The Year of Change

So, for me I’d say the year 2015 (the year we just finished) could be titled the year of change.  The changes started towards the mid-end of 2014 and continued on throughout the year.  Some were good, and some were hard, but all were doable with the help of God.  Starting in August, church changed, a period that brought on much grief.  A change in leadership brought a change in membership, but I guess God knew what he was doing.  Then, in December I lost my beloved grandmother.  It was a hard, difficult process.  Towards the end of December, dad retired and was constantly home. Those first few weeks off were spent in grieving and the preparations for Johanna’s wedding.  It has been nearly a year!  I can’t believe it.  February we lost our beloved dog Jewel.  I held her as she passed away.  It was another period of great grief an!d I think I may have cried more than I did for my grandmother.  In March, I bought my first car from a dealership.  We found a jewel of a car without having to do much searching around.  I thank God for it because I know I had friends praying for me to get a reliable car.  In April we celebrated Mom and Dad’s sixtieth anniversary and Easter as a family in Fort Worth.  A few weeks later they left to walk the Camino de Santiago in Spain for nearly two months.  I was left to care for the house and chickens with two other girls and had a great time.  It rained and rained though and those chickens were a muddy, stinky mess.  The whole state was.  In that time I was provided with a boyfriend, a young man I met at church who loved the Lord wholeheartedly and wanted to glorify him in all things.  He loves and respects me for who I am with no strings or judgment attached.  He is a true gift.  Then, in June me and Erin met Mom and Dad in Spain for a vacation.   After a hard, difficult school year where I’d even had to call CPS on a student it was good to get away.  I needed that time of rest and refreshment and fun.  We explored the historical sites of Spain and we ate good food until it was time to get home to grandma’s memorial, several months late.  We were exhausted and mom got shingles badly.  Even though they had a great time in Spain and I had a great time living the adult life I am glad to have them back.  They left again for a short vacation in New Mexico with grandpa and Aunt M.E. this Fall. Once again I got to care for the house, pets and home.  In retirement, they spend much time in travel and I get to have a house for a while and pets!  Aunt Anne and Con visited in November from Australia for Thanksgiving with the family.  Then, it was Christmas and for the first year Johanna was absent because she went to Collin’s family this year.  It was hard, but we managed.  Looking back, 2015 was a whirlwind of activity.  This year I am hoping for a year of regrowth in many ways.  Healing where it is needed and acceptance where it is.

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Adventure Time!

So, the time is nearly here for me to embark on a world adventure.  On Sunday, I will be leaving Texas to go on a mission trip to El Salvador for a  full week.  I will be working with a team to build a water well and to teach the women and children about proper hygiene.  Our work site will be  a village school in C.E. Palocombo, El Salvador, about 50 miles from where I will be lodging in Acajutla.  The school serves children 256 children and has 7 teachers in two to three classrooms from Pre-K through Ninth grade.  The students attend school in morning and afternoon shifts.  I have heard that the school has been waiting for a well for four years.  Can you imagine?   It has an artisan well nearby, but it doesn’t provide sufficient water in the summer and occasionally dead ants and frogs are found in it.  Nearby, there are about 60 houses without safe drinking water, although some have hand dug wells. I am excited about having the opportunity to go on this adventure.  Here is an overview of my itinerary and how you can be praying.

Sunday, July 21, 2013: I will arrive in San Salvador.  I will be picked up by in field staff and taken to lunch and then driven the few hours to the field house where I will have the opportunity to relax.  In the evening, the hygiene team will meet.  On this day, please pray for safe travel.

Monday, July 22, 2013: Community walk (see existing water source, meet villagers), begin drilling and take samples, hygiene lessons, bible stories, crafts games.   This is the day I will meet the villagers for the first time and is a critically important relationship building time.  Please pray that I will be able to communicate warmth and friendship to those I will spend the week serving.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013: Drill, case, flush, gravel pack, hygiene lessons, bible stories, craft, games.  Please continue for to pray that the relationships I am building will be deepened.  Please also pray for patience and safety for those on the drilling team.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013: Develop well, clean and pack equipment, hygiene lessons, bible stories, crafts, games.  This will be the last full day with the community and will be another critical relationship building time.  The well should be nearly complete, but there are always possibilities of setbacks.  Please pray for patience, flexibility, and the continued building of relationships.  

