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...Rachel...
21 October 2005 @ 09:34 pm
I'm sitting in my Allison's apartment/dorm in Dallas right now! I'm visiting her and Coty this weekend (the last part of my Fall Break) and I'm flying back Sunday. I've pretty much been all over the map this break, but it's been a great experience. A bit of a bummer right now though because Coty had to go on a one-night retreat with his missions team, so I won't see him until after he's done playing at the conference tomorrow night. But I've gotten to see him quite a bit and I definitely enjoy just chilling out with Allison. She's playing guitar and singing for me right now...it's so beautiful. (*mwah Allie-son*)

My oldest brother Ben got married last weekend and I played piano for part of the wedding (the unity candle and the processional.) Everything went well and my 2 year-old nephew wore me out. He's at that stage where he gets into everything and falls down a lot. Always an interesting time. :) My new niece is about 2 months old now and she's precious! If she's not sleeping she's crying or eating, but that's what babies do, so what can I expect?

Anyhow, I think I'm going to read for a bit. Yay for quiet nights. Take care, all.

*Rach*
 
 
...Rachel...
02 October 2005 @ 12:54 pm
I apologize that it has been so long since I have updated here. Xanga has called me to the dark side (yes, Kara...it's happened.) ;) Anyhow, things are moving along really well here in my junior year at ORU. I have a relatively heavy load of classes but everything is looking up in that aspect. I am loving my position as Assistant Editor-in-Chief of the student newsaper! I got offered a job for after graduation at a local place in Tulsa (long story, a little hard to explain), where I would be working among friends/ORU graduates and doing what I love. I'm not 100% sure that I will take it, but they are adamate about having me with them and offering to top the pay of any other job I may be offered. Wow! So it feels good to know that I have something to step into right after graduation, if only for a season.

In other news...I am working on getting an internship at CCM Magazine in Nashville this summer! I already have a place to live with a family friend named Karen. And I am in the process of sending my resume to the guy who handles interns at CCM, and I have a friend with connections there that is helping me get my foot in the door. Yet another long, amazing story. I wish I could detail all of it but I don't have the patience of presence of mind at this moment to do all that.

I am really tired today from yesterday. I spent the whole morning/afternoon helping a family I know move across from Tulsa to Jenks (a neighboring town). It was pouring rain at a few points and the lightning was so incredible! It looked like it struck something about a mile from us, I've never seen a lightning bolt like that! It beelined for something, I'm telling ya! Then I ran some errands around town, got gas, and came back and got ready really fast for my blind date last night! Let me explain...

It is this ORU tradition called "Roommate Date" where your roommate gets you a date, sometimes blind, sometimes not, and then your whole floor goes out and does something fun. In this case, I do not have a roommate so some of the girls on my floor set me up. We all got ready and headed down to meet our dates. I think we had about 15 girls (so 30 people total) and we did a cookout at Hunter Park and then went to the Tulsa State Fair. It was so much fun!!

I wound up with a young gentleman by the name of Matthew Dodd. He is a very sweet, kind guy and I had a wonderful time. We stuck with my friend Corrine and her date Ricky for the whole time at the Fair. It was really comfortable and there wasn't any "pressure" the whole night, so I really appreciated that. I wouldn't mind seeing Matt again, but at this point, it's because I want to get to know him as a friend because I can tell that he has a good heart. *sigh* Thank God for how He takes care of every little thing!

Anyhow, I'm sorry if that all sounded a little scatter-brained, I'm just really tired and I think I'm going to take my traditional Sunday afternoon nap now! Yes!!! :)

Love and hugs
*Rachel*
 
 
Current Mood: contentcontent
Current Music: Jason Upton: 40
 
 
...Rachel...
30 August 2005 @ 03:08 pm
The result of Starbucks at mid-day and feeling like my head was going to explode in Mass Media Law lecture (not that I don't enjoy the class, I was just really antsy.) This took up the margins of my notebook. :) I finished it when I got back to my dorm.
*********

It’s been a while
But I am here
Today, tomorrow, all the same
History flashes before my eyes
Chalk and dust
Movement and words
I see the world for what it is
Or do I hide behind my life
Content to live alone
With the thoughts inside my mind
Of other places
Distant faces
Filling every part of time and space

Laughter breaks through
And I am here…once again
Returning to reality…I ask
Do I stay
Or do I go
The never ending question
I ask of you, myself, each passerby
That dares to look me in the eye
The atmosphere changes here
To something electric
And more eclectic
I come alive with breath inside
The ebb and flow of every day
Do I go…or do I stay?

