Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Truly Home for the Holidays

Since my last post was such a downer, I thought I would let y'all see what the Father has been up to in other areas of my life the past few months. This is very brief compared to the details of what has actually gone on, but its enough to hopefully be a lot more positive than I have been as of late! :)
In June of this year, I showed up at the doors to my church weary, humiliated, angry, lonely, and hungry. The seven months leading up to that moment, I had spent in a church that I had been cautioned to examine carefully. I started going there, stayed there, and left there for all the wrong reasons. It was a classic case of “two wrongs don’t make it right” but clearly, I kept trying. Before going there I spend the previous five years feeling so lost, drifting from Church to Church looking for home. My soul craved to find the church body I could call Family and mean it. That was something I hadn’t experienced since mid high school, and now here I was, into my 20’s and feeling more lost and broken than I ever remember feeling.

When I showed up, I confess, I didn’t want to be there. I was broken in many ways, not just emotionally, and the Lord had to heal me for a lot of weeks. As He did, He gave me the courage and joy I needed to be “all there” as Jim Elliot said. I began to invest in the Church I was attending and I began to experience for the first time in many years, real fellowship, real teaching, and real community.

The holidays (October to January, basically) are my favorite time of year, and I love the Christmas Eve service and the parties and all the things surrounding this time of year, but I spent the last few years wandering around during that time. But this year? This year I’m home. And I can’t wait for all this season has in store.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

God, did You forget?

Father, my heart is aching this morning. I want to fill it and have it filled with all sorts of things that are outside of my control. I want to whine and complain; quite simply I want what I want and I want it now.
But more than those things I want to be faithful to the God who loved me first. I want to take these ugly thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ.
As my King, you are requiring that of me. I know you are. But as my Father also, I think you want to hear my heart and right now Lord, my hear is just aching. I feel void of joy, with little hope. I feel in their place are rising jealousy and anger.
I sat down to shoot a funny vlog and bring smiles to people's faces, and I found I could not even muster the energy to pretend to be funny or happy right now. Sitting here in the quiet for now, all I really want to do is cry. I want to cry and cry out to you, because Lord, I feel you have forgotten me. I have been actively working on purging sins from my life, so my heart can be openly communicating with You. I have been trying to remove those blocks and hindrances so I can hear from You, and speak to You. But Lord, I can't feel you. I can't sense you. I can't see You, and I feel like You have forgotten me. It feels as though my desires, hopes and dreams have fallen by the wayside. It feels as though what I want and long for do not matter. It feels like my heart is breaking and You can stop it, but You aren't. And I'm trying, but I don't understand why.
I am seeking to serve You and live my life to honor You, I am trying to have joy and peace and patience, but I am having a really hard time. I am trying to glorify You in the life I am living, but God, what are you trying to teach me in the waiting? What am I supposed to be doing during this time? I feel like I'm just existing. I am seeking to be intentional and to be purposeful in my life, but Lord, why does it feel as though everything I do lacks purpose? And is there a deep flaw in my dreams, that I need to surrender them? I don't want to be so stuck on certain hopes that I miss what You have for me and if what I am praying for, and Your plans don't line up, please give me a heart for Your plans for my life. I don't want to think for a second I know better than you, so please Father, make my heart beat for You and Your Will. 

