Caramel candy bars, caramel ice cream, caramel iced coffee, caramel candy, caramel topping on my caramel ice cream. If I could fry caramel, I probably would. And if I could have my own Caramel boat and name it Rachel, I would.
OK, so you probably get how much I like the caramel chocolates, right?
Let me continue (as I eat my Caramello - for real!) After talking with a friend about my last post, I feel like I should clarify something. I mention that I don't feel supported by my church family - and because what I'm able to share is minimal, that can sound a lot bigger than it is. To be honest, it FEELS a lot bigger than it is. And really, it's all stemming from one inappropriate action that I'm getting criticized for drawing attention to - and has prompted a few people to say things like "we/they have done so much for you and your family that you should be more thankful and gracious than this." 2 things - I can be upset about something inappropriate and still be thankful for everything else. (I also know more about the situation than they think I do and so they 'don't understand' why I'm upset) And the other thing is that lots of good works don't get anyone to heaven. I don't need to show grace because of everything YOU have done for me, I need to show it cause of what JESUS has done for me. And I DO. I never realized we were to keep score like this and honestly if I knew these people were going to throw "everything they've done for me" in my face constantly, I would have never accepted their help to begin with. That is not love. And as Rachel's mother, it gets my mama bear hair standing straight up to hear people throwing her name around like she was a pain in the butt.
Yesterday I was wishing I could pick Rachel's Playground up and bring it home with me. I was so sad - I cried a lot. We have really done a lot for the church and all the families in it as well and it's taken more from me than just my time and money. It's taken a piece of my heart... and her playground no longer belongs to me, but to the church. It's hard to let all that belonged to Rachel go into someone else's ownership, especially as they question my character along the way. They seem to be missing my sacrafice while wanting to point out theirs.
But all that "coconut" aside, the truth is that I have an amazing church family. Without them, Matt & I would pretty much be alone in this world (again, not counting my mom & sister who are always here for us) But there are really only a handful of people who are not supporting me from church, problem being WHO those people are, not the number of them. My heart is already broken and they just threw some salt on my wound so unfortunately, it stings more than it normally would.
I have always struggled to not let a bad apple spoil my bunch. I can tend to get discouraged and heavy hearted when things aren't going well with even one person. To one extent, I'm glad my heart is sensitive to that and to another, it's feel like a major downfall of mine. OOH, I just thought of another to add to my list... caramel apples! mmm...
I guess I can forget sometimes that people who don't know the whole story may be upset that I would say such a thing about our church. So, just in case any of you from church read that and were totally confused, I want you to know that I am SO grateful for you. Matt & I were both in tears on Saturday, full of gratitude talking about how thankful we are for all of you. We have not overlooked one single donation in Rachel's honor or one act of service from any of you, no matter how big or small. However, if you weren't confused by what I said (and not because I confided the details in you), well... do I need to say more?
Back to caramel... I may have had to endure a lot of coconut this year, but I've also had caramel raining from heaven on me. I have had way more days with blessing than not. I have felt loved many more times than unloved. Even during the days immediately following Rachel's death, I almost daily had a flavor fill my mouth that left me saying "mmmm...caramel" So PLEASE know that those days have not left my memory. I have not forgotten any of the things that you all have done. They are too close to my heart for that to ever happen.
Today I went to Rachel's Playground to play and met some friends there. I got there to find that Mark, who made every picket for Rachel's fence by HAND had come to add more to the bottom of the art panel section and it looks great. He was also taking some measurements for another part that needed attention. I had no idea people were even still working on it. Then Andy from The Journey church showed up to take care of the scrap wood.... Then I went to pick up the other sign for Rachel's Playground. The first one was $700 and this one was going to be $275 and that was a discounted price! I called on the way to see if they took credit cards and she said "it's been paid for" - apparently one of my friends stopped in and took care of it. I went to Rachel's grave and found a bunch of little twigs in the shape of a heart on her spot, along with container of gerber daisies and a cross flower decoration - AND the cemetery was mowing when I was there and left it there, they could totally throw it all away. Then I looked down and saw that her grass is starting to grow.
I've had lots of caramel today.
I need to learn how to wash down the coconut with the caramel and keep going. Until then, please be patient with me. This grief stuff is way more difficult than I ever realized. It's not just about being sad. There is so much more to it than that and although everyone and their mother will tell you that it gets easier with time - that's a crock. It seems to be getting harder before it gets easier if that is the case. The funny thing is that according to everyone else, this week was supposed to be my best one yet - and it's been extremely difficult.
And if God isn't so good to me, Matt JUST handed me card that came in the mail and it's from Learning Structures (the playground company) He talks of how Rachel's life was short and yet has touched thousands of lives... and then he says:
"I am so proud to have both of you as friends. We began this project thinking we were helping a family and community. We ended the project and realized that we benefitted the most. Thank you"OK, so the company who donated close to $20,000 in services and materials and tons of their time that they could have been making money on another playground is thanking US? I can't tell you what that does for my heart. I'm left speechless.