Wow, after all the love I was shown over my last post, I know it will be impossible to top that. But that's not what it's about now, is it? This is just a friendly update post about what we've been up to. I said I was going to try and blog more, so this is the result of that.

Nick and I went to Las Vegas a few weeks back. Actually, my miscarriage process started right before we left but didn't really kick into gear until we got home, which was a huge blessing. Nick and I had a ton of fun exploring a crazy new city we had never been to before! We ate some amazing food, saw a few incredible shows and even won a bit of money at the casinos! It was the perfect little anniversary getaway for us and was a good distraction from what we would come home to. Here are a few photos from our trip...

Also, a couple of weekends ago Nick and I went with my family to a pumpkin patch in Kent. Owen had more fun than I think he ever has in his entire life. The whole time we were there he was flapping his arms, his eyes were gigantic and he couldn't wipe the grin off his face! It was so much fun to watch him enjoy himself so much!!


We also had a very funny moment in our home the other day. Owen got into some purple paint without me knowing and he was COVERED in it! Now there are a few purple paint stains on his carpet that I'm not sure will come out... Hopefully we won't have to replace the whole carpet in his room! Ah, the joys of children. This is how I found Owen after putting away what I thought were all the jars of paint in our art bin...

You can imagine my shock and horror when I found this little monster banging on our sliding glass door! All I could do was laugh and take pictures of him. The paint had already dried so the damage was done. I love the confused look on his face! He cracks me up. I left him like that for about ten minutes - until Nick got home, so he could see this for himself - and then we promptly plopped Owen in the tub. I'm pretty sure there's still some purple on him. It took some serious scrubbing to get his skin back to the normal color!

I am so blessed by my little family and all God has given us. I am so thankful for the opportunity for little getaways and fun activities that allow me to spend good quality time with my two favorite people in the world. It is such a joy to watch Owen grow and learn and for all three of us grow to love each other more. I love this life I have been given SO much!


Sovereign, Gracious, Glorious!

Rest in God's sovereignty. Rely on God's grace. Submit to God's glory.

These three short sentences are written on a pink sticky note that is fastened to my computer screen which forces me to stare at them every single day. They are a small excerpt from Paul Tripp's book "Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands". They are three of God's greatest truths that we often skew and twist in our sinful hearts. I think I am beginning to understand how to live out these three things more and more every time I read them. Yesterday was one of those days where those three truths were put to the test.

Nick and I were given the news yesterday that I miscarried our baby.

There are many emotions I am feeling right now, but the one I keep coming back to is peace. True, my heart is full of sorrow that our baby will never see this earth and snuggle in my arms. True, I am angry that the existence of sin results in unborn children being taken from the womb. But more so, I am full of peace that our good, glorious Savior is holding our baby in heaven right now. I am actually more jealous of my child than I am upset! Our beautiful baby will never experience the sin of the world. He or she will never watch their loved ones die or be in physical pain. They will never be rebellious toward God or go through a season of doubt. Our child is in PARADISE. He or she is just waiting to meet us.

And that actually brings me JOY.

Knowing that this is all part of God's glorious plan allows me to rest in His sovereignty.

Knowing that God will comfort me perfectly allows me to rely on His grace.

Knowing Jesus is loving on our child right now allows me to submit to His glory.

A good friend of ours shared with me that through her miscarriages she relied on Jeremiah 29:11-13 as a reminder of God's truth. This made me smile because not only is it a fabulous verse, but I am so fond of it that we read that verse when we dedicated Owen to Jesus little over a year ago. Here it is:
"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart."
Additionally, my best friend reminded me that the middle name we picked out for a boy was Elijah. In the Bible, Elijah never died - he was taken straight up into heaven on a fiery chariot. It brings me hope and joy to think that our baby was able to pass from this world to the next in a similar way. Maybe in a bit less flashy of a manner, but still - without pain and straight to Jesus.

All in all, I am immensely thankful. I am thankful for our community that is walking with us and being available in this time. I am thankful for caring doctors and midwives who have been alongside me every step of the way. I am thankful for our healthy son who gives me great joy. I am thankful for my supportive, loving, caring husband who is being sensitive to my needs and is constantly checking up on me. But mostly, I am thankful for our sovereign, gracious and glorious God who knows exactly why this is happening, how it will contribute to His plan and how it will bring Him glory.

