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Peace Seeker: Screaming in the Silence

Have you ever been talking, somewhat loudly, and all of the sudden- it gets quiet. Still. And your voice is the ONLY one.

*raises hand*

This has happened so many times. I mean, honestly, you would think I would just learn to be silent. But if you’ve not figured this out, please learn it now: I was not created to be silent.

So here I go, at the encouragement of a random Instagram quote and a friend, I am stomping into a room filled with mostly silent people. And I am not being quiet.

http://www.marchofdimes.org says this: “Miscarriage (also called early pregnancy loss) is when a baby dies in the womb before 20 weeks of pregnancy. For woman who know they’re pregnant, about 10 – 15  in 100 pregnancies (1-5%) end in miscarriage. As many as half of all pregnancies may end in miscarriage. We don’t know the exact number because miscarriage may happen before a woman knows she’s pregnant.”

It seems like a small percentage, I mean 1 to 5%.. that seems so small.

I have had 3. 2 at the 11 week mark, 1 very early. And a stillborn.

As I type this blog, Monday August 6th, 2018, I am recuperating from an early morning surgical procedure because I was just pregnant again. And again, I “lost” it. (Honestly, such an awful way to word that. As if it’s misplaced!)

Pregnant again. Some of you are shocked. Yep, so was I. Some of you have opinions about it, keep them to yourself. Or if you must, write them down, then burn it.

My silence on this blog page has consisted of me in real life trying to accept this and be a mom while being constantly nauseated, while riding the emotional roller coaster that comes along with being pregnant 6 months after a still birth.

My silence here has been me complaining to a few close friends. Expressing my shock and frustration.

Last week as I sat in the doctor’s office and answered all the nosy questions, chatted about the very real risks I was facing, I had a sense. She could not find a heartbeat and ordered an immediate ultrasound. Again, the tech was easy to read and I knew there was an issue.

As I waited impatiently to be given the results, I could feel myself slowly shut down. And that has not changed much.  This is an honest post and some of you may feel you don’t like it, and that’s okay. It is not written to hurt feelings, it is written to cause awareness.

As I read the news later this morning, I saw Carrie Underwood is coming under fire for her statements. Along with being one in so many woman who has suffered multiple losses, there has been fertility issues. I had two miscarriages before I had Callan.  There is an almost 4 year gap between my boys.

To a stranger who asks, I do not reveal all my heartache. I simply say (if they say something about the age gap), “this is how it happened” and I shrug.

I do not understand infertility to the extent some do. But my heart hurts for them. I admire them for moving forward in the pain that they do experience. The grieving they must do.

To the room of women I am blasting into here: I GET IT.

I get it. 

And no, if you do not have the courage or “want to” to share your struggle publicly, THAT IS OKAY!

In fact, it is more than okay. THIS is your story, your pain, and you choose how to handle it. I hope you have ones you love who are getting into their muck boots and walking with you. Lovin’ on you whether you’re happy or sad, or riding the rollercoaster of grief and aren’t sure which emotion you’re in.

I have “lost” (THAT WORD IS MAKING ME MAD!) more babies than I kiss goodnight.

I have buried a stillborn. I am acquainted with grief, with anger, with pain, with loss.

Miscarriages are common. If you’re stuck in your grief and feeling alone, email me.

I GET IT.

Going public with your experience may not be something you can do, but when you hear of a mom at church who has, reach out.

Some of the greatest encouragement I received this time is from 2 women I have actually never met in person.

Love people where there are, not everyone is as open and honest about their pain.

In fact, I am not even always. Even I struggle to let people see me where I actually am, because I fear their response. And ladies, that’s awful.

We told very few people. We announced the loss publicly because whatever is past broken and numb is where I am currently existing.

I don’t need pity. I need love and encouragement. Maybe chipotle. I need gummies (Seriously,  I can’t get enough of them!!!) I need crappy tv and friend or two who can make me laugh or sit and watch crappy tv. I need sleep. I need rest. I might need help.

I need love. It’s an action word.

I am not begging. I have ladies who have loved on me. A friend did some shopping for me. Another is bringing a meal. A surprise basket of goodies for my boys, plate of cookies, and a fun bag for me greeted us when we arrived home this evening. People I didn’t know even knew.

