The TRUE tall tale of the coming of Christ  

Posted by Rachel in ,

I want to take a minute to plug an amazing Christmas album. Have you heard of the Behold the Lamb of God (the TRUE tall tale of the coming of Christ) album? It's a collaboration album performed by Andrew Peterson and others. Andrew Peterson wrote it to tell the story of Christ in a new way. A few friends and I went to see the corresponding tour on Saturday night and I was blown away. First off, the talent involved in this 2008 tour (Peterson, Bebo Norman, Jill Phillips, some Caedmon's Call guys, Gabe Scott, etc.) was crazy good. But, as my roommate Crystal and I were discussing later, this show really put the story of Christmas foremost in my mind and I saw it in a totally new light. I was in tears at times, just thinking about my a baby...and how the whole of Scripture that is really about telling his story. Church Sunday morning was also about this idea. As a result, I've been reflecting a lot on the Christmas story this season. More than usual. So anyway, here's a run-down of the album, and you can see what I mean about how it really does tell the WHOLE story:

(1) Gather 'Round, Ye Children, Come - starts off the story

(2) Passover Us - talks of the Israelites in captivity and the establishment of the Passover in the days of Pharoah, along with the need in those days for sacrifices. "...and only sacrifice atoned for the sins of the land, so you see the priest he placed upon the holy altar, the body of a spotless lamb...Lord, let your judgement pass over us..."

(3) So Long, Moses - this song talks of the journey from Moses, to Joshua, to Saul, to David, to the prophets, and of how the people were constantly looking for "...a king on a throne, full of power, with a sword in his fist...will there ever be, ever be a king like this..." And yet, Isaiah prophecied something far different about our King. "He'll bear no beauty or glory, rejected, despised, a man of such sorrow, we'll cover our eyes."

(4) Deliver Us - this one talks of the constant need for deliverance and how animal sacrifices just couldn't cut it. "Our sins they are more numerous than all the lambs we slay, these shackles they were made with our own hands, our toil is our atonement and our freedom yours to give, so Yahweh, break your silence if you can."

(5) O Come, O Come Emmanuel - the classic song we all know and love, in an AMAZING arrangement by Gabe Scott I believe. Perfectly placed here after a song about the need for deliverance and before the chronology of Jesus' birth. We need you, Jesus. O Come, O Come...

(6) Matthew's Begats - you absolutely must listen to this fun song. I am amazed that someone could put the geneology of Jesus (you know, those things we all avoid reading through in Scripture) into song form, and actually make it fun and exciting. I love that Rahab, a prostitute, and Ruth, a Moabitess, are listed here. God really can use anyone to bring about his purposes.

(7) It Came to Pass - "So it came to pass that Joseph was the noblest of men, with a woman on a donkey on their way to Bethlehem. And I wonder whether either was aware enough that day, to know the child would bring a Kingdom and the old would come to pass away." As a result of this song, I've lately been struck by how truly NOBLE Joseph was. He could have walked away...but he didn't. He stood by Mary's side, in the midst of what I'm sure proved to be a very stressful time.

(8) Labor of Love - this song kills me everytime. SO POWERFUL! "But the baby in her womb, He was the maker of the moon, He was the Author of the faith...that could make the mountains move..."

(9) The Holly and the Ivy - Best. Arrangment. Ever. Definitely deserved a standing O in concert...or at least looooots of applause.

(10) While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks - the classic song... and of course, a GREAT arrangment. "Hallelujah, Hallelujah Hallelujah, Christ is born!"

(11) Behold the Lamb of God - After Christ comes... we finally have that Lamb that we've always needed...the one who takes away our sins. "Son of god-Emmanuel, Son of man-we need you, behold the Lamb, the hope of man, behold the Lamb of God"

(12) The Theme Of My Song/Reprise - powerful ending

So, in short...go listen to this album. It might change your life...just sayin'

Funniest moment of the weekend  

Posted by Rachel in

Last weekend was a good weekend: Avenue Q on Friday, catching up with Jaclyn finally, Christmas brunch at my place for 20 or so of my closest girlfriends on Saturday morning, delivering baked goods to the neighbors with Jillian and Crystal, and a good old fashioned sleepover with Tiffany and a couple of our 10th graders on Saturday night. But, the most hilarious moment was, by far, Sunday after church.

