Dreams Music Video World Premiere

dreamsblogentry2

Today it all begins! My album is officially out and I feel every emotion imaginable. This has been a long and amazing journey for me, and although it may appear to just be the release date of my album, it is so much more than that.

I decided to release the music video for Dreams first, as this song was really the beginning of it all. Finding my individual sound was a challenge for me because I’ve been in a group for my entire life. I wanted to approach the making of this album with fresh eyes and ears and discover my own sound, but to be honest I had no idea how to explain what I wanted. I’m not even completely sure that I knew what it sounded like, I just knew I’d know it when I heard it.

After a long search through some incredible and talented producers, I found Jusamelody. When I heard the track for Dreams I immediately told my husband, “I need to write to this right now.” Thankfully he is the most supportive man in the universe, so he took our daughter to go play so I could get to it. I sat in our office and began to write. The song just flew out of me like it had been waiting to be written all of my life. Dreams was the first song I wrote for this album that sounded like ‘me’. It set me free in a way I wasn’t expecting and truly inspired the rest of the album.

Dreamsblogentry1

I started dancing when I was 4 years old. I was in a mall with my mom and I saw a group of girls tap dancing and said, “I can do that!” My mom must have laughed because not only was I just a 4 year old, but I was a 4 year old with Pigeon Toes (my feet turned inward when I walked.) But she believed in me and thought maybe it would help, so she enrolled me in a class anyway. It became my life and I danced competitively for the next 11 years. I stopped pursuing a career in dance only to begin pursuing my career in music.

This brings us to my new music video. Let me preface this by saying that I haven’t danced in 10 years. Dancing is something that sets me completely free. For me it is an outward expression of just letting everything go, and I was terrified to do that in this video since it had been so long. I thought for sure it was one of those things that your mind still believes you can do, but in real life you’re just going to break your hip. But this song is about following your dreams. It’s about silencing the voices that tell you what you can’t do and focusing on the one voice that matters. Dreams is about believing, and the beauty in walking with the Lord is that you don’t even have to fully believe in you… You just have to believe in Him. You just have to get out of the boat, place your feet on the water, and let Him do the rest. It’s terrifying and exhilarating and worth every bit of the risk.

“Everyone has oceans to fly, if they have the heart to do it. Is it reckless? Maybe. But what do dreams know of boundaries?” - Amelia Earhart

Click here to purchase my new solo album Honestly:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/honestly/id903096728

 

Behind the Song: Low

I was raised in a warm, loving, Christian home. My parents are my biggest role models and they are everyday, real life examples of what walking with the Lord looks like. They’ve always made their decisions based on God’s Word and they wait on the Lord in faith, no matter what they are going through. I am so thankful for this upbringing. Honestly, I have no idea what I would’ve gotten into, had I not been raised in such a loving home.

But because I was surrounded by so many good experiences, I never really had a lot of contrast. I was no angel, but I didn’t have a dark past to look back on as a reminder of the difference between walking alone and walking with the Lord. As a result of that lack of a ‘turning point’ in my life, I always felt like I didn’t really have much of a testimony.  Even though I knew that was a lie, deep down, it was still how I felt.   I can only speak for myself, but as someone who has been a Christian for all of her life, it can become a struggle not to find yourself feeling a little too comfortable and stagnant in your walk sometimes.

This song is about a time when I felt numb. I’d come to a place in my walk with God where I was just going through the motions. It was a time when I was running on fumes. I had all of the right verses perfectly tucked away in my heart, ready to activate when I really needed them, and somehow I thought that was enough…

The truth is; when I’m not growing, I’m just standing still, and it’s when you’re standing still that the things that are chasing you can catch up with you. There was no major event that triggered this feeling, only a slow growing complacency, which is the most dangerous, in my opinion.

I was reading Hebrews in my study bible and there was a quote that really hit the nail on the head so perfectly.

“We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves that we have been liberated.”          – D.A Carson

You don’t have to have completely walked away from the Lord to be in major need of a change; it’s the gradual decline that really gets us sometimes. The kind of decline that creeps up on you so slowly that you barely realize it’s happening. The day I finally realized this was happening to me was an unbelievable punch to the gut. I had everything I could ever ask for and I was suddenly burnt out, short-tempered, annoyed, and negative.  At the time, I didn’t understand where this feeling was coming from.

