Monday, February 28, 2011

Leave a Message

I keep forgetting to blog this, but when I showed up last Friday to visit Rachel, I found a present behind her.  (amongst some other gifts that have been left)
It's a journal and pens that my mom left.  It's in a plastic bag in a basket.  The note says feel free to leave your thoughts & prayers.  If you visit, we would love to know it... The bag also has some candy in it...that's not for you, so don't take (sorry) Nana left it for the kids...and boy were they happy!  Especially Sam cause he's not allergic to what she left.  He is getting old enough to know that the other kids get to have lots of stuff he can't and it's getting hard. (for all parties involved...although I don't mind eating the chocolate he can't :o) )  Thanks mom for making sure I didn't have to deal with any tantrums at the cemetery :o) and for visiting our precious daughter.  There's a reason she's named after you.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Think Rachel

Yesterday morning Sam came and got in bed with me.  He pointed at my chest above my heart and said "A-chul"  I smiled.... how does he know that's where I keep her now?  I guess what he knows of her is that she was inside me.  I doubt he remembers meeting her, but who knows.  He points at her pictures on the wall and says her name too...and he also points at my necklace and says "A-chul's hand". 

Today someone introduced herself to me and asked "You're Rachel, right?" - I heard myself respond without a pause "Rachel is my daughter, I'm Stacy."  Doesn't sound like much, but for some reason I felt good after that short interaction.  Hearing her name...claiming her as my daughter...not sure which I love more, but both make me proud. 

I can only hope that any time someone looks at me, my home, my heart... they think "Rachel" :o)

"I thought of you with love today but that is nothing new, I thought about you yesterday and days before that too. I think of you in silence I often speak your name, all I have are memories and your picture in a frame. Your memory is my keepsake with which I'll never part God has you in His keeping I have you in my heart."

Blessed by His Comfort

The past two days have been hard.  I cried more yesterday alone than I had all week.  Today I was in a bad mood most of the day.  I mentioned to my sister that I didn't know what was going on with me... she said "you just lost a baby 3 months ago, I'm pretty sure those things are part of grieving."

I hate grief.  I hate having a broken heart. I hate that feeling like this makes sense.  I hate my new normal.

We went to Rachel's grave to shovel tonight.  Of course by the time we got there it was dark... we cleaned off her spot anyway.  I cried a lot... I told her about her stone and how it's coming this spring.  sigh.  I hate this.  I keep waiting for that "thing" that is going to make me feel better.  Is it her stone, her playground, the things we do in her memory, another baby??  None of them will ever remove the pain of the loss of my daughter.  I'm foolish to think it will...I don't really believe it, but I have moments where I think into the future and try to imagine a day when my heart doesn't hurt so bad.  I keep asking people who have lost babies "does it ever stop hurting?"  Most will say it hurts less - but nobody has said it stops hurting all together.  Can I take this for the rest of my life??

Tonight we listened to parts of a sermon by John MacArthur on mourning...  his words are truth and yet they sting because I know them too well.  He said how long does it hurt?  "More for some and less for others"  From day to day, I don't know which category I fall in... it's a roller coaster.

Mother Teresa once said "You never know Jesus is all you need until Jesus is all you have"

I think this is where the verse in Matthew 5:4 takes on a deeper meaning for me

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted 

I've always been familiar with this verse, but tonight I heard it with different ears.  All day I have been frustrated that I don't feel 100% better yet.  I am tired of being a mourning mother.  I am not looking forward to always being a mother who lost a baby.  I guess this reality is just hitting me.  Maybe the fact that 3 months feels like so long and just yesterday at the same time is accentuating that this isn't going away any time soon.  I don't even want it to really... I don't know.  I hate it when I try to explain something with words and fail. 

All I know is that in my mourning, I have been comforted. 

By God.

Humans let me down almost daily.  I have heard some of the craziest attempts at making me feel better...people are quick to throw out a pat answer for "why" God allowed this. (as if they know!) They tell me what a blessing it is...they tell me why it's good. (obviously, they haven't lost a baby)  Someone said to me last week "well at least it wasn't one of your other children". (What do I say to that?)  While I was at the hospital crying over the fact that my milk came in and I had no baby to nurse, I was told "she doesn't need your milk now"  I have heard that it was a "small price to pay for all the people she's helped"...  (small price for who?)  One "nice" comment after another has left me almost afraid to talk to people.  Mostly because I don't want to be upset with them.  Not just cause their words hurt me (although they do deeply) but because I don't like being upset with people.  I have enough to deal with emotionally and it doesn't feel good to be mad.

And the amount of "brain jokes" I hear is disgusting... people not paying attention or thinking twice about their words... it drives me nuts.  I had someone AT the hospital the day after Rachel died, with her kid saying how her daughter had "big brains" (she could just call her smart) I had someone 2 days ago tell me she felt like a "brain doner" (she could just call herself dumb)  I have heard everything from "use your brains" to  "my brain is mush" and I KNOW that these people don't mean to be hurtful - they just aren't thinking about their words...or my loss... but when your baby dies because part of her brain and skull was missing, you don't want to hear stuff like this.  It's hard on my heart...and the Mama Bear in me wants to protect my girl.

Anyway, I digress... my point is that the comfort I receive from God never hurts.  It is never off the mark.  It is never unthoughtful. He is never so focused on making a point that he isn't gentle with me.  He is always full of mercy and He is always there for me.

I have been comforted by so many people...and some have comforted me in a way that I knew was straight from God... I have been blessed by these people.  Because it was from God.  The people who have attempted to comfort me in their own understanding have fallen short - and I am guilty of doing this to people in the past as well - but the only One Who can truly hold my heart is my Lord.  Sometimes He uses His people and sometimes, He holds my heart while I try to endure people.
(in case you just wondered if I'm talking about you, don't worry, you would know - unfortunately, I have never been classified as a people pleaser) :o)

The richness of my relationship with the Lord as a result...the deepness, the intimacy I have with Him, the trust I have developed in Him, the peace He gives me in the midst of heartache.... that is what makes me "blessed".

I wouldn't know Him like I do if I wasn't "mourning"
If He wasn't all I have, I wouldn't know He was all I need.

I still miss my girl more than my heart can bear
But with His comfort, He wraps my broken heart up
And carries it along

Friday, February 25, 2011


I just came on to check comments and I read my post from earlier...I could not believe that the song I put on (after) I posted, goes perfectly with it!  At one point, I even say "I can't help but wonder who she'd be today"... I had put In My Daughter's Eyes on first and then saw Who You'd be Today on google and randomly added it... details... He is in them.

I wonder if Kenny wrote that song after leaving a cemetery....

Today I'm Grieving

She would be 12 weeks old today...

I don't know what the yellow jacket was all about, but we're having another big storm today.  We went to visit Rachel early and it's a good thing we did because the roads were already slippery.  I cleared off her marker and made sure her name was visible....and knelt down to cry.  I still can't believe it's real sometimes. 

Today because 12 weeks seems like a significant time, I seem to be grieving moments that I'm missing with her.  I sat there looking at her fake flowers and her little name plate and wondered if she would be smiling yet... I wondered if she would look good in red like the others did... I wondered if she'd be sleeping through the night yet.  I thought about how at 12 weeks, I usually start counting by the month... 3 months.  I thought about how at this point, things start to get easier... they are usually a lot bigger and you know more of who they are and what they like.

I would give anything to know what Rachel would like right now.  I yearn to hold her, to look at her, to touch her little hands, to hear her cry... I never got to hear her cry.  I ache to know her personality, to see her temper, to watch her determination as she learned to do new things. 

Today I'm grieving milestones.

I looked around the cemetery - it was snowing like crazy, wet snow, and wondered why the yellow jacket the other day?... I felt negative as I thought "it's kinda like my pregnancy test with Rachel... an exciting moment of hope that doesn't turn out like I desired"

Today I'm grieving my disappointments.

