To be honest, I generally avoid Faith-based movies. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good inspirational film, but I’ve found many of the “church” movies to be cheesy and unrealistic. That being said, I was hesitant to watch “I Still Believe” when it came out in early March. I finally decided to give it a chance because I love the previous work of the two lead actors, KJ Apa (you might know him from the insane teen drama, “Riverdale”) and Britt Robertson (of “Tomorrowland” fame). Knowing that these actors would give stellar performances regardless of the story, I gave in and fired up the film the other day.
“I Still Believe” is the real-life love story of Christian singer Jeremy Camp (Apa) and his college sweetheart, Melissa (Robertson). When Camp sets out for college, he dreams of writing songs and playing guitar on stage. He meets a friend, Jean-Luc (Nathan Parsons), who is also a singer. At one of Jean-Luc’s shows, Jeremy spots Melissa in the crowd and is immediately taken with her. The pair begin to secretly date and a wonderful love story unfolds. However, the pair finds out that Melissa is severely ill. The latch on to their faith as they navigate the tough waters ahead.
“I Still Believe” managed to weave in faith, miracles, and Christianity without feeling phoned in or cheesy. Apa and Robertson are incredibly believable and share an easy yet intense chemistry. At the end of the film, the real-life Jeremy Camp enters, discussing Melissa’s story and her desire to change lives for the better, even if it is only one person that she impacts. After watching the film, it is safe to say that she succeeded.
You can stream “I Still Believe” on Hulu, or rent it on demand.
I get it. Sparkles, rainbows, sprinkles and all that jazz. Sounds dreamy. Is it realistic? Nah. Not even close. BUT – Every single day, if we’re fortunate enough, we get another 24 hours. Another day. Another chance to live and while we do so – in the midst of life’s turbulent waters (struggles, despair, defeat, etc.) we’re looking and searching for “hope”. Hope for better days. Hope for a greater future. Maybe it’s hope for a loved one to have a good medical outcome, for a marriage to be saved that is on the brink of no return, a child to take the right path, or maybe even hope to pay the bills that month. There is ALWAYS hope. I’ll be honest with you… I tend to teeter on the “pessimist” side of life. Consider it erring on the side of caution or being conservative rather than just outright negative – that seems more accurate. Absolutely and without doubt, I have a million and seven things to be grateful for. My two children are healthy and safe. My parents are alive and well. My bills are paid. I have an amazing job that I enjoy going to each and every day. I have some stellar humans that I am lucky and honored enough to be able to call friends and family. The list can go on and on for the things I am surely thankful for. BUT…. (there’s always a “but”) I hope too. Just like everyone else.
I hope to forgive those who have hurt me deeply. I hope to look forward to better days and to move away from past hurts that haunt me daily. I hope to have solid, kind, thoughtful, loving people in my life who care for me and love me the way I deserve to be loved. I hope to be financially stable well into the future and leave behind a legacy both for my children and theirs. I hope I’m being the right Mother to my children, and that they have absorbed “some” of what I’ve tried to teach them along the way. I even hope to not yell at someone in front of me on the freeway driving like an idiot (slight road rage is real, people.)
So, it’s true. While I breathe, I hope. There. I admit it. You got me.
I guess I’m no mystical unicorn after all.
I’ve been taught and told that God “always” answers our prayers, even if the answer is simply “no”. I get the context, but it’s not something that has ever sat well within me. I have felt at times (more than I care to admit) that I’m forever being told “no” like a toddler trying to have yet another juice box. It angers me at times because I feel like I’ve done the right things, been the right person, stood my ground, and made concessions when necessary (even if I maybe didn’t wholeheartedly agree). So – why almost every time, for whatever it may be – I’m told “no”? This, I cannot answer – but what I can say is this… Eventually some of your “Why no to this?” questions do get answered. You will sometimes blatantly see why you were told no in the midst of something you thought you wanted so desperately. Sometimes not. In those times you just sit in the unknown of it, “hoping” that one day, down the road somewhere, it will all make sense.
Does it deter me from hoping? Sure. Sometimes. Who wouldn’t get worn down after repeatedly being told what you’re hoping for just won’t be happening anytime soon, if ever? The point I’m trying to make here is – eventually, you continue to hope, whether you want to or not – it’s like it auto-magically just happens and then all of a sudden you catch yourself hoping and you’re like “Dang it! I wasn’t going to do that again!”. You pick it back up and continue to carry on, because in all fair honesty, we “hope” for things to change.
