Honeymoon Reads

Sitting by the beach has always been a great place for me to unwind and reconnect with God. There’s something about the sun, waves, and ocean breeze that draws me into the Lord.

It’s also a great opportunity to read some books!

The first one I want to share with you is The Gospel According to Satan by Jared C. Wilson. This book is a 10 out of 10. Throughout the book, Jared classifies different lies we believe in our culture. Some of these hit home more than others, but it’s convicting none the less. Jared takes lies Satan tries to convince us are truth and he counters each lie with truth found in the Word of God.

If you’re looking for a book that incorporates Scripture, this is a book for you! The verses are explained in the correct context and it’s a great read! This one will help you identify, uproot, and replace lies we far too often believe.

The other book I got to read on the honeymoon was Holy Guacamole by Carrie Stephens. This one is a little harder for me to recommend just because it provided some practical application, but it missed the mark on some interpretations of the Bible. At some points in the book, Carrie suggests some things that don’t line up with where I stand theologically.

I will say, reading this book shed some light onto some areas of my heart where I need to accept what God says about me instead of what the world will say about me. Carrie is also VERY entertaining. As an author, she has a very strong voice that makes reading her writing so enjoyable.

If you want to check this book out, you click here to enter to win one or click on the Amazon link to be hooked up with it! Make sure to read with eyes that stand on the authority of Scripture within its contest.

Happy Reading!!

Oh and hopefully I will be able to give you a life update plus JESUS update here soon!! Life has totally flipped and I’m crazy excited to share what Jesus is doing in my life with you!! STAY TUNED!!

Dream Guide 2020

Welcome to 2020!

Every single year, I find some time to go grab a good cup of coffee and fill out Jennie Allen’s Dream Guide! It’s one of my favorite things to do because it give s me an opportunity to see what all God has done in the past year, as well as dream with God about what’s going to happen the next year.

This year, it’s been cool to sit with my fiancé and discuss the dream guide! We’re reflecting on a ll that God has done in 2019 and looking forward to 2020 as we get married!

I would love for you to join us in this dreaming journey! The two main questions she asks us to reflect on in each are of our lives are: 1. How did you grow in the last year? And 2. What are your goals for 2020?


I am thankful for:

  1. Alec (the fiancé)
  2. God’s love that’s beyond what I deserve!
  3. An opportunity to go to Ecuador
  4. God’s provision
  5. The women’s ministry network in Evansville
  6. Wednesday nights around the kitchen table.
  7. My sister
  8. My church–pastors, congregation, and our community
  9. God’s perfect timing–even the way He says NO
  10. The way God speaks to me.

Spiritual

Alone Time//Connect With God

I think this year I grew an even bigger appreciation for my alone time with God. It truly is the stillness my heart needs in the midst of a crazy world.

If you’ve been following the blog for long, you know God usually reveals the focus:

2019 the year of celebration.

The word celebrate came from Psalm 27. It says, “I will sing and make melody to the Lord.” I remember reading this at the end of 2018 thinking, regardless of the circumstance, I will celebrate. As the year progress, celebration ranged from food on the table to an engagement of my own! In my own time with God, I was able to focus in on all God taught me and celebrate the blessings of life! He spoke in so many ways this year and grew and challenged me in new ways of becoming like Him. Each night when I prayed, I would intentionally look for things to celebrate–which was more or less having an attitude of gratitude regardless of the circumstance. 

2020 the year to treasure and ponder.

For 2020, I see God growing me in a way to treasure and ponder. Towards the end of the year, I started asking God to reveal to me what he wanted the focus of 2020 to be as we head not only into a new year, but a new decade. The next few days, we geared up for Christmas and we went through the Christmas story. BUT just like the Spirit, He revealed something new to me. In Luke 2:19, Mary looks at all God has done with the coming of Jesus as a baby, and Mary treasures up what she’s seen God fulfill and she ponders it. I can’t imagine what went through her head and even her heart. She watched God do exactly what He said he would do, and she stops to treasure and ponder! Wow!! Oh for us to be so aware of God to treasure and ponder!

This next year, I want to be like Mary, treasuring and pondering all God has done and will do! I want to not get over He is a God, the one who promises and keeps His word. I want to treasure God’s faithfulness and ponder it. When I looked up other translations, they exchange ponder for “thinking on” or “meditating” and this is what I want out of 2020. I want to think on the things of God and meditate on Him. These aren’t new ideas; they’re woven throughout Scripture, but the Spirit is using it to call me closer! This this, I want to treasure up more of God’s word this next year! That’s a  goal of mine! My fiancé is AMAZING at memorizing Scripture, and I definitely know he will help me in this endeavor! 

Church//Serve//Tithe

Church

The last few years, our church has focused on having ONE person to pray for and to share the gospel with. 2019 was no different. Our church’s goal was to have 1200 Gospel conversations, and once again, we met that goal! Another reason to celebrate! God moved through 1200+ conversations! Not only that, but by God’s grace our church baptized 32 people, 100 women signed up for IF:Gathering, 160 kids/students came during our Wednesday night programming, and 100 people in discipleship relationships! Y’all, God is on the move! I don’t want to miss celebrating God. He’s just so good!!

In 2020, I want to see God do more. I would love to see even more conversations, 150 women at our IF:Gathering, more students coming on a regular basis to our Wednesday night programing as well as helping our students feel more confident in sharing the gospel to their friends. I think more importantly, I want to see God glorified from the most mundane to the most extravagant!

So how does this fit with treasuring and pondering?

I can’t believe God allows me to do this. I can’t believe He lets me join Him in His work. So I want to treasure Him. I want to keep thinking this is because of Him and not because of me. Through the church, I want to make His name glorified through it all.

Serve

One of the verses that sticks out to me is Mark 10:45 which says, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

We see in this verse the KING of KINGS coming to us not to be served, and that’s the very thing He deserves. He deserves our service, but what does He do instead? He serves us. How did He serve us? Through the cross. He gave His life for us. The LORD of LORDS came to serve me and you!

This is something God’s been stirring in my heart throughout 2019. If I follow Christ’s level of service, I need to be willing to give my life to it. There is no job too gross or mundane or hard.

I think of the story of Jesus when He washes the disciples’ feet. That’s a pretty nasty job, but He wasn’t too good for it. He’s the One True King, and if anyone’s feet should be washed, it should be His. Yet, He washed the disciples’ feet. This is service.

I say all this to say that for 2020, I want to serve like Jesus did. There’s always opportunities to serve, but whether or not we look for them is something I want to do this year. I want to serve like Jesus serves!

Tithe

If there is one thing I’ve learned over the last six years is that money is fleeting. It’s only a temporary thing, but when placed in the hands of God, God can do whatever He pleases.

For 2020, my goal is to continue to give God what’s His first! It belongs to Him. I can give in a way that is joyful because I know God is provider! He’s a good, good Father!

I’ve watched Him provide financially time and time again throughout mission trips, houses, grad school, jobs, and other endless opportunities to grow in Him. It’s His! Everything is, so I will continue to joyfully give!

Outreach//Ministry

2019 as far as outreach and ministry goes that I probably won’t forget. See I had students in my class that followed me on social media and came to church events because of what they saw on Instagram. Then those same girls came to my house during the summer for Bible Study and I got to hand out Bibles and teach these girls not just English, but about Jesus! That was incredible! Reaching out to the sphere God has placed me in and just saying yes!

I watched women grow together through conversations happening around a table at our annual If:Gathering. I watched women get set free as they surrender to God!

We had church camp this year and getting to watch students give their lives to Christ and develop new relationships with them is incredible. Literally to think of all the ways God has reached out to the world around me is bringing me to tears as I write this. It’s His story of building a great kingdom, and it’s the best story! It’s the best journey! It’s the best adventure! Ahh!! Following Jesus is just so great!

I also went to Ecuador and watched God do amazing things in the hearts and lives of women there. I think the most unforgettable moment for me was hanging out at the orphanage. While the rest of the team was helping with the kids or fixing up the orphanage, I was talking to the women on staff. Getting to pour out to them was an incredible experience! But then getting to hang out and talk to one of the staff members and hearing her give her life to Christ was beautiful.

I’m even thinking back to conversations I got to have with different students during Fight Club about where they are with Jesus and seeing several of them coming to know Christ.

Then I think of our Fall DNOW where we got to watch our students learn the greatness of God. I remember one of our students running up to me after a prayer walk with her arms outstretched and tears streaming down her face. She said, “Rachel, I’m a sinner and I need Jesus.” I’m not sure it gets better than that. Just a few minutes later, she gave her life to Christ.

