The Unknown, Fear, and Hope

In a few days I will be asleep from 8:30am to 3:30pm in an operating room. As a mom to four children to sleep seven straight hours during the day feels like a dream come true. As a control-freak monster, laying still and unconscious for seven hours straight feels terrifying.

I have had four scheduled c-sections and even then, I would tell my OB over the curtain that it was taking him a little too long to sew me back up.

In the unknown, I feel so much fear and hope tangled up together.

There have been many seasons in my life where I have ignored fear and pushed it aside, believing that the acknowledgment of fear was connected with personal weakness or a not-good enough faith. Only pushing the fear aside in the name of faith actually gave fear more power to linger and remain tangled up in my heart.

Fear is a real thing. the Bible says “fear not” three hundred and sixty five times because fear is real and we humans need reminding when we experience fear in real life. This bilateral prophylactic mastectomy is a big-deal-real thing and I am scared, my children are scared, and my husband is scared. Fear in this situation is a part of the process we are walking in. I have had to feel fear, and I have encouraged my children to feel the fear as well. We are letting fear in, looking fear in the face, while crying and praying with one another—but at the same time we are also trying to embrace power, love, and self-control.

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

—2 Timothy 1:7 (ESV)

We are human so we fear, but we also are spiritual and connected to God through Jesus and His Spirit who lives in us so we also have hope. This is where and how fear and hope seem so tangled up together. There is a tension between the fear threads and the hope threads tangled up in human hearts.  

So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to fear, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. —Galatians 5:16-17 (NLT paraphrased)

What is hope? Hope is believing that God is good and trusting him when we cannot see in the unknown. When our human minds are fearing, weary, and cannot wrap themselves around why something is good, this is when hope takes over. Hope is believing that God is renewing us in the hard things—hope is believing that God is renewing the whole world through the hard things.

You can see fear and hope tangled up together in Lamentations 3:

Remember my affliction and my wanderings,
the wormwood and the gall (extreme bitterness).
My soul continually remembers it
and is bowed down within me
But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
“The LORD is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”

Fear not is not as easy as it sounds. Fear is real. But fear should not be ignored. Fear should be felt and shredded through the power of the gospel. Facing fear and saying “I am weak and I am scared, but I am hopeful that God is good in the hard things.” This is what my renewed view of strength looks like. I am looking fear in the face and saying “I feel you and I see you, and I am weak and scared, but God’s power—his love, his grace, his faithfulness and his mercies—is bigger than my human fear.

Currently I am shredding this human fear through the gospel on a daily, moment-by-moment basis. I’m feeling the fear, dealing with it, and unraveling it away with truth from God’s Word. Then trying to slowly walk—one step at a time—like a broken vessel—in hope of a renewal that I cannot see. This process is on-going and happens several times a day.

In the unknown, fear and hope feel so tangled up together, but in the gospel, there is great power over fear.

I am fighting to feel his hope and his peace as I unravel the fear tangled up in my heart as I walk into a big deal thing next week. Thank you for praying and for surrounding me and my family on this hard place journey.

Big deal thing is scheduled on Monday, November 5th from 8:30a-3:30p (EST). We will update when we are on the other side.

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Back to School Dinner Organization Plan

This year I am working a tad more, I have four kids in school, two children on a soccer team, one child playing fall baseball, and one child in ballet. My husband is a busy pastor which sometimes gives us an unpredictable schedule.

When it comes to dinner time I need to be prepared or else I will up like the Michelin Man from eating too many delivery pizzas. Really. I love delivery pizza. My meal planning saves me from too much melted cheese and crust dunked in butter sauce.

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For the fall, I am working with this organizational plan for my family dinners.

My personal breakfasts will be protein shakes or eggs (my husband is sweet to make eggs for me in the morning) and my lunches will be spinach salads with a small amount of grilled chicken.

The Dinner Plan:

Sunday/Mondays: After church style meals with enough leftovers for Monday nights. We will have ballet on Monday nights in the fall right around our normal dinner time at 6o’clock on the dot so leftovers will be helpful.

I will rotate between:

Prime Rib or Pot Roast

Pork Tenderloin

Ham

Fried Chicken with all the fixings for my Kentucky husband

Meatloaf

Beef Tortellini Soup

You all… this gives me a six week rotation for Sunday and Monday dinners. 

Tuesday/Wednesday: Taco Nights and Leftovers

Every Tuesday I will toss enough taco meal meat into the slow cooker to have enough to eat on Wednesday night. We have soccer on Tuesdays and Wednesday nights are free so I will be looking forward to a hump day leftover night break. I will rotate between:

Chicken Tacos and Chicken Quesadilla Leftovers

Beef Tacos and Layered Taco Bake Leftovers

Pork Carnitas and Rice Bowl Leftovers

Ranch Chicken Chili and Leftovers

This gives me a monthly taco night and leftover rotation for four weeks. 