I was at the hospital last night until after midnight (in case you're wondering about my late post, mom)  a friend of mine was being induced to have her baby and wanted me there with her.  I was honored to accept the invitation and then wondered if I had lost my mind... did I really think I could handle watching someone give birth to a healthy baby??  I picked her up some daisies (had to bring my girl too) and chocolates and headed over.  She didn't have him last night, and still hasn't today, so tonight I'm going back again... I'm praying for God's providence in timing and trusting that if I'm supposed to be there for his birth I will make it in time and if it will be too much for me, I won't...   Last night I listened to her little boy jump around on the monitor and his little heart beat and all I could think about was listening to Rachel dance around in my womb and her amazing little heart and how the sound of it lit up my face.

Today I'm grieving our limited time together.

I guess I knew that as time went on there would be many things that will come up that make me wonder who she'd be today.  I knew she would be on my mind for the rest of my life.  But I can't help by cry over the fact that my heart breaks at every thought...every milestone missed...every disappointment accentuated... every moment without her. 

Today I'm grieving "yellow jackets"....

Good Gifts

Have you ever heard yourself think (does that make sense?) "Is there really a God?"  Well, I do...sometimes if I think too hard, I start to wonder "what if we're all crazy and there is no heaven?" 

I was talking to my friend Melissa the other day about how most Dr's view "religion" as a good "coping mechanism".  I remember when I lost our other baby, the first thing the midwife said to me is "I see you're wearing a you have a church that you can call for support?"  I sobbed as I nodded, knowing that no matter how great my support system was, they could never remove my pain.  The same type of conversation happened when the Dr. told us about Rachel having anencephaly.  The diagnosis was followed by two things...the offer for a termination and the question of who we had for support.  When we told her God, she nodded at us like we were nuts.  "well at least they have a coping mechanism" was all over her face.

I found myself thinking last night... what if we are nuts...what if God really is just an imaginary coping mechanism and there really is no life after death.  what if all these amazing things that happen to me really are just 'coincidences'? 

Well, that kind of thinking doesn't last long because it's crazy talk.  If I look at history alone, there is more proof that He is real than not.  If I look at MY history alone there is more proof that He's real than not... and if I combined the two and don't believe that He is real... well that is what would make me nuts.

I came to the conclusion that I'd rather have doctors and some family and friends think I'm nuts (or at least, that God is my 'coping mechanism') than actually be nuts... so I told Him what was really on my heart.  It went something like this...

"I trust that You are real, I trust that You know what's best for me, I trust I will get pregnant when You see it best and with what you see best, I believe You have my best interest in mind...  but Please please please please give me a healthy baby girl soon" 

I figure since He already knows what I'm thinking, what does it hurt to tell Him?  I struggle sometimes with praying in Thanksgiving (meaning, as if it's already happened) because, especially when we pray with the kids, I worry that if things don't go as prayed for, that it somehow means that God isn't listening or doesn't care...

In my quiet time this morning (yes, that actually happens sometimes... the boys were happily playing with cars)  The first verse they mentioned was Matthew 7:9-11 which talks about how when our children ask for something, we try to give it to them.  And then compares that to how if we as humans know how to give good gifts to our children, then how much more does God give good gifts to those who ask? The next one is from Luke 11:11-13 and says "ask and it will be given to you"

I'm thinking... excellent, this is confirmation that I did the right thing telling God my preferences last night and gave me hope that He will do what I want...

This is where reading things through is important... it goes on to ask what the definition of a "good gift" our limited understanding and perspective of the big picture, are we capable of knowing what's best?  When our children want candy before dinner, do we say no cause we don't want them to be happy or because it's best for them?  We know that their dinner is going to be important in keeping them healthy, helping them sleep and grow, and we know it's coming soon... all they can see is the candy.  If they throw a fit about it, we may just tell them they can't have any candy the next day either - because being preoccupied with what they want and not taking my "no" as the final word isn't acceptable...because it's not good for them to be discontent and demanding. 

So, the question is... With this definition of a "good gift",
how should I pray?
I was confused.  It says "ask and it will be given" -
so shouldn't I just ask for it?
What is "it"?
Well, here is the hard and beautiful part...
"It" is God's will, not mine.
What is God's will for my future (if any) children?  I have no idea, that is why I need to ask Him.  The only thing I know is that He wants me to trust Him with it.  I will find out what is best- cause eventually I will get pregnant (or not), it will be a boy or a girl, and it will be healthy or not.  In the meantime, I will ask Him for a healthy baby in His perfect timing and trust Him for the details, knowing they might not be the ones I would pick - and I'll pray that  He will help me to be content in whatever place I am in, at that exact moment... waiting on Him, trusting in Him and looking forward to His plan for my life, regardless of what may lie ahead. 
It's easy to trust Him with my heart, even in my disappointments, when I'm in the middle of them and it's my only choice.  But trusting Him with my heart for my future, which I seem to still stupidly think I have some control over, that's another story.  It's my true desire, but the problem is I'm human.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Save The Date!

I met with Joe from Learning Structures and Pastor Bernie this morning to survey the land at the church for Rachel's playground.  It looks like we'll be able to place the Ark closer to the building than we had thought...this is excellent news because we were thinking we'd need to clear a bunch of land and that isn't the case.  This means that we won't need to wait for the ground to settle and so we'll be able to build on the days I was hoping for and I can finally share them!

Mark it on your calendar!!  May 6 & 7

The 6th is what they call the "framing day" (we need higher skilled people this friends, come on down!)  The 7th is the "raising day" and we need all levels of people to help.  We will be providing food and childcare and need as many people as possible... so please plan on coming!  This might sound like a lot of work... but we're going to have a ton of fun too and I am more than thrilled that my little girl is at the heart of this.  I can't believe my vision is actually coming to be.  It's unreal.  If this is the first time you've heard about it, click on the playground link on the right.  Oh, and in case you're doubting that we can do this in 3 days (we'll be busy on the 5th getting stuff ready for the 6th) just come and see!! 

We're having an informational meeting on March 6th at 9:30 at Grace Community Church in Rochester (where her playground will be) to get people involved and explain how the community built playground works.  Come & join us, we need your help!

And let me just tell you why these dates are special to me...  May 7, 2008 is when we lost our 3rd baby to miscarriage and the 8th is Mother's Day.  Last year on Mother's day is when we announced to our families that we were expecting again.  I think it's going to be one of those days that is etched in my mind forever and possibly make my heart heavy for Rachel.  It probably would anyway, knowing that I am the mother of a beautiful baby girl who I can't hold...for now.

The ark represents to me that there is blessing in following God's call on your life, even when you don't understand it.  Noah built the ark, day in and day out, for years... and everyone thought he was nuts.  But when the floods came...  well, Noah didn't look nuts anymore.  Obedience brings blessing.  God called me to be a mother and I will be the best mother I can be and put my all into every child He gives me... even in death.  I am wholly dedicated to my children and their amazing Daddy.

So, on the 3 year anniversary of losing a baby and in memory of our precious daughter, our community will work together to raise an Ark in her name and for God's glory... and the next day, Mother's Day, I will watch my kids play on it...missing Rachel, I'm sure, but smiling because I had the chance to know her and humbled by the impact she has had in this world.

I wouldn't be surprised if God sends a rainbow that day, too.

I got back from the meeting and went to walk up my stairs, I looked down and there it was....

A dead yellow jacket!!  OK, I'd be excited over a dead yellow jacket normally, but the reason I jumped for joy at this one is because... it's only February and we still have a couple feet of snow... why is there a yellow jacket outside my door??  Cause we're gonna have an early spring!!  The bugs are moving around and the groundhog didn't see his shadow :o)  It's on it's way!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

God's Promise

God didn't promise
days without pain,
laughter without sorrow,
sun without rain,

but He did promise
strength for the day,
comfort for the tears,
and light for the way

Today was one of those days when the reality of life
was hard on me...
The fact that my entire life can change in a moment scares me. 
I continue to choose to believe that God is in control and
He is with me.
I hope you know He's with you, too.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Happy to have a false sense of control

Matt & I had an amazing weekend...  we were actually gone all weekend, but since I tend to be what some might call paranoid, I didn't want anyone to know until we were back home with our kids.  I've never really understood those people who put on facebook how they'll be gone all week as if there are no crazy people in this world...  I guess I've seen too many scary movies...

