Oi, tudo bem?

When all else fails, say something in another language…you automatically look cooler.

I know what you’re thinking. “You just blogged yesterday, get over yourself.” 

Maybe you’re not thinking that, but I am. In my defense (against myself, I guess?), when all you have to do is lay around feeling sick and tired but you’re tired of sleeping, blogging is a pretty good option.

And to be slightly more vulnerable, I came across something when reading my Bible that struck me and I really wanted to share it.

Lately, basically since I’ve started actually caring about God and what He thinks – so for about 2 years – I’ve been really struggling with feeling like and believing that God really loves me. That no matter what I do, He is on my side, forever. Of course, that’s really heavy and hard to understand, but I think that’s even more of a reason to try to understand it. See, I walk around with my head down, navel-gazing, feeling like I’ve messed everything up simply by being, that because I couldn’t pull it together God had to work a little harder on me than He really wanted to. So I see Him staring down at me, arms crossed in impatience, waiting for me to stop feeling sorry for myself. Here’s the problem with Christians. We think we have to have it all together. We think we have to be joyful to prove how great we think God is to those around us and we think we have to fake it when we just don’t get God or grace or one of the millions of complexities of this faith. But I learned a little something from Bono this weekend at our retreat. There’s this thing called duality. There’s this thing called being a human. There’s this thing called God cares so much more about how we actually are than how Christianity looks to everyone on earth. Guys, I am a Christian. I believe that God is real, that Jesus is my only way to God, and that one day, Jesus will come back and I will see my God in Heaven. But that does not mean that everyday of my life is pleasant. That does not mean that I always feel completely loved by God. That I don’t doubt Him daily, regularly. That I don’t look to myself for answers more than Him. That I don’t doubt His love for me so much that I live in guilt everyday. You want to know the real Tabitha? That’s the real Tabitha. I’m not completely whole on the inside. I feel separated from God sometimes. More than I’d like. And the only answer I know to give to that depressing thought is that I know who the real God is. Sounds trite, cliche, too easy. But it’s not. The thing I’ve learned absolutely since being in Brazil is that I don’t understand anything. 

But I can’t just stop there! I can’t. How depressing is that? How wrong is that? Who does that leave the answers with? It leaves it up to me to find the answers. I don’t have them. So there’d better be someone else here. Yeah, there has to be. And you guessed it. There is. 

Jesus – the man and Spirit and God, Jesus. He doesn’t ask me to know the answers. He says, “Here, I’ll help you figure it out when you’re ready.” You want to know the Gospel people? See this broken girl with her confused and hurting heart and words laid out in front of you and see the God who gives her the answers. Guys, I don’t even have to look for Him because He is already here with me, waiting for me. How could you deny this God? How could you not want this God? He knows that I’m like this, that I’m trying to do it all by myself and He still wants to fix me completely and make me completely new. He still wants to be my friend and wait patiently for me.

Now back to that Scripture I was talking about. Isaiah 44:21-28 (NLT)

Restoration for Jerusalem

21 “Pay attention, O Jacob,
    for you are my servant, O Israel.
I, the Lord, made you,
    and I will not forget you.
22 I have swept away your sins like a cloud.
    I have scattered your offenses like the morning mist.
Oh, return to me,
    for I have paid the price to set you free.”

23 Sing, O heavens, for the Lord has done this wondrous thing.
    Shout for joy, O depths of the earth!
Break into song,
    O mountains and forests and every tree!
For the Lord has redeemed Jacob
    and is glorified in Israel.

24 This is what the Lord says—
    your Redeemer and Creator:
“I am the Lord, who made all things.
    I alone stretched out the heavens.
Who was with me
    when I made the earth?
25 I expose the false prophets as liars
    and make fools of fortune-tellers.
I cause the wise to give bad advice,
    thus proving them to be fools.
26 But I carry out the predictions of my prophets!
    By them I say to Jerusalem, ‘People will live here again,’
and to the towns of Judah, ‘You will be rebuilt;
    I will restore all your ruins!’
27 When I speak to the rivers and say, ‘Dry up!’
    they will be dry.
28 When I say of Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd,’
    he will certainly do as I say.
He will command, ‘Rebuild Jerusalem’;
    he will say, ‘Restore the Temple.’”

