rachelcoker


“Christian” Romance Novels???

Ugh. A topic that I am both dreading and dying to talk about. Obviously, this is something that both interests and impacts me personally, as a popular YA author in the Christian market. I’m also a teenage girl and huge reader, so this is a topic that has come up probably a million times among my friends. So obviously I’m going to have opinions on the subject and I figured it’s about time I wrote about it!

So this is the great debate: Should Christian girls read “Christian” romance novels?

(I guess you could add guys in there, too, though I’ve yet to meet a teenage guy who likes reading romantic fiction, although maybe they do and they just don’t like to admit it. Who knows?)

I have heard both sides of this argument. Some of my friends argue that unmarried Christians should have absolutely nothing to do with any type of romantic fiction because it leads them to wish for unrealistic things and spend all their time dreaming about the future, which can be very harmful for their wellbeing. Others believe that it’s absolutely fine to read romantic fiction as long as you remember that no one’s perfect and don’t get carried away by silly daydreams.

So what do I think? Hmmm… You’re not going to get a definite answer out of me that easily. Because, truthfully, I don’t think it’s a black and white issue. I believe it’s something that has to be carefully thought-out and considered, and a lot of prayer has to be applied. We don’t want to be legalistic and absolutely condemn something that God hasn’t forbidden us to do. I mean, the Bible certainly has its share of love stories and I’d say there are quite a few things in there that might even be considered highly romantic. Just saying. 😉

In thinking through this topic, I want to refute five statements that Christians make about romantic fiction, and then ask a few questions to help everyone come to their own opinion.

Statement Number One: When young women read romantic fiction, it opens them up to desiring a whole new world of things they’d never thought of before.

Um, not true. While filling your head with thousands of pages of romantic stories and dialog may obviously cause you to obsess over love a little bit more than a girl who spends all her time solving calculus problems, romantic fiction isn’t what makes teenage girls desire romance. That’s just the way God created women. They don’t need to read books about Amish women giving up their community to be with handsome outsiders with sweet motorized vehicles to want a romantic relationship. Just put a teenage girl in a room full of guys for more than three minutes and she’ll start to realize that all on her own. That’s just the way God made us! While fiction may not always be helpful in this area, it most certainly isn’t what causes young women to desire relationships. That’s a natural thing.

Statement Number Two: God doesn’t want us thinking about marriage until we’re actually ready to get married.

God certainly doesn’t want us spending all of our free time dwelling on what our lives will be like when we’re married and how much happier and holier we will be then. However, that doesn’t mean it’s wrong to think about the future! In our family, we’ve always openly talked about what our lives might be like as adults and prayed for our future husbands together. Our parents ask us what we think of the young men in our lives and we have reasonable, God-focused discussions on what attributes we would like in our husbands and what tendencies we want to stay away from. It’s an open topic and it’s not something that we shun until we reach the magical age of 18, or 21, or whenever it’s suddenly appropriate to discuss marriage.

However, there’s obviously a difference between thinking about the future and obsessing over it. If reading romantic fiction causes you to think an unhealthy amount about your future husband, then don’t read it! Use common sense, people.

Statement Number Three: The men in romantic fiction don’t exist.

Um, obviously. That’s why it’s called “fiction”.

Seriously, though, I’ve heard this one a million times. So many, in fact, that I’ve made it my life goal to go and find an exact replica of Rhett Butler just to parade in front of the world (just kidding!). And, I have to admit, I’ve struggled with not being happy with men in real life too, which may prove that this statement has a bit of truth in it.

HOWEVER, just because the men in novels are incredibly good looking and sweet and funny and charming, that doesn’t mean we have to dismiss them as utterly unrealistic and evil. Why shouldn’t we have high standards? I don’t want to marry someone spineless and lazy and rude. That kind of man doesn’t deserve my love. It should be the same for all of you young ladies! No man is perfect. But neither are you. We all have faults and flaws, but that’s what marriage is: Two sinful people trying to glorify God together. Plus, if you’re really in love with a guy’s heart and character, he’ll be attractive to you, okay? Just because Gilbert Blythe doesn’t exist in real life, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t expect our future husbands to be sweet and godly. We shouldn’t let fiction raise or lower our own personal expectations.