Thursday, July 25, 2013: Complete pump installation, dedication ceremony.  This will be the day the well is dedicated and is an opportunity for those in the community to thank God for the well and to thank the team for its part in accessing water and loving them.  I suspect it will be a difficult day because we will be saying good bye to those we have built relationships throughout the week and there is no guarantee we will see them on this side again.  Please pray that we have touched the community in a meaningful way and showed them the love of Christ throughout our time together.  Please also pray that the people have learned and seen the benefits of having access to safe drinking water, but most of all that we have shown them the love of Christ.

Friday, July 26, 2013: Tourist day, Pack: Tourist activities will be offered and I may have the opportunity to visit a village that had a water well completed by some in my team on a previous trip.  If this is occurs, it will be a good opportunity for reflection and snapshot of the way these wells change lives.  Please pray for safety in all we do and for our time of reflection.  

Saturday, July 27, 2013: Leave for Houston.  Today, I will be returning home.  Please pray for safe travel and again for the time of reflection I will taking during the next several weeks.  Please also continue to pray for the community I just served, that they would continue to be blessed and provided for and ministered to.  

Thank you if you have taken the time to read this lengthy post and I would covet all of your prayers in the days to come.  

Rachel

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Waiting on God’s will and timing

It’s been nearly a year since I last wrote and it has been a good year.  I have continued to grow by leaps and bounds as a result of much prayer, spiritual formation, and many counseling sessions.  I have still worked at Marshalls while waiting for the right full-time job to come knocking at my door.  Job searching can be a very tricky subject and it takes much patience and searching of yourself.  I had an interview last Thursday for a paraprofessional position in Life Skills  and was called in for a second interview on Monday and spent all day Tuesday waiting for an answer.  By the time I heard, the answer was no, but I was well liked and they asked if they could keep my application on file.  Today, I heard again and the school said they were officially posting another position and they wanted me to have it.  It came as a total shock.  I was heading to a renovare group when I heard and today’s scripture came from Luke 13:10-17: “Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues in the sabbath.  And just then there appeared a woman with a spirit that had crippled her for eighteen years.  She was bent over and quite unable to stand up straight.  When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said “Woman, you are set free from your ailment.”  When he laid his hands on her , immediately she stood up straight and began praising God.”  I marveled at God’s goodness when reading this because I feel like I am that woman.  Just about three weeks ago God spoke to me and told me I need to take care of my back and poor posture and I believe I landed this job because I seemed more confident and at ease than I ever have before.    Please pray for my future and all that is about to take place.  

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Reflections on adolescence

Dear Me:

