Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The edge of my comfort zone

The edge of my comfort zone..

(started this a couple days ago but it needed a good ending)

It's been a while since I've done one of my greatest loves, which is:  this.

Typing, channeling, giving words to my thoughts, scribbling something out of nothing, speaking emotions into life...  

I've been missing this, but I have been busy.  Busier than normal.  Busier than I normally would care to be.  But a different busy than I have ever experienced.

Chances are on my best day, I'm accomplishing about half as much as I want to be, but...  Each day I'm learning my limits, my strengths, my weaknesses, and when to say yes and when to say no.

There have been some things that I just can't commit to, and other things God has stirred for me to get involved in that I never thought I would.  

This new season of life has been a wonderfully wild adventure.  I love it, I'm highly uncomfortable with it, but I really really love it.

I'm learning that God grows me when I'm not in my comfort zone, when I dare to step out of my regular, and when I realize where I am is indeed where He wants me...

I get this resounding feeling that this is all prep work for the next season of my journey.  I don't know if that's our foster journey, my mentoring journey, my work journey, or all-encompassing, but I know He is teaching me just the same.

As we add to our family in the coming months, I pray for the understanding and peace to rest in the unknown journey.  

I keep thinking about one year ago, where I was physically, mentally, and spiritually and how I never thought I would find fulfillment in anything other than what I was doing - and now I realize in such a profound way that::

It has never been about me... Not what I do, where I work, what activities I involve myself in, where I volunteer, etc etc etc...

It's about seeing His glory in each and embracing that it is all about Him and where He leads me.

I went from investing myself a little in a lot of things, to now honing in to a few things that I invest my time and talents in greatly... For that is the true commission.

And that is where He wants me in the beauty of His unknown.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The "f" word...failure that is - hehe

The "f" word...failure that is - hehe

For many years of my life my greatest fear was failing.  Failing at sports, academics, relationships, friendships, work, personal goals, who knows what else but add any other ideas here and you would probably be right.

This past spring before I quit my job, I felt like a failure... I hadn't worked there long, but I hated it.  I didn't want to stay but what would everyone think - that I failed?  

And then I realized I had failed...  I was a big.. fat.. failure..

The fact I was worried what others thought and pondered sacrificing my own happiness  over staying in misery because of what others might think was the "f" word to a T.

[And yes I am kind of enjoying saying the "f" word in this.  It's cheesy but great -- so sorry... Now back to it]

Failing is ugly.  And I was ugly.  But if we don't fall down sometimes then we can never learn or grow or thrive.  And honestly, it's those failures and bumps in the road that make for really great life stories.

The most compelling people I know, are the ones who aren't afraid to share their big mess-ups.  In fact, the best of the best are people who aren't afraid to risk a little, open their hearts, and admit their brokenness.

Failure isn't forever, and success isn't either.  Don't be afraid to dare and stretch and grow.  You will still be loved.

We are all pretty screwed up, and I'll let you in on a little secret:

He likes us messed up ones best.

ps:  the "f" word isn't that bad :)

Monday, August 22, 2011

we wait, we pray, we love...

Many of you have continued to ask where we are in our foster journey, and the answer still remains the same:

We wait, we pray, we love...

We are done with all we needed to do, but for the last seven weeks we have been waiting on our home study, and we still are not sure when that will take place.  There are a lot of unknowns...  But that is the last step, so when our name tops the list we will have a social worker complete it, and then presto - we are open :)

BUT here are some things I do know:

- we pray for the empty chair(s) at our table each night

- we were given an abundance of things we needed this past week for the room - a second bed (in case we get siblings), a chest of drawers, and I was able to purchase a VERY nice car for a heck of deal that came with a 3rd row seat

- we feel at peace that it is all in His timing

- we have a lot of people who have committed to praying for us

- our love grows for the unknown child each and everyday

We are so incredibly grateful for all those who have reached out with a hand of encouragement, have supplied us with things for the room, and who have helped us embrace Him and His timing in this.

You are ALL beautiful.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

I think God smiled today...

Today I watched as dear friends old and new showed up to support a young lady they did not even know at a baby shower here at my house.  Blessing after blessing of essential items she needed, and the greatest of these was LOVE...

Every woman in the room showed up with smiles, warm embraces, and practiced two of my favorite words:  "dignity" and "grace".

I think God smiled today at what He saw here.

Intentional love and giving and relationships are messy and at times inconvenient and they stretch us... BUT when we can take brokenness and turn it into beauty - His love and light shines through.  Today was a beautiful mosaic of a young mama trying to better herself, who comes from a hard past, but is fighting for a chance at redemption and she felt that she had to do it all alone - and instead she was met with 25 women who stepped up beside her and committed to sharing the joys and struggles with her.

Thank you to a community that follows after His heart... To friends that trust mine... To all those who give, and love selflessly.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Stuck in the mud... // reflections from @csprojectfarm

Stuck in the mud...

As I write this I sit waiting for my husband to drive to Fayetteville to pull me and the creepy van out of the mud at The Farm.

Once again, he will save the day and be my hero, but as I sit here with lightning all around me and rain flooding the path, I can't help but remember God always knows what He is doing - and I felt like this metaphor of "being stuck in the mud" was worth writing about.

