Not Succeeding Doesn't Mean You're A Failure

I've always been an extremely ambitious person.  I set high standards for myself, and am always making goal lists.  Goals for this week, for the month, for the year.  I want to have such and such accomplished by this time in my life.  I want to be able to look back at a goal that was once just a word on a piece of paper and say "Yes, I made that a reality."

The thing about this, though, is that when I don't succeed in reaching certain goals, I become incredibly discouraged.  And sometimes even tell myself that I just suck and I'm a failure and I'll never be able to accomplish anything.

But that's the wrong sort of mentality to have.  Perspective is everything, right?

It's been proven in history that just because someone failed at something once doesn't mean that they should give up on it altogether.  Take Thomas Edison, for example.  Some historians estimate that he made over 10,000 attempts at designing a light bulb.  And what did he say?

"I have not failed.  I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."

Now that is optimism if I've ever seen it.

On the other hand, though, there is the possibility that God is closing doors for you to reach a desired destination simply because that's not His best plan for your life.  In which case, you try until He says "No".  And when He says no, you ask Him "Now what?"  And after you ask Him this, then you set out on a new road, a new adventure.  Try out other opportunities.  Pursue other dreams.  See where He takes you with each of them.

In my own personal experiences, I have tried many things that ended up at a dead end.  I tried to pursue acting.  I modeled for a while here and there.  I tried to start a band.  I planned to go to a school that I was accepted at (that was like a dream come true for me) but God closed the door to it when I least expected Him to.
I'm not saying these were all easy roads.  I was so frustrated with God that He would let me get even just a little ways in pursuit of something I wanted, only to have a roadblock halfway into achieving it.

But I learned something through that...

I learned to accept the fact that everyone is trying to accomplish something.  Everyone is striving for something.
Not succeeding doesn't mean you're a failure.  You need to mess up every once in a while to figure out just what to do and how to go about doing it.  And by doing this, you'll find out what God is saying "No" to, and you'll have to get up, turn around, pick another dream and pursue it as far as you can.  There's nothing to be ashamed of.  Don't start pursuing something but not tell anyone about it because you're embarrassed that you won't succeed.  You need encouragement.  You need cheerleaders.  Brag about what God is doing in your life and the doors of opportunity He is leading you through.

Remember that you're not a failure.

The only people who are failures are the ones who never even try.

Sorry To Break It To You, But Love Is Tough

True love isn't a perfect picture.
True love is very tough.
You are deciding to be romantically involved with a person who might very well break your heart.  Or you might break theirs.
Love and relationships should never be approached with the mentality that it will be full of candlelit dinners, long walks, cuddles, hugs and kisses.  You need to be aware, you need to be cautious.  Those super romantic moments may come, but those moments are nothing to base a lifelong decision on.

This is the real world.

I know a lot of sheltered kids who, honestly, scare me at the thought of them being in a relationship one day.  Because many of them are taught that "God has the perfect one planned for you" and "He'll let you two meet at the perfect time", etc.  Now don't get me wrong.  I believe those two sentences to be incredibly and 100% true.  But God also sends trials, tests, and difficulties our way.  And your first boyfriend, your first girlfriend isn't always going to be "the one".

The truth of the matter is...
You may not be his first.  You may not be her first.  He may have cared for another girl before you.  She may have kissed another guy before you.  He's not perfect, but you aren't either.  You're not the only girl he's ever made laugh or had that butterfly affect on.

So what are you going to do?

You're going to try and be the best you can be for them.  Not because you're living FOR them, but because they make you happy, you make them happy and you want them to be a permanent part of your life.  You're going to give them all you can.  And you know what, sweetheart?  You're giving him your heart.  You're giving her your heart.  A heart that they can break.  And you have the power to break theirs too.
Love is about being selfless.  It's about learning to care for them and even amidst trying your very hardest to treat them the ultimate best way they want to be treated, you might hurt them.  And they might hurt you.
Don't take moments for granted.  Smile when they make you happy.  And miss them when they're not around.

So even though you're not their first, make yourself the most memorable.  And hopefully, the last.

Do not fall in love with only a body or with just a face.  And do not fall in love with the idea of love.  It's a dangerous place to be.  You need to fall in love even during the pain and the hardships and the cruel moments, because those are the moments of testing.  The moments of trusting that your love will overcome.  Trusting that love never does fail.  And trusting that the man or woman you love is the one who will forever be the one.

Love is a choice.  And it's tough, but it's possible

Fall in love with the choice that you will make to love and keep on loving one person.