Statement Number Four: Sitting around and reading silly novels is a waste of time.

Can I get an amen? I mean, obviously if sitting around and reading is all you ever do, you’re wasting a good amount of time! You should be spending your unmarried years serving and learning and working, doing your best to glorify God with your time. Reading novels isn’t exactly up there on the list of priorities.

That being said, there is nothing wrong with sitting down and enjoying a good, edifying book in your free time. If you’ve been working hard all day and you’ve spent time with the Lord and your family and all you want to do is unwind with a great story—then do it! I know my sister enjoys reading for an hour in the evenings, after everyone has gone to bed. How is that a waste of time? I personally like to read after supper, or on Saturday mornings, or during finance meetings at church (okay, I need to kick that last habit). In other words, whenever all my other duties are done and I have some free time.

However, even after all of that, I know that some Christians will still have questions and arguments on this topic. So here is what I think: You should make your own decision, and just stick to that. Okay? I don’t think it’s a big enough issue to try to convince everyone to come to one “right” decision. Just pray about it and let the Lord lead you in this area.

*

When deciding whether or not to read a book, I would encourage you to ask the following questions (this is my checklist):

  • Does this book meet with my standards of purity? (For example, my books don’t have any kissing in them because I want to be sensitive to my readers, but since I don’t think it’s a sin to kiss before marriage, I don’t mind reading a book that includes kissing. Just no further, please!)
  • Does this book reflect Biblical principles of love and marriage?
  • Is God at the center of relationships in this book, both romantic and non-romantic?
  • Is reading this type of book going to cause me to change my opinions of the young men in my life now?
  • Does this story cause me to feel discontent about my current situation and where God has me in life?

I think that as long as you’re asking those questions and keeping God at the center of your life and thoughts, you’ll be just fine. 😉 Luckily for me, all my favorite books were written a hundred years ago and don’t contain any more than a few innocent kisses and wishy-washy speeches. But the guys wore suspenders and danced waltzes, which makes it infinitely harder for the men of today to compare, so maybe I am doomed, afterall! Haha…

-Rachel

Image via weheartit.com


Small Mouths Can Have Big Voices

A few years ago, I made a ground-breaking discovery relating to my acute odontophobia (fear of the dentist). Quite truthfully, there are few places on earth I wouldn’t choose to be other than in the operating table–ahem!–I mean, seat of a dentist’s office. I’d rather strapped to the front of a three dollar waffle iron display at a Walmart in Kentucky on Black Friday than have to go to the dentist. It’s that bad.

Anyway, like I was saying, a few years ago I discovered the source of all my dentist phobia issues. And no, it didn’t have anything to do with tennis-shoe wearing women forcing me to watch Rachael Ray on mute without subtitles for half an hour while drilling holes in my mouth and asking about my summer vacation. It was instead the realization of this earth-shattering fact: I have a small mouth.

It’s totally true, and it’s the reason why I hate getting my teeth cleaned. Because my mouth is just not big enough to stay “just a little wider, sweetie” for more than ten seconds. Hence the discomfort and endless blog rantings. And the awkward conversation between the dentist and the hygenist consisting of, “I’m gonna need you to stand here and hold her mouth open, ’cause once I get these blocks in, there’s not gonna be any room left for my hands.” Yup. Embarrassing.

I was thinking about all this the other day after getting home from getting my teeth cleaned. And another really funny thought occurred to me. Even though I may always be cursed with a small mouth, I can still have a really big voice.

I’m not talking about that in an obnoxious, I’m-gonna-blast-your-eardrums-by-ranting-about-Taylor-Swift-and-her-messed-up-love-life-24/7 kind of way. I’m talking about my voice as a writer. As a person. As a Christian.

Albert Einstein once said, “Nothing I can do will change the structure of the universe. But maybe, by raising my voice, I can help the greatest of all causes — goodwill among men and peace on earth.”

I have no idea whether or not Albert Einstein had a small mouth. These things are kind of hard to tell unless you’re actually the person with the problem. But what I do know is this: It doesn’t matter what the physical size of your mouth, or your larynx, or your tongue is–Your voice can still be heard around the world, if you’re speaking loudly enough.

