Rachel Awtrey


Lifestyle | Travel | Faith | Marriage

Posts tagged College
Rush Survival Kit

Oh boy! Rush (or recruitment, whatever you want to call it) is right around the corner and you should be so excited if you're going through! Rush was so fun for me, exhausting - but fun- so I'm pumped for you! Here's a few of the items I wish I had (or I did have) going through recruitment that I think you'll find helpful!

On another note, we know how emotionally exhausting the process can be to so here's a post I wrote a few years ago about some of the things you need to know as a "Potential New Member."


Dorm Room Necessities

I so wish I had these suggestions when going into college! I had no idea what to buy so I just bought all of Target to be honest. There was so much unnecessaries and lots of things I wish I had instead. SO, I'm spilling all of my beans on what helped make my college dorm room "home" and what simplified the college lifestyle for me and my roommate.

Doin' Up Your Dorm Room


It's the one thing that you'll want to splurge on because it's the place you'll come home to, sleep, do homework, take a quick nap in between classes. You'll want it to be the most comfortable and inviting part of your room. At least, that's my theory!

As much as I love white and bright, I'd suggest light bedding but maybe going with a grey. This way, it doesn't look super dirty and you don't have to worry about any stains and such. This is why I love this grey duvet comforter so much! It's linen so it's very very soft and comfortable but also light (so, great for all seasons).

I love cotton sheets but I also really really love jersey sheets. They're softer and stretchier to me so they're easy to change (important if you have a bunk bed) and they're perfect to bundle up in after a long night of studying!

Another "must", as far as comfort goes, is a mattress topper. Most likely, you'll be using the mattress that the university gives you and to be honest, it's not quite a mattress in my opinion. So, to add a little "fluff" I used this mattress topper and slept like a rock every night!

Nothing completes a bed like a headboard. I know, I know, it's silly to have a headboard in college but trust me! It makes alllll the difference in the look of your room. It gives the room a "finished" and "polished" look. Changes the game!


A dorm room is a tiny space, that's not new news to anyone. Let's make the most of the space that you have and make sure all of your belonging are organized properly!

When you host people, you're most likely going to want an ottoman or seating for your guests to sit. Why not make that seating storage as well? That's why I love this storage ottoman! You can stash snacks in there, your shoes, socks, you name it!

I also needed a place to put my hairdryer, my curling iron, straightener, etc. I didn't want to just leave them on the ground and I didn't have a drawer I could fit them in. So, I purchased this styling tool holder and never looked back. It locked on nicely to my lofted bed and it even had a place for cords so it didn't look messy all of the time!

Any kind of basket, you'll find a need for! Go ahead and buy a few cute ones that can blend in as decor like this fringe basket or this pom pom basket

You'll find, too, that you're taking home a lot of important papers or coupons or letters from home. These wired desk organizer are a great place to store all of these sweet items. And to make sure your jewelry doesn't get all tangled up, a jewelry organizer like this one or this one is great to have on your vanity!


If you're not studying at a Starbucks or the library, it'll probably be here, at your desk in your dorm. And when you're not studying, there's no need for this space to be an eye sore. 


This! Now, this is what makes your "home" your "home"! It's the fun little gadgets and gizmos that make it a comfy place to live, to block out the cinderblock walls and to add some color!


These are a few things that you'll probably wish you had if you didn't go through and buy these things. They're the "fun stuff" that keeps you happy and keeps your life a little more simple.

Dry erase boards are great to put inside your dorm room or even on the outside of your door so that people can leave sweet messages, encouragement and communicate something you may need to know! This marbled + gold one is especially cute. 

Bed risers are one thing, but bed risers with an outlet plug on them is a whole 'notha level! It makes plugging in your chargers that much easier! No more climbing under the bed or trying to reach in a crazy place to plug something in! Along with plugging things in, make sure you have plenty of extension cords and make sure that these fit the fire code in your building.

There's probably other rules about being able to hang stuff up on your walls: no nails, no screws in the wall, no holes, etc. So, these sticky strips to put on the wall last all year, my wall decor never fell and they fit standards!

Make sure that you have a mirror on the back of your door to see your outfit from head to toe! It also gives you and your roommate more space to get ready, too!

A water filter is a must. Being able to fill up a pitcher of water from the bathroom sink with tap water and know that it's going to be good and fresh is the best thing! I also will highly recommend a Keurig coffee maker! It's easy to make coffee in the mornings, easy to clean up (super important) and they're quite quiet so you don't have to worry about waking up your roommate in the morning! 

Some other random stuff: this lavender hand sanitizer is a life saver when you're in a rush and don't want to get your hands wet from washing them in between classes! You'll want a good pair of headphones when you're in your dorm room incase your roommate is watching a movie or you want to be polite and listen to your own kind of music. These are some of my favorite!


Gosh, this was probably the messiest part of my dorm for the first few weeks. It was mass chaos until I figured out how to properly organize my clothes for each season, bring out the ones that I needed, put away the ones that I didn't, make sure there was a place for my shoes, a place for my sweaters, you get the gist. 

