singleness.  Cuz being single sucks and I want to have a boyfriend/girlfriend already.'  That's not how it works, peeps.  He's either sovereign over everything or nothing.  

Is God sovereign in your singleness?  Have you entrusted that part of your life to His care?  Have you given up trying to find the right one on your own and trusted that He will help you find the right one in His perfect timing?

I know it's hard.  Being single can be really difficult.  For me, it was pretty darn fabulous once I got past the pity-party stage.  Seriously.  Single life rocks.  (You're probably sneering at me right now.  I can almost see it.)  But I promise that once you give over your life - your WHOLE life - to God and trust that everything will fall into place according to HIS timeline (sorry, not yours), you'll have a whole different outlook.  On everything.  

Nothing is wrong with you.  
You are not the problem.  
You're single because you're meant to be single right now.  
And when that guy or girl comes along, you'll know.
How?  Because they won't be perfect, but they'll be perfect for you.

8.27.2015

When You Don't Feel Forgiven


Many times we fall short of the glory of God, and after asking Him to forgive us, we don't feel forgiven.

As a child, I was raised to ask someone to forgive me - not say 'I'm sorry'.  And I was taught to say 'Yes, I forgive you' when someone asked me for forgiveness.  But when we pray and ask the LORD to forgive us of the sins we commit against Him, we don't hear His audible voice saying, 'Yes, I forgive you'.  

During a very dark time in my life, when I was trying to push my past completely behind me, I continually asked God to forgive me.  Over and over and over again.  But each time, I would feel like nothing happened.  Nothing changed.  Sure, the Bible says He forgives me, but how do I feel forgiven?  How do I know?

Not knowing, not choosing to believe is doubt.  And we doubt God's love and forgiveness because we have an adversary who uses every little offense to accuse us that we are unforgivable.  The enemy constantly reminds us of our short-comings, our failures, and how often we ask God for forgiveness. 


'You're good-for-nothing.  You can't do anything right.  How could God forgive someone who screws up as often as you do?'

Sound familiar?

I've had that nagging voice tell that to me before too.

But guess what?  We have an Advocate, a Savior, a Friend, named Jesus Christ.  He is more powerful than our enemy.  He has cancelled out the debt that we owe God for our sins.  He has forgiven our past, secured our present, and already forgiven our future.  No matter what we do or in what circumstance we fail, God still loves us.  He is our Father.  The best Parent in the universe.  When one of His children falls, He picks them up, loves them, and accepts us as His own.  


'Knowing that you are forgiven and accepted as God's child sets you free to face reality and choose the truth.'
- Neil Anderson

Falling hurts.  And the pain is sometimes, seemingly, unbearable.  But when you fall, you have the best Healer to pick you up.  Someone who loves you so, so dearly that He is willing to pick you up, hold you, caress you, to tell you that He loves you no matter what mistakes you’ve made.  No matter how much or how many times you’ve failed.  God will never NOT be there to pick us up.  He will never get tired of us asking for His forgiveness.  Granted, that doesn’t mean we should continue on in whatever we’re doing.  But if we make a mistake, He is faithful and just to forgive us.  In fact, He already did.  A long time ago, when He felt three spikes being driven into His wrists and feet.  As He hung there - bleeding, in pain, and suffering from feeling all the dirty sin that He had never, ever felt before.  He felt the wrath of God His Father being poured out on Him, killing Him.  For my sins.  For your sins.  For all the mistakes and failures that you and I will ever make in life.  All of that has been paid for, covered by His blood.

So the next time you don't 'feel' forgiven, try to imagine the pain He felt FOR you to be forgiven.

"Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole Roman cohort around Him.  They stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him.  And after twisting a together a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand; and they knelt down before Him and mocked Him, saying, 'Hail, King of the Jews!'  They spat on Him and took the reed and began to beat Him o the head.  After they had mocked Him, they took the scarlet robe off Him and put His own garments back on Him, and let Him away to crucify Him..."
- Matthew 27:27-31

8.25.2015

I Swear I Lived

Today was a laid back sort of day.

I woke up, ate a blueberry bagel, drank my jasmine tea, and did a load of laundry.

I introduced two of my sisters to one of my top 5 favorite movies (The Patriot)...and kinda went on a movie spree because we watched two episodes of Leverage after that.

