rachelcoker


Anna-Banana

My friend Anna has the sweetest smile you will ever see. I heard someone say once that nothing is more beautiful than a smile, and nothing is more smiley than red lipstick. While it looks awful on me, Anna looks absolutely smashing in it. 🙂 With her glasses and hair, she has that adorable retro look that I envy. And really cute yellow Converses. 🙂

These are some pictures I took a few weeks ago for Anna’s senior portraits. We drove around and found some rustic spots near my house. This is the second time I’ve shot near barns this month, come to think of it. Oh, well. I thought they turned out beautifully, so I figured I’d share. Enjoy!

-Rachel

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For Those About to Rock

Hi! No time for a long post, but I thought I’d upload a couple pictures from last night. For those of you who I didn’t tell, last night my dad took me (or I took him?) to a Peter Frampton concert in Vienna, VA. Peter Frampton is a rocker from the 70’s who is celebrating the 35th anniversary of his best selling album “Peter Frampton Comes Alive”. Because my dad and I are such big classic rock fans, I bought us both tickets for his birthday in March, and we had a little father-daughter trip yesterday. Aside from the going to bed late and getting up early to drive home, it wasn’t half bad. It’s nice to have someone else in the family to rock out with sometimes. Music so loud you can’t think is never a bad thing. 🙂

 

One major highlight of the evening? I learned how to light a BIC lighter! (70’s throwback, anyone?) It took me about five minutes because I’m so afraid of matches/flames and I couldn’t get it right, but once I could finally get it to work I took great pleasure in waving it in the air while all the old people around me laughed. 🙂

-Rachel


Something Silly

I read this online yesterday–written by my favorite actress Zooey Deschanel. (Cute, quirky, and witty!) I’ve never tried working at a coffee shop, but if I did I’m pretty sure this would be my experience. Enjoy!

20 great excuses for not getting anything done while at a coffee shop.

1. I don’t like this chair.

2. I’m tired.

3. I can’t remember what I am working on.

4. I’m simultaneously too warm AND too cold.

5. Adult attention deficit disorder.

6. Memories of childhood. So deep.

7. There are too many people fussing with chairs around here. 

8.  I’ve had too much coffee

9. I haven’t had enough coffee, and I can’t find the waiter.

10. My face hurts.

11. I can’t remember what I am working on.

12. There are people speaking French near me, I am reminded that I need to brush up on my French so I can eavesdrop on French people more.

13. Identical twins exist, and it’s a miracle of nature. I want to  celebrate this.

14. the clock has stopped.

14. the clock has stopped.

14. the clock has stopped.

15.  I remember my lunch too, too vividly.

16.  I am wearing a new pair of jeans.

17. I have to move on.

18. They’re playing Michael Jackson so I OBVIOUSLY want to dance, but that would be weird, so I have to just dance in my mind, and dancing in my mind takes serious concentration.

19. I would rather just talk.

20. I am out of excuses.

 

And there you have it.

-Rachel


Funny People

I love photographing funny people. Because it’s just 10 times more fun that way! The only downside? I have to stop laughing long enough to take the photos, or end up with a bunch of blurry pictures. 🙂

Recently, I had some good friends ask me to take family photos for them to give to their grandparents. Mom, Dad, kids, and the sister and brother-in-law. I had the best time ever–everyone was so cheerful and funny, despite the hot and muggy morning. I think that the best thing I can say about this family is that they never stop laughing. Just being in the car with them for a thirty minute ride is enough to make your cheeks hurt and your side start splitting. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


When God’s Plans Aren’t Yours

I never thought I’d be an author. Looking back over my childhood dreams, I don’t remember ever fondly dwelling over the day when someday, someday I would have a published book. I think I thought about it once or twice, but it wasn’t a major aspiration of mine. I had other things I was interested in—more important things.

