The Brain: Why are teens difficult?! My “adolescent brain” findings and how to support them in their awkward stages.

I have been away from the blog for quite some time.  It doesn’t mean that I haven’t been typing…..and thinking…just not in the scope of the “I am Rachel Kathleen” blog. I had to take a graduate course…to jump through … Continue reading

Do Something: Book review: “Kisses from Katie” & “Love Does” and how to see the world through a different lens, not worldly expectations.

I had some time to be in silence last week.  As I was in the quiet, I was reminded from a song, “Do something” by Matthew West, and two books that are all about acting on God’s call to live by faith.  I was reminded how important it is to MOVE, ACT and DO things for the causes of Humanity and also to express gratitude towards Jesus for all He has done for me.  Also, while listening to the song, I thought on two books that show living faith in action:  Kisses from Katie, By Katie Davis, and Love Does, By Bob Goff.

Matthew West Sings these Lyrics in “Do Something”:

I woke up this morning
Saw a world full of trouble now
Thought, how’d we ever get so far down
How’s it ever gonna turn around
So I turned my eyes to Heaven
I thought, “God why don’t you do something?”
Well, I just couldn’t bear the thought of
People living in poverty
Children sold into slavery
The thought disgusted me
So, I shook my fist at Heaven
Said “God, why don’t you do something!?”
He said, “I did, … I created you!”

These lyrics speak to a conversation that I have had with God on many occasions.  The conversation when I feel like I just couldn’t possibly help–or the one where things in the world seem so hopeless that I just feel helpless.  I just want to do something, and sometimes it seems like there is too much to be done! (I feel like this with laundry often too!)

But, there is always hope.
And God has a heart for children, the poor, the widowed, the fatherless.

Psalm 10:14,   “But you, O God, do see trouble and grief; you consider it to take it in hand. The victim commits himself to you; you are the helper of the fatherless.”

Proverbs 31:8, “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.”

James 1:27, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

Kisses from Katie, by Katie Davis and Love Does, by Bob Goff

Kisses from Katie, by Katie Davis and Love Does, by Bob Goff

And into the book review…There are two books that amazingly demonstrate the power of God through one person who decides to listen to His voice and act or “Do Something”.

In the book Kisses from Katie, it is clear that Katie Davis is one person who listened, acted in faith, and has made an impact.  It is not a story about how amazing Katie is…It is a story of what can happen to any of us if we choose to quiet ourselves, listen to God’s voice, and then act on God’s plan (not our own), regardless of what we think or others think.  Katie’s story is so incredibly encouraging because she follows God’s word and God’s plan and shares all of the glory of God and His work.  Her book and story is really God’s story that he offers to each of us–and is so encouraging to those of us who want to follow His lead.  No, I, Rachel, can not pick up, move to Africa and adopt 10, 12, 14 girls.  That is not the story God wrote for me.  But I can do what He asks me to do where I am at.

Also, Katie writes about the pull between her family–who are awesome, amazing and wonderful and Christian.  They are well intentioned, but had plans for her to follow the normal American Dream…graduate from high school, go to college and have a successful career.  She wanted to be a nurse. God still has given her opportunity to mend and tend to sick and poor people, but just not the dreams in the way in which her parents had imagined (or that she had imagined, for that matter).

As a parent of three, I have dreams and hopes for each of my kids.   I would love for them to experience education, success and wonderful things that I have experienced…or that I haven’t had the opportunity to experience!  However, reading Katie’s story, even with her “worldly potential” being valedictorian at her high school, etc…..all of the opportunities she would have to go to an amazing college, chances to be a huge success–she listened to God’s voice of His calling.  Not the world’s.  As a follower of Jesus, it is very important that I let my children follow God’s voice, support them with good questions and prayer, and trust that God knows what He is doing.

The second book that also speaks to the pledge to “do something”, as Matthew West puts it, is Love Does  by Bob Goff.  I have had the privilege of hearing Bob speak, which helped bring to life his voice in the book.  The book is written as series of stories from Bob’s life.  Some stories are extreme and crazy and many are hilarious! Each are examples of him stepping out in faith, or sharing what he has learned from Jesus.  Bob lives boldly and his vivid personality comes through!  I SO enjoyed each chapter (each chapter is a different story), I began to read them aloud to my offspring.  The youngers loved them and were challenged to think outside the box.  I also know for a fact, that Bob Goff WILL respond to your correspondence! One of my dear friends took the challenge to contact Bob.  They ended up going to lunch with him!

