Monday, May 27, 2013

Why Participate in the Linda A. Ferguson Memorial 5K?

Most of the time, I am writing from the depths of my heart and what God is teaching me, or I am telling stories about my wonderful mom. But, based off an ongoing joke that began with a few of my regular customers, I am creating this post:
   50 Reasons why to Run the Linda A. Ferguson Memorial 5K

Actually, we are going to make it 140 reasons, maybe. (140 days until the event, so one reason for each day) But we have to start with 50 for now.
  Kim, Jon, and Brittany always come down together to the shop, around the same time each day. Kim is a runner. Jon is not. Brittany said she will do the event if Jon will. The conversation started because Kim and I were talking about the event. And thus, we began this joke , so as to convince Jon and Brittany to do the event as well. And herein, this blog is born. So, some reasons are serious, others funny. Regardless, all are reasons why to come out and participate in the Linda A. Ferguson Memorial 5K.

1. It's great exercise!
2. You can make a new friend while you run/walk.
3. You can build a current relationship by doing this event together.
4. You get a shirt.
5. You are entered to win a huge fitness basket. Everyone gets a chance to win!
6. You are supporting a great cause, helping a student(s) in need.
7. By helping this student, he/she will in turn be able to help thousands of patients in years to come.
8.It's fun!
9. You help carry on my mom's legacy.
10. When you register, you further the scholarship amount, helping us reach our goal of 10,000$ this year.
11. You earn vitality points (If you work at CareSource)
12. You get a secondary tshirt from CareSource (if you work at CareSource)
13. Great music.
14. NCAA certified course
15. Beautiful course in the heart of Cedarville
16. If you've never been to Cedarville, you get to experience a unique, beautiful town
17. Experience your first 5K (for some anyway)
18. Check off a to do item off  your list (of completing a race)
19. Experience a family filled event.
20. Take part in a silent auction full of really neat items
21. Great snacks at the end, provided by our sponsors
22. Learn about some new companies, who sponsor our event
23. Burn calories
24. Help us grow our event, raising awareness
25. See my dad come out and walk/run this event! He is an inspiration himself. Who knew a farmer could do a 5K?
26. Support a secondary cause, which is Locks of Love. A few of our team members/participants will cut off their hair when we reach a certain dollar amount and donate their hair. Only by you registering can we reach this amount, which will cause them to donate their hair for those who need it.
27. Great goodie bag! Featuring new items this year.
28. What better way to start off your day than with exercise and friends?
29. It's a gorgeous time of year, fall leaves and farms being harvested all around the event.
30. Top 3 finishers get great prizes!
31. First 100 registrants get the dri fit tech shirts.
32. This event is not for my glory, mom's glory, or the student's glory, but all glory goes to God.
33. It fuels my passion to further the cause.
34. Makes you feel better.
35. Meet the 2013 recipient and understand why we do what we do.
36. At this event, it's a place to be you. No comparisons. No expectations. No pressure. Just you, having fun, helping out a great cause.
37. It's safe!
38. Fresh air!
39. Laughter and excitement.
40. Fun picture opportunities!
41. An excuse to buy new shoes.
42. You will get even healthier in the process of training.
43. A reason to buy new running clothes (Because we runners can always find reasons for that!)
44. A cool start and finish line this year.
45. You could be featured on our website!
46. You can understand why I talk about this endlessly!
47.  Coffee will be provided :)
48. All your buddies will be there!
49. It's fun!!!
50. It supports a great cause. (I know, we already said that, but hey, it IS the reason we do this event after all!)

Whew, so there you have it. 50 reasons to participate. I am not sure we will actually have 140 reasons, but there's a start anyway. If you want to register or donate, or want more information, feel free to email me, Rachael, at
Or check out our website at

the Ferguson Family

2013 Recipient with Race Director, Rachael McKinney and Roger Ferguson, widower of Linda A. Ferguson

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Dare To Dream

Dare to Dream.

Words beating in my mind and heart lately, like a pulse that is racing. Dare to Dream.

I have been thinking on this lately.

What have I missed out on because of my fears? What dreams went by the wayside because I was worried or bothered by others holding me back? What have I not done that I should have?
 I can't go back and change the past. But I can allow my dreams to grow and I can dare to dream. I can make a difference in the future.

What if David had not dared to fight Goliath? (1Samuel 17)
   What if Moses had not stood up to Pharaoh? (Exodus 3)
      What if Rahab had not hid the spies? (Joshua 2)
       What if Martin Luther King, Jr had not given a speech to thousands?
          What if fear held all those men/women back from what God called them to do?