I can sit here and recount all these moments of God moving, but I want you to hear that I’m still praying for the people in my life who don’t know Jesus yet. And I think part of outreach is simply being obedient with those who are around you! Look at their life and ask yourself if there is anyway you can be a minister to them. Allow God to use you to minister to their lives. It may simply just be asking, “How can I be praying for you?” or “I see you, no, like really see you! You’re not alone.” Love people. They have hearts that beat. They are searching and seeking for fulfillment or satisfaction; help them to see what they’re longing for can only be found in Christ.

With that said, that’s what I want for 2020. I pray God will continue to give me moments to pour into others all around me. Giving me opportunities to reach out and minister through sharing the gospel!

Discipleship//Mentorship

There was a lot of discipleship happening and it was consistent! In the midst of crazy schedules, God made a way to meet with students of all ages to go through the Word together. In 2019, I wanted to find little ways to celebrate what God had done, and that’s exactly what happened. Listening for the littlest thing and saying, “That’s a win!” was so fun! I think that’s something to keep in mind as I continue discipleship.

I think one big thing I want to treasure for 2020 is the time with these girls. Sometimes I go into discipleship super tired and exhausted from the week, but God speaks and sets students free. In this next year, I pray God provides time, energy, and the words to teach what God has entrusted.


Relational

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

My goal was to have friends over at the house more and that happened! During the spring and fall semester, every Wednesday our little group of friends came over to the house and we sat around the table or in the living room and talked about what God taught us that week. Honestly, I think that’s been one of the highlights of the week throughout 2019. It sustained me and showed me God working in the lives of my friends.

I also got to take the DREAM trip of traveling to California with some great friends! We got to experience Cali life and the very cold Pacific Ocean! It was a great time to grow together and experience new things!

My Proper friends are definitely still there, but now pretty much everyone is in a relationship and so that changed the dynamic a bit. We didn’t get to hang out that much, but coming together at Drew and Mikayla’s wedding and remembering all that God had done in our lives was crazy cool! I love that group so much! The way God used them to shape and mold me was completely necessary!

With 2020, I love friends and I love expanding the circle. I want to treasure those moments with us together and continue to bring others into that space.

Marriage

JUNE 20, 2020! I will experience the first six months of the year in the last six months of my singleness, and then come June 20, I enter into a completely new season of marriage. I am so excited to see what God is going to do through our marriage!

I think what’s so cool about God brining us together is both of us have prayed in our singleness that if we were to be married, that our marriage would be one bringing God more glory together than we ever could do separately. And here we are, about to join together, and that’s been the prayer for both of us!

I know marriage will bring new challenges and new encouragement, but I think the thing I want to focus on for 2020 as we go into this newness is to treasure Alec. Matt Chandler is one of my all time favorite pastors. One of the things he teaches is to be an expert in your spouse’s strengths. I hope to be that way for Alec. I hope to be pointing out what he’s great at and speaking encouragement to him. I want to treasure Alec because just like Mary looking at Jesus and treasuring and pondering, I completely realize that marrying Alec is a huge prayer request answered! God brought me a husband! I pray that both Alec and I will treasure that about each other and mediate on God’s goodness for how God brought us together!

Family//Neighbors//Coworkers 

In 2019, my relationship with my family and coworkers continued to grow! I’m so grateful to have the family I have (and the family I that’s not just by blood!) but also to work with some of the greatest people ever! I can’t wait to cherish more of my time with my family and coworkers in 2020 as well gather together to celebrate Alec and me getting married!

I do think with anything, I want to find ways to love and serve them in different ways! I want to share the peace of Jesus in everything! They are incredible people and being able to help and serve them is something I want to look for!


Personal

Food//Exercise//Health

I’m just putting this out there…. I worked our more in 2019 than I probably have in my entire life! I thought people were crazy when they said they felt better when they worked out, but it’s so true! I don’t think it’s just a placebo, but I definitely felt differently when I worked out than when I didn’t. I want to continue to push myself in getting into a healthy routine where working out does become a part of my routine daily, or at least for the majority of the week!

And this is a big attempt–to treasure working out in the moment. I always treasure it weeks later, but the goal would be to treasure it more frequently because it is important.

Books to Read

Grad school completely took over my life and then school and then working at church and then working a full time teaching job and well let’s just say life was chaotic. But one of the things I started getting good about was just giving myself 20 minutes to read even if it was once a week. I know several people do the audio books, but to me that’s not really reading because you’re not engaging in the words on the page. I like to underline, write notes in the margin, and basically mark that book up!

In 2019, I read through Wild and Free by Jess Connolly and Hayley Morgan. I also went through Jennie Allen’s Made for This devotional book! Wow!! So good!! All about finding what I was made to do in this life with Christ. I also read Leading Small Groups  by Chris Surratt which was super helpful in leading small groups! It has tons of tools in it! Our small group went through Worship by A.W. Tozer which was  super impactful when it comes to how we view worship.

Currently, I’m reading Bianca Olthoff’s How to have your life Not Suck and Jennie Allen’s Get Out of Your Head (which is a pre-release book). Both of them have started off fantastic!

Needless to say, there’s still a bunch on the bookshelf that I have to read! I keep telling myself I won’t buy any more books until I read the ones that I have on the shelf, but that hasn’t really happened just yet. But my goal is to be more intentional with my time to read! Just like working out, it makes a difference in my day!

Dreams//Memories to Make

Well for two years now, I’ve had the dream of going ICE SKATING, you would think it would be an easy dream to make happen, but it hasn’t happened! I think 2020 could be the year!

Even though there was no ice skating, there were memories that happened in 2019 that I could not have seen coming. I GOT ENGAGED! That’s a story in and of itself, but that was a dream come true! I also swung over the top of a mountain in Ecuador! Feel free to read about that here, but there were some unexpected memories, but those were dreams fulfilled that could have only happened because of God! I watched one of my closet friends get married and then she left at the beginning of 2020 for a mission trip! I watched my first group of 8th graders graduate high school! I went tubbing for the first time. Got to hang out with Jennie Allen and the IF team when she came into town! I had friends over for Pumpkin carving this last year, visited a pumpkin patch, went to weddings, had friends over for an amazing Christmas exchange with some of the most thoughtful gifts that I was given! Not to mention the memories of Alec and I getting together as a couple! There’s just so much fun! And you know, I’m okay with that!

The biggest and most obvious memory to make in 2020 is getting married to my best friend! I can’t explain to you enough how much this is totally God at work, but it is! I love him so much and can’t wait to be his wife! I can’t wait to have all the people we love in one place getting to worship God through our marriage! That’s something I can’t wait to treasure!

I want Alec and I to continue to make memories together that will last a lifetime! But just making memories with friends is another big thing!

I also want to write a book some day! Maybe that will happen some year, I don’t know. Part of me is a little scared to do it because of criticism. It just doesn’t seem like it will happen. I would love to write and speak, but only God knows what my platform will be.

Travel

2019 was once again full of traveling! It started with a trip to Nashville right at the beginning of the year! It was great to catch up with one of my dear friends before she had her sweet baby girl! I went to Owensboro a couple of times (not a big travel), but the river walk is just so beautiful! Next was the big trip to California with some sweet girls!! I had never been to California so it was a trip I won’t forget! We ran a mile literally to the beach to see the sunset! Maybe my favorite memory from the trip! Made another trip to Nashville with some pretty cool people to watch Hillsong United! It rained the entire concert, but it was unforgettable! I love worshipping Jesus! Crossings Camp in Louisville, KY. Six days later, I hopped on a plane with some of church members and headed to Ecuador! Went to Lake Barkley with my sister and her boyfriend’s family, my family, and Alec during Labor Day weekend! Took a day trip to Louisville with Alec where we shopped and ate cheesecake on the Walking Bridge! I ended the year the way I began it with a last trip to Nashville to see ICE with Alec’s family!

Whew! I would say there were some miles there!

I’m not exactly sure what 2020 will hold, but I know Alec and I are planning our honeymoon! For now, that’s the only planned trip right now! But one of our good friends is interning at Disney! I’m keeping Spring Break open in case a trip to Disney comes up in the mix!


Work

Finances

I hit on this already, but everything is already God’s. He owns everything. All I have to do is be faithful with what He provides. I know grad school is expensive as well as a new roof, but God will make a way! He has been faithful in providing me with a fill time job I love! God just keeps providing! It’s what He does! And He’s way better at it than I will ever be!

