Brutally Honest

I don’t want you to ever think my life is perfect. I especially don’t want you to be deceived by my posts on social media that I have everything figured out. If we are being completely real, brutally honest, I do not live a perfect life and I definitely do not have everything figured out.

Over the last month or so, God has been showing me just how weak I am. For whatever reason, the idea that I am strong enough and can do it all started to creep into my life. I have no clue when the “I can do it all” mindset set in, but I am very much aware NOW that I cannot do it all.

This whole shift started one night at the coffee shop. I was talking with one of my best friends and just encouraging her through a tough time. During the midst of the conversation, I could see she had bought into the lie that she was supposed to handle everything perfectly, and be strong enough to do it all. I could see her fighting back the tears the whole time, afraid to show some sort of weakness to me. I looked at her and said, “It’s okay to admit that you’re not strong enough.” I reminded her that even though we are weak individuals, God is the Almighty. He has the ultimate strength.

I went home that night thinking about our conversation and praying for my friend, but then I felt God pressing on my heart the same words I had just spoken to her. God was telling me: Rachel, it’s okay to admit that you’re not strong enough. But instead of admitting to God I was weak and I needed Him to carry me, I continued to carry life with my own strength.

This is a constant battle for me, just so you know. I have seasons of life where I recognized my weaknesses and my need for God’s strength, but overtime somewhere along the journey I start to believe that I can handle it.

A few nights later, God pressed that same statement onto my heart again. And this time, I was angry. I remember that night well, and it was for sure not posted on Instagram or Facebook. It was one of those nights where I was just so angry and sad and hurt–BROKEN–so there was LOTS of ugly crying. In my anger, I asked the question WHY a whole bunch. I demanded (not a joke) answers from the Lord. If you’re at all familiar with Job when He is asking God for his day in court wanting answers from God, that was me.

But then, I was able to admit that I can’t. I was broken–still am broken. Because I can’t do it. I can’t be who everyone wants me to be because it’s too much pressure. I can’t be patient on my own because I want things now. I can’t control outcomes because that’s not my power. I can’t do it.

Through lots of tears, I finally admitted to God, “I need you. I am not strong enough to keep going on my own.”

So with that statement, I opened up my Bible to the book of Esther to hear from God. I was still angry. I was more broken now than I was when I started praying. I was hurting. And I still wanted answers.

Immediately, I started reading through that portion of Esther, and God started to speak, but it was not what I wanted to hear. It wasn’t providing the answers I was looking for. So as I read through God’s Word, I continued praying the same way–demanding answers, admitting my lack of ability to do anything on my own, begging God to speak something else. I was working through Beth Moore’s study on Esther at the time, and it got to this point where she referenced Philippians 4:13. I’m really familiar with this verse, so I kind of quickly reread it, but she had another verse to reference–Romans 8:37. I wasn’t as familiar with this one, so I went into it with fresh eyes.

“in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”

Romans 8:37

The Holy Spirit used this verse to speak directly into my heart:

Did you see that part about in all these things? Everything you just prayed for is included in the word ALL.

You’re right. You can’t do it all. But did you notice what it says next? You are a conqueror through Him–that’s Me. You are a conqueror in all these things because of Me. Because of My love for You.

You will never be able to do anything on your own. But My love carries you. 

In that moment, a wave of peace flooded my heart to where I can’t even explain it. Through my absolute surrender that I can’t do it, God provided me with peace because He reminded me that it’s THROUGH HIM not through Rachel.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t live without the strength of God.

When you see these pictures below, on Instagram, or on Facebook, do not be deceived. I am not strong. I am weak. And I will gladly proclaim that brutally honest truth until the day I die because it’s not through me. It’s through Him.

Walk in Love

I can still hear my principal from Castle High School saying, “If you are wearing a Castle shirt of any kind, you are a representation of a Castle Knight wherever you are. Be a good representative of us.”

Who or what do you represent?

My answers consist of my school, my church, my family, my friends in some sense; but most importantly, I represent Christ.

Back in November, our school put on a Veterans Day Program for our Veterans and community. It’s a school led program, so some students greet Veterans, play in the band, or sing in the choir; and the majority of our students sit with their homeroom classes. Now remember, I teach 8th graders (13-14 year olds) so it’s extremely important to go over rules and expectations especially for a community event like this. I found myself saying things to my homeroom like, “Be on your best behavior”, “We want to honor our Veterans”, or “Your behavior during this event represents me as your teacher, but also the school–don’t forget that.” Long story short, my kids were great!

