speak up

Fear // A Speak Up Vlog

Hello, October! I love your weather but I'm not a huge fan of your spooky holiday. I do love your pumpkin stuff (but not those lattes, because they're not vegan) but I don't love your focus on evil, creepy, terrifying things. So, with all that in mind, it's appropriate that Amber and Annie chose few for this month's Speak Up link up!

Here are my (shorter than usual!) thoughts on FEAR and how I'm learning to choose to have faith when things are scary.



What do you think of when you consider what fear is and what fear isn't?

WORK // A Speak Up Vlog

So, funny story... last month, the topic for Amber and Annie's Speak Up vlogging link-up was restoration. In all the craziness of getting ready for my trip and for moving, I wanted to record it before I left, so I rushed to get that done.

Well, I did it, and I loved it...but once the whole thing went live, I realized I had the topic TOTALLY WRONG. I recorded a great vlog on redemption...yeah, not the same as restoration.

Anyway...this month, I got the topic right! HA! We are back talking about WORK this month, so here is my take, and make sure to check out Amber and Annie's as well!

Here are the five things I hit on, and if you click them, they'll lead you to links that represent each one for me!

BALANCE // COMMUNITY // REST // WRITING // INSPIRATION

Independence // A Speak Up Vlog

Tomorrow is the 4th of July -- YAY -- and with that, we are talking about INDEPENDENCE today for the Speak Up link-up!

In yourself right now is all the place you’ve got.
— Flannery O'Connor

Check out all the other fabulous friends linking up and chatting about independence here!

If We Were On A Picnic // Speak Up link-up!

This month for Speak Up, we are going on a picnic. It's been about 60 degrees and constantly raining in Richmond for days now (my favorite kind of weather maybe EVER) so it was a little tricky to try to get in that summer picnic state of mind...but here you have it, ants on my keyboard and all!

While you're at it, make SURE you check out the goodness of Amber and Annie, the beautiful and brilliant hosts of this awesome link-up!

Also: That turkish towel I talked about? I got mine in Sevenly's Causebox (seriously the best box subscription out there), but it's from Give Perf and I love it. // When I mentioned you should listen to Hillsong's EMPIRES album, I wasn't kidding. You can find it here. // If you're interested in reading some incredible stories and testimonies, you can find them all here: Story Seeker

See you all again next month for another vlog! July is all about INDPENDENCE. Can't wait.

Celebration // A Speak Up Link-up Vlog

The first Friday of every month, Amber and Annie host another Speak Up! Link-Up-- this month's focusing on celebration. With today being Good Friday and Easter coming in just three days, the theme is appropriate. While where we are at in the Holy Week story doesn't look good today, we know Easter's coming. We know Christ conquers death. We know there is hope, there is victory. What better reason to celebrate?


I want a life that sizzles and pops and makes me laugh out loud. And I don’t want to get to the end, or to tomorrow, even, and realize that my life is a collection of meetings and pop cans and errands and receipts and dirty dishes. I want to eat cold tangerines and sing out loud in the car with the windows open and wear pink shoes and stay up all night laughing and paint my walls the exact color of the sky right now. I want to sleep hard on clean white sheets and throw parties and eat ripe tomatoes and read books so good they make me jump up and down, and I want my everyday to make God belly laugh, glad that he gave life to someone who loves the gift.
— Shauna Niequist

TRUTH // Speak Up! Vlog

Every month, I'm linking up a vlog (unscripted and unedited so enjoy that!) with Amber and Annie's Speak Up! link-up. The first Friday of every month, we are sharing our hearts and thoughts on different topics, and March's topic is TRUTH.

Here we go, friends! Seven minutes of thoughts from Rachel's brain at 11 pm. Enjoy!


Jesus Christ doesn’t just give us truths; he is the truth. Jesus Christ is the prophet to end all prophets. He gives us hard-copy words from God, truths on which we can build our lives, truths we have to submit to, truths we have to obey, and truths we have to build our lives on, but he himself is the truth.
— Timothy Keller
The Truth must dazzle gradually
or every man be blind.
— Emily Dickinson

Any thoughts on truth you want to share? Anything you loved or hated about what I shared? I would love to hear from you in the comments below!