Please be done
I want to go
To write, to speak, my heart’s content
Found within these narrow spaces
I pour myself into this life
And fill each moment in my mind
Overflowing, drawing near
Whomever comes and tunes their ear
I show them myself
Nothing less
I scarcely stop to take a breath

It comes to me
Sometimes in part
Racing with my beating heart
Full of life and things to say
Coming, going, here to stay

Will you take a moment
To breathe my air
Just look inside
You’ll see me there

**************
rach
 
 
...Rachel...
27 August 2005 @ 12:20 pm
Pure beauty...

Born Thursday, August 25 at 8:41 a.m.

Madison Grace Wegner (my new niece)

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Image hosted by Photobucket.com
(my personal favorite)

Isn't she amazing? I can't wait to see her when I'm home for a visit in October.

Love and hugs and all things wonderful
*Rachel*
 
 
...Rachel...
15 August 2005 @ 11:30 pm
In the watches of the night I remember the hours of my brokenness…the feeling of my world falling apart. When tears blurred my vision in more way than one. When I wondered if I would ever see past the pain and into my future. When I laid awake many nights and lost sleep over the battles I fought…but never once was I the only solider in that field.

It never seems to come out the way I want it to. How can I make someone understand me when I am still unsure myself? They say you can find yourself in life, but I wonder how we were lost in the first place. We can start over here and make ourselves whoever we want to be. The past is easily covered by a cordial smile and a handshake. But am I true to myself when it truly matters? When it comes down to you and I, would I take the chance to show you a piece of who I am and who I desire to be?
If the sun rises tomorrow and I decide to start anew, would it be too much to ask of you? Can you just as easily forget who I was trying to be and embrace who I truly am? I am here, and I am human. My hands are ready to serve, my feet quick to step to the aid of another, and my heart is quick to go out to the hurting, lost and broken.

Will you take the time to see that? Or am I on my own in this? I know the answer, deep inside…it never leaves me. I am never alone, for He walks with me.

*rach*
 
 
 
...Rachel...
04 August 2005 @ 11:17 pm
Okay guys....here's Part II.

******************

Perhaps my favorite evening activity during the mission trip was when we went up to Cove Lake. It looked like God reached down with His finger and carved it right out of the middle of the mountains. On our way up, we stopped at Mt. Magazine, the highest point in Arkansas. There was an overlook that we took photos at and my breath was literally taken away (in part because of the altitude and mostly because of the sheer beauty of God’s creation.) Seeing mile after mile of hazy, rolling green mountains and trees was unlike any sight I’d ever seen. I truly fell in love with the mountains and I really would like to go back and spend more time there (especially since I have a few friends in Booneville now!)

Okay…now for the really awesome part. The most powerful times on the week came when we met with our church group (just the kids from our youth group and the leaders.) Tuesday night stands out as a ground-breaking experience for our youth group. My brother (aka Pastor Jeremy) busted out a guitar and started playing the chorus from “Worlds Apart” by Jars of Clay. As he played, the youth began to offer up prayers to God and soon, tears of brokenness flowed. There was such a sweet fellowship with the Lord that night and it sparked something greater in all our hearts. The fact that many of the guys were moved to tears spoke volumes to the rest of us that God was truly moving. The whole time, I kept hearing God say "one by one, I will soften their hearts. one by one...one by one..." And how true that held the rest of the week!

