[trinitot appreciation]

to conclude RA appreciation week, i am dedicating a page of one of my most sacred spaces to my sweet RAs, the eleven humans i have been blessed to supervise this year. i couldn’t have asked for a better staff for my homecoming year at APU and i am so grateful for all the things i learn from them! i’d like to use my words, my favorite tool, to introduce you to them:

Beau: my neighbor and the best person to be Number Four In Command, officially. when i met Beau he was excited to see me, really loud and forward, the first to laugh at his jokes…and not much as changed since.  Beau looks at the world and is just grateful to God in the way he speaks and acts and lives. his zest and zeal for life inspire me to enjoy the simple moments of life in a way that celebrates experiences and people. Beau teaches me that life is meant to be enjoyed, how to tell awkward jokes, and to pursue passion and truth in every day life.

Brian: continuing on the legacy of  the first south brotherhood is everyone’s favorite Brian. he will probably pretend he thinks this is lame but secretly he’ll think it’s touching. or actually maybe he really will think it’s lame. i may never know. what i do know is that Brian is a person of integrity who is wise beyond his years (even though he’s REALLY old). Brian teaches me to look at situations from a different angle, which i so appreciate as a leader. he teaches me to have an adventurous spirit and to never say no. Brian leads his residents in ways that i believe will impact them for their entire time at APU and trinity is so, so lucky to have him.

Micah: even though Micah has been fired more times than i can keep track of, he has impacted me greatly. Micah loves people so well, it almost makes you mad. he teaches me about vulnerability, authenticity, and childlike faith. he loves Jesus like crazy in ways that show me how exciting life can be when it’s built on a trust that God always provides. Micah reminds me how to be goofy in a way that beckons people so that they feel welcome. we are so blessed every time he walks in, grabs an ice cream sandwich from our freezer and plops down on the cough to tell us about his day. he teaches me to slow down in life and enjoy people all day long. he makes me laugh and he embraces growth and pursues wisdom. but he’s still fired.

Trent: i knew from the moment i met Trent how deeply he wanted to be an RA. there is no way he knew exactly what it would entail but he has persevered through it all, despite hell or high water…literally. Trent teaches me about God’s new mercies and unending desire to grow us. he teaches me to embrace people and celebrate them for who they are. Trent loves his guys in obvious ways, and they clearly love him back — such a sign of a deep connection. Trent isn’t afraid of expressing his heart no matter how big — or loud — that is. :) he is creative and passionate and dives right in and i am grateful to have him in trinity this year.

Hannah: my quirky and adventurous lover of life Hannah. Hannah has the best sayings, the best use of emojis, and the best style. she is kind and warm in a i’m-so-cute-because-i’m-southern-yall way, and i love her spontaneous spirit. Hannah teaches me how to embrace the new, celebrate the awkward, and learn from the bad. she shows me how to love people right where they’re at, despite what anyone else thinks. she has fostered a community that loves each other well and it is no doubt they follow her example. she is wise and gentle as she approaches the world and i want to be more like that. the girl’s got a wide-eyed-wonder type of outlook on life and to know her is such a joy.

Michelle: i can’t talk about Michelle without cracking up and clapping my hands. Michelle is a dynamic leader with incredible wisdom, and one of the funniest people you’ll ever meet. she is so intentional with people and so naturally gifted at loving everyone and she inspires me to do that better. Michelle teaches me that adversity does not mean failure, it means perseverance. she is so hard-working and so smart, i wish i could go back in time and do college again with Michelle as my life tutor. she cares so deeply about loving her residents, it evokes so much emotion in my heart. she loves this job like crazy, and she is a dream RA for any RD to supervise.

Cori: as a fourth north alumna, i am honored that the legacy has been entrusted into such wonderful hands. Cori is just the epitome of student leader — she’s got it all! wisdom and grace and maturity and kindness and joy. the fact that she replies to my i’m-sorry-i-triple-booked-our-one-on-one texts with “hakuna-matata” should tell you enough about what i learn from this rockstar. she teaches me to seek out lessons, to lead confidently, to call people out, and to choose joy. Cori is a conqueror and she is a confident daughter of the king and she knows exactly who she is all the time. i want to be more like Cori. she is my secret mentor. so secret she doesn’t even know.

