Today, Rachel speaks to us about how we are never too unworthy to be used by God, feeling led into ministry, and God’s perfect timing.
Tell us a bit about how you grew up and your childhood: I grew up in Jacksonville, FL. I was raised in a Christian home, both parents being followers of Jesus, which laid the foundation for my own relationship with Jesus. I am the oldest in my family; I have a brother who is less than 2 yrs younger than me. Growing up with a sibling was so great, but we also butt heads constantly. Now, being 22 and my brother being 20, we have developed a great friendship and will forever be lifelong best friends. I grew up with my parents being together in the same household, which I know is a blessing that I had both parents together and around for my whole childhood. Overall, my childhood was filled with love and a lot of joy!
Inspiring biblical passage of the moment: Reading through Philippians chapter one, Paul’s audacity and faith in the Lord is encouraging and commemorable. Paul is writing Philippians from the cell of a prison… and his faith and joy in the Lord is not found in his circumstances, BUT it is found in the Lord’s goodness. V. 12-13 says, “Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ.” I mean honestly, imagine this picture… in chains for Christ. I have read Philippians countless times, but this hit me hard. I want to live my life for Christ like this, we all should be striving to live for the Gospel this way. That no matter what it may cost, we will spread the good news of Jesus.
Spiritual growth focus at the moment: In this season of life, I am really focusing on being content with what the Lord has blessed me with, rather than dwelling on what I don’t have. I have found it very easy to dwell on the future (real life example: wanting to be in a relationship / having a family) or to become so focused on what could be rather than just be content with the blessings and opportunities God has placed now in the present. Also, trusting in him that he will provide the next steps for my future… because right now I am really just being obedient to what he has called me to do which has led me to not really know what the future holds!
Profession: I am currently a nanny and an apprentice with student ministry (I work with middle school students) at my church here in Jacksonville. I have felt the call to go into ministry, so I am very excited to be working in my church right now and I’m excited to see where the Lord leads me in ministry.
If you wrote a memoir, what would the title be? “Count It All Joy.” I have been through a lot in my 22 years of life and had to learn a lot of lessons the hard way. That being said, there is a reason for everything. Every season the Lord has put me through, up until this point and even in the future, has been a reminder than no matter what I go through, to count it all joy. To count the heartache, the pain, the hurt, the confusion, the mystery of the future as joy.
James 1: 2-4 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
Because the Lord has seen me through so many circumstances and because He’s bigger than any situation, I can confidently say that I will count and see the joy of the Lord rather than put my hope in my circumstances.
“Because the Lord has seen me through so many circumstances and because He’s bigger than any situation, I can confidently say that I will count and see the joy of the Lord rather than put my hope in my circumstances.”
When did you first encounter God and how did you encounter Him? I grew up knowing Jesus. I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior at a pretty young age. However, in high school, I went through a lot… emotionally and mentally. I was ever clinically depressed, but I was not in a good spot. I was in the crowd of “popular people” so I would go out to parties and do all the things I knew weren’t the best for me. I went through about a year or so of self harming myself, and honestly that brought me to such a low place of shame and confusion.
One night (I was a senior in highschool) when I was having what felt like a mental breakdown, God swooped down and picked me up. He held me. He made Himself known to me that He was there right beside me.
Since then, my relationship with God has not always been “perfect” or a “steady incline”… but no relationship is and how amazing is it that we are not promised a perfect life once we surrender our lives over to God? We are told we will have sufferings, but we are promised we don’t have to walk through the sufferings alone. He is there with us every step of the way.
How has your relationship with Him changed you? I see life through a whole new lens now– my perspective and mindset has changed drastically and for the better, might I add.
What has helped you grow spiritually in this season? 100% having a community of believers and mentors guiding me and leading me to Christ. I have been blessed (truly) to be in a disciple group with women who are about 8-10 years older than me… who are all married and have kiddos. These women have been the best influence and source of guidance for me being 22. I am able to look up to their marriages and look up to them as God-honoring women who I know will always have my best interest in mind.
Just read/currently reading (and what has it taught you?): I just read Single, Dating, Engaged, Married by Ben Stuart and this book is a must read for anyone who is single or dating!! It has completely changed my views and thoughts on the whole process of finding someone to spend forever with. It has made me think and raise my standards while seeking for a God-honoring man. BUT I also am in no rush to date and marry someone. I know that God’s plans for me when it comes to finding someone are way better and bigger than my own plans. When it happens, it happens. I am trusting God to be in control of my love life!
Top three essentials: My Bible, a pen/journal, and Chapstick (preferably, sun bum mint flavor).
