Saturday, November 1, 2014

The Loneliest Moment the World Has Ever Known

"So many of my friends are in relationships now. I'm content being single. It's just lonely sometimes."

"All of our married friends have children now. We don't. This is a lonely season for us."

"I'm stepping out in faith to go where God has called me. I am confident in this calling, and I'm happy to go where He leads, but it's lonely out here."

"I worship with hundreds of other people each week, and I feel lonely in the midst of everyone."

"I'm surrounded by people - friends, family, great community - but I feel lonely all of the time."

"I believe God has promised He will never leave me or forsake me. I know the Holy Spirit is always with me. I don't want to sound like I don't believe Him, or even that I'm doubting Him a little, but I'm so lonely."



Loneliness seems to be a very common feeling among almost everyone I've ever known. I get it. I've felt this way during several different seasons of my life. 

I was lonely when my parents divorced, and it seemed like no one around me really understood. Sure, there were people who had been through similar situations, but none exactly like mine. 

I was lonely when I stepped out in faith and transferred colleges the day before classes started my Sophomore year. 

I was lonely my first morning in Canada, serving as a summer missionary and having no clue what that was going to be like. 

I was lonely for a large portion of my time as a college and grad student, never feeling like I fit in anywhere.

I was lonely in my twenties, wondering why God didn't read the plan for my life that said I would be engaged when I graduated college.

Or grad school. (Not that I actually graduated from grad school.)

Or at least by the time I was 25.


I was lonely when I lost a job I didn't even really like anymore. It turns out working in a cubicle is at least a little better than being a professional Pinner and number one fan of that fancy automatically playing the next episode feature of Netflix.

I was lonely when I went back to school in my thirties and, once again, felt like I didn't fit in anywhere.

I was lonely when both of my grandmothers passed away. I never wanted to go through life without them.

I'm lonely now. When I look at the lives of people my age, even people younger than me, I feel like I've been lapped. Several times. When I scroll through my Facebook newsfeed and see all the cute kiddos or read another fun pregnancy announcement or we only have two trick-or-treaters, one of whom was my husband, I'm reminded that I'm not a mommy yet, and that feels lonely. 

I know God doesn't have a set of cookie cutters that He uses to determine each of our lives. "You're a flower. You're a dinosaur. You're a pumpkin. You're the letter H." (I'm assuming He has the same box of cookie cutters I do.) That's an oversimplification of God, a reduction that has taken away His very Godness.  He is complex, and He has a more complex plan for me than what could ever fit into a butterfly-shaped cookie cutter. 

As I've been contemplating the idea of loneliness over the last couple of weeks, one image has come to mind over and over again: Jesus praying the night before His crucifixion.

Matthew 26
36 Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” 37 And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” 39 And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying,“My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”40 And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? 41 Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 42 Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” 43 And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. 44 So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again. 45 Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Sleep and take your rest later on. See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.”

I don't know what exactly Jesus was feeling in the garden that night, and I don't want to read too much into the text. I know for certain He felt "sorrowful, even to death" and "troubled" (verses 38 and 37). Do you think He felt lonely in those moments? He was willing to be obedient to His Father, and we know He followed through and was obedient. We know that He, in fact, experienced joy through His death and resurrection, reconciling all who would believe. But do you think He experienced loneliness in the midst of the obedience? In the midst of the joy? 

I do. As He was on the cross, He asked His Father why He had forsaken Him (Matthew 27:46). He didn't ask that question in sin. He didn't ask that question out of regret for being obedient. He didn't ask because He forgot about all of the joy that was before Him. He didn't ask because He forgot about thousands of years' worth of sinners in need of salvation. He didn't ask because He stopped being Jesus for a second.

In that moment, the worst moment He had ever known, the moment all of our sin was placed on Him, He wasn't in perfect community with the Father and the Holy Spirit like He had been for all of eternity, and that had to be the loneliest moment the world has ever known.

Thankfully, it wasn't over in that moment! Thankfully, God's story didn't end there! Thankfully, yes, Jesus did die, but He rose again!


