Hello, friends! I’m back with more reflections from my Hawaii, a time when I learned things like…

  • The Hawaiian alphabet only has 13 letters.
  • A pineapple at the grocery store only costs $0.79, but a Fuji apple is $2-3. (Plot twist, Mainlanders! How ‘bout them apples?)
  • How to surf and hula.
  • There is such thing as a “banjolele,” aka a banjo-ukulele. (Santa, please take note.)

Aside from learning these fun factoids and newfound talents, I also discovered a lot about who God is and His relationship with creation. Like any good Baptist, I tried to condense my thoughts into 3 main points, but they truly fit into 4 steps. So stay with me to the end!

THOUGHT #1: I get to know God.

It doesn’t take a ton of these views to realize that the world we live in is so much bigger than ourselves. I remember standing on the shore of a black sand beach after a rainfall, watching waves crash into rocks and feeling the extremely powerful pull of the undertow as the water returned to the sea. Facing the forces of nature is incredibly humbling. From breathtaking views on a mountaintop to a colorful coral reef habitat under the sea, I was in awe of creation and the One who created it.

I get to know the God who made this?! I kept thinking. The One who raised this mountain 13,000 feet high and gave this gray fish neon fins? THIS is the same God who gives me strength and courage? Who calls me his friend?

THOUGHT #2: Other people don’t know God.

As I marvelled at THOUGHT #1, I was saddened when I thought about all of the people who do not know the one, true God who is so dear to me. One day we visited an ancient temple built by King Kamehameha in the early 1800s. I was surprised to read that the temple was still a place of worship where some native Hawaiians come to practice their religion. If you look closely at the picture below, you can see that people have placed necklaces and food on the ancient structure as an offering. Other locals, instead of worshiping ancient deities, revere nature itself in a spiritual, transcendental type of worship.

 

I thought of Acts 17 when Paul preached in the Greek Areopagus in Athens, a city filled with idolatry. He first acknowledged that the people were very religious, and he specifically recognized their altar “to the unknown god.” Then he said,

“So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you. ‘The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth…’” (23-24).

That’s what I wanted to tell people. I know the God who made this, and He’s incredible! This leads to THOUGHT #3…

THOUGHT #3: God wants a relationship with those who don’t know Him.

If you continue reading Acts 17, Paul says that God made people “that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.” (27).

He’s not far from us! Isn’t that wonderfully comforting?

1 Timothy 2:4-5 says that God “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.”

We have one God and one Savior. God wants people to find Him through Christ. The Gospel is called the “good news” for a reason! And that’s not the end of the story.

THOUGHT #4: I get to tell people about the true God and His Son, Jesus!

Have you ever tried to convince someone to watch your favorite TV show or listen to your favorite band? (Next time you see me, ask me why I love Survivor or Lady Antebellum.) It’s not hard to get excited about something or someone you love!

In the same way, believers in Christ should be bursting with excitement to tell others about our amazing God. The Bible says we are ambassadors for Christ and ministers of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18-21). What does that mean? We get to help reconcile people to God by telling them the good news of Jesus.

So there’s my 4-step process of what God taught me in Hawaii. I hope that this week you will open your eyes and look for what the Lord is showing YOU in your life!


 

 

Does anyone want to come over and watch a 6-hour slideshow? No?

Well darn! That’s about how long it would take to show all of the pictures from my family’s recent trip to Hawaii. In short, it was everything I hoped for and more and fascinatingly different.

When I pictured Hawaii, I always imagined an aqua blue ocean, cloudless blue sky and billowy palm trees swaying in the breeze. And that’s true!

But Hawaii is so much more than perfect beaches. In fact, we stayed on the Big Island, where part of the terrain is volcanic rock. You’re driving through this landscape and thinking, Am I on another planet?  We even got to visit Mauna Loa, the largest active volcano in the world. (The Sinclairs are living on the edge, people!)

