November

I think it’s time for another post. Things are happening around here.

I just finished up my student teaching semester. How did it go by so fast? I feel like I was just driving to my first day in the pitch black morning.

Someone reminded me the other day of how many changes and giant life moments are ahead for me, but for some reason, this hasn’t sunk in yet. I know these things are happening: graduation, my two-family Christmas, moving back home, planning a wedding, executing that wedding in April, moving to a new city/state, finding my place in said city/state, learning how to BE MARRIED…I think that’s about it for now. Why am I not freaking out yet?

For now, my focus should be on finishing up final papers for school. But instead my focus has been mostly on Etsy shop business. I probably drive everyone crazy posting about all of the new Christmas prints, but I’m just so excited about them!

IMG_9462Next week I’m going home and actually riding with my parents to visit my dad’s family in Kentucky. I plan on using that car ride to read all 19 of the books that I’m in the middle of. I’m exaggerating, but it’s seriously terrible how many books I’m currently in the middle of. After this, one book at a time. Maybe.

A couple of weekends ago, Ben and I had our friend Duane take some engagement pictures…we only have one back so far and I’m reallllly excited to see the rest! And by the way, those pictures are more awkward than they appear. The first thing Duane told me was to sit in between Ben’s legs. I just gave him a weird look. But what I learned is that you should always trust a Romanian med student. More to come later!

duane1I also had my sweet friend Michele Houston take some graduation pictures for me so I can send out some announcements. So, she obviously did a great job.

RachelGaddis_Finished-4 RachelGaddis_Finished-31 RachelGaddis_Finished-24Along with the end of student teaching has come extra morning time for me to ease into the day and feel no rush to get my quiet time done. Today, as I was doing the She Reads Truth study on thankfulness, I really felt like the verses hit home for me. Isaiah 40:8 –

The grass withers, the flower fades,

but the word of our God will stand forever.

and Job 19:25-26

25  For I know that my Redeemer lives,

and at the last he will stand upon the earth.

26  And after my skin has been thus destroyed,

yet in my flesh I shall see God,

The post talks about how as children, we think everything in life is permanent. We think this is how life will be forever. As we grow up we learn that people come and go, circumstances change, and your setting will be different. In college, I think we take on the opposite view as we did as children. Nothing is permanent. Your friends today won’t be your friends in a year. You won’t even live in the same apartment or dorm. You won’t be taking the same classes. I think I’ve been running  crazy circles around God for years and one thing I’m comforted to remember is that He has not changed at all. He remains the same everyday and will continue to do so.

Summertime

It’s hot out, y’all. It’s getting hotter everyday. Why am I not at the pool getting a tan?

Last summer I wrote about resting during the summer since none of my initial plans worked out. I was worried that it would happen again this time around, but it’s actually quite the opposite. I don’t know how it happened, but I have managed to stay busy almost every single day of summer. So far. I have only managed to carve out one day to lay out by the pool! That’s just an outrage.

But you know what? Being busy is rewarding. I work almost every day of the week for a company called Plant Partners. They supply the flowers and other plants to the garden centers of Wal-Mart. So, what I do is, I put on this hideous lime green vest that says “What’s Growing On?” on the back, I lace up my heavy duty boots, and I hang out in the garden center all day long. I’m supposed to be unloading shipments and rearranging things to make it look more beautiful for the customers, but a lot of times, those things have already been done and I come with nothing on the To do list. But overall, it has been really rewarding. The Wal-Mart employees are extremely sweet and cool, and I get to hang out around flowers all day! And that’s pretty therapeutic, even if there are psychotic birds swooping down from the beams above.

The Etsy shop is off to a good start. We’re really trying to not get quickly discouraged. The first day, we had a solid amount of orders. Since then, it’s quieted down a lot. I think both of us wanted to freak out and start worrying that this was a mistake and no one wants to buy our stuff. But if we gave up now, we wouldn’t have been in this for the right reasons. Therefore, we carry on!

IMG_3695I just love Steel Magnolias so much. There are so many quotable lines in it. I was just trying this out to see if I could do the blending of the two colors in my letters. But now that I think about it, why didn’t I blend blush & bashful? 😉

I tried making some bridesmaid cards last night to possibly sell in the future. What do you guys think? Lindsey and I agreed that we need to create things for our target audiences. People around my age are getting married. People her age are having babies. So now these things are in the works.

IMG_3688

What’s on everyone’s summer reading list?

Somehow, even though this summer has been one of my busiest ever, I have managed to get a lot of reading done. My love for reading has been reborn again.