Thursday/Friday: Our Thursday and Friday nights will be a mixture of grilling nights and oven baked nights. I know we will have soccer and baseball on Thursday nights so I will need to get whatever we have cooking by 430pm. On the agenda for the fall:

Red Pepper, Garlic, and Lemony Chicken

Wicked Good Salmon

Ranch Flavored Salmon

Garlic Grilled Ribeyes

Smoked Tomato Mozzarella Ribeyes

Korean Style Ribs

Memphis Style Ribs

Adobo Chicken Thighs

Honey Balsamic Chicken

Citrus Balsamic and Basil Chicken

Chicken Scampi with Pasta with Leftovers Friday

Baked Ziti with Meat Sauce with Leftovers Friday

Apple and Bourbon Chicken Sausages (kids will probably eat hot dogs).

Saturday Nights: For the fall, we will have baseball games so I am going to try Sandwich Night and rotate through the following:

Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Cheeseburgers

Grilled Chicken Sandwiches

Taziki Style Chicken in a Pita Pocket

Sloppy Joes

And this is the plan that will save me and my waistline from too much melted cheese and pizza crusts dunked in butter sauce.

Having a meals in your freezer is not about having a complete meal that is all ready to go. Meal planning is simply having an organized plan to save money and hopefully eat less melted cheese.

Wishing you the best this back to school season,

Rachel

Wounds, Scars, and Renewal

Ten days from now will mark the twentieth year of my mother’s passing. Now, I am thirty-four with four children, then I was fourteen and the oldest of three children. There are a million things I desire to write in this post, as I know many of you read and follow my jagged grief journey, but the words which may follow are quite unplanned, and a culmination of many burdens within my own heart. 

There are many things for all of our past which can wound and scar a person. Wounded-ness, the evidence of unhealed hurts. Scarring, the evidence of the healing of those wounds.

I have a terrible and jagged, c-section scar. This scar from my first Caesarean surgery was reopened three other times. Each painful reopening of this scar brought forth both a new season and new life.

However, with each reopening, the scar which was life-giving was also the reopening of many stories of pain, but in a weird scientific way, healing.

Wounds heal. The most delicate and intimate wounds are made to heal and the healing of wounds leads to scarring. The scarring makes us who we are. The scarring a permanent marking of  life given and shared, even in the wounded-ness, we are made to heal.

When I think of scars, my immediate reaction is to think of knobbly, unsightly things. Today I went to the doctor with a raised mole, and it was immediately frozen away. Today, in our culture it is quite uncommon to bear knobbly, unsightly things above the social media filters of who we desire to be.

In our current culture, it is quite knobbly to say, I am bumpy, unfiltered, and broken. I have been wounded, and I have been scarred. The wounded wonder, am I loved even when my flesh is knobbly?

As a knobbly person, I have chosen to hide my knobbly places underneath the false mask of “I am okay” for far too long. A culture of anti-embracing scarred-ness has suffocated me.

Twenty-years after my mother’s passing, I am learning the simple truth that it is our scars that prove we have lived life. Our scars are beautiful because our scars are life giving. Scars are knobbly and imperfect, but so is life.

Scars are the evidence of renewal. You cannot change your wounds, but you can embrace the journey, see the scars as proof of healing, and embrace the knobbliness as evidence of healing.

I have spent two decades feeling deeply wounded around this time of year. Looking back to the open wound inflicted twenty years ago when my mother passed away, instead of recognizing my knobbly places as proof of healing.

Our wounds are not scientifically meant to stay open, our wounds are meant to heal. The unsightly scars are the things which make all of us less filtered, and more human.

This year, for me, renewal has meant thinking of my mother at her happiest, and finding that place. Wondering, if she were here, what would I be doing. This year, my family and I are going to the beach in memory of my mom and her smile. My mom was a happy person, she fought with a smile, and was happiest with her family and at the beach. Renewal for me entails embracing scars and creating happier, more emotionally-whole patterns.

I will be sad at the beach, remembering my happy mother. But in some full circle way, this will help me feel whole.

My kindergartener prayed tonight, “God thank you for giving us emotions and allowing us to be happy and sad.” Such a sweet reminder that life is happy, but it is also sad. Life gives wounds, and creates scars of healing. We are all a knobbly mixture of happiness and sadness.

In the bumps and bruises, wounds and scars, God is making all things new. God makes all things new through the wounds, bruises, and scars of Jesus. This week as I look towards the Resurrection and the Easter weekend, I am thankful that the God of the Bible is the One who can identify with those who are wounded and scarred.

By His wounds we are healed. Jesus identifies with the broken.

In my own scarred, knobbly renewal I’d dare to think my mom would rejoice in my knobbly sad and happy scarred-ness. Twenty years feels like a crazy amount of time, but each day I am more hopeful. Each day I believe more and more, that God is making all things new, through wounds and scars.

