{Life is Art} Project: Week Six

Sorry I haven’t been as consistent this week! I had so many things to write about (and an amazing interview to post!) but I felt led to take a little time off to pray, seek guidance, and deal with a few things going on in my life. But I’m back! And I still feel incredibly blessed.

So many photoshoots this week. SO MANY PHOTOSHOOTS.

Including some of my favorites ever. Like this one.

And this one. Does God smile when He creates families like these?

Ruthie came to me one morning and offered to read aloud a chapter out of the book of Mark. And my heart melted, and I remembered just how important it is to have the faith of a child. Eager, questioning, and simple.

So many moments of laughter and sunshine. A crazy week,  a stressful week, but a beautiful one nonetheless.

How was your week beautiful?

-Rachel

{Life is Art} Project: Week Five

I don’t think I’ve ever done this many photoshoots in one week before. A grand total of five photoshoots in seven days. No wonder I feel absolutely exhausted and unbelievably happy this morning! I got to spend time with some of my favorite people in the world this past week, and I was so blessed to have the chance to capture the love and personalities of these beautiful families.

Meditating this week on the words to one of my favorite songs. “My heart will choose to say, Lord blessed be Your name.” Is my heart choosing to bless His name every single day?

“When the first baby laughed for the first time, its laugh broke into a thousand pieces, and they all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies.” – J. M. Barrie – Peter Pan

Words cannot explain how much I love these people. I grew up next door to Clyde and Valerie, and their five boys. And nothing makes me smile more than being around them, watching them laugh, and feeling like I’m surrounded by family.

They now have a beautiful granddaughter, Addison Grace, who is the sweetest thing you’ll ever see.

And then she patted his back… And my heart melted into a warm pile of mush.

I ended the week thinking, once more, that Saturday mornings are the best time of the week. For obvious reasons. Banana nut waffles being one of them.

-Rachel

{Life is Art} Project: Week Four

Such a crazy week, and definitely a prime example of an East Coast autumn, at its finest. The leaves have never been prettier, and the weather has never been crazier (forty degrees one day, seventy the next). I had an insane week with multiple photoshoots, a dozen piano lessons to teach, and wifi problems that had to be sorted out last weekend (and are resolved, praise the Lord!)

This week definitely had its ups and downs, but it reminded me that life is unpredictable and beautiful. There truly is a time to weep, a time to laugh, a time to mourn, and a time to dance. There are times to work and times to play. And there is always time to love unconditionally.

One big highlight of the week was Halloweeen. Which is unusual since our family doesn’t even celebrate Halloween. But I got invited to my first ever costume party this year! Can you guess who I dressed up as?

“It should take you four guesses to figure out who I am… I’ll give you two.”

My sister and I went on a long car-ride one evening as the sun was setting and the world was warm and golden and smiled at the sight of the sun in the trees and the chopped fields of grain. And I got the chance to take a few pictures of Hannah and capture just a glimpse of her absolutely adorable personality.

I spent some time this week reflecting on the words to one of my favorite songs… “Captivate us, dear Jesus. Set our eyes on You. Devastate us with your presence falling down. And rushing river, draw us nearer. Set our eyes on you. Captivate us, dear Jesus, with You.”

Am I devastated by Christ’s presence in my life right now?

On another note, our whole world looks like something out of a Monet painting…

We ended the week by having some dear friends over for dinner. There’s nothing that makes my heart happier than seeing our kitchen table absolutely crammed at every corner, with a piano bench for extra seating and a handful of office chairs on hand. (And Mason jars to boot!)

So thankful for the blessing of friends, and having people to eat, laugh, and spend time with.

I’m so thankful for my beautiful life, and all the nice little things I noticed about it this week. How was your week beautiful?

-Rachel

{Life is Art} Project: Week Three

Autumn has officially arrived in Virginia. And for us this means days spent in fuzzy socks, boots, and scarves, munching on apples and carving pumpkins. What a picture-perfect fall week.

I started off the week still somewhat sad from the death of our cat last Saturday. As I drove to a photoshoot I had already booked that evening, I fought back tears and listened to “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” on repeat. The sky was cloudy and I wasn’t in the mood for taking pictures.

But then this little spitfire beauty stole my heart all over again.

These actually ended up being some of my favorite family pictures I’ve done yet. Funny how God works. Bringing so much joy to a day that I thought would be forever marked with sadness.

I also did a lot of reflective thinking this week. Now that I’m eighteen, I find myself constantly asking, “Who am I?” This is me. No makeup, no photoshop, no illusions of being perfect or spotless in anyway. I’m sometimes an adult and very much a child and I have a pretty crazy, beautiful, sweet, funny life.

This week we went to one of our favorite annual autumn events — Fall at the Thompsons House. So many sweet memories, sticky marshmallowy fingers, and bumpy hayrides.

I’m so glad we live in a world where there are falls. In a world where there is color. In a world where there are frosty noses and wooly jackets and pumpkins for sale.

Our wifi at home was out for most of this week, which meant multiple trips to Colonial Williamsburg to sit at my favorite little café and work on my computer. Colonial Williamsburg looks so much like England sometimes… I wonder why that might be? 

