Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Annual Family Vacation

This week I am on vacation with my family. Most days have brought rain instead of sunshine. We haven't been able to enjoy much time in the water but we have enjoyed our time together. There has been plenty of food, fun, sleep and rest.

Day 1 We took a trip to the beach closest to our rental home. It was rather hysterical. It looked more like a man made lake than the ocean. There was barely any sand, it was full of seaweed and we found a clothes hanger in the ocean while digging for shells.

Day 2 It rained a good bit and we weren't able to spend much time outside. We did take a trip to the pool and pretty much had it all to ourselves which was very relaxing. My nephew found it humorous that he captured a video and all you could hear were crickets in the background, that is how quiet it was.

Day 3 We drove into Mexico Beach, Florida. It was the perfect day to be on the beach. The wind was amazing, the sun was shining, and the waves were large. My niece took the time to build a sandcastle. We fed the birds. A few of us got brave and with a little patience had them eating out of our hands. I even attempted to try and coax them to take a veggie chip from my lips. It worked and we all squealed with delight.

Each day we've had the luxury of napping and eating amazing meals. Last night we went to dinner and afterwards walked around trying to locate a few perfect spots for our annual family photos. Even though it is day 4 of vacation and we once again are stuck inside due to weather, I couldn't be happier. I have really learned a few things this week about myself and others.

Side note: I prayed prior to and during this trip to feel God more and to see His work in my life. I've prayed to have the opportunity to be still and quiet as I reflect on His goodness and mercy. He has answered my prayer and many others. I am learning to let go of the drama that surrounds me and have shared talks with my mother concerning others attitudes compared to my own. With her advice and the nudging I have felt from God, I have realized that I am only to be Rachel. Rachel is enough for God, she is enough for her family, and enough for her true friends. For all of these, her heart is known and her intentions are clear.

Back to the topic at hand, I would like to share a few photos with you from our week so far. We have been blessed.

Wash Clean

I'm sitting in a beautiful vacation home. It is dark with clouds outside and the thunder crashes through the house. It rattles the tin roof. My stepfather is beside me reading his Max Lucado book. My nephew is across from me quietly texting, as teens do. My brother is at the kitchen table reading news. My mother is in the kitchen. My other family members are all in their rooms resting. It is quiet. 

I've needed quiet for a while now, a break. My life is something of a whirlwind with constant motion. I'm not a constant motion person. I enjoy quiet and a slower paced lifestyle. This is partly due to the fact that no matter what the task at hand, washing dishes or completing a project for my boss, I rush. I tend to live my life in a hurry, dashing like a mad woman between point A and point B. Rushing so that I can stop. I am wound too tightly it seems. 

Maybe I am rushing so much because I have a dream I want fulfilled. And since I'm not much of a patient person, I believe I am rushing through life so I can get to my dream. I know this dream will come to fruition. However, how am I hurting myself while waiting?

Upset stomach, body aches and pains, anxiety, stress, pleasing others to the point that I not only neglect myself, but most importantly, God. Ignoring my health and the warning signs, then crashing when I've had enough. This crash then in turn disappoints me and makes me feel weak. 

I have to learn to slow down and practice being patient. I must be still and quiet. I will use this week away from responsibility to enjoy and just take life a little slower. Starting now. Bring on the rain and wash my soul clean.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

I Will Call

Let’s keep it real and honest.

I am tired.
I am physically exhausted.
I am weak.
I need peace.

My body is barely moving today. Outwardly, I appear absolutely fine. Inside, I am a mess. My entire body is shooting off signals to STOP! I can’t stop. I have too many responsibilities, too many people depending on me and too many things to get taken care of before next week.

It is early morning and this day ahead is long. I am craving my pajamas, A/C, and bed so badly.
I turn the page on my calendar, “He is like a Father to us, tender and sympathetic…The loving kindness of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting to those who reverence Him.”

That is exactly what I need right this minute; a moment in my Father’s lap. 

