Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Story of Her Hands

I've been getting lots of stuff ready for Rachel's 2nd Race.  I'm using her hands in the heart shape that we had made into a logo last year on everything.  It looks like this:
But as I've been making things... from banners - to signs - to letterhead - to car magnets... I've looked at her hands a million times.  And I'm afraid that eventually people will see this so much that they will look right passed her precious little fingers and only see a logo.  (We put this picture on her sign for her playground too)  Or look passed her name and see a race.  Or look passed our HOPE and only see a verse. 
Well, I was looking at the pictures from the hospital again the other day and I have a confession to make.  I've had people ask if I noticed that her hands were in a heart shape... or how I got that picture.  Well, here's the truth.  I saw a similar picture on someone else's site when I was pregnant with her and I wrote it down in my book for Kelly from NILMDTS to get a photo of.

This is the list I brought with me to the hospital.  It's interesting that it's the only one in red.... I also really hate the feeling I get when I read the one that says "Close up of her face - (part that looks the best)" and an unsure "uncovered head???"  My Lord, did I really make this list while she was dancing around in my belly?? 

But that's just one part.  The other part is that her hands didn't just fall that way and we happened to get a great shot.  What you can't see in the edited, up close photo of her cute little hands is this:

I was holding them up. 

She is lying on my lap on the hospital bed and had been gone for 3 hours.  She is on top of a daisy blanket and in a really cute little dress to match and pink sweater that my mom bought for her as a birthday present.  She's wearing a "I love my Mommy" hat that Des gave her from one of her dolls.  Her soul is with Jesus who loves her most in heaven - and her body is with her mama who loves her most on earth. 

So when I look at the race logo... and I'm hoping in sharing this with you, you'll do the same -  I don't see my baby girl's hands, by chance, in a heart shape.  I don't see a 'really good picture.'  I see my mother's love for her...I see our bond... I see God holding my hands so that I can hold hers.  I see how much she depends on me to leave her legacy....our legacy.  I see what an amazing team we are.  How little I'd have without her and how little she'd have had without me.  And I'm so thankful we were given each other. 

And looking back, it's no surprise that hearts started 'popping up' everywhere... from the grass on her grave to the shape of rocks on her's almost as if in those moments, God is reminding me that I'm holding her hand - and He is doing the same for me.  That her story is actually my story - and my story is actually His. 

Friday, March 30, 2012

When The Phone Rings...

I've had a strange Friday...  can't really put my finger on why.  I just feel different.  And I guess, sad.

Let me back up - yesterday Desirae went to a friend's house after gym class.  This friend has a bunch of animals, and my poor girl is allergic to animals.  So, letting her go was a new - and totally out of my comfort zone - thing.  But her and this girl seem to really click, so I knew I needed to at least try.

What I didn't know is how having Des gone was going to affect me.  On the way home I looked in my rear view and her empty seat made my stomach drop.  I reminded myself she was with a friend...  Then Sam started begging for her. "Where's Desiway, I want Desiway" and I felt 3 again when I could totally understand what he meant.  She's always with us.  We got home and I got ready for the trade show I had last night at the mill.  While I was in the shower, the phone started ringing.  All I could think was something had happened to Des... they were going swimming, did she drowned?  They were going to be around a lot of animals, could she not breathe?  Was there an accident?  Is she OK?  I could almost hear the words in my mind as if the doctor had come out to tell us she was gone.

Are you kidding me?  It's a play date.  When did a simple play date become so complicated? Rationally, I knew I was being a freak.  But there is no demanding rational thoughts from such a traumatized mind and heart.  I have to continually lay all my fears at the foot of the cross... but that always comes after I've felt them.  And when I feel them... they feel so real.  It's like having nightmares while I'm wide awake.

So, I left for work and I was bringing some of Rachel's daisies from my house to use as decor...  Matt put them in a basket for me and brought them to the van.

When you have as many kids as me, you know that it's a good habit to always check and count.  I usually do this as I'm leaving my driveway.  Last night, although alone, was no different.  I pulled around the corner and looked in the rear view... empty seats everywhere - oh yeah, I'm alone.  And then I looked at Sam's seat...

And I really felt like a freak cause for a moment, I just allowed myself to pretend like it was her.

I knew right then why play dates are so complicated.

As much as I love flowers, I never want to have to find a way to symbolize or represent my children ever again.  I don't want to have another grave to sit on every week.  I don't want any other races to put on, playgrounds to build, or places to do public speaking.  I want them.  I want to keep them.  I want to watch them grow.  I want to look in my rear view and see their big, beautiful eyes staring back at me - even if they are driving me crazy and in trouble.  I want to take care of them, teach them, love them and kiss them when they are hurt.

And although everyone tells me what a great job I do for my girl and how gracefully I've handled this... I never want to do this again.  God, are you listening?  NEVER.  And I'm not so sure I could make it through a 'next time' alive. 

I heard myself pray as I was holding Asa last night "Please God let me keep him"   And I know that everyone else thinks that's a given at this point... but I'm not naive enough anymore to think it's beyond me now.  Every moment is a gift - and every breath could be our last.  You never know what the future holds (even for healthy kids) and while that might be a good thing, it's what leaves me uneasy when the phone rings while I'm in the shower.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Voice of Truth

So, maybe I'm the only one....

But I have a constant battle in my mind.

The battlefield where I have an ongoing choice and my only true defense is the Truth of my God.

The Truth, that although often doesn't make logical sense, I know with all my being to be real...genuine...everlasting....undefeatable.

Throughout my journey with Rachel, I have had to take many thoughts captive into obedience to Christ.  It hasn't always been easy...  the thoughts like "You didn't deserve this" - "What good God would make his daughter suffer like this?" "God isn't paying attention, He doesn't see or care about how much this hurts" -  "What if the grave is all there is?"

