Today, Rachel speaks to us about integrating faith in work, the passage inspiring her social work in this season, coaching soccer, forgiving ourselves and letting God lead through uncertainty.
Tell us a bit about how you grew up and your childhood: I grew up in the great city of Rochester, NY. I am the middle child and have an older brother and younger sister. Family has always been a major focus point in my life and has helped shape a great deal of who I am now. I have had a loving family and support system throughout my childhood and thankfully to this day it still remains. In the same way, my parents were both believers and introduced me to my faith at a very young age and helped guide me through my own personal faith journey.
I was homeschooled until eight grade, which is when my parents sent me to a local private school. After high school, I went off to college at another private school and played soccer there and earned my bachelor’s degree in psychology with a concentration in counseling and a minor in coaching. Currently making the beautiful state of South Carolina my new home!
Inspiring biblical passage of the moment: At the moment my sort of “go-to” passage is Isaiah 42. Particularly, the beginning portion of the chapter that speaks about God giving His servant to bring peace to the Nations. This is something that has been hitting my heart throughout the last few weeks as we have seen so much pain and hate in the world. About three weeks ago, I officially became a social worker for the state and have been tasked with the duty of protecting children to the best of my ability. This moment in my life has really opened my eyes to the different callings that God puts on each of our lives. He has literally commissioned us to go throughout the world and spread His gospel, His love, His forgiveness, and His grace. This stage of life that I am in has become a massive opportunity to shine His light so bright into the many dark places within this world, dark places that have recently become so prominent. This passage speaks of a future full of light and promise which has really helped me these last few weeks.
Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations. He will not cry or lift up his voice or make it heard in the street; a bruised reed he will not break, and a dimly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice. He will not grow faint or be crushed until he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his teaching. Thus says God, the Lord, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people upon it and spirit to those who walk in it: I am the Lord, I have called you in righteousness, I have taken you by the hand and kept you; I have given you as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness. I am the Lord, that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to idols. See, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth, I tell you of them.
Spiritual growth focus at the moment: I knew that 2020 was going to be a difficult moment from the start. Everything from graduation, finding a home, getting a job and so much more. So, I made an overall focus to really lean into an increased trust in His plan for me and also deepening my daily prayer life this year.
Profession: I recently got a job with the Department of Social Services in Greenville, SC, as a caseworker in foster care.
If you wrote a memoir, what would the title be? Unfinished story of grace
When did you first encounter God and how did you encounter Him? The first time I truly encountered God was when I was 15 years old and on my first ever mission trip. I had traveled to Panama with my school and a local church, and we went to a small town there called Anton. The people there were a light of God that I had never seen before. I saw God work in so many people that week and felt an overwhelming presence and power I had never felt before. By the end of the week, I committed myself fully to the Lord. And this for me was more than saying “ok God I will follow your commandments and obey you”. No, when I say fully I meant it. I was so overwhelmed and humbled before Him that I decided to make sure my talents and gifts also went to Him. I was a great athlete growing up and I knew that it was a gift and during that week I promised Him that I would fully commit a broken but restored little girl to serving His kingdom through the gifts He had given me.
How has your relationship with Him changed you? Throughout all the different seasons of my life, He has worked on me and I am so thankful for that. My relationship with Him has been ever changing and growing. From living a life of guilt, pain and feeling completely unworthy to Him redeeming me with His grace, power, and love. My relationship with Him is still growing and developing each day. And honestly, some days are better than others, but every relationship requires some sort of commitment and work even on the days where you see yourself in the old manner. I am thankful for His guidance and direction that He has given me throughout the years, and for the relationship that has continued to develop me into what He has designed.
What has helped you grow spiritually in this season? The season of life that I am in has been the most demanding and anxious season I have ever had. I am a planner; I like to have things lined up and ready to go. And with this season of quarantine and unknown, I have been beyond anxious and stressed. I have honestly never been as stretched as I have been this season. But now that this season is winding down or so I think it is, I can look back and see His hand in every little thing. He gave me a challenge, and one that He knew would shake me, but throughout it all He has directed me step by step. From having no career lined up, no home, no plan for what was next, He never left my side, calmed my seas and showed me how much I was controlling my steps when I really needed to let Him lead instead.
Just read/currently reading (and what has it taught you?): Right now, I am currently reading A Love Letter Life by Jeremy and Audrey Roloff. I just started the book, but I highly recommend it already. The book really shows how God can write the most beautiful love stories and how one can pursue a love story that can last. The book has really helped me re-center my relationship with my boyfriend and how the foundation can always be improved and built stronger.
Top three essentials: Coffee, sports, and my people!
