Category Archives: God

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

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

Thankful for hope

This past March I wrote a blog post and then never shared it. I felt like a lot of my posts around that time had gotten really heavy and I needed something a little lighter. So instead I shared my post on Dayenu again (originally posted here from last summer). But this past weekend Christopher and I got a call from the doctor’s office that had us on a roller coaster of emotions. Good news, then bad news… then confusion. Then a call to the lab to recheck their facts. And it turns out that we had been given someone else’s results so none of this applied to us anyway. It was a pretty intense 15 minutes and we came out of it emotionally exhausted. We talked a lot about it later that night and we landed in a place where we realized how grateful we are to have each other to journey through this life together. Days like these are when the wedding vows get real. To laugh together, to grieve together, to gently care for each other, to encourage each other. Which reminded me of this blog post. So I decided to share it after all.

March 23, 2015

Nearly two years ago I read a book that really challenged me. Scarred Faith by Josh Ross. The book tackles several big topics (in a short 160 pages), but one of my favorite things about the book is that it talks about how it’s not only okay to mourn during sad times, but important. And valid. We brush over grief so often because it’s uncomfortable. And so many of us grieve differently and over different things. But I love this book for the reminder that God is standing with us through every moment of our suffering. And best of all, this book reminds us that the tomb was empty and death doesn’t win. Jesus wins. And that reminder fills me with such hope for the brokenness in the world.

flowers2

I picked up Scarred Faith again this weekend and found myself flipping back through the pages where I had underlined paragraph after paragraph. These are two of my favorites:

“Even when it seems like death has won, the story of Easter echoes from the empty tomb that death couldn’t hold Jesus, and death still can’t hold us. Death doesn’t get the last word. Jesus wins!” (page 36)

One day, God will make all things new, and heaven will come crashing into earth as the groans of creation are redeemed. Tears will be wiped away, death will be defeated, and sin will be no more. But until the new heaven and new earth invade our current reality of suffering, tears will continue to flow. So, when towers fall, tornadoes destroy, pregnant women miscarry, husbands break wedding vows, and the innocent die because wars are fueled by a hunger for control and power, the first tear to roll of a cheek is a tear from God.” (page 59)

flowers3

I love the reminder that God loves us and is there with us during the difficult times. Recently I was driving down the street, praying for someone in the midst of grief, with my songs on shuffle and an old song from the 2000’s came on (I love shuffle for that very reason). Mark Shultz, “I have been there”. There’s a lyric in that song that is God speaking to us and it says, “I have been there. I know what sorrow’s all about. Yes, I have been there and I’m standing with you now!” You guys, the God of the universe understands what we’re going through. And He stands with us in our grief.

flowers

I have so many favorite songs and scriptures that I turn to during hard times. And I love that most of them have a theme of hope. Of redemption. Gentle reminders that we are not alone. I am thankful to have a relationship with the God Who is willing to stand with me. Who holds my hand through every storm. I am thankful for the man I get to live life with, for his strength and faith and gentleness. For the days of laughter, the days of tears, and the days where we are on our knees together in prayer. I am thankful for friends and family and Christian community who wrap us up in love and support through every high and low. I am so thankful for this amazing life I get to live. And today especially I am thankful for hope.

Love Rach

Mixed Emotions This Father’s Day

Today was Father’s Day. And the older I get the more mixed emotions there are surrounding the day.

I think of my sweet friends who began to think of themselves as parents as their first pregnancy progressed… and then a devastating loss. And suddenly Father’s Day is a reminder of the sweet baby they should be holding in their arms instead of that deep ache inside.

I think of children estranged from their fathers because of choices one or both made that brought extremes into the picture.

I think of two families we know who have lost fathers (at ages 41 & 45) in the past month and how those families are experiencing their first Father’s Day without a husband and father present.

I think of three families we don’t know who live in Charleston and who are experiencing their first Father’s Day without fathers present because of senseless violence and racism.

I think of the orphans, the legal orphans, the kids in the foster care system. I think of the children who are abused by fathers and stepfathers. I think of the unwanted children tossed aside by men who never cared to be fathers or who never had a father in their own lives to teach them what fatherhood looks like.

And then I think of the good dads I know. Men who are dedicated to their families. Who love their children. Who are present.

Mixed emotions, I tell you.

I am thankful that I grew up with a father in the home. Not every kid gets that. I’m thankful that when I called my dad yesterday to wish him a happy Father’s Day he told me that he loved me. Not every kid hears that.

My husband no longer has that. He grew up with an amazing dad who loved him. And while physically his dad is still with us, the dementia has taken away so much of him. So when Christopher calls to chat with his dad on Father’s Day, there are no “I love yous” exchanged. Because my sweet husband’s father no longer knows he has a son.

Earlier tonight I asked Christopher how he felt about Father’s Day considering the situation with his dad and this is what he told me:

“It makes me sad that my dad isn’t the man I knew growing up anymore. I miss him. But I’m thankful for the good days. And I know that someday we’ll all be in heaven together and he will be healthy and whole again. I look forward to that.”

To which I responded with a very well articulated sob.

But I think he summed it up well. Because one day heaven will collide with Earth once again and Jesus is coming back. All things will be made right. No more abuse, no more tears, no more loss. And someday Christopher’s father will look him in the eye again and know his son.

Love Rach

A morning on the beach

I wake up when the sun rises. Even on vacation. So in the summers that means I wake up around 6 every morning. Which is great in day-to-day life because Christopher is an early riser as well. We love getting an early start to our day. However, on vacation Christopher usually sleeps in (and by “sleeps in” I mean 7-8am so still not late, haha!). During that hour or so that I’m awake before him on vacation, I usually take some time to spend with Jesus (in normal day-to-day life this time usually happens in the afternoons). Since we were at the beach this weekend, I could think of no better spot to spend with Jesus than to go watch the sunrise over the beach.

beach morning

I pray a lot. All throughout the day. In some ways it’s like breathing. Something that just happens because God is so much a part of my life. But taking time to sit down and rest in His presence is something that I really have to be super intentional about. So I have a prayer journal to help keep my mind focused. Day-to-day my quiet time with God consists of reading scripture and writing my prayers down in my prayer journal. But I’ll be honest, I often forget to just be still. To just sit in His presence and allow Him to speak to my heart.

beach morning2{my current prayer journal}

But this past Sunday was different. It was such a beautiful time of worship. I’d say normally about half of my prayers are prayers of thankfulness (because really, God has blessed me above and beyond what I ever could have asked for) and the other half are prayers of petition (“God, please heal this person. God, please teach me to love better. God, please forgive me for my selfishness.” etc). And that’s not wrong or bad. But that morning on the beach, there were no petitions. No asking anything of God. Just pouring my heart out in praise and thankfulness to Him.

beach morning3

I was overwhelmed by the beauty and majesty of the creation surrounding me. So for an hour I sat on the beach and worshiped the Creator of everything around me. I took some time to just sit and be still in His presence and you guys, it was wonderful. The whole trip was fantastic and nurturing for the soul, but that specific morning was especially awesome.

Love Rach

On my heart today…

I love music. I love powerful lyrics and singing. And strangely enough, I’m not in one camp or the other when it comes to contemporary music vs. hymns. I love the new stuff that Christian artists are releasing (like when I shared “Shoulders”), but I also love some of the old hymns. They are so rich with meaning and theology and truth. And I love how talented people have made beautiful, artistic hand lettering designs of these songs and put them on Pinterest. So today, here are a couple of song lyrics that are on my heart.

i need thee{source}

great is Thy faithfulness{source}

in every season{source}

it is well{source}

What is inspiring you today?

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