3.31.2016

The Guilt I Used To Face


Growing up, I was often told and encouraged to 'keep my whole self pure' for my future husband.  That included body, mind and heart.  This was a good standard and one that is Biblically-founded.

Growing up, I would cherish to know that I hadn't held hands with a guy, never gone on a date, never written a love letter to a guy, never cuddled, never 'romantically' hugged a guy, never spent the night at a guy's house, never been on a dating site, never kissed, never had sex, and...throw in any other romantic and/or physical things here.  

Growing up, I realized how basically impossible that level of excellence is because once you hit a certain age, the human nature that God created makes you start feeling, start noticing, start desiring, and you ultimately start doing.

And that's one of the first times in my life when I felt guilt

The first time I 'hugged a guy romantically' was a particular dude I had a crush on at the church I grew up in.
The first guy I ever held hands with wasn't even someone I was interested in dating.  We just kinda liked each other.  We were both 16.  Oh and we snuggled during a movie too.
The first guy I ever wrote a 'love letter' to was someone who had a mutual interest in me, but we never officially dated.
I have since also been on dating sites/apps, been on a date with a guy I met through a dating app, had my first kiss, etc.  (Yes, I am still a virgin though.)

Did I feel impure?
Yes.

Did I feel like my future boyfriend would break-up with me upon learning these facts?
Yes.

Did I feel guilty for doing all these things that I thought I would save only for my future husband?
Yes.

And the reason I felt guilty was because I was always taught that unless I kept guard over my heart and body, then I wouldn't have much to offer to my husband.  That my heart was like a pie, and each piece (slice) I gave away to whichever boy, just meant one less slice for my future husband.

Now, don't get me wrong.  I get that analogy.  Every time you do something romantic that (in certain individuals' book) you should only do in marriage, then you're depriving your future spouse of something.

But I disagree with the reasoning behind it.

For these three reasons.

1)  Everything I've done and every time I've done something with a guy, I never did 'because my hormones were taking over my brain'.
I am an extremely affectionate person.  And because of that, I do need to be careful on how I show my affection - especially to the opposite sex.  But I am also a caring person, which means that when I care for someone - whether romantically or not - I want to be affectionate with them.  THIS IS NOT WRONG.  THIS IS NOT SINFUL.  Yes, you should exercise extreme caution on WHAT you're doing and HOW you're showing you care, but all of my hand-holdings, hugs, and kisses were never because I just 'felt like it'.  They were meant, whole-heartedly from a girl who cared for a boy.  And that's literally all there is to the story.

2)  Yes, there are things I regret doing.  Yes, there are things I am happy I did.  No, I do not think I am a sinner because I did any of them.
For a long time, I wrestled with feeling extremely guilty for any and every little romantic gesture I had ever shown to any guy.  Well, 'romantic' in conservative Christian terms.  Holding hands, sitting close to each other on a couch, etc.  Not to mention kissing someone who I ended up not getting engaged to/marrying.  Oh but wait, did I think I was going to marry him?  I sure did.  So why should I constantly berate myself for doing 'the unthinkable' with him?

"Well, you should've just waited to do ANY sort of physical thing with ANY guy because you don't know WHO you're going to marry and therefore, you should keep your whole body AND heart for your future husband alone, so he won't be missing out on anything you did before," said the voice of  a sheltered, conservative, homeschooled girl from ten years ago.

First of all, I will not feel guilty for things that I did out of love and compassion and care for someone.  The things I do regret doing, I will have to live with for the rest of my life - BUT I know and believe that I have been forgiven by my Father for them.
Secondly, my future husband will love me in spite of all my flaws and if - yes, IF - he thinks that anything from my past was 'wrong' or 'inappropriate', I know that he will forgive me for them.  Thirdly, I believe that God has given us free will to choose what we do or don't do in His will.  His sovereign and supremely guiding hands have always protected me - and kept me from many occasions that bad things could have happened.  Have I fallen short of His glory?  Absolutely.  Does this mean He doesn't love me anymore?  Absolutely not.  Have I made mistakes in choosing who and how to show affection?  Yes.  Should that guilt be hanging over my head for the rest of my life?  No.  It has its consequences, yes.  But I think the biggest 'threat' girls face is that their future husbands 'won't love them as much because they don't have this and that to offer'.  When in reality, girls, if a guy is shallow enough to say something along the lines of 'Oh you've held hands with another guy?  Forget it.  I can't do this', then good riddance.  You don't want that type of man as a husband.