Evelyn: my Brazilian irma — i knew from day one this girl was a kindred spirit. Evelyn is so incredibly intentional with people and experiences. she is finishing college before americans can order a drink and that makes me so incredible proud. Evelyn loves life and loves to laugh and is proud of who she is and i love that. Evelyn teaches me how to pursue deep connections over a cup of coffee, how to truly care about how people are doing, and how to process through the hard and yucky stuff. Evelyn is the stuff of dreams when it comes to RAs — her girls are obviously very connected to her as she has reached out to them in meaningful ways. she teaches me how to keep people glued together and reminds to me include people who may be on the fringe. she does not forget, she is responsible, she is light and life.

Katie: my other other better half (after Jared and Robyn) and surely responsible for keeping me afloat this year. Katie keeps our staff focused and alive and laughing at every turn. Katie is creative and innovative and strong and fully capable of running the world. she teaches me about the depths of joy and the gravity of God’s love and how to live into that. she is incredibly wise and mature and has wonderful discernment as she navigates the world. she is a humble servant leader with a dynamic skill-set and the ability to keep things awkwardly hilarious. she teaches me how to keep going, how to inspire others, how to wear onesies. i couldn’t do this year without this girl and i will forever be thankful for her presence in my life.

Melody: there is no other woman alive who has packed as much life into a small package quite the way Mel has. this girl is the kind of girl everyone wanted to be growing up — hilarious, adorable, edgy. she surfs, she wears cool sandals, she can talk to literally anyone. she is so chill i can’t even handle how awesome it is to be around her. Mel teaches me how to go with the flow of life and let things slow down in order to appreciate it more. she shows me how to keep smiling and try and try again and how to accept and celebrate everyone. Mel is a truth-teller and a contemplative leader who listens well and laughs loudly. she makes me proud in the ways she grows constantly and finds adventure, whether she is in azusa or capetown.

Sara: fifth south was themed as “wisdom pursued” and there is no better way to summarzie Sara. this girl knows everything about everything and i secretly take notes after our one on ones so i can pretend to be smart too. i love her outlook on life and she reminds me that knowledge is unending and incredibly valuable. Sara is so strong and wise and continues to challenge herself and inspire others. she cares so deeply about impacting people and organizing experiences to help people grow and become more of who they are meant to be. she is high-achieving and so inspirational and i have no doubt God specifically ordained her to be an RA this year in this place.

with happy tears all over my face, i end this celebratory week with a grateful heart. i hope you all know how much you mean to me. i wish i could explain the way you inspire me; words fall short. i am so proud to know you all and to have done life together with you this year. <3

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little before [much.]

“whoever is faithful in little is also faithful in much.” luke 16:10

i am in a season right now that i have often found myself in. antsy for what’s next, what’s coming, what might be better than this. i have a tendency to try to be ten steps ahead of what is happening in my life, never wanting to be surprised or caught off guard. i am an abstract and creative thinker by nature, so i dream big dreams and cast vision for myself — which i think is good, of course. but i definitely get too caught up in it and find myself frustrated with what i have in front of me because i somehow decided it isn’t good enough or sexy enough or challenging enough or whatever enough. and i get mad all over again, as if this current life i’m living wasn’t a very big dream i had not even a year ago.

i was running the other night (i’ve mentioned that running surfaces all of my frustrations, yes?) and i was yelling at God in my head about how i felt like what i had wasn’t what i wanted and how he, once again, was withholding his best from me and how dumb my life must look from the outside and why didn’t he listen to my plan because i made a really good one up in my head. and i glanced up at this unbelievable sunset across my favorite southern california sky, and  i felt like i heard him say (with attitude, because that’s how God and i roll): why would you ever try to compete with my creativity? i made that sunset and it’s different than every one i’ve ever made. i made the body you constantly criticize, and it’s currently moving you to run countless miles. and i have an adventure planned for you that is wilder than your tiny brain could ever dream up. i created creativity itself, so i win at dreams and visions.  look at what you have in front of you. don’t worry about the much that comes later. i’ve got it under control.”

and i was like, yeah…yeah okay, God.

 

 

Southern20California

breaking up with [can't].

my shins felt like they were on fire when i heard her coming behind me.

