Do More Than Your Day Job.

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“You can’t do a good job if your job is all you do.”

-Katie Thurmes, co-founder of Artifact Uprising

A couple weeks ago, my husband was out of town, my work for the day was complete, I was sitting in my throne (AKA my favorite, comfy, big blue chair)…and I found myself feeling guilty for wanting to relax. Just as this strange feeling of “necessary” restlessness came over me, I read the following verse:

“So I recommend having fun, because there is nothing better for people to do in this world than to eat, drink, and enjoy life. That way they will experience some happiness along with all the hard work God gives them.”
-Ecclesiastes 8:15

Especially being an introvert, I have found that I am far more valuable to those around me when I have had quiet time to myself and invest in my own personal joy. I used to find myself filling every minute of the day with good, productive things, but not restful, soul-filling moments. I would be working, blogging, mentoring, studying…which are all great, but I would become overwhelmed due to the lack of pure bliss…unadulterated, agenda-free bliss.

It’s okay to wake up and have coffee in bed…
Let yourself daydream…
Do something you used to love as a child…
It is valuable to hear Pandora playing the beautiful tunes of my solo piano station…
There is joy found in hobbies, just for fun…
Give yourself permission to rest.

Today, remember that:
-It is biblical to enjoy life and have fun.
-Having fun and making time for YOU is crucial to having a healthy, balanced life.
-It is not selfish to do things that make you happy, when combined with serving and loving those around you.
-Investing in your own personal happiness will enable you to love others better.

Dream.
Ponder.
Think.
Read.
Eat.
Ride a bike.
Find meaning.
Transcend.
Live.
Do more than your day job.

The Secrets Music Tells

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“Music expresses that which cannot be said, on which it is impossible to be silent.”

-Victor Hugo

The rich and robust sound made when the bow first touched the strings of the cello this morning filled Redeemer church. Interesting, how a sound coming from one single person, one single instrument, actually silenced the pews filled with many busy, chatty people from the city. This music brought immense warmth to my soul, so much so that I almost felt my numbed New York City finger tips come back to life in the presence of it’s fire.

Growing up, my dad owned his own piano store, so I was raised with a great appreciation for instrumental music. The beauty is that it ignites the imagination. Hearing someone play cello, piano, or even Spanish guitar leads me to believe they are sharing a tiny part of a secret with me. My imagination begins to unravel their story with each lingering note.

I love beautiful art that doesn’t exploit and give it all away…the kind of art that leaves it up to us to come to a conclusion…leaves us pondering, dreaming, thinking, and desiring. The wonder found in instrumental music is that we are able to get creative…imagine…close our eyes…evoke our own emotion…feel deeply…daydream. The notes of the instruments are pieces of the puzzle, little secrets, and the lack of lyrics leave us to finish the puzzle in our minds.

Music is personal and universal. A language we all speak, yet touches us so individually. In our fast paced, instant gratification, technology-filled culture, I believe that we have lost the art of enjoying music. Have we forgotten what it feels like to be in awe of the sound? To allow a cellist to sweep us off our feet or a pianist to paint a picture.

Below is a beautiful piece that I love dearly. Give it a listen sometime today. Close your eyes. Allow your mind to daydream, wonder, and become awestruck. Afterward, consider journaling your thoughts, visions, and what came to your mind or heart upon listening. Enjoy the secrets music tells.

The Halloween Card

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{The photo above is from Halloween when I was 4 or 5 years old. I was Pocahontas, my brother was Rocky (which explains the amazing black eye). I tried to copy him and do a peace sign, but I guess I only managed to get one finger up.}

It’s interesting how the smallest moments can have such an incredible impact on our lives. If you know me, you know I love holidays, love traditions, and love making memories with the people I hold dear. I talk a lot about the importance of tradition in my life…but there are so many people and events who have made my traditions what they are. I am also a bit of a hoarder when it comes to cards (I have kept every card a family member has ever given me). Since one of my main love languages is words of affirmation, there is something deeply valuable to me about handwritten words from someone who loves me.

I have MANY Halloween memories. Trick or treating, feeling so cool wandering around with my big brother, my mom making me amazing home made costumes, and eating so much chocolate that I would go into sugar shock. But one thing that not many people know is that Halloween always makes me think of my biological father.

