Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Another December Heartbreak

After my post about meatloaf, I got a small package and was brought to tears when I opened it to find a real chef hat in it.  (thank you Lisa)

On Saturday I went to visit my Papa and although he was doing much worse than the previous visit earlier that week, we had a really good visit.  He was joking and smiling and seemed glad to have company.  His son Gary and his wife Elaine were there when I got there, so when Papa got too tired to talk, he either dosed off or listened to us talk and reminisce about the "good old days" as we read through some of his journal.  At one point Elaine said that her daughter follows my blog (I haven't seen Papa's kid and grandkids in years so I had no idea any of them even knew about Rachel!) and that since we do so much to help so many others, she wanted to give me a little something... she reached in her wallet to hand me something and my Papa blurts out "You better get your check book out, she has a lot of kids!"  

I sat next to him on the bed and reminded him about our meatloaf Fridays and asked if he remembered telling me each week that I needed a chef hat.  He said he did.  So I pulled out the chef hat Lisa sent me and told him how a friend read about that and sent it to me.  I put it on and he got the biggest smile...  when I sat next to him to take this, my eyes welled up with tears.

I feel like life is a constant tightrope of joy and sorrow.  Trying to smile when you want to cry.  Trying to make memories that will help your heart after they are gone.  Holding onto old memories and having no idea where all the time went...  

I have been so sad.  This man has been so much to me.  I'm not ready to say goodbye.  We were told today that hospice says it won't be long.  And it's kind of obvious.  sigh.

So I made a little meatloaf.  Knowing he hasn't really eaten since Thanksgiving (other than Ensures).  But I had that child like faith that maybe if he saw my meatloaf (that I put on his old dishes, with his old silver wear that I now have that we also used way back then) that he'd take a bite or two.  I wasn't hoping for a lot, just a bite.  I made two plates for us on saucers so it would look like a full plate with baby amounts of food and I went to see him.  

He had absolutely no interest in it.  He refused to even look at it. :(  He looked much worse than on Saturday and wasn't able to even sit up to take his indigestion medicine (which is the only thing he takes, I can't believe that... He's a tough cookie)  The nurse did get him to take a couple bites of pudding.  

I stayed for a long time, praying by his bedside and offering help when he woke up choking or whatever... but I'm not even sure if staying was the right thing to do.  I have. no. idea. how to do this.  It's all I think about, I can't fall asleep at night, (well last night was fine because they added another blood pressure medication and it helped my bp all the way down to 80/50... can't find a happy medium...I thought I might never wake up!)  but the past few weeks, have been very hard for me.  

I left there, trying to hold my tears until I got out of the building, but I made it to the last doorway in the hall and a loud gasp came out... a worker asked if I was ok and gave me a hug.  When I started talking, I realized I was practically hyperventilating and having a full blown anxiety attack.  I blubbered "I'm just not ready for this." and then told her I was not able to breathe and needed to go.  And I've been crying on and off since.

Another December heartbreak.  

Please pray for us.

Thursday, December 11, 2014


I have had a very hard week... in more ways than one.

In case you are wondering, yes, I ditched Facebook again.  I went back on to try to help spread the word for Rachel's birthday - and it helped!! Thank you all!!  But I quickly have gone back to being on it more than I even want to be.  I will be back eventually I'm sure, but for now I want to concentrate on my family and the time I have with them - and honestly, I don't feel like friendships get deeper on social media.  I saw more people in person or talked to live people on the phone, while not on Facebook than I had in MONTHS before - or have since I've been back - and that's what I need right now... real connection.  Email me at rachelsmama@ymail.com if you need to contact me!  Or if you have my #, text or call me.

So anyway, on Tuesday, the 9th - Des & I were supposed to go to a ladies conference at Bethany Church (where Matt & I got married) and I ended up being way more sad about Rachel's anniversary than I had ever imagined and topped off my day with a severe headache.  I medicated myself instead of wasting my time at the ER and so even though my headache was under control, my driving wouldn't have been so we had to skip it... which was just another thing that made me feel discouraged.

So Wednesday, Matt & the kids usually have stuff going on, but they skipped so Des & I could go to the 2nd night of this conference... We packed our own Gluten Free cookies because we heard there would be lots of cookies there.

It was SO good for my heart.... I was super excited to be entering into this new phase of life with one of my daughters.  She is growing up way too fast, but she is growing into such an amazing young lady and to sit side by side with my daughter in a church pew *not* on Sunday morning (although that is great too) to connect on a level that only women can... I was just so thankful for her.  I'm thankful that she is mine, that she is here and ultimately, that because of her own faith in Jesus, even if I die tomorrow, I will see her again.  Nothing can ever separate us.  That bond is something I never fully understood until God revealed it to me this year with Rachel... and now as my children get older and have to make their own decisions about what they believe - there is absolutely nothing in this world that I want more than for them to know Christ.  NOTHING.

I had gone to get my massage at the hospital right before we had to leave... I had $43 that my friend Michelle sent me to use towards one, and so originally I only booked 30 mins.  But I decided to pay the difference, which was only $12 and go for the hour because my neck/shoulders are a mess.  So, half was through the massage, she told me that they used to give them on the maternity floor at the hospital, until the budget cuts.  I said I was a victim of those budget cuts... I had Isaiah at that hospital and since he was born on the weekend, they gave me a voucher to come back and get a massage later.  I waited too long to use it and by the time I called, they told me they no longer offered that bc of the budget cuts.  She asked if I still had the voucher and I said no, he's 8 now!  She said "Well, if you were enjoying this massage before, I hope you enjoy it even more now that you know it's FREE!"