I don’t know what all of you are hoping for. My words may not give you any substance and they may or may not be a complete waste of your time. However, I “hope” not. While I put on a brave face daily to face the world and it’s uncertainties….
Dum Spiro Spero.
There are times in your life that quite literally bring you to your knees and erase all sense of having something to stand on or back you up—at those times you MUST rely solely on FAITH. FAITH that GOD is good all the time, no matter what it looks like, Faith that you will get through whatever it is, Faith that you are stronger than you think. I call these FIRE seasons…periods of time when you must rely on Faith and strength and Grace to get you through…I find that once we are out the other side of these times the lessons and the skills gained are invaluable.
The first one of these times for me was in 2001 when my Grandfather passed…I don’t think that I have ever shared the details of that time with you guys and so I wanted to do that now…as I continue the approach to my 51st birthday, I continue my evaluation of lessons learned and FIRE seasons that I have emerged from and how they have created who sits here now….
Often the things that we are sure will break us turn out to be our testimonies that go forward to help others walk successfully through their FIRE seasons…may the sharing of this time help you in that way now….
In March of 2001 my grandfather died and everyone in my large family came unglued and went kind of crazy and we all scattered…I moved to the South, so unusual for a Boston girl. I realized this past Christmas as I was driving to Cape Cod why I moved away from there …as I was driving past my grandparents exit where I grew up, I was overcome with sadness knowing that our family home was sold and gone and that I could no longer go back to the place and the people that raised me…
A year after he died my Nana sold the house and I remember sitting on the front steps with my mother crying and crying over the loss of the house and every, single thing it stood for—I see now that I moved away only months after that…I’m not sure that we always recognize what grounds us until it is gone for awhile.
My father and I were estranged for 25 years so my grandfather was in all practical ways my father…he was the strongest person I have ever met and his level of loyalty went beyond anything I have ever seen. He was my base, my childhood was soooo crazy and I always knew that he would never let anything really bad happen to me, he was always, always watching and silently stepping in to make things right when needed. He wasn’t overly affectionate and he was nothing like Andy Griffith or Ward Cleaver and when you screwed up he was by no means gentle—he was hard on us and hard on himself…if he couldn’t bounce a quarter on your bed, you re-made it—if any of the dishes you were drying were damp the whole cabinet came down and got re-washed, if you lied you paid the consequences…
When I was really little I was afraid of him, when I was about 16 I finally GOT him and we were thick as thieves after that, I was his first grandchild and his favorite girl…and he took it so badly whenever I did stupid stuff and boy, did I do a lot of stupid stuff in my early 20’s and until about 30…
I was always the one that took him to the doctor and I was the one that got the call in the middle of the night that he had taken another stroke—I am not even sure what force drove me to the hospital that night, his training I suppose…he trained us to operate in the face of ANY difficulty and GET THE JOB DONE, no crying, no whining, no excuses—just get it done. This is a way of being that too many people neglect to practice these days…
During the recovery of that stroke they found cancer in his liver and in his stomach, his response to suggestions for treatment was for everyone to F— Off…he was going home and that is where he would stay, they gave him three months, he lived a year…
That year was the year that changed all of our lives, it made us better and stronger and it made me more compassionate and understanding. I was in the middle of finishing a degree and I left school to move into their house and help take care of him even though my then husband and I were expecting my son…everyone told me that it was too much to be pregnant and try to care for a dying man…I told them to F—Off (see a likeness here?)There were some tough days and I spent a lot of time crying, but there were some really good days that I wouldn’t have missed for anything in the world…the rest of my family couldn’t really handle the deal, except my Uncle Mike another rock, he was there with me every step of the way—a really good man.
