Monday, January 30, 2012

I Can't - But I Could

Last Sunday we went to the Children's Museum after church.  I shouldn't have been there on my knee, but I was doing what I do best...pushing through the pain.  So, a little while into the visit I was in too much pain and decided we should go upstairs to the 'little people' section where they have a nursing nook and I could sit down and feed Asa.  There are a couple of other rooms up there too for the bigger kids, so that is what we did.  Sam came in and showed me his puppet 'froggy' and then walked out.  I smiled at his cuteness. 

I looked at the wall in front of me and there were daisies painted in a mural with butterflies....I started thinking about Rachel (And Amelia) and how I wished I would have been able to nurse her there like I had with the others.  Just then, Matt peeked in and asked where Sam was.  He had JUST left my little cubby so I said 'right out there' and didn't think anything else of it.  About 5 minutes later Desirae and Isaiah came in upset saying Sam was missing.  He can't be, he must be right out there and Matt just can't see him... I thought as I got up to look around.  I looked everywhere and still couldn't see him so I told Matt to go look down stairs.  By this point it had been at least 5-7 minutes since we had seen him.... but I was in the 'in between' where I figured Matt would walk down the ramp and find him right away.

That didn't happen.  I kept looking over the loft walls to the floor below at all the kids playing, praying I'd see Sam and he was nowhere to be found.  It was like a scary movie, kids screaming with delight all around.  I opened the elevator to see if he was on a joyride...nothing.  I looked over the last wall to find Matt describing to the front desk what my little boy was wearing and that was when I lost it.  I heard them call for assistance over the loud speaker and my heart dropped, knowing that sometimes these moments change from a scare to reality for so many people.   I practically ran down the ramp to the first floor, carrying Asa and dragging the other 2 behind me - It had been about 10 minutes and at this point I was saying out loud "No Jesus, No..."  (yep, pretty sure I looked like a nut case... a bunch of kids, limping, crying and praying out loud...)  I got to the bottom of the ramp and there he was, screaming as usual, holding onto Matt's hand.  I was never so glad to hear that scream.

I immediately said "I want to go home" and made my way to the coat room - where I quickly discovered that I had done WAY too much to my knee and my tears were not just over the scare now, but also my intense pain!  The kids were complaining cause they wanted to stay and all I could say was "I can't lose another one of you"

Do they get that?  Maybe.  But in that moment all I could do was lay out my stark cold reality.  I can't lose another child.  I can't.  And yet, I could.  I could.

So last night Matt got back out of bed to come down and thank me for all that I have done for Rachel and for our family and for God with Rachel's life.  It was nice - yet totally uncomfortable - to hear.  He said "It wasn't as tragic as it should have been, you made it pretty" 

I'm glad.... but all I could say was "it was tragic for me" - it still is. 

No sooner did we get done with this conversation and I looked over at Asa in his swing to see him with his mouth open and tongue sticking out.  I jumped to get closer and see if he was breathing cause this is not his usual face while sleeping.  I couldn't see his shirt moving.  I touched his arm.  He didn't move.  I shook him a bit.  Still nothing.  I said "Jesus, NO!" and he jumped. 

"I thought he was dead" I said and I started bawling out of relief.

Matt came over and started praying for me... but it went something like this "Thank You Lord that You are in control and you will do what you will with Asa's life, just like You did with Rachel's" - I know what he meant.  He meant that each of our children's lives are in His hands...and His hands are a safe place to be.  But that is not what I heard.  I heard, it's fine with us if you take him too, just do something pretty with it - I argued my point, "Just because He has control doesn't mean they won't DIE - and I'm just not into it."  The truth of my distrust was unavoidable.  I was all about "I trust You God" when I was waiting to see if I was going to die from a tumor in my knee....but when it comes to my kids, that comes MUCH harder.

Did he get that?  Maybe.  But in that moment, I couldn't handle the utter powerlessness over my babies.  I can't lose another child.  I can't.  And yet, I could.  I could.

Today I was changing Asa.  I flipped his shirt up away from his diaper and the snap hit him in the chin.  My mind immediately went back the the hospital room with Rachel.  I had asked the nurse that was on that morning if she could cut Rachel's umbilical cord thing off so I could keep it.  She came in, flung her shirt up and it hit her in the face.  I asked her to be careful.  She opened the scissors and lost her grip and the handle hit her in the eye.  That was it.  I told her to get out and told Matt that if he didn't get me another nurse I was going to freak out.  "She wouldn't have treated her like that if she was alive" I demanded.  And so Matt went out and got me another nurse (thank you, honey) and that nurse was Kim who I had the day before and am still in contact with regularly :o)  (love you Kim)

But as I realized that I had just done the exact thing to my live baby, I felt bad...  Maybe she WAS treating her like she was alive and not dead.  Maybe it was the opposite of how it felt that day?  I got really close to Asa and I started telling him about his sister.  I told him how he got to come into that room with me while I was waiting for him and that his sister had been in that room.  And the tears started flowing... I told him I miss her so much and I kissed his belly.  I felt his lungs fill with air and I thanked God that he is alive.  I picked him up, hugged him tight and begged him to stay with me....

Does he get that?  Nope.  But in that moment all I could do was hold onto all I have.... and cry over what I've had to let go.  I can't lose another child.  I can't.  And yet, I could.  I could.

Saturday, January 28, 2012


While the gift lists posts are nice cause they don't take long to write and I usually don't feel too emotional through them, I think every once in a while I should be a little more vulnerable.  I know I mentioned it briefly about saying it sucked to have our baby in the ground...  but I'm not sure I could ever express in words just what I mean by it 'sucks'.  I'm not sure there is a word in the English language that describes what that does to a mother's heart.  I could add the F word in front of it and that still doesn't do it.  (Are swears even real words?  I usually try not to use them here, but sometimes my vocabulary fails me - anyone know another word for suck?  ugh, I keep saying it)

The thoughts that go through my mind, the things I wonder....  I know the little body I carried around inside of me for 9 amazing months as I got to know her personality, is down there - just under the surface.  I remember the night we buried her sitting on my couch wanting to drive down there and dig her up.  This part of it has been absolute torture.  It just isn't right.  I hate dirt, I hate bugs, I hate the cold.... and I would never leave my kids. 

And here I am, almost 14 months later, and I have no choice but to leave the cold, in the dirt, with the bugs.  And these things aren't supposed to plague my mind?  I've wondered if I should have had her cremated, but I know I would have the same thoughts, they would just involve fire, which I also hate. 

I understand that 'she' is not there.  I've heard it a million times, I believe it....but part of 'she' to me is her body and it is there.  I spent hours and hours researching what kind of vault to buy because I wanted to make sure that she wasn't going to get wet and that no bugs could get to her.  My God am I really saying this about my baby??  But the truth is, I don't know that they aren't lying.  I mean, who checks into those things?  You can't get your money back guarantee on a casket or a vault.

What I want for my daughter is to wrap her in a blanket and keep her dry and warm.  I want to provide what she needs to help her grow... to be able to love her - not her stone...her.   I want to keep her from deteriorating little by little.  I want to make her whole. 

After I had a conversation with a friend today who has the same struggles, I looked up at my calendar on my wall.  And I can't help but wonder if there could be something more to what is below the surface of the ground then we know....  Like maybe He's already working on that....  And maybe even when something really F-ing sucks, maybe there is still Hope.....

My heart cries out....
Blossom baby girl, blossom.

Rachel's Birthday Update

I just wanted to let everyone who sent us gift cards for Rachel's birthday that we just met another need in her honor this week, thanks to you all... 

Options for Women has a program called "Baby Steps" where they help young moms with diapers.  They were out of a few sizes so we used Rachel's Birthday gifts to buy 6 packages of diapers for them to give to these girls.

Thank you all for making this possible!  We love you ♥

We still have more gift cards left and will let you know what God brings our way next!

