I Can’t do it Alone.

I can’t do it alone.

This isn’t a fact that I prefer to readily admit, although I am certain at least 89% of you whispered “duh” under your breath…while perhaps the other 11% remain as disillusioned as me and think “sure you can!”

Well I can’t.

In the last several years working with different homeless people and populations one thing has screamed out to me on more than one occasion; life was meant to be lived with others and true change rarely comes through one solitary person.

Teamwork makes the dream work, y’all.

It’s for this reason alone that I’ve come to learn I don’t hate raising support for my new job on Younglife staff. I’d be lying if I said I love the work that goes into it (excel and I don’t get along all too well), but I am learning that I LOVE what it represents; that we all have a role in this effort to care for kids without homes and that it isn’t a one (wo)man job.

Thus far, our team has raised roughly $24,000 in a little over a month. That money has come from forty-two of you that have said “yes! I want IN.” And I can’t begin to express what that means to me. Forty-two of you want to partner in this mission that my team and I whole-heartedly believe in.

When initially asked if I’d be willing to take on this role one of my first responses was, “Younglife staff can be really lonely- I don’t want to set out on a solo mission.” And I don’t have to, because, forty-two of you have offered to join me. Forty-two of you have reminded me that I am not alone- that we are doing this together in some form or fashion. That’s a pretty great support system, I’d say.

And that is not even accounting for the many who have offered to pray and follow along , which, while harder to calculate (I don’t have a spreadsheet for this yet :) ) means just as much. I mean it, I can’t tell you how empowering it is to know that we are on your minds and hearts and that you too, long to love homeless kids in your own special way. What a freaking gift.

At present time we have a team of five folks on the ground who have offered their time, talents and love to homeless kids. Along with that, we have a school that serves exclusively homeless youth, opening their arms to us ready to help us make this a reality within their community and eventually launch us beyond their walls.

Have I mentioned I am really excited? Because I AM.

So more than anything, I want to say thank you. Thank you for believing in this crazy mission. Thank you for believing in me and this really great team I am working with. (Seriously, they are the best.)

The details are still fuzzy, but coming together so beautifully. I am honored to do this as my JOB (what?!) and I am humbled to do it alongside of all of you. Each one of you is a gift, a reminder that God is in the details, both big and small and on the days when things feel more hazy than others, to know I have an army behind me reminds me that this thing is good. So, so good.

And guess, what? Because of this, because of you all, I don’t feel so alone after all.

*If you missed older posts, you can read HERE how this whole thing started and HERE you will find a link to give if you feel so led.

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Do You Want to Get Well?

“Explain it to me; in those moments, that feeling, what is it? Is it more physical or mental?” he asked over dinner one night. “I’ve never experienced anxiety, it doesn’t make any sense to me.”

I was crushed.

This was my best friend I was talking to- if he didn’t get it, get me after all that I’ve allowed him to be privy to, than surely nobody else ever would.

“It’s both,” I replied. “Like somehow my brain might implode and explode at the same time. Like I’m about to climb the bare walls. Like I need to sprint seven miles without stopping in an attempt to exorcise what feels akin to poison in my veins- running through me, making it impossible to sit still…and yet I find myself unable to get out of bed because the tightening in my chest, coupled with nausea and fear are so bad I can’t move. It feels like I am crazy and will never recover.”

Five years later and the day still remains crystal clear; I was sitting in a pew three rows from the front as the pastor in front of me was speaking about a paralytic man in John chapter 5. The man had been sick for 38 years and had devoted his life to lying by a pool in attempt to win perhaps the strangest competition I’ve ever heard of, in an effort to be healed. (Seriously, if you don’t know this story- look it up, it’s wild.) Jesus came to the pool and saw the man, and going before him he asked if he wanted to get well. When the sick man replied, “Umm yeah, duh” Jesus told him to pick up his mat and walk- the man was healed.

“Do you want to get well?!” the pastor shouted at the congregation. “DO YOU WANT TO BE HEALED?!” he screamed again as tears poured down my face. “Then just ask! Have faith!”