And then I spent time with Jesus.  I read Hebrews 11 (a post coming soon about that).  And I prayed, and I talked to Him about what's been going on lately and how difficult life has been, but how I know that He loves me.  And that will never change.

Today I filled my car's gas tank (my car's name is Oliver, by the way), and I met two girl friends for frozen yogurt, then went shopping at Ross.  I didn't intend to buy anything, but I ended up leaving the store with a new hoodie, a new sweater, and a new shirt.

Afterwards, I talked with my pastor, took a friend home, chewed on a piece of gum, called Ryan, and drove back home.

I decided not to take a shower tonight, and instead, changed into my pajama shirt, fed my bunny, ate some meatballs, rice and green beans at 10:25 p.m. and then crawled into bed.  I finished writing a movie review for Brave, checked my email, posted a status on Facebook.

And I wished at 11:11.

I'm going to end this post and publish it, knowing that it is probably THE most random thing I've ever written on my blog (and two posts in one day?!  WHAT IS THAT??), and then close my laptop (her name is Skeeter), and be on my social medias via my phone for a while before I actually decide to fall asleep.

Today was a laid back sort of day.  I didn't do a whole lot, but I didn't do nothing either.

I breathed, I moved, I laughed, I talked.

And all that matters is that you take one day at a time.  Especially when things are rough.  Just take one day at a time.

And live.

This Is Why Girls Are Confusing


Hey to all the guys out there!

I'm sure you've all had instances in your life where you're just like 'Oh my gosh, why are girls SO confusing?!?!'

I won't deny it.
We are.
We can be.
We are sometimes very hard to understand.

Maybe you've had an argument with your sister.  Or your mom tried to explain something but it made absolutely no sense.  Or your girlfriend is just acting really weird...

Any of those sound familiar?  Even slightly?

Well, here is why girls are so confusing.

Because we are very emotional creatures.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with being emotional.  You just need to learn how to control your emotions.  And for girls, this isn't always easy.  We have all these emotions and feelings and thoughts rushing through our brains and hearts - most of the time ALL AT ONCE.  So it's kind of like a tsunami of emotions waving through our entire body.  Just think on that for a second...

Because we feel more than we think.
It's true.  MOST of the time.  But sometimes, we think...and tend to OVERthink.  And that, my friends, can be very confusing.  For both parties involved.  But because we feel, more than think, we are more in tuned with the emotions and stress levels of those around us.  Try dealing with your own crap and then having ten other people's dumped on you.

Because when we think, it's very rarely about ONE thing.
Guys have the capability of thinking about one thing AT A TIME and one thing ONLY.  Girls don't.  We can be thinking about 10 different things all at once.  Pretty cool, huh?  It can be.  That's one reason why we're such great multi-taskers.  But at the same time, it's kind of annoying cuz it's like 'Okay, I need to write that email...and do a load of laundry...and charge my phone...why is my boyfriend acting like this?...my friend in New York needs to read this book...I wonder if rabbits have feelings...this pillow is super comfortable...tomorrow I'm going to a wedding...where on earth is my other shoe?'

Because we have very strong intuitions.
Some women are more 'in touch' with their senses than others.  But regardless, we all can sense things.  And try to explain WHY we don't like that person, or WHY we don't think you should go there, or WHY driving on this particular road at this particular speed is a bad idea.  I know it doesn't make sense when we say 'I don't FEEL right about it...', but just trust us.  Okay?

Because we have periods.
Okay so once a month, our uterus sheds its lining so that the eggs descend into...

Yeah, I'll stop there.

AND KUDOS TO ANYONE WHO KNOWS WHAT MOVIE I JUST QUOTED.

A friend of mine wrote the following and I thought it very fitting to include in this post:

'Women are the most complex creatures on earth.  They're a universe of emotions, filled with outbursts of compassion and love, desperation and rage.  They're capable of ruling nations but can be undone by the untimely death of a furry animal.  They know all the great secrets of pleasure and let few into their inner circle of trust.  They bear children and bring the strongest men to their knees.  If man was characterized by the crude god Mars, whose planet is crude and made of iron, Venus is a right representative of the woman, whose light is surpassed only by the moon, and whose temperature that of the sun.'

