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Monday, January 18, 2016

The Story of You: Announcing Baby Walker

Every time I sit down to write this post, I start crying and end up having to stop. It's happened more times than I'd like to admit, because it's still just so surreal to me that I'm going to be a mom. But, it's one of those stories that I can't help but write, to get out there, to share our story, because it's such a beautiful, blessed season in our life. It's one of those stories that I don't know where to start, because it's been a part of me for so long. 

I'll be 19 weeks on Thursday, which is prime time to start blogging about the journey, right? Better late than never, I say! 2015 was a bittersweet year for us as a couple--we spent the end of 2014 and the first few months of 2015 hopeful and excited that the Lord was leading us to starting our family. Andrew and I have always known that we were born to be parents; it was one of the first things that attracted me to him. I could tell he would be an incredible father, and he said the same thing about me becoming a mother. It was never an "if" we have kids for us, it was always just a "when." We started praying early on that the Lord would bless us with children--whether they be biological or adopted, we didn't care. We just knew we wanted kids and as many as the Lord would bless us with.

A few months into the "trying" part of starting a family, we realized that it wasn't going to be as easy as we thought it would be. Naive, maybe, but I never expected to struggle with getting pregnant. My medical mind continuously reminded my heart that this was normal and that it often takes a while to conceive, but my heart wasn't accepting that. We continued to try and pray and beg the Lord for His will to be done for us, but month after month, the answer was still no. And my heart hurt. I wanted to badly to still praise His name in the waiting, but I really struggled with it. I spent the summer wrestling with why this was happening and trying to continue to seek Him in that time, even when I was bitter and heartbroken that I still wasn't pregnant. 

I had friends in that time who spoke more love and truth into my heart than I could've ever imagined, and looking back, I know that was just God providing and preparing me for what was to come. That was one of His many provisions over me during those days. I am so thankful for those women, some in the same season as me, some with kids of their own, and some in the process of adopting. It was a beautiful, glorious picture of God's grace to see all of our stories woven together. I wouldn't change that for anything. 

The end of summer came with yet another negative pregnancy test, and after talking with a couple of my OBs at work, Andrew and I decided it was time to seek out a doctor's help. Infertility isn't diagnosed until after a year of actively trying to conceive, so at month 10 of our process, we weren't quite in that category yet, but in my heart, I knew something wasn't right. I had ultrasounds done and blood work drawn, and everything checked out fine. Which was reassuring, of course, but at the end of the day, we still weren't pregnant. Another round of blood work later, it was determined that some of my hormones during ovulation were low, so finally, there was a possible reason for no baby. A couple of months passed, and with the help of medication, my levels were normal again and my OB said he felt hopeful for that month to be the month of baby. It felt so great to hear those words, but of course, I was still doubtful. That doubt crept into my heart and really plagued those days.

I so vividly remember a night at work when we had no mamas and babies. I was sitting in the breakroom eating my lunch and reading "Every Bitter Thing is Sweet" by Sara Hagerty. There's a part of the book that I knew was written just for me to read. Sara is questioning God, "What if I pray, seek, and ask and you don't heal me?" She then says, "He answered with a dream for me that is far beyond what I'd whittled down for myself." God spoke so clearly to me in that time; He said, "Rachel, what if I don't give you a baby? Am I enough? Is having ME and only Me enough for you?" I can't say it's the first time I've cried at work, but it's definitely the hardest I've cried. I knew in my heart then that the Lord had me in the palm of His hand and I needed to stop worrying over every detail. My whole perspective shifted and my focus was on Him and glorifying Him through my trials instead of dwelling on my trials themselves. It didn't fix everything but joy was my song from then on. 

About a week later, it was supposed to be that time of the month, and of course, it was in the back of my mind every second of that day. I had no pregnancy symptoms, but knew there was a pregnancy test in the bottom drawer of my bathroom. I decided to bite the bullet and take one before work one night. Clearly expecting a negative, I went ahead and got in the shower after taking it and left it sitting there for a while. I came back to it and saw a big, clear PREGNANT. I stood there in shock for no telling how long. I always planned to tell Andrew in a cute way, but in that moment, all I could do was grab the test and run to him, with tears in my eyes. 

