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Hi, welcome to our blog! We are newlyweds living in Memphis, TN. We love life, adventure and of course each other. We're starting a blog to keep track of any and 'all things Jacques' so we can look back and cherish memories from our first year of marriage. We'll be sharing memories, I'm sure a lot of our dog Bella, favorite recipes, books, trips, spiritual thoughts, home projects, and anything we're enjoying in life at the moment! We hope you enjoy as well. Much love, Michael and Rachel Jacques

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Friday, December 5, 2014

Hidden Gems

I LOVE when I find a new gem in scripture. It feels like it was just waiting for me. I love the way God chooses to reveal His word at the most precious time. I love the power of this & the hope that lies behind it. I can't believe I haven't read this before or if I have it hasn't stuck. It is sticking today. Hope you enjoy it as much I as did this morning. 

1O God, you are my God;
I earnestly search for you.
My soul thirsts for you;
my whole body longs for you
in this parched and weary land
where there is no water.
2I have seen you in your sanctuary
and gazed upon your power and glory.
3Your unfailing love is better than life itself;
how I praise you!
4I will praise you as long as I live,
lifting up my hands to you in prayer.
5You satisfy me more than the richest feast.
I will praise you with songs of joy.
6I lie awake thinking of you,
meditating on you through the night.
7Because you are my helper,
I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings.
8I cling to you;
your strong right hand holds me securely.
9But those plotting to destroy me will come to ruin.
They will go down into the depths of the earth.
10They will die by the sword
and become the food of jackals.
11But the king will rejoice in God.
All who swear to tell the truth will praise him,
while liars will be silenced.

Psalm 63 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Update on Our Journey to Brazil

Journey to Brazil
As you may know, Michael and I went on a mission trip with our church (Christ United Methodist) in July of this year. This all started back in Februrary when we were asked if we were interested in going. We were very hesitant because we had only 2 months to raise $6,000 as the money had to be paid up front. After much conversation and prayer God answered us boldly one morning. During my quiet time on this paticular morning I was reading in Exodus (not a book of the bible that I frequently read but for a very specific reason the Lord had me reading it). I was in Exodus Chapter 3 - the story of Moses and the burning bush when the Lord appears to Moses and tells him to go and set his people free in Egypt. Moses questions who is he to go and what will he say to the people about who has sent him. God answers:

"God said to Moses, "I AM who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: 'I AM has sent me to you." Exodus 3:14.

In that moment we felt as if we knew exactly how Moses felt. We were questioning who we were to go and thinking of every reason why we shouldn't go. BUT, it was God who was sending us and empowering us through Him. It wasn't up to us... we trusted that He would provide the way. That day we decided that we would go to Brazil and were excited to see what God had in store. God was so faithful in providing for us to be able to go and that's where a lot of you come in. Your prayers, donations and support for us was incredible to see and we are so blessed by you. We still can't believe that we ended up raising well over our goal (over $7,000) and were even able to donate the rest to the mission. When God's people come together it is amazing what He will do.
"Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love." Ephesians 4:15-16

You can read more details about our journey to get to Brazil at our fundraising website - www.youcaring.com/jacquesjourney.

Brazil Becoming a Reality
I don't think either of us could have prepared our hearts enough for Brazil and more specifically Lar Batista. We knew that we were going to stay at an orphanage (Lar) and that our task of the trip would be to form relationships and to host a basketball camp at one of the local schools where we could teach the kids the game of basketball and about Christ. What we didn't know is how they would impact our lives and our world forever. I don't know if Brazil/the trip was a reality to us until we were actually en route.

Here's a picture of our team right before we got on the plane in Memphis (a journey that lasted over 24 hours with plane rides to Atlanta, to Sao Paulo, to Iguacu Falls and then a 3 hour bus ride to Assis Chateaubriand, Brazil). Needless to say we got to know each other very well! I love these people. :)

When we finally got into Iguacu Falls the fun began. We were fortunate enough to get to go to Igaucu Falls which is one of the seven Wonders of the World and when you see the pictures below you will believe it! It's impossible to see something as amazing as this and not believe there is a divine Lord who created it all. I love this bible verse (Psalm 93:4) that I found while walking through to get to the falls. How mighty is our God!

