Sunday, December 11, 2016

Sent Forth - A Kenya Trip Update


   photo from Andrew Itaga     
Water & Pen || A Kenya Trip Update, Sent Forth             11:13. I’m sitting in my grandma’s kitchen, in a little corner at a table with a beautiful Christmas tablecloth and my dorm room tree in the center of it. The snow is waltzing circles out the window, Josh Garrels is making merry on Spotify, and Grandma is chopping potatoes for lunch.
            This morning I read chapter 10 of Matthew, all about Jesus sending His disciples out into the world for short term missions to the lost sheep of Israel. I feel that this passage is sort of timely as tomorrow at one in the afternoon I will be leaving for the airport to travel across the world on a two week short term mission.
            Chapter 10 is full of Jesus’ wise words to His disciples and there’s a lot that we can learn from them. I want to focus on a few key verses and dissect what I thought this morning as I read them:

Friday, December 9, 2016

The Harvest - A Kenya Trip Update




Water & Pen || The Harvest            It’s almost five in the afternoon on a Friday. I’m sitting at a table in the study room down the hall of my resident floor. In three days I am leaving the country for the first time (besides a little jaunt to Mexico when I was a wee lass, but that doesn’t really count) for a serving trip to Kenya.
            Today I was reading through Matthew 8 and the following verses hit me hard:

Kenya Support Newsletter - Winter 2016


       

Jambo!

It’s been a long while since I’ve sent out an update letter! For those of you who have been waiting for the promised letter, I apologize! I’m excited to announce that in four days (Monday, December 12) I will be leaving for Kenya. I don’t think it’s fully sunk in that I’m leaving for Africa—or even leaving the country. This will be my first time traveling internationally and I feel a bit unprepared for this leg of the adventure.
A few weeks ago I struggled through some deep fear regarding going to Kenya. It got to the point where I no longer wanted to go on the trip because of how afraid I was. However, I have conquered the majority of the fears with the help of Christ! At this point, I have no choice but to rely on Him because there’s nothing else I can do. He has brought me here. He has made me. He has chosen me to be His. I am not called to fear. I am called to stand strong and brave and that is what I shall do.
Of course it is normal to have nerves as one leaves the country—especially for the first time—but I am trying to be more excited for the trip than nervous. I am going with an incredible group of gifted people, I get to see animals in the wild that I have only ever seen in zoos, and I will be loving on the people of Kenya. What could be better?
          In the past weeks I’ve gotten both the typhoid and yellow fever vaccinations (which apparently aren’t required but are fantastic to have) as well as a prescription for malaria pills. I’ve received a single-entry visa for Kenya. My team and I have continued meeting on Monday evenings to discuss trip details and bond.

In the next weeks I ask that you keep me and my team in your prayers for a variety of things:
1.   Traveling mercies and health (we will be gone from Dec 12 to Dec 27)
2.   Transformation for ourselves and those we’ll be loving on
3.   Complete funding for our trip
4.   Softened hearts and open minds
5.   Courage to stand steadfast and strong and not give way to fear

This is a first step into the future for me as I feel particularly called to minister in eastern Africa throughout my life. I’m so excited to travel to Kenya and see how God uses and changes us.
I pray that during this season you can rest in the assurance of Christ and remember all that He has done and continues to do for you.


Krismasi Njema! (Merry Christmas!)