The vaccum sealed bags are the best space savers when you're trying to put away last season's clothes! It saves so much room in your closet just being able to throw this bag under your bed after it's all air-tight. 

You neeeed a shoe organizer for all of your shoes and maybe even some knick-knacks. The shoe organizer, along with the hanging organizer are a great way to make the most use out of your teeny tiny closet.

Velvet hangers are a secret weapon! The texture really does an incredible job of hanging onto your clothes in your closet to make sure they don't slip down and fall!

Alright, y'all. These scented drawer liners are my JAM! I don't know about you but I get freaked out knowing that my clothes are going in drawers others have used so laying down these drawer liners not only gives me a peace of mind but they also give my clothes the best scent! MUST HAVE!


So maybe you have a bathroom in your dorm, maybe it's a suite and you're sharing it or maybe you're using a communal bathroom. Regardless, this are some things that saved my toosh when it came to making sure I was squeaky clean.

It's kinda gross to shower with bare feet in a communal bathroom, so I wore these flip flops whenever I needed to shower.

This towel wrap is the best thing to use when you're getting ready, it has velcro at the top so you can wrap it around yourself while you're doing your makeup or blow drying your hair!

The bathroom caddy is great to haul all of your products in for your shower! It has awesome pockets and storage and this one is waterproof.

I hope this helps you tremendously and that there were a few things that you caught that you may have forgotten! Let me know what you love or what you're adding in your dorm room!

For reading until the end, here's a little picture of me and my first roommate + BFF on move-in day!

Dear graduate...

That place that you've been for the past 4 (or maybe 5 years), the one that holds frustration, happiness, excitement and anticipation, the place where you met your best friends and maybe even fell in love, the place that you became your true self, messed up a few times to learn a few new things, clung to your roommate when times were rough, laughed at those silly professors, ate that awful food - it will be missed.

But, don't get all caught up with how much leaving campus will be sad for you, because campus is also sad that you're leaving. The time that you've spent on campus was not in vain and it's not quite over. The relationships that you made, the papers you wrote, the tours that you gave, the friends that you hosted, the people that you smiled at - campus will miss you too. So know that just as much as you feel that you'll miss your University, that place will miss you right back because you left a legacy.

Whatever amount of involvement (or uninvolvement) that you had at this special place, you made a difference. If you had not attended those classes, tripped down the stairs, sat next to that stranger at the library, pulled that all-nighter, it wouldn't be the same. 

So, no. The next season might not look the same. It might not have your friends right next door, or your professors just an office visit away, or a football game ticket as accessible, or the opportunities to get involved that campus had to offer but your next season will have you.

Know that the campus isn't the one that made the difference, it was the people on it. Similarly, it's not the job or position, volunteer opportunity, house/apartment, or location that you'll find yourself at next that will have an impact on you. It's you and the people around you that will make that place come alive.

Be thankful now and be present then. Know that you will be missed just as much as you'll miss this but don't keep looking back because you'll miss what's next, dear graduate.

For Exam Week

Exam week can be super stressful - it always was for me! But, I've found that these products and tips have come in handy the past few times that I've been in need of some care and stress relievin'.  I've linked some of my favorite items and you can shop them from here! They're all linked with Amazon prime so if you need it in a hurry, you can get 2 - day shipping! Plus, if you're a student, you get a discount on Amazon Prime that is too good to pass up!



This is your body's fuel for exam week! Don't let it go missing or binge on pizza and ice cream when you're stressed. You'll crash and burn! 

Instead, fuel it with healthy and delicious snacks that are super easy to take on the go! Add the almond butter with apples or bananas to make the perfect snack. These granola bars are super yummy and only hold organic ingredients so there's no worry that what you're putting in your system won't be contributing to that "A+." The Kevita drink is a carbonated (sparkling) type of drink that carries great supplements for your body with a sweet taste! It'll keep you healthy and keep your immune system strong despite the all-nighters you might be taking.



Playlists make all of the difference when it comes to studying. Depending on the vibe that you like to study to, I linked my favorite Spotify playlists for y'all!

Intense Soundtrack


Modern + Upbeat



annnnnd for the caffeine. It's a must, right? Gotta stay up and get to work! If you don't have a coffee pot in your room or maybe you can't necessarily take it "on the go" to the library or your study sessions, just find some hot water and this Via Instant Latte mix gets dumped and stirred in and is the yummiest drink. Not only will it keep you awake, it's a great treat for all the hard work you've been putting into this week! The Corkcicle will keep this latte (or your drink of choice) hot for 12 hours. Or, it'll keep your water cold for 24! Incredible for those long hours. Almond milk creamer is my go to when it comes to lightening up my coffee. It adds a sweet flavor without being too heavy and keeps me from getting the jitters or an upset tummy (if you're like me and don't care for dairy too much).



What you're studying with matters! This pen is my favorite! It's felt tip so it moves easily on your page and doesn't smudge! I feel like when I have the right supplies in my backpack, I always look forward to studying. This notepad set is great for making notes in your notes/textbook but also using to encourage yourself and your friends around you! And the pencils...they're my favorite. Anything Rifle Paper Company is my favorite, honestly. They're No. 2 so you don't have to worry about the lead + scantron issue and their design is pretty dope. 



