I wish I could say that my bedroom looked like this. (Actually, this isn’t even my bedroom. Thanks, Pottery Barn and Pinterest, for utterly gorgeous and utterly unrealistic home decor inspiration.)

Unfortunately, my bedroom looked this this:

Yikes! I kind of can’t believe I just posted this disaster on the Internet. However, I snapped a picture of this mess because I knew I wanted to write a blog about this lesson that God has been teaching me lately.

You see, I made the conscious choice to leave my room in cluttered chaos before leaving for work because I chose to spend that time with the Lord instead. It was one of those mornings where I simply didn’t have enough time in the day, and one of the following things had to give:

  1. My appearance
  2. A beautiful, organized bedroom
  3. Time with God
  4. Coffee and breakfast

(Okay, we’re going to go ahead and rule out the idea of giving up coffee and breakfast, because those are quite literally the fuel for the rest of the items above.)

So, let’s look at item #1, appearance. I could go to work without wearing makeup or fixing my hair, but honestly, I know that’s not going to happen. Why? Because I care about what other people think of me. And in some sense, rightly so! I am a #yopro (that’s cool lingo for “young professional”), and it’s important that I represent myself and my company well. So showing up to work looking like a pale ghost with Lizzie-McGuire-esque crimped hair is probably not the best idea.

That moves us to item #2, an organized bedroom with all clothing tucked away in its respective drawers and decorative pillows in their proper places. If fixing my appearance is to please other people, then fixing up my bedroom is to please ME. You know that feeling when you walk out your bedroom door, glance back at your Pinterest-perfect bedroom and gently sigh. Ahh, you think. Joanna Gaines would be so proud. That’s a great way to start a workday, and it leaves you feeling good about your life. For a little while.

But, without item #3, somehow the good feelings from your adorable outfit and nice makeup and organized bedroom (and even the coffee and breakfast) don’t last long. I recently read a story in Luke when Jesus went to visit his friends who were sisters named Mary and Martha:

 

Every time I read this story, I think, I am such a Martha. I am a PLANNER. A Walmart-list-maker. A person who loves to make others feel comfortable in my home. What if JESUS–Jesus Himself–came to visit my house? I can guarantee that I’d be frantically running around, making sure He was comfortable, preparing a delicious meal and cleaning up wherever I could. And if I looked over in the living room and saw my brother Andrew sitting on the rug, listening to Jesus, doing nothing to help clean up? Oooh… that would not sit well with me!

But what does Jesus say? “Martha, Martha,”––or put your name in there––”Rachel, Rachel, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary.”

The truth is, I am anxious and troubled about many things. And we will ALWAYS be anxious or troubled in some way or another. But only one thing is necessary. Jesus ends the story saying, “Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” What did Mary choose? She chose to sit at Jesus’ feet and listen to His teaching.

Oh friends, what a privilege it is to hold the words and teachings of Jesus in the palm of our hands. I know I fall short of spending time as much time with Jesus as I should. In fact, I’m sometimes hesitant to post blogs like this, because I do NOT want to seem like I have it all figured out. I wish I could say that I spent plenty of time with the Lord every day, but in reality, I’m still learning this lesson. And each time I choose to spend time with Him over “things,” I’m reminded again that He is infinitely more precious than a pretty outfit or a pretty room.

What are the many things that are making you anxious and troubled? How can you choose to prioritize time with the Lord this week? Write out small steps of ways to put Jesus first, and see how He blesses your time in His Word.

 

So I know Ellie Holcomb’s album “Red Sea Road” came out in January, but I’ve just recently discovered it, and WOW these songs are powerful! I’ve made a quick review of the album to hopefully convince you to listen to it if you haven’t already. There’s a lot of music out now, but believe me when I say that this is the real deal. I hope you enjoy!

“Find You Here”

While the entire album comes from real life experiences, this song was specifically written about Ellie’s dad when he was diagnosed with cancer. Instead of despairing over what was to come, he and Ellie’s mother planned a praise and worship night at their home to celebrate God and his goodness. Wow. Read the full story here on Ellie’s blog!

“He Will”

This song has the sentiment of “Standing on the Promises of God” with a modern tempo. Speak aloud the promises of God! Claim it! His Word will not fail.