3)  Whatever past things I've done - whether regretfully or not - it will still be my FIRST with my husband.

---

In closing, I would like to clarify one thing.
I am not saying that all physical touch is fine and/or encouraged.  I am not saying that you should not be careful in the way you show affection to the opposite sex.  I am not saying that conservative Christians are stiff-necked and/or wrong in their way of thinking.  We are all convicted differently.  We are all raise differently.  There's absolutely nothing wrong with that.

But don't ever point a finger at someone and tell them that their future spouse is 'missing out' on things that they've 'given away to other people'.  Because, in reality, like my third point above, it will all be a first within a holy and covenantal marriage.  And I don't know what can be more special, romantic, beautiful, or pure than that.

3.22.2016

Pray For the World

I know I don't usually write on current happenings or the latest news, but I felt the need to express my thoughts today.

I woke up this morning and all of my social medias were flooded with #PrayForBrussels.  I quickly opened Google to find out what exactly happened in Brussels and the news shocked me.  Another attack.  Another explosion.  More lives lost.  More sadness, and pain.

This got me thinking...

When is something like this going to happen in the U.S.?

Sure, we've had hurricanes, tornadoes, etc., but no one ever wonders if we'll ever get attacked by ISIS or some other terrorist group.  Why?  Because we feel safe.  The world calls our country one of the safest and best-guarded countries in the world.  So we walk around, going about our daily lives, praying for other countries with travesties happen, but never once pause to think about what if this happened to me today?  Or in the next hour?  I'm sure Paris or Brussels wasn't expecting these attacks.  What makes us so immune to the possibility that this could, indeed, happen here in the United States?

We are so unprepared.  We take this life so for granted too.  We hold onto grudges, we don't talk to family or friends because of past differences, we don't take time to help someone out, to do a good deed.

Life is so short.  You never know when your last breath will be.

Are you living the sort of life you want to leave behind as your legacy?

Pray for Brussels.
Pray for Paris.
Pray for our country.
Pray for our world.


I Wonder, You Wonder | a poem


I hope some day you'll find something that used to belong to me
Something that I gave you as a keepsake
To remember me by
And I guess it worked
Because there you are
Looking at it, holding it
Thinking of me
And I hope you wonder if I still drive those same roads we used to
Or if I still murmur in my sleep
Maybe you'll even wonder if I still have that shirt
The one you loved to see me wear
Maybe you'll wonder if that song we used to call 'ours'
Still makes me think of you every time it comes on the radio
But even more importantly than that,
I wonder
If you'll ever wonder
If I still wonder about you
And what used to be
What could have been
Us.

3.21.2016

Music Monday | Song: Here by Alessia Cara

A current most-played artist in my iTunes is the new and blossoming, Alessia Cara.  This girl can sing.  I absolutely love her voice, her lyrics, and her style.  (P.S. Taylor Swift is a huge endorser of this chick.)
One of her most popular songs is called Here.  And I'm pretty sure almost everyone can relate to it in some situation or another.
I like songs like this because Alessia isn't just talking about herself.  She's speaking in first person, so we know she's using her past experiences as an example, but it's a story that many people can raise their hands to and say "Yeah, this is me talking.  I've been there.  I've felt that way."

"I'm sorry if I seem uninterested
Or I'm not listenin' or I'm indifferent
Truly, I ain't got no business here
But since my friends are here
I just came to kick it but really
I would rather be at home all by myself
Not in this room with people
Who don't even care about my well-being."

Who else has felt that awkward misplacement when you're at a party?  Or a friend's house?  Someone in the comments on YouTube even said they felt this way at church...

"Excuse me if I seem a little unimpressed with this
An anti-social pessimist
But usually I don't mess with this
And I know you mean only the best 
And your intentions aren't to bother me
But honestly I'd rather be
Somewhere with my people we can kick it and just listen
To some music with the message
And we'll discuss our big dreams
How we plan to take over the planet
So pardon my manners, I hope you'll understand it
That I'll be here."

I know that when I've felt this way, it wasn't because people were intentionally trying to make me feel invisible or like an outcast.  But, like the lyrics say, honestly I'd rather be somewhere with my people.  



