Thursday, August 28, 2014

My Time Will Come

I have been writing, folks. Writing and thinking and praying and reading and writing some more.  I have about fifteen half-written blogs.  So much to be said; so many threads to be pulled.  My little tribe has done an immense amount of growing, painfully and tenaciously, during the past few months.  I have no words to encapsulate all that has happened in our hearts and our prayers.  And we are still very much in the thick of it. Maybe someday, I will be able to slap a theme on it and talk about "lessons learned" all packaged and peaceful and stuff. 

 But not today.

And even as I type I feel the need to immediately post a disclaimer on such vulnerability.  Because we are healthy.  We are so in love with one another and fiercely devoted to the God who is redeeming our very story. We have family and friends who walk beside us and point us towards hope and promise.  All the big and important things are in place, safe and secure, thank you Jesus.  

But, sometimes, being a grown up and making grown up decisions can be enough to put us over the edge. Couple that with a tendency for control and the blurriness of the unknown and watch me go cray.  The past six months have kind of been a pot that boileth over.  Great things and hard things.  Big Decisions made and some big ones to make.  

We put our home up for sale in June as my parents graciously offered to let us live with them for a while. It seemed like perfect timing with Greg working full-time and being in graduate school. We were excited about respite from finances, and I was excited to hang out with my mom all day.  Anne of Green Gables marathons like whoa. 

But. We knew that we needed to trust that God was in the process.  Whatever the outcome.  And it's a good thing we did.  Because the week after we listed, word leaked that developers had bought a plot of land at the end of our street to build a $450 million power plant.  Blessedness.  We had two showings in 60 days.  We prayed and talked and struggled with our decision, but we knew that until this power plant business blew over, we couldn't even pay people to buy our home.  

So, we are staying.  We are trusting that God ordered this process just so and that we are still needed here, in our little yellow home.  

And with that commitment to stay came a slew of other decisions.  Financial decisions, like our commitment to my pulling an income through in home daycare  (side note:  little people are just my favorite.  If I have to work it will always, always be with them.)  Family do we want a big family or is that something that I say when I have too much wine?   Because hey: big families are fun.  I grew up in one.  I'm just not sure that I'm meant to parent one.  Unless I take up day drinking.  Kidding?

So anyways,  I have experienced some tension between desire and reality.  I have prayed and cried and fought and struggled along this journey over the past year or so.  Because, If I had my perfect life, I would wear a Snuggie and eat cheesecake and just write the day away.  I just love words.  WORDS FOR LIFE.  But we gots bills to pay.  And a hubby in school chasing so hard and so well after his dreams.  And little loves that need my full attention throughout their first days.  I know that God has called me to anchor the SS Hamann for this season.  And I'm doing it.  By God's amazing grace, I'm doing it.

But it doesn't always mean that it's peaceful and effortless or at the expense of something else.  Sometimes, I feel caught up in a strange borderland where I am jealous of my working friends and jealous of my stay at home mom friends and jealous that my kids get to eat Cheez-its all day.  And sometime, I secretly fear that these months might turn into years and my anchor will become barnacled and rusty.  

Last week I received an unexpected note of encouragement from someone I don't know all too well.  She had been praying for me (so humbling) and had a word to share with me.  And you guys.  I just cry trying to type this.  She said (paraphrased) You are where you are supposed to be.  Nothing is in vain.  God wants you to know your time will come.  Your prayers are heard.  Your heart is known.  Your gifts will shine for Jesus.  I cannot even explain what reading this word did to my heart.  But I think it burst and healed at the same time.  

And this:  

The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still. Exodus 14:14

Balm to my heart.   My time will come.  I need to be still and trusting in this season.  It is not in vain.   There is more to be learned from this. There is more that needs to be loved through this. I love my little tribe and I know that a time will come, all too soon, where no one needs a band-aid for their stuffed elephant and where my incredible husband gets to be home more and the kitchen floor will stay clean for more than an hour.   I'm not going to waste these precious and significant moments by coveting my future.  We are hunkering down, y'all.  In it to win it and such.  

I know I need to be at the proverbial here before I can get to the proverbial there.

And I know, without a doubt, that I will look back on this particular season of my life and eat up every little moment that God allowed me to have.  

Friday, May 9, 2014

But Not Us.

Last night I chucked my phone across the basement.  I wasn't being vindictive or manipulative.  I had just had enough.  Greg and I had been sitting within two feet of each other for half an hour without talking.  He was checking his laptop for the latest NFL draft news.  I was checking out Facebook and Instagram on my phone.

And we weren't talking.  But we had every excuse in the book.

It was nine o'clock and the girls had just gone to bed.
It had been an exhausting week.
He had just finished his last class for the semester.
I had just finished a marathon of a day with the girls.


Work has been really tough for him lately.
Life has been really busy for us lately.

At least that's what we told ourselves.

