ABCs of Thanksgiving  

Posted by Rachel in

I know, this is MUCH later than Thanksgiving, but Krisan did this on her blog around that time and I thought it was a great just took me a while to make it happen.

So, here's my list...the ABCs of things I'm thankful for this time of year.

Accountability group – I have been meeting with these two weekly (or as close to that as we can!) for the past year and I’m so thankful for their presence in my life! They encourage me, call me out, pray for me, offer advice and support, etc. LOVE them.

Baked goods – I have a newfound love for cake decorating as of this year, but I’m thankful for sweets and baked goods of all kinds, especially if I get to make them too - that's half the fun!

Cousins – I have lots of good ones… there’s not enough space to mention them all, but since I just got home from Thanksgiving with the Tidwell side, they are in the picture to the left. These boys are like the brothers I never had, FO SHO.

Debt-free – Not having school debt or credit card debt of any kind, my only form of debt has been a car payment to my parents which I paid off this month – just one year after buying my dear Trina (Trashy Trina, as I like to call her). It is a GOOD feeling.

ECBs - Now some of you may not know this phrase, but it does in fact stand for Extra Care Bucks at CVS. I am so thankful for the money that I am able to save through coupons and stores like CVS, Walgreens, and Publix (hello, BOGOs!). Seriously, CVS and Walgreens pay ME to take things out of their store. That is the way to do it!

Family – Wow, this has been a tough year for our family, but I have really seen my immediate (and extended) family come together in way I’ve never seen before. It’s been good to have that in the midst of some really trying times.

Guitar lessons – I’ve been wanting to take lessons for a while, so I decided to finally do it! Ben is a GREAT teacher, so that helps.

Home - My roommates have been SUCH a blessing in my life. Plus, it is a GREAT thing to come home after a long day and feel comfortable and literally "at home".

Instruments - I'm thankful for all the instruments and vocals that go into making music. Music is definitely one of my love languages =). It is one of the best ways for me to relate to the Lord, and one of my favorite ways to spend my time...just listening. And concerts...don't even get me started. My favorites lately, that I cannot stop listening to: Phil Wickham's new album, Imogen Heap's new album, Andrew Peterson's Behold the Lamb album (hello, it's Christmas time!), Mutemath's new album, Owl City, Shane and Shane's new album, and MUCH more.

Java - I'm thankful for yummy coffee. I love that it can enhance my morning when I have the time to sit and enjoy a cup with my Bible at the kitchen table. I also love going on coffee dates with friends and finding good little hole in the wall coffee shops when I am in new places. Oh to one day create my dream coffee shop/bakery...

Kitchens - My kitchen is one of my stress relievers. Just put me to work on baking or cooking something and I'll be in a MUCH better mood.

Laughter - Makes every day better. Especially when I'm able to laugh with people that have just as obnoxious of a laugh as I have.

Maxi girls - My college roommates STILL play a huge part in my life. I miss them being a part of every day activities, but we make it a point to see each other at LEAST once a year for a Maxi-style reunion.

Nick. Um, yeah.

Orlando - Never thought I'd say that, but I am. I'm thankful for what this city has meant for this stage of my life.

Pastor Uth - Seriously, there are so many Sundays where I just sit there after church and say to those around me - MAN, I just love Pastor David! I have such respect for his love for the Lord and the leadership and teaching that he offers our church.

Quality time with people I love! Seriously, this website has saved me tons of money and I feel like it is a little unknown treasure. Plus, it encourages me to visit new restaurants, which is my favorite! Go check it out, now!

Shopping at H& ORLANDO! That's right, we have one now. Pumped.

Thursday Thunder – our Thursday night Bible study/House Church/small group/”Group” has been God-ordained from day one, which has been cool to see.

Unexpected friendships - I think my most favorite stories of friendships that blossom out of the most unexpected places is my friendship with Courtney Clark Cleveland. We met at Back Booth at an Over the Rhine concert (it's fun to say she's my "bar friend") about 2 or 3 years ago and have maintained seeing each other as often as possible. I reallllly love this girl - and her husband, Michael! They have both been such a blessing in my life, and I'm thankful for our random chats and hang outs. Clearly, we don't have a lot of good pictures together... sorry for the crap quality of this one.