Check out more of Alessia's music!  
My current faves by her are: I'm Yours, Overdose, and Scars To Your Beautiful


3.19.2016

5 Tips On Writing Letters To Your Future Wife

Believe it or not, there are some guys out there who are writing letters to their future wives and saving them to give to her when the moment is right.

One such guy emailed me recently, telling me that he had read my 5 Tips On Writing Letters To Your Future Husband article and was wondering if I would write one on tips for guys who are writing letters to their future wives.  Needless to say, I was pretty impressed by the mere fact that he does that - let alone that he wanted 'tips' on 'how to'.  So here is what I came up with.

Ladies, feel free to comment anything that I failed to mention and I will consider adding it to the list.

---

1.  Things You Look Forward To
[Pretty much] every girl's heart flutters when a man expresses things he'd like to do with her.  So tell her what some things are that you're looking forward to doing together - whether going to certain places, seeing certain sites, fun date ideas, etc.  Oh and don't worry about being too sexual.  This is your wife you're writing to.  Spice things up!

2.  Family Talk
There's nothing more attractive or sexier than a man with a baby.  Am I right, ladies?  So men, feel free to talk about having babies with your lady someday, having little ones running around the house, taking them to the park and looking like a perfectly hot family because you and your wife will make cute babies.  Write to your wife about your own childhood memories, or some traditions that you would like to start with your own family.  This will show her that you care and desire to raise a family with her someday.

3.  What You Love About Her
Even though you may not know who she is yet, you know that you'll love her.  You may not be able to name extremely specific things about her physique or personality in your letters, but that shouldn't stop you.  You will love her eyes.  You will love her voice.  You will love her kisses.  You will love waking up next to her in the morning.  Tell her so already.  You know how insanely special she'll feel that you even thought of those before meeting her?

4.  Prayers
Prayer is the biggest weapon we, as Christians, have.  Use it, even now, to protect your marriage and build a wall against the enemy.  Exercise your leadership as the future spiritual leader of your wife and family and pray for them even now.  Pray for your future wife.  Pray for her spiritual growth, for her protection, for her job, her education.  Pray for the moment when you two meet.  Pray for your time dating each other.  Pray for your wedding day.  Pray for your marriage.  Pray for your future children.  Writing and recording these prayers will be something beautiful to look back upon and see how God heard and answered them.

5.  Date Her
Even after marriage, you're still going to be dating your wife.  You'll always have something new to learn about her.  There will always be those new habits you'll discover about each other.  Tell her about yourself in your letters.  These will be great conversation starters for later in marriage.  And don't worry about trying to impress her.  You're already married to the woman.  Be authentic.  She's already chosen you.
Also, flirt with her.  Just cuz you're married to her doesn't mean you stop pursuing.  Be playful, be flirty, talk about fun after-marriage things you can do together.  Need some help with how to write about that?  Check out the incredibly beautiful - and one of the sexiest - books you'll ever read, the Author of romance Himself included it in the Bible - "Song of Songs".  It's pretty darn amazing.  And I'm sure it'll give you some pointers.

3.18.2016

About My Short Romance Stories

I was recently accused of portraying love and romance as something from a fairytale through the small love stories that I write and publish here on my blog.  I thought I would take a moment and clarify.

First of all, I always appreciate when readers take the time to comment and share their opinion on what I write.  It really is taken into consideration - as far as how I am coming across.  And everyone is entitled to their own opinions.  If you don't like what I write, then you don't have to read it.  If there's something about it that you think is morally wrong, do let me know and we can discuss our convictions.

Secondly, the romance stories I write aren't meant to portray 'love'.  They are simply scenes.  Not life pictures.  Who said anything about the two characters being in a relationship because that specific moment happened??  I certainly didn't.  
Anyone who has been in a relationship, knows that love is hard and relationships are difficult and that cute little romantic moments don't ALWAYS happen.  I think we all wish they would, but that's just not reality.

The reason I write those little stories is simply because of what I say on the 'The Romance Corner's page:

"As I'm sure you'll agree, there is a sad lack of clean romance in today's fictional world.  Being the romantic that I am, sometimes I feel inspired to write something cute and romantic and share it here on my blog."

Plain and simple.

So please don't read them and think 'Raquel knows nothing about love or relationships.  She thinks they're all about romance and loving on each other.'  Just know that they're my writer brain spilling some love story material that just needs to be written and read.  And I love knowing people enjoy my little stories too!

