Tuesday, February 24, 2009

i think God is trying to tell me something ...

For the past couple of days I have been thinking about vulnerability.

What a scary word to even type.

As some of you may know, winter is not a kind time to me. I am solar-powered (as my friend Celeste so succinctly put it) and during the short, cold days of winter I really struggle. I struggle with my attitude, with my energy level, with how I relate to other people and with my motivation. I try to do what I can - eat well (apparently broccoli helps?), take vitamins, exercise and use my sun lamp (however, those things are so unbelievably hard to do. so unbelievably hard!!). Right now I am totally out of my routine while I am living with Janica and I can tell in so many ways.

Even though I am out of my routine and all I want to do is curl up in a ball, God is not letting me. I still have to get up and go to work, to AWANA, and to church. He is not letting me off the hook in my ministry opportunities, even though I look for every chance I can get to slack off and not do what I need to do. I still have to do my school work and I still have to interact with those around me.

Anyways, the whole being around people thing has made me think more about vulnerability. Even though I have the tendency to be out-going and blurt out things that I am thinking, that is just the surface me.

The real me is hidden away, deep within my walls. Sometimes I slip open a gate and let someone sneak in. However, that gate shuts pretty fast behind them. Or, I do a mass cleansing and kick everyone out. Even myself. Even God.

And that is where a lot of problems come in. I have built such a wall around myself that I am not letting the most important person of all in.

The ladies that I work with are doing Beth Moore's Living Beyond Yourself Bible study right now, and I must admit that while I answer the questions, I am not doing a lot of soul searching. It is definitely surface level and that is where it is going to stay, thank you.

What is the good in that? If I cannot be authentic with God, who am I truly being authentic with? Even though I may share or go a little bit deeper with some people, what am I truly sharing?

I would argue that it's definitely nothing of substance!

So, I have been thinking about that lately. Thinking about ways where I can open myself up, become vulnerable and share what is truly inside of me. Because I think it is important to be authentic. Ya'll don't need to know my deepest, darkest secrets, but if I can't even tell you the littlest thing about the true me, then whats the point? What kind of life am I modeling? If I can't trust God to use who He truly made me to be, what in the world am I doing as a missionary?

All of these thoughts have been swirling around in my head, and I have even been letting a couple of them settle for a bit. I might soon send them back into the swirling abyss, but for the merest of a second, God has caught my attention.

Tonight was one of those moments. I was glancing through my Google reader, where I have many unread blogs. 43 at the moment. Lately, I have been reading my favorites and letting the others stack up until I have the time to read them.

Something (something? really? or perhaps Someone?) made me click on one. She is not a regular poster, but someone who I definitely enjoy reading when she does write. She has a beautiful way of putting things and really has the ability to make me think (lucky for me, I even know her in person! I will admit that is not something that is a prerequisite for my blog roll). I would highly recommend you go read what she had to say today in her post about All The King's Horses (doesn't the title itself pique your interest? even a little bit?).

So, pray for me. Pray for yourself. Pray for your mother, your sister, your brother, your father, your husband, your daughter, your niece, your boyfriend, you son, your nephew. Pray that we would all be willing to live a life of vulnerability. A life where we are willing to be authentic before God and before man.

Pray for our hearts. Because it hurts when you are vulnerable. It hurts when you throw open the gates and welcome people into your fortress.

But what kind of army is an army of one? Life is a battle and I pray that I will be able to march into the fray with an battalion standing behind me.

Monday, February 23, 2009

this is life

I've spent a lot of time this winter at basketball games.

Now, let me tell you, in this small town that I call home, hometown sports are everything. Just because someone doesn't have a child, niece, nephew, grandchild or Godchild playing on that team does not mean they stay home on a Friday night! We can pack out the bleachers with the best of them.

What do I see there?

Well, I see lots of Wranglers, cowboy boots (most with signs of ranch work on them), cowboy hats, cowboy scarves, vests, western shirts and embellished belts. I see the little kids with the cutest FatBabies running wild.

I see the reality of life here.

What else do I see? I see brothers and sisters and mothers and fathers. I see cousins who have lived next door to each other for 50 years sitting next to each other talking shop. I see people who came out on a Friday night to watch the Bulldogs play the Longhorns, support the choir by buying a balloon and helping the neighbor with cancer by bidding on an item at the silent auction.

I see the unity of our small town.