One of my favorite places was the Pololū Valley. We hiked down a steep trail of mud and finally reached the black sand beach at the bottom. It was gorgeous! The waves were incredibly powerful, crashing against the rocks like they wanted to knock down the island. On the other side of the shore was the ever-calm Pololū River, which wandered into a valley, surrounded by lush fields and grazing cattle. The two contrasting environments in such close proximity was fascinating to me.

Another impressive aspect of Hawaii’s natural beauty is its plants and animals. On the rainy side of the island, you can find wild avocado trees, mango trees, palm trees, coffee bean trees, and more. The flowers come in all shapes, gargantuan sizes, and colors so bright that look like they came out of a Sharpie highlighter. I felt like I was a character in a Dr. Seuss book or Carmen Cortez in Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams.

As for the animals, forget watching out for deer! Hawaii has wild horses, donkeys, and cutest of all… goats. (Sidenote: check out the picture of my brother, Andrew, with the 17 cats of A Bay. Yes, he’s talking to the cat lady who takes them to the vet and feeds them. They have an official FB page here.)

In an effort to keep your attention, I’ve decided to list the events of rest of the trip in six words or less.

  • Macadamia nuts good. SPAM flavor bad.
  • “Rachel falls at the falls.”
  • America’s steepest road. Sketchy van, oneway.
  • View from above was worth it.
  • Hawaiian royalty: Queen Anela, King Kona.
  • Helicopter ride was incredible beyond words.
  • We hula’ed at a luau.
  • (Most) local Hawaiian food was delicious.
  • Surfing was fun and surprisingly easy.
  • Diamondhead hike was tough but rewarding.

Click through the slideshow below to view corresponding pictures. If you STILL want to hear more, let me know so I can pull out the projector and the popcorn machine. Also, look out for the next blog, “What God Taught Me In Hawaii,” coming soon to a social media site near you!

 

 

“Do you ever wish that we had a perfect Christmas tree?” Mom asked me a few years ago.

“ABSOLUTELY NOT ARE YOU CRAZY I LOVE OUR TREE OUR TREE IS PERFECT NO WAY!” I answered. Or something along those lines.

Let me step back and explain: Our tree is perfect, or at least it is in my eyes. Mom was referring to the kind of tree you see at the center of the mall or on display at Pottery Barn. The kind of tree that has a trendy color scheme, matching ornaments and a cohesive theme.

Our tree is what I call a “hodge podge collage” of everything. Oh, we have the gorgeous glass-blown crystals and the Pottery Barn glittery Santas. But we also have handmade macaroni preschool ornaments and the cheesy snowman that sings when you press the button on his piano.

I love our Christmas tree because each ornament tells a story. Let me share with you some of my favorite hodge podge ornaments and why they mean so much to me. Click through the photo gallery below (arrows on the sides), and read the descriptions underneath!

Arthur and D.W.

Arthur and D.W., my all-time favorites! “Arthur’s Christmas” was one of the books I could recite before I could read. Today when I read it to my cousin Caroline, I love the familiar cadance that easily flows from 20 years of long-term memory. This ornament features siblings Arthur and D.W. in their signature pj’s on the Read’s mint green living room rug. While they’re usually caught up in the latest sibling rivalry, Arthur and D.W. share a sweet moment eating sugar cookies on Christmas Eve.

Macaroni Ornaments

We’re pretty cute, if I do say so myself! I especially love my macaroni ornament because I’m smiling. If you come to my house and look through my early childhood photo albums, you’ll understand why this smile is so rare! I was a fairly serious child, and for some reason, I was hard-pressed to offer a photogenic smile. Andrew, on the other hand, could’ve been an OshKosh B’gosh model. What a cutie!

The Night Before Christmas

The best part about this ornament? It’s a real book! You can read the entire story in size 2.5 Times New Roman font. I always wanted Dad to read the book to us, a request that’s become increasingly more difficult with the passing years. It’s still fun to try!

Lakeside

I have always said that if I had to point to one physical place on the earth that I would call “home,” it would be Lakeside. Here is where I grew up, learned about Jesus and learned what it means to walk through life with Him as Lord. I could probably write a whole book about what Lakeside means to me, but I’ll just say this: I am eternally grateful for this family of faith who has played such a huge role in making me the person I am today. Thank you, Lord!