Thanks for reading, friends. And thank you for your prayers. We are truly blessed.


Grace Abounding

Hello my few but wonderful readers!

I cannot believe how long it has been since I wrote. I keep feeling this nagging when I get on the computer; "Write! You know you want to!" And it's true - I do want to - I just somehow haven't found the time in a month and a half. Ugh! Not okay. Hopefully this will remedy my absence well and help me start to become more consistent in posting about the amazing life God has given me.

Ferry-ing to Orcas Island for a wedding

What can I say but that God has blessed our little family abundantly since I last updated you. My family of three has become four - Owen is going to be a big brother! My due date is April 30th but I'm hoping for a little girl on May Day. It would just fit in so well with our family (since Owen is a Fourth of July baby). Nick and I are going to find out the gender this time around just to make preparations a little easier. We loved waiting last time but I do want to know if we need to buy some pink accessories or just hang on to what we already have from Owen. We have both of the names picked out so when we come back from our ultrasound we'll know exactly who we'll be meeting in a few short months. If you want to know the names, ask me personally.

God has given me a wonderful first trimester yet again. I am tired, but not as much as last time. My appetite is a bit smaller but I don't feel sick. Honestly, I forget I'm pregnant most of the time because I'm so busy with Owen. It's nice to have something else to focus on - it'll make this waiting period go all the faster! I am so excited to meet this next little person. It's so amazing to me that though he or she only has webbed fingers right now, in just a few months they will be a whole person. It's so much different the second time around.

Additionally, God has blessed Nick's and my community group immensely in the last month. The summer was a hard season for us because we were extremely busy and our community group was inconsistent and small. We felt attacked multiple times over the summer and became discouraged. We began to question if we really were supposed to be doing this. But of course we are... God just wanted to work on us first. A month ago, we had four new families visit in ONE week! In one night, our group went from four to twelve. And the most amazing thing to me is that all of our group members are jumping in with two feet and want to get involved and serve immediately! I cannot believe what God was waiting to give to us. Each member of our community group has been a huge blessing to both Nick and I and I am SO excited to see where He leads us in this next season!

One of the most fun things ever just happened a couple of weeks ago. My best friend Melissa and her husband moved into our apartment complex. Not only that, but Mel's husband Justin got a job where Nick works so they have been able to carpool to work and encourage each other in their careers! It has been so much fun already having our dearest friends live so close but I cannot WAIT until their baby arrives! Mel is due in November so we are getting very close!

Gosh, now that I'm thinking about everything else that has happened since I last wrote I think I need to just list a few things off...

  • I finished my first wedding season as a photographer. I learned a ton, grew in my skills and am very excited with the results of this summer. I cannot wait to give it another go next year! 
  • We went to a lake cabin for the weekend with some friends. Thankfully the three of us were able to get away when summer finally showed up in August! It was a great couple of days filled with relaxing in the water. There was no internet, cable or cell phone service so we really had to depend on each other for entertainment!
  • I started my own Mary Kay business. If you are interested in learning more about the company, purchasing our skin care products or hosting a Mary Kay party (and earning free product!!!), please don't hesitate to contact me!
  • Nick and I celebrated our 2-year wedding anniversary on September 19th. We went out to dinner and afterward ate the top of our wedding cake. Yes, the cake actually tasted good! I guess four layers of saran wrap actually can preserve frosting for that long! We will also be celebrating our anniversary with a trip to Las Vegas next week. I am so excited!!!

All in all, I am completely amazed at God's grace upon our family. Our little boy is healthy, growing and charming as ever, Nick's and my marriage is growing and maturing as we learn more about Jesus and each other, I see God's miracles surround me as I hear stories about His grace to others and I am just peaceful. My heart is happy. The love of Christ fills me like no other thing in this world. There is SO much to be thankful for that if I listed off everything when praying at the end of the evening I would never go to sleep.
He makes my world a little brighter
So thank you, Jesus. Thank you for being better than the best earthly thing. Thank you for Your grace that covers me, my sins, my family, my community and this world. Thank you for never changing. Thank you for listening to my feeble attempts at praising You when I can never truly praise You to the extent that You deserve. Thank you for loving me more than I could ever possibly love You. 

