HerStory: Meet Rachel

Rachel1

Rachel is my absolute oldest friend. We’ve known each other since we both moved into neighboring circa 1960’s tri-level homes around age 5, the makings for an immediate friendship in our corner of a mundane Northwest Indiana suburb. We also were in church and AWANA together (she rocked the crazy purse night), had sleepovers where we stayed up until dawn watching movies and playing school (she always had to be the teacher) and had our very own neighborhood mystery club where we looked for clues to non-existent crimes.

Everything she did, she did with passion and resolve. She was Jessica Wakefield; chatty, optimistic and boy-crazy and I was Elizabeth; serious, responsible and studious (catch that reference, anyone?). Her wall was covered with posters of Gone With the Wind and she knew the lyrics to every single Amy Grant and Micheal W. Smith song by heart.

We were only slightly competitive; she chose the same Honey Bunny pink glasses after I did (imitation is the sincerest form of flattery) and we had Ariel sing-offs in her aunt’s pool, but our life long devotion was sealed in blood when we picked our scabs to become “blood sisters.” Bless our hearts. And just eww.

We stayed in touch after I moved out of town, and then out of state, and now we find ourselves living just 30 minutes apart. It’s such a gift to have a friend that has shared memories almost from the beginning of life.

I’ve watched her grow into maturity in the Lord and leadership. She mentored the same group of young women for years, was an influential teacher and led several trips to other countries. I look up to her for her tenacious love in action as she brings all her gifts to her marriage, pre-teen step sons and baby daughter.

Meet my oldest friend, Rachel.

What is your story in a few sentences?
I made a decision to follow Jesus at an early age and have tried to do just that ever since.  There were times it was hard (like when I knew He was calling me to teach in China) and times life wasn’t turning out like I had anticipated (like when my younger sisters got married and had babies while I remained single), but through it all God proved himself faithful- even when I wasn’t.

What is God teaching you right now?
Trust, trust, trust. It seems like this is something He’s always teaching me, which leads me to believe I still need to learn a lot! Raising a teenager in our current culture has tried my husband and me. We have to keep trusting God to help us make good parenting choices and trust His love for our teenager is greater than our own!

What can’t you live without?
The shallow answer to this question is backrubs. Seriously. I crave them.

What’s your day job?
Taking care of my family: my husband (who works a full-time job, an Army job, and owns a business), my two step-sons (going into 9th and 7th grades), my 10- month-old daughter, and the little baby growing inside me right now. This is a huge change from the 12 years I spent as a single woman and public school teacher!

If you could outsource one chore/task, what would it be?
This is a tough question. Maybe laundry. It never ends and I feel like I’m constantly running up and down the stairs changing out loads, hauling baskets up and down, etc. Or maybe I’d pick cooking. I don’t enjoy it, but the family has to eat. I just wish they didn’t have to eat every day! Ha!

Reflections on mothering:
It’s hard. It’s repetitive. I feel like I live the same life every day and sometimes I get tired of routine. For me, it’s also been very lonely. I’m home by myself with the baby all day in a town where there’s not much to do. Some days I miss my freedom and my social life terribly, but not as often as I would have expected to. As challenging as it is, it is also the most wonderful and rewarding experience of my life! My daughter’s face lights up when I get her out of her crib every morning! She gives me these slobbery, open-mouth kisses, that just make me melt! To her, I’m her whole world and I love getting to be there for her. Step-mothering, however, is a whole different ball game, and in a lot of ways is even harder. It’s not an innate love with step-kids. I’ve had to learn and grow to love them and respond lovingly even when the feelings aren’t there. I have to remind myself often that my husband loves them the same way we love our daughter and I have to act on that.

What would your friends say about you?
My friends would say I like to laugh and I have a good sense of humor. They’d also tell you that I’m pretty competitive when it comes to board games, and if you come to my house, you’ll have to make sure there’s a coaster under your glass. I’d rather go out with one or two friends than see a bunch of friends together at a party.

Are you afraid of anything?
I am afraid of losing people I love: my husband, my kids my sisters, my parents… Sometimes if I even think about it, I start tearing up.

Chocolate or Vanilla?
Chocolate. But not just plain. It needs something with it–caramel, peanut butter, mint…

Talk about your obsession with old movies, etc.
Ok, I’m not sure I’d call it an obsession. Ha! My mom loves old movies, and she introduced my sisters and I to a lot of them – old musicals too! My parents were pretty strict about movies growing up. There was a “three strikes” rule where if a movie had three swear words, my mom would turn it off. Old movies don’t have swear words (hardly ever) nor do they have scenes that would make one blush! Even now most of my favorite movies are oldies! I can’t wait to introduce my own kids to such classics like Pollyanna, Meet Me in St. Louis, and The Sound of Music.

And being a Christian music fan in the 90s.
Like the movies, my folks were strict on music. I remember buying a Janet Jackson single (not even the whole album) and my parents FREAKED! So I listened to a lot of Christian music. And now that’s mostly what I listen to! I thought my parents were SO STRICT, but now I get it. There are a lot of messages in secular music that are contrary to what God teaches. I don’t think all secular music is bad (I love my Sarah McLachlan), but music has a way of sticking in your head and re-playing itself throughout the day. I want to be selective in what’s running through my mind all day.

Heat or cold?
I hate winter. Like, REALLY hate. But here’s my take: you can always put more clothes and layers on, but there’s only so much you can take off. So if my choice is a room set at 90 degrees or 50 degrees. I’d pick 50, as long as blankets, mittens, and hot chocolate were available!

Impactful book(s) in your life?
Other than the Bible (that being the #1 book), it would probably be some Beth Moore studies I’ve done. Also, as an adult I’ve re-read The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis numerous times (many times to my students), and I’m always amazed at what God has to teach me through this series of children’s books. I feel like every time I read them, God reveals something new about His character to me.

If you had an unlimited budget and a free weekend, what would you do?
By “free weekend,” do you mean, “Let’s pretend your baby is weaned and you can actually leave her longer than a few hours??” Because that would be awesome!! I would want to escape somewhere with my husband — somewhere along the water with a quaint little downtown, unique shopping, and gourmet meals!

What’s on your bucket list?
More travel! I’ve hit five continents so far (the benefit of remaining single until 33 meant lots of freedom to travel the world), and I’d like to see one more. Antarctica isn’t really on my list, so I’ll be content to not get to all seven! There are SO MANY places to see and cultures to experience. A lifetime isn’t long enough.

What’s your advice for young women?
Don’t wait to start your life until you’re married. Who knows how long you’ll be waiting? Instead, get out there and enjoy the gifts you’ve been given! I lived overseas, had a career, traveled the world, and bought a house– all before I met my husband! My single life was very fulfilling and I’m so glad I had those experiences!