"To hate is an easy, lazy thing.  But to love takes strength everyone has, but not all are willing to practice."
- Rupi Kaur

Fifteen Years Later | My Baptism Story

I received Jesus Christ as my Savior when I was six years old.
Four years later, at the age of ten, I was baptized at a small church that I had been going to for a couple of months.  I got baptized then because, growing up in a Christian home, I was taught that baptism is a public declaration done in the presence of witnesses to acknowledge one’s commitment to God.  I was baptized fully knowing this, and my family and church witnessed it.

Fast forward to 2016…
The subject of baptism kept popping up in my life here and there.  I didn’t know why, until a crazy thought crossed my head.  
“Maybe I should get rebaptized.”  
Immediately, I started praying about it.  Just to see what God would have to say on it. (“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God…” - 1 John 4:1)  
After praying over it for about a week, I started talking to wise older Christians in my life and asking them what their thoughts on rebaptism were.  Some told me that there was no need to get rebaptized, while others encouraged me to continue seeking the LORD and see what He led me to do.  
A couple weeks later, my pastor announced that my church would be holding a baptism service in August and if anyone wanted to be baptized, to speak with him about it.  
So I did.  
I told him how getting rebaptized is something that I had been praying about, and asked him what his thoughts were on it.  He asked me what my intention would be FOR being rebaptized and I explained to him that when I had gotten baptized at the age of 10, I did it because I wanted everyone to know I had received Jesus as my Savior.  But at the time, I had no clue what it meant to have a relationship with Him.  Now, eleven years later, I do.  And the last two years have been incredibly huge spiritual milestones for me.  
My pastor said “Well, pray about it and if God is prompting you to get rebaptized, maybe it’s not meant to be so much of another public declaration of your faith, but maybe it’s something He’s inviting you to do as a public declaration of the love you share with Him.”  
When he said that, I was like “Wow… I never thought of that way.”  
So I prayed for another two weeks, and then, on August 7, in sixty-five degree Pacific Northwest weather, I was baptized.

My awesome pastor who baptized me!
Check out a video of my baptism on my Instagram - @itsjustraquel.

26 Things Everyone Needs To Be Reminded Of

1.  It's good to have a soft heart and care for others.  This has never been - and never will be - a bad thing.

2.  It's completely normal to feel lonely sometimes.  You're a human.  You desire companionship.

3.  There is no shame in having standards based on what you know you deserve.

4.  There is no proven formula to how to love someone.  No right or wrong way.

5.  Don't always listen to what others tell you.  They have their opinions, and you have yours.

6.  Respect should never be something you demand from someone who claims that they care about you.

7.  It's okay to say no.  And to remove any toxic individuals from your life.

8.  Making bad choices, dealing with past mistakes, having a bruised or broken heart does not lessen your value or make you damaged goods.

9.  If Tinder is depressing and frustrating, just delete the dang thing.

10.  You should never have to compromise your life so that someone can fit into it.

11.  Don't ever let someone manipulate you.  If they do, end that relationship and get as far away from them as you can.

12.  That "took my breath away" feeling is a real thing.

13.  A relationship is never the complete answer to loneliness.  If you date someone, yes, they will add something to your life, but they will never fill it.  They will never be the answer to the void, and expecting that of them is unfair.

14.  Don't have unrealistic expectations; because people aren't perfect and they won't always meet up to what you want.

15.  There's a huge difference between standards and expectations.

16.  Don't beat yourself up if you fall for someone who played your heart.  Almost everyone does that at one point in their life or another.  And honestly, it says more about their personality than yours.

17.  Never base your opinion of someone on a past experience with someone else.

18.  If your gut feeling says "no", listen to it.  If it's saying "yes", listen to that too.  But also take into consideration perception (what you see) and attention (what you hear).

19.  If a certain name or number brings you pain when you see it on your phone screen, block that person.

20.  And if a certain name or number makes you smile like crazy at your phone screen, don't let people make fun of you.

21.  Yes.  It's okay to miss someone, even if they hurt you.  Because in reality, you're not missing the pain.  You're missing the person who used to treat you well, who you loved, who you used to know.

22.  Everyone has said they're "done with dating" at least once in their life.  It's okay if you do the same.

23.  Saying you know what you want and are waiting for it isn't being stuck-up or hard to get.  It means you know you're worth and trust that God will provide that person for you.

24.  Just because everyone else does it, doesn't mean you have to.  And if you don't want to, they have no right to pressure you into doing it.

25.  Love will come at the most unexpected time.  And if it's worth it, it'll be hard.

26.  Marry for love, or not at all.