Thank you.


Our Family's Purpose Statement

We are called to glorify God in all that we say, do and are. We will fulfill this call as a family by pursuing Christ-like character, by creating and sustaining a welcoming home and by reaching out to serve others in mission.
 - Be disciplined in our personal walk with Christ
 - Use our individually unique gifts to serve God and others
 - Encourage and build one another up
 - Exercise humility and be open to learning from others
 - Take care of our bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit

 - Utilize it as an active picture of Christ and the Church
 - Use it to relax, reenergize and prepare to go back out into the world
 - Take care of it so we can open it to serve and welcome others

 - Ceaselessly preach the Gospel through our words and actions
 - Serve collectively and individually in areas we truly enjoy
 - Be financially wise so we can abundantly bless others
 - Enjoy each other through quality recreational time
I owe the inspiration of this fabulous idea to Tsh Oxenreider, the author of my new favorite book, Organized Simplicity. To all the work-at-home moms out there, this book is for you!!! I highly recommend it for helping you get organized and give you a much more defined sense of purpose in your role as a homemaker.
Before this book, I saw my role as a wife and mom as just that - a role I am called to fill. I now see it as a job. And for every job, the best way to be efficient and get the most out of it is to be organized in a way you can understand. This book addresses exactly how to do that. I am totally a fan.
As for our purpose statement, I am really excited to use this in our everyday life. My goal is to display it on our wall somewhere so whenever we come into scheduling conflicts, tricky financial decisions or vacation planning we can hold them up to this statement and make decisions based on what we are truly all about. I am very excited to raise our family with a clear goal in mind - hung on the wall for us all to see and reflect on. Above all, our family is all about Jesus, but this will give us some more specifics to refer to when life gets confusing.
And then this is where you come in. I wanted to post this on the web so all our friends and family can read this statement... and hold us accountable to it. If you see us acting outside these goals please practice biblical exhortation and let us know where we are failing. Because I know we will... we're human sinners!


Learning to be Blessed

It's funny how we ask for prayer for certain things and then when those prayers are answered we ask for prayer that we can "handle" the blessings that we've been given.

For a long time, Nick and I prayed for him to find a consistent job that provided for our family, was fairly close to where we live and was something he enjoyed. Now that he has a job that is all of those things, I find myself praying that I have patience with him as he works more hours and has to spend a little more time away from our family than before.

I also prayed that my photography business would take off this year. Now that it has, I am constantly praying that I find the time to get everything done around the house as well as finishing up all my photo projects.

Above all, Nick and I have prayed for comfort since we got married. We've prayed for stability. For peace. For the ability to lay down roots and stay in one location for more than six months. And now that we're all cozied up here in Newcastle and have been for quite some time now, I'm feeling restless. Nick and I watched a sermon by Francis Chan last night about suffering. By the end of his thirty-minute talk, all I wanted was a good dose of pain and persecution so I could feel that much closer to Christ. But that's crazy, right? To pray for affliction? I don't know.

I just get tired sometimes of being so blessed. And I know that's a terrible thing to feel. I should be at Jesus' feet, weeping out of gratitude for every moment of my silly little life. Instead, I grow complacent. I get frustrated with the day-to-day routine. I actually want something to complain about. Rather, to grow from. But at the same time, I'm afraid of actually asking for God to give me a trial... because I know that He'll give it to me. And while it may sound glamorous to me right now, I don't think that in reality suffering would be very much fun.

I guess what all this comes down to is I need to learn how to be thankful. I need to learn how to be satisfied with where God has me now and excited to see how He is using this time to grow me, whether I am in a season of suffering or not.


Photo Update: Spring and Summer

Since I have been so terrible about updating this blog, I figured I'd do this in two parts. Here is part one, photography coverage of the last few months.

Here's what's been going on in our lives since Owen started crawling...

We adopted a 1-year-old kitty from MEOW Cat Rescue. His name is Remy.

Nick and I attended a Mariner's game with his family.

Now that Owen is crawling, things have gotten a little busier around the house...