Personal Growth//Education

One test away from having the Masters completed!! It’s pretty hefty reading material in the mean time, but I know God has me! Alec’s been so good because he’s been willing to help me study and that’s been super helpful! But the goal is to have it done this year!!

I didn’t get to blog as much last year as I would have liked to, but I’m hoping that 2020 will give me the time and space to do that! Talk about what God is doing in my life and how He is growing me!

I said this earlier, but ultimately I would love to write a book! I think God has been in the midst of that desire and would write it to glorify Him. We will see if that gets to be started but I love to create so I hope that’s something I get to grow in!

Projects

I keep talking about this Remembrance Board that I have yet to be completed. But with owning a home, there are so many projects! I want flooring in the basement, trim needs to be painted in the bedroom, hang some pictures, paint the vanity, paint the closet doors, build a bar for downstairs, and the list just keeps going on! Those are just some of the things on the inside of the house, and the outside I want to plant flowers and make it look all cute like it is on the inside!

Currently, Alec and I are in the process of updating the laundry room downstairs! Hopefully I will be able to provide an update on the house transformation here soon!


Treasure and Ponder

No matter what, God used 2019 to celebrate with Him and with others! I’ve gotten to see lives changed and redeemed. I’ve gone from single to engaged! And the list goes on! It’s been a good year.

The thing that I don’t want to forget is that God is a promise maker and a keeper of those promises. Watching God work in my life over the last year reaffirms what He says about Him coming back! Jesus is real and He is alive. I long for His return.

In the meantime, while I wait, I want to treasure and ponder that God is a God who says something and does it! We see this throughout Scripture, but I can see it in my life. God shares with me different things that I never thought would happen (i.e. marriage) and it’s happening! He’s working and I want to treasure it up in my heart! I want to spend 2020 pondering His goodness, His love, and His grace! He is a great God and so full of forgiveness and kindness!

Luke 2:19

 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.

Getting in the Word

If we genuinely believe God’s Word is real and active, why are we not reading it?

I’ve heard the many excuses:

  • I don’t have time.
  • I don’t understand it.
  • It’s boring.
  • It’s too long.
  • Where are the pictures?

I’m sure there are other reasons and in all fairness, I have said many of these things myself. I found the Bible so hard to read and extremely confusing. Reading was never my strong-suit. It seemed that the only way the Bible made sense to me was when someone explained it back to me. Yet, here we are years later and I’m a reading teacher and a lover of God’s word.

So how in the world did this actually happen? I realized I didn’t need any special skill to read God’s Word, I just needed to read it! God’s Word is |THE| Word of God. When we read it, we aren’t reading in old story, we are reading THE WORD of GOD!

That’s incredible.

When we are engaged in the reading of God’s Word, we will meet Jesus who died for us, and through the power of the resurrection, has defeated death and our sin. Jesus has made a way for us to experience life and to give our lives purpose. It’s because of this, I desire to get to know this Jesus more and more. Some things may be easier than others to understand, but the only way I will ever learn is if I open God’s Word and read it.

Yet, many of us keep our “excuse list” from reading the Word of God.

It’s time to stop! 

Let’s put aside our excuses and get into God’s Word.


If  you don’t know where to start, let me encourage you to check out your local Christian bookstore or send me a message and I will be happy to share some resources in addition to the ones I’m sharing with you today. But I’ve also created some Bible Study Tips that you can check out as well.

img_2517-2But today, I want to share with you two amazing resources you can use together. The first one is Jen Wilkin’s Women of the Word. I finished this book a little while ago, and she breaks down how to study the Bible. She gives you practical questions to think through that allow you to learn the context of the Word, but also to apply it to your lives. The way she has it set up gives you an opportunity to really hear from the Holy Spirit.

Jen Wilkin suggests printing off a copy of the book you want to study so you can write in it and take notes. I’m a huge fan of writing in my Bible, but sometimes there isn’t enough room so having another copy of it is great! This whole concept leads me to the other resource I want to share with you.

img_9134-1

img_9135Alabaster has created illustrated, individual books of the Bible. You can purchase them one book at a time and each book is complete with creative, beautiful pictures along with  the New Living Translation of the Bible. If the language of the Bible usually trips you up while reading, this translation is great for you! The margins in the book are even wide enough you can write any notes you may take while studying through the Word and you could even note the way the Holy Spirit is moving in you as you read. This would be perfect to use alongside of Jen Wilkin’s method of studying Scripture.

 

You can actually enter to win four books here Click Here to Enter the Giveaway, to start studying through God’s Word.


Y’all, I’m telling you, we need to stop with the excuses and actually dive into God’s Word, not to just be something on a checklist, but because when we dive into God’s word, we experience the peace we need to make it through each crazy, planned or unplanned events of our lives.

Dream Guide 2019

Welcome to 2019!

It’s become an annual tradition for me to fill out Jennie Allen’s Dream Guide each year! I love it simply because it’s a great opportunity to reflect on some specific areas of my life in ways God has grown me in the past year as well as how I hope God will grow me throughout the coming year.

I would love for you to join me in this dreaming journey! The two main questions she asks us to reflect on in each are of our lives are: 1. How did you grow in the last year? And 2. What are your goals for 2019?


I am thankful for:

  1. My God who speaks to me!
  2. Family and Friends
  3. NorthWoods Church
  4. South Middle School
  5. The Little Sweet House on Villa
  6. Proper Coffee
  7. The Baristas at Starbucks–especially the ones in Henderson, KY
  8. Being able to Travel
  9. Books about Jesus
  10. Still Moments

Spiritual

Alone Time//Connect With God

I’ve said this before, but having a daily quiet time literally was the hardest thing for me to obtain. It seemed there wasn’t enough time in the day to read, and even if there was time, Netflix or hanging out with friends always sounded better. There was a great shift in my heart in 2016 when I really learned how to be still with God. Since then, I’ve been able to maintain a regular quiet time with the Lord. Let me tell you, this is only by God’s grace alone. This is not a desire I initially had, but rather something over time God placed in my heart.

My alone time with God has become the thing I look forward to the most. In different seasons of life it’s at different times of the day–sometimes multiple times a day. But if you haven’t gotten into a regular rhythm of spending time with the Lord, please let me encourage you–God speaks when we listen. 2018 was a hard year. Things I wanted to happen haven’t happened; and things I didn’t expect to happen (aka buying a house) happened. I couldn’t have prepared for or processed anything without the time I spent with God. He carried me through everything 2018 brought. I say all that to say that God is in control. He literally made me a conqueror through Him.

At the end of 2017, I knew the upcoming year was going to be a challenge, yet God knew what I needed to learn. God talked to me and prepared me. He told me in everything I went through I would be a conqueror through Him. Although I didn’t grasp this concept the minute God spoke it to me, it was something I learned over time. I watched God tell me, “You can do this through me because I love you.” I watched God teach me His love. I watched Him show me He never changes–He is the same. I watched God be what I needed when I needed it. I watched Him carry me in everything life threw at me.

So similar to what happened in 2017, I did the same thing at the end of 2018. I started praying about what God wanted me to focus on for 2019. My mentor gave me this great book to read through Advent and one of the first passages to read was Psalm 27. I’m not sure how this exactly related to Advent, but it was most certainly what I needed. There’s so much Truth about who God is and what He will do in this one chapter. There’s so much about how we should interact with God. There’s hope. There’s joy. There’s pain. And through it all, it says “I will sing and make melody to the Lord,” and I knew God was revealing a theme of celebration in every season.

2019 will be a year of celebration.

This was later confirmed–unexpectedly at that–while I listened to Louie Giglio preach a sermon live from Passion 2019. I went into listening with the hope God would affirm Psalm 27 as the focus for my 2019, and that’s exactly what He did. I always love it when God speaks so clearly. His graciousness is overwhelming!

In my year of celebration, I know life is still going to happen. But I’m looking forward to celebrating God’s goodness and His faithfulness in whatever the year brings.

As far as meeting and setting goals, last year, I wanted to work on memorizing Scripture. I started off working through different verses. I think I was able to memorize eight different passages, but come April or May–I slacked. I would definitely love to continue to memorize more of Scripture, specifically Psalm 27. But with the theme of the year, I want to be able to celebrate God every day.

