Sam and Rachael’s Year in Review: 2016

Sam and Rachael’s Year in Review: 2016

Welcome to 2017!

We got a few Christmas cards sent out this year, but we didn’t have nearly enough of them to give to everyone we love. Here’s a little recap of how our 2016 went, as well as a few “sneak peeks” into what our plans are for this year. 🙂

One of the biggest changes happened in the earlier parts of this year. Both Sam and I were hired at Chick-fil-a after the long job search proceeding our move to Greeley, CO. We have enjoyed working at a job that offers competitive wages, a positive work environment, great food, and never having to ask off Sundays. The work there is definitely not the hardest I’ve ever done, but it has taught me more about the heart of customer service and has really pushed us both to become the best we can be. We have made a lot of friends and we know several of the regulars by name. Within the last year, Sam and I both have been promoted to the position of Team Leader and are learning more every day how to encourage the other team members to grow into better employees. Sam is sad they make him shave his beard, but other than that it’s been a pretty good fit for us both. 😉


Photography has seen a huge jump in the last year. Since taking our photography class back in 2015, I have been asked to do work for more and more “clients” who have seen our work. I was asked to do several photo shoots including everything from my first baby shoot, to a wedding, three different seniors, and some family photos. Sam has been a great help as my “second shooter” or just as the man who can get the kids to smile as he cracks jokes behind my shoulder. I’ve started up a new blog/website for my photography and have come up the name Shutter Story Photography for my “brand”.

Here are some photo highlights from 2016 (Follow the links for more):

Sam started attending the University of Northern Colorado for his Sophomore year of college this last Fall. He is studying for his bachelors degree in Art education and is already showing great promise as a teacher.

In September I hosted my first official art show at a local coffee shop downtown. It was so exciting to have this opportunity and get to share my work with the community. I’d love to do it again sometime and to convince Sam to show off his work somewhere.


In November Sam and I went to Estes Park for Focus on the Family’s Weekend to Remember Marriage Conference. The conference was a gift from Sam’s parents and it was the first time I had ever been to Estes Park. The town was beautiful, and we were both encouraged by the speakers and messages involved at the event. The conference was a wonderful time just to get away and be together.

In the later part of the year, I was accepted as an author in a micro-publishing company  that is run by a family friend. I am writing my first non-fiction book, as well as illustrating a children’s book for one of the other authors involved. I am excited to see what this arrangement will hold for me, I will be publishing my new book hopefully in October of this year, so be on the lookout. 😉


A sneak peek at one of the pieces for the children’s book I am illustrating. This is my favorite I’ve done so far.

I took part in Dressember again in 2016. I convinced my mother to join me and Sam participated a bit with his own dressing up nice as one of the “Dressember men”. Our team made our goal of $2500.00 and more.


Hope you all had a fantastic year. Looking forward to what 2017 holds for us!


Sam and Rachael Miller.



Guest Post: Healthcare with Essential oils

Hello y’all!

I have my first guest post up on the blog today. 🙂 I’ve heard, seen, and read a bit on the use of essential oils. A lot of my family and friends use them in their day to day lives. I’ve always been interested, but never really sure about it all. I asked my friend Amariah Gesinski to share her story of how she got started using the oils she loves.

Whether you are new to the oils thing and want advice, or use them regularly, I’d love to hear your questions or advice in the comments. Amariah would be great to get a hold of if you have any questions or concerns. 🙂

Note: Amariah uses Doterra brand oils. All oils mentioned in the post can be found on the Doterra website.

How we found cheaper, safer, more affordable healthcare!

I used essential oils before it was cool. My mom must have been the original “crunchy momma”. We were the house that my picky eater friends didn’t like spending meal times at, because everything was wholesome, homemade, and often involved barley-grass juice for breakfast.

