sacred soil….

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(i’ve not written like this in quite some time and as i type the lines, i wonder whether i’ll make sense to anyone but myself…i wonder if i’ll sound as though the west has gotten the better of me…and, maybe i won’t, and maybe it has. either way, i feel a need to write the things that my heart has been pondering this past week…)

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the tractor pulled up to the edge of the brown, barren ground and the farmer surveyed the stakes that marked the perimeter of our intended new garden plot. he slowly drove forward and lowered the tiller attachment he pulled into the ground and proceeded forward. the earth spun, and gave way under the moving blades to reveal rich, fertile soil.

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i stood nearby and watched the blades churning along, watched the farmer drive forward along the lines we’d made. one swipe forward, and then he turned around and made pass after pass. the first sweep of the entire space was uneventful, but on the second round,  his tractor abruptly shut off after hitting an old plowshare that had been buried for who-knows-how-many years. he got off the tractor seat, surveyed the culprit and tossed it to the side, no damage done. the farmer finished two more rounds of tilling up the space and we looked at it together and both proclaimed it very good. i wrote him a check for his services and thanked him, and he loaded up the equipment and went on his way. i went back into the house, but not before going over and picking up a handful of the dirt.

i knelt down to look closer, felt the cool, fresh earth in my hand, smelled the scent of fertile soil. and, as i did, i felt this overwhelming sense that this is something sacred.

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i’ve always loved gardening, and even from a child i would involve myself as much as i was allowed to in the gardens. of course over the span of my life my feelings have varied from the youthful days of ‘why do we have to have this big of a garden with so many weeds’ to my current status of ‘let’s make the garden bigger this year’.

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Monday as i surveyed this new plot and felt the rawness of the freshly turned soil, i sensed God’s presence and His purpose for gardening in new and deeper ways. i’ve long believed that gardening is clearly a God-ordained work, but maybe i’m now realizing it’s not just because he made man to tend to plants in the beginning of time. maybe i’m now realizing that the process of gardening is a process that deepens my knowledge of God’s holiness and sovereignty over me and my little life.

in gardening i’ve found so much fulfillment as i’ve watched plants grow from miniscule seeds to tall and flourishing plants. i’ve walked in the coolness of the morning as the plants were wet with dew and found refreshment and renewed vision for the daily task of watering and weed pulling.

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but, as i’ve thought more about this sacredness of tending to a garden i’ve come to see that God can and does use this work in my life to meet needs aside from the physical. tending to a garden is a sacred privilege for me that comes with responsibility. privilege in that as i tend to the soil, as i watch the plants grow i get to be a part of something that has been around since the dawn of time. responsibility in that i cannot take for granted that God has me at a place in time where gardening is such a big part of my life and a true joy. privilege in that as i go through the process of working this hard work, i sense Him refining me and drawing me to His holiness.

as i’ve started things in little trays, as i’ve put seeds into the ground this year, i’ve felt not just joy and excitement. i’ve also felt sobered by the fact that i can do everything ‘right’ and by the books, but it is truly God who gives the increase. i don’t know what tomorrow may hold; the tornado season is just upon us and while i cannot live in fear of the unknown, i feel the weight of it. i’ll do all i can to ensure that the soil is well watered and fertilized, but i cannot control the bugs and the winds and the hail and the rains that may not come. but, as i tend to the earth and do my best to grow things, i will pray for God’s protection and increase, and trust Him in this sacred work.

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truly these things apply to all of life; none of our days or our purposes should be taken for granted. whether your purpose is office work, or gardening, child-rearing or caring for the elderly, construction or sewing, these things are all very important and purposeful…none being more sacred than another. the sacredness comes not from trying to spiritualize every second of every day, but instead from recognizing that all of these things, all of these purposes, they are all in fact sacred moments and meanings and we must trust Him to make us holy through the process.

what if we all pressed on to find the ‘sacred soil’ God is giving us to work…

~Rachel

 

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For Today…

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outside my window….

it is grey and blustery. the wind is coming from the north and it feels so very chilly. it’s not snowing though, so i’m fine with that.

i am thinking….

about my garden plans, chicks i’ve ordered, what to make for supper tonight.