What if they had not dared to dream that God would carry them beyond their own ability to do something greater for His kingdom? BUT THEY DID! They didn't just dare to dream....they took the dare and played it out and now they sit as part of history to teach us.

Looking back on life a little bit, I had one specific event come to my mind. I used to (Ok, I pretty much still am, but I have gotten much better) be the play it safe girl. The one who would not go into the lake because i wasn't a strong swimmer; The one who wouldn't climb the side of the mountain because I was afraid of heights-I took the safe path up the side; The one who wouldn't stay up all night at sleepovers because I needed sleep.

The one event that came to my mind was that I missed out on a great experience a lot of my high school buddies got to do because they weren't afraid. That experience was a wilderness trip. Our youth pastor was extremely outdoorsy, and so one summer, he endeavored to take a group on a canoe trip through the (Canadian i believe) wilderness. I did just about every youth event I could, but I said no to this one pretty readily because I was afraid. Afraid of my lack of swimming in the rivers. Afraid of not being able to keep up. Afraid of getting lost (not that I didn't trust him, but more so I didn't trust myself in a canoe). This week, as I was thinking about daring to dream, and how I have learned to step way out of my comfort zone to do things, that event came to mind. I cannot go back and change that. I said no at that time. But perhaps one day I will go out and do it with a different group  and put that fear to rest. I have come to love hiking and being outdoors and stepping out of my zone a little....I wish I had then!

The point is, I have learned to dare to dream. To step out of my fears and into the waters. (literally, actually! I finally learned how to swim last year! Not great, but I can now say I can). I do not want fear to be what holds me back from what God has called me to do.

Some "dares" may seem small to the onlookers, but for me, those dares may be huge. Some dares may be told to me by the nay sayers that they cannot be accomplished. Some fears may rise, but if I dare not dream, then I would stay stagnant, and stagnant is not where God has called any of us to be.  So I dare.

I dare to triple my mom's scholarship fund this year.

I dare to be a better wife, in an environment full of people who say that "I" should be my priority. I dare to share my story of hurts, failures, dreams and hopes with other women who may experience the same emotions, in a world that tells us to keep our stories to ourselves.

I dare to teach my kids to stand up for their beliefs in a world full of giving into peer pressure, a world full of non believers. I dare to teach them the truths and tell them to spread their wings with those truths.

I dare to dream to publish my writings, somehow, someway. I am not sure what that looks like yet, whether it is a book or it is a magazine article, but I am beginning to dream on this one...

I dare. Some of my "dares" are long term dare to dream lists- Like going to Hawaii with my husband, or taking a Carribbean cruise with him.
 I dare to dream that one day I will do a race in all 50 states.
I dare to dream that moms scholarship fund will reach a million dollars.  One day.
I dare to dream that Michael and I will retire and be the most loving grandparents a child has experienced.
 I dare to dream that we will own a vacation home one day.
 I dare to dream that my writing will have a long lasting impact-not for my glory, but for His.

Holley Gerth, in her blog, asked a few questions that i will quickly respond to:
   What do I do when my dream is scary and others don't support me??
       My answer is: I pray. I ask God to show me where He wants to lead me with my dream. And I ask Him to give me patience as I wait for the obstacles to move. I ask Him to help me to seek HIM in my dream and not my own selfish desires. And it is amazing what He will do with that.
        I have seen answers to this in some of my dreams already. One dream is growing my mom's scholarship fund. I have obstacles with that. Big ones. But as I pray about it, God opens doors. I prayed, and He gave me a window in the Cedarville University magazine for an article about mom and the scholarship. He answered by a sponsor contacting me. And some of mom's old college buddies contacting me. He is answering. It is growing. My dreams with it are big this year, but I know He can answer, obstacles and all. So I keep pursuing and praying.

She also asked in her blog: What part of your dream feels the riskiest?
  I guess it depends on which dream I choose to share that feels the riskiest, because each one is different. With mom's scholarship, being as we grow that through a 5K event, the risk is people not coming or not having enough sponsorship money to do what we need to do. The risk is failure. If we reach my dream amount to raise this year, that would mean 400 participants in the event. That is scary to me. Risky because it is a lot of work and time. Risky because what if they all show up and it doesn't go smoothly?
  And I turn again to prayer. Putting my dreams in his hands. Not for my glory, but for His. Using my passions for His glory.

Risky? Yes. Scary? Yes. Intimidating? Yes.

  Worth it? Yes.

