Hi. / Because Denise said.

I’m not so sure I have a license to write a blog. But then again, where do you get a license for something like this? I feel like at some point, at a certain age, we decide we’ve had enough solid life experience accumulate to where the contents of our heads or hearts or both are overflowing and the overflow needs to go somewhere. The last post was about how I was losing my best friend  and possibly my mind —
but thank God for my boyfriend.

Hahahhahhahhahhahahhhhahhahhhahhahh

(I mean, thank God for him. Sure. He’s great. But we’re not together anymore.)
I don’t even live in the same state.
I have moved half-way across the country. I left my job. Left the “great actor’s dream” being 28 and in NYC and going after fame. I left a church I was totally happy at. I left my friends who I adore and miss every day. I left my routine.

So, why?

Basically because God said “It’s time to go home,” and poured an ocean of favor on my move here. Also, my sister had twins. And my grandmother is probably going to go to heaven soon. And I want to be here for all of that. So, it was time to say goodbye and run towards the life God has for me here.

But then I get here and, uh-oh: same temptations, same triggers, same old desires.
And right now I’m in my jammies, sitting in my living room, contemplating what to do with another day in St. Louis, on the prowl for a job, asking God for some direction, and trying to do the single thing with grace. Again.

(Can I just be real and say that’s what I’m doing? Cool.)

I don’t have it figured out. I’m full of imperfections. And I don’t want this blog to be some kind of presumptuous soap box where I put a bow on my thoughts and feelings. I tried that, the whole nice bow thing. And you know what, God untied it, opened up the box, shook out the contents, and messed ’em all up. In a good way.

My prayer recently has revolved around one desire:

“God, create a pure heart in me.”

This echoes psalm 51:10 where David cries out to God where he says, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (NIV). In some translations it says a “clean heart”. In others, he asks  for a “right spirit” or a “loyal spirit”.

Language is my love language.
God uses words and phrases, in multiple languages, some of which I don’t know, to talk to me. He uses lyrics from songs that have nothing to do with Him to speak to me. He’s pretty creative. So, when he showed me this verse, I knew it was a word for me. It was exactly what I needed in this season.

To me, the psalmist’s words point to what is at the heart of our relationship with God: a hunger to be authentic, to be real with him. David asks for a loyal, right, steadfast spirit as well as a pure heart, a clean heart. // We cannot be real with God unless we show him our heart — as it is. Jesus says “come as you are”, right? Not cleaned up, or masquerading as something we aren’t.  So, when we allow God into our heart, and he begins to heal it, we can’t help but be made aware: we have an opportunity to become more like him. To know him. To choose him.

I want to commit to writing about pain, joy, being single, searching for the real thing in a world obsessed with counterfeits, going deeper with God, and everything in between.

I’m not a therapist or a pastor or a novelist. I don’t go to ministry school. I’m an actor who got radically saved who is hungry for more.

(Are you still interested? If yes, great. If not, but you like Christian blogs, I suggest you read blogs by Andi Andrews, Rhema Trayner, Jen Hatmeyer and Ashley Abercrombie. They are like me, but wiser, hotter, and married.)

 

This entry is called “hi” because I want to reintroduce myself.

 

Hi. I’m Rachel. I have zero of this together. Jesus is holding all of this ish together for me. All of my good qualities are the gems placed inside of me before I knew left from right. I just moved back to St. Louis. Theatre is my thing. I have no job — but that will change. And I am the oldest unmarried woman in the history of my family. So, there is that.

 

Here are some thoughts

When will I get married

Why am I not married

Why am I not married

Why why Jesus why

…. Why.

 

I miss sex. (Oops, am I allowed to say that? I did.)

Nope, I’m not a virgin. Yes, I have desires. Yes, I have been abstinent from sex for over three years. Yes, it is a struggle and I have made poor choices. Yes, I continue to commit my heart to God even when it all, and especially when it all, gets super sloppy and I don’t know what to do. And Yes, I totally believe in Jesus and that he makes all things new. And yes, it is a p-r-o-c-e-s-s. Process.

