Monday, August 24, 2009

How far is heaven?

One of us recently got the question:

"Are all the Proverbs 31 ladies just blissfully happy all the time?"

I suspect each of us has been asked this question before, in some form. I have.

Just in case you too are under this delusion, or maybe you just haven't read on my blog this year about ... the recent death in my family ... the pressures of my deadlines ... my admissions to dealing with pride, vanity and lust ... the fact that I routinely fly across the country to speak in front of a group of strangers, hopefully without forgetting to pack deodorant and without throwing up from nerves ... that I hate doing laundry ... about my propensity to burn myself in the kitchen... or my unfortunate accident with a bath scrubbie ... you can pop over to Marybeth's blog and read her apt reply.

I wonder if this person is asking are-your-circumstances-always-blissful?, or if she is asking are-you-always-able-to-be-blissful-despite-your-circumstances? Big difference. Absolutely no one's circumstances on earth is alway blissful, and Christians are not guaranteed that either (see John 16:33).

Here are 4 definitions of the word "bliss":

1. supreme happiness; utter joy or contentment
2. Theology. the joy of heaven.
3. heaven; paradise: the road to eternal bliss.
4. a cause of great joy or happiness.

As Jesus said, we can rule out number 4 happening all the time here on earth. That makes expecting a constant state of number 1 in this fallen world, on this side of eternity, unrealistic. The other two are both linked to something beyond this earth. We're linked to that too. Though we're not fully there yet, we can find our bliss in that link.

What I strive to do is to lean into God and trust Him enough to receive His peace, comfort and direction no matter my current circumstances. Sure, I experience anger, frustration, fear, regret and tears just like the next gal - I just try to submit all those feelings and triggers to God. To allow Him to use them as He sees fit ... to change my circumstances, or to change me through them. And I remind myself that my time here is temporary - this is not my true home.

In that, I'm usually able to discover some bliss in the middle of my blunders. In that, I find pieces of definitions 2 and 3. And that is enough for me, for now. So, no bliss-filled perfection here ... just a girl trying her best, with varying degrees of success, to follow Jesus home.

PS. Here's a song I have on my I-pod for those times bliss seems far away:

Friday, August 21, 2009


Friends, my mother-in-law passed away in the night last night - into the rest of God.

Thanks for your prayers ~ Rachel

Thursday, August 20, 2009

With gratitude

Thanks, y'all, for all the prayers. The manuscript for Can You Keep a Secret? is turned in! You can't see it but I do a mini version of the macarena every time I say that.

Heeyyyyyyyy, Macarena!

You totally prayed me through that last week of writing, and I totally needed it. What I didn't tell you guys was that a few weeks back my mother-in-law was diagnosed with cancer and last week she took a major turn for the worse. It's been hard and is getting harder. So your prayers really did sustain my writing and concentrating right up until I attached the document and hit send to my editor.

Heeyyyyyyy, Macarena!

I'm ready to take a little break and focus on my family awhile, but in the back of my head I'm percolating the next book topic. Let me know if you have ideas for me!

I'm off to a P31 conference call, followed by a meeting at my church, followed by an afternoon with my kids and my Dad, followed by open house at the elementary school tonight. Somewhere in there I also have to put away the 4 loads of laundry I washed yesterday. But it's all good because at least the book is turned in. Heeyyyyyyy, Macarena! Thank you from the bottom of my dance lovin' heart.

PS. Did I ever tell you we danced the macarena at a women's retreat Gwen Smith and I led one time ... no wait that was the electric slide. We did the slide to one of Gwen's worship songs, it was just a spontaneous eruption in the middle of worship. No, really. Seriously. Every woman there knew the dance too and joined in. Course we were on a cruise ship dance floor so it seemed a semi-natural thing to do at the time. I promise if you ever have me come speak at your church I won't dance. Unless you also book Gwen as the worship leader ... then I can't make any promises.

Monday, August 10, 2009

A plea ...

... for prayer. This is my last week to finish my book: Can You Keep a Secret?

So I'm seeking prayer. Please pray for wisdom, efficiency and anointing - and for me to meet deadline.

I'll be back here next week to catch up on discussions. Can't wait to have this book finished!

Blessings ~ Rachel

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

She Speaks - smack down

For those of you who read the comments left here with any regularity, you might recall that Chef Diane noticed a few months ago that I happen to heart key lime pie.

Then she started bragging that she makes a mean key lime pie. So mean, in fact, it's been dubbed "Smack Your Mama Key Lime Pie." (Otherwise known as SYMP). What's more, she offered to bring me some to the She Speaks conference.

