Thursday, December 18, 2008

Reindeer Poo For Christmas?

Anyone else here about this? If anyone was wondering what to buy me for Christmas, please leave this OFF your list of ideas!! :)

The holidays are near... and many of us are searching high and low for the perfect gift. The Miller Park Zoo has a special package for you to consider. It' is reindeer poop... eww for some... but not at Bloomington's Miller Park Zoo this winter. Oh no! The little nuggets are specially treated to bring holiday cheer. It's a lot of work... but a work of love.
Susie Ohley goes home every night and spends hours of her own time making the doo-doo into beautiful presents... "I dry all the droppings out. Then I spray it with about 6 coats of clear acrylic paint. Then we paint it with glitter and all different colors. I've been beading them by hand". The Magical Reindeer Gem Ornaments are then put on display and are actually quite sought after items for holiday gifts. The zoo has received requests for the ornaments from all across the U-S. A fitting present from one of Santa's Favorite animals. In Bloomington,
The ornaments sell for 5 dollars and all the proceeds go to the zoo. You can only buy two a person and you have to go to the zoo gift shop.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

don't even know where to start

my brain is full ... literally. there are so many things i want to write down on here ... all the amazing things i learned at youth specialties, the direction i'm hoping our youth ministry will head, the great times jamie and i, the 'interesting' road trip back ...

then there's all my thoughts and emotions surrounding the death of my grandfather. my family has this unique ability to deal with tough times with humor. i think i laughed harder than i cried this weekend. there are so many stories i'd like to put down here but i cannot sort them all.

i don't know if i can put into words all the things bouncing around in my head right now.

all i do know is that i do not feel like myself in all this. i feel exhausted all the time, on the verge of tears at all times, unmotivated to do anything, and fairly irritable at all times

the crazy part is that i was feeling these things even before i heard about my grandfather's death. so all of the emotions from his death and funeral have just added another layer (or 5) on top of who i am ...

i am so grateful for all of your prayers and thoughts for my family and myself this past weekend. i had relative strangers posting their condolences and prayers on my facebook and sending me texts. even some of my high schoolers were texting me the day of the funeral, not sure what to say but expressing their support as best they could.

i will say that it was almost impossible to say goodbye to my grandfather. he was an amazing man, and touched the lives of everyone he ever met. the pastors at his funeral did not have to make up anything or enhance his personality, at all, to have nice things to say. you know at some funerals, everyone sitting there knows the person who died wasn't half as saintly as the pastor is making them out to be. this time around, i was disappointed they didn't say enough about him.

he was buried in his alabama crimson tide blazer, tie and slippers. he was a huge football fan. alabama was his team forever. i realize now that my passion for sports was bred into me from the time i was a little girl. i'll never forget being at his house at thanksgiving, sitting in the living room with my grandfather and my uncles watching college football and having all my questions about the game answered. my loyalties may have moved from college football to major league baseball, but the passion is still there.

i'm so grateful that my grandfather was a christian and i will see him again in heaven one day. i've had more discussions about heaven in the past week then i've had in a long time. all these questions and guesses about what heaven is actually like. and none of them have any answers. we are so tied to our identity here on earth. we think about how great it will be to have conversations in heaven with the disciples and the apostle paul. or brave missionaries, evangelists, even our grandfather. but all the things that define us on earth no longer matter in heaven. so will we still know who people are in heaven? will i know my grandfather? will he know me? or will we just be 2 people in heaven, casting our crowns before Jesus' throne and praising the holiness of God?

it's no wonder i cannot sort all the thoughts out in my head to put them down on paper.

thank you again for your support and comfort. i'm so grateful i was with my bible study girls when i got the news. i cannot imagine being by myself or being at work or at youth group. i'm so grateful the timing worked out like it did. imagine if we hadn't decided to move our bible study to wednesday nights. imagine if i didn't turn down covering for another life::group at youth group? i'm so thankful for God's timing...