I wanted to stand up and scream “Bullshit!” For years I hadn’t just been asking- I’d been b-e-g-g-i-n-g, pleading with God to fix my mind and body that felt so fragile, constantly on the verge of breaking and He hadn’t.

What else was I supposed to do? Where does his message leave a person like me?

If I’ve asked God to free me of this and He still hasn’t, then what?

“Do you think it will ever get better?” he asked. “Like, do you think you can be healed of this?”

“I mean, I want to say yes. I want to believe God can fix me, in fact, I do believe He can fix me- but I don’t know if I believe He ever will…and it’s hard to make sense of that. It’s hard to trust a God like that- one that makes so little sense. Why wouldn’t He want me to be better?”

It’s been several years since that day in church. Years that have been tethered to doubt, loss of faith and regaining it again. I believe God is good- but I don’t really have many more answers today than I did back then as to why and how He heals. I’d be remiss if I said I didn’t see God in the throes of my anxiety, but that doesn’t mean I get it…I guess it just means I can keep going, even when it’s the worst, I can press on even when I feel frail.

And perhaps the craziest part is, I think He is answering my prayer- not in the way I’d prefer. I wish He’d come alongside me, gently grab my hand and tell me to “take up my mat and walk,” but I’m becoming more and more convinced that while God can and does heal in that way, He also often chooses to heal quietly and gently over time. God seems partial to healing me and teaching me by way of the process over by way of the thunderous lightening and instantaneous miracles I’d prefer.

Today I can tell you that while I am nowhere near “healed” I am better than I was- if for no other reason simply because I know myself more. These days I’m better able to identify my triggers and how to stave off anxiety through what I call salt-therapy; tears, sweat and splashing in the ocean. Does that look like the great grand miracle I hoped for and that pastor told me I’d find if I just had a littttle more faith? No, but I’ve learning to accept God’s ways over my own, even when they hurt and cause confusion. (And they often do.)

I’m learning to lean into hope a little more, trusting that God’s not a liar- that He started this and He will finish it, when and how He deems fit and perhaps for the first time in my life, I can accept that. I choose to trust His crazy, often frustrating process because I believe that He is good and far wiser than I.

I’d be lying if I said I don’t still long for the simplicity of jumping in the pool and being instantly better, but I am learning that for now jumping in the ocean will just have to do.

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Dear Friends,

The fact that you’re reading this means one thing: I’ve lost my battle.

What battle? …This battle:

“I will never, ever go on Young Life staff again.”

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve sworn those words. And not because I dislike Young Life. The truth is- I love it. It’s been a huge part of my adult life. But for the last 12 years I would have confidently report that God would never (ever) call me back on the payroll.

“Fine. The only way I’d even consider being on Young Life staff is if I could serve homeless kids- and while Young Life does really amazing things for teens, that’s not one of them.”

Like I mentioned in a post last week, over a year ago I heard God speak something to me- He was calling me to more. I didn’t know what it was then, but I promised to look and to listen to where He might be leading me. In April I gave away half my belongings, moved out of my apartment and started saving money to move. I didn’t know where, and in all honesty didn’t really want to move per se; but I knew, just knew God was calling me somewhere I’d yet to discover.

In May I got a message from Josh. “If you’d consider moving, I have a job for you.”

“Are you still working for Young Life?”


“Are you still in San Diego?”


“Awesome! But no thank you.”

That was it for months. Radio silence, as I was sure this wasn’t what God was telling me to pursue. (Or what I wanted.)  

By July I could no longer ignore the voice telling me I needed to follow-up with him.

Side note: Can we take a moment to talk about that voice? She can be downright annoying and pushy- am I right? Good grief. Anyway…

So from a crackly landline (turns out, those still exist) at Woodleaf I made the call. Two hours and miles of pacing later we’d come up with some semblance of a plan: let’s start Young Life for homeless kids in San Diego.

