Favorite Things · Food · Life · Prayer · Uncategorized

I Have A Dream

Ephesians 3:20-21

(NIV) Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,to him be glory!

(The Message) God can do anything,—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.

What does immeasurable mean? According to good ol Webster, immeasurable is defined as having no limits. Some synonyms of immeasurable are bottomless, countless, endless, indefinite, inestimable, inexhaustible, limitless, measureless, no end to, unbounded, uncountable, and unfathomable, just to name a few!

I’ve had a dream growing inside of me for a long, long time. It’s something that I hold very dear to my heart. Sometimes I joke about it and make light of it because I’ve never really thought of it as more than just a dream. I’ve never thought of it as something that could possibly come true, but nonetheless, I am very passionate about it. A few days ago, I had lunch at a cute little diner called Mudd Puddles here in town. As I was sipping my coffee, talking to one of my girl friends, I began to tell her my dream of owning my very own little diner. As I was telling her all my ideas and plans that I’ve dreamed up, I began to get excited, as I always do when I’m thinking about the diner I wish I owned. Paige and I are similar in that we love to cook and bake and more importantly, we LOVE to cook and bake for other people!! So as I was talking to her about my dream of owning a diner, she too started getting excited. We talked about what it would be like to open a little southern style diner. We talked about the menu, the atmosphere of the diner, the different ways we could get the community involved in our diner. We talked about location. We talked about the ways we would be able to give back to our community through cooking and baking. One idea we had would be to adopt one family a week that could use a home cooked meal. We’d call this A Meal to Heal. Customers could anonymously nominate a family from the community that was in need and we would deliver to their home. We even thought of ways we could get local businesses or churches involved in this. We’d find 52 businesses and churches (because there are 52 weeks in a year) and ask that each one sign up for a week that they would like to donate to A Meal to Heal so that each family we “adopted” would get the best of the best. We discussed having an after school program for kids where we would teach the basics of cooking for a family. We would give the kids an opportunity to cook a meal for their parents one night a week. The more we talked about this dream, the more we thought of ways that we could use this diner to “pay it forward” because to whom much is given, much is required. And Paige and I couldn’t think of a better way than using this diner to give back to our community.

The past few days, this diner is all I’ve been able to think about. It’s been hard to focus on anything else. I’ve been all over Pinterest, researching everything from decor to southern style recipes and how to offer something that no one else in this area offers. Last night as I was reading my Bible before I went to bed, I came across these verses in Ephesians and it dawned on me that this dream I have inside of me could be more than a dream. This diner could become reality. All I have to do is dream and God will take care of the rest. And His promise is that he will do immeasurably more than what I could ever dream up on my own. He takes our dreams and our desires and propels them in to realities that are far beyond the finite expectations that we have.

Right now Paige and I have to focus on getting through this last semester of school and finishing up our student teaching, but don’t think for a minute that the plans for this diner aren’t gonna be rolling around in our brains. When we place our dreams in His hands, there are no limits to what He will do.


Dating · Favorite Things · Life · Uncategorized

All Because Two People Fell In Love

It was 1962, my gramma was a carhop at a little diner in Sherman, TX, kind of like what we now know as Sonic. One afternoon, a man named Ray Morgan Cantwell pulled in to that diner. He took one look at my gramma and it was love at first sight. My gramma tells the story like this: “Your Papa Ray circled that parking lot all afternoon until I got off work and when I did, he told me that he was going to marry me. And two weeks later, we were married.” One year later, my dad, Jeffery Ray Cantwell, was born.

My papa Richard had a crush on a girl named Charlotte. Well, one night, Charlotte and her sisters had a dance at their farm in Rocky Comfort and Richard was invited. When he got there, he said hello to Charlotte but the second Charlotte’s little sister walked in, Charlotte was old news. Richard met eyes with Lilian Jane Hines and knew he wanted to meet this girl. Well, as the story goes, Jane (as she liked to be called) was too young to date, so Richard had to wait. But the second Jane’s daddy, Oren (the owner of the local sawmill) said Richard could court Miss Jane, they were inseparable. They went on to get married and they had five girls–Wanda, Sandra, Roxanne, and the twins, Nelli and Kelli.

