In my favorite poem by Robert Frost, Nothing Gold Can Stay, he reminds us that like the seasons of nature, life is one season melting into another, and quickly fading away. This is my attempt to document each season in my life and my family.

I’m Still Alive!

Filed under: Abby Jo,Elijah,Family,Kids,Kyra,Owen,Reading — Rachel at 10:36 pm on Saturday, April 5, 2014

I can’t believe how long it has been since I last blogged. To say I’ve been busy is an understatement. I’ve thought several times that I would like to blog, but I just never made the time to do it. Tonight’s the night, though.

Everyone loves an update post with bullet points, right? Right. Here goes…

  • Me: Life has been going very, very well for me. Almost seven months ago, I met a wonderful man. I wouldn’t say it was love at first sight, but it was awfully darn close. Matthew has been the most wonderful gift to me.MattRach He is my best friend, my confidant, my cheering section, and…in less than two months…he will be my husband.       I cannot express how thankful I am for his presence in my life. He has two beautiful children, Hailey and Logan, and I am very happy to add them to my little brood. We are looking forward to blending our families and finding out what God has in store for the whole lot of us.
    Kyra made this edit of the whole family.

    Kyra made this edit of the whole family.

    The kids all get along very well, and are happy to be step-siblings soon. Something that I think is really super cool: Abby and Logan were born on the same day. I always wanted twins. In fact, I prayed for them every time I was pregnant. So I think it’s really neat that I have pseudo-twins now! We call them step-twins.

    Ring

    The gorgeous ring Matthew gave me!

  • My relationship with Matthew has definitely been the highlight of my life recently, but I have also been doing nursing school. I’ve done really well so far this semester. All A’s and B’s. However, I have a Med/Surg test on Monday that has me shaking in my boots. I’m really nervous about it, but I’m studying like crazy. Hopefully, it will go ok. The high point of this semester was on my first day of my OB clinical rotation. I got to assist in the delivery of a baby. We were only supposed to observe, but this baby was born super fast, so I got to help. The doctor didn’t even make it until after the baby was born. It was really very cool. I was riding high for the rest of the day. I think, if I work in a hospital, I would enjoy Labor and Delivery.
  • Kyra: My eldest has had a great year so far. She’s 11 and in sixth grade, and has excelled in middle school. She is really coming into her own in a lot of ways. She makes all A’s and B’s at school, she played junior varsity basketball this school year, and she was asked to be the sixth grade representative for the Schoolwide Positive Behavior Committee (or something like that) by the principal. She has also discovered a hobby that she excels at. She is an Instagram addict. She is a little bit Disney obsessed, but she has turned her love of all things Disney into an Instagram account with over 2000 followers. She creates edits with Disney themes that there is apparently a niche fan base for who hang on her every post. If you (or more likely your kids) want to look her up, she is @epicdisneylover on Instagram. I am actually quite proud of her. We’ve talked about her someday using her talents in graphic design or something similar. Her teachers have taken note of her talent, as well. Her Social Studies teacher commissioned her to create posters that went along with the units he was teaching, and her principal asked her to design a tee shirt for the school’s annual Turkey Trot. It was really cool to see all of the middle schoolers wearing a t-shirt that my daughter designed. I’m very proud of my girl! She’s also a big time reader, and has really enjoyed the Hunger Games and Divergent trilogies, recently. Kyra
  • Elijah: My first March baby just had a birthday. He is ten now, and has grown so much. He, too, does very well in school. He is in the fourth grade, and he gets all A’s and B’s. He seems so much older to me over the last few months. He’s went from playing with toys and make believe to shooting a bow, building things, spending endless hours playing minecraft, and reading books that make this bibliophile mama very happy (The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, etc.). He’s not quite all grown up yet, though. He is still a very silly and very hyper little boy that drives me batty sometimes. I have to admit, I kind of miss football season when they ran all his energy out of him three days a week at practice. I’ve really enjoyed watching him interact with Matt’s children over the last few months. Especially with Logan. I’ve witnessed some really sweet moments between the two of them. I think he’s going to like having a little brother who’s quite a bit (five years) younger than him. He’s a good boy, and I’m awfully proud of him. ElijahFootball

    Elijah with his cake his Mammy made him for his 10th birthday.

    Elijah with his cake his Mammy made him for his 10th birthday.

