Sunday, May 29, 2011

Memorial Day

When I hear the word America, the simple melodies of Simon and Garfunkel’s “America” drift through my mind…

“All gone to look for America.”

To find America, each one of us must first find ourselves. Beyond the economic power, the political influence, and the environmental patchwork of this country, America can only be found in the soul of an American. My country never causes me to bear the weight of constraints on my identity as in other parts of the world. Instead, my struggle centers on who I will become, knowing that I have the freedom to be the woman my heart creates, whoever she may be. In America, our boundless freedoms create a collage of people, all speaking different tongues, worshipping different Gods, and choosing different paths on the journey towards the American Dream. With freedom to define our own lives comes great responsibility to be the Americans our country expects of us.

Us. America is Us. We are America. We are America in our faults and failures. We are America when we strive to reach the Dream, but our lives don’t match up to its high standards. That is why being an American means creating your own Dream, locating the coordinates of your own life, pinpointing exactly who you are as an American.

33° 57 12”N, 84° 32’ 26” W

These are the coordinates of my life, the pin on the map of the path God carved solely for me. America’s mantra for my heart echoes the phrase, “you have a purpose.” As citizens of earth, we have purpose. As citizens of America, we have the freedom to fulfill that purpose. Engrained in our souls is the inalienable right and inwardly consuming duty to find ourselves in this consecrated land and to declare who we are to our fellow citizens, whether with subtle grace or outward affection for our identities. America to me proclaims, “You are here. You are here for a purpose. You are American for a purpose. Now, go find that purpose.” My name is Rachel Eubanks and I am an American.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

It's been a while, I know. But it's also been a busy beginning of 2011. Lemme recall what's been going on in the Eubanks household...well, Caroline is still living in Australia (it's been about four months since I've seen her!), Sammi is graduating from App State in December, and I'm finally a senior at Pope. From January until May (almost June, really), I've done the following:
  • Explored New Orleans with my parents
  • Traveled to Belize, Central America, on a mission trip
  • Participated in a pageant for Relay for Life cancer research foundation
  • Met with 10,000 youth environmental activists in Washington, D.C. for Power Shift 2011
  • Performed two songs at Pope Chorus Cabaret
  • Cleaned myself up for Prom at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta
  • Drenched myself in mud at the Warrior Dash 2011
  • Said farewell to some of my favorite people in the Class of 2011
First, New Orleans! As Samantha Brown explained on her weekend trip to NOLA featured on the Travel Channel, New Orleanians renewed the soul of this culturally vibrant city after Katrina. The food only gained more flavor, the music more meaning, the people more heart.
One of my favorite moments in New Orleans was hearing the saxoph
one and accordion from around the corner on my way to the Vieux Carre, or Old Square, and spotting musicians whose love for their city radiated through the town. Their smiles, openness, and willingness to share their home spread that distinct New Orleanian energy to tourists, shop owners, fellow musicians, artists, diners at the nearby Cafe Du Monde, and me.
Although my trip to NOLA was short, I can still feel how it has changed me.
As a traveler, most places I visit mold me, change my pace, and keep my addi
ction to travel alive. But New Orleans is different. Yes, Bourbon Street's neon lights, adult clubs, and array of underaged drunkards reminded me of Las Vegas, but New Orleans accepts what other places hide, creating a gumbo of history, music, voodoo, nightlife, culinary trademarks, and people that you'll never forget.

Overall, New Orleans is a collage of sensory details in my mind. The spontaneous breakfas
t creation of ice cream sandwiched between warm waffles at Camellia Gril
l. Waiting in line for a po-boy at Acme Oyster House in the French Quarter. Satisfying my stomach with nutty pralines (that's pronounced prah-leans, not pray-leens) and powdery beignets. Understanding why Huck Finn loved the Mississippi River so much. In the words of New Orleanian Lil Wayne, remember to "keep your mouth closed and let your eyes listen" so that every destination can leave its mark.
How do you even begin totalk about spiritual experiences and serving?
Whenever people asked me how Belize was after I returned, there really wasn't much I could say. My mindset before leaving for Belize focused on the facts of the situation ahead: I was spending a week in a country very different from my own with people I didn't know anything about experiencing a God I'd been far away from. How was I going to feed other people's spiritual walks when I was exhausted from my own? A few days before our departure on spring break, I was discouraged about even going to Belize, a trip
that cost my family a large chunk of money, cost me a large portion of my time, and made me think if I was even spiritually fit to go. On our first night in Belize, after a day of "becoming accustomed to the country," I wrote:

"I'd like to stop making excuses to God. He knows my thoughts anyway, so what's the point in lying to him? I have to stop running away from him and my sad reflection in comparison to His. I want to truly worship like I used to--unashamed. I want my mind and heart to be consumed with fascination for him. I have fear that this week will be wasted because I'm not where I should be with God. I'm not close to him. I fear my own apathy. I'm afraid I will be useless to Him. Why am I here?"