 

But here’s the thing:

How do I walk out purity? How do I live a life worthy of the calling of God amidst a whole city of temptation, an industry riddled with sin and desire, and in a generation where “now” is paramount, and when the word purity in general makes me think of creepy religious things I used to be a part of? Like, how do I do that?

I don’t have a road map, but God has been dropping some major wisdom on me. So, here is what I have learned over the last two weeks and I hope it helps you with whatever is going on in your week, in today, whatever you’re walking in.

  1. Talk to him. God is an amazing listener and he knows just what to say. And he cares. So much. About every detail. Period.
  2. Repent and forgive. Shame and perfectionism are rooted in a religious spirit and directly oppose mercy, the beautiful antidote to pain. Forgiving yourself for needing to perform for God instead of receiving his love is a great start. And then ask where to go from there.
  3. Get a community. This is essential. Friends are everything. We need people who hold us accountable. We need people who laugh with us! We need people who refresh our spirit! We need people.
  4. Be seen. Actually show up to that thing you planned to go to, that coffee date you set, that buddy’s gig you said you would be at. Get out. The enemy hates it when you connect to other people and invest in your life. That’s why he wants you to resist it. So, tell him where he can stick it and get on with life.
  5. Persevere. You can do anything for one day.
    sidenote: I  used to be in AA and I still love the phrase “one day at a time”. It’s so true. And, in fact, that’s totally a biblical principal. When Jesus speaks to his disciples about their day to day tasks, he basically says there is grace per day, so don’t worry, because each day has enough troubles as it is – so, one day at a time.

I promise to be more topic oriented at some point and I will have verses and they will fit nicely into a theme and a story. but today is just about putting this out there, about stepping out and writing, even when I feel like “but it has been so long… who really cares?… will anyone read it?”

If we live for the validation of likes or comments or whatever — is that really life and life abundantly?

Here’s my heart and prayer for today: that we could all boldly step a little further towards where God is calling us. That we could greet his expectations and each other with a “Hello, I’m present” and know that the conversation will continue on. One step, one word, one night’s sleep, one dream, one moment at a time.

Rach

P.s. thank you Denise for constantly telling me I should write more. This is for you.

A014-St-Louis-Cathedral

 

 

abundance.

I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”  John 10:10

Today, I received a long awaited item: a Giving Key necklace.

The Giving Keys is an amazing organization which employs homeless people by giving them jobs as jewelry artists, re-purposing old keys into necklaces and bracelets. The beauty of these authentic, one of a kind pieces is that they are not meant to be treasured forever; but passed on. Once you are confident you have learned or expanded beyond your word — you give it away. Hence, the Giving Keys. A few weeks ago, I finally decided to purchase a key but I was hung up on the word.

Purity. Surrendered. Hope. One. Writer. Fearless. Whole. Seen. Pilgrim. Fortitude.

All of these words were great contenders. But I felt as though they all didn’t quite get at what God wanted to say. I began to feel there were not enough words or space on one key. I almost deleted the order.

Then, it came to me, clear as day: Abundance.

This word squashed my limiting it to one idea and opened up a whole universe of possibility. God wanted to share with me. It was also the root of what I realized God was trying to teach me: how to walk in abundance.

***

2016 was a great year. I grew in leaps and bounds. Took some big risks. Lost some dear people. Gained some close friends. But I found myself stumbling backwards, continually trying to kick habits I thought were dead & buried.

I started 2017 with a great job, looking forward to finally getting back on stage but with reservations about my heart and where I was investing my time. I was confused about relationships, trying to push myself into circles of friendship and intimacy I wasn’t ready for. I had tried so many churches, and to be honest, I was burnt out on God. I had started to let my outside circumstances determine my inner world.