Right after I left church, I went to the gas station, as the gas light in my car had been on since the night before. I think I was running on fumes. So I stop in at the local Chevron, and fill ‘er up. As I’m pumping the gas, I notice the screen in front of me says that you get a free coffee or soda with 8 gallon purchase. If you know anything about me at all, you know that I LOVE a good deal. Did I need to free drink? Nope. Did I want to take full advantage of something free? ABSOLUTELY. So, though I had used the pay-at-the-pump option and had no need to venture inside, I went in for my free drink. I ask the man behind the counter about the deal and he directs me to pick any size fountain drink I want. After getting my drink, I turn around to leave. Now, remember, I just left church and am therefore in church clothes: an outfit including a skirt and boots. Just behind the drink area, there is a very slippery section of floor that I had somehow missed earlier. I was not so lucky the second time around. I begin to feel myself slipping, so I try to stop the process at a slight falter and not an all-out fall. Though it seemed to be in slow motion because of my efforts at stopping the fall, I was not successful. This was, in part, because the only thing near me that I might have been able to grab onto was a little free-standing metal “tree” holding every gummy snack you could imagine. Clearly, I knew that wasn’t going to provide me any stability, so I tried to avoid it. This attempt was also not successful. Are you getting the picture here? I finally collapsed to the floor (very gracefully, I might add… no skirt over the head or anything UTTERLY embarrassing), taking the stand of gummies with me. All of them. So, there I am, sitting on the floor in a heap, my drink, cell phone and wallet somehow unharmed, with a metal store fixture on top of me. The gummy worms, bears, etc. were scattered ALL OVER the floor around me. I couldn’t decide if I was embarrassed (unlikely, knowing my track record in situations like this) or if I just wanted to die laughing. But, since I was alone, I decided to make the quickest exit possible before either emotion took over. A nice man saw the whole thing (including my awkward struggle to keep from falling) and immediately came over to help and see if I was OK. He tried to pick up the metal thing and found that the leg had been bent and it would no longer stand up unaided. Oops. The foreign man behind the counter also came dashing around the corner to the sound of his store being destroyed and immediately began apologizing all over himself as I explained the slick floor and reason for my spill. I was, thankfully, able to point out to him the exact spot that was so slippery, and I was not mistaken. Something had been spilled. I tried to pick some of the scattered gummies and he told me not to worry about it. I wasn’t fighting with that and made a quick exit, leaving quite a mess behind me. Oops again. HAHAHAHAHA even as I’m typing this, I’m remembering just how freakin’ funny this whole thing was and how it MUST have looked. I called Bek immediately because I HAD to laugh about it with someone ( clearly, I made the decision not to be embarrassed but rather to see the complete hilarity of the situation), and soon we were both crying we were laughing so hard.

Someday, you should ask me all about some of my other clumsy moments. I have 23 years full of stories much like this one. In fact, I believe I once blogged about an experience while in Paris. Check it out here. I thought I had finally left that stigma behind me (or, as it would seem at times, passed it on to my sister), but clearly, I was mistaken.

Is anyone else a clutz? Got a clutzy moment to share? I love a good story…at least then I feel like I’m not the only one.

Mocha Club  

Posted by Rachel

I just wanted to share this video from an organization I care about and support: The Mocha Club. Also love the song "Shovel" by Katie Herzig.

Overdue life update  

Posted by Rachel

I have been absent...

It has been a very busy last few weeks. At work, we were gearing up for a huge event that happened last Saturday. We got front page coverage in the Orlando Sentinel (see here) thanks to an amazing man named Sam, my boss' hard work, and our PR team. All of this was for the launch of our Last Languages Campaign which has now "officially" begun. I have also been busy working on a partnership with Moody Radio, and as time goes by, I'm getting more and more excited about that. It is a big undertaking, and I'm definitely being "professionally stretched" into arenas I never saw myself working in, but I love the relationship building, the planning, and honestly... I love the challenge. I just need to remind myself of that on the days I get overwhelmed.

I have been winding down with the Bible study at Rollins College and tonight is our last night of the semester. I'm making the girls dinner. Remember, I love dinner parties.

I have been loving my involvement with my two churches: First Baptist and Status. God has been stretching me and teaching me a lot through the leadership and people of both of those communities. I am blessed to have two amazing places to call home. Now, I know that some people think it is crazy to be so attached to two churches and would encourage me to narrow my focus to one. But, for now, I feel as though both places are playing an important role in my life and hold a special place in my heart.
My house church (above picture at Ben and Alicia's wedding in the Panhandle) is growing more and more amazing each week. I love the fellowship we have on Thursday nights. I love that it doesn't stop on Thursday nights. I love the vulnerability we have with one another, that is continually growing (Praise God!!). I love the time I get to spend with these amazing people. And as we have been reading through the Bible together, I feel as though we are learning so much from our discussions and I cannot wait to see what the rest of this journey produces!

Greg came in town last weekend.
It was fun to spend time with an old friend, and to be around someone who reminds me of the life I loved in Texas. We had such good conversations about life...we laughed a lot...we relaxed... it was nice. I will see him again this weekend, hopefully at The Red Bar.

Went to see the night shuttle launch near the Cape in Titusville on Nov 14. Had a great group of friends there... had the perfect viewing location (thanks to Jaclyn) and really enjoyed the evening. I've lived in Central Florida my whole life and had yet to see a shuttle launch from the Cape. This might have been the last night launch EVER, so it was a good one to see.
Gorgeous... looks a little like the sun, but it is in fact, the shuttle.
Robert, Kimberly and I
Tony being interviewed by ABC. We were right near all the TV cameras and Robert, Tony AND Jaclyn were all interviewed. I know for sure that Robert was seen on NBC's nightly news at 11 that night, not sure about the other two on ABC.

I cannot wait for Thanksgiving break. We are headed up to Niceville for a much anticipated family get-together with the Tidwell side. I plan on laughing (A LOT), cooking and eating (A LOT), Black Friday shopping (A LOT), and enjoying my fam. I'm excited that my dear friends Andrew and Virginia get to join us on Thursday. There have been a lot of uphill battles in our family lately, and so I'm really excited for some time to be together.
Speaking of uphill battles... all this family stuff that has been going on has been causing me a lot of turmoil. I don't know how to describe it, but my brain feels like a battlefield lately. Every day. Lots of tears have been shed. Lots of yelling... lots of discussion... lots of anger, coupled with intense sadness. Confusion. It is a constant struggle between the truth I know of my God and the reality I am living in. I'm trying to make those two reconcile what seem like disconnects between the two. Because at the end of the day, I know there are no mistakes in God's plan, but sometimes it is DANG HARD to believe that. I'm learning to trust my the midst of having broken trust for His people. I'm learning to forgive. I'm choosing (most days) to love. I have to stop - I'm tearing up even as I type about it. As often as you think of it, please be in prayer for my family. We couldn't need it more than we do right now.
WHEW, how's that for an update??

i want it all to be over...  