  • Owen: Owen is seven, in second grade, and has very few teeth left in his little, blond head. He is such a sweetheart. He’s still young enough that he comes to snuggle with me, insists on being tucked in every night with extra hugs and kisses, and wants to be loved on when he gets hurt. He’s also very, very rotten! He is my little comedian. Everything is a joke to Owen, and he is getting funnier and funnier all the time. The more sophisticated his vocabulary becomes, the more amusing he gets. I’ve laughed at his one-liners so much lately. He’s a gift. Like his older siblings, he does very well in school. He especially excels at reading. He’s pretty advanced in his reading ability, and he has burned through The Magic Treehouse books this year. His teacher has had nothing but praise for him in the reading category. Owen is loving having Logan around. I think the idea of having a little brother has made him pretty happy. It helps that Logan thinks Owen is all that. Owen
  • Abby Jo: Abby is still my little ray of sunshine. She is so obviously my baby. She just turned five, and she is a joy. She is incredibly intelligent, extremely precocious, and she keeps us on our toes. She has decided she wants to be an engineer when she grows up, but just until she is “a big enough age to be the president”. She told that to my aunt the other day, and then followed it by asking “will you vote for me?” and then “and will you ask all your friends to vote for me?” She’s a mess!  I’ve loved encouraging her to explore and create. She’s really enjoyed some toys called Goldieblox, which are engineering toys for girls. She builds little machines with them. She’s been kind of accident prone lately. She may or may not have gotten that trait from her mother.
    Abby fell off a chair and cut her eye.

        Abby fell off a chair and cut her eye.

    Abby was playing with Matt and tripped over my foot and cut her head on the corner of the wall.

    Abby was playing with Matt and tripped over my foot and cut her head on the corner of the wall.

    She has been quite taken with Matt’s dad. I’ve tried to convince her to call him “Papaw John”, but she insists on calling him “Santa Claus”, because he was wearing a Santa hat when she first met him at Christmas. She adores him.

    You can tell how much Abby loves her new Papaw.

    You can tell how much Abby loves her new Papaw.

    She’s looking forward to starting school next Fall. Part of me is sad that it seems like she’s growing up so quickly, but the other part of me is just thrilled with how awesome she is. And it just gets better the older she gets!

In other news, Amy and her kids recently moved out and got their own place in Knoxville. So, now I’m in the process of getting the house ready for Matt and his kids to move in with us after we get married. This involves a lot of sorting and purging. That will be followed by painting and remodeling and moving children around. And, of course, moving all of his stuff. It’s going to be a lot of work, but I am just thrilled at the prospect. Matt and his dad have been building a swingset for the kids in the backyard. He and I have been dreaming of lots of projects that we want to do. I’m excited!

Brothers playing at the park.

Brothers playing at the park.

My four monkeys!

My four monkeys!

Wedding plans have kept me busy, and, the closer we get to the big day…May 24…the more excited I get. I’m just so happy. I can’t wait for the semester to be over so I can concentrate on the little details of our wedding day. And after that comes…summer! I honestly haven’t looked forward to anything like I’m looking forward to this summer in a very long time. I am not going to work this summer, so I get to stay home with all the kids. I’ve been having a good time thinking of all the stuff we can do. I can’t wait to be Matthew’s wife and have all eight of us under the same roof!

Me and Hailey on a snow day.

Me and Hailey on a snow day.

Matt and the Step-Twins. :)

Matt and the Step-Twins. :)

So, we’re still alive and well. Just plugging along through our school year. I don’t know if it will be another four months before I blog again, but I’ll eventually be back with another update, at least. Because, even when I don’t blog often, I like to at least update with the highlights. It’s nice to have this record to be able to go back and see what we were doing at a certain point in time. That is, after all, the reason I started this blog. Until next time!

The Freedom to be Cruel

Filed under: Faith,In The News,Love,Venting — Rachel at 1:48 pm on Thursday, December 19, 2013

People are coming out in droves to support Duck Dynasty star, Phil Robertson. They see A&E’s actions to put him on an indefinite hiatus as discriminatory. Facebook was lit up this morning with angry Christians crying persecution. In case you have been busy for the last day or so, let me recap.

Robertson

Robertson did an interview with GQ magazine where he made some statements about black people and gay people. You can read the article here.  Here are the quotes about both parts:

Phil on “the blacks”…

“I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person. Not once. Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them. I’m with the blacks, because we’re white trash. We’re going across the field…. They’re singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, ‘I tell you what: These doggone white people’—not a word!… Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.”

And Phil on “the homosexuals”…

“It seems like, to me, a vagina—as a man—would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.”

So the article came out, people read it, a lot of people were offended, some gay rights organizations urged A&E to take swift action, and, subsequently, A&E released the following statement:

“We are extremely disappointed to have read Phil Robertson’s comments in GQ, which are based on his own personal beliefs and are not reflected in the series Duck Dynasty. His personal views in no way reflect those of A+E Networks, who have always been strong supporters and champions of the LGBT community. The network has placed Phil under hiatus from filming indefinitely.”

