Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Hello to all! Sorry I haven't blogged in forever. I've been busy. I take dance on Wednesdays and I'm in the play Cinderella. I'm a townsperson. I must learn the waltz (I trip over my own feet sometimes. lol) and things like that b/c I'm in the ball scene. I also play one of the girls who meets the prince. I don't have any lines or things like that. (Mom will have photos soon.) The play is coming up, so rehearsals are more and more frequent. This isn't a school play (in case you're wondering), no, it's a community play which I had to try out for. So I'm happy to be in it. GO TOWNSPEOPLE WITHOUT LINES!

School is fine. In science we have a class pet (it's a hamster) and I get to keep her over Spring Break (which I'm on right now, despite it being February) for free (usually you have to pay 70 dollars of the paper money they give you for "being good" and so on.

It's February and thoughts of swimming and days spent on boats are already creeping into my mind. We recently found out that some day this week (maybe today) the high is in the 80's. And it's February! My mom thinks the warm weather is here to stay. YAY WARM WEATHER!!!!!

And now for the sad, sad, sad, sad, sad, sad, sad, sad... sad, sad, sad, sad news. My birds were fighting, and I came home to see Houdini (my green bird who happens to be my favorite) laying stiff w/ her feet curled up on the bottom of the cage. I wept long and hard, and the next morning we buried her in a red rectangular box tied w/ a blue ribbon w/ orange and white flower print on it. Poor, poor Houdini. (Yes, Izzy killed her.)

Now for some happier news: my friend and I went down to where we climb trees, and found a rope hanging on the fence. We used the rope to make a swing with loopholes in it so we could also climb the tree with ease. The rest of the rope was used to make a swing in another tree. We're having a lot of fun hanging out!

This concludes my life for the past couple of weeks. TTYL, Hannah

Monday, February 26, 2007

Day of Mourning

This is really sad; yesterday evening we came home and found Houdini, dead on the floor of the cage. Izzy must have killed him; he'd been very aggressive over the past two weeks (Izzy, not Houdini). Hannah cried a lot.

We put Houdini in a pretty red box and Hannah tied it with a blue ribbon. We buried him this morning in the back yard next to Hazel (hamster) and Hermy (hermit crab) and an unknown kitten I discovered dead in our back yard once. Gross.

It's a sunny, hot, breezy day, a lovely day, and I hated starting it with a funeral. It's Hannah's Spring Break too, and this is how it began.

Well, in other happier news, it's the 2 weeks before show time for "Cinderella" and that means rehearsal nearly every day. I'm helping create the set, which is fun. I haven't done that since a previous millennium! So I'll be painting tomorrow evening while Hannah rehearses.

Yours, Rachael

Thursday, February 22, 2007

I tried emailing this to all my people, but our system prevents it. I don't know why. So, maybe some of you will read it here on this blog. I'd be upset about it except that we had a Stress Management seminar at the office this morning, so I know to keep my cool by eating chocolate, getting a pedicure, watching "American Idol" and quoting various scriptures related to stress aloud ("I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me," etc).

Well, maybe you had to be there.

I hope you're doing well, and wanted you to know Hannah and I are doing great. Work at WIM is steady, church is wonderful, and I am thoroughly enjoying the group I attend on Wednesday nights under Chuck and Mary Nell's leadership. Hannah mostly babysits the little ones (they're all under age 5) and last week was particularly entertaining because the host couple had just acquired two baby goats. The children trooped all over the house, toting bleating "kids" along with them and had fun feeding them bottles.

Well here's my Deep Thought for the day:

Monday night I went to Source (college group) and listened to a guest speaker, a missionary, based in Corpus Christi, Texas. He made an interesting statement:
it's not our apparent blessings which show God to people--they see God in the midst of our sufferings.

What a statement! I thought quickly in the 3-second-long pause that followed his announcement. When had people been drawn to God through ME? Without a doubt, it's always been when I've shared My Story of how God comforted us and brought us through the devastating loss of Chris and all the changes in our lives that accompanied it.

We've had several members in WIM recently deal with extreme hardship: a newlywed couple had their first baby, and the little girl has been diagnosed with Down's Syndrome; a mother in Asia has been diagnosed with Stage 3 bone cancer (they have 7 children), our office manager's daughter-in-law has cancer for the third time, our bookkeeper was diagnosed with diabetes...there are others, but you get the idea.

I wondered, why do these things happen? How does God get glory in all of this? What do Mexicans/Chinese/etc think when they see our people, people of God, suffering so?

