Saturday, December 29, 2012

Jesus Christ!

3:30 am this time... hormones don't tend to care what time it is apparently.... But as I lay here this morning, like so many other times, my mind wanders.... it wanders to the topic I don't usually share.  It wanders to the days before God.

Because my first pregnancy was discovered while I was incarcerated, quite often while I'm pregnant, I think of those days.  I was in jail for two weeks when I got my first positive pregnancy test.  Some of you know this, others may not.  But here is the demon I was fighting in my mind this morning...

I used to live in this little one bedroom apartment with my boyfriend.  I was 20 years old and was not old enough to drink yet, but was doing a lot of it.  When we first moved in, we made friends with this older couple downstairs.  We would cook out with them and pet their cute little dogs.  They thought we were a sweet young couple.  We thought they were a nice old couple. 

After over 2 years in this relationship, it ended and I was devastated.  I had a friend move in with me and we started dappling in hard drugs.  Within a few months, I had met another guy, who quickly moved in...and so did his 3 friends... so now it was me, my friend and these 4 guys we hardly knew living in a one bedroom apartment.  We partied non-stop, I couldn't keep a job, they paid me nothing, I started selling drugs, and the short version is I got kicked out of the apartment because the landlord knew all of this. 

That is the very quick version of one of the most painful years in my entire life.  But this is what was plaguing my mind this morning... the day before I moved out, the lady downstairs was outside while I was smoking and said this to me....

"I know you just wanted to help those people out, but you made the last couple months of my husbands life a living hell."

The nice old man had died from brain cancer in that short time.... and apparently I was too busy partying to notice, let alone care to give him any rest.  We were LOUD.  And here I am years later and my heart still hurts over that... and I don't even remember the lady's name to try to apologize. 

My mind went from this to a whole list of things...  and it got so intense that I had to get up and write it down.  I hope to not regret this later.  People have been known to throw some of my past in my face (usually in an attempt to make themselves feel better about something they are doing), but I have to believe that God pulled me up out of this pit for one reason only and that is to share that HE did!  So, at the risk of serious judgement and possible regret, this is what He just put on my heart....

I think many people who follow my blog and who see me in church or out with my family probably think that I have a perfect little life and don't understand hardships.  Everyone knows that I know what it's like to watch my own baby die in my arms, but the testimony I had BEFORE Rachel, is one that most people don't know.  Actually, when I was pregnant with her was the first time I publicly shared (outside of Alcoholics Anonymous) my story in detail.  It was at the women's retreat for my church where the topic was HOPE.  Imagine that. 

What I need for people to understand is that when you read or hear me saying that I yearn to live for God... or that I trust Him... or that He is worthy of praise.... or that He is so, so good... I need you to know that this does not come from a place of ignorance or an 'easy Christian life'.  I understand things about life that I wish I didn't.  It's not coming from a brainwashed girl who found a 'good crutch' to lean on.  It's not coming from someone who grew up with any knowledge AT ALL about God or Jesus or anything having to do with either.  I knew absolutely nothing about Jesus until I was 24 years old.

I understand broken homes.  I lived with a single, stressed out mother and an absent father who I didn't talk to for years.  I had step-parents/ parent figures who would have preferred I didn't exist and still do.  My Nana, the rock of our family, died when I was 10 and my family has never been the same.  Dysfunction?  um, yes.  And because this isn't their blog, I won't go into details, everyone has dysfunction in their family....

I understand growing up too fast.  Gave myself away to a man much older than me at just 13 years old.  I thought I loved him and this would make him love me.  My first real boyfriend lived with me at 15 years old.  I dropped out of school after getting in too many fights with all the girls he cheated on me with. 

I understand molestation, I understand betrayal, I understand abuse. 

I understand rape, fornication, lesbianism, pornography.  I understand searching for love.  And never finding it.

I understand eating disorders.  Distorted body images.  Always being 5 pounds away from 'happy'.

I understand addiction, alcoholism, fighting a battle in my own strength.... and losing.

I understand Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and mandatory meetings.

I understand drug dealers.  I was one.  I understand the life of a criminal... running from police and always looking over my shoulder.  I understand being able to trust nobody.  I understand thinking my best way out would be to die while doing entirely way too many drugs.  I understand pulling the shades and hiding from the world so they can't see my bloodshot eyes or notice that I can't form words.  I understand not being able to remember how long I was sitting on my bedroom floor... an hour?...  a week?...  3 weeks??  And it not mattering.

I understand mug shots, finger prints, and how inappropriate police are behind the scenes.

I understand suicidal thoughts... and attempts.

I understand total desperation.  Total defeat.  Total and complete loneliness.

I understand adultery.  Divorce.  Getting pregnant by someone who was not my husband.  I was married before Matt.  I married this guy because he had gotten arrested shortly after me and I was convinced that if we were married, they wouldn't be able to make him testify against me....little did I know, he already had in his interview.... and so 4 months after we were married, I discovered he had blamed me for everything.  He spent the next few months dragging me out of other beds... until I went away to rehab.  I met Matt in rehab.  I was there 7 months and would go to his house on my weekend breaks.  It wasn't until I was out of jail and 5 months pregnant with Des that I got divorced. I never saw him again, until last year at Rachel's grave. 

I understand the woman at the well.

I understand being pressured to have an abortion.  By even family members. 

I understand facing my entire life in prison.  And when given a break, everyone thinking I snitched.  I understand making the front page over and over... and not for a good game.  I understand the Drug Task Force surrounding my house and banging down my door.

I understand weekly drug tests to be out on bail.  I understand jail, probation, and house arrest.  I understand what people think of people like that.  I understand multiple class A felonies.  I understand the downward spiral of drug addiction... and how long it affects your life... and everyone who loves you.

I understand jump suits, how they don't make them for pregnant girls.  I understand getting visited in jail.  I understand humiliation.  I understand strip searches.  I understand maximum security and getting my cold meal through a hole in the door.  I understand one phone call a day that gets disconnected after the time is up, mid sentence or not.  I understand taking a shower in front of multiple people in a dirty cement box with no curtain....and no flip flops.  I understand using a cement toilet in the middle of a small room while being watched as well.  I remember the obscene yells that came from the males side of the prison as we walked to the 'chow hall' or up for a visit.

I understand losing friends to overdoses, shootings and suicide.  I understand how you can get too tired to fight anymore.

I understand unhealthy relationships, not daring to let women into my life, and constant betrayal.

I understand what it's like to be forced to leave a life you think you like.... and to somehow convince myself that I was happy with what I was settling for.

I understand having a baby out of wedlock.  I understand being a single mom.  I understand having to let my daughter go away each weekend with someone I didn't trust.... or like.  And who also didn't like me.  I understand what it's like to have another woman in my child's life - as well as what it's like to have another man beside me in her life.

I understand feeling let down by God's own people.  I understand being judged, being manipulated, being passive-aggressively attacked.... in the church itself.  I understand that Christians are not perfect.  I understand I am far from perfect.

I understand miscarriage.  I understand birth control - and trying to dictate to God when I will have children.  I understand carrying my baby to term knowing she would die.  I understand burying my child that I wanted to keep more than anything.  I understand powerlessness.

I understand marriage trouble.  I understand communication breakdowns.  I understand wishing I never said 'I do' and I understand knowing the feelings are mutual.  I understand love isn't a feeling at times.  I understand not knowing how on earth I can stand *this* for the rest of my life.

So, that doesn't even cover it all... but here is the thing... 

Jesus Christ.

He covers it.  ALL.  Completely. 