Fast forward a few weeks, and the students who were awesome during the program are now doing the complete opposite. I remember talking to a couple of different students in the hall to just see what was going on with them. I told them I knew they could be awesome because I just saw it at the program. I hear them out, but then I remind them regardless of where they are–whether it’s as fancy as an official program or as mundane as walking in the hallways–they represent me, their teacher.

Then it hit me.

I. Represent. Christ.

I am no different than this kid I’m talking to in the hallway.

Quite the wake-up call if you ask me.

See I think it’s easy for us to be good representatives when we’ve just been reminded of the expectation, but what if a few days pass, or weeks pass? I know I forget, what about you?

The idea of representing Christ is so easily forgotten. It’s typical for me to go to church on Sunday and feel convicted to not gossip anymore, but as soon as the final “Amen” has been said, I’m back to talking about people in a way that’s not building up the kingdom.

In the middle of the church service (or in the midst of the “Veterans Day Program” for my students), it’s easy to represent Christ, especially when He’s at the forefront of my mind. But when the program has come to a close and reality sets in; just like my students forgot, I forget I still am representing Christ whether I’m at church or walking down the halls of my school.

We all represent something and we all imitate something.

Remember what my high school principal said? He said, “If you are wearing a Castle shirt of any kind, you are a representation of a Castle Knight wherever you are. Be a good representative of us.”

The same is true for believers, but it’s not just a shirt we get to throw into the laundry basket at the end of the day. Bur rather when we come to Christ, we are always representing who He is to the world around us.

In 3 John verse 11, it says, “Behold, do not imitate evil but imitate good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not see God.”

Change the shirt from a “Castle” shirt to a “God” shirt. You are wearing Him. Displaying His goodness wherever you go. God is good, and through the power of the Holy Spirit living inside of you, you can be good–whether you’re in church or walking down a hallway. But when we aren’t clothing ourselves in the goodness of God, we are representing evil, or the world.

I was talking to one of my friends about this, and she shared with me a quote (not sure where it’s from), but check this out: You are a visible representation of an invisible God.

I love that. We are called to represent Christ wherever and whenever. We don’t take the shirt off, it’s there. When we came to know Jesus as our Savior and Lord, we chose to take off our old self and put on a new self in Christ (Ephesians 4:22-24).

Even right now, as I’m writing this, it’s easy for me to remember I represent Christ. But how can I represent Him daily, whether I’m at church or at school? I imitate Him. What did Jesus do when He was here living on Earth?

Paul says in Ephesians 5:1-2, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us.”

We see Jesus walking in love and giving himself up for others (that’s me and that’s you).

So right now, if you proclaim Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, you are wearing God’s goodness and the way you can demonstrate that to the world around you is doing what Jesus did–walk in love and give yourself up for others.

For me, when the final “Amen” is said at church, I don’t want to be gossiping, but rather I want to walk in love. I should filter everything I say and do through the lens of Jesus’ love. I can ask myself questions like: Is this conversation walking in love? Is doing (fill in the blank) walking in love? Am I thinking more about myself or others? Who is being lifted up: God or myself?

As much as I don’t want to admit it, I am just like my middle school students. They forget who they represent and so do I. But just like I’m there to remind my students who they represent, God is there for me. He takes me into the hallway (AKA my quiet time), and says, “Rachel, what’s going on? Remember whatever you’re doing or even saying, you’re representing me?

If a camera recorded your actions/words just for a day, what kind of a representation would be found? One that’s imitating what is good, or one that’s imitating what is evil?

Dream Guide 2018

For the first time last year, I filled out a Dream Guide provided by Jennie Allen. It was easily the best decision to start the year with. In her dream guide, she provides some basic questions for you to reflect on the past year, and then to start dreaming big for the new year! I know we are already into 2018, but is it really too late to dream?

If you want to dream along with me, feel free to download and fill out the Dream Guide. And if you want to share some of your dreams, I would love to hear them too!

