marriage

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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Retreating, Taylor Swift, and Joy

This past Saturday was incredibly refreshing for my soul. It rained and stormed all day long, and all day long I stayed in sweatpants, a white tee, and did not even think of applying makeup. I had a surprise day off from work and enjoyed every minute of a day cooped up in our little home. Ben and I slept in late and cuddled with Piper in bed for quite sometime. As we both got out of bed we slipped into our little weekend morning routine. Ben got dressed and headed out the door with Piper to take her for a little walk so she could do her business, and I began to work on "waking up the house". Going from room to room, I turned on lights, and began getting some breakfast ready. We had warmed up biscuits and yummy pour over coffee. We enjoyed some time reading books, and drinking coffee together for awhile and then Ben began working on a journal article he had to complete by Monday.

It was the perfect kind of slow morning, the type of morning I miss most now that I work on the weekends. Yet, I still found myself discontent as Ben made his way into the office and left me on the couch with my book. I began digging a little deeper, and continued to process and meditate on what was going on in my heart all day. 

Slowly the Lord began bringing some things to the surface through some really interesting avenues. To begin with, I deleted all the social media apps on my phone for the weekend so I could really be present for my weekend with Ben. I have noticed I am too quick to scroll through my phone while he talks or while we are just sitting and having down time and this is something I want to get away from being so dependent on. I found that on this particular "social media free" weekend the Lord really used that clarity of mind to speak so directly to me when it came to this issue of discontentment. I was free of at least a few of the distractions I normally have, and was eager to hear him speak to me. 

Secondly, Taylor Swift. YES! The Lord revealed something to me about my heart through a super old Taylor Swift song. I was listening to my girl T Swift as I attempted to make French Macaroons for the first time (more to come on that attempt at a later date) when the song 15 came on. I found myself mindlessly singing along only to begin crying halfway through the song. I was transported back to a time in my life when I was 18, a senior in high school, and my sister was 15, an incoming freshman. So much of that song resonated with my protective big sister heart back then that I began fervently praying for my little sister that year. Praying the Lord would protect her, show himself to her, draw her closer to him...it was one of the first times in my life I can remember consistently and intentionally praying for someone else. 

So what do these things have to do with my feelings of discontentment on Saturday? Well...through the clarity of mind that the Lord gave me as a result of throwing off distractions...AND through an old Taylor Swift song that reminded me of a time in my life where I walked in selfless love, and deep intention...I was able to see on Saturday (in my kitchen, with T Swift blaring) how selfish I truly am. My discontentment stemmed from the fact that Ben could not 100% pay attention to me on my surprise day off. My discontentment was also rooted in the fact that I have created this box in which my ideal weekends must fit into, and when they do not fit the bill...anger, rage, hurt, bitterness, discontentment, and depression sink it. 

These realizations left me in awe. Yes I was more aware of my sin, and my selfishness in particular...but man was I so aware of grace in that moment. The Lord brought to mind a song that I love, and I began singing it with tears...

"Father what love you have shown to rebels, that you would send your son so dear, into this world of grief and trouble, to bring unworthy sinners near. We will never fathom how it pained you, when you supplied the offering, to rescue who had disdained you, to watch your dear son suffering. 

Jesus it fills our hearts with wonder, that you would leave your heavenly place, to take on flesh, to thirst and hunger, to save the ones that spurned your grace. You came to forfeit every mercy, to die that mercy we may find, and then you hung alone in darkness so in our hearts your grace would shine." -Father, How Sweet (Sovereign Grace Music)

He dies that we may know grace. In our darkest moments, when sin is near and overwhelming, and plentiful...he shows us grace!

The feelings that I had Saturday morning of discontentment were quickly replaced with deep feelings of JOY! I wanted to ugly cry, laugh, sing, and write all at once. It was the sweetest and most refreshing time with my Father. 

I am sharing all of this with you because I was made aware of something so important Saturday. The Lord desires to speak to us, to teach us, to reveal sin in our lives. Yet, all too often we are bogged down with distractions. We simply cannot hear Him...we are numb to his call. Retreating is something Jesus did often. We see all through the gospels that he withdrew to be alone, to spend time with his Father. So for us to not follow in this practice if foolish. I have gone too long without building times of retreat and rest into my schedule, and it doesn't work y'all...there are just so many tears, and fights, and sin when I choose to not take time away to pursue Jesus, on my own, free from distractions. 

I am praying for more times away from distractions like Saturday, not because being put in my place about sinful habits is fun. Rather, because the joy that came from that correction was so sweet! Joy abounded in those moments, and I want more of that joy! 

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Christmas Photo Shoot + Christmas Card!

Christmas time is here at last. Our halls are decked (well they have been for quite sometime now ha) and we have been listening to Christmas music around the clock. I have loved this season already. Time has started slowing down some what believe it or not, and I am trying hard to savor this holiday time with my family.


One tradition I have always loved is Christmas cards. It brings me so much joy to send them, as well as receive them from friends and family to see updates on so many that we love! This year we decided to have pictures taken by Lauren of Sincerely, Lo for our cards. Lauren lives just minutes from my in laws and was happy to help us out with our pictures. 

We had so much fun with both Lauren and her husband Sean. Lauren did a fantastic job of capturing our little family, and Sean was a pro at keeping Piper's eyes near the camera with crazy noises and silly faces! It was a blast. So here are some shots from the shoot, and a digital version of our 2014 Christmas card! Enjoy! 

















Merry Christmas yall! And be looking for real paper copies to be coming to some of your mailboxes this week! :) YAY! 

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?! 

