Wonderfully Made Podcast

unnamedToday our beautiful Ruby is one month old! Time is absolutely flying by and we are cherishing every moment with our sweet girl. We are so, so in love!

These past several weeks have been full of baby snuggles, family time, meals with friends, stolen kisses, and evening walks with Ruby and Coach. We’ve been resting and soaking up time with our newborn girl, remembering that our sweet love will never be this little again – she is just precious, and we are so grateful.

In the meantime, there have been some exciting developments in some side projects I’ve been pursuing. I’m so excited to share that I am the co-host of an exciting new podcast for Wonderfully Made! Allie, the Founder of WM, and I reconnected at the Yellow Conference last summer and we realized we had a shared passion for podcasts. We decided to join forces to launch our own podcast on behalf of Wonderfully Made, one that would feature authentic conversations with world-changing women who are living out their unique purpose. Tag along as we interview positive female movers and shakers who are championing this generation of young women to live with integrity, passion, and faith. In the first two episodes you’ll get to know Allie and me better, and in the third (which launched yesterday!) we begin interviewing women who inspire and challenge us. Subscribe on iTunes and you’ll never miss an interview!

P.S. Thank you to James and our dear friend Tommy for writing the original music for the intro & outro of the podcast – they did an amazing job!

 

Advertisements

$30 for 30

www.nbarrettphotography.comI love birthdays and celebrations and gift-giving. I love cake and Champagne toasts and treating myself to something sweet because it’s my special day. But as much as I love these things, I love giving back even more. I don’t like asking for anything, especially for gifts, but this year I am donating my birthday to Touch A Life, and I would be so honored if you would consider giving $30 to this amazing organization as a part of my birthday celebration. In this season of gratitude and in light of next week’s Giving Tuesday, you may be looking for a way to make a diffence, and I’d love it if you’d like to support Touch A Life. I hope to raise $3,000, allowing our organization to offset initial expenses for the amazing 25 new children who were just rescued from trafficking and placed into our care. If you feel compelled to give, you can donate here and select “Rachel’s 30th Birthday” in the donation drop-down menu.

I love the photo above so much. James & I have sponsored Baba for several years, and I was on his rescue from Lake Volta in August of 2009. Back then he was scrawny and suffering from malnutrition, so much so that his black hair had an eerie orange tint. He was sullen and depressed and silent. But Baba quickly transformed into the darling young man he is today – a hilarious, helpful, hardworking leader who has sprouted up several feet and now towers over me. Baba, like so many other children at the Touch A Life Care Center, is such an obvious representation of how well our organization’s methods are working. He is a tangible example that by providing rescued children with holistic care, the love of a family, and an opportunity to heal, we can make a huge difference. And by donating to support our efforts, so can you.

P.S. Take a peek at our brand new website! We have been working so hard on this revamp all year long and I am just so dang obsessed with how it turned out.

Image by Natalie Shelton

Wonderfully Made

WMHeader_smalll-e1433276361434

Even though I took a self-proclaimed blogging sabbatical, I have still been writing for Darling Magazine and I’ve actually scored another writing gig with a beautiful organization that I’ve believed in for so many years, Wonderfully Made. I wrote for Wonderfully Made’s blog when I graduated from college and I got to interview amazing women who were making a difference in the world. It was so much fun. After a year or so, I took some time off from that project as Wonderfully Made underwent some exciting changes, but I kept in touch with the organization’s founder, Allie Marie Smith, through the usual channels of social media and the blogosphere. We reconnected at the Yellow Conference in August, and she asked me to come back on board as a contributor. I was so excited that I jumped at the opportunity, and I’ve already written a few pieces that you can read here and here. Stay tuned for more fun posts and projects that are in the works. Thank you for having me, Wonderfully Made crew!

Wedding Season

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetI love fall for a myriad of reasons but one that tops the list is because it’s wedding season! I have attended three weddings in nearly as many weeks and it is so, so special to be included in a couple’s sacred day, whether as a guest or a member of the wedding party. Most recently, I was the co-Matron of Honor (alongside my bff, Karli) in our best gal, Becca’s, wedding in Nashville, and even though it’s already Wednesday, I’m still having wedding weekend withdrawals. It was an incredibly gorgeous ceremony combined with an unbelievably fun reception spent with some of my very favorite people in the world. James & I went to a sweet wedding at a beautiful venue in Weatherford, and I went home to Chicago for my cousin’s wedding, which was family-filled and wonderful. The cherry on top is that one of my Dallas bests, Laura, got engaged over the weekend! We met for coffee & wedding talk this morning as I sat there with my cherished friend, I felt that there is so much love in the world. All seems really, really right.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with c1 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with g3 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with c1 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with b1 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Home Team

midommar2_kristin-lagerqvist-You all know by now that I identify completely with everything that Shauna Niequist writes, especially the content that pertains to relationships and community. This passage from Bittersweet about the concept of the home team is one I revisit frequently, as it’s always a reminder of how blessed James & I are to be surrounded by the most amazing family and friends:

“Everybody has a home team: It’s the people you call when you get a flat tire or when something terrible happens. It’s the people who, near or far, know everything that’s wrong with you and love you anyways. These are the ones who tell you their secrets, who get themselves a glass of water without asking when they’re at your house. These are the people who cry when you cry. These are your people, your middle-of-the-night, no-matter-what people.”