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Taking Heart During Fear

I discovered one of my favorite verses for the very first time hours after a friend passed away after a two year battle with cancer. Finding it is my favorite personal miracle. I had gotten the Bible 7months earlier for my 16th birthday, so it hadn't been very long, but I to this day have no recollection of writing the reference in the front of it. After crying for hours, tossing and turning and finding no rest or solace in sleep, I grabbed my pink and brown Bible, and just started flipping, searching desperately for something comforting. I remember the ache and the pain so well, feeling so needy for His word. I don't know how long I flipped around in the Word, feeling lost and broken, but I opened the front flap and there scrawled in blue ink was John 16:33. Still feeling lost and in desperate need, I turned to it and discovered Jesus's sweet words:
"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 over come the world!"
I finally rested after that. What a sweet and timely gift. The memory, and the words, have stuck with me since then. I would never want to repeat that season or experience again, but I also wouldn't trade all the things I learned and experienced for anything.
After such an impressionable memory, the verse pops up often. I pay extra attention when someone posts it, because its one that has so much significance to me. Therefore, anytime I experience the sense of fear, I remind myself that Jesus said to "take heart!" Because He's already overcome it.
I've never been a particularly fearful person, but I confess, for whatever reason, the last year or so, I've dealt with fear in an exceptional way. I can't put my finger on why or when it started, but almost every time I see a news article about a fatal crash on a highway I know specific friends drive, or in an area I know people, I panic until see some indication that they're ok. I don't talk about it, but its there, lingering in my mind: fear. With its long, knotted fingers grasping my mind and heart and squeezing until I'm almost irrational in my thoughts.
My dad and I drive separately to work so that we each have our vehicles to go and come as we need, and fairly often, we get separated on our commute either just because of light cycles or taking different routs. But this morning as I pulled into our parking lot and looked down, expecting to see is truck, all I saw was darkness, and panic filled my racing heart. As I got closer, his truck was there, and the lights came on, taking the darkness and my fear with them. But in those moments between not seeing and then seeing his truck, all I could think was he had been in a wreck and because I took a different road, I wouldn't know. Was I supposed to open without him? Do I drive his rout and look for him? Do I call the police? Mom? Do I just wait?
Fear is a gripping virus. As soon as I saw his truck and the lights, as soon as I see this friend isn't even in that part of town, or that family member is clearly fine, I realize how ridiculous the fearful feelings were. How irrational and how gripping they are. Its after the fact, that I remember to take heart.
We are told over and over to "fear not" to "have no fear". We're told to trust Him. To be still in Him. Another of my favorite verses says "Don’t be afraid. Stand firm and see the Lord’s salvation He will provide for you today " (see Exodus 14:13&14) I love these verses, and I believe them, so why is it so hard to take heart? I'm not writing because I have the solutions, I'm writing because I need the prayer. I need to confess this and walk in faith.
Paralyzing fear isn't from Him. Today I am claiming the promise that I have a new spirit, one of power, love, and sound mind.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Stop Wanting Your Desires?

"Take delight in the Lord,
and He will give you your heart’s desires."
Psalm 37:4
I confess, I struggle to do this. All of this. The "adulating" this. The "daughtering" this. The "friendshipping" this. The "employeeing" this. The "delighting in the Lord" this. I'm not good at it. Any of it. And I find it especially difficult when it seems that He's giving the desires of my heart to everyone around me. The truth is, its not everyone, but it's certainly a fair amount of people. And they're all living the dreams I've always had. To be in love, to get married, to start families. To find their person, and do life with them. So many engagements, weddings, and baby announcements in the last few days, my heart is overflowing with joy and excitement for these people I LOVE. And I am so HAPPY for and WITH them, but I confess sometimes the nagging flesh whispers, "its not fair." Most of these people never seemed to particularly pine after these things, although I think I can safely say most of them eventually wanted to get married. So why is God letting them have this, when its what I have prayed for? I wanted to get married young (by young I mean by before now.)
My fleshly advice to myself has been to beat my heart into no longer wanting it.
But that's not what I see in Scripture, and I'm glad that's the case. He tells us to ask, and He tells us to delight in Himself.
I read somewhere about the best way to kick an addiction. Clearly having a desire is not the same thing as having an addiction, but it can be, and the concept applies. The article said the best way to help someone over an addiction isn't to just deny them that thing, it's to encourage something else. When you constantly deny yourself, you create a martyr attitude, and then justify the addiction yet again by saying "it's not fair, therefore I deserve this." how counterproductive. chase. something. else. But what you choose to chase matters. Addictions are life draining, so what are you chasing that's life-giving?  I can't beat my heart into no longer desiring to be married and to be a mom. It's not going to work that way. But I can learn to desire something so much bigger, so much better, and so much more, than these earthly, fading things. I can learn to delight in the Lord. And when my delight is Him, what I desire is Him.
What a comforting thing to know, that I can choose to delight in and long for the One that will never come to an end.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

The One Where We Became F.R.I.E.N.D.S

At almost 23, I decided it was time to watch FRIENDS. I wanted to see what I was missing out on. So heads up, in case you haven't seen it, it's timeless, still totally relevant. It's hilarious. And its me.

I feel the need to let you know however that I don't morally align myself with these characters, but personality-wise, its as if someone wrote a show based on my friends and I.

Hi, I'm Rachel. I can't get my life together and certainly can't keep up with where my friends are in theirs. I work as a barista (quote, "everyone I know is getting promoted, or married, or pregnant! All I'm getting is coffee! And it's not even for me!" I so can relate.) I'm wishy-washy in my opinions on pretty much everything unfortunately including relationships. I'm stubborn, a hopeless romantic, smart, sassy, and classy with a side of ditz.

