The Random Writings of Rachel

10K Race Recap - A Cautionary Tale About the Dangers of Peer Pressure the beginning of February, Angel signed up for a 10k race. That's a very normal thing for him to do. He was talking about how this race, because it was small, offered very good odds of winning lucky draw prizes, because there were a lot of prizes and participation in the race was capped at 200 participants.

Somehow, the allure of the possibility of winning a prize started to draw more and more people into signing up...first Rebekah...then MaryGrace...two of our friends...and finally, Dad signed up. It helped that the race was raising money for a charity that we thought was a pretty great cause. In the end, I signed up, too, mainly on the reasoning that if I was going to be there anyways, and everybody else was in the race, I might as well be doing it too, with the rest of them.

I'm telling you, this all happened because of peer pressure. Beware! It only took one Angel getting all excited about his upcoming race to somehow convince six of us to sign up to run it together with him.

It was the very first 10k for all six of us.

And none of us are runners, least of all me. I reasoned that to myself, I wouldn't call it a 10k race, I'd call it a "6 mile hike". Because I can do a six mile hike. No problem.

Which brings us up to race morning. At 6:10 a.m., we left the house, all six of us non-runners wondering "Why did we sign up for this?"

Most of us didn't really have appropriate race gear. I wore one of Angel's race shirts, too-big khaki shorts, and my circa-2010 Adidas tennis shoes. ;)

We were a bit giddy during the pre-race briefing...that explains Dad's photobomb, I guess. The sun was rising and it was almost time to start! Angel kept saying during the weeks before the race that he was intending to win 1st place and get the trophy. Now that it was race day...we'd have to see what would happen. The rest of us just had goals to finish before the 2 hr. cut off time. I planned to walk the whole race.

Because I don't run. I do six mile hikes.

The whole crew waiting at the back of the starting line! There were actually two races going on, one was an obstacle race, and none of us were doing the obstacle 10k, so we were all in the second heat to leave the starting line.

Mp3 player is his running must-have. Plus Asics Gel Kayanos and the "perfect" running shirt and shorts. Do you know how many hours I've sat on benches waiting in sportswear stores...

The race was 4 laps, with about a 3rd of each lap being along the seaside. I could not stop myself from smiling the whole time I was walking along the path by the sea. It's just beautiful--God's awesome creation. I love oceans and ships and being near the sea.

During-race selfie. Obviously, I was enjoying myself and my six mile hike quite a bit. And not taking it very seriously, either. Just walking along, watching the sun rise over the was glorious. I wasn't in last place, either.

I saw Angel a lot during the race, due to the 4 laps, he lapped me multiple times and was at the finish line by the time I finished my 2nd lap. (hahahaha!). I ran to him and asked, "Did you place?" He said he got first place, and I cheered and kissed him. As I started running away for my 3rd lap, I asked, "What time did you get?"

He said, "Somewhere around 45."

I yelled back, "Wow! That's slow!" and bystanders started cracking up.

Granted...that was probably a strange conversation to overhear with no context...but considering that his last 10k was 40 min. on hills and this was a perfectly flat trail, I knew that was slow. After the race, Angel said that once he knew he was in front of everybody, he went into 'cruise mode' and didn't push to go faster. Obviously he's a 'compete against others' type, not a 'compete against yourself' type.

Sarah and Mom were at the finish line cheering us on at every lap. Sarah made a "Go ANGEL!" sign which she held up every time he passed. When asked why she didn't make signs for any of the rest of us, she said, "Because Angel's the only one of you who's taking the race seriously."

She has a point.

When Dad came around for his final lap, Angel took off to run part of that lap with him (why? Why run again after winning the race?), and then went to a shop to buy drinks for all of us.

Of our crew, Dad finished next, followed by Rebekah, and then one of our friends who was running with us.

After that, I came in, welcomed by my cheering family and a bottle of 100Plus. Mom said, "Leave it to you to finish a 10k looking just like you did when you got started."

My patented strategy is just taking it easy. Six mile hike. I finished in about one hour and 40 minutes. hahaha! Not a bad hiking pace.

MaryGrace finished next, which meant that all of us made the 2 hour cut-off and got our medals! We had to stick around for the prize giving ceremony to see Angel win 1st place...besides, the most exciting part was the lucky draw...we hoped some of us would win prizes!

Probably the funniest part of the prize giving ceremony was when the emcee said, "I hope I get this name right...the winner of the men's 10k is....Angle!"

