thoughts

Monday Funday

This weekend sort of went the opposite of the way I had planned it. We had a run in with a previous owner of our apartment late Saturday night which resulted in a visit from a cop, and staying up until after 1 am. Then Sunday included an unexpected trip to my in laws house 2 and half hours away to get some things taken care of for Ben before he leaves for Texas on business this week...basically the weekend got turned on it's head and all my plans went out the window. 

So no blog post scheduled for today, no design projects wrapped up, no shop orders packaged and ready to go out, and my house looks like it was hit by a hurricane. 

BUT my mantra this year has been Thriving over Surviving, so that is what I am doing. Laundry is going, coffee is in my hands, and the SUN IS SHINING after a week of dreary clouds and rain. I refuse to let my life get lost in chasing perfection, plans, and structure. This weekend was such a reminder for me that I must hold loosely to my plans and embrace what comes with joy and gusto! Grab those curve balls and make some memories with those bad boys!!

I encourage you to rest today and not find yourself caught up in a case of the Mondays, and to encourage that I leave you with this quote...

"What if you wake up some day and you are 65, or 75, and you never got your memoir or novel written; or you didn't go swimming in warm pools and oceans all those years because your thighs were jiggly and because you had a nice big comfortable tummy; or you were just so strung out on perfectionism and people-pleasing that you forgot to have a big juicy creative life, of imagination and radical silliness and staring off into space like when you were a kid? It's going to break your heart. Don't let this happen." -Anne Lamott 

When Fear Leads to Freedom

"You are often paralyzed by fear. Instead of taking action on the things that keep pulling at your heart, you get out your phone and look at what other people are doing..." - Lara Casey, Make It Happen

These feelings were different than the "blogging burn out" so many talk about and warn against. No, after many days, weeks, and months of trying to figure out why in the world I could not write consistently, I have come to this realization. The uneasiness, the lack of motivation, the doubt, the questions...these seemed to be the Holy Spirit pulling on my heart. 

The past few weeks, well months really, if I am being honest, I have felt paralyzed when it comes to writing. I am sure many of you noticed I have been inconsistent with my posting and in and out here on the blog. I have had the hardest time articulating what has been happening within my heart and mind. For so long, I have been tormented with one question.

WHAT IS THE POINT OF MY BLOG? 

This question (and my inability to answer it) has haunted me. In a fearful panic, I began chasing after anything and everything to make my blog feel put together and official. I would be a "cooking/helpful tips" blog...or no, I could be a "handmade/small business" blog...or wait, maybe I could be a "design/inspiration" blog. Yet, still I was uneasy, refusing to sit down and write out my thoughts for days on end because, honestly, I did not know what to say. I could not move forward into those "things that keep pulling at my heart" as Lara Casey says in her new book, Make it Happen

These feelings were different than the "blogging burn out" so many talk about and warn against. No, after many days, weeks, and months of trying to figure out why in the world I could not write consistently, I have come to this realization. The uneasiness, the lack of motivation, the doubt, the questions...these seemed to be the Holy Spirit pulling on my heart. 

I began to see that I needed to step away and critically think through the purpose of my blog and presence on the Internet before I could move forward. As I have spent concentrated time thinking this through and talking with my husband and several others, here are a few things I have found to be true...

First, I struggle with desiring affirmation from others, so, naturally, in this online world that is closely affiliated with likes, followers, stats, and page views, I tend to fall into my flesh and sin.

First, I struggle with desiring affirmation from others, so, naturally, in this online world that is closely affiliated with likes, followers, stats, and page views, I tend to fall into my flesh and sin.

I have realized I need to posture my blog in such a way that doesn't allow me to feed that affirmation-craving beast hidden deep within me. I love reading how-to blogs, design blogs, food blogs, and business blogs, yet I have seen that, if Oh Simple Thoughts were solely one of these blogs, I would be able to justify my selfish desire for more followers, more likes, higher stats, and more page views...those are part of the business blog world, after all, right? This is a necessary part of these blogs, so it is not bad in itself, yet it feeds a sin in me with which I struggle. So lesson learned, I cannot allow my blog to become driven by numbers, or I will undoubtedly fall into a pattern that I see as unhealthy for my spiritual, emotional, and mental well being. 