Church//Serve//Tithe

Church

Our focus as a church in 2018 was to have 1000 Gospel conversations. We wanted to actually share the gift God had given us! The accountability aspect of this totally pushed me to share my faith more than usual. I knew I talked about Jesus, but actually sharing the Gospel on a weekly basis was pretty cool. Each week in church we would have a space on our connect card (a paper apart of our bulletin) to check if we had a Gospel conversation and how many. Each time I had a conversation, I remember being so excited to celebrate the opportunity God created!

This year our focus is on ONE. Who is our one person that we want to be intentional with? We have a card with a blank. I’m not sure who my ONE is yet, but I have a couple of names floating around in my head. Regardless, I love to be intentional with the people God places in my life. I feel like they are there for a reason, so I need to be intentional in those spaces.

Serve

The big areas of my life that I serve in are Student Ministry and a little bit in Women’s Ministry. Last year, I finished up the spring semester leading a small group on Wednesday nights, but due to grad school classes, I didn’t get to serve there in ministry. So this year, I’m so ready to get back in the swing of things. It’s going to be a bit different than in the past, instead of teaching a small group; I actually will be teaching our middle school students on a weekly basis. I’m excited to serve in this area, but also praying God will speak.

Beyond just the big areas of service, I really want to be looking for the little areas as well. How can I serve the people I am around on a daily basis? Maybe this is helping a student with homework or getting a teacher’s copies at work for them. Regardless, I want to extend the hand of service to them with a joyful heart. I’m praying my attitude will not be one of inconvenience, but rather gratitude.

Tithe

Money is scary if we let it control our lives. Speaking as someone who took a long time to surrender my fiances to the Lord, I missed out on God’s provision. But since letting God be God over my fiances, I have watched Him consistently provide for me. This year alone, He gifted me a house that is within my monthly budget, a brand new refrigerator FOR FREE (the original was growing mold on the inside of it), a trip to Ecuador, all these other little trips to go see friends or to be in community with others, and a way to pay for grad school. It’s literally amazing what happens when you let God be in control of your fiances. He is God over all, and now I’m just praying for finances for a roof–my house has to get a new one this year–and my plumbing needs to be looked at.

Outreach//Ministry

For me outreach and ministry go hand and hand. As I’ve stated before, I try to be intentional with everyone the Lord has me around. My biggest sphere of influence is at my school. I’ve had students ask me about my relationship with God every year, but in the Fall of 2018, I know there were even more conversations than usual. Part of me thinks so many kids are desperate for truth , they want it wherever they can get it. I even have conversations with different co-workers. I love being able to talk about Jesus because He gave me life. It’s this great gift!

I’ve also started to minister to some of the girls at Starbucks on my way to work. It’s not much at a time because our interaction is sometimes only a “Good Morning, have a great day!” but I love the crew there! I would love to be able to actually get to know them more and hear more about their stories! They definitely make my day by providing coffee, and I do want to serve and love them well.

My goal last year wasn’t really a “me” goal, but a God goal. I wanted to see God save 30 people, and I know He did just that. It was crazy to look back on all that God accomplished through the year, but even people I didn’t know, I was able to hear story after story of salvations. I love watching God work!

Discipleship//Mentorship

I have said for so long that effective discipleship is consistent discipleship. I firmly believe that. Part of consistency allows the opportunity to speak life. In 2018, I had several different ladies that I got to meet with, but I also hung out with some other girls as well. The intentional living was apart of our time together no matter how long or how short. In 2019, I want to focus more on celebrating all that my girls are doing really well at. I think sometimes I forget to celebrate what God is doing in them and that’s what I want to focus on this year. Find ways to celebrate them in all that they do and be more of an encouragement as we go through life.


Relational

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

I have been fortunate enough to find a great group of friends from Proper Coffee. It seems every year we add more to our little group, but it’s so great to be able to do life with them. We are learning to be more intentional though because seasons are changing and we have to actually make an effort to hang out with each other.

I definitely want to make having friends over at my house a priority this year. Life is way more enjoyable when I have my people doing life with me rather than by myself.

Extended Family//Neighbors//Coworkers 

With my family, we’ve spent more time together, which has been really great. They’ve been such a blessing with my house and I’m thankful for that. I also was able to vacation with my sister, which was a cheap little get away. Any chance for us to get away somewhere warm and next to the beach is one of my favorite things to do! Bring on 2019 and hopefully another getaway!

I actually have neighbors! It’s so weird growing up in a neighborhood where you knew everyone, to living on a street where you only know one neighbor. I don’t exactly know how to go about being present to my neighbors, especially when I’m rarely home. Yet, I really would like to spend more time getting to know them!

I spend so much time with my coworkers and being able to serve them better is one thing I want to do better. I want to find ways to encourage them more and lift them up. We spend so much time together and sometimes it’s hard, but having each other makes it easier.


Personal

Food//Exercise//Health

A couple of years ago, I had a dream of losing 25 pounds and last year the dream was to keep it off. I managed to keep off the weight! In the past I have had a fear of gyms and became a member of Planet Fitness and really enjoy my time there! I like being able to work out! I still don’t like to sweat or even the moments of working out, but I enjoy the results of working out! There’s so many spiritual ties to that concept it’s not even funny! I’ll save that for later. But for 2019, I want to make it apart of my weekly life to go to the gym. I had my moments in 2018 that were good in consistent (like waking up at 5am everyday and worked out at home), but then stopped after straining my neck. This year, the goal is to find a routine that isn’t leaving me exhausted, but is still toning the little muscles I have!

Books to Read

Ahhh!!! There are so many great books out there that I want to soak up. Right now, I’m in the middle of Wild and Free and I love it. But I have so many others that I want to read on my shelf. Last year I was able to read two of Jen Wilken’s books and a couple of other ones. Grad school takes away some of my reading time right now, but that will be over come the summer! YEAH!!

Dreams//Memories to Make

Personally last year was all about the seasonal memories. I honestly forgot about that dream until rereading it, but it actually happened. I didn’t get to go ice skating though, but everything else was in there. I had all the seasonal memories! Maybe this year, I’ll take it up a notch now that I have a house! I love it when the house is all decorated for each season! Something about the little decorations just make it feel like home!

I also want to write a book some day! Maybe that will happen some year, I don’t know. Part of me is a little scared to do it because of criticism. It just doesn’t seem like it will happen. I would love to write and speak, but only God knows what my platform will be.

This year, I have so many friends having babies and getting married! I’m excited to be apart of all the celebrations and to celebrate new season in life! I can’t wait for one of best friends to get married! She’s been a huge part of my life the last five or so years and now I get to watch her marry her best friend! It’s so cool! Ahh!!! Cannot wait!

Travel

I remember last year people telling me every time they got on any sort of social media they found me in a different place. The more I started to think about it, the more truth I saw in that statement. I do travel quite a bit even for short little day trips to visit some of my friends or even to just do what we call a “picture trip”, but there’s something about being in the car and jamming to worship music that brings people together.

I’m not sure what this year looks like, after all, I started this blog in Nashville! And I received an invite to visit my friend in Chicago for her birthday! More little trips are probably on the horizon! Hopefully even a trip to Ecuador again! Last year, we had problems with our flight so we didn’t get to go, but hoping this year to go back!


Work

Finances

I hit on this already, but everything is already God’s. He owns everything. all I have to do is be faithful with what He provides. I know grad school is expensive as well as a new roof, but God will make a way! He has been faithful in providing me with a fill time job I love! I even get the opportunity to work at my church part time! God just keeps providing! It’s what He does! And He’s way better at it than I will ever be!

Personal Growth//Education

This section is super cool for me to talk about because God is capable of doing so much! Last year, I started my Masters in English in January. This month I start two more classes, and hopefully, this time next year I will be completely finished with my Masters! I have to take a test to finish it up; but otherwise, I have it almost finished. God is so good!

In addition to completing my Masters, I have started cooking so much at my house! During the school year, I rarely eat out (minus the weekends). I have a habit of meal prepping that works and I love it! There’s really nothing like a home-cooked meal! I’ve been able to try new things that I otherwise wouldn’t try! I even meal prep my breakfast! No more $5+a week for Jimmy Dean breakfast sandwiches–I make my own! 🙂

I have even blogged more in 2018 than I did in 2017! So I’m at a high right now! I’m excited to see what God will continue to do through this blog! Hopefully this year, there will be even more!