L O V E

Chances are, in whatever you face, you are not alone.

Maybe this post has been more about me letting out my feelings. Maybe this isn’t even making sense.

I feel somewhat better.

And despite being a rebel, I am following doctor’s orders. (Mostly)

As always, with love,

Rachelle 

P.S. I was serious. If you have suffered miscarriage, multiple ones, or still birth and you feel alone, I am here. I get it. I will feel alllllll the emotions right along with you. Currently my love will be reading and replying and sharing life but depending on your location, I will do my best to turn that into an action word. YOU ARE NOT ALONE. And don’t forget that! Hugs!

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Peace Seeker: Brokenness & Words

As I begin another blog, my mind still can’t settle on a topic.

My Facebook feed is full of heated emotions. All varying topics.

The one group is upset about a scandal.

And others about immigration.

Others about personal issues.

We all have passion. We all have strong feelings and we all have an opinion, a side we deem correct.

We all feel strongly that we are definitely right.

I won’t touch on the political issues, I enjoy a healthy and educational debate but not on this forum.

I won’t talk about the scandal, it’s not my business.

And this is no place to reveal others personal problems.

This is a place for me to pause, to ask you to pause, and to share some insight. To share my heart with you. So grab a cup of coffee or tea, and let’s chat.

As I grow older, I see more. Not because my eyes are improving, but because I am seeing differently.

I see brokenness, pain. I see people reacting and speaking from places of deep hurt.

And my heart hurts.

There are stoic and legalistic folks. Ones who have maybe buried their hurts and their reactions are usually less soft hearted. I haven’t quite figured them out.

Stoic and legalistic folks and I don’t get along. And here is a fun fact, by husband can be that way.

The brokenness that surrounds us, why are so many of us turning blind eyes? Why do we “stick to our guns” and refuse to open our eyes to someone else’s pain.

Could it be that we can’t?

On Saturday my husband got a skidloader and we began ripping out deep roots from trees we had cut down. There were rocks and stones, weeds, roots, and worms. Deep, deep roots that we worked hard to pull out. He used an axe to chop some of the roots off. And as will happens my son tripped and fell. His hand landed on the axe blade.

He handled his injury really well. And thankfully he doesn’t freak out about band aids.

As I washed the dirt from his cut, his tears flowed and his eyes gave away the pain he felt. And my heart broke. It’s hard to see your child hurting and knowing that temporarily YOU are the cause of their pain.

And I think of all the broken people, ones who had their pain dismissed or shoved aside. We fail to help the ones with emotional pains, the ones with wounds that aren’t physically bleeding and oozing.

And then these injuries get stuffed, a small bandaid over the gaping brokenness and then we react from that brokenness. We react to everything from that brokenness.

At least, it’s something I struggle with.

I see the posts on Facebook. And many of you have valid points for whatever it is you feel passionately about.

But I am asking. Requesting nicely.

Pause.

Hear the other person.

We allow the one broken part of us to fester, the roots of hurt can go for miles.

Miles.

Because of my story, I struggle to trust men. I struggle to respect men. I struggle to be respectful and kind, especially if I feel disrespected or dismissed.

I see so much name calling and hate toward folks who view life differently than us.

Stop.

Please. Stop.

Instead try to pause.

There is no defense for evil. Ther3 is no defense for sin.

We are sinners living in a broken and sin cursed world. From that moment when Satan presented a temptation to Eve and she took it, the world became a broken place.

And everyone is broken and hurt in some way. That’s the other thing I realize as I read everyone’s posts, hear them speak.

We don’t all share our hurts publicly. I imagine at some point, someone will come against me for my words. I share because there are others of you, suffering a pain similar to mine and you wonder if life will be okay.

It will.

And I am here for you.

You are not alone in your brokenness.

You are not the only one.

As I close, I hope this resonates with you. I hope you can see God and His love through these words.

I hope you understand that I am not excusing sin or hate. I am asking that you remember we are ALL broken and wounded, and reacting from our individual life stories thus far.

