Thursday, August 30, 2012

Thankful Thursday

Happy Thankful Thursday to you!

When people learn that I have a degree in Horticulture
I always get the same 2 questions...
"What's that?"
"So how exactly did you get into that?"

My response is always something along the lines of...
I've always loved plants and being outside.
Which is very true.
But this summer I've actually been asking myself
how did I really get into it,
when and where did this all happen?

Well today,
I am thankful for this place.

Because this is where it happened.
This is where I fell in love with plants.
Right here at this very lake.

Long Lake is nestled in the back country of 
the John Muir Wilderness up in the Sierra Nevada's.
I've been hiking back here since I was a little kid
and it just gets more and more gorgeous each time I go.
This has and continues to be my most favorite playground.

As a kid I always loved the landscape
the giant snow covered peaks
the streams and tiny creeks
the moss covered rocks and ground
and all the different wildflowers.
Oh the wildflowers!

(T to B) Erigeron coulteri Coulter's Daisy
Achillea millefolium  Common Yarrow
Linanthus nuttallii Nuttall's Linanthus

But since then,
I've grown to become absolutely fascinated by it all.
How intricate and unique everything was.
I wanted to learn how it all worked,
how it all functioned.

Then some few years later
I found myself at Cal Poly SLO studying 
Environmental Horticulture Science.
Taking an insane amout of science and technical classes.
Classes like Botany
 Landscape Design
and even Floral Design.

Most of school was difficult and I didn't really like it.
But put me out in the wilderness
and I was quickly reminded how much I loved plants.
It was worth it.

I am so thankful for all the summer's spent up in the Sierra's.
I am thankful that my parents dragged me along on their hikes
when I was a kid and didn't want to go.
I'm thankful that God used such a unique and amazing place 
{His creation}
to show me where my heart lies 
and what I am passionate about.

Aquilegia formosa Western Columbine

I am thankful that here in this place,
I can find all the wildflowers, trees and shrubs
a horticulturist could only dream of.

Allium validum Swamp Onion

I am thankful that God knew what He was doing 
with me from the very beginning.
I am thankful that He has given me
 a passion for plants,
for the outdoors,
for His creation.

Castilleja spp. Indian Paintbrush

Well, there you have it.
That is exactly how it happened.
Now if you ever want to see a plant geek in their true element
or if you love the outdoors and just want to see some unbelievably breathtaking scenery...
just ask me to take you here.

Lord knows I won't be able to say no.

What are you thankful for this week?...

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Support Happenings

8 days.
8 days until my support deadline.
8 days left and this is where I stand....

I am currently sitting somewhere around 82% of what I need.
Honestly, I am blown away by how the Lord continues to provide.

He continues to be faithful and gracious
and every cent I've seen come in is because of Him.
I definitely have some great stories
of how He has answered prayer after prayer
and who He has brought to be a part of my team.

Support raising the second time around has been different.
Very different.
But it still aint no easy thang.
It's still a struggle,
a struggle to trust God
 to be bold and courageous
 to be fully dependent on the Lord.

I'm learning.
And I'm confident that the Lord is preparing me 
for what He has in store for this coming year.
(and I can't wait to see what He's got up His sleeve).

I can't wait to be back on campus,
to dive back into the ministry at UCI.
To be back with all the students I have grown to
know and love over this past year,
to meet the new freshman girls who I I know I will also grow to love.
I can't wait to be be back with my awesome team.
Heck, I never thought I'd say this...
I can't wait to be back in staff meetings.
(shhh don't tell my teammates)
And I absolutely can't wait
to be a part of what God is doing on UCI's campus,
I can't wait to watch Him as He changes lives.

I am praying and trusting.
That the rest of my support will come in by September 1st.
That the the Lord would complete my support team
and that He would bring in the last 18% of what I need to raise.

If you are at all interested in hearing more about Cru,
what I do/will be doing this coming year
or the ministry at UC Irvine please feel free to contact me,
I would absolutely love to hear from you.
You can email me at
If you are interested in partnering with me for this next year
feel free to check out my personal online Cru page

I am so thankul to serve a God who is faithful
and I can't wait to see what He does!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Thankful Thursday

Happy Thankful Thursday to you!

I am thankful for new relationships
and God's perfect timing.

This summer has proven to be one of the hardest
and most amazing periods of time in my life.
Which means God is clearly at work.

One of the biggest ways I've seen His handiwork
is through the people He has brought into my life,
the paths He has been allowing to cross.
And I am so thankful that He has brought this phenomenal woman
into my life.

