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On March 6th—the day after Melanie’s birthday and two days before Joel’s—my grandpa passed away. Nothing can prepare you for that moment suspended in time, that moment of loss that changes your life.

Most painful was being separate from my mom, my grandma, my brother, my sister. My heart yearned to be with them as they remembered Grandpa together and shed tears together.

Tonight, what really hit me, is that I’ll never see him again in this life. There is a hole left in my heart that can never be filled. Grandpa was special.

Grandpa was gentle. One of the deepest memories I have of Grandpa was of him as a shepherd. As far back as I can remember, my grandparents had sheep. The sheep would sometimes graze on a neighbour’s property up the hill and across the road.

I remember walking with him as he led the sheep down the lane. The shadows were long as the sun sank below the treeline. Any other time the sheep would run away from me, but they trusted Grandpa and they meekly followed him home. Sheep have always reminded me of Grandpa. They’ve always made me feel peaceful.

Grandpa was young at heart. I can hear his laughter now! Grandpa loved to tease and we loved to hate it. He had a song for each one of us grandchildren when we were little. Mine was “Rachel Dawn what’s that diaper you have on” sung to the tune of Delta Dawn.

“Grandpa!” I’d yell and then I’d stomp to show my disapproval. Grandpa’s eyes would twinkle, and his laugh would make me laugh too.

Grandpa was devoted. Grandpa was always there for his family and friends. Twice a year, while their health permitted it, my grandparents would make the two-day journey to see us. Nothing made Grandpa happier than being put to work. He grabbed a hammer and banged the trusses of our house together in the hot sun. He helped to wire our house, or he’d grab a shovel and work the garden.

Grandpa was a great teacher. My love of learning came from my Grandpa. It was his gift to me. When I struggled with math, he showed me the joy of numbers. He knew the balance of showing by example and encouraging. He lovingly tended his garden and taught my brother and me to grow massive pumpkins by nicking the vine and placing it in sugar water. In a moment I’m back there—the black, moist earth. The lush, green vines.

The memory that keeps coming back to me is one of walking with my grandpa. I loved to go with him when I was small.

“You walk so fast, Grandpa,” I said.

He chuckled. “One day you’ll walk faster than me.”

I couldn’t imagine that day. My feet crunched, crunched in the gravel as I took two steps for every one that he took. Maybe if I took big steps like Grandpa, I’ll be able to walk as fast as him, I thought. I stretched my legs and took great strides and we laughed together.

I’ll spend the rest of my life doing that—trying to walk like Grandpa did.

Grandpa

The Sunrise

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Photo credit: Datapro

Mothering is tough. It just is. I struggled with discouragement most of today. It was a beautiful day, but inside me was a storm. I was feeling overwhelmed by the bickering and grumpiness of 6 kids. I finally went for a long walk and talked to God and poured out all of my frustrations. The air, the sunshine, and the prayers cleared my head until I could face my family again.

I love being a mom, but I choose to love it. It’s not all sugar and spice. One thing that I’m grateful for is that I’m not alone. I have the support of family, friends, and readers. And most of all, I can rely on God’s promises. I was reminded of that again as I read this story from my dear friend Christine. Be blessed!

 

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I’m awake, but I don’t want to open my eyes.  I know what the day holds for this mama when she gets up. Laundry. Fussiness.  Dirty dishes. A grimy bathroom–lying in wait to greet me.

Despair.  I don’t want to move, yet I must.  I must fight. Maybe some time in the Word will refresh my soul.  The words I read are true and my mind knows it, but my heart is numb.  I read “His mercies are fresh every morning”

Now the stillness of morning is gone, and the children are rising like the sun. Bright. Ferocious. Intense. Tears are spilling on the floor over breakfast preferences, and little ones are refusing their mama.  I want to run.  Why is the fight so hard?  I know his mercies are afresh, why can’t I feel it?

I want hard evidence, I want to feel, I want to know His grace is sufficient.  I run.