After the falls we got to eat at an amazing Brazillian steakhouse (think Texas de Brazil x 10) before taking the long bus ride to Lar Batista (the orphanage where we stayed).

When we first arrived at LAR it was dark out and all of the kids where asleep but I remember feeling a sense of excitement about the place and about what the next morning would bring. We were fortunate to have Grace as our guide, translator and good friend throughout the trip. Grace not only works for Lar Foundation and finds partners in the U.S. to help support Lar but she also grew up at Lar because her father (Pai) started the orphanage nearly 40 years ago. Their family story is one of love and faith in Jesus and after miracle after miracle... I will get to more about their family and Pai later on. I remember Grace telling us about the challenges that LAR was facing... something that seemed more real once we were standing on the balcony of what used to be the all-girls residence that probably could sleep about 40 girls and was now was home to only a handful of girls (I think 3-4 total). Here is that place where we stood on the balcony & where we stayed.

Grace spoke of about the past of Lar where 70 kids at a time occupied the orphanage and now there are about 15 (26 total with kids, teens and adults that live and work there). Because of changes with with the government and foster care they now require children to move orphanages every two years which they think will help them become more adoptable. As you can imagine, it's displaced many children from LAR which the kids consider their home and their family. Lar isn't just an ordinary orphanage. It's one that you are truly considered family from the moment you arrive. And that's exactly what happened to us. From the moment we arrived we were welcomed with open arms and of course, with coffee and delicious food. :) It's such a special place. Here are some pictures of Lar:

I love this last picture because it gives you a glimpse of what our mornings were like in the kitchen. We had delicious coffee, breads, and pastries. They were so gracious to us during our time there. And we definitely did not go hungry!!!

What makes Lar so special though isn't the place itself but the people. Pai, who started the orphanage years ago told story after story of God's provision from the start of his vision for Lar to getting money to build a chapel from a lady in a Green Beatle car that he would never see again to even stories of how God healed him when he was going blind during a trip to Israel. The Green Beatle is still something that they hold dear today as a symbol of God's power. It's also a reminder to pray for God to continue the work He has started at Lar. In fact, when we were there Lar celebrated their 38th anniversary and to top it off served a cake with a green beatle on it. The look on Pai's face was precious. He was so pleased!

God has blessed Lar unbelievably but not because they are lucky. No, it's because He knows he has diligent servants that want to be in His will more than anything in life. So, He empowers them to do great things. Because of their faith, they are rewarded and get to see God do incredible things that truly are miracles. Not only that but they ask and believe He will provide. Their unwavering faith reminds me of how much I put God on a shelf in my little bubble here in the U.S. Pai and Lar helped me understand how BIG God is and how big the world is that he created. He helped me understand that all you need in life is faith in God and that he will provide all your needs. This verse has taken on a whole new meaning to me and I remember Lar every time I read it:

"And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him." Heberews 11:6

We learned many things from the people at LAR but the two things that stand out in my heart the most are lessons about joy and faith. I've already spoke to faith but the moment when I realized how powerful faith in Jesus is is when we visited their farm. It's one of my favorite stories and one of the "take your breathe away" God-filled moments of my life. We got to visit the their farm where they raise tilipia, wheat, and many other things. The farm goes on as far as the eye can see. It is absolutely beautiful and gives you a peace inside just being there. While standing on the farm we got to hear Pai tell the story of how the farm came to be. Below is a picture of Pai on the farm telling us this story.

A time came when they needed to raise money to live and continue the mission of Lar so Pai decided to invest in a farm where they hoped to farm fish. However, once they bought the land they realized it was dry. Pai prayed for God to provide for them and he asked the workers to begin trying to dig a pond to raise fish as he had envisioned. They thought he was crazy but started to dig anyway. Pai pushed them to go further and further on this one spot that God told him to dig from. Again, the workers did so but were very hesitant because they knew the land was dry. As you can imagine, the cost of machinery and all of the labor was adding up but God told Pai to not give up but to keep digging. So, the workers did so hesitantly.

The next morning Pai returned to the farmland and there was a tiny spring of water that was showing where the workers were digging the day before. There happened to be a boulder that was blocking a spring of water. There are now 3 large ponds filled with tilapia that they can both farm and enjoy for food. Pai clearly knew God was speaking to him and his obedience to God to keep digging led to one of their biggest blessings. Can you imagine? Below are more pictures of the farm today. The third one is little spot that they dug from initially where the boulder was. I stood here, closed my eyes and just felt the power and presence of the Lord. It was unbelieveable.

