We are still waiting on Heidi Joy to make her appearance, my friends! At forty-one weeks and two days, our daughter Meghan (and husband Nathan) is really ready for this thing to happen! (Isn't that a perfectly round-and-big-and-wonderful belly??)
Will you please pray for a safe and easy delivery? It could be any moment...and we can hardly wait. My bags are packed and I'm ready to kiss this little one all over.
Blessings....and I'll keep y'all posted!
What do you do when the laundry, dishes, carpool and work all threaten to kill that little dream that's in your heart? I'm over at the Declare Conference blog today, sharing my thoughts.
Hop on over and visit me there!
Have a great day, Rachel
Today is my daughter Meghan's due date! Heidi Joy will be arriving any day now and we can't wait to meet her.
Will she have her mama's red hair? Or will she be dark, like her daddy? We figure this little girl's gene pool will make for a beautiful surprise.
So all this waiting has made me feel a little distracted. My phone is fully charged at all times, and never far from my person....just in case I get The Call.
And meanwhile, I'm enjoying this little thing: (a little blurry, but still). Ivy Grace turned one in May, and is now officially a toddler. She is a heart-stealer!
I love these girls so, so much. I can't even stand it. That's Ivy's mama, Lauren. She's my oldest red-head, and this has been such a special year for us. I love talking with her on the phone every day. I also love FaceTime with Ivy!
Grayson just returned from Colorado, where he guided groups up mountains with TEAM Ascend. I wasn't sure he'd want to leave the Rockies, and I have a feeling he will end up living there someday. For now, I get to enjoy him as much as I can.
Also, Gray teases me constantly. Which I secretly love.
And I'm in the editing phase of my book about Flash, and how God is full of surprises. As I write, I'm reminded of His faithfulness through difficult times, and how when you least expect it, He shows up with a reminder of His love and care.
So that's what going on around here. What's happening in your lives?? Shoot me a comment, email or tweet!
PS I will keep you posted on Meghan's baby...I just can't wait to hold that little one!
Good Monday Morning! I hope you had a great weekend. Just a quick note today to announce the winner of the "You Make Me Happy" canvas print:
The winner is Shirley, who wrote,
Wow, I love that Shirley has been part of this blog since 2009! Thank you so much...that means a whole lot to me!
Tomorrow, I'll share pictures of what's been going on in my life over the past few weeks. A little scan through my phone photos made me smile, and I'd like to share them with you!
PS Shirley, email your address to me and I'll get the print to you!
Back when I was posting Small Things, (daily tips and challenges to help you get your house in order, which I desperately miss because they mostly helped ME get my house in order), I had one about "What Lurks Beneath" the kitchen cabinets. I thought of it this week, because I had forced myself to *start* cleaning under there again. A cherry, if you will, atop the recent deep-cleaning and purging Assault on Spiders and Various Vermin.
Here is what I wrote back in 2009. It all came flooding back so vividly.
The plumbers were here yesterday to fix the showers. I was ecstatic! Finally, a shower that doesn't shoot boiling hot water out the lower spigot while ice cold water dribbles out of the showerhead! Oh, heavenly delight.
We have a long list of plumbing issues, and I thought we were going to be chipping away at the fixes, with the showers being the only things on the list for the day. I'd scrubbed the tiles and cleaned up the tubs beforehand. You know, so the plumbers would know what a great housekeeper I am.
Suddenly, I heard one plumber say to the other, "Go ahead and pull the stuff out from under the kitchen sink, and follow the line to the refrigerator through all the lower cabinets."
Everything became blurry and I felt the blood rush out of my head.
"NOOOOOOOO!" The scene went to slow motion as I sprinted to the kitchen, leaped over the counter and shoved the poor man out of the way. He didn't realize, as he opened that cabinet door, that his life was in danger!
