Category Archives: Life Happens

Moments of goodness

I keep trying to figure out how to start this blog post and I keep starting over. So forgive me if this isn’t said well or if I’m all over the place. Here’s the truth, it was a rough weekend. For both mine and Christopher’s families. We were with his family helping out with a difficult situation when we got a call from my family with bad news. I know all of this is really vague (which is part of why I keep having trouble figuring out how to word things), but for now this is the best I can share. It was a hard weekend for both our families. And there is more pain and more news and more transition to come. So please say a prayer for both of our families. We would so appreciate it.

The weekend wasn’t all bad, though. There were moments of goodness.

castingcrowns-matt-maher-hannah-kerr

On Thursday (which wasn’t really the weekend, but close enough that I’m counting it, ha!)  we went to a Casting Crowns concert. We both like this group, but really it was the opener who I was SUPER excited to see. Matt Maher opened for Casting Crowns and he is one of my favorites. He has so many incredible songs that just really touch my heart. Lord I Need You, Christ is Risen, Your Grace is Enough, and Because He Lives are four of my favorites which you’ll find on repeat around our house. I can’t tell you how much we needed to go into this weekend with these anthems speaking truth over us. And as an added bonus, the very first opener was a girl named Hannah Kerr who I had never heard of, but it turns out I love her! I came home and bought her whole album the next day! So definitely a good night. 🙂 That picture up there is of all the artists on stage together singing a finale!

tony and toph.jpg

This shot is of Christopher and his dad from yesterday afternoon. For newer readers who may not know – Christopher’s dad has dementia. If you have ever known someone in the later stages of dementia then you know how heartbreaking it can be. I’m thankful for the little moments like this one.

ladies.jpg

My mother-in-law is part of a group of ladies who write cards (happy birthday, get well soon, condolences, etc) to people who attend their church. Seeing these four ladies work together was hilarious. Did I mention that one of those ladies is my grandmother? She’s the spunky red-head (she’ll tell you that it’s still red even if you can’t tell these days) on the left in the picture. Christopher and I grew up far away from each other, but my grandparents and his parents live in the same town now and go to the same church and have become good friends. So funny how that works sometimes! Anyway, I got to stick on the return labels and pick little sticker closures for the back of the envelopes. Important work, my friends. 😉

I have to note here… I love the example my mother-in-law sets. Being a care taker for someone who has dementia is so taxing (emotionally, physically, mentally, etc). And yet, despite the fact that she has so much going on already, she still thinks of others and actively works to bless others in their community. Love that about her.

This weekend was such a difficult one, but it made it easy to highlight the blessings in our life. We live in a broken world, but there is goodness here as well. And so very much to be thankful for.

Love Rach

Ps. I know I’m all over the place. Thank you for having grace for me today.

Lately

And we’re back to lately posts, ha! It’s 100 degrees here right now so I keep thinking the photography business will soon slow down dramatically. Instead I keep having people book July sessions which is awesome for business! But, you know, hot. So we’re attempting to beat (some of) the heat by having early morning sessions. Tomorrow I have a 7:45am session and on Friday a 7am one. On the bright side – I’m an early riser – so this is no biggie for me. Hopefully the kiddos (and their parents) will be bright eyed and bushy tailed! 🙂

post gym selfie{awkward post-gym selfie from today – I was trying to not look bald by turning my head, but now it just looks weird. Obviously I need to work on my selfie game, haha!}

One thing I’ve been really proud of myself for during this busy photography season has been prioritizing time at the gym. I really enjoy working out and I feel great all day when I kick off my morning at the gym. The only times when I don’t go regularly are during photography busy seasons (spring-early summer and then fall-Christmas). So after this past fall/Holiday season when I was crazy busy and missed a TON of gym days, I decided not to let that happen again. So while I’m not present here as much as I’d like, I am still getting in that much needed gym time. Thanks for hanging with me while things are busy. 🙂

spraying the ceiling.jpg

Ever since our A/C leaked through our ceiling three weeks ago we’ve been attempting to repair the damaged ceiling. We’ve tried two fixes and both haven’t matched the texture that is already on the ceiling. Which required RE-scraping the ceiling. Yuck! So last night we pulled out the big guns and rented a ceiling texture sprayer to fix it. Thankfully the third time was the charm and the ceiling looks way better now!

from 2004

This deserves more than just a passing mention, but since blogging has taken a backseat lately, I don’t want this week to pass without me at least acknowledging this. A friend of ours from college passed away very suddenly this week. I remember when his wife and I were freshman and we were having a slumber party and giggling together about these super cute boys we were dating and how we both thought that they just might be the ones we would marry. We were right. And now, at a ridiculously young age, he is gone. My heart just breaks for her and their young son. Please take a moment to pause and say a prayer for them. Hug those you love a little tighter today.

kiddos2.jpg

Speaking of those I love… these two hooligans have kept me busy this summer. It’s so nice to spend some quality time with them without having to worry about school or schedules. And if you missed last week’s post about them, check it out here. These two are so near and dear to my heart. 🙂

world relief

Christopher and I recently began volunteering with World Relief here in Memphis. We are volunteering with a refugee family from Syria who are just absolutely precious. We don’t know all of their story yet, but I am already so amazed by their resiliency and eagerness to adapt to life here. I’m not sure how many stories or photos I’ll be able to share here due to privacy, but this is what we’re doing on Monday nights now.

