10.31.2015

I'm Actually Doing This, Peeps | #NaNoWriMo2015

This will not be my first novel.  But it will be the first I've written in ONE MONTH.  AHH!

I have always wanted to participate in #NaNoWriMo but never had a plotline that I was attached to enough in time to sign up and dedicate to writing hardcore the whole month of November.

But then, last week, while I was at work, an idea came to me...  And lo and behold, it was just a little over a week until November.  I was in love with the storyline, and the characters were speaking to me, begging to be written.  I was determined.  I am going to do #NaNoWriMo this year!!

This last week has been major cram-planning my novel.  I have the synopsis and plotline down.  I've picked out character models, and have really worked on getting to know them personally.  They're each so unique and I love that I get to write their stories.

So beginning tomorrow, I will dedicate an hour every day (or however long it takes) to writing 1,667 words per day for the month of November.  I CAN DO THIS.  I may need encouragement here and there, peeps;)

Oh and I'm on the NaNoWriMo website.  My username is LiteraryRaindrop.  Add me as a writing buddy!


Title: I Cannot Fathom

Main Characters:
Fathom Brooks
Xaquerie Niven
James Bowen

Synopsis:
Fathom Brooks is a recent graduate with a journalism degree and is eager to begin her career after just getting accepted as an intern reporter at one of the city's largest newspapers.  But no sooner does her job begin that she suddenly receives a mysterious package from an anonymous sender.  Inside the package is the first chapter of a story.  A story that will only continue in being sent to her if she chooses to accept the mission that the anonymous writer is sending her on: to edit the chapters and publish them in her column at the paper.  Once she agrees to it, Fathom receives a chapter a week in the months to follow, until the last chapter bears a threatening message.  

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Are you participating in #NaNoWriMo this year?  Is this your first time?  What's your novel about?
Comment below!  I'd love to hear your stories.


10.30.2015

6 Struggles Girls With High Standards [For Herself] Can Relate To


1)  You sometimes think you don't need any help and are tough enough to handle a situation.
It takes a lot for us to admit that we need help.  We're strong individuals, who have confidence, and people know this (and even compliment us on it!).  So when we actually have to ask for help, in our minds, it's as if we're getting on our knees, crying and begging for assistance.  Not cool.

2)  You are constantly raising the bar, not only for yourself, but for others as well.
We don't settle and we can't stand it when other people do.

3)  To you, 'good' can be - and usually is - the opposite of perfect.
Basically, when something is 'good', it's just a settlement, not a goal that was reached.  And this is hardcore FAILURE in our eyes.

4)  You sometimes forget that pain is part of life.
But when we embrace it, it's like the reality of it absorbs into our flesh and we become stronger because we admitted to a weakness.

5)  You absolutely hate the word 'bored'.
One of our biggest pet peeves is when people are complacent and are constantly complaining about how their lives 'aren't exciting enough'.  Or when you ask them what they're up to and they respond with, 'Nothing.  I'm bored.'  WELL THEN GET UP AND DO SOMETHING.

6)  You sometimes find it difficult to not point out how people can do and be better.
We see potential everywhere.  This can be a strength and a weakness because, for example, we are more often than not very optimistic creatures...but we also give way too many chances.  There needs to be a healthy balance of encouragement but no, you can't walk all over me when I do encourage you.

10.26.2015

Music Monday | Interview with Nehemiah

Since being on my sabbatical, I have been listening to only music specifically termed 'Christian'.  Well, that's been a little difficult, to say the least, because I am very picky when it comes to quality music.  But through the LORD's leading, I stumbled upon a fairly new artist.  His name is Nehemiah. And he is now one of my favorite rappers.  I may or may not have his music blasting when I'm at the coffee shop.  Just sayin'.

I hope you enjoy this interview I was able to have with him.  

Thank you so much for being willing to share some of your story with us, Nehemiah!

