Thursday, February 28, 2013

Rachael's ramblings

So this post is not going to be anything profound. I have started and re-started it, to be honest. I have a thought, then my mind jumps to something else, and not much seems conclusive. But I love to write, so I want to post things, even if they are just some of my ramblings.
 I am approaching the 2 year date of having lost my mom. With that significant date comes a lot of memories. Some of those memories go all the way back to childhood and just thinking about my mom and who she was. Some of those memories are of her last days. So I thought I'd share a few of
"Rachael's Ramblings", which are , in essence, just the thoughts jumbling through my head.
  -I've been in such deep thought lately about life in general that it has caused me just to stop and say "Be still". Psalm 46 says "Be still and know that I am God." I've been trying to be still lately, and that is not always easy. I don't sit still very well.  However, in all of that, I have remembered some neat things. Mom was a busy woman. She was a stay at home mom my whole life.  She always took such care of everything, though. We actually grew up eating our breakfasts and dinners together. (We called it supper). Eating breakfast together was special. Dad was on the go all day, and sometimes he'd even been out to work before breakfast, and came in to sit with us before we went off to school. Mom had the table set, and breakfast hot and ready (when it was a not cereal), and she'd be found in her office, Bible in front of her, ready to go for her day. That was a picture of taking time to be still in the midst of chaos with the 5 of us she had to feed at 7 am.

  - I have sometimes struggled with my role in life at this point- or should I say "roles"- employee, daughter, wife, mom, and last but not least, "me". There were times mom and I would talk about this before she passed away. Her words ring with me often still. I am my worst critic. Mom was my strongest supporter. I would often say (and to be honest, still do) that I could never be as good of a mom as she (was), or as good of a wife. Mom would always gently remind me that we aren't supposed to measure ourselves against others. She would also remind me that my life was very different from what hers was, so my "givings" to all the roles in life would look different. I still have to remind myself of those things many days, and in the process, I am working on being less of a critic.

  - Provision.  This has been on my mind a lot recently. A childhood friend of mine and I were talking the other day. We grew up next door to each other. We were talking about how life was so simple growing up. But we talked about how that never bothered us, and it is really neat to now, as adults, look back on that and understand the provisions God gave us. My mom was not a worrier. She always communicated sucha  trust in God to provide for what we needed. We often times had very little, but it never bothered me. We wore hand me downs, we ate odd meals sometimes, we ate a lot of hamburger and steak and pork (and to some that may sound luxurious, but growing up on a farm made it so it was more of a provision than a luxury or enjoyment. To this day, my sister and I still don't like steak!). But God always provided. Mom stayed home, and God provided for our entire family all the time. Now that I'm older and I've learned some of the stories of how tight our family was, it holds even more meaning-I couldn't totallly appreciate it then. Sometimes, when mom did do things-like babysit-she wouldn't take money because the parent was tight and so mom said no. Or dad told a renter to not worry about paying sometimes, he said "God will provide", and He always did. We never were without what we needed. And we had a lot of fun. Life was more simple. It was fun, too. We didn't need the latest clothes or jewelry or car (mom and dad totally drove the cars to their deaths...literally the car would give out. One car lasted around 15 years for them! ) We lived on a pig farm with around 1000 pigs, plus dad farmed around 80 acres. Farmers didn't make a lot. But God always provided.

 -Fun. Mom made almost everything fun. She quizzed me on spelling words with games; We played games; We made up games; She told stories; She sang songs to make things fun; She  laughed a lot; She was there for every event just about-every silly soccer game I played (wow, I was horrible at soccer, too!...and while I'm at it, let's say she was also at my b.ball games, at which I was also awful!) she was at all my plays, she came to all my concerts, and even the football games just to watch me play my saxophone at half time. She was fun. I hope to instill some great memories with my kids, too.
 She was also there for every county fair-until I was 13, I showed pigs at the county fair. I was even the county pork princess one year! She packed our lunches for the fair to save us money, and she would get up early to get us to the fairs.I remember one Christmas, we got a family gift of a VCR. I was around 11. We got the movie The Apple Dumpling Gang to go with that. We stayed up (because we opened on Christmas eve) watching that movie as a family and laughing til we were in tears. That was simple fun. She drove us everywhere. I never heard mom complain. If she did, it wasn't in front of us ever. (Wow, I can say  I do not do that as a mom! ) I had such an amazing childhood, and a huge part of that was my mom.

In mom's last months, it was hard to watch her digress. It was a new role to take on. But even as I took on that role for a time, mom continued teaching me, just by her attitude. She never gave up. She fought hard. She taught me to laugh when I didn't feel like it. She taught me to keep going. She taught me to live one day at a time.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Like mother, like granddaughter.