The Schoolhouse

I LOVE school! And I’m not kidding. In fact, only having one more semester of college is slightly alarming and definitely sad… Will YouTube tutorials be enough to further my education?! Anyway, Mom gave me this ornament the year I started kindergarten, and I love adding it to the tree each year.

Mom and Dad’s First Christmas

Aren’t they adorable? I especially love this ornament because our first house had green shutters just like these. Boy am I thankful for these two!

The Little Pianist

Mom got this ornament when she was a child. Every December, we pull out our Christmas duet book and attempt to clunk through a few holiday tunes. If you come visit us, you might convince us to play “Frosty the Snowman.” Expect to hear Mom’s disclaimer (“We haven’t played this in forever, so we’ll probably mess up!”) and my favorite saying to Mom, “SLOW DOWN!” All jokes aside, we both love the piano. Hopefully this ornament will pass on through the family line!

Baby’s 1st Christmas

Remember when I said I didn’t smile for pictures as a child? Yeah. This started day 1, literally! We always laugh at this photo and joke that I was ready to knock out anyone who got in my way. Don’t mess with Baby Rachel!

Big Ben

I love London. It’s incredible. Go if you haven’t been. It’s amazing. That’s all.

Andrew’s Cross

I’ve saved the best ornament for last: Andrew’s cross. When Andrew was a baby, he began having severe GI issues when he was only a few weeks old. The doctors had never seen a baby like this before, and the issue became very serious. Mom and Dad bought this ornament from the hospital gift shop during December. They wanted a reminder that God was in control, sovereign over the situation and holding little Andrew in His hands. Later, Andrew had gallbladder surgery at 10 weeks old, and he has been healthy ever since. This ornament reminds us of God’s amazing faithfulness and goodness, and we thank Him for giving us Andrew. Only Andrew can put this ornament on the tree!

 

And that, my friends, is why I love my Christmas tree. I wish you and your families a Messy Merry Christmas! Now go make some hodge podge collage memories of your own!


 

Hello friends! I know you’re all excited to meet my next Celeb Sit Down guest from one of our all-time favorite shows, Gilmore Girls! This blog post is long-anticipated, as I’ve had this interview since early summer.

Now that we’re only three days away from the revival, it’s time for me to share my exclusive interview with the one and only… Emily Kuroda! You know Emily as the notorious “Mrs. Kim,” the mother of Rory’s best friend, Lane. From her fierce warnings about boys to her ruthless rules (“You break, you buy!”), Mrs. Kim has brought us many laughs throughout the series. So pour a cup of coffee, order some pizza and enjoy!

RS: What was it like reuniting with the Gilmore Girls cast? Who were you excited to see?

EK: The table read was so much fun. It was nice to see everyone! Keiko wasn’t there because she was shooting Grimm.

RS: What is your favorite episode of Gilmore Girls and why?

EK: I love them all, but one of my favorites is when I decide to kick Lane out of the house because she had looked me in the eye and lied to me. As she was leaving, Amy and Dan wrote a very short quiet scene — underlined with maternal conflict, fear, hurt and love.

RS: You have described yourself as “shy.” Are people surprised when they discover that your personality is very different from that of your character?

EK: They usually think it’s pretty funny.

RS: Gilmore Girls debuted in 2000. Did you expect the series to gain such longstanding popularity? Why do you think the show resonates with many different audiences?

EK: Amy and Dan are smart and witty and refuse to talk down to people. With so many shows on TV the audience is ahead of the story, but with GG they are always catching up. Jokes are not underlined, and when the audience catches one it is especially delicious. It is also based on real (although often far fetched) characters with very real relationships. Gilmore Girls appeals to the heart and the mind, and I think that is the reason the show has been so accepted and appreciated globally.  

RS: Even though Mrs. Kim and Lorelai are very different, they are both independent mothers with compelling mother-daughter relationships. What parallels can you draw between the two characters?

EK: The parallels between Lorelai and Mrs. Kim are the love for their only daughter and the difficulty of motherhood. Although Mrs. Kim has a loud bark, there were many times she doubted herself and her decisions.