It's easy to overlook personal care when it turns into finals week but these will help you stay fresh while also not losing time studying to your hygiene routine. The dry shampoo is super easy. If you wake up with more oily hair than you like, spritz a few sprays in your hair, let it sit while you brush your teeth and then massage it in and brush it out. Simple. The lavender oil is proven to be stress reliever. I carry this around all the time - not just when I have an exam to take. I dab some from my fingertips onto my temples of my noggin. It has a strong smell so you don't need much - let the stress relieving begin! The makeup wipes by Burt's Bees are my favorite. Especially the grapefruit kind. They'll take your makeup off quickly after a long night of studying before you put your head on your pillow and it'll also help wake you up in the morning with it's fresh, fruity smell. 


Obviously there's more to finals week than just these products but I find these to be extremely helpful when I have a crazy busy (and sometimes) stressful week ahead. Take care of yourself, first friends and I know you'll do just fine!

What do you use that keeps you sane during exam week (or any stressful week)? I'd love to learn some new tips from you guys!

You're more than finals.

An anthem for you college peeps:

This is a balance. A tricky one at that. We have the opportunity to show what we have learned this semester through written exams handed to us by others. It's a tough situation because you, my friend, have learned so much more than merely inside a classroom. You have learned to grow, how to love, how to manage time, you fill in the blank. Regardless of the grade that you receive back, you are worthy. You are worthy of more knowledge, you are worth of acceptance. 

Be careful, these grades easily attack. They attack our identity, they attack our joy and sometimes, our hope. However, no matter the return on investment, your investment was seen in the eyes of the Father. 

Yes, studying for exams is an investment, for sure. It must be an investment to see fruit. It's easy to write off, as believers, that we are not defined by numbers and throw away responsibility with an eternal mindset. However, we have been called to be faithful with what we have been given. This involves opportunity in academics. The capability we have been presented to learn from one another is remarkable and not something that should be swept under the rug or excused because of our faith. 

"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord" Colossians 3:23

We use these opportunities as gifts to show other people the Lord's providence and glory. This can only happen though if we step into responsibility and understand stewardship.

So, cast away all fear, anxiety and doubt and replace it with confidence, hope and joy with the knowing that Christ holds your future, not your grades or professors. 

Seeking the Better Things

A few days ago, I got to romp around one of my favorite towns with a group of gals full of laughter and vision. We chased the light in our cars from one beautiful backroad, covered in falling leaves, multiple colors of change and farmhouses to historic homes in the heart of Clemson. 

Both of these places were treasurers, and extremely hidden. In my four years at Clemson I never once came across the dead end road we ended up dancing and twirling and giggling on. I never had explored to the back of the Fort Hill Mansion to roll around in the grass, jump on friends backs and enjoy a sunset. 

It's silly how quickly these past four years in college has passed. I try to remember this as I move forward onto bigger (and better) seasons in life. I seek to find the hidden beauty in the place I'm in and called to in the midst of crazy schedules, routines and habits. 

I'm thankful for this evening pointing out the beauty in the places that I've walked or driven by quite too frequently. 

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So, you have a big decision to make...

...and the good news is, you can't mess it up. "Whaa?!" I know. I thought it was crazy too until I started doing some reading and found some pretty cool stuff. 

So, you're either making the decision about what college to go to, what to major in, when should you graduate, should I take a gap year, what would I do with the gap year, where should you go to med school, what do you want to be when you grow up, fill in the blank. Yeah, it's overwhelming, I get it. 

The fear of making a decision because we might make the wrong one is not God's heart for us. Yes, there is plan for our life. We hear that all the time, some of us even have the canvas painted on our walls, but you have to believe it. 

Believing that you're powerful enough to mess up the Lord's plan is a dangerous place to be in. Let me remind you, He is sovereign. His plan never fails. 

Real world example: you've probably heard of Jonah. The poor guy that got swallowed by a whale. If you're lucky, you've seen the Veggie Tales episode.

Refresh yourself here: Jonah

Let me remind you, God called him to Nineveh, a pretty bad place with lots of violence, corruptness, a place where "respect" and "civil" were foreign words. 

Jonah didn't listen, he got on a boat and fled to Tarshish, a different, more peaceful, town. So many times in my life I hear the Lord telling me to act on something He desires for me and (if I'm honest) most of the time my first reaction is "oh heck no." My quick speed and agility comes into play and I sprint in the other direction. 

Jonah did exactly this. He caused some serious problem for the crew on the ship when a storm arose and the waves started stacking over the ship.

Then the Lord sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up. All the sailors were afraid and each cried out to his own god. And they threw the cargo into the sea to lighten the ship.
— Jonah 1:4

I mean, this storm was super for real and scary. Jonah knew that the reason the boat was about to sink was his fault so he told them to throw him overboard and they did. This is when the big fish comes in and swallows him whole. 

Inside the belly, Jonah has a huge Revelation where he calls out to God and admits he was wrong and asks for a second chance. The fish eventually spits him out.

Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.”
— Jonah 3: 1-3

God tells him again to go to Nineveh. Finally, Jonah follows, reluctantly though. 