Dare to dream. You (I) never know. Perhaps one day we will be the Moses or the Rahab or the Martin Luther King, Jr. of our day. We never know what God will do with our dreams until we dare to dream them . Until we dare to try. Or we may just be another person in the crowd going after something. But we may be a David to our child. Or we may be a David to another woman .
 I don't know where God will take my dreams or how He will use them. But I am daring to dream. Will you?

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Renovating Life

Renovation. Remodeling.   Those words can be both exciting and intimidating.

Exciting because it means something "new" is being made out of something old. Exciting because there is generally a lot of thought, care, and time put into it.

Intimidating because change in general can be and is intimidating. Intimidating because it means a lot of thought, care, and time are put into it, which can be quite tiring.

Renovation is challenging. Renovation is Beautiful.

Challenging because it will mean a lot of potential physical work and endurance. Challenging because it often involves financial planning.

Beautiful because the end result is fresh and updated and beneficial. Beautiful because of all the work that one puts into it. Beautiful because it is "new" and complete.

Renovation has been a theme in my life this weekend. And it involves excitement, intimidation, challenge and beauty all together.  Sometimes renovation is quick and less painful with a still beautiful outcome. Other times, renovation is exhausting, pretty frustrating, but still with a beautiful outcome. The process sometimes depends on my outlook of the renovation and it sometimes depends on the renovation project itself.

At work, I have been anticipating a renovation project inside my coffee shop for months. Much planning has gone into this renovation/remodel. A lot of time, planning, finances and personalities have gone into this renovation project. I have been talking about this for a year now, and it is finally  happening! The renovation of The Hearbeat Cafe (my coffee shop) will take a few weeks to complete, and there may be some minor annoyances for me to work around, but overall, when it is finished, I anticipate wonderful things! I anticipate a much easier flow of my work because the layout will be more adequate for my tasks. I anticipate more business, as we introduce new drinks and new merchandise. I anticipate being busier, and probably more tired, but way more excited! It will be fresh and new and exciting and beautiful. This renovation/remodel is long and drawn out, but so wonderful through the process.

At home, an unexpected renovation took place this weekend. This renovation held more challenges and frustrations than my exciting coffee shop renovation. Why? Well, it involved my finances directly, for one. Finances which were tight already. Two, it was unexpected, and change in this case, was intimidating. It meant rearranging my garage, kitchen nook and a part of my kitchen altogether, all without tearing anything down to make more room. It meant a major shift of large appliances, which requires time and energy. It was a quick renovation, but a tough one.

Life is like that. God likes to renovate us. ALL. THE. TIME. that is how he works. He does not want us to be stagnant and keep the same "decor" all the time. He wants us to shift and change and mold into who He is designing us to be. He wants me to trust Him and be excited for this, but more often than not, I am intimidated and challenged and resistant.
 "But God, I don't want to give that up. I want to keep living life as I am."
   "But God, I'm tired, and I'd really like you to just take care of that for me."
          "But God, I think I'm doing fine. Do I really need to change my heart?"

And God responds by renovation. Sometimes that comes in the form of tight finances, where I have to give up luxuries so I can learn the importance of the necessities again. Sometimes renovation comes in the form of difficult coworkers or friends or people in general, and God whispers to me "Rachael, I asked you to love them. No. Matter. What. so keep on loving them. I know you are tired , but I will be your rest. Love." Sometimes the renovation comes in the form of learning to say no or to walk away or to stand tall in my faith.
 Whatever the case, He is always renovating me. He is remodeling my heart to look more like His. It is challenging and beautiful. It is exciting and intimidating. But all in all, it is a God given opportunity to become like Him. I'm always still "me", but being shaped into a more beautiful me by Him, just like my coffee shop is still my coffee shop, just a more beautiful and functionable one.
 God says to us in James 1 "dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing."

One day at a time, as He renovates me, I will do my best to consider it joy and watch Him make me into something beautiful, needing nothing.