RS: You had many comedic moments on the show. Can you remember a specific scene that was hard to film without laughing?

EK: The Bracebridge Dinner. I sat across the table from Sally Struthers (Babette) and Liz Torres (Miss Patty) — the two funniest (and kindest) ladies on the planet!  

RS: The show never addresses the character of Lane’s father. If you had to write in the character or history of Mr. Kim, what would his story be?

EK: It keeps changing. Sometimes I thought he was a missionary, or he had another family in Korea, or he’s a rockstar on the road…

RS: With over 30 years of experience in theater and television, which do you prefer?

EK: Gilmore girls was like a theater piece, but one that built and explored its characters over seven years. How lucky am I to have been given that!

 

Watch this clip from Emily’s favorite episode, “In the Clamor and the Clangor” (Season 4, Episode 11). Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, will premiere on Netflix Friday, November 25!

October 28 is a WONDERFUL day, because I have an excuse to tell the whole world about my incredible Momma! (I’ll spare you the “there are no words to describe how wonderful she is” spiell, but just know that it’s true.) I’ve decided to share some of the lessons she’s taught me throughout my life. So get out your journal and start taking notes! She’s the real deal!

[DISCLAIMER: Mom is my #1 editor and proofreader, and she doesn’t know I’m writing this. Hopefully you won’t find any typos!]

Mom taught me…

  1. How to talk to God like He’s real.

Yes, I know, He is real. But sometimes we don’t pray like it. Whenever Mom prays, she talks to God like He’s sitting at the kitchen table next to us. Whether she’s asking for a specific need, thanking Him for a blessing or lifting up a difficult situation, Mom knows that the Lord is there and that He is in control. I’m thankful for her open example of how to draw near to God our Father.

  1. How to load a dishwasher.

Silverware pointed down, cups and bowls on the top, each row filled, dishes facing inward. If it’s in the sink, you can find a way to cram it into the dishwasher! (Poor Dad and Andrew try their best, but somehow the message just didn’t completely sink in…)

  1. How to make life a musical.

Sometimes singing is more fun than talking. Sometimes good news calls for dancing. Sometimes we take catchy commercial jingles and make them a regular part of our vocabulary. It’s just better that way!!

  1. How to put others first.

You don’t have to watch through hours of our old family home videos to realize that I was… what’s that phrase? All about me. While I was a child, Mom taught me to put others before myself. As an adult, I see how Mom lives this out in her everyday life. She is servant-hearted, compassionate, empathetic and caring. She talks the talk AND walks the walk. What a role model for me!

  1. How to “let it go.”

Guess what? I’m not perfect. Guess what? Mom’s not perfect either. But guess what? THAT’S OKAY! As a Type-A, goal-setting, gotta-get-it-right kind of girl, I need to be reminded that it’s okay to be human. It’s okay to have bad days and good days, to succeed and to fail. Listen to good ole’ Idina Menzel. (And of course sing along!)

  1. How to treasure God’s Word.

God’s Word is truth. No matter what happens, the Bible is our foundation. It never changes, and it never fails. I am so grateful for all the wonderful things Mom has taught me. However, her best “lesson” has always been teaching me to rely on God’s Word and to seek Christ in all that I do.

Happy birthday, Mom! We’re celebrating you today!

If you missed part 1, read it here!

One of the best parts about talking with Atticus was hearing him share about his family. The Middle is all about family dynamics, and I loved hearing just how important family is to Atticus in real life.

You might be surprised to learn that Atticus didn’t grow up on the streets of Hollywood, but on a farm! From an early age, Atticus worked with his parents and older brother to take care of their land and farm animals.

“I come from a very hardworking, blue-collar family,” Atticus said. “Nothing has ever been handed to us, ever.”

His mom wanted her children to understand where food came from–whether from livestock or from the ground. “You have to work to get your food,” Atticus recalls his mother saying. “This is what the pioneers had to do when they first came here.”

