Rachelle was about thirteen when I met her. She was one of my children’s favourite babysitters. She loved to laugh, Rachelle also loved babies. She and I had many conversations over the years she came to my house, to help out with the kids. We talked of her one day getting married and having children of her own. Here she is all grown up and taking care of her own family. Rachelle’s sweetness is evident in her feature, and I hope you enjoy getting to know this lovely Christian woman.
Life With Rachel
Jesus and corn chips. That’s when you know you have writer’s block. I find myself alternating between asking Jesus to help me write this while munching on a few corn chips in between. I have been racking my brain for weeks trying to figure out how to best honour this platform. Typing…deleting…typing…deleting…and thinking, “How does Cindy do this every week???” Am I aiming for funny? (My usual Modus Operandi). Or perhaps since I’m 41 years old now, I should reflect a more “Titus 2:3” tone in the hopes of teaching what is good. And what exactly is good?
Let me tell you, my friends…God is so good…all the time. He really is!
I hope that by sharing my heart and a little of my life with you, you will see just how faithful God is and how he makes all broken things new again! So I will type these words for you with a heart that is brimming with love and fingers that are really salty from corn chips.
A Little About Me
I always dreamt that I would be the stay-at-home mom who had 4 or 5 children and an expert at crockpot cooking. I aspired to be her. If you are her…I love you. God bless you for being home with your children. Working moms are pretty incredible too. That’s what I ended up becoming.
Working outside of the home has many challenges. Finding the right daycare, saying goodnight to your babies then heading off for a night shift, and trying to create a healthy work-life balance in general. Staying at home was never an option for me since our family was dependent on my income to meet our needs. If it wasn’t for my career, I don’t know how I would have managed during a time when I was a single parent with two kids! Today I am married to an incredible man who loved me and my two children (Benjamin, 13 & Esther, 10) and then we added another little addition to our family (Hannah, 3)!
On the morning of June 29, 2017, I was showering when I noticed that my torso felt numb. In fact, my hands felt numb as well. By nightfall, the numbness had spread all the way down to my toes and up both arms. I tried to chalk it up to a herniated disk or pinched nerve, but the chiropractor assessed that my symptoms were systemic and I needed to see my doctor. My physician said to me, “It’s probably not Multiple Sclerosis, but we’ll just check everything to be sure!” MS??? I wasn’t even thinking of MS! I was thinking and hoping that it was a symptom of a vitamin deficiency or as someone else suggested anxiety! I would take anxiety any day if it meant not having MS.
If I didn’t have anxiety before, well I certainly had it now as I worried about all the diagnostic possibilities I could be facing!
Over the next few months, my symptoms persisted and escalated to include vertigo, a tightening around my torso that felt just like having contractions throughout the day and oddly enough a feeling of electricity passing through my neck and right arm every time I bowed my head. You can say that I had an electrifying experience every time I prayed (HA!).
The fatigue was unbelievable! I would get up in the morning and want to nap at 10am for several hours. I could barely keep up with my housework, cooking or even being fully present with my children. Two MRI’s concluded that I had lesions on my spine and brain and with a positive spinal tap, the results were clear.
On December 6th, 2017 I was diagnosed with Remitting-Relapsing Multiple Sclerosis. My job as a critical care nurse became difficult to manage with numb hands that no longer could feel veins for blood work or starting IV’s. Fine motor skills such as drawing up medications in syringes were increasingly challenging. My neurologist also made it clear that my 12 hour night shifts were no longer an option as far as my health was concerned. Before I left the neurologist, I was given a pamphlet entitled, “Understanding my MS.” It was as if the neurologist was saying, “MS…meet Rachelle. Rachelle, this is MS! You guys will be together for the rest of your life, so you mind as well get to know each other!”
A Typical Day
There is no typical day when you have 3 kids, a dog, a cat and a hedgehog. We do have benchmark moments! Moments like praying together as a couple in the morning and making sure everyone has brushed their teeth and combed their hair before they run out of the door. But the most important part of our day is sitting together around the table to eat dinner. Most days we are blown apart to either work, school or daycare. Dinner is the one time in the day when we are all together to look each other in the eyes, talk, laugh, scold a child for passing gas and other teachable moments.
My Daily Struggles
The biggest challenge I face is accepting that I can’t do it all. I still struggle with MS symptoms every day and I have to take a daily injection as well as supplements. My house never stays clean, and I feel like I am constantly picking stuff up off the floor. My furniture doesn’t match, and the comforter on my bed has a big hole in it where the cat likes to crawl in to hide. I think we will only get nice things in our house once we retire but when that happens, I will miss my grown up babies and long for the days of messy floors and laundry piles.