Heart // A SpeakUp! vlog

Welcome to the second month of the SpeakUp! link up hosted by Amber of Mr. Thomas & Me and Annie of What She Saw! If you missed last month (the theme was Wild and Free) you can find my vlog here.

This month, the theme is HEART. I've shared one of my all time favorite C.S. Lewis quotes below and then rambled on video for five minutes-- enjoy! It's been so fun to show you all my face and kind of come out from behind the words a little bit through these vlogs, so I hope you're enjoying it as much as I am!

 

Also-- how was giving a two minute speech in my college public speaking class SO HARD but somehow, I talk for five minutes on video without realizing it's been that long?! Bizarre.


To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.
— C.S. Lewis

until The End

An incredible thing was born in 2014. It was called #fireworkpeople and it has been changing the world (and my own life) every day since. It's a community of the most creative, alive, on fire women I have ever known, and out of that group have come some of my favorite new friendships.

One of those new friends is Amber. From the very first time I saw her tweets pop into my feed during the weekly #fireworkpeople Twitter chats, I knew I was going to just love this girl. She is an absolute powerhouse-- her words are stunning, eloquent, bold and real all at once and they shoot straight to your heart. I can't get enough.

She makes every single woman she comes in contact with feel seen, heard and loved all within a single second. I've never even met her in real life and I feel like she's one of my dearest friends. She is the kind of friend you want in your corner because she just makes you feel invincible and unstoppable. 

She's a phenomenal writer, and her blog is one of the few I religiously read every single day. She is the most gracious and welcoming of hostesses, in her own life and even online with the link-ups she organizes and runs so wonderfully. She's a beautiful wife who so evidently adores the man she married, and a faithful follower of her Savior. Her heart for building community even amongst people who have never met in real life is so encouraging and inspiring-- she is someone who will pour out everything she is and has to bring people together, and I've seen it make such an unforgettable and lasting impact on so many lives already.

Everything Amber touches seems to turn to gold. She radiates such joy and light everywhere she goes, like she's made of glitter that's just spilling from her bones. I cannot wait for the day I get to breathe the same air as her, hug her so tight, and just talk for hours over huge mugs of coffee somewhere.

This girl is grace and grit all wrapped up in love with a beaming smile, gorgeous tattoos, a heart of gold and a selfless servant's spirit. She's a gem and I cannot wait for you to read her story.


I’m Amber. Born and raised and now settled for life in a small town laying happily under the Californian sun. I'm an adventurer and homebody, a misfit and His beloved, trouble and grace; I'm more contradiction than constant. For years I worked hard to keep my God and my blog separate. Then life fell apart and God brought my many pieces together for one cause: to write for His glory instead of mine. Though my story is flawed and messy and mostly imperfect, His love is redeeming and graceful which affords me the amazing opportunity to share what is great in life: Him.   


I grew up between rose bushes, flowers turned to the sky, thorns prepared to protect and pierce. I grew up snipping thick stems at a diagonal so my mom could display the scarlet, salmon, saffron buds atop her white wooden table. There are chapters, spiny and fragrant, wrapped around those stems, full of those blooms and their soft like velvet petals.

On Sunday mornings, I'd wander the yard from blooming bush to blooming bush, coordinating the colors of the buds until my bouquet's composition felt just right. Rubbing the petals between my fingers, smelling their scent, I fell in love with the yellow roses, my namesake: Amber Queen. I loved their lemony scent, their smiling faces, their small thorns.

I grew up in soccer uniforms, grass stained and numbered, more devoted to the team than to my singular self. I grew up chasing balls covered in black and white octagons, sweating profusely in summer sun and shivering in my sweats come the winter chill. There are chapters, victorious and exhausted, laying on those fields, among the greenest of grasses and sloppiest of mud puddles.

