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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

what to do when you feel weak and you struggle with your emotions and you wonder if you are even saved.

I remember when I first became a Christian..I struggled over my emotions..
I thought that, by becoming a changed and transformed new creature in Christ, that I shouldn't get angry or frustrated.....
I beat myself up for struggling with emotions. But I have learned that our emotions are a part of our humanity.
During this time of struggle, I used to wonder.. "am I even saved?" If I'm saved, then why am struggling with not liking this person...or why am I struggling with anger over this particular situation..? Or why am even tempted to watch this television show or this movie?

I think a lot of Christians ask these questions..

One thing that I have learned is that God's grace is so vast. He understands our human-ness... He understands our weakness.

Jesus didn't die just so you could doubt your salvation. It's a gift. It's something He gave because He loves you.

Let Him help you through the struggle.

I'm learning that spriritual growth is a process. It's a long road of learning to trust..of learning to place faith far ahead of feeling...
It's learning to realize that we are human...and there are times when our feelings won't exactly match up with what we think they should be...

But we overcome every evil with good...

I read a book in the not too distant past called "enemies of the heart" by Andy Stanley.
He identified four areas of significant Christian struggle...

1. Guilt
2. Jealousy
3. Anger
4. Greed

I don't want to ruin the book because it had some really good information...but Stanley sublty reminds us that " the heart is deceptive above all things."  To simply, if we are facing of the ways to overcome simply to confess. Let it go..Get it out of your system and set things right.

If we are struggling with greed, fight it...give more. Be more generous. Overcome evil with good.

If you are struggling with jealousy,  fight it... go the object of your envy and pay them a compliment.

Pray for those who make you angry.
I can tell you..I've done this...I have reason to be angry with someone and I literally felt the anger melt away as I lifted them up in prayer. 
prayer allows us to recognize that person as another soul...needing the love of a living God.

We are all in this race together.  Today, don't doubt your salvation. embrace it. Thank God for it.
Let Him help you in this struggle...

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Terribly Interesting: Holes and Such

Terribly Interesting: Holes and Such:  I saw this out of my window the other day. These people must have come to "town" to get some groceries. I thought it was interesting. I was...

Monday, May 21, 2012

Reasons why I both love and hate Facebook

last week something changed..... my zeal for facebook began to fade..

I think it started with all of the uproar about American Idol. As you all know, Josh Ledet is our own hometown contestant. Last week, as the contestants narrowed down to the final three, he was voted off...

I noticed patterns during the entire Amerian Idol ordeal.. First, there were the Josh fans.. This is the category that I was in... I couldn't help but feel excited that a highly talented young man from our area was on the show. I was enamored by his stage prescence and I was rooting for him to win..  The fans didn't post too much about Josh...they just gave their support ...much to the dismay of the other two groups... the haters..and the "really cool" people..

The really cool people posted things like " I don't understand what all the excitement is about."...they seemed to be subtly annoyed by the whole  thing... and they made no qualms about expressing how silly the show was and what a waste of time it was....

Then, of course, there were the all out haters... There were the Josh haters who rudely posted things mocking the fans..and then there were the hardcore Josh fans who bashed the other contestants..

On the night Josh was eliminated, I had a facebook "friend" bash Jessica, the youngest contestant. She called her the infamous "b" word and then went on to make a reference to her nationality...Please note that Jessica is only sixteen years old...

That night, will go down in my own personal history book, as the day I lost zeal for facebook. I am still reluctant to log on to my account... 

That night, as the insults continued..something changed within I began to lose respect for many of my "friends"... I began to see facebook as a forum for petty opinions and disagreements.  

But before, I delve into the reasons why I am begginning to dislike facebook, I will explain why there are still things I love about it...

I love the fact that I have found family that I thought had disappeared off the face of the earth. Facebook allowed me me to connect with and have part in, ( even if it is all small part ) the lives of long lost family.
I love looking at pictures of cousins that I otherwise may have never seen.

I love the fact that on bad days...there have been friends who have left comments that encouraged me and made me smile.. 

