Beauty In The Refining

Beauty In The Refining

Hey there. Well, it’s been quite awhile since I wrote a blog post on here. And, I really wish that wasn’t the case because I’m most happy when I’m writing- but life happens & these past few months have been iNsAnE for lots of different reasons. But I’m here now & thankfully, just like Jesus, this blog isn’t going anywhere (even if I do stray a little). So this is me attempting to bottle all of the craziness that’s been going on in my heart & head over these past eight months…this will be an adventure! Also, thank you for taking the time to read these words I’m writing- it means so much to me.

Lately, my heart has felt like a rubber band ball- a really tight, randomly put together & crazily colored rubber band ball of chaos. 

So much has happened since I last blogged. I finished my first two years of college at NCTC in one year, went to New York City & Europe for the first time this summer, was a seventh-grade girls leader at my church camp & so much more. But I also have lost close friends, gone through frustrations about my Hashimoto’s disease & have struggled with my faith in multiple different ways. 

I feel like I’m always using the word “season” to explain the place of life I’m in, but I really feel like it hasn’t just been a season. It feels longer than that, it’s almost like I’ve given into “just surviving”.

And I really, really hate being in that place. I just don’t enjoy feeling like a rubber band ball, being carelessly bounced around by Satan, because it’s overwhelming & chaotic & not who I was made to be. But sometimes I get too caught up in life & creating the rubber band ball that I forget who I let hold it…and I don’t realize how bad things are until my monstrosity of rubber bands is big enough for the Guinness Book of World Records.

But no matter how out of control life can get, I know that God is just waiting for me to ask Him to unravel all of the “rubber bands” & reveal His beauty underneath the insanity. The thing is, that’s actually a really scary process that I didn’t even realize I needed to go through until recently. Life just slowly handed me rubber bands- school, temptations, doubt, broken relationships & deep wounds- until it became too much for me to handle. And when each one is removed, it’s painful. Over the past couple of weeks, God has opened the doors for some of my rubber bands to be taken off & replaced with His freedom. I can feel Him refining me & molding me into who He has created me to be- instead of who the rubber bands of life want me to be. 
I’m not exactly sure who He is forming me into or for what purpose but I know that He’s creating a masterpiece of His goodness, grace & love- something so much better than a rubber band ball. 

Even though I’m still in this difficult season of life & have more “rubber bands” to take care of, I am holding onto the promise that I’m being pressed on and stretched to be turned into someone beautiful for His Kingdom.
And I want to remind you that He’s working on you too. Whether your “rubber band ball” is big or small, we all have one. God wants you to know He is shaping you into the masterpiece He designed you to become for the unique Kingdom Mission He has called you to accept. 

Before I had this revelation, I had run dry in my faith (which is partly why I haven’t written in awhile- that & I’ve been either too busy or too lazy…let’s keep it real). But I realized that is exactly why God gave me a passion for writing- to authentically process & encourage seasons like these. Whether we’re just surviving or thriving, God placed us in this exact moment for a reason- He is with us & He is always giving us a word to share (even if it’s a weird metaphor about being a rubber band ball). 
Giving into the craziness of life is easy, letting Him unravel us into His own unique creation is harder. But no matter what, throughout the highest of highs & lowest of lows: when God is in control, there is beauty in the refining.

“Friends, when life gets really difficult, don’t jump to the conclusion that God isn’t on the job. Instead, be glad that you are in the very thick of what Christ experienced. This is a spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner.”‭‭.                        – 1 Peter‬ ‭4:12-13‬ 

Advertisements
A Year Full of Revival

A Year Full of Revival

re·vive (rəˈvīv/ verb)- to restore to life or consciousness; regain life, consciousness, or strength; give new strength or energy to.

This is the word God has given me for this fresh, new year: revival. What a sweet promise from the One who holds my heart in His hands. 

For something to be brought back to life, it must not be living in the first place. I guess, I can’t say all of my heart is in need of revival because there are certainly pieces of it that are pumping along just fine. But our hearts are not meant to desperately survive in separate pieces. God created our hearts to beat in a unified rhythm only He can orchestrate. So lately I’ve been alive but I haven’t been fully living and, if you ask me, that’s worse than death.

Revival. It’s the nights when the enemy attacks hardest that I cling to this promise the most. The darkness is scared of the light. I know in my heart that if satan is threatened this badly then that means God has bold & mighty revival in store for the days to come. 

The roars of the enemy are nothing compared to the whispers of my King.

As I have become awakened to His whisper during the first month of this new year, God has told me this is a word for all His children & I believe Him. We are being brought back to life, I can feel it.