It was absolutely surreal, the best moment of my life so far! We turned on "Good, Good Father" and danced in the kitchen and I'm fairly certain I cried some more. I don't think we stopped smiling for at least a week. That joy was written all over our faces! I spent a small fortune on pregnancy tests and took probably 8 more before we went for our first OB appointment--I just needed to keep seeing that positive test! That sweet, sweet positive. 

How did you announce? I immediately FaceTimed my sister (who burst into tears, by the way!) and then called my best friend. I couldn't hold it in for another second--I had to at least tell the two of them. We told our families after our first doctor's appointment and shared with our close friends a few weeks later. The more people praying, the better, in my opinion! I was too thrilled not to share with those people who had been praying for baby Walker since the beginning. We bought our two nieces "big cousin" shirts to tell our families. My niece wore hers over to my parent's house for dinner one night and surprised everyone! Andrew's sister opened their onesie for our niece born in December in front of that side of the family. It was so fun to see people's reactions. My best friends all got watercolor cards that said "Only the best friends get promoted to aunt! We're having a baby!" It was perfect and simple and what I always imagined. Everyone was so surprised and so excited and it just thrilled my heart to have the people we love the most as joyful about this new little life as we were. I wish I had taken more photos of us telling our people, but I was way too in the moment to care! 

When is Baby Walker's due date? So, we're due June 16, 2016. Yep, 6/16/16. What a fun due date, right? I'm 18 weeks and 4 days today, so almost halfway! I can't wait to feel this little one moving inside of me!

How have I been feeling? Honestly, I've had the easiest pregnancy so far. There are days when I forget I'm pregnant and realize it all over again, it's been so easy. I know, I'm lucky. I had a few moments of nausea in the first trimester but never got sick a single time. The only symptom I've really had is just fatigue, but I don't think me working the night shift helps that at all. I have random aches and pains after working 12 hours on my feet, but I think that's to be expected, too! I am so thankful for how easy it's been and pray that the second half is just as great!

Do you know the sex? We aren't finding out if it's a boy or girl until delivery! Yes, I know we're crazy--we get that reaction from every.single.person who asks us. Andrew and I decided early on in dating that when we had kids, we would wait to find out the sex. And now, after having been a L&D nurse for this long, they're my favorite deliveries. There's just something thrilling about the parents not's the only time in our lives that we'll truly be surprised. Plus, we're just thankful there's a baby growing in me! Boy or girl, we'll be just as thrilled.

Any gender guesses? Andrew thinks boy and I have no idea. I thought boy at first, but now I'm super undecided. I've had all kinds of friends tell me it's a girl. So who knows! Just praying for a healthy little baby!

Will I keep working? Definitely for as long as I can through the pregnancy. Planning on working up until this baby arrives! I know night shift + 12 hour shifts won't be easy, but I also know it's possible! I'm praying that the Lord will provide a way for me to go back part-time after baby comes, because I do love my job so much. 

Sleep? Maternity clothes? Cravings? I'm still sleeping pretty well. Just waking up for a bathroom break every few hours! My sister let me borrow her Snoodle and it's the best thing ever. I've made the big switch over to maternity jeans because my normal ones were just a little too snug. I'm telling you, those and maternity leggings are sent from heaven. Cravings? All things salty. I've rarely wanted anything sweet! Salty, savory, and sour are my go-to foods! 

What I'm looking forward to Feeling little baby move, for sure! I've had a couple of flutters but am not sure if it's the baby or me just imagining it. We had our anatomy scan last week and saw him/her moving around like crazy! I love, love, love hearing that heartbeat. Best sound in the world! Oh, and my sweet sister has started planning my baby shower and I'm so looking forward to that, too! I've dreamed of that day for so long, almost more than my own wedding. I can't wait to have the women I love in one room, celebrating this sweet, precious life! Makes me tear up just thinking about it. 

I can't guarantee I'll be posting weekly bumpdates, but I'll definitely be writing and posting from time to time, just to keep all these sweet memories written down to remember in the days to come! 

Baby Walker, you are so loved and have already been prayed for more than you'll ever imagine. We can't wait to be your parents!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Chase Grace

I made a promise with myself a few months ago to be totally open and honest here when I felt the urge to write, even when it got messy and uncomfortable. Because if I've learned anything from blogging, it's that the best posts come from those places--when you know you need to get it out but are afraid of where the words might lead. Authenticity somehow leads to peace of mind when it comes to writing.