Now I must close. There is a water balloon fight, and 3, 6, and 7 year old clamoring to get wet. Summer sounds of water splashing and “No, Callan!!” resonate with tears and sobs from the 3 year old.

Happy Tuesday.

Love, Rachelle

infant loss · love · Uncategorized

Peace Seeker: Sharing is Caring

There is a lot about my life that has not been pleasant or easy. And on the other hand, a lot has been amazing and fantastic. There are a few “I regret” moments, but mostly I have learned in life to take the mountains and valleys in stride.

The lows can get very low sometimes. I don’t want to trigger anyone, but can I say this: Being a survivor of sexual abuse can make life incredibly hard some days!

The highs are amazing. Seeing a positive sign on a pregnancy test, that was one of my favorite moments of joy. (No, not pregnant. Don’t even ask!) Working together to accomplish a goal, and not worrying about work or social media or the Joneses … The joyful moments are worth hanging on for.

In more recent years, I have learned to appreciate just listening to people. Not for the sake of answering or bossing or fixing, but listening and investing and genuinely caring about people.

Typically when we think of sharing, we think of social media. We share photos of our lives, quotes, articles, opinions, jokes, our businesses. Some roll their eyes when politics or religion is shared. Some roll their eyes at the complaining or the sales pitch for yet another magic at-home biz.

We share things with people because we care. Opinions about all sorts of things, and Facebook, Twitter, Instagram have all made sharing even easier.

I love to share photos of my kids, my husband and I, meals I have made. I love a good political debate (respectful, of course). I love being connected that way. I have my own at home biz, Plexus. (Some of you rolled your eyes. I am sorry. I am not using this post to promote it, though given my title I really could! Haha)  I love to celebrate with you and sympathize, lend advice, or share tips. It is easy. It makes me feel connected on days where in person connecting just can’t happen for whatever reason.

There is a negative side. Online bullying has become a serious problem. Becoming a “keyboard warrior” is the new trend, and shaming/judging others is as easy as “tap tap tap” tapping on your keyboard.

In a time where Facebook has Marketplace for buying and selling, we also have a whole passel of people who do nothing but hassle, whine, and complain.

In a time where Facebook has Marketplace, and I can openly and honestly share about my struggle as a mom, a wife. Share openly about my views on things that legitimately matter, and encourage others. A place where I can post all day long about this, that, and the next thing. Except one thing.

GOD.

I really struggle to just pause and give Him credit. He has held me and sustained me, even through all this last 6 or 7 months have held. ]

He could have stopped it. Any of it. All of it. He could have put His “hedge of protection” around me and prevented any or even, ALL of this pain!!!!

That’s sometimes what I think.

And He could have.

I wish He had never allowed certain sins.

And I don’t have an answer. That’s not the point of this post.

Did you catch what I did earlier?

Up top, I mentioned about taking things in stride. I am taking credit for getting through the tough grit of life.

Do you know how when you discover a mom hack or a kitchen hack or a life hack and you’re like mind blown and never, ever return to life without it??

Yea.. that’s me. with God. 

We all have hurts we bear. We all have doubts and questions. We have loud voices disputing the Bible. There are hypocrites and sinners, disguised as followers of Christ. There are broken people, saved by grace, wondering what God’s plan is in the midst of their trial. There are broken people, seeking His face, asking for His forgiveness because they recognize they are incomplete without Him.

I am incomplete without Him. I am a sinner, saved by grace. 

You are a sinner, incomplete without Him. 

Life as a Christian is not a hot ticket, an E Z Pass to glory and wealth. You might pass Go, you might collect $200. You also might get hit by an airplane while crossing the street. Being a follower of Christ only makes me exempt from: 1) the consequences of my sin 2) despair when life goes sideways

Fear will still come knocking. Depression may still plague you. You still need to take medications and do your laundry.

but God. 

That phrase will never get old. That phrase will always make my heart skip a beat.

I am a survivor of sexual sins. I am a survivor of a car accident I should have died in. I am a survivor of burying my child. Not by my strength, HIS.

My life has held deep, dark valleys. My life has held mountain top experiences. My heart holds a desire to know why all these things happened to me. But my heart also holds the desire to bring honor and glory to Him in each stage and experience.

