• Family

    My Little Ninja

    When he came out dressed like a ninja, I thought it would be worth documenting. He’s passionate about life. Always moving-and never predictable. He’s one of my favorite people. I think I’ll keep him-at least until he’s eighteen.

    my little ninja photo
    my little ninja
    my little ninja
    my little ninja
  • Candida,  Health,  Personal

    The Candida Chronicles

    I’m feeling mentally weak today. I prayed and asked God to give me strength. Honestly though, the desire to take care of myself isn’t really there. On my own, I’m feeble. I find this struggle to be as much physical as it is mental.

    Two things overwhelm me:

    1. That this journey has no end. It’s life from now on.

    2. The idea of eating a paleo diet with my family of six is a lot to take in. Josh has been so nice about it. But let’s face it-sugar comforts us. It gives this release of happiness in our brain. It’s almost like a drug. I mean, isn’t that why we go and eat chocolate in the closet when our kids are screaming? It makes us feel better. Right? Needless to say, the family is warming up to the idea…but it’s a slow warm up. V e r y S l o w.

    But it helps to remember why I want to take care of myself. Processing these thoughts and writing them down, I hope will encourage me later down the road when I’m feeling weak.

    So here’s why I’m saying good bye to donuts(and basically changing the way I eat for the rest of my life):

    1. If it doesn’t get rid of all the pain(after all, there is no guarantee), it certainly gets rid of most of it. My body feels better when I invest in it.

    2. I don’t always want to be wondering “When is my next flare up going to be?” During flare ups the pain brings me to tears. It’s frustrating. I don’t want to end up in bed guzzling water and wondering if I’ll ever be normal again. I’ve said good bye to normal. It’s time to embrace the life I’ve got.

    3. I want to be a good steward of the body that God has given me. I realize there are some people who only dream of doing what I’m able to do. Some people wish that their cure was as simple as eating healthy and exercising. There’s obviously more to it than that, but I can be thankful and steward my body the best I know how for the Lord Jesus.

    4. In James it says, “Let patience have her perfect work, that you may be perfect and entire wanting nothing ”…he was talking about our faith. Faith grows when we let patience work in us. This whole experience of not knowing the end of the story- of fighting candida and the pain that goes with it for the rest of my life can be discouraging. But it teaches me patience. I get to keep living🙂❤️So I choose to allow patience to work-no matter how the story ends.

    5. I want to be fully present in my kid’s lives. When I’m fighting candida, my mind isn’t the same. I’m not fully present. I forget things more. I worry more. I’m so tired all the time. I don’t feel mentally or physically like myself. Taking care of myself helps me be more present.

    This road isn’t going to be easy.

    In fact, it may last the rest of my life-the doctor said that was likely to happen. So-here’s to the hard road. I’m chugging along, refusing to quit no matter how I might feel about it. God’s decided to give me some lemons-and by his grace I’m about to make myself some amazing sugar free lemonade 😂(see what I did there?)

  • Encouragement,  Watercolor

    On Being Broken

    I revisited a pit this week. Yeah, I know, that sounds weird. But stay with me. 

    I was feeling low. Emotional. Just not myself. I didn’t want to hang out with me. Make sense? 

    My thoughts had been going back to someone else’s critical, hurtful words. That was the pit. 

    You see, I had poured my heart out to someone. I was craving encouragement and wisdom.  I needed someone to see my whole story, but still see me as valuable. 

    We all have our dark closets.

    I thought I could trust her. I opened the door. The things you’re afraid to say out loud-those are the things I said. I was searching for hope-for someone to let me lean into them. I wanted someone to pray with me and for me.

    But instead of encouragement, there was judgement. Instead of hope, accusations. Over and over, I listened to how I wasn’t good enough. I fell short. I missed the mark. My life’s circumstances-my story- made me unfit and unable to discern what was right. She said if I did life like her, things would be different. 

    Her words made the pit.

    But my heart jumped into the pit.

    I spent months there. 

    Questions plagued me. Am I enough? Maybe I’m not a good mother? Maybe all my baggage is too much? What if I’m doing this all wrong?  Can God do something with me? Why am I alive? Do my kids really need me? 

    And this week,  I found myself looking down into that pit again and remembering all I had felt.

    Broken. 

    I’ve never doubted my worth more than when I listened to her. 

    But I will not listen to those lies again.

    This is me refusing to jump into that pit. People will think what they’ll think. But that doesn’t mean it’s true. My identity is found in Christ Jesus alone-not in what others think of me.

    I am not enough. But Jesus is. I make mistakes. I sin. But thank God he saves from sin, and makes beauty out of ashes. He has the power to work through every mistake. My baggage is part of my story.