Today I choose again to listen to the Voice of Truth and rely on Him to win the battle.  Today I choose again to surrender my wants for His perfect will.  Today I choose to believe that the same God who brought me unsurpassable peace as I watched my precious daughter die is here with me.  In every ounce of pain.  In every tear.  I choose to believe that He didn't stay in his grave - and she isn't in hers.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

What We Grieve

Last week at church during worship, I was having a heart to heart with God.  It was one of the times where I was just having a hard time believing there is more than the grave after we die.  As I prayed these words, I felt guilty that I could even doubt, but it's where I was at...and this is what I prayed....
"Please show me that she isn't still in that grave.  Give me something so I know heaven's real"

Just then, I kid you not, we started singing a new song.  We haven't sang this before - at least not that I remember? - and it starts like this:

I need you to soften my heart
To break me apart
I need you to open my eyes
To see that You're shaping my life

I put my hand in the air and at the same time looked up.  Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Rachel's handprint right under my hand....lifted to God.... and I could only imagine what worship is like for her in heaven.  But, I could sense a closeness to her - knowing that in that moment, we were both worshipping together - no matter how far apart.  I started crying and then the it came to the chorus:

Give me faith to trust what you say
That you're good and your love is great
I'm broken inside, I give you my life

And I just knew, God was answering my prayer.... Faith to trust what He says.  The hard to understand.  The mysterious.  It's a gift.

This blog post has been on my heart all week, along with another one... and given how this all just happened, I need to combine them.  So here is the other one...

Yesterday I went to a funeral.  I didn't know the girl well, although I did go to beauty school with her and I remember her coming to the benefit concert my family had for my uncle Dale & Rachel while I was pregnant with my girl.  I remember her telling me she read my blog and encouraging me in my journey...But I wasn't friends with her.  My family grew up with hers and so I went to be there for her parents, really.  She was only 32 and left behind 3 little kids after a long and brave battle with cancer.  It said in her obituary that she wanted people to wear bright colors - or her favorite purple - to her service. 

I pulled up on the side of the road in my purple sweater and I watched as people flooded the streets in Hawaiian print and purple clothes.  My eyes filled with tears and the post that's been on my heart came back to me....

What am I grieving?

I'm not grieving my daughter, sister, mother, friend.  So why am I sad?  Why does this hurt?

I walked through the building, watched slideshows of her growing up and of her with her kids.  I watched her kids walk around and everyone watching them with sad eyes.  I looked a her photos.  I hugged her family and friends.  I tucked her picture away in my bag along with a purple Lyndt chocolate.  And as I passed a little room on the right, I looked in to see shelves covered with little boxes - and above them on the wall the words: 

"Permanent Memorials"

I looked at the different sizes, colors, choices....I thought about the moment you have to decide on which one for the one you love.  I remembered the day I went to look at baby caskets.  I wondered if I should have had Rachel cremated so I could bring her everywhere with me.

My heart sunk into my stomach.

I thought about how many people came to Rachel's service that didn't know her.  I was the only one who really did know her.  They weren't her mother, sister, daughter, friend.... but they were crying.  They had their own grieving process, and I'll admit some people closest dramatically misplaced their grief and foolishly thought they were having the same experience as me...  but I'll never deny that they too had to process what was happening. 

Because old people are "supposed to" go first.  Mother's shouldn't have to bury their children.  Whether they are 43 minutes old or 43 years old.  And it dawned on me that I think when things happen out of the natural order, we grieve something more.

We grieve for the motherless children.  The childless mother.  We grieve for lost hope, shattered dreams, and how little we knew 'back then'.  We grieve our loss of control, things going opposite of how we prayed, and how this forever changes our view of life.  We grieve the simpler days, the harsh reality of death, the effect of sin. The fear of the future.

We grieve the unknown. 

We grieve the fresh winds of the spring day that will always bring back the memory of the color purple.  Or the cold winter days that remind us of white daisies on a baby's casket just before Christmas.

We grieve our ignorant bliss, the days before we knew people who had died, the picture in our minds of our family all gathered years from now at Thanksgiving Dinner - knowing there either is going to be - or possibly could be - someone missing.  We grieve life and how fleeting it is.  We grieve how the world goes on... the cars stop to let us cross completely unaware of why we're wearing bright colors. We grieve the fact that she wrote her own requests for her service at just 32 years old and what her family went through with her as she fought her cancer.  We grieve the diagnosis day. We grieve heavy hearts in a fast paced world. 

We grieve permanent memorials.

(I just stopped  for a secong and rubbed my face... I looked down and the clock read 1:43.) 
God, I miss my girl.

First the same song as last week played.  And these verses spoke to me...

I need you to soften my heart
To break me apart
I need you pierce through the dark
And cleanse every part of me
I may be weak
Your spirit strong in me
My flesh may fail
My God you never will

In my flesh, I'm unhappy, sad, disappointed.... and a little mad.  But in my weakness, He is strong.  He knows.  He cares.  He hasn't forgotten.  My grief is not too big for Him.  And neither is theirs.

And with the chorus, I again did the only thing I can... I leaned on Him

Give me faith to trust what you say
That you're good and your love is great!
I'm broken inside, I give you my life

And then the most 'ironic' thing happened.... after worship, during our prayer, they prayed specifically for people battling cancer and their families.  Then they prayed for people grieving the loss of a loved one.  My heart ached for her family and the days ahead of them.  But I know He's here.

All I am, I surrender to You - My great God who was, and is, and is to come.  I believe You.  Help my doubt.  Give me faith to trust what You say.  To believe that even in these hard times, You are GOOD - and Your love is GREAT.

Saturday, March 24, 2012


Remember in January I applied for an annulment of my drug charges?  And remember how the next day the DOC called me and told me that there hadn't been enough time according to the law?  And remember how I said I was going to ask for a hearing?
Well, I didn't.  I kept putting it off.  The officer from the DOC had told me that he would have to charge me $100 if I didn't withdraw my request and that even at a hearing, the judge wouldn't be able to do anything because the law states it has to be 10 years from completion of the sentence and I didn't finish paying my restitution owed until May of 2005.  I had no idea that the payment of restitution counted and so I thought it had been long enough.  I cried a lot on that phone call, and although he was very nice, he told me there was nothing he could do to change that I was going to have to wait until 2015 to apply.  He did say if I asked for a hearing, he would waive the $100 though.