If you had asked me two years ago, at the start of my high school education, what my plans for life were, writing would not be high on the radar. I was a dedicated pianist, and I had a four year plan for winning scholarships and going to a music conservatory. I practiced the piano at least an hour a day, and did all kinds of extra studying and writing on the history of music. When I was in eighth grade I started teaching piano, and it just kind of took off. Music was my life.

But I also wrote. I wrote on my bed at night when it was too late to do anything else without disturbing my family. And I loved to write, but it wasn’t super important to me. Actually, it was pretty private. If you were to walk up to any of my friends at the time and ask them “Hey, did you know that Rachel Coker writes?” they would probably shake their heads in disinterest. I knew people who talked about their interest in writing all the time, but I just wasn’t one of them. I was the girl who played piano, not the girl who wrote novels.

When I finished writing Interrupted, the truth was I wasn’t sure what to do with it. Here I had this nearly full length novel that I had spent months writing and thought was pretty good, but what was supposed to happen now? Would I just put it away into some folder on my laptop and write something new. It didn’t seem right to spend so much time and energy doing something that would reap no rewards. So I figured maybe I’d try to get it published by some small publisher or something. Or maybe just send it to an agent who would encourage me and make me write something better for him in the future.

The first time Bill (my agent) called me, I was floored. Things were happening. A little too quickly, I might add. I never really had much time to soak in that my book might be published at all before we were getting e-mails from Zondervan, telling us to expect a contract.

I think that my initial reaction was surprise. And then maybe fear. For the first time ever, my life was not going according to my plan. My four year plan for a music scholarship seemed pretty much shot, with everyone telling me I didn’t really have to go to college anymore. And the possibility of telling people about my book also freaked me out. What if they laughed or thought it sounded lame? Or, even worse, what if they thought it sounded wonderful and then read the book and found it laughable?

A lot of my fears are still there. My heart still races every time my mom or someone else mentions my book to someone. I still dread describing my story, because I think it sounds a lot lamer in theory than on paper.  But something else is there now that wasn’t there when I first got the call from Zondervan. And that is delight.

Delight because I’ve finally realized that having a book published is a good thing. Yes, it’s scary, and yes, it’s different than anything I ever thought might happen to me. But it’s also wonderful. It means that I can write—and make money at it! It means that I can touch people with my writing, and hopefully lead them to a better understanding of Christ and the Gospel.

Really, when I think about it, I don’t know that there is many other things I would want to do in life than write. I love music, but I really do love writing. And I feel like, at least right now, it is God’s plan for me. And there is no better place to be than in the will of God. 🙂


A Day of Celebration

Well, it’s my favorite holiday… the Tasmanian Devil’s birthday! The Tasmanian Devil was first created in 1954, and is one of my favorite cartoon characters. So it is fitting that I celebrate with this dedicatory post.

Ha ha, just kidding. Actually, it’s Father’s Day, for those of you who didn’t know. My Dad’s pretty camera shy, so I had difficulty finding photos of him for my blog. But I did have a couple from our vacation to Tennessee last summer, when he decided he wanted to pose by his favorite old car model (no, he doesn’t own a car that cool). I’m also adding the text to a scrapbook page I did last summer:

 

MY DAD…

  • prefers watching FOX News over NFL
  • spends his free time building guinea hen houses
  • likes to “piddle”
  • makes a mean egg & cheese sandwich
  • listens to rock music on a volume of 50
  • sits on the porch at 6 AM
  • gets excited talking about driving the ambulance
  • leads family devotional almost every night
  • punishes us harder than Mom
  • has signature knocks for our doors
  • never yells
  • is often quoted for his funny sayings
  • likes old B-rated movies
  • calls Mom “Lil’ Coop”
  • is fond of muscle cars
  • has a handwriting no one can read
  • runs further and faster than anyone in the family
  • is the only one who rides roller coasters
  • loves us all very much 🙂

 