    What she saw as my weakness-God sees as an opportunity for his glory.

    I’m alive for the glory of Jesus Christ. To know him. To enjoy him, and to point others to His incredible grace. And for as long as God allows I will speak truth. I won’t ever stop. I’ll shout it out loud till the day I take my last breath. 

    I am not enough!! But Jesus is!

    Maybe right now, your standing near the edge of a pit. I’m not sure what your pit is, but let me speak truth into your life. 

    You are not enough, but Jesus is. You are not what others think about you. Your baggage does not define you. God sees your whole story and still says you are valuable. You are made in the image of God, and you were put on this earth for a purpose that only you can fulfill. God wants you. You matter to him. 

    So, grab my hand.

    No really, grab it. I’ll be the voice that speaks truth to you. Lift up your head. Turn your back on that pit. I’m turning my back on mine, too. Refuse to listen to the lies. Remember the truth. Together, let’s walk away with our heads held high because even though we are not enough, Jesus is.

  • Bathroom,  Fixer Upper,  Watercolor

    Bathroom Remodel

    It’s finished. Sigh of relief. Fixer uppers are no walk in the park. But when we finally crossed the finish line for this project, a spark ignited somewhere in this “design soul” of mine. This fixer upper journey is more than remodeling a house-it’s telling a story about us. Our family. God’s goodness. The adventures-the hard and the easy-that shape us and make us grow. Houses are stories.

    Before

    This photo was taken before the wallpaper peeled off, the water stains set into the carpet, and those black tiles started falling off in the shower. It was bad. For as long as I live, I don’t think I’ll ever grasp what motivates a person to lay carpet in a bathroom. (Gag.)

    Before beginning the remodel, I knew I wanted a clean look with straight lines and neutral colors. My goal was mid-century, contemporary and a little boho. Ha. I wanted to accent the bathroom with some of the same rose pink that was in the bathroom when we moved into the home. Overall, I kept the same color scheme with a more contemporary look.

    After

    My main focus in the bathroom was the vanity. We have wood beams in our living room and I wanted the same wood color to run through out the entire house. This vanity was perfect because of it’s straight lines, added warmth, and the black quartz top. I wanted strong contrast between the vanity and the walls; this vanity added the pop I was looking for.

    For now, we’ve decided to leave the door in it’s raw color. It may change as we finish more of the house. But I love how the different color wood stains look together.

    So, that’s a wrap. Bathroom remodel is officially finished. I can’t believe it. For more of what the process looked like, head on over to the demolition blog post.

  • Photography

    Cameras: Which One Should I Buy?

    Around Christmas time, people come to me wondering what camera they should buy? Before telling them what I recommend, I always ask them why they want a camera. Usually people will answer in a few different ways: “I want to take pictures of my kids.” “I want to take pictures of the places I travel to.” “I want to pursue professional photography.”

    Based on their answer, I give them my recommendation. The question I’m going to answer is, “What kind of camera should I buy if I want to take pictures of my kids?”

    Watercolor

    The Camera Body

    My first camera was a Canon Rebel. It was nothing super fancy, but it was all I needed. Before getting into photography, my main goal was to take great pictures of my kids. I wanted to preserve our heritage through photography. I wanted to capture memories. My personal experience with the Canon Rebel won me over completely. I learned how the camera worked, and how to shoot in manual mode. I learned to love photography. Funny thing is that almost 10 years later, I still have it. I gave it to my daughter to learn photography. In all that time, it has never let me down. That’s why I’ll always recommend a Canon Rebel camera.  It’s easy to use and not too overwhelming to learn. But this is only the body.  I prefer to choose my own lens.

    The Lens

    Different lenses are used for different reasons.  That is an entirely different blog post for a different time. But since we’re talking about portraits of kids, my go-to lens is this fixed lens. It’s important to know what a fixed lens is. A fixed lens doesn’t have the ability to zoom.  You have to use your feet.  Some people aren’t interested in a lens that has no zoom.  It’s a preference.  But I think the inconvenience of having no zoom is worth it when you look at the image. Also, the more you practice using a fixed lens the more you get used to moving around instead using zoom.

    In closing, I’d encourage you to remember why you want to buy a camera. The one you choose has everything to do with what you want to photograph. Keep that in mind when you go shopping. And have fun!! Buying a new camera is so exciting! Let me know what you bought in the comments below! Also if you just bought a camera, go and check out this blog post about posing children.

  • Bathroom,  Fixer Upper

    Fixer Upper Bathroom

    The Temporary Shower

    The bathroom demo has begun. It’s only 3 days until Christmas. I hesitated starting the demo over the holidays. Since we only have one shower, we had to improvise and make a temporary shower in the basement. This shower is primitive. Some of you will wonder if I’ve gone completely crazy. But I’ve learned through this fixer upper journey to be flexible and willing to do things most people wouldn’t do.