PS-When the renovation in my coffee shop is complete, I will post pictures so you can see!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Dear Mom,

Dear Mom,
 Happy Mother's Day! It is only natural that today I am thinking about you. In fact, I have spent a lot of my week thinking about all you taught me. The lessons I've been remembering have resonated deep within my soul this week.
  I know that you would want me today to celebrate me and my motherhood journey. Somehow, that still feels a bit unnatural. Mother's Day is supposed to be about MY mom, not about me. But I am striving to embrace that, because I know that is what you would want me to do.
 A girl should never have to write her mother a letter on mother's day. We should be together. At 30 years old, I wasn't supposed to not have you here any more.
 But I know that you are in perfect health again, and I know that  you are celebrating with your own mom again, and I know that you are laughing. But I miss you.
  God has brought me a long way, mom. I hope you can see it and can smile about it. The journey of finding His peace again was long and hard, but He brought me back to that, mom. I wish I could tell you all he has taught me about His grace, His love, His forgiveness.
  I want to tell you all about the scholarship we have in memory of you, mom. It is to carry on your legacy, yes. To carry on your name. But it is just as much about helping others. This years recipient even said it made a difference in her staying at the University. Mom, this is an event I love. I don't love that it is memory of you, because that means you are gone. But it is good come from bad, you know? It is what you taught me. And I love doing it. I wish you could see it. I know many get sick of me talking about it. I know you would listen to me for hours about it. It is something I have come to enjoy so deeply that it is a part of me. It has become a passion. I think, I hope, that you would take pride and joy in what has come of what was such a tragedy for me. This year we want to raise enough to help 2 students.
 I wish you were here so I could ask you for advice on dealing with my precious Elizabeth, who is growing into a young woman. And, Oh yeah, I'd tell you I'm sorry for what I put you through when I was growing into that same womanhood she is now. She is so much like me, and each time she is having one of her "growing " moments, I see myself and am taken back to those years and how much I must have put you through! Stephen has witnessed a few of them and I have looked at him and said "I don't know where she gets that..." and then we bust out laughing because he remembers all too well my pre-teenage moments.
  I want to tell you how much Elizabeth is growing into a deeper love with Jesus. She wants to be a missionary, mom! Sound familiar? This summer she will be going on a missions trip, and I wish you were here to see it all unfold. I wish you were here to share in these moments with me.
   Joseph is all boy, mom. He has the know it all attitude and the rough and tough attitude. But his soft spots are bright, too. He loves to play games, mom. You and him would be having a ball together! Today, I will celebrate mothers day by playing games with him. And, tucked away in my mind, I will be thinking of you, too.
   I miss you so much, mom. This day may always be hard, I don't know. I wish I could ask you what it was like for you after you lost your mom. But today you are celebrating with her. And I will celebrate with my kids. But I will remember you. Today. And forever. You were and always will be my best friend and my hero, mom. I miss you. But you are in the best place ever-Heaven. And I will smile at that. And I will do my best to smile at all our memories and not cry. And one day, we will be together again.
 I love you, mom.
   Your daughter always,
     Rachael Elizabeth

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Life Lessons from mom. 4. Priorities.

Church events. Soccer games. Band practice. School plays. Basketball games.

I was always an active girl. Maybe not athletically inclined, but I was always involved in something. When I was younger, I played soccer for 8 years. I was terrible at it! Literally terrible. When i was in junior high, I wanted to be involved, so I played basketball-I was terrible at that, too! Really and truly. In high school, I found my niche a bit better with drama and band. The point is, I was active. And you know what? My mom was at all of those things, cheering on my every endeavor.

Dad worked hard and he worked a lot of hours. He was a farmer. I can remember a little radio, quite old fashioned, which sat on the kitchen counter, in the corner, which was a CB radio of sorts. Dad had one in his truck, and he could call on that to say he was coming home, or that he needed mom, or that he needed something. (Before the day of cell phones, of course!) Mom was always responsive. I never heard her complain when dad said he'd be another hour in the field....she just kept dinner warm in the oven, and we'd all wait til he got home to eat. I never heard her moan when he called her out in the middle of something else she was doing. She always put family first.

This isn't to say that mom didn't have her own life or her own activities. She really did have those. Mom went to the women's retreats at church. She had lunch with her friends. She played games with her friends.

Most importantly, I can remember waking up to finding my mom at her desk with her Bible open. God was always her first, I should say. Then dad. Then us.

There was good balance established and displayed in my mom's life, I feel. Mom had good balance as to cleaning and house chores v. time with us. She'd tell me the dishes could wait so she could play a game with me. Then, when I'd go to bed, I could hear the clinking of dishes in the sink. I always felt supported by my mom. In every endeavor.

When I started running, mom was my biggest fan. The first to call after a race. The first to ask me on a phone call if I'd run that day. The first to come watch the kids so I could go for a longer run while Michael was working.  The first to see all my pictures. When I endeavored into my first charity event, Relay for Life, mom was there. It was extremely emotional, but she was there for hours, even though she was exhausted. When I had a bad day at work, mom always listened.

