$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

Flash Tattoos


In December I threw a surprise 30th birthday party for James, and it was a total blast. As an added bonus, I picked up several sets of temporary tattoos (these manly ones for the guys and these gorgeous ones for the girls); I thought they would be fun favors. Little did I know, the tattoo station would be one of the biggest hits of the party (after the beverage cart, of course). Everyone had so much fun selecting their tattoos and adorning them for the rest of the party guests to see.

I had a few of the glittery Flash Tattoos leftover so I packed them in my suitcase when I was getting to ready to go to Ghana in May. On a breezy afternoon during the trip, the older teenage girls and I decided to dig into the stash of tattoos, applying them to their arms and necks and fingers. The jewelry-like tats looked insanely gorgeous on the girls, their dark skin really making them pop, and as I watched them laugh and giggle as they added more glitter to their appendages, I was reminded that these girls - their hearts and stories and reclaimed youth - are worth so much more than gold.

I am so excited that, as a result of our fun afternoon in Ghana back in May, Touch A Life and our fabulous teenage girls are featured on Flash Tattoo's blog today! I was honored to get to write a guest post about the girls, their reaction to the fabulous tattoos, and the story behind our organization. The post turned out beautifully, as did the gorgeous photos by Nancy Borowick. Here's an excerpt from the piece:

With only two staff members in our Dallas-based office, [co-founder Pam Cope and I] both wear a lot of hats. Pam serves as a visionary for the organization, sharing her story and meeting with like-minded crusaders to champion the cause. I love working with Touch A Life's friends and supporters, reveling in the opportunity to connect them to the children they support by leading trips to Ghana and creating donor communication strategies.

Most of all, we can both agree that the best part of our job is spending time with the children we support. We know that even though we have gotten to be a part of their healing in some small way, they have changed our lives more than we could ever change theirs.

Pop on over to Flash Tattoo's blog to read the full post, and then head on over to the shop to snag some gorgeous tats for yourself!

Beauty Truths


There are so many things I love about writing for Darling Magazine. The publication, both in print and online, serves as inspiration for so many readers, and being a small part of that is such a blessing. One of the things I love most about writing for Darling is my relationship with my online editor. She is a smart, sharp young woman who gives me the freedom to present her with pitches concerning a variety of topics, many of them personal to my own life and interests.

Most recently, I got to write about beauty truths that I've learned from my trips to Ghana, lessons I've taken to heart about body image and self-worth and what's really important in this world. It was an honor to get to share some sentiments that I've learned from my experiences working for Touch A Life. I love the picture above of three of our amazing girls, Patience, Janet & Forgive. They have taught me so much about gratitude and self-care and peace and happiness that comes from within, ideals I try to focus on instead of worrying about first world problems, like how my jeans fit. Here's an excerpt from the piece:

In Ghana I am reminded that good health is the utmost privilege, the most important and valuable aspect of anyone’s life. I am reminded that curves are gorgeous, that a smile is truly a window to the soul, and that everlasting beauty comes from within. I am aware that these are also lessons I could learn in the U.S.; they are embraced and exhibited by incredible women all around the country on a daily basis. But for me, I needed to be removed from the cultural influences that seep into my consciousness without my awareness in order to fully understand them. I needed to literally and figuratively step outside of my comfort zone in order to understand how greatly I had been impacted by messages from the media, and for how long.

Head on over to Darling's site to read the post in its entirety, and let me know what you think!

Photo by Nancy Borowick

Back Home


I got home from Ghana on Friday and I feel like I am still figuring out how to adjust back to life in Dallas. Don't get me wrong - I was more than ready to be home with James and our pups, to meet my friends for margaritas and catch up on a few weeks' worth of happenings, and to sleep in my comfy bed. But this feeling inevitably arrives after every single trip to West Africa and even though this was my 12th journey, it doesn't get any easier: every time I get home, I'm a little shaken up, a little pushed out of my comfort zone, a little out of sorts.

And honestly, while that feeling can be uncomfortable, it can also be really good. It's easy to get stuck in the rut and go-go-go of everyday life here in the States, and returning from Ghana always gives me a fresh perspective, one that brings me back to my roots. I'm reminded that it's okay to balance out really productive days (as well as distinctly not-so-productive days) with a really good nap. It's okay to want to be a little reclusive and reflective instead of hopping straight back into the social scene. It's okay to follow a delicious meal of spinach salad & homemade vinaigrette with a serving or two of Ben & Jerry's The Tonight Dough. It's okay to wake up really early on a weekend to clean out the garage only to spend the rest of the day lounging in pajamas and reading novels. It's okay to feel all the feels, to allow the aches and creaks and changes occur in both body and soul.

The children in Touch A Life's care in Ghana teach me so many things, but one of the resounding lessons I learn over and over again is that it's okay, that rest is good, that stress can be a luxury, a concept embraced by first-world nations. I'm reminded that busyness should not be a commodity that determines our worth, that time with people we love is the best thing there is, that God created this big world for us to explore and enjoy. For these lessons and so many more, I'm grateful.

Ghana Bound


I'm heading to Ghana today, and I can't wait to be back in West Africa. The climate of the region has calmed considerably since last summer's heartwrenching Ebola outbreak, and I'm really ready to be back at the Touch A Life Care Center with the children and staff whom we love so much. I never got around to posting photos from the last time I was in Ghana (way back in August of 2013, oh my gosh!), so I thought I'd share some with you now. I was so thrilled that I got to travel with two of my nearest & dearest friends, Lauren & Patrick Cone. We went to Ghana with a group of about 15 volunteers and we helped lay a mosaic installation in Seth's Social Center; host tons of fun activities for the children while they were on summer vacation; and visit Lake Volta, the home to nearly 10,000 child slaves, brainstorming with our Ghanaian staff to determine the best way to make space for more children at our facility. Patrick shot this amazing video for Touch A Life on that trip, which I think is the most powerful & beautiful way to sum up what our organization does.

I can't wait to share photos from this trip when I get back in a few weeks. I had high hopes of scheduling out posts while I'm gone but I didn't quite get every item tackled on my to-do list, so this post will have to suffice. See you soon, friends!