Projects

I keep talking about this Remembrance Board that I have yet to be completed. But with owning a home, there are so many projects! I want flooring in the basement, trim needs to be painted in the bedroom, hang some pictures, paint the vanity, paint the closet doors, build a bar for downstairs, and the list just keeps going on! Those are just some of the things on the inside of the house, and the outside I want to plant flowers and make it look all cute like it is on the inside!


Celebrate

No matter what, God has taught me I am a conqueror because of His love for me! There’s so much on the “To-Do” List for 2019, but I want to find ways to celebrate all that God has done throughout the whole year! I want to rejoice and make melody to the Lord because of His great Name! I want to wait well! I want to know and believe He is working a good plan for my life! I want to seek Him more!

All of these things are mentioned in Psalm 27. I’ve made this my chapter for the year. It has 14 verses, and I want to write two verses per day; in total that would mean that I have written this chapter once every week! Already, God points out different words or phrases each day! I’m into week 2 now, and God shows up!

Here’s to 2019 and all the work God will accomplish this year!

Psalm 27

The Lord is my light and my salvation;
    whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
    of whom shall I be afraid?

When evildoers assail me
    to eat up my flesh,
my adversaries and foes,
    it is they who stumble and fall.

Though an army encamp against me,
    my heart shall not fear;
though war arise against me,
    yet I will be confident.

One thing have I asked of the Lord,
    that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
    all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
    and to inquire in his temple.

For he will hide me in his shelter
    in the day of trouble;
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
    he will lift me high upon a rock.

And now my head shall be lifted up
    above my enemies all around me,
and I will offer in his tent
    sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make melody to the Lord.

Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud;
    be gracious to me and answer me!
You have said, “Seek my face.”
My heart says to you,
    “Your face, Lord, do I seek.”
    Hide not your face from me.
Turn not your servant away in anger,
    O you who have been my help.
Cast me not off; forsake me not,
    O God of my salvation!
10 For my father and my mother have forsaken me,
    but the Lord will take me in.

11 Teach me your way, O Lord,
    and lead me on a level path
    because of my enemies.
12 Give me not up to the will of my adversaries;
    for false witnesses have risen against me,
    and they breathe out violence.

13 I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord
    in the land of the living!
14 Wait for the Lord;
    be strong, and let your heart take courage;
    wait for the Lord!

Enough or Too Much?

I’ve spent the majority of my life trying to be the person everyone else wants me to be. I tried to find my identity in what other’s expected me to be, and that left me feeling empty and not enough.

I think back to school achievement; and it didn’t matter how many A’s I had in school, I always didn’t feel good enough.

Then when it came to guys, they never liked me–there was always another girl. Since we live in a culture that says you have to be in a relationship pretty much at all times; I thought there was something wrong with me, which only made me feel like I wasn’t good enough for a guy.

Fully accepting that I am not perfect, I was terrified (and still am) to make a mistake. I was afraid of making a mistake for fear that I would let someone down and disappoint them. And if I did mess up, I wasn’t surprised, but still felt the disappointment from others, which again reiterated not being good enough.

All of these stem from the idea that I seek approval from others. I want others to accept me for the things I do, but the truth is, God says that even when I was a child of wrath, He still loved me enough to be enough for the payment of my sins.

The thing that I got backwards (and still battle to get right) is that even when I was dead in my sin, there was absolutely nothing I could ever do to be accepted by God. I couldn’t get enough straight A’s in school, have the perfect relationship, or never disappoint anyone because of how good I am. The truth is I was not ever good. Romans 3:12 says that “no one does good, not even one”, which basically let’s me know that all my “good” achievements are actually pointless. I was literally never going to be enough because I’m not even good.

So how do I become good or even enough?

The Holy Spirit renewed my vision of the gospel. I was reminded through mentors, church, discipleship groups, and most importantly my own Bible study, that I have been made enough in Christ Jesus. It was Jesus’ perfect life that allowed Him to be the payment for my sin, my not good self. When I accepted that my actions were never going to be enough, is finally when I could rest that Jesus is enough, which makes me enough. It’s only by the blood of Christ that I am made enough.

img_1928Now, I believe Jesus has made me enough–that is TRUTH. But I’m still battling believing I have to do things in order to be enough. I believed a lie for 23 years of life, so really I’m recently uprooting this lie and replacing it with truth. I’m finding all types of new layers of this lie in my heart that I constantly have to uproot. It’s only through my personal quiet time have I been able to give God my heart for Him to restore.

But I’ve come to a place where I know I AM ENOUGH! Not by anything I have done, but because of what Christ has done for me.

If you’re like, “Rachel, how in the world do I start having a quiet time?” I’m so glad you asked!! Here’s a blog from a bit ago that talks about how I have my quiet time: The Reality of Quality Time and if you’re looking for some Bible Reading Tips or Prayer Journaling tips, feel free to check out those pages as well.

But if you’re like, “Rachel, I struggle with the same thing! I never feel like I’m enough,” or some of you may be like “I feel like I’m too much at times,” then I have a great resource for you!

There’s this awesome FLIP Book called Always Enough | Never Too Much by Jess Connolly and Hayley Morgan. Together, they have written a devotional with two different messages combined into one book. They genuinely believed we have all been in this boat of not feeling enough or feeling like we are too much:

We’ve all been there. We know that sneaking, small voice in our heads all too well—you’re too loud. Too quiet. Too young. Too old. Too unimportant. Too ugly. Too silly. Too serious. You’re not as successful as she is—look at her perfect family, look at her high-powered job, look at her great hair and size 4 skinny jeans. Why can’t you be more like her—be more in general? Why do you expect so much from everyone? Why can’t you take up less space? Ask for less? Be less? The lies track well-worn paths in our minds and our hearts, wearing us down and making us question our role in God’s kingdom.

Jess Connolly and Hayley Morgan, bestselling authors of Wild and Free will help you replace those lies with God’s truth. This devotional flip-book is designed for you, the woman who feels like she can be both too much and not enough—sometimes in the same day. When you banish lies and insecurities and find your identity in Jesus, you can embrace these truths: You are always enough. You are never too much.

As someone who battles the feeling of not being enough, this book has been an encouragement to my wandering heart. The devotionals are backed with solid scripture and words of encouragement to the reader. No doubt, it has spoken truth into my life just by reading it in the afternoon. It’s a great pick me up when I start doubting my identity in Christ.

Feel free to enter the giveaway for a chance to grab your own copy of this book! Even if you don’t win, you need to pick this book up! It’s a great one!

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Click Here to Enter Giveaway

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Doesn’t Matter the Cost

I have this really great co-worker–who I’m thankful is now my friend–Carrie. She is my go to person when I’m out shopping. I need her approval for basically every new thing I buy. But even if I’m a little bit nervous about a new outfit combination, she’s the person I text. She’s also hilarious! I’m not sure if it’s just her laughing at herself that makes it fun, but I know when I’m around her, I can always count on laughing! Then she has this thing where she places THE before a place; for example if she needs to go by Walmart and pick up groceries, she says, “I’m going to THE Walmart.” But here within the last year, she has developed a passion–quite possibly an obsession–with Rae Dunn.

I didn’t really know anything about this obsession until December. A random day after school, Carrie, our friend Jill, and myself all ended up going to THE TJ Maxx to find this Rae Dunn. Now remember this is the first time I’m hearing about Rae Dunn, and if this is your first time hearing about Rae Dunn let me just pause and catch you up to speed. Rae Dunn is this adorable pottery (now she’s making glassware as well), but it’s super cute! There’s all different styles and I could go on to describe them, but Pinterest will do better justice than I ever could. Each piece is super rare though, and of course the pieces you really want are always the hardest to find.

So we are at THE TJ Maxx looking for these hard to find, rare pieces of pottery. We go up and down the aisles, picking up plates, mugs, canisters, etc. just to see if it’s the right thing. We are looking in all the different aisles because apparently other Rae Dunn shoppers will leave their findings in other places throughout the store to hide it. While there, we find different pieces that are exactly what Carrie is looking for! Then right when I think we’ve found all the possibilities, Carrie walks over to this rack with random things on it that’s full of boxes. And she finds her TREASURE. In that moment, she radiates with excitement and wants every bit of Rae Dunn that is already in her cart as well as every piece on this rack. She made the statement, “I want it all!! It doesn’t matter the cost, I love it so much; I just want it all!”

Little did she know, this moment would speak profoundly into my heart.