    Temporary Shower

    This 1956 mid century bathroom was exactly the same as when it was built. The pink tiles, floral wall paper, and the pink fixtures reminded me of what it may be like to travel through time. And while I love some design elements of the 50’s, I’m glad to say goodbye to the pink toilet and bathtub.

    1956 mid century bathroom

    The Demolition

    In the bathroom, we had to take the walls and ceiling down to the studs. We removed the floor because of water damage. The toilet had been leaking through the bathroom floor to the garage ceiling below it. Yes, it was disgusting. EWW! We are replacing the floor in the bathroom, but because of the leak, we’ll also be replacing the basement ceiling in the future.

    Bathroom Demolition

    When we started this demo, we knew that the bathroom would be one of our biggest obstacles in our fixer upper journey. We decided to hire out a lot of the work because of time and our limited knowledge of plumbing. We hired out the demo, the installation of the fixtures, and all the tile work. I’m going to do the painting, and Josh is doing the electrical. As I sit here typing, someone is working in the bathroom. You can imagine the smile on my face. I’d rather be typing than in that bathroom. Ha!

    Shower Space Bathroom Demo
    Toilet Space Fixer Upper Bathroom
    Vanity Space Fixer Upper Bathroom

    The Design

    For the new design of the bathroom, my goal is to make sure it compliments the rest of the house. Throughout the house there is wood texture and color, a mixture of different metals, and white walls (I love white walls!). I’m aiming for mixture of mid century modern with a little bit of boho. I’m excited to see what it will look like! We are hoping to be finished with the entire bathroom in about a month and half. We’ll see how it goes.

  • Fixer Upper

    Fixer Upper Update: A Basement Demo

    Basement demolition started last week full force. Everyone-including the four kiddos joined the hammering, ripping, bashing, and breaking.  All of us have enjoyed the adventure so far. We decided we would do the basement because the last 2 summers we’ve been without air conditioning.

    Basement Before Photos

    In these photos, you can see the asbestos tiles.  We had those removed before we moved into the home. The basement is actually sectioned off by that large orangey wood wall.  The man who built it took pride in how he put it together.  It was tough taking that wall down!  When we first moved into the house we found some treasures hidden in the cupboards of that wall. 

    Basement Demo Mid Century

    Basement Demo Mid Century

    Demolition Photos

    In this photo, the boys are standing where the wood wall was.  It’s gone now!  Most of it. We still have a few studs standing near the fireplace, but you can’t even tell it was there.

    Boy Demo Time

    In the photo below, the light cement on the ground shows you where the orangey wall was. Taking the wall out opened up the space. We gutted the closet space under the stairs, too.  Our plan is to move the washer and dryer into the space under the stairs.

    Here is a better look at the closet space underneath the stairs.  We still have to decide on whether we want to do a stackable washer and dryer or a side by side. I think I’d prefer a side by side washer and dryer.

    Basement Demo Mid Century Basement Demo Mid Century

    In order to get the air installed, we have to relocate our water heater and move some pipes around. I’m excited to see how much space we gain after the air conditioning is installed.  The unit we have now is huge and I know that once we replace it with a smaller more compact system, it will open up the space even more. You can see in the photos below where the original owners installed the venting for heat/air into the wall.  It covers part of the fireplace.  Since we have a fireplace upstairs, we plan on getting rid of this fireplace altogether.

    Basement Demo Mid Century

    Basement Demo Mid Century

    Basement Demo Mid Century

    And finally our pile in the garage-proof that we worked hard.  😉  I know a lot of people find this kind of thing crazy. Some people would never dream of living in a space like this while fixing it up.  But I love it.  It’s an adventure. My house is a wreck, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Both Josh and I, along with kids, have learned so much already.  And we’ve made so many great memories together. I keep telling Josh that after this house is finished, we’re going to get another fixer upper.  Ha!  I think he’s good with it.

    Basement Demo Mid Century

  • My Book

    The Illustrations Reveal

    Well, it’s finally the day.  Almost a year ago, I asked Sara over at Bryarton Farm to illustrate my book.  And now, for the first time, I held the paintings in my hands.  It seems surreal.  And so incredibly satisfying. There really are no words.  But I have to give credit where credit is due. Credit doesn’t belong to me; it belongs to the Savior.  He alone gives me the ability to weave words into pictures. It isn’t about me, it’s all Him.

    Enjoy the video.  Hope you are encouraged today.