All of us in the crowd yelled, "Angel!!!!!" The real pronunciation.

And the emcee said when he went up to get his trophy, "You're too hairy to be an Angel."



And then it was time for the lucky draw. What was really funny, and awesome, was that all seven of us won some sort of lucky draw prize! Angel won a jar of fancy cashew butter. MaryGrace won a voucher for a meal at a nice restaurant. Our friends won vouchers for a photoshoot. Dad and I both won 3 free exercise classes (we laughed so much because that was the prize we really DIDN'T want to win...another reason to exercise!). Rebekah got what was the most impressive prize in our group, a set of nice Sony headphones.

And then, in ironic tradition, we all grabbed breakfast at McD's before heading home, slightly sore and sleepy after our big morning. I remain staunch in my anti-McD's campain, but I had a Coke slushie, because even they can't ruin a Coke slushie. Plus...I was a bit thirsty after my hike.

Honestly, it was a really fun morning. Something about completing the race all together with our family--both literal family and friends-turned-family--made the whole morning really fun. I loved being outdoors and enjoying the long walk and the sunrise. The race organizers were all very cheerful and excited, and since our bibs had our names on them, were calling us by name, which was fun, but also confusing, because I would keep wondering, "How do you know me?" until I remembered the bib. Again and again.

Here's a short video of our race adventures! Footage taken while I'm in motion may not be the steadiest footage ever. Just warning you. It's still smoother than if Angel were on camera duty... :) You will get to hear Angel called "Angle" in real life.

I really enjoyed my first 10k, even though I signed up purely due to peer pressure. I'm not sure if I'll do it again at all, mostly because it probably doesn't make sense to sign up for races when you're really more of a hiking type...but it was honestly a really fun morning.

Have you ever or would you ever do a 10k? Or have you ever won one? I might have said, "Wow that's slow!" but I'm pretty proud of my 1st place winner!

Our Role Models

I can't think of the term "role models" without thinking of my parents.

My dad and mom are nearly opposite when it comes to their personalities. I am, by an odd trick of nature, a blend of both of their personalities. I have my mom's fiery passion paired with my dad's cautious attention to detail.  I'm more introverted, like my mom, but I'm also comfortable making a clown of myself on any sort of stage--and I get that from my dad. My looks come from my dad's side of the family and the ridiculously high value I place on freedom and free will come solidly from my mom's side.

I come by my similarities to my parents naturally, but Angel has no excuse. He and my mom have a scary amount in common between the two of them. But what's interesting is that, as a couple, we've really looked to them and their values in life as role models for the way we shape our own lives. Not that we do everything the same or have exactly the same values (my parents have absolutely no interest in minimalism and they laugh at our 'nice, clean, empty home'. In addition, they are both more mathematical, interested in mechanics and engineering and meetings that talk about numbers and strategies and policies. My interests are nearly always art- and language-based. No calculus required, and no boring meetings, either. ha!). But in several key areas, we have learned important lessons from their lives and have shaped our own lives based on what we've learned from them and their values:

1) Debt-free Living.
This was a value of my parents, and it's one that's been a priority of ours since before our marriage--we had a goal to get married debt-free and to stay that way. We have been grateful for the flexibility it offers us--to be free from the responsibility of a monthly payment on a debt. Sure, we don't really own much, and the lifestyle we have chosen for now isn't conducive to owning much in the first place, but we so appreciation the freedom of not owing anything.

2) You Cannot Be Too Generous.
If you ever start worrying about whether you're being too generous--stop worrying, because you're not. My mom's always said, "You can't out-give God." and I have found that to be infallibly true. We tend to view ourselves with the idea that we're most likely not being generous enough, and that helps direct our focus where it should be, on opportunities to love others.

3) "Go for the Life Experience."
This has been one family motto of ours ever since my dad had a choice between a temporary work assignment that would require the family to move to a new state, and a temporary work assignment that would allow the family to stay in the same house. Someone told him, "Go for the life experience!" so he decided to move the family for his work, and our lives were forever altered. When Angel and I were deciding whether or not to move to China for work, Dad said, "Go for the life experience!" and we did. Basically, when we have an opportunity for an experience that will impact our lives and our characters, we try to take it, rather than just sitting around on the safe and boring side of the fence.

4) Work Hard.
Laziness isn't tolerated in our family. But neither is busywork, staying busy but not actually accomplishing anything, encouraged. When you've finished working hard...