See, there are times in life where God just puts us in these seasons of waiting. We don’t know why it’s occurring or what the purpose of the waiting will be, but we are called to wait. I would definitely say that I’m in this waiting. And it’s easy for me in this season of waiting to be child-like in the sense of questioning my Parental figure’s choices. Can anyone else identify with this (please don’t let me be alone)?

I’m not a parent yet, but as a teacher, I know I will tell my students to wait simply because I need to teach them something first. I’m not saying no to their request, but rather telling them to wait. And I cannot tell you how often I hear these questions or statements of “Ms. Clark, why are you making me wait?” Or “Ms. Clark doesn’t love me anymore; she won’t let me…” I can only imagine kids do this same thing to their parents. Kids question the decisions parents communicate; they just don’t understand why something is happening that way. It’s in these moments, love is hard to see. Mainly because it feels like there is no love–we aren’t getting what we want or we aren’t getting an answer.

This is so me. In my season of waiting, it’s easy for me to turn into one of my students, or maybe one of your kids. I say things like “God, why are you making me wait?” or “God just doesn’t love me anymore because He’s making me wait.” I’ve asked God several times why I’m waiting and God responds gently and patiently to my questions. But then when I begin to question God’s love for me, He brings me back to this simple truth: I love you.

That day I went shopping with Carrie I was in a doubtful mindset, but God used her love and obsession for Rae Dunn to speak this simple truth into my life right in the midst of THE TJ Maxx. When Carrie said, “I want it all!! It doesn’t matter the cost, I love it so much; I just want it all!” It hit me hard. Everything that Carrie is doing to find Rae Dunn is exactly what God is doing to me and YOU!

Carrie lives about a thirty minute drive from THE TJ Maxx, yet it’s worth the cost of driving to even see if anything is there. She may not find anything at all, but it’s worth the drive.

God was completely separated by man’s sinfulness, yet Jesus made the distance to come save us.

Carrie wants every last bit of Rae Dunn because she absolutely loves it and has to have it.

God wants every last bit of us because He love us! He doesn’t just want some of us, He wants every piece of us.

Carrie is willing to pay any cost in order to have Rae Dunn. She sees value in it because she loves it so much. She sees the unique blemishes each piece of pottery has and says it’s valuable because it’s all different. She loves this stuff!

God paid the ultimate cost by sending Jesus to die on the cross for our sin. God sees great value in each of us because of His love. He looks at each of us even in our sinfulness and says the payment of death is worth the cost because of my love for you!! He loves us so much!

Carrie chases this stuff down. The Rae Dunn doesn’t even know she’s coming for it, and then she just shows up. On the shelf it’s just Rae Dunn, but when she takes it home and puts it all together, it’s this gorgeous collection of imperfect pieces but together it literally has purpose.

God literally chases us down. We often don’t even know God is coming for us, and then God shows up–claiming us as His Own. By ourselves we are just like Rae Dunn sitting on a shelf, purposeless unless there’s payment for us to have purpose. God takes us into His dwelling place and gives us purpose and when combined with other believers, there’s great beauty in the collective body.

One shopping trip with Carrie, and God revitalized my heart. No longer did I doubt God’s love for me or question His Parental choice of placing me in this season of waiting because what Carrie is doing to have Rae Dunn, God did so much more to have me. He loves me so much it’s undeniable, and His love is completely obvious–it’s not hidden. God looked at me and He looks at you and it doesn’t matter the cost--He loves me and you and will do anything to have us!

Where are you right now with God’s love?

Do you see yourself as a piece of Rae Dunn pottery sitting on a shelf purposeless? Are you waiting for the purpose? If this is you, let me just encourage you that the payment has already been paid. God saw your blemishes and imperfections and said, “I want you. I will pay for you. I will give your purpose.” So He sent Jesus to be the payment for us. Paul, the author of Romans, says it like this:

but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. – Romans 5:8

Christ made the one and only payment so we could be with God. There’s nothing left to do because Christ did it all on the cross. God chases us down because He loves us so much. He paid our payment in order to give us life.

But you can choose to accept that payment or you can choose to reject that payment. It’s up to you. God doesn’t force anyone to love Him back that why we have this choice.

Or maybe you’re reading this going, “I’m in a waiting season too!” Can I please encourage you to keep waiting? God is in the process of working it all out. I know that because He’s completely perfect. It may not make sense, but God has this. Continue to wait. Earnestly seek after Him–not the things He gives, but HIM. He won’t leave you empty.

One of my favorite verses right now comes from the Pslams. See in this particular Pslam, David is rejoicing after waiting for a long time. God told David he would be king one day, but there was a king already in place when God gave David this promise. So David waited while God worked and eventually David was pronounced King after being delivered from his enemies. Look at what David says:

This God-his way is perfect; the word of the LORD proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him. – Psalm 18:30

Keep going. Keep waiting. God’s love for you is real and when you forget His love, think about ALL He’s already done for you. You won’t be disappointed, but you will be rejuvenated–maybe in the middle of some store while your shopping.

Wherever you are, remember God paid for you.

God gave himself up for you.

That is love.

Rest in His love for you.

CSB Study Bible for Women

Hey Y’all!

It’s been awhile since I have had a chance to bring you some new posts and I’m so sorry about that! The last couple of months got really slammed between grad school, finishing out the school year, student ministry, and sleeping! 🙂 Although I started two new grad classes, I already have some future blog posts ready for you this summer! Starting with this awesome new resource the CSB Study Bible for Women.

A couple of months ago, I shared with you the She Reads Truth Bible and the CSB Study Bible for Women is equally awesome. I think you will find all the features in the CSB Study Bible to be super helpful. I cannot stress enough how beneficial it is to have different resources available to you as you get into God’s Word. We are so fortunate here in America with so many tools to study with that people around the world would love to have! If you haven’t found your perfect resource to help you study, keep looking, but finding a study bible is a great place to start! So let me show you a little bit about the CSB Study Bible for Women.

The Basics

 

The Bible is a hardcover with Smyth-sewn binding. The colors you see in the pictures are not filtered, so that’s really the color of the Bible. When you open up the Bible, you will see two-column text, size eight font. This is pretty normal as far as font size goes, but if you typically read with large print, this may be straining on the eyes. In a few of the other pictures, you will notice the it’s in full color. I personally love to write all over my Bible with the Sharpie Fine Point Pen, and these pages are pretty thin. Using that pen, it would show through onto the next page. The pages wouldn’t bleed through, but it would definitely be visible onto the opposite side of the writing.

At the Front

 

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The front of this Bible is literally so adorable. It provides a way to document family trees, an explanation of the Jewish Marriage Contract (so stinking cute!) and it gives an opportunity to write our your vows with your spouse, a place to write out family milestones, and a place for you to remember your Spiritual Mothers. I love this little section! I’ve heard about old family Bibles where they would have the family trees and that kind of thing, but I haven’t ever seen something like this! It’s such a neat gift to be able to document all these family elements and then pass this Bible along to a daughter or granddaughter some day!

From there, the Bible goes into the Table of Contents as well as a How to Study the Bible and an explanation of the Gospel. Both of these are very great tools for any reader to be reminded of or to aid in studying God’s Word.

Book Introduction

 

At the beginning of every book of the Bible, it has an introduction to the book. It gives a brief run down of the who, what, when, where, and why as well as a little outline to help organize the information you’re about to read about. I also love how cute the flowers are with the scripted font of the book name. Each introduction provides a timeline as well to help keep things straight as you read through the content. It’s just a simple visual that adds so much to understanding Scripture.

Brief Commentary and Word Study

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One of the best things about a study Bible are the commentaries! This particular Bible has some really great insight that helps provide historical or cultural context that is necessary to best comprehend the content. It also gives different Word Studies–with a complete list of all the word studies in the back of the Bible.

Additional Features

 

There are so many other neat features that are unique to this study Bible including character studies, doctrine, hard questions, full color maps, and application of the heart.

Your Turn

If you haven’t ever had a study Bible, take this opportunity to enter the giveaway for a chance to win! But if you’re interest as well there’s a link for you to shop for your own! If you want any other information check out the YouTube video to give you a little more information on the CSB translation!

Buy HERE!

Click Here to Enter the Giveaway

 

Again, stay tuned in because there are some New Posts coming soon!

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.

He is Mighty–A Year in Review

My top nine images of 2017 have really sparked this whole “year in review” thing. It got me thinking about the word remember.

What does remembering really mean?