In this very moment God is reviving relationships, hearts, circumstances- He is reviving you & me. He is bringing hope to that dark situation that seems hopeless. He is releasing breakthrough to that person, prayer and pain that seems unbreakable. 

Nothing is impossible for God- this is the Heavenly promise we must hold on to as His sons & daughters. 

I am believing that God will shatter the walls that the enemy has attempted to build up within my home, my loved ones & myself. I am proclaiming in faith that God- our ultimate Healer, Protecter & Father- is going to burst through every hurt, pain, demon & fear that the world is trying to use against us.

The world will try to convince you that the resolutions & goals you made at the beginning of the year are what’s most important to remember & pursue. But as those fleshly goals begin to fade into memories, God’s Heavenly promise of revival remains constant & true. 

I am so thankful that my Father never breaks a pinky promise.

Revival will come.

Revival is coming.

Revival is here. 

“Your promise revives me; it comforts me in all my troubles.”                            -‭‭Psalms‬ ‭119:50‬

Twenty-Fifteen

Twenty-Fifteen

Hi, everyone! Happy New Year!!!
I can’t believe 2015 is coming to a close. It feels like just yesterday I was setting my New Year’s resolutions & writing about all the wonderful things God had in store for 2015 (all of them true & even better than I could have imagined!). 

At the beginning of the year I wrote a blog post about 2015 titled “A Year Full of Light” because God had told me that is what this year would be. I remember the night He gave me the word “light”- I was watching the flame of a single candle dance & flicker in a dark room, every time I thought it would go out it never did. The flame would change but the light would never leave it- that’s the moment He told me. 

As long as I am a burning flame for God, my life will never lose its light. 

Now, I will be honest, this past month has worn my flame out quite a bit & has made it difficult to see the light. But that’s why I’m so thankful for this blog, which serves as a reminder of how faithful God has been during these past 365 days. I’ve had this little blog for about a year now (which also seems crazy to me!) & it’s been so wonderful to look back at my writing & see how God has truly illuminated my life & all of 2015 with His goodness.

I was able to “look back” at this year in a special way, thanks to a truly wonderful surprise I received from WordPress-they essentially wrapped up everything “Curly Hair & Cheerful Heart” did by summarizing all of my moments from the past year! I thought this would be the perfect “last post” of 2015 because I want to share this special part of my world with you- my friends, family & fellow blogger buddies- who continue to read the words I write & encourage me to follow this passion of mine. There wouldn’t be a “summary” to look at without all of the support from those around me (both physically & virtually!).

You guys continue to remind me how blessed I am & how GOOD God is! I am so looking forward to the new days ahead & all of the crazy amazing things He is going to do in our world & each of our lives! 

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for visiting my tiny corner of the blogosphere & for making this year one full of so much light & love. I hope you have a very Happy New Year & can’t wait to see you on the other side!

Rachel

Curly Hair & Cheerful Heart’s Year In Blogging: Click here

Each of these photos is a cover photo from a blog post I wrote in 2015
Fruit Smoothie For The Soul

Fruit Smoothie For The Soul

 

 

We all have a soul. I believe it is what makes us who we are- our passions, desires and beliefs all intertwined into this being that lives inside of us. I also believe our spiritual souls can get just as unhealthy and sick as our physical bodies.It seems like such a simple concept, yet I didn’t realize how sick my soul had become until recently. It’s not like I had done anything bad (in the worldly sense) & my life was going really well (in the worldly sense).

This is the worst kind of toxic soul I could have, if you ask me, because I began to mistake my outward appearance to be the same as my inward appearance. Over time my heart had pushed out God’s promises and power and had become full of anxiety and judgement and fear.

I realize that this is bound to happen- I mean, I am a silly, impressionable human who lives in a world that is trying to bombard my heart with anything but the truth! But just like my physical body has to be cleansed daily- my spirit has to be cleaned out too. And that was something I had forgotten to do in the midst of attempting to keep my life under control.

So when I would spend time with God, I felt so cluttered & distant from Him. I couldn’t get my mind to focus or I would get so caught up in trying to have this “perfect” meeting with Him that I would forget the whole purpose of just laying at His feet & resting in Him. I would pray and get way off track (like, “What should I have for lunch?” off track!). I would procrastinate doing my morning devotional until I only had a few seconds to squeeze it in or else I’d be late to wherever I was running off to.

Basically, I was already so full of the toxic stuff that I had no room for His fruit to grow in my heart. Instead, I was trying to survive on my own, self-produced (& extremely expired!) fruit.

