Thankful

  

I have been traveling through a rough season lately. I have had to make hard decisions and stick to them even when I felt conflicted in my mind or my heart. They have been taking turns you see. 

I have had to say goodbye to one of my favorite students as she and her awesome momma have moved on to bigger and brighter things. I have snuggled with sniffly, coughing, snot-faced littles who miss their momma, and held a weeping precious angel who misses her daddy who is in heaven. My heart has had a lot of practice staying tender while also being strong. Life can sometimes feel like a three ringed circus. 

As I drove to work yesterday morning in the wonderful holiday traffic all of this, along with the fact that this will be the first Thanksgiving in my whole life I won’t see or at least talk to my dear grandpa hit my heart like an avalanche. ( I miss him so much as I wrote this I had to stop and dry my tears so I could see to continue.) I wept. Jesus wept with me and I felt it. 

It is important not to fight the tears when they come. For so long in my life I fought tears. I hid them. I suppressed them. I tired to eat food to keep them inside. I never wanted anyone see them. You see, I feel broken and weak when I weep and the thought of allowing anyone to see me that way was inconceivable. I have learned what a clever lie from the pit that way of thinking is. It left me broken. It left me alone. It left me wounded. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” How can I be comforted if I never allow anyone to comfort me?! 

This season is hard, this battle is real, but it is also littered with so much beauty. I am already finding so many treasures Daddy God has hidden for me during this season. I am experiencing an ever growing awareness of how loved I am, how incredible my family is, and how many amazing friends I have. I am also more and more aware of how much I have to be deeply grateful for. It is almost as if I was blind and now I see. Love is real and I am surrounded by it.

That is what God does you know? He surrounds you with goodness, joy, hope, beauty, kindness, faithfulness, peace, gentleness, redemption, restoration, life, light, and love. So. Much. Love.

I am so thankful. Life is beautiful. God is so deeply good.

Here is something to chew on besides turkey today: what are you not seeing in your life that you should be grateful for? What goodness has God put in your life that you don’t see? If you cannot see it ask Him to give you eyes to see. He is faithful and He will.

Happy Thanksgiving. May you all know how blessed you are.

©Rachel Anne Redfield 2015

Breaking

Beauty4AshesMy heart is broken. Someone else has a heart that is broken too. I am responsible for that. It really is that simple. I never wanted that to happen. I am sad that I have hurt him and even though he hurt me first it doesn’t matter. I take no solace in harming another person. It was unavoidable. It was inevitable. There was nothing else I could have done differently. It matters not. I hurt him, and I am sad. I am sad and I am sorry.

What a mess.

Messes are tricky. They are a difficult thing to deal with. Sometimes a mess can be so big that one does not know where to begin to even clean it up. I have learned that in such cases it is best to just start. It dose not matter where. Just start cleaning.

I know that I have made the right decision. I know that it was what needed to be done. I know he and I will recover and it is for the best. I know all of this yet still there is an aching in my chest. I feel a bit like Lash from Marvels Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has attacked. (All the nerds out there will understand. For the rest of you just imagine a monster put a big hole in my chest.)

out-of-the-ashes1I am aware that I am on the right path and that I have a bright future. I am surrounded by so much love. God is so deeply good. I could try and run away from the pain. I could try and stuff it all down, not talk about it and eat fried food and chocolate until it stops, but I am not going to do that.  I am going to feel the pain. I am going to walk through the pain. I am going to live through the pain. This time as I face heartache I am going to make a different choice. I am going to talk about it. I have talked about it. I am almost sick of hearing myself talk about it, but I need to. If I am going to heal and move forward with life I need to talk about it.

Having a broken heart sucks. Breaking someone’s heart sucks. It is a lot to process. It is a lot to make peace with. Still in the midst of all of this I am learning:

“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” -Psalm 34:18

“He heals the brokenhearted, binding up their wounds.” -Psalm 147:3

I am learning how to connect with God in a way that I have never experienced before. I feel loved by God, by my family, and my friends and it is real. Love is real and for the first time in my life I feel it. I knew people loved me in my head, but my heart wasn’t so sure. I had a duel going on inside of me. That duel has been settled and love has won. I no longer feel alone in this life. I have never felt that way before. Ever.  It never ceases to amaze me how God can bring such breathtaking beauty put of such breathtaking devastation.