Well, today, without me asking for - or attending - a hearing....  I got a letter from the court.  I could hardly believe my eyes...  I cried.  A lot.  I have been forgiven.  My slate is clean. 
I got not one, but seven of these papers... one for each charge against me.  It makes absolutely no sense at all - but I'm not going to ask any questions.  I'm taking it as a gift from God. 

I'm no longer a convicted felon!

And when I read these words:
"The record of conviction and sentence in this matter, together with any record of arrest or charge therein, is hereby annulled."

I felt strange.  It's seemed impossible.  It seemed too good, too easy.  For so many years... 11 to be exact... this has haunted me, decided where I could go and what I could do, it has held me back and taken away my freedom and my opportunities.  And this is it?  It's done?  When someone does a background check on me....clean? 


And if you think this is amazing.... that the Superior Court can send out a certificate that technically should not be considered "just" according to the law - and my entire life can change, my past can be as if it never existed, and I can have a new beginning....

Well, you can't even imagine all the things from my past that aren't on paper that my amazing Lord has already annulled.  The millions of sins that his blood has covered.  The undeserved, unmerited forgiveness I have received when the law would say that Justice for me would be eternity in hell.... and my new beginning... my past as if it never happened.  It's amazing.

"Convicted Felon" no longer defines me. 

I almost don't know how to be anything different... I know that sounds crazy - but I'm almost confused as to what to do with this.   Oh, the possibilities... I could use my criminal justice degree again, join the service, get some life insurance!! (Nobody will insure a "drug dealer"), I can carry pepper spray!  I could get a gun (totally not going to do that, but Matt wants to hunt and I'm not allowed to have a gun - and I've actually enjoyed having an excuse for this one!) 

As you can see, other than the life insurance and maybe a different job, this annulment doesn't really change much for me. And yet I feel a huge weight lifted.  I sense freedom.  I feel like dancing!

And my clean slate with God is kind of like that.  It won't change much here, life is still life... it's still hard...

But freedom from sin, a new identity and eternal life 'insurance' :o).....  yep, that's awesome!  Definitely worth dancing over.

In a way, when I opened this letter today, the symbolism it had of God's forgiveness and mercy towards me actually hit me harder than the court's forgiveness and mercy.  Because if humans and our Justice system here can make such a big impact on our lives, we can't even fathom what the God of the universe is capable of.  Just, yet merciful. 

I totally want to celebrate tonight, but the only way I know how to do that these days is by eating something yummy and I'm down 20 pounds, 20 to go... so maybe I'll overindulge some other time.  For now, I'm just so very thankful.  I know this was God's doing.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Still Leaving Her Mark

I was asked to speak at a MOPS group in Dover this morning.  I talked about Rachel, with a focus on "Blessing in Obedience."  I felt completely inadequate for the talk - but in preparing for it, God stretched me.

Asa cried through half of my talk and I ended up nursing him while I spoke - but it didn't really phase any of us and I actually love that I have a baby to so inconvenience me :o)  He's not feeling well :o(

I just need to say that the group of women I was with are amazing.  I finally got to meet Laura (Lyndsay's Mama -blog on side) and there is nothing like being able to hug another mom who knows.  She lost her daughter when she was around 18 months old.  Her son was born the day before Rachel and I was watching him and looking at his cute little teeth wishing Rachel was running around with him.  The best part is I felt safe sharing my feelings about it with Laura - because she gets it.

They also spoiled me with some daisies and a gift card to a greenhouse (I had only met one of them before, but many of them have read my blog) and then they handed out daisy seed packets to everyone in Rachel's honor.  I couldn't believe it. I wasn't expecting that at all!  I felt so loved - it was so thoughtful. ♥  Thanks, girls ♥

I left there and went to visit Rachel to give her some of the daisies.  Only seems right she should have some of them since me & her are a team.

I got home tonight and there was an email from a journalist who contacted me a couple of weeks back to ask a few questions about my journey with Rachel.  She wrote to tell me that some of Rachel's story will be in the May issue of a magazine she writes for.

I cried.  I'm so humbled at the idea of more people learning about my girl and how God is able to use even the weakest among us.  I'm so proud to be her mama.  And 'funny' how the article will be out just in time for Mother's Day ♥ She continues to be a gift to me.

His Fringes

I've been debating this post for a while.  And honestly, if it wasn't for my friend Lisa editing my photos, I wouldn't be sharing this at all.

But let me tell you how this came about...

Lisa sent me the last few photos that she edited a couple of weeks ago now.  When I saved them into my computer, this is what I saw on the side bar:

Now, obviously, that would be 'ironic' all on it's own, but the reason it caught me off guard is because the 3 photos she had just sent me were of us in the OR.  The only photos I have of Rachel alive.  Until now, every single photo I've shared has been after she went to be with Jesus.  I never thought I'd ever share any of these photos because honestly, they feel way too sacred to let everyone see.  But I want to tell you what was happening in this moment.

Probably around 2 weeks before Rachel's was scheduled to be born, I heard a story of this baby who had died.  The mother held him on her bare chest for a while and he came back to life.  The skin to skin contact with his mother had actually saved his life.  I remember my sister telling me of this mom like it was yesterday and I stored that information away until the moment that they told me Rachel was not making effort to breathe on her own.

They brought her over to me, and just like with all my other babies, I quickly pulled my gown down to allow my baby skin to skin contact...  except this time I was hoping it would save her life. 

I wasn't in denial.  I was pretty sure Rachel was going to die, and that I'd be going home empty handed.  But I had hope.  I trusted so fully in the God of all healing and miracles that I knew there was a chance.  I knew it was possible that she could be healed.  And I would be lying if I said I didn't have an expectation of the minimum amount of time I'd have with my daughter.  I thought I'd have the day.  I just wanted the day.  'Minutes' had not been in my vocabulary.  I wanted a dash on her headstone. 

So, I pulled my gown down remembering the woman whose baby came back to life and my God who could make it happen... and just like the woman in the bible who reached out to touch the fringes of Jesus' robe with faith that it could heal her, I held onto that last ounce of faith that this didn't need to be it for her.  I stared at her and kissed her sweet little fingers over and over and just prayed that my skin could somehow hold that same healing power for her as the very bottom of Jesus' robe.  That maybe my unmeasurable love and our strong connection would be like a defibrillator for her and instead of watching her slowly die, I would watch her come alive.

