friday letters

Friday Letters / 1.23/2015

Dear Benjamin Caleb, you really are my soul mate. You dream bigger than I do, which is saying something. It fills my heart to dream big with you and to create alongside one another. ALSO you were totally okay with going to bed at 7:30 the other night and waking up before the sun so you could see me off to work and watch the morning news. It's official, we are old souls...and I love it! 

Dear Oh Simple Thoughts, I am back for real this time little bloggy! I spent so much of 2014 floating between burn out and too much zeal which left me unsure of what to write about or how to use this space. But the recent switch over has breathed new life into my writing and I am just full of vision as far as you are concerned! 

Dear Holy Yoga, you have become my new favorite part of the day. I come home to you after work everyday and you have become my reset button. I do not have time at 3 am to read or spend time in the Word, but spending 30 minutes opening up my heart and body to the Lord has been beautiful. You are stretching both my body and emotions, teaching me to relinquish control and dig deep for strength that can only  come from Christ. 

Dear Saturday Off, you make me smile every time I think about you. I cannot wait to spend time with family, sweet blog friends and learn something new! I am praying that you are full of sweet memories, successful calligraphy, and laughter...lots of laughter. 

With Love, 

Rachel

Friday Letters / 1.9.15

Dear Benjamin Caleb,

This week has been a tough one as we have slowly been making our way back into a full work routine complete with 4 am mornings. You have helped me get up every morning, made me coffee, and started my car so I wouldn't turn into a Popsicle when I leave before the sun comes up every morning. You are pretty fantastic mister. 

Dear

Chemex

,

you make the best coffee I have ever had. Not only do you eliminate all acidity from my morning brew...you taste so yummy I hardly need sugar. So you are making me more healthy right?! Go you! Thanks for being a slower way to brew coffee and thus making me cool my jets and have to wait and anticipate a cup of coffee rather than push a button and be instantly gratified. Who knew you could be so sanctifying! 

Dear Fabulous Foodie Swap Participants,

Y'ALL ROCK! We have over 50 people participating in this little swap, and I am just thrilled. It makes my heart so happy that so many of you want to bless someone else with food, and enjoy your goodies in our kitchens together!!

Sign ups

close tomorrow!!! Don't miss out. 

Dear

Power Sheets

,

you have been patiently waiting for some attention for several days now. I want so badly to dive into all our organized goodness...BUT I know it is better for me to really dedicate time to concentrate without distractions when I start on you bad boys. So how about a date? This Sunday, meet me at my fav coffee shop and we can make 2015 happen over a latte and some Ed Sheeran music! What do ya say?! 

Dear

Thinking Out Loud

,

Thank you for being so lovely. Upon first hearing your beautiful melody I cried. The words in this wonderful song make me so deeply grateful for marriage and give me all the warm and happy fuzzies when I think of my hunk of a husband. Thanks for stirring my affections for my man. I will now listen to you on repeat. ALL DAY. 

Love, 

Rach

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Friday Letters / 11.7.14


Dear Benjamin Caleb, you have been my rock these past few months. You have rubbed my feet, tickled my back at night, prayed with me and for me, listened to me complain/cry/stress, encouraged me in all my new ventures, and loved me so well. You have washed countless dishes, and come to bed with me as early as 8 o clock so that we can get on the same sleeping schedule and go to bed together. This has been a season of fatigue and weariness for us both in our marriage, and yet you have still loved me and cherished me so well...I wouldn't want anyone else to be mine forever.


Dear Christmas, WHERE ARE YOU?! I am already eagerly awaiting your arrival friend. I have planned out where all of my new decorations will go, and cannot wait to usher you into our home once again. You bring so many loved ones together at once, and you allow me the excuse to leave twinkling lights on 24/7 and drinking copious amounts of hot cocoa. Come on back in my life old friend. 

Dear Oh Simple Joys, Isn't it ironic how a shop started with the intentions of reminding others o slow down can prevent me from doing just that?! Crazy. The Lord has big plans for this shop, and He is blowing my mind as I follow Him with my plans and decisions for products and the shop as a whole. However, Satan loves to hit me at my weaknesses and is using you to cause me to tailspin into panic mode sometimes...praying against this! 

Dear Siblings, You guys are on your way to stay with Ben and I this weekend (by yourselves, without parents) and we could not be more stoked. I cannot believe we are old enough for y'all to drive from Georgia alone to come visit. Cannot wait for y'all to finally meet Piper, see the #1 school in the nation play some football, and eat some yummy biscuits. Three musketeers reunited at last! 

Dear Blog, I miss the days when I had 30+ hours to invest in you and all that comes with you dear one. I still love you and the community you bring to my life. However, as sad as it makes me, I am seeing that you are one thing I am needing to step back from somewhat. Don't worry, I am not breaking up with you or anything...promise. Just cutting back. 3 days a week instead of 5, more personal posts, and lots more food posts which bring my heart the greatest joy. You should enrich my life, not suck the life from me...so I am setting some boundaries buddy. It is for both of our well being! ;) 

Dear Brussel Sprouts, I will admit, I have talked quite bad about you behind your back. Like, really really hateful words have been said about you. But, when you are paired with bacon, maple syrup, and garlic...sauteed until brown and soft...oh. my. goodness. gracious. I take back all those backstabbing words. Can we besties forever and ever?! 

Friday Letters / 10.2.14


Dear Benjamin Caleb, Thanks for declaring last night a date night. Tacos, monopoly, apple cider, and thunderstorms make for cozy evenings. Oh...and just FYI, I plan to forever lay claim on Boardwalk...and Park Avenue...so tuck that away, they are mine!

Dear 31 Days of Writing, You are still so intimidating to me...I am still so fearful that I cannot follow through with you. I spent all afternoon yesterday planning and brainstorming my editorial schedule just for you. I will say, the kitchen is my favorite spot and something I am so passionate about. So topics seem to be flowing very freely. I am eager to share so many lessons I am learning from my time in the kitchen as well as lots of perfect Autumn recipes! 

Dear Self, Breathe. You have been spinning in circles lately...mainly because you are trusting so deeply in your own will power and ability to tackles tasks. REST in the spirit. Seek refuge in the one who has accomplished everything for you. REST in the fact that He is not mad or disappointed with you when clothes lay unfolded and emails go another day unanswered...he is forever satisfied with you as his child because you are redeemed by the cross and the work that He did for you there...just REST! 

