Friday, July 12, 2013

Listen to Your Mother

You probably didn't know (because I wasn't here to tell you) that I participated in Listen to Your Mother in Indianapolis this year around Mother's Day. Listen to Your Mother is a live show featuring readings of original essays about mothers and motherhood, and it's performed in 24 cities across the country. That's 24 cities times 14-ish essays per city, so that's... *quick math* ...almost 200 different points of view. Some are funny, some are sad, some are both. Here is mine:








I'm so grateful to have met such wonderful women during the rehearsal process. Some---like Amy Magan, Heather Sokol, and Michelle McNally---I've "known" in the Indy blogging world for a few years. We've Facebooked and Tweeted, and we've even seen each other once or twice. Now I actually know them, along with several other wonderful women.

Watch the whole playlist. Please. Whether you are an adoptive mother, someone with an aging mother, someone who's lost a mother, someone's who has struggled with being a mother, or if you just are or have a mother, there is a woman here you'll connect to. Probably more than one. We really had an amazing group, and every word assures you that you are not alone in this world.

I encourage you to seek out this show in your city next year. Better yet, be a part of it and share your story of motherhood. Click the Listen to Your Mother button at the top of this post for more information.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Seasons of Love

I haven't forgotten you. I promise.

God has had me cut so many ties in the last year. With the ups and downs of postpartum depression (which I'm still wading through---thank you all for your prayers and support, bloggy pals) and trying to keep myself together while raising my little ones, I've been more than happy to put this blog and several of my other activities to the side.

That bouquet is for me, you know.
And while I'm OK with the tie-cutting, it leaves me at a bit of a loss. Now it feels like I'm flailing around, trying to grab onto things that make me feel more like me. That may be the reason for this pop-up post. And the reason that I suddenly decided to go on an audition tonight (although I've changed my mind on that). Writing and theater are two things I love---things that feel the most like me---so I feel like something must be missing if I'm not doing one of those things.

But nothing's missing, really.


I've been using the phrase, "It's not my season," lately. It's not my season to be a blogger. It's probably not my season to be gone three nights a week rehearsing for a show (although there are plenty of days I wouldn't mind the break from my kiddos!).

My current season is about caring for myself. That sounds kind of selfish, but I don't mean it in an I'm-the-most-important-person-in-the-world way. I mean it in an if-I-don't-take-care-of-myself-now-I-don't-know-what-life-will-look-like way. I've taken up running. Yes, although I've said I'd only run if someone was chasing me with an ax, I've taken up the sport. And I'm committed to two (maybe three!) 5K races in the upcoming months. I've also started Zumba, which is crazy fun. I've even taken up drawing and painting. I'm not great at it (and the first few paintings were kind of---well, kind of scary), but it's soothing. And we even got a dog! I love her to bits, and she's a great companion. She even goes running with me! It's that kind of caring for myself---emotionally and physically---that's helping keep me together right now.

I do miss my previous season. It didn't last long enough for my liking, but I'm hoping I'll experience it again. At present, God and I have a different kind of relationship. We talk constantly. Most of it is me begging for strength and stability, but that only makes me more dependent on him. I can tell he's holding my hand every day, coaxing me back to life. Some days are up, some days are down, but every day is with him. 

Oh, that face just makes me smile!
If you've got some room on your prayer list, pray for my children and my long-suffering husband. I haven't exactly been the easiest person in the world to live with for the last---well, I guess it's been almost two years, if you count the depression during my pregnancy. Holy cow! Hormones are the worst. Boo. But pray that when I suddenly burst into tears (or suddenly hug them and won't let go) my kids aren't on their way to a life of crime or intensive therapy. My husband has been wonderful and supportive, and he's proven to me that he is pretty much the greatest man on the planet (although he will humbly deny it, which further proves my point). But I'm not the only passenger on this roller coaster that never seems to end.

And last, but certainly not least, I can't say enough about seeking help if you're dealing with depression, postpartum or otherwise. I'm not ashamed to say that I've been going to therapy and that my doctor has prescribed medication for me. It shouldn't be something that Christians are ashamed to talk about. Until I experienced depression, I didn't understand it at all. I wouldn't have understood why someone wouldn't want to get out of bed or wouldn't want to see friends and family. I wouldn't have understood a flash flood of tears or a desire to escape. But now I understand. It's chemical. It's hormonal. It's nothing I did, and there's nothing I can do on my own to fix it. Medicine and therapy help the mind and body, and a healthy dose of prayer does wonders for mind, body, and soul. But don't be ashamed, and don't let anyone shame you, either.