Our youth group isn't one of those super-sensitive groups that cries every time they meet (not that that is always a bad thing). Needless to say, church group last into the late hours of the night and I had some really meaningful conversations with a few of the girls in the times following. The youth were so full of questions the rest of the week and we spent hours discussing everything.

One thing I realized this week is how much of a shepherd’s heart my brother has. He is an amazing youth pastor and I never once saw him overreact about something. I’m sure he felt the pressure of the issues that inevitably come about within the youth group and he undoubtedly felt the physical wear on his body. But he kept his focus and led us on a journey that took us straight to the presence of the Almighty God. I was astounded at how cool and collected he was when the kids were asking questions left and right one night at church group. They admitted that they were rearing all day to get to church group and ask all these questions, so needless to say, it was like opening a floodgate as soon as we sat down and started. And I could tell he loved every minute of it! I know I did!

*********

Part III is coming soon!

Love 'n' hugs
*rach*
 
 
...Rachel...
31 July 2005 @ 11:19 pm
Some thoughts on modesty (or lack thereof) in this day in age...

How have we come to this point? Do people even realize the things that we have lost sight of and replaced with modern fashion? I have heard so many sermons about our manner of dress and how we need to watch out for our sisters and brothers in Christ. But how much of it really sinks in?

Even in my own church's youth group I see the plague of modern fashion. It seems to be the most difficult thing to get the youth abide by a dress code. For example, when we were preparing for our mission trip, the hottest topic of discussion at one of our meetings was the dress code rules. Some of the girls made it seem like the end of the world that they had to wear a one-piece bathing suit or a tankini that covered their midsection. Heaven forbid you can't walk around in something comparable to underwear!

Skirts seem to be getting shorter, scoop necks on shirts even lower and fits of clothing even tighter. If a girl cannot so much as bend over without showing cleavage or her underwear, it is not even worth it to buy the over-priced clothing in the first place. Why is it that even a shirt marked "XL" still fits me like a glove? I am not a heavy-set person by any means. But it does something to my self-image when I leave store after store empty handed on account of clothes not fitting the way I want them to. I can only imagine what this is doing to those who struggle even more with their insecurities and self image (guys and girls alike.)

Our society has trained us to pay good money to get "the look" that consists of as little fabric as possible. I even see 5 year-old girls wearing less than I would even imagine going out in. It makes me wonder how careful of attention their mother and especially their father pays to their daughter's taste in clothing. Quite honestly, it makes me sick.

Granted, girls are not entirely the culprits in this situation. Guys can be just as guilty in the way of flaunting themselves and also looking at girls in ways they should not. I can understand (to a point) that it is hard for a guy not to look at a girl when she is dressed inappropriately. But they can also be honest with that girl and respectfully and tactfully approach her about it. Done properly, I can hardly imagine a girl taking offense to a guy who is simply trying to protect her (and himself, in essence.)

And in case people have not noticed, guys are not the only ones with eyes. I have heard girls talk about guys' bodies just like guys would talk about girls' bodies. Granted, I am not so naive to think that girls and guys minds and bodies operate in the same way. But there is a middle ground where everyone is affected by what they see and by how someone is acting.

People spend so much time trying to make their bodies perfect. I am not against being healthy and feeling good about yourself. But regardless of all the things we do in our youth to make ourselves look our best, outward beauty is fleeting. The modern media are of little help, bearing in mind that their standards of physical perfection are unattainable. The longer we neglect building our inner beauty on behalf of outward perfection, the worse we will end up when age takes catches up with us and diminishes our physical attractiveness.

The pressure is mounting against our generation of youth to have the ideal body, the perfect tan, the right clothes and the "in" attitude. The trends of decadence, fashion and apathy are spreading like a disease. And whether we acknowledge it or not, it has already begun to infect our church, our friends and even our families.

I myself have been tempted to fall into these trends. But, by the grace of God, I have maintained my style and my life without compromising what I believe to be modest, pure, true and appropriate. And if I am wearing something that "crosses the line", please let me know. Silence never helped anyone in this issue. In fact, we have been silent for far too long.