First of all, I need to thank some people for making our weekend possible...

Our friend Donna from church usually likes to be anonymous, so I haven't really been able to share all the things she has done for us...but it has been a lot... not the least of which, visiting our girl every week!  Well, she offered to send us to a nice bed & breakfast for the weekend.  She bought a package that included a nice dinner and a couple's massage.  I'll admit, couple's massages are strange and slightly uncomfortable, but it was a fun experience.  We had no idea that the place we were staying at was actually a one room condo...

Thanks Donna!!  And because it wouldn't be possible to go alone without people willing to watch our beautiful children, thanks Kim, Meg & Mom for taking care of them... It is a blessing to be able to go away and not worry about them.  I hear they had a great time and that "Nana let them eat as much sugar as they wanted..." :o)  
We slept in both days and then had a good breakfast and great coffee...  It was so nice to do something by ourselves that didn't involve doctor's appt's or funeral planning, which is pretty much what all of our "dates" this last year were.  Rachel was still a huge part of our time, but with the focus being on how amazing her life was.  Oh, and this probably won't come as a surprise, but guess what the pictures on the wall in the room were.....  that's right, a tulip and a daisy.... is that unreal??  God is in the details.  That was the first time they had rented that room out, too. 

So, for part of Matt's present, I rented a snowmobile for a couple hours...  It was a guided tour, which I thought I'd like better, but about half way through I was wishing the people in front of us would get out of the way!  Fast was fun :o)  And they weren't going fast enough...  When we first started out, I told Matt "be careful" (you know, just had to get my instructions in...)  and about 3 minutes into it, I caught myself giggling...and a little while later, laughing... and a bit after that, yelling woohoo!  I felt young again :o)

I tried not to let my mind wander... it's a busy place in my head and I tried to stay aware of that and just enjoy being out there with Matt.  But of course, God spoke to me...and I gladly heard it.  It's funny how He uses things that we hear along the way to make points later.  A couple of weeks ago, our Pastor Willie was preaching and talked about a "tandem bike ride with God"... Let me start at the beginning...

When I was in rehab, I had a sledding accident on a mountain in Littleton.  I got a concussion and was really sick and since then, I've been afraid to sled... even at the country club.  As we were riding, I started wondering why I am afraid of sledding, but not afraid to snowmobile.  Then my thoughts wandered to motorcycles... I love riding bikes... I started thinking of all the crazy things I used to do...  why am I afraid to sled, but going 90 on a motorcycle with no helmet didn't phase me? (I mean, besides being on drugs!) And then a couple of things dawned on me...

1.When you've been hurt before, it's hard not to let that impact your future decisions... and not always a bad thing that it does. I've been hurt on a sled, so it makes sense that I'd be cautious about them.  I've never been hurt on a snowmobile so I have nothing in my memory that says watch out.

2.I don't have control over a sled.  When you're going down a hill on a sled, you have to just hold on and hope that it goes the right way.  On a bike or a snowmobile, you control where it goes and how fast it gets there.  And then something else dawned on me...

I'm on the back of the thing... I've never driven a bike, I've always been on the back.  I wasn't driving the snowmobile... So am I really in control??  I think I am cause I gave a quick "be careful" when we started out??  I've been on enough bikes in the wheely position to know that I don't have any control over what the driver does.  So why do I feel better?  That doesn't make any sense... unless of course I have a false sense of control.... hmmm...  now I'm getting it...

This is when the tandem ride with God came to mind.  I've tried many times to take the front seat in life.  I think I know the way, and want God to just get on my bike and ride my way.  But it doesn't work like that, thankfully.  I've also come to trust my Savior to also be my Lord... not just to save me from eternity in hell, but to guide me through the paths of life; trusting that He knows the best way to go.

In that short 2 hour ride, I smiled more times than I can count at the thought of my little girl.  She was the only reason we were even there... Donna wanted to bless us because of Rachel.  She was in every smile, every giggle.  Her memory brings me great joy.  In the beginning of this ride with her, I would have never picked this path... I'm glad that I only have a false sense of control because God certainly had a better journey mapped out.  One where beauty is almost indescribable and love truly undefiled.  One where all I needed to do was trust Him and lean into His turns.
I'm so glad that I have Matt to hold onto as we ride through life...through the wooded paths and over the mountain tops... I'm happy to be on the back of his ride as God maps out our path.  And I'm extremely grateful for the times, no matter how short or few, when we are able to pick up some speed and laugh like kids.  We're enjoying the ride...completely confident in the fact that God knows the way and that we're not in control. 

Friday, February 18, 2011

He's Home...

Apparently he's been listening too cause he just walked in with this bouquet :o)

White & Pink Tulips and Daisies...

I had no idea - but He did

Today is our 5th Anniversary... And so I want to share what God has shown me over the past few days.  I don't think there is a short way to say this, but I won't be posting anything for a couple of days, (I'll be too busy loving my husband!) so feel free to read this in chapters if you need to :o)  Bear with me as I try to put words to all of this...I also have a bunch of pictures to share cause I'm a picture person and I believe it gives you a better peak into my life.

Oh, and let me draw your attention to our soundtrack...

-Still the one - a song we called "ours" when we were dating in rehab cause they said you shouldn't date anyone in your 1st year of sobriety or else your life will be ruined :o) I guess they were wrong.  "We beat the odds together"  
-Draw me close to You - the song we played during communion at our wedding
-Amazing Grace - the congregational song at our wedding. 

and one important one, but not playing for you...
-Grow old along with me is the song I walked down the isle to, but I just couldn't get myself to put that on a blog about Rachel... I wish she could have grown old with us.

OK, read on.....

Let's start with daisies...
Last week, I was looking on line for whatever the "right" thing to give for a 5th anniversary is... as if I have ever cared about proper etiquette with stuff like this... and I came across a page that said that the flower for the 5th anniversary is the daisy. It goes on to say that in the language of flowers, daisies represent innocence, loyal love, and purity.
Interesting timing, isn't it? What a "coincidence" that I picked that flower to hand out at Rachel's service... that she was surrounded by them in the hospital, they were on her birthday cake... that she not only represented those things to us, but our love for her did as well. I had no idea that it symbolized exactly what was on my heart - and right before our 5th anniversary.  I cannot look at a daisy without thinking of Rachel.  Her name has a similar meaning; innocent lamb, noble kind

Happy Birthday Rachel!  We sang to her!

So, that was "ironic" enough, but yesterday it got even better...  I started looking through my wedding album so I could post a picture today.  We have a ton of beautiful pictures that Luke Smith took.  But as I looked through it, I saw something that I hadn't remembered... I knew that daisies were what the flower girls had, but I forgot what a big piece of our wedding day they were.  As I flipped through my book, I couldn't believe it.  They were on our cake, on the table, in the flower girls' hair, in the bridal parties hair... and I wore one in my hair.  How could I not remember that?  That's what Luke was for, I guess :o)
Desirae was 3 year cute.

I LOVED my hair...didn't want to take it down. Thanks, Heather!

Can you see the daisies in everyone's hair?

OK, let's move to tulips for a minute...
I planted over 130 pink tulip bulbs and a bunch of daisies in my yard when I was 8 months pregnant... I wanted something to remind me of Rachel in the spring... and it was more meaningful because she was with me when I planted them.  I talked to her the whole time.  The flowers on her casket were daisies and pink tulips.  I can't wait to see those flowers bloom.  Next fall, I plan to plant some of them at her grave so that she has something from our yard... a piece of our home with her. 