I'll be the first to say there are times I struggle to put my family first. Finding that balance for me is really tough.  I get up at 4 to have a few minutes of me time. I grab my coffee and pull out my Bible and have time with God....the only way to make it through the day. The way I saw my mom always start her day. Then I often times dress and head out for my runs. Some days I write. Regardless of the morning activity, that is my time. Then the day begins. Work. Homework. Chores. Life. I don't say this to complain at all. I am grateful for my job and I am grateful for being a mom and a wife and having "duties" to perform for my family. I just share this to say I struggle to always put the family first.
   I remember many conversations with my mom about how I felt I would never be as good of a mom as she was. It is hard for me to want to sit down and play at night because I am tired. I sometimes get short with the kids and/or Michael over something so silly and unnecessary. Or whatever the case might used to always respond by telling me that I was just as good of a mom, life was just different for me than it was for her as a mom. I cling to those words some days. I struggle to put family first some days. But I am working on that on a daily basis.

This week, as I said before these posts began, it is natural to be thinking of mom. I miss her still with an ache. However, it has been so wonderful to remember these things in depth this week. I don't sit here to put my mom on a pedestal. She wasn't perfect. That being said, she really did teach me many lessons. Most times through her life just as much if not more than through her words. And many days, those lessons are tucked too far away. So it is good for me to pull them out and remember. And not only to remember, but to apply them. I had a wonderful mom. I was extremely blessed. Mother's day is not the same without her. But I can still celebrate her and all that she taught me. And I can strive to be the best mom possible myself. It is one of my greatest joys (and some days greatest stretching experience!) in life to be a mom.
 so, one day at a time, I am working on putting the family first in what I do. But more importantly, putting God first in ALL I do.


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Life Lesson from mom. 3. Trust in the Lord

In going through some random things recently, I found several note cards my mom had given me years ago. I'm so glad I kept them. She gave them to me, one to read each week. We used to live in separate states and that was at a time I needed some encouragement.  Each one had a verse. Each verse I found on these cards spoke to my heart yet again. Partly because it was as if mom were sitting next to me, reminding me these things this very day. Partly because they are reminders I needed from the Lord this week even. Mom's life was lived out in faith. Every day. Now that I am older and better understand many of the events that went on in my household while I was younger, mom's faith and joy take on even more depth. She had every reason to be a worrier or a complainer, but she never was either. She always relied on God. Here are the verses she had left me on note cards years ago.
 1 Peter 5:7 Cast all you anxiety on Him because He cares for you."  (Hmmm...coincidence that I've had anxiety lately and found mom's/God's words? I think not)

Isaiah 41:10 "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. "

Psalm 121:1-3 "I lift my eyes up to the hills-where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip-He who watches over you will not slumber."

Philippians 4:19 "And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus"

1 John 4:10 "This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins."

Psalm 23:1 "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want."

and mom's life verse, the one she clung to and whispered all her life  ....
 Proverbs 3:5-6 "Trust in the Lord will all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and He will make your paths straight."

That's the verse I want to most break down this morning. Mom taught us that verse all our lives. And while to some it can become a cliche verse, to me it was lived out truth in our home. Mom took that verse and really applied it. She didn't just quote it, she taught it.

Trust in the Lord:  do not trust in man
                                    do not trust in yourself
                                       do not trust your emotions or your mind's voices
                                          do not always trust opinions or advice (she didn't say never, she just say not always.....)
                  TRUST IN THE LORD

With all your heart:    Not part of my heart. Not a piece of me. ALL of my heart.

Lean not on your own understanding:   do not lean into what I know or what my mind can grasp. God is so much bigger than what my understanding of life or a situation is.  Do not lean into what I think I have understood...God desires bigger for me, and thus it will likely be beyond my understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him:  This means ALL. I can't put Him in the midst of one of my decisions or one of my problems and not in another. He needs to be in All my ways!! Every day.

And He will make your paths straight:  He won't just "make the paths straight" it says, when in all my ways I acknowledge Him he will make my paths straight. This means I must place Him first in all that I do and He will make the way clear for me. And if it's not totally clear, He will clear it as I walk along it and trust Him each step of the way.

That was mom's favorite verse. Honestly, I saw her live it out. She taught me to trust in God. Did I go my own way at times? Yes, I did . It wasn't until recent years that I have totally embraced the depth of meaning in this verse. And when I did, boy did He make my paths straight. And then I understood even deeper why this verse meant so much to my mom.  All of God's Word did. When mom was dying and spent many days in the hospital or when she became bedridden, one thing she wanted often was God's Word read to her. Oh, how I cling to those memories and the lessons she taught me even in wanting that in her last days.
 And so, I remember and dwell on these verses mom left me. And I will cling to her life lesson of trusting in the Lord. One day at a time.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Life lessons from mom. Post 2. Laugh.