I felt like I was trying to be inspired by yesterday’s sunset.

Listening to the same worship songs, trying to go deep in prayer the way I used to, but really never scraping the surface of what I knew was possible. I got sick, I felt spiritually and physically weak. In that time God asked me to walk away from a few relationships which was painful, but I knew that I had to be obedient.

Soon after, I was thrust into a crazy schedule between work and theatre. I swore off all men. I had to be 100% focused on working day to day. I felt God remove the pain and the loneliness so quickly, like He was right there walking with me. I was revived.

One day, my amazing friend Ashley and I were catching up. I was talking about men and she asked me if I still believed God had a husband for me. Without pause, I said no. She reassured me that he still had someone and to pray for him. I shrugged it off.

A few days later, I had my first night off in weeks. After I had exhausted literally every contact in my phone, the tears I had been keeping in started to flow. There I was, this young woman who should have felt on top of the world: free, single, working, artistically fulfilled; yet I just felt alone and unseen. I knew Jesus was there; but I wanted human connection. I tried to push down the desire in my heart of someday meeting a Christian man who would pursue me and one day become my husband; but it was still there.

In scraggly jeans and no make up, eating tacos alone at 9:30 on a Friday night: that’s where I met Dan. God knows why he thought I was interested in conversation, but thank God he talked to me because at some point after he said “Hi” I realized we were still talking an hour later. Then, the next day when my plans got cancelled, Dan took me out for dinner where we proceeded to talk for four hours about everything.

It is always in the moments and conditions when we least expect God to move that He creates a full on masterpiece.

Dan wasn’t my type. A young MBA student in wealth management who ran in completely different circles than me. He had the car, the job, the family, the education. And here I was, saving my pennies for a necklace. But Dan pursued me and my heart in a way I had never been pursued. My interest in him had nothing to do with physical wealth, but the wealth in his heart he had stored up by spending time with God. I realized I had been limiting myself by looking at others through my lense; not God’s.

It didn’t take long for us to get together, and once we did, everything just started clicking. All of these ideas about trial and error and pain and whatever I thought I would have to go through to find a good man – they were partially true, but not in the way I thought. And just when I thought I would never want to be with anyone for a long time; that’s when God dropped Dan right in my path.

And it’s going really well. God knocked it outta the park this time.

***

Getting back to Abundance…

I know I am doing more story telling here than cold cut writing on faith and quoting scripture, but sometimes we need to hear a story to get the scripture.

I needed to experience a love story on earth to understand God’s love for me in Heaven. Living in abundance is something I look at with new eyes, now. It’s not just about tithing or investing big. It’s about hoping for big. Hoping for more. Hoping for the best. And expecting it. Believing it is on its way. And even when we don’t believe, God sends people like Ashley Meyer and Corinne Munsch and Miranda Cazin and Laura Davis to remind us that he has good plans for us.

This key is hanging around my neck and I have already learned so much in the anticipation of its arrival. Funny thing is — this is actually a replacement key. The first one got lost in the mail. They had to re-make my necklace because the first one is lost somewhere between L.A. and Ohio. But in that time, I learned about abundance. I reminded myself why I wanted to wear it around my neck. I also lost my wallet last week and that was a whole other  annoyance  opportunity to learn about abundance and what I really need.

I’m learning how to receive. I’m learning how to say “yes” to gifts. I’m learning how to say “no” to what is not good for me. I am learning to protect what is growing and to give away the fruit of my labor, knowing there will be more.

Dan has taught me a lot already. But one of the things we talk about frequently is an “abundance mentality” — and this is a total game changer for me. As someone who grew up on a pretty basic, no frills budget, I have had to open up my mind to what it looks like to not be afraid of never having enough. And it’s really hard. It is hard when we look into the future and ask “how will I pay for that thing that might happen?” or “what if I don’t get that raise I need?” or “can I even afford to take a vacation, even though I really need one?”