How did God speak to you recently? I went to Passion 2020 in ATL this past New Year’s Eve and that is where I felt the call and pull to go into ministry. Once I got home, I applied to the apprenticeship program at my church and God has continually been blessing me and opening up doors that I never thought He would. He has been teaching me SOOOOO much! But what I have really been learning is that God’s plans are perfect, His timing is perfect, He is perfect and will fully sustain me.
“He is perfect and will fully sustain me.”
Hobby: I love working out and cooking! Honestly, put me in the kitchen and I will whip anything up! I love to take not so healthy options and make the healthy version of them!
Top three practical tips for staying spiritually strong: Surround yourself with wise, God-honoring believers (community) who will hold you accountable and be there if you astray, staying in prayer and worshipping (whatever way that may look like for you), and BE IN THE WORD (stay in tune with God’s word, learn and dive deeper into his book).
Favorite person in scripture? I love Paul. His story is so interesting and encouraging to me. I mean, Paul was not a good guy before he came to know Jesus. He persecuted Christians! But God did not give up on him. God did not turn Paul away. God did not look at Paul and say, “you are unworthy.” NO, God used Paul and used his story to reach others then and now. His story speaks, “You are never too far gone. No matter what you may have done, you are never too far gone or too broken to be used by God.”
What do you want people to learn about God when they look at you? Hmm, I could think of so many things. One quality that our Father has is patience, and I want to reflect that character as well. I have such a hard time being patient… especially working with kids all the time. I just expect everyone to do what I say or ask immediately. How amazing is it though that God is patient with us in all we do? He does not get angry at us when we turn away from Him, rather He is patient and is waiting arms wide open for us when we realize we need Him. I love that aspect of God’s character, and it is something I want others to see in me.
“How amazing is it though that God is patient with us in all we do?”
How do you engage with your community? I work at church with the student community, I am a part of a women’s disciple group, I love just spending time with friends in the church community as well. I definitely want to be more intentional with serving my community and participating in outreach programs. However, right now my season of life has not allowed much time to do so. I hope sometime this summer to be involved with serving my community more somehow.
Favorite holiday? Oh boy, I love Christmas! But I also love Easter. Christmas would probably be my favorite overall holiday. I love the story of Jesus coming down to this Earth. I love spending time with my family. The lights, the Christmas movies, the food, the whole feeling that Christmas brings is filled with hope, love, and happiness.
A goal you have? I have many dreams to continue to spread the good news of the Gospel. I would love to continue to write by writing books or devotionals. I would love to speak and minister to women of all ages (especially young women in middle school and high school).
A special tradition you and your family engage in or keep: We always watch It’s A Wonderful Life the night of thanksgiving to kick off the Christmas season! We have been doing this for several years as a family, and it is a tradition that I want to do whenever I have a family.
Question you will ask when you get to heaven? I haven’t even thought about this before! I mean will we even need to ask questions or will we know everything? I would probably ask how many granules of sand are in the world… on the land, in the ocean, everywhere!
Thing you want to raise awareness about: The extreme need our world has to feel loved and known… and that the longing for love and to be known can only be found in Jesus Christ. I have been through this personally, and I know many young men and women long to be loved, to love, and to be known. The fact of the matter is, that many people search in all the wrong places for this need, this longing desire. Jesus is the answer to this longing, and He is patient with you in coming to know Him.
What does your morning routine consist of? I love this question! I do believe that a good morning routine is key to a productive day and a day filled with peace. Ideally, I would love to wake up around sunrise, make coffee (drip w/ frothed oat milk is my go to homemade drink), and spend time in the word and devotion before doing anything else. Then, I will either workout, read, make breakfast or work (usually my schedule for each day is different). I try to put a lot of effort into making my morning routine a habit, and if I am taking a sabbath or if I am not busy one day, my morning routine will look a little more complex and spending more time studying the Lord’s word.
What is on your nightstand? I have a basic lamp, a lavender room spray, coconut scent candle, lavender essential oil roller, a Mother-in-law’s tongue plant (one of many sansevierias) on top of two books – Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both Our Hearts and Our Minds by Jen Wilkin and Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper.
Define Christianity in a sentence: Christianity embodies the essence of God by following the Savior who was sent down to Earth on a rescue mission to redeem the world, showing true love and compassion to all, and pointing others to Jesus.
For more Rachel:
My blog : The Beautiful & Brave
Instagram (blog) : @thebeautiful.brave
Instagram (podcast) : @thebeautiful.bravepodcast
Facebook : The Beautiful & Brave
Podcast : https://anchor.fm/the-beautiful-brave
Website : http://thebeautifulandbrave.com
Until next time, keep witnessing!