Let’s fast forward a couple years. Jeff moved to Missouri from Texas to go to college. He was a sophomore when Sandra started college at the same school. Jeff kinda had a crush on Sandra’s best friend and Sandra thought Jeff’s best friend was pretty hot. When things didn’t work out for either couple, they decided to swap. So Jeff and Sandra started dating and their two best friends became a couple as well. Things were going well for Jeff and Sandra and they decided they were going to get married. Jeff gave Sandra a ring but no date had been set. During their summer break between classes, Jeff went back to Texas to work on an oil rig and Sandra moved back home to the farm. Well, one summer evening, Jeff had had enough. He didn’t want to wait another second to be married to Sandra so he drove all through the night, pulled in to the chicken plant where Sandra was working a summer job, and he marched right up to wear she was in the assembly line. Back then they didn’t have cell phones so he hadn’t been able to give her an ounce of warning that he was on his way. She was shocked to say the least. So there they stood and Jeff looked at her and said, “I’m either leaving with you and the ring or just the ring.” And the next day Jeffery Ray Cantwell married Sandra Jane and they had Rachel (ME!), Jeffery Ray Jr., and Nathan.

I love to look back at the way things were orchestrated. What if my gramma Dodie hadn’t been scheduled to work that day at the little diner in Sherman, TX? What if my Papa Ray hadn’t decided to stop in for dinner? Or what if my papa Richard hadn’t gone to the dance on Charlotte’s farm? What if my great-grandpa Oren wouldn’t have let my gramma Jane go on a date with Richard? That would mean that my dad wouldn’t have been born. My momma wouldn’t have ever walked this earth, either. All I know is I’m sure glad things worked out the way they did. And I can’t wait to look back on my life when I have kids and grand kids of my own and be able to see how every little step was orchestrated and designed for a special reason.

Thanks for falling in love, gramma and papa. ~Rach

Dating · Favorite Things · Life · Prayer · Uncategorized

Anne with an “e”

Anne of Green Gables is, by far, my most favorite movie of all time. I love Anne of Avonlea and The Continuing Story just as much! But there is something about watching Anne grow up on Prince Edward Island at Green Gables that absolutely makes me smile every time I think about it. Anne was a stubborn, fiery, passionate, redhead that wanted nothing more than to stay ahead of Gilbert Blythe in her school work. She loved a challenge and it didn’t matter how many times you told her something could not be done, she was determined to make a way. As I was remembering some of my favorite lines from this movie, it made me think of the many lessons we can learn from Anne with an “e.”

Tomorrow is always fresh, with no mistakes in it. —This reminds that God’s mercies are new every morning and He will wipe our slate clean now matter how many times we ask. He’s a gracious God of second chances.

I thought nothing could be as bad as red hair. Green is ten times worse. – How true is this? Often times we focus so much on one little problem, making it more significant than what it should be rather than placing that problem in God’s hands. We turn a mole hill in to a mountain and then realize that had we trusted God in the first place, our problems wouldn’t seem as bad!

Anne: Don’t you ever imagine things differently from what they are?
Marilla: No.
Anne: Oh Marilla, how much you miss.   — One of my favorite things about Anne is her imagination. There are no limits to where she can go, who she can be, or what she will do.

Anne: Can’t you even imagine you’re in the depths of despair?
Marilla: No I cannot. To despair is to turn your back on God. —–This is speaks for itself.

Aunt Josephine: Make a little room in your plans for romance again, Anne, girl. All the degrees and scholarships in the world can’t make up for the lack of it. – I love this because it reminds me of something MY aunt Roxanne would have said to me. She would remind me of the importance of letting love in.

I know I chatter on far too much… but if you only knew how many things I want to say and don’t. Give me some credit.—-I threw this one in here because, well, it pretty much explains me to a T. I know I always have SOMETHING to say, a story to tell, but that’s part of who I am and I think God made me that way for a special reason. This is just a reminder to me that it’s okay to love who I am and not be ashamed of the sometimes very verbose person that God made me.