Although the chances of you jumping in a boat instead of a car and being eaten by an animal is close to none, this story speaks volumes to me and my heart. 

Friends, I'm here to tell you, the pressure is friggin' off. Good gravy, take a breath of relief and fully believe and know that the story is already written, in permanent marker. Life seems so crazy and there seems to be so many eraser marks only because we try and write our own story and when it doesn't line up with what the Lord has, we erase it and try to guess again.

How about we stop guessing and we start leaning, we start becoming eager to know what the Lord has next for us? Instead of standing still, let's go ahead and pick up our foot and start leaning forward and trust that He will equip us with the speed and direction. 

Jonah ran from God when it was time for a decision or big change in his life. Sometimes, that's just what's easiest because we hate to think that what God has for us goes against the five year plan we wrote out in our agendas. Be fluid. Be willing. Be able to change the direction you have in your mind and posture your heart so that when the Lord asks, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" your response is "Here I am. Send me!" (Isaiah 6:8)

This can't be your heart if it's engulfed in fear: fear of making the wrong decision, fear of rejection, fear of discomfort. 

This can't be your heart if it's engulfed in pride: "my plan is better", "I can do this on my own."

I would just hate for it to take you being stuck on a boat in a storm or being swallowed by a sea creature for you to fully believe that God is sovereign.

..whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.
— Matthew 10:39

So let's lose our minds, lose our life and seriously mean what we say when we fully surrendered our life to the Lord, okay?

Personal time: this past year has been bombarded with big decisions for me: engagement, wedding planning, sharing finances with my husband, where will we live? What will we do? Will we do this forever? Thomas is in the military so we have to decided whether he should sign for more years, when do we want kids? How will our careers affect that? Oh! and what should we have for dinner?

So, yeah, I getchya. 

When I'm bombarded with some big decisions, I turn on some music and chill and sometimes, I turn on some music and dance so here are a few options for you from my favorites:

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5 reasons I knew he was the one

Most of the time when people hear our story, or get to know Thomas and I as a family, they’re interested in our process and why we decided to move forward in engagement and then eventually marriage. My reasons for knowing he was the one were great for me, but by no means is this for everyone or a method or a checklist for you and your relationship. I just want to invite you into my thought process and the convictions I had for my life to be vulnerable and hopefully that vulnerability will lead to a breakthrough for you. So here were the five things that stuck out the most to me and propelled me into following Thomas into this season:

We met in high school when I was 15 and he was 17 at a church youth group. It was great but let’s be honest: not everyone is the same person they were the other six days of the week as they were in the sanctuary. Of course, he was great and a gentlemen but I wanted to know the entire Thomas, not just the "Sunday-Thomas" and I’m glad I did. I was often invited over to his family’s house after church for lunch, so I’d go. He was the same Thomas at church as he was with his family. I was then invited to a few of his baseball games and was able to sit with his friends and soon figured out that he was the same guy around his family, our youth group and his friends. This says a lot.

Thomas will admit that a lot of times guys are quick to impress someone, especially us women, and I found this to be true. In their attempt to impress you, they may alter who they are because of them wanting to impress the other people they may also be around at the same time which leaves us confused about their character. Thomas’s consistency was comforting to me. I saw him as "safe". He was confident and because of that he was the same Thomas at the movies with friends as he was at the dinner table with my family. 

Some people don’t know but Thomas and I actually broke up my junior year of high school and rekindled about 2 years later during my first semester in college. In those two years we were separated, lots of things changed. My normal routine had changed, my friend group had changed, my dreams and aspirations had shifted, my family life was completely rocked and to be honest, I wasn’t quite sure who I wanted to be which drove me to make a few decisions that I wasn’t too excited about catching him up on. Here’s how that conversation went:


Thomas and I were broken up, it was towards the end of my senior year and he had just returned back to South Carolina from all of his military expeditions with the Air Force. He called me to let me know he was in town, I loved/hated it because I didn’t know if I wanted anything to do with him but I gave in to a “smoothie get-together” that I didn’t want to categorize as a date. I dreaded it, not because I didn’t want to see him but because I didn’t want to answer the conversation I knew was coming: “so, what have you been up to?”, “how’s your family?”, “what’s changed?”

...I’ve been up to the worst things, I don’t know how my family is doing and what’s changed? Ha. Absolutely everything. I was in a dark spot and my pride never wanted to admit it because deep down inside, no matter how hard I tried to hide it, I still felt something for him and the last thing I wanted was to disappoint him with the direction my life was headed. 

I held back as much as I could when those questions surely came up but it didn’t last long. I word vomited all over him, told him everything. I immediately regretted it just imaging his reaction. But, he surprised me. He looked at me with kind eyes while I held my breath and he replied, “That's it?”

Uh, what do you mean that’s it? That’s like the plot of a Lifetime movie…

But, right then and there I knew that, although we weren’t dating yet, he was the one. He wanted all of me, not just my right now, not just my dreams but he was excited about me, my story, my past, my mistakes and he saw my potential. I wasn’t too little, I wasn’t too much, I was just enough. 

