Saturday, July 30, 2011

My "Friends" of Job

Things have been tough lately.  My grief is heavy at times and just when I think I'm surrounded by people who love me, it never fails... someone has a problem with how I'm handling my loss.  I find it next to impossible to not want to defend myself.  Well, this time, I'm also being lied about and that's even harder to not want to defend myself in.  It's a lose/lose situation for me... I say nothing and she gets to continue to lie about what happened.  I say something and I'm now being divisive in the body of Christ.  And so I have to trust that God will be my defender.  Can you please pray this for and with me? 

I know that God uses everything for my good.  I trust that this is too, but in the process, I feel like I've been duped.  I went against my first instinct and ran ahead in a relationship that I never should have entered and I knew it.  And now I am left with the aftermath of it.  It's a sad fact that some people's motives are wrong, even when they claim to be "helping". 

This probably makes no sense, but I can't really say any more. I've often thought about Job, his suffering and his judgemental friends as I've made my way through this past year.  It's hard enough as it is, but it never ceases to amaze me how cruel and selfish people can be in the name of "concern". 

The accuser (satan) is ruthless, and through Job's friends he kept aggravating Job and pouring salt in the wounds. They meant well, but they were all wrong. Job finally defended himself. “What you know, I also know; I am not inferior to you. But you forgers of lies, you are all worthless physicians.” ( Job 13:2, 4) “Miserable comforters are you all!” (16:2) “How long will you torment my soul, and break me in pieces with words? These ten times you have reproached me; You are not ashamed that you have wronged me.” (19:2, 3)

I know Job experienced many more losses than me, but I can relate to the frustration and hurt from people who are supposed to love me adding insult to injury and analyzing everything I say and do and then talking about it behind my back as if they are just worried. I understand that the bigger the target is, the more people will shoot at it and I've kind of made myself a big target by having this blog.  I may not always say the right things or feel the way people think I should, but I love my God and He loves me.

I know the majority of you reading this blog do not use my words to attack me, but instead pray for me and support me and cry with me.  Thank you.  And I know that the people who know me well, know where I'm really at in my grief, even when I write about a valley on my blog - that even at my lowest, I'm still anchored to my Savior. 

I know many of you do not look down on me when I am in that place.  I know that people who have carried a baby to term and buried them understand why I would still be crying (or even crying more since I'm pregnant again) and certainly would understand why throwing Rachel's name around in a negative light is absolutely unacceptable.  And I'm sure that anyone who has struggled with alcoholism knows why I would at times think about drinking.  I try to remind myself that it is very few people who do this to me and keep it in it's proper place in my mind - that these people don't know me and are out of bounds with their conclusions about me or how they would handle my situation.  Although this girl said "I know I will never know what you're going through, BUT..." (there's always a "but") - except she's assuming she won't ever know.  I pray for her sake that if she does ever "know" what I'm going through, people don't do to her what she is doing to me.

Thank you to those of you who truly LOVE me and are here for me, not looking to constantly pick me apart or looking under every rock for a problem that you can solve for me.  I know it's the unhealthy people who do those things... and that people who love me will walk beside me and give me a shoulder to cry on.  I know that when a real friend is truly concerned, they will come to me in a manner of love and instead of judging me with how much they think they know, they will pray with me and for me and tell me they are here... and if I need it, say nothing or just cry with me.  I have friends like this and I am so grateful for you.

I wanted to share a devotional my friend Nicola sent me a few weeks I read it, I was thinking about how Job's friends seemed to be doing good with comforting him until Job finally started talking again and then they saw that as their "in" to tell him what they thought about his position and trial.  I again could identify.  It makes it very hard to want to develop new relationships at this point in my life when so often, people immediately get judgemental and even though they barely know me, think it's appropriate to analyze my trial.

Anyway,  too bad Job's friends couldn't have just remained supportive.  But their pride made them think they had answers Job needed to hear.  I know some people like that.  I guess times haven't changed too much since Job was alive.

The Best Kind of Encouragement
So they sat down with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his grief was very great. —Job 2:13

When Jesus entered the Garden of Gethsemane, He told the disciples, “Sit here while I go and pray over there” (Matthew 26:36). Then He handpicked Peter, James, and John to go with Him.

Notice that Jesus did not say, “Explain this to Me,” because He didn’t need an explanation. He was God, after all. Nor did He say, “Preach to Me,” because He certainly didn’t need a sermon. He just wanted His friends to stay with them.

Jesus was lonely. Though God and yet man, He was experiencing cosmic, epic loneliness, and He was asking for a little companionship.

This is a reminder that when someone is suffering, one of the best things we can do is just be there. Galatians 6:2 tells us, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”

When Job’s world fell apart and he lost everything that was dear to him in a matter of hours, his wife only added insult to injury when she said, “Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!” (Job 2:9). Imagine that on a greeting card.

But Job had three friends who showed up, and when they saw Job covered in boils and despondent, they just sat with him and cried. And that was the best thing they could have done for him.

That is often what people really need when they are suffering—someone to just weep with them. We don’t always need to have the answers. The fact of the matter is that we rarely do.

When someone is hurting or suffering, we can actually cause more pain when we try to give people answers. It has been said, “Preach the gospel, and when necessary, use words.” Sometimes the best thing you can do is just be there.

Summary sentence: Sometimes the best encouragement is your presence without words.

(Devotional Copied from Harvest Ministries.)

Will I Ever Stop Wondering?

Another Friday come and gone... another week with empty arms.

I went to Rachel's grave today with my huge scissors that you don't have to bend to use and cut Rachel's grass and the weeds around her stone foundation.  It looks better.  She should be getting her stone soon.  I'm hoping to hear back in the beginning of the week with a set date, but this guy has been giving me the run around for months.  I finally heard back the other day and he said he was starting the corrections on it.... please pray it will be in before her 5K.

I also had an ultrasound today which was ok.  I wasn't scared this time... and I felt myself getting a little more attached to him.  I know God will help me bond with this baby in His perfect timing.  It feels like my heart is finally starting to accept that I might actually get to bring this sweet boy home with me.  It's just such a mix of emotions.  I can't wait to hold him and see him breath and move... and yet sometimes it seems like that's not ever going to happen.

Tonight I got an email from a blog reader who shared with me about her son that she lost to anencephaly... I was so encouraged to hear her tell me that she knew of my pain and had experienced some of the same hurt by well meaning people.  She also shared the things she wonders about as far as what he would have been like... and if he would have "liked peas."

I cried.  Would she have looked like Sam?  Would she have a contagious laugh like her sister?  Would she be sleeping through the night?  Would her hair be long enough for pony tails yet?  Would she be chubby, starting to pull herself up, blue or brown eyes??  Would she get into everything like Isaiah?  I imagined her in the highchair in the kitchen and could picture me sitting with her and feeding her peas.... I wonder, would she have liked them?

In the matter of minutes, I had taken myself through a day with her in my mind watching her grow and learn and my heart broke at the thought of all I don't know about her.  So many things I would have loved to find out about my girl... so many things I wanted to tell her.  I wonder, will I ever stop wondering??

Friday, July 29, 2011

Another year gone by

Since last August, I've been wanting a ring that said "I will carry you" on it.  Matt got me one for my bday that came the other day.  He surprised me with having the inside engraved too.  It says "Thank you Mama". 

I was really upset when I first got it because you couldn't read the letters at all, they were very faint.  I contacted the guy we bought it from and of course, they don't take returns on engraved rings.  I thought he was high when he told me to color it in with a Sharpie... but it worked.  I love how it's a picture of making the most out of the imperfect.  This saying "I will carry you" is a symbol of my dedication to Rachel, but also my reminder that my God doesn't let me out of His sight.  He has been with me the whole time - carrying me while I carried her physically and carrying me as I continue to carry her in my heart.

I had a good birthday today.  Matt had to leave for work before we were up and I woke up to Isaiah whispering "Mama it's your birthday today" at the side of my bed.  I couldn't believe they remembered without Matt telling them to say it.  They were so excited for me to go downstairs cause apparently while I was out at a meeting last night for Rachel's 5K, they made me a banner and Matt hung it up before he left for them.  It was such a nice morning with my sweet children loving on me.  Matt left me a note that he had gotten a babysitter and we were going out tonight... love it when he plans stuff!  He really put a lot of effort into making today special. I also got a package from his mom the other day, which was a nice surprise and thoughtful.