He is a good good Father.

a-crown-of-beauty©Rachel Anne Redfield 2015

What If…?

What if…

What if I had done this, or said that? What if this had not happened? What if this had happened instead? What if I never…? What if I always…?

Chances are that if you are a human with a conscious mind you have had these thoughts. I have in my life been plagued by these thoughts. I have come to realize that this track of thought is a trap. Taking inventory of mistakes is important so that I can learn from them. It is valuable for me to comb through the mess I have made and see where things went wrong, however the moment that I take those mistakes and say what if… Boom! The trap is sprung!

It is so easy to go about life and forget that there is an enemy out there roaming around seeing whom he may devour. I forget this all the time. I don’t forget this because I don’t know it, nor do I forget it because I haven’t known the attacks first hand. I forget because I am reasonable and logical. Reason and logic are useful tools but are often at odds with the realm of faith. I get so wrapped up in what is right in front of my eyes that I forget there is a world unseen.

I recently went through quite the life event. I chose to begin a relationship. At first it was wonderful but pretty soon there were more than a few bumps. Looking back I can now see that there were warning signs long before that. There were little knocks on my heart; checks in my spirit like blinks from the lighthouse on the shore that there was danger ahead. I ignored all of that chalking it up to apprehension, fear and inexperience. Maybe there was nothing to worry about. Maybe it wasn’t moving too fast and getting too intense too soon. Maybe I was feeling anxious about the pace of things because I was afraid of getting hurt. I was afraid of getting hurt after all. That is partly why I haven’t dated before this point in my life. Fear. Fear that it would turn out just like it did.

You know you would think that after everything I have learned about self fulling prophecy in regards to my weight I would know better but apparently not. Back in high school when I was the weight and size I am now I used to feel and think that I was the size and weight I eventually became. You become what you behold. Anyway I digress…

I was always afraid that if I ever allowed myself to fall in love that I would get my heart broken. I finally came to a point in life where I was willing to risk my heart being broken by allowing myself to possibly fall in love. I met this man who seemed like he might be okay so I gave it a chance. He seemed to really be interested in me. I had never experienced anything but rejection and he was pursing me, and he was so sure I was the one. He had a past, but who doesn’t? Anyway I do believe in redemption so as long as a person is open and humble about their past then that shouldn’t be a barrier. Unfortunately he wasn’t completely honest about everything and as is always the case with secrets it came to light. I had been lied to by the man I had fallen in love with. I was devastated. I confronted him. It was over. It was hard. He tried to explain, and I was willing to consider giving another chance but after seeking the Lord and counsel it became crystal clear that was not what God wanted. After the first initial shock I began digging around myself, and found out some other things… It really was over.

My heart was broken. He was not honest with me, and I could no longer trust him. He seemed so genuine. I thought… well you know.  My heart is still broken. I am very aware that I am single now and the holidays are coming. Awesome.

So now I am combing through the ashes trying to figure out where it went wrong so that I can learn all I need to from this mess, and as I have done this came the questions: What if…?

What if I am making a mistake?

What if I am wrong?

What if no one else ever comes along?

What if I end up alone?

What if I never have children?

So I did the only sensible thing. I took these questions to my Daddy. I also ate some chocolate. This is how the conversation went:

What if I am making a mistake?

-I told you no. Why would listing to Me be a mistake?

Well duh. That one was just ridiculous. I’m sorry.

What if I am wrong?

-You are not wrong. I told you I would confirm  it. I did remember?

Yes.

What if no else ever comes along? He is the only person who has ever pursued me. What if I end up alone? What if I never…

-Stop! Don’t give into fear. Can’t you see that you are allowing the voice of fear into your head? You are allowing something more dangerous to take root in your mind as well: doubt. That question is a trap. You are allowing doubt to come in and to limit your understanding of my goodness. My goodness has no limits! Rachel my darling daughter my goodness toward you has no limits.

——

Wow. That was a moment. Mind blown.

Did you catch that?! God’s goodness has no limits! God’s goodness toward His beloved children has NO LIMITS!!