I hadn’t realized that there are so many things you can replace God with, and that I had done just that. I had been depending so much on my responsibilities, my roles, and my relationships instead.  So much of my happiness was wrapped up in others instead of in Christ alone. After a while I realized that when I was alone I felt, well… really alone.  I poured so much of myself into my concern for what others felt, thought, and needed, that I ended up feeling completely empty. Let me just say that taking care others should definitely be a priority in our lives, but we can’t take care of anyone if we aren’t allowing our Savior to take care of us first! For me, this had everything to do with my pride. The voice inside of me that kept saying, “I’ve been a Christian for forever, and I’m totally fine! I’m just busy, I’ll get back to feeling good eventually.”  God was just waiting for me to let go, to stop trying to fix things myself, and give it all to Him.

This song is about that time in my life when I realized I needed a change. I was barely holding on, not because everything was horrible, but because it wasn’t; I had just become completely complacent in my walk… I had this strong foundation, but that was all I had. I was no longer building on it; I was just standing there. This was a time in my life when I learned that there is a significant difference between mature contentment and complacency, and if I was to grow, there was no room for the latter.

The chorus says, “The truth is; I don’t know you anymore, not the way I want to. The truth is; I’m surviving on this storage, and I’m running low, low, low.”

God’s Word should be breathing new life into us each and every day, and though our walk with the Lord is not about feelings, we can’t deny that we have them, and we tend to share those feelings with everyone but Him. For me personally, so much in my life had changed and I had been putting myself dead last for quite some time. I thought by doing this I was being noble, but the reality is; by not taking the time I needed to take to be poured into, I was putting God last, and by doing that I was robbing not only myself, but my Creator, and those who needed me throughout each day. Yes, my life had changed, I was in a new season, and I was definitely not going to have endless hours on a tour bus to journal in my bunk in silence and solitude like I used to. But that didn’t mean that a quick 2-minute devo was going to be sufficient fuel for what God wanted to do in my life. I realized that it wasn’t His word that was no longer speaking to me; I just wasn’t listening… I wasn’t giving myself time to listen, and the truth is; there is always time.

One of our hardest battles is between what we know and what we feel. Don’t lose heart when you’re feeling low, we know that the end of one chapter is really just the beginning of the next. Take the time you need to build upon your foundation.  Sometimes the best project you can work on is you!

Click below to listen to a snippet of “Low” featuring the extremely talented Deraj, and check back next week for a new snippet and Behind the Song blog entry.

Behind the Song: Honestly

With this post I begin my new blog series “Behind the Song.”  I thought it was only fitting to start with the title track on the album, “Honestly.” This song really encompasses the theme of the entire project, so I’m excited to dig in and share the heart behind it.

When I started doing music I was very young.  It all started in 1998 with three curly headed kids and a trip to Aachen, Germany. We went there to write and record our first “official” SoulJahz album. I was fourteen years old and in the eighth grade. We took our spring vacation and an extra week off from school to go chase a dream and see if it was something that would become a reality. We came home with a seventeen-song album and some major label record deals. If we’d ever doubted that this was our calling, those doubts ended right then. Thus began our journey…

We spent the next thirteen years writing, recording, touring, and following our dreams as “Souljahz” and then later as “Washington Projects.” Those years are so precious to me and I am so thankful to have been blessed with such amazing opportunities. After my husband and I had our daughter Selah in 2011, I took a break from music to learn to be a Mom, something I’m still learning and will continue to learn for the rest of my life! Last year I felt a tug on my heart to step back into my calling and ministry in music and was presented with the opportunity to release a solo album. To be completely honest, at first I didn’t want to. I’d never wanted to do a solo record before. I always loved the comfort of having my big brothers around me, and that was the way I liked it.

When my career began 1 Timothy 4:12 was my inspiration. “Do not let anyone despise your youth…” I knew that I was called to do what I was doing despite the fact that I was very young. Now that I was a wife and stay-at-home Mom, I knew in my heart that the most important things I’ll ever do will be within the walls of our home, so I wasn’t sure if I had a calling outside of that anymore.

The chorus says, “I’m too old for these games, but I’m way too young to feel this way, honestly. It’s time for yesterday to up and fly away. I’ve got so much left to say, honestly.”

Sometimes we forget that we live our lives in seasons. Change scares us and we can easily hold ourselves back by refusing to move forward. The world is in such a hurry to say your chances to be who you want to be are over, and we need to stop believing those lies. Thirty is not the new forty, forty is not the new sixty, each day is new, and it’s never too late to grow. A tree’s leaves change, even fall to the ground, but it just keeps growing, all the while never forgetting that it is a tree. It comes back to life each year even more beautiful than the last.