“Are we really gonna do this?” I asked.

“Yes! We’ve gotta try!”

“But this is really terrifying.”


When I first began leading Young Life I did so because my high school self was a mess, to put it mildly. Adolescence was so hard for me; I struggled with insurmountable insecurity, leading me to many frightening choices, one being a substance addiction. Looking back I can honestly say the two things that saved my life were my support system and seeing the evidence of how much God loved me.

I don’t want to imagine where my life would be without either of those things.

And yet, there are thousands of kids lacking both a support system and an understanding of how loved they are by our Creator, while also navigating life on the streets.

As a believer in Jesus’ call to love the “least of these” I can’t sit with these statistics without doing everything in my power to make a dent in them.

At present time there are two schools serving the homeless teenage population, with over 20,000 homeless youth in San Diego County. This is where we’re planning to start; by partnering with both schools to build relationships with the students and staff- and in that learn the needs of the community. (Honestly, I want Young Life to reach every single homeless teenager in the county, schooled or not,  but know feasibly that we need to take it one step a time. Slow down, Rachel, SLOW DOWN.) I want to take what I’ve learned the past 10 years serving the homeless population in Los Angeles, marry that with the 8 years I was a Young Life leader, build a team, make a plan, cultivate relationships with kids, and connect with service providers.

Young Life has never done this before and I am excited, nervous, aaaand also sort of feel like a deer in the headlights. Leaving will be hard, but staying would be impossible- God has done too much to make it clear that this is where he’s steering me.

I long to see Young Life as a support system that these teenagers may not otherwise have.

It’s a bit wild, a bit nuts, and will probably be a bit messy, but I can’t shake this calling. (No matter how hard I’ve tried.)

Oh…also, Did I mention I’m terrified? T-E-R-R-I-F-I-E-D.

Most nights my prayers have gone something like this:

“But God, what if we can’t get enough funding?” (Huge worry- like HUGE.)

“What if the kids hate us/me?”

“What if we fail? I just quit my job and plan to uproot my life to make this happen, it can’t fail. Please God, don’t let it fail!”

Trust me, Rachel.

“Uggggh, okay fine God, but this is really scaring me so just keep that in mind, okay?”

So here is why you are reading this (Hopefully you’re still reading this.): I NEED YOU.

Like, for reals need you.

First, I need you to pray. Go ahead, right now. I’ll wait………..(Stop it. Stop reading! I said pray! C’mon!)

Are you finished?

Great. Thank you for that.

Second, I need any and everyone who knows how to fundraise to raise your hand and give me a freaking clue. To put it mildly, fundraising is not my gift. Money freaks me out and I have very little idea how people do this- so anyone who has a semblance of how this might work effectively, holler at a sister.

We need to raise a minimum of $40,000 just to get this thing off the ground. While some people have told me this number is doable, in my mind you might as well tell me I need to raise 1 trillion- so please, don’t be shy. Helllllp! S.O.S.!

Third, if you yourself would like to be a donor, you can do so HERE. There are a couple things I can promise you if you choose this option: I will more than likely cry a tear for each dollar you donate and I will keep you updated as much as you’d like on our progress, stories, etc. I’d like to make every effort possible to make this a team initiative, even if only virtually. 

SO. Next (awkward) steps.

If you fall into any of the 3 previously mentioned categories and feel called, compelled, or guilted (did I mention it’s my birthday tomorrow) into joining this new ambitious, team of pioneers who want to break ground for Young Life in reaching homeless teenagers- I’d love your commitment to pray, to advise, or to donate.

AND. I’m going to ask you to do so boldly. I’m going to ask that you please share this with someone (social media is great, as is email, phone calls and carrier pigeons- I’m not picky). Public declarations are powerful- and I need a snowball of champions willing to take this calling on with me.