Thankful for Gifts # 82 - 103

Random piece of info that I forgot to share last week... I stopped to eat lunch on the way to go speak at the high school and when I got back in the van the clock said 12:43.  I pulled up at a light and looked to my left and next to me was a car that said "Daisy Florist" on it :o)  She lives!

The Maine Doctor's office called me to 'see how I was doing' as a 'courtesy call'.  I told her good.  She continued questioning me about the baby and if I was depressed.  I understand they just want to make sure everyone is ok, but it's slightly strange. She didn't know how to respond when I said everything was good. (?)  Then I called to cancel my follow up appointment up there cause it's too far to drive just to hear that they are disappointed that I'm not taking my anti-depressants.  When I called, the nurse asked "did you decide to start taking your Zoloft?"  I said no, actually I'm feeling much better, I started a list and am running.... yeah, I'm sure she concluded I needed serious help after that conversation :o)  But it's been pretty amazing watching God lift me out of my pit and restore my joy.....and all I had to do was start with #1.  Him.  So, here are my gifts from this week....

82. Daily phone calls with my mom
83. Successful days of math with Desirae
84. Four children to hug every day
85. One child that makes me love them all deeper
86. Yummy salads
87. A mother & daughter retreat on the bathroom floor to play with make-up and the smile on Desirae's face  "I can't stop smiling" she said with a huge smile as I put it on her for the first time.  The whole time I was grieving that I'll never be able to do this kind of girl stuff with Rachel, yet at the same time it brought me that much more gratitude for this time with the girl I get to keep.

88. Sam holding onto a little girl's pinky as they walked around at gym class
89. My booth renters application was approved... convictions and all!
90. Conversation with my Grandma
91. A sleep-filled night with Asa
92. Love notes from Daddy

We use plastic cups and write our names and the day of the week on them so that they get reused all day long and we know which one belongs to who.  On Thursday when Des took a sip of her morning OJ, she found this special surprise inside her cup :o)

93. Sam ate cake with eggs baked into it without a reaction!

94. Matt's consistency with family devotions
95. Singing hymns with my family - we pick a new one each week that we sing every night.
96. I received the first pledge towards Rachel's 2nd Annual Race!  It's on!!!
97. Our non-profit status has been approved for Baby Rachel's Legacy!
98. An unexpected ride for Matt to work in the rain and slush
99. Spiderman and Super Sam!

100. The blessing of siblings and seeing the way that helps to shape them

101. A surprise in-home date night with steamers and a movie ♥
102. A marriage bond growing deeper
103. Blessed Assurance - This is the hymn we are signing together at family devotions this week.  With all the uncertainties in this life, there is One who we can be sure of.  Jesus.  Here is my favorite verse....

Perfect submission, all is at rest
I in my Saviour am happy and blessed
Watching and waiting, looking above
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love

This is my story, this is my song
Praising my Saviour all the day long......

Friday, January 27, 2012

Between The Scan and The Results

The weather here today was horrible.  It snowed a bunch last night and then poured rain on it all day.  I decided that I was going to skip my visit to Rachel today, which was a hard thing to decide....I've only missed 2 Fridays in 13 months and that's cause I was out of the state both times.  But I just couldn't see getting everyone into the van to go drive by her spot, which with the rain the way it was, that was about all I was going to do - and then I had to worry about my knee on top of it all.

I had my MRI late this afternoon.  Everything seemed to be running smoothly.  I prayed through the scan...for people who came to mind, for them to find whatever was wrong and for Matt & the kids since they were out running errands while they waited for me (still sharing a car)  I have these crazy thoughts that they will all be out together and get into an accident and die on me.  I hate knowing that life can all change so quickly.

So, I had actually fallen asleep during the MRI, if you've ever had one, they are pretty loud and not necessarily comfortable so that tells you how tired I am! :o)  They got me out and said they just wanted to check and make sure they got everything before I left.  I went up to call Matt to tell him I was done. 

I hung up the phone and heard them whispering in the hallway...
I stepped out into the hall.
She said "we're just going to have you go over to the other side so the doctor can talk to you about what we saw in the scans"

I've heard those words before. 

As we walked, I said "I hope this doesn't mean that this is bad news?"  She looked at me and said "ummmm" I interrupted, "You can't tell me, can you?"  She shook her head.

My eyes started to sting.  Before I knew it I was telling this poor lady about my baby that died and how I had a scan that they sent me to talk to the doctor about and that didn't turn out so well, so this wasn't making me feel very good.  "Just wait here" she said, pointing to a little room.

As I waited in this tiny little makeshift room with just a curtain for a door, I sat there wondering what they would tell me.  I wondered if this was going to be another one of those moments where my life forever changes.  I wondered if being without Matt for this news was a bad idea. 

I sat there repeating over and over "I trust You God, I trust You"

The doctor walked in and said that the MRI showed a fracture that the X-ray didn't pick up.  I sighed relief.  He also said that ibuprofen shouldn't be taken for a fracture, that it slows the healing - way to go Frisbee Hospital!  They told me to talk it around the clock!  That ER trip was a joke.  Crutches I can't use, a prescription I am allergic to and advice that slows my healing. (although to be fair, they didn't see the fracture, but if they weren't so busy trying to keep me from relapsing, maybe they could have given me something for pain that wouldn't have been working against me this whole time) anyway....

I waited for Matt to pick me up and as soon as I got in the car I started crying.  "Can we go to see Rachel?" I asked.  He nodded and headed towards Dover.  I started telling him what had just happened and I could tell he understood my fear.  He knew that day like I did.  "we'll have to let the doc explain that to you" she  had said after my ultrasound.  He's walked the hallway with me between the scan and the results before. He knows what that feels like.

As I sat there crying after just getting non life-changing news about my knee, all I could think was how traumatic this entire experience has been.  It affects me right to the core of my being.  The littlest things; a similar word, sound, smell....all bring me right back to her diagnosis...her birth...her death...her funeral.

My Lord, why does it have to be so complicated?

We stopped at McDonald's and grabbed some food.  I sat nursing Asa and watched Matt & the kids get their drinks, finding myself smiling continuously over something cute one of them did.  Loving so deeply is scary to me now.  I'll do it because that is the best part of this life, but it scares the crap out of me that at any moment, one of them could be taken from me too.

We went to Rachel's grave, I just couldn't skip today after the walk down that hall.  We stood there in 2 inches of slush and as I stared at the spot where her little casket is buried, thinking about her little body being under the very ground we were standing on I said to Matt "It sucks that our baby is under that ground."  We stood in silence in the cold rain for a few minutes, the water leaking through my boots....

"But it's a nice stone" I said as I tucked my head into his chest.  I signed 'I love you' to her as we drove away.  I hate leaving her there, no matter how many times I come & go - I always hate leaving her there.

I'm thankful that today's walk for results only revealed a broken'll heal a lot quicker than the broken heart the last one caused.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


I had my appointment at the orthopedics yesterday and he said he thinks I tore my meniscus.  They are going to schedule an MRI to see if that is what happened and how bad - which will determine if I need surgery.  I only have insurance until the end of the month so I'm hoping to at least get the MRI done by then and that I won't need surgery.

Yep, never a dull moment.

Then I went to my family doctor to have my blood pressure's still high for me, but borderline high for the norm.  The first thing he said to me is "you could stand to lose 30-40 pounds" 

Uh huh.... I know.

So please keep praying.  I guess now wasn't my time to run?  Really tired of learning these lessons about my plans vs God's plans.  I thought I was going to start running.... guess He had other plans? 

Oh well....I've had better plans ruined. 

Sunday, January 22, 2012


All I can say is Thank You Jesus that I am serious about what I take while nursing - My knee was feeling better yesterday and then today got WAY worse.  I think because I was out and about today, but I just went on line to look up the prescription that they gave me at the ER the other night to see if maybe I should just fill it anyway and take it cause I'm getting desperate for some relief.  And, are you ready for this?  It says not to take it if you are allergic to sulfa drugs.... which by the way I AM and I TOLD THEM - and they WROTE DOWN.  Apparently the doctor didn't read that part of my chart.  Funny they knew I was an "alcoholic patient" but not "allergic to sulfa drugs"  Focus on the wrong thing much?  Can't seem to figure out why I don't trust doctors.........  wow.