He pulled me up - gross little me - up.  Out of that pit.  Out of despair.  Out of addiction.  Out of sexual immorality.  Out of broken homes.  Out of selfish ambition. Out of marital strife. Out of death....and dying... and wishing I was dead.  He pulled me up out of a life of hell on earth and saved me from an eternity in hell in the afterlife.  He saved me from myself, you guys.  Don't you get it?  It's not because my life has been so great that I love God... it's because it sucked so bad and most of it was my own doing... and it was painful and miserable and dark and lonely and HE LOVED ME ANYWAY.  He loved me.  Like nobody ever loved me before.  He stood me on a firm ground and He gave me BOUNDARIES.  Not boundaries that take away my livelihood or ruin my fun.  I WASN'T HAVING FUN.  He gave me these boundaries because they are for my GOOD.  Because He loves me.  Because He wants what's best for me.  Because He is God.  Because I am His child.  And my life has not been easy since, but it's been BETTER.  It's been full of joy and goodness. 

And on mornings like today, when I am taunted by the thought of how horrible of a sinner I am... when regret and shame rear their ugly heads, He reminds me that He is enough.  That to Him sin is sin.  That someone that has done nothing but tell a lie - or hate someone in their heart - is just as much in need of Him as me.... and yet, He can cover even all of that.  He reminds me that He already did it.  And in September of 2004, when I recognized my need for Him... for Jesus.... He washed it all away.  And perhaps He doesn't let me forget for good reason.  Because how can I give Him glory for all He has done, if I forget where I've been?  How can I show the world Who He is if I let them believe that I was just a 'kid being a kid' and grew out of those younger days?  How can I show the beauty of the whiteness of Jesus' covering, if I don't reveal my crimson stains? 

My entire family uses the name of Jesus as a cuss word.  At a family gathering, I listen to them say it at the beginning of most sentences.  Well, I'm putting a new meaning to it.... Every time you say the name Jesus Christ I want you to hear in your mind "He saved her from THAT"  I want you to hear "New Creation".  I want you to hear "He loves the sinner".   I want you to here "He died for me".  Hear me say "Without Him, I am NOTHING but a drug addict who sleeps around and waits to die"  Because Jesus Christ is not a swear word... Jesus Christ is the very One who loved me enough and is POWERFUL enough to SAVE ME FROM THE HELL THAT ALMOST KILLED ME.  His name is Holy.  His name is sacred.  His name is to be praised.  And if you don't believe it yourself, I want this to be a reminder.  Jesus Christ.  Jesus Christ.  Jesus Christ.  (Yes, I'm trying to ruin any chance at future use of His name in vain feeling anything but convicting.) 

Thank You Jesus Christ for accepting me.  Thank You Jesus Christ for dying for me.  Thank You Jesus Christ for not leaving me where I was.  Jesus Christ! You are Good!

Go ahead, say it... Jesus Christ!  Oh, what a sweet name it is.  Thank You Jesus for coming to my rescue.

Do you need rescuing?  And I'm not just talking to non-believers here... there are people who claim to believe who don't want to do what He requires.  Are you tired of convincing yourself that you like the life you are settling for?  Are you afraid His boundaries will ruin your fun?  Please believe me.... There is nothing better.  His ways are the best.  And not because He is a demanding God Who wants you to do what He says.  If that was the case, He would not have given us free will... but because He knows things we don't.  I only wish I would have trusted Him sooner.  I pray that for you, too.

In everything, trust Him, Jesus Christ.

1 Timothy 1:15-16

15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. 16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.

Friday, December 28, 2012

My Heart Marches On

The past two days have left me stuck on the couch... I've been so, so sick.  Not sure if it was just a harsh cold or a flu or what, but I slept for 12 hours on Wed night and could barely move when I got up.  Then Thursday, I spent most of the day out of it on the couch, had to call in sick to work and called Matt to come home early.  I couldn't even get up, let alone take care of the kids.  I don't even remember when the last time I felt that sick was....  it's been years. 

I called in again this morning.  I felt better than yesterday, but still really fatigued and short of breath.  I managed to get some cleaning done, but by noon, I was on the couch again.  All day long, Rachel's visit was on my mind, but since we got a ton of snow Thursday, I wasn't sure what kind of condition her grave would be in, and I certainly was not capable of removing snow.  So I kept putting it off - until around 4 when I couldn't take it any more. 

It took all my energy to pack the kids up and get them in the van.  I ended up stopping at Matt's work and picking him up so I would have some help since a grocery trip was in my necessary plans as well.  We got down to the cemetery and I was greeted with a flash back of the first winter without her...  read post from January 2011 HERE, where we trudged thru a ton of snow to visit Rachel (and I had to carry Sam, who was sound asleep, the whole way!)...

So there we were.... and all I could think was how I had managed to do it back then.  I wondered if I needed to get out and trudge thru the now 16 inches of snow.  I thought maybe I could do it fast since Matt could stay in the van with the kids.  I wondered if I'd pass out along the way from my cold - or be greeted by an animal since it was now dark.... and then God sent me an 'it's okay to let it go'....

There is a guy that comes to visit someone near Rachel.  He's an older man and he's there any time I am around 5pm.  I assume it must be his wife, but maybe a child, I don't know.  He's just the only other person I've seen that seems to have the same drive to be there as I do.  I always want to ask him who he's missing.... but haven't yet.  So, tonight, we were stopped across the street from the gates to the cemetery.  I was debating what to do, and there he was.... he pulled in the gates and over the snow pile.  I watched in disbelief... was he really going to drive thru this snow?  It's way too deep.  He parked and waited.  I watched.  I wanted to know, does every body get the same urge to march thru this stuff as I do?  Will he get out and walk it?  If he does, I certainly will have no excuse...  And he just sat there.  Matt asked what I wanted to do.  I felt like I needed to stay up to the standards I had set 2 years ago... let nothing stop me from my Friday visit.  I started to get sad when I remembered how they used to plow for me if it snowed on a Friday (at least up to her grave) and now they don't.  I watched the guy some more.  He wasn't getting out.  I could see his face lit by the light inside the car... he seemed disappointed too.  But he stayed in his car. And there he sat.  And somehow it made me feel okay about staying in mine.  I knew he wanted to get down there just as much as I did.  And I'm sure by now he knows my van too... I feel like God was letting us both know we're not alone.

Matt waited patiently for me to decide if I was going to attempt this (he is awesome)  and I finally said "it's okay, we can go".  He put his hand on my head and said "It's okay Stace, she knows you came."  and I just starting crying.  He prayed with us and thanked God for 'the gift of Rachel's life' (the address I picked for this blog a week after we found out she would die) and asked God to give her a hug and kiss for us.  And we left.

We stopped and picked up a $5 pizza at Little Caesar's (does anybody else LOVE that place?!)  and the kids ate in the car while I went into the grocery store.  My last stop in the store...I bought some 'Rachel' flowers for the house since the ones here were wilting and when I picked them up, the name on them was "Bring me home!"  I sighed as I thought about how badly I would have loved to bring her home instead of these flowers....  I went to the checkout and at the last minute, changed to an isle that had nobody in it.  I looked up after unloading everything to hand the girl my flowers and saw that my cashier's name was Rachel... the bagger asked if I wanted the soda double bagged just as I noticed it... I looked at him in a daze, confused as to what the question was....  He asked again... "umm, yeah, that's fine, thank you..."  I answered as I looked back to her name wondering what my girl would have had for a first job.  And I couldn't stop it... the tears started flowing.  The bagger made some joke about how Walmart gets the fancy bags that spin and they don't.  I pretended I wasn't crying and joked along. 

It's just my life.  Cemeteries.  Feeling defeated by snow storms and unpaved roads.  Fresh flowers instead of her.  Crying at random times and not caring what anyone thinks of that.  Being able to smile and cry at the same time.  Grief.  Missed memories.  Shattered dreams.  Wondering who she would have been... yesterday... today....tomorrow...ten years from now....  Hating that things hurt and being afraid of them not hurting anymore.  Complicated everything.  Nothing is simple like it used to be.  But that's okay. 