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

disconnecting (can i actually do it?)

so i was checking out the hotel where we are staying in pittsburgh for youth specialties. and, apparently you have to pay for wi-fi (boo, hiss). so it got me thinking... and i've decided to leave my laptop at home and go 5 days without the internet.

can i surive?

no facebook, no email, no google reader?

i think it will be healthy for me! i'm even going to disable to mobile facebook (yeah i know, i'm addicted) so i can be completely disconnected.

i'm looking foward to getting away and being refreshed. i'm hoping this YS conference will give me the relaxation, encouragement and replenishment i need. i'm also hoping to get some new ideas on how to be effective in youth ministry. and i'm hoping this trip unites our ministry team even more than we already are.

i'm sad i'm missing my small group on thursday night. (shout out to my girlies, christi, erika, molly, jaime, and jodi - i hope you have a great night, complete with lots of laughs, a few tears, and a few minutes of deep discussion!!!)

i'll talk to you all on tuesday some time!! pray for me, if you think of it!! i need to hear God's voice this weekend! we are taking the grace bus, dave turner might be driving (so, yeah, that might need some prayer too!!) :-)


Saturday, October 25, 2008

going out of town this week and thoughts from youth group

so, i'm leaving on thursday for the national youth workers convention with 6 others from church. i'm pretty excited to go. i missed out on going last year. there's nothing quite like it. 7000 youth workers from around the US, all gathered in once place to learn how to be better youth workers. one of my favorite parts is how encouraging and uplifting all of the speakers are. as a youth worker, i can tell you, the appreciation you receive is not very often and not very sincere. you are more likely to receive criticism over compliments. the kids are more often wanting to argue with you instead of thank you. while i don't think its as thankless of a job as being a parent can be, at times it can feel pretty darn thankless. it is definitely not the place for someone who needs lots of encouragement and appreciation. so the planners for the conference seem to know this, so they usually take as many opportunities as they can to tell you what an awesome job you are doing and just how important your role is.

this year i've noticed they are doing something different ... they have these seminars that you can pick and choose which ones you want to attend. this year they have "tracks" so if you want to focus more on development or soul care or middle school, etc ... they have specific seminars that will be helpful for you. so i'm excited to really take some time, to be quiet, to listen to what God might be telling me and to be replenished and uplifted.

my roomie for the weekend, has never been before. so i'm excited to show her around and let her experience just how cool this conference is. i've never experienced anything quite like it before. we are driving, since it's pittsburgh and road trips are one of my favorite things ever...

so for a bunch of different reasons, i'm excited to go!

in other news, we had a "emo emerge" tonight at the high school service. it's called "emerge" and we've been teaching on the life of Jesus, in reverse. we started with the picture we see of Jesus in Revelation and have been working our way back. tonight we talked about the torture and death of Jesus. we kept it dark in the youth center, with a lot of candles lit and even some black lights on the stage. we had a "coffin" of sorts brought up on stage and at the end of the message gave students to chance to let go of a sin they've been holding on to. they were able to write it down and place their paper in the coffin during worship. worship was acoustic and we sang chris tomlin's amazing grace, my chains are gone right after the message.

what an emotional night! i'm not sure the students were affected as much as i would have liked them to be (didn't stop me from bawling my eyes out during amazing grace ... but that version, when sung right, gets me every time) ... but many put their papers in the box. and it was pretty amazing to hear many of the students singing out ... they paid attention during the message and were overall pretty respectful. it even rained all night, so they couldn't even sneak outside, or go to pizza hut. they were "stuck" in the youth center and i was pretty grateful to God for that. it even helped to set the "tone" of a dark and somber night.

we had our largest attendance of the fall, with 63 high school students there and a TON of leaders. overall, i'm pretty encouraged with how things are going now. i'm at times, frustrated and exhausted with all i'm having to do. but as long as the results continue to be good, i'll be fine!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Interesting article "Why do we say that"

Someone brought this article into my office this week ... it gives the history on some of the funny sayings we Americans have. Thought I'd share a few of them ... the entire article is pretty cool

Letting the cat out of the bag: In the Middle Ages, if you weren’t careful, it was said, an unscrupulous grocer might cheat you out of the suckling pig you’d purchased for a special dinner. While your back was turned, he’d instead slip a stray cat into your shopping bag. When you returned home and unloaded your groceries, you’d discover an unpleasant secret—by letting a (very angry) cat out of your bag.

