Category Archives: Blessed

A weekend with a bit of everything

Such a full weekend! I woke up at 5am on Saturday to drive to a girls’ retreat in Arkansas. I decided to make a slight detour on the way to surprise my parents-in-law for breakfast. It was absolutely precious. My mother-in-law started shrieking as soon as she saw me. I attempted to video it, but mostly it’s a video of the dog and floor as I walk in, but you can totally hear how excited she is so I’m going to share it anyway. 😀

I told her that you just never know who might walk in when you keep your door unlocked. 😉 We had a lovely time cooking & eating breakfast together before I headed out to the retreat site. It was such a short visit, but thankfully we’ll be back in just a couple of weeks to see them again!

group pic.jpg

Saturday was filled with hanging out with the teen girls. We sang, we prayed, we loved on each other, we hiked, we played, and we ate. It was a good sort of weekend. My favorite part was when we went out to Bee Rock.

rach bee rockThis photo wasn’t staged – we had some quiet time out at Bee Rock and one of the adults snapped this shot. I just love it! Me in one of my favorite places. 🙂

This place means a lot to me because it is attached to the camp where I grew up going (Camp Wyldewood) and we would often hike out here. I can’t summarize in a tiny paragraph all that Wyldewood means to me so that will be in a post forth coming. But let me tell you this, I met Jesus at Wyldewood when I was 14 years old. So today at 28 years old I have now lived 14 years as a follower of Christ. If I can’t summarize Wyldewood in a short paragraph, I certainly can’t summarize God’s faithfulness over these past 14 years in a short paragraph either. Just know this – He is so faithful to His children. There is never a day when I have walked alone. 🙂

rach and fawn

This is Fawn! She is in charge of this group of girls (along with a bunch more in Memphis) and she is pretty awesome. I have been so blessed by getting to know her over this past year as I’ve volunteered with these teenagers!

rach rachel and ms rachel

This is me with Rachel and Rachel. 😉 Of the 11 volunteers who came on the trip, we had two Rachels and a Rach (and one of the Rachels goes by Rach sometimes as well). So the girls distinguished us by calling us Ms. Rachel, Rachel, and Rach (me). We joked that if you didn’t know one of the volunteer’s names, you could call them “Rachel” and had a pretty good chance of being correct. 😉

girls collage

I took almost no photos this weekend so most of the ones in this post were either texted to me or I snagged them off social media. These are some of the precious girls I’ve gotten to know over the past couple of months. They are such sweethearts. 🙂

Road Trip.jpg

I had another 5am wake up call on Sunday morning so I could get packed up, spend some time in prayer at a favorite spot, and then hit the road to make it back to Memphis for my grandfather’s 89th birthday celebration!

rach and daddyken

We spent Sunday with family and it was just a wonderful sort of day! I am so grateful for my grandfather – he has impacted my life in so many huge ways! 🙂 Sunday night was spent with friends and then Christopher and I crashed at 9:30pm last night. While I was at this girls’ retreat he was hanging out with teenage boys all weekend doing the same thing. So we were both worn out! Thankfully we got some awesome sleep last night and are ready for the week! 🙂

Do you have a place out in nature that is a favorite of yours?

Have you surprised a family member with a pop-in visit before?

Love Rach

Things I’ll remember from 2015

For my last post of 2015 I wanted to look back at some of the things that I know I’ll remember about this year.

princess party

A huge one for 2015 was that this was the year “my girls” graduated from high school. I’ve been mentoring them since they were in 7th grade so it’s hard to believe they are all off in college now. A favorite memory with them this year was our final princess party. It was precious. 🙂

recovery

We’ve had a lot of health stuff/surgeries/sicknesses/etc going on this year. Among them was Christopher’s ACL surgery in January and me getting food poisoning in the Dominican Republic. As hard as some of this has been and as much as I might like to forget those parts of 2015, I’m thankful for the way we so tenderly care for and support each other. And we have both been overwhelmed by the kindness and support of friends and family this year.

us on the beach3

A new thing for 2015 was the Our 30 Days thing we did. A break we took from “real life” to just be together. It.was.awesome. Since then we’ve learned to be much better about carving out time for us which I have loved!

photographer rach3

My photography business has continued to grow and I have continued to be amazed by the growth. I’ll remember 2015 as the year that I let myself get way overbooked (especially Oct-Dec). I came out of busy season with my head still attached so that’s good news, but I want to have a better plan in place for next year. I’m working on that. 😉 But all in all, this business has been awesome and I am unbelievably grateful for my clients, mentors, and encouragers. 🙂

us at grand canyon6

Of course, like most years, 2015 was full of traveling for us. My favorite trips were to Vegas, the Grand Canyon, Destin (even though we had a terrifying experience with a rip current this year, we still love Destin!), and NYC. And of course the Bahamas, but that is part of the next one…

us in nassau

Celebrating Christopher’s 30th birthday with a trip to Harry Potter World (that post is still coming!) and taking a cruise to the Bahamas! Awesome-sauce! Definitely a solid way to end 2015! 🙂