We went past Christmas and the New Year and I thought he was going to hang on until the baby came…I had four weeks to go…And then all of a sudden he took a turn and went into a coma…Hospice was helping us and they came with morphine, they taught us how to administer it every hour…it was my mom and I that last night taking turns in 3 hour shifts, I was sooo pregnant and sooo uncomfortable on all levels. Nobody else could stay in the room for more then 20 minutes…it was too sad for them…I just sat in his recliner by the bed and I held his hand and I said the Rosary over and over and over…I must have said 300 Rosaries that night…
The next day, March 31st he waited until the house was full of people, we are Italian so there were LOTS of people and the Priest came and went, it was about 10:30am and I decided to make ravioli…as my mom and I sat down to eat they started screaming for us from upstairs…took those stairs pretty fast for a pregnant chick…
So now there you are in the room watching what you know is the last run…all of a sudden I freaked, I ran into the other room and I thought, “I can’t, I can’t possibly handle this, can’t deal with this…” and then I thought I don’t want to miss him leaving, so I went back in like a big girl and watched him pass with the rest of my family…it was the most profound moment of my life thus far…he taught us how to live life out loud and he taught us how to die with grace on his terms, on his schedule…
So many people live with regrets; I can honestly say that I live with none. I had to file bankruptcy from cutting my work schedule down for that year while he was dying and I caused trouble in my then marriage, however I have never regretted one, single second. I did what was right for me to do. I did what he would have done for me.
As I have said before, after he died I felt like I lost my base and it took me awhile to learn how to become my OWN base…how to strengthen my FAITH enough to get me through ANY FIRE season…
My grandfather was my base for a long time, he was the rock and I still feel him with me every day …the life that I have built has his influence written all over it. I am of the opinion that when people leave here after a life well-lived they are still out there somewhere watching over us and checking up on us…and I think from time to time, when we are ready to receive them they send us some really great miracles with the help of God’s Grace…
Today may your miracle be the GRACE and STRENGTH to get through your next FIRE season.
God’s got mine. Does the thought of it raise the hairs on the back of your neck? OR Do you welcome the thought and take a deep breath knowing you can relax on your journey of life? I find it to be very comforting.
Especially growing up in a home where all the details had to be explained, all the plans had to be set in motion, all the unknowns had to be questioned. There was no room for spontaneity or last minute interruptions…. without a grumble. There were no wrong-doings, excuses, or changed stories without sighs of anguish & upset. The plan was the plan was the plan.
Somewhere along the way… things changed for me. The rug was pulled out from under me and everything changed. I was humbled that’s for sure. I was sharpened, recreated, and filled with grace. I had a new way of being, planning, thinking and doing. I had created a new reality for myself. It was beautiful & it worked.
There were times when I wanted something, wanted to go somewhere, wanted to plan a the next best thing for myself. And I remembered… I was not driving the bus. I was not at the wheel. God was.
I know that if it is not to BE, doors will not open for me, no matter how bad I WANT it. If it’s not where I’m being led, if it’s not how I’m being molded, if it’s not where I’m headed…. It is NOT happening. And I’m at peace with that.
I’m grateful every day that I don’t have to have everything all figured out. That I don’t have to have all the answers right now. In the storms and in the sunshine, in the trials and in the triumphs… I turn to Him for answers and trust His Ways are far better then mine…. any day.
Your God Girl,
I set a goal for myself on a hot day in August 2018. I was going to reach the top of Enchanted Rock in 2019. As I had only made it half way up the first time. I let fear and not having faith in myself & my abilities get the best of me. Let me just confess I let me get in my way. So off to my bucket list this became.
One day after talking with my friend Andy about Enchanted Rock, we discovered that we both have never reached the top. As previously we stopped at the halfway mark. A date was set, reservations were made and this was finally going to happen. A few days before we were to leave my back started acting up. I wasn’t sure I was going to be able climb, but I had to try. I set a goal to accomplish this and this was something I needed to do for me. Not to mention I didn’t want to let him down. I didn’t want to let me down.
On the drive once the rock came in view, we both made a comment that it appeared larger than we had remembered. Once we got checked into the park and filled our backpack with survival stuff like protein bars, waters and Gatorade’s we were off. Oh I have to mention not even 2 steps from the car was a red bird. That was my sign from my Mom who is in Heaven is with me. This day was going to happen.
Walking with him I felt strong and confident that we were going to conquer this together. Well that all quickly faded for me. The higher I went the steeper it became. Not to mention the more I began to suck air and sweat. With that doubt began to set in once again. I did not want to be the reason he did not fulfill his goal in reaching the top, so I told him to go on. He said “No we were in this together.” What a boost of willpower those words were. So a few more steps I went. Then I would stop. I ended up taking lots of “breathing breaks”. So many that he went on ahead of me. During these breaks I would turn around and look to see where I started and then where I was currently standing. I realized I was making progress for I could see it. Slowly, but surely inch by inch progress was being made.