His tenderness, sympathy and loving kindness. 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Prince Charming

Dear Prince Harvey,

Your Harvey Prince Hello perfume is absolutely, positively, 100% amazingly fantastic! You make me feel like a girl running through a meadow on a warm summer day. I see the wildflowers and can smell the lemons from the grove across the field.

You pick me up when I am down.

You open my senses to a world that invites me to play.

I just want to say thank you 1,000 times over.

A woman simply changed by a fragrance. 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Will It Define You?

I am 35 years old. I was married for ten years and desperately wanted children. I never had any. It was not because I couldn't have them; it was because my partner did not want children. I know women who can’t have children because of medical reasons. If my heart breaks because my body could have children, yet it wasn't “allowed” to by another, I can only imagine the pain a woman must feel in knowing her own body has betrayed her.

Recently I read a beautiful post for mom’s over at concerning how lonely it can be as a mother. I can see where this is very true. Women need female companionship and I imagine between the diapers, soccer games, school plays, parent/teacher conferences, teething babies and more, that motherhood can strip you of the beautiful bonding experience you can only have with another woman. I stand in awe of the women who can balance motherhood and being a wife. Add to that those women who also have careers, are frequent members at their churches, volunteer their time to others and more…I seriously and sincerely stand up and applaud you. I don’t know how you do it.

99% of my friends, family members and co-workers have children. You get to an age where everyone around you starts announcing their pregnancy. Slowly, one by one, the friends that you used to talk to on the phone for hours or meet up with for lunch become very few and far between. The invitations to a cookout become invitations to a child’s Birthday Party. The talks over coffee become a quick text just checking in. The once uninterrupted phone conversations turn into a battle between getting a word in and waiting for the baby to stop crying.

Being a woman who wants a child in a world where everyone around you has one or multiple can be very lonely.

When I was married, my husband had a career that kept him away from home many nights. There are only so many TV shows, cartons of ice-cream, music playlists and loads of laundry that can keep you occupied before you realize that the sound of a cry would be a welcome relief to the emptiness and loneliness surrounding the core of your heart.

I couldn't simply grab the phone and call my friend for a chat when the loneliness set in. She had too many things going on with her family. The most difficult thing to realize was that not only did I not have the family I longed for, I didn't have the friendships I longed for either.

It is very easy to be misunderstood being a woman who has no children. Mothers tend to look at you with jealousy. I mean, we can sleep whenever we want to, right? We can take a bath and eat without interruption. We don’t have to spend a lot of money at Christmas. If we want to leave for a vacation, we can afford it.

For us though, there are many sleepless nights that keep us awake from the desire within to have a child that may never be fulfilled. The baths would be more fun if they included bubbles and toys. Shopping at Christmas would have a more magical feeling if it involved trips to see Santa and hiding gifts so little eyes wouldn't see. Vacations would be more meaningful watching little feet feel the sand for the first time.

It is easy to let this loneliness turn into resentment and work its way into your heart. I recall many Easter Sunday’s standing back crying. I had no children running to find eggs. I had no little girl to clothe in a new dress for Church.

Birthday Party invitations with cute characters went directly to the bottom of the mail pile. I didn't want to attend a party where I knew I would feel isolated as I watched all of my friend’s children becoming friends.
It hurt deeply at family gatherings to watch my cousins’ toddlers playing with each other and realizing that even if I had a child today, he/she would never be at an age close enough to create that special bond I was seeing develop before my eyes with the others.

I was allowing the loneliness to turn into bitterness and resentment until one day I realized that closing my heart was not the answer. I had a choice. I could let the negative thoughts consume me; like the thought of “When I turn 60 and my friends are spending the weekend with their grandchildren, I will still be alone.” I could allow the hurt to prevent me from creating memories with my family and friends or I could wipe the tears and open my eyes to the beauty around me and within me.

There is beauty in the brokenness I feel as a woman without a child. It forces me to grow stronger in my own skin. It empowers me to invest in myself, my creativity, and my spirituality. It allows me the opportunity to be the “Cool Aunt” to my niece and nephews.