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Originally published on Thought Catalog

8.22.2015

44 Things I Wish I Had Been Told As A Teenager


1.  Ask yourself 'Will I still like this in 10 years?' before you lay hard-earned money down to buy something.

2.  Practice with the eyeliner, and use it minimally until you get it right.

3.  Listen to that gut reaction.

4.  God gave you a conscience for a reason.

5.  Call your grandparents - just because.

6.  Don't be passive aggressive on social media.  It's immature.

7.  Don't ever tell your parents that you hate them.

8.  You can wear a regular bra with a cross-backed shirt, but never wear a cross-backed bra with a shirt that doesn't cover it.

9.  Some people will just plain never like you.  Don't let it ruin your life.

10.  Kill people with kindness.  (The whole 'heaping coals of fire on their head' thing really does work.)

11.  Don't yell when you're angry.  You hurt more people than you will realize.

12.  You were beautiful before that guy told you.

13.  Don't let others define you or make you think they know who you are better than you know yourself.

14.  Invest money in a good car, not a fancy one.  All you need is for it to get you places.

15.  Don't let one mistake define you.  But learn from your mistakes and move on.

16.  Learn to cook.  And eat home-cooked meals.  They are literally the best.

17.  Your brother can see a crappy boy before you can.

18.  'Fun' doesn't have to include alcohol or smoking or drugs.

19.  Friday nights are 99% more fun if you stay home, have friends over to watch a movie and eat ice cream.

20.  It's only a bad day.  Not a bad life.

21.  Tell your parents 'thank you'.

22.  Learn to apologize...and to forgive.

23.  Learn to be humble.

24.  Sex does not make you mature or an adult.

25.  Treat others the way you want to be treated, including while you're driving on the freeway.

26.  Keep a journal.  Write in it as often as possible, but don't beat yourself up when you don't keep up with it.

27.  Listen to a song before watching the music video.

28.  Read a book before watching the movie its based on.

29.  Stop pretending to be someone to impress people and make them like you.

30.  You'll regret spending over $20 on a piece of clothing.

31.  I know sugar and chocolate make you break out really bad, but just eat the dang candy bar.

32.  Pray for your future husband.

33.  Ask your grandparents to tell you stories every chance you get.

34.  Learn languages.

35.  If you have a presence on social media, expect to get haters.  It's just how it works.

36.  Write thank you notes for everything.

37.  If you want to be treated like an adult, act like one.

38.  Travel.  As often as you possibly can.

39.  Get a job that you will enjoy doing.  Don't accept one that you'll be complaining about all the time.

40.  You can't fix people.  You can only love them through their difficult-ness.

41.  You can't make people understand what you're saying.  You can only hope they listen, not just hear you.

42.  There will be people in your life who change drastically - for the better and for the worse.  Learn about them.  And don't ever forget to love them through their stupidity.

43.  Ask God to show you the plans He has for your life, but don't expect Him to drop a How To manual from the sky.  Go out and search for opportunities.  Go until He shuts the door.  Run until He holds you back.  Always be in tune to His voice.

44.  Life really is beautiful.  It really is.  Sometimes you need to look for the beauty, but I guarantee it is always, always, always there.

8.19.2015

Little Bookish Ltd // Giveaway


Who wants to win something from a lovely British shop in Brighton, England?

Who is a writer?

Who loves literature inspired items, such as...

$12.85


$12.85


Gina sent me a lovely item of hers to review.  She included a small token of thanks (see below) that included some delicious chocolate!

The item she sent me to review is the 'Writer In Residence' Plaque.  I ab-so-lute-ly love it.  I now hang it on my door whenever I'm working on something so that little siblings know not to interrupt my train of thought;)

She packaged everything with this simply elegant newspaper wrapping and stamps and ribbon.  So classy.


Here are the ways you can enter to win your own 'Writer In Residence' Plaque!

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>> c o m m e n t  and tell me your favorite design in Gina's shop and/or a suggestion for a new design
>> f o l l o w  It's Just Raquel blog {mandatory}
>> h e a r t  Gina's Etsy shop
>> f o l l o w  Raquel on Twitter
>> f o l l o w  Gina on Twitter
>> f o l l o w  Raquel on Instagram (@itsjustraquel)
>> f o l l o w  Raquel on Pinterest
>> s h a r e  this giveaway post on your social medias (Share buttons are below.  Comment the link to your shares.)
>> c o m m e n t  on any other post here on It's Just Raquel
>> c o m m e n t  any blog post requests or questions (I may or may not have a vlog in the works) 

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 Winner will be drawn August 22nd.