I am grateful for the opportunity to care for you, to share with you. I am grateful for this life I have been gifted. And while I may sometimes be tempted to smile and murmur Thank You when someone compliments my strength, I want this to be my public testimony. A public declaration of sorts.

I cannot take credit for His power in my life. He has rescued me more times than I know, He has held me up and given me strength. He has forgiven me.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 ESV

He didn’t just give me strength and peace. He sacrificed His only Son, He allowed a way for me to come directly to Him in the thick of a life battle to ask for strength, wisdom. He asked His Son to take on the weight of every sin, in the world.

That is love.

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

I never want to take  a verse out of context, or misrepresent my Lord, but I believe that in this stuff. This gritty, tough, impossible stuff, He wants for us to come to Him and lean on Him. And that is hard to do, I get it. It is hard to trust someone who is not physically there, who you can see and physically lean on… IT IS HARD. He has never me down, not once. While His ways would not have been my choice sometimes, I also don’t know His plan, His will. And I don’t see the BIG picture that He does. But He is there, waiting for you to come to Him and trust Him with this life stuff you’re struggling to get through. I promise.

And now, I must close on the sharing. I do care, so much, for people. I hope this encourages you. I hope my caring and sharing touches you.

Email me if it does. You are loved, deeply.

Love, Rachelle

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Peace Seeker: Self Care

I apologize for the silence from my corner of the world lately.

Just two days after Easter, my father suffered a stroke. After a hospital stay then a rehabilitation center stay, he was sent home and went to physical therapy.

Garden needed planting and now tilled and weeded. Mulching and edging of the flowerbeds. Gutters cleaned out.

It is strange, typing these words. I am not complaining, I am honored to help.

I am also struggling. Not with helping, in fact I am grateful most days for the ability to serve and help.

Maybe I have been too honest in my blog. And if I share my reasons for that, it puts people on the defense. In fact, other than posting about my boys, politics, or Plexus, I have not shared too much deep personal stuff on Facebook even.

My life feels like a blur, like I barely have time to sit and process life lately.

Self care has been mandated by basically every medical professional and caring individual.

What is self care? It used to be drowning my sorrows in a 6 pack, driving too fast, and hoping all that weighed me down would simply stop.

For some people, it is food. I confess, I can be that person.

For some, it is drugs. Others gardening, running, hiking.. the list can go on.

I am struggling to find what works for me.

I have been doing my nails and toes, feeling guilty each time I splurge.

I have been short tempered, anxious, sleep deprived.

Life has been a blur, a hard blur.

but God has been faithful.

https://binged.it/2HiUjXL

There is this song, it is speaking so deeply into my heart lately. Can you give it a listen? (In case the link didn’t attach properly it is: “Even If” by MercyMe)

It is hard, heart breaking actually, to sing of how good my Father is. Because life doesn’t feel good right now! I can’t see His plan, but I trust in Him.

Self care. 

A concept that I never prioritized, I never felt was doable for me. But since I have spent nights curled in a ball, barely able to stop my brain, sobbing like there is no tomorrow; I have learned to speak honestly to my husband and ask him to support me doing something for me. And he doesn’t say no. And for that, I am grateful. Also incredibly blessed.

Lamar and I celebrated our anniversary this past month. 8 years of marriage, valleys and mountains.

Our pastor is doing a sermon series through the book of Mark and one point he made has stuck with me. (Actually a few have, Pastor, I am simply only highlighting one!)

Jesus, the literal Son of God, prioritized prayer. He made it a priority to spend time in prayer, communicating with His Father.

Maybe that is the ultimate self care. Going before my Father in Heaven and saying something like this:

Lord, I am grateful for Your blessings. I am grateful for the grace, the forgiveness. I come before you, hurting and broken. I miss my baby. I am angry. I wanted to hear his voice, watch him grow, love him forever. Instead, I am left with a grave, the memory of his movements. Hold me, Lord, and guide my steps this day. I don’t know Your plan, but I trust in You. Help me to show you, even on the darkest of days. 

The days seem dark sometimes. But in this season, I still choose to trust Him. While my heart hurts and my eyes weep, I know He has my sons and my family, and I, in His hands. His hands, they created the world and they are capable of holding me.

