11.26.2014

Time for a change | big announcement

I began this blog 6 years ago. I remember the day I decided it was the next project I wanted to tackle. I excitedly told Mama about the idea, and she was all for it. Said I needed an outlet for all my writing craziness.

I wanted to think of a clever, eye-catching name for it. The first one I thought of was 'God's Daughter'. But that was way back before tons of bloggers started calling themselves 'Daughter of God', 'Daughter of the King', 'God's Girl', 'His Daughter', etc. Yup. I was the hipster who started the trend. (Not really. But yeah maybe. Anyway, moving on.)


I was looking through the past years of posts I have written on here and 1) thanked God for improvement in writing skills. I was/am sorely embarrassed by my writing techniques three years ago, compared to now, 2) I am beyond astonished that y'all have stuck around for this long..., and 3) I've decided I need to move on. No, I'm not deleting this website or anything like that. Simply deciding to make a few changes in my little corner of the blogging sphere. Don't worry. I'm gonna stick around a little longer to annoy you. But I've changed. I'm not the same person I was six years ago. I'm different. And different is good.


So, after this post is published, the blog will no longer be titled 'God's Daughter', but simply, 'It's Just Raquel'. And let me explain the meaning and reason behind this name:


1) All of my social networks usernames are @itsjustraquel (Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, etc). I have a new blog fanpage on Facebook too!!


2) This is just me. I'm not perfect, I'm not glamorous, I'm not 'the norm', I'm not super trendy, I'm not as good of a writer as I wish I could be. I'm just me. This blog is just mine. I'm just Raquel. I seek no glory for myself but for my God. And while this blog will always be written in the hopes of encouraging others, I also wanted to make it more friendly and approachable. And, like I said before, I'm ready - and needing - a change.

PLEASE NOTE: I will be changing the URL for this blog, as well, but not until next month. I just want to make sure everyone knew about the change before this URL suddenly isn't available.

And since tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day, I thought it only appropriate to give thanks, not only to God, for this blog, but also to YOU. Thank you for being a loyal and continual follower. Your support and encouragement is such a blessing.


11.22.2014

19 and still at home


I’ve had several people ask me when I plan on moving out.  I think most teenagers are expected to graduate, move out, and go to college when they turn 18.  But here I am, at 19, a 2012 graduate, still living at home.  Is there something wrong with this picture?  Or is there something wrong with the mentality of 18-and-leave?

I will be honest, moving out doesn’t seem like an absolutely horrible idea.  I’d get to make my own schedules and my own rules.  (And before you go jumping to the conclusion that just by that statement, I’m some rebellious child, I say those thoughts in complete respect and honor of my parents.)  While moving out doesn’t seem like such a horrible thing, at the same time, living at home has so many benefits.    

I have decided to continue living at home while I’m single merely because of the fact that I love my home.  My parents love each other and that love has poured over into making the house we live in a home.  Whenever I’m away, even if it’s just for the day while I’m at work, the thought of going home at the end of it makes me happy.  I get to take a shower, sleep in my own bed, wash my clothes in our own washer and dryer, and know for certain that there will always be food when I’m hungry.  My parents have rules – most of which I have no problem abiding by.  Sure, we don’t see eye to eye on everything.  Who does?  But they have instilled in me the Biblical command of obeying and honoring them since I was a wee thing, and since growing older and being able to actually understand what that meant has proved to be challenging and rewarding.  My parents are fabulous too because they don’t lord themselves over me, commanding me to do this, demanding me to do that.  Instead, as I’ve become an adult, they have graciously and patiently asked me or told me their opinion, instead of instructing me.  “No, Raquel, we’d rather you not go see that movie.”  “No, we’d prefer if you stayed home tonight.”  Wording things this way gives me the choice whether or not I can or will do something.  And let me tell you, I love and respect my parents enough that if doing something they’d ‘prefer I not do’, I don’t have as much happiness and fun in whatever it is I’m doing.

Still living at home doesn’t mean I think I’m incapable of living on my own, providing for myself, that I’m not responsible or hard-working.  It’s been a choice of mine.  And of course my family has had a bit of an impact in telling me how much they’d miss me if I ever did move out.  At home, I am surrounded by ones who love me.  And being such a people-person, living on my own, as a single young woman, would be difficult cuz I’d get lonely very quickly. Haha

Living at home is much more affordable too.  I don’t have to worry about paying taxes or rent or household bills.

Living at home gives me time and availability for ministering needs and daily life events that I couldn’t otherwise do if I lived on my own.  Our family home is constantly buzzing with activity, people visiting, spending the night, coming and going.  And living at home has given me many opportunities to practice hosting.  And my Mama is one of the best teachers.