Although I am literally stuck out here right now :) I often find myself figuratively feeling stuck.  Stuck waiting, stuck watching, stuck without control.  

The Farm is the perfect example of having to put total faith in God and His work without having any control. So, the fact that we have had a hard season here of too much rain in the spring and too much heat and dryness in the summer isn't a coincidence either.  

God still has this little 10 acre gig in His hands.

And if you ever doubt God's sense of humor, get this:  I have been praying day in and day out for us to have rain and cooler temperatures - and the first week I come out that we do -- 
I get stuck....

My prayer for rain was answered, and now I sit stuck in the mud still with no control at a Farm that was never ours to control to begin with...  

And yet sitting here looking at the green fields, the sweet smell of wet hay and grass, and the magnitude of light and sound God has dancing all around me - I couldn't feel more blessed.

We are so small in this... and He keeps answering our prayers in His perfect timing as always.  

So, I will keep waiting, and watching, and embracing my lack of control in this and I will find joy in this season of "stuck-ness"... 

Here and beyond

Sunday, August 7, 2011

every child should feel safe & loved in their room...

Today we began decorating the room that our foster and/or adoptive children will live in someday...

We were going to wait to do anything to the room until we got a kiddo here, but both Steve and I couldn't wait any longer... So whether we get a girl who is a princess, a rocker, an emo chickie, a tom boy, a glitzy girl, or a girl who even hates pink, lol, we want this room to be somewhere she can call her own and feel loved and adored and safe and secure. 

(AND if we end up getting a boy, I bought a bunch of stuff to switch it all out, :) )

All we need now is a dresser and a night stand - (let us know if you have an affordable one)

We wait patiently for you, lovies...

Our prayer for you...

Dinner is made and the table is set
We saved a spot for you
And we haven't even met

Day by day, we sit, we pray
We wait for you to come
And whether you're here for a day or a year
Our house will be home

We pray each day that you're okay
That the world won't take your beauty away
And grace finds you in the brokenness
And love restores you from your loneliness  

Someday soon we will meet, and we pray we can 
help you find the healing to feel complete
Because you are our child
whether for a day, a year, or a lifetime

You are loved...


Steve and Rachel    

Friday, August 5, 2011

There are some nights...

there are some nights...

There are some nights that I can't sleep while I lay wide-eyed in bed in prayers over teenagers out there without homes, or in bad ones... Thinking of the numerous kids young and old who have been shuffled, beaten, starved, neglected, and broken who live here in my backyard and community.

There are some nights that the weight of the problem consumes me and I feel helpless just waiting here for our home to open.  I find myself randomly praying over these kids.  A dirty kid with a mom who is screaming and cursing at them at Walmart - will he be in my home one day?  And if he isn't - is he ok?  If he is, will I be ready to give him the support he needs?

The little neighbor girl who is 4 and her parents let her go in and out of all the kids' houses (including ours) without even knowing us.  Will she be ok?  Will she be in our home someday?

The teenager who I run into at the gas station with cut mark scars on her arms... Where are her parents?  Will she be ours someday?

The numerous kids who I see walking up and down the busiest streets in town who can't be older than 6 or 7 without any adult supervision.  Are she and he my future children?

There are some nights that I just lay here and pray and cry and hope.  Every day is a step closer...  Who does He have waiting for us?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

when your "faith" becomes a barrier...

when your “faith” becomes a barrier….

So, let me intro this with a warning that you may not like what I have to say in this one… in fact, I will probably be surprised if I don’t get a call from a family member or friend on the topic. And the topic is “tolerance vs. loving without judgment.”

When I was younger I was drawn to the people in school who were not “like” me… People who were “different” (different in some eyes, not my own) – by different I mean: people who loved differently than me, who thought differently than me, who believed in things different than me, who connected to the Lord differently than me, who wore clothing different than me, who had different color skin than me, who by the world’s standards were not like me at all. AND all my life I have been told that I am “too tolerant” of things than I should be regarding these areas.

I have always been very offended by the thought of being “too tolerant” when loving my friends in a way that Jesus would.

I laugh thinking that maybe the same people who think that I have been “too tolerant” wonder if they have been “too tolerant” with me? I mean, I was the girl who grew up without dad, who got pregnant as a teen, married as teen, divorced as a young adult… Were they “too tolerant” with me when they showed me love?

I guess this really surfaced when three things happened when I was in my adolescent years and I have never been the same since:

1) I fell in love with someone of a different race and many of my family and friends did not support me because of what it “might” look like to the world and how would God feel about that?

I think God would be totally okay with loving another believer of Him… Regardless of age, skin color, ethnicity, or status. His love knows no boundaries.

2) Several of my closest friends came out to me that they were gay or homosexual. Should I love them any less? Should that change how I thought of them? Are they any less of God’s creation than I am? I had several people say I was/am way too accepting of the gay/lesbian lifestyle.