Despite him now knowing everything, it never held him back from seeing the true me, seeing my potential even when I didn't. Standing up for myself when I was the one tearing myself down. He fought for me whenI wasn't fighting for myself and held me accountable to the dreams I had once verbalized. He asked me the hard questions no one else would want to, he challenged me further in my goals by asking me "why" and then again to my answer to drive me into a deeper meaning of why I wanted to do what I wanted to do. He was/is my advocate and was driven to coach me while cheering me on, and that was something that not many other people had done for me in that point in my life. 

When I felt that others were holding me to what people heard about me, what mistakes I had made, my grades, my family situation, my living situation, etc. Thomas chose to see through that and remind me that I "am not defined by my circumstances." When my circumstances become (and have now became) our circumstances, I knew he would fight to see through them and chose to see the true me. 

He slowly started mentioning, "we" into his futuristic vocabulary which sort of freaked me out at first but eventually became comforting. I couldn't figure out what about the idea of "we" was so comforting to me. Then it hit me: the choice in his vocabulary about our future, the choices of behavior (financially, personally, academically) all of them were becoming less and less about him and more and more about us. This use to scare the shenanigans out of me because of my "commitment issues" but slowly I became more and more okay with this idea because he, unlike a lot of others that had come across my path, was looking out for my best interests, our best interests. Sometimes those weren't fun. It's in the shift from an immature fun to a mature fun that I realized he was the one. He made hard choices so that we would later have an abundance. He was putting aside what he knew would be fun now so that he could have more fun later, so that we could have more fun later (financially, relationally, spiritually). His mind wasn't so "in the now," he was no longer a boy, he was a man. Boys are fed a harvest, men sow and reap the harvest. Thomas was starting to sow what he wanted to reap and I trusted him more because of that. The idea that I could hand him something as small as my phone to something as big as my dreams and know that he was going to handle it, take care of it and steward it well meant the world to me. 


One of the biggest red flags for me in previous relationships was telling my friends or parents about the relationship and immediately getting nervous. I had my first boyfriend in sixth grade, I remember telling my mom that I now had a boyfriend and she told me that I needed to tell my dad. My spit somehow got so much thicker in that moment and it became hard to swallow. Not because I feared my dad but because I knew that this guy wasn't someone I was super pumped to bring home (even though his mom would have had to bring him at that point), I knew it was silly. It was a gut feeling. This "intuition" carried through my experiences in high school and there were times that I became all weird when something would happen and I wouldn't want to tell my friends or I wouldn't want to tell my mom, I just wasn't excited about it. Or sometimes, I was excited about it and I got some weird faces back at me that said, "what the freak" all over them.

In the case of Thomas, I was thrilled to tell my parents, no shame, no guilt because I was confident that we were doing it healthily. Having a blessing on my relationship from my parents in the beginning has had so much benefit on our relationship now, I can't even explain all of it. It's moments I'm grateful my parents were involved when Thomas and I were in a small tiff and I was able to ask my dad for manly help. Or when I was going on a date and my mom was able to stand in my closet with me and help me pick out an outfit. I felt supported, loved and nurtured through this process. 

In fact, our very first date was at my house on an autumn morning. Thomas came over and brought his rode bike and my dad dismounted his from the garage and they peddled away down our driveway and the Lord only knows what they talked about. Mom and I cooked them breakfast, they came back and ate it and that was it. It was lovely, so pure and so simple. The greatest part, he had a better time than I did. Cue the sigh of relief, the release of pressure, the permission to be myself. From the support of my family, I too, like Thomas, was free to be consistent and confident in myself and never having to strive for acceptance from this once high school boy and now man. 

But at the end of all of these reasons, there still was a risk because I didn’t know and I still don’t know how my life will play out, what obstacles are waiting five or ten years down the road and if Thomas and I will make the best team. But, although I don’t know it, I chose to believe it. The Lord made himself evident and if I knew everything that was to unfold, there would be no room for faith. Yes, there are five reasons sitting above for a little back story to my confidence in our relationship but those aren’t just to share with others, they’re for me. To remind me, to keep me accountable because somedays marriage is the best thing and other times marriage isn’t the best thing. So, I chose to believe that although people called me, and still do, “crazy” and “too young” that my God is bigger than logistics and my obedience would lead to blessings. So, here I am. 21 years old and married to love of my life, my soul mate and the person I can’t wait to tackle these hardships with.

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Photography // Sophie Brendle

To the one who feels rejected

There’s two different times when life will say, “no I don't think so.” One is when you’re rejected and plans come to a screeching halt. The other is when you’re scooped from your rejection and life takes a screeching halt when a second chance pops up.

Both have happened numerous amount of times in my life. But, I can take comfort in all the screeching halts because it’s where Jesus did his thang.

I’m no history buff but this rocked my world, so hang on with me and you might be left with goosebumps too. I think scripture is so powerful but it’s so much more powerful to me when I understand the context behind it. So I’m going to dive into context. 

(I listened to a podcast that explained so eloquently, I included the link at the bottom.)

In the Jewish education system there were different “levels.” All of these levels progressed in order to become a Rabbi someday. 

