Twenty-Sixteen

Twenty-Sixteen

Hi, friends! Happy New Year!!!

What a year it has been! So many amazing, difficult, wonderful, frustrating and beautiful things have happened over the past 365 days in my life and in our world- and I’m very grateful I got to experience some of them.

Before I dive into these moments, I just want to say that I know this hasn’t been the greatest year for everybody and many people are excited to see the end of 2016… BUT I am so thankful that God gave us this year and the hard moments because I believe we wouldn’t be who we are without them.

God is still King in the difficult, dark places of this world and He is still sitting on the throne when we feel like He has left us- He is in control over every single circumstance in our life and He is working to make every moment reflect and glorify His Kingdom!

So, yes…it’s been an interesting year but I believe that there have been just as many, if not more, blessings and good moments as there have been bad moments. And at the end of the day, God is still good and He has a purpose for each of our lives!

At the beginning of the year I wrote a post called A Year Full of Revival and it was about God’s promise for this year. Every year God gives me a word as a symbol for what is to come, in 2015 it was “light” and in 2016 it was “revival”.

I remember when I listened to my pastor give the first sermon of the year on God’s word for our church, the word was breakthrough. I felt like God was confirming my word, revival by giving our church this word. In my heart, those two actions go hand-in-hand and this confirmation gave me the faith to believe that God would fulfill His promise of revival.

As I already said, this year was beautiful and difficult in more ways than one. Of course, it was an amazing year for many reasons, here are some of the highlights…

My family and I got Rocky, our sweet blessing of a puppy after praying that God would provide the right dog for our family.

I turned 19 years old and got to go to New York City for the first time with my dad to celebrate (we saw The Lion King on Broadway and it was magical!).


I finished my freshman year of college and my last semester at NCTC in May and began my sophomore year of college and first semester at UNT in August.

I’ve made so many amazing new friends and have had the blessing of reconnecting with family.

I got to be a leader at my church’s summer youth camp, HUB Camp, for the first time and had an absolute blast!

I had the privilege of voting in my first presidential election.

And I got to go to Europe for the first time and travel through Greece and Italy with my sister!*

But, 2016 has also been a really difficult year too…

I’ve had ongoing health issues throughout the year that have made me feel constantly tired, sick and weak.

I’ve felt alone, unnoticed and hurt at times.

I watched my 18-year-old cousin battle against (and BEAT! Praise God!) the evils of cancer.

I’ve struggled with temptations and fleshly sins.

I have painfully watched people I love numb themselves with the world.

And I’ve had moments of crippling doubt and fear that have left me feeling completely in the dark.

If I’m being honest, there have been more moments of hopelessness and frustration than there have been of faith and thankfulness for God. And as I look back on this blessing of a year, I can see how unintentionally self-focused I was when I thought I was striving to be focused on Him.

Thankfully, God still works and moves in and through us whether we are focused on Him or not but I just realized how much sweeter the hard moments would have been if I had been looking to Him instead of looking for a way to fix the situation myself.

This year God did revive my heart, my life and my family.

He has slowly begun to knock down the ungodly beliefs that have tried to take root in my heart and has replaced them with His permanent promises of love, freedom and grace.

He has opened my eyes to the Godly relationships He has placed in my life so naturally that I didn’t even realize they were there. He has revived my perspective to see His beauty and “Only God” moments instead of getting stuck in my everyday routine.

He has been faithful with a seemingly impossible promise that He gave me at the beginning of the year. He told me that my family would go to Georgia (where my dad’s family is) and reconcile relationships, something that I believed He would do one day but never thought He would make happen this year. He also said that I would go to Passion 2017 in Georgia.

All I can say is, God is faithful because I am writing this post from Georgia right now and have had the blessing of reconnecting with family members who I didn’t think I would ever see again. I’m also going to Passion 2017 in two days to experience God’s awesomeness with thousands of college students from around the world.

God is faithful, even when we are not. Thank goodness! And He has made this year better than any resolution I could have created or attempted to actually follow through with.

He is the Great Reviver and His word is true.

My prayer for all of us this year is to focus on the promises He thoughtfully gave us in the greatest love letter of all, the Bible. He already knows every joyful moment, heartbreak and breakthrough that this year holds for our lives.

I pray that we will focus our attention from what could happen this year, to the One who has already made and will make all things happen for His good.