So, it's not like I didn't know this... but yesterday it dawned on me that my wedding bouquet had tulips too... white ones.  I guess it makes sense that somewhere in my mind and heart these two flowers hold a special place and so I would pick them for Rachel, but I had not once thought about the fact that they were the flowers for our wedding.

When all these details started coming together, I decided to look up the meaning of tulips... sure enough, it all made sense.  Pink tulips (Rachel's) symbolize "perfect happiness and love" and white tulips (ours) symbolize "worthiness; let's take a chance"  Considering our relationship had fallen apart on our first try, when we came to know the Lord, we were banking our whole lives on the fact that in Him we were made new...and we took a chance... because He is worthy.  I'm so glad we did. God has proven Himself enough over and over in these past 5 years. 

Mr. & Mrs. Aube :o)
As I looked through my pictures... I smiled, our day was perfect.  It was everything I hoped it to be and more, minus the yucky cake...but I was too happy to notice it that day.  There were two pictures that made me cry... I wasn't expecting it (isn't that the way with grief?)  One was of me helping Des get dressed.  My first thought was how we look alike here, my second was "I wonder if Rachel would have looked like Des" and my third was "I will never be able to help Rachel get ready for her wedding..."
The other one was this... My dad walking me down the isle... notice I have my hand wrapped around his finger?  Rachel did that to us, too.  In the only picture I have of her that shows her little legs kicking, she is holding onto her Daddy's finger.  I so wish he could walk her down the isle some day.  She would have been a beautiful bride.

We had no idea when we said our vows 5 years ago that we would ever have to endure the pain that we have.  We had no idea that "in sickness" would include our child. I am grateful to have been through this together.  I know we are stronger because of Rachel. 

And just when you think I'm wrapping it up... there's more! 

I had decided that since our anniversary landed on a Friday, and after all that I have learned about daisies and tulips, that I was going to get Rachel some fake ones because every real flower I leave for her, dies immediately and that's just depressing.  I was getting my shoes on to leave when I asked Matt to get something out of the car for me.  I have a friend who is about to have a baby and I told her she could have our carseat since we're not using it :o(  It was still in the trunk of Matt's car from Rachel's birthday. (taking it out was too hard; just a reminder that we left empty handed.)  So, he went out to get it and came back in with a big bouquet of fake daisies.  He said "look what I found in my trunk" - I thought he was kidding and that they were real and he was just hiding them in the car to surprise me for today.  Nope.  They were fake and really in his trunk...from Rachel's birthday!!  My mom & sister had bought them to bring to the hospital.  My heart just a good way.  I wasn't overly excited about fake flowers on December 3rd, but 11 weeks later, it's exactly what I wanted.  Imagine that...the desires of my heart being unlike God!  ha! 

I bought a few fake tulips, put them with the daisies and brought them down to Rachel... 

 But do you know what happened??  Look at this... I was able to get the vase to go into the ground!  The ground is starting to thaw!  I'm telling's gonna be an early spring! :o)

With thawing...comes mud!  Boys!
As I said goodbye to Rachel - again - I told her that we miss her and let her know that we are stronger because of her.  I think she should know that this journey with her has made our marriage better; deeper.
So, I guess what God has said to me through all this, if I can put it into words, is...  Just like He knew every sin I would ever commit long before I was even born...He knew Rachel would exist, He knew how much we would love her, He knew how she would grow us... He knew it was all for our good.  And as I write this, I'm again in awe because the verse that we put on our wedding favors was Romans 8:28 - God works all things together for the good of those who love Him.  That verse goes on to say - For those who are called according to His purpose.

It's a hard thing to grasp... He knows every detail long before it comes to be... He knew when I was picking flowers for my wedding that one day a daisy would remind me of Rachel.  She's there... in all of our wedding pictures.  He knew when we tossed the fake daisies into the trunk and when I told my friend I'd get the car seat out today (because I failed to do it 2 weeks ago when I said I would!!) that it was the exact day I would need them.  He knew when He brought me & Matt both to rehab at the same time, that we would someday get married and that Rachel would be born to us.......and have I mentioned that we met in a little town called Bethlehem??  No joke... Bethlehem, NH.... All I can say is He knew, He knew, He knew... He had it all under control.  And knowing that makes it possible for us to face whatever comes our way, saying He knows, He knows, He knows.  He's got it all under control.

The bible says that Christ is our bridegroom.  On Rachel's wedding day, I did help her prepare to meet her groom.  I'm quite sure that when she entered heaven... she was a beautiful bride. And I also know that she was holding her Daddy's finger as she walked down the isle. 

Happy 5th Anniversary, Matthew... I love you. 

This is a poem I wrote him last year for our anniversary.  The baby I'm talking about was Desriae and the Friendship house is the name of the rehab in Bethlehem...We started hanging out at a New Years Eve AA dance at a church.   I just came across this "accidentally" while in the middle of writing this post....

I had no idea
By Stacy Aube

I remember the day that we first met.
At the Friendship house, it was rainy and wet
You challenged me to a game of ping pong.
And on the piano, helped me play a song
Conversations we had few,
I had no idea that it would be you

You left and time passed by.
On New Years Eve, in the sanctuary I cried;
God, if you’re real, please change my life.
When you offered me a ride home,
I had no idea that someday I’d be your wife

A road so uncertain and though we were scared,
our time together made it all easier to bare
As we said goodbye and I drove myself to jail,
I had no idea that your promise would not fail

The odds stacked against us, our hearts on the line.
Lonely and broken, I asked God one more time;
If you exist, please reveal Yourself to me soon
I had no idea He was knitting a miracle together in my womb

From that point to this, what an amazing story.
And God wrote it all; for our good and His glory
He has brought us through fire, refined us by flame.
I had no idea we would never be the same

You’re still the one, the song rings in my mind.
I spent my life searching for love
that on my own, I’d never find
But the same Holy God I doubted that night in the church pew,
heard me from Heaven and led me to you
Still in my sin, He loved me first.
I had no idea with Him, I would never again thirst

And so here we are, growing old together.
So many blessings and some rainy weather
As each year passes, I more clearly see;
I had no idea the best was yet to be

Sorry... I told you it was long! :o)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Lessons at Swimming

Although I sometimes I feel like I'm drowning in my sorrow, I know that a little at a time, I am swimming my way back into "life"...Even after my hard night Tuesday, I got up on Wednesday, pulled up my big girl pants (or should I say, swimsuit) and headed off to get things done.   I decided to sign Des & Isaiah up for swim lessons that morning and they started that afternoon; so after rummaging through the attic to find swimsuits, off we went...and I was so blessed by all 4 of my children there.

Let's start with Isaiah... he was supposed to be using the noodle and staying NEAR the teacher... I had started to look for him and couldn't see him.  I looked around for a couple of minutes...still no Isaiah. (unfortunately, this is not an unusual thing for him)  I started getting nervous and asked a friend if she could see him.  We both scanned the Isaiah.  Just as I started to think he was under water somewhere, I heard "Hi Mama!" and there he my feet (it's a pool that wades in)  He had wandered from the teacher to come find me.  I love that kid.  He did get in a little trouble though and I felt bad as the teacher came after him and brought him back to their post... but I learned a little more of his devotion to me, and how good that feels as a parent.  God feels the same way when we show up at His feet.

Samuel was making me laugh the entire time we were there.  He is much more aware of his surroundings than Isaiah ever was and would get out to his belly in the water and turn back for my hand.  I sat on the edge of the pool and he came over, climbed up next to me and made a point to sit just like I was...and put his little hand on my knee.  He is a good boy.  He kept pointing at the water, yelling "tubby!"  He's right, it's about the temp. of a bath. ;o) As he got more familiar, he also got more daring.  Watching him "test the waters" made me realize that just because a situation gets more comfortable, doesn't mean it's safer... and you can always benefit from holding the hand of the One Who loves you...even if you aren't sinking.  I also realized that the time he was the safest is when he was copying me and staying close to me.  I am never more safe, even in familiar situations, as when I am copying God and am holding His hand....and whenever I get ahead of Him, He is always near by, ready to take my hand again and keep me safe.

