Archive of ‘Family’ category

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.

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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.

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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.”

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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…

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“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

 

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.