It All Began With a Hello

I can remember the first time I laid eyes on my now husband. He had come up to my booth after a campus worship service to ask about a 5k I was hosting with some friends. He had the most piercing eyes and I remember that above anything else. He said hello, and asked a few questions and off he went...it all began with a simple hello.


From that we met again a few times on campus all at random times connected to the 5k race...then we got coffee...it all went uphill from there. 3 months later we were engaged, and 9 months after this we were Mr. & Mrs. Ben Cox. 


A simple hello can be life changing you know? It can begin a journey to a new friendship, or to meeting your spouse. And what better way to jump start a hello than sharing a chocolate bar? I have loved Lindt chocolate for as long as I can remember. My husband Ben always gets me a bar of their chocolate for little happies or for presents on my Birthday. I love chocolate...I mean who doesn't? 




Lindt's new HELLO campaign aims to help communication flow, and for friendships to blossom over chocolate. I am not sure there is any better way to foster a sweet friendship than over a bar of yummy chocolate. The HELLO campaign is playful and modern and the packaging just makes you want to pick up all the chocolate bars and eat them all. (try to restrain yourself)

They have four different flavors, Strawberry Cheesecake, Caramel Brownie, Cookies and Cream, and Chocolate Nugat. I think my favorite it Cookies and Cream, but all of the flavors are yummy and unique in their own way. 

So in light of a new season, go and grab some chocolate bars in the name of friendship and hello. Simply reach out by saying hello and sharing some chocolate and see what happens. 


To enter the sweepstakes, visit the Lindt HELLO Sweet Connections Sweepstakes Landing Page and enter your email address. Entries can be made daily for additional chances to win the below prizes. 

Week 3: Girls Just Want to Have Fun (9/24 – 9/30)
• Enjoy a shopping spree with the girls + yummy Lindt HELLO Chocolate!

Week 4: Sweet Staycation (10/1 – 10/7)
• Lindt HELLO treats you to a pampered night in – movies, books + chocolate!

Week 5: Besties Reunion (10/8 – 10/14)
• Reconnect with your bestie at the spa for a day + Lindt HELLO chocolate to sweeten the deal.

Thank you so much to Linqia for sponsoring this post. All opinions expressed are my own, and reflect how I genuinely feel about the products mentioned. 

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


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

Community Brew Vol. 2 // MARRIAGE

Welcome to the second Community Brew link up! Madison and I so deeply enjoyed reading everyone's posts last time so we are excited to hear your thoughts and hearts today!
First off, a big thanks to our co host this week, Sarah of Seriously, Sarah?. Make sure to show her some love today! 


Hi there! I'm Sarah! I love to read, write, and create. My blog is to share my passion for life while living with chronic pain. I hope you'll enjoy this journey with me and all that God has brought me through. 

To link up:
Follow your hosts and co host
Comment on at least two other blogs
Grab the button and link back here so everyone can join in on the fun! 

So today's topic is marriage...and if you are engaged, or single do not think this is a topic you cannot jump into...we want to hear where you are at in whatever season you are in. I recently shared my story of singleness and it reminded me that even though I am married now, I still remember well the days of engagement and being single! 

I wanted to spend some time reflecting on some things that I have been thinking on lately in regards to my marriage. So Ben and I just celebrated our one year anniversary in May, and it was awesome. One whole year of marriage...wow. Well I guess the biggest thing I am seeing now, is after year one there are several temptations I have to fight really hard against. 

1. The temptation to speak my mind in a dishonoring way.
After a year of marriage, I have found I am so much quicker to just say whatever I think...whether that is correcting Ben in the middle of sentence, critiquing his driving, or just being rather snappy. I have to guard so much more intentionally against the temptation to just speak. I do not think that means I cannot be who I am...but Proverbs 31:26 says, "She opens her mouth with wisdom, the teaching of kindness is on her tongue." So I am learning so much about what it means to open my mouth with wisdom rather than with carelessness...I should be bringing my husband goodness with my words, not negativity and harm. 

2. The temptation to settle into life. 
Can any other wives out there relate to this? It is SO EASY for me to go throughout my days...just checking one box after another without giving consideration to studying my husband, learning his needs, and pursuing him wholeheartedly every day! This has been a struggle for both myself and Ben. It is so easy to just turn the TV on after dinner, bury ourselves in our computers or cell phones, rather than really seeing each other, and being together. 

3. The temptation to be too jealous of alone time. 
If there is one thing the Lord is teaching me right now it is about how to truly be the body of Christ in our small city. I have found that without trying Ben and I have built walls around our home...people do not feel the freedom to just swing by and visit or join us for dinner without calling first because we have guarded ourselves. We have built up barriers to keep our alone time protected, and in an effort to pursue a healthy marriage, we have pushed people out. Don't get me wrong, I think every married couple needs alone time...but never at the sacrifice of reaching out to the body of Jesus. You see, to be married is to partner with someone else is carrying the Gospel out. So Ben and I are to picture the Gospel in our marriage, and then labor alongside one another to share that same Gospel in our home. It is hard to share that Gospel when it is only Ben and I around our table and in our living room every evening. 

This is something I am praying and striving to change. I do not want to miss opportunities to invest in the lives of others, and to welcome people into our home! 

These are just a few of the many things stirring in my heart and mind when I reflect on my marriage. I am so deeply grateful for my husband, and his leadership in our home. He works so hard, and is always pushing me to sanctification. 

What is the Lord teaching you where you are at right now? What steps can you take to walk in obedience to him?

Don't forget to link up with us next month (August 13th) for our first OPEN TOPIC Community Brew Link Up! You can just share your heart with us, and we will do the same! Cannot wait until next time! 

community brew link up






The Perfect Anniversary Gift

Year one of marriage has been awesome for Ben and I, but as many of you newlyweds out there can attest to, we are not just rolling in tons of money. Don't get me wrong, we have what we need, and more than what we need most times, but our budget is very tight from time to time. So when it came time to give anniversary presents, I wanted to create something sentimental, but budget friendly.