“rachel, you look great! nice work!”

she held up her hand for a high-five and i legitimately heard the *ding* of her white-tooth smile. if i wasn’t so damn prideful i would have ignored it because i knew extending my arm would probably throw off my balance. instead, i faked a smile and returned the gesture so she wouldn’t know i was drafting up my will in my head because i knew the end was near.

why is she so happy? and why is she lying to me about looking great?

let’s get something straight: i don’t like happy runners. they freak me out. they scream inspirational phrases while they run a 7 minute mile and talk about lean proteins and compression shorts and how to prevent chafing. i know who my people are; happy runners are not my people. i don’t even know if we speak the same language.

besides not quite being a happy runner, i’m also the world’s worst running partner. i’m not kidding, you guys. there may be some part of me that is clinically insane and i really don’t know why i have friends. my sweet, encouraging husband told me he was proud of me while we were running, and i told him to stop patronizing me. another time, he ran a total of seven inches ahead of me and i think i breathed actual smoke when i screamed “WAIT UP!” i told you. insane.

i can’t run another ten feet. i can’t keep up with everyone. i can’t let myself be embarrassed like this.

i’ve been telling myself what i can’t do for years. “can’t” has been an idol for me, a thing i cling to in order to shape and justify everything. the tape of my physical shortcomings runs on repeat through my mind, to the point that i forget the voice is just my own.

i’m not a runner. i can’t do a half-marathon. 

and over and over again as i put one foot in front of the other, my tape gets louder and louder.

i can’t do this. i can’t push past this pain. i can’t go further. i can’t go faster. 

insecurities rear their ugly heads like the monsters i’ve often thought they were. and they come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. my indignity causes me to try and find something to blame, as if this “thing” about me, this “can’t” thing i’ve got going on is all someone’s fault or a part of some big joke. i scream back at the tape in my head, blaming God for creating my body this way, resenting my childhood for the absence of anything even remotely active, and of course shaming myself for the years of neglect. 

just give up and do something easy. do something you’re good at. 

i guess what i’m here to confess is that i have repeatedly told myself i can’t run a half-marathon, even well into this half-marathon training. i confess i am easily discouraged and not even remotely close to being able to say with sincerity “i want to go for a run right now.” i confess i am not a good steward of the temple i’ve been given because i am not grateful for legs that move me forward and a heart the beats wildly in my chest. i keep asking God to make me more grateful, and i’m here to confess that i think he’s keeping his promise. it’s so hard, harder than i wanted it to be.

do i love it yet? nope. do i want to quit still? every day. do i own any compression shorts yet? couldn’t even tell you what they are. but i still show up. one run at a time.