I brought the kids to summer camp, dropped Sam off at his Godmother's (Millie) and went to a prenatal appt at the new doctors... had to switch places so I could deliver in another town that does VBAC's.  So it was like 2 hours long.  I didn't realize it was my birthday when I scheduled it, but it was fine.  Heard Asa's heartbeat, which is always nice.  I got a little nervous when it took her a minute to find it.  I could feel him moving and still worried... I guess it's part of having lost a baby.

I was right in Dover, but running behind and wanted to stop and visit my girl, but decided to wait until tomorrow since it's Friday.  It was so hard for me being that close to her and not stopping to visit.  I turned onto the highway trying to remind myself that she doesn't mind.  My mother's heart still wanted to spend sometime with my daughter on my birthday.

I went to lunch with my mom, ate way too much food and got a free bday sundae.  (always room for deep fried brownie bites covered in vanilla ice cream and hot fudge!)  We had some laughs and I got caught dancing by one of the waitresses... you can dress me up but you can't take me out.  I was doing the cowboy lasso thing and bouncing in my seat to a song and realized I had an audience... oh well.

I went home and noticed Matt had left me a note on my chalkboard...

As hard as this year has been on us, I know God is still using it for our good.  I do love so many things about my guy.  He's devoted to me, that's for sure.  Thank you for your prayers for us.

I took a LONG much needed nap.  I ended up feeling really sick cause I'm not used to eating fried food and I had onion rings and haddock.  I woke up to my kids putting on a birthday party for me... ice cream cake and presents.  I love watching Sam sing Happy Birthday. 

So then Matt & I went out for a while.  It was so nice out tonight and we had good conversation.  We went down to the park where Rachel's 5K will be and looked around and took a walk.  We went and got some salads at Panera and frozen Strawberry Lemonade... yum.  It's not very often we splurge on a $3 drink so this was a major treat :o)  

I share my day with a very special little girl, Amelia Grace Lorang.  She was born one year ago today.  I thought of her many times throughout the day and wondered if my girl was dancing at her party.  I'm guessing they must have parties in heaven?  Happy Birthday Amelia...

I wanted to post earlier, but had hundreds (literally) of Happy Birthday emails and messages to get through in my inbox.  I am so blessed by so many people, thank you.  I got to the end of my emails and of course, there had to be a mean one?  My first thought... well I won't share my first thought.  My second thought... why on my birthday? and then I looked at the clock and realized it was after midnight. :o)  It was actually the first email I got, from last night at 2am, but got pushed down to the bottom and God protected me from reading it until my day had finished.  He is in the details and cares about my days.  Thank You Lord

Of course, now I'm up way too late cause I haven't figured out how to not let mean people bother me... but someday maybe I'll learn that one too. 

Another year gone by... the next week marks my "before Rachel's diagnosis" week (I'll have more on this soon)  It's been very hard this past week for me.  My heart is very heavy, please pray for me.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Waiting for the Bloom

This week has been just as hard as I expected it would be.  Last year on my birthday, me, Des & the baby (Rachel) went out for a girl's day for my birthday.  We got shakes and pedicures and bought ourselves some new flip flops at TJ Maxx (Des' favorite store).  We talked and dreamed about what we would do with our new baby, especially if it was the girl we wanted and checked out some cute baby girl clothes. That was the day I bought the baby (her?) first dress. We talked as we got our feet done about how there could actually be three girls on this girl's day out.  I came home and hung Rachel's dress on my wall and it still hangs on the wall in her room to this day.  Much too big for her to ever wear, and ironically, covered with little white flowers....

That is the last happy memory in my mind from my simpler days.... the days before August 4, 2010.  The days before I knew the pain of losing a child.

Thursday is my birthday and I've been trying to figure out what to do with myself for it.  The kids will be at summer camp and Sam goes to his Godmother's so I will have the day to myself.  That used to be what I looked forward to... "me" time.  not so much anymore.  Now I just wish I could be bringing two of my girls out and spending my birthday spoiling them.

I woke up this morning, my back aching...  I laid in bed for 45 minutes wondering how I will get through another day - I cried so much yesterday, my face is still puffy.  I can just feel my bad mood over my head like a dark cloud waiting to rain on me.  I'm so tired of being hormonal and sad.  I'm not sure "tired" is even close to a description of what I *really* feel about this past year.  November can't come quick enough, when I can *hopefully* hold this baby and take him home, end my 20 months of almost continuous pregnancy and only have grief to deal with... which I'm sure will be accentuated holding a new baby. 

I keep hoping people won't judge me for my true feelings about this pregnancy (I try to remind myself that people who have truly felt my pain understand and those who haven't, don't - and that I'm the dumb one that tells them) But I have no end in sight for this pain and that is discouraging.  I'm not just a mother of 4,  I'm not just pregnant.  I'm not just grieving.  I'm not just planning a 5K.  I'm a pregnant, grieving mother of 4, almost 5, trying to plan an event in memory of my baby.  It's emotional and heavy for me and I'll be honest, not very exciting although I guess it's "supposed" to be, just like her playground.  I guess if you're not me, these things feel different.  Sometimes I wish I could be on the other side looking in... where playgrounds and 5K's are exciting and fun instead of sad and hard.  Maybe next year.

I stood looking at my messy kitchen and glanced out the window.  I looked at my garden, which I worked so hard on last year with Rachel thinking it was going to be gorgeous this year, and sighed at how I placed everything in the wrong places... too tall in front, full sun in part shade, summer bloomers all together... I'm just not the gardener I aspire to be.  I look at it every day trying to plan out how I will fix this mess so that I'll have better luck next year and I ask everyone who looks like they might like plants if they can tell me what to do to make it better.  I looked at my horrible soil and the large amounts of weeds growing around (and above!) everything and get discouraged with the fact that I just can't take care of it like I want to right now.

"Life was easier without a garden"  I thought to myself as I started to tear up.  So much to do to keep it pretty, the learning curve can't be fast forwarded, you have to wait until the next YEAR to make adjustments.  Not my style at all.  No matter how many times I get out there and weed, I can't seem to get a grip on those suckers.  They just keep coming back as if they don't care that they are not welcome here.  If only my grass would grow like that. And did I mention that when I bend over to take care of this stuff, the acid in my stomach comes up my throat?  awesome. 

I feel like giving up on everything... the garden, my house, relationships, my birthday, and all these big events I spend my life planning as if any of them are going to bring her back.  She's not coming back.

And I realized that once again, the garden is a picture of life....

Sure, life was easier before I had my own "garden"... appreciating flowers that other people planted from a distance was much easier, a lot more enjoyable...all beauty, no pain for me.  The simpler days.  I could watch them work from the comfort of my garden-free home and think how easy it would be to do what they are doing...assuming that the flowers bloom in all the right places and in great quantities just because they own them and not because they have toiled for hours in rain and weeds to get to that point.  I also loved being able to benefit from the beauty and fragrance their gardens produce for all to see, without getting in the dirt on my knees and feeling the aches and pains of what it takes out of the gardener devoted to it's success.

But before the ups and downs and hard work of my own garden, my backyard was never as beautiful.  I could do without the rain and weeds and constant toil... but my garden...well, my garden needs it to really bloom.

I'm waiting for the bloom. 

Monday, July 25, 2011

Our God is Greater

I woke up this morning with a song on my heart....we sang it last week in church and the Spirit moved through our congregation pretty seriously.  I thought I was the only one until Vanessa mentioned it at our 5K meeting the other night.   It was on our CD that we gave out as favors at Rachel's baby shower and it was on our original list of songs for her funeral, but got cut when we had to take some out.  It's playing, but here are some of the lyrics:  (sorry, I'm a music girl)

Water You turned into wine
Open the eyes of the blind
There’s no one like You
None like You
Into the darkness You shine

Out of the ashes we rise
There’s no one like You
None like You

Our God is greater, our God is stronger
God You are higher than any other
Our God is Healer, awesome in power
Our God, Our God…

And if Our God is for us, then who could ever stop us
And if our God is with us, then what can stand against?
And if Our God is for us, then who could ever stop us
And if our God is with us, then what can stand against?
What can stand against?