“Ask, and you will be given what you ask for. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened. For everyone who asks, receives. Anyone who seeks, finds. If only you will knock, the door will open. If a child asks his father for a loaf of bread, will he be given a stone instead? If he asks for fish, will he be given a poisonous snake? Of course not! And if you hard-hearted, sinful men know how to give good gifts to your children, won’t your Father in heaven even more certainly give good gifts to those who ask him for them?” -Jesus (The Sermon on the Mount)

He is a good good Father.Fly

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

©Rachel Anne Redfield 2015

No Means No.

imageThere is a little boy in my class (we’ll call him “Davey”) who doesn’t seem to know what no means. In fact there are several kids in my class who need to be asked the question: “What does no mean?” at least once a day by me or one of the other teachers. Anyway, Davey has a particular problem with this word no. To Davey the word no seems to mean burst into tears and throw your body on the ground until the grownups give in to your every whim. It also seems to mean make an angry face, pout in the corner, negotiate, argue, kick the furniture, yell at your teacher and tell her she is not pretty… You get the picture. He doesn’t like to hear the word no.
In Davey’s defense he has come a long way in a short time and he is learning that when one of us says no we are not insulting his immortal soul, or rejecting his very being, we are just saying no. Some things that children think would be super fun would in fact maim, poison, or destroy them completely which would totally suck.
For example there are bushes that grow along the fence in the play area. These bushes are slightly toxic. Sometimes the children want to pick the berries, and leaves and eat them. We teachers say no to this activity as it could lead to diarrhea, vomiting, and a possible visit to the hospital to get your stomach pumped. Super fun! No. Also not as fun as it seems to a four year old: Running into the street! Look at all that wide open space to run!! Awesome!! NO!!! You see we grownups know that the cars that use those roads will run you over and destroy your body. Therefore running around in the street is not allowed.
I was seeking the Lord recently about something. It was something I wanted Him to say yes to, and I thought He would. I really didn’t expect Him to tell me no, but He did. In fact He told me no louder and stronger than He has ever told me no in my entire life. Not only did He tell me no, but He confirmed that no several times even though I did not ask Him to. It was a big fat no. Huge. Galactic. That no was hard to live out. In fact that no broke my heart, but I knew that it was something I could not ignore.
imageSometimes obeying God is hard. Sometimes I want to eat the poison berries because it just loos like it would taste good. I mean they are red! Red is sweet like strawberries! NO!!!! You will puke and die! Stop it!
I don’t know about you but sometimes when God tells me no I act like Davey. I freak the freak out! I have even been known to kick a couch or two. Okay maybe not literally, but still. I can see how there are so many times in the past both recent and distant where Abba being the good Daddy that He is, told me no and rather than accept it and move forward I negotiated, argued, kicked, screamed, etc, and basically threw a tantrum the size of Jupiter. Part of the reason I did this is because like Davey I didn’t understand. Another part of the reasons is that I can be a bit of a control freak. Yet another reason (and the biggest one at that) is that I felt rejected when God told me no. I thought no meant something else.
No means no. No dose not mean I don’t love you. No does not mean I don’t want you to be happy. No does not mean I do not want you to have fun. No does not mean I don’t want you to see your dreams come true. No dose not mean I want you to be shattered. No simply means no. No means I love you. No means I want you to be happy. No means I want you to have fun. No means I want your dreams to come true. No means I want you to be whole.
God can see the whole picture. God’s perspective is vast! He loves me more than any human being ever has or will. If God is saying no then there is a reason. I know God is good, so if He says no then that reason is good. Not only is that reason good but it is for my good! I don’t say no to my students because I am a jerk, I say no because I want them to remain healthy, alive, happy, and so they can learn. Honestly sometimes I say no because I am tried, or I have cramps, so maybe sometimes I am a little bit of a jerk, but I am human. Thankfully God is better by far than I.
No means no. Accept it. It is yet another way that God is a good Father.
No is love.
No means no.

©Rachel Anne Redfield 2015

Stuck

Do you ever feel stuck? Do you ever think that no matter how hard you try to move forward it just seems like you are spinning your wheels? I feel that way. All. The. Time.

Here’s the question I keep asking myself: Are you really stuck because you are actually stuck, or are you stuck because you aren’t really trying to move forward? In other words; maybe I am stuck because I am only doing enough “trying” to appear to be trying. If I appear to be trying I have an excuse or evidence that I am trying but I am not actually really for real trying to move forward.

