Friday, February 27, 2009

If you like it, then you shoulda put a ring on it!

As promised, here is a little recap of my Valentine's Day weekend in Austin. Who says a trio of single fousins have to wallow in self-pity on the day of St. Valentine? Not us!

We started our Valentine's Day by taking our Mimi out to lunch at The Grove. It is a wine bar and restaurant that's fairly new to Barton Creek. The 3 of us had some yummy mimosas and great food. I had the salmon salad, if you must know. It was a lovely way to start our day.

Toasting the day with some yummy mimosas

After lunch, we hit up the local HEB/Central Market to shop for our Valentine's dinner we were making later that night. We definitely did not want to have dinner at a restaurant and fight the crowds. We wanted a nice romantic night at home...ha ha. Anyway, we got our supplies, dropped them off at the house, and headed to an afternoon movie, "He's Just Not That Into You." Now, as someone who loved the book (and thinks every girl should read it), I was fairly disappointed with the movie. Granted, there were a few laughs, but one of the story lines in particular just made me cringe the entire time. If you haven't already seen it, I would definitely wait for it to come out on DVD.

A quick pic before we headed to see "He's Just Not That Into You"

After the movie, we headed back to the casa to whip up our menu:

gorgonzola stuffed mushrooms
tomato basil shrimp
green beans w/carmelized onions
mushroom onion polenta
amaretto cake
chocolate covered strawberries
red wine

A couple of their friends joined us for dinner. Everyone chipped in with the preparation, and I must say the meal was delicious (and the company was sublime). We spent a majority of the evening around the table, eating, talking and eating some more. The night was finished with a late night viewing of Juno. You might not think the movie is Valentine's Day worthy, but with us, it's an instant classic. Any time is the right time for Juno!

Our yummy shrimp dish

the expertly decorated cake (compliments of elisa)

3 fousins modeling with our awesome candy heart pillows

a final pic as the night came to a close

It goes without saying that hanging out with my awesome cousins in Austin is always a good time. However, this weekend seemed especially fun. We watched (and laughed at) old home movies, played some of our favorite games, hung out with our Mimi and got to utilize movie quotes for about 90% of our dialogue. I can't imagine spending Valentine's weekend any other way!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

All you need is love?

It is with a heavy heart that I begin this rather serious post. I have kept silent (on my blog) for quite some time, and simply can't supress the turbulent emotions I'm feeling one minute longer. If you know me at all, you've heard me speak on the waning sanctity of marriage and the serious misconception this generation (and beyond) has about l-o-v-e, love. Instead of sharing my own immature, inexperienced opinion on love and marriage, I will share an excerpt from the book "Let Me be a Woman" by Elisabeth Elliot. Since I am no expert on this topic, I thought it would be far more compelling/appropriate to read her words, as opposed to mine. (However, I'll be more than happy to share my thoughts. You only need ask.)

"The kind of love that makes a marriage work is far more than feelings. Feelings are the least dependable things in the world. To build a marriage on that would be to build a house on sand. When you promise, in the wedding ceremony, to love, you are not promising how you expect to feel. You are promising a course of action which begins on your wedding day and goes on as long as you both shall live.

Your feelings cannot help but be affected by riches and poverty, health and sickness, and all the other circumstances which make up a lifetime. Your feelings will come and go, rise and fall, but you make no vows about them. When you find yourself, like the unstable man in the Epistle of James, 'driven with wind and tossed,' it is a great thing to know that you have an anchor. You have made a promise before God to love. You promise to love, comfort, honor, and keep this man (woman). You vow to take him (her) as your wedded husband (wife), to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish 'according to God's holy ordinance,' till death parts you.

Not one of us can fully face up to all the details of the possibilities at the time we make these staggering promises. We make them in faith. Faith that the God who ordained that a man and woman should cleave together for a lifetime is the God who alone can make such faithful cleaving possible. We are not given grace for imaginations. We are given the grace needed at the time when it is needed, 'this day our daily bread.' And because you have given your word you have committed yourself once and for all. 'This, by the grace of God, I will do.' Nothing that has ever been worth doing has been accomplished solely through feelings. It takes action. It takes putting one foot in front of the other, walking the path you have agreed together to walk.

The underlying principle of love is self-giving."