Dear Kitchen, You used to be a hallway in a past life, or before your were restructured to be an apartment. You are narrow, and lacking in space...but I love you. I love your gas stove, and chandelier lighting. I love how I have grown so much as a home cook will spending time within your walls...here is to 31 days dedicated to you, and all that I have learned from you old friend! 

I am planning on focusing my attention on three areas during this writing challenge. 

Tips/Tricks- These will range from cookbook recommendations, to grocery shopping tips, and even to my most used kitchen tools!

Recipes- These will all be fall friendly recipes that are homemade and have some kind of sentimental value tied to them for me. From apple cider to biscotti you will have some great recipes to try out this month! 

Lessons- These are short stories or posts dedicated to learning moments I have had in the kitchen. I will be sharing about the battle to instagram all the pretty things, and none of the mistakes. I will also be sharing about things like true hospitality, contentment, gratitude, and thanksgiving. 

So stay tuned for this exciting month, and help push me. I need you guys to hold me accountable with this. I know I will be tempted to slack off so please help me stick with this! You are all so awesome! 

Friday Letters / 9.19/14


Dear Ben, How did I get so lucky?! Yesterday I walked in from work and all the dishes were washed, you had cold coffee waiting for my afternoon iced coffee fix, and the bed was made. You are such a blessing to me. For real. Also, thanks for always making up raps, songs, and jingles with me. Our impromptu songwriting could win us an award somewhere I believe.

Dear Beka, you sent me some of the most delicious sounding authentic Indian recipes last week after my rambling post of how I had fallen in love with curry. You even offered to send some of your Indian spices my way...like hello, you are the reason why blog friends are the best friends! Thank you! 

Dear Crochet, welcome back old pal. For awhile our relationship was on the rocks, and not to bring up old baggage but I blame you for that because of how you hurt my hands and fingers...but the past is behind us. We are turning over a new leaf and trying to improve our relationship yet again. I am excited to try new patterns, and techniques with you! Here is to fall and crocheting all the things!!

Dear Piper, you have received countless spankings for chewing all my socks, pieces of plastic and my yarn...when shall you learn little one? However, despite your occasional disobedience you are still the cutest little ball of fluff I ever did see. Thanks for always giving me little licks right when you wake up, and for making me feel famous when I leave the house to take the garbage to the street and come back...you seem to think I have been gone for ages, but I don't mind. Best. Pup. Ever. 

Love, 

Rachel

Friday Letters / 9.8.14


Dear Benjamin Caleb, this week we have had something to do every night. You have had late nights, early mornings, and a sore body due to workouts...but you still manage to be the one tickling my back at night and giving me pep talks throughout my work days, you are amazing. Thanks for being my biggest encourager, cheerleader, and my best friend. We may not have a lot of things about marriage figured out but I would not want to learn alongside anyone else but you.

Dear Notes From a Blue Bike, you have caused me to bring into question so many things in our life. From the way we spend our evenings to what we put into our bodies I have been thinking long and hard about how intentional living can be applied to all areas of life. You are pushing me to set more time aside for lots of things, which can be hard to do...but I have a feeling in the long run this will be so worth it. 

Dear Sourdough Starter, you are like magic. How in the world do you make something so beautiful like light, airy, buttery bread?! I mean for real, you smell like what I would imagine moonshine would smell like, and you look like 3 month old clumpy milk...magical you are. Keep up the work little friend. I promise I will not forget to feed you as long as you keep making yummy bread for me every week. 

Dear Natalie, thank you for creating space for me to be 100% myself at your house and getting me on so many levels. Also, thanks for introducing me to possibly the best meal of my life last night...curry, cilantro, coconut milk, cumin, soy sauce...all on char-grilled chicken...with coconut rice, and apple pie for dessert...it was euphoric. So thankful to be friends with a fellow foodie. Thanks for welcoming Ben and I into y'all's home, and letting me come and be with you and the kids every week. 

Friday Letters / August 22, 2014.




Dear Benjamin Caleb, This week you played your guitar and sang with me after dinner, for over an hour. We were able to laugh and sing some silly country songs, and also sang some beautiful praises to our Father. I love how talented you are with basically all instruments you touch, and know that the Lord crafted the passion for music into both of our hearts long before we met each other, it makes it so much sweeter now that we have that in common. Also, thanks for listening to me talk 90 to nothing about my big project, you have been such a huge help to me through this whole process, and your listening ear means the world.


Dear Cinnamon Orange Spice Tea, Who knew it was possible to be wowed by tea. I have now had you hot, cold over ice, and in an iced latte form...how are you so delicious and not coffee?! Thank you for tasting like fall, and smelling like Christmas. You make me happy, and also make me feel like an old lady when I am in my pjs at 9:30 with you in one hand and my crocheting in the other...I am okay with that though. 

Dear Self, Always remember that the Lord is bigger than your lists. He is capable of more than you will ever be, and he simply asks that you trust and obey him. Open your eyes to the little moments in your days this weekend, the moments washing dirty dishes at work (or at home), the moment you are so tired you can hardly keep your eyes open...pay attention in the "small" moments, the ones that don't seem to mean anything...those are the moments the Lord desires to meet you, and show himself to you...don't miss it. 

Dear Husband (cause this week one letter just is not enough), You make me giggle when you get a new project in your head and set off full speed to tackle it. Last weekend it was the shelves in the laundry room, this weekend it was the old (really really really old) shed in the back. You were precious when you started cleaning it out, and were telling me all the things you could store inside. Thanks for loving to work with your hands, for seeing the beauty and potential in the crummy things, and for saving all the old doors, windows, shutters, and cabinets for me that you discovered. You are the cutest, especially when covered in dirt, and sweat to the point that I can hardly recognize you. 

Friday Letters


Dear Ben, yesterday you took the time to hand write me a sweet letter that did more for my heart and soul than I can tell you. You also were okay with eating whatever you could find in the fridge and letting me have an emotional meltdown on your shoulder. Thanks for dealing with my craziness and for always knowing how to speak my love language. Oh, and thanks for always taking Piper out before bed and before the sun wakes up in the morning. I know she loves that time with you, and it sure does make my last few minutes of sleep wonderful.