Now that I am older, it may be more difficult for me to have children. Thankfully, I have found a man I will be marrying that wants children as badly as I. However, maybe now I am at an age where it will be nearly impossible to get pregnant if at all. Maybe I will go through life without ever reaching the milestones only mothers will get to experience.

If that happens:
If I never get to hold my newborn baby.
If I never get to take my child to school on their first day.
If I never hold my daughter during her first heartbreak.
If I never become a grandmother.
If I never become pregnant.

It will not define who I am as a person.

Yes, I will continue to answer “No” when asked “Do you have any children?”
Yes, I will to continue to fumble over my words when questioned “Why?”

But No, I will not be less than.

I will not let the loneliness turn my heart cold. I refuse to waste my life worrying. I will not beat myself up for wasted years. I will not see myself as anything other than a woman who is awesome and strong and beautiful. I will stand tall in who I am and I will see the beauty around me. I will hold my friends newborn today and grandchild tomorrow. I will dance and laugh and play with my niece and nephews. I will go to that Birthday Party when I feel like it and politely decline when I don’t. I will see the beauty that comes from my brokenness.

My heart is what defines me. It is what defines you?

Monday, June 9, 2014

To Be Young Again

Facials, hairstyles, desert, sparkly drinks in champagne glasses and a bridal gown…

Last weekend was the best weekend I’ve had in a while. No, I did not attend a wedding. I hosted an “End of School” Slumber Party for my niece and her friend from school. It began several weeks back with a really cute invitation and ended with a very fun photo shoot. I spent a few days prior to the party trying to decide how in the world I would entertain two tweens. I have no children of my own, so I don’t really keep up with what’s hot in the world of 11 year old girls.

I decided to look 3 places for ideas to fill up a night with entertainment and a morning with memories to last.

  1.       The World Wide Web.
  2.        By channeling my inner 11 year old.
  3.       Sifting through my creative juices.

I would like to share with you what I came up with and hopefully it will inspire you to be young again and create the perfect Slumber Party for your daughter or niece and her friends.

Ice Cream Sundaes:
Can you ever go wrong with ice cream and kids?

Vanilla Ice Cream, sprinkles, cool whip, caramel coated peanuts, fudge topping, rainbow sherbet topping, and of course a cherry for the top are just a few of the items I purchased. They grabbed a bowl and proceeded to make themselves a treat that would have them wired for hours.

Fruity drinks in a pretty glass:
Who doesn’t feel a little fancy when they drink from a petite little champagne glass? Why would tween girls be an exception? I found a pretty shade of pink lemonade and added a strawberry for that extra “ooh-la-la” effect.

Facials & Manicures:
When I asked the girls if they would be interested in a facial, they squealed with delight. They had so much fun experiencing this first. When the cool cream hit their face they giggled with surprise and laughed so hard that they cried when they saw their green reflections staring back at them in the mirror.

Afterwards, I took requests for manicures. I purchased nail glitter at the dollar store and grabbed my polish. The girls also brought their favorite polish to the party. We decided to paint each nail two different colors and apply glitter. It was a mess and it was exhausting, but it was all girly.

Truth or Dare:
When they asked me to give them dares, I couldn’t think of very many. I looked online to see if I could find some that were suitable for children. Surprisingly, the internet was full of clean and funny ideas for children. A few ideas:
Suck your toe for 10 seconds.
Put 5 marshmallows in your mouth and sing “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.”
Say “I’m cwaazy, I’m cwaazy, cause I’m, wooney!” 3 times in a row.
For the next 15 minutes, after each thing you say, you must finish your sentence with “Man, I’m good!” or “Hippity Hop.”
Carry another player on your back across the floor. 

Being the center of attention, wearing a beautiful dress, putting on makeup, and holding a bouquet are only just a few things every little girl dreams of.