I love the fact that if I want get in touch with someone, it is relatively easy with facebook..

I have connected with and do feel closer to people that I might not have otherwise...

Facebook has been a forum to share God with the people I know and care about. It has given me opportunities to share my blog posts and send personal messages of encouragement.

That being said,

There are also reasons why I dislike facebook and I seem to be liking it even less as the days go by...

Here is why...

1. Pettiness and stress - lately, as with the above mentioned American Idol fiasco, I have come to see facebook as a forum for pettiness.. This, in turn, causes me stress. It has caused me to lose respect for a few people and frantically looking for the option to "hide" many so-called friends, namely the haters..

2. Colossal Waste of Time - Facebook is a temptation when I'm bored. I have often been guilty of checking my page several times and hour. I know in my heart of hearts that God would want me to be a better steward of my time.

3. Feelings of Rejection - Just as facebook can create feelings of security, it can also stir up feelings of rejection.  When my grandmother died for instance, several of my friends came forth to offer their condolences, but I couldn't help but feel pangs of hurt towards the ones that didn't say anything.
Sometimes on facebook, we seemingly just become a number in a sea of "friends."
I think it often gives out a sense of false security. How many of my so called facebook friends would show up at my funeral? Probably a handful... If I were to recreate a facebook page on the day of my would probably look like this... a few friends would post something like... R.I.P Rachelle.. it would be copied several times over..with a few likes here and there....I'm sure a hater would emerge somewhere in the mix and have something negative to say about the whole ordeal..and half of the people spreading the news ...wouldn't even bother showing up....

I've sent out friend requests that have been rejected and a small part of me, can't help but feel a little hurt from the person doing the rejecting...

I have also begun to wonder why people that I thought were my friends..never like or comment on my status..this leads to more stress and wondering..... once again, a colossal waste of time..

4. I often question my own motivation, at times...
Why am I on facebook? Sometimes, I genuinely get on facebook to see what others are doing..I log on to look at pictures and to leave people good, positive feedback... Sometimes, I come up with witty or thoughtful status updates.. sometimes, I post pictures of vacations and places I've been...I often wonder if there isn't a part of me that is bragging about something... I realize that there are people in the world going through hard  times...I feel for these people... I don't want to come across as a braggart with a perfect, contrived facebook story.
I aim to be real..and sometimes I wonder how real I actually am on facebook.. I post about my great days, but  rarely do I post my struggles.
we all, on some level, want others to think the best of us... we all want to be "liked" but are we selling out to some degree by not being true to ourself? 

5. Facebook is no subsitute for real relationships.. There are sevaral people that I feel closer to since I have joined facebook.  The only thing is.. I never even actually them... Facebook has us trapped in a  world where we are content with "liking" each other pictures and status updates...

I would rather have someone hug me after a tragedy rather than send me a thirty second message. I would rather be a part of someone's real life...share a meal with them, for instance.. rather than "liking" the fact that they are eating baked tilapia for dinner..


our society is very fast paced...It is hurried and rushed..
We live in a chemical, fast food world..where quick, easy solutions often relpace real things of value.
While I value my facebook friends, I long for more.
Christ has filled the void in my life..but I know that he wants us to have good, real, lifelong friends...
He wants us to have real and lasting love..friends who provide real support..
not band aid friends who quickly try to patch the gaping wounds...

If any of my facebook friends are reading this... I want you to know that I love you. I too can get caught up in this fast aid, chemical, fast food sort of forgive me if I haven't been there for you.

I am hoping this post will encourage us to move toward something more for ourselves. Less time on facebook..more time creating real, meaningful relationships...

Today, write a  handwritten letter to someone instead of "liking" their status..
Today, if you are going to post a status update... say what is really on your mind...let us see the real you..
Today, spend more time talking with Jesus..and less time checking your page ..out of sheer boredom...

One thing that I have found is that facebook proves that we are all human. It can bring smiles, as well as insecurities...

have you ever felt a little bummed because no one liked your status..or your pictures..?
All I can say is... "don't let it get to you. Aim to please an audience of One..and you can never go wrong.."