At my friends’ Bible study earlier this month, we were each posed the question “What are you passionate about?” We went around the circle, listing our passions and hobbies. Writing, politics, animals, our faith… After we’d all finished, the leaders of the study encouraged us to actually stand up for and declare our passions, reading us Acts 5:40-42.

“They took his advice; and after calling the apostles in, they flogged them and ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and then released them. So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they kept right on teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.”

I left that study with a new and emboldened desire to constantly speak from my heart. I may not be the wisest person on this earth, or the most godly, but I do have something to say and I want to say it with all the passion and zeal it deserves. I want to constantly share my thoughts and my dreams in a way that will inspire others to stand up and raise their voices, too.

Heaven knows I have a tiny mouth. For some reason, God decided to make it that way, and I doubt it’s ever going to change. But I pray that I will always be remembered as a girl with a very big voice proclaiming a very loud message–and that the message coming from my lips would always be one of praise and service to my King.

-Rachel


Video Blog: The Story Behind “Chasing Jupiter”

A lot of you have been asking me about this, so here it is: The complete story of how I came across the idea for my second book, “Chasing Jupiter”, due to be released this December.

Hint: Great book ideas can be discovered if you volunteer to help out with Sunday School at your church. That’s just the honest truth. 😉

-Rachel

P.S. Please, please watch the video so that you can see I don’t actually look like a half-alive seal. Can’t figure out how to change thumbnails under the “new and improved” Youtube settings. -_-


The Publishing Process

As all of you probably realize by now, this is a blog about my life and my thoughts and my ideas. And, obviously, a HUGE part of my life is writing, which is probably why I talk about it all the time! So while it never fails to amuse me to talk about James Dean, and vacations, and mortifying childhood memories, I always have to come back to writing and my life as a writer.

Today I thought I’d share with you all a sort of timeline of what the publishing process actually looks like. I remember before I was published being really curious as to what exactly happens in the real publishing world, and how long all of it really takes. So now that I’ve sort of figured it out (and I’m still learning, by the way), I thought I might share some of the details with all of you inspiring writers and avid readers!

As an example, I’m going to give you the timeline of my second book, Chasing Jupiter, from budding ideas to complete publication (which hasn’t even happened yet–so I’m going to have to guess a few things!)

April, 2011 – The beginning ideas of a new story entitled “Peaches for Sale” begin swimming around in my head and I start working on a word document (one month after my first book was published!)

May, 2011 – I call up my agent and let him know that I’m working on something new. We discuss the next book idea and both grow very, very excited. I promise to send him the first fifty pages soon.

July, 2011 – I finish the complete first draft of “Peaches for Sale”, which runs at approx. 46,000 words, and send it to my agent for review

August, 2011 – I have multiple hour-long conversations with my agent over the phone discussing my new book and brainstorming revisions to make it even better. He writes up his notes and sends the document back to me to edit.

November, 2011 – Zondervan starts asking my agent about my new book and when they can finally see it. We start realizing that we’ve got to get this thing finished and in their inboxes ASAP.

January, 2012 – After months of revisions and editing, I’m finally happy with “Peaches for Sale”, now at over 52,000 words, and give the okay for my agent to send it to my editor at Zondervan

February, 2012 – Zondervan accepts my submission and gives me an offer on my second book!

March, 2012 – I sign the contract for my new book and receive my first advance check from Zondervan

April, 2012 – Multiple creative geniuses at Zondervan meet and brainstorm title and cover ideas for the new book. They eventually email me with the suggested title “Chasing Jupiter”, which I absolutely love! It definitely fits the feel of the book and is much more versital than my previous title, which felt too summery.

I passed this sign on our way back from Florida. I guess I was “Chasing Jupiter” and I didn’t even know it!

May, 2012 – I finally get my hands on the cover to “Chasing Jupiter” and post it here, where I find out that all of you love it as much as I do! A release date for the book is set for December 2012.