Visiting new (and old) places - I love TRAVEL! In the past year, I have visited California (at least three times - SoCal and SanFran), Savannah, Seattle (two or three times), Texas (go figure), Chicago, North Carolina, Philadelphia, Peru, Panama and Spokane (including a foray into Idaho).

Wycliffe - Wow, I have been blessed with an AWESOME job. I couldn't ask for a better place to have been placed in post-college. My job puts into practice what I learned in college, but also teaches me new things and causes me to grow professionally quite a bit. I have had two bosses since beginning my time with Wycliffe and both have been great. I'm spoiled, for sure. Not only do I get to do what I want, it is for a cause that I believe DEEPLY in. Praise HIM!

Xercise - Though I usually can’t stop thinking about how much I hate running while I actually am doing it, we have a love/hate relationships and I seriously can’t get enough of running, working out, riding my bike (I’m ready to do another triathlon!). My first half-marathon was on December 5, 2009 and I completed the whole thing without stopping. So thankful for Cara to run w/ me! I'm just really thankful that I can be active and want to make the most of that as long as I am able.

Youth Ministry at FBCO - I jumped into teaching 9th grade girls' Sunday School at First Baptist over 2 years ago, and now they are now 11th graders! CRAZY! It has been such a joy to be involved with this ministry. I deeply believe in what they are doing in the lives of teens. Below is a video we created last week for a Sunday School competition. They crack me up...

Zenni Optical - where else can you get prescription glasses for under $20?? It allows me to act on my desire to use my glasses as a fashion accessory, not just a functional and necessary item, because it's so cheap!


The God we serve  

Posted by Rachel in ,

When telling us about his journey from South Africa to America to serving with Wycliffe in Panama, Keith Forster repeatedly said, “This is the God we serve.” How else do you explain an airline providing Keith a ticket when there was no money to buy one as he was trying to get to Columbia for his first summer assignment with Wycliffe? Or what about a whole jungle village of Kuna people in Panama kicking the Forsters out one day to welcoming them with open arms and promising to provide housing for their family the next? And there would be no other explanation for the son of a Kuna village chief deciding to anger his family to assist Keith in the translation of Scripture and pastor a Kuna church.

Hearing Keith and Wilma Forster’s story last week in Panama has confirmed in me the truth that we serve a God who specializes in the impossible. I’m reminded of a plaque I saw hanging in the home of Ralph and Marilynn Toliver, missionaries in Peru: The will of God will never lead you where the grace of God cannot keep you. Wilma and Keith would be the first to tell you that God called them both very specifically to the ministry of Bible translation. And though there were days when it seemed that God had called them to something impossible, by his grace, he always provided just what they needed to continue.

I heard story after story the past two weeks, both in Panama and Peru, which give true validity to the statement, “This is the God we serve.” And by leaning on that truth, Keith, Wilma, and countless others, have had the opportunity to affect lives for eternity by being a part of translating Scripture into the heart languages of minority people groups all across the world.

This truly is, the God we serve.


One down, one to go  

Posted by Rachel in ,

One week down in Peru. Now I'm in Panama and have 5 more days here before hitting American soil again. I'm tired, but it's good.

Peru was gorgeous. We have NOTHING like the Andes in the US - at least in my opinion. Seriously - we drove over a 16,000 foot pass. 16,000 FEET! There isn't even anything that high in the continental US, I don't believe. Gorgeous.

On Thursday, we drove out of Huanuco to see some of the more remote villages. I have NEVER been on roads this bad. It was CRAZY and I might have a bump or two on my head from the times I hit it on the side or top of the truck. . Here is a taste of our trip to the Quechua villages (check out that road!):

Over all, Peru was a GREAT trip. Then, I headed straight to Panama yesterday. Got in last night, and this morning I was able to hang out with one of my all time fav MDB teachers - Uncle Dave (Carter)!! In Panama! How fun. He was a great tour guide, too.

In just a few hours, we will head out to pick up the NEXT Moody Radio team joining us. Tomorrow, we are hitting the ground running for round two of these trips with Moody Radio folks. Hoping this trip is as successful as the last! I'm confident it will be.

I am thankful to work with some really great and talented people, and ultimately for an organization that continues to blow my mind. I had a few teary moments in Peru, I'll be honest. It's hard not to when you hear the stories that I am blessed to hear. Hoping for the same in Panama and that God continues to teach me more about his heart for the nations.