Shopping Victoriously

Lots of my friends like to tease me for my sense of fashion sometimes. Half of my wardrobe is vintage, or at least vintage-inspired, and very much full of color and texture. I gravitate toward swingy 50’s skirts, wide-legged 70’s jeans, and hippie 60’s blouses. You’ll rarely find me in a Target or Kohl’s (and never in an Aeropostale!), but I sure do a lot of shopping on Ebay! I find that other people’s grandmother’s junk makes for very cute fashion accessories, lol. 🙂

Anyway, this week saw another trip to the Goodwill store after some urging from my friends. I rarely find much stuff that I like there, mostly because it’s all sort of 1990’s-ish castdowns, but this time I found a few great treasures. I definitely tend to gravitate toward the eclectic, but to me it’s all good. 🙂

So one afternoon, when Hannah and I were pretty bored, we decided to do a little photoshoot with some of my purchases. Hannah wanted some practice with my new camera, and I figured I needed some photos of me since I rarely get in front of the lens. (We have very little photographic evidence of my existence) Here’s what we ended up with:

  • Vintage silk kimono skirt: $5

   

  • Pink belted trench: $5.50

    

And the cream of the crop…

  • Liz Fields purple chiffon evening gown: $10!!!!

All photos taken by my sister and partner-in-crime, Hannah.

-Rachel


Once Upon a Daydream

I had some friends over earlier this week (no school means sleepovers on school nights!!!!) and took some really fun photos. After pouring over some old Anthropologie catalogs I had in my room, we came up with this idea for a really dreamy, Anthro-inspired shoot. So we raided mine and my sister’s closets for some gorgeous dresses (thankfully we love to dress up!) and set out for a long walk down our road. We live in a really picturesque area, so finding locations wasn’t a problem. Here are some of the shots from the evening. We had such a great time, and the sight of five girls walking down the road only led to two strange encouters with weirdos. 😉

-Rachel

 

 


Living to Die

 Have you ever noticed that whenever something bad happens, it seems like it’s a whole lot of bad all at once? We don’t just get a raindrop here and there, but a sudden thunderstorm with lightning and thunder and the works.

It’s been a hard month for a lot of our good friends. A lot of bad things have happened and it all just seems to be piling up on top of each other. The worst was the sudden death of a father in our local homeschool community from a biking accident.

It’s a really tragic thing when something awful happens to those we love, especially death. It seems even worse when it’s that unexpected. To think about kissing someone goodbye in the morning and then never seeing them again… It’s just unfathomable.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately (shocking, I know!), and it seems like my mind just keeps drawing back to the same conclusion: Isn’t this where we’re all heading anyway? Death, I mean. The death rate is always the same: One out of one people die. That’s everyone. You could live a totally healthy and spot-on life, exercising regularly and eating all the right foods, and then hit a tree and die on the way to work. Or you could be feeling perfectly fine one morning and then get a call from the doctor a few hours later with the most devastating and sobering news imaginable. There’s really nothing we can do to stop death or make it come later.

So, in a way, the reality I have discovered is this: We are all living to die. That much is a fact. We are put on this earth for so much time, and then our time is up. That’s not going to change. The thing we do have power over, however, is this:

Are we viewing death as an ally or a foe?

Now, before you get all freaked out on me, hear me out. Death doesn’t really have to be a bad thing. To the Christian, death is the sweetest possible conclusion imaginable. It’s like the happy ending to a tumultuous story. The Bible tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:8 that for the Christian, to be absent from the body is to be at home with the Lord.

One way that I like to think about it is like this: Whenever our family goes on vacation, we have the best time ever. All of us kids hang out and laugh and talk together (and fight sometimes, admittedly), and have such a generally good time that when that last day of our trip comes to an end and we know we have to go home, I get that sad feeling in my stomach. Sometimes I don’t really want to go home, because I’m having such a good time away from it. But the moment I step in the front door, and flip on the light switch to see the inside of our house, or flop onto my bed and smell the fresh laundry detergent and hear my sisters laughing in the hallway, I know: Home is the absolute best place on earth.