It’s a bit strange, because I don’t really have memories of spending or celebrating any Halloweens with him. The reason this holiday makes me think of him is because of a Halloween card he gave me when I was in elementary school. I was a little girl, and was easily amused (who am I kidding-not much has changed). I thought the slightest technology was AMAZING. This was back before greeting cards were really hi-tech. He sent me a Halloween card, and when I opened it, it played a spooky song. This ridiculous song brought me so much joy. I remember opening and shutting it over and over again. Sometimes I would even keep it next to my bed and listen to the song, because that was the closest thing I had to him. The awesome, scary ghost song wasn’t the best part of that card, though. It’s what was written inside…

“Happy Halloween, Rachael! Daddy loves you SO much.”

To this day, I still have that card. I finally wore out the music, after playing it for years and years, thinking of him each and every time. Little things like songs and cards have always been important to me. I often wonder if he knows that. If he knows that the role he played in my life, no matter how small, had a life-altering, deepening, meaningful impact on my heart. 

Years of my life were spent in confusion, frustration, anger, and hurt…wondering if I wasn’t enough, if he really loved me, why he wasn’t able to be present. But I find peace and sincere gratitude for things like that Halloween card. That card was a symbol of his love for me…it was a gesture…it was his effort…and I deeply appreciate it.

Radical//Reckless//Rugged//Relentless Love.

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“I realized we had created a Jesus who’s safe for the whole family. But if we were honest, we’d ask, how is a homeless dude who was murdered on a cross for saying he was God safe for the whole family? Not to mention that Paul told us if we choose to follow his example as a follower of Jesus, we will be treated the way that he was. We’ve lost the real Jesus—or at least exchanged him for a newer, safer, sanitized, ineffectual one. We’ve created a Christian subculture that comes with its own set of customs, rules, rituals, paradigms, and products that are nowhere near the rugged, revolutionary faith of biblical Christianity. In our subculture Jesus would have never been crucified—he’s too nice. When I was trying to earn Jesus by being good, I missed the real Jesus who wants us to love him and serve him not for what he gives, but for who he is-dangerous, unpredictable, radical, and amazing.”
-Jefferson Bethke, Jesus>Religion

When I first began my journey of seeking and trying to have a relationship with Jesus, I always hit the same roadblock: I’m not good enough. Attempting to wrap my mind around how someone as broken as me could be close to the son of God? No…that just didn’t add up for me. As funny as it sounds, I felt like if Jesus got to know me, he would be horrified. So, I did what many people do. I avoided the word Jesus all together.

Later on, I jumped onto the cultural Christian train at whatever church I would find myself attending, and I would grasp onto the idea of “safe Jesus.” There are many songs out now that make Jesus sound warm and fuzzy, like the best boyfriend ever. Sure, this was a lot more comforting than my idea of angry, scary, horrified Jesus. But while the idea of a safe and predictable Jesus may bring peace to some people, it actually started to really bother me after a while. It wasn’t authentic…it didn’t make sense. The more I studied scripture and strove to know the true character of who Jesus really was, the more I learned that this while this guy was loving, he was not the sheltered, quiet, teddy bear type.

You know that level of friendship where you know someone still isn’t really going to be honest, open, or tell you how it really is? Well, that is not how Jesus operates. Jesus wasn’t afraid to say some insanely radical things, like:

Deny yourself and follow me… (Luke 9:23)
Serve others above yourself… (Matthew 20:26-28)
If you gain the world, you forfeit life… (Mark 8:34-38)
Sell what you own, give to those in need… (Mark 10:21)
Blessed are the persecuted… (Luke 6:22)
Be anxious for nothing… (Matthew 6:25)
Fear God… (Matthew 10:28)
The exalted will be humbled… (Matthew 23:12)

His grace and love is crazy…irrational…beyond our understanding. It is radical. He wasn’t out to make the safe choices. My true relationship with Jesus was shaped and formed through my realization that nothing I could say or do would scare him off. I’m recklessly human sometimes, and “safe Jesus” wouldn’t know how to handle that. The good news is that the real Jesus can. The real Jesus isn’t afraid to hurt my feelings or challenge me, which is crucial of any authentic, long-term relationship.

I love the real Jesus, because I don’t think he could love me any other way. I am able to accept his love and grace because I understand how truly radical it is. Best of all, the real Jesus is adventurous…and stepping into relationship with him meant stepping into the greatest adventure I could embark on…letting go of fear and gaining a faith that transformed my life radically. True love and friendship challenges, stretches, and brings us into our greater selves. The relentless love of Jesus is just that, and I am extremely grateful for who he really is.

Style-On-A-Budget: Ready for fall fashion!

