Surprises in the Garden

The following post is the beginning of something that I’ve mulled over for a while now: my desire to find the sacred in the dirt. The Creator in His creation. 

So often when I go and work the soil, Holy Spirit reveals part of Himself to me there. So here’s my humble attempt at putting words to what I’m learning in the garden.

In the backyard, there is one long raised bed that I’ve designated for strawberry plants. It’s only two thirds full, so far. So the back third has room for small weeds and grass that I am constantly pulling out. This past weekend, however, I discovered some new basil and tomato plants appearing that I had never planted. These new mystery plants, aren’t actually all that mysterious. They are there because I let last year’s crop go to seed at the end of the harvest. And because we live in an area that doesn’t have extremely harsh winters, the seeds were protected and able to sprout this spring.

Last year’s tomatoes, for example, dropped some fruit. The fruit rotted, for lack of a more delicate verb. And, the seeds scattered themselves on the dirt.

I started researching the tiny sprouts to learn more about them, and I learned that the plant savvy people of the universe (is that a thing?) call them “volunteers”, and these unexpected treasures have caused me to reflect on what it takes for a seed to sprout in the first place.

What has to happen to a seed for it to grow a whole new plant?

It has to die first.

Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. John 12:23-25

Foreign Policy from a Five Year Old

Last night during the girls’ bath time, I became unusually emotional. As I watched them play and laugh, with full bellies and warm pj’s awaiting them, I thought about their safety. And their comfort. And then I thought about how how fortunate they are.. that many children all over the world haven’t had a warm bath or a hot meal today. And still won’t tomorrow.

And then I became conflicted. Should I tell my ‘littles’ about the horror that is every day life for so many Syrians? After all, one of my jobs as their parent is to protect and shield their young years from the pain of this world.

They will learn it on their own–soon enough.

But then I had flashes of the faces I’ve been looking at on the internet for days on end. The beautiful little girls who are my daughters’ ages. The ones who should never have to know loss, fear, hunger and death. Why them?

They didn’t ask to be born into Syria any more than my girls asked to be born American. We don’t get a choice in this world on things like nationality or skin color, or whether our government can protect us from terrorists.

So I started to explain to my five year old, in the best way I knew how, about what is going on in Syria today.

I told her about ISIL. The bad guys.
And what the word ‘refugee’ means.
I told her that people are getting on boats in cold weather, with small children and newborn babies, and hoping that surrounding countries will let them in to be safe. I told her that some boats have turned over and people drowned.

And then I waited to hear her thoughts.

Over and over again, my little Emma just said, “This is horrible. Really horrible.”
Then came her advice.
“Someone needs to help these people.”
“We have to help them.”

So I tried to explain to her why many countries aren’t letting them in. I told her all the arguments I could think of, including “limited resources”, “it’s not our responsibility”, “what if they come over and someone from ISIL sneaks in with them..”

Her responses to these questions were profound.

Me: “Limited resources? Housing, food, water, etc.”
Emma: “We need to learn how to share better.”
Me: “It’s not our responsibility. They aren’t Americans”
Emma: (confused look)
It’s like she couldn’t wrap her mind around that one.
And then lastly,
Me: “When the refugees come over, the bad guys might come over here too, and they could hurt us.” (Try explaining the word ‘infiltrate’ to a five year old)
Emma: “I don’t know, mom. I don’t know what to do. But it’s not those people in the boats fault. The kids aren’t the bad guys. Someone has to help them.”

Now, I know this is a gross oversimplification on the whole situation. So please don’t email or comment that here.
This is a child’s interpretation. Of course it is oversimplified. To adults.
But it’s not oversimplified to children.

“Someone has to help them.

Matthew 18:1-5
Jesus saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me..”

The one about herbs.

My favorite bible teacher preached a sermon where he said, “discipline isn’t our punishment. It’s our reward for producing fruit.”

Where we live, this winter has been very mild. So mild, in fact, that several of the herbs in my tiny garden have voted to skip dormancy this year.