Both of these books have challenged me to live more boldly in my faith.  I highly recommend both and will definitely read them again.

I hope you are inspired to put your faith into action!
Here is a YouTube of Matthew West’s Song, “Do Something”:

Significance. Identity: Two jobs and the difference between…Why do things look better when you are looking back.

Recently, I got a job. Well, back up more than a decade when I was blessed with ‘the most important job’. Post a BS in Exercise and Movement Science, the will to work and not create more college debt, I … Continue reading

Control: A ‘real life’ example, how I feel when I don’t have it &thoughts on giving up more control

Do you ever struggle with letting go of control? What is your response to not having control?

Our impromptu mini ski vacation over Christmas presented me with some reminders about the word and practice of “control”.

We were invited to join another family to go skiing for a few days.  We had less than a week to plan, and we left the day after Christmas.

Both Husband and I skied a bit when we were younger.  After leaving “home” we each, separately took a few trips in college, and a couple more after being married, but the last decade and a half have been mostly void of skiing.  For us, I suppose it is like “riding a bike”–we were able to pick up where we left off, with a few conservative corrections on my part, testing out my newer ACL and such.  But all was great.

The kids on the other hand…had no previous experiences to rely on……

Watching our kids learn to ski had moments that- for this mom- were utterly painful.

First, we made mistake one.  After taking too long to get settled, we missed the first morning lesson and had to go for the 1pm.  “Well, we paid for these expensive lift tickets”…we weren’t going to waste time, or money…not our style…so we decided– instead of taking the time to hike up an incline with  12, 10 and 8 year old beginning skiers– we would just take them up the chair lift on the ‘bunny slope.’  It wouldn’t be too hard….right??

We all dismounted the chair and got to the right side of the lift.  And that is where we all stopped, for about…. well, 30 minutes, at least!

First, husband took our middle son.  He had the one-to-one ratio, which seemed a good idea.  I watched the struggle a little bit, but didn’t have much time to focus on those two, as my own ‘projects’ were stuck with me.  I had the oldest and the youngest.  Oldest is brave and a go-getter.  She is exceptionally balanced and takes risks as part of her nature.  She has done things at ages I still can’t believe (like zip line thousands of feet high, through the Costa Rican Rain Forest Canopy for more than a mile stretch at age 7), and her resilience led me to believe that this wouldn’t be bad.

Youngest, well he likes to “hit the ground running.”  I think when he was just under one year old, he literally did start life running, instead of walking.  He is also the youngest, so he likes to look at someone doing something (like ice skating recently) and just GO!  This usually proves in a fail, and a fall, but he gets up and goes again.

Despite these strengths, our first run of skiing was either comical, or terrifying.

First, the steepest part of the bunny hill was the top.

Second, none of our children understood our “wedge” conversation. None of them could stop.

Third,  the top of the slope was the most crowded, as everyone is getting off the chair, AND it is the most unpredictable slope since most everyone on that ski run are beginners.

Skip ahead 20 minutes.  My plans have failed.  Oldest daughter is forming tears.  Youngest son is on the ground and his tears, anger and  frustration surfaced 10 minutes ago.  I had candy bribes in my pocket and my supply is already exhausted.  I am out of ideas.  Husband and middle son are making their way down, unlike my troop.  I have stopped and actually prayed for new direction or language, or something…anything… several times.  I am now praying for no broken bones.  I am fully at a loss and have no control.

I have no control.

And let’s say, I didn’t become a better ski instructor under these circumstances.  I will confess: I became worse.

Oldest, she decides she is just going to have a go with it.  She starts slowly, in a tense, hunched stance, working her way across the hill.  Some of my instructions on “traversing the hill” are helping slightly.  She is actually moving.  She has been patiently waiting upon my word for quite some time and it is time for her to just go for it.  She is making progress.

Youngest and I are still stuck on the side of the mountain.  Every time we decide we will try to move, some beginning screeches to a stop right near us, or youngest gets his skis crossed again.  Honestly, my lack of control over his actions frightens me.  I think my tension is making him increasingly tense.  This, of course, is making things worse.