Need more info before you can get behind this plan? Awesome, I happy to chat further about what this might look like, you can reach me at hitonbythehomeless@gmail.com

And know that even if you only read this whole letter,  I’m deeply thankful for your attention and your critical place in my life. You are my friends, not my bottom line so even if all the resources you can give right now are the minutes you took to read and learn about what’s next in my life, I value you far more than I can express on this page.

So much love,


In case you missed the donation link in the sea hyperlinks above, here it is again riiiight HERRRRE.

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Moving Forward.

February 20, 2014
(From a letter I wrote to a friend)

The last couple months- and specifically, the last couple of weeks- my heart has been very burdened for the poor and marginalized in a way that feels… different (for lack of a better word) than it has before. I have felt a monumental level of angst that’s led me to feel like there has to be something more than where I am now- which in itself feels weird…where am I more needed than Skid Row? This place is on fire. I mean, I have always been burdened in this way to some degree, but something in me is very unsettled. To clarify, I am not unhappy, rather I feel sort of comfortable…even in my discomfort feels comfortable…I’m not sure if that makes sense.

I don’t really know what this means, but I just keep hearing God say “I have more for you.” I feel sort of like He has given me a vision for the radical, but my eyes can’t seem to focus or see any further than just a combination of colors and shapes — no real clarity.

And that angst never really went away. It did seem to be at bay for a bit… until April.

This time it came with such significant force there was no denying it. Or ignoring it.

I started praying that God would make things clear and move me forward, fairly certain a physical relocation was to come of this… Within 4 days my roommates and I simultaneously decided to move out of our apartment. It was them who brought it up first and it was a shock. A good shock. And I cried because I knew God had heard me.

In June we moved out…and well, I never moved back in… anywhere- really because I just didn’t know where to go. I was certain God was calling me somewhere, but it had yet to be determined. So while my roommates packed up and moved their stuff into their new homes, I purged my belongings and stored what I couldn’t fit in my car or didn’t immediately need. And thus began my new life sleeping on people’s couches, and in their guest beds, and staying in my old bedroom at my folks’ house, and for three weeks in a little room at Younglife’s Woodleaf camp.

It’s a strange feeling when you don’t have an actual space of your own. As what one might call a “loud introvert” this has been extremely difficult for me at times. There are days my brain aches for my own bed to crawl into and block out the world; somewhere to comfortably read, write…or let’s be honest, mind-numbingly watch Netflix. (Yes Netflix, I am “still here” just play the next episode and stop judging me.) Sleep now comes less easily and I’ve had to learn the art of  creative grocery shopping and food preservation. (I’ve also said quite few swear words looking for clothes that have somehow been lost in the abyss that is my trunk.)

But it’s also been kind of awesome.

I’ve learned to carve out spaces for myself in the oddest places to find seclusion for my often reclusive mind. I’ve built and solidified relationships with the people who’ve taken me in and allowed me to act like a full-fledged housemate. I’ve learned to ask for help. (note: This is still a work in progress.) I’ve learned what it looks like to make God the source of my comfort and the consistency I crave, and I’ve seen His love for me in ways that leave me dumbfounded and speechless.

This week though, I had to take the next step- the one I knew would be the hardest.

Monday morning I went into work and I gave notice at my job. August 31st is my last day with Skid Row Housing Trust. Just writing that knots up stomach and starts the tears all over again. This feels more terrifying and more sad than leaving any apartment I’ve lived in. In this place I feel like I found myself and learned what it means to just be. It’s the place I’ve met, walked away from, and re-met God over and over. This place is my heart, these square miles my home. So much of who I am is a reflection of Skid Row and it’s scary to leave, to learn who I am apart from it.

But deep down, I’ve known this was coming. I heard it in that angst so many weeks ago, and I prayed for it when I asked to be move forward. So I’m confident I am being called elsewhere- as hard as I’ve tried, quieting that voice in my soul isn’t possible- I had to listen, I have to go, I have to use what I’ve learned somewhere new.

I would love to end this by sharing exactly what’s next, but I can’t, because I don’t really know.