That didn't happen.  And a minute at a time, I realized that she was leaving me.  Every minute that passed tore at my heart and soul like nothing I'd had ever felt.  But the unexplainable peace from God covered me in those moments. Every inch of my motherly being needed to do something for her.  And I couldn't.  I apologized and told her "I'm sorry pretty girl, I tried."

And I will never regret trying.  I will never regret hoping.  I will never regret falling to the ground and reaching for the fringes of Jesus' robe.  And I'm not angry that he kept walking.  Sure, I would have loved it if He had stopped in his tracks and turned and asked "who touched me" and then told me "your faith has made her well" - but it's okay that he didn't.
Matt is holding her head up so I can see her face better.  And before I cropped this pic,
you can see Kim's (my nurse and now friend) hand on top of us.  Thanks Meg for taking these pics.♥

Because I didn't realize it to the fullest in those moments, but I actually did get to watch her come alive.  I witnessed my precious daughter dance into the arms of our Lord.  She wasn't falling at his fringes, she was safe in his arms.  She wasn't asking to be healed... she was already healed.

And tonight as I sit here, tears rolling like a river, I reach again for his fringes in hopes of healing for my heart....and I'm okay even though he seems to keep walking.  Because she is worth every ounce of pain and even my biggest disappointments are a treasure.  She is a treasure.

I can't wait to hold her alive again someday.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Can You Help? Rachel's Playground Needs Maintenance

So the time has come.... Rachel's playground is in need of some maintenance and I'm hoping if you live around here, you can help me make it happen?!

On Saturday April 21st at 8am, we will be putting the second (and in some places that were missed, the 1st) coat of sealant on the entire structure.  This was supposed to be done last year along with the first, but we never got to it.  We also need to spray for weeds and ticks and spread some more ground cover.  And, the slide looks like it needs to be repaired as well. (although Tim did give it a quick fix so it's back in working order right now!  thanks, Tim!!)   I am not sure if we'll be able to get that part done on this day - waiting to hear back from Learning Structures to see what they recommend.

This leads me to a request that I know nobody wants to hear... could you PLEASE make your kids slide DOWN the slide and not run UP it?  That is pretty much a universal playground rule.   I understand it takes a lot of watching them and that they want to go up, but it's not meant for that and it is showing by the condition just one year after it was built.  If you're there and other people are walking on it, would you mind spreading the word for me? 

I know this is just a playground for most people who go there (that would be why I only go there alone and not after service on Sundays) but to me, it's my daughter's memorial.  There are only a couple of tangible things I have from her, and this is one of them.  I poured my heart and soul into making that playground happen... please just respect and care for it.  I know I don't own it, but try to imagine my feelings about it.  And if you still need to walk or run up the slide or you still allow your kids to, well, I guess I'll just have to accept that.... but I really don't think it's too much to ask.

Just in case it ends up raining and we can't work that day, we will have a rain date on May 5th at 8am.

Please let me know if you can come - we need probably around 20 people in order to get it done.  The more people, the faster it will go.  Feel free to ask a friend to come too...  and I will buy everyone pizza for lunch :o)  Yes, I'm bribing.

Friday, March 16, 2012

There's Something About The Rain

I remember going with my mom one Mother's Day to visit my Nana's grave.  Desirae was with us and she was only 2.  After we cleaned up my Nana's grave, we walked around looking at stones.  Right between where Nana is buried and where Rachel is buried, there is a baby section.  I remember everything about that day.  It was sunny, the wind was blowing gently and Desirae was running around.  As we walked, we read all of the baby's names aloud and sighed at how sad it was they were so young.  I watched Desirae play sweetly with a pinwheel someone had left for their baby and just thanked God I had her with me.

I had no idea that in just 6 years, I would have another daughter that would be buried near by. I walked through that section with Desirae again when we went this past Sunday and walked up to my Nana's grave.  We read the names and sighed together.  She's old enough to get it now, and unfortunately has first hand experience.  There was a baby born on December 1 and died on Christmas day.  I couldn't help but think that me & that mom have a similar month of December.  Hard.

Today when I went to visit Rachel, it was raining.  Somehow the pictures I took today look a lot brighter than it actually was.

I was on the phone with my mom when I pulled up and so I sat in the van talking to her for a while, remembering again that day 6 years ago when 3 generations of girls walked those grounds together unable to imagine the loss of a child. 

I looked through the window at her stone, the swirls were showing so much more than usual.  The sky was grey, the clouds were thick, it was wet and dreary.

But there is something about the rain that makes things more beautiful

Have I mentioned that I drew that design around her name?  I used to hate it, but now I'm glad it's there.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

2nd Annual Baby Rachel's Legacy 5K - Walk or Run!

I've been very patiently waiting for all technicalities to be able to announce our 2nd Annual Baby Rachel's Legacy 5K....last night was the Dover City Council Meeting where they voted and......

IT'S ON!!!

So, save the date and join us!  We'll have another time of remembering Rachel, bringing awareness to the condition that took her from us, honoring other babies lost too soon and raising money for a local non-profit organization!!

This year, we have prayerfully decided to donate the proceeds from Rachel's race to a local ministry called Family Builders.  Family Builders is dedicated to supporting couples and parents and has been a huge source of support to us throughout our journey with Rachel.  The first of the proceeds will be used for them to attend a training in Missouri for counselors on grief, crisis and trauma.  I'm am so excited about this because as many of you know, when I sought after a Christian grief counselor not too long after Rachel died, I was left more wounded then when I started.

I strongly urge you to read This Post so that you understand why this is so important to me.  I am so thankful that there will be a much safer and truly Spirit led place for people like us who have to figure out how to live life after the loss of a child.  There is something like 75% of marriages that end in divorce after they lose a child.  I'm grateful to God that ours isn't one of them and I'm hopeful that Rachel's life and death can help other marriages survive their losses too.