Right now, it’s one step at a time. And I’m thankful for such a Good God who sees what we need and what we want, who loves to give us extravagant gifts and teach us how to do the same for others. Sometimes extravagance looks like a savior on a cross; sometimes it looks like taking out a friend who needs a pick me up. Sometimes it looks like a key on a chain.

Whatever it is; abundance is how we are called to live.
And we are called to live it with joy, letting it multiply and bring others to the party.

R

trust.

There is a place in my belly that has been stiff for weeks.
I’ve had times where it lasted for an hour,  or a day. But never weeks.
Sometimes, I run my hand over it. I pray about it and it leaves, but it keeps coming back.

Blogs do this thing where they tidy it up for you. I’m not going to do that:

I don’t trust people.
There. I don’t.

I find myself turning away from invitations.
I find myself dismissing old friends who reach out.
I find myself killing moments of connection because why would I want to do that.

Why would I want to connect with someone when literally almost every person from my life who is close to my heart has walked out on me this year.

I don’t trust them.
I have never been so distrusting in my entire life. Of everyone.

People used to tell me it was my “childlike joy and trust” or my “heart for forgiveness” which was where God was most evident in my life. So, what do I do with that when I’ve walked through forgiveness and I don’t feel different? Or when my joy and trust feels nothing like that of a child, but like the heart of an old woman who feels robbed and abandoned.

My grandmother died on Wednesday. My grandmother who I loved, who I adored. She was like a mother to me. We looked very similar. Our faces, nearly identical in some pictures. In her later years, we became close. I would visit and help her plant flowers and always make time for cake. When she got sick, I visited her, fed her, washed her face, stroked her hair. I am so grateful for the time I had with her. But there is a void in my heart. There is a void in my family. She was the centerpiece. She brought us together. She was a warm light in what could have been a cold place.

I can’t begin to explain the grief in my heart from this year. I keep trying to will myself to trust people again, but I just don’t.

I hate it.

My hands shake now.
They have never done this.
I find myself looking at people and assuming the worst.
I hate it.

Tonight, I was on my patio, talking to God and I felt guilty, like I was talking too much. Not waiting on him. And he said ‘I love listening to you.’ And I started to weep.

I keep looking at relationships which have been uprooted this year.
Boyfriend, best friends, close friends, work, my support system, my flesh and blood.
So many people have walked away, and I am regretful to admit: I have grown bitter.

 

I don’t have an answer.
I don’t have a little list of how to make it better.
I have one verse.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. 
Proverbs 3:5

I don’t want to do that.
I don’t want to trust God because that would suggest I have to learn to trust again, and the pain of losing those people has been so monumental, I don’t want to do it again. I know to not lean on my own understanding, but when I don’t want to be surrounded by anyone else — I have no mirrors.

People talked to me about getting burned by people in the church and I really didn’t get it until it happened.
People talked to me about not being able to trust and I really didn’t understand until it happened to me.

I don’t have 20/20 hindsight vision right now.
But I do know this won’t last forever.
And I know that no man, or woman, or any one, is an island.

It is so easy, especially in winter, to hibernate in our losses, re-live our pain, warm ourselves in the comforts of our fear. “If I just stay hidden, nothing can hurt me.”

Wrong.
We get hurt, even in the dark. Especially in the dark.

So, I have made one simple step.
I have decided to re-read one book, the book that brought me into the fold of friendship at Liberty church: Love Does by Bob Goff.

Every time I have been stuck, felt like I was at the bottom of a pit I couldn’t dig out of, I have found that some shape or form of love is the answer. So, I’m going back to what I know. I don’t want to soul search yet. I don’t want to do a devotional or fast. I don’t want to watch Bethel videos. I don’t want to even go to church. I don’t want to get a tattoo about faith. I don’t want to cut my hair. Or go to a conference. I just want to get to a place where my desire to love others overcomes my fear of being hurt.