I have some ideas and some tentative plans, but nothing is really solidified yet.  It’s all quite weird, frightening, and really exciting. I feel like a blank canvas, ready to start something new, somewhere new, knowing full well that I will take Skid Row with me every step of the way- it’d be impossible not to; this place is woven into the fiber of who I am.

I am it and it is me, forever.

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Pardon Our Dust.

“Live a good story.”

I’ve heard that expression a lot the last few months. I’ve seen it posted on facebook and recently, I even saw it tagged on a billboard. (Told you the streets of L.A. are mean.)

The thing is, every time I see this trendy  “Live a good story” catch-phrase, I can’t help but cringe a little bit. I’m afraid that in our efforts to live a good story it’s becoming really, really easy lose sight of living a life we love, for one that’s a great anecdote. And this ideology seems to fit snugly into the digital world in which we’re living- encouraging us to curate a good story for people- which is not at all the same as enjoying your life humbly and authentically…even if others aren’t gawking in admiration or worse, envy.

Oh, in case you missed it, I am talking about myself here. Guilty. As. Charged.

As a writer, occasional speaker, and advocate, this can get muddy and weird. Not to mention, hard to navigate- so much so that I often balk, whine, and want to quit altogether. I’m constantly trying to figure out what needs to be written, what stories need to be shared, and which of life’s moments should be safeguarded as sacred and personal. I’ve made a lot of mistakes.

That said, a lot’s been happening as of late. In short, I’ve made myself virtually homeless, living out of boxes in my car, moving around between Younglife camp and different people’s homes while I try to figure out where my next one should be. It’s hard to recall the last time I woke up and immediately, in my sleep-fogged mind, knew exactly where I was. It’s strange, uncomfortable, kinda awesome and quite honestly, makes a fairly decent story– which is perhaps why I’ve been finding it so hard to write about. I’m currently in the process of sifting through which parts should be offered for public consumption, which are meant to be lived out loud and which belong to me and those who are woven into them.

The answers will come, I’m sure of it. And so will the words. But until they do, here is my offering; all of my favorite interwebbing things that have nothing to do with my life or advocating for folks without homes, but have been hoarded in my phone for times when I need to pee my pants a little:

B7sA6yxCAAAQa15B-UQYMACcAAwWu4 ccc Fqimm My-virginity-is-safe-up-here

I am afraid I will never love any future children of my own as much as I love this kid:

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We need you.

I don’t write a ton of poetry…and I share far less than I write, but I think perhaps this one needs to be heard.

I’m certain if asked, each of us could make a laundry list of injustices we see in the world begging for change, desperate for healing. While I don’t believe each one of us is called to act upon every broken construct, as that would be impossible, I do believe we are all called to something– to watch, listen and act where we are moved and able.

So consider this my appeal, a battle cry of sorts- pleading with you to start, to keep going and/or to begin again ushering love into this crazy broken world. We can’t do this alone.

We need you.

We need you to fight.
To stand up for what you believe in.
To see the injustices of this world and be committed enough to deconstruct them piece by piece.
To be brave.

We need your hands.
To lift.
To carry.
To build.
To exchange tangible grace with those who crave it most.

We need your voice.
To scream for Truth.
To sing of peace.
To comfort with love.

We need your arms.
To wrap around the lonely.
To block out the cold.
To break down walls and build monuments in their place.

We need your heart.
To love this world into shalom.
To offer forgiveness to the broken.
To offer hope wounded.
To remind a desperately pained world that better days are ahead.

I need you.
To remind me that you need my hands.
To remind me that you need my voice.
To remind me that you need my arms.
To remind me that you need my heart.

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The Lost One.

I’ve cried a lot today. Big shocker, two/thirds of you think, knowing my familiarity with tears. That’s okay, I thought it too even as I wrote it.

Tears keep streaking my cheeks because while I am dumbfoundly excited and proud that after months and months of painstaking work my team and I have managed to identify, process and house 66 people, we lost one. In the week leading up to her move-in she was around and then just gone. Vanished. We have no idea where she could be.