Look around you.  Does anyone seem happy or contented?  Because they are not.  Each person is trying to find their identity, their clique.  Remember how painful that first dance was?  All night long was spent in and out of the bathroom with a crying friend, usually over boy drama.  You, the usual sensitive one, were the tag along; the one who they poured out all their woes too.  They feel unworthy, unpretty, unloveable because they were rejected by one boy or friend.  You can’t enjoy yourself over all the boy drama.  Then, as you are leaving, you see kids using drugs outside the school.  They too are trying to find their identity.  This experience ruined your taste for organized school dances and you attend very few others, even into high school.  In eighth grade, there is the formal, the gala, in which you don’t expect the chance to attend. About eight students and their parents, usually the popular ones, invite classmates.  You are far from popular, so as invitations to gala go out, you fear rejection yet again.  But one day you are surprised to find an invitation in the mail and later find out one of the mom’s of one of your first school friend’s ensured you were invited.  Most of the eighth grade class and a few seventh graders are invited, but there are cases of rejection.  You are a runner.  Cross Country and Track are your sports of choice.  You enjoy the challenge of running uphill and through the woods.  You go for distance, not speed.  Your girl scout troop will take a trip to Savannah, Georgia, host a blood drive for your silver award and ride in a limousine to Galveston during Tropical storm Allison before disbanding.  In high school, all five of you will be too busy for scouts.  You wish to go even higher, but are daunted by the task of doing it alone.  Girl scouts has been good for you.  You’ve gained confidence, friendships, and a social activity.  You will attempt to keep up with these girls lives for years.  High school is approaching.  More challenges, more joys.  You will highly succeed in your first year of algebra and beyond, thanks to supportive teachers and parents.  You struggle with the fact that mom must relearn algebra in order to help you succeed, but you now know how necessary that was.  Other classes are going well too.  You’ve joined the high school swim team.  Swimming is not a new sport to you, having begun the sport at age eight.  Throughout your four years you will have both early morning and after school practices.  Like in running, you go for distance, not speed.  You are like the energizer bunny.  You will semi-return to the sport in your mid-20’s.  You go for quality, not quantity in your friendships.  You have a few close friends, but even with these your lives move away from each other after high school.  It wasn’t intentional, it’s just life.  Friendships cycle all through life.  You still avoid organized school dances, but go to prom.  Your sister, a freshman at the time, comes along as a worker.  You are happy she’s there, even though she makes you dance with an oddball for the last song.  Not being a night owl, you choose to go home after the dance and miss the after party.  Graduation day is fastly approaching, but before it does you will be thrilled with the news you have been dismissed from special education.  You will not graduate with the label.  Your struggles are not gone, but the stigma is.  You will graduate in the top 10.1% of your class, only one or two students below the top 10%, which is embarrassing and frustrating to you, but it really makes no difference.  You’ve been accepted to SHSU despite your extremely low SAT score on the second attempt.  Your first scores were cancelled due to the fact you turned too many pages and were working on the wrong section of the test at the wrong time.  It was at the end too. Oopsy daisy!  So, you had both good and bad in your teenage years.  Most of the bad turned out okay and you can now laugh at it.  And everyone around was searching for their identity.  We were all scared and clueless.

Love,

Me

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Dear Me:

Dear Me:

You are  eleven years old.  You are enjoying being a kid and think eleven is the perfect age.  You say you go through no difficult stages at age eleven.  Ha!  You have a lot to learn.  You dream of becoming an artist, it is the only thing you have ever wished to become.  You think you will reach that goal at age 20.  But soon you will discover you’re not that great of an artist and unless you’re spectacular, will not be able to make a living off your art work.  You will then pick up the dream of becoming an elementary teacher, then special education teacher and will follow that dream all through college.  It too will bring you disappointment, but you will learn to cope.  You think that by age 26 (That’s you now!) you will be married and be starting on your quest to have five children.  Here’s a little secret, you’re not married, or betrothed and you have no desire to start a family.  You still have a lot to learn before you will be ready for the daunting task of parenthood, or even marriage.  Your family means a lot to you.  They are your nearest and dearest friends and still are today.  You are working on some sense of separation and it is painful and freeing at the same time.  You are growing, slowly, but growing.  You are excited to grow up and become a young woman, but you are also scared.  Some days you wish the future would hurry up and get here and other days you wish to stop the passing of time.  Even in your 20’s, you will still have the same reaction to time.  You have trouble enjoying staying in the moment and are constantly reminded to take things one day at a time.  Today, in someways you miss childhood and the teenage years, but all in all you would rather work forward than backwards.  You’ve learned a lot that you don’t want to have to go back and relearn and you will continue to grow in new ways hopefully everyday of your life.

Love,

Me

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Idols

So, today’s sermon at church was about the idols in our society today.  Our pastor listed several, including family, wealth, our bodily image, food, etc..  But one that was not mentioned that I think can be a big one is the way we use our time or our schedules.  I think many of us think it is a crime to have spare time.  We feel every moment should be filled with some type of activity.  We forget we need times of rest as well as times of busyness.  As the fall semester quickly approaches, we need to step back and evaluate what activities bring us joy and purpose.  There are so many opportunities and we have to make choices that are not always easy to make.  It’s okay to say no and to start fresh from what activities we engaged in last year.  Think of this as a fresh start.  It is also okay to continue on, just decide what you want and do it. Even those of us who are not in school, including myself have activities that break in the summer and pick back up when schools are back in session.  I’ve also picked up new activities in the summer that will continue, so I have to keep those in mind as I schedule (or don’t) new activities.  It is important to be productive and busy, but I don’t think our lives should be so helter skelter that were running from one place to another and wearing ourselves thin either (and forgetting our quiet times).  We should not feel guilty in having spare time and trying to fill it up.  It is such a blessing to have and so difficult to accomplish!