I’m not sure what all 2016 will bring our way, but I have a feeling it’s going to be pretty awesome! 🙂

Love Rach

It’s like every day is my birthday…

Thanks for all the birthday love  yesterday, friends! I had a great day! It started with an early morning breakfast date with my husband (biscuits smothered in gravy – oh so good!). And then I spent a couple of hours with the kids I nanny (a trip to the library and a lunch date with Christopher). Then some friends came over and made my hair all pretty and we chatted together. Then Christopher and I went out for delicious Italian food at Pete & Sam’s. We came home and opened presents and Christopher made a delicious dessert (without sugar!) for me. And over all it was just an excellent sort of day.

birthday collage

One of the best things about the day was realizing halfway through the day that there wasn’t much about the day that was different than my every day life (other than the presents and my phone blowing up with “love you” and “happy birthday” messages). Christopher kept saying “do whatever you want. Enjoy the day!” And I realized that the things I enjoy doing most… are things I do every day. I have two jobs I absolutely love so going “to work” on my birthday is fun for me. Spending time with Christopher, our mutt, and people who love me are things I do every day. The only thing I love to do that we didn’t do was go to the beach. Because… well… it was midweek and our dog sitters are out of town, haha! But we’re headed to the beach again in just a couple of weeks so don’t feel sorry for me. 😉

with my love

Seriously though, it’s humbling to realize this. To realize that I get to spend most every day as if it were my birthday. Doing things I love. Yes, sometimes I photograph a session in 100 degree heat and feel like I’m melting, sometimes I clean up accidents during potty training, sometimes I have to clean toilets at our house, sometimes I get a stomach bug, sometimes we get bad news from the doctor, sometimes we hurt. But those things are so minuscule in the grand scheme. Day in and day out, life is so great. I know there will come a time when our little family looks different and I won’t be able to be so selfish with my days. And I know that it will be an awesome kind of different. But it will be different. So for now, I will enjoy my days where every day feels like my birthday. And I’m so grateful. 🙂

Love Rach

This is my story

Over the years that I’ve had this blog I’ve shared favorite recipes, travels, daily life, and stories. So many stories. And often I find myself talking about Jesus here. And the more I tell “my” stories, the more you hear about Jesus. I heard a song recently that really summed this up  beautifully.

If I told you my story, you would hear hope that wouldn’t let go

If I told you my story, you would hear love that never gave up

And if I told you my story, you would hear life, but it wasn’t mine…

If I should speak then let it be: of the grace that is greater than all my sin! Of when justice was served and where mercy wins! Of the kindness of Jesus Who draws me in. Oh, to tell you my story is to tell of Him!

This is my story. This is my song. Praising my Savior all the day long.

-Big Daddy Weave

Yes, this. Exactly. I could have written the lyrics to this song. This is my story. It is full of hope and love and grace. When I tell “my” story, really I am telling you about Jesus.


^Listen to the song here^

My teen girls have all graduated high school and are headed to college next month. In a couple of weeks we will have our last sleepover together at my house and I am working on what exactly I want to share with them. Choosing parting words after 6 years is no easy task for me. But this song sums up so beautifully all the things I want to communicate to them. I hope that this is what they have seen in me all these years. That “my” stories and life point to Jesus.

Do you have a song you feel like you could have written because the lyrics ring so true for you? 

If you were sending a group of girls off to college, what would your final parting words or advice be? 

Love Rach

My anthem this week

My anthem changes. My favorite songs change. My favorite scriptures, quotes, and phrases change. Words and music touch my heart in such a special way. And depending on what is happening in life at the moment, that flux of emotions usually dictates the type of song that becomes my anthem. There was a week last summer where “Walkin’ On Sunshine” was stuck in my head for days. As of this week my anthem has become the song “Shoulders” by For King and Country.

“You carry my weakness, my sickness, my brokenness all on Your shoulders…”

“I don’t have to see to believe that You’re lifting me up on Your shoulders…”

Those two lines… they are where I am today. Where I’ve been this whole week really. The entire song is amazing, but those lines have been on repeat in my heart. I know posting vague references can be obnoxious and I don’t mean to be like that. I’m just not quite sure that I’m ready to open up so publicly. And yet I still want to share my heart in a small way.

I found out some bad news today. But it’s not the worst news. In fact I’ve suspected that it might be coming since earlier this week. But it’s still a little bit difficult to wrap my head around. I am drawn back to my thoughts on Dayenu. To remind myself of the crazy blessed life I get to lead. Of all that God has done for me already. It really has been sufficient. When I feel my heart beginning to break just a little, I remind myself that God is good and that He is faithful and that He is walking with me.