If you've been with me long on my blog, you may remember that last year at Rachel's race, when I left the park to drive to visit her grave right before the race started, I heard a song on the radio that says "Everyone knows I'm in over my head, over my head" and I joked about it at the race when I did my speech.  I pretty much faked my way through that entire thing and we, by God's grace, raised over $12,000 and were able to donate over $9,200 to Options for Women in Rachel's memory.  Today, I was driving home from the kids' gym class and that song was on the radio as I pulled in my driveway.  I came inside to find the email from my friend Vanessa telling me our request was passed for our 2nd annual race.  I wrote back and said "Here's to another year of pretending like I know what I'm doing!"  :o)  I'm SO EXCITED!!  And I actually have a little bit of a clue what I'm doing this time - and WAY more time to do it.  Last year at this time I was so enveloped with building Rachel's playground that I didn't start planning for the race until the end of June!  I'm ready this time!  Please pray for us as we continue to change the world in Rachel's honor and for God's glory!!

I'm almost done getting the website up and going - be patient with me, but you can visit for more information on how to register or to donate! 

Here's a copy of the postcards that will be going out soon!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

He Makes All Things New

On Sunday we went home from church to eat lunch and then headed back out to play on Rachel's Playground.  I don't go there very often after services when all the other kids are playing.  I thought it would be so awesome watching other kids play and have fun there - and it is... but it's also extremely painful and so I just avoid it. 

Asa took a ride with Daddy down his sister's slide for the first time.  It's so strange to me that she's really gone, that we really built a playground... and that she really has a little brother.  The past two years have been a fog. 
We left and went to clean up the broken glass at her grave.  It was really nice out.  Isaiah yelled "look what I found!" and I seriously thought it was a craft from another grave, but nope, it was a real bird's nest on her grave. 

Then we noticed the buds on the lilac tree behind Rachel's stone...

We started clearing the stones that were in the jar that broke and underneath them, the beginning of the tulips we planted back when I was 9 months pregnant with Asa...
A song came to mind that says this:

I am full of earth - you are heavens worth  
I am stained with dirt - prone to depravity

You are everything that is bright and clean  
the antonym of me  - you are divinity

But a certain sign of grace is this:
From the broken earth flowers come up pushing through the dirt

We walked (my first walk since cracking my knees!) up to my Uncle and Nana's grave where we found more tulips pushing up through the broken ground.  Everywhere we looked, spring was there... new life. 

Last fall, I threw hard round colorless bulbs into the ground.  They endured the cold, barren winter and are finally pushing their way from the broken earth, thru the dirt - and will eventually bloom beautifully.  I showed the kids all the new life around us and just kept saying "He makes everything new" and as I did, the truth of that lifted my soul because I know my little girl, just like those flowers, didn't stay below that dirt.  I know her brokenness, my brokenness, has and will continue to push through the dirt and bloom.

He makes all things new...  that verse is buried with her - and it's hidden in my heart.  She had an amazing purpose on this earth and I'm never going to stop sharing it.  Sometimes it's so profound, I can't even put it into words.  I went home and saw this on my calendar (Remember the last time this happened?  I swear this calendar was created for me by God himself!!)

It says "God created each flower with wonderful precision and every life with a beautiful purpose"

And in the background?  A bleeding heart. ♥

Monday, March 12, 2012

Homeschoolers, Check this out!

Remember my beautiful photos of Asa when he was a newborn?  We went back today to have Erin Moore take some 'school pictures' of all of the kids today at her new studio!  First of all, the space is beautiful...and second, she has an amazing God-given talent for photography and the heart to go with it.  We laughed most of the time we were there and I can honestly say I have NEVER had this much fun taking my kids for pictures since back when I just had Desirae!  She had to throw out some talk on farts and boogers to get Isaiah to crack a smile, but she caught the one and only smile he gave (he had decided he was going to be difficult -surprise!- and even bit his lip one time to keep from smiling!) Sam was being a ham the whole time, he's so stinkin' cute.  And Des tried to pretend like she doesn't love having her pictures taken in a real studio :o)  You can see all their personalities so well in these pictures.  The entire thing for all of the kids and a group shot, plus stopping to nurse my little piggy took less than 45 minutes.  I couldn't believe how stress-free it was!

And the best part of all of this?  Since I homeschool my kids, we don't get the 'school pictures' that other kids get - but I've just found my school photo shop!  Erin offers "school photos" in September that are awesome if you homeschool - only $10 per child and you get the file so you can save them to your computer and print whenever you want.  I ordered the ones for my wall through her because the quality is amazing, but for our budget's sake,  I'll order some for our families later on line.

And so that's my I'm-so-excited-about-this spiel :o)  If you homeschool (or just love her photos!  How can you not?) and live around here, you should go check her out!  Here's her facebook page: Here

 Are these kids beautiful or what?!  I am so very blessed.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

About My "Good" Day...

I figure I should tell you what was so 'good' about the day I commented on that got the whole facebook drama started the other night....  I hate that I allowed some random person to steal my joy that day.  I'm a slow learner.  But anyway, here it is:

It was Samuel's 3rd birthday and Matt is on vacation this week so we had a slow day at home.  My dad stopped by in the morning to give Sam his present and gave us some money to use at our planned Chuck E Cheese trip.  Sam also got some money from my in-laws (Matt's Dad & Step Mom) a few days prior. 

We left mid afternoon, grabbed some coffees, went to Walmart to let Sam pick out some 'big boy undies' and officially took him out of diapers... (still cleaning up a lot of pee, but we're trying to stick with it)  We used his birthday money to get him those and some new sneakers he's been needing. Then we went to Chuck E Cheese.  We had decided ahead of time that we would all work really hard to win tickets and we would give them all to Sam at the end so he could get something good.  This was my first major blessing; Des and Isaiah had great attitudes about this!  Watching them win tickets and run over to show Sam how many more he had was such a special moment for me.  I can't tell you how much it meant.  Those are the kind of kids I want....and to see it in them was awesome.  So, we ended up winning more tickets than we ever have before - well over 500 of them!  We got Sam a cool ball, but then got them each a giant pixie stick as a surprise reward for their attitudes.