But at some point in our little inhabiting-the-same-space-but-not-interacting-ness, I looked over at my husband of ten years and I became a little angry and a lot sad.    I wasn't angry with him as much as I was with myself.  My phone suddenly felt like a hot potato and his laptop, I swear, was growing horns.  I was ready to go all Xena warrior princess on our mobile devices.

I said, quietly to myself so Greg wouldn't think I was crazy (a little too late in our marriage for this), "But not us."

Yes, we are tired.  We are overdrawn and don't know which way is up.  And, yes, something has to give.  But not us. It's not going to be us.  We are not going to be what gives in this equation.

The easy thing to do is to check out.  To run towards something that looks like relief from everyday reality.  We can get lost in our laptops, in Sports Center, in Facebook and Etsy and whatever else calls out to us.  Also, chocolate.  For me.  Flaming Hot Cheetos for him.

But what we don't realize, in those few short minutes at the end of each night that we have to be husband and wife,  is that those tiny moments are all that we may have to be married that day.  Things need to be said.  Prayers need to be prayed.  These lives need to be joined together again.   So that we can face tomorrow as one.

I'm a huge fan of sitting down with a cozy blanket and a book in the evening.  I also love me some Richard Castle and Kate Beckett.  But when time together is at a premium; and we are tired, anxious, and feeling fragile...

That's when our TV needs to go.
That's when our phones need to go.
That's when our laptops need to go.
That's when our calendars need to be cleared a little.

That's when we put a stake in the ground and say, "But not us."

Because we are not the thing that needs to go. We stay.  We need to stay and face each other so that we can walk beside one another.  We need to check out of anything distracting and check-in to the Life that God has called us to lead. As one.  As a family.  As a team.

Go team.

So. I chucked my phone across the basement last night.  Greg looked up at me in surprise, saying, "Hey.  What's up?"  And we talked.  And I cried a little bit.  Per usual.  And we hugged.  We made the most of the fifteen minutes we had left before I started falling asleep on the couch.  It wasn't anything magical.  But it felt as if, just for a little while, we held space for one another and declared, "Not us.  Not tonight."  And that, in itself, felt like a small victory.

Thank you Jesus.

Love as distinct from “being in love” is not merely a feeling. It is a deep unity, maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit…
~ C. S. Lewis ~

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Put away your sword.

Many of you know that my family is walking through the unknown right now.   Let's be honest, anyone within five feet of me (including the poor unsuspecting person behind me in the check out aisle)  runs the risk of hearing about it.  And while we always are walking through the unknown to some degree, this particular season has been really really hard for me.

So here is where I get weird.

I have these notebooks, you see.   Lots of notebooks.

And when I am feeling overwhelmed by the helplessness of not knowing which direction God may lead us; I write.  I write scenarios. I write budgets.  I write out pages and pages of  outlines for how life could possibly pan out with Plan A, Plan B, and Plans XYZ.  I research different career opportunities and what kind of education they might require.  I try to calculate how big or little a pot of gold we might have at the end of all these rainbows.

This is one of my quirks.  I've always been a dreamer and a planner.    And usually it's okay.  My use of lined paper to dream typically breaths a freshness and an excitement to my every day life.  Usually.  But lately, with so many  things unknown, my doodles and flourishes are turning into frantic chicken scratches that become less and less legible and more and more unreasonable as they progress.  

 Because I'm just looking for a way.   For a Rescue.  It is killing me to not have control right now, and I am fighting back with my notebooks and my internet research and obsessive over-thinking.  And it's turned my anxiety barometer up to unreasonable decibels.  It's all I hear.  All I can see.  All I think about.  Which is why I wrote I'm Showing Up.  The tension between my self and my Spirit has never been more palpable to me, and I knew that I needed to try, with His help, to be present in my everyday life.

But praise the Lord, He is not done with me yet.  There is always more.

So just this week, as God and the Bible and all things holy would have it, I have been studying the arrest and trial of Jesus with my Bible Study Fellowship (holler!) group.

And our boy Peter.  I'm really identifying with him these days. He sinks in the water.  He cuts a dudes ear off.  He denies his best friend.  Who IS THE SAVIOR OF EVERYTHING.  Peter has knee-jerk-self-preservation reactions to the chaos in his life.   He cannot, for the life of him, subject himself to the pain or walk through the fear to get to the other side of redemption.  

Peter wanted to fight the process.  He wanted to fight the not knowing.  He wanted to fight what had to be done in order for the story to be redeemed.  He could only see pain and persecution and imprisonment in front of him.  He could not see through to the other side.

But Jesus knows this about Peter.   Earlier that evening, Jesus had spoken these very words over His beloved friend:

Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me? John 18:11

Because Jesus.  He knew.  Jesus knew that the sword would only get in the way of what had to be done.  And Jesus drank that cup,  walking through the fear to the Other Side of Redemption.  Through death and into life.   Bringing the abundant and forever life to all who believe that Jesus is who he says he is.   And that Jesus can do what he says he can do.  

But do I?