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i am wondering….

how to be a good friend, how to make friends, how to maintain friendships. it’s funny how life changes the landscape of friendships as we grow older.

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i am thankful….

for my family. today as i sat on the chair with Kate on my lap, i squeezed her tight and told her this is my favorite. actually, sometimes i look at each one of my children and think that i could never pick a favorite child because they are ALL my favorites.

i am wearing….

white skirt, striped shirt and shoes. nothing fancy on this day of housework and bread baking.

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i am creating….

nothing really. i have a dress cut out, and no thread to sew it with. there are a number of projects we hope to get to soon, but for now, it’s just the normal work of housekeeping that occupies my days.

i am going….

to pick up the school children just soon.

i am reading….

Blink, by Malcolm Gladwell. very intriguing read, in my opinion. and, The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food From My Frontier. a dear friend just sent this to me yesterday in the mail, and i was so delighted to get it! i love sitting down and reading through cookbooks.

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i am learning….

that taking care of the earth we grow our food in is much more involved than a simple tilling and dropping seeds into the soil. being good stewards is not only limited to how we spend our money.

a favorite quote for today….

You become like the 5 people you spend the most time with. Choose carefully.

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happy Tuesday..

R

 

Miscellaneous Monday

this is what happens when you have too many things going on in a week.

i wrote the words below last Wednesday, and then life took over and i never got the chance to post it.

i said to my husband on Friday of last week that i am so glad most of my weeks and days are not like they were last week. i felt like i was going in 100 different directions on Friday and it was all good and great and i don’t regret any of it. but, truth be told, i don’t ENJOY the busy-ness of life when it’s too much. when i’m home only long enough to grab something and get right back out the door to the next thing. when i’m buzzing from one thing to the next and feeling like i barely give my best efforts to anything.

this week looks much more manageable in most respects and for that i am glad.

i guess the too-busy weeks help me appreciate the ones that tend to be more even keeled.

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i was supposed to be over at the children’s school this afternoon, but i’ve been coughing my head off today, and i’m pretty sure none of the school kids were going to learn anything from that, so i stayed home.

Kate is down for her nap, not sleeping yet, but in bed.

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the sun is shining so beautifully, and i would really love to be outside, but (see first paragraph about coughing my head off all day.)

i cleaned the boys room this morning. i certainly should have documented that occasion with a photo. but, no worries. i will surely be cleaning it again all too soon.

i baked three quiche this morning too. we all love quiche and it makes the best grab-and-go breakfasts for our before school mornings that are less than calm and serene.

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i ordered 16 boxes of tissues online and they came today. if i was going to hashtag that moment it would most definitely be #idespiserunningoutoftissues

the floor was just mopped and i’ve long been justifying my having to sit down in the living room by starting to mop the floor at the other side of the room and then i am forced to take a break. from the chair i’m sitting in, this is the exact view at the moment:

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i also ordered a new, 8 quart crock pot from Amazon and it came yesterday. it’s currently cooking two pork roasts for supper.

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and, a two random things that are speaking to me right now…

this song:

these words:

“Prayer is not an escape from responsibility; it is our response to God’s ability.”

//hope your week gets off to a great start and that you can enjoy whatever each day holds.//

R

 

 

 

shifting seasons…

am i the only one who can hardly believe that this is the last day of the year 2015?! time just goes fast and faster, doesn’t it?

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although the days and weeks and months and years march on, there is a constant pulling within my heart to seek out what God would have for me in each and every new day. some days, some weeks, this seems easier to discern than others. of course the demands and needs of my family determine a lot of my time and i know this is God’s plan for my life. some days, in all honesty, i’m more okay with that truth than i am on other days. 😉 i guess that would be a bit of growing weary in well-doing, right?

