Category Archives: Grateful

Be Still

Life has been on quite the roller coaster over the past few weeks. I know I’ve shared with you guys that there have been some hard moments for us, but I have to tell you… we’ve had some amazing moments over the past few weeks as well. This weekend was rough for our family and yet this coming week has some incredible things we’re so looking forward to. I know that’s the natural way of things in life. That there are soaring highs and crashing lows. It’s just always more obvious when those highs and lows come back to back to back.

be-still

My cousin’s wife recently started a new Etsy shop (she does beautiful work – check it out here) and I just fell in love with this Be Still piece she created. This is where I am right now. Even in the busy-ness of life, I am taking time to be still. To be still and know that He is God. To be still and take time to mourn the hard things. And to be still and rejoice in the good. Because there is so much good even in this broken world.

Thanks to all of you who have prayed for us, supported us, checked in on us, and loved on us over these past few weeks. God is faithful, my friends.

Love Rach

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A roller coaster of emotions

The past 9 days have been a roller coaster of emotions. We have experienced sadness, fear, great fun, gratefulness, and joy. So many things. So many feelings. Last week I shared with you guys that we had just come out of a pretty rough weekend. Over that weekend while we were helping my mother-in-law with Christopher’s dad (who is in the late stages of dementia), we got a call from my mom letting us know that my dad had a stroke and was in an ambulance on the way to the hospital.

me-with-mom-dad{me with my parents}

However, after a few days in the hospital he was discharged with the incredible news that the stroke had caused no loss of function. His guardian angel must have been working overtime that Saturday. I am thankful for many things this Thanksgiving, but seeing my dad be his normal self just days after a stroke was such a blessing.

girls and dad.jpg{two of my sisters and me with our dad this past week}

I’ll share more about all the fun we had at Thanksgiving later this week, but for now I wanted to at least share this before I run out the door.  There are no words to describe how thankful I am that I got to spend another Thanksgiving with my dad.

 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

The house fire that wasn’t

This past weekend we had a really minor fire on the exterior of our house. A tree limb hit power lines attached to our house which caused arcing which caused some of the siding the catch on fire. I actually can’t talk a lot about a lot of the specifics today or share photos of the damage because of insurance and codes. But just know that it was a minor thing that could have so easily been a super major thing.

If so many things had just been slightly different then our house could have burned to the ground. With Oreo inside. Or with us asleep. Or while we were out of town with our regular house/dog sitter asleep inside. Every time the realization of one of those things hit me on Saturday I found myself overwhelmed with thankfulness for how it happened. If it hadn’t been for the friend of ours who was there with Christopher when it happened and the fire extinguisher we keep in the kitchen, we very easily might have lost half of our house this past weekend. I really wish I could fill in more gaps to that part of the story, but just suffice it to say that it felt a little bit like a guardian angel looking out for us. If this had to happen, it couldn’t have happened at a better time.

fire truck

The fire department was called while Christopher and our friend handled the fire and got Oreo out of the house. By the time they arrived the fire had already been put out, but they still had to check for smoldering and thermal heat throughout the house. I had been at a newborn photoshoot that morning so I got a call from Christopher around this time filling me in. I came home to the fire truck in front of our house. Everyone was super kind to us and helpful. The city came out to turn off the power to our house (so we wouldn’t be electrocuted walking through our backyard) until we could get an electrician to come out and fix the power lines. So we were without power for Saturday and most of Sunday. Did I mention that this weekend is when the weather dropped from the 60s here in Memphis to the 20s? I’ll come back to that later.

Before I even arrived home I started getting calls from our neighbors asking if I knew there was a fire truck outside our house and if we were all okay. I explained to them what happened and they each told us to call if we needed anything. A hot shower, a place to hang out with electricity, a place to stay for a few days while we wait on repairs. We felt so loved by these precious friends. Later that day I posted something about all of this to social media. Because that’s what people in our generation do. 😉 Anyway, if we felt loved before, we felt overwhelmed with love after I did that. The calls and texts began pouring in at that point. We lost count of how many people offered us a place to stay (even saying that Oreo was welcome as well). You guys… it was just too much. The wrap around we felt. So much love. So much concern. I don’t know how people make it without community.