Last year, was easily one of the best years I’ve had! Not gonna lie, the first couple of days of January were a little sad because I didn’t want 2017 to be over. It felt like 2018 had a lot to live up to because there was so much that came from 2017. But even in the first few days here into 2018, God’s been revealing to me that He is a God who fulfills his word! He’s been reminding me of His control and how he has so much more in store. I honestly believe God is just getting started and I’m super pumped about what 2018 holds! Let’s dream a little then! It’s gonna be great!


Alone Time//Connect With God

My alone time with God is quite possibly my favorite time of the day! There is just peace with the Lord. In 2017, I found God calling me to die to myself even more than before. As God continued to provide and fulfill all these different dreams from last year, He would call me to turn from my own selfish ways. Although this was difficult at times, God would always prove His ways were and are better than my own.

God also used the last four months or so to push me into the importance of fasting. Fasting is one of those disciplines of the faith I always tended to applaud others who could do this, but I never wanted to give up food or really anything else. But after reading through Nehemiah and Esther, God made it clear fasting was an act of obedience to Him. Some people fast from chocolate, TV, social media, food, stuff like that; but I felt God calling me into a food fast. This was hard because I LOVE FOOD! But what I found is anytime I would see or think about food, I would use that as an opportunity to pray. I would pray intentionally and God became way more real. The encouragement He gave me was unlike anything else! Definitely something I will do more of in 2018.

It’s also super cool to look back on how 2016 was the first year of a legit daily quiet time with the Lord and 2017 was another 365 day streak (there was one day between July 3-July 4 I don’t have a record quiet time simply because I hadn’t really slept–we got back from Ecuador the morning of the 3rd, and I took like an hour nap to push through the no sleep from the overnight flight, but then that night I ended up staying up until 6am talking about Ecuador and all that God did in and through me). I would love to see 2018 be another 365-day streak! I don’t just record it as something to do, but my quiet time breathes life into me. I’ve even started documenting specifically how God speaks into my heart in these moments. It’s crazy how throughout my days and weeks, God will even use others to speak those same truths of my quiet time into my heart.

One of the big things I would love to do more of this year is memorize scripture. I want more of God’s word written on my heart and not just paraphrases, but His actual Word.



At the beginning of 2017, I didn’t know where to go. I was transitioning between churches and quite honestly, I was perfectly okay with watching church on my iPad. But God convicted me of that when I visited NorthWoods Church. I had been praying at the beginning of 2017 to watch the multiplication process happen through discipleship. Little did I know God literally led me to NorthWoods. When I got there, I quickly heard the heartbeat of the church was to make disciples. Not only that, but God was using this new-to-me church to speak the EXACT same truth God was telling me in my quiet time. The pastors wouldn’t have known that God was saying those things to me because I was new. It was only God.

Fast forward to 2018, our church’s initiative this year is to live intentionally with those around us. Our goal as a church is to have 1000 gospel-conversations; and this is my wheelhouse! God has placed a desire in my heart to watch those who don’t know Him to know Him. While in Ecuador, I knew God was placing a person on my heart to start having gospel conversations with and as soon as I saw that person, it all begin. At the end of 2017, I was able to give her a Bible and I’m still waiting for God to save her! But it’s just so cool to have a church who encourages their congregation to have these gospel conversations!


I love serving in my church! It’s one of my favorite things! I get to work with our high school girls at church and they are a ball of energy–literally all the time. It’s fun for them to come over and hang out, but I love when we all get to just talk about Jesus and what He’s teaching us! This is something I want more of in 2018. I’m also getting the opportunity to help serve the women in our church by coming alongside our women’s ministry and hosting an If:Local this year! I literally cannot wait to see God work in my life and the lives of others!


My money is obviously the Lord’s first, and I know that, but 2017 I struggled to live like that. It took me into mid-July before I really surrendered my finances to the Lord. Now God really does get the first-fruits. I’m looking forward to watching God use His money to bless others! God has consistently provided for me, so there really is no reason to keep anything from Him.


My personal outreach and ministry is my school. Everyday I get an opportunity to share the love of Jesus with my students and with our staff. Some days, it’s really easy to do this, and other times it’s really hard; but I know in 2018 I want to be more intentional in those conversations. I want to make sure my students know they are cared for and loved. To live intentionally with my students is going to take slowing down and seeing the students as kids. It gets tough to see sometimes when the job seems big, but at the end of the day, they are kids and they have a heart. That’s more important to me than anything else. I want God to be exalted at school!