“Red Sea Road”

This song is soulful, steady and empowering. Feel your soul rise with the chorus and step up to follow God’s lead!

“You Are Loved”

What if we don’t feel loved? What if we don’t like the person we’ve become?

The lyrics say it all.

“Fighting Words”

MY FAVORITE! I can’t listen to this in the office because I will either start clapping, dancing, using a water bottle as a microphone, raising my hands or possibly all of the above. All I can say is PREACH IT, Ellie!

“I Will Never Be the Same”

Easter-level excitement about the resurrection packed into a perennial song!

“Wonderfully Made”

He knows us. He picked out all of the little things that make us unique, put them together and chose to LOVE us always. This song reminds me that I’m valuable–not because I accomplished something, or other people like me, or I feel good about myself–but because I am valuED by the king of the universe. That’s pretty amazing.

“We’ve Got This Hope”

Not only do we have Christ’s hope in this life, we have Christ’s hope for the resurrection! So often we zero in on the present. This song is a gentle reminder to lift your head, look to the future and remember the incredible riches that the Lord has in store.

“You Love Me Best”

I feel like I wrote this song because it resonates with me so deeply. I have been so, so blessed to have parents who loved me unconditionally and are always there for me. As a child–okay, and as a 22-year-old fully grown “adult”–my first instinct when faced with fear is to run to the comfort of the two people on this earth who love me the most. But, as the song’s lyrics say, “You [God] love me better.” Later the song talks about the promise of marriage, finding that forever person to always stand by your side. Marriage is a beautiful, good thing that many people desire.  BUT, He loves us better. He loves us best.

“God of All Comfort”

36 words, 1 minute-52 seconds. Powerful.

“Rescue”

This is another march-forth-and-conquer-fear-with-the-incredible-power-of-God song. I probably shouldn’t listen to it in the office either… Save it for running on the treadmill!

“Living Water”

A fantastic reason to look at John 4, the story of Jesus and the woman at the well. Also, Ellie does a throwback to the “spring up a well” melody from summer church camp. Good stuff right there!

“Man of Sorrows”

Jesus knows what it means to be human because He’s has been there. All of the experiences we have, all the feelings we feel, He knows. We’re not alone. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:14-16).

 

There have you it, friends! I hope you will listen to this album and love it as much as I do. I’d love to know some of your favorite songs or what lyrics are most important to you!


 

Hello friends! Did you know that today–July 28, 2017–is #NationalWaterparkDay, #NationalMilkChocolateDay, #BuffaloSoldiersDay, #NationalGetGnarlyDay, #NationalTalkInAnElevatorDay… AND #NationalSystemsAdministratorAppreciationDay?

Maybe it’s just me, but I have no idea how I’m going to adequately celebrate each of these beloved holidays in one day. (Except for the milk chocolate thing. I can definitely celebrate that.) I mean, I L-O-V-E LOVE holidays and celebrations, but this “national day” thing seems to have gotten a little out of hand.

So, I’ve complied a list of some the craziest national holidays for each month. Good luck celebrating! I’ll leave the party planning details up to you :).

JANUARY 29 – National Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day

Kind of ridiculous? Yes. Kind of awesome? I think so.

FEBRUARY 28 – National Tooth Fairy Day

To be honest, I’d probably be jealous of Santa and the Easter Bunny too. Let’s give the tooth fairy her own special holiday! (Also, click on the photo to read this article I found on Pinterest. My mom and dad could’ve used it, especially with poor second-child Andrew.)

 MARCH – 18 National Awkward Moments Day

(Courtesy of young Rachel)

APRIL 20 – National Lima Bean Respect Day

MAY 21 – National Take Your Parents to the Playground Day

I foresee some issues…

JUNE 18 – National Splurge Day

Donna and Tom approve.

JULY 15 – National Tapioca Pudding Day

Regular pudding step aside!

AUGUST 8 – National Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor’s Porch Day

Is this like “booing” your neighbors at Halloween, but for the summer? Or for vegetarians? Idk.

SEPTEMBER 27 – National Crush a Can Day

If anyone remembers this scene from the fabulous Mary-Kate and Ashley movie Our Lips Are Sealed, you and I should be best friends. If you want to reminisce, click no further than here.

