Lace wall hanging and catching up!

Well hey there folks! Yes, it’s been a while. I spent a month back home, nannying and vacationing. And sleepovering, and crafting, and resting, and catching up with friends. Among other things. And now i’m back in Madison, finishing up a Summer class. AKA, I’ll be a second year graduate student in one week. What up.

So here are a few pictures from my family’s vacation in the Adirondacks. It was incredibly wonderful and beautiful!photo 1-3 photo 2-4 photo 3-2

 

So I will be moving in a little over a week, which I am ridiculously excited about. Lots of new projects running through my mind, all the time. One project being changing the look of my bedroom a little bit. I am planning on going for a very simple, clean, white look. As the look develops, i’m sure i’ll be posting more. Since i’m going for a white look, I’ve decided that I want to play a lot with texture, so it doesn’t look too much like a hospital ward :).  This wall hanging below is one way that i’m incorporating textures.
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So I took a GIANT embroidery hoop, and measured a piece of white fabric to fit the hoop. I then pinned all of my laces to the fabric, then sewed them on. Pretty easy peasy. It’s simple, and whimsical, and I really like it.

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What Summer projects have you been working on?

 

Love always,

Rachel

Bravery: the story of a yucky old bar cart.

When it comes to creating, I am the farthest thing from a perfectionist. My older sister, Sarah, is very precise.  She will read up, measure, do the math etc. I more of a wing-it kind of gal.

Real talk:

I tried my hand at gardening last summer too. I (accidently) bought 12 foot tall sunflower seeds. Believe it or not, they don’t grow well in tiny terracotta pots. And your soil needs to be more than a few inches deep in order to grow a head of lettuce. Haha. Stupid.

I also started sewing this year. Whenever I wear something that I’ve sewn, you’ll know it because it’ll be covered by a denim jacket and lots of jewelry. Sleeves and necklines are hard!

I built the raised garden bed earlier this Spring, and while the plants are growing well, the wooden bottom is bowing out a little. So maybe by next year I’ll have both gardening and building skills. That would be a miracle.

These thoughts are going somewhere. I think we avoid doing things because our results  won’t be perfect. I’m currently reading an inspiring book called “The Nesting Place,” which really beautifully discusses what it looks like to make a home. I think everyone wants to create a home that welcomes people, cultivates authenticity and relationships, and allows for mistakes.  But if we don’t allow ourselves to get messy in the process of homemaking, how can we expect the people we welcome into our homes to be vulnerable and authentic. Does that make sense? haha.

I’m just thinking back to last week when I was at my parents house. I bought this disgusting, dog hair covered bar cart. It was incredibly rusty and an awful olive green. My parents very lovingly let me rampage the home and yard with a sander, priming supplies, and spray paint. If you have ever been to my parents, you know that we’re not about keeping things free from dust. We’re about dissecting frogs at the kitchen table, while conversing with the person making omelets. We’re about walking to the chicken coop together, to round them up. We’re about long conversations around the campfire, and lazy days laying out in the sun. I’m so thankful that my parents created a home that allows for mistakes, and messes, and tears, and weird stories.

Being really excited to paint the bar cart. Probably because of the fumes. Also I had smurf feet for days later.

Being really excited to paint the bar cart. Probably because of the fumes. Also I had smurf feet for days later.

Before and after. Pretty neat, huh?

 

In her book, “Bread and Wine,” author Shauna Niequest wrote: “What people are craving isn’t perfection. People aren’t longing to be impressed; they’re longing to feel like they’re home. If you create a space full of love and character and creativity and soul, they’ll take off their shoes and curl up with gratitude and rest, no matter how small, no matter how undone, no matter how odd.”

Serving its function as a bedside table. Thanks Dana for the awesome quilted placemat!

Serving its function as a bedside table. Thanks Dana for the awesome quilted placemat!

Let’s not be perfect. Let’s be authentic and present. Let’s make messes and memories. Let’s be brave and create space for mistakes. Let’s buy the $10.00 bar cart and spray paint it bright blue.

 

Love always,

Rachel

the inbetweens.

So it’s 10:00 on Monday night, and it’s warm enough that i’m sitting on my back porch with a fleece blanket wrapped around me. I’ve got an almost empty mason jar of pomegranate sweet tea next to me. And the light of my laptop screen is perfectly bright. It’s June. I moved to Madison in August. That means this place has been my home for almost a year. Two years ago I never would have dreamed of being a single, far-from home, doctoral student (what about my child bearing years?!). And to be honest, I don’t know why God has led me here. I don’t know what i’ll do with my degree when (if) I finish. I know that I absolutely love being able to love on the students that he has placed in my life. I love learning the things that i’m learning. I have peace that for the time being, this is what i’m supposed to be doing. But, Lord, What am I doing?

I do love Madison. I love the farmers market, and the quirky coffee shops. I love the lakes, and my church, and the old pubs. But I think the honeymoon phase of new living is fading. I think the season of digging my heels in, and being here by choice, and being a grownup has arrived. I wouldn’t say that i’m homesick. But I would say, Lord, what am I doing here?