According to Google’s dictionary the word remember means “have in or be able to bring to one’s mind an awareness of (someone or something that one has seen, known, or experienced in the past).” I love that part about bringing to mind the things we have seen, known, or experienced because that pretty much includes remembering the good, the bad, and the ugly. It’s whatever has happened in the past.

For me personally, there have been years where there has been immense pain. I didn’t want to look back because all I saw was pain and darkness. Even the thought of a specific circumstance would cause almost immediate tears to form in my eyes. However, there have also been years where the look back on life has been one of adventure, fun, and complete happiness.

But what if, the year in review wasn’t just about our life’s circumstances but about what God did? What would a year in review be like then?

It is a Biblical truth for us to remember what God has done in and through our lives. All throughout the Bible, God calls His people to remember all that He has done. It’s actually mentioned in the Bible 168 times (can be more or less depending on your version). There is clearly something powerful about remembering.

So why is remembering such an important thing?

There’s a story in Joshua 3-4 where the Israelites cross the Jordan River. This is an incredible story. If you aren’t familiar with it, take the time to go read both of these chapters–right now! It seriously is incredible! But the basic concept of the story, is the Israelites cross a really powerful river because of God. He stopped the river from flowing simply to show that He cared for the Israelites. After the Israelites passed through, God tells them to set 12 stones aside “so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever.”

We see here just in one example, God used a physical object (the stones) to show the world who He is, to show the world He is mighty.

Remembering what God has done for you, helps you remember God is mighty–even in the midst of seasons of sorrow.

Your remembrance could allow the world to see He is mighty!

When we direct our focus on what God has done for us and who He is instead of life’s circumstances, it’s going to produce joy simply because we can rest on the promise that God is working all things for good (Romans 8:28). So whatever situation you are personally in, I would like to challenge you not to just look back at the circumstances that have occurred in your life this year, but rather all that God has done.

Personally, I would love to sit and have coffee with each of you and hear all about what God has done in your life this year! It’s encouraging to me to see God’s hand at work in the lives of others. If you want to share what God has done in your life this year, leave me a comment or send me a message here. But I would love to share with you, my “stones” of what God has done in, around, and through my life this year.


Friends and Community

One of the greatest things God has done this year, has been blessing me with some pretty great friends. It literally dates back to January when things started to all come together. It’s weird because I had just prayed asking God to give me some good community (people I could have deep conversations with and who challenged me). This group of friends does exactly that. I have learned about myself in some pretty crazy ways. My friends are most certainly not afraid to call me out, but they do it in love. They sharpen me when it comes to what I believe. It’s really just incredible. We’ve prayed together. We’ve cried and laughed together. We’ve celebrated together. We’ve even traveled to many different places together. I’ve seen God use my friends to share the gospel with tons of people. I’ve watched my friends disciple people who have been in their lives for years and have watched others start discipling and meeting with others. God’s hand is at work with this great group of people! I’m thankful for y’all in so many ways!

Nothing to Prove

At the end of 2016, Jennie Allen wrote Nothing to Prove and I had the privilege of being on her launch team (which basically means I got to help promote the book before it was released). I read it in November of 2016, and started wrestling with the idea of starting a book club at my school for some of the teachers there for us to go through the book. I didn’t really take a chance on sending out an invite until mid-January. To me it was this great risk and moderately big time commitment, but I knew I wanted to see God work at school, so I sent an email.

img_0943With about twelve women signed up to participate in the book club, I was so impressed at God. I was only expecting like 4-8 people and God totally kept them coming. I don’t remember exactly, but I think around 20 women ended up buying the book! God used the book club in so many ways! I remember each Wednesday, I would just listen to these women talk about God’s movement in their own lives and all God did was use them to tell me the risk was worth it. It was through this book club that I learned when God impresses something upon your heart, it’s 100% worth it. God was there and I watched Him move. It was the coolest thing to be apart of!

Totally fan-girling as well because I got to meet Jennie Allen at the beginning of February and just thank her for her obedience to the Lord in her ministry! God has used her books to remind me I was worth dying for and I have nothing to prove because Christ finished the work on the cross.

Quiet Moments

I think so often times we busy ourselves so much, we don’t really know how to just be still and see God. But for me, the quiet, still moments is when I see God clearly for myself. In these moments, God speaks to me. There are so many things I could write about how God has used the quiet moments to speak truth into my life, but the one recently God has been teaching me through Esther is His timing is perfect. It’s never late, and it’s never early. He is in control of all things, so He is ALWAYS on time.

God has spoken truth into my heart this year through the books of Esther, 1 & 2 Samuel, Nehemiah, Isaiah, John, and 1 & 2 Corinthians. It’s been a great journey through the Word! I’m grateful God speaks when we quiet our hearts before Him.

These quiet moments are usually processed through different people in my life, but two that are absolutely foundational to my walk with Jesus are Alysia and Barbara. I’m not quite sure I would be where I am if it weren’t for these two great ladies! They are a shoulder to cry on, a listener, and an encourager on my journey with Christ! They invite me into their homes and allow me to live life with them. Thank you for helping me BEHOLD Jesus each and every day.

My Church

For starters, I was transitioning between churches at the beginning of the year. I wasn’t quite looking to get involved anywhere, but really just wanted to soak in, but God had other plans (and His plans were way better). At some point in March, our Family Discipleship Pastor found out I had worked in student ministry in my old church and wanted to see if I would be interested in serving.

img_5490We meet for coffee; and at the beginning, I felt pretty standoffish because I had my own plans of not being involved, but the more we talked the more our hearts for ministry aligned. I could tell God was placing me here for a specific purpose. By the end of that conversation, an opportunity to go to Ecuador had opened as well as an internship, which is funny because remember I had no intentions of getting involved. Thankfully, God knows best!

img_2479God has used my church to reach the lost, make disciples of all nations, and minister into my heart. The leadership God has placed over my life has been a huge encouragement into my personal walk with Jesus. They have challenged me to literally go places I was scared to go. They walked with me through some really difficult times. And through it all, God was there. He was and continues to use my church as way to draw me nearer to Him.

The Internship

I would just like to remind you, I had no intentions of getting involved at my church and God had other plans. The internship was an awesome experience, one that I am so thankful for! I had the opportunity to hang out with students and serve all summer long!  We had VBS and as much as I’m not good with little kids, I got to see these sweet kids come to know Jesus. Watching them pray to receive Christ and watch their hearts be made alive was clearly the work of the Holy Spirit. It was awesome to see God take something dead and breathe life into it! It’s only something He can do!

img_3883I also got to go to camp with our middle school and high school students! At this point, I didn’t really know them, but by the end of the week, they were just a bunch of little brother and sisters! I got to watch God breathe more life into two of our students that came with us. The excitement a new believer has because the joy of the Lord is literally now inside of them is a miracle–each salvation is a miracle.

Just for the record, at the end of 2016 I had been praying about switching careers. I felt this pull from God to seek something in publishing, writing, or editing books. I wasn’t sure where this was going to go, but I just started looking at different jobs in that field to see what it would take to one day work in the writing field. One of the things that was recommended was a Masters in English (which I start in January), but it was also looking for previous experience in ministry. Outside of volunteering in churches for 10 years, I didn’t have “official” experience. I just prayed God would provide opportunities to serve Him so I could do whatever He called me into. I prayed that in January, and then in March when I met with our Family Discipleship Pastor, the internship was available. God is just too cool!

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Ecuador

img_3036There’s so much that I could say about Ecuador and what God did there and you can read that by clicking on this link. But what I simply want to share is something that isn’t included in that blog post which is God used this trip (from the time in the airport to my quiet time in Ecuador) to tell me it was time to talk. For a period of time, God had silenced me when it came to an area of my life, but God specifically spoke reconciliation into my heart during this trip. It really had nothing to do with Ecuador, but just what happened because of Ecuador. It was pretty awesome that God would use a conversation with my pastor and then my quiet time to speak so clearly into my heart. Now was the time to speak.

Salvations

This is probably the coolest thing I get to talk about simply because I get to talk about the new brothers and sisters we have in the family of Christ! I had prayed at the beginning of the year, I wanted to see God save (here is what I mean by “save”) more people. But then at the beginning of the summer, I prayed more specially telling God I wanted to see Him save 5 people before the end of the summer. Well, God taught me this year He is capable of doing more than we think or imagine. Apparently 5 was just too small for God, because even at camp I saw hundreds of students profess faith for the first time, so then I prayed that God would either directly use me in 5 different people’s salvation or that they would be in my life for a period of time. What you see here, are simply the six people God has placed in my life this year who I have had the honor of seeing God take them from death into life!