5) Have Adventures.
My family is known for being just a bit adventurous. One time Mom had a dream that the family went to Orlando--she told Dad about the dream, and the next morning, they left for Orlando. From Michigan. The week before Christmas. With a 5 year old, a 3 year old, a 2 year old, and a baby on the way. My parents are not scared of adventure and have always been the best example of not using your children as an excuse to not have adventures. You've probably noticed over the past few years that Angel and I have carried on the love of adventure into our own generation.

6) Family is Extremely Important.
Sibling relationships should be cherished. Your extended family should be a network of people who care about and take care of each other--there is no replacement for family. Take good care of them--do whatever it takes. And some friends eventually become an adopted part of that extended family, which just gives you more people to love.

We also have other role models. I think most of us paste together bits and pieces from people we've known and seen into the sort of person we want to be in our minds. I'd like to have the writing skills of C.S. Lewis, the hair of a mermaid, the preaching skills of the Apostle Paul, the mystery-analysis skills of Sherlock, and the island lifestyle of Gilligan.

But if what can be said at the end of my life is that I impacted my world like my parents did, and that I loved people as they did--I figure I'll be content with that.

Linking up with Brita for today's #LoveBlog prompt: Role Models

Our Past

1. When you met: September 2008

Angel's graduation, in case you couldn't tell by the robe. We're just friends, okay.

2. How did you meet? The oh-so-famous story. It was my first-ever day of college. I went to a fair where all the student clubs had tables. Angel was at the table promoting the Bible study club. He didn't talk to me, he was busy talking to some other guy all about the club and I snuck up to the table and wrote my email address down on the email list, because I knew I wanted to join the Bible study, I didn't need any convincing. I attended the first meeting of the Bible study that Friday, and then sometime the next week, Angel walked by my homework table, sat down for a little while, and told me I should be sure to come for the next Bible study meeting. He was a dutiful recruiter for Bible study. As everyone knows, we were mostly casual friends/Bible study associates for the first semester, and then, gradually, by second semester he was one of my best and closest friends at college. He was moving to Texas after graduation, so we just stayed in touch long-distance until he came to visit me for my sophomore year spring break and we became official at the end of March 2010, and then he left to go back to work the next day and we were long distance again and didn't see each other till July. We initially kept our relationship 'secret' from all of our mutual college friends until we were sure we were getting married (which wasn't very long), just because we didn't want to cause any drama. Nobody in our friend group suspected, not at all. Most were really surprised when we announced our engagement, seemingly out of the blue. We're very naturally the best of friends, so no one ever suspected anything else of us.

3. First date/Date you got engaged: We usually count these as one and the same. July 2, 2010 or something like that. It was Angel's 2nd full day in Malaysia. My parents and siblings dropped us off to get breakfast at a little roti shop, and afterwards I told Angel to walk down to the park, and I made him walk barefoot around an acupressure path. Cross-cultural experience, you know? Then he used my phone to call his parents and let them know he was safe and fine all the way in Malaysia. And then he got down on one knee and said, "I do love you, and I want to spend the rest of my life with you, so will you marry me, Honey?" Then we walked home to my parents' house where everybody was ready to burst out the door to congratulate us and see the ring (yes, everybody knew we were going to get engaged that morning. If Mom and Dad hadn't taken all of them to McDonald's for breakfast they would have been stalking us around the park.).

5. Marriage anniversary: December 2010. Just two weeks after Angel moved back to Michigan to start his new job. It was assumed from the beginning that he would have to move in order for us to get married, since I still had a good chunk of college to finish up.

6. What is "your song"? "If I Stand" by Rich Mullins.

7. Do you remember the first movie you saw together? The very first movie was The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra at a friend's apartment with a big group of friends. The Blind Side was the first movie at the movie theater. We picked up my friend JB and the three of us saw it together. 

On Our Honeymoon

8. First road trip together? Our honeymoon! Six months after we got married, I was finally finished with Junior year, and he had worked at his job long enough to get PTO, so we hopped in the car and headed to Kentucky and Ohio. So fun.

Angel's surprise birthday party, 5 minutes after he arrived at my family's home in Malaysia. That's the sort of thing he's had to get used to.