Her approach to medicine and healthcare was also on the same track, wholesome, plant based remedies were the norm. I didn’t step into a Doctor’s office–except for a broken wrist–until I was pregnant! Our “Dr Mom visits” included lavender oil for boo-boos, garlic smear for colds, and tea and honey for sore throats. We were given time for our bodies to heal itself before anyone started for a hospital visit. At the time I didn’t think twice about this way of life. After I got married, I didn’t follow in my moms natural ways for a while, mostly because I considered us to be pretty healthy. But when I learned I was pregnant with our first, and I knew everything going into my body was getting into my tiny baby as well, I started our journey to healthy living that has centered on essential oils. Our lives and health have changed completely!

Essential oils are the distillation of certain plants that have positive benefits on our bodies. They do NOT heal, cure, or cause any artificial effects. They just give the body a little boost that it needs for it to function properly and heal itself. Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade essential oils are safe for everyone in the whole family (even tiny ones!).

There are 3 different ways to use essential oils. You can choose which way you are comfortable with, and which way makes sense for how your body needs your essential oil at that time. The three ways are:

1.) Aromatically, inhaled directly or using a diffuser.

2.) Topically, Applied neat or diluted with a carrier oil on the skin to troubled areas.

3.) Internally, taken by mouth in a capsule or in water.

It is important to stress that not all products labeled “pure essential oil” are safe to use these ways! Check your labels. If the oil is not pure, has been tampered with, or other things added to it, they will let you know it is not safe to use topically or internally.

My family had researched and tried almost every brand available in the US at the time. But they were seeing consistent results and strong science from Doterra. We came on board and immediately saw results as well. Unlike modern medicine, essential oils are not formulated to cause one single result. They have hundreds of natural chemical compounds with makes them very versatile. I can use the same bottle of oil in different ways, to support a scratchy throat, purify the air, boost a failing immune system, or even clean my toilet using its antibacterial properties!

The most dramatic of our own testimonies is the support of the respiratory system my husband experienced. This saved us hundreds of dollars each month, as well as providing peace of mind that there were no obnoxious side effects from his “Breathe” oil. I was relieved to have tools I could use through my pregnancy for tummy discomfort, muscle tensions, energy, ect. My lifesavers were DigestZen for the belly, PastTense on my head, and Deep Blue (type of sports rub with oils). Doterra’s nutritional supplement system called “Life Long Vitality” revolutionized how I felt and they took the place of everything in my prenatal vitamins, only this was from natural food sources that my body was able to use efficiently. In all the products I used, I was carefree! I didn’t have to worry at all about how my unborn snuggly and his developing liver were processing anything I was using.When baby Artie was born, I was confident in using the oils (diluted with coconut oil for his little metabolism) on him for all kinds of baby needs from simple sleep regulation to supporting his lungs during our 4 days in NICU.

So what can you use oils for? We have a saying: “There is an oil for that!” Emotional Support, Sleep, Energy, Immune support, First aid, Kids, Elderly, Husbands, Babies. Everyone can benefit from essential oils. And used correctly, they can change your life as they have ours. Whether you are feeling great or not so great. If you have an interest in natural living, struggling with your health, or are just intrigued by what you have read, get to an oil class! Contact me to see if you can get to an oil class in person to experience these oils, visit an online doterra class, or meet with a knowledgeable wellness advocate to learn more and find solutions that are tailored to you. Doterra was a decision we have been grateful for ever since we started our journey 3 years ago.

Amariah Gesinski

More about the Author:

Amariah is a Nebraska native and currently lives in Kearney, with husband Josh, son Artie (2), and baby boy on the way.
She is owner and director of Encore Performing Arts Studios and teaches at the studio as well as works in the community on performance and choreography projects. She has a passion for sharing the benefits of alternative and natural healthcare that starts at home. She is a premier level wellness advocate with doterra and loves researching, teaching about, and sharing doterra essential oils and nature based medicine.


When You Lose Your Baby: Words of Hope and Healing After a Miscarriage

It was a warm, colorful day in October when we went in for our first ultrasound. I was nervous; and as I sat beside my husband in the waiting room, I trembled inside thinking about what was to come.