And I want to be a trustworthy person.
I want to learn to be the person and stay the kind of person who is worth trusting.
Who means what they say and does what they say.

And I want the pain to be gone.

And this isn’t just a woman thing. Or a Christian thing. Or a whatever thing.

This is a people thing.
This is a people thing.

I have faith right now. It is small. But it is there. And it says all it takes is a mustard seed.
So, here is my seed. I’m digging out a little hole in the dirt and I’m placing it there.

It just looks like a stupid pile of dirt with a seed right now.
But I know the gardener. And he does pretty good work.

 

 

 

unity.

It has been some time since I’ve written, but the election results prompted me, today.

What I love about this election is I have been forced to take a hard look at my beliefs and what I stand for. Even though I was not completely on board with either candidate, I cast my vote and nervously awaited the result. Regardless of who I voted for, what has shocked me is the response, “I am leaving this country”.

America was just as divided on Monday as it was on Election Tuesday. From the moment pilgrims got off the Mayflower and stepped foot on this land, there was division in this country.

I don’t blame America for an outcome.
I don’t blame people for voting their conscience.
I ask questions, instead.
Questions like:
My Father, who I adore, and is so generous, and would walk in front of a moving car for a complete stranger any given day, voted for Trump. Is he “bad” now?
My friends are talking about leaving the country. Does that make them fickle traitors?
I’ve grown up in a country where I always thought we were fighting for equality has elected a president who on many accounts seems bigoted. What are we fighting for?

The questions continued when, earlier today, a friend asked, in light of a conversation about dating, if someone being “Christian” makes them a better partner. It really doesn’t. In fact, most of the people I have been scarred by over the years have been Christian. Someone being Christian or choosing to follow Christ doesn’t automatically make them a better person. It is in the pursuit of loving others and walking out relationship in real life which transforms their character and opens their heart, which makes them a better partner, friend, human.

Bad. American. Left. Republican. Muslim. Transgender. Good. Right. Christian. Atheist.
They’re words we use to describe people to categorize them, to make them accessible to us instead of knowing them, instead of being willing to ask questions and listen.

A conversation I have pretty frequently since I have moved back:
“Are you religious (now)?”
“No. I’m not. I’m spiritual. I have a relationship with Jesus.”
“What does that mean?”
“It means I love Jesus. And I do my best to follow his lead.”

Following a person is hard.
Following rules are easy.
I can follow a rule, compartmentalize myself, stay closed in my heart.
Follow a person though?
Especially when we don’t agree and especially when we see their flaws. 
We think, ‘How are they qualified? Look! Don’t you see how broken and corrupt they are?’

We want to be independent. We don’t like authority.

Let’s review for good measure:
We’re all broken.
We’re all corrupt.
We’re all selfish.
We all fall short.

We need to learn how to be led by others, even if the leadership is poor.
None of us, not one, can do it alone.

I think about how many times God must have looked at the world and felt like he wanted to leave. Like He wanted to run away from watching his children hurt each other, destroy all the beauty He made with His own hands. But the last time I checked, after the flood, and he made a promise, the world is still here.

Me: Can’t flip an omelet and messes it up. Literally, throws it in the trash.
God: Makes billions of people who he adores. They kill each other and cause destruction and pain; He shows us endless mercy. And makes things like Nutella and Soul Train and the Grand Canyon. And makes a promise to never leave.

Really. In Deuteronomy 31:6 it says, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Why doesn’t he leave?

God is invested in us.
He is invested in our future.
He has skin in the game.
And He never quits, at our best and at our worst.

What kind of love would we have for our country, if now, at a time when the division is so clear, we deserted our communities?
We need to be as invested in each other as he is.

In the times when we want to cut and run, when we want to hide or shrink, let’s be strong and courageous. I’m not just talking about this election. I’m talking about when it’s hard to keep going; financially, physically, spiritually. When we don’t want to be patient for a promise to come to fruition. When we feel outnumbered and overtired. When it seems like the cards are stacked against us.