Boys and girls were allowed to go to the first level. This is where children learned the entire Torah and memorized it. If you did excellently, you were invited to advance to the second level. This is where the education ended for girls and they returned to what their family knew. Some boys didn’t even advance to the next level and were sent back to their family trade: fishing, carpentry, etc. A few more levels passed, a make it or break it for many boys and eventually you reached a level that was extremely prestigious. 

This level was one of the last, where boys went to Rabbis and asked to follow them, to become their “disciple” and learn from what they knew and taught. In order to be accepted as a disciple, this individual had to prove that he knew everything the system had taught him. Then, the Rabbi would tell the young man “yes, I approve” or “no, you are not worthy.” 

Some boys in the Jewish education system were told “no” at this point and they went back to their family trade, after all the hard work and dedication. That sucks.

Others were told yes and they followed around these Rabbi’s in groups of around 12-15 young men until they were told that they were worthy of holding the authority of a Rabbi. These young men had to follow their every move, do whatever the Rabbi told them to say or do and the Rabbi would frequently throw in other crazy rules just so that people on the street knew who these young men were following or being discipled by. These small rules and quirks were called “yokes.” (I’ll get back to this in a second, but hold on to it because it’s a golden nugget.)

Gosh, I find myself in this situation all the time. I go through all the “levels” necessary to get somewhere and I vulnerably feel as if I have to prove myself and strive for acceptance and I put my worth in someone else’s opinion of me. Sometimes, people say, “Yeah, you’re cool. You can sit with us” or people stare at me with a cold, blank stare and I know the answer before the “no” even has to leave their lips.

Jesus was in this exact same position too. He was one of the Jewish boys that came through this system. Of course, he did it excellently (uh, he was God) but there was a little twist he put on it. Once he eventually became a Rabbi, he did something tremendous.

We all know that Jesus had “disciples.” But these disciples were different than the rest. These men that followed Jesus didn’t approach Jesus and ask for his approval and ask if they were worthy enough to follow him. No. Jesus wasn’t only approachable but he approached. 

Scripture proves it: 

Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee. He saw two brothers. They were Peter and Andrew. They were putting a net into the sea for they were fishermen. Jesus said to them, “Follow Me. I will make you fish for men!” At once they left their nets and followed Him.
Going from there, Jesus saw two other brothers. They were James and John, the sons of Zebedee. They were sitting in a boat with their father, mending their nets. Jesus called them. At once they left the boat and their father and followed Jesus.
— Matthew 4:18-22.

n two different occasions Jesus went out to find men on his own. These men were practicing their family trade: fishing. Which means that they were rejected from the school system and told they weren’t enough to complete and become a Rabbi. Jesus went to them, called them out and gave them a second chance. 

Just when Peter, Andrew, James and John thought their opportunity was over, the door was shut, they weren’t worthy of continuing in something they wanted, Jesus opened the door, removed them from their rejection and called them to be with him. That’s why they dropped their nets “at once” because they saw the enormous opportunity in front of them and they were so honored to have been seen when they though they failed. 

No questions asked, no striving necessary. Jesus is for the underdogs. He does this for us too. Unlike the other Rabbis, Jesus wants us to follow him without having to prove ourselves first, he begs for us to be his disciples. 

Let’s go back to the “yoke” thing.

Come to me all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. My yoke is easy and my burden is light.
— Matthew 11:28-30

His “yoke is easy.” Thank you Lord! He doesn’t have small minuscule rules to follow or quirky pressure we have to put on ourselves to keep up the standard Rabbis set. He just wants us to simply follow him, at once, just like the fishermen. We too should be honored and flattered that someone like Jesus wants us to be apart of his story.

So, to me as a little girl, who wanted to play on the monkey bars with other girls and was told “no,” to the hurt girl that was left out and not invited to a party, to the girl sitting in a car just broken up with, to the girl that received the letter of rejection in the mail from your dream college, Jesus still has something for you and your story is not over. 

Do your thing, be where you are and invest in what you are currently doing and he will return to you, open a door that you didn’t know existed, or that might have been slammed closed. 

If you don’t love Jesus, you just don’t know him because he fights for the overlooked and forgotten which ultimately means that you are, in fact, seen and remembered.


Photography // The beautiful Sophie Brendle Photography

Podcast //  Jen Hatmaker at Women's Conference

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What the dwell are you doing?

The most intimidating part of life for me is wondering if I'm doing the "right" thing. I'm not talking about making the right decisions but I'm talking about meeting the benchmarks set by the world's standards. I often ask myself, "Wait, they're applying for jobs? Shoot! I got to start applying too, I guess" or the super frequent, "they're spending that much time studying, or doing ministry, or working out? I'm way behind." 

I'm thinking all of these things in fear; fear of being judged and fear of not being where "I'm suppose to be." 

What does that even mean? "Suppose to be." Who is the person setting the standards for what's normal these days? I'd like to meet them.

There's so much pressure on us to finish the checklist set before us. But, what checklist? Who's actually putting the pressure on you? Do they know the deep desires of your heart? Do they know the intimate prayers between you and the Lord and know His calling on your life? 

