Saturday, September 20, 2014

I only ate half the doughnut

I looked at it and knew I should have gone with the banana. I had just finished running 5k, and my stomach wasn't happy that I chose the doughnut. Halfway through eating it, I remembered I had the option to throw it away. I didn't have to eat the doughnut. So I tossed it. A perfectly good doughnut.

Where am I? At a really great place in life. Newly married to an amazing man who has enhanced my life in ways I didn't know were lacking. I remember being happy single, living a good life--but I don't remember that happiness being like it is now. It has changed--amplified--in some way. I am with my family, in a great community, doing exactly the kind of work I want to do. I am challenged and growing and learning. And it is fall.

Fall has always been my least favorite season: Summer, Winter, Spring, Fall. Fall is when everything gets cold and dies. But I also haven't been in the country for many falls the last ten years. I am finding I really like fall (considering it officially starts tomorrow, I might take that back later). The fall sunshine holds something peaceful. Crunching leaves gives me a joy. And the gradual cold is do-able. I like sweaters. Maybe the illustration I should use for fall is moving into a rest than into death.

So it is on a perfect, crisp, fall morning that I hold my doughnut and see so much more than an unhealthy snack. I see myself wasting food. That person. Not that a better solution would have been to stuff my face with the rest of the doughnut, or to get mad that they had free doughnuts going to waste in the first place. The answer wasn't even to feel guilty for not choosing the banana. So what was the answer?

My head will forever swell with faces of the children I know and love who do not have enough food. Who have never eaten a doughnut. And so while tossing half a doughnut is not a big deal, it is a big deal. 

As a little child I thought the solution was for my mom to mail our leftovers to "those kids." I was aware of them, even then. But now they are my kids, I have personal investment in them. Now I look at that doughnut, laying in the trash and feel so did I get here, to where I am throwing away food? Is it okay for me to be so happy here--away from them? Can I really live my life while I know theirs is being stunted and stolen away from them? 

I am working for Living Stones. I invest many hours a week to represent these children, and connect them to Jesus and a better life. I am making a difference. And it is just half a doughnut. But the holy discontent will never let it be just that.

The questions will always continue to resurface. Am I giving my all? Is Jesus asking me to sell all I have and give it to the poor? Not everyone--but is He asking me? Is He saying to Go into all the world: the world-parts that will make it hard to raise a family, that will have medical care that is lacking and can mean the difference between life and death? That won't have libraries? All of that with no financial security?

Sometimes it really sucks that I can't live a normal life. That I can't just eat half a doughnut.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Six years ago...

I drove to Daisy’s house (name changed for privacy). I had just learned that Daisy, 15, was pregnant. She, in her embarrassment, was telling everyone it was rape. I knocked at Daisy’s door, the big Doberman barking me away. Daisy and her mom came out, the later spitting threats about the boy and how this was a demon rape child. Daisy said she was getting an abortion. “Please,” I said, “please let me adopt the baby.”
The words surprised us both, and tears came to our eyes, but only Daisy let them spill. “I don’t know, Ms. Rachel,” She said, “I don’t know.”
I left her my phone number and left, awkwardly. There was nothing romantic or wonderful about it, TV blaring in the background. I was single and about to leave the country, but the moment the words left my mouth I knew they were true. I wanted that baby. And in that time, that baby had become my baby.
Daisy went back and forth in the next visits I made. I made different suggestions, different ideas—letting her know there were other options. She was not alone—I was not alone.
Daisy’s mother insisted this baby was going to be aborted. I broke down and cried that this baby get a chance to live. “No, no no. Ms. Rachel! You can talk and beg here all day, but my daughter is not having that baby.”
Daisy decided against the abortion. She decided for it, back and forth. Finally, she let me know the baby was gone. I had learned to love someone I could not see. Someone I did not know the gender, the intelligence of, the athletic ability. Someone that meant leaving the place I loved and being “tied down,” future unknown, with visions of long nights and drool. It wasn’t just any baby—it was my baby. Now I had a star in heaven, but stars in heaven don’t mend holes in your heart.
This is why I run in the walk/run for life. To remember my baby, to remember Daisy and so many girls and women like her. This is why I am asking for your support. This link may not work on smart phones (so sorry!), but you can donate here.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

A Homeschooler's View of Fashion

I was homeschooled from kindergarten through high school. Living in one of the worst public school systems in the state and not having funds for private school, my mom did have the smarts for teaching. Our religious background included the idea of not drawing attention to yourself: dark, plain clothing, that covered as much as possible. Welcome to Rachel’s world of fashion.

Through things left unspoken, I gathered that my body must be something bad, if it needed to be hidden. That curiosity would lead to sin, and that being noticed and admired was not good. I had all the makings of an old maid cat woman or a cynical rebel. But my parents genuinely loved and cared for me, and I had a community of people who invested in me until I could figure things out for myself. I wouldn’t trade my childhood for anything.