Things have been so hard and I feel like I'm no longer hanging on by the thread I've become so familiar with, but more like I've actually lost my grip on it.  I realized that I need to ask you guys to pray for me.  I know many of you do already, but I need extra right now.  I remember hearing this song while I was pregnant with Rachel and crying to see this truth come true. I saw it... I lived it. He shined light into my darkness, brought beauty out of ashes... gave me strength to get though... and healed my girl, just not here.  I need to experience Him like this again now.  I went to bed asking "where are you God?"  I know He's here. 

Things feel so dark and I'm growing weary.  I was not prepared for how long this road would be - or how everyone else would forget and move on so quickly.  Most people are happy to just let it be a part of their past and want us to do the same.  The most hurtful of these being the people closest who claimed to be so affected by her dying that they couldn't be there for me while I was pregnant. (you may notice there were a lot of family members NOT mentioned in Rachel's obituary... that wasn't an accident.)  I am thankful for your support because without it, I wouldn't have any.  God provides for me through all of you.

I woke up this morning and someone had commented that there was another article in the paper for Rachel - this time for her race.  I had asked the reporter to announce it was coming up and mentioned there were other mom's in this area who have lost babies to anencephaly and he wanted to interview them.  He wrote a nice article and included them too, which I hope blesses their hearts.  Here it is if you want to read it clickhere  Please pray it will help get people to come!

Please Lord help me to remember that you are for me... when nobody else is, when people are criticizing me in my time of need, when I feel alone... You are with me.  Help me to believe what I know - that I don't need anyone else or anything else.  God You are higher than any other, You are awesome in Power, There is none like You.  You are Healer Lord, bring me up from these ashes... Give me peace and heal my broken heart. 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

I'm Done.

Today has been extremely hard.  I wish I could say that was out of the ordinary, but it's just not.  Although it was the hardest day I've had this week.  Let's just say that "hard" doesn't begin to describe my marriage, my relationships with my family, my relationships with my in-laws, or the fact that I just buried my daughter.  And quite honestly, I'm tired of trying to find something positive in all this crap.  I'm tired of always trying to rise above and take the high road... and I'm tired of being expected to. 

I'll insert my warning here... there are lots of complaints in this post so if you are going to be offended that I'm upset and complaining or might feel the need to send me an email telling me about how I'm upsetting God or dishonoring my daughter, please just click that little red box with the X in it in the upper right hand corner.  I don't want to hear it.  I'm hormonal, I'm sad, I'm stressed out, I'm grieving and the combination is about to drive me over the edge and this is my space to write about it. I don't really need any input from "well meaning friends" like I got in May.  It's not helpful and you don't have to read this if you don't want to. 

Matt left with the kids to go to church this morning and I stayed behind.  I wanted to blow it off.  I was thinking maybe I'd see if I was able to go to my mom's without my kids and lay by a pool.  I was thinking maybe I'd go to a different church where it wouldn't be so obvious that I was in a bad place or at least I wouldn't need to answer anyone's "how are you" question, since we know how people LOVE the real answer to that.  I was thinking maybe I should just go shopping or get a pedicure or do something else that would make me feel better for a minute... can I just feel better for a minute?  I thought about just taking the time to get some stuff done for Rachel's Race.

I needed to be in church this morning.  Not because it's what I'm supposed to do. Not because God is there more than He's here.  I didn't need to be there to feel better or closer to God.  I needed to be there because I refuse to turn my back on God and I needed to prove that to myself.  I needed to stand firm and not run.  God already knew that my heart was with Him this morning.  But I have a tendency to want to walk away from God or His church when His people, especially my husband, let me down or hurt me.  I have heard so many stories of people leaving church and never looking back over human relationships and I refuse to be one of them.  I refuse to let anyone on the face of this planet take that away from me.

I got there late into worship and Isaiah was begging me to bring him to the potty cause Matt wouldn't.  So I did and ended up only hearing 1 1/2 songs before worship was over.  I was planning on leaving before communion because I was angry.  But one of the only parts I actually heard of the sermon was something to the effect of - we don't need to get ourselves cleaned up before coming to the throne of God, but instead take it all and lay it at the foot of the cross... allow Him to examine our hearts and receive His forgiveness.... and so I went up. 

As I approached the front, I looked at my friend Sue and gave a half smile, which probably said more than I intended about how I was feeling.  I put out one hand to receive the bread and Sue grabbed my other hand, put a kiss on her hand and touched it to my wrist.  I felt so loved, but when I realized that she had planted it right on Rachel's hand print, I started crying....  She was telling me without any words that she hasn't forgotten my girl.

I was crying so hard that I had a hard time swallowing my juice.  I took communion and practically ran out of the building sobbing - I didn't want to have to talk to ANYONE.  I drove to Rachel's grave and cried really hard the whole way and for probably another hour after I got there.  I sat there for over 1 1/2 hours.  I hate that alone in a cemetery is my norm.  I hate that this road is so long and has become so lonely. 

I feel SO done.  done.  that's the best word for it.  I'm all done dealing with people in their 50's who act like they're 2. And we have them on both sides of our family.  I'm done trying get help with things.  I'm done chasing people around to follow through with that they say they will or to even return a phone call.  I'm done pretending like Matt's been a part of this journey cause he hasn't and neither has his family. I went through my pregnancy without any help from them and I've cried for months without a care from any of them.  People I don't even know took care of me while they sat back and played victim and criticized me and demanded things from me.  I hope they don't think they are going to become my friends when I have this baby, cause I'm not having it.  I'm done with fairweather friends and family.  Done. Being related by blood does not give you the pass to treat me like crap and think my kids are still yours.  They are mine. And Rachel is one of them.  We're a package deal, I hate to say.  I'm all done reminding people that my daughter died not that long ago and that (yes, even though I'm pregnant again) I am STILL broken.   I'm done trying to explain to people why certain things are important to me because quite honestly - I'm not always going to make sense (and some of it makes enough sense that I shouldn't have to explain it!!) and I don't have the patience or energy to explain myself all the time. It's just the nature of grief.  I wish it was different and that I could just snap out of this.  But since it isn't going to happen, I am officially ALL DONE with anyone who doesn't get that.  I (we) haven't talked to Matt's sister since her nasty string of emails in December (two weeks after Rachel died) and I don't plan on it. I blocked her email address after her last dumb email in January and haven't looked back.  

I am more than happy to add to that list....  I can't do this anymore and so rather than try....I'm done.  I have been hoping for compassion, support and understanding where I will never get it.  I have expected people to understand a loss they can never grasp (no matter what kind of grief they have experienced) unless they bury their own child.  I have expected Matt to understand a loss he never can.  That's what his mother and sister were missing when they were blaming me for his lack of grieving as they saw fit the day before Rachel's funeral... it wasn't the same for him and it wasn't the same for THEM, no matter how many times they wanted to claim it was.  I am her mother and it was a different world for me - it still is and that is obvious in how quickly their "pain" ended after Rachel was in the ground and why they look at me like I'm dragging it out.  I have wasted time and energy trying to get my feelings validated and it's useless.  I am giving myself the freedom to withdraw from as many people as I feel are not good for me and if you think that is unhealthy or feel like you should tell me why that isn't a Christian thing to do, then keep it to yourself cause I don't actually care about your opinion on it.  I'm sure God will let me know if there is someone I should work on keeping in my life.  I'm so tired of being let down.  Right now, I need God.  That's it.  If only it didn't hurt so much to know that He's about all I've got anyway.  It's a good thing He's all I need.  Too bad I didn't accept this sooner.  Not sure I've truly accepted it now - but I'm done trying to do anything different.  All I can say is that these people better not expect anything more out of me right now either.  If their "I'm doing my best" excuse works for them... well, I am too and I'm done.

Friday, July 22, 2011

She's Got Mail

I love going to the post office with Sam.  We've been going every day to check the PO Box for Rachel's walk.  He jumps out of the van, says "I holda key, I holda key!" - I give him the box key and he says "thank you" and runs.  Then he stops a little before the door and says "oh wait, whatta bout da burdies?" (there are usually birds there) and waits until he spots one he can chase a bit.  I say let's go and start walking towards the door and he yells "I open da door, I open da door!" and he pushes the handicapped button.  As the door opens he yells "get in dere Mama" and points to the door.  We repeat that again for the 2nd set of doors and as soon as we enter the room with the boxes, he RUNS to the box screeching with excitement.  I hold him up and he puts the key in and as it opens, we both either cheer because there is mail (meaning a donation towards Rachel's 5K) or sigh at the empty space.  But if there is an empty space, Sam makes the most of it and says "hello" into it (you can see out the back into the post office) until one of the workers answers from behind. :o)

I have to admit that this routine of ours melts my heart.  I smile this ridiculous smile watching him.  I know what he's going to do next, does the same thing every time, and it still makes me so happy.  And in a way, I admire that his life is so simple that he can allow those feelings to flow out like that cause the truth is, I feel the same way and the same excitement... I just try not to scream. :o)

You must know by now that I LOVE mail.  I LOVE packages... I can tell the difference between a bill and a piece of love mail from a mile away (it's the stamp!) but maybe the reason I love the post office so much is because I know if I open that box and there is something there, it's going to be good... and it's going to be about Rachel.