May, 2012 – I set up a date to get new author photos taken for publicity purposes–when you’re a teenager, you can change a lot in just a short year and a half! I send a few of my favorites to my editor and publicist to use for promotional ads and the Zondervan website.

The main picture chosen by Zondervan to be my new author photo.

June, 2012 – I receive my first round of major edits from my editor at Zondervan. There’s a lot of work to be done to the book, but I know that all of it will work to make the story stronger and more cohesive for my readers. My deadline for revisions is July 20th.

September, 2012 – I begin making arragements for speaking engagments after the publication of my second book, including schools, libraries, homeschool conventions, and churches (By the way–if you are interested in having me speak at your school, church, or homeschool group, email me and we’ll see if we can work something out! REC804 at hotmail dot com)

At my first ever book signing in Philadelphia with my editor Jacque!

October, 2012 – I send in the dedication for Chasing Jupiter. I forgot about that for Interrupted and I really want something meaningful for this book!

I receive the second round of edits from my editor. This time it’s nothing major, just a few slight tweaks here and there. I give her the okay to make those changes and move on with the production of the book.

November, 2012 – My publicist and other Zondervan workers start putting out ads, arranging interviews, and preparing for the launch of Chasing Jupiter next month!

December, 2012 – I’m sent the mockup cover for the book and look over it to make sure there’s no mistakes, my name is spelled right, and my bio info is correct. Once I give the okay, the book goes to print!

Zondervan sends me the advance copies of my book several weeks before the publication date, as well as sending reading copies to hundreds of lucky bloggers all over the world! Soon, those bloggers will write reviews (good or bad) and start getting the buzz going about my new book. It’s a very scary thing!

My second novel, Chasing Jupiter, is released and should be available at your local bookstore!

Whew! Sometimes I forget about how much work goes into publishing a book! It certainly makes one want to take another vacation, haha! Like I said, this is all just leading up to the release date of the book. After the first of the year, I’ll start doing book signings and speaking engagements again, so like I said, email me if you’re interested in having me sign or speak somewhere near you!

-Rachel


Livin’ It Up in Key West!

So you may have heard by now via my Facebook page that my family just returned from a fantastic vacation in the Florida Keys. This is actually way less glamorous than it sounds, seeing as it took us over twenty hours to get there (by minivan!) and we basically just hung out at my grandpa’s house 75% of the time. However, things get infinitely more interesting when you take into consideration that my grandpa has an absolutely gorgeous, waterfront oasis of a house and that we got to lounge around his pool and soak up the sun 24/7 while eating delicious food and taking millions of pictures.

The week had so many highlights for me, from the four overall days we spent in the car belting out old country songs, the nights we spent watching the presidential debate and arguing with the television, the mornings we spent kayaking in the wild mangroves while watching the sun rise in the sky, and the warm, breezy mornings we spent sitting by the water and watching the sun set while eating the most delicious seafood ever.

Obviously, being a photographer, I took about a million photos (including a really fun impromptu photoshoot with Hannah while walking around my grandpa’s street one evening), but I did try to edit it down to a select few for you all. Enjoy, and let me know if you, like me, are jealous that my grandfather gets to enjoy this kind of beauty every single day!

-Rachel


Video Post: Do You Want to Be a Writer Forever?

So, this is actually an older vlog video that I just forgot to post to this blog. But it works out pretty well anyway, since I’ve had slow internet access all day and can’t really upload a new video. So you can enjoy this two-weeks-old video instead, if you haven’t seen it yet!

Sometimes people ask me what I plan on doing with my life. It’s always a really, really hard question to answer. Do I want to continue writing and publishing books, well into my adult years? Or do I plan on doing something different and exciting?

And yes, I straightened my hair for one day. Maybe that’ll give you a reason to watch the video. 😉

-Rachel


First World Problems

It was one of the most tragic things I’d ever heard.

I remember exactly where I was when I received the devastating news. Sitting on a bench outside of Auntie Anne’s, munching on an extra-salty soft pretzel and enjoying the still warm September breeze. My friends were chatting around me, everyone getting along just fine, when suddenly my friend Ellery clutched my arm, her eyes growing wide.