I am a mushy, emotional kind of gal. I save every ticket stub, sentimental note, and most things that others would label as "trash". I love a gift that makes me remember a special moment, or time with the ones that I love. So I wanted my gift for Ben to capture some of my favorite memories from our journey together so far. So I whipped up this little print. It has maps of the city where we got engaged, married, and honeymooned. It is really simple, but so cute. 

I used Photoshop to do everything, and loved how the finished product turned out. I designed the print myself, and had it printed at a copy shop in town, for just $3! 

Then I went to Dirt Cheap (it is sort of like Goodwill but is a salvage store, so they have items from Targets that have been affected by storms...so on) and bought this large frame for $2.50!!!



I spray painted the frame, added a matte (only $4, and it is too small...oops!) and then added the print. There you go, super cute and personal anniversary present! This was so simple and really cost efficient, and it only cost me $9!! 

So if you are Photoshop savvy, take your stab at creating this print or something similar! Or if you are not, I will gladly create one for you. I have had several people ask me to design this print or something similar for them, and would love to create one for you! Just email me at rach.elizabeth.915@gmail.com to place your order. 

Also, I love this gift for a one year anniversary print! (not that it is bad for any other year) BUT, traditionally one year is the gift of paper, so this is perfect if you and your hubby choose to go the traditional route! 

What are you favorite gifts to give? Are you a sentimental gift giver like me? 

Another great anniversary gift is one of these custom cutting boards that my sweet husband makes! Ben is always brainstorming more projects for us to tackle, and this was one of those ideas I threw out there, and he started. Each of these cutting boards are wood burned by Ben, and he takes such time on each one. He puts a lot of love into these little guys, so the winner of this awesome giveaway will be one lucky person! Want to win a cutting board? Enter below!

personalized-cutting-board-giveaway

Enter to win below, as always all entries will be verified! Open to all US residents older than 18 years. Good luck! The giveaway will run until July 1st at 12 AM. Winner must claim their prize within 48 hours of being emailed.


Vacationing in Paradise

 Friends, can we all just stop for a minute and agree on the fact that the beach is just awesome?!...okay...agreed, now we can carry on. But really, when I think of the one place that is the definition of my "happy place" I would say it involves the beach. From the sand, to the salty wind, I love the relaxation that comes with a beach trip. It is so nice to get out of town, windows down, singing along with the radio knowing you are headed to vacation in paradise.

So needless to say I loved our time in Florida this past weekend. Ben and I went to celebrate our one year anniversary (a week late) and enjoyed every minute. We got sunburned (really sunburned) the first day, but we were determined nothing would damper our moods on this trip. So we explored shopping malls, neighborhoods, and little beach communities. We watched a million episodes of The Office ever night before bed while shoving yummy ice cream down our throats. We ate some of the best fresh fish I have ever had (seriously, Scamp Parmesan at Dewey Destin...oh my goodness, I will dream about that dish). We had a great time. I figured everyone would appreciate a few pics, so here are some shots from the weekend!








The best part is that we get to go back to the beach TWO MORE TIMES this summer. Yeah, twice...pinch me! Both of our families have asked us to tag along with them on their trips, and we were not super hard to persuade (we had our fingers crossed about getting to go on both trips). So cheers to an awesome weekend with my handsome hubby, and two more beach trips in the months ahead! 

Are you a beach person? What are you favorite spots at the beach?

P.S. Oh, and by the way, CONGRATS to Holly H. on winning our survey giveaway! Madison and I have sent you a $20 Starbuck giftcard via email, AND you will get to be our very first co host! We are so appreciative to everyone that took the survey! We are going to be looking over y'alls responses this week and next, and discussing how we want to restructure the link up! Exciting things happening ladies, we will let you know dates, and everything else really soon!!  
Check out my sweet sponsor this month, Madison of The Wetherills Say I Do!

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!

How To Write Your Own Wedding Vows

Ben and I decided pretty early on in our engagement that we wanted to write our vows. This is becoming more and more common, and we just knew this was something we wanted to do. We both wanted to include scripture in our promises to each other, and wanted our vows to be something we look back on as specific to us as a couple. This is just a personal preference and by no means is there a right or wrong, but for us, it was important that we take the time to write them ourselves. I am so thankful that we did this, we have them hanging in our bedroom as you can see in the picture above. Ben made those two frames as a birthday present for me, and printed our vows on fabric and put them in the frames. They are a sweet reminder of our wedding day, and the covenant relationship we have committed to.

So, you want to write your vows yourself. Then what? Well it can be a little overwhelming at first so here are some tips on how to make the process easy, and less intimidating.

1. Buy a Pastoral Wedding Book
Sounds weird huh? Well trust me. A family friend let us borrow a copy of this book, and it was so helpful in collecting our thoughts. The book is a script basically for pastors on how to direct a wedding, but it includes several different types of ceremonies, so there are lots of different examples of vows included. This was the jumping ground for us.

2. Collect your must haves. 
Ben and I did not keep our vows a secret from each other, some people may choose to do differently, but for us we wanted them to be about the same length and to mirror each other if that makes sense. So we spent time making a list of what we wanted to make sure to include, and then went from there.

3. Just start writing. Write from your heart. 
I just sat down one day and wrote out a whole page. I included verses about being a godly wife, and helper to Ben, and rambled a lot. But I was able to then take that and cut out, tweak, and rearrange what I had until it was what I was looking for.