I've been trying to keep that open mindset as I've journaled and written lately, and more than anything, I've been praying that the words that I say are what the Lord wants me to share on this blog. Because the heart of the matter is what lights my fire and gets me going.

So here I am. Writing honestly because I need a heart check. In a serious way.

I've seen a change in myself over the past couple of weeks. I've been short, snappy, unkind, and impatient. I've let my situations project my words and my actions, and I'm sure I've hurt feelings and left people with a bitter taste of me. I've acted impulsively and have left God out of the equation on most days, in most circumstances. In the moment, I didn't realize it, but looking back, it's obvious.

My heart has been convicted over the past two days and I've just prayed for the Lord to forgive me and pull me back in, to remind me that my salvation isn't dependent on what I do for Him, but rather what He's done for me. Grace upon grace, and only that. Some days, I feel so far away from Him. I've been fervently begging the Lord to answer some prayers in my life in a big way, and so far, I'm stuck in a season of waiting. God never disappoints and is always faithful, though--He's answered them in other ways, but man, it hurts when it's not the "yes" I wanted. How well I know that His plan is so much higher than my own, but in the moment, it makes me bitter. And bitterness hinders holiness. And bitterness yields rebellion, whether I mean for it to happen or not.

I've acted out of rebellion, and truly, out of the sin of being "too busy" to just speak His name in my day. Looking back over my behavior over the past few weeks was a glimpse into my past, a look back at the Rachel I used to be. The one before my heart was changed by Jesus. And that's not something I ever want to see again.

But God.

He steps in and whispers grace over my sad, weary heart. He reminds me that He is the constant in every situation and I need to rely on that truth. I am worthy and I am loved. He is mighty in me. I have nothing of worth to offer this world unless it's through the filter of His gospel, and I've been so far from that mark lately. I will fall short, day after day, week after week, year after year. That's for sure. But God redeems those broken parts of me and makes me into something beautiful, slowly but surely. 

I need to realize that I will never be holy until I am at the feet of Jesus in heaven. I need to strive for that daily, but also give myself grace when I feel so far away from a "good Christian." When the words from my mouth are anything but holy and pleasing to Him. Grace upon grace, when we fall short. 

Today, I am thankful for His grace over my life. And I'm equally grateful for His forgiveness, over and over. He just lavishes all these good things on us because He loves us so and it rocks my soul to think of that--that I can be the worst of sinners, yet He will still bend down and wrap me up in His arms and tell me that I'm forgiven. 

I'm holding myself to a standard of grace right here and now. I'm reminding myself to just come humbly to His throne every day in prayer, because I need Him so desperately. I'm not going to have it all together every day and that's okay. When life seems to be going all wrong, I need to give myself a heart check and see where I'm placing my trust--is it in the One who holds my heart? If not, I need to start over and start chasing grace. Join me? If you're feeling out of control or less than worthy or just simply discouraged, chase GRACE. Let that be the striving of our hearts! He's covering you in it if you'll just let Him. 

Thursday, September 3, 2015

My Vision for Rachel Rewritten: A Mood Board // #Blogtember Challenge

I've been thinking and daydreaming a lot lately about the vision I have for this blog. It's been on my heart more this season of my life than it ever has--I can tell that the Lord is stirring something inside of me to really dedicate sharing my life here through writing. 

My sweet blog BFF (and IRL friend!) Bailey has a blogging challenge going on this month and of course, one of her prompts is a mood board or collage describing your blog. I'm thankful for her push for me to really sit down and put pen to paper on my mission. It's a work in progress, but I wanted to share where I'm headed so far.

I sat down with a big cup of coffee and prayed over this space; prayed over where the Lord wanted it to go and what He wanted me to talk about on here. Some days, I wish I had an awesome creative mind who owned a small business or Etsy shop...or an entrepreneur with big dreams and lots of courage. Other days, the Lord makes me thankful for who I am and where I am in life; and of course, He reminds me that He made me for this very moment, right here, where I am...and this space is where my story is told. 

I heard someone say once, "Stay close to anything that makes you feel alive," and this blog is that for me.

Rachel Rewritten: a joy-filled space created to inspire, encourage, and celebrate

If I could put Rachel Rewritten into words, I'd want it to be a warm, welcoming space. Like sitting down with a friend, where laughter is strong and the coffee is stronger. A place where community is cultivated and friendship blooms. I hope it seems bright and cheerful, with a little bit of spunk and Southern charm.