A few weeks back I sent an email to our families asking that they sponsor our kids on Rachel's walk.  I asked them to send it directly to them so that they could get excited (I guess I'm projecting my love of mail onto them) and "part of".  I waited weeks and got no response... and to be completely honest I am still disappointed in the small number of responses we did get. Although, sadly it's no surprise.  My mom, my dad, and Matt's step mom sent something - the rest of the family ignored it so far.  I know my kids don't care as much as I do though, and that my family will probably pull through last minute or hopefully come to the race, so it's ok.  Matt's step mom sent a check to him here and my dad had sent a cute little letter to each of the kids with a separate check written to Baby Rachel's Legacy in each to the PO Box, which I thought was sweet.  They both sponsored them for a good amount of money.  The kids had fun reading my dad's notes and I loved watching them.  It was encouraging to have someone in our families supporting us in our daughter's walk.

Well, yesterday, after Sam's ritual, we opened the box to find 6 little blue envelopes.  I was expecting to find a large sponsorship donation from a company called Turbocam that should be arriving any day now.  I knew by the writing they were from my mom.  One with each of our names on it and a little note...  I looked through them... Stacy, Desirae, Isaiah, Matt, Samuel...  Rachel Alice....  6 stamps.

I stood in the doorway to open Rachel's while Sam chased some birds around.  She wrote her a note and sent her $10. This meant more than even the largest sponsorship I could get because it wasn't about a race... it wasn't about Options for Women... it wasn't about her fulfilling my request for sponsorship or to make the kids happy. (although those are all great) 

It was about Rachel. 

My sunglasses went on to hide the tears.  I have to do that a lot these days.  It feels so good to see her name still be recognized...for someone to acknowledge her and her place in our family. We are still a family of 6.  I am still her mama and I still miss her like crazy...and someone else is aware of that and is thinking of her too.  Thanks, mom.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

It Was Her Day

I woke up with this on my mind.  This was the last walk I took with Rachel....

my awesome nurse, Kim....

I prayed the whole way to the OR that I would come out of there with my live baby... An hour and a half later, I was being rolled down that same hall, back to my room, with my baby's body wrapped in a blanket, cradled in my arms, and absent of her soul. 

Psalm 23:4-5
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
   I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
   your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows

Today I thought about this a lot.  I have most of the pictures from Rachel's birthday burned in my mind and so I could picture them in my head without actually looking at them.  As I drove with this on my mind, I heard a song by Jeremy Camp called "There will be a day"....

I know the journey seems so long
You feel you're walking on your own
But there has never been a step
Where you've walked out all alone

Troubled soul don't lose your heart
Cause joy and peace he brings
And the beauty that's in store
Outweighs the hurt of life's sting

 But I hold on to this hope and the promise that He brings
That there will be a place with no more suffering

There will be a day with no more tears
No more pain, and no more fears
There will be a day when the burdens of this place
Will be no more, we'll see Jesus face to face
But until that day, we'll hold on to you always

And as I sang along, all I could think was "that was her day."  It's kind of exciting to think about for her.
I said it out loud...  "It was her day"
I started crying.  I cried for a long time. 
I might never walk with my girl to the park...
but I walked with her straight to "her day"
And we weren't alone.
God was with us.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Ask and You Shall Receive...

OK, so here's the scoop.... Rachel's 5K is less than 3 weeks away and LOTS of people are telling me they're coming... but, only 49 are signed up.  I need to give the t-shirt guy a count before the end of the week.... I REALLY want everyone to have shirts, but they cost too much to order and have them not get used.  We also need to buy food and I have no idea what to buy because there is a 100 person difference in the count I'm getting from all of you and on the registration site.  So PLEASE, if you're planning on coming, can you sign up soon?  This being my first year, I have no idea what to expect and it would certainly help me plan better. 

If you are in the area, but can't come because you can't physically do the walk or run, would you consider helping out for a couple of hours?  We need 30-40 people to make this run smoothly and we have.... are you ready for this?.... like 6.  We need people for all sorts of different things.  If you are able to help contact me at

We have over 30 babies registered so far...  I pray this brings healing to their grieving parents' hearts. 

Alright, so I've heard before "If you ask them, they will come" and so here I am... asking.  In Arbonne we used to call it "getting our asks in gear" :o)  So, would you, could you please help me and sign up to walk, run or help soon?  I mean, unless you want to see me have a mental breakdown... no pressure...  kidding.

Thank you!  I'm excited to see God pull this one together like He did for Rachel's Playground... 

Monday, July 18, 2011

In My Dreams

I woke up this morning to Sam trying to blow a raspberry on my arm... I nudged Matt and asked him to get up with him... I wanted to go back to my dream...

A dream about Rachel...I'm not sure I've had one before.

I was up until after 1am writing my post from last night and finally decided to finish it in the morning.  I was feeling unsettled about a lot of things and had a hard time going to sleep.  After what I had written about her in the delivery room, I couldn't help but wonder if this was a dream or a vision... trust me people, I'm not going crazy, but this was pretty intense.  I was not able to go back to it, but laid there thinking about it with a smile on my face....

So, it went like this - I was in the hospital bed, apparently in the OR, except the room was darker, more like an ultrasound room.  I looked at the ultrasound pictures that were coming out of the machine automatically, only to find by surprise that she was actually being born.  In the ultrasound pictures, I was not having a c-section so I'm guessing the idea is that she came at the right time. (I always question if I should have had my c-section 3 weeks early.  I know I needed to for me physically because of the excessive fluid issue, but hate the thought that maybe if she had the extra time she would have done better)  In the room, there were random nurses and family members and friends that all seemed to be off to the sides in their own world and having their own conversations.  Everyone was sad and the air was heavy.  I was holding Rachel and she was quietly dying, just like the day of her actual birth. 

All of a sudden, I could see me on the bed holding her... like I was out of my body.  I watched myself looking at her in my arms and the peaceful sadness that was over the bed.  It was quiet with just the beeping of the machines and soft small talk in the background.  Although I couldn't hear what anyone was saying,  I could tell that people were concerned for me & her on the bed, but nobody came near us... it was just me & Rachel.  

I went over and took her from the me on the bed and the second I did, she started cooing.  She yawned really big, opened her eyes and looked at me. In my excitement over seeing her become alert, I smiled at her and tried to get the other's attention.  She seemed bigger than a newborn at this point and her head was all there.  I started bouncing her and she giggled like crazy.  Where I was standing with her was now lit better, but the rest of the room was still darker.  My family around me couldn't hear her laughing or see her smiling... they were still sad.  I heard bits and pieces of conversation about her being dead.  There were only a couple of people in the room who could see what was happening.  From the bed I watched her interacting and although it filled me with joy and I was really happy to see it, I was feeling left out and sad because I wanted her to do it in my arms. 

And then I realized it wasn't me holding her, it was Jesus.

I woke up and honestly wondered if that was really a dream or if God was showing me what happened when He took her from my arms in the hospital.  I came downstairs saying "you wouldn't believe the dream I just had" but was reluctant to even call it a dream - I couldn't shake that it was more than my imagination playing with my mind in my sleep...but that maybe I just got a glimpse of my girl's eternal life with Jesus beginning and the love and joy He feels when He looks at her, as well as how happy and lively she is in His arms.

I'm positive if she would have been better off in my arms, He would have given her back to me and let me hold her in that bed... if only in my dreams.