We have a little musician!

It got warm outside, so Owen has spent less time with clothes on :)

Our little man now knows how to feed himself! Finally!

Owen has discovered the great outdoors... and does NOT like the texture of grass on his sensitive skin!

And on July 4th, Owen celebrated his first birthday! Here he is after his party, eating a pickle and thoroughly enjoying himself.


Owen is Crawling!

Yesterday was the big day! Owen has finally figured out how to simultaneously move his knees, arms and feet so he can move forward. It's taken a lot of work but he has finally figured it out! I'm so happy for my little man. It's amazing to see how everything is clicking now with him. While figuring out how to crawl, he's also getting much better at pulling himself up, moving from tummy to sitting and overall being able to maneuver in whatever way he wishes. Yesterday was the first day that I found him sitting up in his crib and this morning, he took his nap on his stomach for the first time. Our little baby is turning into a little toddler! It's so fun to watch, but also so sad... every day he only gets older!

Here's a video I took of him crawling this morning. He's crying because right before I started recording he bonked his head on the ground. Although as you can see in the video, he's much more concerned about getting to the XBox remote.


So Today...

...I spent half an hour creating an Excel spreadsheet to plan Owen's weaning process. Am I crazy? Perhaps. But this really does help give me peace about the process. I'm trying not to have expectations about this, but I do think Owen is going to have no problem weaning. For us, scheduled feedings really helped him not be dependent on nursing for comfort so from my experience with him so far, I think he's going to enjoy the independence of drinking from a bottle or sippy cup for every feeding.

The fun begins on June 1st, when we will start by turning lunch into a bottle feeding!

To all you moms out there that are far more experienced than I; did you use a schedule to wean your child(ren)? If not, how did you go about the weaning process?


Evidences of God's Grace: From March to May

I admit that I totally fail at keeping this blog updated. The last few months have been non-stop action and quite honestly, I never get to the bottom of my to-do list, which is where "writing a blog" resides. So today, I've rearranged my priority list to try and recount the last three months of our lives. Which is not so easy to do in just a few paragraphs.

I cannot believe that the last time I wrote we had just gotten back from the Midwest! Since then, Nick has gone on two business trips - one to Phoenix and another to Orlando. Owen and I accompanied him on the first trip to Arizona (after spending a few days in California with the wonderful Laing family first) but he was all by himself in Florida. Nevertheless, it's been a lot of traveling for us in the last few months and while it was really fun, it feels good to know that that season is over.

Here are some photos from our trip to Los Angeles and Phoenix in March...

The wonderful Laing family

Carissa and Jeremiah Laing

The Laings' slightly satanic cat, Phoenix

Carissa saying goodbye to Owen

Very cool cacti at the Desert Botanical Gardens in Phoenix

Owen napping while touring the Desert Botanical Gardens

 There was lots of variety at the DBG - I highly recommend visiting!

Saddleback Mountain

Owen hiking A Mountain in Tucson with Daddy

In the midst of our traveling, life goes on, no matter if you have time for it or not! There has been so much to celebrate about in recent months, it's amazing. Our family has been to a couple of weddings, welcomed friends' new babies and celebrated several holidays. We've been in a season of immense joy. So immense, in fact, that I've had an ongoing cold for six weeks. But no matter how tired I may be, I definitely find the joy to jump out of bed every morning. God is so good.

Easter was a huge celebration this year. Our church celebrated the holiday by gathering all our campuses together and worshipping at Qwest Field in Seattle! There were 17,500 people there and over 650 were baptized. What an amazing evidence of God's grace! Unfortunately, Nick had to fly out to Florida that morning and missed the celebration but Owen and I were able to be there. It was an amazing experience seeing so many people worshipping Jesus no matter how drizzly the weather was!

Nick's job is going very well and he will finish training this week. It's been a long journey of classes, seminars, traveling and overtime, but he is now definitely ready to take on the position of an insurance salesman! I'm so thankful for the way he provides for our family. He is finding joy in this job and works very hard to support me staying at home with our beautiful boy!