---


Raquel:  At what age did you start rapping? Did it come naturally to you or was it something you really had to practice at?
Nehemiah: I started rapping around age 10.  It wasn’t anything serious; it was just something I loved to do.  I’ve been rhyming words my whole life so it kind of came naturally, but I still continue to practice everyday.  I feel there’s always room to improve and I don’t think I’ve reached my full potential yet.

Raquel:  What side of your family do you get your musical talent from?
Nehemiah: Both.  On my mom’s side of the family, everyone at one point in their life, was either in a band or a singer in a choir.  My dad was in a couple bands growing up.  Still to this day he continues to write music and play the guitar.

Raquel:  Do you write your own lyrics?
Nehemiah: Yes, this is actually my favorite part of being an artist.  I use a lot of what I’ve gone through to help inspire others.  My lyrics come from my heart and hopefully, they can encourage the listener to keep going even when it seems hard.

Raquel:  My two favorite tracks of yours are ‘Turn Out Alright’ and ‘Remember Him’.  Can you tell us a little about the inspiration and message(s) behind those songs?
Nehemiah: The song “Turn Out Alright” was probably my favorite track on the EP.  There was a lot of hurt that my friends were going through.  I wanted to let them know that even when they’re going through a tough time, from their past or present, that tomorrow is a new day and everything is going to turn out alright. 
“Remember Him” was me telling people, even if they don’t remember my name, I hope that they remember my Jesus.


Raquel: When did you start working on your first EP?
Nehemiah: I started working on “Remember” in January of 2015.  I worked on it day and night, right up until the day of recording the project.  I wrote about 30 songs for the EP, but I had to narrow it down to my six favorite.

Raquel: When can we expect to hear new music from you? April 8, correct?;)
Nehemiah: Haha! Yes April 8th is when my debut album will come out.  I also have two singles coming out before then.  I have a Christmas single and I’m also going to be part of a compilation album that I’m really excited for!

Raquel: Does your album have a specific theme to it? Where did the inspiration come for the tracks?
Nehemiah: Yes, the theme for the album is Freedom.  The inspiration is coming from a very lonely place my friends and I are at. There have been constant things we’ve had to battle and you’ll hear a lot of the hurt my generation is going through in the songs.  It’ll come together at the end of the album to where we find out how we can overcome.

Raquel:  What is the one thing you want listeners to take away from your music?
Nehemiah: The one thing I want the listener to take away is that I really mean everything I say.  When I say “I believe in you” and “I don’t want you to quit”, I truly mean it. 

Raquel: If there is one thing you could tell someone who aspires to become a recording artist, what would you say to them?
Nehemiah: I would tell them to not quit.  If making quality music was easy, everyone would do it.  It takes time, so don’t get discouraged if it seems no one is listening.  Keep going!  You have no clue what your music can do for someone!

Raquel:  Who are some of your inspirations? And are there certain artists you'd like to collab with or feature on your tracks in the near future?
Nehemiah:  Lecrae and Andy Mineo are the two main inspirations, musically. They’re two people I would like to collab with in the future, but I like collabing with artists outside of my genre as well. I would love to do something with For King and Country at some point.

Raquel:  Do you have any tours scheduled? What are some cities you'd really like to hit?
Nehemiah: At the moment I don’t have any tours scheduled for the “Remember” EP, but the tour my team and I are planning for the spring/summer months is going really well.  I can’t share the cities yet, but I’m very excited to announce where I’m privileged to go in the spring time.  I don’t have a specific city I’d like to hit, but I really like to travel so wherever God has me go, I’ll go.

Raquel:  And in closing, can you share with us a favorite Bible verse?
Nehemiah: My favorite Bible verse is John 3:30 - 

“He must become greater; I must become less.”