     

    Posted by Rae Dawn on Tuesday, March 13, 2018

  • My Book

    A Story About My Book

    2014

    Sitting at my desk, I mindlessly scrolled through my Facebook feed when my eyes caught her name-Kristin Schmucker. A friend slash acquaintance, Kristin and her husband had recently lost their daughter Sophia in stillbirth.  Kristin’s Facebook post stopped me in my endless scrolling: “Losing Sophia has taught me to go out and try all those things I’ve always wanted to do.” I paused.  It was a long pause…

    I thought, what have I always wanted to do?  Life is short. Of all the gifts in the world, the gift of life often falls unnoticed. What am I doing with this gift? The answers muddled together.  I thought, I’m too old for this.  Ha!  No really, I felt old. My fourth child was just one month. As a wife and homeschool mom, I had to do things like laundry and make dinner (have I mentioned how much I detest cooking?). But now there was this big, bold question flashing against my messy reality, “What does God want me to do?”

    The answer: Write a book.

    I had always wanted to write.  Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve loved making stories with words.  After reading Kristin’s post, I knew that’s what I was going to do.

    flowers and books

    2015

    We were living with my in-laws because of our recent move from Alabama to Michigan. I was still writing.  The “chasing your dreams” craze occupied most of my thoughts. When I finished the book, I anxiously awaited my husband’s critique. But his honest opinion crushed me. (I was incredibly immature). He said the book was missing something.  He said it didn’t make sense!

    What?  Discouragement settled in and regrettably I ended up stuffing the book in a drawer. The book stayed in that drawer for about six months. During that time, I struggled with my health. Lots of tests, but never any answers. I also struggled with panic attacks and extreme anxiety. But we grow the most when we walk through the valley with Jesus. In that valley, the Lord taught me about fear.  Fear can paralyze you-if you allow it, or it can chase you to the arms of the all knowing Savior. I learned to trust and fear God.  I learned that my health did not have to determine my happiness.  True joy is knowing Jesus.

    2016

    Eventually, God moved me to open that drawer. The “chasing your dreams” mentality changed to “chasing Jesus”.   When I wrote, I worshipped. I prayed and labored because I wanted every word I wrote to be full of Him.  When I finished, I nervously gave the new edited version to my husband. My heart pounded as I waited for the verdict. I’ll never forget when he read it for the second time.  I was sitting in our 1970’s Ethan Allen retro green chair when he came over to me and laid the book in my lap. Then he bent down to kiss my forehead and said, “That’s it.” His voice rang with approval.

    I later sent the book to Kristin. After reading it, she emailed me, “…This is beautiful. Sitting at my desk in tears because it is so simple and powerful and such a beautiful display of the gospel.  I love it…This will touch so many hearts.”

    Afterward,  I sent my work out to a Christian Publishing Company. When I recognized their number on my phone, my heart literally skipped a beat. What would they say?  Would my book be rejected? I answered the phone and waited. “I have good news for you, Rachel.” The rest of what she said is a blur.  My head buzzed with excitement. That is until I got the other news.  I had to pay between $3,000-$4,000 in order for this company to publish the book. What?  I thought they would be paying me? My limited publishing knowledge discouraged me. I didn’t expect the excitement of my manuscript being accepted to end so abruptly. But I was hopeful, and so I decided to turn down their offer.

    I realized I needed to educate myself about the publishing world. After talking with someone who had years of experience in publishing, I came face to face with the facts.  Traditional publishing has it’s challenges. Apparently, you need to be a people-person. He called it a “platform”.  But honestly, it sounded like a popularity contest. You also need to hire an agent.  He even mentioned that publishing companies can spend up to $500,000 on a single book and author. The conversation left me feeling small and extremely inadequate. Why in the world would a publishing company invest that much in me?

    I’m not popular. I never have been.  Ha!  Ever since 2nd grade when I told Meredith that she was a jerk because she talked smack about a someone, I knew that popularity wasn’t for me.   In public school, I sat at THAT table-you know the one where no one really fits into a mold?  Introverted, with a quiet confidence-that was me.

    Socialization gets me all awkward inside. In large groups, I tend to blur into the background. But in order to make friends, you have to be friendly, right?  Friendliness is a choice. But being friendly doesn’t come easy for me.  How is this going to work? The honest answer.  I have no idea.

    2017

    After praying about it, I decided to look for an illustrator.   I found Sara through a mutual friend and paid her to do the illustrations.

    2018

    She just finished the last painting. What’s next? A whole lot of prayer.  I don’t know what will happen with this book.  Will it get published traditionally?  Will everyone hate it? What if I fall flat on my face? But not knowing is part of the journey. That’s what faith is-jumping without seeing where you’ll land. I’m not sure what God’s plan is for this book.  But I know His plan is always for my growth and his glory.  And that is what I pray for.