As a result of A&E’s decision, a lot of conservative Christians are very angry. Most people are saying that Robertson’s freedom of speech is being suppressed, and that Christians are persecuted for their beliefs. I’m not so much concerned with that. If you want to cry that his freedom of speech is being impeded, that’s your choice. It’s nonsensical, though. I have the freedom to say whatever I want, but I have the common sense to know that I shouldn’t always say it. I don’t want to deal with the consequences of it. Phil said what he wanted to say and most of us have heard it. He had that freedom. Now, he’s paying the consequences of saying something so blatantly inflammatory. His employers decided that they didn’t want those statements representing their company, and he has effectively lost his job. That is life.

Okay, so that’s what happened. Here’s my take on it.

I don’t care an awful lot about what Phil Robertson says. I am not a Duck Dynasty fan. I have seen a few episodes, and I’m just not into it. In my opinion, he doesn’t present as someone who should be known for an intelligent analysis of the human condition. I’m not going to say much about his comments about black people, because I think the ignorance there is so blatant that pretty much everyone can see it. I do have a couple things to say about what he said about gay people, though.

First off, I’m offended that so many people who call themselves Christian don’t have a problem with what he said. Even if you think homosexuality is a sin, do you really want his presentation of that belief to speak for you? It was rather crass, in my opinion, but beyond that it is very hurtful. Let me tell you why.

The more we learn scientifically about homosexuality, the more we know that it is not a choice. Besides the sheer ignorance behind the idea that being gay is just a decision about what type of sexual activity you engage in, Robertson’s comments are just mean. Robertson’s comments boil the entirety of a gay man’s existence down to a sex act. He is saying to each of them, “You are anal sex.” Homosexuality is not a sex act. Being gay means you are attracted to someone of the same sex. You don’t ever have to have sex with someone to be gay. You just are or you’re not. According to a lot of Christians, this (uncontrollable) attraction is sinful. If you believe that, have at it. However, to proclaim Christ in one breath and then be intentionally disparaging of an entire people group in the next is a bit hypocritical.

Because the heart of the matter, as I see it, is not what he said, but the effect of what he said. It is incredibly dehumanizing to have your entire relationship be boiled down to a sex act. To not be seen as a person, but as a sex act. For the kind of person you are to not matter because of the type of sex you have. It’s hurtful. It makes you want to hide from the people who make you feel that way. It makes you cry. It makes you feel like you are worthless. Hearing the statement from one redneck man in Louisiana stings. Hearing it defended by hundreds of Christians…often people you love and care about…on Facebook, Twitter, etc. cuts to the core. It is not drawing people to Christ. It is causing the already wounded to run away from the Healer.

Christianity is supposed to be about loving God and loving people. Robertson’s comments do not make gay people feel loved, even if he follows them up with the assertion that he loves everyone. That’s not love, because “Love is kind.” Love doesn’t poke fingers into the sore spots and laugh when you wince.

We all have the freedom to be cruel. I just wish we would consider the consequences of our cruelty.

A God Better Than Me

Filed under: Bible,Faith,Me — Rachel at 11:22 am on Wednesday, August 21, 2013

One of the things I struggle with the most lately in regard to God and religion is a sense of justice. I am a compassionate person. I feel like this is one of my best qualities. I am very empathetic. Maybe too much so at times. This is how I end up with pregnant teenagers or addicted young adults living in my basement. This is how I end up giving large (for me) sums of money to homeless guys. This is how I find myself washing the walls in the home of an elderly man I had never met before. I think to myself, what if it was me? What if it was my child? They need help. Generally, I try to help people if it is in my power to do so.

I struggle a lot with the idea that everything is within God’s power to do so. He could heal every cancer, fill every hungry belly, and defeat every evil power. He could. Why doesn’t he?

This “why” torments me. Why does he allow such suffering. I know the party line, Christian answer. Sin, free will, etc. etc. None of that can explain away the part about God being the author of all. If he is omniscient and all powerful, he knew what his creation would become. He had the power to alter that. He wrote the whole story! Why? I also know the part about the desire to glorify himself. I just don’t understand it. He made up all the rules. It doesn’t have to be this way. But it is. And I dont’ understand how a compassionate God could allow it to be this way.