Then husband arrives at the top of the slope.  Angelic music chimes in my mind…and I think he may have a halo over his head.  I am so grateful.  I tell husband, “It is time for a new voice.”  My plans and words and ideas are not good ones, and I failed.  Youngest agrees. Mom failed.  I have to laugh, because it is true and I tell him so.  Trust dad.  He will get you down the hill.  And I have to turn my gaze down the mountain….ski toward the oldest who is still working her way down, and not watch the youngest.  I don’t want to see.  I don’t want to cringe…I just want to let go of control, pass it over to dad, and celebrate the success at the bottom of the slope.

Let go of control.

And honestly, after that first run, the kids were champs.  All three of them.  We decided that ski lessons with professional instructors were worth the money (and it wasn’t cheap, haha) and worth the few ski runs we could enjoy God’s beautiful creation together. And the kids amazed us. After three days they loved skiing.  After our first ski run, this felt like nothing short of a miracle. It was definitely an answer to prayer.

As they got progressively better, they took more risks.  They each increased their speed.  For this woman, turned mother, it is both wonderful and difficult to watch.  Something changed when I bore children into this world.  I feel like I have become a somewhat cautious wimp.  I want to let go of control and let them soar.  But I so want to make sure they are safe, unharmed, and warm and happy, too.  And every muscle in my body just tenses at times, and I just have to close my eyes.  In fact, even after riding chairlift after chairlift, I insist that they bar is brought down for safety every lift ride, and I just can’t help but put my hand over their lap, or hold their jackets.

Letting go of control over life, over others….giving up control is such a difficult process.

And I realize that much of what I struggle with is in an effort to hold onto control of my own life.  My own plans.

I am nervous with my husband driving…because I am not in control.

I’m frustrated when plans change…because I have lost control.

I cringe when my kids ride their bikes fast down a winding hill…because their decisions on when to turn or brake are out of my control.

There is something in the loss of control or the holding on so tightly to my own plans and my expectations, that reminds me of how much I still hold on to my own way and how uncomfortable it is to let go.  And it reminds me of how grateful I am for a heavenly father who LET’s me…URGES me… ASKS me to let go.  A Heavenly Father that says ‘Trust Me all who are weary and burdened’,  ‘lay down your burdens and give them to me’, ‘take my yoke upon you, for my burden is light’.  (Matthew 11v28-30)

You see….it is never easy to let go of control.  But control equals my own plans, and my own plans mean my own way, and my own way equals independence.  We consider Independence as a wonderful quality, particularly in this country, but independence means on our own.  And that includes on our own away from God.

I remind myself of how much I WANT to let go and give my plans–well intentioned or not…my way, and my burdens ALL to God.  That I actually have God in my life calling me to give it all over.  Live each day for Him, with Him and by His plan.   Let Him mold me, and make me into who HE wants me to be.  That is actually so very, VERY freeing!

I was driving in to work this morning, after having drafted this blog post and was thinking and praying on giving up control and I heard Tenth Avenue North’s song “Let it go…”  Another personal reminder of the reality of grasping for control (so much that our “knuckles have gone white”), and the beauty of letting it go and giving it to God (“life is waiting for the ones who lose control”).

Take a listen and join me in letting go….


Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? Romans 9:21

Surrender yourself to the LORD, and wait patiently for him. Do not be preoccupied with [an evildoer] who succeeds in his way when he carries out his schemes. Let go of anger, and leave rage behind. Do not be preoccupied. It only leads to evil. Evildoers will be cut off [from their inheritance], but those who wait with hope for the LORD will inherit the land.  Psalm 37v7-9

Stuff: Comments on material “stuff” we have, sacrifice, and how I messed up

images-3Sunday found us at church. In December, our church home highlights some of the “Hear the Cry” ministries we support, and talks about the gift catalog (gifts for foster kids, buying livestock for villages in poverty, etc).  Specifically, the church highlighted some children in Uganda that “aren’t just numbers.”  Then we had a guest pastor speak from a local church about fatherlessness and God as our amazing father.

It was yet another service where I felt both personally convicted to act on God’s pull and tug at my own decisions and my own heart. I also felt filled and encouraged for the week.

Afterwards, I went to pick up the youngest.
First, I stood in the wrong line and waited for him (the oldest son’s line, but he already left with Dad…habit!). Oops. Then, I redirected and found him in the correct room.

He walked out with a big, shiny, new nerf play gun. A shiny new toy.

This is where I … well … the scene was less than pretty.  Similar to scenes I may have witnessed between an angry parent and child in a grocery store parking lot….

“Um, you are donating that, right?”
“No, it’s mine! (excited, proud and happy!) “I used my tickets.”
“Oh, buddy…you can’t keep that. We need to give that away. We have Christmas AND your birthday is two weeks after!”

