Goodbye, girl.

I have decided that it is time to say goodbye to Rachel’s Rambles.

This probably won’t come as a surprise given the increasing spans of time between posts. But alas, I had to write you one more time. I cannot ghost this site, even as I feel the just short of irrefutable urge to simply delete it and move on with my life.

Rachel’s Rambles is a record of such a huge part of that life. It is a chronicle of my greatest triumphs and woes, each having been acknowledged in some way on this site.

But I’m not the girl who started this blog anymore.

I’m different.

My speech is different.

My actions.

Even the way I’m taking my coffee is different (with protein powder; I’m old).

The truth is, one day, rather a series of days, I woke up and the reality repeatedly sucker-punched me.

I am no longer the carefree, ambitious, radical girl I once was.

I’m a little harder, now. A little more wizened. And sure, a little more cynical.

The inevitability of life is that it steals the innocence of youth.

For a time, I fought back. Tried to retain the her I used to be.

Not too long ago, I read an article about the fight to stay the same (I can’t find it now, but if you know the one, please comment the link for proper accreditation). The need to hold on with every ounce of strength to our former selves as proof that life didn’t get to us. It’s futile. Life does get to us, to all of us. And sometimes it completely destroys, then builds back up, so that we are no longer recognizable even to ourselves. The only way to move forward is to let go.

The last five years have completely transformed who I am.

Yes, I still pente-dance in public, eat an inordinate amount of fries, and sport the color black like there isn’t another option…

I laugh till I cry and I lose my voice from sharing too many musings with too many strangers.

More importantly, my values remain.

Most importantly, my love for God stands steadfast.

I still believe what I believe.

But my relationship with Him has evolved; it has traversed into deeper waters. And with Him, my ideology, my understanding has shifted.

It needed to.

I was never meant to stay… her.

I was meant to become me.

And I’m still trying to figure out just who that is.

I only know this much: it’s time to let her go.

It’s time to say goodbye.

To all my family, friends, readers:

You are so desperately loved. Thank you for supporting my rambling for so long. I had no idea the impact this blog would have, and I’m so grateful to have shared my heart with the world. Literally.

Rachel’s Rambles has been visited 169,000+ times by 156 nationalities.

Click here to see a complete list.

Goodbye, girl.