I think that pretty much sums up the last decade of my life. I have been trying… sort of. I recently had someone who loves me tell me that I have the emotional maturity of someone in thier early twenties. This may not seem that bad, but I am in my early thirties. Ouch. I was hurt and slightly annoyed. I didn’t think that it was true. I shared this with a few people (like two) and they didn’t think that was a fair assessment of my maturity, but I have come to realize that in some ways that is quite accurate. I am pretty immature in some ways… perhaps even in many ways. Am I trying? Yes. Am I doing my best? No. No I am not.

The other day one of my students was working on a coloring page. He chose one color and wildly scribbled all over the page and then brought it to me. I asked him if he had done his best work, or if he had done his fastest work so he could go play with toys as fast as possible. He admitted to the latter. I then asked him to write his name, take his time and do his best work. He did. That was the first time he had written his whole name that I have ever seen. I was so proud of him!

This got me to thinking if when it comes to my emotional growth if I am doing my best work and taking my time, or just breezing through it as fast as possible so I can do other things. The problem with breezing through it is that the details get missed. When it comes to emotional maturity and character details matter a lot.

I think one of the reasons that I have been stuck is that I have refused to really let people in. I have been trying to do everything myself. I have been letting people in just enough that I could fake it. You know pretend that I am healthy when in truth I am not really as healthy as I want to appear.

I have realized that although I have been mentored and been through intense decsiplship I have never really dug deep. I haven’t really let anyone see the big terrible awful stuff I was terrified to let anyone see. The problem with that is that no one really knew me. Not letting anyone really see you has its benefits you know? That way when someone shares a truth with me that I don’t like I can just say, “Well they don’t really know me.” Or, “They don’t know everything, they don’t understand where I am coming from, or what I have been through.” It is a really convenient way to lie to myself. If I never fully open up then I always have this clever little cushion to lay my head to delude myself. That way I am thinking I am doing pretty good when in fact I am knee deep, stuck in the muck of emotional turmoil. Emotional turmoil sucks.

Very recently I went through a really dark time and I  descended into madness. I self medicated, and withdrew from all the people who love me the most. Then I got involved with somethings I shouldn’t have and made a pretty decent mess. I realized that I was in over my head and I asked for help. I was afraid to ask for help. That is not my traditional way of approaching life crisis but this was a pretty epic mess and I thought I needed a different approach.

With this trial I didn’t pull away. This time even though I was embarrassed and dare I say even humiliated and felt very foolish I went to church. I faced my friends even though life had flung mud on me and I was lower than ever I experienced love like never before.

As I wept my eyes out I was held, and others wept with me. I was quite literally surrounded and comforted. I was prayed for over and over even though all I had done was stand there and weep. It was amazing. I have realized through this trail how much I am loved. Like real, in your face, deep, pure, sturdy love. I have been supported, encouraged, and bathed in prayer.

A few days later I did something I thought once to be impossible. I shared my big terrible awful pain with two dear friends. I was afraid to open my heart and let them see the wound there. I was afraid that the ugliness of how it felt would be too much. I thought that if I told them it would change how they saw me, or worse that they would love me less. They didn’t. They embraced me in my deepest darkest hurt and loved me, cried and prayed with me and told me I am not alone. It changed me. That moment did something to my heart that has never happened to it before. The light of God’s love began to shine in what was before the darkest place with in me.

I feel different. I feel stronger. I feel a need to rise up from all that I have been stuck in and allow others to help me grow beyond the pain and turmoil. I want to be made whole. I want to allow God to work through these amazing things called relationships and allow my heart to be free of the shackles that have entained it for so long. Trusting people is  scary but it is the only way to really heal from some wounds, maybe even most wounds. I suppose I could do it alone, but so far it seems to be the long way. Also going it alone is, well lonely. God never meant for us to do this thing called life alone. Through this trail I have learned that I am not alone. I have an incredible family, and extended family.

I have amazing people in my life and I am grateful. My heart is still broken, but it is healing. Let people in. It will change your life.

Cafe’

Can you imagine how it feels to be sitting alone in a cafe’? 

All the couples. All the families sitting together chatting. I sit alone with my breakfast and my coffee with… my iPhone.

I watch young men and women carrying two mugs to thier tables. I carried one. 

I don’t want to carry one anymore. 

Recently I got a small taste of what it would be like to share my life with someone. He turned out to be a liar, but still there were aspects of my time with him that I miss. I knew I was single before. I felt single before, but now I feel… Like an island in a sea of happy couples. I feel alone. 