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Good luck!:)

8.13.2015

Everyday Blessings // 36



>> traveling to and from Texas safely
>> listening to Keith Urban in Texas
>> getting to volunteer at Gospel For Asia’s campus in Texas
>> making a new friend
>> slowly starting to come out of my writer’s block
>> Fig bars
>> unexpectedly getting to speak Spanish with someone
>> reuniting with someone my heart loves after not seeing them for over a week
>> being accepted
>> progress on my book
>> mentorship
>> progress for my trip to Peru
>> playing/singing Touch The Sky by Hillsong in an incredible acoustic library
>> movie nights with girls who I’d never met until a few days ago, and having a blast
>> mint chocolate chip ice cream
>> beautiful sunsets (autumn is just a breath away…)
>> being asked for forgiveness by a complete stranger
>> mangos
>> hammocks
>> painting my nails black with a glitter coat on top
>> house-sitting for two weeks
>> ALMOST legging and sweater weather

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How has your August been so far?  What are you most looking forward to in September?  Any special farewell-summer-hello-autumn plans?

8.10.2015

Embrace Your Struggles


I’m pretty sure we’ve all had those moments when we're just like ‘Okay, God, why is this so difficult for me?  Why does that person have it so much better/easier than I do?  Why me?

The beauty with struggles though (hard to think about that right now, huh?) is that through it we learn lessons and we reap blessings.  What sorts of blessings?, you may ask.  Well, in Romans 5 it says this:

‘And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.  Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not put us to shame because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.’

We hope in our sufferings because we will reap blessings in the lessons that we learn through them.

Everyone’s story is different.  Each of us will be blessed with things that others won’t be blessed with.  Some will learn lessons that God won’t teach others in the same way.  But at the same time, we are all loved equally and are all ending up in the same place.  In God’s presence.  I don’t know about you but I really don’t care exactly how I end up there.  Just that I do.

I have been learning a lot lately about struggles.  And just writing this post has made me realize how thankful I need to be for them because they have - and will continue to - allow me to learn and be blessed in the way God intends for me to learn and be blessed.

Embrace your struggles.  

Persevere through them and build your character.  

Grow in God’s love and grace through His Holy Spirit in you.

8.07.2015

Erratic Prose [while in Texas] | edition 2

Yes, I’m in Texas now.  I am writing this sitting at a desk in the East campus of Gospel For Asia.  Pretty cool, huh?  I am visiting a friend here over the weekend.  (Remember my friend from Pennsylvania who I've gone to visit twice?  She lives here now.)

Life has been really tough lately, peeps.  Like, really, really hard.  The last few weeks have been some of the most difficult in my life.  I have missed writing so much but my brain is so clogged with thoughts and emotions that finding what to write about - and how! - has been literally painful.  I was talking to a dear, sweet mentor friend of mine and she said ‘Well then, write about what’s been going on, Raquel.  Write so that your readers know the real you.’  I know that my blog posts written with most vulnerability have been the ones that seem to touch more of you.  It’s just difficult for me to know how to write about personal issues delicately. 

Coming here to Texas has been good for me to get away from a while.  And before coming here, I prayed that God would either 1) help me be able to write about what’s been going on or 2) help me put all that aside TO be able to write.

This is only my second day here, so I’ve been praying and waiting on the LORD.  I am hoping to get some writing done sometime this weekend.

Some good news though - that I think you’ll all really enjoy hearing - is that I am making a lot of progress with my book (non-fictional).  I had someone helping me with it, but she’s married and currently pregnant so couldn’t find enough time to work with me.  But the LORD sent another person and I/we have been getting much more done.  Please be praying that things continue to progress with it.

Anyway, I think I’ll wrap this up for now.  Going to a prayer meeting tonight, and then working in a really epic library afterwards.  It’s a round sort of room, with tall (20 feet or so) windows all along the wall.  It has great acoustics too, so I may or may not take advantage of that for some private worship time.