It’s taken me a year to make this album. Something that usually took weeks has taken an entire year. Here’s why I’m not sorry… I was living. You can’t write honest music without writing about what you know, and you don’t know anything until you know it! If you have ever met my Dad you’d say that was a total Ernie Washington quote! Sometimes you have to go through things before you can really write about them. This song is about that journey for me. I realized that for a period of time I hadn’t been growing. Instead I’d been trying to grow backwards, which in essence is really just shrinking.

When I was younger I always tried to keep my professional life and my personal life somewhat separate. When I came home I wanted to be a teenager, and do teenager things. I didn’t even like talking about my career with new friends because most of the time it would change the entire conversation. I learned quickly that I preferred to keep it to myself and to just get to be me when I was home. I thought that being a recording artist looked one way, and being myself looked another, and that was the way it had to be. So now that I was a wife and stay-at-home mom, I was afraid to pursue what I knew I was meant to. What would that even look like now? Silence is a lot to ask of a little one, although to her credit, there are a few lines on the album that were recorded with her sitting on my lap.  It took a few extra takes, but you gotta do what you gotta do, right?

I knew going into this that I wasn’t going to have the luxury of writing songs with an endless amount of time, surrounded by silence and inspiration for days. I was going to be lucky if my toddler took a nap that day, so I’d have an hour to write and eat and unpack our boxes and move into our new home…and stare…at the wall. Kidding! (Don’t judge me, I have a two year old. A two year old who stopped taking naps for eight months. Eight months, people!)

I just didn’t see how this was going to work and it wasn’t just the circumstances that had changed, I had changed. I wasn’t even sure who I was anymore! Music was a huge part of my life for such a long time that in a way, I’d allowed it to define me.  When I stopped doing it, it felt like I became someone completely different.

I asked God to show me what I should do… Did I still have something to say? Did He still want to use me this way? The next morning I had two messages in my inbox, two random emails from two completely unexpected sources, someone from the past and someone from the present. One was from a woman my age who attended a concert of ours over a decade ago and wrote to let me know that she has been following me via social media since and felt led to email me thanking me for being an inspiration. The second was from a young woman who is very dear to my heart, away at college, asking for recommendations for a daily devotional.

There is nothing in this world that could convince me that any of that was a coincidence. Sometimes tiny paragraphs can be HUGE confirmations, and although we all get emails all the time, I specifically asked the Lord to show me if I still had a voice, and I woke up to not one, but two answers. They probably have no idea how much of an impact those short emails had on my life!

God told me to make this album, and to make it by being honest. No gimmicks, no game plans, no trying to figure out who my ‘target audience’ is. He just told me to write. When the time presented itself, when the inspiration showed up, write about it. So that’s exactly what I did. I wrote from my experiences and I wrote from my heart. I pray that it reaches anyone who needs to hear it.

It took some time, but you can’t rush things that need time to grow. The process of making this album has grown me more than I can even put into words. While I thought I was making it, it was really making me.

Click below to hear a snippet of  the title track “Honestly” from my upcoming album & check back next week for another “Behind the Song” blog entry & snippet!

A Song For Selah

JUSTMOM

I’ll admit it.

When I set out to do this record I was afraid. I was afraid because I knew that I would have to be willing to give the world the key to my heart, a look into my joys, and a peek into my struggles. I knew that God was calling me to do more than just write songs; He was calling me to honesty. After all, for me music is more of a confession now than it has ever been. I believe that’s what makes it real. That’s why it touches our lives in ways we can’t explain, because we can relate to music and it can relate to us. It tells my stories for me, in a much more elegant presentation than my words give alone.

Over the past few years I have been…living. I have walked through so many seasons that I felt it would be impossible for me to write without sharing them. My writing was so different seventeen years ago when this all began, not only because I was only thirteen years old, but most importantly, because I hadn’t lived yet. There was a very limited collection of experiences that I could pull from when I signed my first major label record deal at seventeen. Of course as time goes on, that collection grows and matures, but it has never grown as much as it did in these past four years.

And this is only the beginning.

There was definitely a time where I didn’t feel relevant anymore; where I feared that everything I had to say that related to my former audience was gone, and that I was now a wife and a mother and no one would be interested in hearing all about that. God showed me that it meant I had something new to say; rather, He had new things to say through me.