Dear Biscuit Shop, I love you already. You are making me get out of bed earlier than I have in years, and are threatening to add some major poundage to my waistline if I don't learn some self control really quickly. But for real, you have gotten me out of the house, and the people in and out of your little creaky door every day bring my extroverted personality so much joy. #biscuitloverforlife

Dear Piper, who knew it was possible for me, of all people, to love a puppy as much as I love you. This is a big deal coming from the girl who ran for fear from all animals small and large until I was about 18 years old...you are more cuddly, sweet, obedient, and adorable every day. Thanks for always cuddling with me, and being so still while I take countless pictures of you. 

Dear Mondays, you have become my new Saturday, and I don't hate it. You are now a day I really look forward to. You help me recharge, allow me to sleep in, give me time to play in the kitchen, and you even let me wear my hair down all day long without fear of my wayward strands being caught in a biscuit or glaze...you are quickly becoming my favorite day of the week. Who knew that could happen!

Love,

Rachel

Friday Letters + Link Up Survey

Dear Destin, FL, We are coming for you! We have been daydreaming about your white sand and clear water for months now. Even though you are predicted to rain on us every day we will be with you, we promise to still love you... well, only if you agree to give us some sun time for our pasty white skin. But really, we need tans. We are so excited for our first ever official family vacay, and the much needed time away from town! Cannot wait to make many memories with you!

Dear Benjamin Caleb, You have worked tirelessly this week so that you can take off Friday and Monday without guilt...thank you for that. Thanks for being so diligent and such a hard worker. Also, thanks for letting us make a pit stop at Starbucks this morning...you know the way to my heart. Here's to a weekend of delicious food, sleeping in, and turning me into a sand mermaid again. 

Dear Piper the Pup, You are getting bigger, and we squeal (well at least I do) every time we get updated pictures of you. You look like a little stuffed animal, and I am in love with you already. Cannot wait to meet you next week and to bring you to your forever home. 

Dear Husband, (because sometimes he just needs two letters) this week you dropped everything to go take pictures of the sunset and teach me how to do a few new things on our camera. You chased a bird around trying to take his picture, sadly he got annoyed and flew off before you snapped one... You are my favorite. 

Dear Self, Remember your worth is in Jesus Christ. You are his child, and that will never change. Do not look to any man made thing to rank yourself, or make yourself feel good. Chase after Jesus. Do not run after people trying to make them like you and think you are cool. Life is too short to not fully pursue your Savior....Also, pluck your eyebrows, they are terrible. 

Love, 

Rachel

Anyone else out there love letters? I started Friday Letters as mental notes and sweet little letters to Ben...I look forward to them so much!


In other news, Madison and I (mainly Madison hehe) put together a survey for you all to take in regards to the Coffee Date link up! We have loved hosting this time of vulnerability on our blogs, and many of you have expressed the desire to make it more consistent. SO, take a few minutes to fill out this survey and let us hear your thoughts.

We will be giving away a $20 Starbucks card to one lucky person who fills out the survey, so please fill it out even if it is just for a chance to get some free coffee! ;) We would love to get your feedback! 


Check out my sweet sponsor this month, Jenni of Frankly My Dear!

One Year Anniversary // Interview with My Husband

So Sunday is our one year wedding anniversary! Ah, where has the time gone? I have been teary eyed and overjoyed all week as I have been reflecting back on this sweet year with my husband. So today in honor of this milestone I am bringing Ben over to the blog!! Yep, you guys get to hear from my hubby today! I wrote up 10 questions to ask Ben about our first year of marriage. This was really late last night, so I am super grateful to him for being so willing to do this for me, even though he was really tired and had a hard time getting his words out! :) Hope y'all enjoy this as much as I did!

WHAT WAS THE WORST MEAL I MADE?

Haha... Remember that time, you decided that you could cook anything and make up your own recipe on the fly with what you had in the pantry, and then took that meal to the church potluck. and it was not quite the hit that you hoped it would be? (it was terrible). I will say, it was really really bad....like really nasty. So no hard feeling hun!

WHAT WAS THE BEST MEAL I MADE?

I would have to say the Spicy Sausage Pasta..where did you learn that recipe? Pinterest? That was probably your best pinterest finds. It became our go to for when guests come over. We actually have not had it in awhile, which for health reasons is probably a good thing...we should make it again soon though, because I miss it.

WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE AT HOME DATE NIGHT?

Well, it wasn't really a date night, more of a date day. My favorite was the time we went to Walmart on a Saturday morning, you wanted to buy Monopoly as a spur of the moment thing. I wasn't really into it but we bought it anyways and then both got super into it. However, neither of us could be mean to the other and monopolize each other, so if one started to go bankrupt we would pity the other a cut them a break...needless to say the game lasted forever. We ran out of time so we stopped, left the game out the rest of the weekend, then we realized we wouldn't get to play it so we put it up in Ziploc bags and took a picture of the game board so we could play later...and it is still there to this day!

WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE WEEKEND TOGETHER?

I would say probably when we went camping for Valentine's Day. I just really loved that because it was the first time that I got to be in my element and expose to you things I grew up doing, like building a fire, and dutch oven cooking and using the coals from the fire to heat the dutch oven. I just really enjoyed getting out and exploring with you, like going to see the waterfalls. And getting to experience alongside you the feeling of being worn out and nasty dirty from camping and getting to get a hot shower after and how refreshing that was to stay in a hotel the next night...it was fun to experience all of that with you!


WHAT IS ONE THING YOU HAVE LEARNED?

On a silly note, I've learned that we love Sonic way more than I ever thought was possible. We go like 3 times a week I think. It is always our surprise treat when we are craving something sweet! And you can't be half priced shakes after 8 in the summer! No shame, today corndogs were only .50 cent a pop...so yes, we went to Sonic for dinner! Cheers to National Last Day of School day and .50 cent corndogs!

More seriously, I have learned, well not learned, but maybe just come to a much deeper understanding of how rich the Gospel really is in terms of the way Christ loves us, and how you see that played out in marriage. For example, although this is not the most impactful thing we have had happen in marriage, but is just recent, earlier this week, I underestimated how much time I would need to prepare for my presentation in Jackson and felt terrible about needing to work late to finish it. I was worried you would be upset and that I would hurt you by making you stay at home alone and eat dinner by yourself. But, you were undeservingly gracious, and were willing to look passed my lack of planning, and even brought me dinner at the office and sat and listened to me practice my presentation until almost 10.