The apostle Paul writes, "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of all comfort, who comforts us in our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God." (II Corinthians 1:3,4)

He also wrote: "As you know it was because of an illness that I first preached the gospel to you. Even though my illness was a trial to you, you did not treat me with contempt or scorn. Instead, you welcomed me as if I were an angel of God, as if I were Jesus Christ Himself." (Galatians 4:13)

So what I see is this:

God can and will use us anywhere, anytime, any WAY, to reach people who don't know Him yet. And if we are sick with cancer or hives or give birth to a child who is (seemingly) not perfect, then we cannot consider these things misfortunes or impossible or really, even bad! Because either "God causes ALL things to work together for GOOD for those who LOVE Him" or He DOESN'T. Which do we believe? As a Christian, I had to decide what I believed after my husband died for no apparent reason, after my aunt got sick from MS and died after years of my fervent prayers for her healing, after my grandmother was told her cancer had returned a third time and this time they couldn't operate.

You know what? It's been over a year and my grandmother who turns 90 in April has had no symptoms of cancer since she quit chemo December of 2005.

I don't have an answer for every person's situation, only God does. Do I always understand what's going on in MY life? No. Do I always understand WHY? No. And I don't bother trying, usually. But I DO know that MY suffering WILL show God to other people, just like it did that Monday night at Source, while I prayed with a 21-year-old girl whose daddy and granddaddy died within the last year.

BUT my heart has to be right; I have to be aware of God's presence in my life, AND His working in my life. That allows Him to shine through me.

God will use whatever it takes to show Himself to people. Do we let Him use us? Do we let Him us our illnesses? Our problems? Our faults and shortcomings?

I pray that we do, no matter what.


Tuesday, February 20, 2007

This is a long time coming! My apologies for not "blogging" earlier. Obviously I've been a little productive!

These are sketches, about 20 or so minutes each, of Hannah, who willingly modeled for me a few evenings ago. Each is done on hot press printmaking paper with charcoal, if anyone cares. I think the paper's around 300lb. Pretty heavy-duty stuff left over from school (graduated in '01). They're in chronological order.

Anyway, I am trying (as soon as I buy more paper!) to do a sketch nearly every day, to get into practice. I gave up painting in order to polish my drawing skills, which (duh) must precede painting skills. It's the reason I've never finished any of the portraits I started painting...if I can't draw their faces, I certainly cannot paint them.

I don't think any of these really resembles Hannah, except the "attitude" of some of them. She hates #3 which is probably my favorite one ("I look fat!"). She's 12. Enough said.

In other non-art news, Valentine's Day was certainly a forgettable experience. Why? Well I celebrated the weekend before, VD being on a Wednesday (no I'm not a Valentine humbug) so when the actual holiday arrived, I'd actually forgotten it WAS Valentine's, and was just struggling to get out of bed and go to work. I'd come down with a wicked cold so after I presented Hannah with her box of chocolates and sung a cheesy "Happy Valentine's to You" and got her off to school, I went home and crawled into bed with a box of Kleenex. Que romantico, no?

Work is good. It's been pretty solid with Things To Do for WIM and our missionaries. New brochures, presentations for m's, insurmountable internet/email problems that have everyone on staff in a state of nervous breakdown, it's great fun. Plus all the health problems and stuff hitting our staff, our families and our m's on the field. Anything from colds to diabetes to broken bones and stage 3 bone cancer. If you're a praying person, pray for WIM!!

But it's not all gloom and doom, for goodness' sake. "We are pressed, but not crushed; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed," glory! There is good news, too! We have to be careful to keep it all in perspective and not let one outweigh the other.

My cold is gone and I'm back to 100%. Our finances are solid, money is slowly but surely coming in for my trip to Turkey in June, and I'm looking at possible photo opportunities (eg., weddings) coming up this spring. Our International Conference is in August, in Kerrville, Texas, and that is definitely an event to anticipate! ALL of our m's from around the globe should be there. What a great assembly that is! It only happens every three years, so it is a big deal.

Oh also we're flying home for a quick visit in April. Easter weekend, to be exact. It's my BigMama's 90th birthday and since she refused to get sick from the third attack of cancer and certainly didn't die, we decided to throw her another huge bash. Mom did one last year with the slight thought of "is this the last one?" and then cheerfully decided this is an annual event until her chariot of fire comes to collect her. Our entire family will be there. So if you attend New Covenant Church, I'll see you Easter Sunday!

Love to you, dear Reader, and I hope you have a great week.


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