The families that I photographed at Colonial Williamsburg were absolutely precious, though. Thanks, guys, for reminding me how great it is to just chow down on an apple and for showing me that falling in love is really too much fun.

Every Saturday morning I make a big breakfast for the family and we all sit together and listen to James Taylor or Johnny Cash or watch old reruns of “I Love Lucy”. These are some of the greatest, warmest, sweetest moments in my life. Because there’s nothing like mushy fried apples and cheesy scrambled eggs to start off your weekend right…

I hope that next week will be filled with half as many smiles, laughs, sunsets, and sweet crunchy apples…

How was your week beautiful?

-Rachel

 

{Life is Art} Project: Week Two

Well, I can definitely say that this week was so, so lovely. Honestly, you know how some weeks (ahem: last week) seem so long and hard and then others (this week) are full of so many beautiful moments, smiles, and memories that you just can’t help but smile when you flip through the photos? Yeah, it was that good.

Continuing on with this new project, I thought I’d share with you a few lovely moments from this past week. Life was beautiful.

My new friend Lily makes my heart smile so big. I spent a lot of time this week with this girl–staying up late laughing and talking and making ourselves tired in the morning, walking around an amusement park in the rain and going in every haunted house we could find, eating fries and ice cream and drinking tea, and dancing the night away at our birthday party. She’s such a treasure to us.

My sister came out with a few new skirt designs this week! So many precious moments were spent together this week–shopping for fabric, tiptoeing around a bookstore, looking over photos, and marketing her designs. I’m so proud of this beautiful young lady, and I’m honored to have a part in photographing her designs.

Afternoons spent  piled in a minivan with good friends, sharing life stories and coaxing trucks to honk at us, driving up a mountain, munching on apple cider donuts and chocolate pretzels, climbing trees, taking pictures, and sharing innumerable smiles, laughs, and memories.

Life is measured by the joy found in the little things.

I was blessed to spend time with wonderful families, photographing their laughs and smiles and love for each other.

On a more somber note, we put one of our cats down this week. We’d had Esther for thirteen years and she’d become an irreplaceable part of the family. Those of you who know me know that I am not an animal person, but even I shed a few tears over this loss. Ruthie was definitely the most effected. Esther had grown so sick and raggedy in her last few months–to the point of her looking more like a beast than a cat. And yet Ruthie was the one to continually love on her and take care of her. It was such a sad thing to see that loss. I didn’t think I’d cry when my dad took her away, but I sat on the kitchen floor with tears rolling down my cheeks, not wanting to say goodbye.

The week ended on a high note, though. Hannah and I celebrated our 16th and 18th birthdays (along with two of our friends who turned 17 and 19) last night with a big, stylish 1920′s bash. Because a little party never killed nobody…

How was your week beautiful?

-Rachel

{Life is Art} Project: Week One

I started a project recently. And I’m kinda really excited about it. Remember when I told you all on my birthday about how I’ve been keeping a “One Thousand Gifts” journal? Basically, I started recording short lists at the end of every day describing all the unexpected blessings God had given me that day. Things like homemade banana waffles, handwritten cards in the mail, hearing my favorite song on the radio, and understanding a Biblical truth in a new and beautiful way.

Well, after a couple weeks of writing down blessings every day, the creative wheels in my head started turning and I started thinking: Wouldn’t it be great to have some photographic evidence of all these beautiful gifts God has given me!

Enter: {life is art} project.

What I’ve been doing this past week is recording almost every day one or two beautiful gifts God has given me or things He has taught me. This album has become a sort of visual journal of the quotes, thoughts, and lessons God is teaching me at this stage in my life.

I thought that I’d share a few of my photos from this first week of the project, and hopefully inspire you to create some images of blessings in your own life! It’s a beautiful way to keep track of what a wonderful life you’ve been given. I hope never to lose these memories.

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Fall has finally come to Virginia. And although that means a few rainy days and nippy nights, I’m reeling at the beauty of nature around me.

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” - L.M. Mongtomery 

My eyes were opened this week to so many beautiful, simple treasures in life. Like spending time photographing a family who didn’t mind dirty feet, dirty blue jeans, or running around with their half a dozen chickens.

This week wasn’t without hard days (and I’ll talk more about that next week). I cried. I reached out to Jesus. I felt miserable and sad and hurt at times. But every time my spirit fell and my joy diminished, God showed Himself to me in a sweet and subtle way.

I rejoiced in the simple pleasures. Apple pie. Soft baby skin. Hot cups of tea on mornings when my throat felt scratchy and weak.

But the biggest blessing this week was just the ability to see God in all aspects of my life. To know that He cares about the little things, and that I can celebrate life through every beautiful moment.

Lots of great stuff lined up for you next week. Some vulnerable thoughts, a video blog, writing advice, and more funny and honest glimpses into my semi-crazy world.

Enjoy your beautiful life this weekend.

-Rachel

P.S. If you want to follow my project, like my photography page on Facebook. Or follow me on Instagram @RachelCoker95.