Laugh at life.
  Laugh at yourself.
    Laugh with your kids.
      Laugh when you want to cry.
All words spoken from my wise mom.

I've said it before, I will say it again. It is totally appropriate that mom's initials were LAF---sounding out "laugh". Because laughter is a large piece of character my mom portrayed. And one which she taught me.

I'm often told I'm too serious. Truth is, it's true. I struggle to laugh at myself. I cry more than I laugh. Sad fact. Truth is, I love to laugh. It feels wonderful. It's contagious. I love to laugh so hard I cry joyful tears or so hard I cannot breathe. I never laughed with anyone like I laughed with my mom. It's because she taught me to laugh. She taught me to laugh at life. And to laugh at myself. And to laugh with my kids. And to laugh when I want to cry.
 My mom certainly was serious when it was appropriate. But more often than not, you would find mom laughing or smiling or singing or doing something joyful. I grew up laughing a lot. Somewhere along the way, between lifes worries and cares and stresses and concerns, my laughter became not as strong as it once was and I long to find the laughter in the every day moments again. When mom got really sick I think I lost a piece of my laughter. It's time I found that again. It's time I teach my kids what my mom taught me. Life is too short to miss out on laughter.
 Laughter in the ridiculous things that happen.
  Laughter in tickling.
   Laughter in playing games.
     Laughter in God's beauty.
In fact, I cannot help but laugh in thinking about some of the things mom taught me and the times we laughed. We laughed while we played games- especially the game PIT. If you don't know what that game is, it is too complicated to explain here. But it involves a lot of yelling and trading and getting loud all at once. One evening we were playing this game and my friend, Courtney, was over. We were all really into the game. When Courtney's dad came to pick her up, his face was one which was wide eyed and total surprise, because he came in on the middle of the game. We were all yelling, and then there was my mom, laughing so hard at one of the factors of the game that she was crying. Literally. It was ridiculous. Ridiculously fun. Laughter.
    In Mary Poppins, the movie, at the end, the old man banker died of laughing at a joke that was told. He laughed so hard he wheezed. Mom would do that and she got tagged with "the Old Man Laugh".
    My friends loved my mom because of her laugh. Everyone loved mom for that.
    Mom had the ability to laugh at herself. On rare occasions I can remember her saying something negative towards herself, so she wasn't perfect. But more often than not, she would laugh at herself. Case in point-one time I remember we were in the car with her and we also had her best friend and her best friend's child. I was fairly young. But mom drove down a one way street the wrong way. It was oddly enough, a wrong way on a one way street right by the police station. I can remember a police man waving at her, saying "Wrong way!" She could have put herself down in that moment , or she could have gotten mad. (here's where I say if it were me today doing that, I would have said some ugly words to myself and put myself down). However, mom didn't do that. She laughed. She said "oh, brother!" and she laughed. I know she was likely embarrassed at the event, but she laughed instead of getting mad. Laughter goes so much further.
   Some days, when I feel down, I can hear mom telling me to sing a song. I have now found myself teaching my kids that (and to be honest, found myself doing the same on rougher days). There are many songs that make me laugh when I choose to remember them-songs mom taught me. There is this one song though, from childhood, that always makes me smile no matter what. The first verse sings "The joy of the Lord is my strength" You proceed with a few verses and the last verse you simply sing "ha ha ha ha" as if it's laughter, to the tune of the song. Mom would sing that, and it doesn't matter if I was 3 or now at 30, by the middle of that verse of the song I am laughing. My son thinks I'm crazy when I sing it.......but he is always laughing by the end of it. My daughter tends to take after my serious side, and she is usually laughing by the end too. I love those lessons mom taught me.
  When mom was towards the end and I was working through all her photos, I found her baby photo. I know it's going to sound strange, but even in her baby photo, she was laughing, and I found that so appropriate for her.
   I wish she were here many days to remind me to laugh. But she is in a place of eternal laughter now. And though she is gone, her life lessons are still with me. It's just a matter of me remembering them. Such as now.
 So on that note, I will go about this day laughing. With the joy of the Lord and the lessons of mom in my memory.

Monday, May 6, 2013

LIfe Lessons from my mom. Post 1. Beauty comes from within.