You can't just spring, "Let's have a look-see under the kitchen sink," on a woman! You gotta give advance warning! There is no telling what perils lurk in the depths of the deep, dark space that houses the very trash of our existence. A person might dive in and never come out alive.
I saved. that man's life.
And you should have seen how fast I worked! As the plumber nursed his whiplash from being tackled, I filled an entire garbage bag of stuff that was toxic, and another with appliances (like an old coffee maker that didn't work) and miscellaneous things that took me 2 seconds to decide I would never use again.
The terror of having a perfect stranger digging through my lower cabinets was greater than my terror of dealing with the menacing spaces that I'd long ignored.
And then I issued this challenge in my post:
Today's Small Thing is to summon your courage and plumb the depths of the cabinet under your kitchen sink.
You will need to set a timer for yourself and work quickly, because any longer than, say, 10 minutes, will cause your flesh to disintegrate into chum and you will be eaten alive by horrible creatures that have been morphing off the cleaning products under there.
You might consider tying a rope around your waist and having someone ready to yank you out when the timer goes off, just for your own safety.
This is not a big, heavy duty cleaning session. Simply pull out what shouldn't be under there, maybe straighten up the containers and cleaners, if you have them, and tidy it up. It feels great to know that the jaws of death have been defeated with a small amount of courage!I
You can do it. Oh, yes you can!
I even gave 75 points toward the monthly total, which gave you, my dear readers, a chance to compete for an awesome prize.
But we aren't doing "points" anymore. Boo. And even bigger Boo is that most of us need some tangible motivation to do such a dreaded task.
So how about THIS instead? Play along with me today!
Leave me a comment, letting me know you spent several dangerous, but productive, minutes cleaning under your sink. I will randomly choose a winner to give this print to:
"Gratitude turns what you have into enough."
I don't know who said it, but it's true, isn't it? I've been consciously grateful in recent weeks - even in the midst of a brown recluse spider crisis - and it's amazing what a difference it makes.
I am calmer. I feel peaceful. I am more generous.
I washed dishes last night and found myself wishing for a nicer faucet fixture. The faucet we have is one that was going to be "temporary" until a better one would be installed. Well, that was five years ago. Because we knew it was going to be temporary, we bought the cheapest fixture we could find - hey, in a few months we'll replace it, right?
I sighed. This crappy old thing.
And then I remembered.
Running water - HOT AND COLD - water comes out of this tap. Any time I want it to. I can even have it WARM.
How many millions of people in this world wish they had a cheap, aluminum fixture that produced clean water whenever they wish? No hauling buckets, no walking a mile to a pump, no limit on how much you can consume.
And I was overcome with gratitude for the simple blessing of a faucet in my kitchen.
I love that faucet. That cheap, aluminum fixture that brings me water.
This is how I want to live. Focused on the abundance, the blessing, the provision, and the gifts that fill my life. I have so much.
Clothes to wear.
Food in the pantry.
People I love.
Blue Bell Ice Cream.
Gratitude takes what I have and makes it enough. MORE than enough.
Will you take a moment and say a prayer of thanks, today? Simply stop where you are and offer gratitude for the simple abundance that is around you. And those things you're lacking? Find a way to offer thanksgiving in the midst of it. In just the right time, and in just the right way, you'll find that God is looking out for you and will provide enough for your needs. He is the God of enough - and we experience Him when we live in gratitude.
What are you grateful for today?
Last week, Tom and I were settling into bed - he, with a scholarly book, and me, with Facebook on my phone. (No comments, please, about which of us is the brains of this operation.)
As Tom flipped the covers back, I yelped, "There's a SPIDER!"
On the bed.
A brown recluse spider.
On. The bed, y'all.
If you don't know what a brown recluse is, don't do yourself a favor by googling it. I'll just tell you . . . they are extremely reclusive, but will bite if brushed against. And the bites can cause horrid, horrid damage, and not just psychological damage.
We did not sleep well that night.
