A Life Lived Beautifully: Rachael Milner

June 3, 2016  - By Well-Watered Women

Today I am excited to introduce my friend, Rachael Milner, to you! Rachael is joining the LLB team to help with marketing and social media. She has a heart for the Lord and reaching girls with the hope of Jesus Christ. I found Rachael through Instagram and have had the joy of getting to know her over the past few years. Rachael has a beautiful gift of taking the words of Scripture and making them come to life through art. She runs a shop called “Open Hand Studio” and shares encouragement on Instagram and her blog. She has also graciously offered the LLB community a 20% discount to her shop! Use the code BEAUTIFUL20 at checkout. I know you will be blessed getting to know her!

Grab a hot cup of tea or coffee and meet Rachael!

Introduce yourself like we are having a cup of coffee together. 🙂 What kind of coffee/tea would you drink?

Hi friend! I’m Rachael. Since sitting together over coffee happens to be one of my favorite activities of all time, I’d probably give you a hug and sip a chai tea latte (very committed to those) and ask about your day so far. That’s actually what the majority of my weekdays look like in college ministry – I get to work with college girls in Birmingham, AL at the church that introduced me to Jesus. It’s also a special place because I met my husband Ethan there in 7th grade. He says he liked me ever since, but we started dating right before going to different colleges (great timing, right?) We are about to celebrate four years of marriage and we have one very excitable goldendoodle named Lainey. I get to do a good bit of freelance design on the side, and I have an Etsy shop called Open Hand Studio where some of those designs end up! I love creating, making, designing, really anything that allows me to use my hands to bless your home.

What is your definition of a “life lived beautifully”?

The Lord has indeed graciously given me a beautiful life, pouring out blessing in more ways that I ever could have anticipated. Over the past few years though, I’ve struggled through seasons of anxiety and depression that haven’t always looked so beautiful. Those seasons have really shaped how I would define a life lived beautifully. I really believe that a life lived beautifully for the kingdom is completely founded on the Gospel and sustained by the Word. It’s a life that finds strength and joy in the life of Jesus and in daily relationship with Him, so that in those hard or less than beautiful seasons, our life can still point back to His faithfulness and trust in His goodness. I think we all experience this in different ways, but ultimately whatever we are doing or working toward, a life lived beautifully is one that magnifies Jesus and makes much of God in those daily efforts.

When did you start following Jesus?

I met Jesus when I was little, only five years old! The following years really laid a strong foundation of who He was and what He offered. But it wasn’t until I was twelve years old, sitting in a worship service at Student Life Camp in Lafayette that I started following Him with my life. The Lord really started speaking to me in that place through a song based on John 15 about abiding with Him, and I made a decision that day to abide – to pursue consistent relationship with and be obedient to Him. That moment was just the start of my call to ministry and my relationship with Him that has grown and stretched and changed so much over the past fourteen years, but I know it’s a moment I’ll never forget.

What are some verses you constantly cling to and bring life to your soul?

Psalm 145:16 speaks of God’s faithful provision, “You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing.” It’s tattooed on my wrist and imprinted on my heart like none other – that God alone sustains every need and desire, and that through His gracious open hands we receive all that we need, from His undeserved grace to our daily bread to eternal life. It’s a favorite for sure.

John 15 has been the passage I turn to when ministry is exhausting or painful, because those verses are so woven into my calling and passion for ministering to others. I love the reminder that we must personally abide in Christ before any fruit can come out of our lives or overflow into someone else’s.

I have probably read and quoted and spoken Philippians 4:4-9 more times than I’ve said my own name. The promise of a God of peace and the peace of God dwelling among us when we are anxious? That’s the best news I could ever preach to my heart in those harder seasons of anxiety and depression. I am so thankful Paul penned those words to remind us where to place our trust, find our hope and dwell in His peace.

How do you integrate sharing the Gospel with creativity?

It’s honestly one of my favorite things to talk about. God is the most incredible creator, the most beautiful example of creativity! The fact that he would make us in His image, therefore instilling His creativity in us – this blows me away! No wonder we stop to take in the sunset day after day and get teary-eyed when we come home to a fresh bouquet of flowers. I am so inspired by that thought and want anything I am able to create to somehow point back to Him! Whether that’s a print for your home that reminds you of Scripture, an image captured that points to His creativity in nature, or illustrating my faith through Bible journaling and sharing those ideas with friends and family – I love being able to integrate the Good News of Jesus into every avenue of creativity. I feel abundantly grateful that I get to spend my time doing that, and I desire to use that passion to bless others intentionally.

How did God direct you to start Open Hand Studio?

I didn’t study design or art in college (I actually studied Social Work) and anything I had made or created was usually just for fun, very low pressure. I was a little insecure about that fact – I kept telling God, “I don’t really know what I’m doing here! I just like to doodle.” But I had been creating prints for my friends’ birthday gifts, or illustrating verses to share with my girls in ministry, and I enjoyed that process so much that I really wanted to spend all my free time working on those projects. 

So last year I just started praying for the right avenue to share those designs – not for my name to be known – but for more women to have scripture in their homes and encouragement for their hearts. I started praying about opening an Etsy shop and within 24 hours I just felt this obvious peace of God saying, “Go for it! Open your hand to let go of your insecurity or worries and trust me to open mine too. I’ll provide for you in this season.”  So I got some things listed, tried to spread the word, and have loved every minute of it ever since.

What is the vision behind Open Hand Studio?

If you came to my home, (after being very eagerly greeted by Lainey) you’d find out very quickly that I’m the exact opposite of a minimalist. Maximalist may be more appropriate really. And I really love paper products, like, a lot. So every nook and cranny of our home is pretty much covered with prints – pretty papers, illustrations from my favorite artists, words of Scripture written on our walls. And that makes my heart so incredibly happy (even though it makes my husband a little less thrilled… he’s gracious). 

I wanted a space to share that passion for creating prints and illustrating scripture with other women who may love those things also. I pray that any print or decoration you choose to bring into your home from Open Hand Studio would be a daily reminder to stir your affections toward God and for the Gospel. So I would say that’s my vision and prayer for this little corner of the Internet!

What are some books you are currently reading?

I started reading Wild and Free by Jess Connolly and Hayley Morgan this week and can’t get enough. I may highlight every sentence. We have a girls’ small group this summer that will be reading Looking for Lovely by Annie Downs, so I’m really looking forward to that one. And for work each summer we read a few books as a staff, so I’ll be reading The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis, Side by Side by Edward Welch, and Zeal Without Burnout by Christopher Ash. It’s going to be a good summer for the books!

If you could tell every woman reading this blog one thing God has laid on your heart, what would it be?

Christ is enough! That truth is something I remind myself of a thousand times a day, and I pray every woman (and man!) would believe it as well. He’s enough in this current season you are in, He’s enough in the loss you are enduring, He’s enough in the blessing you’re receiving, and He’s enough even if you have absolutely nothing else. There’s no need to hustle to earn our worth in the eye of the world when we start believing that He has given us all we need in Christ, and that is enough.

Head on over to Rachael’s shop to snag some beautiful artwork for her home! Use the coupon code beautiful20 to receive 20% off!

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