Posted by Rachel

...all the election stuff, that is. i'm tired of it. after what feels like 2 years of campaigning by the candidates, i cannot believe that today has finally come and that hopefully, no matter the outcome, we can be done with all of this very soon. don't get me wrong, i care. i voted. proudly. but i really have had a growing hatred for everything political these past few months, and i'm glad that i will soon no longer have to see the personal attacks, bashing, anger, constant BLOG POSTS, tweets, rants, etc.

i'm tired of a lot of stuff right now, and i think my fear of allowing my emotions to rule a blog post in the way that they shouldn't has kept me from posting anything lately.

there have been a lot of good things going on (new york, which i still need to post on, ben and lish's wedding in the panhandle, friends that are amazing, church stuff, work stuff, house church, Bible reading, growth, etc.) but there have also been a lot of crappy things going on. and those are the things that make me apathetic to other stuff in life as i realize that there are so many issues going on that matter more. more than ever i'm needing to remember that God is sovereign in all of it.

wow - this is a really odd and ambiguous post. sorry, my mind is a jumble... constantly.


Posted by Rachel I come! Can't wait for tomorrow. Seriously. I get to experience real FALL weather, the big city that I love so much, time with one of my dearest friends, the Lion King on Broadway, good food (HELLO, CHEESECAKE!), relax time, and who knows what else. We have decided this is not a "tourist" trip - this is a retreat. A vacation. Literally. We are going to sleep, go on nice (fall) walks, SHOP, read in the park and coffee shops, and just enjoy each others' company. Can't wait. I'll be sure to blog and post pics when I return.

This could not be coming at a more "timely" time. The past week or two have been really emotionally taxing and I have hit the wall a few times. Spent a few nights crying on friends' shoulders. Needless to say, I feel the need for a break, and I am going to get just that come tomorrow at 6:15pm.

Be back Tuesday night!

(Shoutout to my girls in the picture. I'm sure I will be flooded with memories of my most recent trip to NYC with these girls. Man, I sure do miss and love them.)

"It seems it's always the crazy times"  

Posted by Rachel

Thought I'd list out my crazy next few weekends (not even including the weeks!):

  • Oct 10-11: Unveiled Conference at FBC/O, Danny and Courtney's wedding
  • Oct 17-21: NYC!!
  • Oct 24-25: HSM 3 opening, working a 5K, Melissa and Andrew's wedding, Brooke Fraser and Ingrid Michelson concert with Kristi...busy, but at least I'm home =)
  • Oct 31-Nov 2: Ben and Alicia's wedding near Destin
  • November 7-9: Coldplay concert, Greg visiting
  • Nov 14-15: NO PLANS YET though there is a downtown Orlando Food and Wine festival that Saturday that sounds fun
  • Nov 21-22: LLC Launch weekend at work, MAYBE UF/Citadel game *crossing fingers* depending on work - I already have a ticket
  • Nov 26-30: Thanksgiving with Tidwell fam in Niceville
"The holidays" will not slacken in craziness I'm sure... it is just too far in advance to really know

The title is a throwback to an old school Christian band - anybody got an idea who??


Posted by Rachel

First of all, I'm excited about these two new albums that I just bought:

And I'm excited about my weekend.

Tonight, this concert

with Sean, Erin, Tyson, and Megan (in from Atlanta for the weekend), Jillian, Lauren, Bek, Kristi, and Melissa. So, pretty much an amazing outdoor concert in great fall weather (pray it doesn't rain or something crazy like that!) with some of my favorite people in the world. Couldn't ask for more. Then, after a slumber party at my house - I think there's 8 people sleeping there tonight - tomorrow, the Atlanta visitors and Bekah and I will be headed to spend the day with

Courtesy of Kristi and Ryan. THANKS in advance!

Needless to say, this week couldn't have gone much slower.

Let's talk about the weather  

Posted by Rachel

Today's forecast:

Now I know that some of you look at this and see 87 and think that's too high for October. I look at this and see upper 60s and low 70s most of the day and think that's AMAZING. Now starts the time of year when I actually enjoy Florida's weather.

Fall = football season  

Posted by Rachel

College football season makes me happy. I love watching my Gators play... though obviously, it is a little less exciting when they LOSE. To OLE MISS especially. But, Saturday was a lot of fun, and as I am mulling over some blog topics in my head, here's a picture to enjoy from the game Saturday.

Needed a change  

Posted by Rachel

I felt inspired to find a new design for this thing. I may change it again in the near future if I decide I am unhappy with this one. We'll see.

Lots of blog posts in my head...not many making it to the keyboard. Soon I hope. It has been a crazy busy week and my computer and I haven't been spending too much time together when I get home late in the evening.

Please be praying for the Schwarz family. I went to school with Michael...he passed away Sunday. Like I said, a crazy week, full of a lot of different emotions - sadness being one of them. Perhaps more thoughts on this to come...perhaps I'll keep them to myself.