Love my baby boy ♥

Saturday, January 21, 2012

New Mercies This Morning - Gifts # 59 - 82

His mercy is new every morning......  Here we go....

Gift #

59. Old Friends
60. Heated seats in my van
61. Asa's clear lungs
62. A dedicated and hard working husband - and his willingness to walk to work in all this snow!
63. Watching Matt father our children and teach them about God

64. Fluffy snow
65. The opportunity to share Rachel at the public highschool.
66. Emmanuel - God is with me....ALWAYS
67. Unexpected Packages from friends I've yet to meet - I went to the post office to mail a couple of things and decided to go back in and check Rachel's PO Box.  I found a beautiful card and this necklace....

I'm not sure if Jennifer thought of this when she picked this out, I think she probably just picked it out because of the daisies.... but the daisies being on a scrabble piece have a special symbolism to me - I was thinking how in the game of scrabble, you are given pieces that aren't necessarily always ones you would pick, but then you have take what you were given and make the most you can out of it.  Daisies have always been that one thing that reminds me of the great beauty in all of this pain.  They say "Rachel" but they also say "I'm making the most out of this"  I determined to do that the day we got her diagnosis and I will continue to because I'm her mother and will not let her down.  I also find the '1' on the back to be appropriate - she was 1 of a kind, and the letter 'I' makes me think of the Great I AM.... He is everything I need.  Thank you for this special gift, Jennifer - I accidentally threw the package away without writing down your address if you don't mind emailing it to me?

68. Being recognized by strangers as Rachel's Mama... at the same post office trip, I had someone stop me (hi, Carla!) :o) and tell me she reads my blog and would be praying for me during my talk at the school.  this is such a gift to know that so many people know of my sweet girl and are still with me on this journey. ♥

69. Redemption - in this life and for eternity
70. Hearts, Rainbows and 43's - How He loves me.
71. The work of Options for Women Pregnancy Center
72. The availability of doctors and medicine
73. Nurses with a heart to serve and help people (I've been blessed with the BEST nurses) love you, Kim.
74. The baby loss community - being understood
75. A church family that is so generous with their time, treasures & talents in our community
76. A tunnel in the snow - the kids worked together and built something amazing!
77. The crown of thorns... interesting this landed on #77??  Sweet Forgiveness.....

So, this one has a long story - one that started just a few weeks after Rachel's diagnosis.  If you've been with me that long, you'll understand this... if not, (or if you just want to be re-inspired!),  you'll want to catch up by reading these two posts - From August 2010 and From December 2010  The quick version is that God has used these two plants (named 'crown of thorns') that I found 'by accident' :o) to remind me that He is a God who is aware of my suffering.  These plants have taken my breath away as they have lost all their leaves and flowers during my most trying times in this journey - and then budded as I started to heal... and now, just before Rachel's 1st b-day, the red one (from my friend Anne) started to bloom for the first time in a year! And is now covered in redish pink flowers (reminding me of Anne's daughter, Rose who had anencephaly too) and this week, I noticed that the yellow one (that I found on our family vacation in 2010) that has gotten to be so ugly I almost threw it away a few weeks ago figuring it had no hope of coming back to life... I mean look at it... it's ugly and most of it has died off... but at the top of this one thorn-covered stem.... new life....budding...and blooming... that's my girl! ♥

early in the week, I noticed the buds!

And yesterday - on Friday! - I noticed the bloom!

Pretty good for a plant that like warm climates and is in an unheated part of our house in a window in the winter!!
78. The way he smiles at me - how I love this little boy.  Thank You Jesus.

79. "Godwinks" - You've heard me talk of my friend Melissa (Amelia's Mommy) and I know many of you have read her blog too... Well, the day after Christmas I was looking at clearance ornaments at the store and from a distance I saw these little snowmen ornaments that light up.  I looked for Rachel's name and found it, and right next to it... Amelia's :o) (not exactly alphabetical order!)  I couldn't resist buying both of them, didn't seem right to leave Amelia behind - so I did and sent it to her mama.  They are safe in His arms...

80. He walked on water....and reminds me

Can you see it??  It's a footprint made out of water (I numbered the toes) - from Des after her shower....

81. The morning sun peeking in the window

When I took this picture, I thought about God's light shining in each of us - including Rachel.  This photo 'happens' to be a number ending in '43' ♥

And, since I know you were all wanting to know... the talk at the school went really well.  Apparently the teacher had followed our story through the articles in the paper and has read my blog.  I didn't know how she had heard about us so I wasn't sure how to approach my story with them.  I was unbelievably comfortable, which I didn't expect.  The kids asked some really good questions and I showed them the slideshow.  They all took a couple of handouts that I made up home with her pictures on them and a story about how God carried me through my pregnancy and her birth - and information on anencephaly, which is so important for awareness. 

There were two things that stood out to me as blessing to me - one, I caught myself smiling throughout the video a bunch of times - usually I just cry when I watch it so I've avoided it for a LONG time.  It was sweet when I noticed the joy I had looking at my journey with her.  And two, God had prepared me to answer one of the questions that a girl asked through a post I did the other day (the one about happiness vs. joy that I felt led to blog even though it wasn't Friday!) A girl asked "what do you think life would be like if she didn't have anencephaly?  If she didn't die?"  and I was able to share that while I might have the illusion I was happier, my joy would not be what it is - and that happiness is fleeting.  I don't think I would have been prepared with my answer had God not revealed that to me just a couple of days before.  I told them that most things worth doing in life are hard, take lots of work, perseverance - and even some pain, but that the things I have received through this trial are not things that can be taken away from me....and I'll see her again some day. 

82. Thank You Lord for the hope of heaven.

Friday, January 20, 2012


I'll have to get to my list of gifts tomorrow cause tonight I'm not feeling very thankful.  Funny how it's hard to see the gifts when you're not thankful, isn't it?  Seems like it should go the other way around, but it never does.  So anyway.... here' s my issue... I promise I will get back to the good stuff tomorrow.

I decided I was going to train to run in Rachel's race - and that every step I took was going to be for my girl.  So, I made it to day 2 of week 2 of the couch to 5K program.  I was feeling WAY better emotionally and even physically, just all around better.  So then Sunday I woke up and my knee was killing me.  I could hardly walk.  I babied it Sunday and Monday morning it felt better... I figured I was just weak from being pregnant twice in a row - and so overweight - and just needed to take it slow.  Well, since then it has gotten worse every day.  I decided tonight to go to the ER at Frisbie Hospital to have it looked at.  This is where I get real pissed....

On the way in, the woman who checked me in said under her breath to the woman bringing me back "she's an alcoholic patient" - Mark my words, from now on, on those stupid forms that have NOTHING to do with my current medical care, I WILL NOT be answering their questions about my previous alcohol use. 

I really believe these people thought I was there faking my injury to get pain meds...  I dealt with similar issues in Maine.  I was actually on a medicine that was helping me, but it has an 'addictive' nature and so rather than allow me to keep taking that, which wasn't an every day pill and they said was safer while nursing (they say) - and did I mention that it WORKED for me??? they insisted I switch to something that we didn't know if it would even work, that I had to take every single day, that wasn't as safe for nursing, that was in my opinion NOT what I needed.... but I'm not the doctor... we wouldn't want me to get addicted to something that works, that would be horrible.  Good looking out, Doc.

They took x-rays tonight which showed nothing and told me to see an orthopedic doctor.  Well, that sounds fabulous except to go anywhere I have to take 4 kids with me.  And on top of that, I only have insurance until the end of the month.  And what's (s)he going to do any different?  I went to the ER cause I could while Matt was home.  Pathetic, but true.