Caught red-handed: Several hilarious but incorrect explanations exist for this expression, from references to thief-deterring dye bags in bundles of money to an outrageous legend about lower classes being forbidden to eat pistachios. “The intellect is our means of making sense of things,” Doyle says. “If we can’t discover sense, we will fabricate it.” In truth, “caught red-handed” refers to criminals who were apprehended while they literally still had the blood of their victims on their hands.

Mad as a hatter: These days, we expect nervous breakdowns from celebrities, but oddly enough, the cliché once applied specifically to hat makers. Mercury was once used to treat felt, so a disproportionate number of milliners, who worked for years on end with the poisonous substance, ended up in mental institutions with neurological damage. The expression became even more widespread after author Lewis Carroll used it as inspiration for a character in Alice in Wonderland.

Raining cats and dogs: Unfortunately, the story behind this popular expression is far from warm and fuzzy. Back in 17th-century England, poorly designed gutter systems sometimes caused stray dogs and cats to drown during major downpours. After a storm, it wasn’t uncommon to see the dead animals in the street, which, Evins says, “led some people to conclude they had actually come from the sky,” like the rain.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

had the best time tonight

so my life has been pretty crappy the past few weeks. i've been in this weird funk that i couldn't shake at all last week. work has been pretty rough and i haven't even wanted to have all that much of a social life.

due to this funk, i didn't make any time to prepare for my small group i lead for my high school girls on saturday. so instead of doing a lesson, i wrote up 20 questions and put them in a bowl. each of the girls drew a question and then we all answered them. it was a great way to get to know my girls better and for them to be open and honest with each other. some of them were silly questions, like 'who's your favorite celebrity' or 'where do you want to go on your honeymoon' (which interestingly enough, all high school girls seem to have this planned out ... lol ... none of them even had to think about it!!). i also had some deeper questions like 'how's your relationship with your parents' and 'what made you cry last'

i have to say this was one of my best groups ever. for someone who likes to be prepared and organized, for something so spontaneous to actually work was pretty amazing.

so then tonight, i stopped by the small groups happening @ the youth center to give some announcements ... one of the guy leaders wasn't there and we were going to combine their group with another one. the guys decided they would rather run their own group than combine. one of them jokingly suggested i lead their group. so i said, sure i'll stay for a few minutes, just to get you guys settled.

i ended up staying the entire time. it was so much fun. of course, we didn't get to the lesson ... but we did talk about their weeks and then i gave them a chance to ask me any questions they wanted ... so we talked about sports and music and colleges. then, i told them they had a one time chance to ask me any questions about why girls are so mysterious or baffling. and they didn't hesitate to ask!! it was great. towards the end, they told me i should have an 'ask rachael' blog on facebook where they could ask anonymous questions about the mysteries of girls. it was too funny.

i can't say it's conventional at all, or probably something that should happen every week. but for tonight, having a female leader in their group was a pretty positive thing.

and it made my week.

i don't know how balanced my world is, if the thing that i look forward to most, is hanging out with high schoolers ... but lately, it's about all that keeps me going.

i'm hoping i get over this funk soon. i'm not one to normally be ruled by my emotions. i have been determined to make this week better, and it seems to be getting that way. i'm not back 100% but i will be soon!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

i'm thinking of riding the bus

So I've figured out I can take the bus from close to my house to church on Saturdays for youth group.