Well, these are my thoughts..
Where do you stand on the issue?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

I'm struggling with food!

For the past few months, I have been struggling with food. I have struggled, not only with food choices, but also with the relentless desire to eat often....quite often..

I see strength in people who eat healthy. I see a type of strength in those who sweat in the throes of excercise .. As of late, I have even come to admire those who are content with drinking only bottled water..those that forego the temptation of the sweet, high fructose corn syrup sodas...even as i type this, I'm about to walk over to the microwave, put in a bag of popcorn, and chow down...

There's nothing wrong with that..except for the fact that I'm not even hungry...
I suppose I'm just doing it simply because I can...or out of sheer boredom.

a few months ago, I found out that I have a mild thyroid issue. The numbers were slightly off...but, with medication, my levels have returned to normal..

Over the past few months, I have put on about ten to fifteen pounds... a part of me wants to blame the thyroid... But I know that I can't.. I have to blame my weight gain on the countless sodas I consumed and the fact that I have proven, time and time again, that I can eat almost an entire large pizza in one sitting...

I think my thyroid issue has played a slight trick on my mind... because ever since I expected to gain a little weight..the amount that I have eaten  has gone up...

I don't have a weight issue... .YET..  but, I can see that, if I continue on the path that I'm on.. I will have a problem on my hands very soon.

This isn't about vanity. It's about feeling healthy and yes, a slight part of me wouldn't mind getting  back into a smaller pair of jeans...

The part that bothers me that I feel weak. I feel as if I am giving in to temptation more and more.
A very real part of me is passionate about food... and that part often seems to win... in this struggle.

Today, I told myself that I was going to eat healthier.  At the first sign of hunger, I pulled into the Wendy's drive thru and gorged on a double stacker and fries... and, of course, an oversized coke to wash it down.

I was depressed for a short while because I couldn't help but feel as if I had failed at something.

I've learned that Jesus loves us no matter.. He accepts us no matter what size or shape we are..
but I often feel that it is better to err ...well, to succeed would be a better word, on the side of self control...

The other day I fasted for a day.  I did the Daniel fast. I was going thru something quite horrible and fasting and prayer has always helped me in significant ways.

The Daniel fast is not an easy fast.. no sugars, no meats, no drinks other than water.. it involves fruits and vegetables..something quite foreign to my diet..
Let's put it this way... It was a very very long day...

I found myself getting grumpy...looking at the clock... I found myself half tempted to bite someone's head off... I had to take a pill at the first pangs of a migrane..
and all because I chose to eat healthy for a day?  

I began to think about how food serves a purpose to keep us alive, and then began to wonder, in my state of grouch, if I wasn't idolizing food in some way..
I thought about and lamented over people that were genuinely hungry. I began to be thankful for food..good food.. I began to be thankful that I know the taste of a buttery chocolate croissant, whereas people in parts of Africa have probably never even tasted a delicacy..

It made me sad... It also made me sad that eating healthy and giving up sweets for a day was an actual challenge..

But I was also sad that I often feel like I need those delicacies.
I don't..

they are nice and wonderful, and I am grateful, but I want to come to a place where I am content eating good, healthy foods.. foods that God made..foods that grow out of the ground without all of the cancer causing chemicals and dyes and toxins..and names that I can hardly pronounce..

I'm sad because of the exorbitant cancer rates. I am sickened when I think of all of the family and friends that I have lost to cancer. Science proves that eating healthier can and does often prevent cancer... so why are we still doing and eating the same things? why hasn't our behavior changed to reflect this information?

It's because it's hard.  Eating good, fattening, unhealthy food is tempting..and it tastes good...
It's "easy path" food..

wide path food..

I can now identify and have a lot of compassion for people that are struggling with weight issues..
because I understand how hard it is to break a pattern..
but the good news is that it can be done.

life is about choices and consequences .. We simply have to make better choices or we will have to live with the consequences of our actions... possible disease, cancers, and an array of all sorts of other problems..

