Wednesday, March 30, 2011

guest blogger - Rachel's story

I am so excited to share with you Rachel's story.  If you remember I wrote a post, 35 years in the making, a story about my friendship with Rachel that has spanned 35 years,  you can read that here.  (she was born 51 days after me, so technically... that makes me the oldest). After I wrote that I asked Rachel if she would like guest post and share her story, she graciously agreed. Rachel is one of the few people that knows absolutely everything about me,  we saw the worst parts of each others lives, we lived it together.

The House Behind Me

If it takes me any longer to write this, it will be thirty six years in the making!  Yes, it's been 35 years in the making.  I don't think you could make up our life stories if you tried.  I met Kandi when we lived behind each other as young girls, an alley separating our backyards.  We would walk to school together, ride our bikes to the pool in summer, play hours upon hours of "Barbie" (which, as you women know, "playing Barbie" really just entailed changing their outfits 215 times and braiding their hair), building snow forts (ah, winter in Wisconsin) and hundreds of sleepovers.  While that all sounds like a "normal" childhood, there were forces at work against us, our families our livelihoods.  Little did we know our future and the turmoil, confusion and sadness we would both go through, nor the deep seeded pain that seems to have formed us into the adults we became.  I believe that He does not give us more than we can handle, but like many, eventually start to question "what is His plan for me?"

Kandi has shared bits of her life story with you, but for many years, I was across the alley and things across the alley weren't much better, let me tell you...

I am the youngest of 4 kids.  My parents divorced when I was young and not long after we moved into the house behind Kandi.  My mother was an alcoholic who worked two jobs and was rarely home.  With my mom rarely home my sister, the oldest, took care of us kids.  There were days when there was no food in the house and my sister would seek assistance from her friends to feed all 4 of us, and the times when my mom was home and we didn't have any milk in the house, nor the money to buy any my mom would send me over to Kandi's house to get money from her mom.  Those were some humbling days for me.  Then one day, when I was 10, my mom left for work and never came home.  I still remember seeking comfort at Kandi's house and I'll never forget standing in their kitchen, telling her mom as a matter of fact, that my mom left and isn't coming back.  I'll never forget the look on her face, the tears she tried to hold back, and the tightness of her embrace of me, when she assured me "she'll come back".  She didn't. 

For a while my oldest sister tried to take care of us on her own, but really she was just a teenage girl, a baby herself that had taken on the role of mom long before our own mother left.  Anyway she tried to take care of us the best she could, th
e first few days my mother was gone we didn't tell anyone, it was only when we ran out of food and the utilities were about to be shut off that we told our dad. I was sad, angry, confused and hopeless, I had been rejected and abandoned by my mother.  It was a terrible time.  Eventually the four of us kids were split up and put in foster homes.  A few years had gone by, my two oldest siblings had graduated high school and had moved away from home to attend college and start their lives while my one brother and I went to live with our dad and step-mom, not that life with them was much better, but at least we were out of “the system”.  My brother and I eventually graduated high school, attended some college, and got on with the business of life.  The 4 of us kids were scattered across the US, living our own lives how we each saw fit for ourselves. 

I have forgiven my mother for what she did, I actually thank her because I was given a better life by her leaving, but I have no desire to have a relationship with her, and I don’t discuss her with my brother.  She has been out of my life longer than she was ever in it.  In my mind, I've worked through her leaving and it's behind me, and I really have no feelings about her one way or another.  I understand WHY she did what she did, but in my mind she did it the wrong way.  I have forgiven her for WHY she did it, I just don't agree with HOW she did it.   

It was the afternoon of December 9, 1995 and feeling the greatest loss within myself, feeling part of me die at 4:25 pm on that Saturday afternoon.  I was at Target doing some Christmas shopping with a friend when suddenly I felt sick like the blood was being sucked out of me, I just wanted to go home I needed to go home.  I was a little calmer once I was inside my apartment. Checking my phone messages it seemed like there were hundreds of calls from my brother just moments apart, confused, I wondered what could be so urgent.  I called him back completely unprepared for what I was about to hear, I fell to the floor in a heap of tears.  That moment in Target, when I felt the blood drain from my body was the moment my sister, who was married, the mother of 3 beautiful girls and pregnant with her 4th child, a boy, my sister who so loving took care of me as a child, who took on the role of mother long before our own mother left was killed by a drunk driver over 2000 miles away.  Alcohol took my mother from me, and now it had taken my sister from me.  Talk about asking God "WHY???"  I'm still waiting for that answer.  I have three precious nieces, my sister’s girls, I see their mother so uniquely in each one of them, especially the oldest, a spittin image of her mom, my beautiful sister.

That was fifteen years ago.  I've moved all over the country, had numerous jobs, a failed childless marriage, and here I am, 40, single and living alone in a 1 bedroom apartment in St. Louis. God, now what?  I knew Kandi had started writing blog and for a few months I kept meaning to read it, but always seem to get distracted.  One day, I was sitting at my computer and remember the link to her blog she had put on the bottom of her email.  I read.  I couldn't stop reading.  I cried.  I laughed.  I read and re-read, day after day.  One Friday night, I knew what I had to do. 

I had been feeling a stir inside of me for a while.  I was unable to put my finger on it.  It was a poking, nagging, anxious feeling.  I sat and read Kandi's blog again...every post.  It hit me.  I needed help.  I got home from work, sat down and wrote to Kandi.  My questions to Kandi were "how do I become "inspired"?  How can I START to feel closer to God?  How do I begin putting my life in His hands and letting go?  How do I begin to pray for guidance?  I need His help, I WANT to let Him in...I  just don't know where to start".  That was the beginning.  That was the moment that changed my life.  I knew I had to reach out to my sister in Christ, the one woman who has been an active part of my life longer than any other woman I know.  Even over the miles apart we lived, or the years that went by where we didn't speak to each other, there was a reason we reconnected again a few years ago.  There was a reason behind her writing.  There was a reason for living in the house behind her so long ago.  And He knew it.  Of course He did!

So, while I'm just starting on my journey to give my life fully over to Him, I pray for guidance and forgiveness.  I pray that letting go starts to come more natural, where I don't have to remind myself 117 times a day, and let Him guide me.  To learn to listen when He speaks to me.  To fight against Satan who surely will miss my company (I will NOT miss his) and live my life with Him first for a change. 

Kandi said it pretty good the other day in her blog:  Keep putting one foot in front of the other doing the next best thing you know to do and don't try to control or manipulate the situation, have some faith that He will work it out the way it is supposed to be worked out.

It's early, but I've never felt better about letting Him to show me the most amazing life I could possibly know.  My life with God.


  1. Rachel, your testimony brought tears to my eyes. Thank you so much for be willing to share it! I just love when God brings friends back into our lives just when we need them. Even in the darkest moments, He is working. He is able to use each of and teach each of matter how painful the journey has been. Thank you.

  2. Thank you for sharing Rachel. I was just reading in Ephesians 1 how we are Chosen Beloved Called Redeemed Planned and we are HIS! Pretty exciting to know! So glad you heard His voice and answered, Yes.

    what a sweet friendship you and Kandi have!