9. Who was interested first? Angel. For sure. I went into college open to the idea of meeting a potential spouse sometime before I graduated, but I was 17 and not at all the type to have crushes. I just wanted friends so that I didn't feel totally alone after moving to the opposite side of the globe. Besides, I knew he had a girlfriend when I first met him, so, for me, Angel was automatically not even qualified to be a potential interest. Angel made his interest somewhat noticeable in second semester by parking his car next to mine everyday for an entire semester, always coming to study with me at my homework table (a freshman Chinese major and a senior nursing major are obvious study buddies, right?), inviting me to everything, joining the cast of the on-campus TV crew that I was part of, etc. He was always the one putting effort into finding me and joining the things I was a part of. However, he says he thought I was really weird when he first met me, and he didn't come to a hayride that I invited him, and the rest of the Bible study, to, about a month after I started going to college, because he'd never gone to a hayride before and thought it would be 'dumb.' Little did he know. Hayrides are awesome. 

Our "official" engagement photo. And I just realized that he still has that shirt and still wears it to work...impressive, considering nearly the years that have passed and the two international moves...

10. Who said I love you first? He did. But then he took it back. Sitcom worthy? Yes.  On a phone call, he said, "I love you....I mean, I care about you." less than a month after we were officially courting. It cracked me up. I was the first one to say it without taking it back, I wrote "I love you." as the sign-off in an email about two weeks before we got engaged and he wrote back to me super excited and was like, "I love you? You mean that? Wow! I've been wanting to tell you that but I was worried you'd get too scared and run away." It was hilariously cute. Recall, this is AFTER he had already had my engagement ring purchased for nearly two months. And AFTER we had already been talking about potential wedding dates. He's always said that up until we were legally married he was never sure if I was actually going to go through with it--he just couldn't believe he'd really caught me.


So that's the 'past', which we have a little more of every year--as of next month we've been "Angel and Rachel" for 7 years! I often feel like I have absolutely no idea what the future holds for us. And that's because I don't. If you would have told me in in 2008 that I would marry the guy who led my Bible study, I wouldn't have believed you. If you would have told us as newlyweds that before our 4th anniversary we'd be living in China, we wouldn't have believed you either.  If you would have told me that while living in my beloved hometown in Malaysia we'd have the toughest and saddest season we've ever yet faced, I couldn't have believed that either. The future is impossible to predict. We do have dreams together--dreams of having children, of opening our own business--but at this point we don't know when or if or how or in what form our future will take place. Ideally, we can look back on the past seven awesome years of being together and say, all right, whatever the years to come may bring, as long as we can do it all together, they'll be good. If there's one thing we're good at, it's 'togetherness,' plain and simple.

Post idea c/o The Lady Okie. Linking up with #LoveBlog today.

USA Bucket List

Already I'm in the midst of scheduling out what we'll be doing and where we'll be going during our trip to the USA. What at first seemed like it would be a really long trip is quickly filling up to the brim once we've realized how much there is to do. Everything on this list does not include the fact that we'll be spending time visiting all sorts of family members and friends, tackling a bunch of paperwork tasks involved in living abroad, or the fact that I'm throwing a college/high school graduation open house for two of my sisters, and I'm the wedding planner/day-of-coordinator for my sister's wedding. All of that is assumed. (what have we gotten ourselves into?!) Also, I know 'bucket list' isn't quite the right term, but it sounds so much cooler than 'checklist', so I'm using it.


1. Joe T. Garcia's fajitas in Fort Worth
2. El Arriero's nachos al carbon in Grand Rapids
3. Arby's (you can judge me if you want. I'm not the type to say 'don't judge'. Feel free.)
4. Bongiorno's Pizza in Michigan (seriously the best pizza I've ever had in my life. We had it for our wedding rehearsal dinner. No regrets. I recommend it for all wedding rehearsal dinners.)
5. Five Guys
6. Some traditional Mexican taqueria food, there's good ones in both MI and TX
7. Conchas (for Angel only. I have never learned to like these.)
8. Hobo Pies (cooked over a bonfire on the farm)
9. Angel's grilled carne asada tacos.
10. Rosa's in TX (Angel says they have good margaritas. Maybe I can let him have one once every couple years...)
11. Panda Express (Angel's request. Seriously. After living in Asia three years eating amazing Chinese food all the time)
12. Some really classic American diner breakfast food.