I hope for it to be a place to inspire others, whether it be through words I say or the ideas that I share with DIY projects or fun, new recipes. I envision it being a place to share marriage joys, hard lessons learned, and words that stir my soul.

I want it to be a place people can escape the real world for a few minutes and read something on my heart, something that I hope will encourage others. I long for it to be a place where Jesus is first always, and His name is glorified above all else...where we can let go of the feelings of inadequacy and busy-ness and soak in all of His goodness and grace.

I want to help people truly learn how to celebrate life and find joy in the every day happenings. Champagne is sometimes necessary to achieve those goals! I'm slowly learning how to live freely and abundantly in every season of life, no matter what it may be, and I hope you'll join me on that journey.

If you could create a mood board for your blog, what would it look like? 

Brave Love Blog

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

It's Okay to Not Be Okay

"It's okay to not be okay." My best friend said those words to me a couple of months ago and I think I've repeated them to three other friends since that day, because they needed to hear those words of freedom as much as I did. Sometimes permission to not be okay is just what we need to start healing.

The more I push past the small talk and scripted conversation with those around me, even those in my inner circle, the more I realize that our lives aren't as polished as we try to make them out to be. I like to call it the 'Instagram Effect," where we tend to show our best days instead of our worst. And there's nothing wrong with that, but in a world with so much hurt and hardship, I can't begin to fathom what life would be like if we spoke those fears and struggles and secrets we hold so deep in our soul. Would we all feel a little more normal? A little more freedom?

What would happen if we quieted those worries by pouring the power of confession over them? I know in my heart, and in my life, those silent battles are things that draw more energy from me because of the secret-keeping that goes on around them. As if me talking them out loud makes them real and true--when in reality, speaking those fears and admitting that we aren't okay makes us human. We don't have to have it all together all the time, because in our weakness, He is strengthened. 

Sometimes those moments of confession are the most beautiful moments--the moments where the light begins to shine out of the brokenness in our souls and gives someone else a window into what you're going through. Those brief times are the times when I feel most plugged in to the friend next to me, as I hold her hand and listen to her heart poured out. 

I can't help but think of the sense of community that is created as those walls come down and we're connected on a level deeper than we've known before; to admit to others exactly where we are and just what we need, whether it be prayers, encouragement, or just a cup of coffee. Those sacred bonds formed in the quiet moments of confession are life-giving. 

No one has to go first or alone, if we're honest and open. Because when we are brave enough to admit that we're not okay, you'll be surprised at how those around you react. They're broken too, in one way or another. Marriage struggles, money issues, infertility, anxiety, alcohol abuse, singleness, and so on. When we open ourselves up and speak those secrets we're too afraid to share, our worlds become a little smaller and our hearts become a little closer because we find out we're not alone in our journey. 

If I could speak truth over you today, I'd tell you that your hurt and your fears don't go unnoticed. You are seen and you are loved by the God in heaven who loves you like freaking crazy. This too will pass. And more than anything, you're not alone in your struggles, whatever they may be. Give a little of your burden to your sister next to you--that's why God created friends. 

We are all trying, day in and day out. Let's love on each other a little harder and let the ones we love the most know that it's okay to not be okay. Here's to letting ourselves admit those scary words: "You know, I'm really not okay today." Because then and only then will we have someone grab our hand, pull us in close,  take the load off our shoulders, and reply, "Maybe not now, but you will be." 

Monday, August 24, 2015

Tell Your Story and Tell It Well.

      "There are two myths we tend to believe about our stories: the first is that they're about us, and the second is that because they're about us, they don't matter. But they're not only about us, and they matter more than ever right now. When we, any of us who have been transformed by Christ, tell our own stories, we're telling the story of who God is." -Shauna Niequist 
If you had asked me a month ago if I was ever coming back to this blog, I probably would've shrugged the question off and made some joke about it. My head was quick to say no, but my heart was saying otherwise.  It felt easier just to let it go and keep blogging a thing of the past. But something was holding me here, something kept bringing me back, over and over.

This little space has been weighing on my mind lately; it is such a delicate balance of longing and dread, the back and forth of emotions between the passion I feel for this craft and the heaviness of finding my voice in the blog world. Comparison rears its ugly head and turns this love of blogging into an idol. But then, when we're lucky, God unexpectedly orchestrates things in our lives long before we realize and turns it into something beautiful. This blog is and always has been one of those things for me. 