There is Freedom

Being the anniversary girl I am, today (actually yesterday, I started this post last night and didn't finish it) I'm remembering two of them.... one being this day 9 years ago I was released on house arrest from jail, 5 months pregnant with Desirae.   The other being my first hospital stay with my two youngest children, Sam & Rachel... Sam spent 3 days in the hospital with breathing issues from an allergic reaction and I was pregnant with Rachel, still unaware that she was a girl or would soon die.  I stayed with him the whole time he was there.  It was horrible, but looking back, I know my life was much simpler then.  I remembered journaling about how powerless I felt and crying my eyes out that I couldn't do anything to make him better and that the doctors didn't seem to care...  two weeks later I would know that powerlessness, pain and fear to a whole new level when we got Rachel's diagnosis.

This week I have cried a lot.  I could tell you all sorts of things that might contribute... I could say I'm hormonal, overtired, overwhelmed with busyness...  but as much as those do hold true to a certain extent, it's not why I've been crying.  I've been crying because I've hit another tough part of my grief.   I've been crying because I still miss my daughter.  I've been crying because I'm still sad.  I've been crying because it's lonely.

I've had a lot of hard things happen in my life.  I grew up without my dad. I've been on drugs and lived the drug scene, had friends die from overdoses, car accidents, murder.  I've lost jobs, been evicted. I've been homeless and sleeping in my car. I've been beaten up, I've been used and abused by men, been "date raped".  I have lost relatives too young to sudden death as well as a long battle with cancer and I've done a lot of things that could kill me from the guilt alone.  I've been a single mom, I've had relationships end.  I've been in rehab, pregnant in jail, on house arrest.  I've had my future plans fall apart before my eyes and my 'plans' changed on me a hundred times. 

Nothing... NOTHING... has been as hard as this.  I have never experienced such deep pain.... the next closest thing I can remember to feeling like this was my miscarriage.  I honestly am convinced that nothing compares to the loss of a child... especially for the mother.

I guess with everything else in my life, there was always something I could spur myself on with... well, when I get sober, life will be better... when I get a new place, a new friend, a new job, a new husband... when I start doing the right thing, I won't need to feel guilty anymore.  When I'm not a single mom anymore, it will be easier...a new relationship will come... I don't ever have to go back to jail, rehab or on house arrest...

But there's no getting out of, away from, or replacing the loss of my daughter.  I can't get a new one.  I can't look forward to when I get used to being without her... it isn't going to happen. It's not like anything else I've ever experienced.  There is no end in sight except heaven.  I can't escape the pain and honestly, I don't really want to.  I know I said recently that I keep myself busy to escape the pain, but that really isn't accurate cause I have yet to get away from it.  I keep myself busy doing things for her because my heart longs to nurture a baby who is dead and this is the only way I can do it. 

I think ahead to the birth of Asa and I can imagine him cry and move... I think about nursing him, I think about rocking him, I imagine snuggling with his warm body and feeling his breath on my neck...  And I cry.  I don't know how I do this without everything making me grieve more deeply how much I missed with Rachel.  What does a delivery room feel like with a baby that's going to live?  I've had 3 of them, but all I can remember is my quiet, motionless, dying girl.  I don't know how I'll hear all the "congratulations" afterward without remembering all the "I'm sorry's" after Rachel.  On her birthday, I would have given anything for our families and friends to say "congratulations on your new daughter! She's beautiful, you did a good job"  but instead I got hysterical crying on the other end of the phone and had to beg family members to come to her funeral - and some still didn't bother.  How will I feel when someone wants to bring me a meal from church?  I didn't get one for almost a month after Rachel was born... How do I allow people who could have cared less about Rachel come to acknowledge Asa and not be offended for their lack of care for my girl (and my trial through losing her)?  How do I not care as her mother that so many view her life and death as a disappointment to be pushed to the past and are hoping Asa will do that?  I'm so tired of answering the question "is THIS baby okay?" -  As much as I know some are hoping that this new baby will end the awkward conversations about my sweet daughter, he's not going to.  And if I know me, he will only make me want to talk of her more to make sure nobody thinks he serves as her replacement. 

It all just feels so hard.  I feel like nobody gets me and like I'm always swallowing pain and moving forward... dry my eyes, pick myself up, and keep going...  what else can I do?

I have curled up many times in the past few days with Rachel's blanket and just cried.  I can hardly believe I have really been through this.  I tried to sleep without her blanket the other night and couldn't.  I kept tossing and turning, so I finally gave up and grabbed it - and slept fine the rest of the night.

I bought Asa his first blanket the other day and was actually kind of excited about it.  I considered sleeping with his blanket until he comes, and I will eventually be able to put Rachel's in her chest... I mean, how long can I sleep with her blanket?  But you know what, his blanket isn't going to do it for me... I need her blanket... I need something that she knew... I need something to help me feel close to HER.  There is nothing that will ever fill the void she left. 

So, as I continue to struggle with the reality of this never ending road through the loss of my child, I am reminded that there is freedom in Christ....I am not enslaved to this pain and that is only due to my relationship with God.  I know if I did not have Jesus in my life, this would have destroyed me by now.  I cannot imagine.

We sang the song I have playing on my blog today in should listen to it and soak it in... especially all of my baby loss friends...

Where the Spirit of the Lord is... There is freedom...
If you're tired and thirsty... there is freedom...
Lift your eyes to heaven... there is freedom

Freedom reigns in this place
Showers of mercy and grace
Falling on every face... there is freedom...

give your all to Jesus... there is freedom

It is a long road, but the Lord goes before me.  He alone can fill me up.  When I'm tired and thirsty, when I feel the rain start coming down again, all I need to do is lift my eyes to heaven and give my all to Jesus... and the rain will reveal His showers of mercy and grace - and that is where I'll find my freedom.

It isn't freedom from the reality of my pain on earth.... that's here to stay.  The freedom of the Spirit helps me to keep going... when I feel like I can't go anymore... and to hold on to the hope I have in Jesus knowing I will eventually see my girl again.  It's freedom to be sad, while still genuinely thanking God for even the hardest time in my life, knowing that this is His perfect will for my life and to know that Rachel was not a disappointment.  Her life was everything it was meant to be.  Even if some don't see it.  I am so proud of her and can't wait to tell her face to face.  And because of the Lord, some day I will.  And on that day, I will find my eternal freedom of pain, tears, sadness, sin and earthly trials with Him (and her) in heaven.  Until then, I will lift my eyes and give my all to Jesus and find my freedom in trusting Him.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

A Fading Daisy, Big Heart, and Faithful God

Yesterday was my little sister's 30th birthday, so Sam & I drove down to visit her in the hospital.  She's doing ok as far as not having complications from surgery, but her pain is hard to control.  Please pray for that.

As we were leaving, I found a single daisy on the floor by the elevator.  A few of the petals had fallen off and where scattered around.  I thought about Rachel and how 'flowers fade'.  I picked it up and sighed...

It was a long day of traveling and when we got back to the area, we stopped to visit Rachel.  Someone had left a little heart stone there a week or two ago that almost got lost under all the long grass. I rummaged around a little to find it... it was a little beaten up.  I left the daisy and took my faded heart, just like I had to do in December when I walked away from that spot for the first time.

I need to get myself a cordless weed wacker cause her grave is out of control and I don't like messy.  I'm not going to complain cause technically, I'm not supposed to have anything there but her stone. (which is still not done yet!  Totally frustrated with this guy - he's been blowing me off for 2 months now!)  They are bending the rules to allow me to have anything there, but in return, they don't cut near it.  I have tried to consolidate things that people leave so that it's not cluttered in hopes that they would clean it up, but it hasn't worked.

I can't believe that just a few weeks ago, this was still a spot of dirt.  I took a picture of the heart I told you about last week... the grass is really long so it's not as obvious, but I think you can still see it.  It actually covers her entire tiny grave, from one side to the other.  There is only dirt left along the edges now. I'm glad the grass is growing good... and at the same time it is a reminder that she wasn't here yesterday. It's been 32 weeks since I held her. My arms haven't missed one day of longing for her and time has not changed the intensity of that one bit.

It's amazing how God provides for my heart because one of my worries with having her grass grow in is that I wouldn't know where exactly she was buried anymore.  I know that sounds irrelevant, but it's just the way it is.  Do you remember last month when I was upset cause when I moved her bench, it had ruined the growing grass underneath?  Well, that is what created the bottom of the heart!  God has a plan in the details that sometimes hurt. He knows the number of hairs on our head and controls even where each blade of grass grows.  He has yet to miss an opportunity to bring me comfort and reassurance and I try to always be aware of those moments.  Until she gets her stone, the heart being there helps me to be able to still see exactly where she is.... she's right in the middle of the heart God gave me.  He gave me a heart in the grass, but He also gave me my heart of flesh that was meant to hold all this love for Rachel... and He prepared my heart for how big and deep, and even painful, this love would be.  I'm honored to be the one He chose for that.