That’s a weird place to be in- especially when you aren’t truly aware of it. You feel anxious and discontent & like you’re always missing something. Thank goodness He opened my eyes to what was happening inside me.

You know what my soul needed? A fruit smoothie* made by the true Smoothie King!

Love.

Joy.

Peace.

Patience.

Kindness.

Goodness.

Faithfulness.

Gentleness.

Self-control.

All of them! Blended up together into fresh, juicy spirit-filled goodness. My soul needed a detox. So so so badly. It needed to flush out the worldly toxins & darkness- it needed a spiritual fruit smoothie.

So (thankfully!) that’s what God has been pouring over my heart & soul for these past few weeks. And it tastes gooood.

Now, I’m not perfect & I most certainly do not embody a soul full of His “fruit of the spirit smoothie” all day, every day- but I am seeking Him to give me glimpses of how good a life full of His fruit is & having that kind of perspective changes everything.

When my soul is focused on His fruit- His love, His joy, His peace, His patience, His kindness, His goodness, His faithfulness, His gentleness & His self-control- everything is so much clearer.

I am so thankful that I have a Father who loves me enough to clean up my messy soul & treats me to the sweetest fruit smoothie this world has ever known.

Being His daughter is always the yummiest & most satisfying adventure for my soul.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”-Galatians 5:22-23

 

*Shout out to Jacelyn & all of my crazy AMAZING sixth grade ladies for coming up with this “fruit smoothie” revelation during small group discussion! Y’all remind me each week how simple God’s love is & how sweet life is when we choose to follow Jesus! I love you girls so super much!

Uncomfortable 

Uncomfortable 

Tonight I sat down with absolutely no idea where this post would go. I just decided to stop trying to make my words happen & let God lead them instead (which is never a bad choice, if you ask me!). This is one of those posts where He gave me a desire to write & told me what my words & this post would be about as I was typing. So, it may be a little more scattered than usual but I can honestly say it’s straight from the heart. I hope you enjoy & receive your own sweet revelation from His words tonight…

  

I have been thinking a lot about this blog post.

Which is precisely why this blog post has yet to be written.

I have quite an issue with overthinking things and ideas and moments and people. I overthink about what I’m going to wear. I overthink about the things I have already said. I overthink about overthinking. It’s one of my core struggles.

So, when you mix the idea of supernatural overthinking with a crazy, busy season of transition and then throw in a tad bit of laziness- you have yourself a blog post that is way overdue.

I’m not kidding when I say I have been thinking about this post. I mean I have been really, truly asking God to give me a word or desire to write about.

I’ve had a few ideas, they were all good but every time I would get in front of the keyboard I would lose my inspiration or (even worse!) my ability to form cohesive, thought-provoking sentences…well okay, let’s be honest, have I really ever achieved that?

Seriously though- this has been on my mind a lot, but I have yet to actually act on any of my ideas.

Which, if I’m honest, is a lot like how I treat my walk with God. (Woah. That’s some in-the-moment revelation right there, y’all.)

Man, I love to think about God. He is so awesome. I love to think about what He is doing in my life and the lives of all of those around me. When I pass by someone at school, I think to myself “I wonder if they are a believer?”. I think about all the times He has proven Himself utterly faithful. I think about how I should apply that awesome devotional I read that one time to my day. I think about loving others. I think about how much He loves me.

But do I live the same way I think?

Often times, I forget that the thoughts swirling around in my head are not public knowledge to everyone else (because sadly, mind-reading is not a characteristic of following Jesus).

If I am not careful, this mentality of assuming my thoughts about Him are automatically expressed through the way I live becomes my reality.

Basically, I find myself being all talk  (or, in this case, thought!) and no walk.

My hope & prayer is that I am over-exaggerating or being much too harsh on myself (yet, another core struggle of mine…) and in actuality, everyone is aware of my love for Jesus…but I have a feeling that is just not the case. 

I will be the first to admit that the idea of getting up in front of my entire lecture hall and declaring that I am a Christian who is madly in love with Jesus is just a tad bit overwhelming. And I don’t really think that’s what God wants me to do either…(unless He tells me…). But He does want me to live like Him & for Him everywhere I go. 

That includes my lecture hall. 

That includes the doctor’s office. 

And that even includes the DMV.

It’s so funny, I find myself living authentically & boldly for Jesus around those who I know are fellow believers & in places that I am comfortable in. Yet, when it comes to being like Jesus around those who are visibly broken & in the places that I don’t like, I suddenly lose my fervor to talk about God.