This reality is not new to me, it happens all the time working with a transient population, but something about this one feels more off than most. Miss K is a tiny older lady, who speaks broken English and is often rather confused- the fact that she has managed on the streets for as long as she has speaks volumes as to her tenacity and strength. I admire that about her.

“You should be happy! Go celebrate the 66 people who will sleep safely in BEDS tonight!”

“I am! I am! I am ELATED…but I can’t deny the knot in my stomach with Miss K’s name on it. I don’t care what we do, we have to find her.”

And while I am deeply saddened and determined to find Miss K and bring her home, that’s not why my eyes keep spilling over.

I’ve mentioned before that my getting-to-this-far point in my life has been colorful. I went through years of being all over the dang map; struggling with substances, faith, doubts in that faith and deep seated insecurities that led me to make some very poor and dangerous choices.

But God never gave up.

He never stopped coming after me, showing me His face when finding me curled up behind life’s dumpsters and ditches. He never said “Well shit, looks like I lost her- but whatever, look at all these other wonderful children I have!”

I don’t know if anyone would have blamed Him if He had.

But He didn’t.

He kept looking for His lost sheep until He found her. She was messy and dirty and full of shame, but He didn’t care, he was just happy she was coming home where she belonged.

And I think I finally get it, to some very small degree at least.  At the end of the day it’s not about numbers or statistics, it’s about people- each one being unique and special and loved. I am overjoyed when I see the faces of the 66 others, but the real celebration will begin when we welcome our last one home.

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Keep Watching.

I saw Jesus last week. Not literally- I mean, I did see a couple shaggy haired hippy-types (swoon), but I didn’t actually see him walking about town- put your phones down, I don’t need an intervention just yet.

No, I saw Jesus on Skid Row.

I saw him in the eyes of all 31 new residents as we handed them keys to Skid Row Housing Trust’s newest apartment complex.

I heard his voice in my new friend as she tearfully sung me the Hallelujah Chorus when I informed her that after months of bureaucratic red tape her paperwork and lease were finally completed and ready to be signed.

I saw Jesus in the heart of my co-worker Ally,who sat with our new visually impaired resident, guiding him hand-on-hand as he signed his new lease.

And again in the smile of the man who disclosed to me his HIV status, claiming his diagnoses to be the thing that saved his life, waking him up to the self-destructing lifestyle he’d been living.

I saw him in the team that I work with, whose tears matched my own as we welcomed these folks home after weeks of insanity-inducing work.

And if I am being totally forthright, it sort of confused me. It’s hard to wrap my head around the beauty beneath the ash that is right in front of my very eyes, while it feels like the rest of the world is being engulfed in flames.

I find myself reading through article after article, heavily weighted and haunted by the state of our country’s race relations, by the destruction left in the wake of the earthquake in Nepal and by the absolute evil that is terrorizing thousands on the other side of the world and wonder how it’s possible to see joy, beauty and hope, fearing that I am simply out-of-touch.

Maybe if it were in my own backyard I’d feel differently, I’ve wondered- only to remind myself that it is in my own proverbial backyard.

I’ve been reading a lot of Psalms lately- primarily because I find comfort in David’s wayward emotions, he makes me feel less crazy- or at the very least, understood. In chapter 34 he claims that God is near to the brokenhearted. It makes me laugh to think that I once memorized those words to get me through a break-up and repeated them again when moving a few years back- those things seem a bit trivial to me now, but I can’t deny that they were true then and feel even more true now.

So maybe that’s just it- maybe he is more near in this place, to these people I have come to call my own. David talks repeatedly about how much our Lord loves justice and that His heart beats compassionately for those in need– maybe He’s set up a tent down here too. Or maybe He just knows how desperately I need to see His face some days. I don’t really know, I don’t understand it- I am still wading through dichotomy and theology of it all.

But I believe He’s here and I believe He’s in all of the “there’s”- the places where people need to see Him as badly as they need their next breath.