4. Have a your pastor look over them. 
You will want to have someone, like your pastor, to scan over what you have written. You do not want to get to the altar and realize you mentioned nothing about caring for your husband in sickness and in health or something that later one will be important to you.

5. Do not wait until the last minute. 
This is so important. Just like a good blog post, you need time to sit on your vows. Write, and re write. Edit, and re edit. So make sure you start writing your vows several months before the actual wedding day. If you wait until the last minute your vows may not be all that you want them to be, so save yourself from this and start early!

Here are our vows, maybe they can be some type of inspiration to you. We spent a lot of time working on these, and I would not change that. This is my promise to Ben, and his promise to me...promises are a big deal. So we treated them as such!


Ben’s Vows

Rachel, today, I leave my father and mother to become one with you and to commit to you all that I am – emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Today, I am choosing you to be my bride over every other woman in the world, and I will forever treasure you as a precious gift from God, my best friend and encourager.  I will sacrificially lay down my rights and ambitions for you, and I will love you with a love only Christ himself could place within me, just as Christ loved the church.  I will live with you in an understanding way, honor you, and cherish you in the presence or absence of romantic feelings.
I will strive to make our marriage the purest picture of the Gospel that I can, through the Lord’s Spirit within me.  I will pray for the Lord to give me discernment to act and react always in His Spirit and not my flesh.  I embrace my responsibility to protect you, to be your biggest defender, to value your desires and thoughts, to encourage you, to lead you and our family spiritually, to provide vision for our family, and to scripturally manage our finances.  I will diligently seek to fulfill those responsibilities through all of life’s joys and blessings and darkest tests and trials.
Every bit of me, all that I am, is yours until death should part us.  Because God has given you to me as a temporary gift, I promise to strive to be the best steward of you that I can.  When death does part us, I pray that I may be able to present you to our Heavenly Father purer and holier than on the day we met.

Rachel’s Vows

Benjamin, Today, I will leave my father and mother and cleave to you and I will become one with you. I will be submissive to you in the fear of the Lord, out of my love, respect, and total trust in you. I will depend fully on the Lord Jesus Christ and His Holy Spirit to fill me with all the love I need to be your completion, your wife.
                I will daily support you and uplift you by word and deed, and I will put more emphasis on what you are than what you are not. I will stand beside you through the storms, darkness and trials, and I will rejoice with you in the blessings and celebrations the Lord will gracious give to us.
                I will diligently seek to respond to you in love as I would to our Heavenly Father. I will always comfort you and encourage you. I will pray for you and push you to Christ in everything. I will always honor you as the head of our household as Christ is the Head of the church. I will strive to keep our communication open and honest and trust the Lord to give me a humble and forgiving heart. I will strive to make our marriage a picture of the Gospel in every way through the power of the Holy Spirit.

                Benjamin, I desire to be a crown to your head, to bring honor to your name, and bring you good and not harm all the days of my life. I commit to love you with a love only Christ himself could place within my heart. I will forever treasure you as God’s gift to me, whose value is immeasurable. 


Happy Writing! :) 

A Harvest of Blessing

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

Lessons After Year One of Marriage + Blog Life Giveaway

Yesterday Ben and I celebrated one year of marriage. Tears. I have only typed one sentence and I'm crying. Whew, how has this day come and gone already? Wow. Well let me begin by saying first and foremost, the Lord is so good. He has given me the richest gift by allowing me to take on the last name Cox. Marriage has been the most incredible experience. So today I wanted to reflect on some things I have learned, some of my favorite memories, and share our wedding video with you!


First, Marriage displays the Gospel. 
This has been one of the most humbling parts of marriage for me. I can remember reading a letter Ben wrote me on our wedding day... he said, "I cannot wait to commit myself to you for our entire lifetime. I am constantly blown away by what we are committing ourselves to... to mirror the love Christ has for us. We get to do that for a lifetime. I'm so thankful that our marriage will get to be our biggest and most natural ministry tool." I love this, and again I am so humbled by this reality. By entering into the covenant of marriage, we as believers have the privilege of showing the world a selfless, unconditional, sacrificial love for our spouses. We demonstrate Jesus' love to everyone looking into our homes and seeing our relationships. This is not always easy, but it is such a rich gift. We are not called to be perfect, rather to strive to look like Jesus. When we do this, and invite others in, then the Lord is glorified.

He is the leader, not me. Part of the curse of the fall after Adam and Eve sinned was that the wife's desire would be for her husband, but that the husband was called to rule over her. (Genesis 3:16) If you look over in Genesis 4:7 you will see this exact same phrase used in describing sin..."sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it." So we see that this desire the woman is described to have for her husband in chapter 3 is not a good desire. It is part of the curse. The woman longs to be in control, and rule over her husband, but the Lord has called the husband to be the leader, not the wife. So this has been a hard lesson for me to learn, as I love being in control and being right. Marriage for me has been about learning to relinquish that desire for control, and submitting to my husband's leadership...every day!

If there is one lesson I have learned, and relearned, and will continue to relearn it is this one. To be married is to be sanctified. The two go hand in and hand, and cannot be separated. The Lord designed marriage to be a picture to the world of his bride the church...but he says in Ephesians 5 that his bride, is washed by the water of the word, and should be presented blameless. Becoming blameless, and clean, and pure is a process. Just like making a piece of pottery or jewelry, it is a process. It takes going through the fire, being beaten, molded, shaped, crafted, and honed to become something beautiful. So when you put two sinners in the same home, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, sanctification is bound to happen. Marriage brings sin to light, and it is hard, and hurts sometimes. However, there is no running away, and there is always grace and forgiveness. This grace and forgiveness may not always flow easily, but we are called to give them abundantly to one another. That has been the sweetest realization for me, that the grace of the Lord abounds, and so will my husbands grace abound towards me as we seek the Lord in our marriage.