I am praying for you through the struggle. I am praying that God will give me the strength to eat healthier.
We are in this race together.. we can choose to run everyone over with hurtful words. we can throw stones of judgement. 

or we can help each other across the finish line..
so, let's put on our running shoes..
kill some flesh..
and lose a few pounds together.. ( by safe, healthy choices, of course )

I think it is important to encourage one another. God gave us one another for that lift one another help one another along.. so feel free to message me..or call..we can run this race together.


1 Corinthians 6:19-20 

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

1 Corinthians 9:27 

But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

"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." - John 16:33

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

the amish project and how to be a better steward of our time

Some days I feel the need to go "under the radar.."
Some days I spend entirely too much time checking my facebook page..sometimes out of sheer boredom..other times out of blantant curiosity... perhaps on some innate level, I am afraid I will "miss" something...
Don't get me wrong, facebook is great....cell phone apps, computers, and technology can be a wonderful thing...but lately, I have felt God showing me that I spend entirely too much time with my head buried in a screen. 

Even as I was preparing to write this post, a friend of mine posted on, none other than facebook, an article about a "hands free mama"... a mother who realized that her busy lifestyle was taking too much time away from her children...a mother who vowed to make real changes for the sake of her children.

I recently read an interesting article called, "The Amish Project."  A young man in somewhere USA was sitting at a basketball game with his friends one day. They were reuniting after not seeing one another in years. Instead of talking and enjoying the game together, he noticed that each friend, including himself, was buried in cell phones...even laptops.. ( yes, he brought his laptop to the game..)
It was then that he realized that there was a real problem..It was empty living.

He started looking around and began noticing that seemingly everyone was preoccupied with the cell phone.

So, he vowed to go technology free for 90 days. No cell social media..
I know, it sounds crazy right?

The result?

He had a great time getting to know people and finding creative ways to communicate...
When I read his story, I felt like I was reading about a boy from the 1950's who brought back simple living to the busy and rush mentality of the present.
I read about how instead of texting a girl, he would send her flowers or write her a message on the sidewalk..

There were some things that in the article that I didn't agree with, but overall..I really like the concept of the Amish Project..

Am I going to do the Amish project?
Probably not..but I am praying that God will help me to be a better steward of my time.

God gives us things to make good use of... and time is one of them..
I don't want to stand before God one day and have years unaccounted for...

I really don't want to hear Him say, "rachelle, you spent about 4 years of your life..meandering through facebook, aimlessly surfing the web, and playing with your cellphone..

"meanwhile, you missed out on a total of a year of your children's lives. You missed the time little bear was telling you about the butterfly he saw...or the time that Cade wanted to tell you about his day... you were too engrossed in the phone to provide comfort, to give wisdom, to be a real friend.  you missed so many moments and so many opportunites.."

I want to be a better steward of my time. I want to make memories. I want my time here on earth to count for something. I may not change overnight. But I pray that I change... oh, and remember at the begging of the post..i said I check facebook almost obsessively because I'm afraid I'll "miss something." well, i've figured out what I am missing... real, life..I am missing moments and opportunities.
everything in moderation, friends..

One other thing...ever go to lunch with someone or for a visit..and you feel as if you are competing for attention with a phone or a television..? It almost makes you feel like you aren't important.. I've been there and I've felt that..I've possibly even done it a time or two...i want to vow never to do that again. It's not a good feeling..

Ephesians 5:15-16
Be very careful, then, how you live-not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil

John 17:4   I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do.

Colossians 4:5 Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time.

1 Corinthians 9:26-27
Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

other great links on similar topics.. 

Love you...we can do this...!!!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

What does Aibileen Clark have to do with thirty homeless men and the man who died on the side of the road.

today, I've been working on my care packages for homeless men in our community. I made a phone call last week and found that "The Lord's Place" is a shelter which houses close to thirty men.

Over the course of the past few weeks, I have picked up items to include in the package. A dear lady from my church is crocheting thirty hats. Thanks, Mrs Mary!

I have a heart for these men. I can't imagine what kind of circumstances they have endured. I wonder about their lives as children. I wonder if they ever received true and genuine love from their parents. I wonder if they grew up in a stable home environment.