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Official website: http://nehemiahartist.com
Facebook: Nehemiah
Instagram: @nehemiah.heckler
Twitter: @nehemiahheckler
YouTube: Nehemiah


10.23.2015

Everyday Blessings // 39


>> having encouraging conversations with customers
>> submitting a manuscript
>> planning a surprise party for one of my sister's birthdays (above pic is from that day)
>> writing my Christmas wishlist
>> cherry pop tarts
>> my newest movie poster (Jurassic World, because Chris Pratt)
>> new jeans from American Eagle that fit perfectly
>> unplanned movie nights with a bestie
>> discovering new rap artists (and absolutely loving them)
>> White Chocolate Blackberry mocha
>> starting a new Bible study
>> buying my ticket to Peru!!
>> inspiration
>> girl nights
>> fresh, clean towels
>> ordering pizza at my work
>> scratching things off my bucket list
>> Young Living essential oils
>> a new blog design is in the works!
>> Green Tea London Fog
>> daily encouraging verses from dear friends
>> the relief of admitting to not being okay
>> making new memories
>> three fundraisers planned for the Peru trip
>> starting a new book
>> actually having time to read
>> this autumn weather
>> today is day #39 of my sabbatical

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How has your October been so far?  Anything you're looking forward to in these last couple of weeks?

10.21.2015

It's Good To Be Strong; It's Okay To Be Weak


I am a naturally strong person.  And because of this, it takes a lot for me to admit that I am ever weak.

I don't let things get me down easily.  I always want to BE strong, too, and it's difficult for me to admit when I'm not, or when I can't be, or when I need help because I can't be strong on my own.

I have been told many times that people consider me a very strong individual.  Someone who can stand on 'their own two feet' and 'not let life get the best of [me]'.  And sometimes, when I'm struggling with not being strong enough, I feel like I would let those people down.  That they would look at me as 'not as strong as they thought' I was, and that I would be a disappointment.  A failure.

Telling someone that I am struggling is a big deal to me.  It's serious.  It's against my nature.

And I realized, recently, that just the fact that admitting I'm not strong is a weakness in my character.

I write so often about being human and being real.  Yet sometimes, it's so difficult for me to chew and swallow my own words.

To be strong is a good thing, don't get me wrong.  But when being strong is such a focus in your life, and when you are tired and weak but still not willing to ask for help in carrying your loads of emotional burden, then it can be unhealthy.  And you can grow in bitterness, weariness, and even depression.

I guess I'm writing this post more for myself than for you all.  It started out as a journal entry and then just grew into something not counterfeit, not normal and I wanted to share it.

I also want to remind you all that being weak is okay.  It's okay to tell your parents, your best friend, your boyfriend, your girlfriend - 'Hey.  I'm not okay.  I'm not strong right now.  I need you to help me.'

It's good to be strong...but it takes a truly strong person to admit they're weak.


'People cry, not because they're weak.  But because they've been strong for too long.'

---

Listen to this.

10.19.2015

October Skies


Autumn is in full swing upon us
The wind flirts with the trees
Making them blush different shades of
Yellow, oranges and reds
The Master Artist boasts of His splendor
As He strokes the skies with His perfect brush
Painting them all sorts of brilliant colors
The evening air is crisp
Making me thankful I work in a warm coffee shop
I wrap my fingers around my pumpkin spice latte
And bury my nose in my scarf
Autumn is in full swing upon us
And the October skies are gloriously radiating
The colors of my heart.

10.16.2015

Not Trusting Yourself


Understanding your emotions - and where they stem from - can be complicated sometimes.  I experienced this uncertainty one night when trying to pinpoint my anxious thoughts.

Why was I so stressed?
Why was I so discouraged?
Why was I so uneasy about the future?

...because I felt like I had failed so many times, my future could only look as bleak as my past.

I made wrong choices that, at the time, I thought were right.
I decided to do things that, at the time, I thought were for the best.
I told people things I was sure about, at the time, only to tell them later that things don't pan out the way I thought they would.

I screwed up.

So where does that leave me?

Anxious.
Because I don't trust myself anymore.

