Wonderfully Made Podcast

Today our beautiful Ruby is one month old! Time is absolutely flying by and we are cherishing every moment with our sweet girl. We are so, so in love! These past several weeks have been full of baby snuggles, family time, meals with friends, stolen kisses, and evening walks with Ruby and Coach. We've been resting and soaking up time with our newborn girl, remembering that our sweet love will never be this little again - she is just precious, and we are so grateful.

In the meantime, there have been some exciting developments in some side projects I've been pursuing. I'm so excited to share that I am the co-host of an exciting new podcast for Wonderfully Made! Allie, the Founder of WM, and I reconnected at the Yellow Conference last summer and we realized we had a shared passion for podcasts. We decided to join forces to launch our own podcast on behalf of Wonderfully Made, one that would feature authentic conversations with world-changing women who are living out their unique purpose. Tag along as we interview positive female movers and shakers who are championing this generation of young women to live with integrity, passion, and faith. In the first two episodes you'll get to know Allie and me better, and in the third (which launched yesterday!) we begin interviewing women who inspire and challenge us. Subscribe on iTunes and you'll never miss an interview!

P.S. Thank you to James and our dear friend Tommy for writing the original music for the intro & outro of the podcast - they did an amazing job!

$30 for 30

I love birthdays and celebrations and gift-giving. I love cake and Champagne toasts and treating myself to something sweet because it's my special day. But as much as I love these things, I love giving back even more. I don't like asking for anything, especially for gifts, but this year I am donating my birthday to Touch A Life, and I would be so honored if you would consider giving $30 to this amazing organization as a part of my birthday celebration. In this season of gratitude and in light of next week's Giving Tuesday, you may be looking for a way to make a diffence, and I'd love it if you'd like to support Touch A Life. I hope to raise $3,000, allowing our organization to offset initial expenses for the amazing 25 new children who were just rescued from trafficking and placed into our care. If you feel compelled to give, you can donate here and select "Rachel's 30th Birthday" in the donation drop-down menu.

I love the photo above so much. James & I have sponsored Baba for several years, and I was on his rescue from Lake Volta in August of 2009. Back then he was scrawny and suffering from malnutrition, so much so that his black hair had an eerie orange tint. He was sullen and depressed and silent. But Baba quickly transformed into the darling young man he is today - a hilarious, helpful, hardworking leader who has sprouted up several feet and now towers over me. Baba, like so many other children at the Touch A Life Care Center, is such an obvious representation of how well our organization's methods are working. He is a tangible example that by providing rescued children with holistic care, the love of a family, and an opportunity to heal, we can make a huge difference. And by donating to support our efforts, so can you.

P.S. Take a peek at our brand new website! We have been working so hard on this revamp all year long and I am just so dang obsessed with how it turned out.

Image by Natalie Shelton

Wonderfully Made

Even though I took a self-proclaimed blogging sabbatical, I have still been writing for Darling Magazine and I've actually scored another writing gig with a beautiful organization that I've believed in for so many years, Wonderfully Made. I wrote for Wonderfully Made's blog when I graduated from college and I got to interview amazing women who were making a difference in the world. It was so much fun. After a year or so, I took some time off from that project as Wonderfully Made underwent some exciting changes, but I kept in touch with the organization's founder, Allie Marie Smith, through the usual channels of social media and the blogosphere. We reconnected at the Yellow Conference in August, and she asked me to come back on board as a contributor. I was so excited that I jumped at the opportunity, and I've already written a few pieces that you can read here and here. Stay tuned for more fun posts and projects that are in the works. Thank you for having me, Wonderfully Made crew!

Wedding Season

I love fall for a myriad of reasons but one that tops the list is because it's wedding season! I have attended three weddings in nearly as many weeks and it is so, so special to be included in a couple's sacred day, whether as a guest or a member of the wedding party. Most recently, I was the co-Matron of Honor (alongside my bff, Karli) in our best gal, Becca's, wedding in Nashville, and even though it's already Wednesday, I'm still having wedding weekend withdrawals. It was an incredibly gorgeous ceremony combined with an unbelievably fun reception spent with some of my very favorite people in the world. James & I went to a sweet wedding at a beautiful venue in Weatherford, and I went home to Chicago for my cousin's wedding, which was family-filled and wonderful. The cherry on top is that one of my Dallas bests, Laura, got engaged over the weekend! We met for coffee & wedding talk this morning as I sat there with my cherished friend, I felt that there is so much love in the world. All seems really, really right.

Home Team

You all know by now that I identify completely with everything that Shauna Niequist writes, especially the content that pertains to relationships and community. This passage from Bittersweet about the concept of the home team is one I revisit frequently, as it's always a reminder of how blessed James & I are to be surrounded by the most amazing family and friends:

"Everybody has a home team: It's the people you call when you get a flat tire or when something terrible happens. It's the people who, near or far, know everything that's wrong with you and love you anyways. These are the ones who tell you their secrets, who get themselves a glass of water without asking when they're at your house. These are the people who cry when you cry. These are your people, your middle-of-the-night, no-matter-what people."

When life is sailing along smoothly, it's easy to take my home team for granted. I thrive on catch-up phone calls and margaritas on porches and flurries of text messages but I admit that I don't always practice gratitude as frequently as I should, assuming that these happy occurrences are just a given. But when hardship occurs, as bleak as the dark days may seem, there is always a glimmer of light and brightness and hope, largely in part because of my home team. They bring over soup and wine and books and movies; they send texts and cards and leave voicemails, requiring no response in return. Some days they come over to laugh and talk about anything besides that one hard thing, and other days they come over to cry and talk about only the bad things - and they have the wherewithal and the savvy to know what's needed most each day. Our family and friends have blessed us more than we can ever say, modeling what a home team looks like and inspiring us to show up for others the way they always show up for us.

Image via Lovely Life