So that's where I'm at. I'm drawn back here every once in a while just to interact with you, dear readers, and catch up on what you're doing. I miss you! So answer me this:

What do you do to care for yourself (or to let others care for you) during difficult seasons?

Monday, February 4, 2013

Alive at Last

Hi. My name is Rachel. It's been more than three months since my last blog post. 

In case you're the type who likes photo updates...
Where were you for three months? you ask. I wish I had the answer. I shared with you that I've been dealing with postpartum depression since the birth of my daughter last April. It feels like the last year or so is a fog out of which I'm just now emerging. I'm not sure how my daughter is nine months old already; I'm also not sure how most parents live through their child's fourth year. My son has suddenly lost his mind. A million dollars to the person who finds it!

I also feel like I've been in a spiritual fog. God has had to carry me through the PPD, but all I could do is let him. I couldn't talk to him, couldn't acknowledge him. The last few blog posts were pretty much a miracle, considering the state of my soul. I must have been provided a few lucid moments for those. I still have some bad days, but most of them are good right now. Praise God for that!

I don't know if it's because I was so spiritually unresponsive or in spite of it, but I am going through a season right now that has never happened in my life:

I crave time with God.

I just want to snuggle up next to him all day long. I wake up singing praises, I go to bed singing praises. I long for my quiet time with him. I'm happy to get up early to spend time with him.

Me. Up early. I'm going to have to change the name of this blog, aren't I?

My husband has asked me how this started, since he'd love to be in this season, too. I have no answer for him. Perhaps my soul went without nourishment for so long, it's starving. That's kind of what it feels like. I don't recommend the starving part, but the hunger for his company is incredible!

So that's where I'm at right now. Perhaps I'll start writing more; perhaps not. Perhaps my readership has abandoned me entirely! Perhaps you're in a season right now that has you craving time with God more than anything (even more than blogging). If so, I'm grateful you understand my heart right now.

Have you ever gone through a season like this? Do you want to? If you don't have an answer to either of these, just tell me how you've been!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Moses and Me

My life has had some major upheaval lately. I mean apart from the baby and all of that. For the past seven years, I've been a part of the drama ministry at my church. I write scripts, I act, I direct. It's always been a lot of fun, and I'm good at it.

But.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.
I think God saw me getting too comfortable. I got the feeling that he wanted me to leave the safety of my church walls and participate in the local theater scene. Salt and light and all that. I prayed and prayed about it, and the answer became clearer and clearer. So, with great peace, I resigned from the drama ministry.

But.

God still wanted me serving inside the church walls. And I felt that he was pushing me toward the kids' ministry. Elementary school kids. My kids are four and under. I've taught junior high and high school kids. Why on earth would elementary school be the place for me?




A Short Play by Rachel
"Buts and Nopes"

Scene: RACHEL is in her bedroom, praying.

RACHEL:     So, I think I'm supposed to go help out in the kids' ministry.

GOD:            Yep.

RACHEL:     No, like the elementary kids' ministry.

GOD:            Yep.

RACHEL:     But—I don't wanna.

GOD:            Well, you should. I need you there.

RACHEL:     Naw, not me. I don't have anything to offer!

GOD:            Sure you do. Don't I know you better than anyone? It'll work.

RACHEL:     But maybe you forgot that I don't really work with kids this age. 

GOD:            Maybe you forgot that I'm God. If The Almighty is asking you to do something, maybe you should—I don't know—stop arguing? Just do it.

RACHEL:     Ha! God knows what Nike is!

GOD:            I love your sense of humor, Rachel! Your obstinance is something else, though...

RACHEL:     I'm made in your image, you know.

GOD:            And I'm a great listener. You, not so much.

RACHEL:     Ha! But I can't...

GOD:            Rachel. Stop making excuses. Just go.

RACHEL:     Fine. But if I crash and burn, I'm holding you responsible!

GOD:            Fine! But you won't. Trust me.


END SCENE.