In these past years of living I have been through so much. This album will tell a lot of those stories and I am excited to share them with you all in more depth here on my blog. This first story is one that is very near and dear to my heart. This is a love story about someone I didn’t even know yet. Someone I wasn’t sure would ever come into my life, but when she did I was changed forever. This is the story of the season that brought us our little girl.

mom&se1

When I was nineteen I was diagnosed with both PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) and Endometriosis. Several doctors told me that I would have a very hard time ever conceiving a child. Even though that wasn’t in my plans at the time, I’ve always known that I wanted to be a mother someday, so that was devastating news to me. I spent the next eight years of my life worrying. As problems arose I had surgery after surgery dealing with these conditions, wondering if the doctors were correct in telling me that I may never be a Mom.

When Kent and I got married we wanted to spend time just being together. I wanted to do the things that most new wives want to do, and I didn’t want the pressure of “trying to conceive” immediately looming over us everyday. We knew that (according to all of my doctors) there was a slim chance we’d ever get pregnant, but we chose to go about life as any new married couple would, trying our best not to rush into anything out of fear.

Wedding

A year of wedded bliss flew by and I started having a lot of pain again. I went in to see my doctor and found out that I had another ovarian cyst (by this time, several surgeries had been performed in an effort to correct this problem). I was so frustrated and confused. I could have another surgery to have the cyst removed, but it could just grow back and cause more issues…again. I could leave it there and see what happens, but then I’d be risking my health as well as the chances of having children in the future.

I was sitting in this chic little office that people usually come to for 4D ultrasounds of their baby and gender reveals. Surrounded by beautiful baby pictures, I became so frustrated that I began to cry right there on the table. I will never forget when the ultrasound technician said to me, “Don’t worry, one day we will be looking at a baby on that screen instead.” I remember thinking, “Why would you say that to someone? You don’t know that!” Deep down I’d been wishing someone would give us that kind of hope, but at the same time I was so afraid to hope at all. Kent and I asked God to show us what to do, and we felt that He said, “Wait.” So we did. The doctors agreed to ‘watch’ the cyst for two months and if it grew I’d have to go in for another surgery. My doctor also made us aware that if that happened our best bet would be to start trying to conceive right after the surgery before my problems came back again. I was so confused…so now we have to be ready or else what, we miss our chance? Besides, we don’t even know that we can get pregnant. So now we’ll have to make a decision we’re not ready to make, knowing that we may just be trying for something that may never come? It was all so complicated.

When I went back in at the two-month mark I was so nervous. I remember thinking, “Lord, your will be done. Please just make it clear to me.”

MOM&SE4

As I sat there with the tech waiting for him to give me the news I just knew it was out of my control…it always had been and it always would be. So I just let go…the tech looked at me and said, “It’s gone. It’s just gone. You don’t have a cyst anymore. It just went away on it’s own!”

I couldn’t believe my ears! It just disappeared! That was when we knew…we decided that day that we were ready to be parents and to start ‘trying.’ Not because we were being forced into it, but because we were ready! I knew there was a chance I would never get pregnant. I would love to say right now that I stood strong in my faith the entire time, but that wouldn’t be the truth. That wouldn’t be honest. Honestly, with each month that passed I worried that it would never happen. I worried that it just wasn’t in God’s will for me to be a mother and even though I was praying it was, I was trying to prepare myself for that possibility. I’ve always struggled with the difference between faithlessness and acceptance. It’s always been hard for me to understand when to have full faith in something and when to let go and know that God’s plan is better than mine, even if that means that His answer is, “No.” I struggle with understanding the difference and in this situation that struggle was exceptionally real for me. I mean honestly, I have two conditions that both cause infertility, that’s hard to ignore. But I should have; I should have ignored it all and trusted in the God who created me.

Five months.

Five months was all it took. When I saw those double lines I almost passed out. I had to have taken six pregnancy tests that day. But they all came to the same conclusion, that God had a plan…there was a tiny human growing inside of me, a little miracle!

rachaelbaby

The first time we saw her on the screen we were with that same ultrasound technician. I made sure we went back to see him in his beautiful office so that I could thank him and tell him that he was right. I truly believe God used him to speak hope into my heart in a time when I really needed to hear it.

ultrasound

That tiny human is now our two-and-a-half-year-old daughter Selah Grace.

Selah (to pause and reflect on) Grace (God’s grace).

How can we not think about God’s grace when we look at her? It is by His grace that she is even here.

MOM&SE2

God has continued to prove Himself ever faithful to me, no matter how faithless I am and I cannot even begin to tell you how undeserving I am of that grace. But that’s the beauty of it all, isn’t it? We don’t deserve it, yet He loves us anyway.