God has placed my parents in my life as my protectors, mentors, guardians, and the ones in authority over me.  People are quick to take that as the evil ogre picture of parents beating children into submission because they’re ‘above’ them in authority.  But no.  Like I explained above, my parents are fabulous, kind, patient, and very fair people.  And I have accepted them as the ones God has placed in my life above me, ones who I am commanded to honor and respect – not by them, but by God.  Honoring authority comes from loving whoever is in authority above you.  I love my God, therefore I want to obey and honor Him.  The same is with my parents.  Because I love them, and they love me, I want to show them my honor and respect and gratitude by doing as they ask, acting upon what they would have me do.

And living at home is one of those ways I can do that. 

11.13.2014

Everyday Blessings // 27


>> getting a job
>> loving my job
>> fabulous and fun coworkers
>> space heaters
>> granola bars - with chocolate
>> meeting like-minded believers
>> visiting an invalid friend and introducing him to amazing movies
>> new music (check out Tenth Avenue North's new album, 'Cathedrals')
>> new books (even though I have a pile already)
>> one-on-one time with parents
>> getting home from work to my little brother yelling 'I missed you!'
>> snowy flurries
>> woodstoves
>> hearing from a friend who you haven't talk to in forever
>> naps
>> getting back into crocheting (I've missed it)
>> 5 weeks till I leave for Peru
>> my bro showing up randomly and spending the night
>> a comedy movie that I actually like
>> THIS

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P.S.  I'm giving away the coffee cozy pictured in the photo (above).  I absolutely love it.  And whoever wins it will love it too.

To enter:

1) follow the blog
2) comment what your favorite thing is that happened this month
3) heart Onana Knits

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Winner of the Sparrow Fall Designs gift certificate is:

Emily Ruth

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There are gonna be some big changes happening here on the blog soon.  Keep an eye out!

11.07.2014

A dream comes true


  As we drove out of town, I saw the newspaper office’s sign.  
  “I have always wanted to work at a newspaper.  As a reporter or columnist,” I told Mama.
  “You should call them and see if they’re hiring.”
  “I doubt it.”
  “Try anyway.”
  I shrugged.
  Upon arriving home, her encouragement kept coming to the front of my mind.  Well, why not?  It’s worth a try.
  I guess I had just been so tired of places telling me that they weren’t hiring, or that they needed someone with experience, or that they’d give me a call back and never did.  I was so tired of getting ‘no’ as an answer.  But what I was tired of more, was the fact that I didn’t have a job.
  So I called.
  “Hi, I was wondering if the newspaper was hiring,” I asked in a breathless rush.  Part of me was sure the answer would be negative, while the other half of me waited with hopeful anticipation.
  “Yes, as a matter of fact.  We are in need of a writer.”
  My heart skipped a beat.
  “Our editor just stepped outside for a few seconds, but I can have him call you back.”
  My heart sunk a little.   
  “Okay,” I replied and gave her my name and number.
  After hanging up, I didn’t know what to think.  I told Mama that they were hiring, then went back to reading my book, trying to not get my hopes up that he’d call me back.
  About fifteen minutes later, my cell rang.
  “Hello, I’m looking for Raquel,” an older gentleman’s voice said.  He had a soothing, kind, calm voice and I immediately felt comfortable.
  “Yes, this is she.”
  It was the editor from the newspaper.  Calling to ask me if I’d like to apply for the position.  After saying that I did, he gave me his email address (which I scribbled down and read back to him just to make sure I had gotten it correctly) and told me to send him my resume and a writing sample.  I told him I would as soon as I got off the phone with him.  He said he would look forward to reading them, and then hung up.
  I was starting to get a little excited by now.  Here was a job opportunity that had been a dream of mine for however long.  Plus they’re actually looking for a writer.  I wasn’t just applying on a whim.  And the editor had given me a call back on the same day I had called them. 
  I quickly texted a friend (who has been very encouraging in telling me to apply for writing jobs) and he offered to read over my email, resume and sample writings that I was going to send in.  I was so happy to have a second opinion on it, so quickly agreed to email everything to him.  Instead of sending in a writing sample, I decided to send in two.  And I also gave the editor details about my blog, and included the link after my signature.
  I prayed silently as I hit ‘send’ and the rest of the evening was spent over-thinking.  One of my many faults.  Will he like it?  Did I send it to the right email address?  Did I miss anything in my resume?  A typo would look horrible in an application as a newspaper reporter!
  Thursday passed.  Then Friday.  I had meant to call in and follow up on my application that day but with our family’s annual bonfire and preparing all day for guests, I got too busy.  Saturday, I was gone from home.  Sunday, the office is closed.  
  But Monday morning, I called.
  “Hello, my name is Raquel Duarte.  I called on Wednesday and spoke with you about applying for the job position.”
  “Oh yes, hello.  I meant to call you this weekend, but my schedule got rather busy, I’m afraid.  May I call you back this afternoon when I’m free?”
  “Absolutely.”  And again, let my name and number.
  The two hours seemed to crawl by.  I went to town, took books back to the library, came home, read devotions, ate lunch, read a book...and then, my phone rang.
  I quickly said a prayer as I answered.
  We talked for almost an hour.
  “Well, Raquel, I have a really good feeling about this, and I really love your writing style and enthusiasm and command of the English language.  I’m prepared to offer you this job.  Do you want it?”