I can't tell you how many looks I get a day when people see my wedding band while I'm in my undergrad classes or buying groceries. It's because it's not "normal." Sure, it's not "normal" but it doesn't mean it's not right. It doesn't mean that my ways of obedience look the same as your ways of obedience. This leads to hesitation that if we are obedient in what the Lord is calling us to do then maybe we'll be judged or people will think poorly of us because it's not what they would have done. 

The pressure we put on ourselves to achieve a benchmark the world has set for us is not Biblical. Obedience carries freedom, even if your ways of obedience looks different than her ways of obedience. There's freedom in knowing that we don't have to orchestrate our desires, future or benchmarks. 

Already having affirmation from the Lord and then needing to have more affirmation from people to move forward into what we're called is a slap in Jesus's face. It's saying, "Your voice isn't loud enough so I need other's confirmation just to make sure. The affirmation you gave me on the cross that I was enough isn't enough for me." Yikes. 

Then there's sometimes when I know that the direction I'm moving is not the direction for me. But, I'm too fearful of failure to mess up if I head in another direction that's more uncomfortable or unfamiliar. 

My favorite movie growing up was Matilda. The one where the little girl was tormented by her parents who didn't want anything to do with her. She then realized she had magic powers and that she could move things with her eyes. Unfortunately that doesn't apply to me. 

My soul sister, Nikki, reminded me: in order to make something change directions, you have to move it first not just stare at it. You can't look at a soccer ball, mid-game and tell it to move towards the goal and expect it to happen. You have to get on the field, kick the ball, get it moving, and then you have the ability to change it's direction. For you, getting the ball rolling may look like taking the MCAT or the LSAT or the GRE or getting an internship, or interviewing for a job, or writing a blog - all are validated. 

I'm not sure if I'm called to a writing career and publishing a book (one of my dreams) or to sit in an office and come up with creative marketing solutions for companies or if it's to teach a crowd of young kids in a classroom. But what I do know is I can only start moving my soccer ball from the field, I'll never be able to have a say from the bench. So I better get in the game if I have a goal in mind.

Do what you love to do, the Lord doesn’t give you empty desires (as my friend Ana reminds me). If you have a desire, who is to tell you it's not valid. If it's not valid, it wouldn't exist. The Lord was so gracious to give us so many avenues for creativity and glorification for Him. 

At the end of the day, it doesn't matter what's on our resume, what our job title is or what plaques hang on our walls in our office. We're called to love the Lord “with all your heart, mind, soul and strength." Matthew 22:37

And loving the Lord with all of our mind means turning over everything we know or anything we think we know to Him and giving him the opportunity to speak into what we love. Before we identify as a student, assistant, doctor or lawyer, we are first called to identify as ambassadors for His Kingdom, not our kingdom. Everything else is a cherry on top. 

You don’t have to know what you’re doing or what tomorrow holds. It’s a healthy place to be fluid and flexible and to listen to what the Lord is saying in this current season and not dwelling on the unknown. 

So whatever your choice: a gap year, entry-level position, law or med school, creating a portfolio or writing a blog about all the silly things you love, it’s all validated if you are first dwelling and resting in the Lord rather than dwelling on the “right choice." Just make a decision, you can't mess anything up. That's where grace comes in. 

I may not know my future but I know what I like to do. I know I like to write about anything. Dumb stuff like pouring coffee or roaming random places with Thomas or heavier stuff that makes me sweat and my heart beat really quickly and my fingers move faster on my keyboard than I knew was possible (like right now.) So I'm going to continue chasing after the desire that the Lord placed in the deep parts of my heart and find encouragement in the satisfaction I find when I pursue what the Lord has gifted me with. 

Yeah, so I don't know what the dwell I'm doing right now but I'm choosing to move forward, to take a step in faith and not in fear. No more fear of what people think or if I'm following "the rules."

Who wrote those rules anyways? Pshhhh.

Feeling trapped? Dance to one of my favorite songs and shake all the chains off. 


1. Get your ball rolling and just move forward and believe that you're not powerful enough to mess up the Lord's orchestrated plan for your life. 

2. Stop leaning on the worlds understandings for what is for you. 

3. Truly examine your passions and your seasons and have full confidence in the Lord instead of yourself to complete these dreams and aspirations. 

5 things a PNM must know before rush

PNM // potential new member (in recruitment)

I wouldn't be a friend if I didn't give you somewhat of an "inside scoop" of what goes on during the recruitment experience. You've probably done all of the research on information about what to wear and when and you've probably memorized the schedule (and if you haven't, don't fret-there's an orientation for that). What you may not know is the emotional + spiritual aspect of what goes on during rush: what goes on in your heart + mind. So here's me being honest and telling you what I wish I knew during my recruitment season and what I now know looking back from all angles.

1. Don't only look at the product. 

Many times we see someone's product and want that. But, you're only seeing the product.

We see the Instagram of them running to their sisters, or the posed picture of your fellow PNMs smiling before they head to their next round, or the hundreds of posts post-bid day of why their sisters are the best.

But you don't see the process.