(excerpt from Let Me Be a Woman, by Elisabeth Elliot)

I won't pretend I understand the complexities or difficulties of marriage. I can definitively say with great certainty (and conviction) that I do not. However, I do feel that if more people understood the concept of love, true love, the kind of love that makes a choice everyday to renew their commitment to their spouse, then today's marriages would look completely different. They would not be the dull, complacent, hum-drum mutual unions that they have become. And that's those that actually remain intact. Let's not forget about the 50% of marriages that end in broken homes, broken dreams and broken hearts. I can only imagine the tears cried in heaven over the brokenness that we, as humans, have created because we feel that we've "fallen out of love" and that someone else can make us happier.

Is that the kind of love we promised at the altar? Is that the kind of love that was crucified on a cross?

Friday, February 20, 2009

If my life were a soundtrack...

As a self-professed lover of music, I thought it would be fun to let you in on the soundtrack of my life currently. So here are the 5 songs right now that would compose my life soundtrack. They are in no way, shape or form are my favorite all-time songs, nor are they necessarily quality music. They are just those songs that I've been singing/listening to a lot lately, and therefore, remind me of memories I'm making during this time.

Important disclaimer: These are the songs that apply to my current life, as in Friday, February 20th at approximately 5:09 PM. My soundtrack has the potential to change monthly, if not daily.

Rachel's smashing soundtrack:

1. "All my single ladies/if you like it, then you shoulda put a ring on it" - Beyonce
*No matter what, this song makes me bounce and sing out loud. It also reminds me of my recent trip to Austin, and has become my answer to every question...interesting.

2. "Satisfy" - 10th Avenue North
*With this song, I'm "begging" God to be my everything and to not find my pleasure in the things of this world or my contentment in how well my life is going at the moment.

3. "Get higher" - Matt Nathanson
*I'm not really sure why this song's on my list other than the fact that it makes me smile and think of summer.

4. "You found me" - The Fray
*I l-o-v-e, love this song! The lyrics are so applicable to my life, and I love his voice.

5. "Circus" - Britney Spears
*I'm like a firecracker. I make it hot. Enough said. (Genius lyrics if you ask me.)

So there you have it. I could most likely go on and on, but I'm going to keep this one short and sweet.

P.S. Coming straight at you (as soon as I get myself organized) is a post detailing my super romantic Valentine's weekend with 2 of my favorite fousins (e and china). My trip to A-tizzown will be posted shortly. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Always worthy of my praise

"Though my world falls apart, still I will praise You."

As I was singing this lyric in church the other day, I began to really try to wrap my head around what this means. What would this look like for me and my life? Could I really sing this honestly and mean it?

All too often, I find myself just singing along to the music without regard to what I'm really singing about. God created the world in its entirety and created each human being in His image. We are created to worship Him and He finds great joy when we do. I began to doubt, however, that if my world did fall apart, I would still find joy and praise the God that made the heavens and the earth. It made me think of Job. If there was a true example as to what a "world falling apart" looked like, it is him. He lost his entire family, lost his health, lost all of his money and possessions, his home and property was destroyed, he was plagued by disease, depression...his world fell apart entirely. Yet, he still would not curse God. He continued to praise Him despite it all. Job got it. He understood that amidst pain and suffering, God is still good. God did not cause evil and harm. He did not orchestrate the suffering. He is still worthy of praise.

I wonder what this would look like for me? In my life, I have experienced a period of suffering and despair. There were a few years in which I essentially "lost my health," which resulted in a disconnect from friends, family and joy. There were times when I couldn't, or didn't want to praise God. However, I began to realize that God was still good and still worthy of my praise. I began to long for Him more because I knew that He would bring me through this dark time. Despite the fact that I didn't abandon my faith in God during this time, I can't imagine the kind of loss Job experienced. If I did literally lose all my money (I'm pretty close at this point...ha ha), my friends, my family, a place to live, all my possessions and my health, would I praise God? Or would I be consumed with self-pity, depression, loneliness and despair?

If my whole world fell apart, would I still praise Him?

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

I'm making the most of it...

So I've been tagged about 10 times in a note on facebook to confess 25 random facts about myself. Now, I do realize this is a bit redundant for my blog since I had a similar post just about a week ago. However, please bear with me because it was a lot of work and took up far too much of my precious time to not be posted on my blog as well. So, like the title suggests, I "making the most of it" and sharing it with all my blogger friends in addition to my facebook peeps!