Because it's so hot in there, I was wearing a tank top...  Since it's been cold and I usually wear long sleeves, I don't see Rachel's handprint all the time.  Every time I moved my arm, I saw her cute little hand.  I love it.  It's the only tattoo I have that I can actually see...and I'm so glad I can.  It makes me smile and helps me to feel like she is still a part of everything I do.  I had someone every single place I went yesterday recognize me from my blog.  It is such a gift to have people I don't even know saying Rachel's name and talking about her like they know her.  Talking about her 43 beautiful to my ears!  As her mother, I want her to be a part of everything I do.. I want to hear her name spoken... I want to see her mark on me at all times.  As my Father, God wants to be a part of everything I do...He wants to hear His name spoken... He wants others to see His mark on me.

And last but not least, a lesson in swimming by Desirae...  last night we were heading to Target to get her a new swimsuit.  She said, with a big smile and her hands in the air; "If I find a bathing suit that fits me, we're going to the Works on the way home for a girl's night..whoot! whoot!... and we're gonna party!" (don't ask me, but that's what she said... and I thought, yeah if I find a suit that fits me, we'll party) then she started explaining how you do a cannon ball without holding your nose. (I'm a nose plugger...AKA: whimp)  This is what she said:
"Well, what you do is right before the water hits, you blow out really hard...then you blow out just a little until you get to the top of the water...then you just take a deep breath and swim"
My mind wandered... I started thinking about how that compares to my journey with Rachel...

I held my breath and jumped in with both feet and put everything I had behind loving that girl.  I could feel the calm and beauty of the water on my face as I swam towards the place where I could breath again...when she was born, I reached the top...the sun warmed my face, I took a deep breath... and I swam.  And as I did, her time here rippled out...touching everyone in it's path.

Cannon balls... you cannot deny that one just existed.  You don't have to be in the water to know it, you can tell by looking, even after the fact.  Miracles are like that.  They don't have to happen to you for it to be obvious they were there... Rachel was my Cannon ball... my miracle... her waves still rippling. 

Who ever thought that God would show me so much in one swim lesson?  I guess if I was afraid to open my eyes under water, I would have missed it...  I feel like I've been swimming for a long time and the destination is still so far off.  And sometimes, the journey is not all that fun.   I get weary, discouraged, tread water and get nowhere at times...sometimes even start to sink... but in the moments when I'm still, I can still feel her ripples...

Be still, and know that I am God - Psalm 46:10

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

He is with me

OK, so "my heart is heavy tonight" was a complete and total understatement.  My heart was being cut open with a jagged knife dipped in salt might be more accurate.  No sooner did I get done posting my last blog entry and I started crying...sobbing... and couldn't stop.  I should have seen it coming when I didn't have much to say.  I couldn't put any words to how I was feeling.  I remember writing a post when I was still pregnant that said something to the effect of "I'm a talker that doesn't want to talk, and a writer that doesn't want to write"...  when I have no words to say and nothing to write, that's not usually a very good sign.

So anyway, I was up well into the night (morning) crying my heart out... I woke up with puffy eyes, way later than I should have and feeling like I was hung over.  And nothing is any different than it was yesterday.  My daughter is still gone.

I think part of my sadness comes from the fact that that is never going to change and I'm afraid people will forget her as time goes on.  I checked my blog stats after I posted last night and saw that the number yesterday was low (in comparison to the norm anyway) and all I could think was she's becoming old news.  I guess this is why it hurts my heart so much that some people won't read this... especially family.  And since they aren't reading it, I'll tell you what I think of that.... kidding :o)  But in all seriousness, I know that some people think this is "all about me" (yes, I've actually heard someone say that to Matt on the phone), but to me, it's all about Rachel.  So, when I hear from people who claim to love her that they aren't interested in my blog... well, it tells me that they don't love her like they say they do.  And besides which, this is kind of "about me"... not to sound self-centered or anything, but come on... I'm her mother... I carried her and gave birth to her. I have also heard that some people find it too emotional to read (yep, been told that a lot) and so in order to not have to feel the pain with me, they avoid my journey... which is hurtful because this is all I have of Rachel's story... my journey.  I can't call people and tell them how she's rolling over or smiling...all I can share are the amazing things that God is still doing with and through her life.  And I want to... And I would hope that people who "love" her would want to know about it.... even if it does include "me."

So, my point is that I think what my heart was aching over, is the fact that nobody knew her or loves her like I do and nobody is hurting over her death like I am - and there is nothing anybody can do to change that...I'm alone in this, no matter how surrounded by friends and my family, even my husband and kids, I might be...I'm alone as a mother with empty arms.  Nobody else will ever know the depth of my pain. (except mothers who have also lost their babies) Every part of my being knows that I just gave birth... My body is well aware that my not-so-long-ago occupied womb is now empty and there's no baby filling my embrace.  As I cried last night, I could actually feel the emptiness in my belly... and my arms aching to hold her.

The other night as I was thinking about Rachel's birth, I asked Jesus to show me where He was in that my mind, as clear as could be, I saw Him standing at the table with Rachel.  He wasn't doing anything...just standing there.  I was tempted to ask "why didn't You do anything?" but was satisfied just knowing that He was with her.  Last night, as I drowned in my sorrow... I was tempted to ask "Why won't You do anything?"  but I had to just feel my pain and be satisfied that He was with me.

Why does He allow His daughters to suffer??  Why couldn't He just miraculously heal her that day?  Why couldn't He make my heart stop hurting last night? 

I may never know the answers.  But I do know that if my daughter had to die... if my heart has to break day after day... if I have to be all alone in this world with nobody who truly understands me...if I have to endure hurtful people... I'm glad He is with me.  (oh, and also really glad that Yahoo makes a way to block mean people emails :o) )


My heart is heavy tonight...

Can't really put my finger on the "why" in this pain - all I know is the "is"

My heart is heavy.
My soul is crushed.
My girl is gone.
My God IS enough.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Thank God for my Valentines

I had assumed that being around babies would be hard for me after losing Rachel.  I figured the sight of one would make me yearn to hold her and so I was afraid of that pain. 

My friend Harlee had her little girl, Hattie, just a couple of weeks after Rachel was born.  When I got the email announcing her arrival, I sent an email back to congratulate them and said "have a good night together" and as I saw those words written on the screen, I started sobbing.  My heart ached with the thought of wanting a night with my girl.  And so, because of my response, which I wasn't anticipating,  I was afraid that meeting her would do the same thing...

Well, a couple of weeks went by and I couldn't stop thinking about them...  and so I sent Harlee an email that said "I love babies and especially your baby, I have to meet her" - It felt good to not let fear rule my decisions.  I have always had the ability to rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn - even if I'm doing the opposite at the time.  And I determined that I will continue to do that with my matter what.  The other day I saw a cute little sweater on sale and picked it up for a Valentine's present for Hattie... I had wondered while pregnant if doing this would bother me... it didn't.  I love girl clothes, I love sales and I love how could I not buy the sweater??   Did it make me sad? Nope.  Did it make me miss Rachel?  Well, what doesn't?  I was surprised actually at how unaffected I was by it, other than with excitement of giving her a gift.  Des & Isaiah helped me pick the color and both agreed that Hattie would look really pretty in it.