Leaving my cares inside our little bungalow, I rush outside.  I feel urgency, maybe even panic.  Must feel, must know.  How do I know it’s even morning?  I can’t even see the sun rise.  Buildings all around block out its awakening and warmth.  I climb.  Must fight for joy and sanity.

I find a way.  Sure it’s not conventional but it will work.  Haphazardly, I climb on top of the freezer chest, balancing on two plastic containers.  Must find a way.  My body pulls my weight up, and I have made it. I can see the hard evidence.  I can feel the warmth.  I can see and know His promise.

I feel hope.  I don’t care what the neighbourhood thinks.  This country girl needs to pretend she’s not in the city.  I soak up the sunrise atop our small shed, and know that His Mercies are fresh every morning.

 “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

Lamentations 3:22-23

 

Photo credit: Jan Willem

Photo credit: Jan Willem

Today, as I think about my friends, I’m so thankful. I can’t imagine life without these women encouraging me and setting examples of strength and inner beauty.

Even though I am rich with good friends, I rarely have the chance to get away and just hang out with them. Life is busy with mothering and homeschooling, but an opportunity came up at the end of November for a weekend away with some of my closest friends. I didn’t turn it down.

It was a time of crazy hilarity and soul baring honesty. We shopped at thrift stores, went out for dinner, swam, ate lots of chocolate, stayed up late, and slept little. We prayed and sang. Laughed and cried.

Friendships like these don’t just happen. It take openness and humility and coming through trials together to ripen into deep life-long friendships. And it’s not an argument that kills a friendship, but the lack of forgiveness and understanding.

I always feel uncertain when a new friendships hits that place where there’s a misunderstanding or hurt feelings. Sometimes the friendship fizzles out there, but when there is forgiveness and healing, the friendship goes to another level and depth.

We are at the beginning of a new year and many of us are making resolutions to exercise more, eat healthier, quit a bad habit or cultivate a good one. All of these things are great, but here’s another resolution to consider, one that’s at the top of my list–be a true friend.

Wishing you a Happy New Year!

<3 Rachel
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Photo credit: Vjeran

Photo credit: Vjeran

Crazy. November was crazy. Many of you know that on November 1st, I set out to write an entire novel in one month. There were days that I felt like giving up, days that I was sure I couldn’t go on. But I kept on writing until the ache in my shoulders was a constant reminder of the task ahead of me.

I reached my goal and crossed the figurative finish line.

I was exhilarated and exhausted. I can’t describe how weary I was at the end of that month. I’d deprived myself of too much sleep, fresh air, and exercise. I’d tried to juggle running my home and homeschooling my six kids with writing for hours every day. It was just one month, though. I survived, and I’m grateful for what I was able to accomplish.

In the mist of it all, I discovered who my audience is–who I’m writing for. It’s women who love birth.

And this is where the pieces of my life fit together. I’d been working towards becoming a certified birth doula. I had taken courses, attended a birth, and read everything on birth I could get my hands on. But I thought I might have to give it all up, because I was also working really hard at becoming an author. I didn’t know if it made sense to try and do both. These two pieces of my life go together beautifully, though, now that I know my novels will center around doulas and midwives and women giving birth.

Yay!

I just added a new page on my website that gives some specifics on the doula work I’ll be doing. You can check out Cherishing the Moment Doula Services here.

I’ll be starting the long process of editing and rewriting my novel in January. My goal is to have it ready to submit to an agent at the end of 2015. And maybe one day–not too far in the future–you’ll see my labour of love in print.

Blessings! <3 Rachel

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Photo credit: thesaint

Perhaps November should be called national blog neglecting month. Has it really been three weeks since my last post?

At the end of last month, I told you that I was taking part in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) where hundreds of thousands of writers set out to write a 50,000 word novel during the month of November.

I’ve been writing like a maniac, often waking up at 5:00 in the morning in order to write for three hours straight before my kids get up. I take my computer with me to the church where my children take band lessons, cloister myself in the church nursery, and type away. Any chance I get, I’m writing.

I am eyeball deep in my manuscript with 45,000 words locked in the hard drive of my computer. (Yes, I did back it up!) My characters delight and horrify me by their decisions, and sometimes I can’t sleep while the story plays out in my mind. I’ve kept the goal before me: I will win NaNoWriMo this year!