A struggle with infertility is truly a difficult one, and I can’t even say that we scratched a tiny bit of the surface of that journey. It only took five months for us to conceive our child…I would never dare to compare that to the years of pain, heartbreak, and losses so many have been through in their journey to become parents. My own mother struggled for nine years before being blessed with a child. I cannot even imagine that kind of pain…but I am familiar with some of the emotions. There were eight years of worrying and wondering, years of feeling like a huge piece of me was broken, and years spent fearing that those broken pieces would define such an important part of my future. These were years of feeling called to become something I didn’t know whether I’d be equipped with the tools to become.

Selah is my little firework. She is so much more than I ever could have asked for. She is so ambitious and has the biggest heart of anyone I’ve ever known. She is my life’s greatest achievement that I did absolutely nothing to earn, deserve, or achieve. I can take absolutely no credit for her, yet God allows me to call her mine. She is continuously making me a better person and she gives me a meaning and a call that I am striving everyday to be worthy of. I want so badly to protect her from this world; from all of the pain she will encounter growing up in a world that will constantly try to make her question her worth. But again I have to remember God’s love for us, His plan, and how much greater that is than any fear I can come up with. I have to let go and trust in Him. I am grateful for the opportunity to be a part of her story now, as she is the most amazing part of mine…

MOM&SE3

So easily we forget the desires of our heart once they have been obtained. One battle is won, only for us to create another in its place. Of course now that I’m a mom, I no longer struggle with doubting that I will ever become one. But as many of us do, I fabricate new struggles to replace it with. I often catch myself watching other stay-at-home-moms, envying those who seem to carry on each day with ease: five children in tow, a massive smile on their faces, and a thought in their minds about when to have number six. I find myself feeling guilty knowing that I struggle to keep up with my one very ambitious little human, constantly questioning my sanity, and wondering why the God of the universe thought me good enough for this job! I worry that returning to the music industry and making that a priority in any way will affect my daughter negatively, even though deep down I know that she is a huge inspiration behind the reason I sing at all. Now that I have a daughter of my own, I struggle with the idea of being ready for another child, as if that is my decision to make at all! In this season, I may not be the mom who sees a newborn and is immediately beckoned to conceive, but believing that the lack of this feeling makes me ungrateful for the child that I have is as much of a lie as the notion was that I would never become a mother at all.

I am not the author of this story, God is. This fact alone is truly the cure to every one of my insecurities. I spent eight years worrying about something that wasn’t a fact, just a thought, and a theory. The fact is that, whether I was going to be able to carry a baby or not, God’s plan would have been perfect for us, and He knows exactly what He’s doing. If we could just grasp the fact that God is holding us in His hands – that our story is being written by someone who knows better than we do – then we would all save ourselves so much heartache. I need that reminder, every single day.

“I would rather be what God chose to make me than the most glorious creature that I could think of; for to have been thought about, born in God’s thought, and then made by God, is the dearest, grandest, and most precious thing in all thinking.” -C.S Lewis

MOM&SE6

Mother’s Day is a yearly reminder of what a blessing it is to be a mother, to carry a child or to be blessed with the ability to adopt a child and entrusted with a life other than your own.

I am just like any other mom raising a two-year-old: ready to pull my hair out at any moment, stressed, tired, insecure, never sure that I’m doing it right, and just trying to balance it all. This song is my daily reminder that God believes I can. That He loves me enough to give me the desire of my heart and to equip me with what I need to be what she needs.

Even though this is song is the story of my personal journey, I hope it will meet you where you are and encourage you on yours.

My first solo album titled, “Honestly” will be available this summer, but I wanted to give away this song and share this story with all of you first. It is a better introduction to who I am today than anything else I could ever say.

MOM&SE5

Hug your little ones tight. Know that through the trials, temper tantrums, bills, joys, and sorrows, God has a plan. He has a plan that we can’t even see yet, and it is so much better than anything we can imagine. He loves our children even more than we do and He loves us more than we’ll ever know. You don’t need to be a mom to need that reminder! Please share this with anyone you think would enjoy it!

 

Click the picture below for the FREE download  of “Selah” – Which includes the song itself, artwork, and lyrics:

SelahCover

Happy Mother’s Day!

r.

 

 

 

Pen the page.