Once he was almost to the top he yelled down “It gets easier when you get to here!” Those words were like music to my ears. Once at the top the view was beautiful. You could see for miles and miles. The feeling of that moment is indescribable. What once was impossible was now conquered. We did it! We made it to the top. So after the sights were taken in and photos taken to document this feat we started the trek down. It was easier to go down that’s for sure. It was nice to pass the points where I had thought about giving up. Knowing that I didn’t was and is the best feeling.
I also noticed on the way down just about everyone we passed that was making the upward climb was showing signs of struggling like I had. Young/old & fit/out of shape it didn’t matter. We all had one thing in common that day which was getting to the top. Just like in life you have got to believe in yourself and know you can accomplish your goal. More importantly we need to support and encourage one another. You can do it- Your almost there- It gets easier in just a little bit- Became our words of encouragement to those we met.
My encouragement to you- Start checking off those goals. Do those things that you have been putting off. Have your “Seize the Moments”. We only get one life to live. Lets make it the greatest one. There is a sign at the base of the rock that reads, “My heart feels lighter, my mind feels calmer and my senses feel tuned whenever I see that giant pink rock on the horizon. No matter how I choose to spend my time among the enchanted rocks of the park I always leave feeling better than I arrived.”- Who would have thought it would take a rock to get me motivated.
Note: Enchanted Rock State Park is located in the Texas Hill Country between Fredericksburg and Llano. The pink granite dome dating from the Proterozoic era rising 425ft above ground – one of the largest batholiths in the US –
Our Chaotic Bliss…
My mother always told me that I could achieve anything I wanted if I worked hard enough. A common message we hear all the time growing up. I didn’t want to be an astronaut, or a lawyer. I wanted to be a mother, a wife, and someone who helps people. Seems simple right? I’m writing this in my overgrown, tattered sweatshirt, my hair in a messy bun on the top of my head, and not the cute kind most women can get away with, in the dark, next to my snoring husband, letting Ed Sharron carronade me. Go ahead and ask it…. Why would anyone take advice from a disheveled mom? I promise, I don’t have all the answers, hell most days I don’t know how I will tackle the endless amounts of tantrums, school lunches, work disasters, and then some how need to whip up a healthy dinner that most of my kids will refuse to even touch. But I have figured out how in the middle of our Chaotic bliss, raising 3 kids all which come and go to 2 households, stressful jobs, marriage, bills, and needing to keep up with Pinterest perfection people, how to be happy with being me, the mom with the messy bun.
This will not solve your problems, it will just help remind you that you aren’t alone. We are a fearless tribe of badass creators that were born to make the world a more positive place one day at a time. I guess I will start from the start of my quest for positivity. Like most everyone I hit rock bottom. Not the actors and actresses rock bottom that somehow with their glam squad they emerge from the depths of hell looking as if they were in a Pageant. But the gut punched, eyes swollen, couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep, oh did I mention I was pregnant, with a toddler in tow. My rock bottom was when my now ex-husband cheated on me. I’m sure most of you reading this are shaking your head thinking, get in line honey you aren’t the first, and won’t be the last. Well this ripped me from limb to limb, shook my beliefs in faith, marriage, and who I was to the core. I didn’t believe in divorce, but damnit I didn’t believe in someone imploding my self-worth either.
I knew I wasn’t perfect. He wasn’t either clearly. But I also knew we had the worlds most perfect daughter, and a son on the way. Everything I ever dreamed of came crashing to a halt. After time I could handle that our marriage was over. I just couldn’t fathom that my dream of my family was shattered. I’m one of the rare people who was blessed to be raised by parents who have been married almost 4 decades. I did everything I could think of save our marriage, our family, and our kids futures, but nothing worked. I refused to beg for reasons, attention, or rational, I just couldn’t handle one more lie.