I cried... and I said "Awesome, now I can book another one!"  I told her how I got the money for it and about Rachel..... sigh.

So when I got back to get Des, I was late, she was in the shower (I did mention she's growing up... only a pre-teen - or her mom. LOL - would get in the shower just before it is time to go!!)  I threw some cookies in a bag and we were starting to stress and I said "Well, if we're late, it's ok... let's just enjoy the night because it's no fun if we're all uptight."

We walked in over 10 minutes late and went up to pay for our tickets (with the money I didn't have to spend on the extra massage time!!) and the lady said "Here's two tickets... just go in... it pays to be late!"

And later as we stood in line to get the book the speaker wrote signed, (which I would not suggest reading, unfortunately!) someone approached me and asked if I was "Rachel's mom".  I smiled and said yes...she said she reads my blog.   I love how she is known everywhere we go.  I love hearing her name...I will never tire of hearing that someone else recognizes me as her mama and that they are interested in what I have to say!  That still blows my mind... that so many people read what I write... it's crazy!  Thank you!  (And I wish I would have given you a hug!!)

I just can't believe how much we have been blessed this past couple of weeks... over and over!  It's amazing.  

We left there and stopped at the Mall for some late night girls shopping!  I LOVE having a daughter here with me!!  It makes me miss Rachel at times to know all I will miss, but at the same time I cannot imagine if I didn't have her here.  I didn't know when I had her she would be the only girl I ever got to do girl things with... I wish I would have soaked it all up more.  But the best I can do is take that understanding from here and pray that we will grow closer and closer each year...  and that I will still be around for her big life moments to celebrate them with her.  Because I'll tell you what, after doing Lindsey's shower, I cannot wait to be able to give my daughter her baby shower(s)!!!  She'll have some good parties with this Nana on board. :)  Hopefully I don't drive her nuts! lol.

Last night I had a pretty bad scare health wise.  I don't know what happened.  It was after just 15 minutes of moderate exercise (that I was doing for a lot of months until late August) and I seriously thought I might drop dead.  I didn't even feel like I was over doing it at all.  But my legs and lips went completely numb (couldn't stand) and I got really sick.  My blood pressure was normal for once so I have no idea... all I know is I know that God would take great care of my family if I left too soon, but I want to take care of them.  Nothing seems to be turning up on any of the tests and I really believe it's because most of it has to do with my MTHFR mutations being uncontrolled for too long now and there isn't a doctor I've seen that has a clue about it at all.  Please pray for me that I will be able to get in with a doctor who can help me get this figured out so I can start getting strong again.  I really fear that if I don't find someone who knows what they are doing, you will be reading my obituary in the not so distant future - OH, I hope it is a good one!  LOL, I seriously just worried about who will write my obituary!  I'm a writer to the depths of my being!

I just hope that if I never got to write another sentence that anyone who knows me - whether in person or through this blog for Rachel... knows that I love my God and that He is good, even when life is hard.  I hope my kids know even a glimpse of the fierce and unconditional love I have for them and the loyalty I have for them, for their Daddy and for Jesus.  Because Jesus pulled me up out of my darkness and gave me Matt and from there, all of these beautiful babies... including Rachel... and although we regularly feel broke, we never go without.  We live a RICH life.  And although we haven't always liked what has come our way, His plan has been the best for us... And if I never see another day, I adore Him for all he has been to me and my family and I will adore Him for all of eternity in heaven.

If you don't know where you will go when you die, I beg you to ask Jesus if He's real... and be prepared to go for the ride of a life time.  Because He IS and when you knock, the door will be opened. Also be prepared to make some changes as He gently leads you to a life more like He requires.  Anyone who says you can be a Christian and do whatever you want doesn't know Jesus.  Following him requires sacrifice, but not as big as the one he made for us!  Life won't get easy - you've seen my life, right? - but there isn't a better life to live.

I adore Him.

And as it says in the picture above with Des... I am a daughter of a King who is not moved by the world - for my God is with me and goes before me.  I do not fear because I AM HIS.  

I will probably need to recite that to myself over and over, but it's exactly what I need to remember in these times of uncertainty.  He is the Answer.  I need to seek him.  Not anything or anyone else.  Him.  And when I do, He will grant me everything I need.  I am not told to not fear because my life will be easy.  I'm told to not fear because I AM HIS and He has this.

And so when I fear, because I am also human and I will.  I will recite this and remember who holds life and death in his hands.  It's all Him. And I'm all His.  And my God will take care of me in life - and my God conquered the grave and so death will have no victory over me.

Think on that this Christmas season.... why do we celebrate?  I know we remember the baby in that manger...we remember his birth.  But we should also remember the entire story and think on His death... what he did for us sinners.  I celebrate because even with all the ways I've failed and fall short... and all the ways I have sinned against him and others, he says I AM HIS.  

And one of my all time favorite pieces of Scripture just came to mind..... 

Isaiah 43:1-4

But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
    he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
    I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
    and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
    and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
I give Egypt as your ransom,
    Cush and Seba in exchange for you.
Because you are precious in my eyes,
    and honored, and I love you,

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Cake & Cocoa

It's been 4 years since we said our final goodbye and had to leave her tiny casket at the cemetery.

I've discovered that this day is harder than her birthday as an anniversary.   

I miss her.