I love to preach to those who have already heard the sermon, not to those who desperately need to be invited to the service.

It all comes down to the fact that I like to be comfortable. 

But the problem is, I was created to live an uncomfortable life on Earth for God so I could spend my eternity comfortably in Heaven with God.

And that is the great paradox that makes being a believer so bold & rewarding- we are warriors who live in a world that we are not of.

He calls us (by name!) to pick up our crosses every day and to follow Him straight into the darkest depths of this world with everything we have.

But, if I’m really honest, I often find myself suited up in the armor of my thoughts, too afraid to charge into the world with the truth God has given me. I know He is always with me & I know he will protect me.

So, why do I get scared sometimes and try to avoid telling the world about Him? 

Because as much as I hate to admit it, the world can be scary.

It’s plain & simple- I’m a tiny human who takes a look at the world through the lenses of my own strength & gets scared.

But God is not asking me to change the world in my own strength & with my own words & through my own thoughts- He is calling me to trust Him to turn my silent thoughts into bold, Kingdom-building shouts. 

That’s it. Just trusting-truly trusting-  Jesus has it all under control. When we give it to Him, we hand over any authority the world may attempt to use against us.

When we boldly declare His promises & truly are real & raw with those who desperately need the truth- He will use us to change the world.

When you get uncomfortable, you become unstoppable. 

“Arise & shine, you Kingdom-builder!

Allow your mind to dwell on Me.

Let your words reflect Me & reveal the beauty of My children.

My voice is your guide, let your steps follow Me across every hall, every ocean, every street & every desert.

Shine brighter than any darkness, be bolder than any fear.

You are a warrior. You are an Earth shaker. You are My battle cry.

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.

In this world you will have trouble.

But take heart! I have overcome the world.

Lions & Eagles & College, Oh My!

Lions & Eagles & College, Oh My!

“What college are you going to?”

This is the question that dominated my last year of high school. 

At the beginning of my senior year my future was extremely fuzzy. I could hardly see anything & really had no clue where my path lead. I had some ideas but nothing was really set in stone. All I knew for certain was that God would lead me where I was meant to be. He would take care of me.

As the school year progressed parts of my future slowly began to become clearer. 

I went on a campus tour of the University of North Texas & really enjoyed it. 

I attended a journalism convention where I realized my passion for writing & possible future as a journalist. 

Everything was slowly coming together. It was still pretty fuzzy, but I could make out some objects. Although I couldn’t tell what they were, I knew they were there.  

When I imagined college I saw myself living in some dorm on some campus at some four year university. To me, that’s what college was. So when I visited UNT (Go Eagles!), everything clicked. There were so many things that lined up with what I was looking for in a school & potential home. 

They had a great journalism school. 

I had a lot of friends who already went there. 

One of my close cousins was also going there in the fall & could be my roommate!

AND! My church had just recently planted a brand new satellite church in the same area!

It was fate. 

I remember the moment I knew that UNT would become my future home. My vision felt clear as day. So, I applied & got accepted- everything was great. 

Except, four year universities are kind of expensive. And while everything seemed clear & perfect in my eyes, my parents weren’t seeing the same thing. I’m their oldest of three kids and within the next four years all of us will be in college. Now that is expensive. 

My future began to become fuzzy again.

I applied for a couple of big scholarships but I knew it would still be a lot on my parents financially. They could pay for my college expenses, but we all knew deep down it just wasn’t what was best for us as a family.

What my parents had in mind was not something I had given a thought to for my possible future- community college. 

There was one a few minutes away from my house. I didn’t consider it as an option until I had to.

I mean…it wasn’t a four year university. It wasn’t UNT. It wasn’t very exciting. And it wasn’t in my plans.

But it was logical. It was close. It was wayyy cheaper. And (surprise!) it was in God’s plans. 

I knew in my heart that NCTC was where I was going to end up in the fall, but I didn’t want it to be true. There was always a tiny sliver of self-forced hope that UNT was where I’d be. My parents told me they would support me & get me there if I really felt like I should go to UNT right away- but they could feel it in their hearts too. 

I wrestled with this for awhile and went back & forth about where I felt I should go as my senior year slowly began to come to an end. I tried to make my future seem fuzzy when the answer was clear. 

But ultimately, God’s plan for me trumped the plan I was trying to make happen for myself. 

“What are you majoring in?” 

Journalism!

“Where are you going to college?”

NCTC.

I remember the first time I actually said that I was going to a (gasp!) community college. I felt like I had to explain why & add on the fact that “I’m only going there for my basics & then I’m transferring to UNT to study my major”.