I might not have been able to march down to her grave tonight, but my heart marched there over and over.  My heart marched to her as I picked the flowers, as I checked out at the store, as I suffered through more 'morning' sickness tonight with her little sibling, as I took my ridiculous amount of folic acid.... and as I snuggled into bed with her blanket to write about how much I hate that I couldn't get to her.  She's with me.  My heart holds her, no matter how deep the snow is.  My heart marches daily as I long to see her again... as I whisper every time I lay down "I miss you girl".   My heart will be on this road for the rest of my earthly life, no matter where I am, what I'm doing, who I'm with, or how close to her grave I can get on a Friday.  My heart marches on.  It's not easy, but I have no other choice.  And as it marches, each day one day closer, to a sweet reunion with her... I can still hear the song by Selah in my mind.... I will carry you, while your heart beats here, long beyond the empty cradle and through the coming years.  I will carry you, all my life... and I will praise the One whose chosen me... to carry you.....

still carrying you with me sweet girl, every day of my life.  Praising our Lord for you... exactly who you are.  Exactly how it went.  Exactly what this has meant for me and my life.  My heart marches on for you - and for Him. 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A Thankful Christmas

Friday when I got out of work, it was pouring.  I called Matt and said I felt depressed, but wasn't sure why.  Then I started bawling as I said "I hate it when it rains on Fridays." and it made sense.

I've been blessed with two years of decent Fridays.  It's actually pretty crazy when I think about the fact that more than 90% of my visits have been in good weather.  But this Friday, I was supposed to bring her stocking and decorate for Christmas... and I didn't want to do it in the pouring rain.  So it hit me hard.  I went down and cleaned things up and waited to set up her stuff. 

The next day I started hearing from everyone that there was an extravagant rainbow that afternoon.... apparently everyone was pulled over in rush hour traffic to take photos, it was so pretty.  I missed it, but the amount of people who thought of Rachel when they saw it reminded me of the impact she has made - as well as how God continues to minister to others with the things that say 'Rachel'.  It's pretty awesome that He uses these things to remind other people of His love too.  What a privilege to be a part of that.  I'm so blessed.  And of course, it reminded me that you can't have a rainbow without the rain.

On Christmas Eve, I went and hung her stocking and picked up some of the things the wind had taken away.  I cried a lot sitting there that morning.  I miss her so much.  I was especially thankful for the sun that day because I knew it was going to help charge her lights on her tree.  I have a corner of my garden area at home (where her bench usually sits in the warmer weather) that I decorated similar to her grave so I can see it from my kitchen window.  I made matching wreaths and bought matching solar lights and Christmas lights. And that night as the lights here shined bright, I smiled knowing her grave was well lit on Christmas eve.  I hate the idea of it being dark there.

One of our Christmas traditions is I get us each a new pair of jammies we wear on Christmas Eve.  I just got myself some yoga pants since likely it's the only thing that will fit me for long :) 
Des is holding Rachel's lamb and our letter E for the two sweet babies we can't hold yet.
Another thing I do each year, but have failed to the last 2 years, is I buy a photo ornament for each of the kids that they can take when they move out.  I bought these gift ornaments after Rachel died, but haven't been able to get it together until this year to actually put pics in them.  Worked out good since they came in packs of 3 and we need 6 this year ♥

Our Christmas this year was simple.  We bought each of the kids three things and we got each other one thing from each of the kids.  I've always struggled with the desire to give them a big presentation on Christmas morning.  Somehow it has always seemed important to me that they come down and are in awe of all the gifts.  This year, I really wanted things to be different.  I sat the kids down last week and told them that we were only getting them three things and that I expected them to be thankful for the things they got.  When I got done telling them that Daddy & I are working hard to make it a special day, but that we wanted to keep the focus of Christmas on Jesus, they got up and hugged me over and over.  It was not the reaction I was expecting at all.  Des asked me "Is 3 for the Father, Son and Holy Spirit or December 3rd?"  I smiled at the fact that I didn't pick 3 from any good reason, but that it does tend to be a very prominent and special number in the bible....and in our home too.

On Christmas morning, they each opened their 3 gifts and even today, the next day, they have not stopped thanking us.  I'm so blessed by their grateful hearts.  They are pretty awesome kids.  I'd love to take credit, but it's their God who makes them that way.  We also had our traditional quiche - except this year I tried a different kind (spinach, instead of broccoli... our new recipe!! We all loved it) and we needed two because there are too many of us for one to do!

Desirae got a hamster... it's a girl and she was totally floored that we would buy it for her.  A friend of Matt's gave us all the cage and wheel and all that, so all we had to buy was the hamster, the food and the bedding.  When she opened it (we put a wrapped laundry basket upside down over it) she immediately started worrying...  "does it have enough food?"  "Where will we put her?"  "What if she dies?"  "Is she comfortable enough?"  "Will she like me?"  "What if I'm allergic to her?"  (she has animal allergies) "Shhh... Isaiah, don't yell, you might scare her!"  I watched her face go from totally in love, to scared, to excited, to nervous....  it's scary to love.... and her maternal instinct set in immediately for this cute little rodent.... She has someone to care for, that relies on her, that she wants to protect and is scared to lose.... She hasn't held her yet because she says she is "letting her trust her first.".  She doesn't want to rush into it and scare her.  She said "For some reason she reminds me of Rachel.... she's so little and cute... I know!  I'll name her Daisy!"  And so Daisy is now a loved member of the Aube house... Daisy Butterfly Aube to be exact. :)  She wrote her name on the top of her cage.  She never ceases to amaze me with how she loves Rachel in her own ways.  She added a dandelion and a daisy to her name...

After we visited with my sister (she gave Rachel a gift card for hot chocolate so we could get some on the way to visit her for Christmas) we piled into the car - all of us still in our jammies, except Des who was wearing her new outfit.  As I buckled Sam in, with a big smile at how blessed we are, "Have yourself a merry little Christmas" played on the radio.  I've heard it a million times and never payed attention to the second part of this line....

"Through the years we all will be together...."   (yep, that's a familiar part)

"If the Lord allows."  (Am I the only one who has taken this part for granted?  I'm not sure I've ever listened to this song and ever thought of anything other than spending my life with the ones I love - especially on Christmas)  I certainly never thought that He might not allow us to.

If the Lord allows....  I hate that I know this part so well now.  I hate that this is the 3rd Christmas I've been through without Rachel.  I hate that on her due date, I have to mourn her instead of hold her.  I hate that it's not up to me.  I miss her so much. 

We got our hot chocolate and went to her grave.  It was snowing and pretty out.  It was a white Christmas here, which is nice.  There is a young boy buried near by Rachel and guys come to visit him and drink beer there and pour some on his grave.  I thought about pouring some hot chocolate for Rachel.... and then I thought that I don't want to get her vault dirty - or what if it seeps into her casket? 

All of a sudden it hit me.  Am I crazy?  She is in the dirt.  It's dirty down there Stacy.  It rains, pours, snows.  There are bugs and muck.  Am I in denial?  It's dirty.  It's muddy.  It freezes and thaws and it probably cracks her vault.  And there's nothing I can do about it.  My baby's body is not warm and dry like I want her.  I starting crying and got back in the van.  Matt stood at her grave a little longer and something about watching him stand there broke my heart.  It made it more real, I think.  I stand there all the time, but a lot of the time, I'm task oriented.  I go to get things done and make it pretty.  But when he stands there, I just see the reality.  Our daughter is gone.  And we're left with the hope of heaven.