Before I left for Belize, a teacher of mine wisely explained that "good things happen when the right people do the right things for the right reasons." The problem was that I wasn't in Belize for the right reasons, I didn't feel like the right person to serve others in the ways we needed to, and I didn't even have a reason for being there.

But God uses the weakest to show his power. He uses his children that are most down to show us how high he can lift us up. Over the next 6 days, he showed me who I am in his image, that I have a story that needs to be found, and that He is stronger than anything Satan can slip into my life.

One of the first struggles I experienced on my trip was apathy. If God didn't have a reason for me to be there, then why should I care about the trip at all? One phrase kept repeating in my mind and pulling me down:

"If only I had an enemy bigger than my apathy, I could've won." -Mumford & Sons

Soon enough, my mind changed. I met beautiful Belizeans, grew into relationships with my fellow Christ followers, and saw God's love working through all of us, both Belizean and American. I led worship songs at a church in a completely different country and had to trust God through that nerve-racking Sunday morning. But the thing about my faith this that it's a roller coaster: once the experience has reached a peak, it must come back down:

"Fake. Hypocrite. Failure. Unholy. Unworthy. Empty. These are all words that I
feel describe me when thinking about my relationship with God. I feel void of any spiritual connection or compassion within myself. Who I am doesn't match up with who I want to be. Can He change me? Change all of this? Captivate me so I can live every moment of this week, this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in Belize? Soon, I hope."

The next day didn't bring a sense of completeness to my heart, but it did bring a spirit of joy. We went to the Nazarene school that day and played with children of all ages and dispositions. We shared Bible stories and games with them, and in return they hugged and smiled at us, hanging on our necks and holding our hands. That day we saw God through the Belizeans making us feel welcomed, but God's purpose for me in Belize wouldn't be revealed just yet.

More trials arrived when we were told by the mission leaders to writ
e down and practice our testimonies, or faith stories. This troubled me because of my blessed background, one with very little hardship or even need for God. I have two loving, giving parents who grant me the freedom I want. I have two sisters and plenty of cousins to grow up with. I live in a beautiful home, drive my own car, and travel many places that I long to go. What bothered me most is that my faith story doesn't involve death, a dramatic change in my life, or a time when I thought God was the only way I could hold on. I've always gone to church. I usually read my Bible. I live in the South, where the first story you hear is about Noah's ark and the first building you recognize is the white baptist church down the road. When I needed to explain my faith in Christ to somebody with very little possessions and a heart already bursting with faith, I felt fake. I wondered how to explain that I needed
God even with all my possessions and blessings. I learned that it's easy to love God when you need him, when you're in trouble or when life seems difficult. It is even more difficult to have faith when it seems that you don't need him, when you become self-reliant, when you're doing just fine at the moment.

I learned even more that just because I can't see my story now doesn't mean that I don't have one. I'm not plain, useless, or fake. I do have a story, but God isn't finished with me yet. I learned what spiritual warfare is and how Satan warps my thoughts so that I alienate myself from the Lord. Satan lied to me and made me think that I was unworthy of God's grace, that I was a hollow shell of a person, that my worship meant nothing to Him. But in reality, I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139) and by remaini
ng in Him, I will find myself.
"Lord, give me eyes to see you, ears to hear you, and a heart to understand you."

The next milestone of my year thus far occurred in Washington, D.C. at Power Shift 2011. This youth climate change summit altered how I view my government and the power I have as a young American. Power Shift's agenda included workshops, training sessions, keynote speakers, video showings, socializing opportunities, and everything one weekend needs to be the biggest grassroots organizing event in history. I, along with 10,000 other college-aged (around there) youth from all over the country, headed to our nation's capital to change the way our government reacts to the facts of climate change and to unite as current grassroots organizers as well as future leaders of this country.

Leaving the suburbs for D.C. with my friend, Stephanie, empowered me from the start. We traveled on our own by car, plane, and metro until we finally reached the Convention Center, where we hung our Power Shift lanyards around our necks and proceeded to our cramped hotel room. Walking a few miles to our hotel, I could already tell that I loved D.C. The beautiful apartments, monuments, every building we passed seeming important. Even while the plane landed, I saw every monument I'd flipped through in my U.S. history book, and I knew that everything purposefully fit into place for me to go on that trip. Something big was going to happen.

