The alternate name for this post could be, "I Cannot for the Life of Me Put Together a Decent, Coherent, Blog Post and So Now I Have Resorted to a Quick List of Paragraphs as Opposed to a Perfectly Strung Together and Articulate Post That I Guess Just Wasn't Meant to Be, Volume 1."
Words are hard, y'all. I have way too many of them floating around in my head at a time, and I can barely make sense out of them once a month for the sake of keeping those that are interested updated during my first year of missionary life.
The struggle is real.
Anyways, I have made it back to Minneapolis and am ready to get another semester of mission started! In the past month I was fortunate to be able to spend about 3 weeks back in Texas with my family for Christmas break. It was so good to be home, and I may or may not have eaten tamales for lunch for a week straight (I did.) Without further ado, for the sake of trying to condense my writing, here is a quick list of 7 things that happened/are happening in my life in the past month.
1. Winter. Winter happened.
I won't dwell too much on this one because I am working on another blog post about my arctic tundra experiences. I will just say this: I now understand why Minnesotans get excited when it's in the 30's as opposed to the negatives. That being said, the high on Sunday is -8 and the low is -17. Feel free to start a prayer chain in your home parish for me.
2. Life got simpler.
My parents are moving! Most of y'all probably know that we have lived in the same town and the same house since moving to Texas nearly 14 years ago. Time for a change! Most of my break was spent cleaning out my room, going through embarrassing childhood pictures and various memorabilia (and posting it all on my Snapchat story), and making trip after trip to CCA to donate SO many random things that we don't need anymore. It was a lot of work, and stressful at times, but it felt really good to simplify my life and get rid of so much junk. Currently figuring out how to make this a non-cliche metaphor for my life. Stay tuned. Please pray for my parents, and that our old house will sell quickly!
3. Mission Staff Retreat (MSR)
Every January, Saint Paul's Outreach provides its missionaries and staff with a midyear retreat to restore and refocus for the coming semester. We spent four days at a hotel and conference center in Chaska, Minnesota, where the Caribou Coffee was never in short supply and our beds were made for us every day. Quality time is my main love language, and thankfully there was plenty of it to go around! MSR was an extremely life-giving retreat and helped me reflect on the gift that it is to serve the Lord with my life in this unique way. #loveyourjob, am I right?
4. THE WORST AIRPORT EXPERIENCE OF MY LIFE.
Before I got to MSR, though, I endured one of the worst days for security lines at Dallas Love Field Airport in recent history (probably). At one point I overheard a TSA agent saying that they had been expecting 7,000 people around the time that they had seen nearly 14,000 people (keep in mind this was at 8 in the morning.) Never have I ever been stuck in a security line for an hour and a half, and never have I ever seen so many people miss their flights because of the line. Shoutout to Southwest Airlines for switching my flights free of charge, and shoutout to Terminal 1 of Dallas Love Field for having a Whataburger and a Dunkin Donuts near my gate. Part of me was secretly relieved that, even though I missed my first flight, I did not miss my last chance at Dunkin iced coffee and a Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit until the summer.
5. As if I wasn't cold enough...Alaska.
In this edition of, "The Holy Spirit Prompts Rebecca to Say Yes Without Giving a Lot of Thought to the Matter," I am helping lead a spring break mission trip to Anchorage, Alaska! We are going to be working with Catholic Social Services at different homeless shelters and food pantries, as well as exploring the beauty that God has created up there. I said "yes" to going on this trip on a complete whim and not taking into account that it would still be winter even though it is technically a "spring" break trip, but I could not be more excited - even despite the cold! Please pray for my teammates coming on this trip (Andrew, Brody and myself), as well as the 16 students we are taking with us! If you are interested in learning more about what we will be doing and how you can be a part of it, please contact me.
6. Fan Into Flame
The beginning of the spring semester means that it is Fan Into Flame season for most SPO chapters! Fan Into Flame is a retreat put on by SPO that centers around the Holy Spirit. Students will hear different talks the Holy Spirit's role in our lives as Catholics and have a chance to respond to God's invitation of new life in His Spirit. Fan Into Flame was a life-changing retreat for me when I was in college, and the Lord always shows up in powerful ways. The Minnesota mission staff (our team and the team at St. Thomas) has already begun preparing for this phenomenal weekend, and we need your prayers! SPO Minnesota's Fan Into Flame retreat is February 19-21, 2016. Come, Holy Spirit!