Insert slight explanation:  Husband and I had been cleaning the day prior.  In fact, we cleaned, dropped off at goodwill, consignment, traded games in, traded books in and generally were preparing for Christmas STUFF!  I was already feeling this deep growl of sickness inside from all of our STUFF.  I was already desiring simplification.  I felt like a worn down product of overconsumption.  And then we cleared some, got rid of some.  And then we went Christmas shopping.  We got a couple of gifts and talked of what the grandparents were gifting, and the “UGH!” and the claustrophobic feeling of hoarding “STUFF” was just feeling like it was making its way right back in.  A hostile takeover of STUFF about to hit our home!

And then the children in Uganda, and the talk of foster kids, and the fatherlessness, and the gift of Jesus in humble beginnings….

I kinda lost it.

So, we walked to the book table, and youngest….sweet, sweet youngest boy was proudly holding the new gun in one hand and a bag of Christmas jelly beans he had received in the other hand.  I walked to the book table to buy the book on fatherlessness, and a worship album.  Mommy needed to write a check.  I needed a pen.  The pen dropped on the ground right at the feet of my youngest…..and baby boy kicked it towards me.  His hands were too full of STUFF to bend and help.

Oh boy!  Watch out…here comes the object lesson!

“Your hands are too full of STUFF to help me out!!!””

or something like that….

And then the explanation in the car….the “I am trying to explain to you why I am so frustrated!”

“Honey, you don’t need that…it just doesn’t feel right to Mommy to walk OUT of church with something….I just feel like we should be walking IN to church donating something….”

…and “You see, this is what happens…we people get so bogged down with STUFF that we have to organize STUFF, clean STUFF, pick out the STUFF.  We just get so busy, we don’t have the HANDS, or the time to help out others.  We are too busy with our STUFF!!”

Oh, I was mad. I showed anger. Ugh.

Oldest has heard this.  She understands a bit.  She has 4 years on him and she has donated her toy she had received at church before.  She starts chiming in…supporting these concepts…at least in theory.

Oh my youngest son tries!  He suggests, “How about when we get something new, we give something away?!”

I see good in it…but the lesson isn’t over yet.  I retort, “Well, honey, you see…God wants us to give the stuff we DO want…He wants us to give where it hurts, where it is a bit of a sacrifice.  And He promises that He will bless us…with 100 times the blessing. But does that mean He will give us 100 guns when we give one??”

“No.” There are tears.

“You are right, but He might bless us with 100 times the joy that we had in getting that gift, when we see the look on the face of someone who doesn’t have any, and that kid is ecstatic to have that one thing!”

“And God wants us to give the things that do matter…things that actually kinda hurt to give away…”

Hearts are softening, including mine.

And this is where grace needs to step in.

You see, I am right on. I am surely right on when I look at myself in the mirror, too!  I, too, have so much STUFF.  I buy STUFF and gift STUFF and I actually covet STUFF.  Oh, STUFF has it’s grip on me…I am learning from my own object lesson.

But I am DECADES ahead of this sweet boy.
And I yelled.  And I got mad.  And there are tears. UGH UGH UGH.

So…we come to a point of understanding.

“We will earn things for others at church from now on.  You can keep this gun.  It’s yours.  I won’t guilt you.  You earned it and you didn’t know.  Its okay.  And I am sorry for yelling.  I was just frustrated with feeling like we should walk in with stuff to give, not walk out of church with stuff”

Oh, how I learned a lesson for myself!  I think God is talking to me, too!

Little man…he is good and he is okay.  He is a happy kid.

He still doesn’t know what to do with his gun.  We are now a few days later.

I keep telling him, it’s his to do what he wants with.  He is pulled between his head and his heart.  We have been praying. He brings it up…sweet baby boy.  He doesn’t know what to do.  But he won’t forget this story.  Whether he keeps the toy gun, or gives it away.  He won’t forget.  Youngest is pondering and thinking on what he should do.  I pray he has deep joy.  I pray he learns to give the tough things at an earlier age so it might be easier when he is older. God has his back.  I’m not worried!

So we shall see.  We will keep praying about it.

And I will now pray over and consider what to do with my stuff issue with STUFF.  God has a hold of my heart.

Thank you, Lord, for continuing to work on MY heart.

And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”  Luke 12v15

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.  Matthew 6v19-21