Second, I have realized that my online and offline life must be balanced in a healthy way and that my offline life needs to take first priority. 

Community is a big buzz word online and in real life. We all desire to experience community, be in community, and share community with others. Yet, true community is about life on life. It is messy and inconvenient at times, and, most importantly, true community takes away our ability to have total control. This is scary, but necessary, to experience deep, real, family-like community. It is about people showing up unannounced and seeing our messy houses, imperfect marriages, and our sin...community has to see it all in order to truly be what it is, a family. 

When it comes to blogging and the internet, I often see the opposite of this. We say we are pursuing online community, yet, in reality, everything is under our total control. We dictate when we show up and when we shut the door, we filter what is put out there, we edit our words and images to fit our "brands". So while I believe elements of community can exist online, I am not sure that true Biblical community can ever fully be experienced on the Internet alone. 

Don't get me wrong. I have been blessed to meet so many amazing and inspirational women through the internet (honestly, some of my very best friends), yet I am learning something very important about online community....it is, by default, limited. This is why I feel my biggest priority must be placed on my physical community and then on my online community. 

Yet, true community is about life on life. It is messy and inconvenient at times, and, most importantly, true community takes away our ability to have total control. This is scary, but necessary, to experience deep, real, family-like community. It is about people showing up unannounced and seeing our messy houses, imperfect marriages, and our sin...community has to see it all in order to truly be what it is, a family. 

Finally, I have learned that my deep desire is to write, blog, instagram, tweet, share, and all the other social verb words for Jesus' name. 

Oh Simple Thoughts is about Jesus. I do not want it to be about me or my amazing recipes or my perfect marriage or my great fashion sense or my successful small business. Can I let you in on a little secret? None of those things exist...so why would I make an entire blog about fake things? I mess up in the kitchen on a regular basis. I fight with my husband and sin against him. I struggle to prevent my love for fashion and handmade business from mushrooming into discontentment and materialism. I struggle to keep my small business surrendered to the will of Jesus. I am soo far from perfect, and that is what Oh Simple Thoughts is about. 

This blog is a place to share real life. The good, the inspiring, the messy, the convicting, the challenging, and, sometimes, the stylish, yummy, and handmade. 

There has been a lot of learning happening within my heart the past month, but now I am here. I am ready to commit myself to this space and to show up here regularly, for the Lord's glory. I will be posting only 3 times a week and focusing on our community here in Starkville with more of my free time. But I am here friends, and I am eager to see the Lord make much of himself here at Oh Simple Thoughts. 

I have a heart so see the Internet used as a tool to bring glory to the Lord, and want to encourage others who have an online presence to consider the same thing. Will you join me tonight for my second #ohsimplechat on Twitter to talk about these things? I will be hanging out asking some questions for whoever wants to join in from 7-8pm CST tonight. 


To My Dear Readers - A Letter of Honesty & Changes

So, I have had so many things swirling around in my heart and mind lately in regards to this little blog. I have taken a long time to stop, ponder, and really work through my feelings and thoughts the past few months. So, I wanted to take a few minutes to be very honest with you and share my heart. I love Oh Simple Thoughts. This blog means so much to me and has served to mold and shape me in so many ways since it's beginning. This space has allowed me to share my life and passions with so many people I may never meet face to face, and that is amazing. I have been doing this a little over two years now and cannot express the joy that this hobby brings me.

Don't worry...this is not my "I am quitting the Internet post".

I began blogging to document mine and Ben's life together, but quickly this space grew into something so much bigger. It has become a place for me to share my passions for food and handmade goods and to share openly and honestly about how the Lord is shaping me and teaching me. 

However, lately I have been coming to this blog worn down, empty and lacking the words and inspiration I have had in the past. I have been spinning in a million directions and feeling as if I am being pulled in a human tug of war match. I have felt inadequate, overwhelmed, and honestly like a disappointment. I have found myself sinking in the notion that "blogging success" must be quantified by x, y, and z...when in all honesty I am not sure x, y, and z are what I want this blog to be about. 

I went through a season of being totally consumed with the numbers, the stats, the profitability, and the followers of my blog...when, in all reality, none of these things make my blog successful in my book. I blog because I love sharing my life with you as my readers. I read other blogs because of the writer's honesty and life-giving words they share. I desire to grow this blog in order to see my mission of encouraging women to use their unique gifts for the Lord embraced by more readers. I truly want the Lord to bring more and more eyes to this little blog...but not at the expense of my sanity. 

