The Imprint Fall Leaves

As I child, I loved collecting fall leaves. When my own children were toddlers, I remember collecting leaves with my children and then using the leaves to make leaf rubbings with unwrapped, naked crayons and computer paper around our kitchen table.

Now that my children are school aged, they are enjoying making and jumping in leaf piles, and I am sweeping up tracked-through-my-house leaf remnants and removing the imprints fall leaves all over their clothes and hair.

It is a simple joy to watch the imprint fall leaves all over our family and a privilege to kiss my children’s rosy cheeks after they come in from fully immersing themselves in the evidence of a new season. I feel gratitude in the simpleness of watching my husband mow fall leaves and burn dead tree branches in the fire pit—tangible reminders to me of God’s faithfulness and a new season.

Last fall, our family endured a challenging season. I had a bilateral prophylactic mastectomy on November 5, 2018. My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was seven and passed away when I was fourteen. Through genetic testing, I have learned I carry the PALBgene mutation—and I have now learned, my mother carried this same gene mutation—the mutation and my family history together initiating the recommendation for a preventive double mastectomy.

I remember my doctor saying to me, “Rach, this is no longer a matter of if you will get breast cancer, now this is a matter of when you will get breast cancer.”

At the time I was thirty-five with four children between the ages of four and nine, a pastor’s wife, women’s ministry leader, I had just been approved by the session of my church and CDM to serve as Regional Advisor to Women’s Ministries in Mid America, and my first book was going to the formatter—the final stage of the publishing process.

I did not want to have a bilateral prophylactic mastectomy last fall.

Walking through a season of suffering, weakness, and neediness was not in my long-term plan!

My plan was to come alongside others, not need others to come alongside me. I  struggle when it comes to needing others. Independence and self-sufficiency are deeply woven in my story—humbling myself to need others is a new pattern I am learning as God is growing me in dependence upon Him.

As I prayed and sought council from trusted godly women, even though I did not want to have a bilateral prophylactic mastectomy,  three things kept coming to my mind.

One: if my mother would have had this opportunity to prevent what happened to her, I think she would have taken this option no matter the cost.

Two: as a child who grew up watching my mother suffer, I still have mental images that can easily blanket my eyes with tears, I considered the opportunity to protect my children from walking through a childhood story similar to my own—and I wanted to protect them from the pain, wounds, and burdens I have carried into adulthood.

Three: my husband is a rockstar and able to care for me and compensate for my weaknesses while I recovered from surgery.

With Christ-centered courage and faith, my husband and I decided on going through with a bilateral prophylactic mastectomy.

Four weeks before my surgery,  I received a call from my husband at 6:00 in the morning. He had gone to the gym early to play basketball with a friend, my husband fell, and tore the Lisfranc ligament in his right foot—almost a complete tear. This required immediate surgery, two screws in his foot, a 12-week non-weight bearing prescription, and no driving for at least three months.

My main man, rockstar supporter was now unable to walk, drive, wear two shoes, carry a plate, do a load of laundry, nor rake up the imprint fall was leaving all over our yard.

At first I felt anger. My husband has never broken a bone—in all of his thirty-six years—why was this God’s timing for his first broken bone? Then I went through the stages of grief because I lost my plan for recovery which included an able-bodied husband, not needy one.

But God’s plans are not our plans—and He promises He is good.

So I humbled myself and asked for help—which is inside-out and upside-down from how I normally operate, but I was at the end of myself and I needed others to come alongside my family.

After all, I couldn’t use my arms and my husband couldn’t use his legs—and we had four children under the age of ten.

As I watched, I saw it was the church who showed up for us when we were needy. Our grass was mowed, our children were transported to ballet, soccer, and birthday parties, our leaves were raked, our garden beds were mulched, our meal schedule was filled (with fifty meals within the first day), our Thanksgiving table was set,  our home was cleaned, Michael and I were driven to pre-op and post-op appointments,  the church showed up to help us with childcare when we needed it, sat with Michael during my nine hour surgery, and helped me get Michael from the car to the bedroom upstairs after his.