I don’t know what self care looks like for you. I don’t know what burdens you carry, what pain plagues you but I know this: He loves you. And while He could  spare us pain and trouble, temptations.. there is truth to the old saying: “No pain, no gain”

God doesn’t give us these trials to break us. In fact, sometimes I believe He allows these trials so we turn to Him. So we put our trust, our hope, our moments solely in Him.

That is my two cents for today. I hope you have a lovely evening.

Love, Rachelle

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Peace Seeker: Mother’s Day

So on Wednesday, I awoke with a plan. I cleaned my kitchen and thought:

Hey! I should bake cookies!

I put on a podcast and set to my plan.

Alas. No brown sugar.

Double Alas, no baking soda.

“Callan, let’s go to the store!”

Somehow on the drive to the store, my entire day got changed. Cookies can be baked another day. No harm, no foul.

I spent my day helping my parents plant their garden.

I ache. For real, stepping on dirt clods hurt my feet.

I came home for Alex, promising to return to finish tonight.

And that’s when it happened.

“I’ll bill you for my pedicure!” I joked to my mom.

She didn’t hear me, and I am glad.

Hang on, y’all. ‘Bout to get honest up in here.

See, this is the woman who unselfishly delivered still warm, homemade chicken noodle soup the week Callan got pneumonia. The woman who taught me so much about life, cooking, loving…

There is one night I somewhat remember with much shame.

I had recently been introduced to alcohol. And it was a welcome escape. First to drown the sorrow of a breakup, a boyfriend I was positive I would never stop loving. A short week after the breakup, a boy from church pulled over and raped me. And from that incident on, alcohol became my escape.

I stopped at a school friend’s apartment. And after having 1 drink and a half that had been handed to me, could not stay upright. Her boyfriend, who had given me the half drink, began to act strangely. And he took my car key. I called my brother. The one down south and asked for help. I don’t remember much. I remember stumbling down a lot of steps. I remember walking down the street, and falling so often. I remember stumbling into the local fire company. I remember a lady helping me in the bathroom and she called my parents.

My mom arrived and my dad and my brother. I don’t remember a lot from that night. I do remember the look on her face. A lot of love, equal amounts of frustration and disappointment as well. I remember hearing her lecture the girl who provided the alcohol, and the young man.

My mom has flaws.

So do I.

My mom is an amazing. She cooks. She gardens. She watches her grandchildren and spoils them. She cares beautifully for her family and neighbors.

Her example to me has been great.

And often I’ve wished God had molded me more like her.

She and my dad had 3 biological sons. Then they opened their home to adopt another son, foster to legal guardian another son, and adopt me.

5 boys. 1 tomboy. I mean, the house was a constant zone of craziness.

Yet she maintained order and cleanliness, teaching us early responsibility and teamwork.

Garden every summer. Sharing the fruits of her labor with family and neighbors.

She has a degree in nursing, yet for only a short season did she return to work.

She has rarely complained, has taken all the ups and downs of life in stride. And there were downs, believe me.

And sadly I provided so much heartbreak for her. And I deeply regret that.

She has been a godly example, a woman who loves and serves others.

So tonight, we plan to gather as a family and honor her. We will provide treats, celebrate as a family this woman who is the [earthly] reason we are family.

* * *

Then there is Lamar’s mother. Despite big differences in not only our zip codes but in our lives, she accepted me from Day 1. She loves my boys and cares deeply for us.

Made a special trip to PA for Liam’s graveside service. Who called often just to check. She loved from afar.

She raised a son who has been so good for me. Who has not run from the baggage and emotional pain I come with, but has stepped up and carried the pain with me. This man who loves me, flaws and all. He does my grocery shopping most weeks yet, tolerates my snark and sarcasm and trashtalk, encourages my writing and creativity in painting and decorating our home. He holds me through the painful nightmares, the tears over the son qe have lost and miss, the valleys that life has brought us through.

These women, play a big role in me being a mother. Their advice, their love.

And these boys, they make it possible for me to have my arms full on this Mother’s Day.