I know this post is such a mix of lighthearted and heavy things, but I suppose that’s life. I may not be blogging like normal right now, but there are definitely some things I want recorded to look back on. Thanks for hanging with me, friends.

Love Rach

Be Stronger

It was a hard weekend. A family emergency in one city and problems back home all in the same day. There has been a lot of stress and worry this weekend, but also a lot of prayers and grace. We spent yesterday afternoon with friends out in the country-side and Christopher snapped this shot of me that kind of perfectly sums up the weekend.

be stronger.jpg

It’s not often that you’ll see a photo of me not smiling or laughing. Normally we are all sunshine and rainbows, but Saturday kicked us in the face. When I saw this photo I knew I wanted to share it with you guys in an attempt to be honest with where we are today. And the tank I was wearing – I picked it because I knew it was what I needed to be reminded of that day. Be stronger, Rach. We can do this. Jesus has us. His mercies are new every morning.

Song of this week: You’re Not Alone by Downhere

To end on a MUCH happier note… the giveaway ended for the Memphis Goodies last night. Thank you guys all so much for your congratulations and sweet comments and for entering! The winner, thanks to random selection via Random.Org, is Olya from The Siberian American. Congratulations, Olya! You will be hearing from me soon! 🙂

Comments turned off on this post. Tell someone you love them today.

Love Rach

It’s 1:50am…

So. It’s 1:50am. As in… in the middle of the night. As in 4 hours past my bed time. Fear not, disaster has not struck. No middle of the night emergency. No, no, just a cup of coffee at the wrong time of the day. No, not an espresso as a nightcap. Just a cup of decaf coffee. At 3pm. Yeah, that’s how sensitive I am to caffeine (for those who don’t know, there is still some caffeine even in decaf coffee, though it’s not very much). I don’t drink caffeinated drinks, but I sure do love some decaf coffee. Usually when I have my decaf coffee it’s first thing in the morning. But today was a long, long day. So as a mid-afternoon treat I stopped by Starbucks for my favorite. And now here I am at nearly 2am wide awake.

The good news is that I have been super productive in these midnight hours. I finally finished planning our Vegas trip. Which is good since we leave tomorrow! Well… I guess that’s “today” now. I’m pretty stoked about it. 😀

The other good news is that my day tomorrow will be simple. I had a photo shoot scheduled that just got moved to next week due to the rain so I can sleep in. I have a lunch date with one of my teens. I need to pack a quick getaway bag for the weekend. I’ll hit up the gym for a bit. And that’s it. Easy peasy. It’ll fly by, but I’m looking forward to it (especially the sleeping in part). And then next thing I know, I’ll be on my way to Vegas. 🙂 But first I need to go to bed. 😉

Anyone out there super sensitive to caffeine? (or have you given it up in the past only to find that a small amount affects you quite a bit later?)

Any bets on how late I sleep in? I’m hoping for at least 7:30am! I’m normally an 8 hours of sleep kinda girl, but I know there’s no way my body will let me sleep in until 10am. 😉

Any last minute Vegas/Grand Canyon tips for us?

Love Rach

A heart wrenching Thanksgiving

This was a difficult Thanksgiving for our family. There were tears as we grieved together, but there was laughter and joy as well. The happier moments I’ll share later this week. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Earlier this year my step-grandmother had a stroke. She has mostly recovered from the stroke, but it delayed her hip replacement surgery which means that she is in so much pain she can hardly move. Which meant that instead of our normal Thanksgiving at the beach, everyone came here to Memphis (because she and my grandfather live just outside Memphis). After a year of so much traveling, it was great for us not to travel, but a little sad not to all be staying together in one big house. But for us, it was more important to be together during the day (even staying at different homes at night) than it was for only some of us to go down to the beach. But we hated seeing her in so much pain. To know she is suffering so much and there’s just so little that can be done for her. My heart just breaks for her and my grandfather during this time. We knew going into this Thanksgiving that it would be sad, but we had no idea how much more was coming.