We had neighbors, friends, and family show up too—but mostly, in the long weeks of our recovery, we saw the church be the church and it was a beautiful picture of when we are weak, Christ’s power is perfectly displayed—and He uses His people and His church.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

Just like the imprinted leaf rubbings I used to make with my young children with unwrapped, naked crayons and computer paper around my kitchen table, last fall has pressed in and left an imprint on my heart.

This imprint is a reminder of God’s faithfulness in the unknown, the Christ-like courage to humble myself to ask for help, and the beautiful picture of the church being the church to our family when we were weak and needy.

It is a simple joy to watch my family in a new season, but also a joy to look back and remember the imprint that fall leaves on my heart. I don’t remember the pain, stress, or suffering as much as I remember the selfless love we were shown by so many—and I know this is because of God’s power, His grace, His mercy, and His transforming power at work in my heart.

Breast cancer was once was a constant reminder of pain, stress, woundedness, and a powerful trigger for anxiety and fear—but after my bilateral prophylactic mastectomy and last fall pressing in and leaving an imprint on my heart—I see God redeeming the breast cancer thread in my story.

The imprint fall leaves is a reminder that God is working, and He has the power to redeem even the darkest, hardest, and most fractured pieces of my heart. Where I once felt broken and alone, I now feel healed, held up, and surrounded by many.

As I reflect on the last year, I am grateful for the imprint fall leaves—I am grateful God’s plans are far better than my plans.

He is faithful and good—and He is making all things new.

Cultivating a Mindset of Belonging

My Story of Struggle with Belonging

You may think it seems impertinent for a pastor’s wife to write about Cultivating a Mindset of Belonging, especially in the context of church family life. After all, to those who watch the life of a pastor’s family from afar, you may assume the pastor’s family naturally feels connected to covenant relationships simply because of the role they play in the life of the church. However,  as a woman who encountered trauma during my teenage years and in my adult life has felt the impact of abandonment—Cultivating a Mindset of Belonging has not at all been a straight line on an easy path.

In my experience, Cultivating a Mindset of Belonging has been hard, heart-work of undoing lies and healing the wounds of my past while actively and obediently pursuing relationships within the church—not based on my feelings, but based on the biblical truth the God has redeemed my life in Christ and calls me into a people.

“Say therefore to the people of Israel, ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment. I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians” (Exodus 6:6-7).

Biblically speaking,  I am redeemed from my slavery to sin and brought into a family of God’s people. Redemption by the blood of Christ means I am no longer an individual, I am covenantally a part of a people, God’s people. My story is His story, and my struggles with belonging are being redeemed in Christ and His power redeeming every nook and cranny of my heart—including my struggle with belonging.

My Redeemed Calling to Cultivate a Mindset of Belonging

I have four children. Three sons and a daughter. My desire: with the help of the Holy Spirit, I desire to come alongside the Holy Spirit to help cultivate a mindset of belonging in the hearts of my children. The covenant promise of redemption is not just for me, it is for the generations. My children are included in this covenant promise.

I will either pass on my unredeemed mindset of belonging or I will pass on a biblical mindset of belonging to my children. My hope is that I can pass on the latter. The understanding of my personal woundedness in this area enables me to be intentional to guard against passing on a wounded mindset to my children.

So I have been asking myself . . . how can I, as a mother redeemed by a Great and Powerful God, be intentional to pass on a redeemed mindset of belonging to my children because of my new heritage in the gospel?

Me Mindset or Covenant Mindset

If we are thinking biblically, we will live covenantally. 

As parents, we are responsible as to whether our children feel like they do or do not belong in the church. The truth is: our children do belong and the church desires for them to feel connected—children are included in God’s covenant promise to the generations and children matter to God. Our personal sin, emotions, and woundedness distort this biblical truth. Personal sin and blame shifting pushes this responsibility outside of us, cultivating a me mindset instead of a covenant mindset of belonging:

The youth group kids don’t make my kids feel welcome.

The programs are not engaging enough to cultivate relationships for my children.

Youth and children’s pastors didn’t do enough to connect my children. 

All of the above are me mindsets, not covenant mindsets that desire to cultivate belonging for the next generation.

In the gospel, a redeemed calling invites us to cultivate a biblical mindset of belonging. We belong in the family of the church because of Christ—as redeemed sinners, all Christians have Christ in common, He is the cornerstone that holds us all together—Christ should be the foundational piece when it comes to our relationships in the body.