The ones that have really caught my attention are my rosemary plants. Over the past few years, I have planted several rosemary plants, and most of them are lively right now. But, one of them is triple the size of the other ones.

Now, I’m no master gardener. So I probably did something wrong to cause most of the other ones to be so small still.

But, whatever the reason, I have this one that continues to mature faster than the others.

If I’m honest, I’d have to say that I don’t know if discipline is a reward for producing fruit. I don’t know much of anything. Maybe discipline is simply a part of life that everyone eventually goes through. But I know this: as a novice gardener, I keep pruning the plant that keeps growing.

It seems to be a cycle. I prune it, so it grows. So I prune it, so it grows.

A Charlie Brown Tree in a Pinterest-Perfect World

Hi. I’m Rachel and I’m an addict. I’m addicted to all things beautiful and ugly that have been perpetuated by and, at minimum, highlighted from the monster that is Pinterest.

Those things include having an organized home, everything DIY, cooking, baking, health and fitness, home decor, holidays, and more. And also, taking pictures of all the things you do that look pinterest-y (yes that’s an adjective now) and then posting them on other social networks that are also infiltrated by the new pressure-filled, Pinterest-Perfect lifestyle.

It’s exhausting. It’s ridiculous. And I need help. And I know a lot of YOU do too.
So here’s my plan:

If you’re like me, you’ve been on Pinterest for years now. Years.
And changing habits takes time.
Lasting changes don’t happen overnight. They happen gradually.

So this year, I’m resisting the urge to have a perfect tree.
It’s a little bottom heavy. It’s real- so it’s uneven. It has no garland. And the ornaments are partially homemade. There is no theme (gasp?!).
And I love it more than all the trees of years past.

I’m not against pretty decor. I like a beautiful house just as much as the next person.
But I’m seeing how easy it is to start to idolize something as simple as a nicely decorated home. And I’m over it.

Lord, remind me why we celebrate in the first place.

And show me what I love more than you.
‘Cause if we’re honest, there’s tons of stuff.


“Any half-awake materialist well knows – that which you hold holds you.” Tom Robbins

16 year old me

Dear 16 year old me,
Since it’s been a decade since I’ve seen you, I thought I would write you to let you in on some things. These are some things that I really want you to know. Oh, how I wish you knew..

You are so beautiful. No, really. I’m not being arrogant. You are truly beautiful. But, beauty isn’t at all what you think it is.

It’s being able to see beauty in those around you.

Beauty is the joy in you.

Beauty is when you are kind to strangers.
It’s when you tell people how great they are. You see it in them. But, sometimes they don’t. You have to tell them what you see.

Stop looking for love.
You know love. And I’m not talking about a boy- although you will find him too.. next year. CHILL OUT. You meet him next year.
I’m talking about your maker. He loves you so much. And in 10 years, you still will barely know how much.

Oh, and Rachel, you will have daughters. I’m serious. At least two, maybe even more later.
And they need to know what true beauty is. They will look to you to learn about body image. So quit hating your body. Please. Just stop.

Another thing, most of your friends now, you won’t even talk to in 10 years.
But, want to know something crazy? Some of your best friends, will be your best friends forever. So treasure those friendships. Those girls who don’t care if your hair is fixed and don’t make you feel insecure.. you will get married together, have babies together, talk, laugh, and cry with them for years and years. Love them well.

One last thing, Rachel, you will meet your husband really soon. I know that sounds crazy, but you will. And he is amazing. Actually more amazing than you are able to understand right now. He is funny. And brilliant. And strong. And so hot- like the hottest man you will ever meet (although that is NOT as important as you think).
Anyway, what I want you to know is that love is not like the Disney romance you imagine. It’s hard. And you will cry a lot. And you will lose sleep. And sometimes go to sleep mad. And he doesn’t ride in on a white horse. (he will get a Jeep wrangler at one point=basically the same thing)
But, it is worth it.
So don’t quit.
Pray for him every day… oh, how I wish you could learn that now..

Hope this helps.
26 year old me

Marriage Letters: Alive


On the first Monday of every month, I am joining some friends who write letters to their spouses. This month the premise is “What Makes You Come Alive”.


