To Honor and To Grieve

Growing up I remember asking my mom why things hurt me so bad, she would respond with, “You love deep so you hurt deep.” For years I would try to just not love as much, I didn’t know how to handle the pain. I figured it would be better not to fully love if it would help manage the heartache. While in Oxford, New Zealand in 2009 God began a process of softening my heart in a vision when He welcomed me home as a Father, that fall He gave me a vision of a heart transplant, with my marriage and each child layers of barriers have slowly flaked away. Since the beginning of last year my heart has been at war trying to shield me from pain that had built up over the years. Pain from offenses and people that I thought I had forgiven and moved past. Pain that I had tried to explain away and justify. Pain that I had convinced myself was foolish, selfish or unwarranted.

The Father has been faithful to woo me and my heart to Him and just under 2 weeks ago I began to fully see my poor attempt to keep my heart together and chose to unrelentingly go after a whole heart, the heart He intended me to have, one that fully felt and fully loved. I went into this week with words from Him, words of encouragement and hope, there was an excitement knowing that on Saturday I would celebrate 6 years of being married to the man of my dreams. We have both been in awe that we made it to this point; the last year almost destroyed us. I had begun the process of acknowledging the pain but having joy in the midst. Well Tuesday night came like a sucker punch to the gut, the kind that knocks the wind out of you and all you can do is lie there writhing in pain.

Ann was a woman I had really only just begun to know along with her daughter but my love for them quickly grew deep and took root in my soul. Before I would have told myself to feel this way was dumb possibly even selfish, how could I grieve so deeply for a woman I really didn’t even know by comparison yet I sit here not even 48 hours out from her passing riding the roller coaster of emotions. Sure there is joy in knowing she is with the Creator of the Universe but there is a sadness that runs so deep that there are no words. So instead of trying to minimize it, I am ruminating in it, I am absorbing the emotions and being who it is I was created to be. There will be time to learn balance but in this moment I want to make sure that I don’t hide from who I am called to be. The loss of Ann was followed by news of a sweet boy who never got to feel the kiss of his mother against his cheek because he was gone before he was placed in her arms. Oliver Sze is honestly a child I probably never would have met personally but I loved his momma and the time we had together in YWAM, I was there the first year she lead and loved the moments we shared. I was ecstatic when I saw her fall in love and marry the man of her dreams, Wilfred, joy multiplied the day I learned their family was going to grow. There are a lot of things that annoy me about Facebook but I am grateful I get to follow the lives of those I have once crossed paths with. To learn that after carrying her sweet boy 10 days past her due date only to have him placed in her arms lifeless is something unimaginable. As I sat there in bed after reading her brave, vulnerable post about her loss all I could do was lie back down and be completely consumed in tears. She is facing a loss I cannot fathom and honestly my deepest fears as I prepare for my 4th son’s arrival.

I don’t know how this is going to look, this journey of becoming a woman who fully feels and fully loves but I am not willing to give it up now I will honor the lives that were taken too soon by fully loving and fully grieving them. Ann Crowell you are and will be greatly missed the lives you have touched are too numerous to count. Oliver Sze your story although cut far too prematurely your legacy is only beginning as your parents vulnerability as they walk through this will be a testimony that changes lives, you precious one will change lives from the arms of our Father.

Seven Years of Re-calculating

When you use a GPS and get off of the path it wants you to follow it says over and over “re-calculating” the last seven years has been something like that for me. I landed at DFW airport fully intending for my time back in America to be short lived. I had come home quickly after my YWAM graduation to celebrate my grandparents 50th wedding anniversary as a surprise for my family. I had my plans, God had His. Although my life has not been what I had expected it has been far better than I could have ever imagined. Sure I miss the long flights and experiencing new cultures but creating a family has been kind of amazing.