Here’s what I’ve been reading:

jesus-is-find-a-new-way-to-be-humanbreadandwineshaunaniequistfreefall    loveology

1. Jesus Is by Judah Smith. I pick books to read based on a couple of things. One, I always judge a book by it’s cover. Who doesn’t do that? I’m sorry, but all of these books have great covers and all of them are awesome. And two, I take recommendations from people who I think are cool. And I definitely think Lauren is cool. She posted about this book last year, and I was immediately attracted to the cover, so I bought it. Yep. But guess what? It gives the coolest perspective on who Jesus was and is as a character. Judah Smith is a down-to-earth writer. I read it last year and had to re-read it again this year. And I never do that.

2. Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist. This was definitely a keeper. I took this one from a recommendation by a girl whose blog I’m kind of obsessed with. And her name is Rachel as well! The book is so beautifully written. It’s really a collection of stories of how love can happen around the dinner table and how community is centered around it. I was hoping for more references to Jesus and different stories of him gathering around the table with his followers. But it was still inspiring, none the less. It’s also a cookbook. Pretty cool.

3. Freefall to Fly by Rebekah Lyons. This is definitely my new favorite book. It was another recommendation by Lauren (she clearly has amazing taste in books!), and just a few pages into it, I knew it was going to impact me. It’s about finding your gifts and living in the present instead of trying to push things away to get on to the next step in life. I don’t know about you, but I’m very guilty of that in my life right now. Everything seems so temporary to me that I have just been trying to rush through it. So often, I find myself thinking things like, I’m just ready to graduate. I’m just ready to move on to what’s next in life. If I just get there everything will be fine. Nope. This book encourages readers to pray for God to keep them in the present and serve Him where we are at. It’s definitely one I’ll have to read again soon.

4. Loveology by John Mark Comer. Once again, a book recommended by some friends who were telling me about how they were going through this one in a Sunday school class. I don’t think people realize how seriously I take book recommendations. If someone mentions a title and I think it sounds interesting, it’s very likely that I’m going to research it and probably buy it. There’s nothing like a good book! And this one is really good so far. It’s about God, love, marriage, and sex. It’s perfectly blunt, just the way it should be. I definitely recommend this to anyone who has questions about these things!

What are you guys reading this summer? AKA give me some ideas for my next one. 🙂

 

 

Spring

Image

After many years of consideration, I have to say that I think Spring is my official favorite season. It’s hard because Fall is so full of wonderful things: football, pumpkin flavored things, hayrides, and flannel-wearing. But this Spring weather has just been doing me good. I feel like everytime I step outside, my mood completely lifts. You have to appreciate Spring because it’s making up for the freezing cold winter weather! I feel like it was just the Snowpocalypse and I was trapped in my apartment for days dealing with cabin fever. And suddenly now there are flowers and blue skies all around! Because of my new discovery, I have really been putting more effort into soaking up this time while it’s here.

Things are changing. Fast.

Here’s some things I’ve been up to lately:

Image1. Babysitting this sweet little one and her sisters! Sometimes I just want to ditch school and be a professional babysitter. I guess that’s not acceptable…right?

ImageImage

2. Easter in Dudley with Ben & his mom’s side of the family! I love them.

Image

Image3. Yes, that is a man in a gorilla suit. On our last day of class, my cohort met at our teacher’s house in the Boulevard neighborhood, had class, and ate lasagna. Then we walked to the tree room together. How cool is that? It was really nice to be welcomed into her cute home in one of the coolest parts of Athens! I feel like people overlook the greatness of Normaltown/Prince Avenue.

Image

4. And speaking of that area, Ben and I went to Viva Argentine on Friday. It used to be on the east side but just moved to Bottleworks-right next to Hendershots. I was reluctant at first because I am apprehensive about spicy food, but this wasn’t a problem. I got empanadas and soup and it was DELICIOUS.

5. A sad confession: I’ve really never been very good at reading my Bible. Even when I did, I was just reading through it and not really studying it. Then I realized what I was missing: a study Bible! I don’t know why I had never invested in one, but I was given one at our last BCM leadership meeting with my name on it and everything. Last week I picked it up and started flipping through it. I came to 1st Samuel and just started reading. Since then, I’ve actually been able to read a little bit every night. I started REALLY reading it. Not just the verses but all of the notes and side stories. I finally feel like I’m making sense of the Bible and all of the stories that I often let go over my head. I’m just sad that it took me this long to realize how great a study bible can be.

Image

6. The newest addition to my antique collection is this amazing Coke crate with bottles! I had to work really hard to clean them all out because they were pretty muddy, but I’m happy with them. They all have different cities on the bottoms of them that tell where they were bottled at. I love that. And they came from Ben’s great grandfather, which makes them even better!