My father told me, in the middle of the puddle of what felt like endless tears. “Mark my words in 2 years from now you will be married.” Yeah, sure. I’d rather die alone than put my heart out there again. Fast forward to the day I met my currently snoring husband. I sent a message on Facebook to someone I thought I knew. Get ready for it your going to call me out, thinking I’m bluffing. I sent it to someone I thought I went to college, who had gone in to the military. I was thrilled at the thought of sending him a care package. Instead I got a message that was rather curt and annoyed me. “I’m not who you think I am, sorry.” I looked at my mother who had come to spend time with me, appauled, as I was sure the entire world was out to get me at this time and muttered “Wow what a jerk!”
We had one mutual friend on Facebook. We both sent her a message, without the other knowing. I watched as the 3 bubbles of truth popped up. I waited with baited breath to hear what sort of creep would be so rude. Much to my disappointment she raved about him. “Oh, He is WONDERFUL! He is the male you, you will just adore him” I still claim it the was pregnancy hormones that made me take the leap of faith. Hell, what did I have to lose, I planned on dyeing alone at the ripe, crusty age of 89. I let him know that I was mistaken, and I apologized for bothering him.
You know the rest of how it goes. We didn’t stay apart. We talked for 14 hours a day on and off for months. I verbally exploded. Some how he was safe. In the middle of my train wreck of a life, he made me feel heard for the first time. It was the haziest time, and some how the only time in my life I leapt before I looked. Oh, I should have mentioned I’m a planner. A planner of everything, and if it didn’t go to the plan I had in my head I derailed. I find it ironic, I have seen just about every romantic comedy on the planet and they have it right. The moment I wasn’t looking, I wasn’t available, I wasn’t ready, he showed up. But here is what they don’t show you. It’s messy. It doesn’t look flawless. He farts, and it smells horrific. I get frazzled and get snappy. I don’t always look like a pageant girl, I rocked shirts that had baby snot, and coffee stains. But, it was real. It was raw. It was imperfect. It was moment, my heart ache made sense. I had to lose what I thought I wanted and needed, to end up with who I was meant to grow old with and raise my children with. He challenges me. He is a pain. Lord knows he is sassy as anything. He is also the same man who loves me when my spinal issue acts up. He loves my children as his own. Who some how taught me to love the things I hated about myself in the gentlest way.
We are on this journey together. I hope my ramblings will give you comfort and remind you, you’re not alone. Life isn’t perfect, but there are incredible sprinkles along the way that make the dark times, have nuggets of positivity along the way. Positivity doesn’t happen, it’s a choice. In the hard-horrible times to search and dig as deep as needed to find the tiny pulse of hope, happiness, and positivity. Most of all, life wont look perfect. It’s not an Instagram post, a Pinterest idea, or a Hollywood movie. It’s challenging, frustrating, messy, joyous, and is chaotic bliss.
Stay Positive and Kind,
Rah- Rah Rachel
Wow you just missed getting into an accident. .…aren’t you lucky?
You’re running late and look at all the green lights. ……aren’t you lucky?
Can you believe YOU got promoted? Ha! ……aren’t you lucky?
You’re glad it wasn’t YOUR kid who got expelled. ……aren’t you lucky?
It has nothing to do with luck. Really. You know I’m a God-girl, right? … They are called blessings. AND… YOU are blessed. You are richly blessed. You could go so far as to say you are Divinely Blessed and those were Divine Appointments just for You. God knows your heart, He has everything figured out before it even happens and you call it luck but they are Blessings. It is His mercy and grace for you that life is good amidst the growing pains, the chaos, the mishaps.
When you stand in the space of abundance and the mindset of God’s goodness, you will notice blessings more and more. Some you may not see at all because He’s saving you from something.
Imagine: You’re waiting for a very important phone call as you’re walking along the sidewalk getting ready to cross the street & just as you’re about to step off the curb,the phone rings. In the midst of your excitement, that they are finally calling you back, you step back onto the sidewalk to have your conversation. You are so engrossed in what you are hearing that you never noticed the car that flew by in that very instant, beating the red light. Passing the exact spot, right there where you would have stepped into, had the phone not rung.
Sometimes we can’t see the blessings , because we are deterred into another direction. Sometimes we don’t see the blessings because we can only focus on the bad. Sometimes we don’t see the blessings because we think it’s our ‘good luck’. But they are there. Every. Day. From God. For You.
Your God Girl,
I Wondered..Why Me?