OCTOBER 11 – National Fossil Day

Because we’re there for you, Ross.

NOVEMBER 17 – National Take a Hike Day

Interpret as you please.

DECEMBER 18 – National Answer the Telephone Like Buddy the Elf Day

Can you imagine how much fun this could be if the world took advantage of this opportunity?!


 

Hello, friends! I’m back with more reflections from my Hawaii, a time when I learned things like…

  • The Hawaiian alphabet only has 13 letters.
  • A pineapple at the grocery store only costs $0.79, but a Fuji apple is $2-3. (Plot twist, Mainlanders! How ‘bout them apples?)
  • How to surf and hula.
  • There is such thing as a “banjolele,” aka a banjo-ukulele. (Santa, please take note.)

Aside from learning these fun factoids and newfound talents, I also discovered a lot about who God is and His relationship with creation. Like any good Baptist, I tried to condense my thoughts into 3 main points, but they truly fit into 4 steps. So stay with me to the end!

THOUGHT #1: I get to know God.

It doesn’t take a ton of these views to realize that the world we live in is so much bigger than ourselves. I remember standing on the shore of a black sand beach after a rainfall, watching waves crash into rocks and feeling the extremely powerful pull of the undertow as the water returned to the sea. Facing the forces of nature is incredibly humbling. From breathtaking views on a mountaintop to a colorful coral reef habitat under the sea, I was in awe of creation and the One who created it.

I get to know the God who made this?! I kept thinking. The One who raised this mountain 13,000 feet high and gave this gray fish neon fins? THIS is the same God who gives me strength and courage? Who calls me his friend?

THOUGHT #2: Other people don’t know God.

As I marvelled at THOUGHT #1, I was saddened when I thought about all of the people who do not know the one, true God who is so dear to me. One day we visited an ancient temple built by King Kamehameha in the early 1800s. I was surprised to read that the temple was still a place of worship where some native Hawaiians come to practice their religion. If you look closely at the picture below, you can see that people have placed necklaces and food on the ancient structure as an offering. Other locals, instead of worshiping ancient deities, revere nature itself in a spiritual, transcendental type of worship.

 

I thought of Acts 17 when Paul preached in the Greek Areopagus in Athens, a city filled with idolatry. He first acknowledged that the people were very religious, and he specifically recognized their altar “to the unknown god.” Then he said,

“So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you. ‘The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth…’” (23-24).

That’s what I wanted to tell people. I know the God who made this, and He’s incredible! This leads to THOUGHT #3…

THOUGHT #3: God wants a relationship with those who don’t know Him.

If you continue reading Acts 17, Paul says that God made people “that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.” (27).

He’s not far from us! Isn’t that wonderfully comforting?

1 Timothy 2:4-5 says that God “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.”

We have one God and one Savior. God wants people to find Him through Christ. The Gospel is called the “good news” for a reason! And that’s not the end of the story.

THOUGHT #4: I get to tell people about the true God and His Son, Jesus!

Have you ever tried to convince someone to watch your favorite TV show or listen to your favorite band? (Next time you see me, ask me why I love Survivor or Lady Antebellum.) It’s not hard to get excited about something or someone you love!

In the same way, believers in Christ should be bursting with excitement to tell others about our amazing God. The Bible says we are ambassadors for Christ and ministers of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18-21). What does that mean? We get to help reconcile people to God by telling them the good news of Jesus.

So there’s my 4-step process of what God taught me in Hawaii. I hope that this week you will open your eyes and look for what the Lord is showing YOU in your life!


 

 

Does anyone want to come over and watch a 6-hour slideshow? No?

Well darn! That’s about how long it would take to show all of the pictures from my family’s recent trip to Hawaii. In short, it was everything I hoped for and more and fascinatingly different.

When I pictured Hawaii, I always imagined an aqua blue ocean, cloudless blue sky and billowy palm trees swaying in the breeze. And that’s true!

But Hawaii is so much more than perfect beaches. In fact, we stayed on the Big Island, where part of the terrain is volcanic rock. You’re driving through this landscape and thinking, Am I on another planet?  We even got to visit Mauna Loa, the largest active volcano in the world. (The Sinclairs are living on the edge, people!)