Leaving on a jet plane  

Posted by Rachel

Life's been full lately. Sometimes too full...overwhelmingly full. BUT, it's been full of great too. Lots of new things happening that are good. Great. Exciting. Maybe updates will come later. For now, I'm content to sit on some of it.

For now, I'm really trying to learn balance. Balancing work, personal life, friends, ministry, family, etc. The fact that my blog has been very neglected is proof that I'm not always getting that. I have a few people that care for me deeply enough to see that I continue to work on this... I'm thankful for that.

I have been going non-stop on one project at work, and today was my last day in the office to work on it all and now hope for the best, as I'm headed off to Peru on Sunday. And straight from Peru to Panama City...the next two weeks are going to be busy, but I'm hoping that the work ahead of time has paid off. I keep thinking I forgot something really important at the office or that I left some ball in the air that's about to drop in my absence. I'm praying against that for sure!

If you think of it - be praying for our can read more about the Panama trip on Scott's blog...and then on October 8, please pray for our family too. Big day for us.

Ok - seriously exhausted. Night.


Where did the last month go??  

Posted by Rachel

Figured it's about time to post a quick update on here about the past (almost) month of my life. Pictures to the left are of the various activities mentioned in this post.

First off - an announcement. I have a new job. For the past year and 10 months, I have been happily working for Wycliffe Foundation as their Marketing Communications Coordinator. In that time, I have worked closely with Wycliffe USA's (the Foundation's parent company and the US headquarters for Wycliffe Bible Translators) marketing department on a number of projects since we are all housed in the same building. A few months ago, a Marketing Strategist position with Wycliffe USA opened up, and though at first I didn't even consider it, I eventually applied and was hired. I prayed a LOT about this decision, sought Godly counsel, and ultimately decided that it is the best step for me right now. My official start date is August 24, though my last day at the Foundation was THIS PAST FRIDAY (wow!) since this coming week is my family's annual beach vacation. It is definitely a bittersweet time. I can't really imagine not chatting with Dustin over my cubicle wall ALL DAY or having Katie call me sketchy every time she walks by my desk. I'll miss coffee breaks with Virginia and laughing hysterically with Mariah, Deb, Donna or any of the aforementioned people. I will definitely miss working for Scott, but am excited about working for Kristie as well. Yep, bittersweet is definitely the best description.

Other than that (and partially BECAUSE of that), the past month has been full. So, instead of details about a few things, I'll give a top-line overview by category. In the past month, I have...

Seen the following movies: Harry Potter ( LOVE these movies...and the books are just that much better. Yes, it was worth the 2 hrs we waited in line for the free screening), Away We Go (LOVE Jim), Julie and Julie (who wants to move to Paris and attend Le Cordon Bleu with me??)

Hung out with the following people that I don't get to see often: Deena, Emily and Ben in Florida; Brittany and Kamal in Philly; old Camp Gilead buds (including Tara - twice!); Andy, Matty P, and Kyle in Cali

Attended two weddings (John and Jennifer, Andrew and Tiffany) and officially catered the cake (and cupcakes) for my very first wedding. It was a blast! Hire me for your next party, event or wedding!

Attended only one concert sadly...Rascal Flatts with Darius Rucker

Traveled to: San Diego, Orange County CA, Seattle, Philadelphia

Created the idea and name for my new baking/catering company.

I have been getting back into my more frequent reading habits (which I am excited about, so in the past 3-4 months, I have read the following books: the Twilight series, Coming Attractions, The Shack, To Live is Christ, Nights in Rodanthe, The Tales of Beedle the Bard, and am currently in The Irresistible Revolution, and about to start My Sister's Keeper. Also, presently going through Stepping Up with the ladies at work once a week and receiving a royal butt kicking from that study.

I may often complain of things going far to fast and being way to busy, but ultimately I am learning so much through this phase of my life, even with the tough times and stressors that come. I wouldn't have it any other way.


Something new every day  

Posted by Rachel

God really smacked me in the face with TRUTH this morning, and from such a common Biblical location that I would have thought we'd have already been through this. Apparently not.

I've been continuing down this path of reading through the Bible chronologically, and that has brought me this week to Jeremiah and Daniel, since Jeremiah was the prophet who was present during the time when the Israelites were exiled to Babylon (AKA the time when Daniel was sent to Babylon and the whole lions' den thing happened). So I'm reading Jeremiah 29 this morning, already anticipating the verse (11) we all know to be a key verse in my reading, "For I know the plans I have for you..." Call me crazy, but somehow I have either never connected the two, or I have forgotten the connection, but those words were spoken by the Lord to the Israelites during their time of EXILE.

Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure most people don't like being exiled from their homes. The Israelites had just been forced to leave their home and go to captivity in Babylon, a place they were NOT familiar with or comfortable in at all. Putting myself in their shoes, I'm pretty sure I'd feel forgotten by the if he wasn't present. I've felt that way at times in the past few months, so I can imagine this emotion pretty well. And then, God speaks. But he doesn't say, "Don't worry, I'll save you soon."

Read it for yourself:
This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: "Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper." Yes, this is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: "Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have. They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them," declares the LORD. This is what the LORD says: "When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you," declares the LORD, "and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you," declares the LORD, "and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile."

Woah. Knock me off my feet (well, not literally, since I read this from the comfort of my couch and was already off my feet...). Not only does he not promise to make things right immediately, he pretty much says make the most of it. Build lives for yourselves. Settle in... you are going to be there for a while. 70 years to be exact. 70 years! And yet, he then still has the audacity to say, I know what I'm doing and I have great plans for you. Only, to see those plans, you have to stay put in this uncomfortable place for a while, and oh yeah...this place? It's a part of my big, great plan. Um, not exactly what the Israelites (or I!) were expecting, I bet.

God also made it clear they were not to be idle. There were things for them to do. They were not to lay down and wallow in their self pity and frustration. They were to LIVE LIFE in the midst of captivity, hardship and strife. And more importantly, they were to be calling on God and seeking his face. Even when he promised they'd eventually be led out of captivity, he still expected them to seek him and, in that way, hold up their end of the bargain.

Hmmm... that's good. I needed that today.



Posted by Rachel

I returned on Monday from one of my favorite weekends of the year: July 4. Every July 4, my family has a reunion in Cashiers, North Carolina. There are five houses owned by different members of the family all on one street, and almost 80 of us were up there for the weekend this year.

We got there late Thursday night, and woke up Friday morning to my dad screaming, "It's POOP!" He had woken up to discover that our septic system had a slight problem, and was out of commission for the rest of the weekend, as it was a holiday weekend and no one could come out until Monday. Needless to say, that was an issue since we had 18 people in the house. Thankfully, there were four other family houses to "visit" as necessary, but that was only until the second house had septic issues and left us with only three working septic systems. Ingles (the local grocery store), had many Cowen family members visiting the restroom in the back corner. GOOD TIMES. Showers were a blast too - taken in 2 minutes flat at another house, or by allowing all the water to run into a tub that could later be emptied outside (and not in the septic system). I would say that the most fun would be the dish washing. Imagine enough food to feed 80 people, and all the dishes it takes to cook and serve that food. Now, picture all of that being washed in Rubbermaid tubs. Three of them.

The weekend was wonderful, Friday we went rafting on the Ocoee river. Friday night, we had dinner for all the "Gen3ers" at our house, and then followed that with lots of NERTZ, only the best card game ever.

Saturday was our huge meal, followed by family pictures and "history" time. Then of course a few rousing games of volleyball before headed out to fireworks. Most everyone started heading out on Sunday, but some of us stayed to enjoy a lazy rainy day on Sunday, and then some amazing hiking on Monday.

I love my family. I love the mountains.


My new passion  

Posted by Rachel in , , , , ,

I'm pretty passionate about all forms of baking, and lately, I've been focusing on cakes. I have been taking the Wilton cake decorating classes at my local JoAnn fabrics for the past few months. There are 4 courses (1, 2, 3 and fondant) and each lasts 4 weeks, so a total of 4 months of classes, and this past week marked the END of my final class! I wanted to let you all see the fruits of my labor, so here are the cakes I have created over the past 4+ months (most for class, some for fun/friends).

Course 1:Fondant course:
Course 2:
Course 3:

And then, I've done these for fun. The first was for a friends' baby shower... and I made the matching diaper cake too. The second was actually a reinvention of the cake above (from course level 3) because I felt like a cake that looked so much like a tiered wedding cake was a little too elegant for a friend's birthday party. =) So, I disassembled it and created the cake below.

So, what do you think??