When I stress about likes on Instagram, Twitter followers, page views, sponsors, comments, and how much money I am making...my blog is no longer accomplishing the goal for which it was created. When these things become my focus, then my blog has become about my own pride and my own vanity. I wrongly make this space all about me, myself, and I...and y'all, that is just not why I set out to write. 

So I have seen that the Internet can be such a life giving place, but that comes with boundaries and a balance. The constant pull to pour over Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Bloglovin' day after day has drained me, and the Lord has made it very clear this is not what he is calling Oh Simple Thoughts to (though he may be calling you and your blog to that! Praise the Lord! I am behind you, and praying alongside you and cheering you on!). I naturally struggle to say no to good things...and blogging, and sponsorship, and promoting bloggers we believe in are all GOOD THINGS! However...I am in desperate need of saying YES to just a few really great things right now. 

I have just launched my Etsy shop, Oh Simple Joys, and have such fresh vision for this store. I have so many ideas and awesome products that will be rolling out in the months ahead, and I want to be able to focus my time and energy wholeheartedly in that venture. Also, Ben and I are part of new church plant that is wading through so many big, exciting changes...changes that require me to be fully present in our church member's lives on a daily basis. And when it comes down to it, I want to be living a full life, so that I can share that fullness with others virtually and in real life. The Lord fills me so that I can pour more out, and when I am not at a place of fullness or thriving, I cannot use this blog the way I feel the Lord desires me to. 

I am saying all this to say, I am stepping back, taking some deep breaths, and setting out to find myself again in a place of thriving. I have eluded to little changes and feeling overwhelmed here and there the past few months, but here I am laying it all out and truly walking in the way I feel the Lord calling me to walk right now.

I will be changing my sponsorships to fit what I feel the Lord is asking of me. I will still offer sponsorship spots, however they will no longer include things such as tweets, pins from pinterest, and the like. They will simply be a sidebar ad, plain and simple. I will do one post a month on all my sponsors, and I will keep offering this option as long as interest in the spot is around. For all current sponsors things will remain the same and the new sponsorship spots will be available beginning January 1st, 2015. There will no longer be monthly giveaways, just simply the occasional collab giveaway and giveaways to support businesses I believe in. I hope this all makes sense.

Nothing will change for sponsors that are lined up right now; everything will change in January. I am hoping this can be one little step I am able to take toward a place of refreshment, fullness, and thriving. I am saying

no

to some really awesome things in order to say

yes

to hopefully even better things. This may not make sense, but all I can say is that I am fully convinced this is what the Lord is asking of me, and so, therefore, I am walking in obedience to his calling as best I know how.

I praise the Lord for each of you that comes to this place and reads my words, comments, and follows along with our life. I pray you stick around, bear with me, and continue to seek out Christ in this space!

-Rachel

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Stepping Away, Recharging, and Being Present

I want to begin this post by saying how much I love this space. I love my little blog where I can share my thoughts, recipes, and stories with so many of you. I love the sweet friendships I have made through being a blogger and I love the creative outlet that this blog is for me 90 % of the time. I truly love all of those things.

However, there is that other 10% that I find myself plagued by guilt because I cannot reply to every comment, email, and shout out. I am distressed and overwhelmed because I am not scheduling posts as often as I want, falling through on commitments left and right...and honestly just defeated. I have been dwelling in that 10% this past weekend/week. To the point that it was affecting my mood and relationships around me. 

It is not anyone's fault really, but I am seeing that too much of a good thing can sometimes be a bad thing. When this little blog begins to pull me away from family, friends, and my community here so that I can "keep up" with posts, and comments, and reading blogs...it is time for me to step back. And when this space begins to cause me anxiety and constant feelings of guilt, it is time for me to step back, reevaluate and come back after a period away. Being present and invested where the Lord has me and my husband is so important. Starkville, MS and the community here is what I am called to first and foremost...and I have to remember that. 

