Ten Years of Blogging

Last weekend was my husband’s fortieth birthday, while we celebrated him with apple pie, it occurred to me that my blog has officially been around for a decade. The idea to share my life and the gospel through words began around the time my husband turned thirty. I maybe even pressed publish for the first time on his actual birthday.

At that point in time, I had decided to step back from discipling youth group girls in our local church and focus on my family. I had three boys three and under—my hands were full and every customer in Target reminded me of this deeply felt truth when I pushed a cart full of babies through the store. Simply running out for milk was an Olympic-level event in this season. Stepping out of volunteer ministry was necessary in order to be a life-giver to my family at home.

Because running errands was an Olympic-level event, I built Olympic-level rhythms of rest into our daily routine. My boys played hard, then napped consistently for two and a half hours every afternoon and lights were out for the night by 7pm. My husband was in a season of ministry when he was out most evenings of the week—after tucking the boys in, I had a lot of time alone to read my Bible, pray, and journal. After months of journaling, I recognized a longing in my heart to still share my life and the gospel with others.

Which led me to start a blogging ministry!

It was a crazy idea and I had no idea if it would reach anyone. I wasn’t an excellent writer, I only applied to colleges that did not require an essay. When I began to blog, I was committed to two things: sharing what was honestly on my heart and pointing others to the hope of the gospel. I wanted to put my messy words and my messy life out there to show others the Christian life isn’t a calling to live every moment perfectly, but an invitation to rest in the One who is perfect amidst the chaos of everyday life.

Blogging Woes

A decade of blogging has taught me that I do my best editing after I press the publish button. No matter how many times I preview a post and reread it, I always seem to miss something. This has absolutely rubbed up against my perfectionist tendencies! However, over the years, embracing the fact that written work is never perfect and putting imperfect work out into the world taught me to (1) embrace the editing process and (2) unraveled my heart a bit from being a slave to my idol of perfectionism.

Secondly, putting honest, imperfect work out into the world takes courage and Christ-confidence. Over the years, readers have been highly critical. At times, I have read some incredibly unkind comments on my posts and people in my circles of influence have suggested that it would be wise for me to stop blogging all together.

While these moments have been painful, they have also exposed a fallen desire in my heart to want to please everyone. I am a people person and I want others to like me—which is a good desire—but my ultimate desire must be to serve God alone with my writing. I am confident God knows my heart and I know it is true that God sees me—this is what gives me the courage to keep writing even when I have received critical feedback. I have learned to remind myself that even though I am sending words out into the world, my writing is for an audience of One.

Blogging Wows

It is amazing to look back and see all God has done in a decade. In 2013 we added a girl to our family, Michael was called to be the lead pastor at our former church in 2015, my writing turned into a book in 2019, I had an opportunity to serve on our denomination’s National Women’s Ministry Team, and I have gotten to travel to several churches to share my life and the gospel.

There have been several highs and several lows. I have written about two miscarriages, wrestling with anxiety, walking through my preventative double mastectomy in 2018, and in 2020 we were called to a heartbreakingly difficult season of ministry which led to our relocation to South Carolina.

In the good and the painful, writing about these events has helped me not only process them, but served as a stark reminder to look up and see a bigger picture. Life contains seasons of joy and seasons of suffering. But God’s presence is an unwavering hope I can always cling to—and He uses all of it to reflect His glory “against the somber background of the broken world” (paraphrased, Stott). Sometimes I am walking gracefully and sometimes I am simply stumbling along, but whether I am weak or strong, His power is perfectly displayed (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Blogging Wonders

Many of you have encouraged me to keep writing and I have needed you on the journey.

Can you believe it has been ten years?

I am grateful.

I am not blogging on my personal blog as often as I did in the beginning, but many of you still continue to read, reach out, and encourage. Sharing in this space has been hard at times and I know there are many times I wanted to quit, but your encouragements and willingness to connect have kept me going. I know I don’t always respond back to every comment or message, but I do read each and every word sent my way.

I am in awe of how this not-so-perfect place has turned into a ministry and given me opportunities to serve far beyond all I could ask or think. Two published books: Slowly Unraveled and Knowing His Great Name, a Children’s Book (His Name is Great) coming soon, and the opportunity to travel and meet like-minded friends through speaking engagements all started here ten years ago.

God has used you, the reader, and it has been a joy to partner with you.

Who knows what God with do with the next ten years?

With gratitude,

rachel

Mother’s Day: Journeying, Resting, and Looking

A Weighty Load

Twenty-four years ago, I lost my mother to breast cancer. I was fourteen. For many years, Mother’s Day was very difficult; it was a holiday each calendar year which magnified the saddest piece of my story: I was motherless. I was a young woman, a child even. When I was younger, the only way I knew how to cope with being motherless was to carry the weightiness of my grief alone. Loneliness and believing the lie that I was suffering in my motherlessness alone left me stuck in my grief and unable to move (or even inch) forward. No amount of human effort nor earthly courage could ever free me from my pain.