The weekend before Thanksgiving my little sister called me from China. It’s her story to tell so I won’t go into details, but she spent three hours on the phone that night telling us why she was about to break up with her boyfriend. It wasn’t long ago that they were making plans for a life together and now, the relationship is over. My heart just breaks for her. She is literally on the other side of the planet and has no family  there to love on her. She has lost her best friend and all the hopes for a future with him are now shattered. I hate that she is going through this, but more than anything I hate that she is alone. Oddly enough I sent her a random care package a little over a month ago (mail takes a loooong time to get there) and it happened to arrive just a couple of days after she broke up with her boyfriend. It was a random perfect timing thing that I was so grateful for. Our family grieves with her over a relationship that meant so much to her. And our hearts break for her as she deals with this so far away from her support system.

And then on the Monday before Thanksgiving, we received heart wrenching news. Christopher’s brother & sister-in-law (Michael & Katy) had just found out they had lost their baby. Their little girl was stillborn the night before Thanksgiving.  There are no words for the grief we felt when we found out. And no words we could offer them for comfort in a time like that. We offered to come down and be with them, but the way we could best serve them was to take care of Christopher & Michael’s parents. Michael and Katy had originally planned to spend the holiday with the boys’ parents so when they found out they lost the baby, they were concerned about the parents being alone over Thanksgiving. Glad to have a tangible way to help out, we were more than happy to have Christopher’s parents join my extended family for Thanksgiving. My mother-in-law needed someone to grieve with (my father-in-law has dementia and doesn’t exactly understand what is going on). And truthfully, having her here helped us as we grieved the loss of our niece. My family was very understanding and heart broken as well, but my mother-in-law felt the loss as acutely as we did.

Christopher and I have lost 4 nieces or nephews (3 of the miscarriages happened before the gender was known). I don’t talk about it here because I try not to share stories that aren’t my own. Even when they impact us so heavily. But since my sister-in-law is sharing her story on her blog, I feel a little more free to talk about it here. You guys know just how much Christopher and I adore our nieces and nephews. We love them with a fierce and protective sort of love. The first time I met my oldest nephew, Christopher was standing there right beside me. He has known every one of them just as long as I have. And he has watched them grow and loved them long before we were ever even married. And with every child that one of our siblings has lost, our hearts have grieved with them. This past week has been no exception. It has been an emotionally difficult Thanksgiving week.

Yesterday morning in church, our pastor wrapped up the last sermon on the series in Revelation he has been preaching (less hell fire and brimstone and  a lot more “God Wins” sort of preaching). He was preaching on Revelation 21 & 22. Those might be two of the most encouraging chapters in the Bible. Because in the end – God wins. He makes all things right again. And our pastor even specifically referenced how this part of Revelation echoes Isaiah 65. And as he began to read it, tears started flowing down my face:

“See, I will create new heavens and a new earth… I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people. The sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more. Never again will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his years…” (Isaiah 65:17-25)

Oh how that part touched my heart. There is a day coming when all will be made right. And we will never again lose a niece or nephew or child or friend’s child. When pain and sorrow will be no more. Revelation may seem like it’s all about hell fire and brimstone, but I see hope. Because Jesus wins.

Please be in prayer for our family. For my step-grandmother as she is in so much pain and for my grandfather as he cares for her. For my sister as she suffers heartbreak so far away from family. For my brother-in-law & sister-in-law as they grieve the loss of their daughter. And for our family as we grieve the loss of our niece/granddaughter. Thanks, sweet friends.
Love Rach

Sad news in our world…

Remember way back in September when I mentioned that Christopher had injured his knee playing in a basketball tournament? Well, the day he injured it, there was a physical therapist present who checked out his knee and told him that it was probably fine, but to rest for a couple of weeks and that if it didn’t get better to come in and see him (or another PT). Christopher rested his knee carefully, but it never got better. So he went to see a PT. They checked the knee again and told him to do some stretches/exercises and if the swelling/pain didn’t go away then he would need to see an Orthopedic doctor. Well, sure enough, he ended up having to see the Ortho doc. Who did an MRI. And we got the results back a week ago today.

christopher basketball(that’s him shooting there… or… flying… or something. either way, he scored!)