In the body of the American people, we can be unified by Love.
We can be unified by acceptance.
We can be unified by peace.

I’m not going to hate on Donald Trump.
I’m going to pray for him. Just like I would be praying for Hilary right now.
Because whoever is our leader or what my feelings are about their leadership:
they need prayer.

Whoever you voted for, wherever you live, whichever way you live: choose to be unified with those around you. Choose to engage, to open up your home, to welcome a stranger, to give generously.

In 2020, someone else will run for president, and the American people will look back on today and be able to remember it one of two ways:
They day they began divide further;
Or the day they stood together and stepped into unity.

You get to vote with your words and actions every day.
Your choice.
Are you voting for unity?

sexy talk.

**disclaimer: the title is sexy talk. I’m talking about sex. young readers, use discretion**

But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.
Matthew 7:14

I’ve had a lot of talk about the “narrow path” with others recently, pertaining to sex and walking out Christian life. And it got me thinking, ‘how did I find the narrow path and how am I walking it now’.

I remember the first time I experienced anything sexual. I was six.

It was that scene in “Dirty Dancing” when Baby saunters over to Johnny’s apartment and he hits the record player and “Cry to Me” comes on and their electric, passionate dance moves from the floor to under the sheets. I remember thinking ‘this is what sex is.’ I remember, days later, my dad tucking me in and kissing me good night and when I kissed his cheek goodnight, I let my lips stay there longer than usual. He laughed and said “what was that?” and I felt ashamed, realizing even though I loved my father, the only man I knew how to love, these new feelings were not for him.

It really didn’t take long for me to begin feeling pulled into exploring sexuality as a kid.
I remember being so aware of my body before everyone else. I was sexually assaulted at 12. I started having cyber sex at 13. By the time I was 14, I had already done everything but sex. I dated my “first love” for 8 months and waited to give him my virginity until my 16th birthday. He broke up with me the day after. “Devastated” doesn’t even begin to describe.

By 22, I had lost count of  how many people I slept with. I had no respect for myself, for my body. It was the only way I knew love. I had wonderful parents. My parents told me they loved me, encouraged me to talk.  But even then, I felt like I couldn’t control myself. Like, I had no willpower to stop.

I don’t blame Dirty Dancing. I don’t blame men. I don’t blame women. I know who is to blame and that the nature of deception is: you don’t know you’re being deceived.

Now, I’m over three and a half years celibate.
And, I’d like to say I have it together. That I don’t struggle with sex. But I do.

Over the past six months, I have wrestled more with saving myself for marriage than any other time in my life. I kept blaming it on having one too many drinks, or the company, or “stress in transition”. But let’s be real — I was not dealing with the root issue.

Yesterday, I was sitting in my bathtub and crying, as you do, and I called out to God. I asked why so many people have walked out of my life. I asked why I feel so alone all the time. I asked when it would stop. I asked what is so wrong with me that this keeps happening. I asked was I so bad or ugly or wrong that people couldn’t stand me. And Jesus lovingly said “There’s nothing wrong with you. I love you. And I will never, ever leave.”

There’s nothing wrong with sex. Intimacy is beautiful. Naked is beautiful. It’s His plan.

It has taken me six months to see: whatever is trapped up in our hearts and in our spirit will eventually come out. It will come out through masturbation. It will come out through drinking too much. It will come out through overstepping our boundaries just to be touched. It will come out through engaging over and over with someone God has told us to refrain from for a season. It will come out. The question is: when is it enough for us to take it to Jesus before it causes major damage?

Right now, I’m fasting alcohol and one on one time with all men. It’s hard.
It’s hard because the world tells me the way to meet a guy is by going on dates and having drinks and doing the sexy single gal thing. And can I just say — that’s garbage.