WHAT WAS ONE THING YOU EXPECTED BEFORE MARRIAGE THAT WAS NOT A REALITY IN YEAR ONE OF MARRIAGE?

On a somewhat practical/trivial note, exercise. I expected we would do more things like waking up earlier, running, being active, and just doing more in general. But, we were somewhat unrealistic in our expectations...I can remember us sitting down and setting goals, and realized we would only get like 4 hours of sleep at night if we were to do all those things on top of our daily work schedules and stuff. So working out has not quite made it consistently into our schedules yet...

WHAT IS ONE GOAL YOU WOULD LIKE TO HAVE FOR YEAR TWO?

Well, it is actually kinda two goals. One would be for us to do more outdoorsy stuff. Because currently other than going on walks we do not do much, but we both love hammocking, going to lakes, camping...those are all low cost things to do but we get to be together and enjoy creation and soaking it in!

Another goal would be for us to get better at singing and playing music together. We just play sporadically right now, but we both have a passion for it, and really enjoy it. You have talents that I don't have and I have talents that you don't have, and so we kind of have a lot we can help each other with if we really focused on it.

WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST PET PEEVE?

Possibly, maybe, not quite so sure, but probably when you use your toothbrush and put it back up with it still quite wet every day. I choose to exercise my right to remain silent on the rest of my thoughts regarding this practice. Haha ;) In my defense, it is not sopping wet. I just shake it off and do not thoroughly rinse and dry it the way Ben does.. :)

WHAT WAS THE BIGGEST ADJUSTMENT FOR YOU IN YEAR ONE OF MARRIAGE?

First, allowing you to stay in the house at night. Remember when we first got back from the honeymoon and it started getting late, and I got up, put my shoes on, and tried to walk you out to your car to say good night? Yeah...so living in the same house 24/7 with a girl was quite the adjustment.

But, on a serious note, I did have a hard time adjusting to not looking at things that bothered you as quirks that you had that I could disregard or be insensitive to (like our neighbors playing loud music that drives you nuts but doesn't phase me). I had to take on the role as your defender even if I didn't see the necessity for it.

FUNNIEST MOMENT OF YEAR ONE?

This is hard, half of the funny things we laugh about are things that should stay between me and you. We have a lot of funny memories revolving around physical attacks of endearment, like the time I was leaning over working on something on the floor and I felt you lean on my back and next thing I knew you were climbing all over me claiming to be a koala bear. Or the times that I would randomly just turn a hug into a wrestling match on the floor without your consent but you would always laugh and play along anyway. Or that time that I was trying to be creative with fourth of July fireworks and you happened to video the only firework that "did not explode as planned"...instead it blew up just a few feet off the ground and shot everywhere, and your terror is forever documented in the video where you were trying to be cute and narrate, but it turned from cute to frantic terror really quickly.


This was a lot of fun to do, and a neat way for us to reflect on some sweet moments of year one. I will be posting a few more serious anniversary related posts next week but I hope you all enjoyed this one! Happy Friday!


Also, this is the week of introducing you to my sponsors for this month. So last and certainly not least, meet my dear friend Madison of The Wetherills Say I Do! Madison has become a close friend of mine through blogging! She always gives great blogging tips, and has some of the best recipes around! She has the most adorable pup around, and is always eager to share her love of DIY and crafting with her readers! 


What is your favorite part of blogging?
My absolutely favorite part of blogging is getting to know other bloggers! I had no idea that there was such a strong community of people in the blogging world. Hosting the Coffee Date with Rachel really showed me that! It's such a blessing to be able to get to know so many different people! 

What are you craving right now?
Hmm.. well lately I've been craving goat cheese. Super random, right? Well later this week I'm planning to make a shrimp and goat cheese risotto, so hopefully that will satisfy that craving. Just in general though, I am usually craving a cup of coffee and Reese's cups. Now you know the secret way into my heart ;)

What are you reading?
Well, I'm still reading Bread and Wine. I'm slowly making my way through it when I have extra time to read. I'm also still going through Jesus Calling, though not as diligently as I'd like to. I'm thinking about getting the newest devotional from Naptime Diaries, anyone recommend it? 

How would you describe your ideal day?
My ideal day would start with breakfast, french toast with strawberries and bananas and a hot cup of coffee. Then we might go to the local Farmer's Market, sample fruits and goat cheese, walk around and look at the artisan shops, and get a cup of fresh squeezed lemonade. Then we'd drive to the lake and sit on the dock catching some rays and talking about life. Then we'd go into town to grab a bite to eat. For dessert, we'd end up at my favorite place in the world: Maxie B's


So thankful to know you and call you my friend Madison!

Don't forget to enter the Noonday Giveaway for the Ragan Family Adoption!


Check out my sweet sponsor this month, Jenni of Frankly My Dear!



Friday Letters + GIVEAWAY

Dear Ben, you let me sleep in yesterday morning while you got yourself ready for work. Thanks for loving me selflessly, and being willing to make your own lunch every now and then. Also, thanks for never missing a morning of letting me know when you make it to work. You graciously pay attention to my tender heart when it comes to things like that, and just a simple text knowing you are safe always puts me at ease. Thanks for paying attention to the details of my heart. 

Dear weekend, you are looking so promising. I am beyond excited to celebrate the wedding of a dear friend, and make sweet memories as she becomes a wife. So excited for all you hold starting today. 

To our puppy, we are working hard on our "puppy fund" to bring you home soon and very soon little one. Ben has been making a million wood burned cutting boards to pad our fund a little more so we can buy you all kinds of things when we bring you home. Cannot wait to meet you and bring in a new little life to our family of two. 

Dear wife day, this week you were like gold to me. I am grateful for one day a week to rest, stay in my pj's guilt free, clean, bake and watch food network. Managing our home is a joy for me so thanks for giving me one day a week to focus wholeheartedly on our humble abode. 

Dear self, remember to strive to be like Jesus, not Southern Living magazine. Your life is not your own, so stop trying to make much of YOURself, YOUR home, YOUR marriage, and strive after making life about the one who created you, sustains you, and calls you his child. Accept messes, incomplete to do lists, curve balls, weariness, and inadequacy...embrace it all, and rest in the strength and sovereignty of Jesus. Do this EVERY DAY. 