i’ve gone back and forth about writing this. it feels embarrassing and like the proverbial i told you so!  will be shouted at any minute. but as with many other strongholds in my life, i have found that the louder you speak it, the less power it has over you. and i don’t want to be beneath the grasp of can’t anymore. i want to break up with can’t and give it a swift kick in the ass. i want to be braver than can’t, and i want to explore the idea of being a runner. maybe even a happy runner.

~~~

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i’m running a half-marathon with team world vision. they do amazing things, even through people like me who hate running. with every $50 donation, team world vision provides sustainable clean water for a child in east africa for life. for life, people. 

i would be humbled if you would join me in my journey. my goal is to raise $50 for every mile i run, so that i can provide children with the opportunity to drink clean water for the rest of their lives. all the information on how to donate can be found on my personal page at team world vision: http://team.worldvision.org/site/PageServer?pagename=TWV_Home

grace and peace to you as you do the things that make you feel brave.

 

can i get a what what for an update.

i’m sipping strong coffee at 9:00pm because that is my new life, a life in which my evenings are drowning in research papers and reading outlines. grad school, dear friends, is as hard as they say it is. and yet instead of being steadfast in my studies, i remembered that i miss this space, this corner of the world i call my own. so i’m here to update, if you’re all still listening.

we are three months into this sweet new season. some days jared and i feel like we just moved in, and other days we feel like we never left. which is funny because there was no “jared and i” the last time we lived in this city. i think that’s one thing marriage does to you; it makes you re-imagine your entire world in a way that places your spouse in every memory and chapter of your story.

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jared is doing an amazing job over at JPL. i am epic proud of the way he wakes up early each day with energy and zest for learning. he’d never tell you himself, but he’s received a lot of affirmation from people up top. beyond his work hours, he pours into his role as my partner here at apu. even when the fire alarm goes off at 3am, even when the boys next door decide that midnight is the best time to play dubstep at level 400, even when i have to leave in the middle of dinner to take a student to the hospital, or when i cry because i don’t want to watch any more football (yes, this happened.), and even when he probably would rather sleep or be alone, he invests in what it means to be a reslife husband. i love him so much in those moments, and more than i ever thought i could. we are in such a fun chapter of life and i’m loving it. i am winning on so many levels. and he’s encouraged us to sign up for a half-marathon which will be awesome and also my own personal hell. but an opportunity to achieve a goal with my bestest friend? sign me up please.

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my job is teaching me more and more about myself and my strengths and (mainly) my weaknesses. LOL at that one time i was like “i’m so bomb at this RD stuff!” there’s still a lot to be learned. i am beyond blessed to be back in this building but OH MY GAHHH is it keeping me busy! there is so much pain and so many stories that need to be heard and with 400 students and only one me, i am a bit exhausted. but praise be to God for a living hope — for trials that make us trust him, for grace that extends far beyond my inconsistencies. some days i feel confident in my ability to develop students and do this whole reslife thing, and other days i walk around doubting every move i make. i still feel shaky and confused some days, and there is always someone who seems to be doing a much better job than i am. and when i doubt my own ability or feel weighed down by insecurity, i receive sweet notes from students who make every ounce of this job worth it. i am blessed with a staff that keeps me laughing and reminds me to live enthusiastically. i don’t know if i’m equipped to lead them in all the ways they need, but i know Jesus makes up the difference. i give my best, i care deeply, and i trust the process.

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there are people done with grad school and friends having babies and endless stories of promotions and it always beckons the question in my soul, “am i enough?”so i’m learning that to be present, you must not only accept your circumstances, but also your own effort. i am doing my best. 

you are doing your best. maybe you needed to hear that tonight just like me.

you can build a throne [on bayonets]

if you’re getting married soon, and everyone has told you that “the first year is SO hard” and you sort of want to roll your eyes and throw things at them, this is for you.

i can’t count how many times someone told me to “buckle up, because marriage is a lot of work”, but it was often. and i totally believed them  – they were married, after all! it will be hard, they said. get ready for the hardest year of your life, they warned. so i suited up and went in as prepared as you could possibly be.

and then marriage was flippin’ awesome.

so i kept waiting for the other shoe to drop, and braced myself for the hard stuff to really happen. so a small fight about the forgotten grocery list turned into the OH CRAP HERE IT IS, THEY WARNED ME ABOUT THIS. but then it would be just a small fight. like we have sometimes. the kinds we forget about within an hour.

so here’s what i’ve decided.

i’m no longer allowing anyone to speak anything over my marriage, and i’m not going to dictate to young brides what their experience will be like. we can do so much damage with a simple statement like “the first year is so hard.” i know my resume is only 11 months of marriage deep, but i know the way fear works in the minds of young marrieds. it sucks.

marriage isn’t hard. life is hard. there are seasons of life that are difficult, whether or not you have a spouse. so my advice? pick a good partner. learn how to be a good fighter and an even better forgiver.

and stop telling someone what their story will be like.

rant over. (for now.)

in the absence of martyrs [there's a presence of thieves.]