So let me paint this picture for you as to how I got here, writing to you.

I woke up from a nap feeling no better than when I laid down 4 hours before. I was cranky, hot, and just really, really tired. I woke up, unsure of what to do with myself. I hadn’t read my Bible yet today and that was weighing on my mind – I just felt really guilty and dumb for not reading it. I thought to myself (in an incredibly condemning, not encouraging way), “You’d probably feel better if you just read your Bible.” So I pushed the thought away and got out of bed, hoping getting up would help me think of something to do, all the while feeling like the biggest disappointment and failure ever – I’m just carrying that weight around with me. No one is really home, so I grab a computer and a movie, and am about to climb back into bed when I decide to bring my Bible up with me, too. Still feeling guilty and forced into reading it, not really wanting to, I open it up and immediately feel annoyed and disappointed. I think, “I’ll never measure up to this…God knows what I’m thinking right now and that I’m not feeling this. What’s the point? It’s not going to change the way I really feel, which is sort of empty. I just want Him to make me feel better.” So I sadly start to read and feel this sort of unfamiliar feeling of reassurance. As I read the words, I saw that God was talking to, of course, Jacob, but in that moment, only me. He was directing those words right at me. He wanted and needed me to believe them. He longed for me to trust Him and to trust what He was saying was true and would and will be until I get it and until I believe it and live in it. He’s not giving up on me, He has already forgotten all of the other times I’ve doubted Him. He’s already forgotten the future times I’ve doubted Him. 

So there you go. What scares me is that I have approximately 500 facebook friends and everyone of you could read this. Hello, vulnerability. Typing it and sending it into the cyberworld is one thing. Realizing people are actually reading this and applying it to me is terrifying. Transparency? I don’t know. I hope you enjoyed it. I hope it helped. I hope if you’re not a Christian and you read this, it made Christianity and God seem a little less like a script and a little more like a life.

Word, peace and blessings.


Well, we’re all getting sick.

That seems to be the theme of the past few weeks…slowly, progressively, our team is getting sick. It started with Courtney’s cold, now there are sinus infections which may be bronchitis, stomach bugs, and sore throats.

It’s upsetting, it’s frustrating, and it’s hard. Illness seems managable when it’s just you…but when you start adding it all together, 9 out of 14 seems sort of serious. And what’s worse is that none of us know why we’re getting sick. And what’s even worse (for me) is that I hate being sick. I hate it. And for right now, that’s what I am.

I laid in bed all day yesterday trying to avoid throwing up…and nothing was really making me feel better. I slept the worst of it off…but I still don’t feel 100%. I couldn’t/didn’t eat because, well, I was nauseous. So now I’m weak, exhausted, and still sick.

So I say all of that, not to complain or get pity, but to ask you all to pray – and pray hard. Being sick is bad enough. Being sick in a foreign country when everyone is busy or sick, too, is extremely unfortunate. So please, please be keeping the health of my team in your prayers. We need all the help we can get. Sometimes, being sick seems like the end – it’s kind of hard to see past it, especially when you don’t know what’s wrong. You don’t know how to fix it. The only thing I know to do now is pray, and I have been. But I need your help, too. We all do.

Other than that, life here has been incredibly challenging and entirely refining.And so rewarding. I have to admit, sometimes it’s hard to see it that way, but I’m so glad I’m going through this. I have never faced so much in such a short amount of time. It’s amazing. All of the things I thought I knew and understood about God, about myself, about Jesus and my faith are being shattered and pieced back together. I would go into more detail…but that could take days. And, let’s be real, some of that is sort of personal, dear readers.