The last seven years has been a whirlwind. It started with the end of my season at YWAM with a graduation on the Mt. of Olives in Jerusalem.Rachelle 4

Then I met Ian just weeks after being home and never did I expect a relationship to form but we quickly became best friends and went on our first date on my 21st birthday.IMG_0195

Just a mere 53 weeks after being home I married him. If you would have told me that I would meet and marry a man just over a year after completing YWAM I would have told you are absolutely insane! At our wedding we got to get the first taste of God’s provision in our marriage when we received the camera Ian had sold to get out of debt back as a gift from his friends.8-21-100978

14 months after we said “I do”, we grew to a family of three and we began to create our own Christmas traditions._MG_1406

18 months to the day almost to the hour we grew once again to a family of four and Judah became obsessed with being a big brother and that hasn’t changed to this day.IMG_3819Not even two years later we added our sweet Zealand. He has brought a joy to our home we can not explain. He is also the first baby to be a baby, into everything and absolutely crazy.IMG_1427

And here I am on the 7th anniversary of coming home and I can say that Texas is far more my home now than it was then. My life has been given a completely different direction but the sweetness outweighs the sorrows of dreams lost. In God’s sweet grace today He gave me a new vision of future, one that is fresh and fits my whole family. I am excited. I am grateful for the journey even if it has been full of unexpected detours.

Impact in Ephesus

This morning I woke up to an article in my newsfeed from a YWAM team serving the refugees in Greece, seeing it made me both nostalgic but also reflective on my time spent with YWAM now seven years ago. I had no idea my time doing international missions would be interrupted in the beautiful way it has been and often I forget the impact made on me until I am thrusted into someone else’s story and I remember my own. My time there was not easy, I honestly have a lot of sorrow mixed in with my experience but the lessons I walked away with are some of the most precious treasures I have.

When praying about my outreach location I strongly felt a call to the Middle East, which didn’t surprise me but it also didn’t line up with my lifelong obsession for the heart of Africa. I am grateful I listened and was exposed to an area that required a more covert form of spreading the Gospel. In many areas we visited you weren’t surrounded by in your face poverty and need, the most effective way to bring the Kingdom was to pray and love those brought into your path. This is where some of the sorrow is interjected for me, unity on our team was greatly lacking which makes pressing in and calling forth the Kingdom difficult. I am confident that the Father still used our time there and I walked away knowing, I am called to a life of boldness.

Ephesus was one of our two “leisure” times on outreach, where we took a break from service and soaked in history. My time in Ephesus was incredible. We stayed at an awesome hostel, Atilla’s Getaway, where they had great food and you could see the ruins of the ancient city. To walk and sit in a place where Timothy had once preached was humbling. Leading up to YWAM the scripture given to me over and over was 1 Timothy 4:12 “Let no one despise your youth; instead, you should be an example to the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” Seeing where it was this man, who was told to be an example, from his youth, taught and lead from was inspiring. This was no small church or minuscule task, he had fears like me but chose to overcome them. The boldness planted in me in that place is still germinating and growing all these years later. Sadly, I have not been diligent in the cultivation of what was planted but I am grateful it took root and hasn’t fully died. Where Timothy would have preached

Library at Ephesus

There were two experiences I loved most though on our holiday in Ephesus and they took place in the tourist town of Selçuk with different shop keepers as I explored alone, enjoying my introvert time. One shop was ran by a woman which was unheard of in that area. She told my teammate Jemma and I how she often received threats from men in the community for being there. She invited us to pray for her and both the protection and prosperity of her business in the name of Jesus which was an honor.Shop owner in Selçuk

The other highlight was when I bought a beautiful orange scarf. I had gone shopping in town and picked out something I loved only to realize I had left my turkish lira in the pocket of my other pants. I was so disappointed but when I went to put the scarf back and the owner told me to take it and to bring the money tomorrow. I told them not to worry about it but he was insistent so I did just that. When I came back the next day with means to pay they invited me to stay and eat with them. They could see my hesitation but they showed me the outdoor table that was by the street so people walking by would know I was there. I decided to go for it. We sat there and enjoyed a traditional turkish meal of aged cheese, cucumber and tomato salad, olives and fresh flat bread. They finished the meal by going and buying a tub of ice-cream that we all ate straight out of. We sat there navigating conversation with their broken english and my finite knowledge of Turkish. I was able to some capacity share why I was there and how all I wanted to do was share the love of Jesus with those around me.My Orange Scarf

I won’t fully know the impact I made during the time I spent in Selçuk and Ephesus on this side of eternity but I will forever impacted by the encounters I had there.