And the massive cleaning/vacuuming/spraying effort that ensued this following week has been unequaled. Every bed, piece of furniture, closet, pile of clothes, drawer and miscellaneous item in this house has been turned over, inspected and cleaned.
And while we've been at it, we've purged closets and dressers of an amazing amount of stuff.
I ask you: WHERE does stuff come from???
I dropped a Suburban-load of stuff off at a local charity, and another load will be set out for the trash pick up tomorrow.
All of this, because of one spider.
(Well, also his ten friends, two of which were behind our headboard. But let's not think about that.)
It's made me realize how small things can have huge impact for lasting change.
An encounter with a spider made us do something that should have been done long ago. "Purging and Cleaning" is perenially on my list of big goals, but somehow I never seemed to get around to it.
Apparently, I needed the proper motivation to get it accomplished.
Maybe you have a Big Goal that never gets off the "To Do" column and into the "Done" column, too? Losing weight, getting in shape, writing a book, learning a new software program, sailing around the world . . . if you're like me, you've struggled to get to the finish line.
Here are five secrets to accomplishing a big goal.
1. Be specific
In my case, I specifically wanted my house to be completely safe for my kids and grandbaby. A fuzzy goal like, "Get Organized" is too easy to put off, and too broad to make any lasting change. I needed a defined task to get me going.
Instead of "Lose Weight," try "Lose Four Pounds." Instead of "Eat Healthy," try "Make One Healthy Meal Each Week." Being specific makes you zero in on what you want to accomplish.
2. Cast a Vision
I pictured what I wanted my house to look and feel like. I imagined the joy of setting up the baby bed in the guest room, knowing it was clean and beautiful and spider-free. I let myself feel the freedom of being clutter-free . . . and when I was up to my neck in piles of stuff to sort, it helped me power through.
What will you feel like when you can run up stairs without gasping for breath? What will a size 8 dress look like on you when you lose the weight? How will it feel to get that diploma? Take some time to envision your success! Close your eyes and savor the moment.
This is the part where you take "bites of the elephant." Break your big goal into small, manageable pieces. "Today I will accomplish _______________." Focus on today's task and don't get bogged down in thinking about tomorrow's job. I find that my goals often stall because I've failed to set up a system to reach them.
Also, invest in the proper tools you need for your daily goals, and keep them handy. Nothing halts your progress like having to look for things you need to do your job.
No one can do this for you. No one can make you reach a goal unless you decide to do it. Make a decision today. Write it down or tell someone, so that you are accountable for your actions. Then you must do it.
And you CAN do it. You WILL do it. Because you are tough and strong, and made for more than mediocre living. There is an amazing YOU in there, able to take on the world.
5. Have a sense of urgency
Every goal needs a deadline. When things are left open-ended and vague, you'll never reach your destination. Notice how quickly you can clean your house just before a party? Remember cramming for a test, when you had all semester to learn the material?
Put something on your calendar: a 5k run, an event, a party, a meeting, a conference call. Then work toward being ready for it. You will be amazed at what you can finish when a deadline looms!
Our Spider Emergency reminded me that big things can truly be accomplished when we put our minds to it. So often, we let day-to-day circumstances dictate our decisions, rather than putting ourselves in control of our goals. We wish away our time, rather than simply getting up and getting after it. These five secrets will jump-start your goals and get them into the "Done" column!
Tell me: what is one specific goal you are working toward?
P.S. If one of your goals is to create a housekeeping system, here is a great post to help you do it!
As a child, I lived in Washington State, a gorgeous part of the country where people say "roof" like "rough," and rhyme "root" with "foot." When I moved to Texas at age 17, people would look at me and say things like, "you're not from around these parts, are ya, darlin"?"
I still get asked that question from time to time, even though I've spent all of my adult life here. The funny thing is, whenever I go to a northern state, I get the same question! Or sometimes, people there will comment on my "cute" southern diction!