My sweet husband has torn his ACL & Meniscus. Which means he will have to have surgery on his knee.

christopher basketball

Long before Christopher and I started dating he has always played basketball regularly. When we started dating he was playing 2 hours a day in the afternoon, and then also for his social club as well as for an intramural team. Literally every day, he played a minimum of 2 hours of basketball and on some days he played 4-5. He just loves the sport. Even as an adult he still plays basketball every day over his lunch hour and he plays in as many tournaments as he can. And you guys, he is so good. I know, I know… you’re thinking that I’m just a biased wife, but it’s the truth and anyone who’s seen him play will vouch for the fact that he is a beast on the court. Nearly always he is one of the best (if not the best) player on the court. Partially it’s natural ability and hand-eye coordination (he’s pretty great at nearly every sport he tries), but with basketball specifically so much of his talent is from hours and hours of practice over the years.

christopher basketball

And ever since I can remember, he has always been afraid of tearing his ACL. It’s such a common injury among athletes and we’ve known several people who’ve done it. He sprained his ankle a couple of times in college and he was the worst about giving it time to heal. He would often re-injure it before it had a chance to heal properly the first time because he was so impatient to get back out on the court. Well, instead of the 6 weeks a sprained ankle takes to heal up, a torn ACL takes close to a year to heal properly. A year, you guys. So he has always been scared to death of this particular type of injury. And now he has one.

christopher basketball

He hasn’t played basketball since he injured his knee 2 months ago. This is the longest he has gone without playing basketball since he was a kid (before he started playing regularly). And he won’t be likely to get to play again for a minimum of 6 months from the time of the surgery (and up to a year or more depending on how PT goes). I have been completely amazed at his attitude, though. In college when he would sprain his ankle and not be able to play for a couple of weeks he would be so down about it. Understandably so because it’s something he loves. But he has handled this with such grace. I’m pretty sure I’d be throwing a huge fit and pity party if I had to give up something I loved for a year. But he’s taking it for what it is and brainstorming other ways to exercise that he might also enjoy (like swimming which he used to love).

teaching abby to shoot(Christopher teaching my sister Abby to shoot 5 years ago)

When I tell people that living life with Christopher makes me a better person this is such a good example of why. He handles himself with such self control and grace. Yes, he is sad about it, but he doesn’t dwell on that. He let himself grieve for the loss of basketball for about a day. And then he moved on. There’s nothing he can do about it and being upset about it won’t change things. But you better believe that we will be praying for the speediest recovery EVER from this surgery once it happens. 😉

rach and topher(us in college before one of his basketball games -spring 2008- yes, his hair is in a bunch of tiny pony tails… I used to do that for him before every big game. He called it his good luck charm 🙂 )

As we’ve been talking about this over the past week there are a couple of things we are thankful for. We are thankful for basketball and how it has been such a fun part of Christopher’s life (and will be again someday!). We are thankful the injury isn’t worse. We are thankful that there are doctors and surgeries to fix this. And we are thankful to have the financial means (and insurance!) to pay for this. So yes, it is sad news. I don’t want to minimize that. This will change so much of Christopher’s life over the next year. And ours together as well (especially while he is on crutches and unable to drive). But in the big picture… it’ll be okay. It’s just another bump along the road of life.

– Have you ever torn your ACL or known someone who did? 
– Have you ever had to give up a favorite sport/activity for a long period of time?
Love Rach

E. Coli is not your friend

I mentioned last week that my niece wasn’t feeling well… well as it turns out – she has e. coli! Poor baby has been miserable. Thankfully the hospital finally released her yesterday afternoon to return home (but stay in isolation). So that’s good news! She is definitely on the upswing of this. 🙂 Christopher and I had already planned to visit family this weekend, but our plans changed a bit when Makenzie was hospitalized. We ended up splitting our time between hanging out with her at the hospital and taking my nephew out and about to keep him from going stir crazy.

rach and kenzieMe with my Kenzie girl! This was Friday which was the first day she finally started to show improvement. I am going to just go ahead and say that it’s because I was there. Seeing her auntie was just what she needed. 😉

rach and kenzieSaturday I was finally able to drop the mask (and occasionally the gloves even though I probably shouldn’t have). Kenzie was feeling much better and we spent most of the day playing with play dough, coloring, and playing board games. 🙂

play dough at the hospitalKenzie had lots of friends come visit her and keep her fairly occupied throughout her time in the hospital! My sister’s family is very loved in their community. 🙂

play dough hospitalKenzie girl making play dough art!

play dough artSpeaking of play dough art… check out my masterpiece! Go ahead and be amazed. I know it’s gorgeous. 😉

holly and kenzieKenzie playing Hungry Hungry Hippos with her momma. You guys, my sister, Holly, is such a champ. Makenzie got sick while my brother-in-law was in NY for business so Holly handled the first couple of days on her own until he got home. Holly has always been such an amazing mom to her sweets kids, but it’s in moments like these that you see the depths of that love and devotion. And of course my brother-in-law loves his kids too! But I didn’t grow up bickering with him only to have him become one of my best friends as an adult. 😉

kenzieKenzie obviously feeling enough better to start posing for the camera. 😉

I don’t have pictures from Sunday, but she finally got to come home and we no longer had to wear the hazmat suit just to hug her, haha! Thankfully she is recovering so that’s super encouraging. Thanks for all your prayers for her!

And ps. in case you didn’t know: e. coli is not your friend.
Love Rach