Practical Ways to Cultivate a Mindset of Belonging

Believers are responsible to pursue covenant connections within the body. The most practical way we can pursue covenant relationships is by showing up: show up to church, to women’s ministry events, to Sunday School, to Community Groups—whatever your church is offering as a way to connect people to people, show up—and not just once or twice, show up consistently with the biblical mindset that you belong at these events because of Christ. Show up even when you’d rather stay home.

I am an early to bed, early to rise kind of woman and I loathe evening events—but it is my responsibility to show up even when I feel tired because I have an individual responsibility to pursue connections and covenant relationships within the church.

We don’t just drift into relationships with other believers in the church, we have to pursue and cultivate covenant relationships. 

This is the most practical way to cultivate a mindset of belonging in the hearts of our children: we have to show our children a mindset of belonging by modeling belonging and connection to the body in our own lives. As members of the family of God’s people, we have to act like members of the family.

Another way to cultivate a mindset of belonging for our children is to bring your children with you to church events. I bring my daughter to as many women’s ministry events as I possibly can—and I try to encourage her to pursue relationships with older women in our church. We review women’s names often, pray for these women, and serve the women in our church together. Whatever I am doing in the life of the body, she tags alongside me.

She is five and when I observe her playing with her Barbies and American Girl Dolls, the dolls are usually set up having Bible Study or a Women’s Ministry Meeting—I see her doing what I am doing as I observe her play.

Our children will mimic what they see us doing and how they see us responding to connections within the church.

Worship.

I strongly believe children should be in corporate worship—they should be free to wiggle, play, draw, or write, but including children and youth in corporate worship on Sunday Mornings cultivates a covenant mindset of belonging. Our children belong in worship (or big church) with us.

We encourage our children to stay with us  in church beginning at age four. My third son wanted to stay with us starting at age three! Our church has a developmentally appropriate option for children ages 3-Kindergarten called Wee Worship, but we always try to encourage our kids to start training for corporate worship at age four, one year before they age out of Wee Worship. They each have a notebook and a pen, and they sit a draw during the sermon.

This is not easy and some weeks are better than others. For the last five years my husband has been the lead pastor at our church and preaches most Sundays. My children are now ten, nine, seven, and five. For five years I have been pursuing my children’s involvement in corporate worship as a solo parent in the pew. But God has been so faithful and good, even when I have been at the end of myself wrangling and wrestling three boys and a girl in the front row of our church.

For my Wee Worship children, I have recently developed a pattern with my youngest to pick her up from Wee Worship directly after the sermon and bring her back into corporate worship for communion, the singing of the doxology, and the benediction. My heart swells to look down the row and see eight tiny hands reaching out towards my husband to receive the benediction each week.

My three sons just interviewed to be communing members of our church and it has been a joy to see God work in their hearts and lives.

Finally, my heart is to pursue church connections outside of the church. Our church family is always invited to our children’s special events: this includes birthdays, music programs, and special awards nights. We intentionally try to think of church members who have special connections to our children and invite them into the life of our family. My children have a strong covenantal web of connections because we have been intentional to help build their webs.

We also pursue specific connections with teenage girls by exclusively asking the members of our youth group to babysit our children, and because we don’t have family support nearby, many older couples in our church have stepped in to act as grandparents to our children.

In the book, Sticky Faith: Everyday ideas to build lasting faith in your kids, Dr. Kara Powell and Dr. Chap Clark suggest each parent “needs to intentionally recruit and build a sticky web of relationships for their children. This sticky web should include five adults to invest in their kids in little, medium, and big ways. The intentionally built sticky webs of intergenerational ministry give the next generation the relationships they need to stick to the church.”

This is cultivating a mindset of belonging for our children and the next generation.

An Opportunity to Live Out Redemption with a Redeemed Mindset of Belonging

The struggle and fallen-ness of relationships and belonging is not the end of the story. In Christ, sin and woundedness no longer have power. It is Christ’s power that enables us to cultivate a mindset of belonging because we are redeemed by His blood and brought into God’s redeemed family of believers. The same power that raised Christ from the dead lives in the hearts of believers! We have the power to use our Christ-confidence as we pursue relationships within the church.