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Fall is by far my favorite season of the year. Los Angeles doesn’t exactly get true fall weather, but it doesn’t mean we can’t get in the autumn spirit with our wardrobe! Today, I am going to help you prep your fall fashion with some must-haves for this coming season. Everyone needs:

-Oversized sweaters
-Red jackets
-Faux leather skirts
-True blue skinny jeans
-Big purses
-Ankle boots
-Moccasins
-Gold jewelry

Steal my style in the photos above:
-Sweater: Forever 21
-Skinny Jeans: Levi’s
-Moccasins: (My awesome husband got them for me for my birthday this year!)
-Gold Necklace: My Mimi’s tomahawk
-Bracelets:
Brown beaded ones are acai berry seeds, the pink one is from Hope with Friends (50% goes to anti sex trafficking organizations), and the turquoise “hope” bracelet is from Cotton On (all proceeds go to charity).

What are some of your favorite fall looks? I hope you are ready for this new season, because the fashion world (and myself) definitely are. It’s time for pumpkin spice lattes and lovely, comfy sweaters. :)

XO,
Rachael Lee Clarkson

The Constant in a World of Variables.

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I’ll never forget what it felt like to experience true, painful, confusing, gut-wrenching heartbreak for the first time in my life.

My parents got divorced when I was a baby, re-married, and then divorced again when I was just a couple years
old. Speaking from my own experience, I don’t believe that a child can truly wrap their head around the
concept of divorce. All you know is that one day, your entire family was together, and the next, your world
has been forever changed.

After my parents got divorced for the second time, we worked out an agreement to do visitation with my
biological father every other weekend. This arrangement didn’t seem strange to me as a kid, because we had already been living in dysfunction. The “abnormal” became normal for us.

Their divorce didn’t change the way I viewed my father, and I know that my lack of information helped. As a small, wide-eyed child, I raced into my father’s apartment with excitement to see what would be my temporary-sometimes-every other weekend-home. Brown cardboard boxes filled the floors, and it didn’t phase me one bit. I loved this man, and felt safe with him, and perhaps my love for him was just naïve…but as I look back on those memories, I do believe that I developed an unconditional love for him at a very young age.

As he and my brother would unpack boxes, I would hop inside them (as my contribution—I was always trying to entertain my family). To this day, I can remember the song that was playing as we spent that first evening in the apartment. I rocked back in forth in a cardboard box while singing “We Will Rock You!” by Queen.

Finally, the unpacking was finished, and my biological father made his signature dish that I always craved: pasta and corn. It may sound simple, but I swear, there was nothing tastier to me in the world than pasta and corn with plenty of butter and salt on top. As my father tucked me into our new bunk-bed that night, I looked up at him and said:

You are so handsome-like a prince. I want to marry you someday.”

A grin came across his face, and he explained to me that while I could not marry him, he was honored that I wanted to marry someone like him someday. They say that a girl’s first love is her father. What I didn’t always know was that a girl’s first heartbreak could also be her father.

We were all designed to love and be loved. And we were made to believe that our fathers were safe. In a science experiment, much like life, you have your variables. These variables are factors that can be changed. (My parents would be so proud that this creative minded girl paid attention just a little bit in school). But you also have your constant. It is ingrained in us to think that our fathers will be the constant, not the changing variable.

My reason for opening up and sharing this story with you today is for you to understand that there is a constant. God’s love transformed my life. He took a broken girl with daddy issues who felt abandoned and made me feel at home. God became my constant in the messy, broken, variable-filled science experiment of my life.

When I first began my true relationship with God, it was uncomfortable for me to view Him as a father figure. But the closer I grew to His love and character, it wasn’t something I had to force…He chose me. I don’t know what your relationship with your father looks like, but I want you to know that your heavenly Father sees you as loved, valued, beautiful, amazing, marvelous. You are His favorite…His best. I don’t know what obstacles or variables you have going on right now in your life, but I encourage you to rest in the one thing that is constant…God’s unfailing love.

3 Key Steps to Unshakable Confidence!

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Happy Monday, friends! Today I am SO excited to share the first episode of “Girls Interrupted” with you! Insecurities start as these tiny, little seeds that take root in our hearts and minds…but they grow into these identity issues and huge lies that change the way we view our own self worth.

My co-host, Ashlee, and I are being vulnerable and transparent with you in our first episode, as we share some of our biggest insecurities with you. We are also offering some advice as to how we can overcome these self-esteem obstacles and step into true confidence. Take a look at the video below, and leave a comment letting us know what topics you would like for us to cover next! :)

The Sexy Picture Scandal: Where is the love?

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I’m sure many of you know that some naked photos of celebrity women have been leaked. Living in Hollywood and feeling called love the women here, this has been very close to my heart this week. I have read countless statuses about how it’s “their fault” because they “shouldn’t have taken the photo in the first place.” For starters, where is our grace? Our compassion? Our humanity? Our love?