So today, the girls came for a visit.  What I realized is, well, two things...  1. God always blesses me for obedience.  He wants me to rejoice with those who rejoice - and He held my heart so I could... genuinely. and 2. Nobody else is Rachel.  Another baby doesn't make me sad cause they aren't my daughter... and she's what I want.  That might sound obvious, but it wasn't...  I really thought that holding another baby would make me fall apart.  I thought that seeing another baby nurse would make me sad.  I thought that hearing a newborn cry would be too much to bear.  I thought that cute little girl clothes would make me jealous.  I thought that seeing my kids holding a little girl would be too much for me.  I thought that I would look at her and think "this is how big Rachel would be now"....  none of that happened. 

I think I underestimated God.

I held that little girl and loved her... for who she is... and Who's she is.  I marveled at her chubby cheeks, her blue eyes and her really cute little girl clothes... and I didn't feel sad for myself at all.  Only happy for them.  And it didn't take effort on my part, I didn't have to fake it... I just had to allow God to do what He does best: prove Himself enough

Around 5:00, I got the mail.  I have probably mentioned this before but I LOVE Mail... I love packages, I love cards... well, today we got 3 things: an anniversary card from Matt's Dad & Stepmom (our 5th is on Friday!) and it had a gift cert to a restaurant in it...a book that a blog friend sent me... and gift cards to Chuck E Cheese from Donna!  Well, I had no dinner ready and so I came up with a spur of the moment plan...

Got everyone ready, stopped at the craft store to get Rachel a silk rose for Valentines Day and went to visit her, and then we went to Chuck E's for dinner and had a blast!  Thank you Donna!! :o)

We stood at Rachel's grave, the air was actually mild today and the wind was blowing.  I noticed that the warmth today helped melt some snow down. Someone had left a cross that says "Bless this Family" on it.  Matt & I hugged and I said "I can't believe our baby is under the ground."  He confidently responded "We'll see her again".  God has definitely blessed our family.  I told Rachel I miss her and wished her a Happy Valentines Day... and I thanked God for her; my Valentine.

As I sat in an arcade game and shot at big spiders with my boys, Sam yelling at the top of his lungs "Get Em!!" and we laughed like crazy... I soaked up my blessings with a huge smile and thanked God for them; my Valentines...

While we ate pizza,  Des said "Hattie is lucky Sam was gentle with her...he hit Rachel in the head" - I thought how fitting it was that Rachel's big brother wasn't gentle with her... I asked Des if it was hard for her to be around a baby girl.  she said "no, Hattie's so cute.  I'm happy for Harlee that she has a girl she gets to keep"  My sweet Desirae... I couldn't ask for more in a daughter.  I thanked God for her; my Valentine...

This morning, Matt came in with some chocolates and a little gift for me... and tonight, after he held me at our daughter's grave, I watched him run around with our 3 other beautiful children, playing like a kid (oh, and totally scoring 100 on this new jumping game they have and everyone was really impressed :o) )  and then came home and put the kids to bed...and I just found him asleep in Desirae's room.  I am honored to be his wife.  I thank God for him; my Valentine.

Flower Bulb Information

I had to change the end date of Rachel's Bulb Fundraiser because I realized that it takes them 30 days to send the proceeds and we wouldn't have it in time to build her Ark.  The new end date is March 31st.  Don't forget to order soon! Order Here

I have received a couple of questions that I wanted to pass along answers to, in case you've wondered too.

They ship the bulbs at the proper time for planting according to your time zone because bulbs are sensitive to temperature, even in shipping.  They guarantee all products so if you get anything and aren't happy, call them... I have also discovered that they have really good customer service.  Not all of their products are on the fundraiser.  You must shop from the list on the fundraising page I gave in the link.  The ones available on that list are only things that are meant to be planted in the spring... so that you can enjoy them this season. (they have a different list for the Fall fundraisers) 

One last thing...  I have a theory on all this snow...  it IS God's answer to my prayer for an early spring!  I think that God is giving us tons of snow so that when we have a sunny,dry, beautiful (early) spring and summer, the ground will have all the water it needs to make these flowers bloom beautifully!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

His Kindness Leads me to Repentance...Again

Yesterday I was explaining to my friend Harlee that I am "unfortunately at the wrong place in my daily devotional"  - if you're not laughing yet... you might be at the end of this...  I mean, seriously, how often does God have me in the "wrong" place in anything??

Let me try to recap... I got this devotional book (1 year book of Hope) while pregnant, started it, didn't get far, pick it up here and there, the last time I picked it up, it was exactly what I needed to hear (I believe on God being close to the broken hearted)

The title of the week I'm on is "Jesus, Man of Sorrow"  I told Harlee; this would have been better for me to be reading in the first couple of weeks after Rachel was born.  Week 10 (where I "should" be) is on the Sovereignty of God..."doesn't that fit better for me right now?" I reasoned...

I reluctantly followed the chapters in order... and did the work through it, still convinced it didn't apply...until I got to the last line:
"Petition God to fill you with His Spirit so that you can forgive those who abandoned you in your time of sorrow and suffering"
I wouldn't have been ready to do that in week 2.  It talked about how even Jesus was abandoned in His suffering.  His closest friends let Him down and denied Him.  He was alone.  I related so much to this aspect of His suffering - loneliness in grief.  Nobody else could do it for Him; God chose Him.  I spent some time over the night praying about that... there aren't many people who abandoned me, but there are some.  Some physically, some emotionally, some actually adding more stress and pain...  People who "should have" been here; weren't.  People who "should have" supported and loved us; didn't.  People who "should have" respected our needs and allowed us space to grieve; refused.  I had to admit that these things broke my heart.  I had to admit that I felt lonely and abandoned... I have to admit that I still do.

Would I have done things differently?  Yes.
Am I hurt? Yes.
Do I need to forgive? Yes.
What does that look like?  Not a clue.

Okay, so now I'm seeing that maybe I'm exactly where I need to be in the book... but wait, it gets better.

Next Page: The Father Heart of God. (this is where I found myself this morning)
This gets a little hard... it's talking about how our images of fatherhood are shaped by our "imperfect earthly fathers"  Sigh.  It asks the question "In the pain you face today, do you wonder if your heavenly Father will be tender towards you?  Does He care? Will you find love or just a lecture? Acceptance or rejection?"

The part that stuck out to me was "love or a lecture" - I know that God receives me with love...  I can see how some of the pain in my sorrow was caused by expecting that from others...but when I read this, I actually heard it the other way around.  "Do I receive people with love or a lecture?"  I know what I want to do...I know my flesh fails.

Now I'm not only sure I'm where I "should" be in this book, but I'm feeling pretty convicted.  Funny thing is that I didn't want to skip ahead anymore.  I wanted to hear what God was telling me... and so I kept going.

And then it says:  "The angels joyfully and quickly obey.  If we pray as Jesus taught us, we are offering ourselves as obedient servants in a Kingdom where the will of God is done with great joy and without hesitation, just as it is in heaven."

My mind drifted to what life is like for Rachel right now... it sounds amazing.  joyfully and quickly obeying her Father without hesitation....the blessing that must come to her heart with that.

Why do I stall?  Why do I fight it?  What do I think it's going to benefit me to be out of the will of God?  And so, I start to talk to God about this...  "What do I do with this conviction, Lord?" 

This would be like America's "how are you?" question... I asked it, but didn't really want to know the answer...

He said: Joyfully and quickly obey, love like I do, forgive.

You've got to be kidding me...I got on the phone...  "Emily, what does it mean to forgive?"  I know, I should know this right?  I should, because I'm a Christian and that's what Christians do... we forgive.  I am very grateful for my amazing friends who help me outwardly process things and don't judge me or lecture me.  My big question:  "Does forgiving mean you enter back into a relationship with them?"  I admitted that while most of the time I felt peace about letting go of unhealthy relationships, I wondered if that is really okay with God or I'm just telling myself that cause it's the answer I want...

The answer?  Not sure.
The conclusion?  I am going to pray for each specific relationship and hurt and be willing to do what God wants me to... joyfully, quickly, without hesitation. That may involve mending a relationship, it might not.  I don't believe that's required to forgive.  But I do know for sure that God will show me eventually and when He does, He will heal my heart from the hurts and give me peace.
The best part?  God is happy with that. 