I saw a mother & daughter locket set Thursday... a big one for Mama and a little one for the daughter and was sad that I didn't get something like that for Rachel.  I had searched for the perfect thing while pregnant to help me always feel connected to her and found nothing until after she was buried.  Today I'm wondering if God had a specific purpose in that...  so that I wouldn't be relying on man-made "connections", but on the one given to us by our God and to help me to continue to trust in Him, not anything else for comfort. 

I got her stuff all cleaned up... I felt a little crazy cleaning off her little name plate with a baby wipe. (that's the first time I've been able to use a baby wipe to take care of her) It's looking pretty beat up.  It's been through the long months of winter and the rainy spring we had and the weather has taken it's toll.  I can relate.  As I walked away, I looked back at the little fading daisy and the big heart above my girl's grave and I saw a picture of me, her and God's provision through this trial...

This little grave holds a piece of my heart that longs for my daughter every day I live and grieves her fading body deeply. I believe that I can trust my God when He says that as believers, our lives don't end in the grave.  It might not be until my body joins hers there in that grave that I truly know this truth, but so far from my experience, He has never let me down.

Isaiah 40:6-8
A voice says, “Cry!” And I said, “What shall I cry?”
All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of the Lord blows on it;
surely the people are grass.  The grass withers, the flower fades,
but the word of our God will stand forever.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Got Blood?

I wanted to ask you to participate in a very special celebration.  A sweet baby named Amelia Grace Lorang has a birthday coming up (July 28th) and her family is asking people to donate blood this month in her memory.

Obviously, you can do this in any town that you live in... but our church, Grace Community Church in Rochester, is hosting a blood drive on July 16th (this Saturday!) from 9-2.  If you were planning on donating (or not), I was hoping you might do so with Amelia on your heart... remembering God's amazing gift of life as you donate blood to save another's life.  

I know this would mean so much to Amelia's family who will be celebrating her 1st birthday without her this year.  If you are able to donate blood, you can contact the Red Cross directly to make an appointment at 1-800-733-2767.  This is needed even if you come to Grace to do it. 

If you do this in honor of Amelia and to show support to her family, could you please let them know?  They would be so blessed by this. You can comment or contact her through her blog HERE  Thank you so much!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

I Cried Because I Cried

Wow, today was one of 'those' days...

Let me give you a couple of key points from last night that played into today...  I got home late from picking up my sister's kids last night and Matt had mopped the kitchen floor - and while he was at it, he broke the mop.  Then at around 11:30 we got into a debate over my cell phone plan.  I wanted to add minutes because I keep running out of them and I like to talk... (it's a pre-paid phone) he didn't think that was necessary.  I went to bed way too late, mad about my cell phone plan.  (seriously)

I had my sister's kids last night while she was in surgery so my mom could be down there with her.  The girls proudly manned a "Robot Picture Sales" Table on the side of the road until 8:45 and were very bummed out that I was the only shopper. (I took the van around the house and pretended I was at a drive-thru)  Their robot pictures were very creative... all sporting different shapes and colors.  I bought the "heart robot" and the "mad mama robot" (which made me crack up cause I know it was a picture of me from earlier that day).  I had to explain to them that 8:30 at night is just not the time of day most people are out robot picture shopping...  better luck during business hours :o)

My kids are going to Vacation Bible School (VBS) this week and so I asked if my niece and nephew could join them.  I hadn't heard back yet and the kids were all outside this morning playing nicely.  The boys on the swing set and the girls were making more robot pictures to sell.  I thought "maybe I should just keep them home and not have to rush out of the house"  and no sooner did I have that thought and I heard...

"Auntie, the girwls said we're the stupidest boys ever!"
"Well, they wouldn't listen and they are being annoying!"
"no we're not"
"yes you are"

I worked them through it... "you're not stupid... don't boss them around....sit down on the top of the slide" all that good stuff.  I checked my email and saw that it was ok if I brought the extra two kids today, but was still debating if I wanted to just skip it.  A few minutes later, I heard Sam start screaming.  He fell from the top of the slide.  Other than a little blood on his tongue and a bad grass stain on his shirt, he was fine...Thank God. 

I skipped my shower, got dressed and yelled out "get in the van, you're going to VBS"  While they were gone having fun and singing about God being "wild about them", me & my Sam went to the grocery store and ran some errands... so far so good.

I'll admit that I was preoccupied mentally over my sister and how she was doing.  I got home, put stuff away and got on the computer to do a few things and one thing after another went wrong - I could not get anything to cooperate.  I really don't like computers.  I picked everyone up from VBS and when I got home, my mom had come to pick my niece & nephew up and brought stuff for dinner... a spiral ham and potatoes and she shucked my corn for me.  She got it all ready in water so all I had to do was turn on the stove and she put the ham in so all I had to do was take it out.  I didn't really want the ham in the oven since it was a cooked ham...I would usually just cut off what we would eat and heat that.  But you 'don't look a gift horse in the mouth'. (meaning you should accept a gift without complaining)  So in it went. 

Alright, for once dinner will be a real meal and on time! 

I should have known I was bordering emotional when I read my friend Melissa's blog (Amelia's mom) and was in here bawling, while my mom was in the kitchen...I know many of you read the blogs on my list anyway, but if you didn't read Melissa's from today, you should.  She expresses so many of my own feelings (and things I wonder about for my near future) in an amazing way that I cried both because it's nice to know I'm not the only one and because when I read her take on our girls in heaven, I knew she was right.  It was the last couple lines that did me in.... I both love and hate it.

I sat down to catch up on stuff for Rachel's 5K and actually fell asleep sitting up.  I woke up to a huge bang and the kids yelling "hurry Mama, the orange juice!"  Isaiah had tried to get it out of the fridge, dropped it, the jug broke and it was spraying everywhere.  No napping here.  I went back to work.  My computer kicked me off the internet about 10 times.  Fairpoint is horrible!  Matt got home early and took the kids with him to get something done to the van. 

I had some peace and quiet... 

I went back to work.  BANG!  Sam fell out of his bed!.  am I ever going to get a break around here?  Now my sleeping toddler is awake and screaming... my floor is sticky... my mop is broken... I can't bend over without horrible heartburn... I've gotten nothing done for Rachel's 5K... I over cooked the potatoes and burned my hands with the steam trying to strain them....AND OH MY GOSH, THE HAM IS STILL IN THE OVEN!  I took it out... burnt. 

I looked down and Sam had Desirae's non-washable markers and had colored all over the kitchen floor and his face. 

Could I have ever needed a mop more than I do today?

I cut some ham off and mashed the potatoes and got Sam some dinner.  I started cutting the burnt stuff off the rest, the pan shifted on the burner, boiling ham juice went all over the floor and my foot which startled me and I dropped the knife too.  As I dodged the knife in hopes of saving my toes, I heard Sam say "yucky ham" as he threw his food all over the floor.

I started crying.
I cried some more.
Matt came home with the kids and I continued to cry.
I got them all dinner while I continued to cry.
I ate my dinner with tears flowing.
I got Sam in the bath and kept crying.

And then Matt broke the news to me... he started it off with "I hope you find the humor in this....just laugh with me...  (apparently he could not see that I was in no way going to be laughing at that moment - but the kids were pushing him to "tell Mama what happened").... I brought the kids to Target while we waiting for the van and I put your phone on the shelf to get a toy down and it fell off... and broke in half... hahaha"  he then mentioned the irony of the fact that we had the 'conversation' about the cell phone last night and here he is having to tell me he broke it.  He bought a new one, but my sims card with my minutes on it wouldn't work in it. 

I started sobbing.
I sobbed some more.

Isaiah asked me "why you crying Mama, are you sad that Rachel died or that Daddy broke your cell phone?"