My mom has been gone now 2 years. Mother's day is coming up, and it's a very natural time to be thinking about her and missing her. Today, as I was vacuuming ( a house chore I was in charge of growing up) I caught myself in deep thought about my mom and all the lessons she taught me. So, in regards of mother's day coming up, and the fact that these are good things for me to be remembering, I will share (potentially each day) something of a life lesson I learned from my mom.

I write to remember . I need to remember. But I also need to remind myself all the time of these life lessons mom taught me all while growing up, and as I entered womanhood and motherhood. And perhaps another woman (or man) who catches a glimpse of my blog might also learn or remember a lesson in the midst of reading what mom taught me.

Today I want to write to you the lessons mom taught me about self image.

My mom was not thin. I don't say that to share an embarassing image of my gorgeous mom. I share that to preface the lessons she taught me. Mom had bad knees. Mom loved to cook and she loved to bake....and she was good at it. Mom wore glasses-trifocals at that! (I'm doomed as I grow older, laugh out loud). Mom wore clothes that were given to her. She never bought herself new things unless it was one of our weddings or out of necessity. Dad liked to buy her things, though, and that's usually what he did for her gifts (unbeknownst to her, he always surprised her) for holidays. BUT SHE EMBRACED ALL THAT. SHE WAS BEAUTIFUL. And she taught me those things. Things I have tucked too far in my mind and not allowed myself to live by on a regular basis.

 And for me, I never was embarased by it or by her. I never cared about her hand me down clothes or that she was overweight.  I never cared that she wasn't up on fashion. In fact, I loved that about my mom. She wasn't dirty and she didn't "not " care. She just embraced different areas of life. She embraced that beauty comes from within.

1 Samuel 16:7 says that "the Lord does not see as man sees; man looks at the outward appearance, but He looks at the heat."

He knows my motives. He knows my thoughts. He knows my heart. He does not care about my size. He does not care if I'm up on fashion. He does not care about my awkward portioned body. He cares about what's in my heart.

I struggle with this. I'm not fat. I'm not ugly. Yet I struggle with this, as most every woman (and probably man, but it's different for them, I think) does.  Why? Why do I struggle? Why is such a battle for so many of us?? Because the world looks at the outward appearance....and it is flaunted in our faces daily .
  Buy this wrinkle cream so you don't have any.
    Join this program to lose weight.
       Wear this dress to look sexy.
           Get fake replacements.
               You husband will like you more if you look this way.

It doesn't matter how much we "know" pictures are airbrushed. Society throws pictures in front of us all too often, many times causing me to feel like I need to be better. I hate this. My mom did not live that way. Why should I? I need to remember what she taught me.
It's not to say mom always loved her body. I am sure she struggled with it at times. However, I didn't hear her saying negative things out loud. And I don't recall her ever comparing herself to other women. In fact, I saw her living her life out of joy; not out of comparison. Because she lived the fact that God looks at the heart. And mom's heart was one of joy and love and sacrifice.

Last week I was chatting with a couple of young ladies. I was working through cleaning out some things when I came across all my "skinny" clothes. A few years ago, I was a size 4. 119 lbs. It's crazy. I didn't really try to become that way, but it happened, and to be honest, I loved my body then. However, hindsight, my heart wasn't right. It was clouded with struggles and sins. I pondered that as I talked with these ladies. They taught me something somehow in the midst of the conversation. I shared with them this.....Now, at size 10, 150 lbs, I struggle more with my self image than I ever did before. However, that is so contrary to what God says, because to be honest, my heart with God at this point is so much more clean and in the healthiest place its been in years. I love Him more than I ever have and I am learning more from Him now than I ever have. Therefore, I should be happier now at this size than I was then, because my heart is what matters. Not my size.  so I took my skinny clothes and put them in the pile to go to Goodwill. That wasn't easy. It meant letting go of the idea I might ever be that thin again. But somehow, it was cleansing to do that, too. It was a step forward in seeing myself through God's eyes.
  Now, that doesn't mean I don't work at trying to shed a little bit or tone up. It just means I am taking a new perspective on it all. And learning to embrace it. It was in those moments that I also remembered many things my mom taught me.
 "Rachael, you are beautiful. You don't need the world to tell you that."
    "Rachael, embrace God's word. Do not embrace the image of what others tell you to be. Embrace what He is making you to be."
      "Rachael, God looks at the heart. Make sure you remember that. "