And so on Christmas, that's our gift.  It's the only one that won't fade, rust, rot away.  Hope in heaven.  Hope in Jesus.  Hope in our Savior's birth... and death... and in Him conquering the grave.  It's all we have.  He came as a little baby, just like Rachel... with a soul purpose of dying, just like Rachel.  He was born to a mother who loved him, and although surrendered to God's will, didn't want to see her son die..... just like Rachel.  There are so many ways that she reminds me of Jesus... so many ways that I feel I came to know Him better through her.  So many ways I can relate to Mary, Jesus' mother.  But unlike Rachel, HE had the power over the grave.  His body didn't stay there.  He rose again and because of Him, I know I will see her again. 

When I picked Rachel's birthday, I picked it based on two things... I really wanted to wait until after her due date (Christmas day) because I wanted to give her as much time as possible to develop.  But my polyhydromios was doing a job on me and I was afraid my water was going to break before I could have my c-section.  So I decided to go earlier than I wanted.  I wanted it to be a Friday and I wanted her to be full term.  December 3rd made her 37 weeks and 1 day... and it was a Friday.  I didn't know that I also picked the week that Advent starts.  And that the first week of Advent is HOPE.  So every year on the Sunday near her birthday, we light the candle of Hope.... Hope that He is coming again.  The Christmas season is not just about that little baby born in a manger... It's also about what He came to do, Who sent Him, and where He went.... and that He is returning again. 

What a glorious day that will be for all those who call upon the name of Christ and recognize Him as their Savior. 

I was tempted to be sad that Rachel was not remembered like in the past two years.  My mom, my sister and my grandmother all remembered her with little gifts and I got a couple facebook messages and a couple cards in her PO Box.  I'm thankful for all that, although it's so much smaller than before.  God knows what I need though and this year, I didn't need that like I did before.  I don't want her to become the past... but it's happening.  It will never happen in my heart and I'm thankful for the people who recognize that.  She will always be my Christmas baby... and I think Christmas will always hurt a little, but that's okay too.  She is worth every tear.

I spent the rest of the day sick - the hot chocolate didn't agree with my belly and Baby E keeps me pretty sick and extremely tired these days.  I couldn't even eat dinner (thankful for a husband who likes to cook!) and instead curled up in bed around 7:30 with a puke bucket near by.  But that's okay.... I can handle that.  I've certainly had harder days.  I've certainly had worse things to endure.  And in the end, I still have my three irreplaceable Christmas gifts.... the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Hope in heaven. I'm so thankful for Christmas.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Dance... it's WORTH IT

I was up at 5:30 am again, except this time not because I'm sad, but because I went to bed before 7pm last night and slept all night!  I feel awesome right now.

So, although I could very easily get all my chores done right now, I am writing instead...  to tell you about my slightly horrible, yet God led conversation with my new doctor yesterday at my first prenatal appointment.

I'm back at my old office (where I got Rachel's diagnosis) but there is a new doctor.  She's very nice, pretty funny and outspokenly pro-choice.  I've never actually heard a doctor say so to this extent, even though I know it's very common.  Why on earth she chose me to say it to, I'm not sure, but I'm at a place in my life where I cannot and will not quietly ignore such things.  So here is how it went....

She told me about the blood tests we would be doing soon and I told her I don't do them.  She said

"OK, so we'll just know at the 20 week ultrasound then if anything is wrong."
I responded, "Well, Dr. M said I could have one at week 11 or so because you can see anencephaly by then."
"OK, we'll do that and that way you can still terminate." She said very casually.
"No, I would never kill one of my babies.  It wouldn't be so I could terminate, just so I could know".
"Oh, so you would still carry to term?" She asked.
"Absolutely." I said, realizing, that although she knew about Rachel, she must not have realized I carried her to term.
She tilted her head and said "Oh, that's really nice. (in a sweet voice) I come from NY and they do terminations all the time, even up to 20 weeks, which I think is a little distasteful".
"It's all distasteful... it's a baby at 7 weeks just the same".  I said in a quiet voice.
She quickly corrected me "Well, I am pro-choice and I believe there needs to be the option, don't get me wrong.  I've seen times when it's needed, I just think doing them that late is a bit much." not even realizing the extent to which she is contradicting herself.
"I just don't think we are meant to be in charge of life and death.  Only God is." I said, very obviously struggling with her choice of topic.
"I hope I didn't just offend you with my personal opinion" she said as she turned back to her clipboard.
"It's pretty offensive".  I said.
"Well, I respect your belief that God is in charge of that.  There certainly is a valid argument there, and I would hope that you would respect my opinion as well."
"Um, nope". I said, shaking my head.

And the conversation ended.  I think it says enough for itself, but I do want to make one comment, because the "let's respect each others opinions" comes up at the end of many arguments on anything that God speaks directly about.  And almost always after the person saying it just very directly ATTACKED my personal belief unnecessarily.  So here it is... no, I actually cannot respect such an opinion.  If God says something is not okay, it's not ME who speaks against it, but HIM in me.   There are many things I can agree to disagree on and believe people can have their own opinions on, but killing babies is not one of them and it never will be.  Anything that is biblically black and white will always be black and white to me.  And I am not going to apologize for that.  My God deserves my 100% devotion and loyalty no matter how uncomfortable it makes things for me.  And He will always get it.  Look at how many times I get that from HIM!  Unfortunately, even many times in the church itself, His very bridegroom, people get mad about that.  Last week I was called a judgemental hypocrite by a supposed believer for insinuating that a couple should be married before trying to conceive a child.  Yes, I did that BEFORE I was a believer, but the moment I became a Christian, the things that matter to God became important to me.  It's a small price to pay for the fact that I no longer have an eternity in a lake of fire with gnashing of teeth to look foward to - but instead one in a perfect land surrounded by His love. I believe that's how it goes when you are truly saved and following Him.  Again, not my opinion... it's HIS.  It doesn't mean I do things perfectly, ask anyone that knows me and you will find out I am (shhh....) not perfect... but I will never try to convince myself that God is okay with me 'just being nice to people' or that I can do whatever I want and use His grace like a cheap 'get out of jail free' card.  He deserves more than that.

Back to my appointment....

So, the doctor and I went on to talk about many things... including the Brady Bunch (which is what we'll have should Baby E be a girl.. 3 of each!) and how they were a mixed family and all sorts of social issues from divorce to racism.  It was bizarre.  

We talked about me being a VBAC and she was really supportive of that - I told her about how hard I had to fight for the VBAC last time cause the babies were just 11 months apart and she thought that was silly, that there didn't really seem to be a reason medically for a required time span, but that the doctors just don't want the responsibility.... then she said "God must have been protecting you from getting Hep C because Exeter Hospital (the one I was FIGHTING to go to and they wouldn't let me) had a doctor that gave over 30 people Hep C around that time!"

Once again, the big picture is revealed and I am in awe of God's provision.... and the fact that my very obviously non-believing doctor just told me that God was providing for me!! :)  It's hard for anyone to deny when they know my story.... He is all over it!  Thank You Lord.

I showed her pictures of Rachel (and the others) and she was totally surprised by how pretty she is.  She had only ever seen babies like Rachel for termination.  And text books don't carry photos like I do.  I'm so thankful I have them. (love you Lisa!) I think I actually do like this doctor - she seemed to respect my desire to go without extra stuff and was supportive of me not wanting a pap or the flu shot - which is almost unheard of!  So, all in all, I think it will be okay...

But the thought that keeps coming to mind for me is this...

When I was carrying Rachel (oh, how I miss those days...) one of my biggest goals was to show the doctors and nurses what LIFE is all about.  What Rachel is all about.  And what God is all about.  And I worked at it with everything I had in me, it's what kept me going - to be a light in a dark, overly text book oriented and desensitized medical field - and world.  And I know for a fact that I did that at the hospital she was born at.  I'm still friends with my nurse to this day (she came to her birthday the last 2 years) and when I went to have Asa, I was met by so many people who knew about her and were blown away by her story... and that also had been following my blog.  But I guess I thought when I left there with Asa, my legacy for Rachel there had been completed.  What I'm finding is that every time I step foot in a doctors office, I again get to share about her and about God and about how WORTH IT she is and was.  And I feel like these new babies since her just keep giving me that ability.  They are part of her legacy.  It's crazy.