Don't worry, I am not quitting the internet by any means. I will still be blogging, and often I hope! But I am going to be taking the rest of this week to spend time in the present, and recharge. I will be meeting up with some sweet blog friends for the Renew Blog Retreat in Gatlinburg on Friday and spending the weekend resting and being present with some awesome ladies! 

So just know that I haven't fallen off the face of the earth, I love each and every one of you that come to this blog time and time again to read my words, and I am just stepping back to recharge and spend some time being present with my friends and family in hopes of returning with a renewed heart and mind next week! 

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On Grocery Shopping & My Need for Control

Once a week I take time to plan out meals for my little family of two. I cook every night of the week except for Sunday night, this is our designated "out to eat" night. I usually am making some dish for our Tuesday small group meal, and I try to have food stocked for breakfasts and lunches as well...oh and I am making anywhere from 15-20 loaves of sourdough bread right now and selling them from home.

A huge portion of my blog is dedicated to lovely recipes, and food inspiration. I love to cook...but can I let you guys in on a little secret? If I had to identify one thing that causes me more anxiety, stress, and tears since becoming a wife...it would be grocery shopping. 

And here is why...

I love the grocery store. I hate budgets. I find that as I am meandering around the store picking out my veggies, and ingredients for my weekly meals, I begin to get anxious. As I watch my calculator total climb higher and higher to our budgeted number my hands begin to sweat and my heart races...I start over thinking what is in my cart and trying to decide if I should put things back. I begin freaking out if I go over our budgeted number and still have 3 more items left to purchase...

This all boils down to something much deeper than hating budgets. I hate being out of control, and I hate feeling constrained by a budget, and I hate feeling as if I do not have "enough". Silly isn't it? But I really bet some of you can relate. 

When I feel like our pantry is getting bare but I know I cannot simply run to the store and grab more because of our budget I feel so uneasy. I lack the ability to rest in the provision of the Lord and trust that He will (as He always has) provide for our needs. 

Don't get me wrong, we have plenty. We always have food in our fridge and pantry, we have never gone without. What I am saying is that I struggle to rest in the Lord, I desire to always have what I quantify as enough and really have to fight against this consumer mindset of always needing more to make me feel secure and settled. 

I have been meditating heavily on this verse,

"And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:19

I have found such comfort in remembering that the Lord promises to provide...this may not always mean I will have the money for the organic or seasonal food kick I want to go on, or that I cannot afford to buy everything fair trade and directly from local farmers like I want...but the Lord will sustain and provide according to who He is, and He is faithful. 

Do you struggle to rest in the promises of the Lord's provision? How so? 

Against the Grain.

Ben and I walked up the driveway toward the quirky and quaint house to be greeted with the delicious aroma of grilled sausages. We walked inside and were warmly welcomed in by our pastor and his wife. Instantly, everything slowed down. Phones were away, people were coming in unannounced to join for dinner, and we were all just happy to be together. As we gathered around the table with drinks, and large glass milk jars filled with cold water, I was overwhelmed with what I was feeling at that table...time slowed. We sat around the table for hours, talking, laughing, processing spiritual matters together. It was wonderful. We moved from dinner to dessert to coffee, and still lingered. Life seemed so slow while we were within the walls of that home. Ben and I left eventually, and though it was late, we felt so filled, rested, and encouraged. A slower way of life was achieved for a short time, around a table with people we love. 

Heavy on my mind lately has been the idea of slowing down. Everything in our culture screams for us to rush from one thing to the next...we should always be thinking not just steps but years ahead or else we are behind. I find myself feeling as if I am drowning, perpetually behind, and unable to truly rest when I am running this race...so this rushed way of life has been put on the hot seat. I have been mulling on why we live this way, and why we subject ourselves to so much stress and anxiety by constantly trying to be ahead, rushing from point A in order to get to point B before someone else.


I long for slow. I long to live a life in which time does not dominate every aspect of my life. I long for more moments like we experienced around that table in our pastor's home. 

I have quickly realized that this is not a way of life that will naturally happen. It takes diligence, and intention. It takes selflessness, and flexibility, and it takes a willingness to create space for others (which is not a natural behavior, but a learned one). So while I still feel very clueless about how to create this type of space for others, I do know that my quest for a slower life is something that needs to happen. The Lord desires for his children to rest, and to daily interact with one another. If I am playing the rushing game, I am so much more likely to shut the door at the end of the day and want to hole up with Ben forgetting everything and everyone outside of our little house. However, when I intentionally pursue slow, when I intentionally go against the grain, I am able to open our doors, to breathe deeply, and to leave dishes dirty in order to talk with friends around the table just a little longer. 