He accomplished the work that was set before Him. He died so we might be reconciled to Him. He died so we wouldn't be lonely anymore, so we wouldn't be separated from Him any longer. He brought us near. He made us part of His family, part of the household of God. Please read Ephesians 2! Powerful, powerful words from the Lord.

As I type all of this, I feel encouraged, but I still feel lonely. Well, a little less lonely that I did before I started typing. So, what next? I have some thoughts.

1) I need to stop thinking about myself so much. Honestly, I think that's a big part of my problem with loneliness. When my thoughts are filled with  me and only me, there's no one else in them. (Duh.) When there's no one else in my thoughts, chances are I'm not living out my faith. I'm probably not being encouraging. Likely, I'm not being very hospitable. Chances are, simply put, I'm not loving others well. Jesus didn't die so I would sit around thinking about myself all the time.

2) I need to preach truth to myself daily - sometimes many, many times a day. If you didn't do this already, read Ephesians 2. If you're struggling with loneliness, read it out loud to yourself. Write it on your mirror. Tape it to your dashboard (to read while you're stopped in traffic or parked somewhere). Write it in a card and mail it to a friend who may be feeling lonely, which leads me to ...

3) I need to reach out to other people. This one is linked closely to the first thought, but it takes my thinking a step further into action. I need to be intentional about serving and encouraging others.

4) I need to care for orphans. They are some of the loveliest, loneliest people in our world, and they need people to care for them. God adopted me. Jesus experienced the loneliest moment the world has ever known so that I could be a part of His family. Now it's my turn to reach out, to extend that love and grace to little people who likely are far lonelier than I've ever been.

Now, what are you going to do?

Not alone. Adopted!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Thoughts about Our Future

We're on our way to Charleston. When this is my view, my tendency is to lose myself in thought. That's a rabbit hole much deeper than the one that transported Alice to Wonderland. 

Today, I found myself thinking about when my cousin's first child was born. Several of us traveled a few hundred miles to celebrate her birth. We flooded the hospital room and oohed and ahhed over the perfectly squishy little girl with a head full of hair. 

Those thoughts led to thoughts about our future. If God chooses to bless us with biological children, who would come to the hospital to celebrate with us? Would anyone drive hundreds of miles to ooh and ahh over our little one? 

What about our future adopted children? How different will those first days be? I know we'll be over the moon excited about the additions to our family. How will they be received by everyone else? I hope they're embraced with as much warmth and excitement as any biological children might be. I want that for them (and for us). 

Then I started thinking about the children we hope to adopt. Have they been born already? If so, is it possible we've crossed paths before? Is there a woman out there who just took a pregnancy test and is terrified to have a child - but brave enough to carry that child for nine months and then trust us to give her baby a home? Were our children ushered into this world with joy, only to suffer the consequences of their parents' bad choices? Are our children in foster care, longing for a forever family who is willing to adopt a large sibling group? Are our children thinking about us while I'm thinking about them? Will our children like this CD as much as their daddy does? If so, I can get used to it. ;0)

All those thoughts led to prayers. Prayers for our children, whether they're out there now or not. Prayers for their biological parents, because chances are our children won't come out of ideal circumstances. Prayers for us, because fostering and adopting stir up tons of questions and emotions. 

As I was thinking about birth and adoption, I thought about my own birth and adoption. There is a cute picture of my aunt and two of my mom's friends peering through a window in anticipation of the doctor coming out to announce my arrival. There are pictures of my parents holding my not-so-cute screaming and Jondice self, grinning from ear to ear. 

I don't think there are any pictures of my adoption, not even of my baptism. My friend Kara D. was close by for my adoption. I don't remember who else was there. My mom, stepdad, and grandmother were there for my baptism. I don't remember who else came.

I wish there had been a big celebration, because those were big moments. The moment God adopted me into His family was the most important moment of my life. That moment impacted the rest of my life like no other moment. 

When I think about adopting our children, I can't help but think of God adopting me. It's the reason I want to adopt.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Who Has My Attention?

This morning, just before I started my Bible reading, I asked God to show me something new in Acts 8. I've read Acts numerous times, and I wanted to catch something I'd missed before.

I love it when God answers that prayer!