But God.

God radically changed me when I was twenty-one years old. This change in me was not a quick fix nor an abrupt ending to my motherless grief, but it was the beginning of a new journey. A journey of walking through my grief while being connected to Christ.

Carrying my grief alone for so long left me weary and stuck, it was only when I shared the weightiness of my grief with Christ that I could begin to find freedom from my weighty load and rest for my weary heart (Matthew 11:28-30).

Come to Him

This world is not the way it is supposed to be. Perhaps you are not motherless. Maybe you’re estranged from your mother. Maybe you have lost a child. Maybe you long to have a child. Maybe you grieve because you wish you had been a better mother. There are one thousand different ways one can know this world is broken and not the way God intended it to be.

However you may experience brokenness, worldly brokenness leads to holy anticipation.

Our worldly wounds lead us to a wonderful Savior. Jesus understands the pains of life in this world because Jesus put on flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14). Jesus wept with compassion when Lazarus died (John 11:35). Jesus was betrayed by close friends (Matthew 26:47-50). Jesus’s soul was filled with sorrow (Matthew 26:38). Jesus was beaten, mocked, and suffered on the cross (Matthew 27).

Those who are in Christ can come to Jesus with their wounds because Jesus understands pains and sorrows. Worldly brokenness is an invitation to come to Jesus.

Rest in His Power

Those who are connected to Christ possess the power of Christ in them by the power of the Holy Spirit. Paul wrote in Ephesians 3:16-17 that “God strengthens Christ-followers with power in their inner being so Christ may dwell in the hearts of those who know Him through faith.” This word for dwelling in the Greek is a permanent dwelling, meaning Jesus has settled down in the hearts of His followers permanently. If you believe in Jesus, you have the power of Christ in you—permanently! The same power that raised Christ from the dead lives in the hearts of those who know Him. This supernatural power can conquer any worldly sorrow and chip away the starkness of the most stubborn grief.

Healing from worldly sorrows and unmet longings is a journey and it’s a journey that is not on a tidy-human timeline. Transformational healing is not of this world. In 2 Corinthians 3, Paul wrote that transformation happens as we are moved from one degree of glory to another. It’s a life-long journey which requires resting in Christ’s power in you and hopefully waiting for His redemptive Work to be displayed in your life. This is a moment by moment journey of resting, hoping, and waiting.

As We Wait We Look

I am certain many of you approach Mother’s Day with a grieving heart of some sort. My suffering in this world is not identical to everyone’s suffering. But to suffer in the now and the not-yet of this lifetime is something that unites us as humans on the journey. Almost everyone on the journey is walking toward heaven limping and wounded.

What can we do as we journey together?

We can look up. We can look up and remember the God of the universe is with us on the journey.

We can look back. We can look back at our past wounds with the power of Christ in us a rightly lament that this world is not the way it is supposed to be.

We can look around. We can look around and see who is walking wounded alongside us. This helps us remember that we are not alone on the journey. We can also look around and rejoice in the redemption God is already weaving into our hearts and lives. For me, looking around means rejoicing in the blessings God has given to me on the journey and recognizing small degrees of glory as His transforming power in my heart.

We can look to the future. We can look forward with a holy anticipation that we will not always suffer the pains of this world. We can live with the long view of hope that in Christ, God is making all things new (Rev 21:5).

Mother’s Day is a mixture of beauty and brokenness—so is all of life. However you may approach this day: you are not alone. There are many with you on the journey. One day all the hurts of motherlessness and motherhood will be redeemed and restored.

Until that glorious day, find rest in Christ’s power in you and keep looking up, looking back, looking around, and looking long with hope.

The Mist of Motherhood

Today I am over on the enCourage Blog sharing about laundry and the mistiness of motherhood.

See the beginning of the piece below and click on the link to read the rest.

If I am being completely honest, laundry is my least favorite household chore. Like Mary Poppins, I can find an element of fun in most jobs that must be done around the house. But when it comes to laundry, I long for a fairy godmother’s power to simply swoosh away the piles of dirty clothes.

Being a mom to four means my laundry basket is always full and sock-matching seems never-ending. We have forty-two pairs of socks in a week’s worth of laundry; the odds of finding all eighty-four socks in the same week are slim. In the new heavens and the new earth, when Christ returns to redeem and restore all things, I have a holy anticipation that socks will no longer go missing. I am convinced sock causalities must have something to do with the Fall.