Image7. My first watercolor experiment. I may have a long way to go but painting with watercolors is really fun. It might have to take the place of knitting in my life for a while in this hot weather. It’s just hard to knit when it’s not cool outside. 😦

 

Happy Spring!!

New York, New Perspective

Image

I’m back from New York City, and I can truly say that it was life-changing. It was just as beautiful as I imagined. It felt like I was finally stepping into all of the places I had seen in movies and TV. However, it was one of the most spiritually challenging weeks of my life.

The night before we left, Kelsey and I were riding back to my apartment when she shared with me how unsure she felt about the week. “This trip is going to be completely out of my comfort zone. I can’t believe I’m even doing this,” she said. I felt the same way. Of course, we were excited to experience this amazing city we’ve always wanted to see. But we were heading to a place that was going to be pretty cold–something we Georgia girls just don’t want or need. We were going to have to figure out how to get around on the Subway for the first time. We were going to be placed in groups with people we had never met.

We stayed at a church in Williamsburg, Brooklyn called New Beginnings. When we arrived there, we found out that two other groups would be staying there: one from Waco, Texas, and one from the BCM at University of Virginia at Wise. Williamsburg was a really pretty area. The picture of the Brooklyn Bridge was taken from a pier that was only four blocks from our church!

When I read the description on my mission track, I imagined that I was going to be sitting in a quaint coffee shop in Queens with people chatting about life and Jesus while drinking some delicious chai tea. Of course, I was completely wrong about my expectations. Our group was placed in Jackson Heights, Queens. The people dominating this area were South Asian, most being from India, Bangladesh, Tibet, or Nepal. We started each of our mornings out in an upstairs room in a restaurant called King Kabob. When I first stepped out of the subway, I was immediately out of my comfort zone. This area is nothing like what I thought New York was. It was as if I had stepped into another country.

Image

When we went through our first day of training, I realized that I was actually being trained to go out and preach the gospel to the South Asian people in the community. The reality was that I was going to basically be doing street evangelism in an area where everyone was already a devout Muslim or Hindu. As I sat there, I felt so much anxiety at the thought of talking to a stranger about Jesus, especially a stranger from a different culture. On top of that, I was feeling like a terrible Christian because I was even feeling anxious at all. I kept thinking, this should be easy. God tells me to go and make disciples and I can’t even muster up the courage to go witness to someone? I’m failing as a Christian.

But on the second morning of training, one of the men instructing us said something that stuck with me: God doesn’t want you to try harder. He wants you to surrender to Him. So I took this and started praying about it. I tried my best to just trust that God would equip me. And sure enough, He provided. He had already provided before I had prayed it, I just hadn’t seen it yet. He provided me with a team of amazing people who quickly became a support system. He provided me with vulnerability so that I was able to grow closer with them and then go talk to people with them. He provided me with the good attitude that I needed to face people that are not the same as me.

ImageImage

The cool thing about our mission work was that we were able to build relationships not only within our group, but with the people that we met around Jackson Heights. On our first day, we shopped around, explored the restaurants and stores, and asked people questions about the area. We had conversations with anyone that we came across. What I loved was the culture of the people. They were very welcoming. It was already becoming easier than I thought to talk with people. When we met people, we didn’t just walk away from them forever. We returned the next day, and then the next. And the best part about this was that they were excited to see us again. When we stopped by a store called Sona to visit a woman we had met the day before, she excitedly greeted us and brought us to the back of the store. “Come meet my children!” she exclaimed. This was such a heartwarming moment. We barely knew her, but she was welcoming us to come meet her family. Once we formed relationships with people, conversations about Jesus just seemed to happen. We would ask people if we could pray for them, and most of the time, we would pray with them in the middle of their store or in the street.

Image

It’s amazing how quickly my week turned around. I started out in tears because I was scared and stressed out over what God was asking me to do. But when I came to Him and asked him to take me and use me, He showed me that I am good at talking with people and building relationships with them. I shouldn’t let that just stop in New York City. I can take that and invest in people here in Athens. So please be praying for me–that God will place opportunities in my life to love on people and show them who Jesus is without being afraid that someone will reject me. I’ve made enough excuses. The gospel is plain: Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

I don’t have to be scared of the first part of that verse anymore because I am comforted by the second part of it. I can go and make disciples because God is with me always.

Let’s Hear It For New York

New York City is probably the place that I know the most about having never been even close to there. I can’t even imagine how many movies and TV shows I have seen that are set in New York.

Image

I feel like I know the place! However, I also feel a little bit like I only know this completely fictional version of it.