7. Time to Create
In the past couple of years, I have not really given much thought to New Year's Resolutions, but at the prompting of some close friends of mine, I have decided on a few: one of them is to be more creative. During MSR, I was able to spend some really rejuvenating time coloring/writing/making beautiful things for my friends. Along with that, my sister has recently launched her own calligraphy business and she is absolutely killin it. Inspired by her, I received a set of brush pens for Christmas and bought myself a cheap set of watercolors. I've found a lot of simple joy in coloring, practicing my lettering, and figuring out how watercolors work. I've made a few little pieces for friends, from Saint quotes to Bible verses to lines from Parks & Recreation (seen below). My resolution is to make my friends' lives more beautiful through these little pieces of paper. And since it's going to be winter until, like, April, I need a good indoor hobby.
There you have it! And now, time for things to kick into high gear again. Students are slowly making their way back to Minneapolis, and we begin our new semester on Monday with Catholic Students United Leadership Day. Please pray for us and for the Lord's will to be done in our work this spring!
To Jesus Through Mary,
I leave for Minnesota in exactly six days. Then, it's time for Mission Team Training, the School of the New Evangelization, and the beginning of my first year of service at the U. Where did this summer go? I have absolutely no idea. While I am super pumped to be back in the SPO mission leader community for a couple of weeks and I can't wait to get this year started...y'all know how I feel about the Lone Star State.
I would say that I love Texas a little more than the average Texan, but not enough for it to be a problem (wait...isn't that the cliché of the addict? "I don't have a problem"?). There are definitely Texans that love this state more than I do. However, amongst my friends, I am probably the most Texas-obsessed. I mean, I did get a Texas-shaped cutting board for my birthday last year...
Okay, fine, I really love Texas. A lot.
I can't really say that people have asked me what I am going to miss the most about Texas, because I think it's just widely assumed that I am going to miss everything. Minus the traffic on all major highways and the way that most Texans drive (which is not 'friendly', like the signs that welcome you in and out of the state say), that's an accurate generalization. But I finally narrowed it down to ten.
One important note: no specific people are included in this list. I am going to miss everyone. I can't pick favorite humans.
Before I start the list, please press 'play' on the video below. It is a wonderful tune that I think will really set the mood for the rest of this post.
And now, without further ado, in no particular order, the top 10 things that I will miss the most about living in the great(est) state of Texas...
Disclaimer: I own none of these photos! Except for the one I am in. That one is mine.
1. Breakfast Tacos
This is an absolute no-brainer. For those of you that are wondering, they are different from breakfast burritos. They just are. There is nothing like a chorizo, egg, and cheese taco first thing in the morning (or in the afternoon. Or at night. I'm not picky.) My love for tacos is something I can't fully articulate into words...my heart and my stomach are sad just thinking about leaving behind breakfast tacos. Moving on...
Whether it be from Trudy's, Chuy's, Fuego, Torchy's, Kerbey Lane, or literally any other authentic Mexican or Tex-Mex (they're different) restaurant in the state, there is no better way to start your meal by dipping tortilla chips into a bowl of warm, molten cheese mixed with peppers and spices and, if you're lucky, topped with a scoop of guacamole and some seasoned beef...ugh, I'm so hungry. Someone please figure out a way to ship queso to Minneapolis.
You could literally live inside of a Buc-ee's for a long period of time and probably be fine. I'm sure there are beds hidden in the back for employees. In what other place can you find fresh produce, all of your hunting and camping needs, fudge, home furnishings, barbecue, and anything with the Texas flag or a beaver on it? Answer: NOWHERE ELSE. LITERALLY NOWHERE ELSE. They are famous for their immaculately clean bathrooms, and let me tell you, a clean bathroom is a simple luxury but it makes all the difference. Also, Buc-ee's gas is super cheap and for the sake of my car and wallet I am severely going to miss that. I have stopped at Buc-ee's during many a road trip, but I have also gone to Buc-ee's just for the heck of it. Because it is that great.
4. The Texas Sky
Miranda Lambert says in one of her songs, "The Texas sky's the biggest one I've seen." And I agree. The sky is so vast and beautiful and the perfect canvas for the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets. Thanks, Lord. You did good with this state. The Lord has woo-ed me many times with the sunrises and sunsets He paints across the Texas sky. And, if you're far enough away from the city, the stars at night are, ahem, big and bright...*clap clap clap clap* DEEP IN THE HEART OF TEXAS! Okay, time for number 5.
