hello, and welcome!

Back when I was just me, sitting barefoot on the back of my dad's truck, wearing a hand-me-down dress and easy laughter. The Farm, 1991

Back when I was just me, sitting barefoot on the back of my dad's truck, wearing a hand-me-down dress and easy laughter. The Farm, 1991

I'm Rachel: God's dear daughter, very happily married wife to my husband of thirteen years and oft-perplexed mother to our eleven year old son. We live in a cozy house in the woods with our sweet, albeit poorly-mannered dog, Mable, and have found our faith home in the Orthodox Church. 

I'm pursuing a small, ordinary life, full of beauty, meaning, and faith. What that looks like may change with the seasons, but the aim remains true. I am interested in and write about prayer, wellness, marriage, mothering, movement, nature, & work.

 

I have a few important jobs to do. Playing it cool isn't one of them. Shielded from both sun and cold at Sand Beach, Acadia National Park, 2017.

I have a few important jobs to do. Playing it cool isn't one of them. Shielded from both sun and cold at Sand Beach, Acadia National Park, 2017.

 

The Rest of the Story...So Far

I’ve lived a small, good life so far. To be clear, I’ve not been good: I’m a self-centered, angry perfectionist who craves admiration and whose desire for order and quiet causes me to lose it with my son or dog at least once a day.

For the sake of fairness: I do possess a few pleasant qualities. I like to think I am a little bit funny (haha), make decent guacamole, and have good taste in children’s books. 

But the main reason I have lived a good life is because God has been especially lavish with me, and I don’t know why, except that He Himself is good. 

When it was my time to become a human person, He set me on a little Indiana farm, with two parents who loved each other (and still do) and a little brother for a best friend, and grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins all around. I was on the tractor turning soil with my dad in spring, playing hide and seek with friends as the locusts sang in late summer, and listening to mom read aloud in front of the wood stove in winter.

It was a good start. Not perfect, but good. There were bits in there that turned me this way or that, as happens to children while they grow up, due to people being what they are, despite doing the best they can.

I went to a small rural high school, and didn’t have aspirations for my future beyond being married, staying home, living quiet and small. I was so good at high school, adults told me I should try college! I gave it a go, but didn’t want to stay without a good reason to be there, so that was that.

Our first photo. Farmhouse Kitchen, 2003

Our first photo. Farmhouse Kitchen, 2003

When I met my husband the first time, his hair was in dreadlocks and he smoked cigarettes during the week and pot on the weekends. I was seventeen, still had braces, and bought my clothes at Goodwill because it was cool. We each found the other intriguing, but the timing was off. We amicably parted ways, and then that good God brought us right back together where we belonged, at a Bible study in a friend’s upstairs apartment two years later.

Shortly after we reconnected, he and I sat on my back step one night, having the Relationship Defining Talk. At that moment, a cow in the pasture beyond us farted from deep within each of its stomach chambers, like cows do, and we laughed. If that wasn’t a sign from heaven that we were meant to walk through life together, I don’t know what was. We married one year to the day after that first Bible study at the ripe old ages of 20 and 24. If you asked me now, I’d change pretty much everything about that wedding but the person I married and the potted herb centerpieces (those were cool), but that’s how it goes with weddings.

Two years in, we gave birth to our son in that farm house. I labored through the sticky-hot July night, believing that as long as I held Chad’s hand, I would make it through. I was right. My mom sat next to me through my contractions and as I pushed my son into the morning. My dad, outside, listened to the owls talk to each other all night long. My brother and his wife were in the farmhouse kitchen when Oliver gave his first cry at 6am. I haven’t done any harder physical labor since, but the emotional labor of raising that child has been the realest thing that’s busted me up a hundred times over.

That was a memorable day to me, for it made great changes in me. But it is the same with any life. Imagine one selected day struck out of it, and think how different its course would have been.
Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation of the first link on one memorable day.
— Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

I was unprepared for mothering a child like the one God gave me. I didn’t understand my job as a mother (which I believed was something along the lines of “Homeschool him. Teach him to obey and behave.”), and my toolbox was pretty small. The first several years were hard.

Two big things happened the year I turned 29: we moved from the farm and built a house in the woods across from my Granny, which I planned to do since I was a little girl, and we joined the Eastern Orthodox Church, which we did not see coming at all. Building the house (which I designed and contracted) felt like a second Big Labor, and I am proud of it. Becoming Orthodox was like embarking on a journey we’d been preparing for all of our lives and like coming home all at once. 

As we were settling into these major shifts, there came a low point in the dark of winter as my seasonal depression was hitting its stride, and I tearfully wrote my good husband a letter, asking him to please take me very seriously: I was depressed, I was angry, and I could not stay home with our son any longer. It wasn’t healthy for me, it wasn’t healthy for him, and we were not flourishing. The homeschooling, stay-at-home-mom life that I thought was the formula for “how to do things” didn’t fit us, and I didn’t have the heart to continue. The next day, Chad gave his two week notice at work, and told me we’d figure it out and do what we needed to do.

One morning I woke up earlier than I needed to and practiced  yoga. Photographic proof. Spare Room, 2017

One morning I woke up earlier than I needed to and practiced  yoga. Photographic proof. Spare Room, 2017

That was a dark year, but dark like the dawn. I began practicing yoga and saw a counselor. Chad took up the homeschooling and we lived off of our savings. I did some organizational consulting for friends. I often sat quietly and just looked out of the window and thought. In August, on my 32nd birthday, I received an email requesting an interview in response to a resume I’d sent to a local liberal arts college for a part time administrative assistant position. I went to Goodwill the next day to find an interview outfit.

I recently celebrated two years in that position, and now work full time. My colleagues are incredibly talented and caring, the work I do is meaningful and life-giving, and my view of the world has expanded exponentially. I work in a quiet, tucked-away office in a beautiful building, with a window, and five plants that I water each Monday.

Pretty much as good as it gets, on many levels. Spare Room, 2017.

Pretty much as good as it gets, on many levels. Spare Room, 2017.

Oliver is still homeschooled, now by our neighbor-friends with his best buddy, and he is flourishing. He loves playing soccer, Legos, and talking about obnoxious eleven-year old boy things in a loud voice. We are still in the thick of things, but we love each other deeply and have a solid relationship. I have a better-stocked parenting toolbox, and a more holistic understanding of my calling as a mother. 

Chad is diving into homesteading, something we’ve wanted to pursue since we built our home five years ago. He’s worked elsewhere as financial necessity has dictated, but his heart is here and we’re going to figure it out and do what we need to do. He is reading about permaculture, starting to ferment things in jars on our kitchen counter, and as it turns out, he is an absolute rock star at meal planning and making dinner. 

We still like being together best of all. 

September 2017


My Instagram Feed  Not included: piles of papers, angry yelling, dog hair everywhere, trash that smells like a decaying carcass, slammed doors, quiet tears at midnight, overdue library books...again, and self-pity.