 Do I believe that Jesus is who he says he is?  
 Do I believe Jesus can do what he says he can do? 

Then why the swords?  Why the notebooks?  Why do I wield my pen like some sort of magic eight ball that will choose the story that is easiest and that looks the prettiest?  It really comes down to asking those simple questions of myself.  Do I believe Jesus?  Do I trust Him to walk us through this?  Do I believe in the Upper Story...what is happening in the kingdom of heaven that my eyes cannot see?

My answer is yes.  My answer is yes.  

Our pain and our trials can be redemptive if we choose to feed our faith instead of our fear.  If we choose to walk through the unknown and keep our eyes on Jesus instead of swinging blindly with our swords and writing frantically in our notebooks we will get to where He's called us to.  He will show us a way.  And He will use it and us to bring glory and honor to Himself.  Because that is what it is all about, amen?

Peter.  Put away your sword.

Rachel.  Put away your notebook.  

So I am.  No more notebooks.  For now.   I am trusting that Jesus is who he says he is.  I am checking in to my everyday life and investing all my energy into living in the unknown.   And wow.  It is totally unknown.  But I want to draw strength as I wait up on the Lord.  I don't want my anxious thoughts, my best laid plans, or my need for control to dry up the joy that the Lord has set before me.  

I'm done feeding my fear.  

He is risen indeed.  

Thursday, April 10, 2014

I'm showing up

I have not written in a really long time.  And wow.  I'm really feeling it.  I have a lot to process.  So many thoughts.   I HAVE ALL THE THOUGHTS.  However.   I repeatedly find myself in a face-off with my laptop every time I sit to write.  She stares at me, taunting me with her blank screens and that darn-it-all blinking cursor.  Write something.  Write something.     I am silently praying and willing all the thoughts to run down my arm and move my fingers to type something concrete.  Something meaningful.  Something beautiful.  But even as I  try to make these words come to life I am aware that writing is not going to magically just happen to me. 

Because writing.  It's a discipline.  Because working out.  It's a discipline.  Because the study and application of the Very Words of God is a discipline. Because loving Greg and loving my girls is a discipline.

Because really.  All I want to do is eat chocolate chip cookies and sleep all day.

Historically discipline and I have had a love/hate relationship.  Meaning I will spend three hundred dollars on Paleo foods and buy the latest cookbooks and read all the blogs and then two weeks in Greg will find me in a closet with a loaf of french bread and a stick of butter growling at him to leave me and my friends in peace.  Or I will have a vision for chore charts with matching stickers for the girls and after three days their charts are collecting dust under their dirty (and unmade) beds.

When it comes to discipline, I am all bark and no bite.


Well.  Just recently I hit a breaking point.  My body felt broken and tired.  My mind was so worn from my discipline plans starting and ending.  Starting again and ending again.  But the worst. The worst was my spirit.  My spirit felt weary and defeated.  I was tired of myself.  Tired of hot and cold.  Tired of dieting or pigging out.   Tired of my plans.  Tired of feeling like parable of the seed that falls on fertile soil only to pop up for a few days before withering away.  I was withering away.  

And that is where God always meets me.   At the end of myself.  Without fail.
My Jesus.  He met me.  He softly spoke over my heart: I will teach you a better way still.

I slowly began to realize, through prayer and Scripture and countless conversations with pillar people in my life that maybe, just maybe, there is a better way still.   Maybe it's not about discipline.

Maybe it's just about showing up.

Showing up to the gym even if all I can do is walk for ten minutes. Showing up to friendships where I've been a little checked out even if it's over e-mail or text.  Showing up before God, even if it isn't a life altering Jesus encounter every time.  Showing up for my girls even if it's just reminding myself, over and over, to be present and to look them fully in their little faces when they speak with me.

I want to show up to my life.  BECAUSE I JUST GET ONE.  I want to be as alive as I possibly can be in every moment I can be given.  I feel so done with crazy diets, blanket statements and making impossible-to-keep standards for myself.   I want to learn to be broken but to be present.   To choose progress over perfection.  To check out of the ideal and into my imperfect reality.  

Showing up.  Even if I feel a mess.  Showing up broken and vulnerable instead of scheming how put together I will be if I follow steps A, B, C.  Showing up and not making it about winning or losing but just about being.  Showing up with a patient heart that leans towards understanding that is not my own.  

Slowing my step.  Deepening my breath.  Eyes wide open.  Ready to do this.  

Because, if I'm being honest with myself, I know that is the only way to get to where I want to go.    Slow and steady wins this here race, and I am all in.  Even if it means crawling at times, this train is moving forward.  Inch by inch.  Showing up along the way.      

So.  I'm back.  I'm showing up on my little corner of the interwebs (as Greg likes to call it) and I am saving this space to not be polished or witty or perfect or even make sense.  I'm going to continue to show up, because I know that God wants me to use words for Him.   And as I fumble and struggle and mentally flip the bird at my computer screen I know that He is present and He is satisfied.