It's been really fun and I'm looking forward to furthering this in the future. My first wedding cake/cupcake event is in August so that will definitely be a fun experience. Even though I may not make it look quite as good as the professionals (*yet*), I'm actually more passionate about the actual BAKING of the cake and trying new and exciting (and tasty) recipes, so the fact that I get to do cupcakes in addition to a cake is really fun because I can do four different recipes! I've landed on: chocolate cake w/ raspberry filling and cream cheese icing, chocolate mint chocolate chip cupcakes w/ chocolate ganache icing, red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese icing and white wedding cupcakes with cream cheese icing.

If you live in the Orlando area and need a cake for a party or shower or some other event - contact me - I'd love the opportunity to give it a shot.


New look  

Posted by Rachel

I decided to upgrade my blog look... what do you think?



Posted by Rachel in , , , ,

Wow. Life's been pretty crazy lately... and as a result, I have a lot of stuff running through my mind. To be completely honest, I don't even want to give myself time to think about it all because I know I'll get overwhelmed, frustrated, sad, disappointed, confused, [insert tough emotion here], etc. I have been feeling very heavy... burdened... like I am in the desert.

Therefore, I've been CONSTANTLY listening to The Desert Song by Hillsong (and I did just see Hillsong United perform this live 3 weeks ago - that was phenomenal).

This is my prayer in the desert
And all that's within me feels dry
This is my prayer in the hunger in me
My God is a God who provides

And this is my prayer in the fire
In weakness or trial or pain
There is a faith proved
Of more worth than gold
So refine me Lord through the flames

And I will bring praise
I will bring praise
No weapon forged against me shall remain
I will rejoice
I will declare
God is my victory and He is here

And this is my prayer in the battle
And triumph is still on it's way
I am a conqueror and co-heir with Christ
So firm on His promise I'll stand

All of my life
In every season
You are still God
I have a reason to sing
I have a reason to worship

This is my prayer in the harvest
When favor and providence flow
I know I'm filled to be emptied again
The seed I've received I will sow

Now, maybe I'm the only one, but my first inclination when I'm in the desert, when I don't hear the Lord speaking as clearly as I'd like him to or when I am in the battle and triumph is "still on the way" (aka NOT here yet) is NOT to bring praise. That's the harsh dichotomy that I am living in right now, though. I know I should be praising simply because God is still the God who provides and therefore I do have a reason to worship. But sometimes what my head knows and what my heart feels are two totally different things that don't seem to add up. I know that the Lord is here in the midst of one of the stormiest times of life to date. But it is hard not to be swept away by all the waves that life is sending my way. It is hard to remember that he's still there when all I see in front of and behind me is hard and dry and void of what the world defines as joy.

And so, my focus this past week has been to thank God for all the crap. To PRAISE him for the situations that leave me scratching my head not knowing how to respond and feeling like I don't hear the Lord guiding me one way or the other right now. To PRAISE him for the harsh fires my sister is walking through that continually get worse. To PRAISE him for the life decisions that I'm facing with no direction to date. To PRAISE him for suffering. To PRAISE him for heaviness. Ultimately, the only reason I will be able to praise him through all of this is if I keep in perspective what the Lord tells me in Isaiah 55:8-9 (the Message):
"I don't think the way you think.
The way you work isn't the way I work."
"For as the sky soars high above earth,
so the way I work surpasses the way you work,
and the way I think is beyond the way you think.

God knows what he's doing.

God also keeps impressing on me this idea of a chess game. I suck at chess, so when I play, I am only thinking of the one move I am about to make. But, for really great chess players, they know and anticipate the the next multiple moves that they will make, and at times, may even be able to see how they can have me in checkmate LONG before we make it to that place. That's kinda how I see me and God right now. I'm sitting here playing this game called life only seeing one move at a time and having no idea of the end result. He's gently asking me over and over if I will just trust him to play for me and trust that he knows not just the next move, but the next 50 moves, the next 100 moves, etc... And he's got Satan in checkmate already.

God's pretty great at this thing called my life...and I'm not so great at it, so why do I not trust him to make my moves for me??

Orlando tour guide  

Posted by Rachel in , ,

I got the chance to be an Orlando tour guide this weekend. My old college roommate, the beautiful Lauren Hammer, came to visit me this weekend. She got in on Friday and I took her to see my work before heading home to cook dinner before I took her to my favorite little dessert place downtown. Jess, Kristi and Jillian joined us at The Dessert Lady, so please don't think that Lauren and I ate all this on our own.

