Don’t be mad, but this blog entry is like those novels you read where the last chapter ends and you’re stoked to hear what’s next and the author takes you back in time to build some foundation for the story you’re dying to hear.
Once upon a time, there was a little girl who believed she could do anything she set her mind to. She had big dreams all wrapped up in her little munchkin body and no one could convince her otherwise. But just like all fairytales, wickedness came and began its dark work. Just like in the fairytales we as readers fail to recognize that the evil wizard or the wicked witch doesn’t just come to stop the protagonist’s dreams and plans, they come to destroy the protagonist. Their end game is death.
Little by little by little our young heroine began to doubt, question herself and spoke evil magic into her own life. She gave up the light in her eyes and walked around, dulled, one step away from death.
By grace, the little one was surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses who would not allow her death sleep become her demise. The wicked one could not reach into the deepest part of her heart where there was still a seed of hope. Hope is hard to kill and the prayers of those around her protected the Life that had been knit inside her.
January 2013 I was rescued out of a lonely, dark life I had willingly chosen. There was a sadness I walked with everyday even though I knew how to smile and laugh and love. I felt like a drifting shadow. During an altar call at a revival service I was met by Jesus in a way I wasn’t anticipating. Better than a knight in shining armor, He came valiantly and picked me up and declared that I was loved. He said, “Rachel, you can never do anything the same again.”
This came as a challenge because it meant my thought process, actions, words, intentions and motives all had to be different than the norm I’d created. It began the year of reconciling myself with the true version of who I’d been designed to become. I didn’t see it at the time, but travel was a tool that was used to heal over things in my life. I was used to doing things alone and I’d learned to appreciate that time to reflect and spend time with God, but I didn’t think to travel alone. That was a risk. I’d begun to think that I was not capable or smart enough or brave enough. These are all lies that had been spoken into my life and I slowly began to accept them as truth.
In 2013 I drove four hours alone to Yosemite National Park and hiked Upper Yosemite Falls trail alone and drove four hours back home in one day. I got home at 3 am and just dropped into bed feeling a bit lighter and stronger. A few weeks later I travelled to San Diego and L.A. alone and wandered around seeing what I could see and learning to trust myself and hear God’s voice in a more intimate way. In November I flew alone to New York City to run my first marathon. These trips all had tears and things to work through, but a beautiful purging happened and God began to chip away the walls of identity I had constructed around myself. He was with me on each of these trips and I never felt alone.
2014 brought my first trip out of the country to the Philippines. (Don’t worry, we will get to those stories!) And though I was with 80 people, I had learned to feel His presence in a way that carried me through the challenges of that trip.
I’ve been blessed to have photographs that mark a point of change and growth in me. Each of these pictures is a new level of breakthrough, freedom and realization of who I truly am. Each of these pictures are moments where I realized I was stronger than I thought I was because I knew who was with me. I saw that I was more than people made me out to be. I know He lives in me and because He does, I am more than a conqueror. I’m not weak or timid, I’m not fearful, I’m not crazy and I’m not helpless, but I am living in the joy of the Lord that is my strength. I am bold, I am at peace, I have been given a sound mind that can receive wisdom and I am able to do all things through Christ who gives me strength.