I know in the deepest parts of my heart, that I am not to judge anyone for how they love. If you truly love your friends and family, than you love them without conditions. There is only One true judge, and I cannot help but believe that He will search all of our hearts and that all sin is equal in His eyes. By promoting legalistic attitudes about who should love who or how one should love another then we are missing the point--- by doing that we ARE limiting God’s love which we are commanded to show to the world. It is about our own love and our own journey with Him that matters, not our critique of others emotions or choices.

3) Many of my friends do not consider themselves followers of Christ… In fact, I would say the majority don’t. I have often heard the statement, “don’t become tolerant of that because _________ is, and they don’t go to church…”

I know it is important to surround ourselves with the Christian community for support and healthy relationships, but I think someone missed the boat on not associating themselves with those who believe differently than we do. You can’t be a light to the world if you are always hanging with the other candles. A light shines brightest in the darkness. Isn’t this the whole point of Jesus? He hung out with the hurting, broken, and those who believed in everything BUT Him. This is the Great Commission. If that means, I have to go drink a margarita with one of my girlfriends to talk about life because that is the only time she hears about God’s love – I am okay with that. AND I feel no conviction about that. (I should add I don’t do that often) but still God places certain convictions on certain people.

AND maybe that is the point of this entire post. CONVICTIONS…

I don’t feel tolerant when I feel like I am doing things God has commanded me to do. Maybe my methods for showing His love to others aren’t safe enough? Maybe I am not conventional enough to just invite my friends to church like “normal” Christians do?

But, I would rather go down as being one of those “Dangerous Christians” – have you heard of them?

They are the kind who aren’t afraid to take some risks for His kingdom. To go where the people who need Him most are – with no hidden agenda – with no ploy to get them “saved” – with every intention of loving them and walking alongside of them, and sharing your life with them… just like Jesus did it.

May my faith NEVER become a barrier from showing His love to someone….

Monday, August 1, 2011

215 days...and the "d" word

I started this blog 215 days ago... It started out as a New Years resolution to re-discover myself and to get back to one of my greatest loves - writing... 

215 days ago I was in one of my all-time valleys/lows.  I had decided to leave a job I loved for a job I thought I would love more.  A job I ended up hating... I was grieving.  I was having an identity crisis.  I could not understand my emotions, and it quickly turned from feeling sad to feeling nothing.  The end of 2010 and beginning of 2011 was marked by me really searching myself, and searching for God to show me who He had made me.  For the first time in my life, I knew I was probably the "D" word...

Depressed...there I said it :)

I was no longer sad, I was blah... I felt hollow and miserable but could not explain why I felt either.  Night after night I would beg God to tell me what I was doing wrong?  I would read Bible verses, I would surround myself with positive people, I would quote encouraging sayings day after day.. I kept clinging to all my blessings.  I kept thanking God for the good things...

 I was searching for some sense of identity again.  I knew God had me (logically, I knew) but emotionally I felt bankrupt.  I couldn't explain it to people, and the few I did try to explain it to couldn't understand how I, of ALL people, could feel "depressed"...

I don't like the "D" word.  It made me feel like there was something horribly wrong with me.  I went to the doctor 3 different times thinking:  1) I must have a hormonal imbalance 2) or maybe I have cancer or something 3) maybe I have thyroid problem, or I am pregnant, or diabetic 4) or maybe I really was one of those walking commercials for a medicine I never wanted to take

My favorite doctor looked me in the face, and said "I think maybe we should try some anti-depressants."  I immediately burst into tears in his office and felt like a total failure.  I got my prescription filled, and within two days I had convinced myself that they made me feel worse and refused to ever take such a thing again.  I have never gone back to that doctor since (even though he was my favorite)...

I was determined that I would not be bound by a pill for my mood...  With that said, I have several friends who do take them and I think that anti-depressants are an extremely wonderful tool when used as last resort.  But it wasn't my last resort yet, and I wanted to get out of this funk on my own.  It wasn't until I realized that was not possible, and that God was the only way out that He really started inching me out of the huge pit I was in.

I started a new approach, the "trust God" approach.  One day I felt God literally say, "Go talk to a counselor, Rachel."

So, I did.  The counselor was great, and she guided me in a way that was unexpected - "if you hate your job, quit it.  If you are too scared to quit it, come up with a plan to get you out of it.  If that seems to big of a problem, just keep taking it day by day until God tells you different.  One day at a time, one moment at a time.."

It seemed funny that some of the same advice I give to others was exactly what I needed to be fed.  When we pour all we have into other people that we are left completely bankrupt. 

I started making a list of my dreams:

1 - to stay home with my kids
2 - to be able to financially be ok with not working or working less
3 - to love and serve a husband who was just getting the "leftover" parts of me
4 - to feel content and happy again
5 - to be a better friend
6 - to have energy
7 - to find out what Rachel wanted not what "work Rachel" wanted
8 - to let my love for the Lord radiate again
9 - to not dwell in the pit - to keep moving forward
10 - to soul search joyfully

And day by day, God started answering my dreams... The first was the day I knew I needed to quit my job.  And once I actually did, the fog of my depression went from fog to an ascending cloud.  And day by day, moment by moment, God carried me out of the pit I was in. 

One day in late Spring, I remember waking up one day and feeling happy and joyful and peaceful.

He always uses our valleys to make the peaks that much more victorious.