Thursday, December 8, 2016

The Lonely Path



Water & Pen || The Lonely Path            There are times in life where the path divides. One goes to the left and is wide. Friends can walk together side by side, laughing and holding hands, telling jokes and dancing. They are together. The other, to the right, is obscured with overhanging bushes and thorns and the path is barely wide enough for one person to place foot in front of the other, much less allow two people to skip along side by side. It is a lonely path.
            The left beckons to us, promising false security in riches and popularity and darkness. The right doesn’t look pleasant at all, but we know that it’s the right one to choose…because we know what lies at the end of each of the paths.
            So we gather our hiking stick and step off to the right, leaving behind a multitude waiting in line for the left path. They call out to us, warning us, laughing at us, pointing at us. They don’t understand why we’d choose such a narrow, seemingly lonely path.
            We step onto the path and as we continue, their laughs fade. But as we trek further away we begin to understand why they didn’t understand—in fact, we begin to doubt our choice.
            Prayer meetings on Tuesday mornings consist of ourselves and God. Nobody else shows up. We always encourage but are never encouraged. We comfort but are not comforted. We listen but are not listened to. We show hospitality but are never cared for. We invite but are never invited. We remember others but are forgotten.
            And thus it is sometimes easier to languish on the forest floor, with our feet hanging off the edge of the path and our backs pressed against the hard-packed earthen wall.
            Though we have the Creator of the universe on our side, there is still a very human pang buried somewhere in our hearts that comes out once in a while when we fall and nobody is around to lift us up.
            We carry this burden around within us, sealing it up beneath a façade of happiness and peace and hope—which we might very well have, as we should, being Whose we are—but we hide this hurting part of us lest somebody see and only cause the pain to spread. We find it easier to not let on than to express, but every day our heart is breaking from the heaviness upon it due to lack of iron to sharpen against (Proverbs 27:17).
            Sometimes we need somebody to tell us who we are—not to read it or see it or hear it in a sermon, but for somebody to tell us individually how unique, dearly loved, chosen, accepted, and seen we are. It’s one thing to tell others this Truth, but it’s another (just as necessary) to be told.
            This time of hurt is not in vain, dear one. There are lonely path days when we walk hand in hand with God. There are not so lonely path days when we walk hand in hand with God. A beautiful part about being a disciple of Jesus Christ is that we are never alone. We have a Friend, a Father, a Helper, a Redeemer, a Savior.
            But there are still those lonely path days when the going is dark. Do not lose heart, chosen child of God. He has a plan far greater than we shall ever be able to understand (at least on this Earth). These walks of loneliness are sharpening us in lieu of having other iron to sharpen against. They are preparing us to see the lonely. They are preparing us to love fiercely with God’s Love. They are preparing us to be steadfast and loyal and to never give up. They are preparing us to be better, purer, set-apart vessels to carry the Gospel to the deepest, darkest, dankest places of this world because we have a flame that has not let up its flickering, but has grown into a blaze as we’ve tended it along the path, hand in hand with God.
            Being a disciple is difficult, but it is rewarding.
            And then…there are voices ahead on the path. We’ve come across fellow disciples running the race! We link hands and help each other along the path, lifting each other, praying, encouraging, comforting, listening, speaking life and truth and joy into each other’s lives as we trek. We have found fellowship. We have found iron.
            So press on. The times spent seeking God on a lonely path do not go unnoticed by your Creator. He is preparing you. He is strengthening you in your weakness. Continue being faithful. Continue encouraging and listening and comforting and loving. Continue reaching out.
            You are loved. You are seen. You are chosen. You are made for a purpose that goes beyond your wildest imagination. You are created for a mission. You are accepted. You are rejoiced over. You are the apple of His eye. You are a son. You are a daughter. You are a child of God. You are made righteous. You are beautiful. You are fearfully and wonderfully made.

            You are so very beloved by Yahweh.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Thumbnail Thursday : Behind the Character : Zora "Lucky" Groves


It's taken me a while, but I've finally figured out what exactly it is I wish to write about for my first Thumbnail Thursday post. Many of you probably don't know, but I'm starting a blog schedule. (somebody please become my accountability partner in this because Lord knows I am human and I am also a hardcore procrastinator). Thursdays, if you couldn't put together, are now Thumbnail Thursdays. That means I'll share something about my writing or latest projects or characters or world. 

And today is character day. Zora "Lucky" Groves

Oh, Zora. This girl is the secondary main character in my WIP Intention Man, but she doesn't come into the story until almost halfway through the novel. Naturally, I had her personality planned out and I knew exactly who Zora was (as much as I could at the time). Frankly, I had expectations for Zora that she didn't exactly approve of. And from the very first moment she appeared, to the first line of dialogue she spoke, I knew she was an entirely different person than I had created. But...this...she was better than anything I'd dreamed up. She still has her backstory and basics covered, but she morphed into this character that surprises me at every turn. Lev, the MC can't understand her and I'm in the same boat. One never knows what to expect with Zora.

Let's dive deeper, shall we?