But then some doubt entered my mind this week. What if I can’t reach 50,000 words before the 30th? What if I don’t finish my novel before the end of the month? There are so many responsibilities with homeschooling and raising a family. There are baby showers to attend and friends and family to connect with by email, phone, or in person. There are important things to do that don’t just go away because I have a goal.

I realized that it’s okay if I don’t win NaNoWriMo this year. I’m going to keep working on it. It’s still my goal, but even if I don’t “win” I still wrote almost a whole novel in one month.

Goals are important. Without a goal, I couldn’t have made it this far in my book. And like a friend reminded me this week: if you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time. But a goal is just that—something to aim at. It shouldn’t cause anxiety, guilt or disappointment.

The lesson God wanted to teach me this week is that time spent with the people I love is never wasted. Never.

 

There are few things more miserable than going to help a friend and then making things worse. And if there’s anyone who’s going to make that mistake, it’s going to be me. {Sigh.}

My misfortune happened at a work bee. I love work bees. The social gathering that’s more than just a gathering; we get to accomplish something together. I was there to help my friend move out of her trailer and get the trailer ready for her in-laws. We were cleaning and organizing and visiting and drinking tea. Is there a better way to spend a day?

“I’ve got a job for you, Rachel,” said Barb. “You can transfer my kids’ measurements from the wall to this height board. You like a challenge.” It’s true—I love a challenge, but my penmanship is sloppy and I was a little worried that I wouldn’t be neat enough.

I used a ruler to keep my lines straight, and carefully transferred each mark. It didn’t take long to finish, and it didn’t look too bad.

Barb’s mom cocked her head to the side and examined the board. “I didn’t know the kids were that tall.”

A tingle climbed the back of my neck. Something was definitely wrong. The heights were all a foot out!

The ladies assured me that the foot-markings could be changed, but they were big and written in permanent ink. No matter what, it was going to be a mess. I didn’t want them to groan every time they looked at the board for the next several decades and think of me.

I wracked my brain for a solution, but it was Barb’s mom that came up with the idea of flipping the board and redoing it on the back. I was just grateful for a solution.

I snuck the board home and spent that evening redrawing the lines and numbers and then measuring and copying the heights from the other side. I prayed for Barb while I traced the numbers and marked off each line. I prayed for her pregnancy and the house they are building, and then I prayed for each child as I copied their names onto the wood.

God knows that I needed that lovely, relaxing evening of prayer and meditation. I needed to slow down and be thankful for good friends and to remember that sometimes even mistakes pave the way to peace and prayer.

 

 

 

 

 

50,000 Words

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November is only two days away. Yes, I’ve been counting down the days. November is NaNoWriMo–or National Novel Writing Month. My goal, along with hundreds of thousands of others, is to write a 50,000 word novel in one month. Crazy? Yes. Exhilarating? Absolutely!

I took part in NaNoWriMo 2013 and wrote the rough draft of my novel Letting You Go. Okay, so I didn’t actually “win” because I only wrote 34,000 words during November. But, really, I did win because I came away with a story that I’m happy with–that I never would have written if I hadn’t challenged myself to do something crazy.

So here’s a little peek into Letting You Go. I need to do a lot of work on this book before it’s ready to submit to an agent or publisher, but I’m on a journey and loving it!

Blessings! <3 Rachel

 

Letting you Go–Overview:

Lillian leads a perfect life as a homeschooling mother to her three sons. Her life is shattered, though, when her husband David and their sons are killed in a mysterious accident. Lillian refuses to believe the evidence of David’s shadowy other life until she discovers a hidden fortune and an illicit affair.  She spirals into despair until she finds healing in the fostering of tiny, drug-addicted babies Sophie and Timmy, but her wounds are opened again when Timmy is incomprehensibly ripped from their family. Hurting for Sophie and in agony over her own loss, Lillian must learn to forgive, and to love the birthmother who seeks to reclaim Sophie.

 

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