Rachel Patterson. This girl. <3
When I moved back to Florida just over 3 years ago I dropped my things off in Sebring and the next day hopped on a plane to Mexico with about 40 folks from my home church, Bible Fellowship Church. And in that crew was, you guessed it, the little miss Rachel Patterson. Who knew that this complete stranger, the pastor's daughter, would become one of my absolute favorite people. The girl still tells the story to this day, "You know Carrie, I really didn't like you when I first met you…" "Yes, Rachel we have gone over this. I know." I am not quite sure what she didn't like about me. I mean, what's not to like?!?
Ok, so you should probably know if we ever do have a conversation, I am a rather sarcastic person; my whole family is (except for maybe my mom, she tries…). My sarcasm is especially heightened when you pair me up with the Queen of All Sarcasm my dear cousin, Bianca. And you guessed it again, Bianca and I were in full force on this trip. That maaaaybe could have rubbed that little lady the wrong way. Although I am sure she could share with you the "real story" in full detail as to her disdain. All that to say, she totally LOVES me now. I eventually won her over with my wit and charm and especially great advice. This is an extra good thing considering I have been her youth group leader for coming up on 3 years now.
We have studied the word of God on quilts on the church lawn for two solid years. We have worshiped together side by side lifting our voices with our ukuleles in hand all the way from the BFC sanctuary to a dormitory for special needs children at an orphanage in Mexico. We have journeyed to women's bible conferences, nursing homes, to Mexico and back… twice. I have prayed for her daily. I have walked by her side. I have heard her heart. I have watched her grow. I have watched her lead. This girl is the real deal. Rachel is the rock of our youth group and the core of our worship team at BFC. She is a leader through and through and does it all with a genuine openness, a contagious smile and a gentle heart. And this isn't even saying anything about this girl's undeniable musical gifting. She is blessed beyond imagining.
The more and more I talk about this young lady the more and more I realize how big the hole in my heart will be when she is gone. Even though I may not have "disliked" Rachel when I first met her, we did just start out as mere acquaintances. I can now say I have grown to love the girl too. Which makes this particular senior session a little bittersweet.
She is going… soon.
"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…" (Matthew 28:19)
While I have been here pouring into Rachel's life, along with a handful of other extraordinary folks, I have been learning first hand what it means to make disciples. Who knew that "go" for me would mean coming home?
And while as a leader Rachel too has been pouring into lives at home now she is planning to go, just as His word has instructed. She is going to do extraordinary things. I am so sure of this because out of all the things this little lady is gifted in (music, leadership, friendliness, incredible hair and on and on) the most amazing thing I have watched happen in her life over the past 3 years is that that she has allowed the hand of God to shape it. She has studied His word with fervency and has allowed it to change her life. She has remained obedient even when it was hard. She has made tough decisions in the face of adversity. She has honored her God. And I have no doubt that she will continue to do that for the years to come no matter what this world may bring her.
Rachel is an idea person. She's creative, a dreamer and determined all wrapped up into one, and I absolutely adore these things about her. About a year ago when Rachel and I started talking about her senior photos she had an idea, a painted piano in a field. Most people just thought it was a crazy idea, especially her dad who would more than likely be moving the piano. (Have you ever tried to move a piano? Those suckers are h-e-a-v-y.) But you can only imagine the visions of photo-session-lovliness that were already taking shape in my head. This was totally going to happen. Come November 25th we arrived out in the most gorgeous field with the most magical breeze and a team of strong fellas (including Rachel's dear dad and brother too) to move the blush pink painted piano to just the right spot amidst the tall grass. Voila. Senior Session Dreaminess in full effect!
Thank you Rachel for allowing me to be a part of your life, a part of your growing and a part of your super amazing senior photo session! I can't wait to see what the Lord does with your life and in all that the "going" brings!
P.S. Thanks go out to Michelle Trinder Cathey for your makeup and styling magic, to Stella & Dot Stylist Lindsey Lovett for loaning us some of your gorgeous Stella & Dot jewelry for the shoot. And we can't forget a special thanks to our "muscle" Todd, Seth and Conner for helping our vision of a piano in a field come together (without too much complaining over delayed fishing adventures.)