Full name: Zora "Lucky" Groves. The nickname "Lucky" is often what she likes to go by. It's actually the nickname her protector Tobin gave her birthmark a few years back. As she grew up in a society that looked down upon "blemishes" and natural looks, she had to hide her birthmark for years of her life. Once people found out, things went sour. So once Tobin found her, her built her confidence back up. 

MBTI: ESFP -- this is so fun because Lev is an INFJ. They're nearly opposite and it's the most beautiful thing I can imagine. They drive each other nuts. 

Favorites: Strawberry Milk (she has a little carton--or three--with her at all times. The slurping through the straw gets on Lev's nerves like nothing else); dancing; skipping; meeting people where they are and helping them; hugs (she hugs more than anybody I've ever known); encouraging others; spontaneity; adventures.

"Lights illuminated the space--a small circular room. By the light source stood Zora. She was watching him and her face had a grand smile plastered on it. 'Forgive me for going about it this way, but you walked right past my front door and I couldn't help myself. My spontaneous nature got the best of me, you see.' She wrinkled her nose and rolled her shoulders. 'I don't enjoy thinking things through very much, I hope you can pardon me for that.'"

Dislikes: criticism, plans, being predictable, people who don't join in her fun, thinking about her past, sadness, loneliness, not knowing things.

Something surprising: She's a compulsive liar and a kleptomaniac. Whoops.  
What she does for a living: Finds people. She's sort of like a bounty hunter--er, private detective.
What I love about her: She's quick to admit some of her own faults and ask for forgiveness. But if somebody else points out something wrong with her, that's it. She's done. But at least she realizes she has some problems. 
What I don't like about her: She helps people and tries her best to help them and meet them where they're at, sure, but she is sort of rude sometimes. It's all to help people grow, but if somebody makes a mistake or needs help with something, she often will ignore them and leave them to solve the problem on their own. It helps Lev grow, but it drives me nuts!

Does Zora have everybody's best interests in mind? Is she using everybody for self gain? What will become of Zora and Lev's spiderweb fragile friendship? 
If you want to know more about Zora, you can begin reading Intention Man on my Wattpad (waterandpen) and read about up to chapter 12 (Undead) to get to her shining spotlight. 

disclaimer: all photos in today's post were found on Pinterest and are not my own.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

10 Wordsmiths of Music



Oh my goose do I love music. Oh my goose do I love words. When these two loves of mine are carefully, skillfully entwined to create songs...I fall in love again and again. 
As a writer, I appreciate lyrics that make me think, that make me feel, that make me hope and dance and cry and laugh. 
Words have power, and when they're combined with music...it makes them all the more powerful.

Also, I'm giving you ten new artists to listen to and utilize for story/character playlists, so... 

Here are some of the wordsmiths of music that I listen to regularly:

1. Beautiful Eulogy
Wow, so when I was introduced to this group, I fell in love. Their music is so full of unique sounds and words that inspire such imagery and help me think about and understand God in ways I never have. Their music refreshes me, encourages me, and makes my limbs spazz in this thing that should be called "dancing".
Favorite: Lofty

2. Matthew Mole
This guy knows how to write. Shoot. His words are beautiful and refreshing. They carry a special lightweight depth that I go back to again and again--especially when writing. 
Favorite: Infinite Land

3. Sarah Sparks
Okay so this girl has a beautiful, pure voice that's so unique. And her album Into the Lantern Waste is based off of Narnia. She has songs for different characters and wow. Wow. It's a work of art that speaks into my life. 
Favorite: The Traveler

4. Jon Foreman
AKA lead singer guy of Switchfoot. But he has his own music. And it is so touching. The themes in his personal music tend to have starker messages about God and Christ and I relate to so much. 
Favorite: Run Free

5. The Arcadian Wild
It's been a while since I've listened to them, but they have a special, sweet sound that I adore. Their music is simultaneously deep and fun. Sort of more of a folky style. 
Favorite: If You're the Coffee

6. Brooke Fraser
First off, she's from New Zealand. My dream is to go to that island and hike it in a cloak and elf ears. Second, her music is so different. It's distinctly Brooke. She explores different topics in an intriguing way that I can't help but listen to more. 
Favorite: I really like The Dead Don't Dance. 