Marriage is fun! Maybe this sounds silly, trite, or obvious, but this is so true. I keep feeling like I have to pinch myself, because I cannot possibly be married. But I am! Whether is it telling funny jokes late at night in bed, or wrestling, or watching The Office, or working on a project, Ben and I have so much fun together.

So Happy One Year Anniversary Benjamin Caleb, I love you more than ever, and am so grateful to call you mine!
Ben + Rachel preview from todd urick on Vimeo.

Also, I have been so excited about this giveaway! One of my sweet bestie blog friends, Madison of Wetherills Say I Do, is giving away the best giveaway ever!! So I am teaming up with Madison and some other awesome bloggers to bring you this binder packed full of amazing blog material.

Here's what it entails: The Blog Life E-course ($50 value), Blog Worksheet Bundle from Elah Tree (you can see more about her sheets here), and a print, made my yours truly! I will be writing a post next week about my inspiration behind this print and my experience after month one in the Influence Network!



Alright, let me introduce you to the amazing ladies bringing you this giveaway!


Madison of Wetherills Say I Do // Jenna of Dearest Love 
Rachel of Oh Simple Thoughts // Hayley of A Beautiful Exchange // Destiny of The Journey 
Amanda of The Lady Okie // Jana of Life Could be a Dream // Lauren of 34 Magnolia Street 
Laura of The Lovely Wren // Samantha of Elah Tree // Katelyn of Learning Creating Living

And now onto the giveaway! Any one over 18 is able to enter, however if you live outside of the US, you will be emailed the Blog Life e-course, blog worksheets, and Oh Simple Thoughts print, instead of being mailed the binder. All entries will be verified, so play fair! The giveaway begins Monday May 26 at 12am EST and ends June 1 at 12am. The winner will be notified and must respond within 48 hours to claim the prize. 

A Harvest of Blessing

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!



Coffee Date vol. 2

Good Morning, Friends! Happiest of Fridays to you all! I have been looking forward to this day all month. It is time for another coffee date. Last time we had a virtual coffee date in March, it was a rich blessing to my soul. I was not expecting so many people to link up, but the numbers were a sweet testimony to the desire we all have to know ourselves and to be known by others! Amen and Praise the Lord that he has designed us to live life with others; he never intended for us to go at it alone!

So, welcome to the second Coffee Date. This time I have a lovely co-host joining me. Madison of The Wetherills Say I Do has become such a dear friend...like we text every single day...basically all throughout the day. She encourages me in my new design pursuits, and we talk through so much about blogging and friendship with each other. It is so precious! So we are joining forces today to just create space. Space for you to share, space for you to be heard, understood, recognized exactly where you are. We want this to be a time of sharing but a time of encouragement more than anything. My biggest prayer all week is that someone linking up or reading would see, for maybe the first time, that they are not alone...that they would feel seen and understood. So please, reach out to each other and connect! 
Okay, so now onto coffee talk... I have been going through a time of transition, in my job, my friendships, in a whole lot of areas. This has left me feeling very lost or maybe just unable to wrap my mind around what all is happening. As I wrote earlier this week, I have felt the Lord awakening me to so many new things I was unaware of in my heart until recently. I have begun to discover passions and desires I did not know I even had the capability of having. It has been exciting but also terrifying to realize maybe I do not actually know myself or my unique gifts as well as I thought.

I am naturally a doer, I thrive on action and completing tasks. So when I find myself in a place like I am in now, with lots of transitions, and not as much responsibility, I often crumble. I sink into a pity party, and feel sorry for myself that I have nothing to do. I convince myself that I am without purpose, and fall deeper and deeper into this cycle of sadness and pity. 

On Wednesday I spent about an hour an a half tuning into Lara Casey's LaraLive video chat, and wow, was that good for my heart. Lara shared about starting fresh and owning where you are and the place the Lord has you. I was really fascinated because this is basically opposite of what I want to do. When I feel lost, I want to figure out the problem, fix it, and move on. I hardly ever stop to ponder why the Lord has me experiencing the situation...but that is what I should be doing. How am I doing today, what am I believing in, what am I trusting in, where does the Lord have me now, and how can I learn from this place...answering these questions has been so helpful for me to own the season Jesus has me in right now. 

Another thing that has been bouncing around in my mind is the idea of being known by others, or being vulnerable with each other. Why is it important, why do we crave it, why is it scary...all these things have been swimming in my brain, and I am not sure where I have landed yet, but it has been so exciting to discuss this with others. The idea of being vulnerable is what has inspired these coffee dates, I want to identify with others, and I want to know others. I want others to feel identified with and to know with certainty they are not alone. I love this verse and asked Madison to add it to the button for this coffee date, "We have spoken freely to you...our heart is wide open." 2 Corinthians 6:11. This is my goal - to have my heart wide open to you as readers, not to talk about how awesome I am, but so you can see the work of the Lord and how he does great and mighty things in and through his children.

2corinthians611
"Be messy, because it allows others to be messy" - Haley Morgan. I have said it before, and I will say it again. I pray often that no one comes to this online space and leaves thinking I have this awesome perfect life devoid of problems. I want to share my "mess" with you, with wisdom and discernment, in order to allow space for others to see Jesus more clearly and to know him more. 

The goal is Jesus, pushing others to Jesus, pursuing Jesus, making his name known. It is all about him. So in light of that, how are you doing today? How is your heart? What areas in your life could use some light brought to them? What is bringing you joy? Where does the Lord have you right now? How are you owning that place?

It is not too late to start fresh. It is not too late to seek Jesus in whatever place you are in, and to strive to own that circumstance. It is not too late to pursue the lesson the Lord has for you in this situation, and it is not too late to surrender to his grace, authority and will for you. IT IS NOT TOO LATE. Rest in that sweet friend! 