Jesus has taught me about Himself and about me and about how we relate. He has taught be about being perfect (or, more aptly, about NOT being perfect) and about how He doesn’t expect or want that from me. It is through the hardest times that I have learned the most about grace and about His immense love for me and about how much He desires for me to enjoy Him. I feel like He is taking away all I “know” about Him – He is removing one of my biggest comforts: knowledge – and asking me to reveal myself to Him. And to trust what He reveals to me about Himself.

I have learned about the things I’ve always wanted to and have truly, truly experienced them. Not the things you can study, but the things only the privileged get revealed to them. I have learned that I am not privileged because I want to be, but because God treasures me. He really and truly does. He doesn’t just say He does so He can get me to do things for Him. He does treasure me because He is worth treasuring. I’m sorry if that doesn’t make sense to you. If it doesn’t, pray that it will. Because that is a lesson worth learning. Know God. Truly ask Him for Himself. He is better than anything I’ve ever wanted.

On another note, I’m excited about coming home. I was telling (shout out alert) Emily (or, as I always call her, “my best friend”) that I feel like God has protected me from homesickness. I haven’t really wanted to go home, but I’m also not wallowing in grief at the thought of coming home. I love being here and don’t want to leave one day earlier than I’m supposed to, but I’m also equally happy with the thought of coming home. I don’t know about you, but I see that as a huge blessing. To feel content and at peace with just one aspect of God’s plan for me is overwhelmingly reassuring.

Something else that God has been teaching me is to learn how to be thankful for what I do have. I was thinking the other day (stressing and worrying, really) about something that wasn’t happening when all of a sudden it occurred to me that so much was happening that I have to be thankful for. Rather than worry about what wasn’t happening and begging God for it to happen, I praised God for what was happening. It was in that moment that I experienced an overwhelming sense of joy at the thought that God is doing anything in my life. He doesn’t have to. But He’s choosing to. And that is so much to be thankful for!

Another thing that I want to be more and more thankful for is my team. I love these people. They are beautiful, amazing lovers of the Lord and they encourage me in more ways than they know. They are caring, smart, humble, etc, etc. They are each so unique, so young, so fresh in their faith, so persevering. I know I don’t always show it to them, but I am so blessed to know them. And Rachel, you little eavesdropper, you’re the coolest. I like sitting with you and listening to you talk…you’re so precious. (Cue the condescending pat).

And finally, here’s some scripture. Focus on verse 12. I don’t have anything to say about it. Just read it.

10 “But you are my witnesses, O Israel!” says the Lord.
    “You are my servant.
You have been chosen to know me, believe in me,
    and understand that I alone am God.
There is no other God—
    there never has been, and there never will be.
11 I, yes I, am the Lord,
    and there is no other Savior.
12 First I predicted your rescue,
    then I saved you and proclaimed it to the world.
No foreign god has ever done this.
    You are witnesses that I am the only God,”
    says the Lord.
13 “From eternity to eternity I am God.
    No one can snatch anyone out of my hand.
    No one can undo what I have done.”


Keep us in your prayers. And keep fighting the good fight. It’s called a fight for a reason. 

I would name this post “Untitled” but technically that is a title. So I’ll just call it “I Don’t Have a Clever Name for this Blog Post so I’m Just Going to Name it Something Preposterous.”

Well guys, I’m still in Brazil.

Life here, what is happening here, is far more and far different from what I ever expected (Ephesians 3:20, anyone?) I feel like right now is one of those times in which I feel incredibly insecure and just dumb in my faith when in all actuality what is happening is that God is simply humbling me. Simply humbling, haha…I act like it’s a simple task or something. Anyway, I think that statement best sums up my spiritual state here so far. I know that in the times in my life in which I experienced most growth were the times in which I was the most convinced of my failure. That’s not to say that being doubtful or self-deprecating is good, but that for some reason a whirlwind of mystery and un-sureness seems to surround the most fruit-growing times in my life. 