JournalRach

 

JournalKent

It’s amazing how quickly we forget. My dad always talks about it; we have to have that new phone… If we could just get our paws on it, life would be magnificent. But once we have it, once we’ve held it in our hands it loses it’s luster. It’s suddenly dull and kind of normal and we toss it into our bags and pockets as if it were an old crumpled gum wrapper. The longing is easily forgotten and we move on to something new to long for, as if it all never happened. We live in a world of instant gratification… So instant that I get annoyed when I have to click an extra button to get what I want and genuinely think to myself, “Seriously, can’t they make this faster?” Who are they anyway? I don’t even know, I just want them to fix it. Thankfully there are some things that even technology can’t rush.

Journal1

My husband and I have two personalities that are worlds apart. But we have one very important thing in common; a deep love for one another. This fact was never more clear to me than on our wedding day, and not for all of the usual reasons. Yes, we became husband and wife that day. Yes, on that day we started a beautiful journey together. But what I didn’t expect was that something I held so dear to my heart, something I had been secretly planning for so many years, was also being planned for me.

I wrote briefly about this when I shared a part of my story on my brother Jekob’s wonderful and inspirational website 3things.org  (If you’d like to read more about the journey that brought us together or share your story go to: http://3things.org/rachael ) I didn’t grow up much like other kids did. I’ve spent most of my life traveling, following my calling, and chasing my dreams. I wasn’t much of a romantic on the outside, I was busy and focused (most of the time.) I put up an iron exterior and kept the boys at arm’s length to protect myself from having to keep saying goodbye. I thought, it’s so much easier if you don’t care…

But deep down inside I was completely hopeless, absolutely hopelessly romantic. Everything I pretended not to be. I secretly started a journal of prayers for and letters to my future husband when I was 16 years old and wrote in it until I was 25. I filled it with all of my hopes and dreams for the life we’d one day have together. I told him everything…

journal3

“Hey love, well today was a very long day for me. I had a showcase at Warner Bros. today. We did a show at my new label in a place that so many musical geniuses have performed in. Before I went on they told me that Prince played here when he was a little older than I am now… No pressure or anything! But the show went really well, I think. The Lord’s hand was all over it. I have been struggling with my vocal nodules and God just really answered my prayers and gave me a voice to sing with for the entire showcase. I am so thankful. Oh, and even though I feel like I’ve been done with high school for  4 years now, I thought I should let you know that I’m officially done! Feels… well, normal! Haha. Im so excited because our album comes out in a few months and I’ll also be turning 18! Things have been pretty exciting around here. Through all of this I am still thinking about you and how amazing you’re going to be. I know that through all the hard times you will be there no matter what. I have been preparing for you all of my life and I’m not gonna stop now. I know you will be an amazing man after God’s own heart and I cannot wait to love you.” – May 29, 2002

 

Journal4

Some of it is so embarrassingly hilarious! After all, there are entries where I was a full blown teenage rapper who used phrases like, “Yo, check it.” But honestly, I am so glad that I wrote those things down and that I wrote them to Kent. I didn’t know him yet, but all of those things I ‘knew’ he would be are completely true. He has been able to read through my mind and my heart for him in different stages of my life. He has a tangible reminder of my desire to love him… and so do I.

Now to the best part of the story… As it had always been my plan, I saved the last page for the night before our wedding. I wrote something special as my last entry to the man I was going to marry and on our wedding day my wonderful bridesmaids delivered my wedding gift to Kent so he could peek at it before the wedding. After our wedding was over, Kent sat me down and gave me his wedding present for me. A journal… A journal he had kept since the first the day we met.

journal5

I couldn’t believe my eyes. Neither of us knew the other’s journal existed. Kent is a man of few words, my complete and utter opposite, but when he speaks he means what he says. He is wise and thoughtful with his words, and I admire that so much about him.

To my surprise, he wrote down everything! All of his feelings throughout our entire relationship. Feelings I never even knew he had, much less on the days that he had them! Words I would cherish for the rest of my life, written down on actual paper that I can hold in my hands and touch with my fingertips. Like this entry below where he says, “I started saving for your ring today.”

Journal2

One simple sentence that carries so much meaning.  Not only because of the sweet intention behind it, but because it was written an entire year before those words were ever spoken aloud. It is evidence of a feeling I didn’t know he had. Evidence of his patience and desire to love me for longer than I’d ever known. It is priceless.

journal6

I can’t put into words how grateful I am to have these incredible gifts. To be able to read each other’s paper hearts and to have a physical reminder of our longings.

I started this post pointing out the ways we forget. We achieve the desires of our hearts and quickly forget the passion that began those aspirations. Life gets in the way and we struggle to carry on a conversation over children’s voices and the sound of the TV. Though we’re not doodling sweet nothings into secret journals today, we are living out the sweet everythings we have been blessed to enjoy together. Sometimes it’s nice to have a reminder of what started it all!