Bitten by the bug  

Posted by Rachel

Well, I finally did it. It began as a "I'd like to do that before I die" thought in May of 2007. Then, May of 2008, I decided on a September 13th date with three friends, and June 1st began the training period. And this past Saturday, September 13th, I did it - I completed my very first triathlon.

And what I never wanted to happen has happened - I've been bitten by what I like to refer to as the "tri-bug". Training consumes so much of my time, and it is so hot and tiring that I was really hoping that I'd do this one and get it out of my system. I was hoping that I wouldn't have to put up with the heat, the knees, the bunions (don't ask - I'm old), the scary lake swims with potential alligators, the early morning workouts even on Saturdays, etc. I was looking forward to settling back into my routine of just going to the gym 3 or 4 days a week with a few runs thrown in the mix and feeling the freedom to miss days here or there. But, I am no longer satisfied with only the gym - I have to mix it in with all the other craziness. The feeling of finishing my triathlon was just too good to not experience it again. And, let's face it, the motivation to stay in shape is helpful. So, my friends have to know that I can't hang out until AFTER my bike ride or I have to get home early enough to go on a run before bed. That's just how it has to be.

Saturday started early. BEcause my other friends had backed out, it was just Crystal and I. I'm so thankful for her! We got up at 5:40 in order to eat some food and leave the house by 6. Trying to guess what would be good to eat for energy but not make me sick was tricky. We made it to race site around 6:30 with our bikes in tow and began laughing. Laughing at how ridiculous we looked in spandex, laughing at how inexperienced we were compared to everyone else, laughing at how we would probably finish hours after the people surrounding us, laughing at ourselves for ever thinking up this crazy idea, and laughing with others around us who seemed as new as we were...

But, we set up our bikes and tried to get ready. We got markered up and put our numbers on our bikes and helmets. We set up our transition area, making note of what those around us were doing. I honestly wasn't that nervous. I think this was because I knew I could finish it, I knew (hoped) I could make it in my time goal of 1hr 45 min, and I knew I didn't care if people beat me. That's freeing. This was for me and I was going to feel good about finishing whether I came in first or dead last. Ok, I'll be honest - I might not have been happy with dead last.

We were the fourth wave to get started, and the treading water while waiting on the start was long. We were all getting tired and frustrated. Plus, Lake Underhill has lots of seaweed that I was ready to swim away from. Except for that never happened. Contrary to the belief that seaweed is only near the shore, Lake Underhill has seaweed about 2 feet from water surface EVERYWHERE - even out in the middle of my swim I was struggling to free my ankle from pieces that were grabbing me. The bike could not come fast enough.

That first transition was a little slow, but once on my bike, I was happy. I love my bike, and even though my legs were burning as I pedaled faster than I ever have before, at least my breathing was a little more normal than in swimming or running. Muscular guys of all ages were flying past me, but I only cared if a girl my age passed me, and in my 11.7 mile bike, only 2 did. And they were still in sight when we reached the transition to run, so I felt OK about that. As a side note here, I did see one woman TOTALLY wipe out on her bike and I felt bad that I had to circle around her without stopping. I felt a little bit like the priest in the story of the Good Samaritan. Sorry - hope someone else played the part of the Samaritan.

Transition to the run was better, until I was leaving the transition area and a guy tells me - "you'll get disqualified for that iPod (which I had been wearing since I started biking - I like my tunes!)!" What?? I never heard that! Clearly, I'm a tri newbie. So I pretty much chuck my iPod at some boy I don't know who's over the fence, near my bike and ask him if he can throw it by bike 262. Whoever he was, I'm thankful, because he actually even took time to hide it under my bag and it was still there when I returned a couple of hours later after the race. But, the damage was already done. Athlete 262: Disqualified for "endangerment". Oops. Good thing I wasn't trying to qualify for an Ironman or something! Who cares if I am in the official rankings? But, I did learn a lesson and I will read the fine print on my waivers before signing them next time. I guess that has to be where that rule was listed. Anyways, it really doesn't bother me because my times are still online for me to check, and I finished. Finished well. I finished in 11.5 minutes under my goal time to be exact.

The run wasn't super fun, but the first 2 miles are the worst - after that, it gets easier - something about "hitting your stride". My legs were feeling the biking and telling me to stop and walk those first two miles especially. But I didn't. I ran 3.9 miles at a 10 minute mile pace, and that was just fine by me. It was hot and I was tired. Again, I believe only 1 girl my age passed me during the run, and that was at the very end. And, I passed one in front of me around mile 2, so I guess I made up for it.

I had a little moment of pride as I was running down Livingston, and a man yelled out that we only had 4 more blocks once we made the turn on Orange. At that point, I knew I had done it. I think I even smiled to myself, which likely looked ridiculous to any on-lookers.

Finishing was so great. My mom, dad, sister, BFF, roommate and her friend were all there to cheer Crystal and I on. I looked at the time and realized that I finished at 1hr 33.5 minutes and was ecstatic. 11.5 minutes under my goal time. Had my time counted, I would have finished 8 in my age group (20-24), out of 23 runners. In everyone under 30, I would have been around 27 out of 61. Right in the middle is fine by me.

I took two days to let my legs recover - they were a little sore - and I was back at it all yesterday evening. The craziness continues as I think about competing in this race on Valentine's Day.

Here's a couple of pictures for you to laugh at, but you are only getting two because I don't think anyone has done anything bad enough to have to relive that spandex.