She said I need to avoid running and just do other things like abs and arms at the gym.  (not like I could run anyway, I can hardly walk)  I know she didn't care, but I couldn't help it, I said "I do a 5K in memory of my daughter and I was trying to train to be able to run in it this year - so this is breaking my heart, just so you know" and I started crying.  I've cried a lot today and I know it has to do with my pain level and the fact that I haven't been exercising.  Exercise does more for me than Zoloft would any day.  Since the day I blogged about my plan to exercise while recording my gifts, I really haven't cried much.  I have a few times over Rachel, but not the type of thing where I just cry and can't stop, seemingly over every little thing.  I mean, some things deserve tears and some just don't. 

Then they gave me crutches as if I can use them while carrying a baby around.... oh, and the fact that I can't bend my leg which is kinda necessary to use crutches properly - but at least they gave me something right?  They'll probably charge the insurance $800 for those stupid things and say they helped me.  Then they gave me an anti-inflammatory prescription.  This is what I was hoping for.... and when I asked the dr if I could take it while nursing, she said she'd check.  She sent the nurse back 10 mins later and she said,  "we looked it up and she said that you should just take ibuprofen if you're nursing"  and walked out.

So, I'm home after over 3 hours in the ER with crutches I can't use, nothing for pain, the same thing that hasn't been working for swelling (that doesn't even touch the pain) and I've been told I can't run.  And P.S. I'm an alcoholic patient. 

I came home and buried my head in Matt's chest and cried "I wanted to run in Rachel's race" and until that moment, I had no idea why I was so mad.  I could care less if they think I'm a druggy looking for pills and so therefore, refuse me anything for pain.  I could care less if I can't leave my house.... if I have to lay on the couch with my sweet boy all the time....  or if nursing hinders me from being able to take the medicine they gave me.  But why, when I just found a healthy 'for me' kinda thing to do that helps me physically and emotionally while still being 'for her' does it have to be ripped from me practically before I start?  I'm so sick of disappointments.  I'm sick of having my past constantly following me around.  I'm tired of the judgement that brings.  And I'm really really tired of doctors making NO FREAKING SENSE AT ALL - let me get this straight.... while nursing it's not safe to take a strong form of advil, but go ahead and take Zoloft??  Please, I'm not stupid - I may not be a doctor, but there's no way you can tell me that that makes sense.  But I suppose they would have some ridiculous answer they could pull out of their bums about how it's a different strength in your milk if someone asks, and us dummies just go around believing everything they say instead of using our brains (I don't use the word brain lightly) and looking at the facts... it makes NO sense.  I bet if I would have cried a little more in there, I probably could have left with a script for Zoloft for my sprained knee.

Oh, and my blood pressure, which is normally around 104 over 55 was 165 over 95.  At my last doctor's appointment in December it was 145 over 70 and they were concerned then (cause they know my norm and that's high anyway) and yet, the ER has nothing to say about that except "that's really high".  hmmmm... did they learn that in school?  Is there something I should do about that?  It's probably a blessing in disguise that I hurt myself cause I probably would have had a heart attack while running.  What the heck is going on with me? 

So there's my vent, here's my request... please pray for:

My knee to get better so I can at least exercise, and hopefully eventually run :o(
My emotional state while I'm waiting for that, cause I feel it shifting after just a week of not exercising.
That I'll get an appt quickly with the Orthopedic doctor and that if there is something else going on, they'll find it.
My pain level.
My blood pressure
That somehow,  I can start getting the same treatment other people get and stopped being labeled an alcoholic. 
And as minor as this may sound, I need prayer that I will start to drop some of this weight.  I need to lose 40 pounds, haven't lost a single pound since I came home from the hospital no matter what I do food/diet wise and even with the exercising I did.  And this of course, isn't good for my knees.  I am so tired of hearing 'you've had two babies in a row' - lots of people do that and don't still look 6 months pregnant 2 1/2 months later, so just go with me on this one and don't make excuses for me.

I miss my girl.....
that may seem like a different subject, but I just got an unavoidable urge to say it.  The emptiness is woven through every detail of my every day.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Two quick things....

1. Totally discouraged that I got a call this morning from the DOC and the officer told me that there hasn't been enough time yet since I completed my sentence to file for an annulment... but, they're still keeping my $100.  So, please be praying because I've decided I'm going to ask for a hearing.  I'll keep you posted.

2. I was invited to speak at a local public high school - and tomorrow is the big day.  I have no idea what I'm going to say at this point.  I am not really sure what she is expecting.  I asked what she wanted me to say and she said "just share your experience"  I asked if there was anything she didn't want me to say and she said "nope".  I know my story is my story, but it feels a bit different trying to explain it to teenagers in a public school.

I asked her if I could show my slideshow (the 'remembering Rachel' one) and she said yes and she wanted to know if it was ok if they asked questions and I was completely fine with that.  I don't feel nervous yet...   but I'm unsure of how to do this.  I've only talked in public about Rachel at her walk and at her funeral... and I sobbed through both.  I am confident that God has a purpose in this - and that someone in that room will someday know why they heard about a sweet baby girl named Rachel in their high school class.  I hope I'll be blessed to hear about it, but even if I never do, I know that this is a detail in God's plan.  I'll just try to follow His lead.  Can you pray for that?  It's at 1:00.

Thank you ♥

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

My Dirty Laundry - Washed By God

For those of you who have been with me for a while, this won't be new news.... for those of you who started reading recently....hang on, I'm pretty sure you won't be expecting what I'm about to write.

I was asked to share my testimony the year before last at our woman's retreat, right after I found out I was pregnant with Rachel - the topic of the retreat: HOPE.  I shared my story and my newly discovered pregnancy that weekend... In sharing my story, I had to re-live a lot of my past and God used that to revive my heart with Hope for my future - a hope that I had no idea I was about to need greatly for my next trial.  I honestly thought I had enough of a testimony, but God still chose me to give the privilege of testifying to his goodness through Rachel too.  Anyway, here's my first testimony :o)

Today is the anniversary of the day I got arrested.  11 years ago today, as I stepped out of my car in my driveway, I was confronted with a couple of guns to my head.  "Get out of the car!" one of them demanded.  As they cuffed me, I watched in slow motion as drug task force agents came out of every area surrounding my little mobile home, with big guns and ski masks, and busted open my door.

My drug addiction had caught up to me.  I was just 21 years old.  I had sold to an undercover 4 times, 4 different drugs. (one of my 'friends' brought his 'cousin' around and set me up to get himself out of it)   They also charged me with possession with intent to sell 3 different things that they found in my house.  The paper called it a "Drug Fun House".   I spent the next 11 months in and out of superior court facing 7 class A Felony drug charges and my family was completely devastated by the constant front page articles and my ongoing battle with drug addiction. The front page read "Gonic woman faces 87 years in prison and a million dollars in fines"  Sounds like a bad day, right?

Yes, but it was one of the best days of my life.

Today, without meaning to schedule it on the anniversary of my arrest, I got a babysitter so I could bring Asa to the doctors (he's doing well) and then we go over to the court to apply for an annulment. 

I drove down that familiar road and as I approached the court, I looked at the jail over to the left.... I could envision myself walking out the back door, carrying all my smoke covered belongings in a black trash bag over my shoulder, the day they let me out.  I was 5 months pregnant with Desirae.  How did that happen you might wonder?  Weekend visits at rehab.... Where I met Matt.  Yep, I found out I was pregnant with Des in jail, after falling in love with another addict in rehab and managing to get pregnant 2 months later.  Imagine that collect call from your daughter....sigh.

I walked through the door and they joked that they needed to check the baby's seat for weapons.... I lifted his blanket and showed him off... and then of course had to set of the stupid alarm!  why me?  They asked if I had anything metal in my pockets... "just my gun" I said ( ha! just kidding, making sure you're paying attention) :o)  I got my files and as I looked at the huge stack of them, I wanted to puke.  This is mine?  The top folder said "Sale of MDMA" on it...  what the heck is that?  I didn't even remember the terminology.  Something that at one point consumed my life - and nearly killed me - I couldn't even remember. 