So how does Atticus balance living on a farm and working in the film industry? He says that he avoids getting caught up in the glitz and glam of Hollywood through what he calls a “bologna-dar.”

“As I’m growing older… I’m very good at seeing ‘bologna,’” Atticus said with a laugh. “Typically, I have a ‘bologna-dar,’ like a radar for bologna. And as soon as that thing starts pinging, I’m walking away!”

My favorite part of the interview was when Atticus shared about his faith in God.  Atticus is open about being a Christian, and he said that he’s increasingly aware of how the Lord is working in his life.

“My faith has definitely kept my head above water, and it has kept me down to earth,” Atticus said. “I know I could not do this without the Lord, without these perfectly guided steps that led me from one thing to another to another.”

Atticus recalled a recent conversation he had with one of the crew members of The Middle who is also a Christian. They talked about how trials and hardships can ultimately draw believers closer to God.

“It’s amazing how there are opportunities to trust in God,” he said. “You may not understand it, you wish that it didn’t have to happen, whatever the case may be. But you have the opportunity to trust him.”

Atticus is thankful that he can use his experience to point others to God. “This is a blessing, this is amazing work I have with amazing benefits. I get to be a role model [and] meet all of these different people. This is kind of a form of ministry, and here we are.”

Before Atticus had to go, I wanted to ask him a question that I’ve been wondering for years: Where did Brick get his name?

“When Brick was born, Frankie and Mike were trying to think of a name,” Atticus said. “They read somewhere that if your child has an interesting name, they will inherently be interesting. So they came up with the name of Brick, and it’s from the name of a character in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.”

Atticus said this background information was explained in the series’s original pilot, in which every character was recast except for Brick. Atticus was thankful to return for the second pilot, which is the pilot that aired on ABC.

Lastly, I asked Atticus if he could give us any sneak peaks from season 8.

“I can bring up this,” Atticus said after careful consideration. “Brick, because he’s older now, is going to be turning 15 this season. He is going into high school, and that’s bringing up a whole slew of new problems for him to handle… I’m really excited to have people see how he handles his newfound high school issues and how well he actually handles them.”

 

And that’s a wrap for this #celebsitdown! Keep up with Atticus on Twitter, and catch The Middle on Tuesdays at 8/7c on ABC.

Friends, I am SO excited to introduce you to one of my favorite TV actors–Atticus Shaffer! You know him as “Brick Heck,” youngest child of the hilarious and dysfunctional Heck family on ABC’s The Middle. Atticus has captured the hearts of Americans since the show premiered in 2009 through his quirky and endearing character. As you can imagine, I was overjoyed when he offered to speak with me a few weeks ago during the filming of season eight.

Atticus said he’s amazed at the new laughs and fresh comedy that come with every episode. “This season is probably one of the best seasons we’ve had where consistently, every week, the episodes are making me, my family and all of the people on set laugh out loud,” Atticus said. “Since we’ve been on [air] for so long, you wonder if stuff will ever get old or stale. But nope! Our writers are good!”

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One of the reasons my family and I love watching The Middle is because each character is so relatable in one way or another. We laugh when my mom has a “Frankie Moment” and forgets the snack bag, or when I do the “Sue Heck Dance” after receiving good news. I was curious to ask Atticus which actor’s real-life personality was most consistent with that of their character.

“Probably me,” Atticus said. “Not because I’m into fonts or I whisper to myself, but it’s mainly because Brick and I both follow the beat to our own drummer… I am who I am, and I’m accepting of that. Brick hasn’t necessarily articulated that, but it’s the backbone of who he is. He is smart, he is quick, and he says, ‘this is me.’”

Atticus said that one of his favorite episodes was “Halloween” from season two, where Brick dresses up as Sergeant Charles MacKenzie, a Scottish World War I hero. “I loved it because I’m a huge military history nerd,” Atticus said. “I got to wear a kilt for a week!”

Fans of the show often tell Atticus how they admire Brick’s self-confidence and enthusiasm. “I get people all the time who say, ‘We love your show, and we think your character is a role model,’” Atticus said. “I get to be a character that’s a role model and that your kids look up to? That’s insane. That’s so amazing.”