Two days later, after state breakout sessions, informational panels, organization booths with freebies and stickers, nights in a tiny hotel room with seven other people, keynote speakers like Al Gore and Van Jones, and a completely awesome, exhausting time, our last day at Power Shift arrived. It was time to march.

Now growing up in a conservative state with conservative parents and and conservative neighbors and conservative teachers and conservative politicians, I'd never protested, marched, participated in a sit-in, or anything like what I experienced that Sunday. We began at the Mall across from the White House. As if being in very close proximity to some of the most important buildings in my country wasn't grand enough, I was about to join thousands of like-minded, powerful, intelligent youth in an event that I will tell my children about.

During the march, we stopped at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, BP headquarters, and GenOn, an energy company that promotes the use of dirty coal. With signs in our hands and green hard hats on our heads, we proclaimed that these companies and institutions weren't speaking for us, the people of America. We proclaimed that BP needed to pay after a year of inaction towards the gulf spill. We proclaimed that our actions that day showed the true face of democracy. We described how our communities were negatively affected by dirty coal companies, our need for green jobs, and the necessity for clean energy in order to make our future bright.

Power Shift created more inside me than fond memories of friends made or a feeling of empowerment from using the voice God gave me; Power Shift 2011 taught me that "every generation needs a new revolution," and that revolution can begin with me.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

2010 in Review:

The youngest sister's 2010:

  • Became an upperclassman (go Juniors!)
  • Inducted into the National Honor Society
  • Turned 16 (the best birthday yet!)
  • Got my license and first car (Xavier the Xterra)
  • Got to know some of the best people on earth
  • Ate my first Australian meat pie
  • Went on a road trip touring America’s east coast
  • Had one of the best summers I can remember
  • Saw my sister graduate from college
  • Went to the oldest city in America, St. Augustine
  • Went to Mexico on my first mission trip (soon to go on my second, this time in Belize!)

Monday, December 13, 2010


So I thought you'd like to know that I've made my decision on where in the world I'm going this summer:


Monday, December 6, 2010

While perusing the internet (mostly Bing) and some newly checked-out library books, I've come upon a few places and articles to obsess over. You're welcome to obsess too, my fellow sojourners:

The beautiful photo above is...

Waterfall Kayaking record-

An article that instills pride within my American veins:
(plus I love this website- I just found it tonight!)

Plus I'm still thinking about the film I Netflixed a few days ago, Bright Star:
And as a supplement, I'm now reading the works of John Keats. Love love!

Happy 20 days 'til Christmas!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

the valley of your heart,

God gave us families so that we wouldn’t be born on our own. So that our hearts could be connected to other hearts from the moment we became a part of earth. So that despite whichever path our life directs, family remains the undercurrent of our beings.
As I scroll through old family photos and my favorite travel pictures, I acknowledge God’s placement here in the Eubanks household. I was born in a family of strength. My grandparents on both sides have worked hard to achieve beautiful lives. Not to neglect God’s direction in their journeys, of course. When I think of my Grandma and Pa, my mother’s parents, I think of working with my hands. My Pa is a great cook. I wish I could have inherited that from him, but unfortunately I did not. Fortunately, I think I did gain a small speck of my Grandma’s heart. Her heart shines for God’s will in her community, in her people. I recognize that my friendliness comes from her whenever I visit their small farm. Even though I’m afraid of growing older (a sort of Peter Pan syndrome), I can see that my grandparents live their lives fully, mostly by loving fully. They love through food, through sweet words, through coming to my singing performances, through remaining the same reliable grandparents I’ve loved for sixteen years.
I am so blessed to have another set of grandparents, especially one that lives so close by. I get to see my grandparents almost every Sunday at church. They take us out to lunch and my grandmother constantly calls asking if she can take me out to a play or shopping. I know so many young people whose grandparents can’t visit them constantly or don’t care to invest time in their grandchildren, but mine do! Wow. What inspires me greatly about Meme and Papa is what they’ve given and taken from the world. My dad’s parents have visited every continent, including Antarctica, and haven’t stopped trekking yet. All their travels are displayed in their home on a large (slightly outdated) world map. Different colored pins mark so many of their memories together, and I look forward to the time when I’ll get to see God’s bounty with the one I love.
Simply enough, my sisters are strong. Sammi and Caroline have already led impressive lives, from moving to beautiful university locations to backpacking across the world. First off, Caroline is so bold. She surprises me more and more. Right now, she’s in the midst of (hopefully!) getting a job with Busabout, a British tour group for young people. I brag about that all the time, saying that my sister was in London last weekend and that she’s going to Australia for a few weeks in the spring. How many people can say that? Caroline knows what she wants—a bite from every corner of the world—and I believe she’ll be satisfied when looking back upon her life. Right now, she works several jobs in addition to cultivating a witty travel blog. I have no doubt that she’ll be one of those writers whose work you adore and whose life you envy even more. And Sammi. I miss Sammi. She’s in North Carolina studying at a beautiful school in the mountains. She hikes, climbs, swims, kick boxes, runs, and does pretty much every physical activity I wish I could do. She has a small frame, a loud mouth, and a big heart, which is why everybody loves her. Her independence and devotion to Christ has led me to a life with Jesus, too. She’s my main spiritual leader, even if I rarely get to talk about God with her. I’m so excited for Sammi’s life. She’ll probably end up helping people in a way that encompasses all her passions. She’ll see God’s green earth, delineate her eloquent thoughts on it, and return home to tell her tales. But no matter what Sammi plans to do, I know she’ll ultimately follow the footsteps God has set for her. I admire that.
All this to say that I have great parents. My dad is the hardest working man you’ll ever meet who happens to have an equal dose of humility. He loves his family more than anything and doesn’t hesitate to say so. He was born and raised in my hometown, loves his mama, and is proud of where he is from. I love his heart, his love, his intimidating eyebrows, his mad fishing skills. In fact, he placed 6th in a state bass fishing tournament today. Go Joe! My mama and I are way too alike, which is a good thing. We both are emotional roller coasters who love children. She’s a kindergarten teacher; so needless to say, she’s got patience and kindness, only a few of the fruits of the spirit she claims. She loves opening worlds of possibilities to her children, never allowing constraints of “the real world” smother us. Her mantra to her daughters has always been, “you can do whatever you want.” Thanks Mom.
So that’s a little taste of my family. This is the product of a heart-filled rant, so I’d love it if you got a better picture of who the Eubanks clan is from other sources, such as Sammi’s blog,, or Caroline’s, But anyway, I pray you take pride in your family and show it in love, something I’m praying for the ability to do. Please take a snapshot of your family, and "always remember there is nothing worth sharing like the love that let us share our name."