I think I would probably come to the conclusion that I’d like it for a while… but in the end, I’d still prefer the sound of the wind in the firs across the brook more than the tinkling of crystal.—Anne and I are basically the same person. I couldn’t say it better myself. I think we get wrapped up in “things” and forget to be thankful for the simplicity and the beauty of life, like the sound of nature.

True friends are always together in spirit. —I’ve got a few women in my life that will always, no matter what,  be my best friends. Jen and Ariana live in Texas. Jess is in South Carolina. Christin isn’t as far away, but we don’t get to see each other daily. My point is this: No matter how far away we are from each other, no matter how long we go without talking, these girls are always with me in spirit. They are the truest of friends and I love them!

Tomorrow is Saturday. I need to do about 15 hours of homework. And it’s looking like a perfect day to put Anne of Green Gables on, settle in, and attempt some of the dreaded work.

Good night, ya’ll. Love, Anne…..I mean, Rach!

Favorite Things · Food · Life · Uncategorized

A Southern Daydream

Would someone care to explain to me why I wasn’t born and raised in the south? I must say, I’m a tad bit jealous of those that were. Okay, that’s a lie. I’m a lot bit jealous. I have this image in my head of what life would’ve been like had I grown up in the south. I think I’d probably have larger love handles than what I already do, but I don’t know that I care. Ya’ll know Paula Deen? I think I would’ve turned in to her. And I’m okay with that. The Midwest isn’t a terrible place to be (I have to convince myself of that daily), but the South is where I wish I was.

I imagine I’d live in one of those old, plantation style homes. You know the kind….with big, white columns and ferns hanging on the porch, wicker rocking chairs, a porch swing overflowing with pillows of various, blending patterns and colors. I’d always have sweet tea in the fridge and freshly cut flowers on the kitchen table. The wooden floors in my home would become familiar with the feet of guests that I’d entertain and the walls would echo with laughter. The grass in my yard would be green and lush and there would be a cute little garden in my back yard with just enough vegetables to always have fresh cucumbers and tomatoes to snack on. I’d have a kitchen table that could seat 12, just like my momma’s. I’d have a wall dedicated just to family pictures. I’d have a living room with plenty of seating and, Lord willing, my home would be within walking distance to a fully stocked pond, one that my babies and I could fish from on summer evenings after dinner. I would hope that my home was seated on a hill, and that nothing would block my view of the sunrise and sunset. My dream is that I would have cows grazing all around me and a few horses that, at any given moment, my babies and I could saddle and take off for an afternoon ride, exploring and learning about nature. I would home school my kiddos and we would have an outdoor classroom. My front door would be red and all that entered through it would feel welcome and loved.

I imagine I would live in a small town, one that was nostalgic and made me feel like I lived in 1965. There’d be a little diner, I’d be the owner, and several days a week, I’d serve breakfast and lunch to the Regulars. Have ya’ll seen Gilmore Girls? This TV show is centered around a small town called Stars Hollow. Everybody knows everybody and there are no secrets. Other than Stars Hollow being completely and totally geographically wrong (Connecticut), this is what my southern little town would be like. A girl can most certainly dream, right?

But I’m not in the South. I’m in the Midwest. I don’t have one of those cute little southern drawls. I don’t use enough butter when I cook and bake. And I don’t love SEC football. I could change my ways, though, because I think deep down, I’m a Georgia Peach. Heck, I’d even settle for Mississippi Hippie.

Back to reality~Rach

Life · Uncategorized

Thank You, Silver Car!

