Monday, April 7, 2014

Running into Walls

She'd run into quite a few. Had some bruises to prove it. A scar here and there. The biggest ones unseen. Sometimes the heart hides well.

She'd run into walls. Self sufficiently focused in her stride, yet unaware of what lay beyond her wearied route, worn thin.

Instead of running to safety, or ever feeling closer to what she even really wanted, she ran full on, over and over into what would never give her what she really needs.

But she kept running.

Until she got tired, of running and walls and bumps and bruises. Of wounds that never heal.

There was validity, she reminded herself, reasons for her running, of course. She just ran in the wrong direction- away.

So, after years of stubbornness wore. her  out . . . 

She finally stopped.

. . . unable to gather enough of anything for even just one more step. She couldn't face one more concrete slap in the heart.

Because sometimes it's easier to just keep running the wrong way. At least we believe we're getting somewhere. And where trusts ends with the one we should be running to, we try to do life's marathon alone. But then when grace seeps into our broken places just a little more, we realize just how easy it would be really, if we just -

Stop. Right there. 

And He's with us, just like he has been, even running beside us, comforting our weariness, mending us along the way.

Just waiting for that day He knew would come, right around the bend, 

Where we would finally be all run out of our own strength, zest and zeal. Finally run out if us and ready to truly, fully, put our hope, all of it, in Him.

So we fall into His love and grace-filled embrace ready to strengthen and fill us to really run the race we were meant to, with smiles and tears streaming down our face. 

Fit from within, empowered to finish strong and free.

To you, and running and walls and weariness . . . May you find rest- true, deep, invigorating rest for your soul today in the One who loves you most,

Love,
Rachel

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” 

Matthew 11:28-30

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Just One Less

Ever been overwhelmed with the mores?

Do more, save more, lose more weight? Exercise more, go to bed/ get up more early, speak more kind words, remember more birthdays? 

Spend more time with real people instead of social media, get to know your neighbors more.

Cook more healthy foods, cook more, clean more, even rest more?

It's quite overwhelming, yes?

Recently, I felt trapped in overwhelming. Too many mores for too long. No matter how I planned my day, there was just more to do. And what was already there seemed too much already. 

And I don't think I'm alone in many times suffering from so many decisions and options and what's-available-now that it becomes all too easy to have not only clutter in my house but an overstuffed and cluttered head.

The only thing that has brought me peace is just one less.

Because too much less would feel like too much... More.

But "just one less"- I can handle. And it gets my mind moving in a more manaegable, breathable, even productive direction.

I could list my one lesses: the thermometer turned down(or up) just one degree less, just one minute less time for clothes in the dryer, just one less bite eaten from my plate.

Just one less time on Facebook or email and a moment of mental rest instead.

Just one less time that I speak when words are unneeded. Just one less time of correcting and thinking through smarter parenting instead.

Just one less thing at a time from a cluttered garage to the trash can. Just one less time to worry about something and trust God with it instead.

But a list may not be helpful at all if it becomes one more again. 

So, if I just think, one less - everything becomes simpler with just these two little words.

Then, instead of collecting burdens, expectations and more to dos, my life become more light, more free.

Because sometimes we're overwhelmed because we're overfilled and it's time to slowly take the toppling tower down. Then we'll have more energy and space to build what we really need.

We were created to be free! Free to slow down, free to think through things, free to do things in a way we can feel good about-more free to be a less overwhelmed and happier you and me.

And that's the kind more I need.

To you, and living a life out from under the weight of unnecessary burdens. In this world of more, more, more!, May you live happy and free.

Love,
Rachel

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” 

Matthew 11:28-30

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Saturday, March 15, 2014

Thrive


We have this plant.
And in our new home, she got the best spot.
It’s like this mini-sun-room-window. There is sunshine coming in at all angles.
And that plant is having a blast.
In the short time that we have lived in our new home, this plant has grown flowers I didn’t even know she was capable of producing. She didn’t have nearly as many leaves and certainly not flowers in her old place.
But she was still alive.
Because of this new sunshine, she needs more water, which means she needs more sunshine, which means that my plant is thriving.
By the way, My husband kicked me out of the house today. Yep, kicked. me. out. He also made 2 appointments for me so that I would know where to go. So, I have a new hair do and nails just waiting to happen.
Do I think we have to have our hair and nails done to stay healthy? Probably not. But, that plant reminded me that as moms, our bodies, minds and feelings need watering just like the plants we may tend to each day.
And we can’t become complacent with the few leaves we have left, convincing ourselves that at least we’re still alive.
Because not only do we feel better, look better (and probably smell better too) in the sunshine, but our families need us to bloom, too.
God created us to blossom.
That plant helped me to remember that I want to be a flowering mom. Not a one-leaf, or a just-a-twig-mom.
We just can’t wait until we’re down to our last leaves, wondering where all of our energy has gone and convincing ourselves that it is good enough just to survive.
We’ve got to allow ourselves the sunshine and rain that we’re thirsty for.
So although new hair and nails may not water the whole garden, it may be a good place to start.
Because God gave us these bodies as temples so it makes sense to take care of them. Then, we can feel better, feel better about ourselves; and be able to focus even more on the stuff that really matters.
To you, hair and nails- or whatever it is that makes you blossom. May you always remember to spend time in the sun. And may your family always enjoy a wife/ mom who blooms.
Love,
Rachel
Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own …
1 Corinthians 6:19
{posted from my archives}


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Monday, March 10, 2014

When You Wonder if being Mom is Enough

When I first became a mom, I was obsessed with it. As someone who began completely career minded(headed to New York City as an attorney), holding my first baby in my arms was ... mind-altering.