I have this extensive list in my head of all the areas in my life where I need discipline. I want to be that woman that can wake up early, make her bed, read her bible and pray intimately with our Lord. I want to keep a tidy home, speak my husband’s love language, make homemade granola bars, master positive parenting, lose weight, meal prep for the week, write music, learn to use coupons like those other women do at Walmart and plan for our retirement. Not to mention all of the recipes saved on my Facebook that I have been planning on making for the last 5 years (Although I did manage to nail the zucchini fries!). Nope. Can’t do it all.
God gave me my daily bread and my challenge is to be mindful of each moment and each encounter that I have with those around me.
Perhaps one day I will learn how to do Pilates on a paddleboard, but for now, it’s about giving honour to God in all the everyday bits that I have to do for today.
Joys In My Day
When everyone comes back from work or school, and we get to be together! That and watching Golden Girls with my husband in the evening after the kids are all tucked asleep in bed!
That I could be healed and that my body would do what I want it to do! It’s hard feeling trapped in your body, especially when you’re overweight, tired and unhealthy. So to combat this, I did the unthinkable! I joined CrossFit! I used to think that it was just for fit young people who liked extreme exercise but it’s actually been a brilliant combination of fitness for my MS. I’m working on maintaining my coordination, balance, strength and mobility. I call it my extreme “Physio” class. My dream is that through a healthy diet, exercise and at least 7 hours of sleep each night, I can improve the outcome of my health.
Moments With God
I was always an anxious person. Anxiety was my middle name. I’m the person that will hear of someone having cancer or a plane crashing down and be vicariously traumatized by it. I will hear of a child being abducted and feel tempted to be paralyzed by fear for my own children! If you had told me a few years ago that I was going to get MS, I probably would have panicked and wasted the moments worrying about how life would be like for me.
I would have thought that being diagnosed with MS would have sunk me into despair.
There have been tears, and I have been genuinely scared. One of the most nurturing thoughts I have is of an infant in their mother’s arms being held. The mother holds her baby close to her heart, gently brushing the tears away and looking into her baby’s eyes. This is a secure attachment because the child knows that mom can make it better, mom is safe and can protect them. When her baby seeks her and takes refuge in her arms, she is filled with joy. She begins to sing to her baby, soothingly and sweetly. What a beautiful visual! When I am most afraid I bring to mind my favourite passage in the bible. It says,
Like a loving parent, God longs to keep us close to Him, to be the one that we love and cling to!
When I feel like the world gets to be too much for me to handle, I run to my heavenly Father in prayer, and I seek Him. I know that He will quiet me with His love. I know that no matter how scary the world is, whatever pain or grief we have to endure, God never leaves me to do it alone. He sees me through it, and I come out of it closer and more attached to Him than ever before.
The strength of our faith and whether God loves us isn’t measured by the absence of pain or suffering.
Nobody can go through life in this world unscathed. We know that Jesus suffered immensely during his short lifespan and yet He was perfect and pleasing to God.
That doesn’t mean we can’t come to God with all our requests. I have been known to ask God for a good parking spot once in a while or to get a job I’ve applied for. That’s part of my relationship with God because we talk to each other throughout the day just like I would with my husband.
Sometimes we have deep conversations and other times I make him laugh or talk to Him about the weather. However, if my focus is solely on easy living, then I think I would have a short-sighted faith. The more I keep my focus on my life on planet earth…the one that Statistics Canada estimates a life expectancy of only 83 years (79 if you’re a man!)-the more I worry about stuff.
If I pull back from my immediate circumstances and try to see the world in the light of God’s ultimate will for my life and its eternal implications, I see hope. I can look back on my life and reflect on His mercies and how he took broken pieces and made something completely new and beautiful in ways I could not have thought possible.
God’s dreams for my life are so much better than mine. I know that I can trust Him for my future! There is no need to worry about whether I’ll end up in a wheelchair, or how long I will live because God’s in control and I know He will give me the grace I need to get through suffering.
God’s been there for me in the past, and He promises to be there with me all the days of my life.
I hope Rachelle’s post helped you to see the peace that can come when we give our worries over to God. I also featured her sister Nikki a few months ago. I think you would really enjoy Nikki’s post also. Nikki is a pastor’s wife and she talks about feeling inadequate in her role in ministry. Read more…
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