Atticus himself is an inspiration to others, as he continues to thrive in the television and film industry while overcoming the challenges of living with osteogenesis imperfecta. This genetic bone condition affects the collagen of his bone cells and increases bones fragility.

Atticus said he prefers to use the term “condition” rather than “disability.”

“My condition in no way disables me. And that’s really my message: if you have a challenge, a condition, or whatever, it’s nothing that can disable you… you work around your challenge,” Atticus said, adding, “You don’t focus on the can’t; you focus on the can.”

Atticus said his mom had a huge influence on him by encouraging him to find a way to overcome his physical difficulties. “If you can’t get through it, you work over it, under it, around it or whatever way you can. That’s what my mom taught me ever since I was little. She made the conscious decision that whatever I couldn’t get to, she would bring it to me if it was worth it. And she brought the world to me. Growing up, and even now, she brought the world to me.”

PART 2 of this article discusses Atticus’s family, faith and the story of how Brick got his name. Keep up with #celebsitdown by following @1RachelSinclair!

Like A Child

This summer I had the WONDERFUL blessing of living with my aunt, uncle and precious, rock-star cousins, Parker (8) and Caroline (6). I can’t tell you what a joy it was to come home from work to squeals of excitement, giant hugs and a million shouts of, “look what I did!”

I loved the everyday adventures of living with Parker and Caroline. Through laughter, tears and everything in between, they reminded me of what it means to be a child. God used this experience to give me a living picture of what it looks like be a child–His child!

Ask Questions

My favorite question of the summer was when Parker asked me what college was like. I begin to explain that I’m in 16th grade, I live without my parents [WHAT?!] and I sort of get to choose my own classes. Caroline looked at me with a squinty-eyed faced, like she was thinking hard. “Why don’t you play games instead?”

Good question, Caroline. If I get to choose my classes, why wouldn’t I play games instead? I said that the classes were for my “major,” which would hopefully lead to a job. I told her that I was majoring in writing.

Again, she makes the squinty face. “Why not crafts?”

Hmm. Why not crafts? I’ll have to run that by Aunt Angie and Uncle Don.

Be Messy

Sometimes I felt like a juggler, subconsciously waiting for something to fall, break, spill or who knows what else! But as time went on, I realized that making mistakes is part of the process of growing. If I never let Caroline hold her own milkshake, she wouldn’t learn how to keep it from spilling. If I always insisted that I hold onto the dog’s leash, Parker wouldn’t have the chance to practice being a leader and taking responsibility.

While I was always there to support and guide them, I couldn’t do everything for them. I’d be there before, during and after, but they had to learn some skills on their own!

Sweet Moments

So many sweet moments. This is a picture of a letter Caroline wrote me on a weekend when they were out of town. It’s just one of the many precious memories that I treasure from my time this summer!img_7818

Limited Understanding

This insight was probably my most impactful lesson from the whole summer. Sometimes children ask questions that are simply too big, too complicated and too above-their-heads to answer. I knew that they either could not understand, or they didn’t need to understand.

Friends, please stop and think about this in light of our relationship with God the Father. How many times do we ask, beg, yearn to understand things that don’t make sense to our small, earthly brains. God wants us to ask Him questions (James 1:5), but sometimes we’re not supposed to know the answer (Deuteronomy 29:29).

It’s hard, but it’s also comforting that we don’t always have to know. We can trust Him to be good, greater, wiser and better than our earthly perspective. Take a deep breath and let that sink it. That’s encouraging!

Limitless Love

There’s something unique about the pure, limitless love and adoration of a child. They aren’t afraid to wrap you in a hug, sit to by you during a movie or tell you that they wish you could stay forever.

As adults, we often think long and hard before expressing our feelings, especially to those we really care about. What if we weren’t afraid to say, “I love you” or “I need you”? What if we worshipped God with a pure joy that springs from the heart?

 

These are only a handful of the many lessons that God taught me this summer. Hopefully my experience will encourage you to examine your relationship with the Lord, the perfect Father!

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matthew 19:14, NIV).