I have learned so much about things I thought I already knew about in the past 2 weeks. I think I know stuff, and then God teaches me the same things again to show me that I have no freaking idea about anything. It’s good – it keeps me interested. 

Let me just tell you, writing a blog is hard…you never know what to include and what’s just too weird to say and whose name not to drop and whose name to most-def drop. I will say, though, life here in Brazil isn’t that much different. I mean, there’s plumbing, and electricity, people eat off of plates, and I can still use a computer. I knew I wasn’t going to be living in a hut off of the Amazon, but I think I secretly did think that…silly American. I guess what I’m getting at is that I’m not that much different in Brazil. Like, I’m not all of a sudden super humble, picking up babies everywhere I go and giving my life away to them. I still put makeup on everyday, I still use waaaay too much hairspray everyday, I still act rude and say stuff I shouldn’t and function out of my own insecurities – just like in the US. Brazil hasn’t changed me. It turns out it’s been God all along. 

So yeah. I have discovered a lot of interesting things about myself and my future here. Vague enough for you? But in all seriousness, I feel like in the past week I have learned so much about how wrong I can be. Just in general. Talking to some of the girls I live with and my leader here, I just realized how much life has to offer and how little of it I take (holiday at the sea, anyone?) 

I guess I’ll just get right to the point. I have been living with and functioning under this mentality that God doesn’t really want me to be happy. Why, you ask. Heck if I know. Because I’m human and wrong (Psalm 103:14). I’ve been paying a lot of attention to the way I live in the Gospel, and there is this huge gap between my confessional theology and my functional theology (or what I like to call the ideal world and the real world). Basically, I know a whole bunch of stuff about the way a Christian should be and all of the right answers and yada, yada, yada. But I don’t really believe I can live this stuff out. In doing this, I’m not only (obviously) not having any sort of faith in myself, but I’m also not trusting the identity that God specifically gave me. 

And the question I’ve been asking God and myself is, What is that?!

It’s kind of funny. It’s so simple. The answer is, I mean. Just put my trust in Jesus, right? Duh. But that’s so much harder to live out than to just say.

And – being myself – I have been racking my brain about how I can fix this. God was very quick to answer that. Nothing is what I can do. In my own power, there is NOTHING I can do to solve this problem. I am a sinner! How the heck am I going to do anything about it? I’m the one who got myself into this situation in the first place. But He was also quick to give me another, much more hope-invoking answer, too.

Pray. Pray about it and pray for it.

And I have to depend on Him for that. 

In all, I know I am here on a mission and that God has given me a heart for that mission while I’m here. In all of the tough times, not once have I questioned whether or not I should be here. And that’s nice.

I’ve seen, also, that I still have so much growing up to do. My leader here, Jen, was telling me today that the way my spiritual life looks here is much more similar to real life and I was so thankful to hear that. It has been hard – my time here is so much less about me and so much more about the 5,612,178,099,743 things and people I need to be thinking about on a daily basis. I realized that I’ve grown incredibly spoiled in my spiritual life. Thus far, it’s been mostly about me. In the past, when I felt wrong, weird, or just funny, I isolated myself and journaled about it. And don’t hear me saying that that’s not good. It most certainly is. But when you start feeling funny and journaling doesn’t seem to be helping and you’re in a group of people and it would be kind of weird for you to get up, isolate yourself, and journal about your sin, what are you going to do? I’ll tell you what you’re going to do, you’re going to get over it and trust God’s grace. See, I have always struggled with legalism – I want to do my faith. I want to fix it and make it look nice and pretty. But I have an ugly heart and sometimes people see that. And sometimes getting by myself and getting it all out is not how I need to fix it. What I need to do in those situations is to trust that God will still love me and that He will fix it. Because in the end, He’s the One making it all work, anyway. So, yeah…sorry for my time on the soap box. I’ll descend.

