Dream Factory Workshop

 

For a while now, I’ve been dreaming up this project, and praying for God to send the right girls along. You see, storytelling is my passion. It’s not necessarily writing, and it’s not really photography. It’s people. It’s using your words, your camera, your paint, your blog—anything really—to capture snapshots of the hundreds and hundreds of lives that intertwine yours and make up this dizzyingly concrete world we live in.

What I’m offering is simple. Three days in the most beautiful place on earth (aka my hometown) with other likeminded young women, learning how to define your voice as a storyteller and use your gifts (writing, photography, etc.) to make tangible portraits of the world around you.

We’ll live together. We’ll explore. We’ll write. We’ll take out our cameras. We’ll eat good food and laugh a lot and hopefully have a few good sing-a-long moments. We’ll dig into our Bibles and pray and explore who this God is that makes us all so different and yet expects us all to give so much. My prayer is that these will be three overflowing-cup kind of days. The kind you write about in your journal. The ones you tape photos from on your wall. The moments you look back on when you remember a time when you were inspired to really create. I want the relationships made and the lessons learned during these three days to last you the rest of your life.

This isn’t a writing workshop. But I will teach you to use your words. It’s not a photography workshop either, although you will be expected to break out your camera.

The Dream Factory Workshop is about opening up your eyes. See the world around you. Notice that it really is grander and more wonderful than anything produced or made in factories. It’s real. It’s beautiful. Write this down. Capture this moment.

Please join me. Be my friends. See my world and let me in yours.

Let’s create some beautiful things together.

 

We will…

DATES: October 3-5,  2014 (Guests can arrive a day early + leave a day late if necessary)

WHERE: My home, in central Virginia

FOR: Creative young women, ages 15-25 (writers, photographers, + girls who just want to develop their creative talents)

COST: Three full days – $400 (Price includes lodging, three meals a day, activities + other fun stuff—you are responsible for your own travel expenses and souvenirs)

YOU NEED: A brain. A laptop. A notebook. A camera (doesn’t have to be an SLR).

 

To sign up, send me a brief email at rachelcokerwrites(at)hotmail(dot)com to receive an application. And please don’t apply unless you know that you are physically and financially able to make it that weekend. I wouldn’t want to turn someone else down only to have you bow out because of finances or inability to get here. Thanks!

 

SPACE IS LIMITED TO FOUR GIRLS SO SIGN UP SOON TO RESERVE A SPOT. 

-Rachel

Coloring in the Village

I hate how once I forget to update my blog for a couple days, I just forget all together. And then a week’s gone by and I haven’t written a single thing. Argh. Sorry about that. I haven’t been doing well at processing my thoughts lately, so I won’t even attempt a super eloquent post on how my life has been these days. I think I’ve been feeling too many feelings and trying too much to write about them for anything to turn out well.

I did want to share a little glimpse into some of the ministry work I’ve been doing here in Thailand, though. Once or twice a week my friend and I go and reach out to the families of minority construction workers.  And it always seems to be the nights that I’m the most tired and the most apprehensive about going to do village work that end up being the best. Last week was especially bad. I was tired + cramped + stressed and I didn’t feel like doing anything but falling into bed at the end of a long work day.

It was raining and my flip flops were caked in mud and we had to meet in a tiny little shack with a metal roof and makeshift floors.

The kids were in a really good mood, though. And the family who lived in the home stayed and listened. And it was crazy because it was all so simple and all we were doing was singing songs + coloring pictures + playing BINGO, but it was so special all of the sudden. Because a grown man was smiling and drawing stars on a paper plate. And a mother was giggling when she put a sunflower seed on her BINGO card. And a little girl was crouched at her parents’ feet, learning about Jesus.

And it struck me suddenly how complicated my life is.

I spend so many moments stressing + worrying + regretting + wishing + forgetting how simple life can really be.

When everything is stripped away, who am I? When I’m sitting on my own dirt floor, what is the composure of my heart? Am I the kind of person who can pick up a crayon, hold it in my hand, and smile at the weight of it—at the vibrancy of the color green and the waxiness of a little stick and the freedom to fill a page? When was the last time I marveled at that—honestly?

Seeing a grown couple rejoicing over the simple concept of coloring a picture challenged me this week. And now I won’t forget that.

