Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Posted by Rachael at 1:33 PM
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Here are a few pictures of things that Aaron has been working on up at church. He and Randy (one of our trusty church members) put in a sand volleyball court and a new playground. I know that some of you may thinking, "Why in the world would they put in a sand volleyball court at church?" Well here's the answer:
1. Its Aaron Johnson we are talking about
2. Sand volleyball is really fun to play
Yep, and that's about it. We think that it will be a good outreach tool for our youth group, but we've noticed that the adults really like playing too. My only complaint is that we didn't build a pool to accompany our court. I hate being sweaty and sandy and not able to jump in some cool refreshing water. Which reminds me...I miss the days of just running around in my bathing suit and/or shorts and sports bra. Now that I'm a pastor's wife, I have to remain fully clothed. For those of you that know me well...my summertime attire used to be wearing as little as possible. Oh how things change!
Posted by Rachael at 10:18 AM
Monday, May 19, 2008
Welcome Hilton Bella Harbour
This past weekend was the grand opening of a new resort hotel in Rockwall, Texas. My parents built the hotel and have been slaving over this little project for the past 4 years. So it goes without saying that this weekend was something they had been looking forward to for a long time. Check out the resort at http://www.hotel-online.com/News/PR2008_2nd/May08_HiltonBella.html
Posted by Rachael at 2:29 PM
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Aaron and I spent the next day seeing the sights of Firenze. Even though he was exhausted, he didn't give in to the jet lag and he let me drag him all over the city. I won't outline every detail of our day, but it was great to show him where I'd been living. The next day we took a train to Rome and had a blast stumbling upon the Trevi Fountain. Aaron loved the coliseum and I loved introducing him to the sights of Rome. After we explored Rome, we caught a flight to the true city of love - Paris!!!!
Paris was more amazing than I can possibly explain... we stayed in a rural area of the city in a quaint little hotel. Our room (don't worry - we had double beds :) had a perfect balcony that we would hang out on every morning when we woke up. It was so much fun exploring the city together - I loved showing him around Florence, but it was oh so much better to discover Paris together. And Aaron was the best traveling partner ever! I would get out the guide book and detail all of the places that we should see and Aaron would figure out how to get us there. Now I'm a pretty good world traveler and I've never had trouble finding my way around a new city, but Paris was a whole different story. I'm pretty sure that God was loving the fact that I had to actually rely on Aaron to help me...and it felt so good to know that Aaron was great at it! He figured out the Parisian subway system in no time and we explored to our hearts content.
My favorite memory of our time in Paris would have to be the night we went to the top of the Eiffel Tower. It was absolutely freezing and so we bundled up and headed out to the Tower around 9:00 pm. On the way we grabbed two bottles of wine and a chocolate crepe. We ignored the sign that said "No Food or Drink" and hid everything under my jacket. When we got to the top we cracked open the bottles and drank to Paris, Love, and Adventure. Neither one of us drink now (well, okay I still have a margarita with the girls every once in a while), but the memory still makes me deliciously tipsy just thinking about it. It was the best night of my life and I'll never forget it.
Another funny memory of Paris was the day we got kicked out of the Palace of Versailles. We were just finishing up the tour and the final room we came to was the grand ballroom. I had the sudden urge to dance, so I convinced Aaron to waltz me around the room. We laughed and waltzed and waltzed and laughed. I thought we were pretty talented at it, but obviously the guard didn't have the same opinion of our dancing. When he asked us to step outside, we both cracked up laughing and headed outside to the gardens.
I tell Aaron that I fell in love with him in Paris. It was then and there that I realized that our relationship was something for me to cherish. Aaron was and still is the most amazing man I've ever met. Sure, he has his share of faults, but overall no one can compare with my husband. He traveled half way around the globe, toasted our love on top of the Eiffel Tower, and waltzed with me in the Palace of Versailles.... does it get any better than that?