Thanks to every single person linking up today! You all bring me such joy, and this online community blows me away. If you could please grab the button below and include it in your post. Also, comment on at least two other blogger's posts, we want to foster community so encourage another blogger who is opening up! Also use #acoffeedate on Twitter and Instagram so we can all follow each other!! Finally, I would love to pray for you, so please comment how I can be lifting you up in the comment section or shoot me an email at rach.elizabeth.915@gmail.com. I would love to connect with you!



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





Currently...

I am super excited about this post today! My sweet new blog friend Jenna emailed me about this link up last week and I knew I wanted to jump in. So today I am linking up and sharing about my life currently...what I am currently cooking, reading, wearing, loving, and anticipating!

COOKING- This should not come as a surprise to anyone. I have started cooking through the book Bread & Wine, by Shauna Niequist, and am loving it. So far I have tackled 6 of the 29 recipes, and last night I made RISOTTO! Major fist pump after accomplishing that! I stirred that rice for 40 minutes and had to do a 20 minute yoga stretch routine for back pain after dinner...but it was so worth it. The house smelled amazing, and the risotto was delicious. I have also made Dark Chocolate Sea Salted Toffee, Goat Cheese Biscuits, and up next is a Simple Cassoulet! 

I also tried a recipe (not from the book) for homemade cilantro pesto a few weeks back. We marinated some shrimp in the pesto and then grilled them and served them over creamy pasta shells. I will be sharing this recipe on Friday! So stay tuned. 

READING - Well, thanks to another precious blog friend, Holly, who sent me this book in the mail... I am currently reading through Jen Hatmaker's book, "Seven". And I am loving it. I am only two chapters in, as I just started it over the weekend, but it is such a humbling and eye opening read. I have been so convicted of the excess that I chase after in my life, and have been reminded that less is often more. I cannot wait to read more of this honest and raw book. Have you read this book? What did you think? 

WEARING - Ah it is transition time in clothes. Some days it feels like Spring, others it is 86 degrees outside. So I have been wearings lots of dresses lately...long maxi skirts with flowing tanks, cotton knee length dresses, and sandals...every day. I am eagerly awaiting my 4th StitchFix box just to arrive just a few days before Ben and I leave for our anniversary beach trip! I am hoping that these are some great spring/summer pieces in the box that I can add to my wardrobe! What are your go to Spring pieces? I would have to say mine are sandals, maxi skirts and cotton tanks/tees!

LOVING - Yoga. I just started trying it out this week per the suggestion of my friend Nikki. And I LOVE it. I have always been more of a runner, but since Ben and I have been married I have hardly run once...I have not really gained weight but I miss being active, and running just has not been happening. So I started watching yoga videos on Youtube, and I am in love. One day in and I am sore in the good kind of way. I am excited to learn more and get better at this type of exercise. 

Also, I am LOVING design. I am not a professional, or even close to calling myself a graphic designer. But I have had so much fun lately playing around in Photoshop, creating unique blog designs for others, and making digital prints! I think I got a degree in the wrong thing...haha just kidding. But really, I have found such joy in creating things, and being creative in designing different logos, prints and blog templates. I am eager to take some online design classes in the days ahead to learn even more. Here are a couple prints I have done for some friends lately!

Check out some of my latest Blog Designs:

Last thing I am loving...my new Swiffer Wet Jet mop! Lame, I know. But we have not had a mop this entire first year of marriage... gross right? Well Monday night we finally purchased this little guy, and I am in heaven. I have mopped every hardwood surface in our home...twice. :) I love the feeling it gives me to have a clean and tidy home, and I won't complain about the fresh scent either. Swiffer for the win! 

And finally last but not least...

ANTICIPATING - This should come as no shocker but I speak for Ben and I both when I say we are really anticipating getting our sweet little puppy. We will be bringing her home June 2nd on the way home from our beach trip...and we are giddy with excitement. We have almost everything we need for when she comes home...bed, kennel, toys, shampoo, treats, bones, leash and collar...we have got it all. We are hoping to get updated pictures of our little Piper this week or next! I am so excited to be a fur mama to our little girl...call me cheesy but this is such a big step for us!

I am also anticipating my first every Influence Network class. I finally took the plunge and joined yesterday after receiving an email from Jenni about the member's downloads this month (access to an interview with Shauna Niequist eekk!). I will be taking a class on creative ways to grow online community! I cannot wait to compare notes with Jenni after the course, and look forward to be a member of the awesome network of women seeking after Jesus! Are you a part of the Influence Network?

Lastly, of course I am anticipating our on year anniversary! It has been the greatest joy of my life to be married to Ben and get to show the world the beauty of the Gospel through our marriage. It has been sanctifying, hard, and glorious all wrapped into one package. I am grateful for a weekend away just the two of us to relax and enjoy each other while catching some rays on the beach! Oh how I love this man of mine!

Thanks for the fun link up Jenna! And Happy Hump Day everyone!


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

Lessons from a Wife of a PhD Student


I have a confession to make. A few mornings back I was so grumpy towards my husband. I was selfish, and the opposite of supportive and gracious towards him. Why? Well the short answer is that I was frustrated that he has been working on the same paper for quite awhile. I did not understand why he could not just buckle down and finish the paper, so that we could have more time together, he could get better sleep, and not feel defeated when he was home.

A little background... I got a degree in communication, an entire department committed to setting short and long term goals. Set goals. Meet goals. Set more goals. Meet more goals. And so on and so on. However, studying to obtain a PhD in Civil Engineering could not be more different. It is tedious, ongoing, and slow. That is just part of the package deal...and I have had the hardest time in supporting my husband in this calling. I do not do slow, I struggle with methodical and tedious, and anything ongoing causes me stress. 

