It was fresh, and it was loud.

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I got married ten days before Christmas. Everything was cold and warm, at the same time. It was as perfect as we’d pictured. Candles amongst flowers, holly berries tucked into corsages. That week felt like a dream. In the days following, we tried our best to figure out how to handle holiday traditions that we had brought into our marriage. Whose houses do we visit, and when? When do we open presents, and how many? It was a whirlwind few weeks, and we made it through, but it wasn’t easy. It was fresh, and it was loud.

I remember sitting in my in-laws’ living room on Christmas Day, watching twenty people open presents at the same time. There was screaming, laughing, paper flying. Nobody could see the floor. Nobody knew what anyone had received or given. Nobody stood a chance at being heard. I watched in horror, with a little fascination on the side. I’d grown up with a quiet and tidy, one-person-at-a-time-and-please-don’t-rip-the-paper tradition. I didn’t know how to wrap my brain parts around what I was experiencing.

As the years have passed, we’ve sort of hit our holiday stride. We’ve set up boundaries and torn down walls. I’d call it an awkward, bumpy rhythm, but it’s a rhythm nonetheless. And it’s ours. It beats to the song of the Kincaid Parade, and I’ve grown imperfectly comfortable with it.

I’ll be sharing more tomorrow night, and I’d love to have you.

Surprise! (No.)

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I’ll never be able to use that word again, will I? I am most definitely am NOT pregnant.

However… I most definitely AM speaking at next year’s Influence Conference in Indianapolis! I’m honored for the opportunity to make a little noise alongside some pretty fantastic women, all of whom were announced today. We’ve still got nearly a year to go and I’m already prickly with anticipation. For real.

What are you waiting for? You’re certainly not still dragging your feet about the “Influence is for internet girls” thing, right? Because I think we squashed that (in the best way) during this year’s conference. While we care a lot about building God’s kingdom online, while we care a lot about taking back the Internet for good, we’re a lot MORE passionate about equipping women in general. So internet-lover or not, grab your ticket… while there are still some left. See you next September!

Get after it.

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I used to think God guided us by opening and closing doors, but now I know sometimes God wants us to kick some doors down. -Bob Goff

In seventh grade, I got cut from the middle school basketball team. I wasn’t as fast as some of the other girls, so I didn’t hustle. I wasn’t as strong as some of the other girls, so I didn’t get physical. I remember being more embarrassed than disappointed, but I wasn’t surprised to see my name missing from the list. The coach was driving the activity bus for a field trip a week or two after tryouts, and she waited until all of the other kids had cleared out. She stared at me in the giant review mirror.  “Do you want to know why you didn’t make my team? You’re not tenacious enough. You need to be more tenacious. I’d love to see you work on that and come back next year.”

I spent the next several years learning how to navigate this idea of tenacity and femininity, a balance of which I still haven’t completely mastered. But I am sure am grateful for that middle school basketball coach who wasn’t afraid to call something out in me, something that she didn’t see but wanted to.

As I venture into new territory in motherhood, I’m struck by my desire to see my kids learn tenacity over success. Whether it be sports, lifestyle choices, friendships, chores, music preferences, grades, personal style, or straight up eating a meal at the dinner table… it doesn’t matter. I want my family to be one that walks in freedom. I want my kids to feel safe enough to try things, even when they’re scared. I want them to learn what it means to get after it.

So I’ve been using that phrase a lot lately. Shooting text messages to the ones who can read, or yelling across the lawn to the ones who can’t. Get after it! It’s fun to watch each personality develop and change throughout the years. Some of them don’t need the coaching. Tenacity is just something that comes naturally to them. But some of them are a little like seventh-grade Rachael. I sure hope that if it doesn’t sink in now with me at home, they’ll run into a middle school basketball coach on an empty activity bus someday.

An easy DIY pineapple costume!

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I had the pleasure of partying as a pineapple at the Ridge Church #costumearoo this past weekend! I’ve been sitting on this dress for months. It came from Goodwill and I just knew it’d come in handy someday. I’m not the craftiest of them all, but my husband helped and we knocked this headpiece out in an hour or so. I had to secure it with several bobby pins, as well as duck through doorways… but it was fun nonetheless!

 

Five things lately.

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Reading Love Does and Women of the Word, both of which are absolutely changing my life. I’ve never read Bob’s book front to back before, so I figured it was about time. And Jen’s words on knowing about the Bible versus knowing its intricacies and connections are seriously piercing. I actually look forward to hopping into bed fifteen minutes earlier, just so I can end my day with a little reading time.

Writing not much on here, right? I’m working on a couple of little themed pieces for the blog, but I’m in no rush. We have to be filled before we can pour, hence the aforementioned books. I’m also being intentional with my Powersheets. My daily goals this month are my favorite – practice yoga, read the Word, straight my bedroom, spend ten minutes outside, and kiss my husband. I entitled them, “self care and beyond!”

Celebrating Ames’ Emmanuel’s fifth birthday. We partied all day long.

Anticipating The Happy Mommy Box anniversary event. Aside from celebrating the fact that this small business thrived for the last year and blessed hundreds of women, I’m excited to see some of them come together for an evening of fun and encouragement. I’m honored for the opportunity to speak to them about motherhood, the weight of which is certainly not lost on me.

Remembering a much-needed pep talk on freedom with my bosses/besties last week.

Jess: As you cling to freedom and swing into it, remember that it is soft and submissive.

Hayley: Get loud, but make sure you’re clanging for others’ freedom and not yours. You’re already free.

A little fall treat!