the last two weeks have a been a whirlwind of detailed training, deep bonding, shared meals, beautiful stories, and — most of all — my wildly unstable emotions. (shocking.) transitioning back into apu’s world has been such an adventure so far, and i’d be a fool to consider myself anything other than richly  blessed and completely content. i spend my nights in the exact apartment i was in when i first learned the beauty of raw community, and the power of owning your story. who’s life is this?

so of course, the nostalgia has stirred up so many thoughts about memory this week, and how inconveniently selective mine is. i’ve always said i don’t retain information well, but i think i do. i still hold onto some pretty potent memories that i’m not particularly fond of, memories that i wish would just go away. walking this campus again reminds me of who i was when i was 18, 19, 20, 21, 22…all the awesome experiences i had and all the great people i knew. but my memory keeps focusing in on all of the bad decisions i made, and all the hard places i was in during those years…all the opportunities i had to do good and to make a significant impact, that i just wasted. and i just keep thinking, gosh who am i to be in this position where i lead students who are in their most vulnerable state? who on earth thinks i deserve the opportunity to mentor and hold accountable these fragile humans, these people who are yearning for wisdom and good influence? and my memory keeps reminding me that i am not worthy of this opportunity. at all. and that just keeps playing over and over in my head: you aren’t worthy. you aren’t worthy. you aren’t worthy.

and here’s the thing: i’m not worthy. and i think that’s the point.

i’ve made every mistake you can make, and i know far too well the way the mind of an apu-er works. i’ve done it all, seen it all, talked about it all. i’ve lied and hidden and been so broken i didn’t know which way was up. and now i’ve been entrusted with hundreds of students as they traverse through arguably the most difficult time in their lives, armed only with my story and the strength to move forward. and that, to me, is the point of the gospel. 

i didn’t save me.

i’ll never be able to save me.

and i most certainly to not deserve to be in a position of leadership, mentorship, or authority.

but do any of us deserve that, really? do you?

i am not envious of the story that is perfect from start to finish. i never wish i had done it all right. i’ve never regretted the fact that it takes me a little bit longer to learn things sometimes because my goodness do i learn it well. i would so much rather have a story that cannot be told without the grace of God, and not the one where i truly deserve to be in the position i’m in based on my perfection. i don’t want that gospel. that gospel sucks.

i want the kind of Jesus who uses people in the midst of all the shit they’ve gotten themselves into. i want to drown by way of grace, and be flooded with a Jesus who doesn’t let you stay where you were. he made me very good, and he hasn’t given up on me yet. he is what makes me worthy of this career. and that’s the kind of Jesus i want.

how the lincolns got to LA [according to my instagrams.]

we picked up our huge moving truck and i had a minor heart attack.

we picked up our huge moving truck and i had a minor heart attack.

we were on the road with high spirits and plenty of cheez-its, as you can see.

we were on the road with high spirits and plenty of cheez-its, as you can see.

 

jared was in full #beastmode as we journeyed north to CO. gordon did fine, kind of.

jared was in full #beastmode as we journeyed north to CO. gordon did fine, kind of.

i almost got a decent picture of the colorado sign! i never claimed to be a photog, people.

i almost got a decent picture of the colorado sign! i never claimed to be a photog, people.

 

to my delightful surprise, my bestie Betsy was in town as well! this was a much needed reunion.

to my delightful surprise, my bestie Betsy was in town as well! this was a much needed reunion.

 

and we enjoyed a girls night with the lovely bride-to-be, miss Ali. seriously, how did i get so lucky?!

and we enjoyed a girls night with the lovely bride-to-be, miss Ali. seriously, how did i get so lucky?!

 

meanwhile, jared...

meanwhile, jared…

 

we enjoyed a CO Rockies game with the family! they crushed the Giants, and i talked baseball to a perfect stranger. it was a good night.

we enjoyed a CO Rockies game with the family! they crushed the Giants, and i talked baseball to a perfect stranger. it was a good night.

 

Jared and i got to visit the Blue Moon Brewery, located right on Coors Field! such good beer, and such a wonderful sight to see.

Jared and i got to visit the Blue Moon Brewery, located right on Coors Field! such good beer, and such a wonderful sight to see.

 

our truck started to billow smoke somewhere outside of needles, ca. also known as the armpit of america.

our truck started to billow smoke somewhere outside of needles, ca. also known as the armpit of america.

 

to my right, there was nothing.

to my right, there was nothing.

 

to my left, a sad jared. :(

to my left, a sad jared. :(

 

just when i thought our moving truck was the largest thing i'd ever seen, i saw the even bigger production that was our moving truck + tow truck. "big blue" as it was affectionately called.

just when i thought our moving truck was the largest thing i’d ever seen, i saw the even bigger production that was our moving truck + tow truck. “big blue” as it was affectionately called.

 

with only one major setback, we finally arrived to APU right at sunset. it was surreal to walk into trinity, and thousands of memories came flooding back.

with only one major setback, we finally arrived to APU right at sunset. it was surreal to walk into trinity, and thousands of memories came flooding back.

 

what a sweet welcome into our new home, from sweet friends who we are lucky to get to do life with again.

what a sweet welcome into our new home, from sweet friends who we are lucky to get to do life with again.

 

so there you have it, people. we are very slowly setting up our new space, and we are already beginning to feel at home here. we’ve purchased some pretty sweet furniture pieces from craigslist, God bless it. once i figure out the feng shui, i’ll be sure to post pictures.

i am humbled to be back here, and overjoyed to be able to fall into a blanket of amazing community. our friends have already taken such good care of us ; i am thrilled at what is to come. azusa is most definitely where we belong for this season; it’s such a good feeling to know that.

i hope you all enjoy ‘murica day tomorrow! <3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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