7. NF
Oh feathers. Dude. This guy. He doesn't hide his brokenness. But he doesn't deny that he is in need of a Savior. And somehow I relate to a lot of his music. It hits me hard.
Favorites: Mansion and Paralyzed

8. Josh Garrels
Pretty sure his music has made me cry. 
Favorite: Anchor (which is also done with Beautiful Eulogy, so...)

9. Strahan
Basically he sings about God and the Bible and stuff in such a beautiful way. 
Favorite: Help Me Believe

10 . Jonathan Thulin
I love his album Science Fiction. It's so different and keeps me hooked. I especially like it for story playlist inspiration.
Favorite: Mockingbird


I hope you enjoyed my first installment of Tuesday posts. (a lot of people do Top Ten Tuesday...I need to think of a new name ;)
Who are some of your favorite wordsmiths of music?

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Distraction



It flits before your eyes, calls from the various rooms of your house, shapeshifts to cover itself with the frosting of that fresh baked cake on the counter.

Distraction.

The very word is a dangerous one that I almost hesitate to speak for fear that it will find me when I least expect it.

It comes in the form of a message that pops up on the black screen of your phone. It comes in the form of a bird fluttering outside the window to your right. It comes in the form of friends desiring your company for the day.

None of these are bad things. In fact all of them can be most excellent. A message from a friend or loved one could go so many places. A bird--you can wonder at the creation of the Creator. Friends...well, people are at the forefront of where our attention should be.

But are they distracting you from the purpose God has put into your very heart and mind to complete for His Kingdom?

Not all distractions are bad. But if they are keeping you from fulfilling what God has called you to do in this moment (as I stare at the bird hopping around our feeder outside the window), then you need to buckle down and get your horse blinders on.

Focus.
F O C U S.

We need to be faithful.
Does this mean we don't take the time to answer messages or marvel at creation or perhaps we just seclude ourselves away in our rooms for the rest of our days and never speak to another human being again?

No. This just means we manage our time, we ask God what He would have us do, and we don't take too much time away from what He has called us to do.

Please, answer the messages. But don't spend hours messaging and zero pursuing what God has called you to do. Please, watch the birds fly outside your window. But don't watch them so intently that the day has passed and you've done nothing of what God has called you to do. Please, spend time with your friends. But don't spend all day everyday with them unless that's what God has called you to do (but I have a feeling there's more to it than that).

If we are not being faithful with what God has placed in front of us, how can we expect to get to Heaven and hope to hear "Well done, my good and faithful servant"? We are only good and faithful servants if we grab the oil for our lamps and wait for the bridegroom, being faithful with what we're supposed to do. (Matthew 25:1-13).

We must pursue Him all our days.

"Do what you can, with what you have, where you are."
Theodore Roosevelt

Song: Bull In A China Shop by Switchfoot
Passage: Matthew 25:1-13

Friday, July 15, 2016

So Fridays

So Fridays. (A little side note, I guess I really like beginning things with "So", so that might become a thing from now on). Fridays are supposed to be reserved for whatever in the flowery world I wish. Today I wish to talk about everything I've been doing. Buckle in for the ride, my friends. It's going to be a bumpy one.


WATTPAD
username: waterandpen          (shocker, right?)

I've been uploading my novels to Wattpad! Wow! Woo! *crazy cheering from somewhere in my head* There's two on my account. Sound Effect and Intention Man (title work in progress).
Sound Effect is a novel I wrote a few years ago. It's undergoing its second round of editing and I'm putting chapters up as they receive the sparkly seal of approval.
Intention Man is my work in progress (just like the title) and it's going up as I finish actually writing the chapters. This means no editing whatsoever.
Generally I like to write my books so each chapter is equates to approximately ten pages or less. Because, although I adore reading, long chapters can become tiresome. I like to make it so there's no twenty page chapters to get utterly lost in.


SOUNDCLOUD
username: Water & Pen          (another SHOCKER!)

Something that I've felt heavy on my heart for a while is a need to be more vulnerable with people. It's easy for me to cover up and hide everything with a fake smile and a "Fine" when asked how I am when it's not exactly the truth. And, for those of you who don't know, I write poetry. Lately I've been recording this poetry in a spoken word style and uploading them to Soundcloud. I want to be authentic and honest with people. I'm not better than anybody else, but I'm struggling in life just like the rest of you. This is sort of therapeutic for me. And if you want some honesty, go head over to soundcloud and give a listen. My longest recording hits just over three minutes and my shortest at thirty-one seconds.