So whether you are single, dating, or married… A mom, dad, sister, brother, or friend… If you have something to say thats worth saving, write it down. You don’t have to go back in time and start when you were a secretly romantic teenager like me, you can start now. Tell someone you love something you feel in this moment. Don’t say it in a text message that will get old and be deleted over time in order to make room for all of the new. Write it down so that they can hold it in their aging hands and save it for the years to come. You don’t need to be eloquent, you only need to be honest.

Do it not only for the ones you love, but do it for yourself. No one can inspire you like you can. Reading your own feelings can do something to your soul. It has the power to awaken things you’ve forgotten were there. It has the power to remind you of where you’ve been and to inspire where you want to go.

Put the pen to the page. There is always something to say, a song to sing.

“A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.”

― Maya Angelou

xo,

r.

Write now.

Writing new music looks A LOT different than it used to. I remember sitting in my bikini on the beach in Hawaii, with the wind in my hair as inspiration just crashed upon me like the waves in the ocean. There are no waves or sand now. These days I’m lucky if I get through an entire day without finding food in my hair. Having a child will do that to you. It will also change you for the better in ways you couldn’t even imagine… One of the biggest blessings of my life! The hardest part about writing for me now is the urgency of it.

“Selah is asleep, get creative. Right now. Write NOW!”

I find it difficult to rush inspiration. What I’ve found that helps me is the aesthetic of the space I’m in. Being surrounded by things I find beautiful helps me to create (prayerfully) beautiful things. So this is what I had in mind when began to design our home office.

I LOVE black and white. I love the contrast, contradiction, and courage they display together. Just looking at the combination of the two often inspires me, so I like to incorporate the black and white duo as often as I can.

Here’s a look into the new rachaelmessini.com HQ:

Office1

I’m not big on new year’s resolutions, but this year I decided that in 2014 (and beyond) I am going to live more in the “now.” I often struggle with trying to balance it all, being present, and not always looking to what’s coming next. Whether I’m hanging with my husband and daughter, writing music, or designing a new space, I want to be right there and be intentional about it. So I decided to write it on my heart and (literally) write it on the wall in hope that my “now” clock will serve as a daily reminder to enjoy what’s happening in every moment and in every season.

Office4

My daughter outgrew her beautiful crib at about 18 months… and by outgrew I mean ‘wouldn’t stop climbing out of it.’ Out-climbed? Yea, that’s better. It was too pretty to just get rid of, and soon after we transitioned her to a toddler bed the crib was recalled anyway. So I didn’t know what to do with it! I basically had a pile of beautiful pieces in our garage that needed a home, but didn’t fit in with the aesthetics of the rest of the rooms in our house. I decided to make them all work together for the office!

We gave the crib new life by redesigning it into a small love seat where Selah can play or I can cuddle up with a good book; it’s actually quite cozy!

Office3

My new ‘desk’ is actually a sofa table that I’d previously painted a minty color but never assigned a home. I gave it a new purpose by painting it black and pulling up a chair. Turns out it is just the right height for a very comfortable desk.

office9

office8

I thought the closet doors could use a little love too, so I painted the middle and top panels a glossy black. I love how much drama black paint can add to a room!

Office5

My absolute favorite part of this space is the view. It has a magnificent patio* that overlooks our backyard! The doors let in so much natural light and there is almost always a wonderful breeze blowing in. It’s hard not to be inspired when I sit down at this desk and look out at God’s beautiful creation!

Office6

*Stay tuned for a post on my patio makeover coming soon!

xo,

r.

Whine & dine.

In October of 2013 my husband and I sold our home with no clue where we were going next. The value of our home had increased significantly since we’d purchased it in 2010 and we knew it was an amazing and much needed financial opportunity for our family, but it was so, SO scary! On a major leap of faith we put our house on the market and it sold within the first month. We were blessed to have a interim place with family to stay and to have found our dream home while we were in escrow. God was and always has been so incredibly good to us!

I never wanted to be one of those people who complained about how ‘hard’ it was to buy and sell our homes at the same time, record a new album, and have a 2 year old running around at the same time, but let’s be real…it was a nightmare. An actual nightmare. You may be familiar with the saying, “Cleaning with kids in the house is like brushing your teeth with Oreos…” Well, think that but then add paint, drills, music, snot, and about a zillion DIY projects everywhere. Honestly, I wasn’t a sane woman for a while there. It is a difficult task to try to implement a vision for your new home in the midst of chaos, but I can tell you right now that it was all so worth it.