So, this morning, Asa woke up after sleeping thru the night (yay!) and I went in to rock with him.  I thought about my appointment and the fact that my next ultrasound - the one that will hopefully show a nice round head - is in 4 weeks.  She scheduled me the scan and then an office visit right after to get the results.  Just like they did with Rachel.  I've never done it that way for any of the other babies.... and I've always thought it was God's provision that it was set up that way in August 2010 because I got the answer right away.... so then I got nervous that He had it that way for a reason this time too.  And my mind went there....  (have I mentioned I have an EXTREMELY visual mind and memory?)

I pictured having the scan and walking up that same hallway to the office to get the same results.  But my response was not expected.  I envisioned myself sitting up straight and saying "That's okay, I can do this".

Oh dear Lord, I AM stronger.  I couldn't see it until that very second, but in my weakest moments... in the most vulnerable and desperate times... which for me, is when I'm pregnant and know to the deepest extent that I have absolutely no control over what happens to my children.... He is strong in me.  He has changed me through this trial.  He has molded me and strengthened me.  He has used this horrible pain for good.  I knew He would.... but even when everyone else says so, it still hurts too much for me to see. 

I could do this again.  And I would.  And if I did, I'd be okay.  I know it would hurt.  I know I would be just as sad.  But I know it would be beautiful.  And I would work just as hard as I did with Rachel to make sure that everyone knows how WORTH IT these babies are.  And it would be.  And I would love without abandon and I would cherish each and every moment of LIFE.  Because life isn't about perfect.  It's not about happy.  It's not about easy.  I'm not called to easy.  I'm called to something much harder... it's sacrificial, it's humbling, it's painful... it's to be more like Jesus.  And I'll never get there this side of heaven, but I won't ever miss an opportunity to try.  Because He is WORTH IT. 

And one day, I will dance in all His glory with my precious children gone before me and hopefully the ones here with me now... and it will all be WORTH IT.  My reward is in heaven.  This world has nothing for me.... I again am reminded of the passage we read at Rachel's birthday....

2 Corinthians 4:7- 18 (bold and underlined, mine)
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. 12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.
13 It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.”[b] Since we have that same spirit of[c] faith, we also believe and therefore speak, 14 because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself. 15 All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.
16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
Does that make anyone else want to dance?!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

My Ultrasound for Baby E

I walked into the hospital and was greeting by Rachel at the Registration desk....

Within a few minutes I was laying on the same table I got Rachel's ultrasound on.  She put the wand on my belly and I immediately saw the tiny heart beating.  155 bpm.  7 weeks 3 days, exactly what I had thought based on my own calculations.... due August 3rd.  I hope to meet you little one, Mama loves you already.
this is a side view... Matt & I have gotten pretty good at reading ultrasounds since we had them weekly with Rachel...And although it's still too early to tell, Baby E appears to have a round head. But we won't know for sure for another month or so. You can see his/her little hands/arm buds and the white part towards the bottom is the legs forming.  Baby is11mm long... or about 1/2 an inch.  People regularly kill babies this size because they are convinced they aren't really babies yet.  It's just not true. This baby has a healthy beating heart and a soul that can never be replaced.

Thank You Lord.

We walked out, and much like the day we got Rachel's diagnosis, we inspected the photos as we walked down the hall.  We walked out to the parking lot and hugged.  I remember dialing the phone standing in that exact same place to call my mom and tell her they said my daughter would die.  Matt looked at me and said "Congratulations" with a smile.  I said "Thank you, you too"  and we went to our separate cars.

I walked into my house and was greeted by Desirae, two years older now, asking the same question she asked that day "Is it a boy or a girl?!"  The shear torture of having to tell her that her sister was not going to stay with us flooded my mind.  "We're not finding out until he or she is born" I said, so relieved that this ultrasound brought proof of life within me and my children don't need to find their way though another loss yet.

And our day can continue.  It's a strange thing.... to have the memories so very fresh after all this time.  The stark difference between the two ever reminding me of how thankful I am for all the pain.  Because in that pain, I have come to know that what I have right now is sacred.  It's not guaranteed to stay.  It might not be mine for long....  even with the good news today.  And so I thank God from the bottom of my heart and soul for the gratitude and humbleness I could have no other way than to have lost my sweet girl.  And honestly, I can say with complete certainty, that I would never want to go back to the days before her...  to the days when I took credit for my healthy babies, and would have denied that honestly, unaware of how true it was... to the days when I had a false sense of control over the length of their lives.  To the days when I thought only other people buried their children. 

I am so thankful for you baby girl...  just the way you are.... in your life and death I have experienced Jesus like I didn't know I could.  You continue to inspire me to love your siblings deeper, to appreciate each and every minute of their lives being part of mine, to never forget that God is worthy of praise.  Thank you Rachel.  Mama misses you so much.  I can't wait to see you again.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Lonely Place

This has been a heavy week.

On Thursday I attended a memorial for a sweet baby named Alicia.  Her Mama says it is because of Rachel's story that she had the courage to carry her baby girl to term after the doctors said she wouldn't make it that far.  Not only did she live to birth, but she spent 38 days with her family before going home to heaven.  I am so humbled to have been given the blessing of watching this brave and loyal mother give everything she has to her daughter... and I was honored to be invited to the service.  It was beautiful - and so very hard.

Then on Friday we heard about the school shooting in CT.  I don't even know what to say about that except that our world is so in need of a Savior.  My heart is broken for everyone involved - especially the families.  My baby died peacefully in my arms and it has brought more pain then I knew could exist... I cannot imagine the pain of losing your child to such a violent act. 

In light of these things, I feel somewhat stupid writing what's going on with me.  My life is so abundantly blessed, even when I hurt.  I guess I just need to disclose that I understand fully that I am not beyond these things happening to me... to my family... to my community.  I praise God that for right now, I am not in the thick of a deep dark trial.  But more than that, I praise Him that if I were, He would be there.... and I am positive He is there for these people now.  He is good - even when people are not, even when bad things happen, even when innocent children die.  He is good.  And we need Him now more than ever.  I continue to pray that these people will see Him in all this and run to Him.

So, I'm going to write about what's happening with me.... reluctantly, knowing that life is so much harder for so many others right now.

Well, I'm still pregnant.  I'm getting more and more sick and my days usually require a nap (which as a firm there-is-no-time-to-nap kind of person, that's a telling sign that I am EXHAUSTED)  These things are all a 'good' sign to me... The only baby I wasn't overwhelmingly ill with was the baby I miscarried.  With Rachel, I was really tired and somewhat sick, but it was an 'easier' first trimester in comparison.  The living children I have all came after 4 months of utter exhaustion and 24/7 crippling nausea.  And they were all worth it!  So, I am thankful for the obvious hormones running their course.

All that said, I will say that this pregnancy is a lonely one.   I have been trying to figure out how to put words to what I feel all week and it's the best one I can come up with.  Lonely. 

People didn't understand me when I was pregnant with Rachel, but that kind of made sense.  I had to explain myself on everything from wanting to be alone and whether or not some thought that was 'healthy' to the fact that I was preparing her funeral and she could be healed... I was told that wasn't having enough faith.  Some days I just wanted to bang my head against the wall at how I was expected to defend every minute of my life to people who were never even around before I was pregnant - and interestingly haven't been there for me since she died either... hmmm.... but as if I didn't have enough to deal with?!