I can recall a lot of really good conversations with my mom growing up. She taught me so much, but honestly, a lot of what she taught me came just as much through how she lived even more than by what she said. People were drawn to my mom.
 I was reminded of this recently because my daughter has a lot of my mom's characteristics, and she portrayed one the other day. Sometimes she teaches me just as much as I think I should be teaching her!
 There are always tough people in life to love-maybe they are not nice to anyone; maybe they are just not nice to you; maybe they look different or believe differently; maybe they just don't fit in "your circle". My mom exemplified Christ's love. Even when I know there were adults around her who were tough to love, she welcomed them with open arms and allowed them to have a place in her life. I watched it happen many times over. She taught me to love. She taught me to be Jesus to those who needed it. I am not always successful at this, and that was evident the other day (where my daughter's young wisdom comes into the picture).
  There is a person in my life who is tough to love, mostly because "they" create friction. I have a mild anxiety disorder, but there are certain things which trigger it. My anxiety level rises when I am around certain people, and often times I find it difficult to communicate clearly what I'd really like to say, because I am trying to watch my words. Also, when my anxiety level rises, I do my best not to communicate, because I  know it's not the right timing. Anyway, I had a really challenging and frustrating scenario recently with this person. In the end, I walked away, but I felt so frustrated. Why was it so hard to love them? I'm not totally sure, but in sharing these things with my husband, who has heard it many times, my daughter piped up and says, "Mommy...just show them love. Like Jesus did."
 Ouch. Right where it hurts. My own 10 year old daughter giving me a life lesson. She was saying to me words I've said to her when she's come home having had a difficult interaction with a kid at school. she's saying to me what my mom taught me and lived by.
  It seems as though when there is a struggle going on in life in any fashion-or something on the heart, like my dreams-God brings it up again and again, in conversations, or in church, or in a book I'm reading. Loving the tough was no exception. This came up more than once over the weekend...perhaps God was trying to speak to me. He knows when I'd most like to talk to my mom-and moments when I have a struggle, I always wish she were here with her wisdom. But He brings it along in other ways- A Bible study lesson, a 10 year old daughter!
 This year, on her own accord, my daughter asked me if we could read through the entire Bible together. I have only done that once in my life, and it was a really hard thing to accomplish. I love how my daughter has such maturity and desire, but yet she still has her childlikeness-she's not totally ready to grow up.  She collects teddy bears, but she has her 4 favorites, which sit on her bed, and she's always talking about them-Teddy, Grandpa, Polar (the mother), and Snowball (the father). She has an imagination that gives this bear family total personality and it makes me laugh every time and gives me joy to hear her vivid imagination. But her maturity shines through when she sits with me at night as we read through the Bible in a year program. She is soaking in the words and asking a lot of questions and learning a lot right now. It was by no mistake that on Sunday, one of the passages we were reading was talking about praying for our enemies and loving those hard to love. She will often times interrupt my reading to ask about the meaning or to share a thought. Sunday she interjected to share a story about a girl in her class who is very hard to love. We both agreed that we needed to be praying for the ones who are tough to love in our lives.When we finished reading, she did just that. What a precious moment. She is so much like my mom. My mom shines through my daughter. I love that.
  I miss my mom, that goes without saying. But she's still there in her wisdom. Sometimes it's words I remember her saying or a story that comes to mind in my memory about her, and our times together. Sometimes it is through times with my daughter. Mom and I used to love to have coffee together. Recently, me and Elizabeth got to go to a play together on a mommy/daughter day. We had such a wonderful time together, and we even sat down for coffee/hot chocolate before the play . I missed my mom in that moment, knowing that 1-she would've been with us probably had she been alive still. 2-she would've loved the entire day of what we were able to enjoy. and 3-I won't have those moments anymore with her. However, it was a very special day for me and Elizabeth. One she and I will always remember. I look forward to many more. Like mother, like granddaughter, I say.
Me and Elizabeth on our date

Mom and Elizabeth on our last Christmas together. and yes, this is one of the bears in Elizabeth's family of bears. Her last gift from my mom.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Never Once