As a small child, grappling with the ideas of an eternal hell and a God that created it and sends people there, I had a lot of questions that were too big for me. I remember asking, “How could God send someone to Hell who had never heard about Him? How could he be punished for not choosing to follow a Christ he never knew existed?” The myopic answer was, “Well, dear. He told us to go into all the world and preach the gospel. It’s our job to tell those people about him. That’s why it’s so important.” I’d like to go back in time and say, “Bullshit!” I want to say, “That’s not fair.” Maybe they would have tried a little harder with me. Maybe I could have jumpstarted my questioning earlier in life. Because that is a really effed up system. It’s not that bad if you are on this side of the equation. We just have to pray about our part in “God’s will” for evangelization. If we don’t feel personally “called” to go tell the poor schmuck in the darkest reaches of Africa that Jesus exists and will send him straight to Hell after they starve to death at the end of a miserable life fraught with violence and poverty, well, we can just pray for those who are called and send some money when we feel so led. Maybe a couple of times in our life we can raise money to take ourselves on a two week mission trip. We just need to be earnest and passionate about doing what we can in our own little worlds to share the gospel. This side of the equation is no big deal. Plug  yourself into the other side, though. How would you like to be that mother in Darfur? You’re only seventeen years old. You have two children. They’re both slowly dying of malnutrition. You can no longer nurse the baby because you are starving to death yourself. Oh, and, you don’t know it, but you are HIV positive after that time you were raped walking to get water last year. Death seems almost like a relief to you. Except for, oh,  yeah. You’ve never heard the name of Jesus before, and no one has of yet felt “called” to put their own life at risk to trek over here and tell you that you have to confess with your mouth that Jesus is the Son of God. So, you slowly and painfully exit a life of misery to lift up your eyes in hell?

What kind of God is that? What kind of God comes up with such a broken system? This is what I have been taught to believe. I reject it, though! I do! How can a loving God punish people eternally for not knowing him? I would not do that. I would not hold people accountable for something they had no awareness of. I wouldn’t do that because I have compassion for them. I hear a story about them and my heart breaks and I love them. If I can feel that way…me…a mere mortal who has proven to be selfish and foolish and even mean…how can the God who claims to actually be love do that? I need a God that is better than I am.

Do you hear what I am saying? I am going crazy over this. I need a God who is good and kind and compassionate, infinitely  more so than myself. I need to know that God. I don’t like this God who punishes the innocent because of some inborn sin nature. Not when he was the very one who created the whole scenario.

I don’t know how my theology needs to change for me to be able to love God again. Believe that Hell doesn’t exist? Believe in some sort of universalism that says we all get Heaven in the end? He created us with the capacity to know and value justice and righteousness and compassion and love. I have to believe that He is all those things, and that what I feel is a reflection of that. I have to believe that I was just taught something that is not true. Because it can’t be true.

It can’t be true because I need a God who is better than me.

 

More On The Bible

Filed under: Bible,Faith — Rachel at 7:21 pm on Saturday, August 17, 2013

First off, thank you all so much for commenting on my last post. I’ve really been thinking a lot about some of the comments you guys left, and I would like to maybe have a conversation here about them. I appreciate the different insights people from different parts of my life have to offer as I struggle with this topic. It’s good to hear that I’m not the only one who is wrestling with the topic. It is also good to hear that people who have wrestled in the past have found peace. That is, I believe, the heart of what I am searching for…peace.

One comment that I loved was left by my friend, Gretchen, on the link to my post on Facebook. She said that God is too big to fit inside any box…even the Bible. I cannot sufficiently express how much this comment resonated with me. I have been thinking about it ever since. The idea that the Bible doesn’t represent God in all His fullness…or even come close. I was taught to believe that we could learn about God in the Bible. That it held all the answers to life’s questions, in some form or another. As I mature, though, I find that I have all kinds of questions about God that the Bible doesn’t shed any light upon at all. Instead, the Bible’s contradictory representations of God leave me vastly confused. I understand that He is a great and infinite God, and therefore is multifaceted. However, some things seem like they should be mutually exclusive. Like, love and hate. How can you love the whole world, yet condemn the majority of us to an eternity in Hell? The Bible doesn’t answer these questions for me. It is the source of my confusion. I find great comfort in the idea that the Bible is not the final word on who God is and how he relates to us. It’s a relief to think that Religion may have used the Bible to try to box God up but I don’t have to keep Him there.