I pulled my wedding dress from the closet and grabbed some clips from the kitchen. After styling their hair, the girls and I slipped the “bride” into her dress and secured the back with clips. Their little faces lit up when they looked in the mirror. They examined the glittery shadow on their eyes, their new hairstyle, and twirled in the dress that made them feel like a princess. We spent a few minutes taking photos and throwing the “bouquet.”

Every slumber party needs Popcorn and a Movie:
I asked the girls to bring their favorite pajamas, pillows, blankets and movies to the slumber party. When we were ready to wind down for the night, they dressed cozy and grabbed their blankets as I prepared the popcorn. We settled in for a movie-marathon that ended in snoring.

Photo Shoot:
The next morning the girls woke me. I sat them down for painting as I prepared breakfast. They let their creative juices flow as the smell of bacon, cinnamon rolls, and strawberries filled the air. Afterwards, I asked the girls to get dressed and we went outside for a fun round of Hide & Seek. I grabbed my camera to document the fun. When all hiding options were exhausted we decided to end the fun with a photo shoot.

The party was a success! Both girls really enjoyed the time they spent together and the activities were endless. Sure, I was exhausted afterwards, but I wouldn't want it any other way. Not only do the girls have forever memories, but I was once again an 11 year old.

I am in the process of editing of all the photos I took that night and the next morning. I have decided that once I am done, each girl will receive a disc with the memories so they can look back on this party many years from now and laugh.

I hope you are now inspired to throw a Summer Slumber Party and rediscover the tween in you. 

P.S. I sent the girls home with nail polish, nail brushes, glitter accessories, polish remover and cotton balls all presented in a cute jar.

P. S. S. Don’t forget to have fun, relax, and grab a few cans of silly string spray for an all-out girly war!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Wildly Without Shame

I open the dusty book and wipe off its pages. The smell hits me before I can even bring it close enough to read the words. Ink; etched onto paper as deep and permanent as a first tattoo. I read the words carefully. Who was she back then? How did she feel?

She was I. She was a girl with feelings too strong to contain. She was like a bird wanting to take flight and free herself from herself. Words and emotions far beyond her years would bear down wildly as an old pen and a fresh sheet of paper met for the first time. This was how she would escape, with a passionate sense of relief without discernment. Not containing her voice, her feelings or her heart.

She is the girl I long for again; the girl who expresses herself without fear of judgment and an innocence that can only come from that of a young girl who sees the world as a safe and unshaking place. To share and create what I know deep within myself, for I am no one else but me. I have no reason to compare who I am to anyone, as I am unique and talented in my own special way. This sense of belonging to me and only me does not come from a place of conceit or arrogance. Rather, it comes from a place deep within that knows we are all important. We all have something to gift to others and to ourselves; a gift that is simply and yet elaborately bestowed to us by God.

I will wildly write what is on my heart. I have always been an open book disillusioned by the idea that somehow I could contain my emotions by not giving them a voice. By trying to create strength from building up walls that I am now finding difficult to tear down, realizing now that strength comes from vulnerability. I never have been able to contain my sensitivity as it burns through my demeanor, my stance, my stare.  So I will not prohibit my emotions or my passions any longer from flowing through my hands from my heart onto paper. I will no longer silence myself while believing that I am being protective of my heart. 

I open the dusty book and wipe off its pages. The journal that began with a 9 year old is still light and now musky. This book is also me, I too have sat untouched for too long. I dust myself off of guilt and shame and will etch onto my heart my words that have a voice. I will give no regard to the judgments that come my way; from others or from myself.  I will once again fly.

I Believe in Love

353 days, 5 hours, 9 minutes and 11 seconds until I tie the knot. Yes, I am excited. No, I did not figure this up on my own. I have a cute app “Tie the Knot” on my iPhone that reminds me daily when I will be getting hitched. My tasks for this week are to research florists and hire a wedding planner. I have some work to do. 