23 Lessons (Re)learned

  1. The couch is comfy, but that comfy feeling is only concealing regret. Get up and do things. You don’t have to go cross-country to have a ball (though it definitely helps). Make the most of every Saturday by checking out museums, parks, and other wacky things.
  2. Take the chance. Life is short. Sometimes the chance comes with risk: like going on a date with an islander in a foreign country (okay, so he was a Canadian and I’m not sure that counts, but still) or putting your heart on the line with a friend. Neither of those ventures panned out for me, but that’s okay. Sometimes chance rides side-saddle with pain. Sometimes it runs free-spirited with rewards.
  3. Laugh. Actually, make appointments for it. John Crist and Tim Hawkins comedy shows undid more emotional damage than all my therapy sessions combined.
  4. Go to the doctor. It’s a hassle, a definitive nuisance, but regular check-ups save lives. Don’t be a missed diagnosis because you were too busy building a life to care for it.
  5. Jump on a fandom bandwagon. They’re a great deal of fun. Just don’t become obsessed. No matter how entertaining the fandom is, it can’t possibly replace the sheer ecstatic of worshiping our Savior.
  6. Worship harder, longer, every time. Feelin’ it? Don’t care. It’s not about you. And while you’re at it, worship at home. Dancing like a lunatic isn’t just reserved for praise breaks in church. Bobby pins should go flying no matter where you are dancing, especially when you don’t feel like it. And exude praise, especially when you’re tired. Sacrificial worship only occurs when you’re not feeling it, not feeling up to it, not feeling at all. If you’re scared of what people think, you’re nailing it.
  7. Meet new people. The process is uncomfortable, but it’s also fascinating. Their stories will fuel your own.
  8. Celebrate people. Not everyone is going to be in your life forever, so celebrate them while they are still around you.
  9. Keep standing for what you believe in, even if it makes people mad at you. But be nice about it. You don’t have to tear down the beliefs of others to demonstrate your own.
  10. Be a Christian before you are an American. Your country is amazing, your eternity is better. It’s okay to care about the state of affairs, but if your American beliefs begin to overrule your Christian beliefs, who is truly your god? So just shut up more often and love like Christ did, even if it lands you on a cross. And by the way, if it does, carry the thing. Pray for the souls who gave it to you. Don’t nail them to it instead.
  11. You’re required to try at least once, even twice, but then you’re allowed to walk away. If someone is hurting you, and they repeatedly disregard your attempts to kindly bring the situation back on track, you are allowed to walk away.
  12. Look up. Never forget your significant insignificance.
  13. Explore your own backyard. Adventures are still adventures, even when they’re just in your state or just in your city or just in your backyard.
  14. There is a literal devil on your shoulder. Beat the crap out of him.
  15. Finance support groups are fun. Yeah the discussion is about money (and usually how we’re failing with it), but at least we’re talking. We’re being vulnerable and sharing our dreams and aspirations. It’s beautiful.
  16. Don’t waste your time envying the gifts of others. God has painted unique strengths on you to perfectly fit your piece of His puzzle, so perfectly that the seam is invisible. Don’t screw the puzzle up by trying to duplicate the piece next to you. There are nooks and crannies you were never meant to fit, and there are nooks and crannies that desperately need you.
  17. There’s not much to glean from TV. Books, however, are a rich source of inspiration and knowledge. That said, you don’t have to collect them. A bookshelf can very quickly become a source of guilt instead of inspiration.
  18. Create from the soul. Words. Speeches. Conversations. Paintings. Dramas. Songs. Prose. Life.
  19. When nostalgia hits and you forget all the why not’s, force yourself to sit back and do and say nothing until the wave goes away and sanity returns.
  20. Take time to remember. Go through your photo album, read old blog posts, scroll through old timelines. Remember who you were, where you were; use remembering as fuel for planning.
  21. You are the only one preventing you from anything. You want to dance in public? Dance. You want to learn a language? Learn. You want to adventure? Adventure. Stop complaining and just do it already.
  22. People will never live up to your expectations. You will get hurt, and it will happen every single time. Yes, sometimes it will cut you like a knife, and you will bleed and ache and cry. But don’t stop expecting. Without expectations, there is nothing to keep us striving to be and do and believe better. Lord knows you are relying on others to expect greatness of you.
  23. Except in the case of Heaven, the journey, the anticipation, is always better than the destination. And that’s okay. After all, you were designed to be just passing through.

Here’s to the next year of life. 

23 Lessons (Re)learned

Carpenter Girls Head West

3,000 miles. 11 states. 5 days. 3 girls. 1 trip.

You can say that we were a bit tuckered after the trip, but it was so worth it.

On Friday, August 31st, my sister, my cousin and I headed west. The ultimate goal was to see Mount Rushmore, but the west has so much to offer that we planned for extras.

The first day, we drove through Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin (then back to Iowa for the night). We saw some gorgeous landscapes and had amazing God talks after visiting a super creepy shrine.

We fueled up on coffee at this adorable train-station-turned-coffee-house in Urbana, OH. If you’re ever there, check it out! They have so many incredibly delicious coffee concoctions!!
A gorgeous sunrise greeted us as we set out. This snapshot was taken at the Coffee Depot, while the sun yawned just out of sight.
That creepy shrine…
Wisconsin is a masterpiece.
This hilarious plaque can be found in Decorah, Iowa. These people are my kind of people.

Since we spent the majority of Friday just driving, we made sure to check out museums and stretch our legs a little on Saturday. Before we even hit the road again, we stopped by the Norwegian museum in Decorah. Since I found out a year or so ago that my ancestors were vikings, it was really fascinating to learn about Scandinavian history. Those peeps were heroes, friends. Well.. after they stopped killing everyone. *cough*

Even with another museum and several side-of-road photo shoots, we managed to dash into Minnesota, then cross the great and gorgeous expanse of South Dakota.

This is the smallest sailboat to cross the Atlantic. It was manned by two Norwegian brothers who migrated to America. Unfortunately, after their successful trek, one of the brothers returned to sea and was never heard from again.
We stopped off in Austin, Minnesota when this place popped up on my GPS (much to our disbelief and great delight)! The place was fairly smelly, but it was a lot of fun to race each other in canning fake spam.
My boss told us to detour from 90W for gorgeous sights when driving through South Dakota. We took him at his word and were rewarded with stunning views that a camera simply cannot capture. This was just one of several pull-offs for photo shoots. Also, the roads there are pink. PINK.

We awoke dark and early on Sunday and the girls chilaxed at the hotel while I went to the nearest Urgent Care (which was 30 minutes away). Unfortunately, I was suffering from a mild-turned-excruciating toothache that just got to be a bit much, so they set me up with some antibiotics and painkillers.