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I’m working on a few little somethings for this space, but for now… how about a little style post? I collaborated with Fashionable for a neat project. One might have figured out by now that I ain’t no fashion blogger, but I had fun and I’m happy with how it turned out. In addition, they’re offering readers a sweet incentive to do some fall shopping. For two days only, y’all get a 15% discount on Fashionable products! Enter RACHFAVES at checkout. Enjoy!

Five things on a friday.

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Recipes to help you stay out of the kitchen:

1. Chicken lettuce wraps. I’m using this (inappropriate but accurately titled) recipe. I prepare it in the morning, and it only requires fifteen minutes or so over the stovetop! I don’t usually buy the butter or iceberg lettuce either, because it doesn’t keep as long. Try using Romaine, and if it’s too messy… present the whole thing as a salad.

2. Homemade pizza with Trader Joe’s dough & sauce.  I’ve heard from-scratch crust is cheaper and just as easy, but this is where I am these days. I serve it alongside carrot sticks and whatever other raw veggies we have lying around. Don’t forget the ranch!

3. Fancy salads. I always add kale to the lettuce, and then whatever toppings fit the theme – black & bleu, Southwestern, etc. My favorite combination is one I threw together from leftovers – chopped egg, shredded chicken, raw broccoli, and an Asian peanut vinaigrette.

4. Baked ziti from this site. It only needs half an hour in the oven, so prep it whenever (even days before) and then store it in the fridge until you’re ready to bake. Per usual, salad is my go-to side.

5. Grilled chicken & pineapple kabobs with corn on the cob. I slather butter and parmesan cheese and garlic onto the corn, lay it on foil, and grill it alongside the chicken. 15 minutes or so and everything is done. Serve with… you guessed it! A salad.

I listened, and so I’m leaving.

It’s been years since I dusted off my resume, or interviewed for a new job. I love where I am and I love what I do, and there was just no reason to change it. But then suddenly, there was.

Suddenly, there were too many schedule conflicts with family events and work. There were weeks I didn’t see my kids for three days straight. There were nights I’d kiss a head in the dark and hear, “Are you gonna be here when I wake up Momma? I just like to know.”

Suddenly, this idea of online life as a hobby flew out of the window. Being online is literally a job for me now, one that is life-giving and hopefully very permanent. There were weeks I stayed up too far past my bedtime, trying to beat deadlines and answer emails before my alarm went off for work. There were nights leading up to the conference where I looked at my husband and shook my head from behind my computer screen, as he got up to make me another pot of coffee.

Suddenly, there were aches and pains. There were weeks I worked three in a row and wondered how on earth I’d done it until now. There were nights I’d limp in from work and collapse on the couch, unable to muster enough energy for so much as a conversation. My days off became a blurry blend of recovery and productivity, and I couldn’t seem to nail down a rhythm anymore like I’d done so easily in years past.

But I fought it all off, for what seemed like months. I love where I am. I love what I do. I love my patients. I love my surgeons. I love my team. I love my facility. I love my company. I am good at this. This is what I do. This is where I work. This is who I am. There was just no reason to change it. But there was.

As the school year swung in, I couldn’t ignore that voice any longer – the one that said, It’s not about you and what you love. It was time to explore other options, options that would give me a slower pace, a more structured routine, and more time at home with my family and other responsibilities.

So I dusted off the resume, and I interviewed for a new job. And I got it. I’ll be managing a patient caseload for a hospice agency here in town, doing weekly home visits and coordinating services for families in my county. I know that working with dying people is something that’s made me come alive in the past (a little ironic, I guess), so I’m trusting it will be a good fit for this next season.

Crying as I write this, I’m headed into my last week of work at the hospital. It feels weird to even type it out clearly. I’m leaving my job. I’d be lying if I said I felt great about it. I’m worried about what people will think. I’m worried about not mattering anymore, about starting over in a new environment where I’m new and unsure. I’m worried about losing touch with what has become a second family to me.

But I literally don’t have room for the worry. Not a spare inch. So I’m going to fill that space with lovely things instead, things that are pure. I am excited about being obedient. I feel great about listening to the still, small voice. I look forward to learning something new, and of course… being home for dinner every night. This new chapter feels brave, so I’m going with that.

What an incredible week!

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We started last week with some beautifully intense team meetings, to prepare for the next season of the Influence Network. We finished it out with over three hundred women worshipping alongside each other to close our conference. Overall, I’d say it was a pretty incredible week.

I enjoyed some adult time away from house/family responsibilities. There were daily showers and warm food that I got to eat with both hands!

I got to see women make a difference in Africa. Our goal was for 75 women to partner with Mocha Club by the end of the weekend, and over 80 women did by the time it was all said and done.

I made some new lifelong friends. Seriously. They jumped off of the internet and into my (figurative… not a hugger, remember?) arms.

The food was amazing. No, seriously. I’ve actually never tasted better food at a catered event.

Lastly, I would absolutely argue that the Holy Spirit tied each speaker’s talk into a greater theme, something that we all walked away from the weekend feeling and acknowledging.

I don’t have to try hard. He gave me grace and a voice. It’s time to build.

JOIN


things i’m clicking this week…

 

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An #influenceconf edition of things I’m clickin’! Besides the beautiful Indianapolis, here’s where you can find me this week…

Writing about what it looks like for this always-on-the-go lady to walk with Jesus daily, for the Influence Network magazine.

Sharing three things you don’t want to miss at the conference, for the Influence Network blog.

Sharing three things you can enjoy from home if you’re coming this year, for the Influence Network blog.

Being interviewed with my husband in preparation for this year’s conference worship, for the Influence Network podcast.