I was an awkward, shy and fashion oblivious child who always found herself surrounded by the “cool kids:” my best friend, my sister, and my husband. They are the beautifullest, coolest, and most fashion forward people that I know. I wavered between being in awe of their put-togetheredness and in feeling inferior and left behind. Then I decided to take steps to being fashion-aware myself.

1. Notice what you are attracted to. Growing up, I was told not to covet or lust. But there is a difference between that and admiration/appreciation. Enjoying beauty is a good thing.
A good exercise is to go on Pinterest and randomly “pin” whatever catches your eye. You will begin to notice patterns of what you like. 

2. Understand why you are attracted to it. God created beauty, and created us to enjoy it. Beauty is something you need. Instead of feeling shamed for noticing a cute guy (I didn’t want to jump in bed with him, I just liked looking at him), I began to ask questions about why I noticed him: did he have a strong jaw? Good nose? Great hair? Once I broke it down, I could understand myself better.
A good exercise is to go back to what you pinned on pinterest and pick out specific points: “I like that dress because…Her face stands out because of her eyebrows…”

3. Choose your “Theme.” After identifying things you like and don’t like, you can then find a theme emerging. This isn’t to box you in, but to help define your style, using words that other people can understand as well: Natural (sporty, surf), Dramatic (goth, glam, rocker), Behemian (hippie), Urban (preppy), Classic (sophisticated, elegant), Trendy (chic), Romantic, Creative, Vintage...find your words/combinations.

  A good exercise might be this style quiz

4. Build your theme. Fashion requires time and energy. In the focus of giving to others, it had somehow become wrong for me to spend time on myself. The truth is to serve others, you need to know yourself and be the best you. Your style is part of who you are and investing in it is creating the best you. Find a balance. Take time to add your beauty to the world—inside and out.
A good exercise is to go through your closet and get rid of clothes that do not fit in your style, as well as choosing a couple of basic clothing items to purchase that bring out your theme.

5. Know body type (triangle/pear, inverted triangle/apple, rectangle/banana, hourglass, petite, busty), and colors (cool or warm tone, spring, summer, fall, winter):
You may fit into multiple body types, but each one has certain do’s and don’ts. Growing up, everyone was kind and supportive, but only recently have I had a couple of specific people stop and take time to tell me what looked good on my body, and what didn’t. I had no idea that by just changing a few simple things I could look so different.

A good exercise is to find someone you trust and try on every single piece of clothing with them and a good, large mirror. Identify the things that work for your body type and colors that work and don’t work.

6. Think in terms of outfits. I get overwhelmed when I am suddenly supposed to look beautiful for some event. Because I know this about myself, I have a couple of “go to” outfits. I know I have looked good in them in the past, I know they make me feel beautiful, and I know they are do-able.
A good exercise would be to put together three outfits for each season—from dressy to casual/around the house. If you want to take it to the next level, take a picture in each one. From those tried-and-true outfits, you can mix and match and know it will come out great. And don’t forget accessories for each outfit!

7. Step outside your comfort zone and try new things. I needed someone standing next to me, consistently giving me complements before I bought a pair of skinny jeans. I just highlighted my hair for the first time. You might not be a go-getter fashionista, but that doesn’t mean you can’t look good. A good exercise is to add just one thing to your outfit—something unexpected/interesting/individual—each time you dress up, to widen your fashion comfort zone.

8. Posture and confidence speak louder than clothes. Practicing a powerful stance with good posture not only immediately makes your clothes look better on you, it also helps give you confidence—even if you are bluffing. 
A good exercise is to just do it.

9. Beauty is a routine. Exercising, showering, sleeping, drinking water, brushing/flossing, washing make-up off every night, lotion at night, sunscreen during the day…you know you are supposed to do all of this, but do you? If not, why not? If it is because of time, work to schedule it in. literally. If it is because you just don’t get around to it—is it because you think you aren’t worth it? Because you are. And those who love you will help you find the time to take care of you.
A good exercise is to take ten extra minutes before you leave the house (every time) to check yourself: did you brush/floss? Add something special to your outfit? Put on at least some lipstick/something that makes your face come alive?

10. Know that you yourself, alone, are enough. Something my “don’t draw attention” fashion taught me is that “Just me” works. The “no make-up, no style, just my personality” me had amazing friends and an amazing life. I may cringe when I see certain pictures of a past me, but I don’t regret it. I am glad that I am learning about fashion. That I am getting to know myself better, and my style. That I feel comfortable in the professional, business world. But me? I still believe that basketball shorts, t-shirt, and a sports bra are where it is at.