One of my favorite places was the Pololū Valley. We hiked down a steep trail of mud and finally reached the black sand beach at the bottom. It was gorgeous! The waves were incredibly powerful, crashing against the rocks like they wanted to knock down the island. On the other side of the shore was the ever-calm Pololū River, which wandered into a valley, surrounded by lush fields and grazing cattle. The two contrasting environments in such close proximity was fascinating to me.

Another impressive aspect of Hawaii’s natural beauty is its plants and animals. On the rainy side of the island, you can find wild avocado trees, mango trees, palm trees, coffee bean trees, and more. The flowers come in all shapes, gargantuan sizes, and colors so bright that look like they came out of a Sharpie highlighter. I felt like I was a character in a Dr. Seuss book or Carmen Cortez in Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams.

As for the animals, forget watching out for deer! Hawaii has wild horses, donkeys, and cutest of all… goats. (Sidenote: check out the picture of my brother, Andrew, with the 17 cats of A Bay. Yes, he’s talking to the cat lady who takes them to the vet and feeds them. They have an official FB page here.)

In an effort to keep your attention, I’ve decided to list the events of rest of the trip in six words or less.

  • Macadamia nuts good. SPAM flavor bad.
  • “Rachel falls at the falls.”
  • America’s steepest road. Sketchy van, oneway.
  • View from above was worth it.
  • Hawaiian royalty: Queen Anela, King Kona.
  • Helicopter ride was incredible beyond words.
  • We hula’ed at a luau.
  • (Most) local Hawaiian food was delicious.
  • Surfing was fun and surprisingly easy.
  • Diamondhead hike was tough but rewarding.

Click through the slideshow below to view corresponding pictures. If you STILL want to hear more, let me know so I can pull out the projector and the popcorn machine. Also, look out for the next blog, “What God Taught Me In Hawaii,” coming soon to a social media site near you!

 

 

It’s no secret that I love reading and writing about people’s stories. I’ve recently gone through three top-notch autobiographies from some of my favorite people in the entertainment industry. If you like them on-screen or on the radio, don’t hesitate to pick up or download a copy of their book. Enjoy!

The Magnolia Story (Chip and Joanna Gaines with Mark Dagostino)

Aren’t they the cutest? This book rewinds to the beginning of Chip and JoJo’s love story, which is just as sappy-sweet and comical as you would imagine. Both innovators at heart, Chip and Joanna take readers through the ups and downs of how they launched their one-of-a-kind careers, all while beautifully giving credit to God and His sovereign plan for their lives.

One of my favorite parts? The story of how Chip surprised JoJo by spending their extra money on a decrepit houseboat. This disastrous move on Chip’s part is what actually landed them a reality TV pilot.

Talking As Fast As I Can (Lauren Graham)

It sounds impossible, but I propose that you’ll walk away from this book loving Lauren Graham herself even more than the beloved Lorelai Gilmore or Sarah Braverman. Lauren is smart, witty, classy, down-to-earth, clean, funny, and oh so entertaining. You feel like she’s your best friend. (We ARE best friends, right, LG?) You’ll relish Lauren’s hilarious tales about skipping kindergarten, living on a houseboat, working in The Theatah (no thea-teeeer), being single (and why that’s okay), and of course, making Gilmore Girls and Parenthood.

One of my favorite parts? Advice from Old Lady Jackson. Lauren writes,

“Old Lady Jackson is a character I made up when I started catching myself giving advice–initially to Mae and Miles on the Parenthood set–that sounded like it came from your grayhaired grandma who spends her days in a rocking chair knitting your scratchy socks you pretend to love at Christmas. By creating this character, who was obviously very, very, very far away from myself, I hoped to confuse Mae and Miles, among others, into thinking that while I might sometimes seem to offer suggestions that could be considered a tad ‘old-timey,’ they weren’t actually coming from me…”

I think I have a little bit of “Old Lady Jackson” in myself, so this chapter was particularly comical to me. (Again, because Lauren and I are besties. Right?)