What Are you Afraid Of?

My blonde haired boy with the gapped-tooth grin stands on the edge of the diving board. This is the hundredth or so time he has climbed the ladder, walked his Barney Rubble like feet down the textured white board and stood with his toes dangling off the edge ready to jump into the deep refreshing waters beneath him.

Each time he reaches the edge of the diving board he considers this act of faith. As he reaches the edge he wonders if the unknown waters below will consume him and he wonders if he can trust in his previous swim training. A hundred or so times over, my blonde haired boy has done an about face after weighing his options, letting the fear of the unknown consume him instead.

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Fear clouds the truth about the waters below and whether or not they will consume him.

Fear prevents him from remembering the strong swimmer he has become.

Fear skews the lens through which he views his world.

I go to him. In my flesh I am frustrated for him. I know he can in fact swim. I know he is letting fear overcome him. In my flesh I want to fix it for him. I want to accelerate the process. I want him to overcome this fear in my timing.

I ask him, “What are you afraid of?”

He replies to me he is afraid of “the drowning”. My blonde-haired boy with the gapped tooth grin has given his big fear a big definite article.

My flesh overcomes me and in this parenting moment on the side of the pool I list how my blonde haired boy should feel instead of entering into the dark with him. In my flesh I see his fear with a definite article too.

Beside the pool I remind my son of truth. I remind him of the hundred or so times his has jumped off the edge of the pool into deep waters and how he swam in them well. I want for him to overcome this so badly, I miss the opportunity to be vulnerable and speak my fears to him. I see the problem and I fail to see my son as a person standing before me. I forget we are both human and a fail to remember the times when I too have stood on the edge of fear, uncertain whether the waters below would consume me.

Times when I stood on the edge of uncertainty and failed to trust in a God who promises he is with me and faith in the truth that because God holds me, the waves will not consume me.

When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. (Isaiah 43:2)

Times when fear of the unknown provided a skewed lens to see The Blessed Controller cleary.

Times when fear skewed my own lens for how I viewed my world, when I too gave my fear a definite article.

Pema Chodron defines compassion as “knowing your darkness well enough that we can sit in the darkness with others. It is never a relationship between the wounded and the healed. It is a relationship between equals.”

So I wonder, as a parent, do I understand my own darkness well enough to sit in the darkness with my children? Am I able to access my big fears, the big fears with the definite articles and remember what it feels like to have my toes dangling over the edge, uncertain whether or not what lies beneath me or before me will consume me? Can I remember when I too have failed to trust in my own training and the times God has shown up for me along the way?

As a parent can I extend compassion and patience in the same way God extends his abundant grace and mercy to me? How many times I have faced uncertainty with unbelief and fear even though God in his word says fear not more than a hundred times over. God is a God of compassion who sits with us and pursues us even when our hearts are pulled towards fear and unbelief.

Oh how I want to parent with patience, compassion, unending mercy and grace. Oh how I want to see my blonde haired boy with toes dangling off the edge and instead of being quick to see his problem, I want to see his heart. Oh how I desire to parent with this kind of compassion.

Eventually my blonde haired boy will jump into the waters beneath him once his faith and his trust become the faith and the trust and when the faith and the trust make the fear seem like a small shadow in comparison to them. Until then, I desire to sit in the darkness with him. I desire to be human alongside him. I desire to pray alongside my blonde haired boy with the gapped tooth grin that we both would overcome unknowns and uncertainties together because God promises He is with both of us.

Shopping List For Starter Freezer Meals

Proteins

12 Chicken Breasts (one large package of chicken breasts from Costco)
A package of pork tenderloin (costco)
5 lbs of hamburger
1 package of flank steaks

***i will cook 4 of the chicken breasts and 1 pound of the hamburger the night before

Other

  • Gallon Ziplock Freezer Bags (enough to double bag)
  • 4 large onions
  • Celery
  • Carrots
  • Breadcrumbs ***
  • 2Eggs
  • Minced Garlic
  • Large Container Chicken Broth
  • 1 can whole cranberry sauce
  • Orange juice
  • Sugar ***
  • Brown sugar ***
  • Cloves ***
  • Pepper ***
  • Chunky applesauce
  • BBQ sauce ***
  • Chili powder ***
  • Taco seasoning ***
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 2 cans beef consumme
  • Frozen tortellini
  • Frozen green beans
  • Cumin ***
  • Frozen Corn
  • 1 can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 can enchilada sauce
  • 1 can chopped green chile peppers
  • Bay leaf ***
  • Cilantro
  • Ranch Dressing Mix (2)
  • Italian dressing mix (3)
  • Olive Oil***
  • Medium Red and Green Bell Pepper
  • Dijon Mustard***
  • Red Wine Vinegar***

***these things you may already have