I know I have many people who love me, and I am not really alone. Still I sit here in this cafe’ alone. I will walk into church here in a few minutes alone. I will eat dinner tonight alone. I will go on my walk this evening alone. I am sad.

I know that, that relationship was not the best for me. I know that everyone believes that there is something better out there for me. I want to believe it too. I want it to be true. 

I am going to choose to trust my loved ones more than I trust myself and believe that it is true even though right now it feels so impossible. 

I am going to finish my mocha and go to church and sing praises to my maker with everything I have in me. I won’t sing because life is perfect, but because even though I have a broken heart God is still so very good. Even though I am alone (so to speak) God is still good. Even though I am sad God is still good. Even though I am single God is good. 

It is well with my soul. 

-R. 

 ©Rachel Anne Redfiel 2015

Waves 

I am not sure if I can explain. I am not sure if any of it will make sense, but I feel compelled to release the words anyway.

I have a chemical imbalance in my brain, and that makes life tricky sometimes. Depression is the clinical term for it but I think of it more like an ocean of despair. I am the shore. I cannot escape this ocean no matter how I may wish to. My entire life I have been plagued by its waves. Sometimes they are gentle, and other times they are a tsunami.

How does one explain to a person with normal brain chemistry what this is really like? I cannot. For many, many years now I have chosen silence. As the years went on the silence was unbearable so I began a road of self medicating. Fried food and sugar were my drug of choice. French fries, ice cream, chocolate bars, cheese burgers, chips, Mac and cheese, cookies, oh and did I mention ice cream? So much ice cream. If it had sugar, cheese, grease, or cream I was all about it. I once ate and entire cake all by myself in one day. A whole cake. *face palm*

Eventually that wasn’t enough so, then there was television, movies and video games. When that was no longer enough I tried pot. Pot is great. It is fun. No matter what you read, or hear pot rules. However it is not for me. I do enjoy its effects, I mean who wouldn’t enjoy traveling to another galaxy and tasting colors? Although it was loads of fun and all, I need to be present on this planet and in my right mind to actually experience life, so I put the joint down and moved on with my life. I admit when things get dicey I sometimes temporary forget that I learned that lesson and descend into madness for a short time, but eventually I remember and return to earth. I wish I were not so weak. I wish I were not a dog that returns to my vomit, but alas much to my dismay; I am human. I muck things up royally form time to time.

This past year the ocean threw at me a tsunami and unfortunately I revisited all of my old habits and tried a new one: Drunkenness. Also fun. Also vanity, or vomit. Both are accurate descriptions of what it was. I have decided I do not wish to become an alcoholic any more than I wish to become a stoner, a food addict, or return to being a nearly five hundred pound couch potato.

Life is unpredictable. Some say life is a bitch and then you die. I find this to be an unsatisfactory description of what life is. I think that the type of person who embraces this outlook likely chooses to themselves become a bitch who will eventually die, and therefore views all things this way. I personally do not want to go through life being angry, rude and unhappy, all the while blaming life, the world, and/or the universe for my misery as I wait for, and embrace the inevitable oblivion of death.

I think life is many things. Life is messy, chaos, fun, glory, despair, bliss, loss, discovery, adventure, risky, rewarding, wonder, terror, ecstasy, disappointment, joy, new, familiar, disgusting, delightful, dark, radiant, beauty. Life is life. Life cannot be summed up in one cynical sentence, nor can it be defined by a single failure, or victory.

Have I made mistakes? Yes. Have I succeeded? Yes. Have I made bad choices? Yes. Have I made right choices? Yes. Should I have had pretzels and a Heresy’s chocolate bar for breakfast? No probably not. Was is delightful? Yes. Yes it was.

Sometimes I can rail against the waves. Sometimes it is easier to surrender to them. Living with depression is never ever going to be easy. Also pretending that I don’t live with it will not make it so. I have a chemical imbalance in my brain called clinical depression. I have a mental illness. However I am not defined by this. I walk this life wounded, slightly broken, but I like life I am many things. I am not depressed. I am not depression. Sometimes I am not okay. Sometimes I am just okay, and sometimes I am fabulous. I hope that the fabulous far outweighs its opposite, but only time will tell.

Waves will come, and waves will go. Life will be life. I will be me and through it all God will love me.
-R.
© Rachel Anne Redfield 2015

Me and the Ocean