I felt a little like Moses. Not the parting-of-the-Red-Sea, confident Moses. The I-don't-wanna Moses. When God first asked him to go back to Egypt, Moses came up with every excuse in the book. 

Moses said to the Lord, “Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.”

The Lord said to him, “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.”

But Moses said, “Pardon your servant, Lord. Please send someone else.” - Genesis 3: 10-13

Moses made no less than five arguments against doing what God asked of him. I'm pretty sure I made at least that many. But I went. And you know what?

It was exactly where I needed to be.

Turns out that the director of the children's ministry had been praying for strong leaders last week, so my e-mail to him was an answer to his prayers. Isn't that cool? He got another e-mail last week, too, and when he introduced me to the other volunteer, it turned out to be a friend from my small group! Small world, huh? By the time I finished on Sunday, I knew it was the perfect place for me. Not only did I feel useful, but I really enjoyed the kids. So God was right. Chalk another one up for The Almighty!

It was really hard to step out in faith, especially somewhere I wasn't comfortable. But since these decisions were made, I've felt joy and peace like I've never had before. Obedience has its own rewards. I'll take 'em!

Do you find it difficult to be obedient and step out in faith? What are the rewards?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

I Hate My Love Language

So there's this book by Gary Chapman called The Five Love Languages. It's about the ways we prefer to give and receive love and how to give others love in the way they best receive it. The five love languages are Quality Time, Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Physical Touch, and Receiving Gifts.

When my husband and I first got married, I thought my love language was Quality Time, and maybe Words of Affirmation was up there, too. You know what my language really is?

NOW I feel loved!
Receiving Gifts.

Yes, I'll admit to what feels like the most shallow of the love languages. I love getting gifts. And since Friday was my birthday, I knew my husband would get me a great gift! I thought it might be some earrings to match a garnet ring I got at an antique show in the spring—and it was!

And they were awful. Apart from them not matching the ring at all, they weren't even my style. Despite my reputation for being a good actress, I can't seem to mask disappointment in opening a gift. Curses!

Now, my husband is a very thoughtful gift-giver. He listens and tucks away in his brain things I've said or things he thinks I'll like. And that works at Christmas, but he's terrible with my birthday for some reason. Maybe he tries too hard at my birthday? I don't know. But I nearly let it ruin my day on Friday! Mostly out of guilt that I didn't like his present—yet again. He told me not to feel that way and that he'd rather know so we can get something I like and will actually use. Still. I felt terrible.

I spent the weekend thinking about why Receiving Gifts is my love language. When I was young, money was tight, but I always got at least one great gift at Christmas. Not necessarily the most expensive thing, but something I really wanted. I also loved it when my dad surprised me on Sweetest Day with a rose or something. When I got to high school, I dated my best friend for ten seconds, and we broke up right before Christmas. He got me a bath set in some nasty scent—freesia, I think. Really? My best friend can't think of something more unique to me than a bath set? I really don't like getting bath things. It's like, "Oh, you're a girl. You must like to bathe and smell clean. Here you go!" Blecch.

So maybe I just want the thoughtfulness required in gift-giving. Or because we didn't have tons of money growing up, maybe someone splurging on a gift for me is just exciting. Whatever the reason, that's my love language.

And I hate it.

I don't like feeling disappointed when I get what I perceive to be a sub-par gift. I don't like that my husband also has to feel disappointed when he gets me a gift he's excited to give me and it's not what I wanted. I don't like feeling materialistic!

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God. - Ephesians 2:8

But you know what? I'm made in God's image. God loves gifts—giving them and receiving them. He's given us spiritual gifts to develop and use. He gives us blessings, both tangible and intangible. He's given us grace, which is pretty much the best gift he could give us. Our praise and worship are our gifts to him because we love him so much. We also give him our lives and our obedience.

And, being made in his image, I give at least as many gifts as I receive—probably more. Just like God. And is God disappointed in our gifts sometimes? Probably. When we don't put time or effort into them and simply give him our leftovers, I'm sure he's a bit disappointed. He wants our best gifts, just like I want someone's best effort. We all have something different to offer, but we can all offer our best. And then God will give us his best in return. And that's pretty awesome.

Hmm. Maybe I can live with this love language after all.

What's your love language? How is that language a reflection of God?