I woke up to find that my brand new dairy free creamer was bad so I couldn't make coffee.  Not good.  Then I had this great plan that after Ezra's ENT appointment today we would head over to Rachel and eat her ballerina cake there... maybe get some hot chocolate and leave one for her...  I had the cake packed (along with gluten/dairy free cupcakes for me & Des).  We've had decent weather on the 3rd every year until this one.  So this has been hard for me.

I started to realize that I was more emotional than I had anticipated I would be when I was in tears on the way to the ENT.

When we got out of his appointment, it was raining and VERY cold and the kids were not in very good moods....and I had a bad headache starting again.  There isn't much you can do except drive through the cemetery when it's that kind of weather, so I decided we wouldn't be able to go visit Rachel.

Plan B was to go home and try to figure out a way to make hot chocolate that I can drink and eat her cake there.  I made the hot chocolate our of cocoa powder and almond milk.  (it was better than nothing, but would take getting used to, the kids weren't impressed!)  

I got all the cups ready for pouring.  I counted them out and there were just enough for the kids in one kind of mug, so I picked a little different one for me.  I had already poured E's in to a sippy with extra milk... I began looking around for one to use as Rachel's.  I went back and forth in my mind trying to figure out if that was a ridiculous thing to do... I put the idea on hold for a second while I helped the kids add their fixins... and then I realized....

I had 6 kids cups out... 5 of the mugs and the sippy.  I said to Des "There are already six cups there... it's an automatic thing for me to count her." and found myself in tears again.

This day was a constant battle against tears.  I have been so sad... feeling so much like I hate that she is dead today.  Feeling the sting of trying to get into the Christmas cheer when I feel so heavy hearted.

We finally cut her cake and all sat down to have some with our cocoa.... I'm so thankful for these 5 precious kids... and it blesses my heart to hear their little voices talk about Rachel... to hear them say her name is a beautiful sound. ♥

And of course we left her cup on the table with us.  

It worked out ok because when my sister and Jailyn stopped by, she asked for some and I said "You can have Rachel's!"  

Then we sang to her... which was a mess, but they had fun.... You will notice Asa under the table at one point... that is what he did when the doctor asked him to stand on one foot yesterday... LOL

I took a quick trip to the store to pick up a couple things and on the way I heard the song "Hope is what we crave."  I know I blogged about that song a long time ago... today it had me in tears as I looked at our Christmas lights all across our fence that we light each year on the 3rd for her birthday... I usually leave these lights going until into spring time... Mother's day even at times... because 'light' is 'hope' to me. And hope is what I crave....

 "Hope is what we crave"
Hope is what we crave, and that will never change

So I stand and wait
I need a drop of grace to carry me today,
A simple song to say
It's written on my soul:
Hope's what we crave 
To live, to die,

To lose, to get,
To rise above
To love again

It's the 9th of December... the day I had to leave my baby in a grave in the cold.  If there was ever a day I needed to cling to HOPE, this day in 2010 was it.  Today is a very hard day for me, but not one on most people's radars.  It's hard to have everyone around me, every store, every music station, all be covered in Christmas... and my heart hurts so much.  It's hard to live, to die, to lose, to get, to rise above and love again.  It's hard to have a broken heart - to be missing a piece of you - and for the world around you to keep moving.  It feels like everyone is going at a speed that I just can't keep up with... and don't really want to.

Then on the way back I heard "Broken Hallelujah" which was a song I blogged about on her birthday, last year I think.... 

                                                           "Broken Hallelujah"

I can barely stand right now.
Everything is crashing down,
And I wonder where You are.

I try to find the words to pray.
I don't always know what to say,
But You're the one that can hear my heart.

Even though I don't know what your plan is,
I know You're making beauty from these ashes.

I've seen joy and I've seen pain.
On my knees, I call Your name.
Here's my broken hallelujah.

With nothing left to hold onto,
I raise these empty hands to You.
Here's my broken hallelujah.

You know the things that have brought me here.
You know the story of every tear.
‘Cause You've been here from the very start.

Even though I don't know what your plan is,
I know You're making beauty from these ashes.

I've seen joy and I've seen pain.
On my knees, I call Your name.
Here's my broken hallelujah.

With nothing left to hold onto,
I raise these empty hands to You.
Here's my broken hallelujah.

When all is taken away, don't let my heart be changed.
Let me always sing Hallelujah
When I feel afraid, don't let my hope be erased
Let me always sing Hallelujah.
Let me always sing Hallelujah.

I will always sing
I will always sing
Here's my broken hallelujah.

I had this crazy thought this morning as I drove... I remembered the vision in my head of how many cars were here on Saturday and I had an overwhelming feeling of gratitude - For Rachel's life... for her death... and even for what took her from me... anencephaly.  I doubt this is something I will feel regularly, but today I thanked God for anencephaly because people don't love Rachel despite her defect... they love her *because* of it.  She is a special girl because she shows us all how much God can do with a little innocent and not fully formed baby who never made a sound or stepped foot on the earth that has people all over it still talking about how she changed them.  For a moment, I felt like I had finally made peace with anencephaly and what it means for our family.  Because this road has been broken and painful, but it has been beautiful and full of praises to our Lord.   

My 'hallelujah' is broken - but it's not going anywhere... and with each year, even with all the ups and downs emotionally and physically - my trust, my hope, my praise is with the One True God Jesus Christ who holds my little girl as I wait.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Unreal Details

We had the baby shower for Rachel today. 