I think I’ve run out of things to say, but I want to leave y’all with a verse that has been in my heart for the past few months:

Philippians 2:12-13

“Therefore, my dear friends . . . continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.”


Faith isn’t easy.

The end.


P.S. Allison Preg, thank you for what you said on my wall – I needed to hear (read?) that. I love you, roomie.

P.S.S. Kimberly Allerton. I miss you. Steph and I talk about you. A lot. Let’s hang out at Beach Project? One-on-one, maybe?

P.S.S.S. Katie Sherrod, thank you for your encouragement and for reading – it really makes it all worthwhile 🙂 

Trials and Turbulation

Hi friends.

I’m in Brazil. So much has already happened. So much. To me, in me, just me. In just three days, I have already seen sooo much. It’s kind of unbelievable. 

This place is beautiful. It is amazing. The people, the food, the city, the weather – all of it is amazing.

The plane ride over…not so amazing. The flight from Atlanta to Miami was rough. We flew through a lightning storm and I literally thought I was going to die. That was an exercise in trusting the Lord. And then, once we landed in BH (that’s what the Brazilians call Belo Horizonte – BH [pronounced bay-aga]), we found out that our luggage had not arrived with us. So for 2 days we went without clothes, shampoo, toothbrushes, etc. It was a good time to (unintentionally) fast from things. 

Also, sorry this is so disorganized and that it doesn’t make much sense. Maybe the next time I blog it will be more focused. Being here has been a sort of uprooting for me. 

I would generally describe the overall feeling of my short time here as discomfort. Not in a bad, self-pitying way but in a good, tear-you-down-then-build-you-up sort of way. I have learned more than ever that my one and only identity is in Jesus Christ and my Father. They are the only Ones who will without a doubt satisfy me and love me perfectly. God has spoken to me so much since I’ve been here. It’s been hard to hear Him sometimes…I’m facing a lot of my insecurities and flaws right now – but it has been so beneficial for me. He has been so loving and intimate to show me that He is absolutely relentless in His pursuit of me. It can be hard and harsh sometimes, but it is so good to see that He cares so much about one so small as me. 

In all, I have just felt completely overwhelmed. By almost literally everything. The language is different. The lifestyle is different. The people I’m with are different than the people I’m with in the States. I don’t necessarily fit in here. I’m American, and people know it (though the general consensus seems to be that I’m either Italian or Argentine). Regardless, I am finding myself in a place in which I am in a complete lack of control. And I love to be in control.

There is so much I want to say. But I’m still processing, still trying to figure stuff out. Who am I here?

That’s a question that has popped up a lot in my subconscious. But it’s really cool because even in my subconscious God is present. I had a migraine the other day (something that happens to me a lot, unfortunately) and I was lying in bed, feeling sorry for myself and just doubting a lot. And God spoke to me (something that happens to me a lot, thankfully). He said to me in a voice so tender, Tabitha, just be Tabitha, please.

And I think that’s an important thing for every single Christian out there to get. Don’t dare try to be someone you’re not. God desires you as you are. It’s so simple to understand but so hard to believe.

I don’t know if that’s helpful, profound, or incredibly obtuse to you. But it was so sweet to me. To hear God begging me in a time of pain and weakness to just be myself. His love for me doesn’t make sense to me. 

Well, I think I’ve said as much as I can remember. There is so much – I wish I could recall and tell it all. But I hope that keeps you interested enough to keep reading. And please, keep praying. God desires these Brazilians, and He will have them. But please pray that we will be obedient, joyful children in our time here.

Revelation 5:9 says,

“And they sang a new song, saying:

‘You are worthy to take the scroll
    and to open its seals,
because you were slain,
    and with your blood you purchased for God
    persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.'”

God bless!


P.S. I realize that turbulation isn’t actually a word, but after being incredibly sleep-deprived from the Miami to BH flight (that was 7 hours) I realized that my words weren’t working as well as I’d hoped. So the word turbulence suddenly became turbulation…it’s fine.