My selfishness however, goes much deeper than just frustration towards a paper that happens to be taking a few weeks to complete. There is a deeper heart issue taking place; a sin that I have since begun to see needs to be brought to light. As I have pondered that morning, my attitude, and heart these verses have come to mind.

"An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who brings shame is like rottenness in his bones." Proverbs 12:4

"A continual dripping on a rainy day and a quarrelsome wife are alike..." Proverbs 27:15

"When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent." Proverbs 10:19

"A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back." Proverbs 29:11

"She does him good and not harm, all the days of her life." Proverbs 31:12

"...and let the wife see that she respects her husband." Ephesians 5:33

Wow. Each of these verses seem like a cold bucket of water being dumped over my head. I had become self consumed in my relationship with my husband. It was all about me, my irritation, my need for more time with him, my lack of understanding of the time commitment his degree requires. Rather than uplifting and supporting him, whether I understood the demands of his job or not, I chose to do the opposite. I found myself tuning him out as he laid his burdens and feelings of defeat before me. I would complain about how consumed he has been with this paper. I was that continual dripping, that rottenness to his bones. I was giving full vent to my spirit, using many words to express my own frustrations without thinking for a second how my word would impact my husband's heart as he absorbed the full blow of my irritation. 

So why am I sharing this? Because I know I am not the only selfish wife in the world. I know some of you can relate to this realization that you are expecting your husband to serve you at all times, and find yourself not truly considering his needs. I am sharing my struggle with you because I know I am not alone, and because there is freedom in honesty. There is freedom in transparency and vulnerability. 

Satan desires nothing more than to get us entirely focused on ourselves. When we become self absorbed, he is overjoyed! He has us exactly where he wants us, and when we are in this place we will begin to spiral down into a deep self consumed pit at an alarmingly fast pace before we even know what has happened. 

So as I am fighting to pull myself out of this pit, and bring this struggle fully into the light here are things I know are true. 

I am called to respect my husband, to be his helper,and  to support him. I am called to speak life into his heart and not bring rottenness to his bones. I am called to lay my frustrations aside and carry his. I am called to silence my own irritations and pick up his. Does this mean I am a doormat? NO! This means I am a partner in a covenant relationship, in which we bear one another's burdens and love each other wholeheartedly with SELFLESSNESS. I desire to bring good to my husband and to lighten his load, so I am choosing to rely on the Holy Spirit to give me the ability to hold back my words quietly and to give me the strength to lovingly support my husband in his pursuit of a PhD. 

I have recently found deep pleasure in reading some of the Puritan Prayers found in The Valley of Vision book...I think that they are a beautiful literary depiction of my sinful heart. They remind my of the poetic yet emotional writing style of David in the Psalms. Read this prayer in light of this post, and be filled with hope found in the grace of our Heavenly Father. 

"O God, may Your Spirit speak in me that I may speak to You. I have no merit, let the merit of Jesus stand for me. I am undeserving, but I look to Your tender mercy. I am full of infirmities, wants, sin; You are full of grace.
I confess my sin, my frequent sin, my wilful sin; all my powers of body and soul are defiled: a fountain of pollution is deep within my nature. There are chambers of foul images within my being; I have gone from one odious room to another, walked in a no-man's-land of dangerous imaginations, pried into the secrets of my fallen nature.
I am utterly ashamed that I am what I am in myself; I have no green shoot in me nor fruit, but thorns and thistles; I am a fading leaf that the wind drives away; I live bare and barren as a winter tree, unprofitable, fit to be hewn down and burnt. Lord, do You have mercy on me?
You have struck a heavy blow at my pride, at the false god of self, and I lie in pieces before You. But You have given me another master and lord, Your Son, Jesus, and now my heart is turned towards holiness, my life speeds as an arrow from a bow towards complete obedience to You. Help me in all my doings to put down sin and to humble pride. Save me from the love of the world and the pride of life, from everything that is natural to fallen man, and let Christ's nature be seen in me day by day. Grant me grace to bear Your will without repining, and delight to be not only chiselled, squared, or fashioned, but separated from the old rock where I have been embedded so long, and lifted from the quarry to the upper air, where I may be built in Christ for ever." 

Also, in other unrelated news...WE ARE GETTING A PUPPY! Ben and I could not be more excited to add a little fur baby to our family of two. We were notified from the breeders we had chosen to go with a few days ago that a litter had been born...5 little girls and two boys. We will be able to pick up our little girl, who we will be naming Piper, on June 2nd. She is a cockapoo pup, a mix between a cocker spaniel and a poodle, and a whole lot of adorable. Cannot wait to share more with you and introduce our little Piper girl to you all very soon!



Happy Happy Monday!

BLOGLOVIN' // INSTAGRAM // TWITTER // PINTEREST // FACEBOOK 


A Harvest of Blessing

Submission in Marriage

I have said this a lot lately but I am going to say it again, I want to make sure that the way I am handling this blog never leads a reader to think, "Man, this girl has got it all together." I want this to be a place of honesty, because to be honest is to be vulnerable. So while this blog is not my journal by any means, I do want to be careful that I do not turn this space into a place for me create a false reality for myself.

So today, let's talk about submission in marriage. 

Most of us have all heard this verse, "Wives submit to your husbands, as to the Lord." Ephesians 5:22 I think that women often find themselves subconsciously resenting this verse. Many wives interpret this as the Lord saying we are lesser than the man. He is the king and we are the servant, submitting to his every command and wish. Can I tell you though, this is not what we are called to as wives. 