It snowed last night and rained today - so another yucky day weather wise...  Matt took the kids out so I could clean and get things ready for the party - and yet when people started showing up, I was still decorating and putting food out.  So the beginning was a whirlwind and I felt pretty overwhelmed.  I felt a little like I was in survival mode for the first half hour or so... but as things settled....And people kept coming in... I was blown away.

There were so many people here!  I've never had that many people in my house - I think the closest I've ever come was at E's gender reveal.  We live in 1200 sq feet on two floors.  So just our family makes this house feel full!  But here's the funny part... I told Matt I was planning for 50, even though my RSVP's said 11.  When Karla & Caroline contacted me the night before to ask how many pretzels to make, I told Matt I wanted to tell her 50 and he said not to overdo it (I have a habit of doing that!)... so I said 25 would be safe.  She wrote back and said "We've decided to do 43."

About half way through the shower, I suddenly *needed* to know how many people were here.  So, if you were here and saw me walking around looking like I had lost something, I was just counting - LOL.  I counted 50, including the kids.

It took me until tonight as I sat here uploading pictures to realize that if we didn't count the 7 of us, that made 43 guests.

I feel so emotional tonight.

As I looked around, I felt that feeling I had on her first birthday when I pulled into the cemetery and couldn't believe the amount of people there...  ironically, that year we did a baby shower type thing too, except we had people send gift cards and brought all the items that I bought with them to Options and left them for a girl to pick up there.  Maybe this is what I'm supposed to be doing.... I don't know.  Matt also seems to really thrive being able to love on people like we did today. He had so much fun talking to all the strangers in our house - LOL. It's one of the few parties we have had that he told me "I had a blast!"  Our testimony of where we came from certainly gives us a different perspective on so many things.  And today I learned that I don't need to shy away from having people over just because our house isn't huge.  Hospitality has not a whole lot to do with the size of your home as it does the size of your heart.

A couple of times, Matt had to go out and move cars because there were so many cars parked on both sides of our street that neighbors were having trouble getting down the street!!  And I didn't feel a bit of stress about it,  I just looked at Donna and laughed!  She said "Well, you said you wanted a lot of people to show up and you got it! They have to direct traffic!!"  I felt so full of joy.... so in God's will.

So much so that thinking about it, brings me to tears.  Over and over.

Thank you so much to everyone who sent gifts, donations, cards, prayers... Thank you to everyone who came and showered this young couple with your love.  What a testimony of God's love.  I am so honored to be able to do things like this in Rachel's memory and have so many people find it worthy of their time and treasures.  I'm so thankful that you continue to remember Rachel with me.  I'm so unbelievably grateful to be able to share her even still.  To love others in her memory when I can't love her.  And I couldn't do any of this, like this, alone.  From the very depths of my heart and soul, I thank you.  You will never know what it means to me.  Words could never express.

I'm also so thankful for those of you who brought me & Rachel gifts.  I opened them after everyone was gone (so as to not steal the show at the shower) and I'm glad I was alone... I couldn't stop crying.  Simple things, but so perfect.  One item was a HOPE garden decoration "For Rachel's garden" which just reading the words made me happy enough, but when I saw that it is one I have the exact same thing of - that Matt & the kids gave me for Mother's Day after Rachel died and I didn't put out this year because I like to have 2 of everything so I can put one here and one at her grave - I just wonder... how can God love me so much?  Seriously... the details...  it's unreal. 

The mug that a friend gave me that she bought me 2 years ago and forgot to give me - the verse on it... The Lord will guide you always, you will be like a well watered garden - Isaiah 58:11.... and at the very time that I have been getting amazing leading from Him on my health issues that just a week back I was trying to figure out in my own strength and relying WAY too much on doctors and not enough on my Great Physician... oh, and did I mention, I also started reading Isaiah again this week?  What I've been praying is that He will guide me and restore my health.  I read "you will be like a well watered garden" and I know in my heart that He is going to restore my health as I learn to lean on HIS understanding... not mine... not the doctors... just like I said a few posts back!  The details... I can't make this stuff up.

The snow globe with a ballerina and perfectly falling "Rachel snow" all around her.... made me cry. 

And the cake!!  The cake.  It's so perfect, everyone thought it was fake.  And I still haven't cut into it because I can't get myself to do it.  It's amazing and it was a gift.  A free gift.  Unreal.

I found this ballerina cake on Pintrest and asked a friend to make something
like it... she made it *exactly* like the picture, but I asked her to add an
umbrella on the top to make it a "Dancing in the rain" cake. 
My tiny dancer... she keeps teaching me how to dance in the rain.

I also got a card this week with $43 to use towards a massage - so I am going to get one at the hospital this week (cheaper and you don't tip there!) to hopefully help with my headaches... I. can't. wait.  And then today a friend gave me 110 minute massage to a therapeutic message place!  It took serious math skills for me to realize that I have never had a massage that long in my life!  Will I be able to get up after?  I'm SO EXCITED!!!!  This is what my neck and shoulders need - and you know how I know?  Not because the neurologist said, but because I prayed and asked God "Please lead me with my health... if you want me to get massages, please provide a way"  !!!  I mean, does it get more clear than that?!?!?!  The details... I can't stop crying....  I am overwhelmed by His love.

There was also multiple people wearing Rachel gear... daisy shirts and necklaces and Team Rachel/Rachel's Cousin shirts.  It was awesome.  So good for my heart.  People were really fired up to celebrate Rachel.  Like really into it.  It wasn't just me.  And it was with excitement over her life.  Like she's not just a sad story, a dead baby. But that her life is to be celebrated.