I look at my friendship with Michelle
and all I see is God's perfect timing.
It is so neat to look at how we have grown to be friends
and How God has been at work in it all long before we ever had any idea.

So this is how it goes.
I met Michelle through my friend Christina from Utah.
{they were roommates during college}
The first time I got to spend significant amount of time with Michelle 
was in March of 2009 when I traveled to Utah to visit Christina.
We three had a blast together!

We painfully sat through the first Twilight movie,
Michelle introduced me to the wonderful world of Pride and Prejudice,
and we spent the whole trip quoting lines from She's the Man.
It was awesome.

Now fast forward to November 2011.
I had graduated college,
just moved down to Irvine
and my roommates and I decided to throw a housewarming party.
I knew Michelle had moved back to Orange County after finishing school 
and I thought this could be a fun opportunity to try and connect again.

So I decided what the heck,
 I'll invite her and her fiance Jake to the party.
They were so sweet and both came by.
But I'm going to be honest,
I was extremely nervous when they showed up.
It would be the first time we would hang out without Christina
our one, unifying connection.
 I also had never met Jake before.
This could have been a disaster.
However it wasn't 
and I'm so thankful they came.
I got to listen as they shared their engagement story, 
we got to talk weddings and just catch up on life.
I loved it.
We then decided we had to hang out
now that we lived only 15 minutes from each other.

But life happened
and the next time our paths would cross would be that coming summer in Utah
when we would both be bridesmaids in Christina's wedding.
If you recall my earlier post about {Christina's Wedding}
God used that time in Utah to work in my life in big ways,
and Michelle was definitely one of those ways.

{photo cred}

I'm not exactly sure how or when it happened,
but our friendship literally just fell into place.
Though we only live a few miles from each other,
It took us both traveling {separately}
from California to Utah to be bridesmaids in our mutual friends wedding
to realize that we needed to be friends.
Go figure.

The day after we flew home from Utah,
Michelle, Jake and I found ourselves having lunch together in Old town Orange
and the rest is pretty much history.
We spent the next month leading up to their wedding
hanging out {pretty much} non stop.
I loved getting to know her, Jake, and her family more.
Her family is so sweet and welcomed me with open arms
each time I was over at their house.
{which was all the time}
Shout out to the Priest family, 
you guys are awesome!

Michelle has been an absolute gift, 
given to me at a time when I needed it most.
This summer season has been difficult, 
with so much uncertainty,
a lot of change, transition, feelings and emotions.
Michelle has been steadily walking alongside me through it all,
challenging me to grow and speaking truth into my life. 
God has used her to push me,
to encourage me to take steps of faith,
to be bold, to trust God
and she has challenged me to pursue my passions.

A couple nights before her wedding
we stayed up till 4am chatting.
All about God's timing, life, marriage, love, boys 
and marveling over the phenomenal ways God impacts and changes lives. 
I hadn't had girl time like that in a long time
and it was just what I needed.

I am so thankful that God has brought this amazing friend into my life.
Someone who I have come to cherish, treasure and adore.
Someone who points me to Christ.
Someone who is teaching me to live passionately, 
to use the gifts and talents the Lord has given me.
Someone who has shown me the value in pursuing
 a Godly relationship and marriage. 

I am so thankful that I look at my friendship with Michelle
and I see Gods hands all over it.
He is undeniably the one orchestrating it all.
{clearly by his timing}
I'm really excited to see how the Lord will continue to use our friendship
to impact my life.

I must also say that I am super excited for the new Mr. and Mrs.
and can't wait to see all that the Lord 
has in store for their marriage.
Congrats Jake and Michelle!

Michelle you have and continue to be a blessing in my life.
I am so thankful that in God's timing we have become great friends.
I absolutely adore you, your zest for life, your passion and your heart for the Lord.
You are a treasure.

What are you thankful for today?...

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Me and my friend John

Two days and counting until I'm reunited with my dear friend
John Muir.

Two days and counting until I am here
in one of my favorite places in the entire world.

Somebody's getting giddy.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Life Unexpected

Happy Thankful Thursday to you!

And a happy day it truly is,
my family and I have a growing list of things to be thankful for.
For starters, I am thankful that today 
 my sister will be coming home from the hospital.

I'm going to be honest here folks,
this week has not been pretty.
It's been awful.
My family has been a wreck for days,
as my sister Reese has been laying broken in a hospital bed.
None of us being able to do anything but sit beside her
and hold her hand as she's quietly suffered.
My heart just ached for her.

This week has brought a large amount of uncertainty,
proof that life is unexpected
and that once again God's plans are bigger than our own.