I didn't know if she'd really do that. Would she go to all that trouble for moi? Despite having a very difficult and emotional week prior to She Speaks, that girl made the pie, froze it and drove it down here from Virgina. Ya'll, she brought me some SYMP! What a kind, personal, hand-made gift. I'm still remembering it today.

It was so good I did want to smack something - my lips as I woofed down another bite!

AND ... she also brought me a cake pan, one of her official chef coats, plus one of those floppy white chef hats. I'm giggling 'bout that - so are my local girlfriends who have actually tasted my cooking. I got my husband to try it on as he made fried bologna sandwiches for lunch.

The pie was delish and I decided we had to find Suzi Eller to share it with because just that day she had confessed to me her love of key lime cheesecake. (mental note: I must try that.) So Diane and I found about half the P31 team, many in their PJs, in Suzi's suite that evening to share a little pie and conversation. The gift of SYMP spread.

Thing is, the hotel was serving us key lime pie for dessert on Saturday night but I had to miss that to have dinner with my publisher and agent. No worries, I had an extra slice of SYMP in the mini fridge in my suite. Wasn't that sweet of Diane? Here she is with the sugary concoction she made for her eval group (which I missed out on). She promises to send me the pie recipe should anyone care to try it ... and this is a gal that keeps her promises. Thanks, Diane!

Monday, August 3, 2009

She Speaks pre-conference

Once again, my time at the She Speaks conference was sheer delight ... followed by sheer exhaustion. Remember I said for 2 days afterwards I generally sit in the corner and drool, unable to do anything but watch movies? Well that time has commenced, so I'll just hit the highlights of some of what I did while there.

Tuesday-Thursday it was just the P31 team. Believe it or not, this is the only time of the year we are all together physically in one place! That's why we love coming to She Speaks so much. They don't pay us to come, but they don't have to. I'd walk across burning coals to spend time with these gals. (metaphorically speaking, of course - I'm a wimp about pain.)

Thursday night we had dinner with our special guests: the publishers, agents and bloggy experts we'd invited to serve with us at the conference. I had the total pleasure of dining with Stephanie of DaySpring, Holley of Heart to Heart with Holley, Emily of Chatting at the Sky, and The Nester of Nesting Place. Yes, Nester has a first name, but I won't print it for fear of spelling it wrong - or spelling it right and enabling you to find her tax records online.

Each of these gals were easy-going, fun, funny, interesting, intelligent and comfortable to hang with. I love meeting new friends and already look forward to seeing them again.

Speaking of new friends, remember I told you I was rooming with a complete stranger from outside our speaker team this year? LOVED HER. That was a great decision - a God decision in fact.

The first night Ariel and I met, which was after my dinner with the swanky blog chicks, we were up until 1:30 AM talking our girly selves to death. Well, that was pretty much every night actually. The last night we went from talking in the suite, to talking while sitting in our beds, to talking while laying down on our pillows, to still talking after we'd turned out the lights. We clicked in a way that wasn't just a relief but a treat.

Can't wait to buy Ariel's book this week. It's called Eye of the God and it's about the Hope diamond ... I love me some big bling, y'all. Her book is one of 3 picks for the launch of P31's She Reads this fall.

Soooo glad Rob Eager is a good presenter, because I spent all of Friday morning in his pre-conference sessions. Great information ... nearly overwhelming to take in all at once, but really good. He says I need to understand what I uniquely "bring to the table" as a speaker and writer. I'm not sure I do. I think its hard to see your own uniqueness. I'd be curious to hear what you all think - how would you describe my strengths or value as a Christian communicator?

At lunch on Friday I sat with some terrific women's ministry leaders. There I met a gal from South Africa. She told me that in her country no one is deemed worthy to be seen as an "expert." So they always read books from people outside the country, bring in speakers from outside the country. It reminded me of Jesus' comment that no one can be an expert in their own hometown. This woman was definitely worthy of listening to. She was such a total gem and I would love to travel there to do ministry with her someday.

After lunch and one more session, I changed clothes into my official P31 shirt and gathered with the team for our entrance to the opening session of the conference. This year we sauntered and danced our way on stage to a funky remix of "We Are Family." Don't worry, Cheri Keaggy had opened us up with worship first.

Lysa nearly made me cry right there on stage y'all (in the pic above) while talking about her love for this team. She Speaks may be the only place one can go from dancing to a funky beat to crying inside of 2 minutes. That's me to the right of the table number 31 (how appropriate).

I'll stop here since I've already given you lots of links to check out, asked you to help me discern why my readers read me, and plus, I have to get back to drooling. I'll post more about the conference later this week.