When God Doesn’t Fix It (Laura Story with Jennifer Schuchmann)

In contrast to the other two books I mentioned earlier, this autobiography carries a serious tone and many difficult truths. You might recognize the artist Laura Story from her radio hits like “Blessings” and “What a Savior,” but you probably don’t know about her personal hardships.

Laura began an unexpected journey only one year into her marriage, when her husband, Martin, was diagnosed with a brain tumor. What initially seemed to be a “next surgery will fix it” situation turned into a realization that Laura’s husband would likely have serious memory issues for the rest of his life.

One of my favorite parts? Laura concludes each chapter with a myth and a truth. My favorite is, “MYTH: God can only use my story when there is a happy ending. TRUTH: God can use my story when I trust him in the journey.”

Laura tackles the topic of our “happily ever after” mindset, sharing how she learned to praise God in the midst of grievous trials.

•••

There you have it, friends! As always, I love to hear your thoughts on these books and on YOUR favorite biographies. Happy reading!

 

Friends, I am thrilled to introduce you to the super-talented, yellow-wearing, fun-loving, Erin Robertson! Erin is the WINNER of Project Runway Season 15, and I am honored to have her as my latest “Celeb Sit Down” guest.

Throughout the season, Erin won the hearts of Project Runway’s fans (and judges!) with her bubbly personality and out-of-the-box designs. After speaking with Erin, I can attest to her genuine, upbeat spirit and creative enthusiasm.

One thing that distinguished Erin from the other contestants was her bold use of color and willingness to take risks. I asked Erin if she ever got nervous before facing the judges (Heidi Klum, Nina Garcia and Zac Posen).

“I really respect the main three judges. I was never nervous! I love critique and positive feedback,” Erin said, adding that she doesn’t view anything as “negative” feedback. “It never scared me.”

Erin also spoke highly of Project Runway host and mentor Tim Gunn, who encouraged Erin to stay true to her personal style. “I think his role is to test you to make sure you’re being you. Not telling you who you are or who you aren’t, but making comments that make you think. “

More than once, Tim was concerned about Erin finishing her look in time for the runway show. However, Erin said that working under a time crunch is one of her strengths.

“I knew I had a good chance of winning because I know how I work under pressure,” Erin said. “I’m a positive procrastinator, so a lot of times I leave things until the last minute, and then I whip it out!

For Erin, the hardest part of the competition was working in a different environment without the collaborative influence of her friends from home.

“I talk to my friends everyday, and when I work in the studio, I always get their feedback,” Erin said. “I’m very community driven, so I had to create this new community with these people who I’m competing with. But I was really lucky. Honestly, I loved everyone.”

As part of the series finale, Erin and three other contestants presented a 10-piece collection at New York Fashion Week.

“There’s so much that goes on behind the camera,” Erin said. “We woke up at 2 a.m., and they started filming morning reality at 3.” After hours of prepping models and rehearsing the show, the finalists presented their collections and collapsed backstage for a much-needed nap. “We woke back up, and they said they were going to announce the winner. We were all delirious! That’s the funny thing, and no one knows it.”

And that’s when Heidi Klum spoke the words Erin longed to hear: “Erin, you are the winner of Project Runway Season 15!”

Erin spent the evening celebrating with her parents, two best friends and other contestants from the show. She is currently in the process of receiving the Project Runway prize package, which she plans to use to purchase studio space and equipment.

Born and raised in Utah, Erin moved to Boston after high school and worked as a dental assistant before attending Massachusetts College of Art and Design to study fashion and fiber art.

“I did fashion when I was in high school,” Erin said. “I made my own prom dress and whatnot. Then I took a break because I didn’t think I could make money as a fashion designer. I wasn’t raised on the idea that you could go to art school and make money, or even that art school existed.”

In Boston, Erin worked in a dental research lab under Dr. Porsche, the woman who became her mentor. “I ended up assisting her in the lab for two years and doing all of these crazy of experiments,” Erin said. “I think that’s where I learned a lot of craft. I learned tenacity, that if you don’t do something right, you have to do it again. Failure is not an option.”

Erin’s design aesthetic can be described as playful and humorous, and she is a master at the art of unconventional materials. (One of my favorite pieces from the season was Erin’s dress made with meal worms and guitar pics. Amazing!)