At the end of the day, I want to see God do more! Last year, I asked God to save 5 people before the end of the summer, and I watched 6 people I know give their life to Christ. This year, I’m dreaming really big. I would love to know 30 people who experience the death to life transformation! Maybe this will be at school, through church camp, I don’t know, but I want to see 30 people’s lives redeemed in 2018.


Last year, my goal was to be consistent with the girls I met with. I’m happy to say that dream was achieved. The girls I met with were consistent and I got to watch God grow and shape them in these beautiful ways. This year through our consistent time together, I want to see God empower them to live intentionally with those around them. I want discipleship 2018 to be marked by intentionally living and to hear that from the girls I meet with week in and week out. For mentorship, it’s really been a great time of sharpening! This year, I know through my mentors they will challenge, strengthen, and encourage in love all through the truth of God’s Word. I know they will hold me accountable as I ask the Lord to live a life through Him.


Friends//Friends I Need//Friends Who Need Me

It’s crazy how fast a year changes things. This time last year my dream was this: If there is one thing I’m praying for is more friends in close proximity to me. Friends that are passionate about Jesus, digging into His word, and a desire to see others come to know Christ. One of my favorite memories was gathering together. It started off super low key and just hanging out, hearing each other’s stories; but then it transformed into a study in Ephesians. Although busy schedules get in the way, we try to at least get together once a month. These crazy friends have been one of 2017’s biggest blessings. For 2018, my prayer is to have a friend who needs the Lord so I can share the gift of salvation with them.

Extended Family//Neighbors//Coworkers 

It’s through the Lord that any of these dreams (past or present) can be achieved. I think the more relevant thing the Lord has taught me is the simple phrase through Him. This was something God pressed into my heart right at the end of 2017. This is something that I pray will continue to be a theme of 2018 especially when it comes to relationships with those around me. I pray the conversations I have with my family or my coworkers will be through Him. I know God is the one who brings peace, joy, hope, and faith. It is Him alone who restores and redeems.

Last year when I filled this Dream Guide out, I was scared about starting a book club with some women I work with. God totally blew that fear up and showed up in a mighty way. The things I was afraid of didn’t matter, it was God doing the work, I just had to be obedient to Him. Not sure if another book club will fit in the schedule this year with everything else going on, but doing that book club last year continues to give me more of an opportunity to be a light to women in our building!



Last year I had the goal of losing about 25 pounds, and although I’m not to 25 just yet, I have lost the majority of the 25. It feels good to know there has been something I’ve accomplished like that. MyFitnessPal is awesome! I’ve lived being more aware of the junk I put in my body and just trying to be a good steward over this temple. God has a lot in store for my life and I want my body to be able to keep up. Now just because I’ve lost some weight, doesn’t necessarily mean I’ve gotten into the working out thing. Although, I did work out for about 3 months straight, but then stopped. But right now, one of my friends and I are tossing around the idea of a membership at a gym (and both of us are scared to do that, but maybe if we’re together it won’t be so bad). I guess the real dream for this year is to just continue being healthy!

Books to Read

I continue to love reading books about Jesus. I want as much information as I can get but I want to be able to live differently after reading these books. In 2017, I read Nothing to Prove by Jennie Allen, Looking for Lovely by Annie F. Downs, Seated with Christ by Heather Holleman, Wait and See by Wendy Pope, The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer, Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst, and Awe by Paul David Tripp. Currently I’m in the middle of The Fitting Room by Kelly Minter. Looking back on all these different books, I honestly read more than I thought. Reading in 2018 is going to look a little different simply because grad school is coming and for one class I have 8 books to read on American Literature. However, I have a big collection of books I want to read still that help strengthen my relationship with the Lord.

Dreams//Memories to Make

Still my biggest dream is to write a book and I haven’t even started it yet. However, I started looking into the publishing/writing field and started praying about getting involved, especially after God impressed all this on my heart. Looking up jobs in that field, an internship was needed to help build a resume and most places encourage a Masters in English, neither of which I have. But by March 2017, I had an internship through my church, and by October, I was admitted into grad school to pursue a Masters in English. None of this was ever even on the map for me, but God has shifted and changed my desires that match His will for my life. This year I want to continue to dream about that book. I want to see God do some incredible things with my blog that help build up my resume. Most importantly, I just want to pursue whatever dreams the Lord has for me.

