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Watching for Spring

February 23, 2013

Waiting for Spring Blog “Miracles are a retelling in small letters of the very same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some of us to see.” C. S. Lewis 

It has been a hard winter, and I am somewhat desperate to force the spring. I am looking for the small signs, the early bulbs, and budding trees not yet opened, the grass beginning to grow thick and green on the wet corners of the yard. I think I am waiting for nature to break through and reassure me we are not forgotten here in the winter cold, that the earth will warm and the season turn. Today was a cold day, beginning with tiny, pelting sleet like a shower of icy candy my son would love. There was disappointing news and no checks in the mail, and we think the baby may be getting a serious cold. We went to a coffee shop and had a conversation with our new Pastor about the meaning of the Cross and what is lost when the other overarching stories of scripture are forgotten in our zeal for seeing God as only Holy, defeating sin, and not also the restorer of the exile and the rebuilder of broken walls and lives. Despite the signs from heaven, this was a sign of spring to me.

Psalm 104:30
You send forth Your Spirit… And You renew the face of the earth.

How we tell the story of redemption matters so much that the world is whispering it right now, as roots and leaves and tight buds fight through the hard ground of this season the church calls Lent to insist that life will be renewed, winter will end and love will win. And it matters how we tell our own stories. I am weary of trudging through the not yet Holy narrative. The one where we endlessly, hopelessly fall short of the Glory of God. Each unorganized toy pile, unfinished project, untouched to do list, and unpayable bill rises up to remind me I am not enough, will never be enough; as a woman, as a child of God, as an artist. I am beginning to listen again for the other interpretation where He is moving all of time to restore me to relationship with Himself. Where He is seeking me in my exile and calling me home. That he does not love me in spite of my humanity, but because of it. The aching in my heart for rebirth is not the sign I am not worthy of His love, but it is the stirring of the seed of Love that is already there planted. The image of God growing better in dirt and rain and tears and truth than in some pretense I will never reach anyway.

So let the cold rain fall. There is a story here God is trying to tell me -- a story that matters. I am listening now, for the first time in years, and would hate to rush this season.

 

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A Higher Love

Falling out of love with church and finding community again

Some of you reading this completely love your church, have always loved your church, and expect to continue in this state indefinitely. Please move on. This is not for you. If you change your mind, come see me.

This is for those who, like me, have loved a church with all their heart -- and lost too much -- and are wondering if they should ever bother again. The hardest part isn't letting go but starting over. And that is where I found myself. Going through four churches in two years. Five if you count not going at all. They were all good churches. Really. Great churches even. It's like having that one bad relationsahip, leaving you terrified of commitment so you walk away from one nice guy after another.

I never thought I would be that person. I was at one church for eleven years -- in leadership and left only to go on staff at another for seven. Almost all our friends were pastors or in full time ministry and within that bubble it was easy to overlook so many things that just weren’t right. And I don’t mean at the church, I mean with us. We started out trying to change the world, but along the way we lost ourselves. We wanted to change a broken city, and overlooked our own wounds. I’m not sure when we left off worshipping Him to set up an altar to works. But there we were. And two years later, here we are.

There is a process. Sifting out the few good things that can be salvaged from the ashes. Precious lessons and relationships carried forward makes the collective loss more bearable. There were rationalizations and revelations and then just the plain, aching reality of needing to fill the void. I joined groups and jumped into activities and professional challenges, but I knew none of that was filling that space in my soul that was shaped like church. I had to let it go. What I had wanted back was not a place, but that person who was wide open to the idea of embracing a cause bigger than herself and diving with wildly enthusiastic, semi-blind zeal into ministry no matter what the cost. And she’s gone. It’s OK to miss her, but I am not asking God to resurrect her any longer. God has transformed me in this season, and I won’t despise the work he has done in my soul. He has been gently turning me back to simply worshipping Him in quietness, humility, and in trust. 

We joined a church this month.

I am in community again, and it is like water to my thirsty soul -- but I don’t think I will ever fall in love with a church again. I will fall on the higher love and mercy of God and simply seek the company and support of fellow imperfect travelers. That is all for now, and it is enough.