This is the reality of my life. And I am blessed.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

my lesson in grace

Last night I went to Grace Fellowship. And while I was there, God taught me something.

Grace Fellowship was started 20-30 years ago by a group of area women. (one of them being my amazing boss. she seriously is amazing and wonderful and so very, very wise) Five times a year the area women gather together for a meal, a special feature (last night was about decorating on a budget) and someone shares their testimony. It is a great time for non-Christians to come to a non-threatening atmosphere to experience God's love and a great time for Christian women to get together and fellowship.

The speaker was sharing her testimony about how God had worked in her marriage to bring her and her husband together to form a team. And of course, she shared from Proverbs 31. Because what good Christian can share about marriage and being a good wife without quoting Proverbs 31 or I Corinthians 13 or Ephesians? (the answer is none!)

My response was to start the eye-roll. The thoughts going through my mind were not necessarily flattering.

"Seriously? This is what you're going to share? Don't you realize how over-used this Scripture is? In the whole Bible can't you find SOMETHING else?"

And then God slapped me upside the head. (let's be honest - I totally deserved it!) I was struck with the thought that no Scripture is over-used. Because it is a living, breathing thing that has power all the time in all situations. Just because I was lucky enough to go to youth group and a Christian high school and a Christian college and be part of a great Bible study and be a missionary at a camp where I hear a Biblical message on a regular basis does not make the message any less powerful.

Maybe I didn't need to hear that particular reference last night (cause, um, well, the whole wife thing? not really my status in life at the moment), but who is to say that the woman sitting across from me didn't need that exact message? Who is to say that my unsaved neighbor is listening to what God has to say about being a wife and goes home and reinvents her whole marriage? Who am I to limit God's power?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

a little glimpse into me ....

I have a confession. Are you ready? Really? I'm just going to say this once so pay attention. And only keep reading if you really want to know about the true me.

Trust me.

Ok. Here goes.

I love cheesy.

Of course I will mercilessly mock it. But, at the same time, I love me some cheesy.

(I love me some cheesy? WHO AM I?)

Give me a soul-stirring song along with a PowerPoint presentation and I am right there with ya. Goosebumps and all. Give me a movie with a soaring song and a scene of a guy hanging onto a door and my tears are flowing. Give me a sob story on the radio, trying to get their brother's wife's teacher's daughter's family a little extra money for the Christmas holidays (105.1 - Your Christmas Wish Station) and I am definitely welling and scrunching my cheeks.

I just had to share that with ya'll. I feel SO much better now! I felt that you were maybe going through life with some misconceptions of who Rachel truly was. Now, you can rest in peace. You're welcome.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

adventures with millie

The other night I let Millie out one last time before bed. While waiting for her to come back in, I finished getting ready for bed and found my book. I was pretty exhausted by this point and was just waiting for her to be done so I could head off into sleepland. She finally scratched on the door and came trotting inside. I shut off the lights and locked the door.

Then, I turned around. BIG MISTAKE! It seems that our little Miss Millie brought in a special bedtime snack. A dead bird. Yup. Right there on my living room floor. UGH!

Well, since I have no Mr Dark & Handsome to take care of a problem like this, I rolled up my sleeves (figuratively of course) and dealt with the problem. I went in the back and got a glove (there ain't NO way I was touching that thing without a thick barrier between us) and came back to the living room, ready to be the strong and independent woman that I am and get rid of this thing.

(the whole time i was getting the glove and getting myself prepped for the extraction i kept telling millie how gross this situation was and how unimpressed i was. i think she got the hint. at least, i'm pretty sure thats what a smiling head tilt by a dog means)

So, I came into the living room and prepared myself to pick it up. I went in for the grab and immediately dropped the thing. And then I did the whole "i'm a girl and this is gross and i really really don't want to be doing this right now" dance and shrieked a little. After I finished that little ritual I manned (womaned?) up , picked it up, opened the door and chucked it into the yard.

The whole time I was doing this Millie kept looking at me like I was crazy and wondering what in the world I was doing with her new chew toy. After I was done and had again locked the door and shut off the light, she went back over to where she dropped it and kept looking around, wondering where the bird had wandered off to. Unfortunately for her, the answer did not become clear.

I was thoroughly grossed out for quite awhile, but it did bring back memories of my cats. You see, when I first moved here I went the cat route. I figured they would be easier to handle than a dog (and they were. except for that whole climb all over anything and everything thing.) and I didn't feel nearly as bad leaving them home for hours and hours (or days and days).