Every weekend spent geared up and laced into leather cleats, tromping wildly like a herd, back and forth, to and fro in the name of victory. Sweaty and exhilarated, I learned there was no I in team, that the individual isn't much without support -for me, ten girls in matching uniforms. Muscles sore from the effort, voice scratchy from the game-time communication, I thanked Him for community in church, life, and teams.

I grew up wishing to be a wife, dedicated and honest, just as I'd seen exemplified by my own mom. I grew up praying with my parents and brother in the mornings before catching the bus and listening to their muffled conversations from my bed in the evenings, There are chapters, tender and care-filled, in those treasured moments, smelling like morning coffee and evening glasses of wine.

Always, from my earliest of memories, I'd notice the small moments within our every day routines, watching them love one another unapologetically. I'd offer silent prayers asking for that kind of love to Him, knowing full well He understood. Following them through life, always aware of their tightly-linked hands, I would wonder what it felt like inside their hearts -warm and happy, like drinking hot cocoa covered in whipped cream in the chill of snow.

I grew up on California beaches, blond hair always bleached white by the sun, skin kissed deep shades of tan. I grew up cleaning sand from my nail beds and sore from time among the waves. There are chapters, beautiful and salty, on those beaches, covered in sand and filled with the entitled caw of seagulls.

If even for just a moments time, I'd still on the shore and watch the tides. In, in, in they'd come, closer and closer to kissing the beach wall. Then out, a retreat, as though shy or scared. The water seemed so in control, so dominant as it tossed those surfers -small and black in their wet suits- to and fro on the waves. I'd stand there and think about what gave the water strength: gravity, a moon's orbit, magnetic forces at play.

I grew up unaware of the chapters, the characters, the differing settings. The way they'd transition in and out of my life, changing my heart, rubbing against my story like two rocks in the waves -slowly softening one another's edges. I grew up sure I was in control, I was making the way, I wrote my tale.

Here I am standing on the shore where six years ago I was on a first date with the man who would be my husband. Reflectively, I roll the strong stem of a yellow rose between my fingers and stare out at the sea. The waves roll in, the white foam reminding me of frothed milk on my morning coffee. The seagulls yell to one another, only rivaled by young girls chasing a soccer ball in the sand. He stands beside me, silent, and I smell his scent, pheromones, on the salty air. And here, the chapters are a cocktail, mixed together intoxicating me in gloriously emotional ways.

The chapters, seemingly separate, blend together as a novel, not yet ending, instead unfolding around me, within me. The characters are alive, the setting transforming bit by bit, the forces of plot ever-moving. And, I decide, this is a tale to be cherished, beloved, shared, until I see The End.


Wild and Free: my first VLOG

Mr. Thomas and Me

This has been a huge week of firsts on this little blog...my first giveaway (open until midnight tonight! you could win a book and it's super simple so check it out here!) and now my first vlog. I'm loving this.

As you have heard (I'm sure), #fireworkpeople rocked my world in 2014. The women I have met through this incredible community are beautiful and brave and full of the very best ideas-- like this monthly vlogging link up hosted by Amber and Annie.

These two...I can't even find words to do them justice. They're on fire. Watch their intro video if you want to get to know them a little bit-- you'll fall in love with them, I'm sure of it.

Here's how this thing works! Every month, on the first Friday, I'll post a vlog as part of the Speak Up link up. You'll get to see my face and hear my voice and get to know Rachel the real person, not just the one behind a screen sharing words, and it's going to be great. 

Within seconds of seeing Amber and Annie on my screen, I felt like I really and truly knew them. I've been reading their words and chatting with them on social media for months, but as soon as I saw their faces and their mannerisms (adorable) and heard their voices, they became real people to me in a whole new way. That's the beauty of this whole thing and what drew me in instantly.

I can't wait to link up with everyone else and connect to even more women around the world as we all share our voices and speak up each month. Feel free to join in this time or next time if you want to be part of the fun, too. Let's hope I get better at this whole vlogging thing with practice...

Anyway, here we go: WILD and FREE is this month's theme. Here's my vlog in all of its glory!

My first-ever vlog as part of Amber Thomas and Annie Wiltse's Speak Up vlogging link-up!

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