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i’ve been thinking so often the last while of the seasons of life. how i’ve been in so many different seasons in the course of my life and how in some respects they are the same from year to year, but in other respects they are very, very different.

some seasons of my life have been longer than others. some have been more intense, some a little less.

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it seems i was JUST in the season of newborn babies and changing diapers and nursing and no sleep. (truthfully i’m still in the season of little sleep, but that’s irrelevant.)

and, it seems like yesterday that we were in the season of being ‘new’ to Kansas and now, almost two years have gone by since we moved here.

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i’ve been in seasons of  ‘pastors wife’ in years past, i’ve been in seasons of ‘familiar’ with friendships established and comfortable.

maybe it’s because i’m in a ‘season’ of unknown and unsure in so many ways, and trying to find my place as an almost 40 year old that these thoughts are forefront in my mind.

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or, maybe it’s because the reality of seasons hits me anew because i’m taking a break from gardening which is one of my favorite pastimes.

i’m so enamored with how gardening is so seasonal, and how times of rest and reprieve are crucial to the whole process of gardening and growing.

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i coaxed lettuce and kale along in my garden until well into the month of December and then suddenly it dawned on me that i needed a break from this thing that i love so much.

i needed to step back so that i wouldn’t become burnt out on something that i love.

i needed to step back so that i could plan and regroup for the next spring season.

i needed to give the earth pause so that it refreshes and renews.

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it gives me pause to see how God has so divinely orchestrated each of the seasons of nature and how the seasons of my own life are not that different from this divine appointment.

while none of my seasons are as predictable as the way our four seasons run, they are in fact as real to me.

as we enter this new year of 2016, i am so excited to see where God takes me.

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there are some big milestones on the calendar for me, for our marriage, and our family… and while those numbers make me feel a tad ‘old’ i’m more grateful and hopeful than anything.

i’m excited about some experiences we have planned, some travel we look forward to and i’m even very excited about the common and ordinary things that we will be doing in each of the coming seasons.

and, while i still wonder where and what God has for me as i try to find my way in this ‘season’ of life, i know i can trust Him with it.

because He is faithful.

so graciously faithful.

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to 2016!

love,

Rachel

 

 

on rain and knowing your place….

truth be told, i could tell you more about rain than i could knowing your place.

although both subjects are close to my heart right now, talking about rain is easier.

because, sometimes knowing your place takes a lot more time and effort than you (i) want to put into it.

but, strangely enough, i feel like the two subjects go together for me right now.

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you see, out here, rain and weather and the skies are a big deal.

when a storm is in the forecast, you sit up and take notice.

you watch the clouds, you notice the wind direction, and; you pray.

when we were at a recent community gathering, i sat back deep in thought as the speaker made an announcement about the dire forecasts for the afternoon, and how that could affect the events planned.

it was with a sense of reverence that every head was bowed and the prayer of ‘protect us from harmful weather’ was agreed upon.

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while it may not affect others in this way, and maybe it’s just where i’m at in life right now, but it moves me deeply to come together in prayer and recognize God’s control and sovereignty over our lives as we ask Him to protect us from danger from the skies above.

maybe it’s just this thing of how the weather it is a common bond that unites us whether we want it to or not.

or, maybe it is a thing of recognizing that our place here on earth is only as God sees fit and in our recognizing His control over the weather, we in turn submit to Him for our very existence.

i think it’s both actually.

it brings me to a place of reverence and awe to hear people praying to God about the weather and the rains.

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i haven’t lived here long enough to feel like i know my place in every area, but i’m starting to see that maybe, we are bound by elements as simple or as complex as the weather and in that, we truly find our place.

because i haven’t lived here long, i feel like i need to earn my right to pray for God’s protection from harmful weather and yet i know i don’t.

God hears me from any place i’m in and for that i am grateful.