So all this to say, I am learning. Learning how to truly be hospitable by the Lord's standards and not by the standards of Pinterest, Southern Living or Martha Stewart. Learning that purposeful rituals like making homemade bread, cooking slow dinners, and putting away my phone for long periods of time help me to breathe deeply of the life happening around me here and now, and it has been beautiful. Life is rich, and I do not want to miss it because I am living my life in survival mode. 

DON'T FORGET WEDNESDAY IS THE BREAD & WINE PROJECT LINK UP! JOIN US HERE WITH YOUR RECIPE, AND MEET SOME FUN NEW FRIENDS! HOPE TO SEE YOU THERE! This week's prompt is- How do you slow down when it comes to the food you feed your family, and the time you spend with others in your home? 

Community Brew #3 - Thoughts on Rest

It is time yet again for Community Brew! So excited to create space for all your ladies to share your hearts and lives with one another. Most of you know this by now but if you are new, Madison and I are the hosts of this little monthly get together! 
Madison of The Wetherills Say I Do // Rachel of Oh Simple Thoughts 

Each month we have a co-host as well! Some months we post topics and others will be a free topic to talk about whatever has been on your heart. There is only one rule to what you post...this link up is a place for vulnerability. So whatever you write about, we hope that it helps us to get to know you better and for us all to grow in fellowship and our walk with the Lord.


This month was a free topic month so we are excited to read about what the Lord has been teaching you and doing in your hearts and lives. Before I  dive into my post here is our lovely co host for this month. Christin of Quirky Anthems. She is a super awesome gal and has a heart for the Gospel. She loves coffee as much as I do (which is big) and even as her own coffee business with her husband and a few others called Sweet Aroma Coffee (you should all check them out!). 

I'm Christin Eastman and I'm so excited to co-host with my sweet friends, Madison and Rachel! I started Sweet Aroma Coffee in October 2013 after I'd traveled around the world on an 11 month mission trip called The World Race. The brokenness I experienced in each country was unlike anything I'd ever encountered. During this time, the Lord planted a dream in my heart of starting a coffee company that would fund ministries who work with survivors of sex trafficking. Sweet Aroma Coffee raises awareness through social media and by partnering with folks who have a heart to see the captives set free. We share about our monthly coffee subscription at Sweetaromacoffee.org and we donate 36% of the gross profit to ministries working with sex trafficking victims in Kenya and The Philippines. I blog about life, coffee and missions at quirkyanthems.com and I'm so looking forward to hearing everyone's heart today! Thanks so much for having me!

So we are just sitting down and chatting now, and being really honest. So friend, honestly, August has kicked my little tail thus far. It has been a whirlwind from starting a new job, Ben having some big deadlines to meet at work, Piper having surgery, and I have been working a ton on a secret project that I hope to share soon. But I have felt like I have been barely able to keep up. 

Ask anyone that knows me and they will testify to this. I have taken more naps, responded to fewer text messages/emails, and hardly had time to read my favorite blogs...It has been crazy

So in light of all the crazy, I have been thinking about the idea of rest a lot. One thing the Lord has shown me is that rest goes much further beyond the boundaries of sleeping and laying in bed. Rest encompasses much more. I found myself just trying to take another nap, or go to bed earlier, but found I was still in need of rest. (I will speak on Ben's behalf and say he was feeling the same way). We were so tired, so empty, and so overwhelmed with the feeling of being behind. 

I kinda felt like I was watching myself from above, like I wasn't really myself and unable to really live into the moments in which I found myself daily. Does this make any sense?! I pray it does. 

So what is rest? And how have I begun to practice it?

Well I know what rest is not, or at least what it is not only. Like I said, it is not only sleep, and it is not only being still. It is stopping to thank the Lord for sunlight streaming in and making rainbows on the wall. It is saying a prayer as I begin to work on a long to do list for my secret project, it is slowing down, while still working efficiently. Sometimes it has even been saying no to some things like TV, Pinterest, Instagram, and blog reading so that I can say yes to fully listening and loving my husband at night when he gets home. 