For those who have empty arms this mother’s day, I am sorry. You also, are seen and loved on this day 💕

As always, with love…

Rachelle

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Peace Seeker: Farm Life

Driving- it was something I could NOT wait to do! I mean, clearly I had to, but I was so excited to finally drive.

I still love it. There have been several times I’ve grabbed my key and went for a drive. A long drive, loud music, getting lost in slowing down my brain. Effortlessly shifting through my gears. It is the cheapest therapy I’ve found yet!

But 18 hour drives ? That isn’t my jam. And every year, I dread it. This year I attempted to set aside my dread. I packed a fun bag for the boys. Snacks, a few “new” toys (Dollah Bins from Target FOR THE WIN!! 🙌), and a friend gave a bag of DVDs she snagged at a steal.

We loaded up and hit the road. And we had barely left my parents zip code before Callan was snoring.

My trick for traveling with kids? MAKE. THEM. TIRED. Alex was in school all day, then came home and helped to clean up and pack up. Callan spent the day with my parents. And he doesn’t nap there so by the time we picked him up, he was well fed and exhausted.

Traveling to my in-laws isn’t so bad. It’s the last few hours that seem to never, ever end. (Same with coming home though too!) Wisconsin is flat. You can see for so long.. it makes the last hour feel like an eternity.

That’s my excuse for whining and I am sticking to it.

Alex was determined to see Chicago. Which is why at 3 am, both boys were chatting and talking a mile a minute while I rolled my eyes and inwardly complained.

In case you’re wondering. I’m a bit of a bear without sleep.

Chicago. It’s a big, beautiful city. At nighttime the buildings look beautiful against the night sky. Alex was awestruck. The architecture. He asked “What’s that building for?” about every single building.

Every. Single. One. Remember, it is 3:30 in the morning. I’d been up since 6:45 and hadn’t had a nap either.

*sigh*

These moments. The ones spent in a car, even they’re precious. Despite the midnight breath, despite the irritation, despite the exhaustion.

(Photo from before we left.)

But these two boys. I am so thankful.

We arrived.

(Photo used in other blog)

“GRANDPA’S!!!!!” Callan shouted.

And this began life on the farm…

My mother in law has beautiful flowers. Greenhouses where she sells these beauties. She puts together all the planters and hanging basket arrangements.

Gorgeous.

Turns out, we feel Wisconsin is extra bright after traveling and Callan being amazing and having slept a majority of the drive.

Better.

And for my boys, farm life is THE BEST LIFE EVER!!!

I’m largely undecided. While I enjoy the slow pace, I can say with all certainty:

I am not created to be a farmer OR a farmer’s wife.

Calves are my favorite bovine.

Fa-vor-ite! I mean, all the heart eyes at the cuteness that is a baby calf!

Sky pictures. Because, well, how beautiful are these?!

What’s a farm without equipment?

Mama cat moved her babies within an hour or two of this photo being snapped.

No judgement, mama cat, we get it.

Father & son photos are my favorite!

Also. I want to add : I have 2 sons. However when Grandpa and uncles are around, Alex is right on their heels. And here, we give him that privilege.

I love that his gentle loving side came out around the animals!!

On Sunday we opted to stay home. Alex was commanded to read his Bible Memory and the relaxing and slowness was a welcome break for everyone.

The boys actually fell asleep. So Lamar and I took a little walk. These creatures may be big, but I venture to assume they’re probably as curious as cats!

Sunday night, we went to the pond on the property to catch some slow moving fish and roast hot dogs and marshmallows.

I love how this one loves holding my hand lately.

Alex was Lamar’s right hand man when it came to building a fire.

S’MORES!

Farm dogs

The only reason I ever stepped foot in Wisconsin 💕

The moon! 😍

We threw one stick for Skipper and it became an all evening must. Callan got very brave at bossing Skipper.

Farm life isn’t a life I see myself taking on anytime soon. But I’m grateful we get to experience it every so often for my boys’ sake!!

Unplugged. Chores. Slower paced.

There’s a beauty in this life.

Mama and baby Blue Roans at Lamar’s brother’s farm.

Getting on the calf’s level.

Interrupting the cow pictures to tell a kind of funny story.