Mark, a friend of Amy’s, left a comment that I’ve been chewing on. He said, “What if the Bible had a single, primary purpose: to teach us about Jesus. To teach us about how He created everything, how He has a penchant for working with and through families, to teach us about how He was born, lived, died, and most importantly how He rose again? To teach us about how He has gone to prepare a place for us to live with Him?” For the most part, as I have kicked this thought around, I like it. I feel like the one thing I can embrace for sure about the Bible is the teachings of Jesus. When I read them, they feel very true to me. When I think about Jesus as an actual man who walked this earth, I don’t have to doubt that he did. History proves that he was real. I have enough faith to believe the parts that can’t be proven…his deity and his resurrection. The part that is problematic for me is believing that the purpose of the whole of the Bible is to teach us about Jesus. I still have the issues of knowing about the canonization process, the disputes over what was Scripture and what was not, and wondering if man’s best efforts were anywhere near right or complete. Also, what about the parts of the Bible that don’t actually talk about Jesus? What am I to do with them? For the most part, I agree with Mark’s idea of how to view the Bible, but I feel like we are approaching the subject from different starting points. I believe that he is starting from the idea that we have a Bible that is accurate, reliable, and complete. I am unable to set out from the same premise, so this idea doesn’t assuage my inner conflict about how to view the Bible. Mark, if you happen to read this, I would love to hear your thoughts, and know  if I even interpreted your comment as you meant it.

Another comment that meant a lot to me was from my dear friend, Joy. She is my oldest friend. We have been friends since we were babies together. I even named my daughter after her. So, when she started off her comment by saying, “First of all, I love you!” I immediately felt loved. I am so thankful for the people that can hear my heart through what I write. Joy wrote in her comment, “ I just want to point out that the Bible is a book of faith. I truly believe man wrote what God wanted them to (II Pet. 1:21), not just what they thought was a good thing to write. Psalm 138:2 is also very interesting where God says His word is honored above His name! But these things have to be believed…through faith! Think of all the O.T. stories – Elijah on Mt. Carmel, the Red Sea crossing, the fiery furnace. If you tried to research and analyze them, you would NEVER believe them! They are impossible…except with God. Just a few thoughts. I’m sure you’ve already thought of them. The Bible IS God’s Word! But it can never help you if you don’t have the faith to believe it.I love you. Please know that most of all!” Joy, I really appreciate you taking the time to leave a comment for me. I agree with you that you have to have faith. After all, without faith it is impossible to please God. (That part rings true to me.) You may find it interesting to know that I don’t have trouble believing that stories in the Bible actually happened. I don’t have any qualms believing that God can send fire from Heaven or part seas. My issue comes with trying to figure out what I’m supposed to do with them, and what they lead me to believe about God. I believe that God can cause a city to crumble after people walk around it seven times and blow their trumpets. He’s God. Of course he can do that. My problem comes when I think about what that means. It means that little babies and old men and the sick and lame of that city were crushed in the rubble of their broken homes. I don’t understand that part of the stories. Why would God do that? Or the story of the dude that rushed to keep the Ark of the Covenant from tumbling to the ground. God struck him down despite the intent in his heart? Or the story of Achen? That one killed me as a little kid. I didn’t have a problem with Achen being killed for his disobedience. It made sense to my little child’s heart. He did wrong; he got punished. The part that grieved me was when the teacher got to the part about where they were to stone his family with him. I have this irritating habit of putting myself into the story and imagining if I had been Achen’s daughter, dragged from safety to be killed by the stones hurled by God’s command. It didn’t seem fair. It still doesn’t seem fair.

So I ask myself, why do I teach my children these stories as an attempt to teach them about God? If they make me feel this bad, why do I tell my children, “This is your God?”

I think it’s pretty obvious that all I have is a bunch of questions. I don’t have any answers. I know I can’t ever understand God fully, but, Lord have mercy on me, I need some peace!

Please feel free to weigh in with your thoughts. If I answer your comment with a question/challenge, please know that I am just struggling to see if I can come away with something to hold on to. Please reply and help me understand why you believe what you believe. Not just what you believe, but why you believe it. I need some people to wade in with me and talk about it.

On The Bible

Filed under: Faith,Me — Rachel at 10:22 pm on Friday, August 9, 2013

I am lost. I am lost, and I find myself in a very peculiar place. In the past, anytime I found that I had strayed too far from God, I knew the answer to my problem. It was the Bible. Go and read the Bible, and you’ll find your way back. That’s a fantastic answer until it doesn’t work anymore.

I am a person who has a lot of questions. I’m not afraid to ask them, either. Sometimes, there are no answers. Sometimes the questioning costs me more than I bargain for. Both of those things seem true in this situation.

I had a lot of questions about the Bible. How did we get the Bible as we have it today? How do we know that what we have is what God intended for us to have? Who gets to decide what is Scripture? How do we read and interpret it consistently? I asked these questions and many more. Then I did some research. I read a lot of books. I started researching the Bible a couple of years ago, so I don’t remember the names of all the books I read. The one that had the biggest effect on me was called “The Canon of Scripture” by F.F. Bruce. It was a good book. I reviewed it here on my blog after I read it.