P.S. Oh and in answer to a rather common question from readers - yes, some of the stories I write are fiction.  

But some of them aren't.

3.15.2016

3.12.2016

He Knows Where To Find The Pieces


Everyone is experiencing pain of one kind or another.  On different levels.  For different reasons.  But it all affects the same thing.

Your heart.

Life is tough.  It really sucks sometimes.  One minute you could be doing just fine, thinking you have things under control, feeling good about the direction you're going in, and then one little word, one phone call, one touch, can turn your life upside down.

Your heart will be broken.
And you'll wonder how things could change so quickly from something beautiful to an utter disaster.

You know when you get a massage, the person giving it to you has to work out all the knots and kinks in your shoulder, neck and back?  It can be kind of painful sometimes.  They need to rub, and twist, and apply pressure to the area that needs to be smoothed and pain free.  But in order to do that, you need to experience a bit of pain in the process.  And then afterwards, it feels amazing, right?

Sometimes, in life, God ordains for certain events to occur that help us weed out the bad in our lives and allow the good to enter.  He breaks off chains that bind our hearts to things He does not want for us.  He knows what's good and what's bad for us.  And He knows what's the absolute best for us too!  Sometimes this time of pruning may come in the form of what we would term a heartbreak.  But guess what?

He made your heart.  He is so in tune with the way it works and feels and the emotions that can hurt it or bring it joy.  And He also knows what can break your heart.  And He also knows where to find all the pieces and shape your heart into something stronger, peaceful and more beautiful than before.

So claim His peace in your life as you give in to His sculpting hands and trust that whatever pain you're experiencing in this present moment is serving a greater purpose in your life.  Look ahead.  He has amazing plans for you.

3.09.2016

Do Hard Relationships Just NOT Work Out?


So many people say that hard relationships just don't work out.

Well, I disagree.

Because if you pick the right person, sure it will be hard (I promise you that), but it can - and will - work out because you BOTH are making an effort to work through things TOGETHER.

That's what relationships are all about.  Doing things together.  Learning to be selfless.  Learning about each other.  Learning how to complement one another.

If you choose to be with someone who has a good heart, good intentions, and is willing to labor through whatever hardships life throws your way, you're off to a good start.

And after choosing (yes, because being with someone is a choice that you make) to be with them, you deal with both of your problems - whether that be past issues, current dramas, personal struggles, different personalities, etc.  Those are all things that should be considered before entering into a relationship, but...that's another blog post.

The problem with a lot of people nowadays is that if you have the mentality that 'Oops, that went wrong!' and don't continually pursue MAKING IT WORK.  If you thought like that all the time, you could miss your best friend.  You could miss your other half.  You could miss the love of a lifetime.  All because you think that certain relationships just don't work out because they're 'too hard'.

"The things that people in love do to each other they remember, and if they stay together it's not because they forget, it's because they forgive."
- Indecent Proposal

And to everyone who likes twisting my words, I am NOT saying that two people who try to make it work WILL end up together 100% of the time.  Sometimes, it's just not meant to be.  But I'm speaking to the ones in relationships who hit little bumps in the road and think 'Oh screw this, it's not working out'.  No.  It's not working out because you're choosing to let the mentality that relationships are all about romance and love determine your outlook on your significant other.  They aren't perfect.  You aren't either.  So your relationship isn't going to be perfect.  Learn to sideswipe the blows and work through things.  Together.  Because certain relationships don't work out, sure.

But some do. 

3.02.2016

Get Your Questions Ready!

Hey peeps!

This weekend, I am going to be working on compiling my first ever, filmed-and-edited-by-me, VLOG.  Who's excited??

I've been wanting to do this for some time now.  I think all the cool, hip bloggers have been doing it for ages already, so I'm a little behind the times, but...give me a break, okay?  I don't know the first thing about filming or editing videos.  So we'll see how mine turns out.

Anyway, I want to try making it a monthly deal or something, but I'm not sure WHAT the vlogs are going to be about.

To start them off, though, I wanted to do a Q&A type of video.  So comment on this post, or on my Facebook page, or on my Instagram, or tweet me even!, and submit your questions!  Try not to make them too deep cuz I want to try fitting in as many answers as I can.

GO!