I got the call on Sunday afternoon.
My sister had been hurt while out on a boat
and was in an ambulance on her way to the hospital.
(it was also her birthday)
This was the only information I got.
Thankfully I was already planning on coming home,
so I jumped in my car and headed out a bit earlier than I had planned.

I spent hours at home just waiting,
annoyingly pacing around the house by myself.
I was going stir crazy. 
{our sweet pup never left my side though}
And my phone never left my hand as I waited for the dreadful updates 
that were coming in every now and then.
 I would then immediately be on the phone with my other sister,
trying to figure out what we could do.
We were scared.
I finally got to see my sister around 2am that night
 and let me tell you it has been a whirlwind ever since.
With every evaluation there was a new diagnosis,
and each time they were getting significantly worse.

Keeping a long story short
my sister broke part of her lower spine.
And when I say broke, I mean shattered.
And it was nothing but a freak accident that did it.

Reese has endured way more than I can ever imagine.
But let me say she has taken it all like a champion.
{clearly we know who the strongest sibling is,
she is absolutely incredible}
She has been moved from hospital to hospital,
from unit to unit, room to room,
to different beds, stretchers, gurneys,
she's been lugged around for x-rays and MRI's
all while completely unable to move
 in excruciating amounts of pain.

 Every day it has been a process.
And every day has brought more uncertainty
as to what things will look like tomorrow, 
in a week and even months from now.
But yesterday as I was walking up and down the hospital hallway
I was thinking there are 2 things that I am definitely certain of...

First that God is at work in all of this,
His hand is in it,
He is in control.
Second, there are about a gazillion and one things to be thankful for!

So today,
I am thankful for my sisters life.
I am thankful that I have an incredible older sister
 who is choosing to completely trust the Lord through all of this
no matter how unpleasant the situation gets.
I am thankful for the fact that she can wiggle her toes and move her legs.
I am thankful that today she sat upright and took her very first steps.
I am thankful that the brace they fit her with is providing the support
she needs so she can do those very things.
I am thankful that they have so far been able to avoid surgery.
{we are praying this continues}
I am thankful that my sister is a marathon runner,
extremely buff and is in great physical shape,
other wise her situation would look very different.
I am thankful for the precious time we got to spend as a family.
I am thankful to be a part of such an awesome and involved family,
to have parents that would do anything for their children
and siblings who care deeply for one another.
I am thankful that my sister has a wonderful husband
who hasn't left her side.
I am thankful that we are seeing more of the feisty Reese
we know and love come out daily.
{I've missed her}
I am thankful that my sister has an unbelievable support system.
I am thankful for everyone who has been praying for her to heal.
I am thankful that God DOES answer prayer.
I am thankful that whether or not we see it,
 God is at work.
I am thankful that He uses unexpected times in our lives 
to reveal Himself to us in very evident ways.
 {How mighty, powerful, compassionate, gracious, faithful and loving He is}.
I am thankful that He uses uncertain times to give us a glimpse of His handiwork.

Recovery is going to be a long and brutal process
{we are praying it will be quick}
but today we are celebrating the small steps taken and her arrival home!
We know and are confident that God will somehow use this all for His glory.

What are you thankful for today?...

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Watching Airplanes

I'm going to be completely honest.
Raising support is my least favorite part about my job.
Shocker I know.
But it is also probably one of the coolest parts as well.
Ha, bet you weren't expecting that.

It is definitely different the 2nd time around.
Instead of being completely paralyzed with fear
I'm picking up my phone, sending emails, meeting with people 
and working with a confidence in the Lord I wish I had last year.

I'm seeing the Lord continually provide.
And it is unbelievable.
He has brought me so far already and I am so thankful.

But things are by no means easy.
The Lord is showing me areas in my life that really need work.
And it's never easy hearing that you need to grow.
Talk about a shot to your ego.
It hurts.

Well apparently I am a bit of a control freak.
{who would a thought?}
 I'm still having trouble fully trusting the Lord with support.
This time it's trusting that He can do things with out me.

This week has been hard.
I have been working, working and working
and support has definitely been coming in.
But something is off.
I'm growing weary.
This all seems so backwards.
 I can't sleep, my mind just races, I'm exhausted,
 my stomach aches, my appetite is gone, I'm having bad dreams...
I guess this is what happens when you try to control things
 and do things on your own strength.
You are slowly brought to brokenness.

Yesterday was supposed to be my day off.
Instead I choose to work all day and had 3 support appointments.
As I left my last appointment in the evening,
{though it went great}
I felt an overwhelming amount of weariness.
I couldn't go home, I needed to get away.
And since I can't just hop on a plane and head anywhere I please
{though I wish I could}
I did the next best thing I could think of.