“Rachel,” she said, her voice dying to a frantic hush. “I forgot to tell you — Oh, it’s the most devastating news.”

“What is it?”

Ellery took a short breath, as if trying to brace me for the turmoil ahead of us. She gulped. “This is just going to break your heart, but I found out the other day that… that…”

That WHAT???

“That James Dean was only five-foot-seven.”

She squeezed her eyes shut and shook her head as I took in this devastating, earth-shattering news. Never mind the fact that James Dean died fifty-seven years ago. Just forget about the fact that he was a Hollywood big shot and probably never set foot in Virginia a day in his life. Disregard every rumor you’ve ever heard that he was a smoker and drinker and drove recklessly. He was still the man of my dreams and this was absolutely awful!!!

Ellery and I sat on the bench and ate our soft pretzels glumly, bemoaning the fact that even if you factor in an extra two inches for his hair (because they guy had amazing hair, ya’ll), we still wouldn’t be able to wear heels around him. So we buried our dreams of having him as a potential future husband while Ellery’s sister Hailey tormented us with the gleeful fact that she is five-foot-six and could still wear wedges in his presence. Lucky.

[I don’t know which is more gorgeous–the man, or the leather armchair]

Why am I telling you all this? Because it is absolutely pathetic that we even had this conversation to begin with. We’re obviously addle-brained for falling for a dead movie star two inches shorter than us who probably would have never given us the time of day anyway.

This is called a first world problem. And it’s an epidemic I happen to suffer from all the time. You probably suffer from it, too. One pillow is too thin, two are too thick. The air conditioning is freezing and the heat is stifling. The last loaf of bread has an odd number of slices, so I have to use the end piece for my sandwich. These are serious issues, people!!!

But perhaps the worst first world problem of all is this: Falling for fictional characters. Am I the only one that this happens to? Like all the guys you know in real life are either total dweebs or interested in someone else, and you’re just over there by yourself crying your eyes out that Gilbert Blythe doesn’t exist? Agh. It’s painful. Prince Charmont will never ask me to marry him if he can’t escape that dumb book and pop up in my living room instead!

These are the things that cause me to loose sleep at night.

Obviously I need to get a life.

Oh, but before I go — One more picture of James Dean. Because he’s wearing those glasses! And reading poetry! Both of which make him absolutely irresistable, in my book.

[Oh, James… Shall I compare thee to a midsummer’s day? Or do you just want to take me for a ride in your shiny little race car instead?]

-Rachel


A Mortifying Incident From My Childhood

So the other night my dad and little sister decided to get out an old VHS and spend the evening watching old Disney Pixar movies in the living room. It was an interesting experience for me, because as I sat there munching on my homemade pumpkin chocolate chip muffin, I was drawn back to a horrifying and absolutely mortifying story from my childhood. The “Monsters, Inc.” incident.

Here is the long and rather interesting story…

It all began in the summer of 2001. I was a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed five-year-old with straight hair (I know, right???) and awkwardly long legs. It was my first year as a homeschooler, so I’d never yet heard of this thing called “socialization”, and my days pretty much consisted of burying my head in “Little House on the Prairie” books and watching Disney movies on VHS. I don’t know what your family’s personal views on Disney are, but in our family he’s right up there with Theodore Roosevelt and Orville Wright. I still know all the words to every “Lion King” song and I firmly believe there will never be a first date that could compare with a magic carpet ride. Cheesy or not, flying carpets are the bomb.

But I digress.

Anyway, that was the summer that “Monsters, Inc.” was released. And truthfully, I don’t remember ever thinking that was a big deal. It’s not like we ever went to the movies anyway. We just patiently waited for Blockbusters to come out with the rental versions of our favorite movies so we could obsessively rewatch them a million times and memorize every single word. As far as I was concerned, this was just another Disney movie that Mom would let us rent one weekend a year or so from then.

However, everything changed with the purchase of one pop-tarts box.

I know what you’re thinking now. And yes, pop-tarts are evil and pretty much the equivalent of cancer in 420 calories. And I’ll probably die before my twenty-second birthday from the sheer number of pop-tarts I consumed between the ages of four and seven. But, still. This one pop-tart box changed my life in a truly drastic way.