We ended up deciding to stay home on Saturday night even without electricity much to the chagrin of several of our friends who kept reminding us that it was 20 degrees and that there was no need to be a hero about it. 😉 We weren’t opposed to taking help, but with Oreo it’s just easier to stay home if we could tough it out through the night. Plus we were hopeful to not be without power for long (which we weren’t!). Christopher, Oreo and I piled in our bed with flannel sheets and under all the blankets in our house. We were SO toasty all night long. It was definitely brisk getting out of our cozy bed the next morning, but it was very manageable. It was in the 20s outside, but we’re pretty sure it didn’t drop below 50 inside (our thermostat said it was in the 50s when our power came back). Not something sustainable for a long time, but for 2 days (and only one night), it was fine.

heat is back(heat is coming out of that vent again!)

Yesterday, just before dark, we got our power back. All the lights that had been on when the power went off all popped on while I was standing in the kitchen. One minute I was clearing out spoiled food from our freezer and the next I was bouncing in glee when I heard the power come on and all our Christmas lights came on around me. It was such a happy moment.

The past couple of days Christopher and I haven’t been able to stop talking about how grateful we are. How wonderful it was to be surrounded by love and concern from neighbors, friends, and family. How grateful we are that it wasn’t worse and that we already have power back. How thankful we are to know that if it had been worse that we have such an incredible community that would have taken care of us. Our hearts are overflowing which feels kind of perfect for this Thanksgiving week. 🙂

Have you ever had a fire at your home?

Have you gone without power during extreme weather?

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

That one time we got caught in a rip current

We go to the beach a lot. At least 4 or 5 times a year. Sometimes more. We love the beach and understand that as beautiful as it is, it can also be a dangerous place. We’ve learned to leave a wide berth in the ocean for the jelly fish and to watch where we step to avoid crabs. We wear lots of sunscreen to protect our skin and sunglasses to protect our eyes. We’ve even seen the occasional shark (nowhere near us, though). But this weekend was our first experience with a rip current.

A rip current can be incredibly dangerous if you don’t realize what’s happening. Which we didn’t at first. Christopher and I were playing way out in the ocean and the water was pretty rough with some big waves. But we love playing in the waves so we were having a blast! I was on a float and he was next to me swimming around. We went over several big waves and had fun splashing and playing. And then suddenly Christopher looked behind me and went from playful to serious in a millisecond. He reached for my float and said, “Oh babe, hold on.” And then a massive wave broke over us and took us both completely under.

As the water slammed the side of my head, I wrapped both arms around my float and held on for dear life knowing that it would eventually bring me back to the surface. In probably less than 10 seconds (though it felt like forever) I broke through the water’s surface and took in a huge breath. No sooner did I make it to the surface than I heard Christopher’s voice yell at me to hold on to the float and then a second wave crashed over us both and took us completely under again. Again I held on as my float slowly brought me back to the surface. Christopher made his way to me just in time to tell me that another wave was coming. Yes, we got completely pummeled by three giant waves in a row.

When we went under the third time, Christopher found me under the water and grabbed me with a lifeguard rescue stroke. He was a lifeguard for three summers and instinct kicked in when he saw I wasn’t swimming. I can swim, but I didn’t realize we were caught in a rip current so I kept thinking that as long as I held on to my float, I’d be fine because I’d eventually float to the top and the waves should carry me back to shore. Because we kept getting taken under I couldn’t see anything and didn’t realize what was happening. Christopher, however, had identified the problem and realized that we needed to get out of the current. Once he had his arm wrapped around me and started swimming parallel to shore, I realized what was happening and started swimming too.

Once we got out of the line of the enormous, crashing waves we were able to make it to shore quickly. One of those guys who rents umbrellas & chairs on the beach walked up to us to be sure we were okay. He explained that a rip current had just opened up in this area and was really dangerous (obviously, ha!). Once we knew where the current was, it was a lot easier to avoid it or be more careful while in it for the rest of the day. 🙂

It was only after we sat down on the beach together that the impact of what had just happened (and what could have happened) actually sunk in. We found ourselves very grateful to be safe and sound. And on the bright side we now have experience with swimming out of a rip current. Helpful for future beach trips for sure. 🙂

beach day2

Love Rach