Another things that rest is...it is God ordained. Sounds crazy huh? Well one thing our pastor has pointed out to Ben and I in the past few weeks (when we have been at the end of our ropes and ready to crumble) was that the Lord instituted patterns of rest for his people. He created the Sabbath day, the Passover feast, and other yearly, monthly and weekly times of rest. Times that everything stopped and the Lord's people rested. 

So if the Lord wanted his old testament people of Israel to practice this, why would we think it would not apply to us? We are called to rest. We rest so that we can work harder for the Lord during the week. We rest so that we can pour ourselves out more fully and intentionally. Without rest and being refilled how can we pour out? We rest so that we can love well and not selfishly. 


I can think of so many times when I came home from a sleepover party in elementary school, middle school and even in high school, and was just out of my mind tired. More than likely I had stayed up way too late with friends doing silly things like prank calling the boys in our class or playing truth or dare.My mom would always say the same thing when I would come home cranky, ill and tired..."You need sleep"...I tell this story because I think this is what happens to us in life when we do not rest. We turn into that cranky and delirious middle schooler that cannot love selflessly if they wanted to because they are so sleep deprived. 

So friends, I was so discouraged last week, and so worn down. But now I feel more relaxed and at rest because I am simply stopping during the day and resting in the Lord and all he has done for us. I am working hard but trying to make time to stop and set everything aside. 

How are you doing today? How is your heart? 

Big thanks to Nikki Mckenzie Photography for these lovely shots. They are a part of her Coffee Project. Check out more of her work here




Stories.

One thing that has been heavy on my mind is the power of storytelling. I have been thinking a lot about how stories shape us as humans, and how we are all drawn to a compelling story...regardless of whether we claim to be a believer of Jesus or not. Some of you may have seen the account @humansofny on Instagram. I follow them, and have been so intrigued by the concept behind the account and people's response to it. For those of you who do not follow the account, it is basically a guy that goes around New York City, and takes people's pictures, and shares their stories. There are people from all walks of life, ages, countries, and religions...all sharing stories. And you know what? This account has more followers than any other Instagram account I follow. They receive hundreds of comments on every picture they post...why? 


Well I think this speaks to something deep within us as humans...we desire to share our stories. We long to be validated, understood, and we long to be moved by something. We want our lives to mean something, and really count for something. We are captivated by knowing the stories of others, especially when they are exciting, or are where we want to be in life. Everything about life is shaped by stories, our social media accounts capture small stories to share with others, our relationships are full of conversations that revolve around stories, we lose ourselves in books, music, and movies that tell of fascinating stories...why do stories have so much power? 

I am not sure I can really answer that question, but what I do know...is that stories awaken something deeply seeded inside our souls. They bring meaning to life. 

I fell that this is why Jesus always used stories to teach people lessons and truths. He could have easily taught lessons in a straight forward way like many did in that way, and do now, but rather he chose to tell stories. And not just any stories, Jesus chose to take things that people could relate to, a wayward son, the sower and his seed...he chose tangible things and gave them meaning beyond themselves by telling stories. 

Now, these stories caused people to cock their heads in confusion. They made people think in ways that had not before...they moved people. They stirred something up within them. 

So as I have considered this @humansofny Instagram account I have been amazed at how obvious it is that humans long for their story to be told. Don't get me wrong, that account captures alot of human depravity, and a lot of people that are working hard for themselves...but beyond all that I just have seen people. People long to live into a story that matters. 



Following this account has opened my eyes to people. They are all around, they all have stories to tell, and stories that they are trying to live into...does this make sense? As our pastor would say, "Everyone is working towards their version of the good life." Stories capture this.

So, this may seem like a post with no meaning, or maybe it has caused you to think differently as it has me. Either way, I think it is undeniable that stories have power, and have a way of allowing a connection to happen with others. So as I move forward as a blogger, I want this to be a place that stories are celebrated. I want to strive to write about everyday moments and the stories that the Lord reveals to me through moments on my front porch, or around my dinner table, or sharing a cup of coffee on our couch. I want to celebrate the gift and power of storytelling, and work on this skill of telling stories in a compelling and captivating way, that moves people closer to Jesus. 


What do you think of storytelling? 