He carries my weakness, my sickness, and my brokenness on His shoulders. And I don’t have to see to believe it. I’m young in many ways, but I have walked this path with Jesus for a long time now. And He has been so faithful to me every single step of the way. I know He’s not letting me go now. And like I mentioned in my post about fasting – it’s not about always getting what we want. But about our hearts becoming more in tune with His.

And you guys, I can’t write all of this without mentioning my sweet husband and what an amazing man he is. I truly can’t say enough good things about Christopher through all this. Gentle and patient and kind. Loving and strong. I am so very thankful that I get to live life with him.

So this anthem of “Shoulders” may seem a little depressing because clearly life isn’t exactly “Walkin’ on Sunshine” right now. But that’s how life is. Ups and downs. But for me, this song reminds me that there is so much hope. Because no matter what news or outcome or loss, I know that God is good, He is faithful, and He isn’t letting go of us.

Love Rach

Thoughts this Monday morning

I’ve shared this before, but it has really been on my mind again lately so I’m sharing again. 🙂

While we aren’t Jewish, Christopher and I celebrate Passover every year with our friends from church. A portion of the evening is spent reciting a song called “Dayenu” which essentially means “it would have been enough for us.” The song is full of the pieces of the story of the Exodus when the Jews were freed from slavery in Egypt. And in the song, you are saying that “even if all You had done was ______, it would have been enough for us.” And you fill in the blank with each step of the journey (brought them out of Egypt, split the sea, given us the Torah, etc). Any one of these things would have been “enough for us” and so much more than we deserve. I love this way of thinking because it still applies to life today.

flowers2

Things may not always happen the way I plan or hope that they will. And on days like that I am reminded of how much God has already done for me. For the amazing ways He has worked in my life already. Each of those things would have been sufficient already and yet He continues to bless me. So even if everything doesn’t work out the way I hope… He is still good. Always. Because Dayenu – it has been sufficient.

he is still good{source}

Love Rach

Behind the Scenes Look at Filming a TV Show (Fix It & Finish It)

Back in August I shared a little bit of the Behind the Scenes of our day with Fix It & Finish It, but I couldn’t share a lot of the details or anything that might end up on the show. So now that the show has aired I can finally share with you a little more in depth behind-the-scenes look! 🙂

rach and christopher with lauren (fix it & finish it)

First up, I have to tell you guys about Lauren. She was the associate producer of the show and she was the bomb dot com. The other producer (Collin) was also very friendly – really everyone was nice to us, haha! But Lauren holds a special place in our hearts. She really had a way about her that helped put us at ease during our interviews. Well, as much “at ease” as you can feel with the camera crew hovering about, ha!

To give you an idea of how the interviews looked, I’m going to share a clip with you guys. You can see that Lauren is standing right beside the camera guy and asking us the questions. We are supposed to maintain eye contact with her (never looking directly into the camera). And we have to answer in full sentences because her questions won’t be aired – just our responses.

As you can hear from Lauren, I did indeed hit the wall with the sledgehammer a couple of times (and tore down a lot of the drywall) so don’t let the fact that they didn’t air any of that fool you into thinking I just stood idly by. 😉 Though I mean… I did enjoy watching Christopher go all beast on the wall and rip it out. 🙂

fix it and finish itThis is us working on the home owners’ project in the backyard. ‘Cause you know, it’s totally normal to have three different camera angles and two sound guys making sure they record every thing we do and say. 😉

fix it and finish itMore of us working on the home owner’s project with Ashley (the designer)

fix it and finish itYuuuup… there’s a hole in the side of my  house… but oh man, we were SO excited to go from INSIDE our house directly into the backyard!

fix it and finish itAnd up goes the door! As a behind the scenes note… nearly every single thing we did during the day, we had to do at least 3 times (sometimes more) just to be sure that they got every angle shot and word spoken that they needed to record. So they actually had to put up and take down this door three times just to be sure they got it all. Yikes!

fix it and finish itAs a staging note… Ever notice how books always match the room in these home renovation shows? That’s all thanks to covers put on them! The staging crew spent lots of time covering our books in neutrals and blues so they would match the room. 🙂

And finally, here’s a real look at what happens behind the scenes during an actual filming. This is our third take of walking in the door and greeting Antonio just before the Big Reveal!

I love that this video gives you a little bit of a better idea of how things went. Pretty much everything was a slow process of multiple takes and angles. The only thing the entire day that we did only once was the big reveal after we walked into the room. That was a one take deal so there is always a lot of pressure to make sure it’s perfect.

What’s funny is that at the very end of our Big Reveal, Christopher and I are quietly sitting on the couch, holding hands and whispering to each other about how happy we are… and then all the sudden someone yells “CUT!” and it’s all over. I nearly jumped out of my skin, haha! It was a fun process, though! And I’m glad I could share a little bit of it with you.

Nearly all of these photos and videos are thanks to Brandon Toney (the husband of our designer). He was there documenting the day which was awesome because I wasn’t able to do it. So thanks to Brandon! 🙂 Last post on Fix It & Finish It coming up soon!

Love Rach