People didn't understand me when I was pregnant with Asa either.... they would ask me the 'normal' pregnancy questions and tell me how this must make me feel better to be having another baby- and if I said to them that it didn't (because I actually wasn't sure I was going to have another baby because I realize there is no guarantee just because of two lines on a test), that I in fact was still heart broken over Rachel, I somehow became the negative girl who wasn't handling my grief well and certainly not thankful for the new gift God had given me.  Which was never the case, but people judge hearts that they don't even take the time to get to know fully. 

So, this time I guess I expected that since I already had a healthy baby after Rachel that I would be less nervous.  I figured that my grief probably played a big role in my emotional roller coaster with Asa's pregnancy (I was just 10 weeks out from Rachel's death when I found out I was pregnant)  And I was feeling strong and steady before I got pregnant this time.  Apparently everyone else thought these things too.

I made a doctor's appt a couple weeks after I found out, which was really slow compared to usual.  When they offered me an ultrasound the next day, I said I'd wait.  This was completely different than with Asa when I was wanting the doctors to keep me feeling secure from my 5 week appointment and on.  I've come to know that doctors aren't the place I need to get that and I've relied solely on God for the peace of mind only He can give.

So, why do I feel lonely?  Well, because over the course of the last two weeks, I've struggled with worry.  And I, being an outward processor, have attempted to talk to people about where my mind has been going and being sure to keep a positive attitude while I do.... and I always get a blunt 'don't go there' or 'don't worry, God's got it in control' or 'everything's going to be fine, I just know it'. 

Well, I happen to know that God had it all 'under control' when I put my daughter in the ground.  I know that I couldn't add a minute to her life by worrying, but I am just a human.  And I would really appreciate it if everyone could just play human with me for a minute.  I understand that staying in the place of worry is not good, nor honoring to God - and believe me I don't stay there.  But when I am vulnerable enough to share where I'm at, please don't poo-poo me and act like you wouldn't go there too... because unless you see your child be born without a head and put in a little tiny box and lowered into the ground, you don't know what my mind has been though.  It's probably similar to post traumatic stress disorder... whatever it is, it's real and it's hard.  And I kind of feel like when people ask me how I'm doing, they don't really want to hear... they want me to say 'good, everything is great'.  Which is true outside of my mind. 

Let me give you a glimpse....

Every time I go to the bathroom, I check for blood.  When I feel cramping, I start planning out what I will do with my kids for my hospital visit should I be losing the baby.  I stood on Rachel's grave this week and tried to think of how I would include this baby's name on our stone should I give birth to another anencephalic baby.  I wonder if I have another baby that dies, do I give them the name God gave us or keep it for the chance at another live baby?  I try to figure out, would I prefer to have a miscarriage or another baby with anencephaly... as if I have a choice - and as if those are the only two things that can go wrong.  I even found myself asking God if he was going to take this baby, just please do it soon.  And then I look at pictures of babies in the womb and wonder if my baby's head is forming like it's supposed to be. I listen to people talk about being pregnant and hate that it's not that simple for me.  Or at least that I'm no longer that clueless.  I wish it was like it used to be where I got a positive test and told everyone "we're having a baby" and could feel free to start decorating and buying things.  I hear people say things like "Can't wait to spend the next 18 years of my life with this child" and I wonder why they think that's a guarantee.... and then I remember I used to be that innocent too.  And honestly, I think I'm just jealous that I know more than I ever wanted to about the frailty of human life.  And I guess I am partially insulted that they think dead babies happen to people like me, but not to them.  Or maybe they just forget that a dead baby happened to me at all.  I listen to careless people blab about all the 'right' things they will do to ensure they have a perfect baby, giving no attention to the fact that I might interpret that as that I must have lacked in something to have a baby without a brain. (who, by the way, was perfect)  Every time someone finds out I'm pregnant, they say "This is your 5th?"  or "Wow, 5 kids!"  and I say 'No, it's my 6th" and they look confused..... My 4th baby doesn't make the count. :(

Some of you are reading this and you understand or can relate. 

Some of you are judging and wondering why, if it's so hard to be pregnant, don't I just stop with what I have?  Why did I do this to myself again?  I had someone ask me last year why on earth I would want to have any more - and when I said my kids are awesome, of course I'd want more, I was told that I might want to take a look at 'why I want to keep popping them out'.  huh?  I'm sorry, when did welcoming children God blesses me with become an unhealthy thing that needs to be examined?? 

But most of you, especially those of you who have never buried a child that you held in your arms, might be supportive of us 'popping more out' (totally wish they just 'popped' out!) but are probably thinking you would do it differently. That perhaps you would be better at taking thoughts captive and not envisioning things that haven't even happened yet.  And maybe you would.  But one of the best gifts that Rachel's life and death gave me is the ability to understand that I don't know everything.  I don't know what I would do or not do unless I have had to do it. And even then, God makes us all different and we handle things differently. And as a general rule, if someone tells me they are having a hard time with something, I try to understand and support them, not dig up a silver lining for them and present it as if it should take away the pain.  And I certainly don't tell them their feelings are wrong or that I know better.  I just feel completely misunderstood and that is a lonely place to be.

Because even when God has it all under control.... life hurts.  And hurting is not a sign of something being 'wrong'.  It's part of life in a sinful world.  And I trust God.  I trust even the plans that I hate.  I believe He knows what He is doing and that nothing happens outside of His perfect will.  But I know that doesn't mean I will like it.  That seems to be what people forget.  When you throw out the "Trust God, He has it under control" are you thinking "Trust God if this baby dies"  ?  most likely not.  You're most likely to be thinking "Trust God, that couldn't possibly happen to you again". But let me just say that it could.  I know two people who lost two babies to anencephaly and I know many people who have had multiple miscarriages.  Bad things happen more than once to the same person all the time. But I do trust Him.  I trust Him no matter what.  And so yes, I worry that I won't like His plan.  I worry that I won't get what I want.  But believe me when I say it's far from faithless.  It takes more faith to believe that everything you love and desire can be stripped from you and you would be okay with it than to believe that God will be 'good' by giving you everything you think is best.  I believe He is good, no. matter. what.

Now, all that being said, I should say that I don't truly believe there is anything wrong with my baby.  With Rachel I had an overwhelming feeling something was wrong from the beginning, even when the doctors - and everyone else - assured me I was just paranoid.  With Baby E, I have not felt that consistently.  But I won't lie... I picture myself walking back into that same ultrasound room that I had Rachel's in and laying down on that same table... them squirting some warm goo on my belly and rubbing the wand around in a couple of circles before pressing down above my womb.... and it's just still.  No beating heart... that same deafening silence in the room.... and walking out with more sad news.

So, please don't judge me.  I've been through a lot. Don't tell me I shouldn't or can't think this way, even if you just are trying to make me feel better.  It's not that easy. Don't assume you wouldn't.  Because you don't really know and does it really matter what you would do??  Don't think that I'm not excited over this baby.  I am.  Don't tisk-tisk me if you think I shouldn't be worrying.  It's not where my heart is all the time, but it is something I have to face every day of my life.  Just pray for me.  I have a spiritual battle that I will be fighting throughout this pregnancy and I don't need pat answers, I need prayers - real prayers.  I need people bringing me and my heart to the Lord in prayer.  I need understanding and compassion.  I need friends who aren't afraid to be human - or at the very least are okay with me being human because I'm not the kind of person to pretend something I'm not.  And I should add that it's not a good idea to say "I told you so" if I get to come home with this baby either.  Because the only One who really knows is God.  The rest of us are just hoping for the best.  (thinking that WE know what that is) And I, am preparing for the worst.  It's just what I do and had you walked in my shoes these past two years, you might too.  Day by day, I just try to remember there is a time to grieve and a time to dance.... it's still time to dance.  I have nothing to grieve yet. 