Simple Thoughts...on Growing Up


Yesterday morning as I was getting ready for the day I found myself staring in the mirror. I began reflecting on where I am now...my style, my look, my age...just reflecting on where I have come from, and who I am. I was lost in thought, and knew I needed to get away and just write my way through this. Is that weird? I find more and more lately that writing brings me great joy, but it also brings me clarity. If I just sit down and write, I can process my thoughts, and make sense of everything swirling in my head. Today my mind has been flooded with thoughts on growing up. 

I am not old by any means, 23 is young and I realize that. However, it is crazy to reflect on the changes I have experienced in my short life. There once was a time that I straightened my hair everyday. like everyday until it was fried and straight as a board. I would apply tons of make up, and dress up my high school uniform with elaborate hair bows, tights, and statement jewelry. Then suddenly all of those practices disappeared from my life when I got to college. On the average day I would throw my hair in a baseball cap, apply chapstick, and slip on Nike shorts, a t shirt, and tennis shoes and I was good to go. Then I got married, now I find that I take time to apply makeup, but I go for a very natural and basic look. I wear lots of bold lip shades, but that is the extent of my stepping out. I curl my hair almost every day, and apply dry shampoo every other day. I dress up but in a casual, laid back fashion. Nike shorts are the exception these days, and baseball caps are for days spent at home. I am growing up.

Gone are the days of 3 am Waffle House runs, movie marathons in sorority sister's beds, girl roommates, and studying for exams. My days are now filled with hanging out with college girls, lots of coffee dates, cleaning, and meal planning. Excitement is my husband coming home early from work, and getting in bed before 10. My conversations are no longer filled with talk about boys, TV shows, and Greek life. Rather they revolve around budgeting, our future, saving money for a house, and my job in ministry. 

I am growing up. 

At some point we all have to face this reality. We cannot stay in college forever. Though some stay longer than others. We all grow up. We all change, and we all become the people the Lord calls us to become. My college freshman self would not even recognize my 23 year old self. My hair is a different color, I weigh less, and do not eat McDonald's twice a week on average, just to name a few differences. 

I have lost an aunt, grandmother and parent, gained a new father, two step brothers, and a husband. I have made great friends, and watched those friends come and go in my life just like the seasons. I have graduated from college, married my best friend, and begun to work in full time ministry. I am 23 years old, and have experienced a good bit of life, but the craziest part of growing up is learning yourself. How can this be? At 23 I should know myself better than ever right? Yet, I find that as days turn to weeks, weeks to months, and months to years, I am just now beginning to have a true understand of who I am. 

Yes, I am Rachel. I am a wife, a sister, a daughter. I know these things, this is not what I am talking about. What I mean is that at 23 years old, after living life all this time I am just now beginning to learn what makes me tick. I am just beginning to see how I operate best, what inspires me, moves me to action, and most importantly who the Lord created me to be. I am learning myself as I grow up. 

I feel as if in the past month I have only begun to scratch the surface of all this. These thoughts are just beginning to make sense in my mind...but I am seeing that who I am, as Rachel Cox, is much bigger and deeper and more complex and exciting that I ever thought. I am learning that I am creative. I am a feeler, I am easily moved by things. I feel very deeply and acutely in a way that others do not. I am expressive. I am a verbal processor. I thrive on storytelling. I desire to be an artist in the kitchen. Graphic Design excites me. I long to invest deeply in other's lives. I am learning who Rachel Cox is, and by learning this I am learning who the Lord has designed me to be, which makes me turn to him in total praise!

These are some questions that keep swirling around my brain, maybe they will trigger some stimulating thoughts/conversations for you as well. What motivates you in life? What excites you? What gifts has the Lord uniquely given you that you are unaware of? How can you use these motivations, and passions for his glory and his kingdom?

Let's get to know ourselves and what makes us tick so that we can better serve the Lord. Growing up is bittersweet, but more sweet than bitter I think. What about you? What do you think about growing up?

P.S. For any of you who may not follow on Instagram, Madison and I are hosting a coffee date on our blogs THIS FRIDAY! We would love for you to join us for a time of openness, vulnerability, and encouragement! Just write a post like you are sitting down for coffee with a friend, and link up with us Friday! 




A Harvest of Blessing

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