At this point in Acts, the early church has been scattered because of the persecution in Jerusalem. Philip was in Samaria "preaching the word" (v. 4). "And the crowds with one accord paid attention to what was being said by Philip when they heard him and saw the signs that he did" (v. 6, emphasis mine). The phrase "paid attention" really stood out to me. Immediately, upon reading it, I started questioning who has my attention.

A few verses later, we meet Simon the magician. Luke used the phrase "paid attention" twice in the narrative about Simon. "They all paid attention to [Simon], from the least to the greatest, saying 'This man is the power of God that is called Great.' And they paid attention to him because for a long time he had amazed them with his magic" (vv. 10-11, emphasis mine).

People paid attention both to Philip and Simon. Both men were doing things that caught people's attention: Philip, "signs and great miracles" (v. 13); Simon, "magic" (v. 11).

The big difference between the men: their messages.

Philip "preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ" (v. 12). Simon proclaimed "that he himself was somebody great" (v. 9).

Two men. Two very different messages.

One pointed people to Christ. One pointed people toward himself.

One message gave life. One message was self-serving.

So, today, ask yourself: "Who has my attention?"

Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Empty Seat

Many of you know that my husband, Joseph (Husby!), works full-time at our church. He's the Director of Video Production and Worship Technology, which means a lot of things, but one of the things it means is he serves all three services at church most Sundays of the year.

Because of that, I'm asked from time to time about the "empty seat" that leaves beside me during worship services. 

"Don't you wish your husband could sit with you during church?"

"Isn't it hard being alone during worship?"

"Don't you get tired of your husband not being able to worship with you?"

"Don't you wish you could actually worship with your husband for once?"

I've come to realize that my attitude about the empty seat is my choice. I could choose to pout and wish Joseph could sit with me. I could choose to feel sorry for myself because worship services aren't the same because Joseph isn't sitting with me. I could choose to be bitter about the situation.


I could choose a very different attitude!

I could choose to remember that God created my husband with a precious servant's heart.

I could choose to remember that God called my husband into ministry, and he answered that call!

I could choose to remember the joy that fill's Joseph's heart as he serves.

I could choose to remember the sacrifice that he makes willingly each week to help create an environment where our church family is able to worship with minimal distractions.

I could choose to remember how good he looks in black, and that's one of his standard colors on Sundays. hehe ;O)

I could choose to remember that my husband is at his best when he's stepping into what God has called him to do, which is most often serving someone else.

I could choose to remember all the other people with empty seats each Sunday, whether it's because they have loved ones serving or because they don't have loved ones to worship with them, and then I could pray for courage to reach out to the other people with empty seats! (God is still working on me about that one.)

I could choose to think of all the women who long to have husbands who love to serve.

I could choose JOY!

I could choose gratitude and praise, because, at the end of the day, I'm thankful for the empty seat. 

I'm thankful I'm married to a man who loves serving the Lord and serving others. He serves out of a purity and sincerity of heart that I don't see in many others. 

(I'm also thankful that, often, my empty seat isn't really empty at all. It's usually filled by my best friend, and I'm thankful we're able to worship together!)

My husband puts skin on Colossians 3:17 for me: "And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."And it doesn't take long being around him to understand why his favorite verse is Colossians 3:23. "Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men ..."

Joseph, if you're reading this, I want you to know that I love you, and my heart fills with joy on Sundays when I see you serving. I'm thankful God brought us together, and I'm thankful you answer His call to serve year after year, week after week, day after day. You're my hero. :O)

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Oh, How I Need You

I listened to this song several times in the car this evening. I sang along at the top of my lungs. I praised. I prayed.

I wept.

I wept for the needs in Monterrey.

I wept for the loss of my grandmother.

I wept because the loneliness I've felt since her passing is almost tangible.

I wept because I'm not a mom yet.

I wept for orphaned little girls in India.

I wept because I want God to use me.

I wept because I don't know how God is using me.

I wept because I don't know what my "mission field" is.

I wept because I probably actually do know what my "mission field" is, and I'm not doing anything about it most days.

I wept because I don't know how to process my feelings and thoughts most days.

I wept because I didn't know what else to do before the Lord.

"Jesus wept." (John 11:35)

Jesus is no stranger to tears. He gets it.

"Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words." (Romans 8:26)

In moments like this evening, I am reassured that the Holy Spirit understands my deepest thoughts and feelings even better than I do, and He knows how to pray for me. He never stops interceding for me.

He. Never. Stops.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Put Me in, Coach!

In life, do you ever feel like you've been benched by God? Like you're sitting on the bench watching everyone else playing the game, being used by God? Like you're sitting on the sidelines, screaming, "Put me in, Coach!"?

I do.

Pretty much all the time.

Last week, serving in Mexico, was an exception. For a week, even if things were very different than I expected, I felt used by God. I felt like I was actually part of the team, playing the game, even scoring a point or two. Like God had looked over at the bench and yelled, "Adams! You're up!"

"Me? Adams is a pretty common last name. Did You mean someone else, Coach?"

"Quit foolin' around, Adams, and get out on the field! And hustle!"


Oh, it felt awkward, like my shoes were the wrong size and I put on the wrong uniform. Like I didn't know the plays and I was running in the wrong direction sometimes. Like I didn't even know the language of the sport.

But I was in the game, and that was awesome!

Then I came home.

And I felt benched again.

And the screaming started again. "Put me in, Coach! ... Please!"

Rather than waking up before my 6:30 AM alarm clock, filled with anticipation and excitement for the day, I'm back to sleeping the morning away because I have no sense of purpose.

My prayer journal is filled with "What now?" and "How are you going to use me here?" and "I want to do big things for you, God."

I think this internal dialogue of mine points to a lie about the Christian life that has taken root in my heart and is producing some rotten fruit.

Somewhere along the way, I got it into my head that there are people who are really being used by God in big ways and people who are just sitting and waiting to be called into the game.

Oh, I would have never admitted that. I would have told you that God is using all His people in all their circumstances at all times for good. And then I would have quoted Scripture to you to prove I really believed that.

The fruit of my life is what points to the lie. It was the feeling that going on a mission trip meant God had decided to use me. It was the feeling that this season of my life isn't offering me many opportunities to be used by God (because, you know, other seasons of life have plenty of built-in opportunities). It was the feeling that surely God using me looks different than THIS.

That last sentence points to another lie I've rooted myself in: my plans are better than God's plans. Again, I wouldn't admit to that lie. I would tell you wholeheartedly that I believe God's plans are WAY better than mine, and I would point you to Isaiah 55:8-9. But I haven't been living that way. I've been living a discontent, foot-stomping life that says, "God, I know better than You do."

It's interesting to me that in Mexico, God revealed these lies to me. While I was there, He dealt with me and reminded me that seemingly insignificant things could have a big impact eternally. He reminded me that my expectations don't always line up with His plans. I felt like I was making progress, embracing His plans rather than my expectations.

Then I came home, and the lies are still there.  I'm screaming, "Put me in, Coach!" louder than ever.

So, I know many of you were praying for us on our trip, and I'm so thankful for you! If you'd like to continue praying for me, this would probably be my number one request. Pray that I would be faithful in all things, seemingly big or small. Pray that I would spend time in God's Word and in prayer and that He would replace the lies with truth. Pray that God would help me remember each day that there isn't a distinction among Christians. We're all in the game - our plays just don't all look the same.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

A Beautiful Mess

Most of you probably know Joseph and I are going on a mission trip to Monterrey, Mexico next week. We leave dark and early Saturday morning. Over the last several days, I've experienced emotions I couldn't quite pinpoint. Out running errands today, somewhere between buying sunglasses and Immodium, something clicked, and I realized exactly what I've been feeling:

I miss my grandmothers.

Some of you may be thinking, "Um, Rachelle, duh. Why was that hard to figure out? You've been missing them both since they passed."

That's very true. A day hasn't gone by that I haven't missed them. I think that's precisely why I couldn't figure out what this feeling was. You see, this mission trip is probably the biggest thing that has happened in our lives since either of them passed. Being called by God to go, saying "yes", marveling at God providing the money so quickly and extravagantly, praying and preparing to go ... all of this is a BIG deal to us.

And they aren't here for me to share it with them.