5. Highway Speed Limits
Because apparently in other states the highest speed limit is 65 miles an hour. WHAT EVEN IS THAT. I will miss you, TX-130. Thanks for helping me skip over Austin traffic and getting me to and from San Marcos at a reasonable amount of time.
6. Shiner Beer
Yes, I know there is Shiner Bock in other states, and praise the Lord for that! However, I know absolutely nothing about beers besides Texas beers, and I will miss being able to mark the passing of time based on which seasonal brews are out (here's lookin' at you, Oktoberfest and Holiday Cheer). If the law magically changes and allows the mailing of alcohol...I would like to request a case of Ruby Redbird and a case of White Wing to savor over the year, please and thank you.
7. Wildflowers in the Spring
Once again, GOD DID SUCH A BEAUTIFUL JOB WHEN HE CREATED TEXAS, Y'ALL. Even though the weather is all over the place, you can always tell that spring is here when those bluebonnets and Indian paintbrushes pop up along the side of the highway. Summers are marked by little wild sunflowers that make me so so happy. Are you really Texan if you haven't had a photo shoot in a patch of bluebonnets? I don't think so. Do people even take Easter pictures without them???
8. This outfit being socially acceptable:
Oh, is this outfit not acceptable outside of the camp setting......?
I am going to miss my Texas flag shorts being acceptable attire (at least to class), as well as wearing my cowboy boots casually without getting judged. Maybe I'll just wear my boots anyway because the Lord gave me free will and I do what I want. Yeah, that sounds good.
P.S.: Shoutout to my best friend and favorite Arkansan, Lizzie. I'm definitely gonna miss her!
WHAT. A. BURGER. This one goes out to the Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit, my favorite late-night companion; the Honey BBQ Chicken Strip Sandwich; the Chop House Cheddar Burger (discontinued); the Patty Melt; and LITERALLY EVERYTHING ELSE ON THE MENU. I am going to miss this beloved fast food chain, where ketchup comes in regular or spicy, and a medium drink is the normal person's large. Talk about value. Thankfully, because Jesus loves us and only wants good things for His children, Whataburger condiments are available for purchase at HEB. This is my third shameless request for a care package. I'll take one honey butter, one regular ketchup, and one creamy pepper. But anyways, speaking of HEB...
Ah, yes, Here, Everything is really Better (see what they did there?). H-E-B is a grocery store chain exclusive to central and south Texas, so I didn't even know about it until I got to college. #DallasLife But as soon as I discovered the beauty that is this amazing grocery store, it was like the fog was lifted (yes, that was a Tangled reference.) H-E-B is so much more than just a grocery store...even though it's really just a grocery store. I will miss Hill Country Fare products that are way cheaper and just as good as any name-brand product. I will miss the woman yelling about pizza that sounds like a fire alarm. I will miss the kitchen supply aisle. I will miss all the reasonably-priced beauty of H-E-B.
And, that concludes my list!
Except it doesn't.
Because I'm indecisive and everything is bigger in Texas (including top 10 lists!), I had to include one more...
I am ashamed that this was almost left off the list. I am also surprised at myself, considering how much I love dancing. But anyways, I have gone two-steppin' at some of the most historic dance halls in Texas (though I still have quite a few to go) - Gruene Hall, Cheatham Street Warehouse, Billy Bob's Texas, the Big Sandy Dance Hall (shoutout to my Pines friends, they know how iconic this place actually is) - and there is nothing better than spinning around with your best friends to some live music. Not being at a dance hall has never stopped my friends and I before, though: spontaneous nights of two-steppin' in driveways are some of my fondest college memories.
OKAY WOW, I AM GOING TO MISS TEXAS SO MUCH.
However, I rejoice in the fact that the Lord has so much more prepared for me in Minnesota than I even realize right now. I can't wait to explore a new city, experience a different culture, and, most importantly: continue to cheer for the Cowboys, the Mavericks, the Stars and the Rangers. You can take me out of Texas, but you definitely can't take the Texas out of me! Texas will always be here, but I'm ready for the next adventure! Stay tuned for all the good things to come.
To Jesus through Mary,
My name is Rebecca. This blog is a documentation of my life as a missionary with Saint Paul's Outreach - in Minnesota, Florida, and everywhere in-between. Thanks for stopping by!