I am so excited to be getting married! Dress shopping, flowers, wedding vows, celebrations and more. But to me, that is all minor compared to actually becoming Mrs. Price. See, I have been married once before. I was married for 10 years to a great man. Things just didn't work out for us. Years upon years were spent trying. Unfortunately, we couldn't move past some very serious issues. The dream of never divorcing and having a “happily ever after” story was crushed for me. It did not leave me bitter, though.

I am excited to get married. Not because of the actual wedding. Although, don’t get me wrong…it is FUN planning. I am excited because I know that this man is the one for me. He is the one that I know will be a partner for life. I know that he will love me as I love him. Honestly, there are times that I think he loves me a little more (very little more). I am okay with that, because it feels amazing to receive a giving, selfless love. I am excited because like me, he wants children. Like me, he currently has none. Like me, he can’t wait to start a family.

I believe in marriage. I believe in a partnership. I believe in loving another above everyone else. I believe in building a future together with someone for a lifetime. I believe in love.

353 days, 4 hours, 56 minutes and 58 seconds until we tie the knot. Yes, I am excited!! 

Note: "I am excited"  is used multiple times in this article. ;)

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Where Do I Put This Fire?

I have this deep and intense need to create. To breathe life into something that is of utter importance. I have this urge to connect with myself and others in a romantic, creative, intense way. I want to write words that spill forth from my heart with ease. I want to paint beauty that captures hearts and makes souls cry. I want to share the intensity within my core that shouts exactly how I am feeling through photography. I want to create a dish of the most intense flavor that it explodes passion and cools desire within the mouth of the receiver.

I want to feed my sensitivity with strength that is found only through being vulnerable, open, artistic, and real. 

Maybe, Maybe Not

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Who hasn't been asked this question? The proper answer...or so I thought, were “Teacher”, “Police Officer”, “Doctor”. To be someone who gave of themselves to others with long hours, deadlines and rushing around. Now don’t get me wrong, these careers are important and a passion for many and I respect those who are all of the above and more. But for me, my passion never seemed to fit the “mold”.

All I ever wanted to be when I grew up was a wife and a mother; A woman who gave of herself with long hours, deadlines and rushing around to her home and family. I have also wanted to be an artist of some form; Painter, Writer, Photographer, Chef. Something creative that touches someone’s heart or evokes an emotion of any kind in someone’s soul.

A few years back I had the privilege to stay at home and not have to work a full time job. I wrote, cooked, and photographed whatever I saw as inspiration. I had several articles published on Christian Websites, I was a regular columnist for a “How-To” site, and even won a photography contest taking home 2nd place. I was the happiest me I could be.

Due to unfortunate circumstances, I had to go back to the hours, deadlines and rushing in a work environment. Thankfully God placed me in a job that has afforded me many opportunities I never dreamed possible for myself. I get to create. I get to photograph, design, and more. I love love love my job. I LOVE IT!!!!

So why do I feel as if something is missing? I believe it is because I am doing all the things I love, just not in a way that I love. I am giving my creativity to others, but not in a way that makes me feel as if I am touching someone’s core being. Because I can’t afford not to work and receive a steady income I must work a “9-5”. I think I have felt that I don’t have the time to give of myself creatively in a way that makes me happy because I give so much during the day. I think I make excuses.

All of this is about to change. As a matter of fact, I am already taking the necessary steps to make this change happen for myself. Yesterday I submitted a piece to a publishing company; a Company that I submitted work to 5 years ago. I was never picked up. I may not be picked up now. However, it felt DELICIOUS in my soul to hit “send” on that email.

Today, I contacted a company that I used to have a regular position with submitting work. I didn’t get paid for my work then, and I probably won’t now….if they even decide to let me back in their awesome world. That doesn’t matter to me. It would just feel amazing to create for myself and hopefully inspire someone else. (Bonus…you have to submit photos with your entries! Two loves in one)

Regardless if neither submission goes through for me, I did it. I took the time for myself to do something I feel passionate about. I wrote and I submitted! Toes crossed and big prayers sent up.