Much Love, 

Rachel

I really enjoy stopping and reflecting on my gratitude in the form of letters. It is always so refreshing to my soul. Do you write notes to your loved ones, and even to yourself from time to time? 

I read this prayer yesterday on She Reads Truth, and knew I had to share it with you all. So powerful, raw, and beautifully written. I am even considering printing it and framing it somewhere in our bedroom, and buying the book of prayers. 

“Eternal Father,
Thou art good beyond all thought,
But I am vile, wretched, miserable, blind;
My lips are ready to confess, but my heart is slow to feel,
    and my ways reluctant to amen.
I bring my soul to thee;
    break it, wound it, bend it, mould it.
Unmask to me sin’s deformity,
    that I may hate it, abhor it, flee from it.
My faculties have been a weapon of revolt against thee;
    as a rebel I have misused my strength,
    and served the foul adversary of thy kingdom.
Give me grace to bewail my insensate folly
Grant me to know that the way of transgressors is hard,
             that evil paths are wretched paths,
            that to depart from thee is to lose all good.
I have seen the purity and beauty of thy perfect law,
        the happiness of those in whose heart it reigns,
        the calm dignity of the walk to which it calls,
 yet I daily violate and condemn its precepts.
Thy loving Spirit strives within me,
brings me Scripture warnings,
speaks in startling providences,
allures by secret whispers,
 yet I choose devices and desires to my own hurt,
    impiously resent, grieve,
       and provoke him to abandon me.

All these sins I mourn, lament, and for them cry pardon.
Work in me more profound and abiding repentance;
Give me the fullness of a godly grief that trembles and fears,
    yet ever trusts and loves,
    which is ever powerful, and ever confident;
Grant that through the tears of repentance I may see more clearly
    the brightness and glories of the saving cross.”

Wow. So in love with this. I think words are such a beautiful thing. I love to write, and that is a huge part of why I blog. I also think that story telling is powerful and can bring the Lord so much glory. Storytelling is not complete without words. Words, stir up our affections for Jesus. Don't you agree?

So I am so excited to introduce to you all one special Etsy shop and some fantastic prints that use words to stir my heart for the Lord. 

Meet The Rustic Orange! I found Annette through Instagram and have been obsessed with her work for quite sometime! I was so excited when I reached out to Annette and asked to share her work with my readers and she agreed! So she sent me some of her gorgeous Atlas prints and now I am giving one away to one of you!!

I will be giving away one print that says, "Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders"!! Enter the giveaway below!


The winner will be announced next Monday! Happy Weekend y'all!

Much Love, 

Rachel
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Friday Letters. 04.21.14


Dear Sissy, TOMORROW IS YOUR BIRTHDAY! I cannot believe that you will be 20 years old tomorrow. We are not kids anymore and that is still hard for me to believe sometimes. In honor of your birthday I wanted to remind you of a couple fun memories I have of us growing up. I loved when we would play dress up and pretend to travel across the world as we walked from the backyard to the front yard. I am not sure how I did it but remember all the times I somehow would convince you time and time again to help me hang up all my clothes in my closet. Remember the Amen song we would sing at dinner? And I cannot forget how sweet it was to cheer together my senior year, and the common love we share for all things musical, and romantic. Oh, and remember how I would always scare you at night by swinging my whole body over the top bunk of the bed? Or the time you had a roach in your sleep dress...I am literally dying laughing thinking about those memories...All of that was a jumbled mess of sentences and random thoughts, but I am so thankful you are my little sister. I love you up to the moon, and I love you big as the sky...never forget that. 


(isn't she just the prettiest thing you ever did see?) 



I hope your day is perfect and that you feel so loved by your Heavenly Father and by our earthly family. Also, send me a picture of you wearing the necklace we sent you when you get back from Spring Break! 

Dear Benjamin, you are one stud of an athlete. I loved watching you play ultimate Frisbee last. It was nice to feel care free like we were back in college and dating for the evening. Thank you for being so gracious towards me with all that has gone on this week. Your love for me is so selfless and it literally brings me to tears when I think of what a glorious picture you are to me daily of my relationship with Jesus. Life is so sweet with you. 

Dear self (yes I am writing a letter to myself, think of it as a mental note), Remember to take more breaks like yesterday. It is good for you to step away, to breathe, and to step away from all the technology for a little bit. Do that more, shut down in order to be able to love more deeply and genuinely. Today was hard but good for you. 

Dear 929 Coffee, thank you for introducing me to the best local tea I have ever tried (I have not tried much but this stuff was amazing). I have always hated tea, and while I am not turning my back on my beloved cup of jo, I am seeing there is an entire herbal world out there that needs to be explored. Thank you for opening my eyes through one simple tea press of herbal goodness. 

xoxo, 

P.S. The winner from the Lavender and Linen Giveaway is...



Congrats to you sweet Lindsey!! I will be contacting you shortly! 

Happy Friday friends!

Rachel

Friday Letters


Benjamin Caleb, my favorite part of Friday letters is writing little notes to you, knowing that you will take a break sometime at work and read them. This week has been tough, your prelim exam for your PhD is proving to be quite the task. I hate that you are sleepy, and overwhelmed, and weighed down by it all. I wish I could lighten your load, help you in more ways than feeding you and hugging you. You are so brave, it takes guts to get a doctorate and you are stepping out and trusting in the Father to carry you through, have I told you lately what an inspiration you are to me?...I have pumped your veins with lots of sugar and caffeine and am so ready for this exam to be over I could scream, or cry, or both...but I am here and believe you can finish strong and well with this test. Love you up to the moon and as big as the sky. 
I had to include these two prints...the first is a print in our bedroom hanging beside our bed (purchase here)...just a sweet reminder to us both that when we are apart for short times or long times we will always be thinking of each other. 


And this is a card that you can buy here, but this is what Ben and I do pretty much every night...but this week he has been at the office well after midnight...missing our phone time in bed. :)

okay now for a few more letters...

Dear Tea, drinking you makes me feel more grown up, like a real live southern belle. I have always hated on you for your lack of flavor yet have found myself drinking you daily now. Here's to my sweet IG friend Felicia for inspiring me to start trying tea...I love it. 