So I will keep watching.

I will look for those glimpses of His face, praying that not one of us misses him in all this mess and heartache. I will keep hoping that the ash reveals to us a beauty unheard of and I won’t stop praying for shalom.

Join me?

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Advice Column.

I’m not very good at taking advice, but man I am sure given a lot of it. My old roommate/close friend Megan once said to me, “when I have advice I think you should take I typically try to word it in a way in which you end up thinking it was your idea.” Did I mention Megan is brilliant? She has inadvertently advised me to make some of my better decisions in life.

It should come as no shock however, that I loooove giving advice- especially about relationships and what one should do with their life…two things I have zero business acting like the authority on, but whatever it’s your choice if you’re dumb enough to take it.

It’s barely a hyperbole to say that roughly 80% of the advice I am ever given is something to the effect of, “Rachel, you really need to chill,” because well, I lean just a teeeeensy bit on the anxious side.

I’ve been hording a Word document for some time now of some of the best and most ridiculous remaining 20% of advice I’ve been given the last few years and thought I’d share it; Enjoy. Maybe you can even glean some healthy insight (especially regarding your teeth; your friends).

Relationships are not a pissing contest, Rachel- stop trying to win them.
-my former boss

Don’t date idiots, you’re too pretty to do that- you never want to waste your face.
-my resident, Pam

You don’t trust yourself enough. Look in the mirror, say ‘I am a bad-ass’ and trust yourself.
-my pal T.J.Stafford

You need to start dressing cuter and more girly when you run or go to the gym- either that or just expect to only get hit on by women and players who don’t care if you look like a little boy.
-my co-worker/friend Richard

Stop falling in love with potential- who is the person now? They will change, we all do, but you need to know that even if they don’t, who they are now is worth laying your heart on the line for.
-my mom

Men like women who wear make-up, they don’t like duds- are you following me here, Rachel? No, you’re probably not…Rachel START WEARING MORE MAKE-UP.
-my resident, Andre

You should aspire to be a CEO or famous or something that will deem you important enough to have an assistant so that they can start doing all your tech work before you get fired for breaking something important.
-our I.T. guy

You should brush your teeth less aggressively- they are not your enemy, they are your friends.
-my dentist

You should go on the show Naked and Afraid- you’re weird and hippy enough to make it work.
-my co-worker Gilbert
(note: this is NOT true, I’d die the second a snake came near me or I had to eat a bug.)

You should start wearing costumes on dates, that way even if they suck they’ll be funny.
-my boss Joey

You should marry a doctor so that you can you delete your Web-md app.
Emily Crawford (my cous-sis-bff and brilliant musician)

You should marry a lawyer so that you’ll finally decide that you really belong in law school.
-my grandpa

You should marry Matt Kemp.
-my resident, Sheila
(note: I AM TRYING.)

You should marry my single friend ______.
-76% of people I have ever met post my 25th birthday

You should never marry an actor. Ever.
-my friend Jeff…who is an actor

Keep your head in the game, kid.
-me to myself, almost everyday

Feel free to add your own in the comment section…advice you’ve been given that is, not advice for me, as I probably won’t take it. :)

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Winging It.

A week or so ago I got a message from someone with a question I get asked a lot (and I ask a lot to others); How do you keep going? How do you cope when things are hard? Because I find it nearly impossible to write short answers to anything I care about (ask anyone that I’ve ever sent a text message to), I wrote back a small dissertation that I thought I’d share, as I find it to be a vital question and something so so soooo important when living out any peace-waging effort.

I have not cornered this market, but here are some things I have picked up along the way:

Counseling. I have been in and out of counseling for years. I first started going after being held-up/car-jacked in college and started displaying really odd behaviors, fears and nightmares. I was interning at AIDS Project Los Angeles and slowly a job that I had LOVED was turning me into a complete wreck. If needed, counseling is one of the greatest tools, once you can humble yourself enough to say “I freaking need help.” (That part took me a long time- in fact, someone else made my first counseling appointment for me and strong-armed into going. That said, I think everyone in the world could benefit from it.)  It has really assisted me in processing things when I’ve thought I might lose my mind. It’s also helped me learn how to set up healthy boundaries- learning where to let go and recognize that I can’t make people’s decisions for them even if I want to and that at the end of the day, I really have very little control over anything has helped me a ton.