We belong because of Christ. This is the new heritage and redeemed mindset I want to pass on to the next generation of believers in my household.

God is making all things new in Christ and He uses His church. He is able to do abundantly more than all we can ask or think as we intentionally pursue cultivating a redeemed mindset of belonging.

“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen” (Ephesians 3:20-21).

May he be glorified in the church as His redeemed people cultivate a redeemed mindset of belonging.

Littmus Lozenge Mother’s Day

Joy and Sorrow Mixed Together

I want to express that Mother’s Day is a day for mixed emotions—it is joy and sorrow mixed all into one—there is so much sweetness in painted handprints, ceramic planters made in STEM class, and descriptive All About My Mom worksheets, but for some—Mother’s Day brings a touch of sorrow.

This touch of sorrow is not a one size fits all—some have lost mothers, some long to be mothers and are in a season of waiting, some have lost children, some are estranged from their mothers, some mothers are estranged from their children, some are not the kind of mother they thought they would be, some are spiritual mothers who may have seen spiritual daughters go through a difficult season in their lives or walk away from the faith.

In the book, Because of Winn Dixie, Miss Franny Block is one of my favorite characters. This book is filled with many wonderful characters, Miss Franny Block is the town librarian. India Opal visits the library with her new dog Winn Dixie, and Miss Franny Block tells them elaborate stories.

One day, Miss Franny Block tells the story of the Littmus Lozenge. During the Civil War, her great-grandfather, Littmus W. Block, signed up to fight (even though he was only 14!). When the war was over, he returned home to find out that his home had been burned to the ground and his family had all died.

Littmus started walking, and eventually walked all the way to Florida. After experiencing such sorrow in his life, he decided he wanted to make something sweet. He invented a candy that he named the Littmus Lozenge, a special hard candy with a touch of sadness.

When you taste a Littmus Lozenge, you experience the sweet taste of strawberries and root beer, but then everyone tastes something that reminds them of sorrow in their life.

Littmus Lozenge Mother’s Day

For me, Mother’s Day is like a Littmus Lozenge. There is so much sweetness! I am in a sweet season of motherhood with my four school aged children, most days it is like the sweetness of strawberries and root beer—but because I lost my mother when I was fourteen, and we have lost two children to miscarriage, Mother’s Day always comes with a touch of sorrow.

Mother’s Day is joy and sorrow mixed all into one Littmus Lozenge—and I know I’m not alone in experiencing a Littmus Lozenge Mother’s Day—I know many feel both joy and sorrow on this second Sunday in May.

Transformed Joy and Sorrow

I believe faith in Christ transforms joy and sorrow—faith does not completely wipe out sorrow, but faith in Christ transforms sorrow. This transformation of sorrow is a slow process, but over time, faith sees joy and sorrow mixed together as a part of our journey on this side of heaven.

The faithful see sorrow as a reminder that life on this earth is just not the way it is supposed to be. This creates a longing for what is to come. Along the journey, there is pain, death, loss, and sorrow—but the faithful look not to what is seen, they long for what is unseen—eternal hope when all things will be renewed and restored. So we do not lose heart . . .  we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal (2 Corinthians 4:16,18).

The faithful draw closely to a God who can identify with sorrow and is near to those who are suffering. Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering (Isaiah 53:4) The Lord is near to the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18). 

Jesus tells us we will have tribulations and experience sorrow, but on the cross, Jesus overcame the permanent sting of pain, the faithful know remaining in Christ transforms our sorrow, He is our peace. I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world (John 16:33).

A Touch of Transformed Sorrow

There have been seasons when I let the sorrow of the Littmus Lozenge overshadow the sweet strawberry and root beer tastes in my life. It is important to feel sorrow, to weep, to grieve, and to mourn—but it is also important to not let sorrow overshadow joy. The Littmus Lozenge is filled with sweet and only has a touch of sorrow—and as a woman who has been changed by the gospel, that touch of sorrow should been seen rightly with the hope of God’s Greater Redemptive Story.

Touching on the sorrow keeps me wholehearted, reminding me of the love I had for my own mother. But touching on the sorrow should not steal away my joy. Both can exist together, but sorrow shouldn’t keep me from rejoicing in the love my own children will surround me with on Mother’s Day. I have experienced sorrow and that sorrow will forever linger, but I have received abundantly more than all I could ask for at the same time—which gives me great joy!