I knew lots of people were praying for us. I had messaged them all that morning: Going in for our first ultrasound! Pray all goes well and baby is safe. Even as I sat waiting I could remember their excited, hopeful replies.

Praying for you!

            Everything will be fine.

            The experience is so amazing! 🙂

My mom texted me in the waiting room. Are you in there listening to my grandbaby’s heartbeat yet?

Soon, I texted back, we’re in the waiting room now.

The nurse led my husband and I through the corridor to the ultrasound room. After changing into my skimpy gown, the nurse had me “relax” as she began the procedure.

My legs shook.

My husband took my hand and reassured me as everything went on.

But then, I saw the screen.

“As you can see,” The nurse was saying, “the gestational sack is there… but there’s nothing in it.” She shifted the monitor so we could get a better look.

“But there has to be.” My husband murmured, his hand tightening in mine.

“So either you are off by a few weeks, or it is not a viable pregnancy.” She went on, obviously trying to give us a little encouragement in this hopeless situation.

“Okay,” I said, holding back my emotions, trying to grapple with this bombshell that had been dropped on me.

She checked some more things and I changed back into my clothes. I didn’t cry until I was outside.

My pregnancy was over.

I didn’t find out until later that day that what I most likely had was a blighted ovum miscarriage, where the baby is lost within the first few weeks but your body keeps preparing for a pregnancy without it. The most frustrating part of it all was the fact that I still felt pregnant even when I wasn’t. All those weeks of weariness and food aversions made me feel like my body was lying to me, building me up for this crushing blow. I had built up a new identity for myself with the anticipation of this child. Where would I turn to now? What else was there to live for?

My story is not unlike many others I have come to know. Miscarriage has stained the lives of many women like myself and has led to serious problems and emotional pain. The more I look at what happened to me, the more I want to share comfort and advice to others struggling as I am. Here are a few things I had to learn—often the hard way.

  1. Don’t blame yourself.

First and foremost, remember not to blame yourself for what happened. I think it is often a natural response for women to blame themselves when they lose their baby. Whenever a tragedy occurs, pain comes out in different ways. Often people want something or someone to blame because once they have an object of wrath they can channel their feelings onto it. It is really easy to get into the habit of saying: “If I had only done this—or had not done this—then things would have been different.” The sad thing is, most miscarriages are caused naturally in a woman’s body and there was nothing you could have done to change the outcome.

“There are no ‘Ifs’ in God’s kingdom.” Says Corrie Ten Boom from the book The Hiding Place—and there are no “Ifs” when it comes to the loss of your baby. Accept that it happened, but also accept that it wasn’t your fault.

  1. Give yourself permission to grieve.

For some women, moving past a miscarriage is not that difficult. Others go into depression over this very real and deep loss that they have just experienced. Whatever your response, don’t make the mistake of stifling your feelings or trying to push yourself to “get over it.”

I had to be told multiple times that it was okay that I was still crying about it weeks after the initial shock of it all. Some days are easier than others, sometimes we just need to be sad. There are some unhealthy ways of dwelling on your pain, such as continually berating and blaming yourself for your “failure”, but for the most part it is totally acceptable to be working through your grief. Don’t diminish it or worry that you are a burden to people because you are struggling with the same stuff for days on end. You may run out of things to say about how you are feeling, but that doesn’t mean that your pain is insignificant.

  1. Know that you are not alone.

I was amazed how many women “came out of the woodwork” over this issue when I would talk about it. Women I had known for years suddenly revealed their past losses to me on Facebook or in messages. To my great astonishment, not all of the women were older women. As a young woman in my twenties, I felt that to lose a baby in my prime I had to have something very wrong going on with my body. Though I hate that it happens to anyone, I was encouraged to know that I wasn’t the only twenty something who had experienced this.