God, I miss her....

OH!! And at the end of the party when most had left,  a friend asked me if she could mop my floor!  what?!?  UM, yes please!  And then when she got done taking care of my floor, she massaged my neck - which totally stopped my headache that was brewing all day!  Thank You God!  I'm so blessed.  And I don't mean I'm blessed because I'm happy right now.  I mean I am blessed in my heart because I can so clearly see how God takes care of me.  Through the hard....  Through the pain... through the emotions... through the details.... I offer Him my "yes" and He pours his provision out on me.  It's amazing. 

I also wanted to share this....

My friend Hannah Rose - we (you!) helped her get her daughter Lily's headstone last year - sent $43 in honor of Rachel's birthday and in honor of Lily for Christmas and asked me to get something special for Lindsey.  I waited to see what would be left on the registry and it was mostly just diapers... which didn't feel enough like Lily and Rachel...so this morning, when I opened my eyes, it came to me!  A baby carrier and a memory book!  What else says "We carry our babies everywhere we go and their memories are special" more than those together?!  So I left to go get them and decided KMart would be faster than Walmart (I don't often go to KMart so I had no idea what to expect from their baby section) I picked up the carrier and the memory book I wanted without even thinking of price, because honestly, I didn't have time to!  Do you know how much they cost?  Yep, $43.  UNREAL!! 

I also added in the little "I'm on my way!" ultrasound picture frame as a special thing in Lily's honor because Hannah is a pro life speaker and writer and I felt like the idea of celebrating LIFE from the beginning - not when they come out, but when they are created - would be a good way to honor Lily for Christmas too!  Love you Hannah <3 p="">
I also got 2 of the nicest cards from Matt and the kids I have ever gotten.  Matt said he's "proud of me and how I care for them and share Rachel with the world for God's glory and those blessed to be touched by her rich life."  I don't want to say he's never said that before.... but well, I don't think he's ever said that before!  I need that.  Des wrote in the "Sister" card from her and the boys and drew a dandelion.  It was all so sweet.  They gave them to me on the 3rd and actually, I cried at the fact they got them before I ever even opened them and read them.  I'm so thankful.

And by now you all know my sweet Caroline??  Do you remember a while back I blogged that she was entering a picture of Rachel she drew in a contest that benefited Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep?  Well, she won! :) And she won a $100 gift card to Bay Photo Lab and that 'just so happens' to be my favorite photo lab - and she is giving it to me for Rachel's birthday!

I am so so so SO thankful that people love Rachel.  So thankful. 

Let's see... what else... oh yeah... I was looking at this picture...

And I was overwhelmed with the thought "That used to be us."  We were the young unmarried couple having a baby.  And how amazing that we can come along side of people in a similar situation and comfort with the comfort we have received!  I see this as a great honor and I was so appreciative that they let us do this for them, as awkward as it may have been! 

What's this? you ask?  This is a hot chocolate station for my girl... with all the fixins... marshmallows, andes mints, peppermint chips, white chocolate chips and of course, caramel melts...  The only mistake I made as I planned food was forgetting I wouldn't be able to have any of it!  I mean to tell you when this day ended, I was STARVING. 

Last minute a blog reader (Hi Caroline!) walked in... she gave me way more compliments than I deserve and is probably good for my ego... but I would like to share that she said in person I am "Much younger and way more tiny" than she thought from my blog! LOL, I almost pooped my pants.  I love that.  I'm young and tiny.  ha!  But in all seriousness, she reminded me a lot of why I do all I do here... to help other people know they aren't alone - even if it's been many, many years since their loss. 

I'm the one just crazy enough to wear my heart on my sleeve on the World Wide Web... and I'm amazed that God can use it... me... in all my imperfections and weaknesses.... for His purposes.  I will never grow tired of hearing how Rachel has changed someone's life.  I'm honored to play a huge role in that - but I'd be doing everyone a great disservice if I took any of the credit or if I gave Rachel any of the credit - because every bit of it all is from the Lord.  I'm humbled that He chose me to use in such a big way with Rachel's precious and perfect life.  I hope I don't let either of them down.
The water bottle labels I had made as favors

I posted a slideshow of more pictures from today on the right side of my blog!  Enjoy!

In My Now

December 6, 2010 I left the hospital without my girl.  She had gone on ahead of me... in more ways than one.  

I've wanted to make a shadow box since that first December, but they were always out of my reach money wise.  In November this year, while I was at Michael's buying items for her care packages, I saw a 40% off sale and I sprung for it.

I set it up the day Matt & I got back from our weekend away, but there were a few missing things I wanted to add.  Her little cross necklace (she is wearing an identical one in her grave) and her hospital bracelet.  

I finally got them out of the basement today.

It was hard to decide what to put in since I have a few outfits I put on her that I like... and the one she is actually buried in that I would love to have out - but this little dress is the one that makes me smile most.  

I also wanted a safe place to display her hand and foot molds where I knew they'd be safe from my crazy boys and all the things they throw around.

I didn't plan it on purpose, but it so turns out that I just finished the shadow box - on December 6th - 4 years from the day I first left the hospital with only her things and a cut in my womb to show for the fact that I had just given birth to a beautiful baby girl.  (and of course, it *just happens* to be #4433 in my camera files)

I miss her so much.

