Rachel Milburn’s family has a special new addition this Christmas – they welcomed baby girl Naomi-Joy four weeks ago, in a quick and complication-free birth.
Rachel and her husband Jordan also have a two-year-old son, Phineas, who already adores his baby sister.
But amid the joy of growing their family, Rachel has had some hard moments in the past year, and she’s hoping for some things to be different in 2022.
The year began in grief after the death of Rachel’s father, a loss she continues to mourn. Alongside this Rachel has been caught up in legal issues surrounding the care of her adult brother, who has an intellectual disability, and watching the sad decline of a grandmother with dementia.
All of those factors were compounded during Sydney’s long winter lockdown, when the 5km radius limit meant that she couldn’t see any of her family members, even for a safe socially-distanced walk, despite them living just a 25-minute drive away.
Rachel is praying for peace in her family in 2022, and more chances to get together to smooth tensions and deepen relationships.
Like so many of us, Rachel is also praying for the opportunity to see extended family, including Jordan’s family, who are located interstate and in rural NSW. They haven’t seen some of this side of the family for two or three years.
Rachel is also hoping for more opportunities to run playgroup at her church, St James’ Croydon. “My life is like running Play School every day,” she jokes about the playgroup ministry. But of course, that wasn’t the case during lockdown. Rachel hopes that won’t be repeated in 2022.
Before becoming a stay-at-home mum, Rachel worked for Quiz Worx, a performance ministry that presents the good news of the Bible through creative live shows for kids, especially in state schools. She was a performer and puppeteer with the Quiz Worx team, where her husband Jordan continues to work.
Rachel is praying that the Quiz Worx ministry will thrive in 2022. “We are really hopeful that live shows become more regular again,” she says. “Our online ministry has been great, we’ve been viewed in over 45 countries, but we’re a relational travelling ministry and we really miss that.”
“Even though tours mean I lose my husband for up to two weeks at a time, we’re really praying that we have those opportunities to physically reach kids again.”
In 2022, Rachel is also looking forward to continuing to grow relationships with people in her local suburb of Croydon in Sydney’s inner west.
“Lockdown was actually really good for this because as a stay-at-home mum you go for lots of walks, you pass the same places and people, and that’s been really lovely.”
Rachel also explains that in her unit block, her best friend lives upstairs and her housemates used to work with Rachel. She’s enjoyed how they’ve all cooked and baked for each other throughout 2021 and hopes those strong bonds continue in 2022.
With two young children, Rachel is praying for good ways to connect with God in 2022.
“I’m praying that God’s word will keep speaking to me in all the little moments because it’s hard to have a more disciplined quiet time now,” she shares. “And I’m praying for my prayerfulness, that I would use all those spontaneous moments in the small hours of the morning to be connecting with God.”
Finally, Rachel is hopeful that she’ll get to work on some creative projects in 2022. She’s planning to build some new puppets for the Quiz Worx team, and she’s also writing some children’s books.
“I’ve been writing for a long time, but I’ve never been published. I’d love that to happen,” she shares.