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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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!

For Our Good

Now that it is officially summer, I have had a chance to reflect on this past school year and wanted to share one of the biggest things the Lord taught me:

It was 7th period and we were writing. The objective for the day was to write an informational essay while being timed. Eventually my students were going to write some sort of an essay in 40 minutes, and I wanted them to be absolutely prepared for the test. I wanted them to go into the test confident. I wanted them to feel ready to conquer that test. This could only happen if we practiced writing while being timed.

I told my kids what we were going to do, and I instructed them to get out a piece of paper. I even told them this was going to hurt a little bit (their hands and maybe stretch their thinking).

I set a timer for us to brainstorm some ideas.

Then we started writing.

I set the clock for 5 minutes to write an introduction. We had to write fast. I was asking my students for the opening sentence, while gently guiding them to a good one. At some points, I would give them some words when they didn’t have the right ones, but most of the ideas were coming from them. I was writing the paragraph on the board, and they were writing it on their paper–having to do it just as fast I was writing.

Two and a half minutes into the five minutes, the kids were saying things like, “Ms. Clark why are you torturing us?”, “We thought you loved us?!”, “Why are you hurting my hands?”. These were all questions I would eventually answer, but the 5 minute timer was going and I needed them to finish the paragraph before I answered all their questions.

With about 10 seconds to spare, the kids and I finished writing the first paragraph (we still had 4 more to write). Immediately when the timer went off, the kids pretty much threw their pencils on their desks and a class-wide moan went off. I heard a multitude of the same kind of thoughts and questions I mentioned earlier.

I told them to stretch out their hands because we were going to start writing our next paragraph.

I set the clock for five minutes. We wrote. We beat the timer. And again, the kids moaned.

Once more,  I set the clock for five minutes. We wrote. We beat the timer. And even louder, the kids moaned.

But this time, I answered. I said something along the lines of, “Because I love you all so much, I’m making your ‘hands hurt’ so when the test comes, you will be prepared! It’s for your good!”

That’s when God spoke to me.

Up until this point, I had felt like my students. I was crying out to God saying things like:

“God, why are you making me do this?”

“I thought you loved me!”

“Why are you making my heart hurt?”

God was and is with me when I asked all those questions. He was in essence standing at the dry-erase board working with me through all my struggles. He was giving me the words to say in times when I didn’t have the right thing to say. He was guiding my thought process. He was molding me for the future. He was preparing me for “the test” of sharing in His holiness. He did it for my good!

It was in that moment, I realized God loved me. He wasn’t making me struggle to torture me or to cause me pain, but it was out of His great LOVE that He allowed me temporary pain to prepare for “the test”.

Scripture looks at this preparation as discipline. We often think about discipline as being a bad thing; something that we only experience when we’ve done something wrong. But really discipline is about training, correcting, cultivating, and educating us to mature properly. In this case, I was being trained, corrected, cultivated, and educated to mature properly in the Lord. I was being disciplined by God, my gracious Heavenly Father.

Hebrews 12:10-11 says, “he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (emphasis mine).

I was amazed that God was using my teaching experience as way to grow in relationship with Him. He was teaching me about His love for me and how it looks similar to teaching my kids.

My students don’t always understand at first why the lesson has to take place, but the lesson is always something they need for their future.

This. Is. Me.

I don’t always understand why I’m going through a lesson, but according to God, it will “later yield the peaceful fruit of righteousness”.

After class that day, a few students came up to me and questioned my love for them. I remember my response being, “If I didn’t love you, I wouldn’t put you through this.”

Right there again, I realized it was out of God’s love for me that He put me through practice. He wanted me to be prepared. He wanted me to be trained. He wanted me to feel confident when I went into “the test”. He did it for my good. God was speaking to me Hebrews 12:4, “For the Lord disciplines the one he loves.”

God. Loves. Me.

I didn’t expect God to show up in the middle of 7th period, but I’m so glad He did. His love for me was made so practical in that moment. It all made sense. We go through different trials, and we experience different sufferings for our good; so we can ultimately share his holiness.

7th Period

A few of my 7th Period kids all dressed up for their 8th Grade Dance!