As I was making my copies, two girls behind me started screaming at each other and people were holding them back from fighting.  That used to be me.  I looked up and saw three prisoners standing in their jumpsuits wearing shackles.  That used to be me....pregnant, in a jumpsuit - my Lord, my poor parents....  I looked up at them with knowing eyes that I'm sure they didn't believe - and quickly returned my eyes to the copier. 

One of the questions wanted me to write what my sentence was.  I couldn't find the exact sentencing on the papers, so I asked.  She pointed to where it was - it said 2-4 years state prison, 5 years probation.  I told her that wasn't my sentence, but she insisted it was and walked off on me.  I almost left, I got so overwhelmed talking to her that I started crying and sweating (what is that all about??) and I was just going to take my copies and leave... but I pulled my jacket off and stayed.  I decided I would just write what she said they wanted.  I did that for 6 of the 7 charges....

They all said either 2-4 years or 3-6 years and the prosecutor wanted them to run consecutive (one after the other), not concurrent (at the same time).  I would have spent a minimum of 15 years in state prison.  I got to the last one, which was technically the first one but I was going backwards because of how I laid them down after I made copies - and the last one said 12 months Department of Corrections, after completion of 7 months in rehab, 5 years probation, 15-30 suspended for 10 years.  That was my sentence.  He gave me a chance to sink or swim.  And I KNEW I was going to swim. 

Suddenly it all made sense.  I forgot that I had a different sentence to begin with.  (how did I forget that??)We had appealed it and the judge let me speak.  I remember sobbing like a baby in court, holding onto my Nana's bible (I was NOT a believer then, explain that one!) I was quoted in the paper as saying "even my dog has been affected by this.  I thought I wasn't hurting anyone but myself, but I was wrong"  Even my dog?  I meant it that's the funny thing.  I'm sure the real criminals there that day thought I was still on drugs!  But I was thoroughly convinced that I had let every person in my life down - and I had.  I felt like a total loser and I was desperate for forgiveness.  I was scared to keep living the way I was and I was scared to go to jail... but I really didn't think I could stay clean outside of jail.

I know that God had me read that paper last today for a reason.  As I wrote all those years on each paper, I imagined what my life would have been like - I'd still be there.  No husband, no kids, no Rachel.  And when I got to the last one and saw the grace that the judge had given me when he totally didn't have to....I was overwhelmed with emotion. 

I looked further and saw the day noted when the judge received a letter from my doctor who was concerned about my baby's health since I was losing pounds and in a smoke filled room.... "granted" it said....  They let me out to finish my sentence on house arrest.  Had that not happened, I would have had Desirae in jail. 

Standing in there today, I just couldn't believe that was my life... and that I was comfortable in those environments...  me, whose afraid to walk alone at night.  Maybe the reality of all the bad places I've been have left their mark in my mind?  I'm not sure, but I know it's been a long, hard road.  So, why do I say it was one of the best days of my life?  Because in God's infinite wisdom and mercy, He was saving me from myself.  I was already in a prison and likely to end up dead - I just couldn't find my way out.  11 years ago today, I started my journey out of that prison.  He had better plans for me.

On the paperwork in courts, it still reads... "on the seventeenth day of January, two thousand and one in the year of our Lord"  What?  It says in the year of 'our Lord'?  and then it lists out my charges... I did 'knowingly commit' those crimes.... I was guilty.  I am guilty.  I told the woman that as I read those papers, it was hard to believe it was me.  she giggled.  I didn't think she believed me, I said it again... "it really blows me away that I did those things"  she giggled again.  "that is probably how my parents felt when it happened, huh?"  she laughed some more.  "I'm going to call them and apologize again when I get home" I said.

I gave her the check and asked how long it would take to hear... "60-90 days" she said.  I asked "and then what?"  She replied, "And then it's like it never happened."

I'm embarrassed that I didn't say what was on the tip of my tongue, because I was prompted to by the Spirit for sure.... but had I said what I was thinking, it would have sounded like this...

Sounds a lot like what happens when 'our Lord' takes his proper place in our lives....  all those charges...guilty.  My failures, my wrongs, my idols....  "like it never happened"   The blood of Jesus covers all my charges and makes it 'like it never happened' in the eyes of God.  He grants our annulments!  And we don't even need to pay the DOC to do an investigation! :o)  wow, He is good!

I started crying right there.  I cried all the way home on the phone telling my friend Millie about all the things that had just happened... and overwhelmed with how good God has been to me.  She commented on how God's hand had been so obviously on me for so many years - even when I couldn't see it.

I came home and called my parents and apologized for what I put them through and thanked them for staying by my side. 

I'm so thankful that God didn't leave me there.  I'm so thankful that I have had the opportunity to be a wife and a mother and to have my sweet Rachel.  I pray that I have served Him well in giving Him glory through the blessings that have come from his great mercy on me.  He is the only God who can bring beauty from such ashes and make flowers push up through broken ground.  He is my Savior and Redeemer.  Thank You Lord for rescuing me from my pit - even if drug task force style was all I would hear!

Psalm 116
I love the LORD, for he heard my voice;
he heard my cry for mercy.
Because he turned his ear to me,
I will call on him as long as I live.

The cords of death entangled me,
the anguish of the grave came over me;
I was overcome by distress and sorrow.
Then I called on the name of the LORD:
“LORD, save me!”

The LORD is gracious and righteous;
our God is full of compassion.
The LORD protects the unwary;
when I was brought low, he saved me.

Return to your rest, my soul,
for the LORD has been good to you.
For you, LORD, have delivered me from death,
my eyes from tears,
my feet from stumbling,
that I may walk before the LORD
in the land of the living.

If that doesn't make you want to shout for joy, check your pulse!!  He is SO GOOD.
Check out this video that our church put together a couple of years ago... It's amazing, have tissues handy!
About half way through, you'll see mine and then Desirae did one too. (she was smaller then)

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Cost of Joy

I'm totally not meant to only blog once a week.... I'm just gonna try to shorten them and spend less time on them.  How's that for a compromise? :o)

Today is the anniversary of when my Nana died.  No matter how many years go by, January 16th will always be a day that makes my heart skip a beat. 

I was sitting on the couch today snuggling with my sweet Asa.  I looked around at all the pictures of Rachel on my walls...  I put my hand over his head.  His fully formed head.  I kissed his warm cheek.

The tears started flowing.

I wondered to myself, what was life like before Rachel...  what would it be like if I was holding her right now... if I didn't lose my girl.  What would my life look like if she was toddling around my house in her cute little dresses.  If I had my two boys and two girls that I've always wanted?  Even better, what if I had 3 boys, 2 girls HERE with me?  If I didn't know this pain?  Would I be happier?

The question stopped my wandering mind.  Happier?
Would I be happier??

Well, happiness is kind of tricky.  I think I would be happier in that I wouldn't have to struggle with so much sorrow and grief.  I wouldn't cry as much or feel as heavy hearted.  I may even feel like my life is perfect, overflowing with blessings.  And it would be.

But if there is one thing I have come to know through Rachel, it's that life is not about happiness.  I would trade all the happiness and comfort that a trial-free life can offer for the joy that I have found in my God's arms as I have loved my little girl - through her life and in her death.  Pain?  Tears?  Sadness?  Yep.  No way around that.  Am I happy?  Not always.  Would I be happier if Rachel didn't die?  Absolutely.  No doubt in my mind.

But joy... hope.... love....  I didn't really  know a thing about them until I walked the road of bittersweet with my girl.  Happiness will come and go - whether you lose a baby or not - it's a fact, happiness is dependant on our circumstances.  And I'm not even all that convinced that I was that much happier before Rachel.  Life has always been hard, we've had a hard road.

Joy doesn't need the perfect day, the desired outcome.... an alive daughter.  Joy is found in the Lord and the Joy of the Lord is my strength.  And even on the days when I cry, my heart aches and I wonder why it couldn't have been is in my heart.  Because knowing Rachel was a true gift.  She has changed me for the better and made me more like Jesus.