But it's bigger than that. I have my Mon. My Ross. My Phoebe. My Chandler. I have my people. There are clear Nueces between us and them, of course. But at the core, these are my people, like those are Rachel's people.
The buzz phrase the last few years for the church has been to find the group of people you "do life together with". I can now vouch for how important this is! The idea is intended to extend beyond your family. Your community isn't exclusive to the people you share a home with. And since I was in middle school I have craved that kind of friend group. I have tried to make those ties no matter what church or situation I have been in. But surprisingly enough, it was when I stopped trying to force those bonds that they formed over a short period of time. A year ago, only two of us even knew each other. Now? These people are my people. My do life togetherers. My FRIENDS.

Its silly to compare us to fictional characters, but I've yet to find a closer comparison. There's a lot of value in knowing you've got people.

Find your people. Your community. Your do life togetherers. Find your Friends. And when you do, cherish them. Push each other towards Christ in all you do. Encourage each other. Be there for each other. Rejoice with each other. Go to a movie, grab dinner, have game night, serve together. It's not lost on me how ridiculous the comparison is, but it's no less important to have your people.

Jesus had 12. So who's your people?

Monday, September 25, 2017

10 Ways to be a Better Customer

Well here I am on the edge of the one year mark of the shop being opened. I wouldn't say that I've "loved every minute of it", but overall the things I have learned are irreplaceable. Aside from learning about humans in general and learning how to love people where they are, I have learned as a server, how to be a better customer. So here's just a simple list, in no particular order of:

10 Ways to be a Better Restaurant Customer: (even though some of these are coffee shop specific)

1. Ask questions
If your server expects you to know the menu, I'm sorry, you may have a rude server. It's not your job to know the menu, it's ours. But along that line of thought, if you aren't sure what something is, please ask. When you order something you don't know and then don't like it, it creates more problems for us, and a good server will be more than willing to explain something to you.

2. Be kind
Please, please, please remember that your server is a person. Being on your phone while trying to order, especially when they need to ask you questions, being overtly formal with us, or ignoring us can be hurtful. No we don't always want to stand and have a heart-to-heart, but we want to be treated as humans, not your servants.

3. Dirty Three:

I'm calling these the dirty three. Just. Don't. Do them.
  • Ignore Greetings - I pride myself on greeting people, either soon after they walk in or in the drive thru. I can't tell you how many people blow right past a friendly greeting and a "how are you today?" It is completely disregarded more than I would like.
  • Order Without Being Asked - When customers come in and just spout out their order (on the heels of ignoring my greeting) I confess, I am already irritated with you. I want to serve you, and serve you well, but if you give your order without being asked there is a good chance I won't get it right because I might be working on another order, or there is someone in front of you. NEVER ASSUME THE RIGHT OF WAY. This should, in my opinion, be very logical. But surprisingly enough, it's not. People can be very rude, not just to me, but to other customers. Just don't be.
  • Mispronounce a product, even after the correct pronunciation has been offered - ok this is a pet peeve, I get that. But particularly in the coffee industry there is a lot of misunderstanding and mispronunciation. THAT'S OK, remember? But when I have corrected you on our sizing, pronunciation, or specific item, please don't keep ignoring me. I understand not being able to say something, that's not what I'm talking about. What I am talking about, is still demanding or requiring something I have already told you we don't or can't do. It can actually get pretty awkward.
4. Clean up after yourself
Ok so sure, one of the perks of going out for dinner is not having to do the dishes. I'm not asking you to. But if your kid made a royal mess, please tidy after them a little. Again, some of these are specific to coffee shops, so keep that in your hat. But if you open a straw, throw the trash away. If you use a sugar packet, throw the trash away. If you use a stirrer, and you're done with it, throw the trash away. I might not have a chance between customers to clean up after you, and it makes us look bad. If you enjoy our shop and want to spur us on, please just tidy after yourself.

5. Teach your children to respect other people's property
Along with cleaning up after yourself, please teach your kids to respect other people's property. Just because we are a public space doesn't mean we are no one's space. Kids that behave unruly and cause damage, cause problems on problems for us. It's more than just a broken chair, it's a chair that came from a store two hours away and not practical for us to get a replacement in a timely manner. You might not realize all of this when your child is just misbehaving, but its a lot of work and time and often money for us. Teach them to treat our facility well.