I wasn’t ashamed that I was going there. I just wasn’t excited. On the outside looking in, it would seem so silly to feel this way because at the end of the day- it is still college & I’m going to get the same education as I would have during my first two years at a four-year university & I am going to be at UNT eventually so it is still my future home & I will still get a college experience there!

But I wasn’t on the outside looking in, I was right up in the middle of tons of kids my age who were making commitments to big schools & who were getting excited about their future homes & who were going to leave to go on to, what seemed like, “bigger & better things”. 

And, because my heart wasn’t completely focused on God & His plan for me, I really struggled with being excited about my graduation & future. The fuzziness was gone, everything was pretty clear- and I didn’t like what I saw. 

I wish I could say that from the beginning I was focused on God & where He was taking me & all of the positive things NCTC had to offer & that I was excited about the fact that I was even getting to go to school but, honestly, I wasn’t. 

It took time for God to open my eyes & humble me. It was only during the last few weeks of high school that He began to truly open up my vision to the clear future He had for me.

At first, the only hope I held onto was the undeniable contentment God had given me about my decision to go to NCTC. 

I felt like I was alone in my decision & was the only one in my class who was taking the “NCTC path”. But through conversations & announcements & hallway signs (God works in mysterious ways…) He encouraged me by physically showing me that I am not alone. 

Then He began to open my eyes to the logical aspects that my parents had seen from the very start. That was so big because I began to see how much of a blessing it was for me to have the option to go right down the street to a great, affordable community college. 

Everytime I would tell someone, whether it was a fellow student or adult, that I was going to NCTC they would confirm & encourage me.  

And most recently, God has been placing Godly relationships who go to NCTC in my life. He’s also laid on my heart the fact that I get to stay rooted in my life here at home for at least another year. I am confident that He is going to answer some big prayers this year & do some amazing things in & through me. He has taken me out of a valley & has put me on a mountaintop of hope & excitement for this new season.

I’ve never felt so content about where I’m going. He has made my vision crystal clear & the future I’m seeing is exciting, bright & mine. I am beyond ready!

So, why am I sharing this mini journey to my freshman year of college with you? 

Well, I want it to be a reminder (to any & everyone, no matter where you are in life) that God’s plan for you doesn’t look like everyone else’s plan. And sometimes, that is a hard truth to swallow. 

But He does have a plan for YOU & even though the journey can seem crazy & hopeless, the destination will be so much more satisfying than what the world could have ever dreamed of offering you. 

At the end of the day, we are all walking different paths & I am so thankful that, no matter how confusing our paths may become, we can rest in the truth of knowing that we have a Father who gives us a hope & future to prosper us.

Today, I am proud to say that I am going to be a student at NCTC (Go Lions!) this fall & can’t express to you in words just how excited I am that God is going there with me.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”                      

-‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭29:11

Where Feet May Fail

Where Feet May Fail

Earlier this summer my family & I took a very much-needed vacation to Gulf Shores, Alabama. God was completely evident in every moment & it was (without a doubt!) one amazing week full of rest, joy & pure bliss! Here are some thoughts God stirred up in my heart while I was at the beach & has continued to stir within me throughout the summer.

  

Thinking about the ocean’s constant, crashing waves 

which bring hundreds of thousands of uniquely designed seashells 

onto a shore made up of millions & millions of individual pieces of sand 

takes my breath away. 

I believe God gave us the ocean to show us a glimpse of His awesome power & vast love. It’s mind-blowing how intricate & precise each detail of His creations are. We serve an awesome God who makes beautiful things. 

 

As a tiny human, standing in the ocean makes me feel unbelievably small. I’m convinced it’s one of the most humbling feelings in the world and, because of it, I believe there is beauty in feeling insignificant. When we get lost in Him we forget to worry about ourselves and, for a moment, truly experience His overwhelming & powerful presence.

Trying to comprehend the ocean’s power & vastness stirs up true wonder deep within my core. I can’t help but believe in Him with every ounce of my being when I look at the seemingly never-ending ocean water & sandy shore. It’s so crazy cool that God would take the time to design such a beautiful masterpiece on this Earth just so we could be reminded of His awesomeness & have our wonder for Him revived. He captivates us by His ability to bring Heaven to Earth through His creation.

 

Experiencing His creation causes a tidal wave of awe, faith & absolute bliss. His love for us goes beyond human comprehension- it is vast & big & strong. Words can’t describe how thankful I am to be in the arms of a Father whose love for me goes deeper than the ocean.

I am small. 

He is mighty. 

I am sand. 

He is the sea.