1. Mini-golfing
2. Disneyland/California Adventure (maybe just me by myself)
3. Bois Blanc Island
4. Riding bikes near the farm
5. Joshua Tree National Park
6. Take family photos
7. Tour Bureau of Engraving and Printing (money!) in Fort Worth
8. Dinosaur Valley State Park
9. Minor League Baseball Game
10. Swing Dancing
11. Visit our Alma Mater
12. See a Memorial Day Parade
13. Visit the lakeshore of at least one of the Great Lakes
14. See a beach in California
15. Take some new "Bear" photos
16. Visit Frankenmuth
17. See our old cat Morphine
18. Outdoor picnic
19. Hiking
20. Kayak/Boat of some kind
21. Arcade
22. Roller Skating


1. A new laptop
2. Some clothing basics--cropped leggings, camis, socks. A new swimsuit for me.
3. Asics Gel Kayanos for Angel--you can get them at least $30 cheaper in the USA. Angel was trying to excite my sympathy by showing me how worn his Asics are on the bottom, and I said, "Don't think of them as OLD running shoes, think of them as NEW racing flats." He wasn't amused.
4. Maybe a new pair of Chacos for me. After 5 years of hard use, mine are showing signs of weakness, although I think they still have some life in them yet.
5. Hair Stuff! Obviously. Stock up on blue, purple, pink, etc. haircolors. I need new haircut combs and maybe a new pair of leftie shears (yeah, try finding leftie shears on the side of the world where your students audibly gasp when you start writing on the whiteboard with your left hand), Feather razor blades.
6. School supplies--a new year of homeschool begins in August, so we'll be bringing back some school books for my little sisters. Plus we'll be keeping an eye out for teaching resources that would be fun and practical for Angel to use in his EFL classes.
7. Art/Sewing supplies. I feel like my list grows a little longer with each new technique I attempt. Michael's and Hobby Lobby coupons will be good thing. :) I'll try to pick up a variety of sewing patterns.

There will be no sleeping. As Mom always says, "You can sleep when you're dead."

Our family has a tradition. When people visit us, or when we go on trips, we'll make a list just like this. The cool thing is that our family treats the list like actual rules...not as mere guidelines. If you write it on the list, we'll make it happen. If it's not on the list, it's not gonna happen. Therefore--you better write it on the list!

So, tell me, what did I forget to put on my list? I'm sure it'll only get longer as the trip gets closer! I feel like I still need a few more activities for while we're in Texas...

What would be your must-do after being away from your birth country for 3 years?

The Wisdom in Allowing For Fun

In days that seem long past, outfit posts were a pretty regular feature on this blog. But life has been more serious in recent times and making time to take pretty photos in a pretty environment has just seemed too frivolous.

But is there anything really wrong with being frivolous once in a while? Frivolous as it might be, I think pretty clothes are fun. I like them a great deal. It's not that there's a good logical "reason" for outfit posts...I just like them. I have fun with getting dressed up and going out on little adventures with my Angel.

Therefore, while we could have said, with so many others, that we could just stay home and not do anything for Valentine's Day--that it would save money and be a more efficient use of the limited time in our schedule--I felt it was a bit wiser to shout "Hang efficiency!" and go out on a date. Dress up and curl my hair and pose in front of a fancy wall and take photos.

We went to the mall and split an appetizer and shared a dessert--a scoop of ice cream on top of a hot chocolate chip cookie served in a skillet is a BRILLIANT dessert idea. And then, to top things off, we split a smoothie bowl.

We went to the grocery store with a gift card we'd been given for Christmas and gleefully bought snacks, calculating so perfectly that we came within mere cents of the gift card amount. Yeah, we also did another errand or two while we were at the mall and picked up some photos my family had ordered to be printed, because maybe I'm not really all that serious about "hanging" efficiency after all...

But sometimes the wisest thing you can do is something that's a bit silly, like dressing up in a handmade skirt and a hand-me-down blouse and my great-grandmother's necklace and having your instagram husband snap photos like he did in the olden days when weekly dates and the frivolity of outfit posts were a regular thing. For me, this is fun. And if you don't let yourself do things for the sheer fun of it once in a while, your life will feel a bit out of balance. I'm not about being all selfish and millenial-esque...but I do think there's a lot of value in setting aside resources for having fun. And fun is different for everybody...for some people, it's watching Korean dramas for hours on end. For others, it's getting out of the house for any and every adventure. For some it's yummy food or time with friends.

Besides, when you add it all up, the appetizer, luxurious dessert, and smoothie bowl were less than $20, so it's not like a dinner date is nearly as 'costly' as the reputation it seems to have acquired for itself, right? And for a lovely Valentine's's totally worth it.

When do you shout "Hang efficiency!" and do something just because you enjoy doing it, not because it's actually needed or there's a strong logical reason to do so?

Linking up with Brita.