Posted by Rachael at 3:21 PM
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
Living in Italy was like nothing I have ever done before. I had the most wonderful roommates a girl could ask for. We did everything together: discovered the treasures of Firenze, ate enough pasta and gelato to feed an army, partied till dawn nearly every night, loved each other wholeheartedly despite our vast differences, and traveled to some of the most fabulous places in Europe. I always tell people that Italy was one of the best times in my life, but it was also one of the worst. I believe that it was in Italy that I truly found myself and began to understand my utter dependence on the Lord. My wild adventurous life style was everything that I had ever held myself back from. I experienced the best life the world could offer and every once in a while I would feel a twinge of regret and guilt because I knew I was drifting further and further from the Lord. But, I always figured that I could fix my relationship with my heavenly Father when I got back to Baylor - because, you know Baylor is the perfect place for that sort of thing.
Part of my "experiencing" Italy came in the form of dating more than a couple Italian men. I was enamored with the idea of dating someone foreign, sexy, and exciting. Looking back, I can now ashamedly say that I might have imagined the sexy and exciting part. I did have some legitimately wonderful times motorcycling through the Tuscan countryside to old Italian ruins, eating at deliciously expensive restaurants, laying out by the pool at Italian villas, and horseback riding to my hearts content through the countryside. Yes, life was good by the world's standards. But I was slowly giving in to sin and after a few months I didn't even realize how dangerously low I'd sunk. But, my good Christian girl charade never stopped.
I think that Aaron was the only person from home that realized how much I was changing. I would call him in the wee hours of the night and as we would talk I would accidentally give away little hints that my life in Italy was much different than the one I'd lived in the US. The one secret that I was able to withhold from Aaron was the fact that I was dating other guys (I did tell him that I was "hanging out" with Italian guys but nothing serious - I always left out the motorcycle riding ect.) Now I really did think that we were taking a break , but I didn't want Aaron to know just how much of a break we were taking. I selfishly wanted Aaron all to myself, but I wanted to be able to go out and have a good time too.
In October Aaron decided that he wanted to come visit me during fall break. Luckily our fall breaks lined up and I was going to be out of school at the exact same time. I was VERY apprehensive about him coming to Italy. After all, he had never really traveled outside of the US and I was worried that he would be a horrible travel partner (oh how wrong I was). I imagined him complaining about the food, the hostels, the foreign language, ect. I really didn't think he could handle it and I was nervous once again about the commitment level of our relationship. Its not every day that someone flies half way around the world just to spend time with you. But I lied through my teeth and told him that I was excited about him coming.
The day finally came for Aaron to arrive. All of my roommates had left for a fall break extravaganza - they were travelling to The Netherlands, Germany, and Hungary. So it was just me and Aaron and believe me, things got off to a horrible start. I took a taxi to the airport to pick him up and on the way there I got to know my hunky taxi cab driver Fabio (yes, that was seriously his name). He was really nice and offered to wait for me while I went inside and found Aaron. I took him up on his offer and headed into the small little Florence airport. Aaron's plane had just landed and I figured that he'd be walking through the gates any second. I waited and waited, but no Aaron. After about 20 minutes, good ol' Fabio came waltzing in because he'd been waiting for so long. I explained that I couldn't find Aaron, so he offered to go ask some of the airport officials if they knew of a lost little American guy. After a little bit more waiting, the two men in my life showed up at the same time. Fabio got back about 30 seconds before Aaron and I was thanking him for trying to find out what the hold up was. As I was conversing (and probably smiling) at Fabio, good ol Aaron came walking up. He was exhausted because of his long flight, frustrated because he'd been unable to find his luggage, and now his girl was talking to a hunky guy.
When I saw Aaron, I tried to give him a hug but he literally just stood there staring down Fabio. I was seriously confused, but I did what any sensible girl would do: I introduced Aaron to Fabio. Aaron said hello and all the sudden got really nice to Fabio and proceeded to ignore me the entire way back to my apartment. I was getting more confused my the minute because I had no idea what was wrong, but then came the moment of clarity. When we reached my apartment, I asked Fabio how much I owed him. He told me the price and I paid for our cab fair. Aaron just stood there dumbfounded and the moment Fabio drove off Aaron turned to me and said, "So you're not dating him?" Aaron thought that I liked the cab driver. Now in Aaron's defense...I never exactly introduced Fabio as our taxi driver and Fabio drove an unmarked taxi, so Aaron had no way of knowing. We both laughed and headed into my apartment to start our Italian adventure together.