Mother’s Day is a Littmus Lozenge—sweet with a touch of transformed sorrow.

 

Threads of Grief

While my five-year old daughter sat over of a bowl of Lucky Charms,  I twisted her hair into pigtail buns and laced up her high-top sneakers for school. As I finished helping her, she asked me, “Mom, do you miss your mom?”

My mom will have been gone twenty-one years this week and my daughter’s simple and sweet words easily tugged on the threads of my grief. It was difficult for me to respond to her without feeling a heaviness in my chest and hot tears come to my eyes.

Part of me felt childish and emotionally weak to become so easily saddened over something that happened so long ago, I have lived more of my life without my mother than I lived with my mother. I felt the threads of lies in my story in that moment—threads of lies that whisper I have to grieve with a smile. Standing in front of my daughter over a bowl of Lucky Charms, I felt shame to express the brokenness I still felt in my heart.

“The memory of that moment is longer than the moment itself. Or perhaps, the memory of that moment has been stretched out and hangs onto everything about me. Each thread has been wrung out and revisited so many times like a stretched-out wool sweater left on a metal hanger to dry for much too long. That moment, less than a minute in time, and the memory, the pieces my brain has tucked and filed away, seem to have traveled around the world—through time and back again. The wrung-out and revisited threads stretch and weave into my story across years, seasons, places, and relationships.” —Slowly Unraveled

It amazes me how these lies are so easily tangled-up in my grief, the shame from my past so easily distorts my present state of Christ-confidence and shalom-peace.

Vows of self-protection as a young high school student still trickle into my present reactions as an adult. With intention, I have to discern when the threads of grief I feel in the present are tangled-up in my old patterns of fear, shame, and self-protection.

I all too easily forget the new freedom that is mine in the gospel. My threads of grief are being transformed by the Spirit that lives inside of me—behold, God makes all things new (Revelation 21:5).

In the gospel, when I mourn, I am comforted (Matthew 5:4). God is near to the broken-hearted and he binds up my wounds Psalm 147:3). Because of the new life I have in Christ, I am freed from the yoke of slavery of shame, fear, and self-protection. I can let the heaviness of my wounds, lies, and vows unravel away.

God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control (2 Timothy 1:7). There is power over fear and shame in the gospel.

This week as I fight to walk in the newness of life—a gospel that frees me from the lies that tangle-up my present threads of grief—I am fighting to remember that I am free to be childish and emotionally weak. I am free to be saddened when I feel the threads of grief.

As I little-by-little walk in transforming my grief, I desire to be intentional so I do not pass on a tangled-up gospel to my daughter. If I respond in the patterns I developed as a young high school student, I am still tangled-up in the old story.

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect (Romans 12:2).”

The gospel gives me a new story to pass on and in this new story, God doesn’t require me to have it all together all of the time.

“I have so many personal requirements for how I believe I should live as a wife, mother and Christian, so many expectations that aren’t grounded in what God requires of me at all. All God requires is that when I am weak, His power is perfectly displayed. As I bravely walk in vulnerability, owning brokenness, and rejoicing over healing tears, God is slowly unraveling how I used to define strength, and I am learning to live as God defines strength.”—Slowly Unraveled

When I feel threads of grief over the every day moments of Lucky Charms, pigtail buns, and lacing up high-top sneakers—I want to pass on emotions that are deeply woven in the gospel—I don’t want to pass on the woundedness of my old self, I want my pain to be transformed—I want to pass on the freedom of the gospel to my sweet children in the every day. God really is making all things new.

There is Power in Sharing Your Story

Fifteen years ago, a friend shared a story with me. I was a college senior; from the outside I appeared “just fine,” but beneath the surface I was a tangled-up mess.

My resumé was polished: perfect grades, recommendations, and charity work, but inside I struggled with the pressure to be perfect and to impress a watching world.

I was twenty pounds underweight, daily dry-heaving from stress. I had attempted suicide and had no idea who I really was beyond what was on paper or what I thought the world wanted me to be.