I found myself yelling up at God. Pointing up to the ceiling …. “YOU! You did this!” “How could You?!” and in the next breath, with tears running down my face, “Why God, Why?” There’s my boyfriend who had just taken his life and here I stood.
My heart ached.
My tears fell.
My soul hurt.
And nothing made sense.
I knew, like I KNEW, that God had put us together. There is no way I would have met this man otherwise. My prayers were answered when he came into my life. It was a miracle. That’s all I can say. A miracle. So WHY? WHY oh WHY would God have this happen? I had no answers.
What seemed like hours …were only minutes. I stood there yelling to the heavens. Pointing up, still. I continued to question God, to yell at God. The God of the Universe. The God of ALL. The God who knew far more about me and my life than I could possibly ever know or thought that I already did know. And I was yelling at Him? “Why ME? You knew I was coming!” I shouted. “You knew I would find him! You picked me to find him.” “WHY!?”
I was furious. Furious that my boyfriend died. Furious that here I was all alone. Furious that God picked me to find him. If God knows all… well then He knew I was going to be there that day, right? Then He picked me, right? Tears. Anguish. Upset.
And just as fast as a flash of lightning hits a flagpole. I was struck by the Holy Spirit. My crying changed from tears of maddening rage to honorable blessing. God picked ME. ME! He picked ME! A powerful chill ran through my bones. I was God’s miracle in David’s life….his channel of love. I was picked because I was the one who would take care of it all. I was God’s Warrior.
I had a sense of gratitude. Don’t you see…. Why Not Me? Out of the people who could have loved this man, out of the people who could have honored this man, out of the people who could have made a difference in this man’s life and who would turn this tragedy into something good. God picked ME. Why Me? Oh darling…. Why Not Me?
Your God Girl,
Joyful in this place.
As you all know by now, I am in the middle of what I am calling a ‘difficult season’ which sounds better than what my mind would like to call it…LOL
November will make it a year and a half of walking out the choice I made of leaving my corporate job and cutting my personal income by 75% in order to work full-time for myself doing what I love. You might imagine the impact that this has been having on my life and you might imagine that I may not have a lot of patience for it all…those of you that know me well know that patience is not one of my best qualities…yet I am learning it for sure in this season!
Over the last few days I have been feeling particularly challenged by all of this and feeling very much like ‘I have HAD ENOUGH OF THIS SEASON’—in fact I have been having many, many discussions with God about WHY I AM STILL HERE…
Now keep in mind that everything has been working, every bill has been paid and by the Grace of GOD every, single REAL need has been met. I have experienced so many blessings and so much Grace during this time—not to mention the LESSONS I have learned…so part of me is very clear that this season has been necessary before I begin another phase of building. I have gained such clarity about who is around me and what I have been pouring into, I have learned what and who to let go of and I am learning how to say NO. Also learning that people that want to be around me need to put in equal effort and that is something that I was missing over these last 50 years. Soooo although this time is SO freaking uncomfortable and most days I feel like my skin is on inside out, I DO SEE the value in it.
Now back to my impatience and asking God WHY am I STILL in this place…this morning that question was asked over and over again until I finally got an ANSWER:
- “BECAUSE YOU ARE NOT JOYFUL in this place. Gratitude is NOT your first line of defense in this place…even though I have had your back and MET EVERY NEED…you still wake up scared every single day and you are still hating where I have put you…SO UNTIL you can BE JOYFUL and GRATEFUL most of the time in this…HERE is where you will STAY!”
Yeah…so what could I even say to that??? It is the truth. I am not joyful in this place and although I AM grateful, I am not grateful ALL the time. Mostly I am scared and stressed and upset and feeling like I have had enough of this…
God often speaks to me and even when I don’t like what He has to say, I listen.
It is soooo hard to choose JOY in a place where you are uncomfortable….sooo hard to force yourself to be grateful when you feel terrified inside because you cannot SEE HOW everything will work out. However, I have SOOOO much evidence that everything works out for the good, I even have the last year and a half where every need has been met and not once was I able to see ahead of time HOW.
FAITH is tested greatly when you are in the wilderness periods, yet those periods are an integral part of being able to create what is supposed to come next because your LESSONS are in the wilderness periods…and so they are often the hardest times.
So today I am working on figuring out how to be satisfied, grateful and JOYFUL in this place that I don’t like and I wanted to share this with those of you that may be in the middle of a similar season…