I will leave you that have read this with a challenge. What will you do to stop this plague? I implore you to seek God and His guidance, be it for how you personally need to change or how you need to approach a brother or sister that needs to change.

Now is not a time to be silent. Now is the time to speak boldly on God's behalf and to begin to restore what the enemy so easily destroys each day.


Convicted...
*Rachel*
 
 
...Rachel...
28 July 2005 @ 10:07 pm
It's been a long time. The "dark side" (aka xanga) has pulled me away from LJ as of late. But now I am back for a breath of fresh air here on this side of the fence. For those of you who are not aware, I was in Booneville, Arkansas all of last week on a mission trip with my youth group (my big brother being the youth pastor.) I was one of the 5 leaders who went with a group of 24 youth. We stayed at a church and worked with groups from 3 other churches from various places. It was AMAZING!!!! My life will never be the same and the fire inside me to do another mission trip burns even more than before.

I have a 3-part recap on the mission trip...for the sake of not making an uber-long post. So here is part one!!!

**********

This still ended up being long, but I got tired of trying to shorten it too much. It just takes away from the story. ;-)

Okay…I’m going to start this with a typical day’s schedule on our mission trip.

7 a.m. Get woken up by someone running through the halls and rooms ringing a cowbell
7:30 a.m. Breakfast
8:15 a.m. Morning Devotions
8:45 a.m. Morning Meeting/Briefing
9:00 a.m. Divide into Work Crews and get ready for the day
12:00 p.m. Lunch
12:30 p.m. Back to work!
3:00 p.m. Finish work and go to the local H.S. for showers
5:00 p.m. Adult Leaders Meeting (that included me! Yayy)
5:30 p.m. Dinner
6:30 p.m. Get ready and leave for evening activity
Between 8:00 and 8:30 p.m. Club (meeting with all the churches and YouthWorks staff)
9:30 p.m. Church Groups
11:15 p.m. Lights Out

Looking at that schedule written out, it seemed like we had some time to breathe. But seriously, every minute was full of something to do or an issue to deal with or people to round up. And I didn’t include the times where my crew would have breakfast duty or clean up duty (which included bathrooms…) But regardless of how exhausted we all were, God really worked in us.

We were divided into 6 different work crews, mixed in with other leaders and churches (there were 3 other churches there from all over the place.) I had 3 kids from my church on the crew and then 5 from a church in St. Louis and one of their leaders. It was actually a great mix and we had a blast!

The first half of the week, we combined with crews 4 and 5 to do Kids Club at the local Boys and Girls Club in Booneville. We planned out activities, games, crafts, songs and even a skit I played the coveted role of Sheep #2…and it was so hilarious to crawl around on all fours baa-ing like there’s not tomorrow. The kids loved it and one little girl even asked me for my autograph hahaha. I learned how to make hemp necklaces and I am currently working on one with cheetah-print wooden beads. It’s going to be tight!

The second half of the week, crews 1, 2 and 3 took over Kids Club and we split into our respective crews and spread out to 3 different work sites. We ended up at this lady Elaine’s house about 20 minutes outside Booneville. We were finishing up the paint job the crew before us had started and also doing a lot of trim work. We scraped paint off, pulled out nails, sanded stuff down and even painted her fence. She had a pit bull named Cuddles (a girl, thankfully) and a cat named Pretty Boy. They were sweet and we all loved them. There were roosters running around every where crowing at us all day. And there were cows in this massive field right across the dirt road.

I swear my friend Jeff and I killed about 5 of these ornery red wasps that tried to nest inside the wooden siding of her house. These things were angry no matter if you were standing still or swatting at them. I found out that when I’m that focused on killing something that scares me, I’m a crack shot! I shot those things right out of the air with the wasp killer and Jeff stomped on them to make sure they wouldn’t resurrect and attack us hahaha. Amazingly (and unlike all the other weeks before us), not one person was stung by one of those things. And nobody got bitten by chiggers! Woohoo. 