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You are important!

With the olympics going on right now, so many young individuals are making a name for themselves.  Their’s are names that will be heard around the world and remembered.  It makes me so glad NOT to be in the spotlight.  I don’t want everyone to know everything I’ve ever done; good and bad and to never allow me to just be a normal individual.  In God’s eyes though, no one is more important than anyone else.  Even the ones who are considered nobodies in life either by their own admission or not are His treasures.  I hope this brings you encouragement.

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Plans

So, the last few days (not so much today though) have been quite a struggle.  You see, tomorrow, me, mom, Johanna, and her boyfriend Collin were supposed to be travelling to Arkansas to camp for a few days.  However, Mom decided after a strenuous, painful night about the middle of the week that she was not quite strong enough to travel that far and camp.  I was mad and disappointed for two days.  I was mean and selfish and I’m repenting of that to all my blog followers now.  But last night, I decided that I was through being upset and feeling sorry for myself because of this missed opportunity.  I was tired of feeling miserable and making everyone around me even more miserable than they already were.  This is not to say that I haven’t been tempted and at times slightly reverted back to my selfish ways today, but I know I am wrong and don’t want to continue to be selfish.  After all, God knows what He was doing.  Scripture says in Jeremiah 29:11 (my favorite verse) “For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper and not to harm you, plans to give you a future and a hope.”  This verse refers to all aspects of life, not just some.  I think I often think of it as Him knowing all our big plans, like jobs, families, etc., but He cares about even the little things like trips and what we choose to eat.  Consequently, my fortune cookie fortune this evening said to “be prepared to modify your plans.”  I found it ironically funny considering what I’ve been going through.  And even though I’m missing out on Arkansas, I’m not missing out on life.  Other things have and will continue to come into play.  I am planning on attending a baby shower tomorrow and will also plan to stay with my sister Erin a few days next week, but even if these things do not work out, I will be okay.  Life goes on, even though we have disappointments.  Please pray for my continued growth and freedom from my selfish ways.

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Leadership

So tonight, I lead our renovare spiritual formation book study. It wasn’t something I chose to do, but rather something God chose for me to do.  Our original leader had a death in the family, so could not make it, and our host offered to lead.  However, I felt a tug on my spirit that he should not have to since he’d had a chance at leading and the meeting was in his home.  Leadership is not something that is easy for me.  I tend to be more of a follower.  The fact that I have to keep a group of 25 (or more) people on task is daunting for me.  That’s the main reason I’m not a teacher right now, I don’t have the control it takes to keep everyone on task, or at least I don’t have the confidence to believe I have the control, so in essence don’t.   But God blessed me through the leading tonight and I’m glad I listened to the spirit.  Pretty much everyone told me I did a good job and I don’t know whether it’s because they really thought I did a good job, or if they know that leadership is daunting.  But it feels good to be complimented in any case.  I am going to try to listen to the spirit of God more and take on challenges head on, even if I don’t necessarily feel I have the skills to be excellent.  God will meet me where I am.

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Growing up

So for most children, growing up is not a challenge.  By the time they reach the end of high school, they are dying to be out of the house and away from mom and dad’s rule.  But that is not the case for everyone, including myself.  You see, I was born with Pervasive Developmental Disorder, a disorder within the autism spectrum that makes social interaction and personal development a difficult task.  I went to college in my hometown, lived at home the first year, and still see my parents nearly daily, often continuing to allow them to care for me.  But I feel that I am finally growing up, within the last week or so actually.  You see, last week, my mom was very sick, another struggle for me and I was away from the house for nearly a week and had to care for my own meals, and what to do with my spare time, not that I have a lot of that anyways.  One night I had homegroup and took pizza, one had soup, and another two had chicken breasts.  And on Saturday I was able to practice being social and ride to a wedding 3.5 hours away with friends and come back the same day  It was exhausting, but I was so happy to have the opportunity to help the wonderful young couple celebrate.  And yesterday was migas (then I went home and ate more) and today was the biggest accomplishment, I made steak for the first time after taking a BIG grocery trip this afternoon since I was low on virtually everything.  I am feeling so at peace and grown up tonight.  I will always love my family and always cherish ,my time with them, but for the most part it is time for me to start caring for myself.

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