Rules: Once you've been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it's because I want to know more about you.

Because you are all just dying to know more about me, here are 25 "Random Rachel Facts" (in no particular order of importance):

1. I was a cheerleader while attending New York University. No, NYU does not have a football team. We cheered for basketball and actually went to NCA Nationals in Daytona Beach, Fl. I can't for the life of me figure out what division we were even in, but it was a free trip to Florida and I had a lot of fun!

2. I taught high school for 2 years at a Catholic private school. I've never been less qualified for a job in my life, and yet, it was the easiest job I've ever gotten (and the highest paid so far...sad). I basically went in for an interview, met a man that taught my parents at Bishop Lynch, and had the job in about 2 hours. I wasn't certified, never taught before, took no education classes in college and had all but sworn off teaching the previous 22 years of my life. Who ever said God doesn't have a sense of humor?

3. I absolutely love to bake, so much so that I attempted to start my own business: "Simply Sweet." It didn't quite take off the way I envisioned, but I have an awesome menu and legit business card designed by my best friend's husband. Thank you so much for all your hard work Jon. Maybe someday Simply Sweet will be able to pay you back!

4. I never got a Barbie Dreamhouse when I was younger, so I constructed my own out of my toy shelf. I even made waterbeds out of ziploc bags that I filled with water...genius if you ask me!

5. Much to my roommate's chagrin, I'm obsessed with the Food Network. I love watching almost anything on that channel. Interestingly enough, however, I rarely follow recipes. I'd much rather just make up something with ingredients that sound good to me. Buying all the items to make a specific recipe just seems like too much work in my opinion.

6. I loathe and despise talking on the phone. I absolutely hate it. I'd much rather speak with a person face-to-face. Therefore, please do not be offended if I don't answer the phone when you call. If it's important, leave a message. If you don't, I probably won't call you back. I apologize in advance for this, but you can't say I didn't warn you.

7. I might be addicted to coffee. I need it to start my day, whether that day is starting at 7 AM or 11 AM is irrelevant. II'm not talking about your pansy, sugary, milky latte drinks you get at Starbucks. I prefer my coffee strong - quick and dirty. In fact, I would prefer to drink espresso if I had a machine to make it. I found the one I want at Williams-Sonoma for the bargain value of $295. Therefore, I've officially decided that I need to get married so I can register for this machine of awesomeness.

8. I relish in getting a good deal and I'm not shy about making this public. I love telling people how cheap my boots were or how my produce costs 1/2 of what theirs does. I'm not embarassed to use coupons at the store, and I also love the fact that I paid cash for my car. This might make me a little quirky, but at least I'm honest. :)

9. Speaking of honesty, it's what I prefer when weighing my options. While you may have a point that the truth hurts, I'd much rather deal with it upfront as opposed to having to infer it down the line. This applies to simple truths as well. Don't sugarcoat it!

10. It's my dream to be on Dancing with the Stars. If you know me, you know I absolutely love to dance. When music is playing, I simply can't sit still...some part of me has to move. I can't think of anything better than dancing with a pro all day long. I would love to learn all the different technical dances, and eventually perform them in front of a live audience. I think it would be amazing.

11. I'm slightly obsessed with my niece, Haylee. Despite the fact that she can be a real stinker and a total mess, she is my world and I can't picture life without her. (I can only imagine what it's like to have a child of your own!)

12. I am absolutely, 100% NOT a morning person. It doesn't matter how much sleep I may have gotten, or how I should be "used" to a particular routine, I simply can't stand waking up in the morning. Never have, never will.

13. Growing up, I desperately wanted to be an Olympic gymnast. I gave it my best try, but ended up quitting competitive gymnastics just as I was about to start Level 8. It would have never worked out. I'm about 8 inches too tall.

14. My 1st job was at Sonic, and I worked there for 6 years. To this day, I still assert that it was the best job I ever had. I got paid minimum wage + tips, didn't have to claim my tips, got physical activity while working and got all the free drinks, shakes and slushes I wanted. Is there anything better than that?