Dear Adam,
When we moved to this tiny town, I thought things would be so different.
I’m not sure all the ways. But different, nonetheless.

I heard someone once say, as we come to know God, we become more of our truer self. As if, He made us to be comfortable in our identity. But, the lies and traps of the world convince us to be ashamed of who we really are.

Until we are set free.

Years ago, I would have said you were free. Not really knowing what that meant. And, maybe I still don’t.

But I was drawn to you because of freedom. For the hours of church attendance I had acquired, I had no understanding of grace. Of gospel. But you did. And I wanted what you had..

I wonder from time to time what exactly shifted in you when we moved here. I wonder if it was gradual. Maybe I was going through so much transition I didn’t see it when it was happening. I think about the prayers of the church when we came. I think about unleashing and warring and impartation. All of these and more are the culprits, I’m guessing.

 How I love you.

You are more yourself now than ever. You are more free now then you’ve ever been. I see it when you spend time with people who are hurting and broken and need more Jesus, which is really all of us, right? Oh, and how do you understand that so well, anyway? Man, I’m glad I get to be your wife.

You’ve come alive while loving the ones Jesus loves. I think being alive is like a disease.

And it’s contagious.  And it is awakening something in me.

Yours forever,


Marriage Letters: Once Upon a Time

Dear Adam,
It’s coming up on our 5 year anniversary mark. I’m the one who likes to celebrate these things. I’m the one who keeps count like a little child excited for Christmas morning. Not because of presents, or a night away from the kids (Ok, you know that’s part of it) but because it means we have made it through another thing together. Another year.

Do you remember the letters you wrote when we started dating? My heart would pound in my chest as words poetically melted into each other. I daydreamed about when we would be married. And in my head, that meant days on end of happiness and cuddling.

People told us that it would be so hard. People who really knew. But, I didn’t care. I didn’t even listen much because I thought that if I got to spend forever with you nothing else mattered. No one else, nothing else, could make my heart burn like you did.

Well, big gulps.

I was a wee bit naive.

You still give me butterflies. More than before, even.

But some days are really hard. And we’ve learned that other things do, in fact, matter.

I’ve changed a lot. You made me a mother. And motherhood has grown my heart beyond what I thought possible.
Now, while writing this, I have cried twice just during the remembering. I’ve kissed a crying 3 year old with a toy box injury.

I’ve pulled dirt out of the baby’s mouth. I’ve started and stopped this writing so many times to get through the daily things that I’m not sure I’ll complete it. The things that wear and tear and bring so much joy.

And I anticipate your return more than I ever have. More than I ever did then. Not only because I feel like I can’t survive in the daily without you. But, mostly because you understand finding joy in the dish washing.
You helped me seek Jesus at the beginning of us.
But, you show me Jesus now in the dish washing. And my heart burns so much more.
I’m always yours.


On the first Monday of every month I will be writing letters with Amber Haines’ “Marriage Letters” series. Go check out her most recent post!


Rant about the Internet & Parenting

Looking back on this post, it reads really blame-y and argumentative. It’s worth mentioning that I am, in fact, its intended audience.


Something that has confused me lately is how quickly people (myself included) rush to Google when we have a question about parenting. Or about ANYTHING, for that matter, that we aren’t fully versed in.

The internet is full of different people’s thoughts and opinions.

You might be surprised to hear this, but some of the advice is.. [wait for it…] bad advice. (gasp. I know, right?)

Continue reading “Rant about the Internet & Parenting”

attempting the impossible

Sure enough, as soon as I said I’m going to try to take things slow this summer a million and one things started running a hundred miles in my direction. As much as I would like to say I kept peace in the storm, that would be a bit of an overstatement.
One thing that I’m being reminded of right now is that major life changes don’t usually happen over night. They happen after disciplining yourself and implementing them over and over. So for me, I’m taking this thing one day at a time. Learning as I go. And learning that failure is acceptable.
Thank you God for grace.
(and thank you husband for patience)