I LOVE this shadow box.  I love that I can see her things any time I want without having to schedule time to cry.  I could never just peek in her box - it always required so much more of me.  Having her things on display on my wall will make it possible for me to reminisce easier...  

I look at these things and I smile.

I look at these things and I cry.

I look at these things and I try to remember what she felt like...what she looked like....

I wonder what her voice would sound like.  What she would like to play with and which sibling would be her rival... and which her best friend.

I wonder if she would be a cuddle bug or if she would be hard to pin down, like the boys.

I look and I wish I had more from her... and I'm thankful I have what I do...

I look at the stains all over the little lamb (that Rachel did *not* put there) and I wish she did.

I read the words "Little Sister" and I wish when I referenced 'sister' that the boys knew there was another option besides Desirae... but they don't really grasp that... and I can see why.  

She's not here.

Just her things are.

And they don't even smell like her anymore.  Everything tangible begins a far off dream of what was once here for but a short time - or what will one day be for all of eternity.

But neither bring her back to my now.  Not the past and not the future.  My now will always feel incomplete with this little girl missing from it.

And I will never grow comfortable with that reality.  I want her now.  Right now.  Just the same as I wanted her on December 6, 2010 as I left Maine Med without her.  Time does not heal all wounds.  Only Jesus can.

I'm okay with waiting, knowing he has clothed her with so much more than what I ever could.  I know she is safe.  I know she is cared for.  I know she will be there when I arrive.  I'm thankful to know that her 'now' is amazing.

But I just wish that somehow relieved the pain of my now.  My each and every day... every hour... every moment without her in my here and now.  

Friday, December 5, 2014

He Holds My Heart

Well, another December 3rd has come and gone... 

We woke up to an ice storm and by the looks outside our window and hearing schools in Maine were canceled, I didn't know if we'd be able to go - I had a peace about it all and was pretty sure that even if it ended up being later in the day, we would make it happen... but the late start kind of set us up for a rough lunch time with all the kids.  

The kids all sitting with the box they were donating.

Around 9am, I started feeling a headache coming on.  I could tell it was going to be a bad one.  I took a migraine pill, but when I couldn't finish my coffee because I felt so sick, I knew it was a bad sign.  I forged through the day anyhow....

This is us walking down *The* hallway... I looked down and Asa was clinging onto
Rachel bear.  All three of these babies made this hallway an experience I could never forget.
And I also realized that E's almost as big as Asa!!
When we got to the hospital, Kim (Rachel, Asa & Ezra's nurse and my good friend) came out with a cart and we loaded the boxes on and met up with Alice, who coordinated the care package donations.  First stop: The bathroom (of course, where else does a big family need to go first?) LOL.  Then we went and got in line at security.  So many of my most sacred moments started in that line.  They asked for my ID, which I of course had left in the car.  So thankfully the staff was with me and he gave me my badge anyway.  Sticking it on my shirt, I read it "December 3, 2014 - Visitor"

I love being in that place on her birthday.  I think even if we didn't donate boxes, I would want to go sit there - and next year I might try to arrange more time to do just that... to sit in the cafe or something.  Just spend time where she lived outside of me...  
Us, Rachel bear and Kim
Kim was our nurse, but she took phenomenal care of our girl and has turned
into a great friend since, and also helped deliver Rachel's little brothers too!

When we got upstairs, there were a couple more ladies who were looking forward to meeting us and we were greeted with big hugs and tons of gratitude for putting these boxes together from our perspective - because, one of them said, they wouldn't think of the things we do having not had been through it themselves.  Like having two of everything so one can be buried and one kept. *sigh*
I felt incredibly loved and appreciated and am so thankful that they welcome our
gifts and that they aren't afraid of the topic of Rachel.  I'm so thankful that they see the
need to minister to the families they serve.  And I'm even more thankful that they allow us to include our God
Because He's the best source of Comfort I know and if we couldn't, that would be hard.
What a blessing it is to so many, I'm sure!
As we talked, another lady got out this singing reindeer to keep the boys happy.  Asa followed that thing around for 15 minutes. We were a large crowd, clogging up the hallway, but they seemed happy to have us all there.  Which for this mama, is a gift all in itself.

I asked if Rachel's room was open... I hoped I could go step in it and look around and show the kids where we all spent time with her.  Kim came back and said it was taken and "Ironically, there is a tear drop on the door."
This is what was on the outside of our door while Rachel was with us.  They use this
as a way for staff to know that there is a baby that didn't live in the room.
When Kim told me that Rachel's room was taken and that there was someone in it who was going thru what we went through - on her birthday - I started crying.  She looked at me and said "They might be the first recipients of one of Rachel's boxes."

I got so emotional.  Not really over Rachel... just over the fact that babies die.  It just isn't right.

So, this is random, but as I was looking through my old photos to find the tear drop picture, I found these pictures in my Blogger account under the tab "On Your Phone".  I remembered taking these pics last year, but I thought I was seeing things when it looked like the snow was falling... in a "Rachel" kind of snow, no less... but I think Google must have animated it... I don't know, but I'm sure it's no coincidence... I was looking for the tear drop picture and discovered an animated picture that has snow falling just like it did the morning after she died outside my hospital room?!  If it's not moving on your end, believe me, it's moving here and I've checked it enough times to know for sure I'm not seeing things!  

And then I found this one from last Christmas... I didn't get to get a good pic this year from Rachel's grave because by the time we got there, I was too sick to get out of the car and it was raining so Matt did it for me... but when I looked close, I could see the sparkles on her stone lighting up!  I have NO idea why this is happening... but I'll take it...  crazy stuff....