I can't help but think... isn't that the way our lives are today? I feel like sometimes my faith is smothered by a boulder and it's myself. My own doubts and myself putting God in a box and not remembering his mighty power and soverignty over all of creation. He is the CREATOR of the universe, the KING of KINGS, LORD of LORDS. If we could only wrap our heads around that how much more freely could we live our lives? But I think that takes commitment to Christ. A real relationship in which you get to know him through His word and through conversation in prayer just as you would in another relationship. The kind of relationship that Pai has with the Lord and that I crave for myself. Visiting the farm was one of the highlights of my trip. It centered me, grounded me, and brought me to my knees.

One of my other favorite parts of the trip was worshiping with the people at the church that Pai preaches at and hosting the basketball camp at the local school. Below is a picture of us after church service that first Sunday. I don't know if we had any clue what we were in for at this point in the trip!:)

Below are some pictures of us hosting the basketball camp at the local school. I think you'll see right away how great the school and the kids were. It's an open-air campus and the kids go to school in morning and afternoon shifts (too bad we weren't kids going to elementary school there right?). It was a beautiful campus and the kids were so warm and loving. They thought we were in the NBA... Michael might have showed off his previous basketball skills... you'll see below his infamous dunk. We don't know if it will ever happen again! :)

We were able to see over 700 kids from the school. I hope that we not only taught them the basics of basketball but also what it means to be a Christian. My favorite part of the camp was the huddle time in which one of the team members would speak in the middle and we would hand out bracelets with 1 John 2:6 that says, "Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did." Leaving them with how to accept Jesus did and to live their lives how he would. Think of a modern day WWJD (what would Jesus do) bracelet. They loved them!

I could go on and on about Pai's stories, stories of the kids at Lar and at the school and the way God worked during our time there. In fact, Grace is writing a book because the story of Lar is almost too much to grasp in one blog post or one setting. It's a beautiful story that God has woven together over 40 years. He is so faithful.

So what did we leave Brazil with? The love for coffee, of course, me understanding who Neymar is & why I should love him too, a love snack time at 3pm, but more importantly a greater love for people. In Brazil, it's all about relationships. Where I think we are missing the boat is that we are so busy in our everyday lives that we don't have time for each other. Not in Brazil, it's relationship first and task second. The kids called us tia & tio meaning aunt and uncle. I love that! We are also leaving Brazil with a deeper understanding of what faith and joy really means. As I expressed earlier, the people in the small city of Assis Chateaubriand may not have much according to wordly standards but they have a kingdom that far outweighes the riches of this world. A kingdom that they put all of their trust in. They live out their faith every single day and embody what it means to be a follower of Christ. We are forever grateful for our experience and time there. Below are of a few more pictures of our last night there.

For those of you that supported us with your donations, prayers and the sweet letters that we got while on the trip we want to thank you! Thank you for your faithfulness and obedience to what God called you to do. We are forever grateful to you and hope you realize what an impact you also had for the children at Lar and in Assis Chateaubriand. A big OBRIGADA (thank you) to you!

In Christ,
Mike & Rachel

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Sharpened through the fire

Why do we have sorrows in our lives as Christians and why can't the world just be "perfect"? Because why then, in our self-absorbed, self-reliant world, would we think we need God? I know a lot of friends that are going through trials and facing difficult things in this season of their lives... I'm not an exception and have my own struggles. I came across this passage that Paul was writing to the Corinthians about not being sorry for the first letter he wrote that caused their hearts and lives to change and led them to repentance. They had to go through a Godly sorrow in that time of their lives to understand more about who they were and how they needed Christ... They were sharpened through the fire. 

"For godly sorrow produced repentance leading t to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. For observe this very thing that you sorrows in a Godly manner: what diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you have proved yourselves to be clear in this matter." 
2 Corinthians 7:10-11 

I have confidence that we are also going through Godly sorrow and His consuming fire to come out on the other side victorious through Christ. Just think how awesome it will be on the other side. And just think how awesome God is even today as you are in the fire... He is right beside you. I hope these verses help you today if you are in a state of Godly sorrow today. 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Emmanuel, "God with us"

It has been a long time since I've posted on our little blog. Mainly because I've been busy but also because I have started a journal and I'm putting a lot of my thoughts there. But, I feel that there are certain things that the Lord is calling me to share.