Miscarriage is not a topic many women like to talk about, but it happens to more of us than you’d think. You are not some lone oddball whose fertility is out of line where everyone else’s is stable. You are a woman who has experienced something that many of us have experienced, and it is tough stuff. Try to find other people you can trust to talk about it. Having a good support system is important.

  1. Know that God is actively involved in your pain.

My attitude toward God changed a lot as I dealt with my loss. At first I was angry at Him for taking away something that was so precious to me. Hadn’t I prayed? Did I not ask enough people to pray for me? As my anger simmered into despair I knew God promised that He is always with me and that He will comfort me, but I had a hard time accepting that as truth in my life.

In a time of worship, God taught me that He was more than just a comforter from the outside of the issue. He honestly wanted to share in my pain, become part of the mess of my life and be intimately involved. Pain wasn’t something meant to tear us apart, but it was meant to be used as a doorway to be closer to Him. God wants to be more than just a comfort. He wants to be close to your pain. Our weeping savior weeps along with you.

  1. Remember your baby without bitterness

It still is very difficult for me to see other young moms or pregnant women. It is painful to see others enjoying and continuing on this adventure without me. I have lots of friends and acquaintances having babies and I often feel that sour prick of jealousy for what they have. I have to constantly remind myself who it is that has my baby, and that He knows better than I for the plans of my life.

When it is difficult to move onward from the shambles of your dreams, remember that our babies are safe in the hands of God. They will never have to suffer or hurt in this broken world. All they know, and ever will know, is joy and the excitement of worshiping God face to face. Though they are not here, they are not really lost.

Make connections with other women who have also suffered loss. Remember your child together, and whether you have other children yet or not, remember that that baby is still your baby. You are no less a mother because your child isn’t here with you. Someone else is just looking after him or her for a while until you get there.



Chasing a Rose

She chases a Rose

Through brush and thorns.

Locks of time,

A shaded glade

Sunlight blotted out.

Never halting,

Never lingering

More than a moment.

Bleeding heart

Bleeding knees

Scraped by the thorns

She runs

Chasing and fleeing

A saboteur of joy.

Tearing down

White picket fences,

Where hearts gather

And promises keep.

Searching, rambling.

Chasing a Rose.

Grasping at falling petals.

Tearing the gap wider.

Who knows where she comes from?

Or knows what she flees?

Harikari Princess of dreams.

A broken chord

Symphony of heartbreak,

Press play. Repeat.

And play it again.


The path worn down

By larger feet before you.

The example laid out

By trusted adversaries.

Will you continue this race

Until you are spent and broken?

Until your eyes fade,

Lungs lose their glory,

And your silver crown blossoms?

You chase a Rose

A fickle flower,

A dream.

A well, always run dry.

You thirst.

Drinking dew from withered flowers.

You run

Chasing and fleeing.

Always running

Never finding.

Who sees this story here?

Who cares? Who weeps?

When shadows pass for all to see

Who hears your darkened misery?

Who weighs your ache

And speaks your sorrow?

Who breathes Life

Into your hollow soul?

Do you flee Him too

In your chasing

After a Rose?

September Art Show

September Art Show

Hello everyone! I’m excited to show you the highlights of my art show at the Blue mug this month. 🙂 This is my first show that I got to put on by myself, and the pieces will remain up for the rest of September. If you haven’t had a chance to see my pieces in person yet, stop on by!



“Wait for Rain” -based off the song “Jacaranda Tree” by Josh Garrels.


The wings are all made of maps from national parks and named for words we don’t have in English about beauty and travel. 


“Eunoia”- Beautiful thinking, a well mind.


“Solivagant”- Wandering Alone.


“Fernweh”- a crave for travel, being homesick for a place you’ve ever been.




The show was very laid back. We had a good turnout though.


“The Seeker”- I cut every feather piece out from an encyclopedia and painted over it. There are some real feathers in there too.  


“Friend in the Woods”


“The Sower”- Based off of Matthew 13



“Quiet in the Chaos”- Made from a paint pallet.