Toby and Sadie also liked a little snack here and there and there were a couple of times I encountered situations very similar to this one previously mentioned. However, the kitties liked their snacks a little more, ahem, mobile.

One night I kept hearing this noise under my bedstand. I kept thinking it was a mouse and was thoroughly disgusted with my cat's mousing abilities. In the morning I went to have a little look-see and was thoroughly startled by the thing that came flapping out at me. It ended up in my bathroom where I trapped it in the tub before grabbing it and throwing it out the window (my bedroom window does not have a screen on it).

Fast forward to another beautiful Montana day. I had the aforementioned window open to let in the wonderful spring day, which my cats loved because it enabled them to move in and out of the house at will. Well, Sadie decided that she wanted to have some friends over for dinner (next time they might want to check whats on the menu!). I was in the other room and heard a thud. When I went to investigate I found a bird flying around the bathroom.

Oh, the joys of pets!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

looking up and moving forward

After being down with Influenza since Wednesday night, things are finally looking up here in Montanaland! I turned the corner this afternoon (Lord willing!) and hope to actually live again this week. I took advantage of my energy and picked up my house (which only made me really really want to clean/organize but I knew I didn't have enough energy for that!), did 5 loads of laundry (and hopefully will fold them all), washed my dishes (pouring boiling water on them to disinfect), walked around my house with bleach spray and disinfectant wipes, baked cookies (being very careful not to breath on the batter or sneeze in the bowl) and paid my bills. I also started to pack.

No, I am not moving away. I am just moving out of my house for a week. Because, you see, I am getting a new bathroom this week. And since that will take away the whole shower/bathroom/water thing, I can't really live in my house.

However, apparently the last time we were roommates didn't totally turn Janica against me and she is welcoming me back! So, tomorrow Millie and I are packing up and heading out.

Why do I need a new bathroom? I'm glad you asked! Please see the following pictures for the answers.

Here is my sink:

Not exactly a lot of storage space. I do like my two lights on either side of the mirror though. Hopefully those stay!

This is my tub:

I think it's pretty self-explanatory why I need a new one of those.

My ceiling:
I definitely avoid washing the walls/ceiling in this room.

And finally my toilet/door to my room :

Note the yellow tile (awesome, no? i have green tile in my kitchen.), and the cracks in the wall and the cracks in the floor.

So, the super awesome guys that I work with are going take all that and turn it into this:

Ok, maybe not. Maybe not at all.

But I do get new walls and ceiling, a new sink (with a shelf underneath!), a new tub and a new floor. My laundry room is full of most of that stuff (with the exception of the tub) and they are all set to rip into it tomorrow. I'm so excited! And I'll be even more excited when it's done and I get to live in my house again!!

Friday, February 6, 2009

foot me here, foot me there, foot me everywhere

Thursday, February 5, 2009

this is life

I ended up staying home from work today. When I woke up this morning I felt like death warmed up (whatever that saying really means is pretty much what I felt like). I spent the morning sleeping (literally could not move) and my afternoon Interneting and watching Stardust. Have you seen it? If not, do so! If you like fairytales. If not, then don't.

I have now showered (fact about rachel :: I don't sleep well at night if I haven't showered and made my bed), changed into clean comfy clothes (even though I have nothing to do with the medical profession they make the comfiest pants!), ate my grape Popsicle (not the greatest taste with Arm & Hammer toothpaste) and am now ready to tackle some of my homework.

But first I had to share some things with you. I realized that I make all these claims to be a Montana Missionary (and it's true. I AM a missionary and I DO live in Montana) but have not really shared that part of my life with you. Well, here goes. (within limits. for all of you crazy stalkers about there, I am not going to share the exact name of the town. it's not too hard to figure out, but you'll have to dig for it if you really want to know. this is to make my parents feel better. hi mom and dad!)

Anyways. I live in a small town in southeastern Montana. A town that most people cannot pronounce the name of. I couldn't until I moved here and got a lesson. Most people in Montana can't pronounce the name of our town. It was named after an Indian princess. Her descendants still live in the town today!

And let me tell you, when I say small town I really do mean small town. None of this calling a town of 10,000 tiny. None of this having only a Walmart and a KMart and Pamida and FleetFarm and Target and Home Depot and Applebees and Perkins and almost every kind of fast food and still being small (I can say this because that is true of the town that I grew up by and everyone there always talks about how tiny it is).