The thought of me being a professor is laughable, to me at least. I kind of assumed that I would marry young, go move to Africa, and have a bunch of kids. Or something along those lines. I’m not entirely sure how I stumbled into this five year commitment on an isthmus surrounded by corn fields. But I know he is sovereign.

Isn’t so much of life the in between? I think there’s this lie that: once I figure out my college major, once I graduate, once I get married, or once I have kids, THEN, it’ll all make sense. I’m going to put money on that not ever being the case. I have experienced seasons of total peace with where life is at, but they’re brief.

So if my life is going to be a string of in betweens, then I logically have two responses: to chomp at the bit, or to have peace. Hindsight is the easiest thing. I can think of dozens of scenarios where everything fell into place, when I truly didn’t think it could. But this time, it’s different, I tell myself. I need funding, where is it coming from? I’m not getting any younger here! Is the best use of my time really 11 hours away from my family? Lord, are we sure that you’re using me when my nose is tucked in journal articles for most of the day? Is this really where you want me?

Jesus, the truth is that you are faithful. You have been faithful, and you will be faithful.  So tonight, i’ll shut my laptop, and go to sleep, and none of those questions will yet be answered. But Jesus, all that I ask is, whatever you have for me, don’t let me miss it. You know that when degrees, and careers, and kids, and families, and picket fences, are all put aside, I just want to be a part of Your story. I just don’t want to miss a single second of the unveiling of Your great story. I want to be right in the middle of where you are. If it’s lonely and sad, I want to be there. If it’s dirt-under-the-fingernails, I want to be there. If it’s laughter and celebration, I want to be there. Jesus, wherever I am, whoever I’m with, whatever I’m doing, let my life be a part of Your story.

Create.

Creativity isn’t limited to how well we can remake the pillowcases we’ve seen on pinterest. Being “creative” isn’t a gift given to a select few talented people. I’ve been thinking about the concept of being a “maker” lately, and  here’s what i’ve surmised:

Creativity is thoughtful.

To be creative is to live a life of intention. In life, we can choose to live out of habit. We can choose to spend our time, money, and resources based on the norm. Or we can choose to think critically about the lives we want to shape. Do I truly want to chase the American Dream, or do I want to sculpt a life that is different? As a graduate student, I constantly have to decide where I am going to place my focus. What sort of life am I shaping? Are grades going to be the bottom line for me, or will I construct a life that isn’t centered solely on getting a Ph.D.?

To be creative is to think well. To be creative is to wonder why we are composing the lives that we are.

Creativity is courageous.

To be creative is to be bold. When someone creates, whether it be in the way they parent, build relationships, spend their money,  they are choosing to do things differently. To create is to be vulnerable. On the small scale, whether it be sewing mistakes (which i’m awesome at), or turning down a job because it doesn’t align with the life you want to build, creativity can be hard. Creativity can be lonely. Failure is so common when we break the rules of what is a mundane life.

 

Creativity is freeing.

To be creative is to shed standards that don’t matter. When we decide how we want to craft our lives, we get to be free from habits and ideas that are irrelevant to us. For example, i’m pretty dirt broke currently (yay for graduate school). But being wealthy, either now or in the future, isn’t important in the life that I want to create. So over time, the more that I sculpt a life that isn’t centered on being rich, the more I get to step away from that idea being a part of my story.

 

I have no idea if this post makes any sense to anyone but me. But sometimes I just write for the sake of sorting things out in my mind. And if it does make sense, I hope you think about the life that you are creating. And I hope that you have the bravery to chase that creativity.

 

Love,

Rachel

Raised Garden Bed

Sitting in the library, taking a break from scoring IQ test. It’s actually a lot less fun than it sounds ;). These pictures have been patiently waiting to be posted for a few days now, as it was a project I worked on over the weekend. This past weekend my friend Josiah drove up from WV to meet the Madison gang. I took advantage of his ability to carry large bags of dirt up three flights of stairs….something i’m not proud of. But together we made a raised garden bed, which my veggies have really been needing! I have been sketching what my garden bed would look like, and it was a pretty straightforward build:

1. 2 x 4 feet in diameter. 1 foot deep. Five 1.5 foot tall legs.

2. Make sure you don’t use treated wood, because you don’t want chemicals getting into your food (and belly!). Also use outdoor screws.

3. So first we drilled the sides together.

 

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4. Then we attached the bottom to the sides

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5. Then we screwed the legs onto the bottom

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6. Next I drilled a bunch of holes in the bottom so that I could have good drainage. But I don’t have a picture of that, so i’ll just show you a picture of me demonstrating how strong the garden bed was.

 

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And here are my happy little veggies now. I’ve got kale, tomatoes, lettuce, spinach, and chives currently in there. Fun, fun, fun. And yes, my back porch is weirdly sloped. Let me know if you have any questions about building one!

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Love,

Rachel

Thankfulness Roundup Monday, Part 3.