If our romantic relationships, casual or serious, are not focused around growing with God and encouraging your partner to do the same — guess which team you’re playing for. Just gonna leave that there.

I took a circus class as a kid and I remember being on the tightrope, thinking “walking in a straight line, how hard can it be?” The answer is: hard. I remember carefully placing my feet, having to constantly check my balance, and the whole time, trying to keep my eyes up. This is what walking the narrow path with Jesus is: carefully walking, staying balanced with my eyes locked on Him. It’s hard to walk carefully when I throw caution to the wind, or stay balanced when I am not consistently taking in the Word. It’s hard to keep my eyes on Jesus when they’re closed and I’m fantasizing about a stranger.

I recently had  a conversation with a friend where she told me she doesn’t feel guilty after sexual sin. She knows she should, but she feels no remorse. I was relieved: I thought I was the only one. I’ve had multiple dates where I go home thinking ‘I want to feel bad, but I just don’t.” And then it dawned on me: it’s because I think I’m entitled.

I realized, I’m operating out of pride. And I’m in pride because I think I deserve to do what I want, because God owes me, because I’m lonely or because I’ve been listening to the wrong voice. When people tell me they’re a “free spirit” and they’re open to whatever, it makes me cringe because it’s like they have flung open the gates to every influence, every enemy, every lie; not realizing their so-called freedom is actually what keeps them in bondage.

Real freedom is knowing I am loved and that comes with responsibility.  The Path is narrow, but it’s never too late to get back on. The bible says if we knock, the door will be opened to us, and if we seek, we’ll find. And that means saying “no” to the majority of other options, other roads, other people.

There’s nothing which has been done to us which Jesus can’t heal.
There’s no pain which He can’t comfort.
There’s no disease He can’t cure.
There’s no shame He can’t wipe away.
There’s no failed relationship or heartache He can’t mend.

Even writing that was uncomfortable because I know I don’t whole-heartedly believe all of that. But I know it’s true. Otherwise, Jesus is a liar. And I know He’s not a liar. He’s not. He’s the way, the truth and the life.

***

You know, at the end of “Dirty Dancing”, there are a lot of unanswered questions. What happens to Johnny and Baby? Why is Kelly Bishop so annoying as a mother? What ever happened to the watermelon Baby was carrying? Where can I get the same peach leotard as Baby in that stairs scene?

In all seriousness, though, here’s my unanswered question: Does Baby know her value? She’s intelligent, beautiful, brave, teachable, loving. She’s an Ivy League scholar. A world changer. A humanitarian. A loyal daughter. An advocate for equal rights.
The ending always bothered me because it seemed like all her value was in Johnny’s gaze.
I wish I could re-write it so he never shows up and she’s like, “I’m dancing anyway.”

When we walk side by side with Jesus on the narrow path, even when we are challenged, even when we are distraught or ashamed or wrestling; we are enough. For anyone who is really struggling with sexuality, can I just say, you are not alone. And if you feel alone, reach out and find a hand to partner with you. It may be a narrow path, but we’re still all on it, together.

 

 

 

 

 

black-and-white

Have a seat.

Yesterday, I found a gorgeous wood table hanging out on the sidewalk. As a seasoned New Yorker, with mid-western roots, I know taking anything on any sidewalk is a risk. I had bedbugs this summer when I lived in Brooklyn, so I’m definitely aware of how unpleasant the risks of moving that “great find”, aka: bedbug village, into my home. But now that it’s freezing outside,  and I live in Astoria (sorry, Brooklyn) I didn’t think twice before picking up the heavy, wooden thing and lugging it a block to my apartment.

I decided last week, on a whim, that in 2016, I want to host potlucks. A monthly Sunday night potluck for friends. Although my apartment is spacious for New York, it lacked a proper dinner table; until last night. The thing is, I haven’t hosted potlucks since college and I am actually kind of an anxious person when I’m hosting parties. Most of the time, I busy about, tidying up after other people. But I made a resolution to be less “busy” this year; and more intentional. Busy means that I am worrying about little things which actually become big wastes of time. Intentional means actually doing things I want to do — and sometimes don’t want to do — in order to partner with God to live the kind of life I want to live.