I live in a town of 438. Let me repeat this :: 438. And you know what else? This is the county seat. That's right. This is the biggest town in the whole county. In fact, discounting a bump in the road that has a gas station/country school/post office and a another smaller bump that has a post office/country school, we are the only town in the county (the county is approximately the size of Connecticut). We have three restaurants (if you come visit me I will buy you the best $1.80 bacon cheeseburger there ever was!), a market (its like a baby grocery store), 2 hotels, a bar (this town was founded around a bar and has had one in existence ever since - a very proud fact for people 'round here), a hardware store, a newspaper (look to further editions of Montana Missionary for that to make an appearance!), multiple churches (including Mormon, Baptist, Bible, Catholic, Lutheran, Charismatic, and Wesleyan), a nursing home/clinic (with a Physicians Assistant - no doctor), a courthouse, an elementary school and a high school (with an enrollment of 54).

36 miles up the road is our closest town. This town has a population of 1700 (it's an oil boom town) and has a grocery and numerous bars. However, if we want to do major shopping we have to keep going a further 80 miles to get to WalMart. That's right. We are 2 hours from the closest WalMart and from the closest fast food or chain of any kind. It is 3-4 hours to the closest mall (depending on road conditions - I normally shop in the Black Hills and the road we have to take to get there is not fully paved yet).

And its lovely. Everyone here is related (except for some special transplants brought in - mostly pastors and the people who work at the same Christian camp as I do). Most are ranchers. These are salt of the earth, no nonsense kind of people. People who get their work done and live life. People who aren't bound by city notions. A month ago I was eating at the "nice" restaurant in town and sat next to a cowboy in chaps.

Everyone here takes care of themselves and their neighbors. If someone is sick or hurt their neighbor steps in and takes care of their chores (cause if the cows or sheep don't get fed that person loses their livelihood). Everyone "shops in the woods with a rifle" as my friend put it. It always makes me think of Miss Congeniality when Candice Bergen says "this is Texas, my florist has a gun!" Well, this is Montana and most people here have a gun. (and yes, actually I have 3. surprised? so are most people. but I don't hunt. nothing against it and I support it. mostly I don't like venison)

I have been here for 2 1/2 years and have made some great friends. (of course I am still a stranger to a lot of people. I go to ball games and eat at the restaurants and get gas at the gas station and give blood and go to concerts and shop at the store. however, I'm a still a mystery. mostly because I don't go the bar.) I have experienced life in a small town. And I wouldn't give it up for anything!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

random thoughts spiraling through

I feel pretty ucky right now. I have been dancing on the edge of sickness for weeks and I think I finally decided to join the party. We'll see. Honestly, I wouldn't mind a day home. Just to sleep and relax. Is that terrible? Probably.


I found the hose for a vacuum cleaner under my mattress when I was changing my sheets. Ummm ... yeah. Not really sure how that got there. I'm guessing my friend's little boys who were here a couple of weeks ago. Apparently those claims of princesshood are false.


I love clean sheet day.


Millie has gone in and out of the house about 8 times. Kinda driving me crazy! But it looks like she's about ready to settle in with her friend the bone. Hope so!


When my house is cluttered/messy I can't concentrate on what I need to do. So instead I wasted a lot of time on Facebook/Blogstalking and then I spent an hour cleaning. Now I'm ready to start my homework. All I want is my bed.


One of the bloggers I stalk responded to my post from yesterday. As a result, I have a new Facebook friend! Also, I asked another blogger I stalk the same question on his blog. As a result, I have another new Facebook friend! Yay :-)


A conversation that took place at AWANA today made me realize that I had a great childhood full of quirky things. Stories to come!


I also realized that I don't share enough of the small town charm that I am surrounded with on a 24/7 basis. More stories to come!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

how far is too far?

I have a question. A deep, burning, need the answer now kind of question.

Is it ok to add someone whose blog you faithfully stalk to a social networking site(Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, etc)? It's one thing if they don't give you any of their information (like their real name, real location, etc). However, what if they make a point of giving that out and make it clear that you can add them? I just can't decide.

On a side note, I think I overuse parenthesis. Maybe because a lot of my thoughts involve layers and parenthetical side notes? Sure.