Funny how when I started this blog I didn't intend for it to be all about God. But, the Lord had other plans. He has captivated my heart and He is what I have to talk about. He is what I want to talk about. He is the one doing miraculous things in my life. I could talk about trips, recipes, and all of that but what will that matter when this life ends? (Please note that I'm all for awesome trips and recipes and in fact will probably try and start posting more about everything on the blog...) Today though, I want to share what God has laid on my heart.

Last night we worshiped at the Kari Job #majestictour concert. To say that it was amazing would not do it justice. The presence of God was so real, so awesome, so powerful that it was almost hard to breathe and I could literally feel my heart longing for the Lord, aching to be home with Him in heaven. Michael and I have talked about what it will be like in Heaven recently. In fact, we talked about it just this week before the concert. I think God answered our question last night becuase I truly feel that we got a glimpse of Heaven. Below is a picture that I'm going to keep to remind me how awesome it was.

Not wanting to forget last night I started thinking about how we, as humans, have a very short-lived memory. Miracles happen all the time. We praise God for them and then we move on with our lives forgetting how powerful that moment in time was and worrying about how WE will handle the next problem. I picture God pleading with us, weeping with us to turn back to Him. It seems so simple yet it is our human nature to do the very opposite. Kari talked about that she saw the Son of God movie the day before and as she sat there she thought about how real Jesus was. Just as real as me and you. Yes, we all know that but I think we lose our passion sometimes forgetting what He has done here on Earth. We tend to move on with things in life and later they become a memory and we lose the intensity of those feelings.

An example of this was just last year when my brother was in California and was hospitalized quickly. The doctors told him he had a flesh eating virus and that they would have to go in and do surgery with a couple of possible outcomes: 1) they could get it before it spread 2) they would have to cut such a large portion of it out that he would be disfigured or 3) that it could have already spread to his organs and the it was possible that he wouldn't make it. The phone call that night was surreal. I hung up the phone and hung on to Michael, pleaded with God, cried, got on my knees, called friends, family. I was so desperate for God to heal my baby brother. He went into surgery and they were able to remove it. It hadn't spread, he wasn't disfigured and he was alive. I swore to myself and to God that day that I would never forget His faithfulness and His miracle. I wrote in my journal, "I am marking this as a true God moment because I know as time passes it will seem less like a miracle. But it was." Below is a picture of my brother and I after he returned home from California.

I've found that God can use the situation that is most painful for you and turn it into good. My pain point is also my proof point and reminds me that He is faithful and how much he loves us! The fact that we can forget what God has done for us is crazy yet so natural for us. It reminds me of Deuteronomy 8 after the Lord has delivered the Israelites through the 40 years in the wilderness. God knows how fragile we are and how easy it is to forget the amazing things he has done for us. He warns,

“Beware that you do not forget the Lord your God by not keeping His commandments, His judgments, and His statutes which I command you today, lest—when you have eaten and are full, and have built beautiful houses and dwell in them; and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and your gold are multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied; when your heart is lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage; who led you through that great and terrible wilderness, in which were fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty land where there was no water; who brought water for you out of the flinty rock; who fed you in the wilderness with manna, which your fathers did not know, that He might humble you and that He might test you, to do you good in the end— then you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gained me this wealth.’
Deuteronomy 8:11-17

Experiences like worship last night are real... as real as God delivering the Israelites out through the wilderness. I asked God this morning (thinking about last night's concert), "Why can't every day be like that" and his answer was "Oh but Rachel, dear child, it can". God is not the one who leave us. It's us that leaves Him. The ultimate sacrifice has been paid, the veil is torn! We have access and stand in the presence of the Lord... it's our hearts, our focus that has to change. Only then can we experience the His amazing presence. You see, it's HIS name that is Emmanuel, "God with us". Wow!

My prayer for you today is that the Lord will consume and captivate your heart as He has mine. I hope you are a light today in this dark world and keep your focus on the cross. If you don't know Jesus I'd love to share with you what he has done in my life and how much he loves you and longs for your heart. Message me if you feel that He is working in your heart. What an even sweeter day it could be!

In His Love,