OK, so that was off track, but lets see... after we left the hospital, we went to Friendly's with those gift cards we got the day before.  I was telling Kim (she was able to come with us this year!!!) when we got there about how last year someone paid for our meal and how I was praying this year that someone would do it again and then we got $75 in gift cards in one day!  The kids were so thrilled to be able to order whatever they wanted (we are usually a share meals kind of family) and Ezra had his first ice cream to himself.  And believe it or not, we racked up a $78 bill!  We've *never* done that!!

And just when I though the day couldn't get any better (minus getting rid of my headache) a lady behind us asked who Rachel was and told us that was her name.  I told her and she said she was sorry to bring it up - I said, it's ok, that's why we wear the shirts! ;)  So then a bit later, the staff comes out singing a birthday song... the little girl across from us was celebrating her birthday and we tried to figure out if she was 3 or 4, but she was definitely about Rachel's age...  Matt said "I'm going to just assume that song was for Rachel." and we all smiled.  It was a relief that for once, seeing a girl Rachel's age celebrating her birthday didn't hurt.  I missed her and wished for her for a second, but it didn't hurt like it used to.

Then just as we were all letting our meal settle, this tall guy walked over and leaned in and said in a loud voice "I don't know what's going on here, but with the shirts, it looks like it is something good!" He said "What is it?"  "It's our daughter's birthday." I said.  And he goes "Well, that *is* special" and dropped a $50 bill in front of us and walked out before we could even say Thank you.

We all just stared at it.
I started crying.
Kim said "Wow, You told me that happens to you all the time."
Des added, "It is usually because we're cute." and we laughed.
"He doesn't even know she's not alive." I said.

I wanted to tell him.  I wanted to run after him and tell him that she is dead and this was more than the run of the mill birthday celebration.  I wanted to tell him I had been praying someone at Friendly's would pay our bill (I'm sorry if that sounds lame... when you're broke, you pray for lame things!) I wanted to tell him Thank you.

But he just walked off, no idea how much he just impacted our day, my heart... our faith... my kids belief in prayer and in how God answers it.  He has no idea that this was so bittersweet or that he was sent straight from God.

I just kept crying.... it's amazingly humbling to be Rachel's Mama.  To see how far and wide her little life has touched and to read over and over again the ways in which God has used her for his eternal purposes.  It's breath taking to know that people say her name, remember her, and aren't afraid to celebrate her with me, all while letting me miss her like crazy,  It's a true gift to be a part of every high and every single low that I have been since August 4, 2010.  But I have to admit, when I see things like that happen.... when I try to even count the number of times that people have PAID for our meals!!!!!  I am blown away.  And not because our meals get paid for, but because this stuff doesn't just happen all the time to everyone.  Maybe once in a while... but it happens ALL THE TIME to us and the only thing I can say is that God knows.  He knew when I prayed, that the man was going to do that.  He knew when he sent Donna here with $50 in gift cards on the 2nd and sent a $25 gift card to Matt at work that same day - He knew that those were going to be enough... but he also knew he was about to blow me out of the water with his provision!

One gift card would have been enough for me to feel like my prayers were answered... but just in case I ever doubted if he hears or cares... he sent a couple more, a girl named Rachel behind us, a birthday song for a 4 year old in front of us and a $50 bill tossed at us because it was a 'special day'.... all after we got lost and almost didn't make it to that Friendly's....

He is in control of every detail and when we ask, he will give us more than we could imagine.

After our ride back, by the time we got back to Dover and to Rachel's grave, I was extremely sick.  We didn't even finish decorating there and I had to have Matt bring me to the ER again.  Nothing was touching my headache and I was getting really ill.

I sat in the waiting room alone and I started to cry... I felt like my plans for the day hadn't been finished and I really just wanted to go home and decorate the tree with the kids and eat the caramel brownies and dairy free egg nog that awaited.  I wanted to light the fence (thankfully I had hung the lights the day before - again God's provision for my heart) and listen to Rachel's CD from her shower.  I felt so disappointed that my health had yet again gotten in my way of living....

But The day had been so beautiful and God was so gracious that I was able to ride it out knowing that He would take care of what my heart needed.  I told Matt and the kids to go home and finish Rachel's birthday plans and they agreed.  After a couple of hours they sent me on my way and a Facebook friend I didn't know came and picked me up and brought me home.  She walked in asking "What are you doing here on Rachel's birthday?!"  "I know!" So thankful for how many people know it was her big day.

When I arrived home, the tree stood waiting to be decorated - they wanted to do it with me.... and so we finished out the plans... minus the brownies and egg nog.

And at about 9:15, I laid down with Matt on the couch and we fell fast asleep together for the night.

I woke up this morning to a ton of birthday wishes from people who love me and Rachel all over my Facebook page and a bunch of text messages... everyone letting me know she is not forgotten.

And that's all I want.... for her to never be forgotten and for people to think of her and have thoughts of her lead to thoughts of God.  That's why I started writing 4 years ago.

I feel pretty confident that her precious life and all that has come about because of it will remain long after I'm gone.

It's been a long 4 years.  Today was the first day of year 5 and I felt more sad today then I did yesterday... but I'm okay.   It almost felt like today was the day after Christmas... I feel ready to move on from the season already, yet to most, it's just beginning... so now I prepare to spend another Christmas without her.  The first of the Christmas cards came today and I can see why in 2010 they put me over the edge... I'm just not ready for it.