-Rachel

Raw Beauty

More photos from my travels around South East Asia. I’m continually awed + astounded by the raw beauty God stretches across nature.

-Rachel

Someday When I Fall in Love

I don’t consider myself wise by any stretch of the imagination. I’ve made mistakes upon mistakes in my life and I’ve certainly been fooled a time or two by fake friends, foolish crushes, and an overactive imagination. But I was thinking the other day that being young and naive can sometimes be a positive thing. I haven’t been crushed by the world. I’ve never lost my job or ruined my life or been jilted in love.

But being young and unspoiled does give me a unique perspective on the world and the way it works. I’m still at an age where I feel like I’m viewing a lot of things from the outside, tentatively dipping my toes in and mustering up the courage to just jump into life. To experience this world at its highs and lows and praise God through it.

I’ve been writing things for myself, to clear out my head and figure out what exactly is important to me. I don’t just want to stand by and watch myself growing up at a distance, fearful and nervous about what’s going to happen. I want to be an active participator in my life. Even when things are crazy and spiraling and unclear, I want to have a firm grip on my own decisions.

One of the things I was thinking about while I was writing and thinking and dreaming and praying this week was what my life will look like when I grow up and fall in love. It’s such a huge part of your life and sometimes it happens once and sometimes twice and sometimes three or four times before it finally lasts. But it changes who you are and I know that one day it will change who I am. So I wrote some notes to remind myself of what’s important and what type of person I pray I’ll be.

*

Someday, when I fall in love with a man…

I hope I don’t care whether it was a long time in the coming or whether it happened overnight. That it feels just as heart-throbbing either way. I hope I don’t make the mistake of loving with my eyes shut, but that they’ll be wide and open and burning with the newness and realness of holding someone’s heart. I hope I’m not afraid of sin and of imperfection and of uncertainty. That I give more grace than I could ever expect to be poured upon myself. I hope I abolish the cliches and do away with the ivory towers. That I remember that I’m not a princess, I’m a sinner. I hope that real, actual romantic love opens my eyes to my own need of God before anything else. That the man who gains my trust will be a man who values it and sees it for what it is. A small but important piece of me, and one that I give with risk but joy involved. I hope that love means a lifetime of imperfect but beautiful days filled with moments of soapy dishes and sticky day squabbles and late night kisses.

Someday, when I fall in love with a child…

I hope that its heart beating under my fingertips is an anthem of God’s faithfulness toward me. That every dip and dent of its head and crook of its arms and soft spot on its tummy is new and exciting and beautiful. I hope that my love for my kids is a deeper flood that undercurrents the arguments and the snappy comments and the days when I want to ship them off to Austria. I hope that my love for my Father is increased through my love for my children. That I realize grace and love and acceptance in new ways through my relationship with the soul that sleeps behind those blue veined eyelids. I hope that every black spot in my heart is exposed and washed clean as God continues to sanctify me through those “I hate you, Mommy” moments and “You don’t understand me” stages. That I can love my child through the sin and the tears and the beautiful moments that I’ve yet to even dream of experiencing.

But most of all, someday, when I fall in love with this life…

I hope that I remember it was a good one. Whether I’m twenty-seven or forty-five or eighty-six, I hope I’m happy. I hope that my years aren’t measured by the loads of laundry I folded or the total mileage I put on my cars. And I hope that they aren’t measured by the countries I visited or mountaintop experiences I felt or adventures I had.

I want to fall in love with my life for what it is. A dizzingly imperfect path cluttered with sinners and piled with gifts. I want to marry a man who sees my heart and cares about me anyway. I want to drive my kids for miles and miles and listen to them ask me a million questions and roll my eyes two million times and know that they are mine. I want to fall into bed at the end of each night and bump knees with a husband who loves me and pray for little hearts who have yet to fully know God’s love and know that my small but significant life is worth something.

*

I’m young and I love very deeply already, but I know that this love will only grow and change and mature through the years. And that the love I’ll know when I’m thirty and forty and eighty will be radically different and changed than it is at eighteen. But I’m not afraid of the future. I’m confident that trials and slopes and surprises and kisses and moments and prayers will make my life so much better than I could ever imagine.

-Rachel