But then again, when was I ever called to trust in myself?
Where in the Bible does God encourage us to lay confidence in ourselves?

Maybe a couple times?  No.  Maybe once?  No.  Never.

We are only commanded to trust in one Truth, one Being, one God.

So being at a place of not trusting yourself is the perfect place to start trusting your God.

10.14.2015

This Is the Kind of Man You Want


I will never forget the time I met a lady in Seattle.  The meeting was completely unplanned by me, but divinely planned by Someone else.

Our conversation was about her daughter's recent engagement.  She was very emotional about it, as it was her oldest daughter and they had a very close relationship.  While talking about her daughter and soon to be son-in-law's love story, the mother paused, looked me in the eye and said,

'The biggest mistake you can ever make is to marry someone who doesn't love Jesus.  Don't even give a man like that your attention.  The first thing you need to love about him is how much he loves the LORD.'

I've repeated that to myself over the years.  And it has proven true in many different scenarios.

There's a large difference between a Christian guy and a man of God.  And you should look for, pay attention to, the latter...

Fall in love with a man who loves Jesus above all else.  Fall in love with a man who is desperately in love with his Savior before he even knows of your existence.  Fall in love with a man who is not ashamed of the Gospel, not ashamed of his love for the LORD, not ashamed to make a public display regarding his love for the truth and for salvation.

Fall in love with a man who knows that God is the best foundation for a relationship - because not only is He the strongest, but He is also the Author of all love stories and your relationship should be a testimony of His grace and forgiveness.

And how will his relationship with God affect you?

He will treat you as the daughter of God that you are.  He will respect you.  He will pursue you.  He will treasure you.  He will worship God with you.  He will pray with you and for you.  He will walk beside you during the best and worst moments of your life.  He will be honest with you.  He will take the leadership role in the relationship.  He will help you in keeping your purity, maintaining your standards, sticking to your boundaries.

He will not lead you astray.  He will not pressure you.  He will not control you.  He will not challenge your standards and boundaries.  He will not force you into doing anything.  He will not seek to pleasure himself.  He will never interfere with your relationship with God.

And if you and he are both actively seeking the LORD as individuals, your relationship will blossom and flourish with your pursuit of His will for you and your lives - together or not.

And as difficult as this sounds, you want a man who will pursue God so fully and so whole-heartedly that if he is distracted from His Savior or his calling in life, and you are that distraction, he may need to put you to the side for a bit.  He will choose to loosen his grip on the woman he loves for the God he loves.  If you are a woman after God's own heart and want a man who pursues the same, you will honor and love this characteristic of him.

What really matters is that he loves the LORD.
And he will love you the best through the love he receives from God.

And that is something you will never regret.

10.12.2015

Choosing Who To Love


Sometimes hate is what we receive in exchange for our effort to love.  It seems unfair, doesn't it?  The love in our hearts should be - deserves to be! - returned with the same kind of love.  Right?

But that doesn't always happen.

And when it doesn't, we feel heart-broken, unappreciated, and hurt.

Sometimes we choose people to love.  And by doing so, we think that if we love them, they will love us and everything will work out just fine and dandy.  But when that love isn't reciprocated, we feel discouraged.  

Love is much more than just a feeling. It's a choice. 

Sometimes we choose to love the person who is not concerned with loving us the way God would have them.  When this happens, and we continually try to love them, we are headed for heart-break every time.  We think that by accepting their demeaning behavior towards us, yet still doing what's right, then it's okay to take their blows.  We think that if we keep loving and forgiving them like Jesus does, then their behavior towards us will just magically change.  

But are we called to have faith in people?  No.  Sure, it'd be great if through our love, God touches someone's heart and life and they have a miraculous turn-around.  But our hope shouldn't be in that.  And the only way to end a cycle of being unappreciated and beaten down is if we walk away. 

If that person really wants you to stick around, they will do everything in their power to make you stay.  But if not, you're not losing much.