It will take me over an hour but will only cost a few dollars. I guess the question then becomes, is my time worth the cost of gas if I drive myself. I can imagine it would be nice, to read for an hour or listen to my i-pod. There's even a return bus that I could probably work with my schedule.

But what happens if I get lost? If I can't figure out what to do? Am I comfortable enough without my car if I get turned around or get on the right bus? Normally I'm great with directions, having been blessed with a good sense of direction. I love maps and enjoy getting lost a time or 2, if it means I can figure out a different way to go somewhere.

But that is from the safety of my own vehicle, where I'm in control.

Things to ponder ...

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

how far we've come from the 1950's to today

I remember my father talking about the scandal that took place on network TV in the 50's when the show wanted to portray the married couple's bedroom. The rooms had 2 twin beds in them. The idea of portraying sex on television was so taboo, so controversial ..

Now, in 2008, we have a girl, willing to sell her virginity on ebay to pay for college.


Honestly, what type of person is going to pay tons of money to sleep with a virgin? Is virginity becoming such a rare commodity, that suddenly it's worth money? Is the idea of sleeping with a virgin such a desired commodity? It grosses me out to think about the types of guys that are bidding to be the "chosen one" ...

I'm so scared of what our country is going to be like, in another 10 years when my nieces are entering their teen years.

Monday, September 29, 2008

preparation for the week

For the past 3 weeks, on Sunday nights, I've been trying to get myself better prepared for the week. I'm trying to do laundry each week and as soon as things come out of the dryer, I've been ironing those things that need it. That, in and of itself, is pretty huge for me. I've lived in my house over 2 years now and I don't think I once brought the ironing board out. I can only imagine what all my co-workers think of my clothes each day.

Okay back on track, so after I've ironed everything, I've been putting together outfits for the week - pants, shirts, even a matching bag (because yes, I'm that obsessed). If nothing else, this shows me that I have more clothes than I think I do. It's so tempting to always think I have nothing to wear, when in fact I have 2 closets full of clothes and shoes. (I need to go through them, as I can probably donate over 1/2 of it and not notice the absence). So when I see that I have 8-9 outfits all hanging in my closet, that makes me feel pretty happy. This makes my mornings less stressful - as I don't have to figure out which clothes are clean and if they match. :)

Secondly, I'm also planning out my meals for the week. I'm using this pretty cool website,, that has all these meal plans and gives you tons of options to choose from. You can track weight loss, how much water you drink and what foods you've had for the day. If you pick your meals for the week, you can even print out a shopping list. This is helpful because now I only buy what I actually need and am able to save $30-$50 a week at the grocery store. The best part is that the website is all free!!

Thirdly, I'm balancing my checkbook each week. I started using Microsoft Money and I love the bugets and graphs and everything it shows you after you've entered in all your transactions.

If I can get all of this done on Sunday evenings, the workweek doesn't appear quite so daunting and I usually function better when everything is organized.

Now, for some of you, I know the idea that I'm not organized in everything I do, is hard to believe!! My house is usually the most chaotic part of my life. My desk at work is usually cleaned off each night, but at home it's pretty much the exact opposite. I'm trying to get better!

Friday, September 26, 2008

somedays i hate my job

i just had to let 2 of my staff know we have to cut their hours by one shift a pay period. it's not a huge cut, and no one is being laid off, but neither of them is happy with me right now.

i've been screamed at, even though she said she wasn't mad at me, that didn't stop her from dropping a bunch of f-bombs and raising her voice so that everyone in the bldg could hear

i may have a voodoo doll (or 2) of me created tonight ... ugh

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

well, top ten lists seem to be popular this week in the blog world ... so i guess it's my turn to create one (i'm not sure i can come up with 10 ...)

i do know it's been an emotional few weeks for me ... so here are the things that have made me cry lately (not in any major order)