Fitted for holiness  

Posted by Rachel

Last Sunday was a good day to be refreshed and refueled in the Word. I'm really thankful for good church communities to be a part of, and feel super blessed by the leaders and the wisdom they share each week.

Sunday morning, during HS Sunday school (where I help lead a table of 10th grade girls), we were talking about being holy. A question we were prompted to ask our girls regarded being "fitted for holiness". I began thinking about when you get fitted for a dress (go with me here, guys). You go that first time and the dress doesn't fit at all. You need them to take it in, take it up, whatever. So, the seamstress pins it all up and goes to work. Next time you try it on, maybe it fits, but there's a chance that one part might still need some work. Perhaps the length is good, but the hips are too tight now. So you try again. You re-pin it, and the process continues. And then, once you get it right and wear it that first time, there's always the chance that you will either gain weight or lose weight by the next time you put the dress on, and then the process would have to start alllll over again. As I was processing through this, I realized that is exactly what it is like to be fitted with holiness. We go to Christ, asking to be fixed - to be cleaned - to be holy. And then, the very next day, we have to go to him, confessing something new, and asking for grace to be "re-fitted" for holiness. Again. It's a continual process, and it's frustrating, but, in the same way I want the dress to fit, I want holiness. I want to go through the process. I want to do whatever it takes to make myself more like Jesus, and I've realized that it is always going to seem repetitive, as I throw myself at his feet again and again, but He expects that, and He's waiting for it. Funny that in teaching those younger than me, I'm reminded of all-too-important truths for myself.

Trash cans and beach engagements  

Posted by Rachel in , , ,

I feel like I constantly have ideas for blog topics, but never get around to writing them. Oops.

I am finally home for a little while. Until October 17, to be exact. That may not seem that far away, but when you've traveled as much as I did this summer, over a month at home with no travel is a nice break. Don't get me wrong - I LOVE traveling, but it makes friendships, community, church involvement, etc. a little hard. I am sure I'll get bitten by the travel bug again very soon, but for now, it is nice to have some consistency in my life. Still...Labor day weekend was a great time. Lauren and I (high school and current BFF) went to Chicago, my second visit of the summer. Amazing weather, amazing friend time, amazing city...well, you get the picture. Speaking of picture...wanna see one?? I thought so.

This past weekend was good. Spent some time with my family since my sister, bro-in-law, and the kids were in town. Natalie and Nathan are pretty much the cutest kids EVER and so freakin' funny. Nathan and I baked a cake together Saturday night. He's three and, actually pretty good in the kitchen. Funniest moment was when Nathan wouldn't stop talking to Natalie when they were supposed to be going to sleep. Brad went in to scare them into staying in bed and being quiet, and then at 11:30, when Nathan was still babbling, Elizabeth and I went in there only to find that Nathan had pooped. In the trash can. He was too scared to leave the room after Brad talked to them about staying in bed, so his alternative was to poop in the trash can. It is always so hard to keep a straight face when kids are in trouble for doing something that was "bad" but also realllllly funny. Good thing I'm just an aunt and not the mom.

Saturday, I started the day with a mock triathlon workout of shorter distances, since my tri is next weekend. I wanted to know what it is going to feel like to do all three events in a row. My cousins did their tri this past weekend, and so I enjoyed being able to read about their experience in preparation for mine.

After the workout, I headed to the beach with some great friends in order to help Mancel and Jaclyn get engaged. We had to do the set up and then had to blend into the beach-going crowd and take pictures during the actual proposal. After shocking Jaclyn with our presence, we all had fun just hanging at the beach. I'm so excited for them!! CONGRATS!

Guatemala through pictures  

Posted by Rachel in

I wanted to give you all a little taste of my trip to Guatemala though pictures. Above is Lake Atitlan in Panajachel, touted to be one of the most beautiful lakes in the world, surrounded by three volcanoes. I would tend to agree with the claims.

This little boy was one of the cutest I've ever seen. He attends the Light and Life school (AKA Luz y Vida Escuela) in Salquil, just outside of Nebaj.

This girl threw spitballs at me for about a half an hour during a Faith Comes by Hearing presentation we were attending at her school. Somehow, that was a bonding experience for us.

Isn't is beautiful to see children reading the Bible in their language (Ixil) for the first time??

Ahhh... this little boy was too cute for words.

In case you couldn't tell, I REALLY like kids.

Here Bruce and I are eating one of the weirdest things I have ever tasted. Bruce would probably tell you it was also one of the nastiest things he had ever eaten, but I guess similar to "beauty is in the eye of the beholder", taste is in the mouth of the...eater? This is one of their best dishes in Guatemala apparently. And, surprise, surprise, it was made of corn.

These are some more of the children at the Light and Life school that we visited.

Smiles know no language  

Posted by Rachel

(Pretend I wrote this on Tuesday - we were having internet issues)

For those who don´t know this, I am in Guatemala right now. I am here with a team from work. I´ve been here since Saturday, though some of our group got detained in Miami and didn´t arrive until Sunday. We finally made it together in Antigua on Sunday and have been going non-stop since. Yesterday we visited the Light and Life school and today is the Scripture Dedication of the Ixil New Testatment. Various people within Wycliffe Bible Translators have been working on this translation since the 50´s. We´ll be heading to the celebration shortly.