Monday, October 25, 2010

Life List,

I'm doing something kind of bold here. This post may not seem so out of the ordinary for bloggers, but it is for me. I'm about to tell you a part of me! Things that matter in my heart! Aren't you lucky? But really, the following post is my life list. My own "Buried Life" that I not only hope to achieve but will accomplish in full. So here she goes:
*Some items have been omitted and more are to come.

  1. Hike the Appalachian Trail
  2. Go to Yosemite National Park and climb halfdome
  3. Complete a marathon--no make that a triathlon
  4. Learn to climb, propel, and belay (that last one's kind of necessary for the other two)
  5. Go spelunking (October 7, 2010: Raccoon Mtn., TN)
  6. Learn to spin pottery
  7. Write a book
  8. Live in New York for at least a year
  9. Learn to play an instrument
  10. Have a kid
  11. Road trip across the States (in part, my family has done so up the east coast to Maine)
  12. Write a song
  13. Fall in love
  14. Write a blog (my own, I mean)
  15. Explore the jungle, ride an elephant, zip line through a canopy of trees
  16. Go on an archaeological adventure
  17. Star in a play
  18. Watch the classics (i.e. Casablanca and Gone With the Wind)
  19. Bask in a field of sunflowers
  20. Live my own year in Provence
  21. Ride on the back of a Vespa with a European boy
  22. Swim in a public fountain
  23. Volunteer at a hospital
  24. Go to the Pacific Northwest
  25. Hike Machu Picchu
  26. Learn to sew
  27. Plant a garden (preferably an urban garden)
  28. Go the Pearl Harbor Memorial
  29. Scuba Dive
  30. By Mom a beach house
  31. Have a lousy waitressing job
  32. Make Meme (my grandmother) a published book of all her and my grandfather's travels
  33. Find a cure for Alzheimer's
  34. Own a bookstore
  35. Learn to shoot a gun (once is scary enough!)
  36. Smoke a pipe (or cigar)
  37. Learn to tango
  38. Give away my possessions
  39. Backpack all over the world
  40. Get married (notice how this is late on the list)
  41. Roller derby!
  42. Get a tattoo
  43. Sing at the Grande Ole Opry
  44. Open up a bakery and coffee shop
  45. Go to culinary school for fun
  46. Go to Turkey (and just about everywhere else I can think of...)
  47. Go hunting
  48. See the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis)
  49. Farm my own food
  50. Learn sign language
  51. Go to Bonnaroo!
  52. Be in a band (a girl band would be cause for bonus points)
  53. Spend the night in Ikea
any suggestions?