Inner beauty may be more important, but exterior beauty has immediate impact.”– Daniel Goh

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Ten Months Married

I started making our wedding scrapbook this month. We have a LOT of good pictures. We have a LOT of good stories, good times, and good people. I also spent a lot more time reflecting this month, on my birthday, on advice to someone who just got married, on really bad examples of couples, and on the traditions Caid and I have started as a couple. It has been a wonderful month. But my favorite time, every day, is every night when I snuggle up with him and we talk, laugh, and pray.
I might have told you about Ann Voskamp before (, and how her writing has blessed me. This one did it again. Some highlights:
"(I read how this woman) regretted waiting until she was married. How she’d waited until her wedding night and how she wished she hadn’t.  How waiting wrecked a deep and real part of her. How all those years of no made her ashamed of when she finally said her marital yes.  

I get it. I really, really get it. I waited and I was her. After getting it into your head that you don’t — it can take a long time after you say “I do”….  for the rest of you to say I do.  The soul of a woman needs to feel a deep safeness before you ever touch the skin of a woman. 

Your skin is the outer layer of your soul. Your skin and your soul are profoundly connected and this is a profoundly beautiful thing. There is no shame in this — only the glory of God who made your body art to reflect your soul.

There’s nothing casual about giving away your soul. The union of two bodies is nothing less than the union of two souls. Physical oneness is a holy God-created ceremony to express nothing less than a soul oneness. When someone isn’t willing or ready for spiritual oneness, emotional oneness, legal oneness, financial oneness — why let them steal physical and soul oneness from you?

 “Great sex is a parable of the Gospel—to be utterly accepted in spite of your sin, to be loved by the One you admire to the sky.” –Tim Keller

As God calls His people to exclusively commit to Him alone — so we’re called to commit to exclusive intimacy alone — an echo of Belovedness. As God commits to wholly, unconditionally, and covenantally accept us forever in spite of our sin and flaws, to love us passionately to death —- so physical intimacy mirrors a whole, unconditional and covenantal acceptance of us forever in spite of our shortcomings and flaws, to love us with a passion that is willing to die-to-self.

The exclusive communion between husband and wife is to reflect our exclusive communion between soul and Christ. But hear me — no matter what’s happened in the past —  Jesus wants you, Jesus chooses you, Jesus holds you, Jesus keeps you and there isn’t one of us that hasn’t been broken and there isn’t one of us that doesnt belong, that He doesn’t stop calling “Come, Beloved.”   No matter what’s happened to the rose — Jesus desperately wants the rose. 

A relationship needs something stronger than feeling for it to endure and flourish —- Relationships need the safety and strength of a binding, legal covenant to thrive. A covenant is the most powerful infrastructure to be powerfully intimate. And as the covenant is necessary to be powerfully intimate — so being powerfully intimate is necessary for the covenant.

Your naked body deserves the honor of being shared only with someone who is covenanted to never stop loving your naked soul.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014


Someone told me that your first year of marriage you should start your own traditions. Not just holidays (but yes, holidays), but the little things--know what you value and form the habits that prove it--and call them traditions. Because I like that word.

Here are some of our regular traditions:
1. Praying together every night
2. Me making his lunch (unless I forget and he buys Subway)
3. Kissing goodbye before either of us leaves
4. Special prayer time on Sunday mornings
5. Work out together multiple times a week
6. Read aloud together
7. Hold hands while driving
8. Date night multiple times a month
9. Talk it out, no stonewalling or leaving
10. Sleep skin to skin to get our Oxytocin (
11. Caid takes care of the car
12. Rachel cleans really well once a week

Before we got married (or was it on our honeymoon?) we put together our values:
1. FOCUS on what really matters: God and love
2. Work together and find BALANCE alone and together
3. Have true INTIMACY--physically, emotionally, and spiritually
4. Have a godly HOME that we can bring others into, with lots of traditions and celebrations
5. Be CREATIVE--Life full of music, arts, communication, and sports
6. Have MINISTRY outlets for what we are passionate about
7. Stay HEALTHY, pure, fit, and disciplined--clean and limited media to make room for outside life/exercise, natural and simple food/surrounding
8. Laugh, have FUN, and stay forever young

Here are some traditions we want to work on some more:
1. Weekly worship and music time
2. Having more people over to our home for meals regularly
3. Weekly "create something" time

Holiday traditions:
1. News years toasts with family and then go watch a movie together, just us two
2. Valentine's day: ? 
3. Celebrate Lent in some way
4. Easter tree, baskets/eggs hidden, door taped up. 
5. Birthdays: take the birthday person out to someplace they have never been before
6. Mother's day: ? 
7. Basic holiday rule: spend quality time with others and seek to share the day 
8. Halloween: dress up, no matter what else
9. Thanksgiving: weekend with the Coombs family
10. Celebrate Advent in some way
11. Christmas: Connecticut trip! Dinner at Uncle Roy's house. Cooking with all the nieces/nephews--make your own pizza and tacos and random desserts