Dear Sera Beth, you are getting MARRIED this Saturday. Wow, what an exciting day it will be. You are going to make a beautiful bride. I don't even know if you will see this before Saturday but here is a little advice from a girl who was just in your shoes...Let it roll...stuff is gonna go wrong, it may rain, the piano guy may have his wife going into labor, but at the end of the day you will still be married. Stop during the reception just to soak it all in, enjoy it, and take mental pictures. Try to eat some of the food. Talk to everyone, but make sure to take pictures with all your friends! DRINK WATER. and after you leave, turn off your phone and be mysterious to the world until you return from your honeymoon. I cannot wait to see you walk down the aisle this weekend. 

Lesley, you get to be one of our first house guests! We have only had a couple people stay with us so I am really happy to be hosting you this weekend, so happy to get to see you after months of being apart. Cannot believe you are in DOUBLE DIGITS until your wedding! :) 

Dear Pioneer Woman cinnamon rolls, you are killing my self control. But it is really okay because you are just so darn buttery and delicious that I cannot actually be mad at you...ready for you to be gone though before I gained 10 pounds. 

Happy Friday friends! I am linking up for 5 on Friday with my sweet friends DarciAprilChristinaNatasha! :) My 5 on Friday is in letter form this week, because my old soul just swoons over letters. Speaking of...I have some happy snail mail going out today as part of my 101 in 1001 and my March Goals! Add your address to my postables book!! :)

xoxo,

Rachel





TEASER: Do you love this items? You may want to tune back in next week for a fun little giveaway including these adorable items!!


Friday Letters + 5 on Friday!


Dear Benjamin, you kept me rolling laughing until midnight with your snake stories from your childhood. It was so much fun, however, we overslept this morning because of that and you are now late for work...oops? :) I am so proud of all your hard work, I know this next week is going to be hard and tiring for you with your preliminary exam, but I am praying that this time will teach us both better trust in the Holy Spirit to carry us. Thanks for putting up with me when I fall asleep by the fire on the floor and turn into a bear when you try to wake me up. You are the best.

To women's gathering, you are a night I have grown to look forward to every month more and more. You push me to be more vulnerable than I ever have been with women of all ages in our church. You are the sweetest time of fellowship and community. 

To my bloggy friends, you guys are all incredible and I am so blessed to know you! I have loved investing more time these past few weeks into this little corner of the cyber world and building relationships with people all around the globe. The Internet can be used for good and I think that is just the coolest. 

XOXO,

Rachel

Short and sweet letters today because I am tag teaming this post with the ever popular 5 on Friday link up. So here are 5 things going on in my neck of the woods. (Al Roker may or may not be on my TV right now haha).

1. My Oh Sweet Joy! wire headband should be arriving at my doorstep today. I have drooled over these lovelies for the longest time so when Kim had a flash sale last week I jumped on finally placing an order. I am super excited to get mine today!


Image Source: Oh Sweet Joy!

 2. Yarn delivery came this week! We live in a relatively small town in Mississippi so Walmart is our only option on craft supplies...so I usually order my yarn from Joann's online. Look at all these pretty colors. Lots of crochet head-warmers will be made in the next couple of weeks! 


3. Succulents. # 65 on my 101 in 1001 is to bring more plants and flowers into our home. This little guy was the beginning of that. He was on sale at Lowe's so we snagged him and brought him home. He loves sunlight, and making our bookshelf look darling. :)


4. We get to go to Jackson, MS on Sunday for this lovely lady's wedding shower. Nicole discipled me in college, taught me how to study the word and showered me with blessings during my season of engagement and wedding planning. I am so eager to get to celebrate her and her fiance Brandon on Sunday. It is such a honor to get to be a bridesmaid for such a dear and special friend! 


5. I have started trying my hand at blog design. As many of you know Victoria of Happily Ever Strader designed by blog...She did an awesome job. I however am an incredibly indecisive person so after she was done I created my own sidebar buttons and became so intrigued by writing code and designing in Photoshop. So I have started helping a few new bloggers get their designs up and running. I am by no means a "designer" but it has been fun! All are brand new to the blog world so it has been so fun to get to help them set up their own space on the Internet. 

Happiest of Fridays to you all!

Link up with DarciAprilChristinaNatasha For 5 On Friday! :)

XOXO,

Rachel

musings in the form of old fashioned letters.


Dear Benjamin Caleb (my hubby), yesterday was rough. I was emotionally in a funk, and sick on top of that. You brought me to tears when you told me you were taking me on a nice date for us to have alone time together. Thank you. Dinner was wonderful, and our Office session after provided lots of laughter. You get me, and I cannot put into words how grateful I am for that. Thanks for always tickling my back at night and participating in pillow talk when I am not sleepy (and you are usually wiped out). You are the coffee to my morning (and only you and I truly know how special that is).

Dear Mom and Mike, not totally sure if ya'll will even see this, but HAPPY 5 YEAR ANNIVERSARY! I hope ya'll are having a blast in Charleston and enjoying some time away together. I love you both so much and am so thankful for the time the Lord has given you together. How has it been 5 years since this day? Love you both so much! I still cry from laughing so hard when I watch this video...cannot believe ya'll pulled this off...Have a wonderful day! (Why were all my siblings and I laughing...check out this video to find out why...it was a complete surprise to us as you can see)


Dear Stitchfix, my second fix with you is in the mail and on the way to our house. And I am pumped!!! I have gotten so many referral credits (you guys rock) that I will be able to keep more pieces in my fix this time. Thanks for continuing to give my wardrobe and style a breath of fresh air and helping me step out of my box a little. (want to know more? Check out my first fix here. Also, I loved Jessi's post on Stitchfix this morning. Check it out over at Naptime Diaries)

Dear Kat, Thank you so much for letting me design your blog. It was so much fun to try my hand at computer design and I think you have awakened a new passion inside me. I am seriously considering beginning to take a small number of blog design projects on. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to bless you by doing something I love and for helping me put my computer coding classes to use. You rock, can't wait for you to really jump in and start blogging. It is a whole new world and so rewarding, and I know you have so much inspiration and joy to spread to so many through your thoughts. Love you sweet friend. 

Dear sunshine, you have brought me walks to the bagel shop, walks to fun breakfast dates, and walks around downtown with some of my favorite college gals, basically you have brought a lot of walking. But with all the walking you have brought a slower pace around these parts, and a joy to everyone you warm up. Thanks for shining bright this morning. 