My handsome and professional husband

Speaking of Owen, he is just over 10 months old now. It's hard for me to believe that in less than two months, he will be a year old! This first year has flown by and from what I hear from other parents, it only speeds up from here! Sometimes it feels like the days move slowly but then I look back and feel like he was only born a couple of weeks ago.

Cutest boy ever.

Although Owen is ten months old, he's not moving yet. He seems pretty content just sitting on the floor and playing with his toys. He's starting to learn how to pull himself to standing while holding onto the couch for support. I think he likes standing up tall! This morning we were practicing crawling (for the hundredth time, or so it seems) and he was closer than ever to figuring it out. I think he's right around the corner! I should start looking at TV cabinets this week because as soon as he starts moving, we're going to need a new one! Owen has already spotted the XBox, subwoofer and Playstation as the most coveted items of the living room. We're going to need to lock those away before he breaks one of them!

Recently, I officially launched my photography business with a Facebook page and website. I have been building up my portfolio for over a year now and finally felt ready to open my business to the public. It has been so fun! I have several projects lined up in the near future and am looking forward to expanding my portfolio even more and learning more about taking pictures as I gain experience. It's pretty fun to start a business where it doesn't even feel like work to me - it's really just a hobby turned professional! I am so blessed to primarily be a wife and mother and take this business as it comes without forcing anything too soon.

If you haven't taken a look at my Facebook page or website yet, here are the links:

Rachel Walker Photography
Facebook Page

Nick and I will also be leading a community group starting in a few weeks. This is something we've felt called to do for about a year and a half now and it's so amazing to be able to follow through with that calling! I'm also going to be co-leading a women's Bible study as we launch the new group. I'm very excited about that too. I feel like I'm able to serve our church more than ever and it feels really amazing! I know I'm right on the cusp of learning more about myself and more about Jesus and I'm really looking forward to experiencing that growth.

There's so much more that has happened in the last several months but I can't cover everything without this post being a whole novel. All I guess I can say is that the Walker family is incredibly blessed. We are surrounded by people who love and support us, a warm, cozy home that feels safe, a job that supports our family well, a church that grows us and challenges us to be more like Christ every day and a family that is in good health and is thriving in the life stage we are currently in.

God's grace is overwhelming. None of this is deserved, yet all of this is given freely and lovingly. I am in awe. There is no way I could return this kind of love. All I can say is that if you don't know Jesus, there's absolutely no way to experience this joy and peace on earth without Him.


We're Back!

My apologies for the lack of posts in the last month. I for one thought that December was supposed to be the craziest time of the year. I guess I was wrong! January was twice as busy as December and it had our family running around like crazy for practically the whole month. And now we're almost halfway through February?? Sheesh!

Since the beginning of 2011, our family has gone through a lot of changes. Our condo was remodeled in early January which had us displaced from our home for a few days. Nick quit his job at Efinancial and was blessed with an amazing new sales position at Liberty Mutual that we are very excited about. We also took a two-week trip to the midwest to visit family and just got back this week. Not to mention, Owen is sitting up all by himself now and is eating solid foods three times a day. Bananas are his favorite!

God continues to grow and shape the Walker family as we go through continued change and unexpected twists in life. Nick was hoping to find a new job in the near future, but we had no idea that He was going to bless Nick with such a wonderful job in such a timely manner! Nick's first day at Liberty Mutual was today and he is already extremely excited about what this company has in store for him. I'm just happy that he has found a job that he can get excited about!

Since I'm all out of words for the evening, here are a few pictures from our trip to the Midwest.

Looking out over the frozen lake at cousin Erin & Gerard's house
Papillion, Nebraska 

Owen playing with Daddy on a snowy cold morning
Papillion, Nebraska

Three second cousins playing together (L to R: Trevor, Tyler and Owen)
Papillion, Nebraska

Tickle time!
Papillion, Nebraska

Penguin swimming at the Henry Doorly Zoo
Omaha, Nebraska

Giant iguana relaxing on a log at the Henry Doorly Zoo
Omaha, Nebraska

Floating jellyfish at the Henry Doorly Zoo
Omaha, Nebraska

Cousin Izzy
Eau Claire, Wisconsin

Three lovely ladies cozied up on the couch (L to R: Becky, Izzy and Kathi)
Eau Claire, Wisconsin