Sending lots of love, joy and peace to everyone this New Year’s Eve and am believing that He will do great things in and through each of us in 2017 and beyond!

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” -Romans 8:28

These are a few pictures that highlight my year through a lens of travel, fun & spending time with loved ones
*A blog post about my AMAZING trip to Europe will be coming soon, I would like to say I’ve started to write it or have been working on it but the truth is I haven’t. But I want to write it and tell you all about it, so be on the lookout…

 

 

 

 

Heavenly Expectation

Heavenly Expectation

ex·pec·ta·tion·it·is
noun
  1. a fake disease I made up to describe my crippling desire for things to be exactly the way I expect and want them to be.

I have a bad case of “expectationitis” and I get it really bad during the holidays because I LOVE traditions and the holidays are full of them.

Every year, around Christmastime I have to intentionally pray that God will give me the patience and open mind to experience His season the way He wants me to, instead of the way I want me to. And, if I’m being really honest it’s hard…and most times, I end up trying to control things. I don’t want to, but it still happens.

I’m convinced this is how the enemy gets me, he makes me feel like everything has to feel and happen a certain way- when in reality everything that will happen has already been orchestrated by God to happen that way and is usually unexpected.

God’s plans are always greater than my expectations. It’s a truth we all know, but “expectationitis” can still sneak up. This Christmas was no exception, but I really do believe God taught me a valuable lesson during this holiday season that He will use to shape me throughout the rest of the year- because this is something I really struggle with year round.

As I have gotten older, God has started to open my eyes to why He placed the feeling of expectation in our hearts during this time of year in the first place. It isn’t so that we can eagerly expect to hang certain ornaments with certain people on a certain day or watch that one movie we love to watch on Christmas Eve.

The feelings of expectation are not for what and how we celebrate, they are for Who and why we celebrate- Jesus.

I always have to remind myself that we may know the ending of Jesus’ birth story, but the people who lived in the story didn’t have this same knowledge. They were desperately waiting in expectation for the Prince of Peace to be born and save them from themselves. I can only imagine the joy they experienced when they heard the Savior was born and their promised hope had come.

Even though I already know this part of His story, I still desire to have that same expectation for Him every year.

My prayer for all of us is to not let the enemy get us hung up on our own fleeting expectations, but instead for God to guide us into Heavenly expectation and adoration for Him on December 25th and every day after.

Our reason for expectation isn’t always easy to remember during the chaos of our everyday lives but it is always true- whether we choose to realize it or not- because He is always constant.

“I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or death.” -Philippians 1:20

Photography by Ashley Linch
 

Go With The Flow 

Go With The Flow 

Instead of fighting the waves,

 relax in this place of grace

 where you meet with Me face to face.


God whispered this little saying over my heart and mind a few months ago. Ever since then, He has been using it to remind me that no matter how big the waves of life get, He is in control. 

If you know me personally, then you are probably aware that I have some control issues. They flare up when I become too comfortable with my ideas and get focused on what I think is best. The deeper I’ve gotten into my relationship with God, the more aware I’ve become about how much I struggle with this. I especially see it in the way I communicate with the people I love most- my family, especially my siblings. Being their big sister, all I truly want is the best for them (or, what I think is the best) and because of this I find myself selfishly pushing too hard in areas of their lives that aren’t my place to push. 

God has really worked through my natural, ungodly belief to be in control throughout the past few years. He has slowly revealed to me that feeling responsible for “saving” the people I care about through my own strength is a lie the enemy has placed inside of my head.

I had a friend who put it this way: “If you fight the waves, you get tired and feel like you’re drowning…but when you let go and just float then it’s natural, peaceful and refreshing. The more water you push out of your way, the more it will come back and move. The water is always there, we just choose how we move and react.”

Sometimes, I get so focused on trying to save myself or others that I forget the One who has already saved us and end up creating more harm and chaos. But I hear God calling me to go with His flow and let Him create the rhythm of the waves. He is asking us to just trust Him, even when everything seems to be falling apart around us- which is a really challenging concept for me to grasp. The world tells us to fight harder, but God just wants us to relax with Him. And the funny thing is when we really do trust Him, He opens our eyes to how much easier it is to just let go & rest in Him instead of trying to stay afloat on our own.

The waves of life will come regardless- fighting the world is tiring, surrendering to Him is lifesaving. 

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” -Matthew‬ ‭11:28‬

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 

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!