Lamar was fixing a Cat Challenger on his brother’s farm. Callan decided to help.

And by help, he had a little tool and socket wrench top. And he stuck it in a hole in the rim.

And when I went to get it out, I pushed it in farther and got it stuck!!

We got a magnet and Lamar needed to get it out. And then Callan and I went to look at puppies, far away from the tools and equipment!

Baby Jack Russel puppies.

We had a wonderful visit. We headed home the last day of April. Going home is always the hardest. We love seeing everyone but the drive is just so hard. Especially coming home.

I came home with lots and lots of flowers. And it will be nice to see these plants growing and think of the lovely woman who gifted them!

Being married into this family, I’ve learned a lot. I’m an outsider. I don’t know the dos and don’ts of these circles. But they are gracious. And kind. And accepting. And that’s what counts.

I try to build and grow each individual relationship with each sister in law. To care and share life. Even as hard as it is sometimes.

I have shared most of my photos from Wisconsin.

I wish I had wedding photos to share.

I wish I could share real life video experiences.

The laugh they all enjoy when I step into a barn and a cow poops.

The laughs we share when I bungle a Dutch phrase.

It’s a good experience. And I am glad God brought that farmer’s son into my life.

Wishing you a wonderful week!

Love, Rachelle

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Peace Seeker: Culture Shock

I do not mean my title disrespectfully. It is a drastic change of life coming to Wisconsin, to spend time with my in- laws.

I wish phones were acceptable at these conservative weddings. You simply must take my word for it.

We arrived Wednesday, midday.

Callan, as you can see, was absolutely thrilled. “GRANDPA’S!” He shouted. I think too, he was super excited to get out of his car seat.

We had lunch and then I needed a nap. I toured my mother in law’s greenhouse but the sun was too bright, the tiredness was overwhelming and so I took myself to bed. Driving overnight is a blessing because the boys sleep well. There is a price though for me, and I don’t love paying it.

It has been 4 years since the last wedding. And the nervousness and anxiety never gets better.

I don’t expect it ever will.

I tackled getting the boys dressed, which was a frustrating event in and of itself. At home they need not wear black dress pants, fancy shirts, and vests. And no, there is no pictures because before the wedding was over the boys were muddy and dirty and again, phones aren’t allowed.

The wedding has it’s own unspoken rules. When we arrive, the men stay outdoors and the women go inside. There’s a receiving line, sort of, to shake hands with the bride and groom to be, and the attendants. And to drop off gifts. The room was impossibly small, the bride to be’s parlor, and again, my boys were less than cooperative. I heard later the attendants found my boys’ objections humorous it was just the laugh they all needed.

Awesome.

At 8:30 A.M. (no, that’s not a typo) they served cake and wine. (No, that’s not a typo either!) Tiny squares of cheesecake and little, tiny shots of wine. (Literally, wine being served in little shot glasses that looked like beer mugs, complete with little handles!) Then after that, they call you by name to sit for the wedding. There we can sit as a family.

My boys had toys and strict instructions to sit quietly. And they did. For that, I was grateful. The preachers and their wives sat directly in front of us, and facing us, so if there’s gossip to share it won’t be that my boys behaved badly. (Can I get an AMEN for little blessings? Haha)

I admit, my nervousness may color this post a bit. I don’t always know the rules and unspoken traditions. And that is really hard for me. They are a gracious and kind people. And while there will be judges and gossipers in any group of people, my in laws are not those people. And the family that hosted the wedding (the bride’s family always hosts the wedding and the groom’s family hosts a formal reception later) was gracious and kind as well.

There are two preachers who preach at the weddings. Then a third minister gives his testimony at the end and the other two share their testimony also. The testimonies can get long winded at times but not this time.

The first preacher shared many stories and real life experiences/examples. He was interesting. However it was also sad. The things shared that I know to not be biblically based. It hurt my heart. To see the solemness and sober faces, I always feel a wedding was a time of joy and celebration but not so in this culture. Instead they use weddings as an opportunity to speak of the evilness that is fornication and lust, the punishment you are sure to endure should you fall prey to that carnality.