Still crying.   I couldn't stop.  I cried because I have a ton to do and can't get it done.  I cried because I burnt myself, I cried because I burnt the ham, I cried because I feel like I've been pregnant forever between the 2 pregnancies and am tired. I cried because my floor is gross and my house is a mess.  I cried because my phone broke.  I cried because that means I'm going to have to figure something else out.  I cried because my kids consider my baby dying and my cell phone breaking similar in the "worthy of tears" department. I cried because I miss Rachel.  I cried because I cannot believe I watched my baby die and I just want her here with me.  I cried because I cried.

Some days are harder than others...  this was one of them.  I am thankful that even when I'm alone crying for hours at a time, over seemingly unimportant stuff, God is with me and He cares. 

Psalm 56:8
You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.

Update on Rachel's Auntie

Got the call around 11:00 last night that my sister was out of surgery.  Everything went well and she was in pain, but the meds were controlling it.  I was not aware that they were removing more than some of her intestines.   I'm not sure if that was planned or if they decided that in the O.R., but the doctor is hopeful that this should help her for a long time and that she shouldn't need another surgery.  Please pray that this is the case and that her Crohn's doesn't take over her body like this again.

I have to say that the fact that they can even do such a thing to someone's body absolutely amazes me.  We are very blessed to live in a country where this type of medical care is available.  In another country, she would have died from this already.  (Althought at times, she felt like she was dying.)  The same is true of my Samuel with all his allergies and asthma... without the medicine we get so easily here, he would not be with us.  As much as doctors can really drive me nuts some times, I am so grateful for them. 

Thank you for all your prayers for my sister.  Please keep them coming, recovery will be long.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Prayer Needed Tonight

Could you all pray for my sister?  She is having surgery tonight for her Crohn's Disease.  They will be taking a portion of her intestines out.  The operation is scheduled for "some time after 5pm" and should take around 4 hours.  Please pray for:

-That they will start at a decent time and not push it back.
-The surgeon will be alert and have steady hands (with it being a night time surgery.)
-The operation will go well and as planned
-Her healing will be fast and without infection
-For safety and peace for my mom who will be there waiting for her and will have to drive a couple hours home after
-That God will be with them in a real and tangible way.
-That this will work for her.  She has been really sick for a couple of years and this has the potential to make a huge difference in her life and her kids' lives.

She will be in the hospital at least 4 days and can't eat for 3 of those.  She will also have 6-8 weeks of recovery, so please remember her in your prayers in the coming days and weeks.  I'll let you know how it all goes.

Thank you ♥

Sunday, July 10, 2011

In his name

This post is long and includes some details that may be hard to read, but I promise the ending is worth it...I just feel like I need to get all this out of my head and I'm all over the place, so forgive me...

In the middle of the Casey Anthony trial, I was talking to my sister who was giving me the run down of the details of the trial since we don't have cable.  She got to the part where she said something along the lines of the little girl's body being in the woods for 7 months and that by the time they found it, it was skeletonized.  She continued talking, but my mind was no longer on that poor baby, but mine....

We were having this conversation right around Rachel's 7 months birthday.  7 months is all it takes??  I wondered, as her words faded to the background of my thoughts.

When she got to the end of what she was saying, I asked "can a body really skeletonized in just 7 months?"
"Yes" She replied with assurance, clueless of where I was going with this.
"Even in a casket?" I asked.
"Oh...I don't want to answer this question" she said as she realized that we weren't talking about the same thing.

I've mentioned before that I worry about what happens under the ground.  But this has been my biggest struggle lately...  what is her body doing down there?  Does it get hot?  Stay cold?  Does she still have skin?  Is it disintegrating...sunken in?  Is her blanket down there as empty as the one I sleep with up here?  Has any of the water gotten to her?  Are there bugs on her?  Does it smell?  What was that noise I heard under her clothes, saran wrap?  (I had tried to have her embalmed, but her veins were too small and so they cut her open for nothing and then suggested I not help dress her at the funeral home, so I didn't - I also didn't dare to ask what the noise I heard was when I touched her, so I didn't - but I wonder about it regularly)

The pictures in my mind are scary and heart wrenching.  And they have been on my mind constantly.  I want to just shake them off and stop thinking about it, but it's not that easy, she's my baby.  My thoughts go from that to stuff like:

When our bodies are resurrected, will hers have the top of her head?  Does God consider her "whole" the way she is or are we considered "whole" the way we are?  Will she look like a baby, a little girl, an adult?  Will she recognize me?  Will she care that I'm there?  Will I care that she's there?  If we're only going to care about worshipping Jesus, won't we all just be focused on Him?  People try to "help me move forward" by telling me that Rachel wants me to be happy and then implying that "happy" means that I won't be sad about her.... I just don't buy that she really cares about what's going on down here.  She's in heaven.  She doesn't think like we do.  We try to put our human thoughts into heavenly ones and it's not possible.  I really don't believe that she is worried about anything, let alone what's going on on earth or if her mama is sad.  I'm glad about that, as her mother I want nothing more than a pain free, worry free life for her and I know that is what she has... but being unneeded by my baby is hard for me.  To know that she is not longing for the day we'll see each other again like I am brings me both comfort and sadness.

These thoughts about her body now and her body then have plagued my mind and heart and I believe that satan is using them to make me doubt God.  If he can get me distracted with details to discourage me, then he wins... a little at a time.  I want to just focus on the future... on the hope that I have in Jesus and in heaven.  I want to let the earthly stuff just fall to the back of my mind and heart, but it's just not that simple.  This is not a relative that was older than me - or a friend that was close in age - or even a child of a friend -  it's my baby.  Everything in me KNOWS that I am SUPPOSED to be taking care of her.  I'm supposed to be keeping her at the right temperature, feeding her, changing her... I'm supposed to be wiping her tears and comforting her... I'm supposed to be checking on her and making sure she is okay throughout the night....I'm supposed to keep bugs off of her.

And I can't.  I don't need to... I can't fulfill my role in her life, but she is still on my mind every minute just as she would be if I had her here with me.  The distance physically just doesn't occur emotionally with your baby - and time doesn't seem to be changing that.

The problem with this is that this road feels so long and daunting, that I'm getting discouraged.  If I'm honest, I'm starting to not even care about the hope I have in heaven because it feels too far away for it to matter.  I want to experience some relief NOW... in this life.... I want a break from this pain and heart ache now.  how am I going to do this the rest of my life without completely falling apart?  If I'm honest, I'm doubting life after death and focusing on the grave instead of the fact that Jesus has overcome it.  If I allow myself to think that this is all there is... pain, sadness and a tiny disintegrating body, possibly covered in bugs... of course I'm going to be discouraged!  I read yesterday in one of my devotionals that discouragement is one of satan's most useful "tools" and I can see why.

Today in church, we were on the last line of the Apostle's Creed....  "The resurrection of the body and life everlasting"  My ears perked up because I'm well aware of where my mind's been lately on this topic and I have so many questions - not about me or my destiny, but about Rachel and where she is and what she's like.

There was a new baby sitting behind me, maybe a few weeks old, that started crying really bad.  The young mother was trying to feed him and bounce him, but he was still screaming.  I wondered how in the world Pastor Bernie was focusing with how long this was going on for.  And then I realized that it was bothering him when he slipped, and instead of saying "when a person dies", he said "when a baby dies".  He stopped and admitted his distraction and we all giggled at the fact that it was no secret that the baby was distracting. 

Now, if my mind was somewhere else, those words may have been difficult for me... but I really think God was answering my questions and doubts through this circumstance in a very "loud" way.  Because the next thing he said was that "their bodies are restored."  He talked for minutes about healing and restoration  (which, as a side note, are the 2 meanings of the name we have picked for our new son... I'll get back to that, don't worry)  and how in heaven, both healing and restoration will be perfected in our bodies.  He mentioned the verse in 1 Corinthians that says "O death, where is your victory?, O death, where is your sting?"  A bit later, he quoted the verse from revelation 21:5 that says "I make all things new."  Des & I had colored a picture for Rachel last September and she wrote that verse on it and we buried it with her.  Death has no victory over her... He makes all things new.