When life is sailing along smoothly, it’s easy to take my home team for granted. I thrive on catch-up phone calls and margaritas on porches and flurries of text messages but I admit that I don’t always practice gratitude as frequently as I should, assuming that these happy occurrences are just a given. But when hardship occurs, as bleak as the dark days may seem, there is always a glimmer of light and brightness and hope, largely in part because of my home team. They bring over soup and wine and books and movies; they send texts and cards and leave voicemails, requiring no response in return. Some days they come over to laugh and talk about anything besides that one hard thing, and other days they come over to cry and talk about only the bad things – and they have the wherewithal and the savvy to know what’s needed most each day. Our family and friends have blessed us more than we can ever say, modeling what a home team looks like and inspiring us to show up for others the way they always show up for us.

Image via Lovely Life

Say Something

Contax645, Kristen Kilpatrick, Bird Dog Wedding, Austin Texas Flowers, Austin Texas Wedding Stylist, Natural Light Photography Austin Texas, Design Love Fest, Fourth of July luncheon, Fourth of July inspiration, Fourth of July Party, The Kaki Pants, Mini Cherry Pies, Mini Pies, Champagne bar, Film Photography, Austin Texas interior, Claire Zinnecker Designs, Emily Leach, Fuji400, Austin Film Photographer, Blue House, Wildfox couture, Vintage inspired party, Retro austin house, Design Love fest DIY, DIY fourth of July party, Homemade popsicles, Fruit Popsicles, Mimosa Table,Shauna Niequist is my favorite author for a myriad of reasons. I love that she counts good food and travel amongst her top pleasures, that she viciously protects the time she has to spend with her family and friends, that she’s a voracious reader who gives out tons of excellent book recommendations. I love the way she writes about all of these things, and I love how she puts ideas and thoughts on paper in such an eloquent, impactful way. So many times when I’m reading her books, I lurch straight up in my chair or my bed and think, “You feel this way too? I thought I was the only one!” Shauna captures so many emotions I’ve experienced in such a concise, communicable way, striking through the very core of me.

Of all of the chapters in all of her books, “Say Something” (from Bittersweet) is the one that struck me the most profoundly. I could go on and on about everything I loved about the chapter, but instead, I’d rather share Shauna’s powerful words with you directly from the source:

“When something bad happens, people say the wrong things so often. They say weird, hurtful things when they’re trying to be nice. They say things that don’t hurt until later, and then when they do begin to hurt, you can’t get the words out of your mind. It’s like a horror movie: everywhere you turn, those awful words are scrawled on every wall.”

“Some people [don’t] know what to say, and they [say] just that. ‘I heard what happened, and I don’t know what to say.’ That is, I’m finding, a very good response. Because there was another group of friends who said nothing. I love them, and I know they love me, and the point is not what they did or didn’t do, exactly. The point is that they taught me something, and it’s this: say something. Always say something. Now when a friend loses a job or when a heart is broken or when the test results are bad, even when I don’t know what to say, I say something.”

“I know we’re busy. I know we forget sometimes. More than anything, I think, we so desperately don’t want to say the wrong thing. It’s impolite, we’ve been told, to bring up nasty topics like loss and sadness. But if we don’t bring it up, what are we left with? We talk about the easy things, the happy things, the weather, and then we leave one another totally alone with the diagnosis or the divorce papers.”

“I learned to say something. And I offer my apologies for all the times I didn’t say something. I’m really sorry about that. For a whole bunch of not very good reasons, I didn’t know better then. But I know better know. So when there’s bad news or scary news or something falls apart, say something. Send a note. Send a text. Send flowers. And if you don’t know what to say, try this: ‘I heard what happened, and I don’t know what to say.'”

Though I really took this advice to heart when I first read the book several years ago, implementing it whenever possible, I’m understanding the lesson so much more acutely since Callie’s terminal diagnosis a few weeks ago. Our family and friends have been unbelievably supportive during this trying time, and equally as heartwarming as their outreach and care has been is the response from people that we know through friends of friends or church or social media. They contacted us through text or email or in person, and they said something. They didn’t say something complicated or mind-blowing or other-worldy; instead, they said something that was simple and comforting. And those words meant, and continue to mean, the world to us. We are so grateful for everyone in our lives – ranging from our parents, our siblings, our best friends, and our small group to our coworkers, neighbors, parents of friends, workout instructors, and mailman (yes, our mailman!) – who has taken the time to acknowledge what we are going through, to say something. It means more than they know, and it has inspired us to continue to do the same to the people in our lives who are going through difficult seasons.