Something tells me that things probably weren't so good for them.

Something tells me that these men were never built up with kindness. Something tells me that they don't believe in themselves. Something tells me that they need love.

Has anyone ever read, "The Help" by Kathleen Stockett?

I loved that book. I loved Aibleen Clark. In the book, Aibileen babysits a very small girl by the name of Mae Mobbley. Mae's mom never really paid much attention to her. She was always busy.  She always seemed to fuss at Mae Mobbley. She tore her down with words while claiming to love her.

But Aibleen, every day, made it a point to build that baby up...Every day Aibillen would take Mae Mobbly..and look deep into her eyes and speak to her. She wanted her words to sink in.
She told her three things that she wanted Mae to always remember.

She said to the child, "You are smart. You are kind. You are important."  She knew that Mae would grow up in a cruel world of hatred and racism and all sorts of pains of various names..and she wanted the child to always remember that she was worth something.  She wanted the child to know the depth of her love.

So, in my letter to these homeless men, I reminded them. "you are smart. You are kind. You are important."
Jesus loves you.
I told them that if I was financially able, I would buy them all steaks and gourmet chocolates..I would fly them to amazing places like New York and Paris... I would dress them in the finest clothes and give them warm places to sleep..down pillows and fine Eygptian cotton.....

I reminded them that God wants the very best for them. And that those who are first in this life, shall be last..and those who are last..shall be first. I reminded them that God loves them more than I could ever express in words...

I bought them a toothbrush, deodorant, mouth freshener, and crackers. This week I am picking them up fine chocolates. They will have nice warm  handmade hats...  and bubbles to remind them that the innocence of childhood is really never very far away. I am going to pick up more things soon.. Is there anything that you would like to donate? Food items? Hygene a a free haircut?


On another note...

Yesterday, a friend of mine posted on facebook that a motorcycle fatality happened in our area. My heart sank. I know several people that drive motorcycles.  I later found out that I don't personally know the victim of the crash...

but I began to wonder about his life...especially about his day.

I wondered if anyone had shown him kindness on the day he died..
The Bible says that God's kindness leads to repentance...and I wondered if anyone took the time to love him on the day he died..

I wondered if he encountered rude, angry people on the day he died.
I wondered, of course, about whether or not he will be in Heaven..
I wondered if he was kind himself..

If nothing else, remember always to be kind. It may be someone's day to die. And your kindness can make all the difference in the world to them.  Your kindness could lead them to salvation..

Please remember this family in your prayers..

Monday, May 7, 2012

when the lights go out

I love it when the lights go out.  Does that sound strange?
I remember when I was a child. Storms would pass through. We would huddle together at my grandmother's house. The lights went out..and somehow, when the noise ceased..the house came alive. I found it exciting to be immersed in candlelight.  I loved the shadows they made on people's faces and the way the wall became a screen for a puppet show. The wall that had been there all along, now served a new a different purpose. - to make smiles through the motioning and moving of hands.

I loved how we all congreated during bad weather. I loved the sound of the rain and how we would try to calculate how far away the thunder was...   I loved how we made sandwiches. We used Miracle Whip back then. I loved how we would have to keep the door of the refridgerator closed so the cold didn't run out..
I remember my aunt donna and uncle toby wrestling on the fighting..and then they would include me in their horseplay. I vaguely remember the sound of my own laughter.

I loved it when the lights went out..there was no time for busy...there was just us and the wind....and our prayers that a tornado wouldn't suck us into the sky.

Another time..the lights went out, I was probably in fourth grade. A friend of mine had stayed over for a sleepover. We made my closet a hideout. We grabbed flashlights and read books. Even after the lights had come back on..we still kept them off...there was mystery in the dark closet, in the stillness, in the pages of those books.

Even at school, when the lights would go out. We would huddle..hundreds of children in the darkness of the gym. The school came alive when the power went out. It meant we would not have to do our work. It was a small experience that we all shared and seemed to love.