So, this missing them has been a different kind of missing them than before. It's a different kind of hole that is left by their absence.

I thought about Grandmama Helen today as I went from store to store purchasing odds and ends we needed. Before she passed, she would have accompanied me via cell phone on those excursions. She would have listened as a I prattled on and on a mile-a-minute, filled with nervous excitement. Her excitement for me would have grown with each errand run (though it would have been accompanied with plenty of concern and a whole lot of questions; that was just her way).

Later, I thought about Grandmama Clyde. She would have really enjoyed looking at all the pictures from our trip and hearing about the places we went and the people we met. She absolutely loved to travel, and she connected with people everywhere she went. I always admired that about her (and still do).

It's been about 14 months since Grandmama Clyde passed and a little over 3 months since Grandmama Helen passed. My heart is still so tender with the loss of two of the most important people in my life. So many things trigger sadness within me, from seeing pictures of babies with their grandmothers and mourning that my grandmothers will never know my children on this side of Heaven, to opening the car door and wanting to pick up the phone, to something silly that Joseph says.

In the midst of the sadness, though, is such a sweet peace and joy from the Lord. He has comforted me so faithfully, and I know He will continue doing that. Most days, I think I'm a beautiful mess of emotions, evidence of God at work in me.

I want to carry that with me to Mexico. 

The children we're going to be working with have experienced things I won't understand. I don't understand what it's like to be orphaned and live in a children's home. I don't understand poverty. I don't understand growing up without a sure plan of graduating with honors and going to a four-year college. My life is vastly different from what most of these children have experienced.


I understand sadness. I understand loneliness. I've experienced feelings of rejection and even displacement. I know what it feels like to be angry and question God.

More important ...

I know what it feels like to hope.

My prayer is that I can connect with the children in Mexico. I'm praying that I can share with them even a sliver of the hope Jesus has given me. The same hope exists for them. 

I want to encourage them, to remind them they are created in God's very own image, and they are oh so special. I want to remind them how much they are loved. I want them to know that even if their earthly fathers and mothers have forsaken them, the Lord has taken them in (cf. Psalm 27:10). I'm so thankful for the Back2Back organization, which shares these truths with them regularly.

I'll only be with these children for a few days, but I want to pour as much love into them as I possibly can while I'm there. I want the grace God has extended to me in the midst of this beautiful mess of emotions to motivate me to extend grace, love, mercy, and compassion to these children.

Will you join me in praying next week? Our trip is July 7th-13th. The plan is that we'll be serving primarily at Manantial de Amor Children's Home, but I'm trying to hold that loosely, knowing that God's story has a plot line that doesn't always line up with our plans. There are 27 children in this home currently, and here are pictures and names so you can be praying for them (you should be able to click on the photo to view it larger).

Please be praying for our team. There are 30 of us going, including 11 children. I'm so excited that families are going to be able to serve together on this trip. Here are some specific ways you can be praying for us:

  • Pray for our safety as we travel and that there wouldn't be any glitches with tickets, security, or luggage. Moving 30 people through airports isn't an easy task. (Pray that if there are glitches, we would see God in the midst of them and not grow discouraged.)
  • Pray that we will be able to build healthy connections with the children in Mexico that will encourage them and build them up in the Lord.
  • Pray that we will be able to support and encourage the Back2Back and children's home staff while we're there. They minister 24/7.
  • Pray that our group would be a blessing to this ministry and not a burden in any way.
  • Pray that we will each be open to anything the Lord calls us to do while we're there, that no "yes" would seem too small or too big.
  • Pray that we would each be changed for the good through this experience. 
  • Pray that we would love others well and eagerly.
  • Pray that God would unify us as a team.

I'm asking that God would wreck me through this trip. I don't want to return the same stuck-in-a-rut Rachelle. I want to return with a deeper desire to know Him and a greater passion to serve Him and love others.

It isn't likely that I'll be able to post while we're in Mexico, but I look forward to blogging when we return. Thank you so much for praying!

"And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, 'The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.'" (Matthew 9:35-28, ESV)

"For 'everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.' How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, 'How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!'" (Romans 10:13-15, ESV)

"'Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.'" (Matthew 28:19-20, ESV)