I miss her like crazy.  I look at her pictures and I want to hold her again so bad it hurts... literally in my chest.  But wow....she was awesome.  I wish you could have met her.

I wish you could have seen first hand what God did in that hospital.  The peace, the joy, the love.  wow.
Happier?  I don't know.... I think losing her has given me way more than I ever could have believed it would.  More than I would have if I got to keep her.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying I'm happy about this.  It sucks, every second of it. And honestly, I wish it didn't happen to me, to her.   But most beautiful things come at a high cost....

Just look at the cross.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Our God is Good

Had to post this real quick, too... I know it's not Friday, I'm a rebel :o)  But I've already worked on my book today :o)

I blogged last week about how God had comforted me through the song I found in my desk as I cleaned.  (See post below if you didn't read it.)  It was the song "Good to Me" and the timing of me coming across that paper was perfect.

Matt goes to first service at church without us cause he teaches (I took this year off) and then we all go to 2nd service together.  I was still laying on the couch with Asa when he was leaving. 

"Tell me if they play that song" I said as he kissed my forehead.  "I have a feeling they will." 

I'm sure you've caught onto how often God uses music to speak to my heart - and there are so many times that we end up singing songs on Sundays when the timing is unbelievable for something that had happened that week.  Even things like singing a song from her funeral on her birthday....some times it brings me serious pain, but even in the pain, I'm thankful to have the reminder of her - and that God hasn't forgotten me.

Matt said ok as he headed out, but since I don't usually share these things with him ahead of time (I'm always trying to tell him this stuff AFTER the 'coincidence' happens and he's never overly impressed)  I know he didn't really think much of it.  Nothing compares to the smile on his face when he came home to get us between services (still sharing a vehicle...) and said "They played the song!" and on top of that, he was "late" and it started playing as soon as he walked in.

We got there late for 2nd service so I missed it, but as we sat down, they started playing "I will Rise"

Jesus has overcome - and the grave is overwhelmed,
the vicoty is won, He has risen from the dead...
And I hear the voice of many angels sing worthy is the Lamb....
I hear the cry of every longing heart, worthy is the Lamb

I've blogged about this one before and how I think of Rachel singing praises to God in heaven when I sing this.  Today though, probably a result of what God has been doing in my heart these past two weeks, I felt like I was singing WITH her.... it's the cry of my longing heart - my comfort through this horrible trial - He is worthy... I know she's singing it there...and I'm thankful that I'm singing it here - wholeheartedly.

I was just writing in my book about the day I found out I was pregnant with Rachel... shortly after I had the 2 pink lines, Matt & I (we were at a conference) had to go our separate ways because they were having a different speaker for the men and women.  I rubbed my belly and the first words I ever spoke to her were "Looks like it's you and me, little baby...I'm so glad you're mine"

Today, as she worshipped in heaven and I worshipped here, I felt heaven and earth become one and my soul spoke these words in her direction "It's still you & me girl, I'm so glad you're mine"

There is a piece of me in heaven.  Our bond will never be broken.  She is such a blessing....and our God?
Our God is GOOD!

My Target Heart Rate

I'm not sure if I ever blogged it, but I had said I was going to - one of my blog readers, Laura from NJ had emailed me a long time ago and talked about how the number 143 used to be the way to say "I love you" when texting/paging someone (remember pagers?) :o)  She said she felt like Rachel's 43 minutes on earth was her way of saying "love you" to me. (through God, obviously)  I think of that every time I catch 1:43 on the clock or somewhere else. 

Last night I was at the gym... day 2 of week 2 on my couch to 5K running plan.... I placed my hands on the heart rate monitor to check where I was at.  I followed the white line that appeared over until I got to my age and saw that it was right over the green line, meaning I was at my target heart rate. 

My eyes shifted to look at the number.  A big 143 right next to the red blinking heart. 

Didn't I say she would be my inspiration to keep running?  She's with me every step of the way. 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The 5th Hook & Gifts 20-58

Only blogging on Fridays has been hard for me... there are so many things I want to write - and although I've gotten much accomplished on my book (chapter 1 just needs some editing!) it's not the same.  Writing on my blog has always been a good outlet for my feelings and the book is more structured and just feels harder. 

Yesterday we got a good amount of snow.  I'm always coming up with new ideas to organize here - I hate clutter and we're a good size family in a fairly small house so I get creative.  It drives me nuts that when the kids come in from playing outside, the kitchen ends up with wet snow stuff all over it (our mudroom is on the wrong side of the house!) so I bought these hooks to hang jackets and snow pants on and decided to screw them into the side of the counter by the back door where the heater is - so there is a place to hang stuff until it dries.  Isaiah & Matt put them up for me yesterday.  I bought 4 of them and kept telling Matt that I should have bought a 5th one for Asa.  I measured it all out, leaving space so we could get another one and put it up.  Matt said that we wouldn't need a 5th one for a while and I'm surprised he didn't question me when I said we would "in a year or so" because it dawned on me after we put up the 4, that we have enough - Asa already has a hook.... I guess in my mind and heart, Asa is my 5th child, not my 4th.  And he is... but Rachel doesn't need a hook.  The funny thing about me is that I'm still going to get a 5th one... because my heart would rather see a hook empty and know she wasn't forgotten, then only have 4.  I have 5 kids, I should have 5 hooks.  The extra one won't serve as a reminder that she's not here, but rather as proof that she was...
Baby Brother shirt courtesy of my friend Cyndie - I didn't want to use the usual "little brother" one cause I wanted Rachel to keep her place as "little sister" and so Cyndie made this shirt to match the ones we had from when Rachel was born.  Thanks Cyndie ♥

And now onto my graces from this week.... I'm so thankful for the blessings of:

20. Snowflakes - unique, once-in-a-lifetime design.  we celebrated Des' birthday with a snowflake theme to symbolize her very special place in our hearts.

loved our last minute idea of hanging snowflakes from the balloons... they were dancing all around us!
21.Music, how it ministers to my soul
22.A warm home on a cold morning
23.8 weeks with Asa and every breath he's taken in them
24.The sound of my kids playing, talking, and growing together

At this point, I decided to count each of my kids and to count 5 blessings from each... and I bet you can guess where Rachel landed...keep reading...

26.Her contagious giggle
27.Her intelligence & gift of writing
28.Watching her care for Asa (& Sam)

cuddling on the couch...Rachel's blanket, too!
29.Conversations with her, she's so grown up
30.She still calls me 'Mama'

32.His Independence

Putting up the hooks for me... getting pretty good with that drill!  (again, Rachel is in the background... see her daisies?) ♥
33.The way he seeks to please the Lord - and tells us to, too!
34.His sensitive heart, he's like a big teddy bear
35.His "all-boy" craziness
36.His bright, big blue eyes and how big they get as he asks me for chocolate for breakfast :o) that's my kid!

38.He makes us laugh all day long
39.He loves to clean up after himself while singing
40.Hearing him pray
41.His excitement over everything in life
42.The way he says "Love you, too Mama"

Yep, she landed here... #...

43.Rachel  (are you surprised?! I couldn't believe it!)  Unreal. 
44.The way I'm able to share God with others because of her
45.Friends I have because of her
46.She inspires me to do greater things
47.She gives me a longing for heaven
48.The storm and the rainbows that carrying her, knowing her, and loving her have brought to my life.

50.How his fingers wrap around mine, showing me he's alive and strong.

51.Every time he smiles at me, my eyes fill with tears
52.What happens to my heart when we snuggle together

Christmas Morning
Thank You, Jesus that we were able to spend Asa's first Christmas with him
53.The joy & pain that comes as every minute with him reminds me of Rachel.
54.Being able to nurse him - and all our sleepless nights together

55.Rachel's grave is surrounded by beauty - it's good to feel so small.

It's prettier on a sunny Fall day, but still beautiful even when skies are gray
56.Matt offered to drive back to Rachel's grave for me tonight (after we went and I forgot my camera) so he could take a picture of what we were blessed by when we got there...