“Photograph”- Based off the song “Bookends” by Simon and Garfunkel.



So excited to have this opportunity! Hope to do another show again sometime soon.


Ladies, It’s Okay to be Rescued by Your Man

“I don’t need a man to rescue me.”

I’ve heard this phrase repeated by women almost like a battle cry. It is vocalized on social media, by popular leading feminists and friends alike. I see it played out in satirical blog posts or witty Facebook memes. Sometimes this phrase comes in the form of BuzzFeed videos criticizing Classic Disney movies where the end goal of the princess is to marry the prince, or be saved from the dragon by her knight in shining armor.

The bottom line is: Women don’t want to be saved because we’re women.

The cry against these movies or how women are portrayed in the media is not always a bad thing. There is a certain connotation that comes along with the classic hero-saves-the-damsel-in-distress story. The idea is that the princess is completely helpless and useless while her hero is the strong one. As a woman, I hate feeling helpless. It disgusts me to see women treated like they are just a commodity or a “distraction” while the men get to do all the real work. God created us to be a “Helper”–an ezer kenegdo–our mens’ counterpart and balancing strength. I think what makes women angry is when we are ignored, not taken seriously, or treated like an “extra” in a story with no better purpose than looking sexy for the cameras. I would say that a lot of this frustration is valid. The problem is when we try to promote our worth by denigrating the need for men in our lives.

Women want to be seen as strong. Femininity has a certain softness and gentleness that often translates to weakness–a weakness we despise. We want to be self-sufficient, to be respected. We want to be acknowledged as equals to men.

What we don’t always realize is that just because we have equal value does not mean we have the same roles.

There are some things that men just do better. Men are generally physically stronger than women–(that has nothing to say about pain tolerance, moms). I find it interesting how hard it is, even for me, to admit that men are better at certain things than we are. Again, this has nothing to do with our value–we often perceive it that way. It’s as if admitting that they are better at doing certain things is admitting that they are the better sex as a whole. There are differences in how we are wired and what strengths and weaknesses we have. Where they are lacking, we are excelling, and vice-versa.

That being said, it is important not to trivialize those strengths.

Men need a battle to fight. When and if he protects something, it isn’t necessarily because that person or thing can’t help itself, rather he protects something because it has value to him. A man knows you can hold a door open for yourself; but when he holds it for you he is doing it as a gesture of respect. When a man “rescues” his woman it isn’t always because she isn’t fighting for herself already, but because she is worth something to him and therefore worth protecting. I don’t always think women hate being rescued, perhaps it is just the attitude or manner in which the rescuing occurs.

If men are discouraged from rescuing, it can lead to problems later on. Strip away a man’s reason to fight and he becomes aimless and passive. I want my husband to fight beside me, but I also want him to fight for me. Sometimes I need him to be strong when I am weak, and brave when I am afraid. He supports me when I need it most. I support him too. Sometimes warriors need a place to seek refuge and rest–I offer my husband that place where he knows he will be safe and unconditionally loved. We got each other’s backs, and that is a great place to be.

Encourage the man in your life to be your rescuer. Whether it’s helping you with some household task or killing that monstrous spider in the bathroom sink. Let him know that his help is appreciated. He wants to be your hero and to be relied on. Sometimes he needs to rescue you, and that’s okay.




Photography: Will and Bekah 2016

I was privileged to take my first engagement shoot with some friends this May. Will and Bekah are getting married this weekend on July 9th, 2016. I met them both while serving as a cabin leader at Bethel Bible Camp.

Will and Bekah met at camp and their relationship has been amazing to watch unfold. I was so excited to be asked to do their pictures for their engagement AND wedding! This will be a first for me, so I’m nervous, but looking forward to seeing how it all goes. 🙂


Sam took this one; he got to help too!

They were very natural with each other, (and very adorable).

crop 2

We caught a lot of laughter between these two. I foresee a very happy marriage ahead. 😀







So excited to see what the future has in store for them.

Congrats Will and Bekah!