How did God speak to you recently? Like I have previously touched on, this past season has been an extremely difficult one. Yet, within the storm, I was still enough to hear God speak peace over me. In a time of uncertainty, anxiety, and stress I was an absolute mess. I went for a walk on a nearby trail and felt His overwhelming peace cover me. It was a small moment with Him but one that give me the strength and confidence to trust Him in an uncertain time.
“Yet, within the storm, I was still enough to hear God speak peace over me.”
Hobby: I would say my main hobby is coaching soccer or playing the sport when I have time!
Top three practical tips for staying spiritually strong:
Consistency is key. Even on the days where you have very little to no time to breathe, find a moment of peace with Him. Connect with Him, speak with Him, and listen. He always has time for you so make it a point to give Him your time too.
Support! Find your support team and surround yourself with them as much as possible. This has honestly been a key part in my spiritual journey. I have multiple women and some men around me that have encouraged, loved, and most importantly challenged me spiritually throughout my life.
You have to learn how to forgive others and yourself. You are not perfect. This is one that I struggle with all the time. I am a perfectionist I want myself to be the best version of myself as possible, but that does not always happen. I have learned that I need to see myself the way that He sees me. He has forgiven me, so why don’t I forgive myself as well. I know that when I try to see myself the way he sees me it gives me hope and strength.
Favorite person in scripture? I have always been drawn to Paul. His dramatic soul transformation is inspiring and breathtaking. In the same way, the words of wisdom that comes out of his mouth is amazing. Totally someone who I have always been drawn to in scripture.
What do you want people to learn about God when they look at you? That He is a God of redeeming grace. He gives His children a peace that passes all understanding, and a relationship with Him that is second to none. When people look at me I want them to see the grace He has given me along with the relationship that He has with each of His children.
How do you engage with your community? The main way I engage with my community is through sports. I am a coach for the local travel soccer team. I coach girls who are between 15 and 16 years old, and it is my absolute favorite thing to do. I love building relationships with each one of them!
“I am a coach for the local travel soccer team.”
Favorite holiday? Thanksgiving! It is my favorite time of the year, and I get to spend time with my family who I do not see very often and there is food and sports… it does not get much better than that!
A goal you have? Right now, I have a few goals in place. But one of them is to incorporate God into my everyday tasks at work. I work for the state and in the coming months, I will experience some really tough and new experiences. I want to make sure to keep God in my thoughts and heart when in the midst of the chaos. My job is challenging and too often I have separated work and my faith. So, integrating me work into my faith is something that I have made a goal of mine this year. I am not sure how this will look yet but it can be as simple as others seeing Christ in me. Saying a prayer in my head before entering a home, and so on.
“I want to make sure to keep God in my thoughts and heart when in the midst of the chaos.”
A special tradition you and your family engage in or keep: I think the vast majority of my families traditions occur during Christmas. And most if not all of them I am going to keep with my own family one day. One of our traditions is that we always read the Christmas story and eat cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning before opening any gifts. I love that because it keeps your heart and mind on the reason of the season and also focuses on family time which is always a blast in the Curtis household!
Question you will ask when you get to heaven? I don’t know if I have any specific questions to ask God when I get to heaven. But, if I had to state one right now, I guess I would ask Him about the small acts of kindness that I gave to people throughout my life, what did it do for them if anything? Did it impact them? Can He tell me and show me how it impacted them? I’ve always been curious about this, because I know other peoples kindness towards me, and others have impacted me greatly on many occasions.
Thing you want to raise awareness about: In my field of work, I will come across many things that would break a persons heart. And, I think because of this I have been extremely passionate lately about mental health and also the foster care system. These are both things that I come across each and every day that literally break families, children, and workers apart. Both areas are completely different but are topics that have been heavy on my heart lately and an area that I have been trying to raise awareness in. I could really go on and on about both these subjects, but I’ll spare the novel.
I encourage each and every one of you to look into what you can do for these children and families who are in the foster care system. You would be surprised of the multitude of ways you could help. And in terms of mental health, look into it, educate yourself on the topic, and be there for those in your life who struggle with this matter daily. Like I said, there is a lot to these areas and the first step in being an ally is to educate yourself about them both.
What does your morning routine consist of? Right now my morning routine consists of my first cup of coffee for the day, a shower and then the daily devotional Prevail by Susie Larson. After this, it’s time to work from home in the good ole pajamas. Quarantine has some benefits to it.
Define Christianity in a sentence: A relationship with the Creator of the heavens and of the Earth, who gave His life so we could have one with Him.
For more Rachel:
Until next time, keep witnessing!