The Lord has placed the man in the role as the head. He is the leader, and the stronger one, but that is not why we submit to him. We submit to our husbands because they serve as an earthly picture of our Heavenly Father. We love, serve, submit, and care for our husbands because we have been redeemed by a gracious Savior and are called a child of God despite our own sinfulness. So we submit to our husbands as we would if our husband was Jesus Christ himself. That changes things doesn't it? We can no longer base our submission on our husband's performance, because we are sinners who have fallen short of the Lord's grace yet we still receive that grace...so we find ourselves longing to lovingly submit to the one who represents undeserved grace.

Since I am being honest here, this is so hard! I love being married to Ben. Marriage has been the greatest gift and blessing I have ever been given. Yet it has been the most sanctifying experience of my life! Submission was something I began to resent in the early months of our marriage. Who was my husband to tell me if I was gossiping, or having a bad attitude? Who was he to make me talk out our conflict when all I wanted to do was go to sleep?...well he is my established leader, my head, and he is called in that same passage in Ephesians to mirror Christ as He sanctifies his bride. So he is called to do those things by Jesus Christ. 

WOW. 

So I began to realize I had no right to not submit...If I wanted to walk in obedience with the Lord then I must, no matter what, submit to my husband. Even when I feel he doesn't deserve it. If I look for the Gospel in my marriage through the practice of submission this is what I find... I am a sinner, my husband is also a sinner. We are guaranteed to have conflict because of this fact. However, Jesus Christ loved me despite my constant sinfulness, and He calls me his own even when I don't deserve it. Jesus does not hold my wrongs over my head or silently punish me for my mistakes. Marriage is to be a picture to the world of unconditional love, love that is not based on emotion or who is right. So I am to submit to my husband not because I am lesser, or a servant, but because I want the Gospel to be seen in my marriage. I want our marriage to look more like my relationship with Jesus. 

So while there have been moments I have looked my husband in the eye and told him I did not want to submit to his leadership (true story), I am constantly reminded of the unrelenting love of our Father when Ben so graciously deals with my sin in love and tenderness. 



Marriage means sanctification. Sanctification means difficulty. Think about gold that must go through the fire in order that all impurities can be removed...so that the gold may be sanctified. Then in order for the fine metal to be transformed into precious jewelry, it must be bent, hammered, beaten even into the final product. So it goes with marriage. It is full of joy, and full of sanctification. I am thankful that the Lord is patient with his children and that he does not measure us by what we do right or wrong. His grace abounds.

Check out this other great read on marriage/submission- 5 Admirable Traits of an Early Church Marriage

Much Love,

Rachel

Wedding Bliss + Instagram Recap

Happy Monday sweet friends!! :) I hope your weekend was full of rest and sweet springtime memories made. Ours certainly was. I feel as though this week was such a whirlwind, but the weekend was so sweet, and just a ton of fun. I love being transparent with you guys and letting you into my world. So I thought I would do a little Instagram recap and share about some of our weekend happenings today!


1. Chocolate Chip Muffins + food photography practice. I cannot wait to share this yummy recipe with you all TOMORROW. Stay tuned. 

2. I was so surprised to receive this calligraphy set in the mail from Ben's grandmother. She reads my blog regularly and I know she saw my 101 in 1001 list which has #75- Teach myself calligraphy. I am so excited to use this kit and teach myself to write in calligraphy. Thanks Nana, I will be calling you soon. You are so sweet to think of me! Love You!!

3. Read my post about all that I learned from my sweet Grammy here that you may have missed last week. She was a joy to know and love. Miss her everyday! 

4. I have started following along with She Reads Truth, and I am LOVING it. So sweet to tap into such a large community of Christ seeking women. 

5. Have you guys met my sweet friend Valerie? Go check out this sweet lady and her amazing talent in the design department. She is so gifted, and a joy to follow! This print it FREE to print over on her blog! And can be used as your desktop background. I hung this on our fridge...so gorgeous!

6. Crusty Bread- find the recipe here. This is a fool proof recipe and so yummy. You do not have to kneed it or anything. Just let it rise over night and bake in a cast iron dutch oven. Yummy, and so pretty.

7. Best part of my weekend was watching this friend and mentor of mine walk down the aisle and become a wife. She has taught me how to truly pursue Jesus Christ with everything that I am. 

8. Isn't she the most beautiful bride? Oh what a glorious day Saturday was. She worked so hard to make sure every guest was pointed to Jesus and not her, her dress, or her decorations. It was amazing. We all left loving Jesus more and feeling overjoyed to be called his child. 

9. Documentation that my good looking husband was in attendance at the wedding. Weddings always remind me of our special day almost one year ago (ah almost a year? WHAT?!!). It is always so much fun to reflect on that special time.

So now to share a little more of my sweet friend's wedding. The wedding and reception took place at her grandparents home, which is stunning. They worked so hard to build this house and it shows, from the handmade (by her grandfather himself) cedar planks inside to the lovely garden and courtyard in the back, it is nothing but a breathtaking home. Saturday was sunny, with a nice breeze, and perfect for a wedding.



Such a gorgeous wedding! Ben and I spent all day Sunday working on planting some plants on our porch!! YAY for completing #5 on my 101 in 1001 list. Tune in to Instagram for some more picture of our lovely little plant babies! 

Also, it is time to announce the winner of the Atlas Print by The Rustic Orange Etsy Shop! And the winner is Laura Kathleen! Hope you enjoy this print in your bedroom, or in your parents room for you at their house! I will be emailing you soon for shipping information! Thank you to everyone who participated in the giveaway! I will be hosting a BIG group giveaway with some INCREDIBLE goodies in a few weeks so be on the lookout!


How was your weekend?

Much Love, 

Rachel