It just felt like all these pieces were coming together all at once.  And then at the end of the service, before communion, we sang "I Will Rise" by Chris Tomlin.  I've got it playing on the blog, but here are a few of the lyrics:

Jesus has overcome
And the grave is overwhelmed
The victory is won
He is risen from the dead

And I will rise when He calls my name
No more sorrow, no more pain
I will rise on eagles' wings
Before my God fall on my knees
And rise
I will rise

And I hear the voice of many angels sing,
"Worthy is the Lamb"
And I hear the cry of every longing heart,
"Worthy is the Lamb"

I'm sure you can figure out why I shared the first verse and the chorus with you... but the last one, I want to explain... when I sang "I hear the voice of many angels sing"  I could almost hear Rachel singing to me to reassure me "Worthy is the Lamb"  and as I imagined her up there worshipping Him - no pain, no tears, her body whole... my longing heart cried out "Worthy is the Lamb."

By the end of communion, my tears were flowing heavily.  My emotions are hard to put into words, but I felt the sadness and grief yet, comforted, thankfulness, relief, hope.   I can't honestly say that I won't still wonder about her body in the ground.  I'm sure I will.  I will say that my faith and hope was revived today and that my God, once again, gently restored my soul.  He is ever so patient and loving towards me.

We got in the car and talked about baby boy's name.  I'm sorry, I told you this post was going to be long!  I would make this part a different post, but it really has to go with this -  Here is the story on his name...

Matt came home one day 2 months ago and randomly said... "If we have a boy, I want to name him ____."
I said "'ve got to be kidding me" (you should know that it really isn't like him to be planning ahead - or thinking about baby names, especially since we hadn't even had the ultrasound yet that showed he was ok, never mind a boy!)  He insisted he liked it, so I said "it depends on what it means" and went to get the baby name book.  I looked it up and it said it means "healer" with a spiritual connotation of "God Restores". 

I'm big on the meaning of names... don't really see the purpose in just picking a name that sounds good but doesn't have a special meaning, and so I couldn't deny it was perfect.  We made the mistake of telling a couple people and after having some heads turn sideways trying to figure out why we would pick such a name, I decided to look around for something else that had the same meaning.  I've found nothing... and every time I try to convince myself something else will be better, this name just keeps coming back to my heart.  Over the past 6-7 weeks since we found out he was a boy, I have repeatedly been comforted by songs and verses that talk of God restoring my soul... like in Psalm 23...

Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil...
He leads me beside still waters, He restores my soul.

Every time I hear the word "restore" I think of the new baby and can't get this name out of my mind. I was certain that God was saying his name should mean "God restores", but I was hesitant to name him this because I didn't like the way the meanings seemed to suggest that this baby will do these things for me - because I know he won't.  This baby cannot take away any of my pain or bring any healing where losing Rachel is concerned.  He is not a replacement.  He can't restore her and having him won't restore me.

Today I felt like God showed me what the real application of these meanings is to be and why this name keeps coming back to me.... because HE is the healer and restorer.  Rachel has been healed and restored.  Some day I will be healed and restored.  Baby boy can't do that for me, but God can... he has... he will.

And so here it is... our third son's name that will forever remind me of the hope, healing and restoration found only in the name of Jesus, yet represented in his name as well...

Asa Francisco Aube
(Francisco is my grandfather's name and apparently means "free man") :o)

Friday, July 8, 2011

She's Not There

It's been 31 long weeks.  These days are seriously busy for me.  It started in March with the playground and hasn't slowed down - I went straight from the playground build to planning Rachel's 5K!  It's a TON of work.  I get lots of emails that say things to the effect of "I wish I did more for my baby... like you do for Rachel."  But believe me, it's not all it's cracked up to be.  Sometimes I wish I could just sit and cry.  These things I am doing for her are all great, and I'm glad I am, but I really do think it just gives me a way to be able to be too busy to feel this horrible pain in my heart... and that's probably not beneficial long term.  It's not going to just go away.

Today I dropped the two older kids off at summer camp and me & Sam went to visit Rachel.  It's so easy taking care of just one kid.  I left him in the van when I got there and there was nobody to let him out without my permission! (which happens just about every time I've gone to the cemetery).  I looked down at her little grave and started crying... I hardly ever get that release and today it was a deep one.  I couldn't stop.

I starred at the unevenness of the grass and thought about going to buy some seed to cover up the patches of dirt... until I noticed that the grass has grown in... are you ready for this?...  in the shape of a heart!  The dirt spots around  the edge in her little rectangle actually make the grass heart shaped!  I want to say I couldn't believe my eyes, but with how things have been going, I could believe my eyes.  It actually didn't surprise me!  Of course, this is one of the few times I didn't have my camera.  I'll see if it still looks that way when I go again.

I thought back to our Florida trip in April when I felt like God had first used hearts to encourage me.  I had felt the hearts showing up everywhere was Him reminding me that she is with Him and therefore, with me in my heart wherever I go, not just in the ground in Dover. 

The reality of the fact that I stand above my daughter's body in the ground every week made me sob...  I cried because she's there...I cried because I can't take her out and home with me....I cried because I could feel our new son kicking and remembered standing in that same exact spot months ago and felt her dancing around in my womb as I decided that is where we would soon bury her.

I thought I might just die from a broken heart myself right there.  I begged out loud that somebody would tell me it isn't real.  "please tell me this didn't really happen" And then I felt the Lord whisper to my heart...

"She's not there, Stacy"

I know, I know.  In my head.  But my heart has a long way to go.  My heart wants to dig up that dirt and cradle her in my arms... My heart aches to hold her body, which IS there.  But our bodies only live for so long.  The part of her that will live forever, is with Jesus and in my heart wherever I go.  Should be enough, but today it doesn't feel like it.

As I near the day that we got Rachel's diagnosis, my emotions have been heavy.  This has been the longest year of my life.  On one hand, I wish it never happened and that I was putting bows in my girl's hair instead of blogging about her grave.  And on the other hand, I'm thankful it has happened.  Not because I wouldn't have rather had her, but because my life has never been so rich.  Knowing that little girl, exactly how she was, and carrying her straight to the arms of my Lord was an experience that has forever changed me and made me a better person.  Knowing her made God even more real to me.  Knowing her and the pain of losing her gave me blessings that can come no other way.

I'm so glad I knew her and that I know Jesus so I'll see her again.
I'm so glad she isn't 'there' and that she knows Jesus in a way I can only dream of.
I'm so glad that I can be full of joy, even when I'm afraid and sad.  I'm thankful that God will continue to gently reassure me through all my valleys and that He never gets tired of comforting me.

Matthew 28:6 & 8
He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.....So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples.

Psalm 71:20-21
Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up. You will increase my honor and comfort me once again 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

5K Update & Info

Things are coming together for Rachel's 5K... but we're still a long way off!  I have a few requests....

I need 60 more people to register in order to cover our costs to put this on!  I know lots of people who have said they are coming and I'm trying to be patient with the fact that people tend to wait till last minute to register... but I'll be honest...

I'm getting nervous!!  PLEASE if you are planning on coming for sure, can you try to register soon?  It's hard for me to plan without knowing how many people will be there and I need to get t-shirts, food, insurance... and it all requires at least a close number of participants.  You can register (or donate) HERE  Thank you to everyone who has registered so far!  Since this is our first annual, I have NO idea what to expect for numbers and I'm a planner (with a lot of responsibility here) so that is really hard for me.

We also need people to help with set up and clean up, as well as other things like manning the water stations along the walk/run.  If you can't physically do the walk or run, you can always come help at one of the tables!  Contact me if you're interested. 

I have well over 20 babies already registered.... in case you haven't read about that yet, we will be recognizing each baby by name at Rachel's Walk/Run.  It's free to register your baby, so if you live too far away to come, you can still register your baby and we will honor them at Rachel's event.  I hope to record it so I can post it later for you all to see... have to work that detail out still...  This is an anencephaly awareness walk, but the babies being honored have NOT all died from anencephaly, so if you've had a miscarriage or other reason for a loss, please still register your baby!

And last but not least, we still need sponsors and donations for the raffle.  If you work at a place that you think would support our event, please contact me and I can send you a letter I wrote up to present to them.  If you have any items you would like to donate for the raffle (we're making baskets to raffle off) we would LOVE for you to help in that way.  We have received a ton of gift certificates to put in them, but they don't make very pretty baskets... we need items to fill the baskets now.  Items such as art, decorative things, tools or other 'manly' things, baby items (to go with the $200 gift certificate from Brylye Collins for an infant photo session!!), women's care, etc, etc...  you get the idea... anything!

Ok, that is about it...  I'm very hopeful that this event is going to be a success.  I pray that this will be another way that Rachel is honored and God glorified.  Thank you for your support!