Let’s start with the Dining Room!

(The before shots are from the previous owner of our home)

DiningBefore

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

The rope orb chandelier (which I am in LOVE with) was from http://www.onekingslane.com, and was only $199! Such a steal, especially in comparison to the $1,400 one I first fell in love with from Restoration Hardware. Our bank account quickly reminded me that it was out of my reach, so I was so excited to find a comparable piece that was priced just right for our budget!

I love a nice open concept layout, but sometimes separating one space from another can be a challenge. I’ve found that if you are able to create an accent wall in your dining room it really helps to visually set the space apart from the rest of the room.

I fell in love with this wallpaper from American Blinds:(http://www.americanblinds.com/wallpaper/productid,78156)

Wallpaper is a wonderful option for any accent wall. The most important piece of advice I can give you in regards to wallpaper is this: buy wallpaper paste even if the paper you choose is “pre-pasted.”  It rarely sticks well enough and is a huge pain; I chose to use both together and it worked wonderfully (by wonderfully I mean I only wanted to pull my eyes out 20-30 times, rather than 100)! Wallpapering is on the extreme side of annoying, but the results make it completely worth it in my opinion!

Our Living Room is one of my favorite places in our home. The windows give so much light to the room and it makes me want to snuggle up on the sofa and read a good book with a cup of Ovaltine (that is, if my 2 year old would take a nap…but that is a completely different subject).

Livingbefore

Livingafter

livingclose

I LIVE for floor-to-ceiling drapes. They add so much drama and height to any room. Once I tried them I became addicted and now they are in every room in our home. I absolutely love our new sofa…”The Magdalene” ($1295) from Living Spaces (http://www.livingspaces.com/ProductView.aspx?productId=71968).

I’ve always wanted a chesterfield sofa, but they can be pricey. I didn’t want to be that mom who is constantly freaking out if our toddler is touching our sofa, so this was a really affordable option for us since I wanted it in a light color. The fabric is also very durable and cleans extremely easily so I don’t have to have an anxiety attack every time she wants to sit on it. Ha!

Our grandfather clock is a Craigslist find that I upcycled. It was actually really easy to do! I took out all of the inner parts, added shelves, and painted it to create a unique curio. I have also made a red one in the past for my daughter’s room and use it to store her diapers! I will make sure to write a post on those DIY projects in the future!

Hope you enjoyed our Living Room and Dining Room makeovers!

xoxo,

r.

Honestly

I have so much I want to tell you… So many things I want to share. Music was always my outlet. It was where I could be myself, where I could tell the truth. Somehow somewhere along the way I lost it, the connection I had with my pen and paper. The strings that attach my soul to the sounds were severed and I felt like I couldn’t find my way back. After all, I wasn’t the same girl anymore. All of the pieces that made up my identity had changed; they’d shifted and reinvented themselves behind my back. Although I was delighted with their new form, I didn’t know how to put the pieces back together, how to be all of these things at once. What would this new version of me look like? What did she have to offer? What did she have to give? I knew what my role was at home… The minute you are blessed to form a human in your womb you are changed. You can never go back and you don’t want to. The minute you hold that beautiful creation in your arms you know exactly who you are, why you are here, and in that moment nothing else matters.

rachaelbaby

Even though I have changed, my calling has not. How do I do this? How will I connect these two worlds in which my heart resides? Everything is compartmentalized for me… I wrap things up in their pretty little boxes and I like for them to stay where they belong… I don’t know how to do this.

Rachaelpic

Music is my art, the kind of art that provokes the soul. The kind that beckons me to soldier on… I haven’t felt this alive in years. I’ve come to realize that I don’t have to choose. I leave nothing behind but the notion that I have to be the same. I am not the same. I am still growing… I am not the girl I used to be and to strive to be her is to chase a memory.  I am a wife. I am a mother. I am a writer. I am an artist. I am obsessed with interior design and shoes and I have way too many watches. I have passions to share and life to live and there is no reason to leave any of it out in the cold, waiting for it’s season that may never come. I am going to live out loud and I am going to share it all with you, honestly.

This is my blog… This is my heart… Here I will share my thoughts, hopes, dreams, DIY projects, style, stories, and anything else worth sharing! I hope you will find encouragement in the every day joys that make up this life we are all so blessed to live… I can’t wait to hear from you.

xo,

r.