Sunday consisted mostly of a drive from Antigua to Nebaj. Roads here are not exactly like we are used to but if you can imagine bad roads on the worst curves you´ve driven, you might have a picture. We are lucky when the roads are paved. At any rate, a 6-7 hour drive on these roads in a crowded mini-bus was clearly a highlight. (sense the sarcasm?)

We made a stop in Chichicastenango where we walked around a little market for a while. It was there that I saw this sweet little girl. Now, there are lots of cute little kids and beautiful people here, but this one 6 or 7 year old really captivated me. Hair back in a ponytail, black sweatshirt on, wide-eyes, and a ready smile and she was staring unabashedly, at me (Ok, I know my hair and skin might make me stand out a little bit). We shared multiple smiles and in some odd way, those smiles spoke words that she and I would not have been able to. And yet, a smile wasn´t enough with her. I couldn´t stand expressing myself to her simply through a smile. Physically, I needed to touch her – to communicate with her through touch. And so, as I was leaving, I gently touched her head, and I smiled. Because smiles know no language.

I have found that I may not always understand what is being said or how I should respond. Maybe you are trying to tell me you like my shirt, or sell me a necklace. Perhaps you are trying to tell me to look up because a cement block is about to fall on my head. I don´t understand you, but I can smile and you will smile back (unless it really was a cement block). That we can understand.

As I was thinking back on my encounter with this young girl, I began to tear up, thinking of the reason that we are here – to facilitate these people having the Bible. Most of the people I have seen, including this girl, are lost and without Jesus. It´s so easy to walk through life with blinders on. I observe the people around me, especially in foreign places, and somehow I am able to separate that observation from that of their souls. Often, I don´t feel for their loss and for what they are missing. My smile doesn´t really do too much in the grand scheme of things, but it is sometimes the best I can do. I want to do so much more for these people. I want them to know about what I have that they don´t. I want them to smile as I do – to smile because they know and love Jesus Cristo.

Trip to the Windy City  

Posted by Rachel

I love big cities. Everytime I visit one, I want to move. My recent trip to Chicago was no different. Granted, I'd hate the weather in the winter, but the city is amazing. It was a combined business and pleasure trip. I went with work friends for a conference, but since we went in early, it felt like we had just as much fun time as work time.

Here are some pictures from our time:
On the architecture boat tour with Dustin, Scott, Mariah, Virginia and Andrew.

With Mariah and Virginia at the Bean. If you look closely, you can see Andrew, Scott and Dustin in the reflection!

Our celebrity sighting of the weekend: Samantha Brown of the Travel Channel. We ran into her and her team filming at the Bean in Millenium Park.

After going to Ravinia Festival to see the Chicago Symphony orchestra, we made our way to Navy Pier to see the fireworks.

Rona, Virginia and I outside of Gino's East after eating yummy pizza!

V and I at the Signature Room on top of the Hancock Tower. What great views of the city, espeicially from the women's restroom - thanks Nadine for the suggestion!

All in all, a great weekend. Can't wait to go back Labor Day weekend with my best friend!

Good morning! How are you?  

Posted by Rachel

If someone were to ask me that question today, I would probably say "Good, how are you?" The pat response that I hate and yet take part in almost everyday.

Because, what I'd really want to say is that I'm tired. I'm frustrated and disappointed in myself. I'm emotional. I'm tired of having to make decisions that I don't want to make. I'm tired of life not making sense. And I want God to reveal his plan to me. Now. Why can't everything just be easy?

But, what I'd also like to say is that I'm thankful for friends that keep me grounded when I have minor meltdowns. I'm glad that when I am going through times of beating myself up and feeling rather crappy about life, I have friends who aren't in that place. Because, let's be honest, if we all felt like crap at the same time, we would never have anyone to lift us up and encourage us in a way to break free from the depression that can try to set in.

And so, how am I doing? I'm OK. I'm learning to trust God and I'm trying really hard to allow the Holy Spirit to invade every part of my life - even those parts that I've been trying to handle on my own and have subsequently become frustrated and felt lost. I'm learning to live with a "victorious limp" (to quote Brennan Manning in the Ragamuffin Gospel).


Posted by Rachel in

I love it when I see a prayers answered. Prayers you (and others) have been really devoting yourselves to for an extended amount of time and then God answers and it is so clear that he has been working all along. You definitely go through the emotions of getting frustrated along the way, wondering about the Lord's timing when he doesn't necessarily answer when you want, but the end result is extended patience and a deeper faith in the Lord and trust in his plan. If only we had that perspective all the time - even while living through the seeming "unanswered" prayers.

Dinner parties and such.  

Posted by Rachel

I like dinner parties. More specifically, I like hosting dinner parties, because I love to cook. And when I host a dinner party, as most of my friends would attest to, I usually do most of the work myself, even if others offer help. It isn't because I don't want help or think you incapable. It's because I like to do it. I also like birthdays - mine and other people's - I'm not picky. Last Thursday night, I had about 8 girl friends over for a dinner party to celebrate Jaclyn's birthday. She is such a special lady and I really wanted to make a big deal of her birthday because I knew she wasn't going to. Plus, I always jump at the chance to cook dinner for people!

The point is this: I love using my gifts, talents and passions to serve other people. It makes me happy; it fills me up. I guess that's how God created it. And yet at the same time, I feel like some people use their gifts and feel drained afterwards (and I can feel this way sometimes, too). I wonder which is more common: feeling full or drained after using your spiritual gifts?