What my research gave to me was a better understanding of how we came to have the Bible we have today. What it did not give me was peace or satisfactory answers. Questions became doubts. I know a lot of people are afraid of asking questions for this very reason. They don’t want to have doubts about their faith. They like having answers without having to ask questions. This doesn’t work for me. I would rather have doubts and questions than best guesses disguised as truth.

I guess what I ended up with was a lot of doubts concerning the authority of Scripture. For some Christians, this wouldn’t be as troubling to them as it is to me. However, the churches that I was brought up in practically worship the Bible. They sing songs about it. They memorize it in bulk. They propose that it is almost miraculous in its lack of contradictions (which, I hate to tell you, is a preposterous assertion). Preachers tell stories about kissing the pages. Children are taught to adore it. They believe in the Bible. They believe it is the last word on any argument. It is quite literally the foundation of their faith. It was the foundation of mine.

Things have changed for me, though. I don’t view the Bible in the same way I was brought up to view it. I can’t. The things that I have learned have forever changed the way I read the Bible. For instance, if I know that a certain book barely made it into the canon and there was much argument against its inclusion, my mind gives that book less weight than, say, the Gospels. If I read passages that seem misogynistic or supportive of some atrocity such as slavery, I ask myself, “Do I really believe this passage reflects the character of God as I know it?” If it doesn’t, I refuse to accept it.

I know some of you are probably horrified to read what I am saying. I understand. Really, I do. There’s just no going back for me. I can’t unlearn what I have learned.

So, on an intellectual level, I have a hard time finding solace in the Scripture like I used to. I hesitate to find guidance from certain passages like I used to. For a long time, I just stopped reading the Bible. I couldn’t get out of my head long enough to feel anything in my heart. I felt betrayed, to be quite honest. Like I had been sold a bill of goods. Therefore, I felt pretty lost. I still do.

I find myself now overcome with the desire to find God again. I just don’t know what that’s going to look like. I was despondent over the idea that I don’t know how to be a Christian without thinking that every word of the Bible is authoritative. I just can’t keep doing mental gymnastics to try to fit passages that seem to fly in the face of the God revealed elsewhere in the Bible and to my own heart into my worldview. For instance, for a year or two, I was trying to understand Calvinism. I was even embracing it. It made me angry with God to start with. Friends that I discussed it with just flat out refused to accept that it could even be a possibility. The main point of contention was the idea that the God they knew and loved could create a person with the intent to send them to Hell (Romans 9). For me, though, I believed that the Bible should be taken literally for the most part, and, as such, I had to accept the parts I didn’t like with the ones I did. If a passage seemed to misrepresent the God I knew, I assumed I didn’t understand it well enough or I had misunderstood God’s nature. The end result was that I had basically lost my love for God. I still believed in Him. I just didn’t love Him like I used to. He seemed cruel to me. Now, thankfully, I don’t feel the need to interpret the Bible so literally or stringently.

I’ve talked about this subject with several people who I believe know and love God. Men and women of various religious persuasions. I think the idea that I’ve come away with is that I should read the Bible aided by the Holy Spirit. I believe that, as I read, His Spirit will testify with my spirit and show me the truth. The parts that resonate I will hold on to. The parts that make me love Him and desire Him I will cling to for all I’m worth. I won’t worship a book anymore. I want to learn how to worship Him. I want to learn how to let Him speak directly to me. I will respect and love the Bible. I will view it as Christianity’s sacred texts—the best efforts of good men who loved God but wrote from inside their own experiences. I will search the Scripture and ask God to guide me to the truth. . Because I have been very lost, and I need Him to guide me back home.

Back on the Crazy Couch

Filed under: Faith,Me,Music,Videos — Rachel at 10:42 pm on Monday, August 5, 2013

I am determined to write tonight, but it’s so hard to focus on one thing to write about. There is an overabundance of ideas swirling around in my head. I need to just snatch one out and decide to start with it.

Ok. Here goes…

I went to see my therapist last week for the first time in well over a year. I really appreciated all the time I spent sitting in Dr. P’s office. She was just the right counselor for me. She helped me work through a lot of issues over the span of a couple of years. I hated not being able to go to counseling anymore after I got divorced and lost my insurance, but I was really so much better off than when I started. I was just grateful that I was able to talk to her during my divorce. Going to see her last week was a huge deal. I recently got health insurance again. (It was required to be in the nursing program.) It actually went into effect on the day I saw Dr. P, but it isn’t the best insurance and doesn’t cover mental health. So, I had to suck it up and pay out of pocket to talk with her. I really needed help getting some clarity, though.