If someone’s bank account was hacked, would you tell them you should just never do online banking? Never buy anything online again? No.

How would you feel if someone hacked and read some of your most intimate emails? Personal business?

Even if the argument is that taking the photos in the first place is a mistake, have you ever made a mistake? How would you feel if your most private moment, or biggest mistake, or worst day, happened to go completely viral and public for the world to see? These words of hate and destruction being pointed at these women makes me wonder…what would Jesus do? Actually, I know:

When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”
-John 8:7

Reading these hateful statuses about how it’s their fault, they deserved it, or calling these women stupid is so insensitive and completely heartless. The breaking, obvious news is this, friends: There is NO excuse. NO girl deserves it. My Jesus died for what we all “deserve.” So I’m pretty sure that we don’t have room to condemn these women–it is not our job, and it is not going to help.

It doesn’t matter WHY these women took the photos. NO ONE, I repeat, NO ONE, deserves to have their private life exploited. NO ONE deserves this kind of violation or humiliation.

Disagreeing with someone’s lifestyle or choices is not an excuse to hate or condemn them.

I am absolutely ashamed of the statuses declaring that somehow this violation can be justified. It can’t. If we really cared about the hearts of these women and this issue, we would not extend such mean spirited attitudes and cutting words. It is through loving these women that their lives will be transformed, not through making fun of them, calling them names, or condemning them.

Ephesians 4:14-16 explains that how mature Christians will be able to speak truth, but always in love. We are essentially bullying celebrities rather than seeing them as real women with real issues. Let’s stop the bully mentality and become mature women of God, using our love to reach their hearts.

None us are perfect. And my point is simply that none of us would love for our poor decisions to be public and viral. Us being hateful toward these women won’t do anything to build God’s kingdom or positively impact our culture or their lives. It is through speaking truth with love, compassion, grace, and knowing that none of us are flawless either.

Let’s remember that these celebrities are people. WOMEN. Real women. Just like you and I. Let’s show them some compassion. Let’s have sympathy.

Let’s show these women some extravagant love…the kind of love that God has for us.

XO,
Rachael Lee Clarkson

“Girls Interrupted”: I am co-hosting a new talk show for women!

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Hey, ladies! I am SO excited to finally announce that I am co-hosting a new online talk show, “Girls Interrupted”, with my lovely friend, Ashlee Brown! We actually met years ago through a women’s bible study I led in my old studio apartment, and it’s pretty amazing to watch how God orchestrates and brings people together for some amazing things!

Ashlee is a red carpet host who will be providing our single lady input! I will be speaking from the newly married point of view.  As Hollywood women, we decided to combine forces and start our own talk show! 

What makes “Girls Interrupted” unique is that it’s not just girl talk. Many Christian women avoid the tough subjects, but living in Hollywood, we are IN IT. We aren’t afraid to interrupt culture, media, and our way of doing relationships and lifestyle as young women. We aren’t experts, but simply two ladies hoping to be role models, inspiring women to flourish and make healthy choices. This show will have interviews, discussions, talking about people in media, cooking, fashion, and we will be providing a fresh new perspective on life as a well-rounded woman! Take a look at our intro video below:

Stay tuned for new episodes coming out consistently, and leave us a comment letting us know what topics YOU want to hear about! We will be launching our first episode next week.

Who Wants a Normal Life?

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Lately, life has been the most beautiful and wonderful blessing, but also chaotic and confusing. My schedule always seems to be different (if I even have a schedule), and my car started having some issues, which left me stranded at home for a while.

In the midst of the chaos and trying to make plans with a good friend of mine, I assured her that we WILL get together when life is ever finally normal. Her response was really amazing. She asked me:

“Who wants a normal life??”

The funny thing is, she’s right. Of course, sometimes it would be nice to have a better idea of what’s happening in my own life, but this adventure God has me on is pretty incredible. While being a creative soul doesn’t always offer tons of stability and consistency, what it does offer is so much better…adventure, change, opportunities to seek beauty in every moment, as no two days look the same.

Life is weird.
Funny.
Strange.
Random.
Beautiful.
Messy.
Crazy.
Ever changing.

And so am I.

I have always liked order and organization…things I could control, understand, and plan. But I’m finding so much beauty in this season of life, because I’m able to truly watch God move in my life. I am finding that it’s actually within the messes of life that I can better see His hands at work.

Normal is overrated, I think. Wherever you find yourself today, enjoy the ride. Embrace the journey God has for you.