As far as those memories go, God has been blowing my mind with the memories I have of 2017. Last year, I wanted people over at my house more to hang out and that happened soooooo much! It was great! There have been more memories made in this house! But for this year, I don’t know what to dream as far as memories. At this point, all I can think about is SNOW! I really want things all wintery, so maybe this year will be making seasonal memories. Doing things like: ice skating, snowball fights, sledding, snow angels, dying Easter eggs, going on picnics, playing in parks, drinking more coffee, carving pumpkins, corn mazes, I don’t know. Send me ideas! Seasonal memories would be fun!

Oh and CONCERTS! Really I see these as worship nights! But I would love to go to more worship-like settings with different artists. Winter Jam is coming up, so maybe we can start with that one!


Way more traveled happened in 2017 than I ever dreamed of happening. I didn’t get to journey out to California to see my friends, but I was able to go to Cincinnati to see Jennie Allen on her book tour as well as Lauren Chandler leading worship, went to Louisville to see Kari Jobe in concert, and I went to Nashville a WHOLE bunch. Last year I even had this great dream in JANUARY about taking a vacation, somewhere near a beach. Sure enough, 2017 brought a trip to the beach. I was able to go to the Keys thanks to one of my sweet friends from the coffee shop! It was my first time to the Keys and I burnt like a lobster! I sort of forgot that you’re closer to the equator, which means you’re closer to the sun. But this year, we are planning another trip to go back! Hoping this doesn’t stay a dream, but becomes a reality! I also would have never really expected a trip to Ecuador being apart of my journey in 2017, but I’m so thankful for that opportunity. As I look forward to 2018, our church is going to Ecuador again! Praying now, that all my grad school work can be done before or after because not much grad school will be done while I’m in Ecuador.



Last year, God made everything affordable. It was crazy. I was able to do so much with so little just because God works in ways I don’t understand. When we say yes to whatever God has in store, He works it all out. This year will be another year of trusting God with my finances. I watch God provide time and time again. I’ve learned that yes I need to be responsible in the way I handle money, but as long as God is first, He provides.

Personal Growth//Education

There were three things I mentioned last year in this section: cooking, blogging, and my masters. This time last year, I barely started cooking at home, and now I cook a lot. I meal prep most of my meals (usually sandwiches and chips for lunch), but I’m still branching out and trying new things. I blogged more in 2017 than ever, and I want 2018 to keep up with what I’ve accomplished in 2017. With my masters, I had no idea what to even get it in last year, but after some serious praying in September, God made it abundantly clear I needed to get a Masters in English. Although these things are all time consuming, I’m praying now more than ever that God be Lord over my time as I manage all the different things going on in 2018. It really will only be through Him that any of this can happen.


I mentioned two projects I was dreaming about for last year. The first one was a Remembrance Board, and this has been something I’ve carried around with me for awhile. I don’t have the push pins for the board, but I know what’s going in it; but I still haven’t put it together. I did however do the second project of 2017, which was a scrapbook of all the letters my students have written me throughout the years. I also painted three little canvases to hang over my bed that say “through Him”, “be still”, and “immeasurably more”. These three words were painted simply because of the impact they have on my heart. I don’t know what 2018 will have in store as far as projects, but I know I’m open for anything.

Through Him

The words I painted on the canvases, God has placed on my heart over the last few years. God started with Be Still back in 2016. I had to learn to be still and hear from Him, which comes from Psalm 46:10. Last year, God spoke to me through Ephesians 3:20-21 about how God is capable of doing immeasurably more and when I learned to expect God to be God, He did exactly that. I watched Him do so much!

Hear recently, God has encouraged my heart with Romans 8:37, which says through Him we are more than conquerors. I was waiting on God, and I’m still waiting on God. I got to the point where I told the Lord I just couldn’t do it anymore. I was tired of waiting. I told God I was ready to move on, but God spoke to me all about waiting and His timing, and God ended up encouraging me through this verse. He reminded me it’s through Him I can be a conqueror. It was such a sweet and gentle reminder of God’s loving and personal character. He spoke directly into my heart and I’m so thankful for that!

So this year, 2018, will be a year marked of all three. God’s worked stillness into my life and I continue to want the stillness. God’s worked in my life to expect Him to be God and I continue to want to expect God to be God. And this year God will teach me to live a life through Him.

Happy 2018!