  • the final game @ yankee stadium on Sunday night ... this could probably count for half of my 10 ...
  1. when bernie williams made his 1st appearance at the stadium since 2006,
  2. when bobby murcer's widow & 2 kids walked out to center field,
  3. when jorge posada came out to catch the 1st pitch, even though he had surgery earlier this year and couldn't play in the game
  4. when babe ruth's daughter threw out the 1st pitch
  5. when derek jeter made his speech from the pitcher's mound after the yankees won the game ... (click the link, you know you want to watch it)
  6. when the yankees tipped their caps to the fans and then walked around the entire field
  7. when getting ready for work on Monday morning and the radio guys were talking about Jeter's speech and replayed it - yep I cried again
  8. when talking to a co-worker about the game on Monday
  • a difficult conversation with my best friend
  • the ending of the book "The Friday Night Knitting Club"
  • 2 movies "PS I Love You" and "The Martian Child"
  • becoming overwhelmed with work and all the new projects i'm being asked to do
well i think that's enough tears for me for awhile. (i count 12, so that's even more than the required 10) for whatever reason it was a long, emotional, exhausting summer for me. i thought that once fall came around, things would get easier.

i know that all my tears for a baseball game might get me laughed at, but the yankees and yankee stadium are a part of me. i don't know how else to describe it. my honest answer to the question, where is your favorite place to be is 'yankee stadium' ... there's nothing quite like being apart of 55,000 people, yelling at the top of your lungs, jumping up and down when someone hits a home run or makes a spectacular play ... high fiving and hugging perfect strangers ...

some of my best memories from the past 9 years have been at Yankee Stadium. if the city of NY decides to tear down the stadium, i may have to take that day off of work. i might just be inconsolable

Monday, September 15, 2008

1st official blog

Okay well thanks to some prodding by Christi, I decided it's time for me to blog. Watch out!! I don't know if I can be as funny or uplifting as others on here, but I'll give it a shot.

So I survived a Monday at the office ... last night I got a call around 7:30 from one of the supervisors saying the power was out at the office and the phones weren't going to the answering service. This is never a good thing; because as a hospice, one of the things we promote more than anything else, is the availability of nurses 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week. We do have a way to keep the phones running during a power outage, but it involves going to the office and plugging in an old time phone (not quite as bad as a rotary phone, but pretty close). Anyways, the biggest downfall to a power outage, is that our Keyless Entry to our office, doesn't work! So, the supervisor and I were on the phone for about an hour - as she searched for open windows and ways to get in the building. Normally my office window doesn't lock; nor is there a screen on it but it's kind of on a 2nd level. So she was able to call the fire chief who came with a ladder and was able to climb in my window and let her in the front door. Now the greatest part about this story, is that neither the fire chief, nor the police office asked her for any kind of ID at all. So she could have totally been a robber or a disgruntled employee, and they would have climbed in the window and let her in. Craziness.

Anyways, I was laughing my head off at her the entire time. I was pretty glad I wasn't the one at the office having to break into my office window!! I guess that is one benefit to not living close to the office.

With gas prices the way they are right now, that might be the only benefit to not living close to work! I'm a bit scared, because gas prices in Nashville were over $5.00 a gallon on Saturday. Thanks to Hurricane Ike I believe. I'm really really hoping those prices do not reach the East Coast. Or I'm going to be sleeping at my friend Cheryl's house on work nights and then find a room to sleep in on Saturday nights, close to church. My life will become a revolving suitcase and a pull out couch. And my reasons for not buying a prius or civic were????? I can't remember.

What I'm reading: Purpose Driven Youth Ministry, a cheesy romance novel, and soon to start Dangerous Wonder
CD in my car: the new Kutless
Latest music added to my ipod: David Crowder, Remedy; Hillsong United; Sanctus Real and of course, the new Chris Tomlin :)
Looking forward to: my last trip to Yankee Stadium on Wed night and seeing Sanctus Real and 10th Ave North on Friday night
Regretting: no regrets today (yet)

Okay I think I've written enough for tonight ...