You don't see the sleepless nights of waiting to get the schedule for the next day so you can cry about not getting ABC back and not wanting to go to the XYZ house. You don't see the high heart rates behind the eager smiles in the pictures before rounds waiting to have scored conversations. You don't see the inevitable tension between the sisters behind the curtains/doors before you walk in to the round because they want to look their best + fun. 

But the best way to get the product YOU want is to not look at anyone else's process except your own. Make your process yours and you'll get the product that's most true to yourself. 

2. "Comparison is the thief of joy."

You may walk out of a round glowing because you had the best conversation and in 20 seconds your experience is destroyed because you happened to hear two other girls talking about how rough it was for them. Hold on to what you love. There's a reason you love it, it's called instinct not happenstance. 

Also, you're good enough. You're a rockstar with or without a bid. Fortunately, we have a God that's way more powerful than us humans so who's opinion means more? 

3. Relationship + Performance

There are few people that look forward to checking their grades. But most people love checking on their friends. Why? Because we love and thrive on relationships over performance. If you walk out of a round and feel as if the whole time you were pulling out your best tricks trying to impress, you're performing.

If you walk out of a round wanting to talk more because you were interested and felt comfortable, that's a relationship. Rush can be hard and there's plenty of room for self-doubt and not having others believe the same thing about you as you do for yourself is normal. How could they have possibly known all of you in a 2-5 minute conversation anyways?

4. Expect a show, not reality

Let's be realistic. Rush/recruitment is an opportunity where everyone puts on their own best show. So when the curtains fall, the house quiets down, the makeup comes off and real life happens, where do you want to be? Girls are dying to get you to like them and you're dying to get girls to like you. It's a season that's asking for identities to be ROCKED. So be confident and stand firm.

Ask yourself, if my shoe were to break and I had to go in barefoot, if my dress were to rip, if you cried all your makeup off in between rounds and now you have a mascara watercolor masterpiece on your face, which house would you feel most welcomed into. Which chapter would you feel less pressure to care? Those are the sisters, not the judges.

5. Service in sisterhood

Something you'll hear a lot in rounds: "service." Serving others and your community is a huge value for sisterhoods. But it goes for the chapter itself. If the chapter doesn't serve each other well, how can it be successful in the outside world? And more importantly, if you don't serve yourself well and take care of you, how can you serve your chapter?

It's not about what you can get from your sisterhood, it's about what you have to offer. If you look at it from a perspective of what do they have for me? What are the benefits to being in ABC over XYZ? You'll be left disappointed and the attitude will effect others. But, having a perspective of service can unite your sisters and there's an opportunity for true family.

Before you step outside your dorm, after you slipped on your shoes, applied deodorant and a couple spritz of perfume look in the mirror and affirm yourself:

I am bold

I am beautiful

I have something to offer

I don't have to strive for love. I am loved + wanted regardless of what people say or think. 

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I am not my diagnosis.

There’s no method to curing anxiety or depression. In reality, medicine doesn’t always do the trick. Medicine isn’t for everyone. To be honest with you, it’s not always going to be the medicine that helps. 

Like I said,  there’s no method to doing this right but if we cling to what the Lord has told us and believe it to be true, you be a conquerer rather than a victim to your anxiety. 

1. Watch your mouth

“The tongue has the power of life and death” Proverbs 18:21. Words have power. What you say can determine what you think. Have you ever said something that you know is a lie so often that you come to the point where you can’t begin to tell the difference between the true and the false? It’s because what comes out of your mouth has the potential to dictate your mind. If you want your anxiety to go away then why say, “My anxiety won’t go away” or “my anxiety is so overwhelming.” Don’t give your anxiety authority. It doesn’t have it and doesn’t deserve it.  Replace it with “My anxiety does not control me” or “my anxiety has no dominion over my body” or verses that bring you to peace and remind you of the power you have in Christ.

2. Memorize verses

…it’s our defense against the enemy. My favorite to declare when I’m in a time of heavy anxiety is 2 Timothy 1:7 “For I have not been made of a spirit of fear but one of power, love, and a sound mind”….Sound mind….Sound mind.”  Find Scripture that brings you peace because anxiety loses the counterfeit power when the power of Christ is declared on it. 

3. Give Him a chance to speak to you

My anxiety is propelled by what people say, what I think they expect from, etc. When in reality the only thing that matters is who the Lord says I am. How often do I actually think about that? Further, how often do I give him a chance to tell me who I am? Vulnerable answer, not very often because I don’t slow down often enough to be quiet and listen to what he has to say to me about who I am, my identity in Him. 

4. Pray protection over your mind and heart

Pray Pslam 91 protection. What does that mean? It means that if we dwell with Him then we are able to rest with Him (91:1). Rest. Peace of mind.  I recommend reading through all of Psalm 91 to understand fully how often and how strongly He protects us, even when we have no idea. “‘Because Rachel loves me’ says the Lord, ‘I will rescue her and protect her. When she calls on me, I will answer her,’” (91:14). That’s a promise.

5. Get ready to fight

It’s a spiritual battle to win. We already have the victory because of what Jesus did for us but we still have to fight the battle. So we need to make sure we are prepared to fight and know what we are getting into before we go in on our own. 

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
— Ephesians 6:13-17

You are not your anxiety and anxiety is not for you.

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