From the moment I opened the box, my life was jolted. Mostly because a voice shouted out from inside, “HEEEEYYYY!!!! WHAT’D YOU GET??? WHAT’D YOU GET???? Look inside and seeeeeee….” and pretty much had me flying across the kitchen in total freak-out mode.

Yep, inside the box was a motion-activated recording chip that gleefully announced to me the fact that I was a winner. And my grand prize was a four-pack of tickets to see Disney-Pixar’s “Monsters, Inc.” at my local movie theater.

Obviously, I was over-joyed. Oh, how I paraded those tickets around church, waving them under the noses of my fellow Sunday School classmates. I was a winner! I was going to the movie theaters, like a teenager or something, to see a Disney movie for free! I walked on air for days, begging my parents to let us go to the movie theater as soon as possible.

Finally, my parents caved and drove the family to the movie theater. These were back in the before-Ruth days, so we had exactly four people to use our tickets on. We handed in the tickets and settled into the movie theater. I think we even bought popcorn, which I’m sure I thought was extremely cool. I was wiggling around in my seat when the movie started, anxious to experience this wonderful event that was sure to be the pinnacle of my childhood. There was only one problem:

“Monsters, Inc.” absolutely scared the living daylights out of me.

You know that scene with the creepy sucking machine thing that makes that awful screeching sound and grabs at Mike Wazowski’s skin and turns his face all white?

This is what it looks like in the movie:

And this is what it looked like in my head:

That scream-machine scene had me literally crying, shrieking, and begging to be taken out of the movie theater. So my poor dad had to pick me up and carry me out while my three-year-old sister peacefully sat there and enjoyed the delightful children’s film. I sat in the car, practically hyperventilating, and swearing never to watch that movie ever again.

And I didn’t. Seriously, ya’ll, I avoided “Monsters, Inc.” like the plague until I was probably thirteen years old. I remember they played it at camp once and I decided to stay in my cabin and read, rather than watch that movie. Then, eight years later, I had a babysitting job watching these two boys at my church who are pretty much obsessed with any Disney-Pixar film. They wanted to watch “Monsters, Inc.”, and I was truly skeptical. My overly-dramatic memories still haunted me. How could I possibly watch that movie again, and in front of children??? What if I started freaking out, and they got scared and began crying and their parents came home to find us all drowning in tears while a cute little girl in a furry costume danced around on the television???

After considering the options and deciding not to play the wimp card and pick out another movie, I sat down and watched it with them. And you know what I realized? That “Monsters, Inc.” is pretty much the most non-scary, totally safe, child-friendly movie ever. And I felt like a total fool for all the years I spent shirking away from it.

To this day, that movie gives me weird feelings. My dad loves to tell the whole movie theater story, and get me all red-faced in front of all my friends at being scared of animated monsters for eight years. I guess it would make me chuckle, if not for the fact that I still cover my mouth every time I scream. And I am also very suspicious of people named “Randall”, and would probably run in the opposite direction if someone by that name ever invited me to some kind of office in real life. What can I say? Disney-Pixar probably scared me for life, and I doubt I’ll ever get over that truly mortifying childhood incident…

-Rachel


Video Post: Historical Fiction Versus Contemporary Fiction

This is an interactive blog post. Because in this video, I give my thoughts on historical fiction versus contemporary fiction, but I’m dying to hear your thoughts! Which category of fiction do you prefer, and why?

-Rachel


The Pressures of Being Seventeen

Something interesting happened last week. I was making my monthly vlog videos (as discussed on Monday), and I decided to do a video on the topic “Benefits and Limitations of Being Seventeen”. I had my camera set up and my hair done all cute and everything (the two biggest priorities when shooting a video, obviously), when something weird happened. I kept talking. And talking. And before I knew it, I had a seven minute long video that would probably take three hours to upload to YouTube and that no one would ever want to take the time to watch!

It’s kind of unbelievable, but I guess I just had a lot to say about the struggles of being a teenage author. Because the benefits part took like a minute and a half (although there are so many more I could have listed!), and then I just started getting really emotional when talking about my struggles. I decided against posting the video, since no one wants to hear me drone on about my life for seven whole minutes, but I thought I’d reiterate some of my thoughts here.