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What the Fruitcake Taught Me

January 11, 2013

As a creative person, I like to believe the things I create matter: the words I write, the images and visions I bring from conception to completion. Yet, I must confess, as difficult as it is, that the most widely seen work I ever made is a cell phone video of fruitcake float from the Richmond Christmas Parade this year. We were in the right place, and clearly there was no way the huge inflatable pastry was going to make it under that light pole. So I recorded. We uploaded the video to YouTube and sent the link to some local news websites and soon it was included in the parade coverageon of all the stations and our YouTube video had over 3600 views from all over the world. It's terrible video. Poorly shot on a Droid, holding the baby and peering over several spectators ahead of us. It captured a trivial moment -- but a moment of minor collective importance to our community. 

 Picture 15

I have learned three things from my little fruitcake video that could:

1) Timing is everything. 

There is simply no substitute for being in the right place at the perfect moment. In this case, I used my knowledge of the great Rudolph balloon debacle the previous year to anticipate a similar disaster. Opportunities are everywhere. Anticipate the next big thing. Be in the the moment when you see your chance. Once the fruitcake pops the moment has passed and everyones cameras are flashing.

2) Relavance trumps perfection.

I almost didn't submit the video because it wasn't up to my own standards as an artist. Everything about it is wrong. Even the fruitcake popping is slow and undramatic. But it got play because it showed a moment everyone else missed. This video met a need for the local media to illustrate this event, so it was valued more than an amazing HD video that didn't capture that precise moment. Don't be afraid to share your unique perspective, talents, dreams, visions because they aren't yet polished and perfect. Your humanity and vulnerabilty may be the best thing about you. You may have within you the vision to meet a need no one else can.

3) Don't miss the parade.

We almost didn't go. We were busy. The kids were fussy. It was cold. But when a parade passes by at the end of your block, go. When you are invited to that event. When you have a chance that may never come again and something inside whispers this may just be something important. Maybe you are burnt out, frustrated, tired of showing up. Don't give up. When you hear the band, always, always go.

 You can only capture the moment if you are living it.

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Waiting Season

Wait on the LordWe are in a waiting season.

The part of winter that follows Christmas, with all its joy and celebration and light always feels a little like one long inconvenience keeping us from spring.  This year, it is more pronounced. Life feels on hold as we wait for God to answer. Everything hinges on “What’s next?”  How can we plan for the future when just tomorrow seems so uncertain?  

Meanwhile, my little girl is on the verge of walking. My little boy is learning new songs and letters and outgrowing his clothes.  There is beauty in falling snow, and in relationships being restored. There is laughter with my family and comfort in God’s provision. Small miracles while we are waiting on something specific.

Our Pastor said this week that we all know how to meditate because we all know how to worry. Just turn God’s Word over and over in your mind the way we turn problems. Look at it from all sides and angles and let it absorb you more than anything else. Let God’s revelation transcend the world’s troubles. I’m trying. And trying to enjoy the season we are in. Like my daughter’s halting uncertain steps, like my son’s charming mispronunciations this time will pass. Soon she will be running with her brother through the park and we will want this moment back. Soon he will be speaking clearly and we will wonder why we were so anxious to make his words just like everyone else’s.

There is grace in those time when you must crawl into his presence. Those times you dwell on your knees, longing to walk again. Aching to run. But you learn things on your knees. There are words you can only speak in the space of not yet knowing. 

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New Year's Networking

January, 4, 2013

My family surprised me with my first "real camera" for Christmas, and I put it to good use capturing some action at a networking event downtown last night. Learned from some great people and am inspired to really focus on growing my business the right way in 2013. Thanks Keenya Kelly! 

(and the Jess Blessed Cupcakes rocked!) yumm!

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  • Photo Gallery

    beachpainting

    Painting for the parents of a dear friend. This was from their favorite photo of my friend and her sister as children. 

    Joy.

    The pure joy of children and the ocean.

Hello

 I'm a designer, wife and mother of two.  I post my work and on the places where creativity and life’s clutter intersect. Looking for inspiration and finding balance.  Join me on the journey.

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TwitterRachel4My name is Rachel. Good to meet you. I like caramel coffee, the way patterns of light or color or ideas fit together, and mornings at the ocean. Dislikes include: political ads, conspicuous wealth and mornings in general. Together, my husband Buddy and I are daily challenged and blessed as we raise two children and run one business: By His Designs.

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