Warning to you: this is a raw blog, from the depths of my heart.
 In church, my heart was moved by the worship, and an entire blog formed in my head in the process.  I can't help it....the words seem to flow more lately. I suppose that's because there's so much on my heart and mind. A song which was new to me today moved my heart, and God really whispered to me.
  Lately, I've been in an internal struggle. One I've kept close to my heart, but now I"m putting it out on the line for anyone to read. Mostly because writing helps. I don't say things to have anyone come to me and tell me how great my writing is, or how wonderful of a person I am or for a confidence boost. I write from the rawness of my emotions because it helps me. I do it because maybe someone out there who will read this might be struggling with the same thing, and perhaps this will help. The internal struggle I've been facing is that of friendships. I am a people person! Ask anyone at my job, and they will tell you that. I love interacting and conversating and listening and talking. I enjoy being around people. A struggle I've always had is to rely on people in my life too much. I've had moments where God has really shown me that and tried to get His point across that HE is all I need. He's seemed to shout it at me time and time again, but it's a continual lesson which I have to apply. I tend to "need" to talk to someone when I'm having a bad day, and I often times rely on that vs. relying on talking to Him. Don't get me wrong, talking to people isn't wrong. But sometimes, He is sitting, patiently waiting, for me to come to Him so He can hold me and calm my fears and wipe my tears. And I have denied that in the past by allowing people to try to fill that gap. I have even created sin before by putting people in a place in my life where they shouldn't. NO MORE! I want Him to fill that in me....and yet, it's a constant struggle I face because I long for face to face interaction and conversation. Yet He offers it to me, if just would sit still a little bit. He never leaves me. He never once has allowed me to walk alone, and therefore, why wouldn't I turn to Him??? 
  In recent weeks, He has been making this point to me again. He gave me some people in my life in the last year which were so special, only to ask me to let them go recently for different reasons-some painful, others practical. One friend essentially said we just weren't going to be friends anymore....and that hurt deeply. Still other friends have walked away, as I have chosen to put my family as my priority and that has been deeply misunderstood on their part. In the last year, God has been shaping me in this area, teaching me that He is enough. At first, I was stubborn to it and telling Him I needed people. Then I was on my knees, asking His forgiveness and telling HIm he was enough. Then He gave me people to help me through some tough moments. Now He's asking for me to rely on Him again. To come to Him with my dreams. With my fears. With my hopes. With my hurts. I am to turn to Him...because never once has he ever left me alone. This is a really hard lesson for me, and I will probably have to keep on learning it over and over, but He is so faithful!!   Below are the lyrics to the song from today that are so beautiful. As I post the lyrics, in between will be my commentary a little bit.
   Here are the lyrics:
Standing on this mountaintop
Looking just how far we’ve come
Knowing that for every step
You were with us
   ~sometimes, when I take time to evaluate, I can see how far He's brought me. And that's when I remember all He's done, that He's been with me for ever step.

Kneeling on this battle ground
Seeing just how much You’ve done
Knowing every victory
Was Your power in us
~ Life is often a "battle ground", and I have to remember that my struggle isn't against flesh and blood, but against the darkness that surrounds me. Kneeling down before Him in prayer is what changes me and the scene.

Scars and struggles on the way
But with joy our hearts can say
Yes, our hearts can say
~ This is one of my favorite lines. Scars and Struggles on the way...I have many of those. Scars of bad decisions. Scars of grief. Scars of painful moments that are now a part of history in my story...but with joy I can say....truly say....
Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful
~ He has never left me alone. He has never left my side. He is so faithful. Even in moments where I didn't feel it, He was. And He is.

Scars and struggles on the way
But with joy our hearts can say
Never once did we ever walk alone
Carried by Your constant grace
Held within Your perfect peace
Never once, no, we never walk alone
~ I am truly carried in His grace and held by His peace....when I let Him do that. It doesn't matter who my friends are or aren't. It doesn't matter how much my heart has hurt over missing my mom. He has always provided peace and extended grace. UNLIKE ANY  OTHER!!!
Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

Every step we are breathing in Your grace
Evermore we’ll be breathing out Your praise
You are faithful, God, You are faithful
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

Never once have I ever walked alone. Not one day.
He is faithful. Every day.
 I will strive to let Him fill those gaps.
One day at a time. 

Sunday, February 3, 2013

2013 Linda A. Ferguson Memorial 5K

I am pleased to announce that the registration is now open for the 2013 Linda A. Ferguson Memorial 5K!
 I know to some of you,it seems early to open it, since the event isn't until October 12, 2013, but the earlier people register, the better the event will be!
 Our team is in full swing of planning. We have some great things in store for our event this year and those include:
    - A kid's fun run! 15$ registration for this. The event will be a half mile long and a lot of fun for the kids!
    - A new Course! It's NCAA certified and it's a cross country course! This course is still in Cedarville, but it is on University property, and it's a really nice course! We are so excited to partner with the University to use their course!
    - A bigger, better silent auction!! We have a lot of neat items we will be featuring this year, with a lot of opportunity to bid on it. We have spent the last few months tweaking how we did that in last year's event, and we have decided the silent auction will be our best avenue.
    - The first 10 people to register will get a 10$ gift certificate!
   -This year anyone can go to the website to register OR donate!

Some moments it still seems unreal that I am planning an event in memory of my beautiful mama. But it is true. However, It is a torch of her legacy that is continuing to burn. This event is another piece of the dreams that burn inside me. I have a dream to grow this event into a longer race. I have a dream that this year alone we double the amount raised. I have a dream that this race will draw in hundreds and hundreds and one day thousands of people....all in order to grow this scholarship in memory of my mom. All in the pursuit of helping nurses who are studying to help patients with cancer.  I love doing this event. This year, we are starting way earlier on all of our planning. I have added a couple of people to my planning team, and it's shaping up to look like a great  year. I am very excited to see what God can and will do with this year's event. This is in memory of my mom, but it is all for the glory of God and furthering His kingdom.
     1 Corinthians 10:31 "Therefore, whatsoever you do, whether it is to eat or drink, do all to the glory of God. "
 One day at a time, we are working to build our event, and to grow the scholarship, and to further His Kingdom. One day at a time, He is chiseling away at my dreams-bringing them into fruition. I am so excited to watch it unfold!
    For More Information, please contact me, Rachael McKinney at