“Part of my work is taking something and hiding what it’s original state is. I think [unconventional materials] are a challenge, but I like a challenge…” Erin said. “I find humor in that.”

Known for her signature yellow, Erin says that she has always been a fan of bold colors. “Even when I was a dental assistant, I would wear bubblegum pink scrubs when everyone else would wear black.” She often uses the banana motif, which Erin said was inspired from a cell phone case she got a few years ago.

“Do you still have that case?” I asked.

“I’m talking to you on it right now!” Erin replied.

One of my last questions to Erin was, “If you could be anything other than a fashion designer, what would you be?”

After careful consideration, Erin answered, “I don’t see myself as just a fashion designer. I don’t like to put myself in just one category. I want to be a bunch of stuff. That’s why I say I’m just a human!”

In the future, Erin plans to find a live-work space in Cambridge and continue studying sustainable textiles and innovating fabric development. You can keep up with Erin and her creative endeavors on Instagram at @an_erin, or visit her website, erinrobertsonart.com.

 

How would you respond if someone asked you to tell them the Christmas story?

There are a lot of places where you could begin. I would probably start with Mary, the devout Hebrew young woman who was visited by an angel and told that she would become pregnant with the Messiah.

Someone else might start with the Old Testament prophet Isaiah, who prophesied around 700 B.C. that a child would be born. He would be called “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace,” and His kingdom would have no end (Isaiah 9).

Others might tell the story of the shepherds in the fields who were visited by a host of angels and told to go see the Christ child. You could share about the wise men who saw the magnificent star and travelled from their foreign land to visit Jesus, the child, the King.

All of these answers are true, and they are part of the amazing story of the birth of Jesus.

However, have you ever thought about telling the Christmas story from Colossians?

It’s easy to picture Jesus as the humble baby born in a stable one night in Bethlehem. But Jesus is so much more than a baby. Let’s see what Colossians 1:15-19 says about Him:

1. He created the world.

“For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth… all things were created through him and for him” (Col. 1:16). You mean Jesus––tiny baby lying in the manger––was there when God made the world? Moreover, He created the world? Yes! That’s Jesus.

2. He’s the image of the invisible God.

“He is the image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15). Sometimes it’s hard to picture God. He made the world, He controls everything, and He’s just… here? I can talk to Him? Because of Jesus, yes, we can. In fact, if you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to walk with God, talk with God, or eat dinner with God, read about Jesus. He’s the [visible] image of the invisible God.

3. He was fully God.

We already touched on this in the paragraph above, but just to be clear, let’s include another verse from this passage: “For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell” (Col. 1:19). Amazing! And pretty self-explanatory.

4. He reconciles all things to himself.

“… through him to reconcile to himself all things…” (Col. 1:19). Now this is exciting! Do you ever look around our world and think of how broken it is? So many people are hurting, grieving and searching for answers. Friends, the answer is Jesus. He restores, He reconciles ALL things. Bring your burdens to Him, and He will give you rest (Matt. 11:28-30).

5. He made peace through the blood of his cross.

“… making peace by the blood of his cross” (Col. 1:19). Wow! There isn’t a sentence or two that I could write to describe how incredible this gift of peace is for those who put their faith in Jesus. Like Isaiah said, He is indeed the “Prince of Peace.”

Well friends, this is a lot of information to take in. If I can summarize with one bit of encouragement, it’s this: seek Jesus. He is wonderful, loving and all that we ever need. And He wants to know you. That’s why He came to earth in a lowly stable two thousand years ago. That, is the Christmas story.


 

“Do you ever wish that we had a perfect Christmas tree?” Mom asked me a few years ago.

“ABSOLUTELY NOT ARE YOU CRAZY I LOVE OUR TREE OUR TREE IS PERFECT NO WAY!” I answered. Or something along those lines.

Let me step back and explain: Our tree is perfect, or at least it is in my eyes. Mom was referring to the kind of tree you see at the center of the mall or on display at Pottery Barn. The kind of tree that has a trendy color scheme, matching ornaments and a cohesive theme.