I don’t know what I wanted Dr. P to tell me when I was there, but I know I was hoping for something concrete. I had been struggling so much with everything that I had been dealing with recently. My relationships were dreadfully confusing. Both my relationship with Amy and a new relationship with a guy I had been dating had me running around in mental circles. I sat down on Dr. P’s couch and started recapping the last year and a half as quickly as I could. I filled her in on the year Amy and I were a couple, our breakup, my dating experiences with the three different guys I had went out with, and the way my world reacted to all of those things. I told her I needed help figuring things out. I was very confused.

She told me one thing right off the bat: I make things into a bigger deal than they actually are. Guilty. I know it’s true.

We talked back and forth for a while about why I felt the way I did about certain issues. I told her my problems with church and God. I told her about things that had happened to me while I was with Amy, and the hurt that came with those things. I tried very hard to make it clear to her what I was dealing with.

Then she told me what she thought I needed to do. She told me the one thing I didn’t want to hear. She told me that I need to find my faith again, I need to pray, and I need to accept that God loves me. I didn’t want to hear that. I wanted her to give me some simple steps that I could take to make my life better.

Some of you with deeper faiths than mine are probably thinking, “What’s so hard about praying?” I don’t know how well I could explain it to you, but it’s something I struggle with. I think I spend too much time in my head. I analyze things to death. I over-think them. I have been accused twice in the last week of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. That is probably true to some extent. I just feel like I have been misled so much in my life, and I don’t trust anyone or anything. I am a skeptic. If I were Catholic, my patron saint would probably be Doubting Thomas.

I don’t have a pretty bow to put on this post yet. I am pretty much in the same spot I was when she gave me the advice. I feel like what she told me I needed to do was good advice. I need to reconnect with God and feel his presence in my life. I’m still struggling to work that out. As some sort of confirmation to me that she had pointed me toward the right path, when I got into my car to leave, I turned on the radio and the song that was playing was “Pray” by Sanctus Real. It reminded me of when Amy and I were first friends and every song that came on just happened to say exactly what I needed to hear. Amy and I called it “The Divine D.J.”.

Maybe I should just call this an introductory post. I have much more to say on the topic, and so much to discover. I don’t know where I’m going to end up, but you’re welcome to come along for the ride.

 

 

I Want to Write

Filed under: Me,Writing — Rachel at 12:13 am on Sunday, August 4, 2013

I have so many things to say. My mind is constantly racing with things that I want to say. I want to tell people stuff. I just want to write it down so people will know. I don’t know why I am compelled to write. I have spent my life pouring my thoughts into journals and poetry and stories. I write essays and letters. I cannot help myself.

Maybe it is a desire to leave a mark. To somehow set down in stone my existence. I spend so much of my time feeling insignificant. Writing makes me feel connected. If just one person reads my words, we have connected. I have crossed space and time and put my thoughts into someone else’s brain. Once there, it is their’s to do with as they please. But, for a moment, I get to have my say.

And I have so many things to say.

I want to write on this blog and tell my truth to anyone who wants to read it. To say that I am here. I have a heart and a mind and I bleed red blood. I want to talk back to those that mistreat me. I want to explain to those I’ve confused. I just want to get all of these jumbled thoughts out of my head.

I want to write here, but I am scared. I am scared of the repercussions of saying who I am. I’m afraid of the rocks that may get flung my way. I know that I am strong enough, but I have to decide if I am brave enough.

Maybe these words are just the pebble thrown into a pond. They don’t amount to much, but they break the surface tension and send out ripples that reach much further than the point of impact.

These words are just the beginning, because I have so many things to say.

Now We Are Thirty

Filed under: Birthdays,Family,Me — Rachel at 4:41 pm on Friday, July 5, 2013

Yesterday was my birthday. I turned thirty. Thirty! It seems so ridiculous.

I had simultaneously dreaded turning thirty and looked forward to my thirtieth birthday at the same time for the last year or so. Amy and I talked about her throwing me a birthday party. We would have friends come over and have a good time. Then we broke up, and that kind of died. I was only dreading my birthday. No fun celebration. Just reaching a dreaded milestone.

So I planned to take my kids and go on a camping trip with my parents and brothers. Then the rain came. For days it has done nothing but rain. The one thing I always do on my birthday is go watch Fireworks at the lake in Kingston, since my birthday happens to be on the Fourth of July. This year, though, for the first time that I can remember, they cancelled the Fireworks. I cannot even possibly tell you how sad I was yesterday morning.