MISC

life. My summer is coming to an end. In less than a month I'll be back at my university for student leader training. A lot of people dread the beginning of a school year. I welcome it with open arms. I'm excited to get back into the swing of things, love on the people God places around me, and see what God has in store.
What I'm doing: Writing letters to the people who've supported me for my upcoming December serving trip to Kenya. I'm beyond words excited but the reality of it hasn't quite sunk in yet. But AH!

What I'm listening to: SWITCHFOOT. AHHHH. Their new album came out only last Friday and wow it is beautiful. It's cool because a lot of the themes that were recurring in my writing before this album released are crafted into the songs like a personal message to me (I know it's touching others as well) but it's amazing.

What I'm watching: Poldark. Go watch it. Ah.

What I'm reading: Polaroids and Postcards by H.M. Wilson, Where the Ghosts Lie by Wendy Greene, and Gospel Wakefulness by Jared C. Wilson


What are you truly beautiful people up to in your busy lives? Are you working on any novels? What are you listening to/watching/reading?

With much love,
Rachel

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Set Your Words Free

So I have a blog. Sure. So I have post ideas. Sure.
But something keeps me from writing for this blog of mine.
Fear.
Oh, that age old pester at the back of my mind and in the recesses of my heart. It keeps me from setting my words free. It keeps my words locked up within, struggling to fly but forever holed up in a cage to watch as other birds enjoy freedom.
This fear often stems from comparison of self to others. There are so many bloggers who are successful, bring in traffic, have dozens of comments, hundreds of followers, and a seemingly never ending supply of blog posts.
I look at these bloggers and authors and my heart and mind simultaneously begin pounding.
I look at them and think that I’ll never be good enough. So I keep myself from putting out there because I think people won’t relate to or enjoy what I have to say.
But in doing this—in keeping myself reclused and bottling up my words, I’m making a great mistake. See, everybody has a starting point. Platforms and the like take time to build up. It takes being disciplined and working hard to continue. It takes being proactive. It takes authenticity and being oneself.
And I know that God has called me to set these words free. So no longer can I remain in the shadows, but I must dance in the light. I must speak and write and be active. I must pursue the calling that the Master Creator has placed upon my life.
And to do so I must be brave. I must stop comparing myself to others but begin reveling in the Truth of who God says I am. I am chosen. I am loved. I am accepted. I am free. I am unique. I am called. I am a new creation. I am forgiven. I am redeemed. I am so many things.
Now to believe.
Now to live.
Now to write.
Not only do I pursue these things for myself, but I pray you will realize the truth of them for yourself as well.

Now, let’s go set our words free together.

Monday, June 13, 2016

True Love || The Pursuit ||


Jolly good Monday, everybody! I find Mondays are easier to bear when we go forth with a mindset of adventure and purpose. What beautiful things can be accomplished and created this day? What people can be encouraged and met where they are?

True Love || The Pursuit || Water & PenAnyway, I know I've been a horrible promise-keeper in saying I would be diligent in blogging regularly and I feel this quite deeply. The weeks have been slipping through the cracks in my fingers.

But wait no more, for here is another installment of the True Love series!
Part one can be found here:
True Love || The One ||



Love stories throughout the centuries often depict a young woman as a person to be won over by the handsome young man. He pursues her and in the process woos her into his love.

As young women, we expect this to be part of our love story one day. We look and wait for that young man who will see something beautiful in us and wish to pursue us further and get to know us and, in the process woo us. This is okay and this is good.

Young men, however, are expected to be the only one doing the pursuing. While, yes, they should pursue and honor and woo the young lady, they can't be expected to be the only one doing everything.

In order for love to grow, it must be a two way pursuit.

Monday, May 23, 2016

True Love || The One ||

Hello, beautiful people! Today, being the first Monday after the post about New Things Ahead for Water & Pen, is a piece I wrote back in March and feel the need to share now. 
As a society we are quite obsessed with the idea of finding true love. This will be the first installment of a series about true love. 