Then, we headed to the Grand Bohemian to meet up with CBell and hang out while enjoying the live jazz that they have there every weekend...What a great little gem in downtown ORL. While there, Jess says, "Hey, I think that's Lebron James!" Sure enough, Lebron and a few of his fellow Cavaliers teammates were hanging out in the same lounge since it was a night before the big game where they got BEAT by the Magic.

Saturday we started the day at the Winter Park Farmer's Market, a favorite Saturday morning activity for me. Then, Jillian and I took Lauren to Briar Patch, my fav little brunch place on Park Ave. Because of the cookies we tasted at the FM and the zucchini bread at BP, we decided to go home and bake... you guessed it: cookies and zucchini bread.

Then, it was off to Urban Flats downtown where we met up with Virginia and Bekah for a lovely dinner outside, before we all headed to meet up with Kristi at Rising Star Karaoke bar. This place is LEGIT. There is a live band, complete with back up singers/dancers. And yes, we did all make our appearances on the stage. Lauren and I sang Walking in Memphis, Bekah and Kristi sang Free Falling, and Virginia and Kristi sang our fav of the night -- Redneck Woman. Of course, there were MULTIPLE things to laugh at and about during the night, including the drunk girl who was also named Rebekah who swore it was her turn to sing, the dancing man and his mom, V spilling her drink on her jeans 3 minutes before having to go on stage, V and Bek changing jeans only for more to get spilled on V's jeans that were now on Bekah, Kristi's song choice for her and Virginia, the "Host" who thought he was a star, and the list goes on and on...what a fun night!

Sunday was relaxing. Took Lauren to FBCO with me - she even joined me while I taught my 10th grade girls at Sunday School. Then we had a little picnic at Lake Eola, which was so fun complete with AWESOME people watching and great weather, and then met Jaclyn at Jeremiah's. YUM! After a little afternoon nap at the house (OK, I admit it... I spent much of my naptime reading New Moon...don't judge), we headed to Status where Lauren got to meet many more of my friends, and confess her love for Tony. Or maybe she was just telling him where she lived... who knows.

Monday I had to take Lauren back to the airport before heading to work, which made me sad. I have seen her for the past three weekends in three different cities (Dallas, Chicago, Orlando). What ever am I going to do now that I don't know exactly when I will see her again?

Well, I hope that this little run-down has convinced you (and me!) that Orlando does have some pretty fun things to offer, outside of Disney, and has therefore made you realize that you MUST come visit. My house is always ready for visitors.


Posted by Rachel

Just wanted to give a small taste of my past two weekends of travel, until I have time to update more.

This first picture is from my time in Dallas May 15-17, visiting Tim and Crystal. Jillian and Kimberly also joined me from FL, and Kenny is the other person to mention in the below picture outside of the Richardson Wildflower festival. Elvis impersonator? Check.

Next up? Memorial Day weekend in Chicago with great friends. Here is the whole group from LETU and a few more, on the boat where we "officially" celebrated Steve's graduation in style, though I submit that the whole weekend was a celebration of amazing friendships in a great city. FUN!

Raindrops keep falling on my head  

Posted by Rachel

I'm sitting on my back porch... listening to the crazy rain (that has been going non-stop since yesterday morning), journaling, thinking, praying, processing...A LOT of stuff.

It's been a long time since we've had this sort of rain, and I'm kinda loving it, though it doesn't really help my semi-somber mood. Oh well, at least it matches it.

I have had a lot of heavy stuff on my heart lately, and so I have been feeling a void when it comes to blog topics, but I just wanted to share my love for the rain (as long as I'm inside and not out in it) and assure anyone who does read this that I am, in fact, alive.

And, wouldn't it be just like God to provide me with a fitting piece of Scripture to be memorizing these past few weeks. It's a good one... you should commit it to memory with me. Especially fitting when life isn't looking exactly like you think it should, and it feels like a lot of rain is pouring on top of you instead. Choose joy.

Habakkuk 3:17-20

17 Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,

18 yet I will rejoice in the LORD,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.

19 The Sovereign LORD is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to go on the heights.

Be encouraged with me.