God knows our hearts, though.  Regardless of how we try to show our heart's love to others and they don't understand and see it, God does.  He knows all the love that we have for others.  And all the love that we've given.  He has every bit of it measured and poured into a treasure chest.  Your treasure chest - in heaven!  And in due time, you will reap what you have sown.  Those who have done wrong against you, or hated you instead of loved you, will receive what they deserve as well.  According to God's will.  He is the reigning King of this world.  He is the only One with the power to deal out consequences and rewards or punishments.

Don't grow weary of showing love.  Love is the greatest of them all.  Without it, this world would be a much darker place.

10.10.2015

Being A Human


Being human can be pretty awful on occasion.  Let's just be real here.  How many times have you gone through something, made the wrong decision, totally screwed up and you're just like 'This human life thing sucks'...?

*everyone raises their hands*

Yeah, I thought so.  I've been there too.

But you know what?  I think being a human, and this whole life thing, is kind of supposed to be rough.  It's supposed to be difficult.  Because through our failures, through the tough ordeals and circumstances we face, we see how greatly we NEED a Savior.

And we have One.

We just need to remind our human brains to turn to Him for forgiveness, compassion, and strength in those times of need.  And not only then, but to also praise Him through the chaos.

"Though He slay me, I will hope in Him.  Nevertheless I will argue my ways before Him.  This also will be my salvation, for a godless man may not come before His presence."
- Job 13:15

Through our pain and trials and sufferings, God is at work.  He is never not in control.  He uses all things for our good and His glory.  That's a promise!  How often do we remind ourselves of this?  How often do you truly grasp it and believe it in our souls?

I recently stumbled upon this verse in 2 Chronicles (yeah, way back in the old testament... who ever quotes from that book?) while reading through a book by one of my favorite theologians.  The verse is 2 Chronicles 20:12 -

"O our God, will You not judge them?  For we are powerless before this great multitude who are coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are on You."

The last part of that verse struck me.  I literally blinked when I read it and was like 'Wait......WOOOW.'  Because many times, I don't know what to do.  I get myself in a nice tangle of sinful webs, I'm struggling to work my way out of my mess, but when I stop and realize that I can't make things happen, I say exactly what that verse does.  'God, I do not know what to do, but my eyes are on You.'  How many times does God tell us in His Word to BE STILL AND KNOW that He is God?  How often do we actually do that?

So yes, being a human can suck sometimes.  (Okay, a lot of the times.)  But when we come to terms with the absolute fact that we are powerless and have no clue what comes next because we did not write our own story, things can fall into place a lot more quickly.  When we surrender to God and say 'Okay, I screwed up.  I can't do this alone.  I don't know how to fix this. But my eyes are on You, LORD'...that is when He steps in and takes over.

And let me tell you - as a firsthand believer of and testimony in miracles - when you completely surrender to His will and direction, your life is gonna take some crazy amazing turns.  Hold on for a wild ride.

10.07.2015

Don't Be Afraid To Say 'No'



So many times, we are led to believe that saying 'No' to someone is not kind, not thoughtful and not right.  

But the truth is, sometimes it's a necessity.

We live in a world where people take advantage of certain individuals.  And I may be biased in saying that those individuals are usually girls.

I feel I have a right to say that because I have been in many situations, but mainly one that I am thinking of at the moment, in which I was being manipulated into saying yes, yes, yes...even though I should've been saying 'N-O'.

The reason I can say ‘no’?  Because I am a human being who deserves to be treated with respect and care, not taken advantage of, not forced, and not trapped.

We talk about having 'free will' all the time, yet not many of us exercise this right.  This freedom.

Don't be afraid to say 'No'.

It can be as simple as saying the word, or as difficult as completely cutting someone out of your life.  If you know that they aren't having a healthy influence on you, then why are you allowing them to have such a hold on your heart?  If you can see the damage they are doing to you - and maybe even to others - then what is holding you back from confronting them and putting a stop to how they're treating others?