Well. Where do I even begin? This morning was one of those mornings that started out with good intentions but coffee deprivation kicked in and so did Murphy’s Law. The shoes I wanted to wear were nowhere to be found. The pants I had every intention of slipping in to were so tight that I thought I was going to have to use a bungee cord to even get them to stay up. We’re going to blame that on the fact that they accidentally got thrown in the dryer. Because eating an entire batch of no bake cookies last weekend played no part in that. Needless to say, there was no slipping in to those jeans. It looked more like a contortionist doing some extreme acrobatics. Except not that graceful. Anyway. Murphy’s Law. There was no milk for my cereal. My dog wouldn’t come back inside. I couldn’t find my keys. I didn’t have time to make coffee. You get my point. So, when I topped the hill on highway 71 this morning, cruising along at a steady speed of 85 miles per hour (15 over), I was not the least bit surprised to see a State Trooper perched, waiting patiently for someone like me to come flying over the hill. Immediately, his tires began to move and his lights flipped on and I muttered the words, “Oh _____.” Hey, I’m a work in progress so don’t judge me. Well, I’m not really sure how or why I thought to do this, but what happened next completely turned my whole morning upside down. As the trooper was doing a U-turn, I just kind of eased my way in to the right line, blending in with the long stream of cars that had chosen to abide by the laws of the land and go the speed limit. I didn’t think it would really work, but as each car behind me began to pull over on the shoulder, I did the same, and the trooper just flew right on by. I thought surely he would slow down and wait for me to get around him again but as I pulled back on to the highway, I noticed there was another little silver car about six or seven vehicles in front of me. I thought to myself, “There’s no way this is happening. He has mistaken that poor innocent car for mine.” You see, I too drive a little silver car. But just as sure as the sun was shining, he pulled in behind that little silver car as I drove (the speed limit, mind you) right past them both. I will admit I felt kind of bad. I mean, I WAS the one that had been speeding but what was I to do?  It was out of my hands, people. So, I’d like to make a public apology to the driver of that little silver car and also thank you for taking one for the team this morning. I owe ya. I’ll pay it forward, I swear.

So, what could have been a potentially crappy kind of day turned in to a not so bad one after all. All the things that had gone wrong prior to that near encounter with the trooper suddenly faded from my mind. Instead of looking at the cup as half empty, my glass instantly began to runneth over. It’s all about perspective, my friends.

I’m off work in an hour. I’m going to the trail to run. Don’t try to talk me out of it. And I’m gonna think of several random acts of kindness I can partake in this weekend to make up for ruining the day of the driver of that little silver car. Have a super-duper weekend, ya’ll!! ~Rach

Life · Prayer · Uncategorized

Speak Up

I’m about to make a confession. It’s one I’m kind of ashamed of but I think a lot of people struggle with this so that doesn’t make me feel quite as bad. But I do know that it’s something I need to work on and as I’ve said before, getting it out in the open is a great source of accountability for me. So. Here it is:: I get really, really, really nervous/embarrassed to invite people to church. I don’t know why. But I do. I think it’s mainly the fear of rejection. And then I start to feel that the person I ask will assume that I think they are a bad person. Which is NEVER the case. All I know is that I grew up in church–it was basically my home away from home–but it wasn’t until I found Racine Christian Church that I finally felt like I was home. And I want people to know that feeling of belonging the way that I do. There isn’t a Sunday that I leave that church that I don’t feel challenged to be a better person. Pastor Jon never fails to deliver a message that is applicable to my every day life and one that encourages me to grow in my relationship with Christ. Our theme last year was simply “Deeper.” The challenge was to “get out of the kiddy pool, take off our floaties, and take that leap of faith in to waters that were well over our head.” I can honestly say that in the last year, I feel like I grew more than any of the previous 26 years of my life. And this is something that I want my friends, family, coworkers, random people I meet at Walmart to all experience as well. Changed people change people. The love, acceptance, importance, genuine care, and kindness that I feel every time I walk through those doors is something I want for everyone. So, if I ask you to come to church with me, it’s not because I look at you as a sinner headed to hell in a hand basket. It’s really just because I love ya and I care about you and want you to know the love that I know. And if ya’ll haven’t met Miss Shirrel, you have not lived. She’s one of the most amazing women I have ever known!!!! Ya’ll NEED to know her!!
The following are some verses that I found to remind me of the importance of not being ashamed of being a christian and being brave enough to tell people about the love of Christ.
Matthew 5:16

The Message (MSG)

14-16 “Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.