The next page is titled "A Father's Joy" and it says:
And while he was still a long way off, His Father saw him and filled with love and compassion, He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him (Luke 15:20)

I don't have to be "there" in order to please God; just running in His direction with a repentant heart. 

So here I am, Lord... all of me.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Divine Romance

Time is a strange thing...last week 9 weeks felt like a long time, and this week 10 weeks feels like no time at all.  On the way to visit Rachel today, I heard a song that I wanted to share...It's called Divine Romance... I miss my girl.

The fullness of Your grace is here with me
The richness of Your beauty’s all I see
The brightness of Your glory has arrived
In Your presence God, I’m completely satisfied

For You I sing I dance
Rejoice in this divine romance
Lift my heart and my hands
To show my love, to show my love

A deep deep flood, an Ocean flows from You
Of deep deep love, yeah it’s filling up the room
Your innocent blood, has washed my guilty life
In Your presence God I’m completely satisfied

That sums it up...and it went really well with what I found when I got there...

I thought it must have been Matt who wrote it...but it wasn't.   There were hearts everywhere, surrounding her.  Thank you for this reminder... God loves my little girl, too.

His grace, beauty & glory is all she sees...she is completely satisfied...she is singing and dancing in His eternal love.  I'm happy for her.  What more could a mother want for her child? 
Still miss her...

Thursday, February 10, 2011

What's "Better" Anyway?

Well, I guess it's finally happening... I'm feeling "better"

"Better".... what does that mean?  I guess I mean that I'm cleaning my own house, doing my own laundry, making our own my meals, bringing my kids to all their activities myself, not having anxiety attacks... usually... and actually getting through my "to-do" lists.  I'm feeling competent again.

I realized this yesterday as I looked around at 5 pm, while trying out my new pressure cooker (Christmas gift), and my house was spotless, smelled good, laundry done, and the kids had a productive day; even did an art project... things are getting "better."

But is that really what "better" is? 

I guess I didn't realize how rough of shape I was in during my pregnancy.  I knew I was in a lot of pain, I knew my heart hurt... but it wasn't until yesterday that I got a clear view of how bad things were.  I concentrated so much on how amazing Rachel was and planning for "hello" and "goodbye" that I think I just went into survival mode.  And thankfully, while God carried me emotionally, my family and friends came to my rescue and helped me through physically. 

I am so grateful that I was able to let those things go during that time and concentrate on what really mattered.  To know that I was accomplishing God's plan for my life...even with a messy house, needing tons of help, many nights with no real dinner, dirty laundry up to my eyes, afraid to light a candle cause I'd most likely forget it and burn the house down... (funny story, Matt actually accidentally threw Des' snow pants on a lit candle and they caught on fire! - Never a dull moment in the Aube house!)  I'm glad that those things don't matter to God.  I'm glad in that time, while my house fell apart and the "outside" looked awful, God was doing something on the "inside" that could never be taken away....and that I wouldn't need to re-do the next day!  I might have been incompetent to manage my life alone, but the trade off was well worth the surrender.

Before all the snow came, I took the angel that our dear friend Donna had left at Rachel's grave home with me so the winter wouldn't ruin it.  I put it on my counter near the door, and eventually moved it to the sill in the mudroom.  I came across a little pile of dirt, and realized it was from Rachel's grave and had been carried home by the angel... I couldn't clean it up.  I left it there for a few weeks, until yesterday.  As I wiped it up, I had to talk myself through it... "you can't leave it there forever"  I thought.  sigh.  I guess every time I move forward like that, I feel like I'm leaving Rachel behind.  I need to let go of that guilt. The truth is, she's not behind me at all... she's ahead of me; waiting in heaven... I can't wait to see her again.  But, as I move forward, she is part of everything I do; all my days, all my nights.  She is in every hug or kiss I give my family, every smile on my face.  Her memory fills spaces in my mind and heart that can never be taken over by anything else.  I believe that God has great plans in the future even still for Rachel's legacy here on earth, and I know that part of that is going to come from me moving forward....with her; towards her.  That's totally different than moving on without her.

I pray that as I get "better" I remember what "better" really is...  it's not a clean house and everything looking good from the outside.  It's got nothing to do with the things that most people measure as "success"; not my job title, my accomplishments, my house, even my children's achievements or behavior- it's got everything to do with the parts of me that only God can see and surrendering to His will for my life, no matter how hard it is.  I pray that I keep this perspective, that God has given me through Rachel, and carry the truth of it with me for the rest of my life.... and keep getting better, however messy that may look from the outside. 


As you can probably imagine, and I'm sure I've mentioned before...while I was pregnant with Rachel, I was worried about what she would look like when she was born.  I would look at other babies and look at her ultrasounds and try to figure out what to expect.  I was glad that I had a good site to go to (Anencephaly Blessings From Above) to see tasteful pictures of these beautiful babies, because the Internet shows some scary photos, mostly aborted babies, and it isn't a good idea to search aimlessly for stuff like this.  I was also glad to have a site that I could trust with Desirae's eyes and heart because it was important that she was prepared too. 

I followed people's advise and bought the "micro-preemie" hat and preemie clothes.  The clothes didn't fit, the hat did. :o(  I remember the moment I first laid eyes on her... they held her up for us to see over the barrier shield they had up.  She looked just like I had expected from seeing other photos.  There really isn't any preparing yourself for a moment like that... the one thing I know for sure about that moment is that it was just that... only a moment.

When she was on me, Matt & the nurse were fiddling with her hat trying to get it to stay on.  I told them not to worry about it... I said "I don't care, just leave it off".  I didn't care what she looked like or what she was missing.  I loved her for everything she did have...and everything she didn't have.  She was my baby girl.  Perfect in God's sight; perfect in mine.  I felt sad for her that she was broken, but I wasn't afraid or ashamed of her.  I hated that it meant she couldn't stay, but I loved that it meant she was Rachel... my anencephalic daughter.  I loved her with all that was in me, just the way she was.   The one thing I knew for sure in those moments is that I was going to make the most the time we had left together...if only moments.

In the hours I held her after she died, I kept her close to me and snuggled with her all night.  I didn't plan on that ahead of time, but it felt right.  She was going to stay somewhere that night, and I felt like it should be with me.  I spent time with her doing the things I would normally do with my babies when they are born.  I even blogged with her there in my lap. :o)  She did a lot of blogging with me in her days...  But as the morning came and I knew the time was drawing near that I would have to give her away, the moments were never going to last long enough.

On the way to her funeral, my mom picked me up and the country song "one more day" came on... I shut it off.  I can still picture exactly where we were when I did.  I knew if I listened to it, I would start crying and never stop.  I'd love another day...but I'd take another moment.

At her service, I didn't want it to end.  Time was standing still and flying by at the same time.  After everyone filed out, I went and opened her casket up again.  I had to see touch her... to kiss her.  I couldn't bear to think that this was the last of my moments with her.

So today, I was sitting at my computer and I glanced up and saw the picture of me & her.  I took it down off the shelf and just smiled.  She was so cute.  I remember telling people who came up to me at her service about her dimples on her hands... my favorite.  Her arms & legs and hands & cheeks were chubby.  She looked just like the rest of our kids, a little more like Sam...Mama's mouth & Daddy's nose...she was our daughter and their sister. 

She was beautiful....every moment she was alive and every moment since she's been gone. Perfectly beautiful. 

I teetered between a smile and tears as I memorized her features again, wishing still for one more moment with her.

"Sometimes love is for a moment...
Sometimes love is for a lifetime...
Sometimes a moment is a lifetime" 
-Author Unknown

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

My Heart's in November

Soli Deo Gloria - "Glory to God alone"
(It's the name we gave our homeschool so that I keep proper perspective on why I'm doing this...)
 What's this?  Well, this is the erasable calendar I made at a MOPS meeting last year...I use it for my homeschool activities and it's hanging on my kitchen wall, still reading "November"...  Why?  Well, cause I can't seem to get myself to erase it.  It's got all my Dr appt's listed... Thanksgiving (our last holiday with Rachel) and at the bottom, I counted ahead to Dec.3 and wrote Rachel's Birthday!