The preacher isn’t wrong. Those are sins and if not repented of, yes there is eternal damnation. However I feel a wedding is a terrible platform for that message.

He also linked severe illness to being a chastisement from the Lord, he spoke of abusive husbands, and stated that loud and vocal women are not women who get married.

Thankfully Lamar did not get that memo.

The second preacher. I admit I missed a lot of his words. I think I was trying to pick my jaw up off the floor from the shock of preacher number one. He didn’t speak as long and when he switched to German, I knew the vows were under way.

The mood was solemn and mournful as we slowly, so so slowly, sang another song. In German. And by we, I mean not me or my boys. We were dismissed row by row, to shuffle out of the garage and shake the hands of the new husband and wife.

Within quick order the garage was transformed to an eating area. Tables had been set up, covered with table cloths, and prepared for us to eat. They call you again to file in and sit. That was when I lost Callan. A young girl brought him to me then.

The food.

This is where I wished for my phone for the camera. My goodness. The wedding meals are simply the best. And if you are on a diet, just reading this may cause you to gain weight!

Rolls and butter and jelly. Mashed potatoes literally swimming in melted butter. Topped with brown butter. Noodles. Meatballs. Cheese curds. Pretzels. Some type of fruit in jello. Ice cream. Cupcakes with 2-3 inches of icing.

I mean… WOW.

After the meal, they return thanks and you are dismissed. Again, all segregated. The men sat in the driveway, the women to the house or porch. They also took turns touring the greenhouse. The children are left to play and this particular home has a really nice swingset and play area.

There are again, these unspoken rules. And me, well I broke the biggest one. A wife never approaches the husband to go home.

And I did.

Twice.

The second time I stated he may stay but the littlest one needed to go.

I hate doing that. I hate feeling like by being a “vocal woman” I’m offending an entire group of people. I apologized to Lamar since. He says he didn’t mind.

I hate that the grace that’s spoken of so often in the Bible, is so rarely preached on. And even less to be offered to fellow Christians.

We came home. And all suffered the consequences of so much butter.

I reflect back on the wedding day, where two people joined in marriage.

Besides for my sisters in law, a handful of other ladies spoke to me. Plenty of glances and whispers. But very few approached. The first one who did is my father in law’s sister. A woman who I suspect has not had an easy life. But these things also, are kept quiet. She offered her condolences on the loss of our sweet baby. She shared her son and his wife have buried two babies, babies who lived and suffered tremendously in their short lives.

Others shook my hand and offer a quick “vee gaehts”. (Translation: how’s it going?) (Not the correct spelling. Not even going to try that!) Stating they know who I am and they’re glad to see me again. Rarely offering their name, maybe assuming I recognize them too. I’m ashamed to admit, I don’t.

Life in these conservative circles is fascinating. Full of interesting people, each carrying his or her own story. As I watched people talk and laugh, I wonder what their stories are. I would be honored for a glimpse into their worlds. I viewed the youth who served our tables. I wondered if any of those girls felt the call to just be free from the rules and regulations that are man ordained. I wonder if any of them could care less about the youth boys who hassle you for tip before you leave. I consider that one day one of those youth girls may one day be a sister in law.

I am blessed. My in laws are beautiful and wonderful people. Welcoming and gracious. And generous.

Not all can say that.

This trip I’ve challenged a few points the preacher made. I have shared that I believe him to be misrepresenting the Word. (Only when asked, not openly and defiantly. I’ve chosen my words carefully and been respectful.)

I don’t share this post to be disrespectful or unkind. It’s a different world in these churches and family circles. Everyone is connected and everyone knows everyone’s business. And for the most part there is caring and compassion and love. But there is also admonitions and unsolicited advice.

They are people. Fallen people living in a fallen world just like the city slickers of New York City to the hunters of the jungles a world over. Just like you. Just like me.

While I object, strongly, to the rules and customs, I see the wisdom. I respect them. And am as honoring as I can be.

Maybe by the next wedding I will learn to keep my opinions to myself. To be the quiet, docile and submissive woman they preach of.

Doubtful.

But with God, all things are possible tho.

I will share more life on the farm things next week. Here I can get photos to share.

Love, Rachelle