I've written this post in my head 7 times already and twice on the computer. I've done the "apologize for being absent for 4 months" post and I've done the "act like nothing happened" post and just keep going. And you know, neither of them really fit where I am in life right now.

Life happened. I disappeared from here and I'm not sorry about it, but oh, have I missed this blog. My outlet, my therapy, my connection to women I admire. But then again, I've loved the freedom I found outside of the need to "keep up" in the blog world. I've wanted to jump back in head first and I've wanted to run away and never look back, sometimes on the same day, and sometimes in the same post.

Writing and blogging are two things I fiercely love and am equally terrified of, but at the end of the day, it's a part of me. Writing was imbedded into my soul when God created me and it's nothing I can shake off, as hard as I try at times. I will always be the girl who uses more words than anyone should and loves nothing more than a good story and through the years, I've learned to embrace it and turn it into something bigger. More than just words, but a real story. My story. His story through me.

Storytelling. There's something about it that wraps me up and makes me feel at home. It connects and inspires. This fact is nothing new--I'm not writing anything you've probably not experienced before on your own. You're part of this blog world and you know the kind of writing I'm talking about. The way words can paint a picture, define a moment, create a's compelling and tends to draw us all in. It shows us something about ourself, draws on our emotions, and puts our feelings into the words we wish we could say ourselves. From life's sweetest moments to the ones filled with sorrow, words make up our story and tell the world what we've been through. It's our heart's cry through letters and phrases and punctuation.

This blog world is unique--we carry around little bits of each others' stories as we read and they become woven into our own. It creates this beautiful atmosphere of community that shows off His glory as we write and as we live life and share our worlds with each other--it's a way of life, really, and it's something that I can't fathom missing out on. God is constantly reminding me that blogging is part of my story and that's the way He created me--to be a part of something bigger.

Storytelling doesn't exist only here in the blog world; for those of you reading who are thinking, "but this doesn't really apply to me," you're wrong, so very wrong. Our every action, every emotion, every word tells our story. Through our jobs, our friends, our children, our marriages, our reactions, and so on, our story is being written. Whether you're "writing" it through creating artwork at 2 in the morning, pursuing your dream of entrepreneurship day in and day out, raising your children and being knee deep in diapers, working a big corporate office job, or being a loving wife and keeping a happy home, you are telling your story every moment of every day. There is something about this truth that is so impactful to me.

If I've learned anything over the past 4 months, it's that the Lord is rewriting my story into His and I find that utterly beautiful. When I read the Bible, I see over and over again to Jesus teach His followers through stories--Jesus was the best of storytellers. And He did that because He knew the deep desire of those around Him to be connected to something bigger than themselves. Isn't that awesome? And isn't it so encouraging knowing that He holds the pen in our story? I want nothing more than for Him to keep rewriting my life by telling His story through me.

I long to make this a space where the Lord is present. He has been nudging me back to this spot for months now, and I'm finally surrendering and waking up my creative, albeit dry, bones for His glory. I'm not sure where this will take me, but I do know that I want to spend my time here celebrating His story through me and through the good in my life. Through the precious but refining blessing of marriage. Through the lessons I learn as my family sits around the fireplace. Through the prayers I pray with friends across the couch. Through waiting for God to bless us with a child. Through the little moments and the big ones, my story matters. And by sharing life as it happens, we're watching God move through us and change us, little by little.

At the end of the day, words matter, my friend. MY words matter. Even when doubt tells me otherwise. My story matters. And so does yours. Yes, I'm talking to you reading right now. I pray this will be a place of encouragement and laughter and joy and growth; I'm eager to blog with intention and post only when I feel the need to. I'm breaking through the chains I created for this space long ago and rewriting it all. 

I'm not the same person I was when I started this blog. And I'm not even the same person I was when I stopped writing back in March. But as I'm growing and changing and becoming someone better through the good and the bad and the painful and the joyful, I'm going to write. I'm dying to find my voice again, because only then will I truly feel that contentment the Lord desires for us. 

Your story, my story, our stories...they're just waiting for us to give them life through the retelling. So that's where I am right now, and that's where I'm leaving an invitation for you, too. To come along with me as I wade through life and all that it entails. To tell my story the best way I know how, moment by moment. And I want the same for you. Let's tell our stories and tell them well.