Church and faith are important to our family. Rachel was about two weeks old when she first went to church with us, and she showed up in the nursery at six weeks. Her first real babysitters were people from our church who we didn’t know well until Rachel. They lived close to us and came by before she was born to say they would love to babysit and give us a night out when we needed it. She was about six weeks and we had a wedding so Pam and Bart got the nod. Pam/Bart, as Rachel called them, and their three teenagers became cherished friends and we have shared many life events. I am deeply appreciative to Pam, Bart, Holly, Haley and Philip for extending love to us in such important ways. They are still very dear to our family. We’ve had a lot of church folks extend the hands and feet and love of Jesus to us.
Rachel has a wonderful group of girlfriends at our church. I would say they are her best friends. They are a great group of girls, and we are thankful for them. They are a fun group of girls and truly seem to enjoy and support each other. One of the highlights of the summer for Rachel is going to church camp.
For the past eight years, I have also gone to church camp. Jonathan also enjoys going but this year he is helping and serving by going on our Student Ministry Mission Trip to New Orleans. Jonathan and I both like going to camp and spending time with students. In one of our former lives, we both did a lot of camping, chaperoning student groups and 4-H groups and high adventure activities.
For the past five years, our students have attended Lifeway’s Fuge Camp at Southwest Baptist University at Bolivar MO. We love Fuge. They do camp well for all students. Camp staff, student leaders and students from other churches have always included Rachel. Her girlfriends joke that she knows everyone at camp after the first day.
Last year she met some boys from a church in Springfield. I noticed they seemed to just click with Rachel. I spoke with them and they told me they went to school with a young man with Down syndrome and he was one of their best friends. This year, these boys were back. They spent quite a lot of time with our girls. Another adult sponsor from our church told me that she had observed these young men. She told me she was so impressed by how they treated everyone. Me, too! I spoke to their student minister and he said they are the real deal. “I learn about being Christ-like from them!”
This week Rachel and her daddy have joined 34 others from our church on a Mission Trip. While Rachel has done volunteer work, this is her first mission trip. I’m not sure what they are doing but I believe they may be working with the elderly and the homeless and prepping for Vacation Bible School. It will be hot. Rachel is big on sweat, but I suspect she will be joyful along the journey. Rachel has a very tender heart. It will be a great experience for all of them, and it will be most interesting to see how she processes all of what she sees and does.
Rachel has been in a Bible study called “Experiencing God” on Wednesday night’s this summer. It is the first Bible study she has done where she had to do homework five days a week. She has been diligent to do her lessons every day. Usually, I don’t have to remind her. The questions are hard and there are no accommodations or modifications. She has trudged through and only ask for help a couple of times. If she gets the overall gist of it, I think it is all good. One day last week she was working on it in her room. I ask her how it was going and she said, “I texted Hanna for help. Hanna is smart with the Bible, mommy.” I’m proud of her resourcefulness.
Rachel also helped with music at Vacation Bible School at one of our campuses this year. I heard she did a really good job and the students loved her. She certainly had fun doing it. Our preschool minister sent her the training video and she practiced it all on her own. Here she is in action at our family night event.
Rachel loves Jesus. Her favorite worship song is “His Love Never Fails” and I suspect her favorite song is “Oh Happy Day.” She would have a hard time deciding. Her “I Love My Life” presentation has always included slides about church and beautiful pictures from her baptism. This year, she insisted that we add “I am a Jesus follower.” She was very disappointed in me because I forgot to add that to her IEP presentation. It is there now. Self-advocacy in action. Like it says in Romans, Rachel is “Unashamed” of the gospel. That was the theme for our Fuge camp this year, and Rachel truly embraced it. Seems appropriate.
And apparently based on this text, Rachel found a pink house in New Orleans, too.
That seems appropriate, too.