His grace is not dependent upon my knowing exactly what my place is.

and, His mercy is new for each day of pleasant or harmful weather.

maybe it’s ‘out there’ to think of being reverent and awed by the weather to you.

it’s mystifying for sure.

but, when you’ve sat there and watched heads bow and know that many of those heads have seen things from the skies that i have not, and that many of those heads bowed have a livelihood that depends upon what God gives thru the weather, it is humbling.

it calls me to respect the Giver of rain and storms and to respect the years of experience that call upon a Mighty God to protect us from harmful weather.

the rains have been coming and watering the earth here and in turn we thank God for his provision.

and, so, as we do thank Him for providing, it seems to me that it helps us, me, find a place.

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a place of belonging to a God who made not only heaven and earth, but each one of us.

may we ever know His sovereignty and greatness as we see Him not only in the sunshine but in the rains too.

He is indeed a God of wonders.

 

 

 

 

 

my worst performance…

i’ve been thinking about performance and acceptance.

how, being in a relationship where you are accepted based on your performance is so hard.

how, noone wins in that kind of thing.

how, If your acceptance of me is based on how well i perform, our relationship will only be as good as my worst performance.

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because really, it’s not my best performances that set the standard for your acceptance.

you’ll want to accept me on my good performing days, and it’ll make me feel less edgy.

but, on those days when my performance is lousy and your acceptance is gone…unfortunately, those are the days where reality lives.

the reality that i will not always be able to please you and that i will never be able to ‘live up’ to the standard of your acceptance.

i think about this because i’m muddling my way through something like this.

and, maybe you can relate.

and, maybe you cannot.

either way.

it seems to me that it’s not a new thing to wrestle with performance based acceptance.

it happens in our marriages, our families, our friendships, our work relationships, our churches.

it takes on a form all its own in our minds when we feel like God doesn’t love us unless we do ‘such-and-so’.

but, that’s the very place where we should never even once have a thought of performance based acceptance.

because if we truly embraced and accepted and understood God’s great love for us, we would know with all that we are that this is not a valid concern.

in all honesty?

this is mind-blowing for me to even begin to understand.

and, sadly, i think it’s because i’ve been trapped in the snare of performing for acceptance.

not in all areas, and not in a lot of levels.

but, in just enough areas of my life that it’s become confusing to how i relate and react.

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so, i’m sitting back here thinking these things and looking at my stuff and saying ‘i’m just broke.’

broken feels like of little worth, like giving very little effort.

and, this song…

this song that really is about broken in a marriage relationship, rings in my head over and again.

this song that talks about disappointment and forgiveness and wishing for less scars and more grace…

and how we are not meant to be complete on our own.

maybe it’s that we have to let all of the ugly, broken, all of the fight and all of the shattered dreams fall together for a more beautiful picture.

maybe letting go of the hopes and wishes, the hurts and disappointments will bring us together.

maybe it won’t be in the time table that we would wish for.

and, maybe it won’t be in the way that we wish.

but, maybe, together looks different when it’s broken.

maybe broken looks whole when it’s together.

i like that picture.

that picture where even though things are ugly and disappointing and broken, if it’s brought to Jesus, if it’s brought together in Him, it’s whole.

broken together seems so contradictory on the surface, but deep down, or maybe even just below the surface, it’s no contradiction at all.

and, so, while i know that God sees me for more than my worst performance, the reality is His acceptance is always the same no matter my performance.

my worst, broken performance garners His unconditional acceptance.

oh, for Grace to trust Him more.

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with love,

Rachel

from scratch

after being M.I.A. in the blogging world for what feels like a really long time, how do you come back?!?
why even bother?
i’m asking the same old questions, over and again, aren’t i?
i know.