But it's coming and I know God will hold my heart.  I know He'll provide.  I know He'll bring joy in the midst of my sorrow.  He always does.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

2014 Birthday Care Packages!!

First of all, I want to thank everyone who supported us at/for Rachel's Race this year because the profit we made that day is what funded these *beautiful* gift boxes.  It was such a blessing to be able to just order what I thought should be in them without having to fund raise in order to purchase things.

When I started making these, I was originally going to make 5.  One from each of the kids not including Rachel.  After ordering and returning boxes I didn't like and searching high and low for a good deal like I got last year, I decided to just order ones I liked.  I found them buy one get one half off and so it only made sense to get 6 - which also made sense since we have 6 kids.  

Somewhere along the line because I've been so preoccupied with my health, the other kids bdays, this baby shower, and my Papa dying, I forgot to order more of the first few things I ordered only 5 of.  And I didn't realize it until tonight as I was putting them together very last minute.  Of course they are my favorite pieces... ugh.  We decided I could just order the other items and have the hospital add them to that box later, but as I got the other things put in the boxes, I constantly was coming up short.... one card short... then one envelope short... then short ribbon for just one candle... and it went on and on.  

I finally said to Matt "Maybe I'm not supposed to do six?"  

He replied "Or maybe you're just supposed to keep at it even though it's hard."

I told him that it's kind of hard to include the 6th box when it's not completely here...

Just like my girl... but that doesn't stop me with her.... so the hospital is getting 5 boxes complete and the 6th will be completed later.... Just like my family.... Seems fitting to me. *sigh*

Here we go.....

These memory boxes include:
Memory box with photo holder on top (I wrote "Holding you close in our hearts" for now)
A journal with scripture on each page
Baby brag book that holds 24 photos
Yankee Candle "Summer Wish" (with dandelion on it)
2 little Beanie Babies (one to keep, one to bury)
Cute tissue holder - Always good to cry in style.
Tiny Keepsake and Lock of Hair bags
Mini photo frame
Blank note cards (to avoid the $$ prices in the gift shop if they want to leave a thank you for nurses)
Dandelion seed necklace.
Restoring Aching Arms greeting card I made for 'leaving the hospital without your baby'
Letter stamps to personalize things
Diaper cover and hat set that also has an additional little matching heart they can keep or bury
Stampin' Up stamp pad & Mary Kay cleansing wipe for prints
Special hand print and foot print cards
A book on heaven by Randy Alcorn for adults
A book on heaven by Little Blessings written for children
Forget-me-not flower seeds
A note card telling them Rachel's name
An except from my post titled "Dancing with my little seed"
A whole lot of love and prayer for these families and what they will endure.
A piece of my heart
I LOVE these boxes... they have a top compartment that lifts and two drawers
I think this will help fit more in and be able to organize it better.  I want to get
Rachel a pink one for Christmas!!  LOVE them!!!
The top drawer.  

We did six this year, one from each of our children.
one of the recipients of last years' boxes sent me this pic of her
son's footprint on the paper I put in the box

diaper cover and hat set
Take a look at this book for kids about heaven... HERE  It totally ministers to my own heart every time I read it so whether they have other kids or not, this book is a must read!

And HERE is the book I put in for adults - it's Randy Alcorn's "Heaven - Biblical answers to common questions"  And page 43 is one of my most wondered questions and I love the answer!  It had been 3 years of wondering before I found this book and I love that it's the TRUTH and not just a warm fuzzy feeling.  If you know what I mean....

So, that's what I've been up to tonight....

oh, and for those of you not on Facebook... last year we ate at Friendly's after we delivered the boxes to Maine Med and we were wearing our Team Rachel shirts and a lady behind us with a 3 year old girl asked about them.  She ended up paying for our meal on her way out!!  So this year we wanted to go back there again, but we didn't have the money.  Des said the other day "Maybe someone will pay for us again."  So I actually started praying about that for the last few days that God would make a way for us to eat out after we go to the hospital.  I thought about asking a few people for help, but didn't.  Tonight my friend Donna showed up with a cake for Rachel - and she had just stopped to visit her grave which meant SO much to me - and she gave us $50 to Friendly's!!  THEN as if that wasn't enough of an answered prayer, Matt came home and he had won a $25 gift card to Friendly's by getting a good customer response card!  So now the kids are so excited because they won't have to skimp on their food and 'can order whatever they want on the menu' :)

I'm feeling emotional as December 2nd closes out... but I feel okay.  I have no idea what tomorrow will bring, but what I do know for sure is that if I let Him, God will show me exactly what He wants me to know about December 3, 2014.

I still miss her every single day.  I can't believe it's been 4 YEARS.  I wish she was here running around our house.  I grieve the 4 year old I am missing way more than I miss the baby I held.  I just want to know her....  someday I will.  Until then, I put one foot in front of the other and love her in the ways I can as I trust God with my heart and try to follow him wherever that may lead.

And as the clock turns midnight.... Happy Birthday Rachel Alice Aube...  Mama loves you and I'm so thankful I get to call you mine.  Lord, please hug her especially tight for me today....

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

"Liked" From Heaven

I changed my profile pic on Facebook this morning to this:

Looking at the dates from the previous comments, I apparently made it my profile pic last year on her birthday too.

This was the conversation that happened in the comments today...

I love my God... and He loves me.  It was as if He clicked "like" from heaven. :)