My ultrasound is tomorrow at 11:15 if you remember, please pray.  Not that we will see a healthy live baby in there... God already knows that part... but that no matter what, He gets the glory.  That being back in that place will not break my heart. That if Baby E is moving around with a strong beating heart, God gets the credit.  And that if my fears come true, like they did with Rachel, that He will sweep into that room again and pick me up off the floor and carry me.... just like He did in August 2010 and always does.  And that I will be at peace.  That's all I want.  And it's all I need.  His great merciful love and peace that makes no sense. 

I hope to have some really cute pictures for you tomorrow ♥  Baby Aubes are always super cute :)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A Better Plan

Sunday, we got down to Rachel's grave and I realized I forgot my bible and my tissues..... I was really disappointed, I wanted to read her the verses I marked with the dirt from her grave that first Friday.  And I wanted to sit and cry.

By the time we arrived, it was starting to get dark.  I hoped we would see her Christmas tree lit up, but it wasn't coming on.

We stopped for hot chocolate on the way... I had a vision in my head of us all drinking our hot chocolates together at her grave while reading verses out loud... sounds good, doesn't it?  I even asked Matt to grab an extra cup of hot chocolate for her.  The hot chocolate dream didn't work out either... the kids were done theirs, mine was getting cold and Matt didn't want one (strange, huh?) :) 

It seemed every piece of my plan for how this hard day was going to end meaningfully was just not working out. 

Somehow along this journey, I - miss Type A who hates it when plans don't work out - have learned how to be okay with things going different than I want.  I've learned how to roll with the punches.  I've truly started to trust God will the details.... to trust that if it isn't happening, He must have something better.

That's a true gift.  And it brings so much peace.

So, Matt and I stood there for a few minutes in silence until Isaiah started hanging out the sunroof and yelling.... we went to walk back to the van and I noticed something.  I thought it was a dandelion, but how could it be?  Last week, her grave was covered in snow... and it's been freezing for days... how could a dandelion still be standing there?  Well, I can't explain it, but it was.....

We drove away and I asked Matt to drive down and turn around at the end instead of going around and out so we could look one more time to see if the lights would come on.  He did and we drove by... nothing. :o(  I looked at our names as we drove through and thought about how eventually one of us will be visiting the other there.  And I said "We should get more pictures of the two of us here."  He nodded and kept going and we got almost to the exit when I asked "do you want to go back and take a picture together?"  He said yes and we turned around.

We got out of the van and as soon as my foot hit the ground, her Christmas tree lit up!  Des took a couple of pictures of us (that all came out blurry) :(  and we headed home.  Ironically, I was upset about the pictures being blurry, but that is because the flash was strangely delayed and if it wasn't, the pics might have come out clearer, but her lights wouldn't have shown in the photo.  They would have been washed out by the flash. ♥

I didn't get to have hot chocolate with everyone and read scripture and cry like I wanted to.... but between the dandelion still spreading seeds even in the middle of winter and the Christmas lights coming on just as we returned unplanned... my heart got more than enough that night. 

Funny how the things you least expect and don't plan tend to bring more joy than if you got what you wanted.  Kinda reminds me of my sweet girl.  My Christmas baby lighting up the darkest night and scattering seeds in the toughest of circumstances.  Shining for me when I am sad and reminding me that nothing can defeat what she has in Christ.  She is alive.  Her legacy will remain throughout the seasons.  And when nothing goes as I have planned.... I see the way He cares for me and I know that it is better.  I see the light He shines for me so I can find my way.  I see the way He rules over His creation and I know He's got it all under control.

I kneeled down in front of her grave that night and looked at the ground that separates us and said "you can't keep us apart forever".  And no, I don't feel crazy talking to the ground.... well, maybe a little.... but it's true.  It can't.  So there.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

2 Years in the Ground (photos added)

I made it through last week feeling pretty good about how my heart felt.  I thought "It really does get better with time".   Making it through her birthday with such joy and peace was so encouraging.

I feel kind of naive that I fell for the idea that each day gets easier.  That was true of my miscarriage... each day that went on, especially after I became pregnant again, felt better...less painful.  Until I got to the point where I no longer cried for that baby. 

But it's not how it is with Rachel. 

Last night I looked at our hospital photo on my wall.... I was holding her.  Her cute, chubby little self in her "little sister" shirt.  She was so real, so mine, so already gone.  But I got to hold her.   I got to touch her fingers and run mine through the dimple on each one.  I got to kiss her toes and put a diaper on her.  I got to dress her.  She was so awesome.  And I miss her so much.

Today is two years since her funeral.  We had a beautiful service for her.  And I remember like it was yesterday the last kiss I planted on her nose.  Shutting that casket over her, knowing it would be the last time I saw her this side of heaven, was the single most difficult thing I've ever done, next to leaving her at the cemetery.


I wasn't expecting this day to hurt so bad.  But I've been crying all morning. 

Monday is the day I clean the bathroom here and as I washed the bathtub, I remembered all the things I had told her while I was in the shower.  It was where I talked to her the most because we were all alone.  I sang to her, I rocked her, I told her how much I loved her and I taught her how to shave her legs. 

This morning in the shower, I remembered my first shower without her.  I remembered the weight of my empty womb hanging... and she was gone.  I couldn't tell her anything.  I couldn't rock her anymore.  The blood and the breast milk were proof  she had arrived.... but my body didn't seem to accept that she had left.  And neither had my heart.  They were both screaming to care for this child that I had just given birth to.  And it wasn't possible.

Still, while she was at the funeral home, I knew she was still within reach.  Somehow I felt better knowing that I could still see her again.  I was afraid of how she would look after so many days of being dead, but it didn't matter, she was still above ground. 

Today was the day I had to let them cover her with dirt.  To put the cold cut out ground on top of my baby and know I could never see her again.  Never kiss her again.  Never touch her again.  And it was the hardest day of my entire life. 

I walked into church today, at the same time her funeral was happening two years ago.  People were giving me hugs and congratulating me on Baby E.  I was smiling and felt good.... but somewhere along the walk between the door and my seat, I started crying and I couldn't stop.  The dance of grief and joy continues.  I was in that place again, worshipping God again, remembering her funeral and how my only concern that day was that God be glorified in that place.  That through her life and death I could show people that my God is awesome.  That HE is GOOD.  That even when life sucks, He is worthy of praise.  And I did that.  And I'm not sure how.  It was Him alone. 

We sang the song today that I heard at the Ash Wednesday service (the day I found out I was pregnant with Asa). 
"Jesus, worthy is the lamb that was slain for us.  The Son of God and man, You are high and lifted up and all the world with praise Your Great Name.   All the weak; find their strength; at the sound of your great name.  Hungry souls; receive grace; at the sound of your great name.  The fatherless; they find their rest; at the sound of your great name.  Sick are healed; and the dead are raised; at the sound of your great name"
And as I sang the last line, my tears poured like pounding rain.  My heart truly and overwhelming thankful for that truth.  She is healed.  She is raised.  She is alive. 

I thought after worship, I was calming down.  Then at communion time, they played "Uncreated One".  This is a song that Erik learned so he could sing it at Rachel's service.  I picked it as our opening 'special music' because I wanted to make sure the focus of her funeral was on the fact that God is good.  Her service was not about her being dead.  It was about how God is worthy of our praise. And I picked songs accordingly.  I didn't play songs that had to do with babies dying, but that had to do with Jesus being enough for anything I might go through.  The worship team has played this song a couple times since her funeral, but today, it hit me hard.

I listened to the lyrics and I remember the day I picked that song.  I was in my kitchen and nobody was home... Rachel was still safe inside me and she was dancing with me as I sang it to her.  "Our God is so good girl, He's going to take good care of you when Mama can't anymore" I told her.  And I swear she heard me... I felt her kick my belly like she was jumping for joy.  I sometimes wonder if in the womb, she already knew Jesus.  Is this where the 'childlike faith' starts?  Did she already know He was good?  Was she the one reassuring me, not the other way around?  I don't know, but I knew that was the song I was going to play that very moment.