Image

But TOMORROW, I finally get to experience it for myself. I’m going with a group of juniors and seniors from BCM on a mission trip where we’ll be staying in Brooklyn. The cool thing is that we’ll be split up into different tracks. I can’t exactly describe what my group will be doing there because I don’t even fully understand it. I know this: it involves spending time with Southest Asian people and drinking chai tea. I’m not going to lie.. I requested this track based on the words chai tea. There’s something very exciting about the idea of sitting with a cup of tea getting to talk with people and hear their stories. I’m not sure if that’s how it will be, but it’s how I imagine it.

So at 6 am we will depart from Athens and head to NYC. Please pray for our team–that we will reach people in the city and grow through this experience. That we will grow closer together and learn more about each other. That we will be brought out of our comfort zones to have new and exciting experiences!

Image

 

 

 

The One About DT : “Sorry About The Noise”

Before I start this post, I just want to say a few things that I’m thankful for:

1. Roommates that had dinner made and waiting for me when I got home from rehearsal late today!

2. Knitting and all of the peace and happiness it brings me. (and also, I sell things! So ask if you want a lovely scarf!)

Image

3. My boyfriend, who has to put up with said knitting obsession.

Image

4. DINNER THEATER. Which is where I will now take this post…

Dinner theater is in full swing, and I’m really really excited about it. In case you didn’t know, I’m going to be an APE (part of the ensemble) in BCM’s production of Tarzan!

I chose to get involved with BCM dinner theater last year when my dear friend Elizabeth directed the show. We did Once Upon a Mattress, which was so fun! I was too scared to actually attempt to audition, so I was the assistant director, even though this was really my first experience in theater.
This year, I prayed a while about it and felt like God was calling me to take a step up and just audition for Tarzan. And now here I am, learning how to be an ape, which is a lot harder than it looks. Trust me. I have bruises of proof!

Image

The DT community was so amazing that I had to do it again. It was like returning to a family, with some old members and some new ones.

Have you ever hung out with theater kids? You probably know a few. They’re loud. They’re attention hogs.  They will probably embarrass you with their voice level in Barberitos. If you put them all in a room together, you can bet that there will be an unspoken competition to see who tell the funniest story. But that’s what makes them so great! During the past two years in DT, I have never once felt excluded, and I’ve never seen anyone get excluded. Everyone is always so welcoming.You can’t find a group of people like this one anywhere else.

ImageImage

I have learned over and over how valuable a community is, particularly a Christian community. I learned that when I came to college. I learned it when I was in my first small group ever at BCM freshman year, where I had an amazing small group leader who poured into us constantly. I learned it when I went on a mission trip to New Orleans or a leadership retreat to Toccoa. And now I’m learning it again during Tarzan!

If you haven’t ever been to Dinner Theater, you should definitely check it out this year. The proceeds go to Summer Missions, and the show is going to be amazing. Click here to get more information about tickets!

The One With the Chinese Lanterns

I have something really cool to share today! My birthday was a couple of weeks ago. The best thing happened and it was completely unexpected. A dear friend sent me a birthday surprise:
Image

These paper lanterns were set up by Jenna and Xav on the intramural fields as a surprise from a friend who isn’t in Athens right now. In fact, she isn’t even in the country. But she wanted to send them as a present simply because she had seen on Pinterest that I had pinned pictures of Chinese lantern festivals and how pretty I thought they were. Obviously, if you’ve seen Tangled, you know what I’m talking about. It’s like a dream. A very sparkly and magical dream.

Image

I was just in shock, mainly because I didn’t understand why someone who I don’t even know that well (yet) would show me such kindness from afar. After talking to her, she told me that she’s starting her own movement of showing people love through random acts of kindness just because.

Image

What I see in my friend is a Godly person. She’s so selfless that she asked me to not even write her name in this post, which is really hard! But if you ask me I’ll tell you. 🙂 She said that she didn’t want people to see her through her surprise-she wanted people to see Jesus.

This act of love made me start thinking about how selfish I can be. When do I ever do things for people without thinking in the back of my mind about how it could benefit me? I love giving people gifts. But do I love it because it gives other people joy or because it makes me feel like a better person? Probably a little of both. From now on I want to start trying to be a little more selfless and maybe show someone else the same amount of kindness.

Philippians 2:1-4:

Imitating Christ’s Humility

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

This has been a busy week but it’s gotten me so excited for this year at BCM. I know that God is going to do amazing things in our ministry. My prayer is that everyone gets loved on and feels welcomed. My hope is that in this year, I will be able to not only connect with new faces, but also connect with some old ones. I’ve known a lot of people since my freshman year but because we all fell into our comfortable circles, we weren’t able to grow closer. And I hope that those will grow!

Thanks for reading 🙂