I don’t have any family here. I have a boyfriend, a job, a group of good friends who I love, and a great church. But no family. Until a few months ago, I had a best friend here, but sometimes life happens in a big way and friends need to step away. And I get that. I am all for that and I love that girl to the end of the world and back. But no best friend left me with this gaping hole in my heart. I started to wander around, finding ways to connect with others, more things to do. I started running more. I started dating – Praise Jesus – and things at my job really picked up. I became more and more involved at church. But eventually, I had to face my feelings. And those feelings were: alone, afraid, abandoned, clueless, frustrated.

When I looked at 2016 a mere few days ago, I really wasn’t ready for it to start. I moved here to be an actor and that’s not really happening. I work a job that pays the bills, for which I am very grateful, but I can’t help knowing it’s not why I’m here. Today I started a 21 day fast of social media (can you tell? I have a lot to say!) and I must have opened up my phone at least 10 times today only to realize there was no reason to get on line. I even deleted Instagram. Thank God I don’t use twitter.

What amazed me about moving that table into my apartment was that it actually impacted everything else. After I put the new table inside, I realized there actually wasn’t space for it — because there was a giant desk (which no one uses) in the perfect spot in our kitchen. I woke up this morning on a mission. I moved the desk in my room, so I moved my dresser, and then I moved all the pictures. And then I took the desk apart, put the upper half of it in the closet for storage, and then after moving things around again, I finally found that the apartment had taken such a lovely shape. What wasn’t there a day before, suddenly made everything look different. Now, I’m writing on my laptop — my first post ever — in my room! I never write in my room. But now, I actually like it. I have four things on my desk: a mason jar of coral carnations, my bible, a wooden book crate, and a framed Polaroid of me at 7-years-old giving a “thumbs up” sign wearing a super cool Esprit shirt. Hopefully it stays that way!

Back to the table —

So, I love Jesus. Tonight, I’m frustrated because I miss acting. I miss doing shows and the love of the craft. I look around me and see hundreds of ads every day, actors who get to do what they love, and I wonder, ‘why not me? when is it my turn?’  It’s actually okay to be angry at God — a lot of Christians don’t believe that. But really — He is the only one who can take, handle, shape and eventually comfort our anger. He is the only one who, when I feel 100% lost, I can turn to and ask Him to show me what I’m supposed to do and I know that He will come through.

I didn’t pray for a dinner table; but I did commit to doing potlucks. And then a dinner table showed up — for free. And it changed everything inside my apartment.

I have to trust God’s timing when it’s not my timing. That’s when faith is actually important. It would be very easy to believe in God and love God when everything is going my way. But the truth is that my way is guided by my own desires, my own passions. Of course, those desires were placed in my heart by God; but without His timing, unleashing one of those desires at the wrong time would be like giving me a table on the side of the road when I didn’t have an apartment yet to put it in.

I have no idea who is going to read this. And I have no idea what this blog is even about. But I want to be honest on here. So, while my boyfriend is telling me about exciting things that are happening with his band (yay!) and my friends are having other exciting things happen to them (yay!) — I am rearranging furniture and writing a blog on inviting people into my heart even when I feel awkward and like the only person in New York who isn’t doing exciting things — and that’s okay. Because exciting things will happen. And they are happening. And I get to be intentional about what I do before, during, and after those things come to pass.

Whoever you are, wherever you are: be blessed and know that when you take a step in faith, God gives you a seat at the table. And what He gives for free will change everything, and it might make us all really uncomfortable and not know how to arrange it all — but in the end, we are better for it. After all, he is the original designer.

“God looked over everything he had made. It was good, so very good!”
Genesis 1:31

Love,
Rach