I know I’ve already said it before, but salvation is a miracle! The fact that I have gotten to see so many salvations this year is just pure evidence God is real. He is alive and He is working.

Discipling and Small Group

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img_5512Discipling is one of my favorite things to do! I love meeting with students and talking about what Jesus is doing in their lives! I love walking through books of the Bible and being able to just be apart of watching them grow in their faith. Through discipleship I was able to meet with about 6 different girls! I wanted to be consistent with them and I’m definitely thankful for the time we have had together! Small group is the same way! At the beginning of small group, I was only anticipating about 4-5 girls, but we have about 10 that come regularly!

img_5247So what has God done through discipleship and small group? Well, I have seen God open the eyes and hearts of these girls to reading God’s Word. Several girls have grown in just their desire to reading His Word. According to my small group girls, they come and when we discuss God’s Word they leave “shook” or “in the feels,” which I think is a good thing. We also have tons of fun together just because the laughter never stops!

But for me God has used these girls to speak to me. There are times I will be teaching something to them, but it’s really to me. A good example of what God taught me through teaching them was when we walked through John 2 earlier this semester. God taught me what it is like to have Faith Like the Servants.

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Again, I would so love to have coffee and discuss all the intricate details that I know are missing from this list of what God has done in this season, but I would also just like to tell you there are things in my life that I have prayed all year (and some for years) for God to move. For whatever reason, God hasn’t moved there yet, but again, I know His timing is perfect. This year is evidence of that.

And if you are in a season of sorrow, it’s a season. I don’t know when it will be over, but I do know there’s a season of celebration around the corner. When it comes, you celebrate. The sorrow you have experienced in life, makes you appreciate the celebration so much more!

So if you find yourself struggling to remember what God has done this year in you, think about your salvation–that alone is a miracle. Think about what God has taught you–the discipline teachings as well as the gentle reminders. Did anything good happen? Because that’s God too, and that deserves to be celebrated even if it’s simple!

God loves it when we remember what He did.

Your remembrance could allow the world to see He is mighty!

She Reads Truth Bible

If we are being honest, reading my Bible was one of the hardest things to do consistently. I tried all throughout high school and then on into college to genuinely read my Bible on a consistent basis, but it never failed–something would come up.

Back in 2015 I wanted to get serious about reading God’s word, and a friend suggested the app, She Reads Truth. It quickly became a way I consistently read through Scripture. It was this little (but big) online community with Bible reading plans, which created a way for me to read through the Bible (not to mention I set a notification with a reminder to read my Bible so I wouldn’t forget). Fast forward to today, I have this deep hunger for God’s Word because it genuinely breathes life into my heart. She Reads Truth has been a huge part of developing my love for the Word, so when I found out they were publishing their own Bible with devotions, reading plans, and so much more; I literally couldn’t wait to get one.

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Here recently, I was given the She Reads Truth Bible to review for B&H Publishing by FrontGate Media. I am so excited to share this awesome resource with you! Don’t worry! They aren’t telling me what to say; this is all me! I hope you love it just as much as I do!

Why I love She Reads Truth:

One of the main reasons why I love She Reads Truth so much is because everything they do is done with intentions to pull you back into God’s Word so you can fall more in love with Him. If you are anything like I was a couple of years ago, I wanted to learn how to read God’s Word. This was all new to me and I didn’t know where to start. With the She Reads Truth Bible, they literally start you off with “How to Read the Bible” and it’s broken down to where you can really understand how to get the most out of your reading. We have to start somewhere right?

The She Reads Truth Bible is specifically designed to help the reader with the use of it’s Key Features. I think the main reason why throughout high school and college reading God’s Word was so difficult is because I didn’t really understand what I was reading. But with this Bible, they have created different features to help you–not gonna lie, I totally wish something like this existed when I was in high school. Check out some of my favorite features:

Genre Indicator:

The Bible is not all the same genre. There are different varieties of books of the Bible like history, letters, or even wisdom. Going into a book of the Bible knowing its genre will help you get the most out of each book. She Reads Truth starts each book with a color-coded tab to help you easily identify the genre of the book.

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Notice how this book is a coral color, this would indicate the genre of wisdom or poetry (the key to each book is in the back of the Bible).

Key Verses:

If you’ve ever wondered how all of Scripture fits together, She Reads Truth has put a collection of one verse from every book so you can see the complete arc of Scripture in 66 verses. They have taken these verses and created beautiful verse art. Each verse illustration has been hand crafted to help you easily memorize scripture and really see God’s word in its purest form–beautiful. One of the many reasons I was initially attracted to She Reads Truth was because of the artwork. I really loved how they took verses that breathed life into my heart and made them beautiful. So many of these verses have become phone backgrounds or even verses I personally have memorized.

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Charts:

Each chart gives the reader more insight to that particular book and how it fits into the Bible as a whole. For example, for the book of Psalms, She Reads Truth provides a chart for you to see Christ all throughout the Psalms. But then it even gives you the fulfillment of those Psalms in New Testament passages. The charts throughout the She Reads Truth Bible are extremely helpful simply because it really does give the reader a bigger picture of how God’s Word really all goes together. The charts are in color–this is something you’re definitely not going to find in most Bibles. I love the color that’s all throughout this Bible; it really feels like you’re looking at a piece of art that draws you into God’s Word time and time again.

Reading Plan:

Most study Bibles will offer some sort of reading plan, but from what I have seen it’s nothing more than a Bible in a Year plan. To me, these kind of plans have always been super intimidating. I know people do them all the time, and I commend all of you who have done this, but I could never make this work. I would get really discouraged if I missed a day, and then I would be trying to play catch up. But She Reads Truth provides you with not only a Bible in a Year plan, but also it gives separate reading plans for each book, which is divided into five day weeks (again, for someone like me this would have been less intimidating to start with). For me now, I love the feature of “Digging Deeper” with texts to connect passages to the whole Bible. Are you noticing a trend? She Reads Truth has done a fabulous job connecting each passage of Scripture to the whole story of the Bible!

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On one side you will see a basic reading plan for the book, but then to the left of the weekly reading you will see the “Digging Deeper” section of Scripture.

Devotionals:

When I initially started my journey with She Reads Truth within the app, I was drawn to it because of the devotionals that came with each reading plan and now this feature is continued in their Bible. When you look at the reading plan at the beginning of each book, there are some weeks that are bolded and that’s simply to let you know there’s a devotion to go along with that passage of Scripture. There are 189 devotions in all, each one with the purpose of pointing you to God and the gospel. Sometimes it’s easy to get distracted by life’s difficulties, but when we get in place where we can lift our eyes up to God and remember the gospel, that’s where we will find freedom. She Reads Truth does a great job at pointing you back to the reason why we can have freedom in Christ.

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On the left page, you can see an example devotional that goes along with the reading plans. If that particular day is in bold, then there is a devotion to go along with the reading.

Other Features:

She Reads Truth provides a detailed book introduction for each book of the Bible, a topical index, smyth-sewn binding, two colored ribbon markers, and wide margins for journaling and note-taking. I love the idea of wide margins because I’m one that marks all over my Bible. I love writing notes from different sermons or making my own references to other Scriptures throughout the book.

The only thing I’m not a huge fan of is the thinness of the paper. My go to pen for my Bible and my journal is the Sharpie Fine Point Pen and using that pen doesn’t bleed through onto the other pages, but the pen is definitely visible on the opposite side that you write on. Even with the thinness of the paper, the She Reads Truth Bible is one worth getting!

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Although the Bible is in full color (which I love), it bleeds through pretty easily.

The only other thing you aren’t going to find in this Bible is Red Letters. I know many of us are familiar with red letters (in the past, red letters were used to set apart the words Jesus spoke in the New Testament), but we need to keep in mind the whole Bible IS God’s Word.

Keep in mind this is not a typical Study Bible that gives some sort of commentary, but rather a resource to provide you with comprehensive tools to help you grasp a deeper love for the Gospel! This is unique to the She Reads Truth Bible–and totally worth it!

Want to Get One?

For more information: Click Here for the She Reads Truth Bible. The website provides you with more information and place for you to get your own She Reads Truth Bible. I’m telling you, you are not going to want to miss this opportunity;it would make a great gift for Christmas.

WIN A COPY:

Click Here to Enter for a chance to win one of seven copies of the She Reads Truth Bible!

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