My mom was always encouraging to me. I don't say this to put her up on some crazy pedestal that doesn't exist. She really was that way. I'll be honest with you. When I was growing up, I was not insecure. If I had a zit and someone stared, I thought it was their problem. If I wore hand me down clothes and a person wanted to talk about me, that was their issue. I have never worn makeup (still don't). I have never been up on the latest fashion (still am not!). I embraced the truths of what mom and God said. Somehow along the lines I lost that somewhat. I started that awful habit of comparing myself to other women. And so I sit here today, reminding myself of mom's words to me. And reminding myself of God's truths. Because if she were here, she'd be saying this to me. It's time I embrace it again. I know it won't be easy. I know it will take me a long time. But I will embrace that God looks at my heart....and that is the important piece of me; the one that truly matters most.
   Thank you, mom, for living that out. It is a rare quality found these days.


Friday, May 3, 2013

Free to be me.

5:15 am.

There was the sound of birds chirping in one ear; in the other, the sounds of worship music playing through my headphones.

In one piece of the sky shone a half moon brightly; in the other, the rays of soft purple and pink were bursting through the sky to say good morning to the world!

It's a beautiful day in God's creation. This marked yet another version of a "perfect run".

No timer today.     No calorie counter.    And no friends. Just me and my dog, Dexter, on this quiet, gorgeous morning.

Lately, I've been on my own for runs. My buddy, Alyssa, has had races back to back so she has needed her rest. So I've endeavored on my own yet again. It has been over a year since I've run on my own consistently, really. The first few times, it was hard. I missed her! (And I still do...) but I also forgot the peace it can be to hear the beautfiul noises of the morning and allow my thoughts to run deep and my prayers to run deeper.

It is on these "alone" runs that I do my best thinking. I clear my head the most. I breathe a little differently. My pace may not be as quick, but some runs, it is good to just be out, and not be competeing against myself for a time or a diastance....but simply to be out, remembering the joy of why I love to run so much. It is in these moments, I feel "Free".
  Free of my anxieties.

Free of my responsibilities.

Free of my time constraints.

Free of my to-do list.

Free from my past.

Free from my hurts.

Free to dream.

Free to run.

Free to sing while I run.

Free to laugh at myself.

Free to be me!!!

It is one place where there are no expectations of me (unless, I, of course, put them there).

A Perfect Run. A perfect way to start my day. A way to see myself through God's eyes again. In the busy aspect of life, this goes by the wayside far too often and the world's voice can be loud. On the runs, I can hear God so clearly and see His beauty and feel His presence. 
A perfect beginning.

Each day, God gives me a new slate. On some occassions, I use that slate well-I allow myself to be Free, as He's called me to be....Free to dance. Free to run. Free from my past. Free from sin. Free from the world's version of who I should be. Free to love who He's made me to be.
 Still, on other ocassions, I struggle with this and I allow the anxieties to bog me down. I allow myself to get stuck in all the negative things said to me by someone or even by my own self. I allow frustrations to build. I become a prisoner of my mind in some cases.

Some days this can be unavoidable. I have an anxiety disorder. I don't talk about it often because so few people understand that, unless they themselves experience it. People want to tell me to "just breathe"  or "just think about something else" or "just pray" or "just don't let it get to you."

I wish it were that simple....but for me, it's not. It is what I call "the thorn in my side". In 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, Paul is speaking of some type of problem he has which he has prayed for God to take away, but it remains. We are never given a clear picture of what that might have been, but he referred to it as "his thorn in the flesh (or side)". Thus, I call my anxiety the thorn in my side.

I have asked God to take it. I hate it. It feels awful. It hurts because it is rarely understood and often misunderstood as to why I have it or who it makes me to be. And yet, God allows it.  And so I deal with it as it comes. It is more rare these days than it was ever before. I have learned a bit of what/who triggers it, but still, it is out of my control at times. A reminder to me that HE is in control. A reminder that He is my freedom and He gives me joy. A reminder that I am not in control. A reminder that He is the author of my life. And I can rest in that. He tells me in the book of James 1:

2-4 Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.
5-8 If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought.


  And so I pray through it. I run through it. And I am free from it. Even if it is a thorn in my flesh at times.

Free from anxiety-even when it is there I am still free. 

Free from my past. 

Free from sin.

Free from hurts.

Even in the midst of anxiety...

And when I run, and when I turn to Him on a regular basis, I am free.

Free to dream.

Free to love.

Free to laugh.

Free to be me. 

One day at a time. One breath at a time, even. I am free. When the world tells me that I can't, faith tells me I can. 

 Me and my running friend for today-my dog.