Blind faith  

Posted by Rachel

I spent my lunch hour today sitting outside (in the GORGEOUS spring weather), journaling, reading, etc. While journaling about recent events and discoveries in my life, I started thinking about the concept of faith, and more specifically, how I want my life to really embody the principle of BLIND faith.

When a person is blind, they are totally dependent upon someone or something else to lead them when they are walking. It might be another person, a dog, a walking stick, etc. For the sake of this illustration, I'm going to be talking about that leader being another person, and how I want to be that blind one, who is totally dependent upon the Person leading me - that Person being Jesus.

Think about it. The blind one has to totally trust that the person leading them is trustworthy and will lead them well. They can't see ahead of them to know if the pathway is safe. They can't see ahead to know if there is an obstacle or an incline or even a scary creature. They trust. They follow the lead of the person they are clinging to. And when there is an obstacle or unexpected hill on the path, they just lean more heavily upon the one leading them.

Too often, I steer clear of certain decisions, simply because I am unsure of how they might turn out, and that scares me. I walk the easy path, the one I can see in front of me, and very rarely do I venture off it. But that is because I desire the control in my life, instead of relinquishing it to Jesus. Sometimes I think it might be easier if I couldn't "see" in life - ever. Because then I'd be forced to be totally dependent on Jesus. I'd have to trust that where he was leading me was where he wanted me to be. I wouldn't be able to see obstacles in my path, but I would just lean more heavily upon Him when they came up. I wouldn't be able to know what was coming with my next step, much less with my next 20. I would just depend upon Jesus, my guide, to take me the right way. I would have to trust that if he led me through a pit, there was a good reason for it (perhaps protection from something else?), and yet again, I would just lean more heavily upon him to make it back to solid ground. I'd have to trust that if we slowed down, there was a reason, or if he asked me to run, yet again, it was for a purpose.

I have a lot more thoughts on this topic, but yeah...I wanna have blind faith.

Where have I been??  

Posted by Rachel

What have I been doing since my last post in late February?? Well, let me tell you:

  • Feb 27-28, FBC Orlando hosted the Student Life Tour for the weekend and we took our students. I spent the whole weekend with the 10th grade girls (there weren't too many in attendance), including a slumber party. It was exhausting, but Francis Chan and Kristian Stanfill did not disappoint.
  • March 4, I left for Seattle, for my very first trip to that beautiful area of the country. It was work and pleasure combined (thanks, work, for being so amazing to provide these opportunities!) and my mom went with me. It was good mother daughter time, and I love love loved the city. I'll post more about that at a later date, I hope. At least some of the pics! But for now, here's a teaser:
  • Cake decorating class. What began as LaurieAnn (who is now blogging!) and I in class level one has become a goal of me (now by myself) taking all four levels of classes, and just now being only half-way through. It's an every Monday night (soon to be Tuesday!) occurance and I've made a LOT of cakes. Below is a picture of our first cakes.
  • Jillian, Cara, and I ran our first 10K together on March 14th, an altogether crazy day. 10K in the morning (I beat my goal time!), wedding at 1:30 for a dear old friend in Lake County (pic below), and Cara and I's joint bday party that night at Tavern on the Lake. Dinner and fun. And lots of great people were there to celebrate with us.
  • Jaclyn's bachelorette party was Friday the 20th...she's getting married so soon and it is crazy! Here's just one picture from that night:
  • Saturday the 21st was equally as crazy as the 14th! My weekend give no rest for the weary, seriously. First, met the fam at Disney in the morning and spent some time there with Elizabeth and the kids. Then, it was off to pick up Kanoe and Corey (visiting from AZ!) for an evening of fun in my city. Sunday, I was able to spend more time with Kanoe, which was awesome. Especially visiting Little VietNam near downtown. Yes, this poster really did exist.
  • Wednesday the 25th, even though I was VERY sick the night before and still not great that morning, I flew out to Texas, the state that still holds a large portion of my heart. I will DEFINITELY write more about this experience later, and I don't have all my pictures right now, so I'll post more of them later too, but I just got back last night (Monday) and haven't yet sorted through them all. It was a great vacation, full of fun times, good conversation, and moments where my heart felt so full it could burst. Then, there were of course the moments when my heart might have felt it could burst for other reasons too... but those are for me to process through (with the help of a few key friends, of course). Here's one picture I DO have right now... more will come later.

So though I have never been to San Francisco, and I can't sing about that city, I can say that I think I left my heart in Texas instead.