I threw myself in my car and headed toward John Wayne airport.
 I found myself a beautiful place outside
 where I could lay down and watch airplanes take off.
{something I love to do}

As I heard the planes getting louder as they left the runway,
I shut my eyes tight and felt their engines rumble in my chest.
I opened my eyes just in time to
 watch them fly by and off into the clouds.

I was laying there.
All by myself.
Listening, watching, taking it all in.

I'm beginning to think the Lord knew exactly what He was doing.
He knew exactly how to get me alone.
He wanted it to be just Him and I.
No one else, no distractions.
And before I could realize what was happening,
I heard it.

"Rachel you need to stop trying to control things 
and just trust me.
I can do this with or without you.
Let me lead you."

I sat for a minute trying to absorb
what I knew was truth straight from the Lord.
But I was fiercely not wanting to admit He was right.
{stubborn much?}

How could I not be trusting God?
The same God who brought in every cent of what I needed last year.
I've seen His faithfulness firsthand.
I wrestled with this for a bit.

Ultimately it comes down to this.
I am fearful that the support I need won't come in,
I'm worried that what happened last year will happen again.
And because of this I have taken matters into my own hands.
{This silly girl thinks she is in control of what happens.}
And while I am thankful that Lord is continuing to provide,
I am not letting Him lead me.
I am not trusting Him.
I'm actually putting my work before the Lord.
Something I never thought could happen.

So today I am taking a day off,
trusting that God is still working even though I'm not.
Remembering that He is the one orchestrating everything, not me.

I am currently a bit of a broken mess.
But this is the cool part about raising support...
the Lord is using this process to 
shape me
grow me
and refine me
 into the woman He has created me to be.

I am confident that I'm right where I need to be,
broken and utterly vulnerable before the Lord
And He loves me none the less.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Thankful Thursday

Happy Thankful Thursday!

I'm so happy I've managed to dig up 
some "down time" today to write this post.
Life has been extremely eventful recently.

I am thankful for 36 years of marriage.
No, not mine...
but my wonderful, adorable parents.
They just celebrated year 36 this week.
What a blessing!

If you know me well you know I am a huge romantic
and I'm a sucker for a good love story.
{I just love stories of how God brings people together,
how in His perfect timing paths cross...ok ok, I'm getting carried away}.
Well, my parents definitely have a great story.

If I were to share it in its entirety
we'd be here a while.
And the truth is that God is continuing to write theirs daily.

But what I will share about their story
{which happens to be my favorite part}
is the part where God is so clearly evident in it all.

From their paths first crossing,
to their dating,
from their wedding day, 
to them welcoming their 4 {awesome} children into the world
and all the tiny details in between...
God has and continues to be at work in it all.
His perfect timing and His perfect plan are undeniable.

The rents, their 3 daughters, 1 son,
2 son in law's and 1 granddaughter.

Now that I've reached the ripe old age of 24
and as someone who is single,
it has been neat to watch my parents in their marriage.

 I've been learning more and more about 
what marriage is and how it works.
The time and energy it takes,
the fact that it's rough, bumpy and extremely difficult at times.
That there is in fact heartbreak and disappointment that will occur.
That when you're a unit,
there are great sacrifices that are made
and things sometimes have to be put on hold.
That when you say "I do"
you are saying I do to loving every part of that person,
including the ugly parts.

I have also seen how wonderful, beautiful and truly romantic 
a marriage can be when it is centered around Christ.
{The author of the greatest 
love story known to mankind}
My parents have and continue
to set an example of a Godly marriage 
and I am so thankful for that.

I have truly come to appreciate their choice to
 put God first in their relationship.
That they let the Lord lead.
That their desire is to glorify Him in their marriage.
And that is where their true love for one another comes from.
And it is beautiful.

I'm so thankful for the 36 years my parents have been married.
That through challenges and disappointments
 they have chosen to trust God and work through it together.
I'm thankful that after 36 years,
my parents are still deeply in love.
I see them hold hands, kiss goodbye, even the way my dad looks at my mom...
and my heart literally melts.

I look at them and I can see a glimpse of the love Christ has for us.
Unconditional, unwavering, unending, 
deep love that He offers us freely.
Through their marriage,
I am reminded of the Lord's promise to be faithful to us
when we fully let go and put our trust in Him.

talk about a love story.

Thank you Lord,
that 36 years ago you brought my parents together.
Thank you that they have set a phenomenal example
 of a God filled marriage for me and my siblings. 
Thank you that it is through your love
they are able to love one another fully and unconditionally.

So, what are you thankful for today?....