We left there and went to Chili's where my mom had sent me a coupon to.  It was only good for 2 days, Sam's b-day being one of them and it was for free kids meals.  This was my next huge blessing... this was the first time we have gone out to eat since Sam's allergies to milk and eggs have cleared.  He was able to order a kids meal!!  This might not sound huge, but if you have dealt with it, you know how hard it is to go ANYWHERE with an allergic kid.  Normally we have to bring rice and ask them to warm it up and make sure we don't put anything close to him that he shouldn't touch and he usually cries through the entire meal and often had reactions to the food residue on the highchairs. This time, he ordered chicken crispers and fries and a chocolate milk and he PIGGED out while sitting right next to us!  It was SO nice to see my little boy eat good.  Then we asked them to sing him happy birthday and he got a free sundae from them.  He was so cute, when they came out singing, he had NO idea what was going on...  His face says it all.  At the end of the video, you will see Matt look at me and frown...that is because I was now crying.  Between being able to spend 3 whole years with my son to the fact that for the first time in his entire life he was eating ice cream on his birthday AND eating something special while everyone else watched him instead of the other way around - I just felt so thankful and happy I couldn't help but cry.  And then, my sweet son who has always been left out of the ice cream treats, instead of taking his turn to have his own, started handing out bites to everyone else.  He is such an amazing little boy.  When I say "Happy birthday Samuel" through my tears at the end, it means so much more than "Happy birthday" to me.  (you'll also notice Isaiah climbing usual!)

He apparently inherited the 'open my mouth when I give you a bite' gene from Matt
 Our whole bill came to just $21 and we were able to give the waitress a really nice tip and still ended up only spending $6 out of our own money for Samuel's birthday celebration, new shoes, undies, fun, food and all. 

On top of all of that, little things went extremely well - like the baby sleeping in my front carrier while we played games, me & Des hung out a lot together at Chuck E's which never happens when Daddy's around and was so fun for me, the kids all did well at the restaurant, our waitress was awesome, we got front row parking, there was no wait, nobody spilled their pixie sticks in the van :o)  With 5 kids, things don't usually go this smoothly EVER.  It was awesome!  We drove by a street called "Alice Street" and immediately after past a work van with the number "143" on the side, and we all fit into the little photo booth that we've made our tradition for years....and we found a way to include Rachel.  (see my arm behind Des? And her little hand?) :o)  We don't ever forget her.  These booths are meant for 1-2 people... I have to say I think we're talented!

Then we got home and there was this in the mail:

Baby Rachel's Legacy is officially a non-profit and registered with the Charitable Trusts Division of NH!! And you won't hear me say this often, if ever again, but I am proud of myself for this.  This was a lot of work, patience, tears, dedication - and a whole lot of faking my way through things and figuring it out as I go... but I finally did it and I'm so excited to see what God is going to do through this.

So when I said "Today was the best day I've had in a very long time" it had absolutely nothing to do with me 'moving on' and everything to do with God and my family - and the sweet blessing of having both in my life....including Rachel and even through some tears.

Friday, March 9, 2012

♥ Loved ♥

On the 3rd last month, I brought a mason jar to Rachel's grave with some fake gerber daisies in it and a poem on it.  Every time I've gone to her grave, the jar has been moved and so I knew it must have been tipping over and a friend was picking it up for me... but I also knew it was only a matter of time until it broke.  Tonight we went together to visit her.  It struck me how strange people must think our 'normal' is - all piling into our van on a Friday night to take a family trip to the cemetery to 'see' our missing family member.  Sigh.
When we got there, we found broken glass neatly stacked on the side of her headstone, the flowers propped up in the stones from inside the jar and some of them in a heart shape on the ground.  We are so blessed with such thoughtful, loving friends.  Thank you for taking care of us.  That was much better on my heart than finding a mess.  It saves my heart from the harshness of the cemetery's conditions and the reality of how much I'm away from her and unable to care for her.  I'm so thankful for the people who show up to help me.♥

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Let Me Tell You Something

Let me start by saying that I have used facebook to put a regular old 'status updates' on there about 3 times in my entire life.  I only started using facebook to share my blog posts - and I have only just in the last month or two started reading through other people's 'status updates' and commenting on them.  I actually HATE facebook and all the crap that happens there, but I see it as a good way to share about Rachel.  I know it is the main reason there were over 4,100 on my blog on Rachel's birthday and so  many people praying for us...

That being said, I will probably not use it again - and I'm not even sure I will post my blog on there - or maybe I need to stop 'friending' everyone who requests it because truth be told, I don't know over half of my 'friends' and I have only ever 'friend requested' 1-2 people.  I accept everyone who requests because I just want to share my girl.....that's it. 

And apparently, as usual, people are judging me for it.

Samuel's birthday was an awesome day.  I was a little sad that when I blogged that morning about milestones that so many people were all about Sam and Asa that they missed the point.  I did have 2 people mention Rachel and my heart SO needed that, thank you ♥  But the day went on and it was amazing.  I had such a blessed day with my family that I posted this status update on my facebook wall:

"I think today could possibly be the best day I've had in a very long time... Blog coming soon."

Now, one would think that - especially for those of you who think I'm dragging this grieving stuff out - this would call for celebration, not a negative slant...  but, I had someone write that it was good I was 'moving on with life'.  I responded by saying I'm not moving on from Rachel and never will, but that I had a good day WITH her.  She since has responded back and I can completely see where she was coming from - even though I still think the words were harsh and unacceptable - but I get it.  I have to remember that what people say is more about them than it is about me, but that's hard.

In the meantime, another random person who DOES NOT KNOW the first one, decides she is going to put me in my place and explain how "depression holds me back" and I should just "move on and just be happy that she is in the hands of our amazing father"  (those are ACTUAL QUOTES! and shame on you if you agree -just sayin')

I then un-friend her cause I am absolutely disgusted with how mean she is being, supposedly in the name of Christ.  She then MESSAGES me cause she can't take a hint and says this:

"I never said it'd be easy, I'm just saying that God can heal all wounds if YOU allow it! One day she will be in your arms again, live knowing that. I can befriend you, I am just trying to show you support as a Christian but apparently you just want people to keep tip-toing instead of helping guide and support you! I will continue to pray for you"

There may be some truths here.... yes, one day I will hold her again.  Yes, God can heal me.  But maybe this is the kind of girl who thinks that if I had enough faith, Rachel would have been healed?  Because I don't have that much control over what GOD does - and I sit here every day surrendered to HIS plan and the road He chose for me - not mine.