Obviously, when someone thinks about what it would be like to be a teen author, there are a lot of benefits that immediately come to mind. And I’m very blessed to do what I do at my age. It’s amazing to have such unique, great connections and relationships with my readers, and to be able to relate to them on a personal level. I love “meeting” new people, and getting the opportunity to share my passion with others. There’s nothing else that I would rather be doing with my life right now, and I’m thankful for every moment God gives me to write and blog.

However, I also think a lot of my friends and readers don’t really realize how stressful my life can be at times. Because as normal as my life seems to me and probably to most of my friends, I’m constantly aware of the fact that I’m not just another teenage girl. I do have this blog, and these relationships with hundreds of people who I’ve never met before, but who read my thoughts and ask me questions and make judgments of me based on my words, whether they’re good or bad.

There’s a lot of pressure I’m under, as a writer and blogger, that I don’t think a lot of people are aware of. And part of the reason for that is that I’m not very good at constantly being honest and open about it. I’m a people-pleaser to the death, and I hate making others uncomfortable or offended. I don’t like disclosing my private feelings and insecurities to anyone, even my good friends. And so I feel like I’m constantly second-guessing and fretting and worrying that I’m going to say the wrong thing or do the wrong thing and mess up someone’s opinion of me. I know that it’s awful, but it’s true.

I realize that I’m a role model to some younger girls. I don’t mean that in a snobby or selfish way at all! It’s not something I glory in, or think pridefully, it’s just something that I view as a fact. It’s something that my mother tells me almost every day, when I’m tempted to compromise on an issue, or seek an easy way out. And because I’m a role model, I get so worried that I’ll do something wrong or misrepresent Christ in some way.

Being a blogger, and knowing that there are hundreds of people from all over the world, most of them young girls, reading what I say and looking up to me in a way, can be a very scary thing. Because, at seventeen years old, I don’t have all the answers. I still make a lot of mistakes and I get confused and scared sometimes. At times I feel like I’m under an immense amount of pressure to be a good example and a wealth of information when all I really feel like doing is hiding under my covers and deleting my blog!

My mom will be the first to tell you that I take my words and my blog very, very seriously. I have cried, apologized, felt sick, and spent hours in prayer over different emails and comments I have gotten. I constantly want to be able to give people the right answers about things, but sometimes I feel absolutely clueless or I make a mistake and automatically the first thing I think is, “How am I supposed to be an example to these girls if I can’t do things right myself?”

I also sometimes get this false idea in my head that I have to be constantly proving myself to people. Proving that I’m mature enough, or talented enough, or tough enough to thrive in an adult writing world. And while I realize that’s totally ridiculous and people will just accept me the way I am, sometimes that doesn’t feel good enough. I get disappointed in myself if I can’t meet up to my expectations of how I should be doing and how quickly I should be pushing things out. And so I’m really just putting unnecessary pressure on myself at times, to be this superwoman that I really don’t have to be.

At the end of the day, my life isn’t depressing and it isn’t even overly stressful. I’m definitely not trying to depress you all and keep you from wanting to get published! I still laugh and dream and go to the movies every now and then. It’s not a bad existence. 😉 But I do want to try to be more honest from now on about when I’m struggling with something. This blog isn’t my diary, but it should be an accurate reflection of who I am as a person. And I’m not perfect. I worry about what people think of me, and I put way too much emphasis on making sure I’m inoffensive and encouraging all the time.

And every single one of you that has ever told me that you were inspired by me, I know exactly how you feel. Because I have role models, too. And I don’t expect them to be perfect. But I do appreciate it when they are honest, and straightforward, and heartfelt.

Every time I feel discouraged and upset by a mistake I made or unnecessary pressures I’m under, my mom reminds me of this short and simple phrase: “How loving and patient He must be, ‘Cause He’s still workin’ on me.” By the grace of God, I know that everything will be okay and that He will use my little blunders and fears to bring Him glory in the end. And that makes my life ten million times better. 🙂

-Rachel