Seeing how Elaine lived and the condition of her house really made me think of what it means to have a home. Even though it was in poor condition and needed a lot of work, you could tell that the fresh coats of paint and the time we invested into her home gave her a renewed sense of pride. She was truly grateful to us and took good care of us while we were there!

Every night we met for Club and would do these times called "Yay God" and "That's Tight!" Let me explain a little...'that's tight!' consisted of sharing things we saw other people do during that day that were out of the way and/or really cool. As soon as the person got done sharing their story, we'd all go "That's tiiight!" 'Yay God' was similar but it was about what we saw God doing during the day and how He was working in our hearts. We had worship and devos and announcements all mixed into there, as well.

One night, we even met for Club in this 100 year-old church called Sugar Grove. I kid you not, this thing was set up on 4 or 5 cinder blocks on each corner and ceiling looked like it was about ready to cave! It was really hot, but we had an awesome time there.

**********

Part II coming soon. :)

Love and hugs
*rach*
 
 
...Rachel...
12 July 2005 @ 11:18 pm
To be completely honest, I have faced an intense test of my faith in the area of finances these past few months. As many of us know, being in college tends to leave you short on savings and even shorter on time to make money. I had followed His leading to take a job again at my camp, which isn't exactly the highest paying job. But nonetheless, I felt Him calling me to be there to watch and pray and encourage, even if I was in housekeeping and not a program staff (like I really wanted to be.) Hours were getting cut and my budget kept coming up short no matter how much I worked it.

A lot of my struggle this summer has been a heart issue. Although I knew in my heart that God is faithful and that He has a plan, I still struggled against what I saw right before me. I tried to guard my heart and watch what came out of my mouth, but sometimes I allowed bitterness and a defeated attitude escape from me.

But all along (and even still) God sent me reminders that He was taking care of everything.

Example 1: My incredible parents.

Mom and Dad realized that I was struggling (partly because they heard it from me, and partly because God revealed some things to them and worked out a lot of areas in their finance.) Over the span of a mere 2 or 3 weeks, they were able to completely free me from the amount that I usually pay toward tuition each year. I didn't even ask them for this, but they did it anyhow! Now I am able to do the things I want to do without having to worry about making ends meet. I paid for my mission trip (we leave Saturday!) and I have more than enough to carry me through the school year and to cover things like gas and even a Christmas present fund.

Example 2: The stolen camera

About a month and a half ago, my camera was stolen when I was out with Coty and his family at a restaraunt. Long story short...it never turned up. But my parents (yet again) insist on blessing me and are replacing my camera with one at least as nice (if not nicer) as my last one. Soon enough, I will have a camera again! And here I was accepting the fact that it was ultimately my fault it was stolen and I had no money to replace it. I was planning on doing withou a camera for a while. But now...it's become something above and beyond what I have expected.

Example 3: Scholarships!

Though I am still jumping through a lot of hoops, my financial aid package is well under way for the upcoming semester and I will end up with about half of my school bill paid for! I know I shared this in an earlier entry, but I am still astounded at how faithful God has been to pour out His blessing up on me.

Although I was not able to tithe like I wanted to this year (due to a lack of steady income), I did sow my time and what money I could into things that God laid on my heart. And He has multiplied it back to me in ways I never would have imagined.

I don't have it all together, friends. But I know, burning within my heart, that God is all around me. Although I still very much struggle with a lot of things, He constantly calls out to me and shows me His beauty, His love, His faithfulness...It brings a whole new meaning to the song that says "Let my life be like a love song to Your heart..." (or something like that). Not only do I sing this song to Him, but He makes into something even more beautiful than I could ever offer on my own.

Every blessing pours out I'll turn back to praise.

Amen and amen

*Rach*
 
 
...Rachel...
25 June 2005 @ 12:12 am
The beginnings of a poem inside of me...
*************

All this time
I never knew
Perfection does not come
When I am put together

What happens inside me
Tends to stay there
But when I am broken
You make me something more
You take my hand
Whisper in my ear
And lead me on

It is then I realize
All I ever need
Is in You

*****

More later? Perhaps.
*rachel*