More tomorrow.... Here are some pics of the roomies when they came to Texas for my wedding (We are missing one fabulous roomie though - Amo I love you!!!!)
Posted by Rachael at 11:49 AM
Monday, May 5, 2008
Here's a little story that I haven't told you yet....
In the fall of 2004, I studied abroad in Florence, Italy. I made the decision to leave on a whim...literally. It was the last month of my junior year in college and I had finally left a long, sometimes wonderful, but emotionally damaging relationship and had just started quasi-dating Aaron. Because of the emotionally damaging relationship (and other slacker tendencies) my grades were terrible, I was having issues with my roommates, I was tired of cheerleading, and the only thing I could make a firm decision about was the fact that I had to get out of the country.
I went online and started looking at universities overseas...I saw a few that looked interesting, but the one that really caught my eye was the Lorenzo de Medici University in Firenze, Italy. And I actually had a good enough grade point average to get in. So, I immediately filled out the application and signed up for classes. Thankfully I have the most wonderful parents in the whole world...When I told them my plan of studying abroad - they were all for it. Looking back on it, I don't really think they bought my story about the wondrous learning experiences I was going to take part in during my time abroad... I think they just wanted me to get away from loser ex-boyfriend and get myself back on track. Most parents would have signed their child up for counseling or some other form of emotional support, but mine thought it would be better to just send me overseas. And guess what it worked! ( they also did a very similar thing to my sister when she was going through a rough time last year...except she went to Boston - ha ha I got the better deal!).
In addition to my plans to study in Florence, I had also signed up for a two month summer mission trip to a very remote village in China to teach English at a small university. Yep, so I was pretty much saying goodbye to life in the USA and hello to life abroad. I would finish my junior year, leave for China May 22, come back mid-July, and head to Italy mid-August. Oh and I didn't know a single person on either trip. The mission trip ended up being amazing (I'll save that story for later) and when I got back, I was all ready for Italy!
Except for one minute detail...while I was in China a handsome, loving, funny, intelligent, and athletic boy had been emailing me. Yep, you guessed it - A$. His emails were never super long or super passionate, but they always let me know that he was thinking about me and counting down the days until I got back. In fact, when I finally did come home, he was the one who picked me up from the airport. (He drove 6 hours from Amarillo just to pick me up) The one month I was at home that summer was like whirlwind. Aaron and I saw each other every second that we could. Finally it came time for me to leave for Italy....
Aaron and I had been make-out buddies all through college. I know that term might turn some of you off, but hey its the facts. We both really liked kissing and we were crazily attracted to each other (note: when I say "make out" I mean kissing only!). Even though we had such a great "buddy" relationship...I was always a little hesitant to make it anything more. I had several totally legit reasons for this: I had my emotionally damaging off/on again boyfriend, Aaron hung out with a party crowd, I was a little scared of how much he liked me, ect. Then I had my totally non legit reasons: Aaron was shorter than me.... and that's about it. When we finally started actually dating my junior year, I was more than a little scared about the whole situation. I mean I had my ex-boyfriend to think about, Aaron was shorter than me, I didn't really know any of Aaron's friends but I'd heard bad reports about ALL of them, and all sorts of other relationship damaging ideas floating through my head.
But that summer...EVERYTHING was different. We started to get to know each other without so much of the kissing (which we still did every now and then ;) So when it came time for me to leave, we had a lot to talk about. Were we going to do the whole long distance thing, or should we take a break and see how we felt when I came home in 5 months? Now the conversation we had that day is pretty hazy in my mind. I remember that I had driven up to Waco to see Aaron and we were laying on the couch in his apartment...But I am very unsure of what exactly was said. I think I'm so unsure because Aaron and I walked away from that conversation with very different opinions on our relationship status was going to be while I was in Italy. In my mind, we were going to be "apart", but sweet Aaron thought that we were still going to be "together."