When my uncle died a few years ago, we played a song at his funeral called “Homesick” by MercyMe. I think that song describes everything that the Christian should feel about death in a nutshell. It’s hard to think about our loved ones in heaven without us, while we’re stuck on earth by ourselves. But we shouldn’t dread that moment when we too will arrive home. It’s difficult sometimes not to be “homesick”, and to miss the ones we love, but I think it takes that little bit of that homesickness to keep us moving toward, viewing death as the destination, not just a bitter ending.

We’re all really living to die, in a way. The real question is whether or not we see it that way. Am I viewing every day as a new opportunity to seek fellowship with God, or to lead someone in the way of truth, all the while storing up heavenly riches and blessings? I know that I will die someday, maybe tomorrow, maybe seventy years from then. But until now, I don’t think I’ve been viewing death in the right light. I’ve been seeing it as an inevitable hurdle and burden. But I know now that both life and death can be blessings. If we are Christians, then our life of toils and burdens, joys and love, is meant to prepare us for the sweetest kind of life: Eternal life, in Heaven with our Savior.


A Question on Writing Part Two

Well, here I am writing about writing again. 🙂 For those who haven’t read the first post, a friend of mine recently asked me several questions on writing. In the last post, I answered the first question and gave advice for writing historical fiction. While I am definitely not an expert on any of this, I will try now to give my two cents worth on the next topic: “I’m trying my best to add some inspirational stuff in the story but I’m having a hard time doing so. I want the character’s faith to be a big part of the story.”

This one was very, very difficult for me. Why? Because, for me, the spiritual condition of my characters is the most important aspect of any work of fiction I write. But I do believe that there’s a fine line between including a character’s spiritual struggles and journey in your story, and over-preaching to the reader. The last thing I would ever want is for someone to be turned off to Christianity or repulsed by it after reading one of my books, but it is usually a big part of my story line.

I think the first step you need to consider when developing your character’s spiritual journey is this: Is my character starting the book as a Christian or not? If not, figuring out the plot line is pretty simple, and I will discuss it in a minute. But if your character is beginning and ending the book as a believer, careful considerations must be made.

For starters, no character can finish a book exactly the way he or she was when the book started. He must be changed in some way. So if your character starts of as a Christian, no matter how strong, he must be a stronger Christian by the time the story is completed. There are several different ways of accomplishing this that I can think of off the top of my head. First, maybe your character struggles with something during the course of the book that challenges his faith or causes him to stumble. There are so many things that could do this. Death, sickness, family or financial struggles… And after battling these obstacles for some time, the light of God’s word or the influence of godly Christians around him cause him to overcome these trials and grow stronger in his walk with the Lord.

Another way for a Christian to develop in a story is for him to grow in his own faith through witnessing to someone else. Maybe there is another character in the story who is angry at God or curious about Christianity. By helping lead that person to Christ, your main character may also grow stronger in his own convictions.

But if your character starts of the book as a non-believer, well, the only happy conclusion I can think of is for him to come to Christ! 🙂 Let this take place however you wish it. It can happen at the beginning of the book, and the plot can revolve around strengthening his new faith. Or it can be a long and hard struggle with the flesh, before he finally turns to God for salvation two chapters before the end.

Be creative, and think of your own personal spiritual struggles! In my book Interrupted: A Life Beyond Words (coming out next March!), my main character Allie is upset and resistant to God after the death of her mother. When I was writing the toughest scenes, immediately following her mother’s death, I kept thinking back to the way I felt a few years earlier when a close relative had passed away. I was a Christian and Allie was not, but I still felt and wondered a lot of the same things. Why did people have to die? What was God’s purpose in taking away those we loved? But through prayer and careful study of God’s word, my faith in His sovereignty grew stronger, and I was able to translate what I had learned into the development of my character’s struggles and spiritual walk.

Hope this helped, and check back for part three!

-Rachel