Because you can.

I promise.

The idea may sound much easier than the action, but don't go another minute being chained to another's desires, wants, and demands.  You are a human.  You are your own person.

Don't be afraid to say 'No'.

You may not realize that you do, after all, have the courage it takes to take a stand.

And change your whole life.


10.05.2015

5 Reasons Social Media Is Not A Healthy Habit



1)  Social media causes us to be selfish.
Even if we don't realize it at first, we are always more interested in how WE appear, how WE look to others, how others perceive US, and always needing to look OUR best.  Am I right?

2)  Social media causes us to be prideful.
Yes, you love how many likes you get on that Facebook post.  And you love the fact that you gained two followers today on Instagram.  And it's cool to see that over 50 people have seen your snap story.  You feel popular.  You feel liked.  You feel good.

3)  Social media distracts us.
It's a common sight to see people on their phones - whether while walking, eating, or visiting.  Why?  Is whatever is on your phone more important than investing in reality?  When we're bored, stressed or want to get our minds off of our own lives, we just tend to default to our social medias.  We want to distract ourselves from whatever is worrying us.  We find relief in watching, and scrolling through, others' lives.  And without even realizing it, we get our minds off our own problems by taking advantage of them...not on God's always ready, always willing, and always loving ears and arms.  Social media is so accessible and instant, and we use this as an excuse to not talk to God.  How horrible is that?


4)  Social media causes us to compare ourselves to others.
And when (not 'if') we find ourselves lacking in certain things, we beat ourselves up and strive to a standard of perfection that is worldly, not godly.

She's way prettier than I am.
She always posts the best pictures.
How can she always look so perfect?
He eats way healthier than I do.
He's always getting to travel.
Why can't I look that good in the morning?
My room is never that neat.

5)  Social media becomes our identity.
Separating your online identity from reality can be a bit of challenge sometimes.  Even when people try to be 'the same online as they are in person', this isn't always the case.  The more likes you get, the more important you feel.  We post pictures on Instagram in hopes that our followers will like and comment on them, and through that, we feed our ego and remind ourselves that 'Hey, it's okay.  Our followers like us.'  But how often do we turn to God for our worth and value?  Do we not go to Him for evaluation and identity anymore?  It's difficult to not base our significance on how many likes we get on our photos and posts or when our blogs don't receive as much attention as we thought it would or wish it did, when social media is the outlet for personal glory.

---

I am not saying that social media is evil and we should delete all our accounts and apps.  Social media can be - and is - very useful and convenient, but I believe must be used in moderation.  I still have my blog, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat, but am currently taking a sabbatical so have chosen to take a rest from using my social medias.  They were causing to be distractions for me and each of these 5 points could apply to my life in regards to them.

We can long for our popularity on social media to grow so that we can feel all sorts of good about ourselves, but the truth is, the hole in our heart that seeks fulfillment and value is a piece of our lives that only God can truly filly and satisfy.

10.03.2015

Everyday Blessings // 38


>> spontaneous 5-hour road trip
>> reuniting with a friend I haven't seen in over a year
>> visiting Ashland shop, restaurants and cafes
>> giving leftover lunch food to a homeless hippy
>> putting finishing touches on my poetry collection manuscript
>> spending over $20 on loose leaf tea (so happy!!)
>> getting to see another one of the 7 Wonders of Oregon - Crater Lake
>> leading worship at a church
>> hour long chats with a friend I haven't talked to in a long time
>> getting my friend hooked on 'Sherlock'
>> being greeted by all my family when I finally got back home
>> still planning my Peru trip
>> journaling
>> continuing my sabbatical (one month to go!)
>> accountability partners - having one and being one
>> cool nights, warm pajamas, hot tea, and cozy bed

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Can you believe it's October already??  What are you looking forward to this month?  What was one of your favorite memories of September?