Our tree is what I call a “hodge podge collage” of everything. Oh, we have the gorgeous glass-blown crystals and the Pottery Barn glittery Santas. But we also have handmade macaroni preschool ornaments and the cheesy snowman that sings when you press the button on his piano.

I love our Christmas tree because each ornament tells a story. Let me share with you some of my favorite hodge podge ornaments and why they mean so much to me. Click through the photo gallery below (arrows on the sides), and read the descriptions underneath!

Arthur and D.W.

Arthur and D.W., my all-time favorites! “Arthur’s Christmas” was one of the books I could recite before I could read. Today when I read it to my cousin Caroline, I love the familiar cadance that easily flows from 20 years of long-term memory. This ornament features siblings Arthur and D.W. in their signature pj’s on the Read’s mint green living room rug. While they’re usually caught up in the latest sibling rivalry, Arthur and D.W. share a sweet moment eating sugar cookies on Christmas Eve.

Macaroni Ornaments

We’re pretty cute, if I do say so myself! I especially love my macaroni ornament because I’m smiling. If you come to my house and look through my early childhood photo albums, you’ll understand why this smile is so rare! I was a fairly serious child, and for some reason, I was hard-pressed to offer a photogenic smile. Andrew, on the other hand, could’ve been an OshKosh B’gosh model. What a cutie!

The Night Before Christmas

The best part about this ornament? It’s a real book! You can read the entire story in size 2.5 Times New Roman font. I always wanted Dad to read the book to us, a request that’s become increasingly more difficult with the passing years. It’s still fun to try!

Lakeside

I have always said that if I had to point to one physical place on the earth that I would call “home,” it would be Lakeside. Here is where I grew up, learned about Jesus and learned what it means to walk through life with Him as Lord. I could probably write a whole book about what Lakeside means to me, but I’ll just say this: I am eternally grateful for this family of faith who has played such a huge role in making me the person I am today. Thank you, Lord!

The Schoolhouse

I LOVE school! And I’m not kidding. In fact, only having one more semester of college is slightly alarming and definitely sad… Will YouTube tutorials be enough to further my education?! Anyway, Mom gave me this ornament the year I started kindergarten, and I love adding it to the tree each year.

Mom and Dad’s First Christmas

Aren’t they adorable? I especially love this ornament because our first house had green shutters just like these. Boy am I thankful for these two!

The Little Pianist

Mom got this ornament when she was a child. Every December, we pull out our Christmas duet book and attempt to clunk through a few holiday tunes. If you come visit us, you might convince us to play “Frosty the Snowman.” Expect to hear Mom’s disclaimer (“We haven’t played this in forever, so we’ll probably mess up!”) and my favorite saying to Mom, “SLOW DOWN!” All jokes aside, we both love the piano. Hopefully this ornament will pass on through the family line!

Baby’s 1st Christmas

Remember when I said I didn’t smile for pictures as a child? Yeah. This started day 1, literally! We always laugh at this photo and joke that I was ready to knock out anyone who got in my way. Don’t mess with Baby Rachel!

Big Ben

I love London. It’s incredible. Go if you haven’t been. It’s amazing. That’s all.

Andrew’s Cross

I’ve saved the best ornament for last: Andrew’s cross. When Andrew was a baby, he began having severe GI issues when he was only a few weeks old. The doctors had never seen a baby like this before, and the issue became very serious. Mom and Dad bought this ornament from the hospital gift shop during December. They wanted a reminder that God was in control, sovereign over the situation and holding little Andrew in His hands. Later, Andrew had gallbladder surgery at 10 weeks old, and he has been healthy ever since. This ornament reminds us of God’s amazing faithfulness and goodness, and we thank Him for giving us Andrew. Only Andrew can put this ornament on the tree!

 

And that, my friends, is why I love my Christmas tree. I wish you and your families a Messy Merry Christmas! Now go make some hodge podge collage memories of your own!


 

Santa Claus Quiz

Test your knowledge on the one and only SANTAAAAAAAA! (Did you imagine Buddy the Elf screaming that in a Gimbel’s department store? I hope so!) Take this quiz to learn about Santa’s origin, different countries’ traditions and more! All of the information from this quiz is from HISTORY.com. Click on the link to learn more once you’ve finished the quiz!