Romans 1:16

The Message (MSG)

16 It’s news I’m most proud to proclaim, this extraordinary Message of God’s powerful plan to rescue everyone who trusts him

2 Timothy 1:8-12

The Message (MSG)

8-10 So don’t be embarrassed to speak up for our Master. Take your share of suffering for the Message along with the rest of us. We can only keep on going, after all, by the power of God, who first saved us and then called us to this holy work. We had nothing to do with it. It was all his idea, a gift prepared for us in Jesus long before we knew anything about it. But we know it now. Since the appearance of our Savior, nothing could be plainer: death defeated, life vindicated in a steady blaze of light, all through the work of Jesus.

11-12 This is the Message I’ve been set apart to proclaim as preacher, emissary, and teacher. It’s also the cause of all this trouble I’m in. But I have no regrets. I couldn’t be more sure of my ground—the One I’ve trusted in can take care of what he’s trusted me to do right to the end.

Love you guys!~Rach

Dating · Favorite Things · Life · Uncategorized

Just Throwin’ This Out There

1. I’m not a big fan of winter. I miss the long days of summer. I don’t like having to layer up. I miss being able to slip in to sandals or my Sperry’s and shorts and tank tops. I despise being so cold that even my bones hurt. I miss feeling the sun on my skin and having tan lines and freckles.

2. Today I had this sudden desire to live in the south. I daydreamed about growing up on a cotton plantation, living in one of those old, southern homes with a wrap around porch and sipping sweet tea while wearing a cotton sundress with no shoes. My hair would be blowing in the hot summer wind and I’d drift off to the sound of bugs chirping in the late afternoon, my blue heeler curled up next to me. Yes, if I could have a do-over, this is what I’d do.

3. I’m still listening to Christmas music. Not every day, but at least every other day. I’m not quite ready to throw in the towel on my Rascal Flatts Christmas album. Something about I’ll Be Home For Christmas makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, like when I’m curled up on the couch under one of my momma’s quilts, the glow of the fire radiating off my skin. I know I said I hate winter, but I guess there is ONE thing I do enjoy about this dreadful time of year: fireplaces. There. I said it. I found one thing I like about winter.

4. I have two brothers, both younger than me, both are two of my best friends. I’m close to them in different ways, I enjoy different things about both of them. One thing I love about my middle brother is that we are really good at agreeing to disagree. We see eye to eye on a lot of things, like our sense of humor or our love of tradition but there are a few things that we simply do not agree on. For instance, I take a picture of the sunrise/sunset at least 4-5 times a week. I love the beautiful pinks and purples and oranges and having captured those moments in a picture is something that I cherish. I love to be able to look back at them and be reminded of God’s artistry. My brother, on the other hand, thinks it’s silly. He says that if he took a picture of every beautiful sunrise or sunset, he would begin to take them for granted. They’d all start looking the same to him. So we go round and round about why we do or do not take pictures of the sky. All that being said, tonight around 5:30, my brother called and said, “Hey Rachel, I know how much you love sunsets and I just wanted to let you know there’s a really pretty one right now…..and um, I took a picture for you just in case you didn’t get to see it.” And in that moment I knew just how much my brother loves me. That simple gesture reminded me of how lucky I am to have the brothers that God gave me. Kinda made me choke up a little, I’m not gonna lie.

5. Finally, I know I said I’m not dating, talking about dating, blogging about dating, etc for the next six months, but rules are made to be broken, right?!?!? All I’m gonna say is that the tire pressure light has been on in my car since New Year’s Eve and I have yet to check my tires. I drove to Springfield and back and I’ve driven to Joplin numerous times, never once checking my tires. I know it’s not a big deal (or is it?) and in all honesty, all I’d have to do is ask my dad to check them for me. Heck, he even taught me how to do it last year. But I don’t want to. I just kinda wish I had a man to do it for me. Not that I want a man to do everything for me, but it would just be nice to have one that was capable of checking my tires for me. That’s all. And I’m done.

It’s 7:00 P.M. and I’m about to march my happy butt to bed. I’m glad I could get all this off my chest tonight. See ya’ll on the flippity flop~Rach