On another note, I feel pulled in a lot of directions in friendship lately. There are so many people I genuinely want to spend time with, and yet it is so hard to schedule time to see all of them. I am a quality time person, so just seeing someone is not enough. I want to really spend time with them - to know them deeply. It is especially hard because not only am I just plain busy, but, many of the people I would love to spend time with are from completely different areas of my life (old friends, FBC/O friends, Status friends and my HC family, work people, roommates, random friends, etc.). It isn't even like I can combine hang out times when people are not in the same groups of friends at all... Ugh, if only I had more time in my week. I'm sorry if you feel like I haven't been spending enough time with you lately. I want to. I just don't know how.


Posted by Rachel in ,

One of my favorite things about Florida summers - afternoon thunderstorms.

Recent music purchases  

Posted by Rachel in

All of the sudden, I'm finding multiple worthy blog topics...after a few weeks of nothing.

Recently, I have expanded my music library by quite a bit. In my "Recently Added" playlist on the iPod:

  • Five Times August - Brighter Side
  • Augustana - Can't Love, Can't Hurt
  • OneRepublic - Dreaming Out Loud
  • Gavin DeGraw - Gavin DeGraw
  • Death Cab - Narrow Stairs
  • Jason Mraz - We Sing, We Dance, We Steal
  • Warren Barfield - Worth Fighting For
I'm not LOVING the Five Times August album as I thought I might after seeing him play the other night, but seriously - every other one of these albums....AMAZING. The Augustana one is better than the first album in my opinion. OneRepublic has seriously surprised me. I think the collaboration with Timbaland really threw me off at first b/c I didn't know what to categorize them as. I've waited FOREVER for Gavin to put out a new record. Death Cab grows on me more with each listen - I think it might be my favorite album to date. I'm loving the Jason Mraz collaboration with James Morrison on the song Details in the Fabric. And Warren... I seriously think he's way underappreciated.

Let the training begin!  

Posted by Rachel in , ,

This weekend marked the beginning of my training for a sprint triathlon. Quite a few of my friends and I are all going to do the event in downtown Orlando this September. I want to give myself plenty of time to train and June 1st was my official start date, though I actually started on Saturday when Cara and I went on a 10+ mile bike ride (my first on a road bike) down Cady Way Trail. Running after the biking felt super weird and Cara was feeling lightheaded, so...we decided to walk for 3-4 miles instead of running. Definitely going to have to work on the transitions from biking to running! Last night I went on a longer run than my usual, and pushed my time as well, so that felt good. But, dang, it's hot here - even late at night.

I figure there are a few factors keeping me from coming up with any excuse to back out of this thing:
I am doing it with other people.
I just wrote about it on here and I've been telling people my plans.
I spent money this weekend on new running shoes (which I needed anyways), running tops, socks, goggles and a lap swimming suit.

This is only the beginning...I've got a long way to go until September.


Posted by Rachel

I feel like I've been learning a lot lately. A lot about those around me...a lot about myself...about life...just a lot.

I went to South Beach a couple of weekends ago with 9 other girls from my House Church. What a great time! But, I learned I could not live that lifestyle all the time - the aimless game of who can look the best, who can turn the most heads, who can own the most "toys" and who can impress the most.

I've learned lately that though I've always thought of myself as an extrovert and super outgoing (which I still believe I am), I have reached a place in life where large groups of "new" people and things of the sort are uncomfortable at times. It has been a challenge to try to start completely new in friendships and not be in a controlled environment (like school) where everyone is in the same place of life. And I've been dying to break free from this stage where I feel like many people don't know the "real me", but I couldn't force it, as much as I tried. SoBe and Memorial Day were both good times to feel myself opening up and feeling like I'm getting to know more people on a deeper level. I've realized that at times I have to get uncomfortable to get comfortable. I'm looking back over a few months of feeling uncomfortable and as if I didn't really know anyone and they certainly didn't know me...and looking forward to a time when I can honestly say I have great friends in Orlando that I am really comfortable with.

I've learned that the first conversation with someone is so much easier than the second or third.

I've learned that everything I grew up with is definitely not bad and I wish others my age realized that as well. The more conservative backgrounds...the more traditional churches...all of that is not to be thrown out, but rather a starting point for the place we are in life now. A place to appreciate and something to learn from.

I need to grow in the areas of time and money management.

I need to truly, deeply discover God's MISSION for me. Not his present will for me - because I honestly believe I'm living in that. But, his overarching mission.

I always say that I want to be pursued, but I've learned that knowledge comes first with learning what it is to let God pursue me. It's hard for me to admit that many times I don't really think I've been allowing him to do that.

I really appreciate honesty. And the friendships that mean more to me than anything are those in which I can be brutally honest, even to the point of pain, and yet come out on the other side with a stronger friendship.

That's a small RANDOM taste. It has been a full past few weeks.