Read the rest on the enCourage Blog: https://women.pcacdm.org/the-mist-of-motherhood/

Twenty-Three Years, Loss, and Popcorn Trees

The first week of April is always breathtaking on my small suburban street in Southwest Ohio. Bradford Pear trees flank the sides of the road and the white blossoms are in full bloom. To some of the senses, the blooming trees are irritating—the allergy sufferers in my home have itchy eyes and sniffly noses—while breathtaking to the eye, the trees’ blooms are in juxtaposition in the way they are breathtaking to the nose.

For as long as we have lived on this street, our family refers to these first-week-of-April beauties as popcorn trees; when my babies were small one of them mentioned the blooms looked like popcorn and the name stuck . . . probably always will as they grow.

The changing of seasons is a reminder to me of God’s faithfulness and consistency. Every fall I can expect the October Glory in our front yard to be awe-strikingly orange and every April I can expect the popcorn trees to be in full bloom.

“For everything there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven,” (Ecclesiastes 3:1).

For me, the popcorn trees come with reminders of beauty and reminders of great loss. Every year, the first week of April comes with wrestling and reminders of springs past. My mother lost her battle with breast cancer so many years ago, this year will mark twenty-three years—I was fourteen, she was forty-one.

I can hardly believe it—the time in calendar years and days feels long, but to my own heart, twenty-three years have passed quite quickly. Every April 7th comes faster than the one before it, the grief contained in an awkward package that stretches decades, but cradled in what seems like moments.

The years have changed me. Especially the recent years we have lived life among the popcorn trees on our current suburban road.

Alongside the consistency of the early April blooms, God has been consistently faithful and good. Our circumstances have not always been easy, but God has always been faithful and good. God has provided seasons of joy, seasons of healing, seasons of loss, and seasons of pain. God is changing me and His faithfulness to me remains the same.

For God’s own glory, He has foreordained whatsoever comes to pass. He foreordains the seasons and every matter under heaven. To my human mind, I can’t always know or predict what God is up to—but my theology reminds me what God is up to is for His glory, not my own glory, but His glory.

The losses experienced on earth will pale in comparison to the gains of glory in eternity. “For this light and momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,” (2 Corinthians 4:17). When I think about twenty-three years, the affliction of loss is long, but fleeting. Earthly afflictions are preparing Christ-followers for heavy glory.

Even with good theology, I admit, I stumble in the losses. I believe, but like the father who comes to Jesus to heal his son in the gospels, I believe, but I need the power of Christ to help my unbelief (Mark 9:24). When the losses on earth break my heart, I am weak—but I am confident in the power of the spirit that works within me, “the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us,” (2 Corinthians 4:7).

Though I stumble, Christ is the only thing that enables me to rise. He is my hope, my banner, my shield, and my very great reward.

After a season of recent loss, the popcorn trees are a visual reminder of God’s faithfulness to heal, redeem, and restore all things. The healing may take decades, but one day I will look back and it will feel like merely moments. On the journey, I can choose to see the beauty in the blossoms or get caught up in the stink that strives to overcome the beauty. Twenty-three years ago, I never imagined God would bring me to where I am now—and though I stumble, I know I am living a life that would bring my mother great joy.

I pray and hope in the next season—God is doing more than I could ask or think, even when I cannot see. He will be glorified in the joys, the healing, the loss, and the pain. He is near and faithful. His consistency in creation reminds me that He never stops working and His promises are true.

In moments of great loss, it is a gift to be able to find beauty among the stink. He creates beauty out of brokenness and He will be glorified because He is faithful and good. By His power we can truly heal and be restored.

THE SCHOOL OF SOVEREIGNTY: HEART PREPARATION FOR AN UNCERTAIN SCHOOL YEAR

Today, I am over at the enCourage Blog, sharing about how I am preparing my heart for this back to school year. 

Honestly, when I was asked to write this post, the first thought that came to mind was, “I am an unlikely person to write an encouraging article about going back to school.”

I prefer the predictable. I am quite uncomfortable in the unknown. I still order chicken nuggets with a coke “no ice” at restaurants because chicken nuggets with a coke “no ice” was what I ordered at fast food restaurants as a child. I seldom swim in oceans, lakes, or rivers because I am not exactly certain which creatures may be swimming near my feet. I struggle when I cannot see every nook and cranny of the waters in which I am swimming.

So, now you know my secrets and why I am an unlikely author for this post. I would rather live everyday like it was Groundhog Day—again. When it comes to uncertainty in my life, there is a gospel gap between my theology and the way I live in the unknown.

Read the rest https://women.pcacdm.org/the-school-of-sovereignty-heart-preparation-for-an-uncertain-school-year/