Well, I’m going to Brazil…

Hi friends.

This is my first ever blog. I am nervous. Please read my words with gentility and without judgment. I hope I spell everything right and that it all makes sense…it is 2:08 am, after all.

I’m not much for blogs…other people having them is fine. Me having one is way too much pressure. However, seeing as I’m leaving for Brazil in approximately 29 hours, I thought it was high time I get one of these things. Plus, my dear friend Rachel more or less forced me to get one. Well, not really. But she did suggest that I get one.

So here I am. And here you are.

And I’m leaving for Brazil in 29 hours. And I have been an emotional wreck for the past 72. Preparing yourself to fly away from pretty much everything you love is a lot harder than you might think. It’s probably because I didn’t realize until today that that’s what I would be doing. Sure, I knew that I was going to be in a different country…but I didn’t think about what I would be leaving behind. And the prideful, “strong” part of me is/was saying, That’s not what it’s about. It’s about the people in Brazil…it’s about obeying the Lord. And it most certainly is about that. But I don’t think it’s God telling me to ignore my feelings and just suck it up. That doesn’t sound much like God to me. So what I’ve been learning most over these past few days is that God cares about me – a lot. Like, He really, really cares for me. Revolutionary.

I think I thought I was supposed to be this super Christian (whatever the freak that is) and be resilient and aloof (psh) and not be hindered by my fears. But I’m still insecure, silly, fearful, naiive Tabitha Rayner. I’m not some super-aware grown up whose been through it all. I still get incredibly scared when I think of giving up what I want for the unknown of what God wants. 

By the way, whoever thought it was cool to be aloof was wrong. Being aloof is perhaps the least cool thing ever. If we could all not care, I guess we all would be a bunch of stoney-hearted jerks…sorry, I’ll get off my lil soap box now. But serioulsy, go read Hosea 10:11-12. God wants soft-hearted people, not comfortable, bored know-it-alls.

Anyway, the thought of going to Brazil is at once completely exciting and entirely unsettling. So many emotions have coursed through my heart and mind in the past few days that I honestly don’t even think I could recall all of them. The most prevalent thing that I’ve been seeing lately is my sinfulness and unwillingness to trust God. I think I can and should and am supposed to handle everything by myself, with my own little feeble hands. In a moment of vulnerability with the Lord yesterday, I was reminded of 2 Corinthians 12:9. His power works best in weakness. I am so expendable. He is so great. This trip is an honor; the fact that He even chose me to be a part of His family is an honor. I saw this today on one of my facebook friend’s statuses – it’s from Sarah Young’s devotional “Jesus Calling”:

“If you learn to trust Me – really trust Me – with your whole being, then nothing can separate you from My peace. Everything you endure can be put to good use by allowing it to train you in trusting Me. This is how you foil the works of evil, growing in grace throught the very adversity that was meant to harm you.”

Satan has been on my back since the day I decided to follow the Lord with my whole heart 2 summers ago. He really hates me. And sometimes he convinces me that his voice is God’s voice. But God always redeems me and I know that it is all a part of God’s plan to strengthen my faith and make me wiser and more faithful. What a blessing. So Brazil, really, isn’t going to change me. God is. He already has, and He will until Jesus comes back for me. Philippians 1:6.

So, if you’ve stuck it out this far, I have one more request. Please pray for me. For my team. For the beautiful, hungry hearts of the Brazilians we will meet.

Here are my prayer requests (they are not in order of importance, by the way):

1) That we would truly befriend the Brazilians and learn from them

2) That we would forget ourselves and be heavy with the truth of the Gospel

3) That we would be jealous for their souls and intercede for them with perseverance

4) That we would be absolutely overwhelmed by God’s beauty and grace

5) That we would learn to depend solely on the Lord and His identity for us

6) That we would not struggle with culture and reverse culture shock


May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord make His face shine upon you.


Ta ta for now, fair readers.

You are all completely beautiful in your own, perfectly you way.