“The one for you is out there!” Woman after woman, family members, pastors, friends, mentors…they all repeat this phrase as if it’s not cliché. And maybe it isn’t, but it’s overused. Because the way this is said is out of context.
            They mean to tell me that there is one special guy out there designed just for me who will complete me and be everything I dreamed he would be and we would love each other.
            And perhaps there is a special guy out there that God has designed and decided we should be together.
            But that doesn’t make him “the one”.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

New Things Ahead for Water & Pen



Intentional. Being a writer takes being intentional. This is something I'm not very good at all the time. It's easier not to write and to fill my time with less meaningful things although I know I'm called to write.
New Things Ahead for Water & Pen
But now that I have more time than ever, I am choosing to be intentional with my writing! (yay!) This means there are some new things ahead for Water & Pen. I plan to have a schedule for posting each week and will follow this schedule as faithfully as I can instead of staring at a blank, white screen watching the cursor bounce in waiting for keys to be tapped.

This is what my mind has come up with:

Mondays: Reflection -- these posts won't be so writing related but more of my thoughts and what has been on my heart lately. To read some examples, go here: On How Life Relates to a Cage

Wednesdays: Writing -- these posts will be related to writing! Whether tips or tricks or ideas or whatnot. To find some examples of what that might look like, go here: How College Makes You a Better Writer

Thursdays: Living -- these posts will be more about life and adventures. I'm not exactly sure what this will look like yet, but it will be fun!

Fridays: Fun -- Anything from music to character interviews to reviews to videos. Fridays are reserved for having fun!

I'm looking forward to becoming more involved with my blog, your blog, me, and you! If you have any ideas for me, wish to guest post, or want to say hello, drop a comment below!

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

On the Shore




On the Shore || Water & Pen            I don’t think people understand the power of words—the impact that words can have on a life. There are so many people in this generation that strive for complete authenticity and yearn to go “deeper” with everybody they meet. There are pictures that say things like: “Instead of asking this, ask this instead.” And on one of these lists, instead of asking somebody about their family, it says to ask about what one usually gets from the ice cream truck.
            What people don’t understand is the importance of these “don’t ask this” questions. We despise small talk because we want to go deeper but we forget that the shore leads to the ocean. We forget that the mundane, every day, shallow questions are also so necessary to life.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

On How Life Relates to a Cage



Water & Pen || On How Life Relates to a Cage                From the moment we are conceived, we are encased. The womb is like a nest—it keeps us safe as we grow and become. But there is nowhere that we can go but within the womb. We are trapped. Yet it is a good sort of trapped. Like when you haven’t seen a best friend who’s really touchy for a long time and when you do, they won’t let go. You are held within a warm embrace that is perhaps a bit uncomfortable, but you know you can relax and still be protected. And although this is wonderful, there is still an itch trembling along your body to be free and move and let the wind ripple through your hair once again.
                It is like this in the womb. A baby is fed, protected, and can grow and be nurtured for nine months. It’s as if they’re suspended in space, connected by a single lifeline, and just waiting for the day they will land. The cares of the world pass them by. But this isn’t enough. They must feel freedom soon. So they begin kicking—yearning for a way to breathe air and feel the grass and see their mother’s face.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Sunshine Blogger Award



   

            In which I began saying ‘in which’ to follow Hannah Heath’s example. I woke up one morning, looked at twitter and had my heart warmed by a blog post that told me I was nominated for the Sunshine Blogger Award. As it was the day I was heading back to college, I decided I would have to get to it at a later date. Uh...and now I'm writing it the second day of being back. Does this make sense? Maybe not, but homework hasn't really happened yet as Wednesdays are my easy days. But I couldn't wait to get to this!

             I also noticed that Hannah uses Dragon Dictation for blog posts, so I decided I would have to give it a try as well. And, honestly, I feel straight out of Star Trek or some other science fiction movie. If y’all have never heard of Dragon Dictation you should go try it out because it’s really fun. I’m actually using it right now and I’m still trying to get used to all the features, so it’s interesting and kind of difficult but it’s really cool.

Sunshine Blogger Award || Water & Pen            Anyway, this post is to address the Sunshine Blogger Award, in which I act all sunshiney. Just kidding, I think I’m actually supposed to give seven random facts about myself. I’m really horrible at coming up with random facts about myself, but we’ll give this a try.

            Thank you so much, Hannah, for nominating me for this award! I am feeling the sunshine. :D