So, ironically, RIGHT after I responded "Seriously, leave me alone" to her, my Internet (which in over 6 months since I got this server has not gone out on me) COMPLETELY STOPPED WORKING.  God does provide and He put His hand over my mouth last night and allowed me to get some good rest (3 hours in a row!) which I'm so thankful for.  Then when I woke up, He also gave me the words to say.... And here it is for anyone who might agree with my nice facebook 'friend' who just wants to 'guide and support me'....

I don't know what God you are talking about - what God you are using as a scapegoat to say whatever you want to people and claim they are expecting too much, but let me tell you something about MY God...

MY GOD is more concerned with how you treat a person in distress, a hurting person than He is concerned with how much that person cries.  MY GOD is more displeased with uncompassionate know-it-alls than He is with a mother whose heart LONGS to be with her baby again.  MY GOD CREATED me with this need, these feelings and HE KNOWS that I am not sitting around in a puddle of tears depressed and unhappy with what He has blessed me with here.  MY GOD is the One who expects people to grieve with those who grieve and mourn with those who mourn and HE doesn't call that "tip-toing".  IT'S BIBLICAL.  And MY GOD did not call believers to use his Word and our faith to beat people into what you're IDEA is of how grief should go and look - or to judge people for how they handle a loss.  It's not nice and that is not just my opinion.  Ask MY GOD about it and I'm sure He'll let you know.  But for the record, MY GOD is pleased with how I have walked this road and continue to honor Rachel and glorify Him through it and He knows I don't do it perfectly and He's ok with that - and HIS OPINION is the only one that matters!

So, then I get up and get my computer going - and I had decided that this girl must just not have experienced a loss and so that is why she is talking out of turn. (still confused why someone who has NOT lost a child would try to 'lead and guide' ME other than PRIDE and thinking she has it all figured out, but hey, it's ok, I was feeling softer hearted)  I go back to our message to figure out how I even know her and find that she was the same one who posted on Rachel's first 5K race page that she couldn't come because "she could not support an organization who did abortions".  (nevermind the fact that she lives out of state and wouldn't come anyway, she had a point to make)  Again, jumping to conclusions, she assumed because I was donating to Options for Women that it meant I'd give the money to a place that did abortions?  As if I'd donate money in Rachel's name for abortions?  Clearly this girl is just confused mentally and too quick to speak.  But then I go back to find that when we first started talking it was because while she was pregnant (at the same time as I was with Rachel) they told her that her daughter needs a kidney transplant.  So then I start wondering if her daughter died and maybe she did have the 'right' to be telling me how to feel, maybe she had a loss too and was handling it with great joy - so I went to her facebook page - and there I found a huge picture of a beautiful blue eyed girl at the top.  Alive.

This is where my next topic comes in... YOU CAN'T COMPARE APPLES AND ORANGES.  Losing a child is not the same as fearing it.  The first woman who commented struggles with infertility and I cannot imagine how painful that is... but it's not the same and there is absolutely grief, but you cannot think for a second that it's the same thing as burying your baby. It won't feel the same, look the same, last the same. It's not and by me saying this, it doesn't mean that I don't agree that it would be unbelievably hard to have infertility or to have a child needing a transplant.  I can't imagine either and you probably are handling it with 'a good attitude by choice' - But they are not the same.  I read back and realized that she probably thinks she understands what I'm going through because in her mind, she's walking the same road and is having 'strong faith' through it - her motives probably are really not bad - but her daughter is in her arms.  And then I looked back to our earlier conversation where I wrote this:

 "I am a planner by nature, so I have to say that although I hate the fact that Rachel is going to die, in a way it's easier for me to just know what's going to happen. I hope that doesn't sound like I am ok with the fact that she will not live, or that I don't believe that God could heal her if He chose to, because I am not ok with it and I do believe God could. It's just that I have found comfort in knowing that God's plan for her is different than mine. And I have tried to surrender every day to that plan and allow God to work through me and Rachel"
Again, all true - and if you & I were talking while I was pregnant, I probably said something similar or even more 'positive' to you - I wrote THOUSANDS (literally) of emails that said how thankful I was that I was carrying a baby that was going to die and I was.....WHEN SHE WAS ALIVE.  My entire world changed when she died. 

And if you read my blog with a non-judgemental heart, (try it sometime, I'm really not as dark and depressed as some like to make me out to be, but I am in pain and honest about it)  you will also see that I am thankful for my sweet girl, even in her death.  BUT SHE IS DEAD.  I'm thankful she is in God's arms, but I want her in MY arms... and to insinuate that I'm anything but thankful for her being with him is crazy talk cause I've said it a million times - but that doesn't make it not hurt.  If you don't think that calls for tears or if you think I should be over it by now or if you think that your problem is similar and you aren't acting like me so that makes you a better Christian then that is your problem, not mine and I hope God is gentle with you when He takes you off of your soapbox - but let me also tell you that it is that EXACT attitude that keep NON CHRISTIANS completely UNINTERESTED IN CHURCH and why so many believers stay home on Sunday mornings.  So what is YOUR attitude doing to build God's kingdom?  Keep telling yourself that you are doing God's work, but you are LYING to yourself and everyone else.  You're being mean and prideful.

How's that for an opinion??  I guess everyone's got one. I'm glad we're sharing them with each other and that you don't expect me to "tip toe" either. :o) 

"Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn."
Romans 12:15

The pride of your heart has deceived you, you who live in the clefts of the rocks and make your home on the heights, you who say to yourself, ‘Who can bring me down to the ground?’
Obadiah 1:3

"Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble."
1 Peter 3:8

Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ."
Galatians 6:2

"So that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it."
1 Corinthians 12:25-26

"To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some."
1 Corinthians 9:22

But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;
1 Corinthians 1:27

The LORD detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished.
Proverbs 16:5

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
1 Corinthians 13:4

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


Today is Samuel's 3rd birthday.  Matt's on vacation and we're going to celebrate our big boy today - we had a special breakfast (Sam's LOVING his new menu with his old allergens!) and opened presents and later we're going to gym class and then Chuck E Cheese.  Listening to him say "It's my birt-day and I'm free (3)" is not only extremely cute, but hard to believe.  I'm so thankful for 3 years with our Samuel.