15. I would really like to live in a place where I could wear flip-flops and sundresses every day of the year. I have absolutely no need for the winter, and don't even need to experience it in order to appreciate the summer. It is in my nature.

16. I really want to learn how to surf; however, I don't live near an ocean and I'm not the best swimmer. (Also, I'm somewhat scared of the ocean due to a major shark phobia that I have Jaws to thank for.) Perhaps someday I will be able to tackle this goal.

17. I wore braces for almost 5 years (freshman year in high school - freshman year in college) and had major jaw surgery on both my upper and lower jaws. I actually have microscopic pins holding my lower jaw in place - true story!

18. I was quite the daredevil back in the day and probably almost killed myself on numerous occasions. Whether it was jumping off our roof onto the trampoline, flipping off the trampoline or climing up onto the refridgerator when I was 2 to retrieve some candy out of the candy jar, I was quite adventurous.

19. All my life, I've had a "peter pan complex." I've never wanted to grow up. Most kids want to turn 18 or especially 21, but I've never really wanted to age. I was perfectly content at 17, but for some reason, I had to keep getting older...strange.

20. I had mono when I was 17 and I'm convinced that the virus is still lingering in my body. How else can I explain the fact that I need ridiculous amounts of sleep in order to function effectively? I've never pulled in all-nighter, and the mere thought makes me drowsy.

21. I love to win (and hate to lose). It doesn't matter what context the winning is in, I have to be the winner. Whether it's a "friendly" game of tennis, catch phrase or scrabble, I take it all very seriously and am in it to win it.

22. I look forward to lazy days and I'm completely comfortable with not doing anything at all. Call me slothful if you will, but I just don't care for to-do lists or projects. Those things are for work, and if I'm not at work, I want to chill. On that same note, however, I would not be able to do "nothing" for a consecutive number of days. I would get very bored and have to find some way to occupy my time.

23. I don't really care for driving all that much. In fact, if I had superfluous amounts of money, I would consider hiring someone to drive (or just pay my friends to do so).

24. While living in New York, I was once a nanny (for a very brief period of time) for a family of 3-year old triplets and a 2-years. Talk about an eye-opening experience...yikes!

25. I'm not a fan of indecisveness or fickleness. Let your yes be yes and your no be no. And make sure to make the decision in a timely manner. Thank you.

I hope you enjoyed getting to know me a little bit better. Until next time, keep it classy!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Doin' some things...

Hola friends! My apologies for the lengthy span of time between posts. I know you have been dying to read some more nuggets of wisdom from your old pal, but alas, I've been "doin some things" so I will fill you in on the latest in my life and I'll get to a more serious/thought-provoking post tomorrow. :)

Last week, Brooke graced P-town with her presence for almost a whole week! We (the 211) had her over for dinner on Thursday night. The yummy dinner included a shrimp and chicken dish (made by yours truly), balsamic green beans w/carmelized onions, corn, spinach appetizers, crudites and plenty of wine. After dinner, a serious game of Catch Phrase was enjoyed by all. Brookie also made her infamous "pizookie" (sp.?) dessert and dished out heaping helpfuls guaranteed to make us go "yogging" the next day. Wow, I'm such a dedicated athlete! Anyway, it was a lot of fun and I'm so glad we were all able to get together.

piled on meg's back, just like old times

brookie, crys, meg and me

Saturday night, Meg hosted a good, old-fashioned slumber party at her house. She had her nieces, nephew and brother over and invited us girls to join the fun. There was fondue, chips, candy, cupcakes...all the junk food you need. I brought Haylee over with me to take part. She was a little aprehensive at first, but warmed up to the kids pretty quickly. She also loved going up and down the stairs which made it so much fun for her aunt...right! We watched Cars, Madagascar and even had a mini dance party -- good times! Here are a couple pics from the night.

the little stinker in all her glory

the party crew

For Super Bowl Sunday, our community group combined with a guys community group to have one big super bowl party. The girls decided that we would all wear t-shirts from our college days. It was fun to represent NYU basketball, but unfortunately, the "real" team I was rooting for did not win. Nonetheless, we had a great time and I feel really blessed to be in community with such amazing people!!! Here is a pic of the group:

That's it for now! I've been such a busy little bee that I've been slacking big time on my posts. However, I will try to be a little more consistent in February!!!