Sometimes thankfulness is hard. Because I don’t understand what God is doing. I don’t know what’s around the next turn in life. I hope these thankfulness posts don’t come across as too “rainbowy.” Because sometimes life is hard and uncertain. But choosing to believe that through it all God is the same and that he is good, is essential. And that’s a little bit where i’m at this morning :).

 

650. Friends tIMG_20140427_180204hat are old and new

651. Z-O-O.

652. Best friends who drive 11 hours for a super fun weekend!

653. 80’s music, I mean come on.

654. Cuties during my observation

655. Teachers who are so invested in their kiddos

656. When my little NAKOMA reader remembers plurals!! And is on cloud 9 because of it.

657. Watermelon helmets.

658. Long car rides by myself, time to think

659. Super sunshiney days!

IMG_20140427_195942660. The Farmers Market is back open.

661. Big sister and Brother in law coming to Madtown.

662. Jessalyn, I love that lady. How did I get such an amazing best friend?

663. Fresh rosemary

664. Thrift shopping.

665. That Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

666. “Faith is reason gone courageous.”

667. A sister that is adorably crafty.

668. A beautiful younger sister that dances.

669. Weird/funny snaps fr om the brothers. Mostly of IMG_20140427_202200animals?

670. Sweet e-mails from parents.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
    and all that is within me,

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bless his holy name!

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
    who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit,
    who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good
    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

(Psalm 103:1-5)

Love,

Rachel

 

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living in crocus season

In February I genuinely believed that I would never see grass again. The snow had been on the ground for about 4 months, and I just didn’t think it would ever be gone.  Everyone from Madison told me that this was the worst winter in their experience. Which is good because any Wisconsin Winter from here on out should be relatively easy. But we’ve had more below zero days in Madison than have happened in decades.

And here it is, April 20th, and I can see the grass.

Granted, it snowed twice this week, but it’s in the mid 60s right now.  During my 5 hour drive to Iowa this weekend, I listened to a podcast on faith. The pastor talked about living in Madison during the winter. About how the cold weather is, and how it is one of the most life sucking, monotonous seasons. The speaker noted that the crocuses are always the first flower to bloom. And there is a time in Spring, where the crocuses are in bloom, but the snow will still fall on them. And that time, with snowy crocuses, is where we are living in 2014.

You see, we’re in limbo. Jesus has died, and is resurrected, and we can see the evidence of him (and of hope) everywhere. But we’re still living in a broken world. And this state of living in a season where there’s snow, but there’s enough evidence of summer and warmth to put on our flip flops on. To trust in something bigger, to trust that winter doesn’t last forever, but that summer is promised. Those snowy crocuses, which give us the evidence that God is faithful should inspire us to live wearing tank tops, and eating ice cream out of cones, and putting on our sunglasses.

 

Happy Easter, dear friends.

 

Rachel

 

p.s. to listen to the sermon, click here: http://www.blackhawkchurch.org/sunday/this-weeks-message/message-archive/?sermon_id=192

Monday Thankfulness Round up, Part 2.

Trying to make a habit of starting off the week with thanking Jesus for the good stuff. Why thankfulness? Because God is always good, always love, always. But sometimes I suck at remembering that, and I never want to lose sight of the goodness of the God that I love.

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625. Snapchats from Truett. Pure sweetness.

626. 6 hour long skype dates with best friends. Just being.

627. A Jesus and a faith that makes sense when I reason.

628. Phone calls with the mama.

629. So many packages in the mail this week, yay!

630. Dad and Josiah on a Saturday date? haha. Glad that he’s in our life.

632. Bets. Always bets.

635. IMG_20140414_104537That when I abide in Jesus, he’ll make my joy full.

636. That I built a shelf, yippee!

637. Time to read and slow down.

638. Chatting on the phone with the little broseph. That he won a 70’s costume contest. Haha. Classic Ben.

639. Catching up with Sarah, that she is blogging and Etsying so hard. Get it girl.

640. That all men will know that we are his disciples, when we love one another (John 13:35).

641. That he alone is the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2)

642. Saturday baseball games, for freeee!

643. Encouraging IMG_20140414_104701texts from Carly.

 

 

He is good.

Love,

Rachel

$5.00 Raw wood shelf? Yes please.

Do you ever just have epiphanies about the sort of person you’re becoming? Last Saturday I was in Home Depot, and I realized, “Oh my gosh, i’m totally turning into my parents.” Growing up, Saturday projects were their thing, building chicken coops, clearing brush, gardening.  And there I was, in Home Depot, on the hunt for materials for a raw wood shelf.  I love the look (and smell!) of raw wood, and more industrial furniture. So for this shelf I bought 2 brackets, screws, and a 6 foot piece of wood. Using a stud finder, level, and measuring tape I figured out where to put my brackets, then screwed those bad boys in, and then screwed the wood into brackets.

shelf shelf1 shelf shelf2

 

I’m ridiculously pleased with the look of it, and it took only about 20 minutes. I’m slowly dipping my toes into the process of building with power tools (AMERICA!). So you get to follow me in the process of figuring out how to make things!

 

Happy Saturday,

 

Love,

Rachel