Dear One Little Word, I have just encountered you through some new blogs I have been following. I love what you represent, and the focus that you can offer me to focus on one area of growth rather than being overwhelmed with a million different areas. So I have decided my OLW is RELAX. I often cannot just go with the flow, I find myself enslaved to my schedule and planner. Yet, I see that the Lord is good, he promises to provide me with exactly what I need for today. So today I am praying to relax and rest in the Father's provision. May that be enough, and if change comes or a curve ball is thrown my way, may I gracefully turn to the Father for strength to relax in him and not panic at the change. (Link up with us over at Bailey Jean's blog )

 One Little Word Blog Hop
Dear weekend projects, we are coming for you. Our church retreat has been postponed which means a whole weekend to work on all our projects. To the end tables, you have proved to be a time consuming task, 5 tables from pallet wood was not as easy as we thought, but I am so thankful for how beautiful you will be once we finish you and stain you. To the crochet pillow, I will have you finished this weekend and I am so excited to get to combine crochet and sewing into one project. 


XOXO,

Rachel

Friday Letters.


Dear Benjamin Caleb, you make me a better person. That may sound so weird, but really, on my own I am scared, cautious and uncertain. But with you by my side, I want to go sleep under the stars, climb mountains (literally)...I want to be adventurous, and that is all because of you. Thank you for being so curious, the way you look at the world with such a hunger to learn is inspiring to me. Whether you are studying Google maps to know more about a particular city or looking up random things just to understand how something works, you inspire me by your hunger for knowledge. Thank you for always cleaning the cast iron pots, and helping me wash the dishes. Also, thank you for setting up all the budget stuff for my little handmade business, you know how numbers make me wanna scream, so thanks for helping set me up for success. You are the best husband.

Dear Cloudland Canyon State Park/Chattanooga, TN, THANK YOU! We will forever look back at the wonderful weekend you gave us as one of our favorite weekend in the first year of our marriage. We will be seeing you again. (Read about our trip here).

Dear Instagram Community, Some people may think this sounds absolutely ridiculous, and that is okay, to each his own. But I am beyond thankful for the amazing community of God-fearing women I have stumbled upon on IG. Each of you in your different seasons of life are so encouraging and challenging to me in my personal life. Thank you for sharing your lives with the world, the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Dear Springtime, You are right around the corner, I can just feel it. Come quickly. I am so ready for days spent outside in the grass, laying in my hammock with a good book. I am ready for planting flowers and herbs, the Farmer's Market, and driving with my windows down. You may be my favorite season of all.

Dear Narnia, you are teaching Ben and I how to marvel at all of the Lord's creation. You make me feel like a child again, and you are teaching me to delight in things such as the way sunlight hits my desk, or the sound of a particular birds song. You are just a book, but a book that is teaching us to stand in awe again.


(a few flashback pictures in honor of 9 months of marriage to one awesome man coming up this next week)


XOXO,

Rachel


Friday Letters.


Dear Friday, you often are my favorite day of the week. And today you are full of crochet orders that are providing money for our puppy fund, a lunch date with two sweet college girls at my favorite local bagel shop, an afternoon small group with some sweet sorority sister, and a night of making our own pizzas for a fun stay at home date night. You are a day full of joy and promise. 

Dear husband, you have been so cute doing so much research in hopes of finding us the perfect puppy. I am so thankful for your diligence and patience (two qualities we both know are not my strength by any stretch of the imagination) Thanks for balancing me out, making me slow down, and loving cute cuddly puppies. Our spontaneous trip to Krispy Kreme would have only been better if that darn hot donut sign had been on...thanks for letting us go get a sweet treat that happened to be 30 miles away. I love you up to the moon and as big as the sky. 

Dear Taylor (my little sister), You are officially a sorority girl, a kappa delta lady. While you didn't pledge your double Phi Mu legacy I am so happy that you are choosing to be Greek. I'm tearing up as I write this because I can't believe how grown up you are, well that we both are. Its hard to remember living in the same house, fighting over clothes, and making 4 am Krystal's runs with you now...but wow do I love you something crazy. You have the potential to change the world if you want to, you bring joy to everyone who knows you. I pray you use that gift to bring glory to the Lord's name and kingdom. Now that you are a sorority girl, have sleepovers often with your best friends, go to the beach together, cook meals together, eat cookie dough and have food fights with your roomie...enjoy college sissy, its over so quickly. 

Dear dreams and goals, sometimes you overwhelm the heck out of me. But at the same time I am so grateful for the way you push me. You make me want to use my gifts to bring the Lord glory and for that I am thankful. 

Dear Frye boots, you will soon be the nicest item in my closet. I cannot wait for your arrival on Tuesday. I am so glad that you in a little way helped me practice the skill of saving for something I really want, and also that you were on sale on Amazon. You are gonna make my feet look oh so pretty. 

To all of you with love,

Rachel Cox

Friday Letters + Crusty Bread Recipe


Dear blog, I am sorry I have abandoned you these past few weeks. I could probably come up with a million excuses as to why I have done this, but I mainly blame it on a lack of inspiration and motivation to write. So I am back, with high hopes of being more consistent in the weeks ahead. I know you missed me. 

Dear husband, I have so much fun with you. I love that we have just as much fun in marriage as we did when we were dating. Last night you showed me how to do wood-burning. It was a lot of fun. We bought me a sleeping bag for our upcoming camping trip (that I am so excited about by the way), and we rounded out the night with a good dose of The Office in bed. It was a great night full of laughing and relaxing. You bring me so much joy. Also, I am proud of you for being bold for the Gospel at work this week. I know it is hard with the people you are around but the way you reached out to your new co worker this week really challenged me in my own walk with the Lord. Can't wait to see what the Lord has in store for having him and his family over for dinner with us next week. 

Dear bread yeast, I have conquered my fear of you and have managed to not kill you the past 3 times I have worked with you. Thanks for boosting my culinary confidence. 

Dear crochet, you make my hand want to fall off. I love you and get annoyed with you often these days. You are teaching me so much about being diligent and why taking my time while I work on a project is always better than rushing through in order to finish. Thanks for being my new favorite hobby and allowing me to also make a little money on the side doing something I really enjoy. 