I am learning to appreciate the quiet, still peaceful moments. Right now, I am fighting the urge to turn off the lights, light a candle, and just breathe.  No sound of white television voices churning in the background.
I wonder if families would get along better if, even for one night a week, or even a month, we simply cut off the electricity. Throw the breaker box in the off position and remember the things that truly matter. If we would invest more time in simple puppet shows and horseplay...and making sandwiches...and the really small important things.

having the lights off, brings people together. 

a quick afterthought...

One thing that stood out about Times Square is the lights. Even in the darkness, that patch of the world still shone like daylight. At one point, I had to ask the time, because I couldn't tell if it was dusk or if the lights were so bright that the sky couldn't tell where the night started and the lights ended.  It was that bright.
I wonder what would happen if the lights would go out in New York?  Maybe all the pushing and busynesss of Times Square would cease...and people would slow down and share in some small and beautiful moment.

Slow down, peeps..

Psalm 39:5 - Each man's life is but a breath

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Everyday miracles

"If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me" Jeremiah 29:13

a few months ago, my pastor told me that God was going to 'richly bless' my life. I wondered what that meant. I imagined all sorts of grandiose things happening before my very eyes. I wondered if I would come across a large sum of money. Since then, I have found grandiose things before my very eyes.
everyday is a living, breathing miracle.  In this life, nothing is ordinary. Even the smallest grain of sand, when magnified, reveals the most complex and beautiful formations ..God isn't in a fat bank account. He gives out things much deeper and richer than paper could ever buy.. He gives out heart treasures.

God is not hidden. He leaves His handprints everywhere.
He says, "If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me."
This week, I followed His fingerprints..and I found Him..
I saw His working in so many things...

I saw him in tiny, little houses built as a place of rest and safety for birds..

I saw him in smiles..and in dirty little hands..covered in sweet potatoes..
I saw Him in a baby's full, round belly

I found His fingerprints spread out across New York...where every park seemed to be spread out in a wonderland of color...

I found him at a quaint and cozy coffee shop in Greenich Village.  I saw Him in the man sitting next to us, all alone. God urged me to extend a hand of kindness. I did. I saw Him all over again..beaming with love for stangers in foreign places....I saw the look of wonder and surpise when strangers remember that there are still good people. I pray that he saw Jesus too that day..

I saw Him in the beautiful blue hues of the sky before the storm..and in the mighty rushing winds as it approched..and the cool, sweet drops of rain that fell on our noses...
I saw His fingerprints touching the corners of our mouths as we laughed and scurried to get out of the rain.

I saw Him when I  took my baby to the beach..and he marveled at the waves and put his tiny feet in the sand.  And then again, when the babe took a shovel and scooped the sand into a big orange bucket and said, "mommy, make a sand castle with me."

I saw His fingerprints when the seagulls came flying overhead..and my husband and I laughed together despite the many many problems and hurts..knowing that we could still laugh with our baby at the beach..
For months I have wanted to get a picture of this horse. I would always see him, but I never had an opportunity to capture his beauty on camera. The other day I was in the car and realized that I forgot something at the house. I made an unexpected turn and there he was...all clothed in perfect sunlight. I got out of the car and walked toward him. He walked right up to me and let me pet him. I took his picture. I see God in His Creation. Thank you Jesus for letting me pet this horse.

I see God when life springs out of the ground... in little feet trodding through the field the voice of my niece claiming that she has found, "blackberry heaven."

Where did you find God's handprints this week?

Saturday, May 5, 2012

“I'm a little pencil in the hand of a writing God, who is sending a love letter to the world.”
Mother Teresa
Like all pencils..we sometimes break.. but God can always put us back together and place us perfect words on a pure, white page.
Is there anything that is breaking you?
Fear? Worry? Rejection? 
Do not fear. In this life there will be tribulation..but take peace in the fact that He has overcome the world.
Tonight, I pray you find rest. The story of your life is beautiful and one day it will all make sense.
Let your pen be filled with His ink...and let Him write the pages of your book.
Send out a love letter to the world.

Love him your umbrella....

“Forget the former things;
    do not dwell on the past.
 See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland. - Isaiah 43:18-20