Oh how those two little words "apart" and "together" can make all the difference in the world. I was sure that we'd agreed on apart...at least I'd agreed on it in my own mind. I wanted the freedom to explore Italia in all its glory. I wasn't sure what that meant for me exactly, but I knew I wanted it. Freedom has always been something that I've craved...and so of course I wanted it on my grand adventure overseas. Aaron, on the other hand, want us to stay together. He loved me (and had since nearly the beginning of our make-out buddy days). He was willing to wait for me during the 5 months I was gone and he even wanted to come visit me while I was there. Even though I'm sure that we talked and talked about all of these issues, we both walked away with totally separate ideas and.....
that is where the story ends for today folks. Tune in tomorrow for part two.
Posted by Rachael at 4:11 PM
Thursday, May 1, 2008
i am: listening to my teachers explain excel (didn't we all learn this in high school?)
i think: i need to get more sleep, so i'm not so grouchy.
i know: that my Lord loves me!
i want: a pair of william rast jeans.
i have: a full belly because i ate a mrs. baird's apple pie before class.
i wish: i could be outside playing around with my wonderful husband.
i hate: being bored at work.
i miss: my family in Rockwall.
i fear: not being able to go on vacation whenever I want to (I know its irrational and silly)
i feel: a little tired, but excited because we are getting out of class early tonight.
i hear: computer keys clicking.
i smell: nothing.
i crave: time outside.
i search: other people's blogs for interesting stories and pictures.
i wonder: what my little family will be doing a year from now?
i regret: not having more down time to spend with friends and family.
i love: reading to and snuggling up with aaron and a good book.
i ache: for people in the world who are hungry or suffering.
i care: about injustices in this world.
i always: do my hair so its not crazy frizzy.
i am not: passive, chill, relaxed, and/or calm.
i believe: there is hope for all of us.
i dance: always.
i sing: silly songs with aaron.
i don’t always: wear deodorant (sick me out!)
i fight: with aaron sometimes.
i write: blogs. checks. lots of to do lists.
i win: contests I make up in my head.
i lose: everything all the time.
i never: wear lip liner.
i confuse: directions to places in waco.
i listen: to aaron preach every sunday.
i can usually be found: at work or school - but i wish i could be at home with family.
i am scared: of being outside in the dark.
i need: lots of time with a$.
i am happy about: our vacation to indiana in less than a month!
Posted by Rachael at 5:45 PM
Aaron finally agreed to go on a ROAD TRIP with me. We've spent the last few days checking on flights, discussing the pros and cons of driving, and analyzing mapquest...and finally he said YES to driving! I know that some of ya'll are going to think this is crazy, but I absolutely love road trips.
When I was growing up my family would take 2 week long road trips nearly every summer. I think my favorite one would have to be when we drove from Texas, to North Dakota, over to Indiana, into Canada, and then back to Texas. Yep, 2 full weeks in the car with my entire family (thankfully we spent some time at Grandma's house along the way). I got to see so much on that trip: Mount Rushmore, The Badlands, Yellowstone National Park, and Niagara Falls. Plus, I really think that road trips are a great bonding experience. I mean how can a family not get closer when they are all smushed together in a car for 18 hours?
Now Aaron has kind of a negative take on road trips because he keeps equating it to the drive from Waco to Amarillo (which he's done a billion times). I keep trying to tell him that its totally different. Finally last night he just shrugged his shoulders and said that we could do it my way. I think he saw the light when I pointed out that we'd save about $400 because we wouldn't be paying for airfare.
Now we just have to figure out where we want to go - We have to be in Indiana for my cousin's wedding on May 31st, but other than that we are free! Let me know if you have any suggestions!
Posted by Rachael at 1:48 PM