A friend came to hug me after the service and I just fell apart.  And as I tried to tell her through my sobs about the song and how much I miss Rachel, I heard myself say "It sounds like it shouldn't matter, but part of the reason it hurts is because I don't think anybody else knows or remembers."

Everyone filed out of that place and went about their days.  And I haven't stopped crying yet. 

But God is still good.  He is still worthy of my praise.  And He will always get it.  If even through my heartache and tears, so long as I have breath in me and a beating heart, I will praise Him on this earth.  And when I take my last breath and my heart stops beating, I will fall at His feet in heaven.  And I bet I'll sing something like this....

"Uncreated One"
Chris Tomlin

Holy Uncreated One
Your beauty fills the skies
But the glory of Your majesty
Is the mercy in Your eyes

Worthy Uncreated One
From heaven to earth come down
You laid aside Your royalty
To wear the sinner's crown

O Great God, be glorified
Our lives laid down
Yours magnified
O Great God, be lifted high
There is none like You

Jesus, Savior, God's own son
Risen, reigning Lord
Sustainer of the Universe
By the power of Your word

And when we see Your matchless face
In speechless awe we'll stand
And there we'll bow with grateful hearts
Unto the Great I am

The verses we read that day were from 2Samuel 12:15-23.  It was about when David's son was sick and how he wept and fasted until he found out that he had died.  When he did, he went into the house of the Lord and worshipped, saying "When the child was alive, I fasted and wept; for I said 'Who can tell whether the Lord will be gracious to me and let the child live?'  But now that he is dead, why should I fast? Can I bring him back again?  I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me."
Isaiah's teacher told me after church that he asked the class to pray for his "sister Rachel because she is in heaven and my Mama is sad about it".  He's very sweet.  I'm not sad she's there though, I'm just sad I'm not with her yet.

Here is the video I made of her funeral and burial photos.  I'm so thankful to have these because it helps me to remember how beautiful the day was, how much it hurt, and how God carried me through it. And how my deepest desire, for Him to be glorified in my pain, was met.  It was six days after she was born, I was still healing from my c-section and somehow He gave me the strength I needed physically to make it through that long day.  (although I did fall asleep in the limo on the way back to the church after her burial)  I went home that night and wrote in her funeral book like it was her baby book that she would get to read someday... and fought the urge to go back and dig her up for hours.  I sat alone and cried, much like I am today... but still I can say I praise You Lord.  Thank you for this journey.  Thank you for Rachel.  Thank you for allowing me to be her Mama.  And thank You that You are always with me.  Thank You that You will bring me back to her, even though she will never come back to me.  Please Lord tell her that I love her.
(If you're following by email, you'll need to go to my blog to see this.)

We're getting ready to go down to her grave.  Our first Friday visit started the day after she was buried two years ago and have continued every Friday and every anniversary or holiday in between.  I think I will read her some of the passages I read her that first Friday, her one week birthday.... Please Lord let her hear me.


Saturday, December 8, 2012

More Amazing News (correction!)

Last year, for Rachel's birthday, we received $843 in gift cards that we sponsored 2 other families with.  I was blown away by your generosity.

I was hoping to reach that same amount in puzzle piece purchases this year so that we could cover the cost of the 501(c)3 application we need to do soon.  A week before her birthday, I wrote that we needed another 35 pieces and said "possible? maybe, but doubt it".

I'm sorry for doubting You Lord.

Not only did we get the 110 pieces of the puzzle purchased, but we went WAY over!!  136 pieces!  That is $1,360 !!

We needed $850 for the application and the fee to have an attorney file it is $500.  That totals $1350.  And there it is!  And obviously, this is a huge increase from what you sent in for her birthday last year, which was a blessing to my afraid-to-see-people-move-on heart.

Thank you.

      1.  Jason Corbett ♥
2. Elizabeth Corbett
3. Sebby Mardon ♥
4. Donna Wynot
5. Donna Wynot
6. Donna Wynot
7. Donna Wynot
8. Donna Wynot
9. Jennifer Tate
10. Jennifer Tate
11. Alisha Guilmette
12. Nicole Caviris
13. 'Litte One' ♥
14. The Meehans
15. Cindy Winden
16. Cindy Winden
17. Hope McKeen ♥
18. Cyndie Paraski
19. Cyndie Paraski
20. Lynda Snelson ("in memory of Rachel") ♥
21. Baby String ♥
22. Kim Carnevale
23. Nate Carnevale
24. "A friend"
25. "A friend"
26. In memory of Jordan, Christian & Hayden ♥ ♥ ♥
27. "A friend"
28. "A friend"
29. "A friend"
30. "A friend"
31. "A friend"
32. "A friend"
33. "A friend"
34. "A friend"
35. Anne Alix
36. Chris Alix
37. Isabelle Alix
38. Rose J. Alix ♥
39. Matthew Alix
40. Derrick Marsh
41. Erin Thompson
42. Karla Dillon

43. Rachel Alice Aube ♥

44. Scott Dillon
45. Caroline Dillon
46. Cameron Dillon
47. Frank & Chris Napolitano
48. Jim & Alyssa Hermonal
49. Emilie Sargent
50. Andrew Sargent
51. Jonathan Sargent
52. Lauren Sargent
53. Lucas Sargent
54. Alicia Capello
55. Alicia Capello
56. Elias Barnes ♥
57. Nancy Schuck
58. The Hampton Girls (in memory of Rachel) ♥
59. Jill Hampton (in memory of Corey Hampton)
60. Abi Hampton (in memory of her Daddy, Corey Hampton)
61. Ali Hampton (in memory of her Daddy, Corey Hampton)
62. John & Terri Trepanier
63. John & Terri Trepanier
     64. Andrew & Christina Trepanier
     65. Michael Trepanier & Courtney Gray
           66. Anne-Marie Collins
           67. The Bensons
          68. Benjamin Wilkin ♥
          69. Saria Wilkin ♥
         70. Ed Macomber
         71. Ed Macomber
         72. Ed Macomber
         73. Ed Macomber
         74. Ed Macomber
         75. Ella ♥
        76. Kallen ♥
77. Kathy Geary
78. Kathy Geary
79. Victoria Porter
80. The Parkers
81. The Parkers
82. The Parkers
83. The Parkers
84. The Parkers
85. The Parkers
86. The Tarbucks
87. Willie Batson
88. Cindy Batson
89. Anja
90. Anja
91. Anja
92. Anja
93. Anja
94. Meagan Torr
95. Meagan Torr
96. The Caviris Family
97. The Caviris Family
98. The Caviris Family
99. The Caviris Family
100. The Caviris Family
101. Sige & Lu Aube
102. Sige & Lu Aube
103. The Hynes Family
104. The Trejos
105. The Trejos
106. Rachel Paluch
107. Annie
108. Jailyn Macomber
109. Caleb Luc
110. Meagan Macomber
111. Richard Hale
112. Richard Hale
113. Richard Hale
114. Richard Hale
115. Richard Hale
116. Richard Hale
117. Richard Hale
118. Richard Hale
119. Richard Hale
120. Richard Hale
121. In memory of Jacob Kessel ♥
122. In memory of Shelby Rae Kaplan ♥
123. In memory of Imagene Lille Sloan ♥
124. In memory of Erik Quarles ♥
125. In memory of Erik Quarles ♥
126. The Linn Family ♥
127. The Masons
128. The Masons
129. The Masons
130. The Masons
131. The Masons
132. The Smiths
133. The Smiths
134. The Smiths
135. The Smiths
136. The Smiths

These donations have been made from all over... NH, CA, OH, ME, IA, NJ and even Austrailia, and New Zealand among others! The ♥'s represent pieces purchased in memory of babies. Thank you all so so much!

Rachel Alice, you are so loved.