Since I had (thankfully) married the kind of man who was (and is) better for me than I had even imagined he would be, we had already discussed these things. I put childcare into the budget. He insisted that I stay home(which pleasantly surprised me). And instead of becoming an attorney, I had chosen to be a marriage and family therapist. Which for me, was one step closer to home.

When I brought my little of bundle of joy home from the hospital, there was no turning back. I was mom-all-the-way.

But that didn't mean I'd lost sight of a career that didn't stop at home. I thought of home businesses I could start. I counseled part time. We stayed an active part of our community: hospitality, ministry and more. Parenthood and increasingly busy family life became a part if our lives, not the whole deal.

But looking back, I think I wore myself out. I think I was looking to have a complete life in the sense that "being mom" wasn't enough. The thought of "just" enjoying my daughter, "just" providing a home for our growing family wasn't sufficient. I always felt that would be even lazy or self-indulgent. Certainly not enough. Not that I regret relationships and time spent beyond my home. I just regret the always striving for more.

My first baby girl just turned fourteen. I have only four years left with her at home. And I truly regret that I didn't slow down and enjoy my time with her (and my other children that followed) more.

These years did, and are going, by fast.

So do I think just being family is enough? Are our talents and abilities being "wasted" if were not consciously using (and getting paid for)? every ability and/or college degree all of the time?

In this land of "opportunity"
and "American dreams", maybe we need to instead think of our lives as wisely stewarding what God has given us, and what that actually means. And just perhaps, who we are: personality, abilities, values, motherhood, marriage and ministry are all a part of the same big deal.

We don't have to compartmentalize each category of our lives to really be living the whole.

Twelve years later, after becoming a young mother with my first daughter, I was spending time with my second little girl.


I know, she's a dumplin'.

As my youngest daughter and I took a walk, just for fun, along the streets of our neighborhood, hand in hand, a little voice said,

This is all that matters. Your life is lived for this.

It was one of those moments that speak to you in a clarity you never forget.

I knew then that I had had my priorities mixed up. I'm thankful for my degree, opportunities I've had and all that the future might still hold that I haven't experienced even yet.

But I've let seemingly positive goals such as "using our gifts" and "being all we can be" rob me of some of the joy that comes from embracing the truest, most ultimate gifts that have been right here all along.

It's easy to miss the forest for the trees.

So for the next last for years I have with my first baby girl, I'm determined to finally learn to really slow down and enjoy every moment. Because the things that matter most, are the seemingly smallest after all.

And a job outside the home? More time for interests that grow beyond these four walls? Sure, I'm up for it. I'm just not worried about it, anymore.

How about you? How have you come to terms with melding your before and after motherhood identities?

Love,
Rachel


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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

What Every Perfectionist Needs

They were given an assignment, pretty easy I thought: Cut these hearts out of paper- red, pink and green. A simple project ending with a hoped for Valentines Popsicle Bouquet became endless frustration.

"I can't make a heart!"

"My heart is ugly."

Me: "Who broke this one?! It was such a pretty flower!"

After much investigation, he confessed. He didn't like his little creation. So he broke the whole thing.

Is this what I'm raising? Perfectionists that won't do the simplest thing without standards that exceed the task?

I didn't think so. Thought I was pretty laid back about these things. But I do want my children to listen- to be able to follow directions; complete the job at hand.

And then I remember myself as far away as childhood and as recent as yesterday. How failing wasn't an option for me. And I remember the sweet freedom that the smallest of whispers of truth can bring.

Among piles of scraps of red, pink and green, we sat; scissors and glue in hand. 

We cut out imperfect hearts. Crooked hearts. Lopsided and disfigured hearts. My 6 year old began laughing. And the boy with the broken heart flower was asked to come and try again- "just one more time, please."

And with scraps all around us, bits and pieces of recycled joy, we completed our bouquet together. 

Because sometimes it takes someone sitting down in the middle of our mess and saying,

It's ok- just give it your best shot, any heart will do.

Because I just want your heart- crooked, or lopsided, anything in between-

I just want you.

Because you're heart, in whatever shape it's in, is so very perfect to me.

To you and me and children and hearts and sharing the things we do each day. May we all sit down in the mess of imperfection and connect right there in the middle. It's love that matters most after all. 