57.A huge space shoveled for us at Rachel's grave and some dancing shoes. 
58.Jesus conquered the grave! 

I forgot how hard last winter was until tonight when I pulled up and saw that friends (Brent & Naomi?) had shoveled for us... my heart dropped as I remembered all the times I was moved to tears by the way people cared for Rachel's grave last year.  The snow was over 3 feet deep at times and she didn't have a stone yet.  The kids & I would tromp through the snow to bring her a flower - I never missed a Friday no matter what.  I still don't.  Brent & Naomi used to shovel for us every time it snowed and the cemetery used to plow especially for me because they knew I came on Fridays (once they even plowed the entire area around her grave - not just the road!) - but for some reason, I had not even considered the idea that I might find her spot cared for when I got there tonight.  It was such a blessing.  Thank you for remembering us ♥
And what do you know, I finished this at 12:03 again, just like last week!  Maybe I'm supposed to blog on Saturdays, not Fridays!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Your Promise Never Fails Me

Last night I was at the gym and bumped into the doctor I had who gave us Rachel's diagnosis. I was thankful that my heart stayed in my chest....I left and cried on the way home over all the things I wished I had said. That moment won't come again and I feel like I failed Rachel and Asa both....since she not only didn't see the point of me carrying Rachel to term, but also was totally against me having another baby so soon. My heart screamed to tell her how amazing they both are and how wrong she was - but I didn't.  And I regret it.

Tonight I was cleaning out my mess of a desk.  This desk was in Rachel's room and I spent months after her death blogging from it and planning her events - I've shed millions of tears at this desk and had many moments of joy as I've watched through cyberspace all the things God has done through Rachel's life.  So, as I cleaned the drawers I came across a lot of Rachel's stuff... her obituary...newspaper articles...her insurance card...sympathy

About half way through, I started crying and it got progressively harder as the minutes wore on.  Just as I began to wonder if I was fooling myself that this new 'plan' of focusing on my gifts was going to help me heal, I came across the tabs for a song.  I don't know why it was in the desk and not with the rest of my music, but I picked up my guitar and played it for the first time in weeks - and this is what I found myself singing....

Good to me

I cry out,
For Your hand of mercy to heal me.
I am weak,
I need Your love to free me.
Oh, Lord, my Rock,
My strength in weakness, Come rescue me, oh Lord.

You are my hope,
Your promise never fails me.
And my desire is to follow You forever.

For You are good,
For You are good,
For You are good to me
For You are good,
For You are good,
For You are good to me

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Gifts 1-19

On the first Friday of the new year, I'm grateful for my gifts of.....

1.Color... that I can see it, that they can play with it....and that it will be even more vibrant in heaven.

2.That God is the Lifter of my head.

3.Wiggly baby feet

4. For lessons learned....  (if you pee in the toy box, you're gonna have a lot of cleaning to do....yes, he did.)
5. The depth and strength of a Mother's mom's for me and mine for my children

6.Homeschool mornings in our PJ's
7.God speaks my language... the day after I decided I was going to work on my book, I got a call from a publishing company that I had come across by 'accident' last year while trying to look into turning my blog into a book.  He said they had been trying to get in touch with me since "366 days ago." (I had ignored all the calls cause I wasn't ready, but answered on Wednesday) On Ann's blog the day before, her post said that in the bible it says "fear not" 366 times, that's one for each day of the year, even on a leap year.  He reminded me not to fear...

8.He pursues me with an everlasting love and doesn't allow me to put another before him.

9. own (a gift from Rachel) and my childrens'. 

10. He prepares us....for the good, the bad, the happy, the sad.  He is always preparing us to be ready for what's to come.

11. That while we are totally unaware....growth is happening....sometimes in such small measures that we can't see the enormous difference it's making in us.   I'm also so grateful to be able to watch Asa grow...although he's growing WAY too fast for my liking, I am painfully aware of what my other option would be - to not see him grow - and so glad I can.

12. Time.  Time with my husband, time with my kids....learning to waste no time.

13. that even messy things in life can still be sweet... sometimes the sweetest things are the messiest.
Hershey Kisses :o)
14. Our first encouraging allergist appointment EVER!  It appears based on blood work that Sam is starting to outgrow his allergies!  We will be starting to challenge him with food that has milk baked into it soon (please pray!)

15. 9 amazing, beautiful, totally undeserved years with our precious daughter Desirae.

16. The lost and found.... last week we went to Rachel's grave in the dark.  I brought home a decoration someone had left and when I got home realized the bow was missing.  Today when I went, I found it laying on the snow covered road...still with a piece of evergreen attached to it.  I knew it was likely to still be there since it is a cemetery and there's not much traffic, but even still, when I picked it up and brought it with me, I was so excited to have found what I had lost. I didn't care that it was dirty and worn out from the weather.

I think that is a picture of how God must feel when one of His children comes back to him....even though He knows where we are, he rejoices when we are found.  He wants us with him FULLY, not just attached to a limb by a thread.  He doesn't mind that we are dirty and worn out....he just scoops us up and welcomes us back.
17. The sweet baby sounds of Asa...grunts, squeaks, his breath, and little coos... I can't get enough of him.

18. A daisy that didn't fade - the only one left standing...buying me a little more time to get new flowers for Rachel in the house and reminding me that she is still blooming

Matt and Des got me & Rachel this willow tree for Christmas.  It's called "Forget-Me-Not".  The heart-shaped rock next to it, Donna found while cleaning up the ground during Rachel's Playground build. And behind the two is the Christmas tree that I put at Rachel's grave last year.  It is really little and cute but I decided to put a bigger one there this year that my friend Shannan got for us and keep hers from her first Christmas with us at home.  On Christmas day, as I went to move the tree over to put this figurine there, a bunch of dirt from Rachel's then newly dug grave fell out all over the piano.  I left some of that there.... This willow tree says it all...I might not have had a lot of time to make memories with her, but I made the most of every second and I will never, ever forget the sweet baby girl named Rachel Alice who changed my life and my heart forever.  I cherish each and every memory with my girl, even the hard ones.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Right Where I Am

Wow... I have so much to try to explain.  The short version is simply that God never ceases to amaze me and provide for me.  But since I'm not a woman of few words... here's a recap on the long version :o)

We were taking down the Christmas tree and I asked Des to hand me all of Rachel's ornaments.  She handed me one that said "Hope" and one that said "Faith".  Neither one was Rachel's....but I couldn't help but feel guilty that those two words used to say "Rachel" to me and still do to my 9 year old (today's her birthday!) but I didn't feel the same.  I forced a smile as she put them down in front of me.  Faith, Hope....there's a word missing, I thought to myself... Love....where is Love??

December has been a terribly hard month for me and the last couple of weeks have been very dark.  Rachel's anniversary, a new baby and Christmas all wore me out emotionally.  My daily grind, homeschooling, and Asa's needs without much sleep have taken their toll mentally and physically.  My grief over Rachel, fear of losing Asa and the wonderful email/comments I received from 'nice' people have all done it's job on me spiritually and relationally.  And basically, for the first time in years, I was thinking if I didn't get some medication, I was not going to make it out of my pit alive. 

That is where I was at when I walked into my 6 week appt the other day.  I felt totally helpless, hopeless, useless... like a total failure.  They asked "how are you feeling?" and I started weeping.  As I filled out the 'depression assesment' and it asked me to rate questions like "I feel like I've failed my family" and  "I feel like my family would be better off without me", I sobbed.  I know it's not true... but I couldn't shake the 'feeling' that it was.  I tried to explain to the doctor my concerns about medication, which range from my prior bad experiences to getting stuck on them for life to taking them while nursing.  He just nodded and ignored me. 

I left there feeling even more hopeless than when I went in.  Their only solution was pills and a counselor.  I've had bad experiences with both.  What did I expect?  Of course that would be what they had to offer... they are doctors.  They believe in medicine.