Image via Kristin Kilpatrick for designlovefest

Darling Magazine

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

I have been blessed with the opportunity to write for the beautiful & inspiring Darling Magazine since the publication’s inception in 2011. Thanks to my college roommate, who was one of the first editors for the magazine, I got in at the ground level, allowing me to be able to write for both the print & online mediums on a consistent basis. It’s been such a special experience to write for a magazine that has so much heart, a publication that has gained a phenomenal following since the debut issue hit boutiques and newsstands three years ago. The reason Darling has so many faithful readers is not only because it’s a beautiful (ad-free!) quarterly publication but also because the articles in the print piece as well as on the blog are written with so much soul, as if girlfriends are sitting down together to hash out interesting, difficult, relevant topics. It’s a wonderful community to be a part of; I feel so grateful to be a member of the Darling family.

To pick up a copy of the quarterly magazine, visit Darling’s website. Check out the blog here, and read my most recent piece on intentional friendship here – this was one of my most favorite posts to write. If you’re in a blog-reading mood, check out all of my posts here!

Touch A Life + Black Friday

TAL on Black FridayHow was your Thanksgiving? Ours was just as phenomenal as anticipated, filled with food and laughter and joy and togetherness. I’m so glad James and I will be in Chicago for a few more days! On the agenda – heading to the gun range at our country club (a first for our family!), hosting a pizza & wedding video outtakes viewing party, getting foot massages, and celebrating my birthday a few days early. I’m so happy!

In between all of our fun activities, I’m sure I’ll be checking out some awesome Black Friday deals, including the fabulous one that Touch A Life is offering. For a $50 donation, we will send you a signed copy of Pam Cope’s memoir, Jantsen’s Gift, along with a set of five beautiful Artifact Uprising prints of our children and Care Center in Ghana taken by photographer Nancy Borowick.  This is a limited edition item – only 16 sets are available!

For a $20 donation, we will send you a set of 10 Christmas cards with illustrations drawn by five Touch A Life children in Ghana. These are perfect to send to your family and friends as a Christmas greeting!

Visit Touch A Life’s website to make your donation and select the item that you’d like to receive. Your purchase will make a difference in the life of a child in Ghana – there’s not much better than that!

Friendsgiving

IMG_9600Can I just take a moment here to give a big round of (online) applause to whoever coined the term “Friendsgiving?” I know that I always say that the Fourth of July is my favorite holiday because it encompasses so many things that I love but Thanksgiving is truly my very favorite. It’s really my dream day, one spent celebrating food and family and friendship and wine and gratitude. It doesn’t get better than that.

IMG_9599It makes me so happy that someone thought to broaden the Thanksgiving sentiment to encompass all of the friends in our lives that we want to celebrate the holiday with but don’t because we’re (rightly so) spending the big day with our families. If I had it my way, I’d have one Thanksgiving meal with my Dallas besties, one with my college besties, one with our small group, one with my coworkers, one with my family, and one with James’s family – that’s how much I love this holiday.

IMG_9601Yesterday we celebrated Friendsgiving as a small group and considering that our festivities lasted for EIGHT HOURS, I’d say it was a fabulous success. We ate turkey and stuffing and brussels sprouts with cranberries, broccoli cheddar casserole and mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie and s’mores brownies. We toasted to one another, to yesterday’s beautiful weather in Dallas, to Callie sitting underfoot waiting for us to drop morsels onto the floor. It was perfect – just perfect. And the best part? We get to do it all over again with my parents and brother on Thursday! Color me giddy.

Photos by my beautiful friend Briana Wollman

Monday Inspiration

diy_marble_vase_still_61I’m rereading one of my favorite books, Bread & Wine, for the millionth time, and something I love about rereading a great book over and over again is that I can read the same pages and paragraphs and quotes and yet each time I read them, if they’re from a really rich, layered book with lots of depth, I come away with something new, a page or paragraph or quote that strikes me differently this go around. The quote below really jumped off the page at me today, so much so that I had to share it with you as a little inspiration for your Monday:

“I want to cultivate a deep sense of gratitude, of roundedness, of enough, even while I’m longing for something more. The longing and the gratitude, both. I’m practicing believing that God knows more than I know, that he sees what I can’t, that he’s weaving a future I can’t even imagine from where I sit this morning. Extraordinary, indeed. More than enough.” – Shauna Niequist, Bread & Wine

Image via My Dubio