Dear Stitchfix, you have shipped out officially. I should receive you next Tuesday and to say I am excited is an understatement. Cannot wait to try out what my stylist has picked for me, and push my comfort zone on clothing I would not normally wear. (If you wanna learn more about this go here.) 

Love, Rachel

Overall this month has been incredible. It feels great to be starting a new year full of new possibilities. I have taken up crocheting as I mentioned above and have started a blanket as well as coffee cozies. I have been selling the coffee cozies! Check them out...how adorable? And how perfect for Valentines Day Gifts? Only $8 + $2.50 for shipping. Contact me if you are interested. 




Also, I have begun making this really yummy artisan bread. It is easy, yummy, and a blank canvas to add all kinds of flavors. 

Here is the loaf I made this morning. It has rosemary, lemon zest and Parmesan added to the dough. 


Here is the recipe for the delicious bread... click here.

I hope you enjoy it! :)

Happy Friday everyone!

xoxoxo-







Friday Letters + Molasses Cookie Recipe


Dear Ben, you rode your bike home in record time Monday night to come to my aid after I gashed my finger open on a broken glass. (note to self- use a plastic cup next time) You took care of me and calmed me down on the way to the ER. Don't think we will ever forget that night. Thanks for taking half a day off on New Year's Eve to be at home with me. Doing nothing at all is the most fun with you always. 
Dear Christmas, your aftermath has taken over our guest bedroom and due to the size of our apartment I have no idea where to put it all. I miss your twinkling lights and cozy nights...BUT your clutter has got to find a home until next year before I go insane. Thanks for a great first holiday season as Mrs. Cox.
Dear Nikki, I blame you for the 3 dozen molasses cookies in my kitchen right now, and the recipe that follows. Thanks for introducing me to the cookie of my dreams and not making fun of me when I rave about how incredible they were when you made them. 
To my kitchen, you have given me some really great joy this week. Some awesome "keeper" recipes have been discovered this week, and that makes me one happy lady. Here's to a new year full of recipes successes and failures, experimenting, baking. 


Short and sweet this week on the letters. It is a new year, and I love the hope that a new year brings! Ben and I have been taking this week and next to really intentionally think through goals we would like to set individually and as a couple for this new year. We are also having a really special date night next weekend to ask each other some very intentional questions in hopes of fostering some open and honest communication about where our marriage is now and where we would like to see it go. How are you preparing for this new year? 

Well everyone is making resolutions to eat healthier and work out and all that jazz, and what am I doing? Oh you know...baking...super delicious, incredible, moment of silence worthy molasses cookies....




okay.

 maybe I am being slightly dramatic (my husband would certainly say so) BUT these cookies. good golly miss molly, they are delicious winter-y cookies that will make the worst of days turn around in a flash. My dear friend Nikki made these glorious cookies for a couples game night we had at our house several weeks back, and then she left the rest with us. I ate one, two,  okay, more like three or four every time I walked in the kitchen. These cookies are hands down my favorite. So without further delay, I give you... Chewy Molasses Cookies

Go right now and make them. I am taking one dozen to my husband and his co workers the minute I finish this blog post. These cookies NEED to be shared with the world. and you will love them. I promise you will. 

In other news, I have started crocheting a blanket. That is one of my big projects for this year, I am also hoping to teach myself how to do embroidery by hand. We shall see how it goes. Hopefully next post I will have some pictures of the progress on the blanket to share with you all, and maybe my goals for the year will be more organized and not so all over the place. Well, until then. Take care!!

xoxo-- 


Friday letters.

So I have seen this idea on many blogs that I follow...writing letters. Since my blog is a lifestyle blog and setting out to capture little moments from my newlywed (ish) life, I thought this would be a fun thing to implement. So here it goes. 

Dear Benjamin (my husband), Thank you so much for last night, for loving me the way you do, for cuddling with me on the couch while watching Home Alone. You have had so much riding on your shoulders at work these past few weeks but you are so gracious and selfless to set it all aside at home to sit and listen to me and to watch movies with me while eating popcorn. Thank you for waking up super early this morning to fix my car and change the oil...you are so handy and hardworking, and this never goes unnoticed. Oh and thank you for letting us drive to Jackson Monday night just for an hour or so to show support for my dear friend's engagement...you are awesome, and I love you more than chewy molasses cookies (which you know as of late is really saying something).

To Wednesday game night, you really brought us some great laughs. You allowed us all to get to know each other in a different way outside of church and small groups. However, next time I think all the wives would appreciate it if you would shine some of your game night favor on the girls team in the heated game of catchphrase. 

Dear Christmas, only a few days away and I am so excited. First married Christmas has already been a blast. From baking, to looking at lights, to Christmas movie marathons it has all been better with a husband. Thank you for being my favorite season of the year, and allowing me the excuse to drink hot chocolate excessively and to eat sweets every hour on the hour without shame. 

Dear future puppy, Ben and I talk about you every day now. We have decided on names and everything. We are saving our pennies, dimes, and nickels in hopes of finding you and bringing you home soon. Until then stay cute and cuddly wherever in the world you may be. 

To my in-laws, today is Friday which means today is the day we come to see you all. Can't wait to get there tonight to celebrate Christmas with you. Can't wait to play with Lucy and roll on the floor laughing while forcing her to model her latest doggie sweater or jacket for us. 

To Kirsten, you are back in the USA for Christmas and I haven't seen you yet...but we will be reunited on Sunday, Lord willing, and I am pumped. We have done a terrible job this go around at staying in touch which has made me that much more eager to see you in a few days. Moving to Ecuador cannot do anything to our friendship. 

Dear wifehood, you are hard. I had no idea 7 months ago how sanctifying and refining marriage could and would be. Submission is a daily struggle right now, and it is often hard to stop the bad communication habits. However, you are teaching me more and more about being dependent on the Holy Spirit rather than myself and how prayer is an essential to daily life. Praying the sanctification never stops. 

Dear Harry Potter, somehow I am on your last book even though I started your series only a month ago. I cannot put you down. You have captivated my attention and allowed me to remember childhood by entertaining my imagination. Thank you for being an innocent way of escaping the daily craziness and giving me an amazing wizarding world to enjoy on my own leisure. 

Friday letters are to hopefully (cross your fingers) become a weekly tradition. We shall see how this quest goes. Happy Friday friends! Only 5 days til Christmas!!

Take care.