{And to my 5 artistic, sometimes perfectionistic ones, them apples don't fall far from the tree. But I do hope you'll always remember, your heart, no matter what shape it's in- will always be beautiful to me!}

Love,

Rachel

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 

1 Samuel 16:7

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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

For Midweek Slumpiness



Did you know that your day, right now, the one that possibly seems mundane, everyday... ordinary.

It has amazing in the middle of it.

Problems, challenges. Your hoping and dreaming- big and small. Even the stuff you're bored with, your weariness, the just another day blahs.

Today has amazing in the middle of it.

Because you are here! You're alive! And each day matters, a lot. And the God who created you to be amazing is right here with us, too.

So there is nothing that stands in our way today that can't be made amazing..

To you and midweek blahs and weekends just around the corner made to celebrate the amazing God put in each one of us,

Happy Wednesday! It's going to be a great day.

Love,

Rachel

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen

Ephesians 3:20-21

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. 

Romans 8:37-39

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Philippians 4:12-13

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Sunday, January 26, 2014

How to Stop Judgmentalism


… is to love him.
Moses. We’ve all heard the story a million times. He parted the Red Sea, for goodness sake. He led the Isrealistes out of captivity!
But that’s not what amazes me most(or the Ten Commandments, although of obvious importance. I will admit that seeing the back of God would be very, very cool).
Don’t get me wrong. I think the whole story is amazing and I’ve enjoyed it all over again even as my children have encountered it. Moses is certainly paramount to much about our Christian heritage and faith.
But I believe there’s another side of the story that merits more attention especially in light of issues we are facing today.
What always makes me stop and wonder, is what happened after Moses’s amazing mother ingeniously sent him down the river to save his life, yet before he grew into a man.
It’s this:
How is it that a baby was welcomed into a home as a grandson of the very one who was trying to kill him? Are you puzzled by this?
I am sure there are aspects such as the daughter who found him perhaps having a knack for getting her way. There’s always Divine intervention.
But at the end of the day, one of the worst of the worst of the worst in Pharaoh’s eyes- was not only welcomed into the palace, but raised as one of his own.
Which makes the whole story much more real for me because it humanizes those ancient Egyptians.
Pharaoh may have been acting horrible and selfishly enough to try to eradicate a people. But when he had to actually face a person behind his label of them as inferior, burdensome, worthy only to be pared down when they exceeded his needs- even when that face belonged to a powerless baby… After his daughter heard the cry, held the little boy wriggling her arms… beheld the person of Moses…
Instead of ending life, family covenant began. Pharaoh went from bully to caretaker. Fatherly affections replaced murderous desire.
Even though a family system unlike our own, anyone can appreciate the significance of this baby being given instant access into the home where his death was ordained.
To know him…. was to love him.
And although the implications of Pharaoh’s judgment meant literal death for the Isrealites- there is certainly a different kind of dying in our world today. For a country that has apparently become so free, we are now home to more shackles than ever of anxiety, depression, fear of failure, and growing shame that hides being growing numbers of addictions- many times because we feel so … alone.
While we may have advanced in the fight against racism as real as Moses experienced, there seems to be a growing, different breed of “ism” at hand. Capital Judgementalism and lower case fear.
So we too, like that princess of Egypt, have a challenge to look beyond the label- even and sometimes especially when they are not so black and white.
We have to look beyond “those _____(fill in the blank)”. You know, the ones.
We’ve got to see the face behind the name.
And it doesn’t mean that we can’t be confident about what we believe. We just can’t be afraid of people that are different. We’ve got to walk past that wall of shaky pride and get life out of the river. Then, something that began a label- a stereotype in our minds, grows into relationship and we get to be even more of what we believe. Not so that we can change others into us but to let God in the middle. And maybe in the process, just maybe we’ll be the ones changed after all.
A professor of mine, talking about prejudice once asked our class if we had ever had a person of color into our homes. His point was that it is easy to develop prejudice against anyone or group of people that we have not spent the time getting to know.
I want to always keep in mind that it doesn’t take the ordering of lives to be taken-
To make someone dangerous.
It only takes not valuing a person enough to see who they really are, behind the name.
To you- whatever the color of your skin…. wherever you’re from… wherever you go to church… however you choose education for your kids… If you stay at home, go to work, work from home… are blue collar… white collar… rich or poor… We are all equally, without a doubt, profoundly and uniquely precious in His sight. May we see one another the way He sees us- as a remarkably beautiful and equally needed part to make this world whole.
Love, Rachel
Then Pharaoh’s daughter went down to the Nile to bathe, and her attendants were walking along the riverbank. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her female slave to get it. She opened it and saw the baby. He was crying, and she felt sorry for him. “This is one of the Hebrew babies,” she said. When the child grew older, she took him to Pharaoh’s daughter and he became her son. She named him Moses, saying, “I drew him out of the water.”
Exodus 2:5-6, 10
For you created my inmost being;you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
Psalm 139:13-14



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