  And that, ladies and gentleman, is how I got my dream job of being a reporter for a newspaper.

  Glory be to God.

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In honor of my new job, I wanted to show some respect to legendary journalists who I have always admired and who have been inspirations to me in my writings.  Real life ones and fictional... ;)

- Ernest Hemingway
- Martha Gellhorn (later, Martha Hemingway)
- E. B. White
- Joseph Pulitzer
- Barbara Walters

Fictional:
- Skeeter Phelan
- Tintin
- Peter Warne
- Sophie Hall (well, she's technically a facts checker...)
- Clark Kent
- Babe Bennett
- Joe Bradley

Kudos to anyone who knows what books/movies those fictional reporters are from!  Comment if you do!

11.05.2014

No, we're not dating. Yes, we're best friends.


I tend to have more guy friends than girl friends.  Some people have a problem with that, but I don’t.  Honestly, most of the girls I've known just cause drama and I have enough personal things to deal with and don’t need a “friend” adding more.  Guys are fabulous.  I feel like I can be myself around them.  They don’t wear makeup, so I don’t feel like I have to.  They wear sweats and hoodies, so I feel totally comfortable being around them cuz that’s pretty much my favorite outfit ever.  They aren’t judgmental or stuck-up, and the good ones will always  l i s t e n  to me.  I’m not saying I don’t have any girl friends.  I can count my best girl friends on one hand.  The rest are just friends (ones who I’ll gladly talk to, text, hang out with, etc.) or acquaintances (ones who I’d much rather stay clear of...). 

On the other hand, though, I am so blessed by the guys in my life.  The ones I am closest to, who I consider some of my best friends, are ones who I trust, respect and love being around.  Why?  Because they’re strong Christian men.  I know they are “safe” to be around.  And most importantly, they display Christian love and friendship towards me.  This is rare.  I’ve had many girls tell me how lucky I am to know such guys.  And I am.  I’m incredibly blessed by them.  One of my favorite things about my best guy friends is the fact that they’ll listen to me.  When I tell them about my day, about an achievement, about a dream.  Or even when I’m having an emotional break-down.  And when I’ve finished blubbering, they’ll tell me to suck it up, offer whatever advice they can, and tell me to move on.  It’s amazing.

But what also comes hand in hand with having opposite gender best friends?  Well, you get that lovely question.  One that a recent article I read referred to as “the golden question”.  (That article was also the one that inspired - and was the last nudge I needed - to write this one).  And what is this golden question?  Well, it can come in a few different forms:

“Do you like ____?  Cuz you two hang out a lot.”
“You guys are so cute in all your pictures together.  Are you dating?”
“So do you like him?”

Basically, “You can’t be just friends with him, Raquel.  When are you gonna start dating?”

First of all, I am really curious what determines the best friend/significant other line.  Hanging out a lot together?  Taking pictures together?  Calling each other “best friends”?  Secondly, why can’t people just accept the fact that guys and girls can be, yes, JUST friends without having romantic feelings for each other?

There have been countless times when I have had to explain to inquisitive super nosy people that no, me and (insert name of one of my guys friends) aren’t dating, aren’t interested in each other, and are just friends.  I really don’t prefer to use that term “just friends”.  It gives this air of “not that big of a deal”.  When, to me, these certain guy friends mean a heap to me.  I’ve just relented to saying it because it’s one of the only ways to get my point across to certain people sometimes.

I get really snippy when this golden question is asked of me.  And it’s because I get so frustrated that people have the mentality of: a guy and a girl cannot be best friends without dating each other.  Sure, I get the whole “you should marry your best friend” thing but who are you to assume that this particular best guy friend, at this particular time in my life is my future husband?  

I’m not saying that guys and girls who are friends will NEVER have romantic feelings for each other, that it’s impossible, that it’s stupid.  Nothing of that sort.  All I’m saying is that it IS possible for two people, a guy and a girl, to be best friends and just that.  Friends.  Good friends.  Nothing more.  And if a friendship turns into a relationship, that’s great.  Obviously you need to be friends with someone before you can think about dating them.  But don’t automatically assume that opposite gender friendships are ACTUALLY relationships.

I can honestly say that having close guy friends has been an incredible blessing in my life.  And I am very thankful for them.  So so thankful.  

I appreciate and love all my friendships - with guys and girls.  I especially love the diversity and uniqueness of each of my best friends because they each have different roles in my life, different outlooks, opinions, and personalities.  And all of these have helped and challenged me as an individual, as well as their friend.  I go to one of my guy friends for advice on this or that, and I’ll go to my girl friends when I need help or a good girly conversation.  Both are good.  Both are fun.  Both are healthy.  And both are a blessing.