Once that dullness was out of the way, I returned to the hotel to get the gals and we headed out for the main event. Mount Rushmore. And of course, we were feelin’ fairly celebratory. Especially since it happened to be Bre’s (the cousin) birthday. It was her 18th to be exact! What a way to celebrate, eh?

Just. Wow.
We got some weird looks when we asked someone to take this picture. But it’s pretty cool (even though I was having a braid-hair day), eh? Left to right: Sarah, Bre, me.
Sometimes I dance. Okay. Always I dance. Especially on mountaintops.

Side note: Rushmore was about 20 minutes from our hotel and the round trip officially tipped us over the 3,000 mile marker.

After seeing jaw-dropping creation – both the original masterpiece of God’s handiwork (I mean the surrounding landscape when you’re up there will leave you in tears) and the ambitious sight of man’s sculptiwork (I realize this is not a word), I dropped the gals off for lunch in a nearby tourist town. The town boasted a very Wild West vibed boardwalk that made you feel like you’d stepped back in time. While the gals feasted (well, ate some rushed food because the place was a zoo), I napped in the car (the drugs were easing the pain enough that I was finally able to catch some shut-eye). Tummies filled and eyes sandy, we headed back to the hotel to relax, and gear up for the two-day trek back.

The next morning, we hit the road and didn’t make it far before we found a new experience to try. Less than twenty minutes from the hotel, we passed a helicopter tour business. As we continued down the road, we fell into discussion about how much we’d like to try that in the future and the need to plan such an occasion. Ever the ENFP and game for spontaneity, I asked the gals: “Why don’t we just do it now?”

They both agreed immediately and called the moms to make sure it was okay while I made a u-turn and rushed back. With parental consent granted, we walked up to the doors of the.. CLOSED business. We were ready to wait though, as our hearts were now set on a bird eye view of the Black Hills. To our great delight, we didn’t have to wait. One of the employees came to the door, ushered us in (30 minutes before open, mind you) and had his coworker describe the tours to us. We selected a 20 minute tour that would take us around the nearby area and over to the Crazy Horse monument. The initial employee coached us on safety, checked with the pilot and took us straight out to board. We were getting premium treatment and we were ecstatic.

Sarah and I insisted Bre get the front seat since it was the day after her 18th birthday, and I snapped a shot of Bre and Sarah in the copter just before boarding. You can sense the excitement we all felt.
The views up there were.. well there aren’t words. If you ever get the chance to experience a helicopter ride, please take it. It feels entirely safe and surreal the entire time.


The Crazy Horse monument will be the largest sculpture in the world once it’s complete. They’re currently working on his pointed hand (see left), and will then tackle the horse head beneath him. No one was working while we were there (it was Labor Day after all), but there were several abandoned vehicles that help convey the sheer size of this sculpture.
Of course I took a copter selfie. It’s what you do, okay? Shut up already.

With the adrenaline rush of the helicopter tour fueling us, we hit the road hard and made our way through Wyoming, Nebraska, Colorado and most of Kansas.

Fort Laramie’s historic site still hosts the skeletons of structures from the first settlement in Wyoming. With an insanely gorgeous landscape surrounding these ruins, we felt as though we were time travelers come home. Well, until it got itchy and hot and we wanted out.
But still. I mean just look at it.
Up next was Nebraska. There we stopped to see Courthouse and Jail rocks, famous landmarks that pioneers used in the age of the Oregon Trail.
My personal favorite was Chimney Rock. Not featured are the signs warning us not to leave the sidewalks as rattlers have been spotted. Bre and I had a lot of fun terrifying Sarah with this knowledge.
This is the last picture I snapped of our Wild, Wild West adventure. And it is also breathtaking. Yeah, we were basically starved for air by the end of the trip.

We crashed hard on Monday night. Er.. we fell asleep. There were no crashes on the trip.

Anyway, we hit the road for the final leg of our journey on Tuesday and made a beeline through the remainder of Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio. We were crunched for time (Bre had school the next morning) and a little bum-sore after that many miles in Ronnie (the car), so we didn’t make any stops outside of gas stations and restaurants.

All of a sudden, we were home.

And we were already craving our next adventure.

The route we took; the most fun we’ve ever had.

Post-Script: Yes. I drove all but two hours. Sarah filled in for me some so that I could nap a little on Monday as laying down felt a lot better on my tooth than sitting up.

Carpenter Girls Head West