Today, you can decide for yourself whether or not I sound Texan. I'm the guest on The Declare Conference podcast with Heather MacFadyen (God Centered Mom), and I'm talking about "Making the Most of Waiting."
Here is what Heather says in the podcast description:
During this podcast we chat about:
Rachel’s story of patience and faith in the waiting.
Her newest book project. . .”Flash the Donkey” (and why I’m not interested in owning a donkey at this time).
Reasons why God had her wait for her book dream to come true
How “you can wish away your days for better ones ahead. But you should look for the good things while waiting. God is there.”
3 tips for using blogging & social media to support your home-based business
Realizing people buy from people they like and they know.
Finding the platform you feel most comfortable connecting with others.
Share your life not just your art/product.
Decorating a gigantic hotel conference space with well-placed vignettes.
Lastly, will Flash the Donkey make an appearance at Declare? (hee hee)
I'd LOVE for you to stop over and give a listen! It's only about 20 minutes long and I had such a blast talking with Heather. Simply click on the link above to find the download. And you can find it (and all the podcast episodes) on itunes as well. It is free, by the way.
I hope you have an awesome weekend! Or should I say, "I hope Y'ALL have an awesome weekend!"
I'll let you decide if I sound Texan or not.....
It had been a long, hot summer visiting my grandparents in Nebraska and we were headed back to our home in Washington State. It was the 70's and we were a rambunctious preacher's family in hand-me-downs, driving a '68 New Yorker and pulling a trailer across the country.
No, it wasn't a fun travel trailer, but a utilitarian box on wheels to hold all our stuff. We had proudly covered the wooden sides with silver paint, and emblazoned them with bold evangelistic messages: "Jesus Saves," "One Way," and "Jesus is Coming Soon." We figured that between that and the tracts we had on hand, we'd be sparking revival at every gas station and rest stop along the way.
I'm sure we were quite a sight: crammed to the gills with 4 kids and enough stuff to sink a battleship. With no air-conditioning, and with Coleman coolers on the floor of the back seat, we kids sat with our knees tucked up under our chins for 1,600 miles. Of course, no seat belts.
As we crossed the miles for Jesus, my dad in his chopper sideburns and my mom making sandwiches in the front seat, we tried to doze in the back by taking turns leaning our sweaty heads on each other.
It was probably about in Idaho that the highlight of the entire summer suddenly took place.
"KIDS! DON'T LOOK!" my mom shouted, at which we immediately popped up from our slumber like prairie dogs, to look for the forbidden sight.
There, passing us in the next lane, someone was mooning us from their car window!
WOW! Talk about a shocker! A big ol' backside squished up against the glass, communicating that person's opinion ever so eloquently. The car pulled up close and hung with us for awhile to make sure we caught the view, then sped away.
While my parents sputtered about the end of civilized behavior and what the world was coming to, we kids exchanged glances and mouthed, "Did you SEE that??" to each other. Our eyes were as wide as saucers and we could hardly contain our horrified grins.
"Kids, you didn't see that, did you?" mom turned to face us, sandwich knife in hand.
"See what? Nope, nuh uh. Didn't see it. What happened, anyway?" we gave her our most convincing looks and pretended to settle back to sleep. My sister, Katherine, and I scrunched down and debriefed silently.
Yes indeed, we'd seen it all, thanks to mom's alert warning not to look.
I remember a lot of things about that summer: the community pool, the evening badminton games, the fireflies and the coke floats. My parents did their best to make it a fun time for our family and we loved the carefree days in the small midwestern town. I really appreciate now how much work it was to take a family on vacation before fast-food restaurants were invented!
But the clearest memory of the summer, the one that's been logged into sacred family lore, happened when we least expected it - along the journey, and not at our destination spot at all.
For all the planning and work and time that went into the visit with my grandparents, it was the trip itself that made the best memory.
We're all on one — and as humans, our journeys take us to many places. We keep looking at the destinations as our goals — a new job, the kids' graduations, a new house, being completely organized . . . and those are really good things to aspire to.