Nothing happened the way I imagined it. Amy and I weren’t a couple anymore. There was no party. My kids were at their dad’s. It was gray and gloomy and raining. No fireworks. No friends. No presents. No cards. I admit, I laid in bed and cried.

But. (So glad there’s a “but” to this story.) But then Chris brought my kids home. He was still at the house, sitting in the living room chatting with me and Amy, when someone knocked on my door. It was my mom. She stopped on her way home from camping at the lake to tell us that they had packed everything up early and headed home because of the rain. She said they were all grilling burgers and hot dogs at my brother’s house that evening. Suddenly, it went from a horrible day with nothing to do because of the rain to a metaphorical parting of the clouds.

Me, Amy, and my kids went up to my brother’s house. We hung out with my family. We ate burgers. We played cards. Two of my brothers beat the crap out of me. (Birthday spankings are no joke when you are frickin’ thirty!) Strangely enough, we spent over an hour singing. We were playing cards, and I randomly started singing “Just A Little Talk With Jesus” while I was dealing. My mom joined in with me, and then my brothers and sister-in-law and Amy. We sang song after song. Lucas went and got his guitar. We mostly sang church songs, but I must admit we sang “Friends In Low Places”, “Ice, Ice Baby” and “Baby Got Back”, too. Shh. Don’t tell. It wasn’t something that we have done before, but it was actually really fun. After we sang, we had a delicious ice cream cake that my sister-in-law, Misty, made for me. I went home with a smile on my face and some really good memories.

It wasn’t what I had been looking forward to for a year, but, even without cards or presents or lots of friends, my birthday was redeemed, despite the torrential rains. I had my family, my kids, and my very best friend with me, and, dang it, we had a good time.

Uncertainty

Filed under: Bloody Depression,Loss,Love,Me — Rachel at 7:31 pm on Thursday, June 27, 2013

I wish I could be sure about decisions that I have to make. Especially the ones that really hurt.

Uncertainty is my kryptonite. When I have to decide to take some action I try to be logical. I try to weigh all the information. I go back and forth in my mind…on and on…ad nauseum. I try to think of all the alternatives. All the ways it could blow up in my face. I want to make sure that I am doing the right thing.

Sometimes, I feel like there is no right thing. I feel like there is no choice that has a truly good outcome. I try to minimize collateral damage. If it’s going to hurt me, sometimes that feels worth it. But if it’s going to hurt someone else, it’s really hard for me to decide to do something. Sometimes I hurt myself more because I’m afraid to make a decision I know I need to make, out of fear of hurting someone. And sometimes I make the decision, and they turn out just fine. And sometimes I’m surprised to find out that I am the one I’ve hurt the most.

I generally feel confidant about a big decision if I have made it as far as deciding and acting on it. Unfortunately, I often have a confidence crash a few days later. I doubt myself. I feel like I tried so hard and still ended up doing something stupid. Does this happen to anyone else? Am I the only one?

I’m drowning in uncertainty right now. I feel like I made a bad decision. I feel like I messed something good up. I feel like a misunderstood set of circumstances skewed my judgement. I tried so hard, but I still hurt myself in the process.

I just wish I could know. Really know what the best thing for me would be. I just want to be certain. Or at least mostly certain.

But I’m not.

The End of DOMA and Other Random Musings

Filed under: General — Rachel at 5:55 pm on Thursday, June 27, 2013

Yesterday was one for the history books. The Supreme Court ruled that the so-called Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional. I was at work, watching the live blog feed. When they made the announcement, I cried. Tears of relief and thankfulness.

I knew they would rule DOMA unconstitutional, because…well…it clearly was. I wasn’t surprised, but I was relieved nonetheless. I knew what the ruling meant for my gay and lesbian friends and family. Equality. It meant equality. It meant that soldiers serving in a war zone could know that their families were safe on a military installation at home, with all the rights, privileges and services that their straight counterparts have. It means that my friends who are already legally married can now be recognized as such. They can file taxes together. Visit each other in the hospital with no fear of being turned away. Equality. It makes such a difference.

Personally, it was bittersweet. I had thought that I would be celebrating in a more personal way. I thought it would mean that I could get married. But, after my recent breakup, it didn’t hold the same meaning that it once did. I chose not to dwell on the more sad parts, and just chose to celebrate. It was a win for people I love. I am glad that I was witness to such a momentous day in history.

I knew the ruling would bring out a lot of ugliness. And it has. People are unkind. People are ignorant. People are rarely hesitant to air that in any public forum available.

I choose to ignore that, though. Because yesterday was a good day. A very good day.

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