I lost my mother to breast cancer when I was just fourteen. In my grief as a teenager, I struggled with rebellion, depression, and substance abuse—the opposite of the good girl I aspired to be in college, trying to atone for the missteps of my past. I was ashamed of who I once was; living with this shame caused me to hide the girl I had been.

For years I made every human effort to correct, overcome, and ignore the pain from my past. I believed forgetting what had happened to me in my small, Ohio hometown would give me the freedom to be a new person and start over. But untethering myself from who I was and where I came from—even with a shining new resumé—still left me longing for something more . . . living successfully in the present without accepting the dark places from my past left me feeling tangled-up and incomplete.

My friend shared his story, his struggles, and how God had changed his life through reading the Bible and trusting in Christ’s work on the cross.

I had never read the Bible for myself. In my personal religion based on my own experiences, I believed the way to heaven was to do the things I was doing: be a good girl, build a resumé, and contribute to charity—but I was exhausted and sick from trying to perform my way to heaven.

My friend’s vulnerability and trust in Christ stirred my heart. So, I began to read the Bible to discover who God is and what’s required for a relationship with Him.

As I read, I learned God doesn’t want people to build impressive resumés before they come to Him. I learned God died for me even when I was rebellious and wounded. The only requirement God has for me is to trust Him with my whole story—the dark and bright chapters.

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ — by grace you have been saved, this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God, so no one may boast”(Eph. 2:4,8).

This is the gospel—the good news—I cling to daily, moment-by-moment. God loves us so much, He sent Jesus to die for us when we were spiritually dead, to give us everlasting life.  It has nothing to do with what kind of life we live—Christ died for the good girl and the rebellious girl too.

Eighteen months after I believed, I found myself at seminary with my husband of six days. Three years after that, God called my husband to serve as youth pastor of a church near my hometown. By the time I was thirty, God gave us four children, and the next year God called my husband to be the lead pastor of the same church, just fourteen miles from the place I had been running from most of my adult life.

When I see the unique story God is writing for me within the greater picture of the entire gospel story, I see God called me back to the places I was running from so He could heal me. Healing is a slow unraveling of the old and a gradual embracing of the new. In every chapter of my story, God is redeeming me layer-by-layer, from lingering layers of wounds, lies, and shame, as I learn to trust Him.

God’s purpose is to reveal His goodness and glory. He is the author of every chapter of my story, which helps me see beauty in every chapter. God is slowly unraveling me from the old to wholly embrace the new creation He is making me to be in the gospel. I share my story, so you will know God is writing a beautiful, redemptive story for you too.

There is power in the unique story God is writing for you. I hope you will embrace the dark and bright chapters. He is redeeming us in each chapter. The more we open up and let others see our chapters, the more we see how God is redeeming the world.

Your unique story contains the power of the gospel.

Embrace it.

Tell it.

Write it out. You never know how God could use your story to stir the heart of someone else—and draw them to himself.

God is writing your story for a unique purpose, and there is power it.

Rachel Craddock is a graduate of Eastern Kentucky University (05’ B.A. Education) and a first-grade teacher at heart.

Rachel has been in the PCA since she became a Christian through the ministry of Campus Outreach during her time at Eastern Kentucky University. She has served in children’s, youth, and women’s ministries in the local churches she has attended over the years. Rachel currently serves as the Women’s Ministry Coordinator at North Cincinnati Community Church, is a writer and speaker, and serves as CDM’s Regional Advisor of Women’s Ministry to Mid America. She writes on her blog and speaks at women’s events and retreats out of a desire to encourage women in a relatable way to practically apply the gospel to their daily lives.

Slowly Unraveled: Changed from the Inside Out was written from a heart that desires men and women to embrace the freedom of the gospel as well as encourage others to cling closely to a daily lifestyle of repentance, faith, and obedience. The gospel doesn’t require perfection, but it does require relationship with a God who unravels the old and makes us new in the redemptive blood of Jesus.

When not busy serving in her community as a substitute teacher in the public schools or parenting her four fun children Ezra (10), Asher (8), Caleb (7), and Lydia Jane (5), Rachel enjoys reading, dark roast coffee, trail running, traveling, date nights, and blogging. She and her family are members of North Cincinnati Community Church in Mason, Ohio where her husband serves as lead pastor. You can stay connected with Rachel on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or right here on her blog, rachelcraddock.com.