But along the way, there is The Journey to get there - and so much to be experienced between here and where you think you ought to be.
Will you take a moment to appreciate the journey you're on?
It might not be a "fun" one — it might be a journey through illness, or job loss, or singleness or divorce. Or maybe you're smack in the middle of a wonderful adventure. But no matter where you are at, know that God is with you, surrounding you with His love, and giving you grace for each day.
Don't miss what God has for you right now — in this moment — while you're on the path to somewhere else.
It's my prayer for you today that you will be surprised and delighted by His care when you least expect it, and that your journey, wherever it takes you, will be filled with joy.
Have you been surprised by an unexpected experience lately? Has God shown up in serendipitous ways? I'd love for you to share in the comments today!
I am SO EXCITED to be speaking at The Declare Conference this year!
Declare is a conference for women with a desire and a calling to use their words and online influence to know God and make God known. At Declare, women are equipped with encouragement, support, resources, and community to become more effective at sharing and declaring God’s goodness.
The weekend includes several speakers (including ME!) and sessions to offer tips to help you grow as a blogger, find your voice, learn to really connect with your readers, increase the impact of your words, and make the most of your online platform. There will be sweet times of worship, lots of fun, decadent food, and intentional time of prayer.
IT IS A FABULOUS CONFERENCE, Y'ALL! This year's theme is Wild Obedience....oh yes.
I’ll be speaking on (1.) Patience in the Waiting, and (2.) Using Blogging and Social Media for your Home Based Business. Two subjects I love and know a little bit about. :)
Before I take the stage and the mic, the conference organizers suggested that I share a little bit about me:
Married to Tom for 31 years. I was 19 when we got married (do the math!) My best job ever has been that of Mom to 3 kids, who turned out great in spite of eating an inordinate number of quesadillas for lunch and watching too much TV. (I was very tired, a lot.) I now have a darling granddaughter who is one, and another granddaughter arriving in July.
This is an awesome season of life.
The Antelope in the Living Room, by Melanie Shankle - so funny, so wise, so completely charming and real.
Walking on Water - Reflections on Faith and Art, by Madeleine L'Engle. This has been on my wish list for quite awhile and I can't wait to dive in. Because, you know, faith and art.
I love contemporary worship music, but deep in my heart, I'm kind of a Hymn Girl.
Amazing Grace, a capella
Great is Thy Faithfulness
When I Survey the Wondrous Cross
Lord, I Need You by Matt Maher
Cornerstone by Hillsong
Coffee or tea?
Great Britain, Norway and Italy
Dream Writing Spot:
Coulter Bay, Wyoming...by the majestic Grand Tetons. But short of that, my little corner in the guest room is prettttttty perfect.
Autumn! When you live in Texas, you are in Survival Mode during the summer. Fall feels like heaven when it arrives.
Big plate of nachos.
Blue Bell ice cream, Homemade Vanilla. Dear Lord, so good. I grieve for people who have never experienced Blue Bell.
Night owl or Early bird?
Probably night owl, by default because I'm NOT an early bird. I really love/need/crave sleep. Don't judge.
Little Known Fact:
I went to high school in Mexico City. Hence, my deep affection for Mexican food.
Wild obedience is:
Wow, this is a good question. I think most people think of Wild Obedience as doing something amazing and noteworthy.
But for me, Wild Obedience has been saying "yes" to the Wait.
I'll be talking about Faith and Patience in the Waiting at the Declare Conference. I can't wait to share what's on my heart, because every single person in the world is waiting for something.
And I love that God is with us in the waiting. He really IS.
Again, here are all the sessions....it is going to be hard to pick which ones to attend! But pick mine. Definitely mine.
Declare is August 7-9, 2014 in Dallas, Texas and I hope to meet you in person! Registration is underway! Click here for more information.
Will I see you there??