I prayed about and obsessed over whether or not I would take the prescription.  I decided I would wait until I could ask Asa's doctor her take on how that would affect him and his brain.  My doctor said that a small amount in my milk is fine for him.  I just do not buy into it... On Friday they told me that they used to let people take it while pregnant, 'but now they know' that it can cause heart problems in babies in utero, so they don't recommend that anymore.... and so I can't help but wonder, what will they know 10 years from now that they 'don't know now' about nursing on it?  I'm all set with making my baby a guinea pig for their statistics.  So, I decided that I would take the medicine and just switch him to formula.  No sooner did I have the thought, my heart broke.  I want to nurse him....but the medicine might make me feel better....isn't it selfish to keep nursing him if he will also be put on the meds when he's not the one depressed just because I want to nurse him?  And what about if I got pregnant and didn't know it and my baby had a heart defect because of my decision?  So, I just couldn't come to peace with any of my ideas.  I still felt stuck between a rock and a hard place.  I called the pediatrician on the way home.  They were supposed to be open, but the answering machine came on saying they were closed.  This is where God stepped in.....

Over the course of the last couple of days while I 'waited to talk to Asa's doctor', God has little by little shown me what I need to do.  As of right now, it doesn't include medication.  He reminded me that I am stuck between a rock and a hard place, but HE's my rock.  Which way am I facing?  What's my focus?
I mentioned before that in the same day both my friends, Nat & Louise, recommended the same book to me....and I already explained all about the hearts and why that immediately got me to pull the book down off my shelf.  The book is called "One Thousand Gifts - A dare to live fully right where you are".  (I know a lot of my baby loss friends have already read it.) They both mentioned that they thought that the book might help me to focus on the 'Light' in my life.  I made that a capital "L"....

So, I decided to read the book.

I started looking for the challenge on line and found the author's blog.  Her words enveloped me.  I couldn't stop reading.  For the first time in weeks....months maybe.... I felt Hope.  Maybe I could do this, I thought.  Maybe I can feel better...maybe 'hopeless' doesn't have to be me.

I decided that I would accept the dare to live fully right where I am.
(I've never been known to back down from a dare) :o)

In my pain, in my heartache, in my loneliness, in all my disappointments...  Isn't that what I JUST blogged about on New Year's Eve?  That I don't want to miss my blessings while I'm living through my pain?  It doesn't say 'a way to make the pain go away so you can be happy and live fully' - it says 'right where I am'.

Right where I am.

I have been debating for a while if I should continue blogging.  I just feel like I have nothing to offer anymore and the last thing I want to do is discourage people with my heavy heart and lack of hope.  As I read this woman's blog, I wondered if the hope that I was receiving through her words was similar to what my words about Rachel used to bring to people reading them....Spirit-filled. 

I feel like at this point, my time and energy writing might be better spent working on my book.  I haven't worked on it in months.  I know that when it's complete it will have the ability of helping many loss mamas and many others as well.  And since I don't feel like my blog is doing all that it used to, I think it's time to slow down on here in order to get going on my book.  (Please pray for me to be consistent with writing so I can get it done!)  I guess I've been waiting to 'feel better' so that "hope" comes across in my words in my book instead of despair and darkness.... but hope isn't something that can only exist when things are 'better'.  As a matter of fact, Hope shines more brightly in hard places.... Hope shines right where I amI hate that I've been missing it.

But I'm already seeing it more clearly.

I plan to blog on Fridays - and if there is another day that I feel led to share something specific... but my focus in my posts for a while is going to be my 1000 gifts.  I am not sure if I'll just blog the ones from Rachel or general ones....but I know I need to start remembering all the good things that came from her life and my hard journey with her.  It hasn't always felt this ugly and I don't want this to be how I remember her. (or how anyone else remembers her)  It can't be.  In the most heart-wrenching pain, she is still beautiful; breathtaking.

I'm leery of this idea because I don't want to come across like everything is perfect... or worse, like I'm trying to portray something that isn't accurate.  There is nothing worse than a faker.  Please know that I'm not doing this to make my naysayers happy or because I want to hide my pain, but rather to try to train my mind to recognize the blessings in this trial.  If I wait until all my disappointments are gone to try to refocus on the gifts in my life, it's never going to happen.  My daughter is dead and she's never coming back.  Nothing will EVER take the sting of that away. Disappointment is officially part of who I am until the day God calls me home. So I'm starting....from right where I am....taking one thought at a time captive into obedience under Christ.  And praying that as I do, my heart will slowly follow.  If not to 'happiness' at least to joy in my sorrow.

So, that's the writing part... now here's another part....

I always feel better when I exercise regularly and I want to be able to run in Rachel's race this summer.  But I'm so out of shape and weak.  I've never been this muscle-less in my whole life - even my bones feel weak.  I looked up the 'couch to 5K' plan on line and saw that the first day is just 20 minutes... walk 90 seconds, jog 60 seconds, repeat.... 

I wanted to go to the gym yesterday, but time got away from me.  I was about to give up on starting that day....and then I looked outside - yeah, it's cold, but the sun was shining.  I put on my running shoes and a head warmer and walked out my front door.  I don't need the perfect setting to run....I don't have to be in shape to do this.... I can start small.  I just need to do it.  Just go....a minute at a time...from right where I am.

As I finished up day 1 of the plan, I thought maybe this is the next thing that I can 'do' for Rachel... maybe I can work on running in her race. (You know how I like to 'do' - please don't criticize me for this, I was like this long before Rachel.  It's who I am.  I'm a do-er)  I felt so guilty as I had the thought; everything I've done for her so far has been at my expense.  Maybe I should do something for her that benefits me...  And maybe with each step I take....every mile I run...and with every goal met....I can look back and know that she was my inspiration.  Even in my pain.  She was the one who gave me a reason, while God gave me the strength.... Just like when I was pregnant with her.

Last night, I read more of Ann's blog.  Apparently she names her years to give them a focus for growth.  This year she has titled "The year of No Fear."   I read through the post... her writing is unreal.  Every word had me nodding my head in agreement.  Her feelings so familiar.   As if the timing of me finding her blog and starting her book again wasn't already perfect as far as MY life goes....I was brought to tears when I saw what she had named 2010... "The Year of YES"  Let me explain....

After I had Rachel, I got an email from my now good friend Terri that had the subject line "Thank you for your YES!"  I had asked her if I could blog it, but never did....I had so much to write about back then... In the email she wrote about all the things that have come to be because I said "yes" to God and "yes" to Rachel.  She ended it with these words:
"Your Yes, Stacy, has had a profound effect on so many people including me. You had the right to choose this yes and you took it upon yourself. God knew you would. We all have a free will and God knew your will would be his. It’s always all about him and we all see that because of your YES!

From the very depth of my heart, thank you for your yes. Thank you for sharing your journey, yet another yes that God knew."
The fact that this was her 2010 name is what caught my attention, but the part that got me was that the post is all about a conversation she has with her daughter one snowy December in which she says "yes" to her daughter and to God - but she never explains what the question was....only that she said yes when it was likely that she would have said no.

2010 was my year of YES too....and I'm so thankful it was.

I just know that God wants me to be hearing this message right now about the gifts He has given me.  I know this is where he has me....and I trust that He has something amazing planned for me in it.  I pray that this journey will bless your hearts as well as I share some of it....

Today I'm saying Yes to the dare.... the dare to live fully right where I am.  To start this year without fear.  I don't need to fear my anxiety, my grief, my pain, or leaving Rachel behind. 
I'm going to be okay.  One moment at a time.  I won't be afraid.  I'm going to do this; for me, for Rachel, for the rest of my family.... between my Rock and my hard place.  And just like when I carried my precious daughter in my womb, I'm trusting that God will guide me... beyond the finite 'wisdom' of doctors and to His infinite Wisdom and Truth.

There, I will find His Love again.  And by this time next year, I intend to have not only the 'Faith' and 'Hope' ornaments as part of Rachel's collection.... but I'll be adding 'Love' as well. 

He Loves me right where I am.