Texas highlights  

Posted by Rachel in , , ,

Almost one year to the date of graduating from college, I went back to my "alma mater"...
Highlights of my trip to Texas (in no particular order):

  • Lunch w/ Brenda and Ryan...I wish we had a McAlister's!!
  • QT with two families: Brian/Brooke and new baby Briley! AND Chad/Sherene and kids
  • Mexican food - especially hot and fresh flour tortillas at Papacita's
  • Having a table of 15 people at dinner Thursday and looking around to realize I deeply love (and miss) each person at that table
  • Visiting my old apartment - 15B, even though it was sad
  • Driving down Noon Day Rd in Hallsville near sunset... one of my favorite country drives
  • Seeing my future husband and planning our wedding (and no, I don't have any news for you)
  • La and Em taking off work early to spend time with me
  • Making dinner with my friends two nights in a row
  • Bonfire in the country
  • Breakfast with Christa, just like old times (except it was lunch back then)
  • Watching the Office with 7 people on a couch
  • Somehow having catch up time with WAY more people than I thought I'd be able to!
  • Beautiful weather on Saturday
  • Em and I making Jason's grad card on the hood of her car on the side of the road out of blue poster board
  • Benny trying to kill me with the frisbee.... multiple times....during our late night sports outing
  • The boys participating in a walk-off. And Jason winning.
  • Pillow talk w/ Em and Lolly
  • Naps on the Bean
  • Tornado sirens
  • Seeing some of my Texas parents (Brenda, Judes, and La's mom & dad)
  • Getting to fill people in on my life and through that verbal processing, realizing just how much God has blessed me (new job - especially this, house, friends, etc)
  • Coming home to a dinner date at Jason's w/ Lauren...I would be lost without that girl
  • Didn't go to Bodacious but I did have homemade TX BBQ at Jason's party
  • Realizing I am one of the few of our group of friends that cannot still hang out whenever I want.
  • Small amount of drama... we're working on this.
  • I was reminded how fun college was. Growing up isn't always as fun. BUT, I do recognize the need to move on and start this new stage of life.
  • I'm missing Texas friends a LOT right now. I'm especially missing the level of comfort I feel with all of those people. They KNOW me. I sometimes feel like people here still don't. How long does that process take? I'm tired of being close acquaintances... I want deep friendships (in Orlando). I have a few and some are growing for sure, but I realized that it is hard to replace what friendships I had in Texas.
If you are reading this and are a Texas friend, know that I miss you a lot and I really treasure your friendship. If you are an Orlando friend, don't take this to mean you aren't important. Because you are, and I'm so thankful that I have had people surrounding me to help me through the transition from college to the real world. You all are special and you definitely play a huge part in my life. This weekend was a good reminder that life changes. And change is good. But treasuring the important pieces of your past is OK too. We learn. We grow. I know I have been for the past year.

God of this City  

Posted by Rachel in , ,

Went to an Indelible Grace worship concert last night and it put me in the mood for good worship music. So, I began listening to lots of things (seriously, I was all over the place... Josh Bales, Hillsong United, Passion stuff, etc), but one of the songs I got stuck on was God of this City, as sung by Chris Tomlin. Chris Tomlin wasn't the first person to sing that song though - an Irish group by the name of Bluetree wrote it and originally sang it. The story behind the song is what makes it good to me, so here are links to two different versions of the background of this song:
Link 1
Link 2
Pretty powerful stuff.

Concerts and shows  

Posted by Rachel in , ,

I have been enjoying excellent shows and concerts lately, and there's more in the near future.

  • Last Wednesday, saw the traveling Broadway production of Rent in Lakeland (for $20!)
  • Last night, saw Honey, Honey open for Matt Nathanson and Lifehouse at Hard Rock Live. Went for Matt, and haven't listened to Lifehouse consistently since hmm... high school? But, I was "pleasantly surprised" (to quote my dear Emily) at the show they put on. I was not so pleasantly surprised at the 15 year olds making out all over the place. Seriously, all ages shows have GOT to go.
  • This Saturday night is Between the Trees and Mae at HOB
  • Next Friday, WICKED(!!) at the Bob Carr
  • And then, at the end of May, I will be seeing Augustana
Think that's all that's on the agenda for now... I think I could go to a show at least once or twice a week and be happy. But, I'd also be very tired, as I am today.

Brooke Fraser  

Posted by Rachel in , , ,

I think one thing I will be able to most consistently blog about is music and how it speaks to my soul. I am sitting here at work, in a very quiet office (lots of people are out!), so I have my iPod on, trying to drown out the silence (sounds crazy, I know), so I can actually accomplish some work. And for the record, Google Earth is working for me right now, creating some videos, but it makes my computer slow and I can't do much else while it works.

If you have never listened to Brooke Fraser, you should. She has solo albums, but also sings with Hillsong United at times. Her song writing is phenomenal. She's real in what she writes about and you can sense the emotion in her lyrics. Besides all of that, she has a great voice. Here's a taste of some of her lyrics. This is from a song
off of her Albertine album entitled the C.S. Lewis song, so you already know it is going to be deep...and she does not disappoint.

"If I find in myself desires nothing in this world can satisfy,
I can only conclude that I was not made for here
If the flesh that I fight is at best only light and momentary,
then of course I'll feel nude when to where I'm destined I'm compared

Speak to me in the light of the dawn
Mercy comes with the morning
I will sigh and with all creation groan as I wait for hope to come for me

Am I lost or just found? On the straight or on the roundabout of the wrong way?
is this a soul that stirs in me, is it breaking free, wanting to come alive?
Cause my comfort would prefer for me to be numb
And avoid the impending birth of who I was born to become

For we, we are not long here
Our time is but a breath, so we better breathe it
And I, I was made to live, I was made to love, I was made to know you
Hope is coming for me
Hope, He's coming"

Welcome back  

Posted by Rachel

It's time to enter back into the world of blogging. Not that I have ever been a very regular blogger, but we'll see if maybe I've changed since my last attempt.