6. On that note, don't assume your kids behave when you aren't around
We have a great outdoor area that a lot of parents love to use, and honestly it makes us feel apart of your community when they do! We love it! However, parents will often send their children back inside for a sip of water or napkin, and their children will completely destroy the water station/mess with things they shouldn't. I happened to be aware one time as two little girls dumped 3-4 packets each of sugar into their water and proceeded to use coffee stirrers as straws to consume their sugary concoction. Once the mothers became aware of the situation they were horrified their kids behaved this way, but I see it all the time. Your kids aren't always on their best behavior when you aren't around. (I will just add that this isn't always the case and I've come across a lot of really great kids in this industry!)

7. Just because it's free to you, doesn't mean it's free for us
Along the line of kids using sugar packets without permission or cause, please remember, especially when visiting a small business, that just because we offer something complimentary to you, doesn't mean it cost us nothing. Take only what you need, not a lot of "extras" because those are profitless costs to us, and they add up, especially when they go quicker than they needed to.

8. Be aware of other customers
This sort of nods back to the Dirty Three. Be aware of those around you, you aren't our only customer. Wait for someone to ask your order before you just give it, and assume we're ready to take it. We love to talk, but when you're standing at the register and there's a line behind you waiting to pay or order, please go ahead and wrap up so we can serve everybody. Please always ask before you pick up a drink off the bar if it's yours. The guy in line in front of you may have ordered the same thing, but he ordered first, therefore, it's not yours. Again, we want to serve you and serve you well, but you're not our only customer.

9. Unless you're invited, don't mess with things on or in our work space
As a barista this is particularly frustrating. My work surface is open to customers with my machine wide out in the open and my coffee grinders well within the reach of customers. If you want to know what I'm doing, please ask! Poke your head around the corner! Ask if you can watch! But please, under no circumstances, do not touch unless you have been explicitly invited to. Which, has happened. But there's protocol, and health measures that must be taken and every Joe off the street isn't invited behind the counter or to touch my equipment.

10. TIP
Last but certainly not least, ALWAYS LEAVE A TIP. Some places don't accept tip, so if you aren't sure, ask. If tipping isn't in your budget, don't eat out until it is. Even if you had subpar service, please remember that your mood isn't always dazzling either, and sometimes it's hard to shake the personal stuff before working(or the personal stuff is happening behind the scenes at work). Be kind and sensitive, and always leave a tip. Even a dollar or two just makes us feel a little better about our work.

Basically, just try and be a good, caring person. These are things I have tried to implement (where applicable) as I do more eating out. It's not that hard to just be a little kinder, a little more aware, and a little more willing.


Friday, August 25, 2017

Dear Future Husband,

I write a lot. I like to write, I express myself well in writing, and I've been thinking about you recently. So I hope you like to read letters, because I decided to write you one. I can't talk to you, but I can write you.

As I am establishing myself more and more in adulthood, on the cusp of 23, and being more and more decided in my convictions, I am praying more and more that my heart and life is one that is going to fit with yours. I'm not exactly chasing my dreams right now, so I hope that when the Father finally brings us together, there are dreams we share, and if not, that we develop dreams together. Oh how I love to dream!

I want to sit and talk with you, in the early morning when there's still dew on the ground, over a cup of coffee. I hope you like coffee.

I want to be your biggest fan. I promise you right now, I will not understand all the time, but I will always be team you.

I want to have health goals, and work out with you. I want to spend Sunday nights meal prepping with you, and making good choices together!

But I also want to sit down with a pint of Ben & Jerry's and watch Netflix.

I hope you like to go on adventures. I want to go to so many places in my city alone that would be better with you. I hope your up for that.

I also hope you like to do things that I've never done before. Like hiking, I hope you like to hike. I've never been, but I want you to take me. Maybe it's something we'll do together!

I want to fight with you. Not the "I'm right, you're wrong" kind of fight, but the kind of fight that pushes me to be a better person, that forces me to see things someone else's way. The kind of fighting that makes our marriage tough, because we know how to fight well, and we know what's worth fighting for.

I want to grow our home. I want to decorate our walls with pictures of our family, I want to have babies, and I want to raise them with you.

I want to be not just your bride, but your best friend. I want to be your person.

I can't wait for the first time you take me home to mom and dad. I can't wait to meet your family. I can't wait to learn the quirks you grew up with, and discover those you have taken into adulthood.

I can't wait to learn your favorite song, Christmas tradition, color, way you take your coffee, greatest memory, favorite vacation spot, salvation story, biggest fear, bucket list, and favorite pastime.

I don't care if we have all the same passions or not; it's ok if you don't love coffee and 50's music the way I do.

Just be loving Jesus, and find me soon, ok? <3