Art/Writing. I am not some incredibly talented artist- most of visual art is in a closet at my parent’s house and a good majority of the things I’ve written are in journals that I’ve made four different people promise they’d burn unread in the event that I die unexpectedly or decide to run for presidency- but finding a way for me to express myself has been a huge processing tool for me. Sometimes in the midst of something it’s really hard to see it for what it’s worth, I’ve found that reflecting upon things after the fact can be a pretty powerful healer and motivator.

People. I am INSANELY lucky in the human department. I have the best support system. I have a group of girls I call my “home team”- we send each other texts constantly updating, making jokes, asking for prayer, encouraging one another, screaming cuss words when we’re frustrated, etc., as well as a family that just won’t quit.  Knowing that I am never walking alone has changed everything for me. Getting to a place where I was not too prideful to reach out and ask for help is not always easy for me, but it’s ALWAYS worth it. Having the right people around you who know you and know when it’s time to be gentle and empathetic and when it’s time to call you out on your crap is everything. I am not always easy to call out- I am super sensitive and more often than not will either cry and/or get defensive, but the people who love me the most are not afraid of that, they love me enough to push through those barriers. They also love me enough to know when what I need to hear most is “give yourself grace, Rachel.” This doesn’t mean I am never lonely- I think everyone is to some degree or another, but there is crazy freedom in being loved by people who understand you.

My faith. It took me a long time to really understand that God loves me, but He has really made my eyes open to that in the last few months in a way I’d never seen before. He’s done a lot of reminding me where I’ve been and how present He’s been from the beginning. Faith has always been a huge part of me, but it’s fluctuated, it’s never been simple or easily packaged- the thread it’s woven in and out of the facets of my being though make it impossible for me to deny. God has been really, really good to me and again, placed really amazing people in front of me who constantly reminded who He is when I fail to remember. I went through a period where I really, reaaallly doubted that God was real and found so much grace in my questioning. God is not afraid of my spinning head and through His allowance of me being in that place, I would say, I can see Him more clearly now than I ever had before.

Recognizing that I am fighting WITH God, not against Him. For a long time I would get really pissed at God and scream things like “If you were really good you wouldn’t allow injustice” or “DAMMIT, FIX THIS!” and the response I heard back the loudest: “That’s what you are here for, Rachel.” We, as solo humans can’t fix everything, but God will call you where He wants you to right the wrongs you can for His kingdom. Often times that calling looks less like a huge blaring sign and more like this is what fires me up the most- this is what speeds my heart-rate, I’ve gotta do this.

Looking at the micro, not just the macro. I HAVE to celebrate the small victories, not just the large. Looking only at the bigger picture constantly threatens to swallow me whole. Lao Tzu’s quote “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” is one of my favorites, because it’s TRUE. Very few things will ever change overnight, but each step, each victory makes a dent and should be celebrated. Some days that is celebrating that one of my residents has been living indoors for an entire year, while other days it’s that someone who struggles with alcoholism ate a sandwich before they started drinking instead of doing so on a dangerously empty stomach- BOTH are victories, both deserve to be accounted for.

I know there are a million other, perhaps better, ways* to cope with the messiness of life and seeking shalom, but this is what I have learned to be most effective for me thus far. There’s a chance I could look back ten years from now and think wow, I sure was naive… but for now, these processing tools are working for me. I have a piece of paper taped to my computer at work that says “we’re all just kind of winging it” and I think to many degrees that’s true- it’s simply a matter of finding what helps you wing it with the most sanity, inner-peace and motivation to keep you fighting for what’s good in this world.


*wine, definitely wine


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