When I made the chores section, I didn't make boxes for each child cause I was hoping to add another baby to our family and I wanted enough space for them all. 

November was a hard month...physically, emotionally, mentally... my dr. appt's were all day events and they were constant.  I could hardly keep up with life...but Rachel was here.  *sigh*  We really did wait for her with hopeful expectation...even though things were hard.  I'm so grateful for that.  A few people have questioned me "your calendar still says November?" I just nod, smile and say..."yeah"  - I know they think I just haven't gotten around to it...  nope. I look at it every day, I've debated changing it to December, January, and now February... but can't.  She was with me in November.

I wonder if I'll ever be able to erase this board.... I know my "baby loss Mama" friends get this. but I really don't want to take her name, or time spent with her, off of my calendar. I actually kept my regular calendar from last year and put it in her memory box.

I'd love to go back to November... my heart is still there.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Don't Want to Miss it Twice

OK, so I'm about to be very vulnerable here....all judgemental people, please exit now........

I trust if you're still reading, that means that you won't have anything judgemental to say, but even more so that if you catch yourself with judgemental thoughts about what I share, you will notice it, call it what it is and admit that you are human, too and that God's knowledge is above all other's.

This morning at church the topic was "Anxiety and Worry"...  before the sermon we sang "Everlasting God" by Chris Tomlin, see lyrics Here.  It's based on the verse I mentioned the other night in my "Waiting for Wings" post... And I cried of those deep belly cries...yet still praising Him. 

So, when Pastor Willie started the sermon, my heart was ripe to hear.  I was very convicted this morning and it really did sum up what's been happening this week, in the battlefield I call my mind and heart.

I have been very "concerned"...okay, totally worried, about my next baby.  Before Rachel, after I lost our 3rd baby, God put it on our hearts that we should not be trying to control when He gives us children.  He gave us a new outlook on babies, the gift they are, how they are not meant to be "convenient" and let us know that no matter how much we plan, we really have no say on what happens.  I realized that, while I trusted Him with so many other things, I had not trusted Him with my children.  I took the world's ideas of how children should be spaced, how many children I should have, even what I should own or have in order to "provide" for them (as if I'm the one who does that!) and I let fear and human "intelligence" make my decisions. 

Now, before anyone gets defensive, please know that this is OUR conviction... I know that God leads everyone differently and I do not believe that everyone should just have tons of babies... and I know that some people will never have any at all.  I believe that is a calling of it's own and God has purpose in all things. 

So, we lost a baby and God let me know... I can plan it out "perfectly", but ultimately I don't decide.  I had decided the month that we got pregnant with Rachel, that I didn't want to get pregnant that month because I wasn't interested in a Christmas baby.  God had different plans, not only did I get pregnant, but she was due on Christmas day.  I thought "well, that's funny, God" and rolled with it...  When I found out Rachel would die, I was yet again reminded that I have no control... and that I really would LOVE a Christmas baby. :o(  (read It's all perspective post)

After all I went through with Rachel, I thought that I would never struggle in this area again... but here I am.  Worrying.  I must admit, it stems from things that don't matter...  statistics and people's opinions.  I had a couple of people say something along the lines of "you wouldn't try again, would you?  Don't you know that the chances are higher of it happening again?"   hmmm....  while I can say that is a useless comment, and know that's true... I can't help but worry about people's opinions.  I have also heard it said of other people who had more than one anencephalic baby that they really "asked for" a hard road.  So, what it comes down to is that I don't want to ever have to go through this again, but what I really worry about is that if it did happen, people would blame me.  As if I really decide what happens at if having another baby like Rachel would be if welcoming a child from God is ASKING for pain... Does anyone else see how crazy those things sound? 

Even more crazy are the things that go on in my mind... Here is a list of things I have worried about this week:

That I will loose another baby to miscarriage
I'll have another anencephalic baby
our headstone will end up being needed for another baby and will have the wrong amount of name boxes on it.
Can me & Matt both be buried there if we have TWO babies there?
If not, would I get buried with them or with Matt?
What if Matt dies first?
my doctor won't support me
people will say I did it to myself and lack compassion
I'll get pregnant with twins, my body won't be able to take it and they will die
I won't be able to do everything I want to do for Rachel if I'm pregnant and sick.
that I'll have a boy
that I'll have a girl
What if I never have another baby at all?
Should we adopt?
How would we afford that?
I wonder if my criminal record would allow that.
Can I get my record cleared yet?
if my body is absorbing the TONS of folic acid I take now
what caused Rachel's condition??
what doctor's office I should use
what hospital I'd deliver at
would I have another c-section or try VBAC?
what if my uterus ruptures during birth and I die?
will I be due around Rachel's birthday? 
How will I grieve and rejoice at the same time?
Would people forget about Rachel?
if my heart could handle any more pain
Would I be angry at God?

That just reminded me of the video they showed this morning telling us what not to do!  And that's all just my thoughts on our next baby... which by the way, I have NO idea when God will give us.  But early this week, we came to the conclusion that we were letting statistics and human knowledge keep us from trusting God and His knowledge.  He does not call us to something and then not give us what we need to go through it.

I also realized that somewhere, deep down, I do still question if God cares for me.  He proves Himself all the time, and yet I still have that little whisper in my ear every time I talk to God.  I'll say "I trust You" and I hear "why do you trust him?"  I'll say "thank you for loving me" and I'll hear "what makes you think he loves you?"  I say "I'm not afraid" and I'll hear "look what happened last time".  I'll say "You're in control" and I hear "really, well why didn't he do x,y,z...?"  It's a battlefield... faith vs fear.  Who will I let win?  Will I take my thoughts captive and rely on God and His Truth or let the enemy's lies infest my mind?  The reason the world is in the mess it is to begin with is because Eve bought into Satan's lie that God didn't have her best in mind. 

I heard something on an interview that I shared with a dear friend last night and as all of this worry stuff came to light, I realized I was supposed to hear it the other day.  The man being interviewed had a serious case of MS and was asked "how do you stay optimistic?"  My ears perked up and I listened to hear his answer.  He said something along the lines "well, I look at it this way... if I worry and nothing bad happens, I miss it once.  If I worry and something bad happens, I miss it twice"

We don't want to miss it twice.  Rachel's life was a perfect example of that.  When we found out she had anencephaly, I had two choices.  I could be mad at God, fall apart, run from Him and cry for 5 months...and then when she died, have missed her twice....   OR, I could stay close to God, pray for healing, have hope and trust in His plan and make the most out of my little girl's life.  and then when she died, be thankful that I didn't miss my chance to love her and rejoice over her.

I've heard it said that courage isn't the absence of fear, but doing the right thing in spite of itGod does not give us a spirit of fear... or worry. (I said those same words in her diagnosis post where I finally shared that she had anencephaly...which I was afraid of doing because of statistics and other people's opinions!) He gives us a spirit of power, and of love, and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7)  right, Nancy? :o)

So here it is... we're choosing to not worry.  We're choosing to trust God in His plan and believe that He cares for us.  We're choosing to surrender to the fact that we are not in control.  We're choosing to be courageous in Jesus Christ.  We're choosing to love.  We're choosing to not miss it twice.

We're asking you to pray for us as we support us, to love us, rejoice with us and if need be...grieve with us.  But please don't ever judge us or blame us if something goes "wrong"... in God's plan, it's always right.  I am completely surrendered to His will for my life.... the good times, the hard times and everything in between.  And I would gladly welcome another baby like Rachel into our family... she was AMAZING!!

So here we go......
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.
1Peter 5:6-11