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so, because i’m sick of asking them, and you are probably sick of reading them, how about if we do a ‘start from scratch’ here on this little blog.
a ‘let’s start and tell the story of me, of us, from this point onward, but including the pieces that got us to here’.
ok?
okay!
i remember the very thing i wrote about when i published my first blog post 7 plus years ago; i wrote a fictional little saga based on a ‘mouse in the house’ experience we were in the midst of in our home at that time.
why on earth i did that, eh, let’s just call it water under the bridge and don’t look back! =)
today i am:
Rachel.
a wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt, friend.
and, while i’ve noticed it seems popular to say; ‘i am a daughter of the King’, and yes, i am, i think that more than i want you to read that about me, i want to live that with all that i am.
in 2013, my husband and i made the life-changing decision for our family that we would step out in faith and lay down a role of leadership in a church we really loved, we would put our house on the market, and lay a fleece of ‘we are willing to move to Kansas Lord, if this is what You want, and we will do it when You say.’
(i wrote about that part of our story here.)
Five months later, we had packed up all of our earthly belongings, driven 1,300 miles and were residing in Kansas.
there are many, many things i could tell you about this piece of our story, and some days, i think i should tell this story.
but, most days, i just ponder it in my heart and feel like the timing is not right and i’m not ready to tell all that i could.
maybe someday i will, or maybe i won’t.
our coming to Kansas was both bitter and sweet.
bitter in that we left friends and family that we had been with for the entire 13 years of our marriage and it was the only home our children had ever known. leaving those dearest to you is undoubtedly never an easy thing.
being here has been sweet in that we now live close to all but one of my siblings and my parents are 1 1/4 miles down the road from us and there are cousins and aunts and uncles that before we would see maybe once a year.
i think it goes without saying that when you make a radical life-change there are bound to be adjustments and hard pieces.

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(^^all the colors of the rainbow for a girl turning 8!!)
it’s one thing to move you and your spouse 1,300 miles and start life anew, but factor in 4 children doing it with you and not only do you have your own things to work through, you have theirs to help them through….
what mother’s heart doesn’t just ache when her children are struggling?
a lot of this year has been that for me.
not all of the time, and not all of the children at once, thankfully.
but, there have been many a time when i just wanted to undo all of this and make things like they used to be so that my children wouldn’t have to hurt and feel displacement.
i’ve wanted to just ‘fix’ the ache and homesickness they were in the midst of.
and, yet i can’t.
i can’t do that for myself, let alone them.
because i’m a mother, it seems that my days are consumed with the well-being of my family and while that is my story, the way my children are reacting to this and how they are dealing with this is largely their story.
i struggle to know where the line is in that part of life, but i do feel strongly that the way they will someday tell this story and the way i am seeing them live it out may very well not be one and the same.
i am really okay with that, and i want to protect their privacy and guard their hearts as much as i can as i talk about how life is for us here.
it’s taken me back in time over and again too.

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(Thanksgiving at my parents^^)

my own childhood had several major life-changing events that were not fun or easy for me, and i now know that those events had to have been even more difficult for my parents as they walked this same road of ‘major change’.
the road of ‘major change’ is not a smoothly paved surface nor is it always a straight line.
but.
in and through it all there is good.
lots, and lots of good.

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the longer time goes on, the more i feel at home here.
we are, after a longer than anticipated segment of time, in our own home!
i cannot tell you how good it feels to be ‘home.’
the first 8 months of our being in Kansas, we lived in a house that we knew from the start was temporary, and because of that, we put nearly all of our belongings into storage.
i feel so carnal to say this, but; i missed our stuff!!
i told myself many times that this was really the best deal for the time being, but i just missed not having familiar things around us.
i missed not having the opportunity to create.
it honestly felt like a large part of my life was on hold for over eight months.
when i unpacked my good dishes two weeks ago, i realized that they had all been packed since right after Christmas last year.
because of things like that, of course i am more grateful than ever to be where we are going to stay.
and, because homemaking is what i do, it is so good to be back in my little element.
we are working at things as we can here in this big old house and it is so rewarding to see the change take place. there are enough projects on our list to keep us busy for many years to come, and we are just fine with that.
i have more dreams for this place than i’ll probably ever be able to realize, but that’s okay.
we have lots of time.
God willing.

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so….
this will be it for now.
if you continue to follow along here you can expect to find me documenting this old house, our family, recipes, sunsets and sunrises and the usual miscellaneous that i have always found rather easy.
thank you for stopping by!
love,
Rachel