Asa's started teething and for the first time since he came home has been crying over more than being hungry. He hardly ever cries, probably because I'm always holding him.  I can still usually make him feel better with nursing, but that can be dangerous for me now if you know what I mean.  He's also rolling over all the time, reaching for things, like my face which I love, and trying to 'talk' to us.  We smile a hundred times a day watching this little boy grow.

I've always been excited at new milestones with my babies....maybe even cried over them because I'm a crier.  But when I watch my sweet baby boy do new things now, my heart is painfully aware that I have missed these things with Rachel....and the result leaves me not excited, not proud....but completely humbly grateful and honored to be blessed to experience it - all the while grieving what I don't get to experience with her.

I think this is why me working outside the home, while everyone thinks it is going to be so good for me, has turned out to be so hard emotionally.  I can't stand the thought of missing a minute with these beautiful children.  I need to work and believe God is providing for us through this job, but I'd rather be home with my family.  I have found that I don't actually want or need the 'break' everyone thinks I should - although I do love what I do, it doesn't compare to what I have here at home.

And so I thank God for another day... another milestone with each of my children on earth with me.... and wonder what eternal life is like for her and what she's doing there with Him.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

It Is Well with My Soul

I had a long day yesterday and when I got out of work, it was the lightest it's been at the end of a workday yet.  I looked over and the fact that I was just a couple minutes from the cemetery wouldn't leave me alone.  I sat in the van for a couple minutes before I started driving.

I was already on the verge of tears when I pulled up....fighting them back the entire drive there. But the moment I put the van in park, I had a complete emotional breakdown.  I sat there sobbing saying things to God like "Seriously?  Are you serious here?  Why did you have to ask this of me and why won't you make it stop hurting?"

I saw a couple of people walking towards me.  A friend who lives nearby was walking with her grandson.... who just happens to share the same exact birthday as Rachel.  She came up to the window and asked how I was and I burst into tears again.  I looked out my window and saw his little legs kicking away in the stroller and all I could say was "Would Rachel really be that big now?"  We talked for a few minutes and I definitely needed the hug - but I cried the whole way home as it hit me that I had just seen a baby the same age as Rachel at her grave.   "Seriously, God?"   I never go to the cemetery on Saturday evenings... and there I was at the same time as they were.  I cried for a very long time last night - even though in a way, I was glad they were there and even glad to know how big she would be.  It's hard to explain.

I woke up with a headache, but got up early to go to first service cause my sister worked 3rd shift last night and we babysat her kids.  She told me when she got out, she'd go with us to church....and that just makes my day! So, I woke up without an alarm clock or Matt putting coffee in my face :o)  We got there a little late, but when we walked in, "It Is Well with My Soul" was playing. 

On January 16, 2005 I got baptized and that is the song they played right after.  Today as I listened, I thought back to the innocence I had then....  that a life with God was going to be better....easier. And then I could envision myself in the van last night at the cemetery.... better? Yes.  Easier?  Nope.

I was holding Asa this morning, his head in my hand and his cheek to my cheek singing as the next song started.... and I got a lump in my throat as I sang "Jesus, Your Lovingkindness is better than life" - because right now, everything that has to do with death vs life in my mind goes to Rachel vs Asa.  And as I held Asa close, I was soaking up every ounce of 'life' in him and missing every ounce of 'life' in Rachel.  And I had to ask myself...

Do I believe it or don't I?

Do I really believe that His lovingkindness is better than life?  I can answer yes easily where I am concerned.  That's simple. Yes, It's better, He's better... than anything in this life. 

Do I believe that Rachel is with Him in heaven?  I do. 

But do I believe that His lovingkindness is better than this life for her?  If in my humanness, I can answer yes for me - and I cannot even fathom what heaven is like for her - then it seems like the only logical answer where Rachel is concerned is 'yes'.  Yes, what she has there is better than anything she could ever have here.   

I rocked Asa knowing that these days with him are going to go by fast.  And one day, I will have to let him out into this world on his own - maybe to suffer some of the same heartaches and trials I have - and I pray He will follow the Lord.  But there is no guarantee that I will spend eternity with him yet.  That's a scary thought. 

Rachel, on the other hand has the best of the best right now and will for eternity.  She doesn't get gas bubbles or ever feel abandoned or neglected.  She doesn't have sore gums or get overtired.  She's happy - all the time.  She's not in pain, she's not sad... she doesn't cry.  And while all those things are things I grieve like crazy over missing - I'm so thankful that she is safe.  I spend all of my days trying to keep Asa from having to feel any of the sadness or pain that Rachel will never feel.  And while my mother's heart wants to be able to care for her in this way and will always grieve that I can't, I could never want more for her than to be surrounded by my great God's lovingkindness for all eternity.

Now, I'm not trying to act like this truth today just perked me right up, because I continued to cry all morning long - through 2nd service and beyond - and I left church at noon with a headache that was making me sick.  I feel like a train wreck.  Knowing this for her doesn't take my pain away....and it doesn't even stop my tears.  But what I never understood until Rachel was how something could be so completely opposite of what I want, and still be well with my soul.

But it is.  It is well with my soul.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Snowy Days

This week and last week, I've been so blessed to bump into my friend Amanda at Rachel's grave... she, like me, goes every Friday - but we've only ran into each other one other time until now.  Last week, we talked for a while and as I went to leave, I yelled "love you!" to her.  I got in my van and looked at my phone... it was 1:43 :o)  I pulled up and showed Amanda out my window and we both left smiling.

On the way to the cemetery today, we stopped so I could get a coffee and some gas.  I was going to leave them in the car and run in cause my knees are killing me and carrying the car seat is hard.  But just as I went to get out, I saw a guy with a gun walk in the store - don't worry, he was a cop, just not in uniform. :o)  But then I got paranoid about getting in trouble, so I got everyone out of the van and decided I would splurge and get them hot chocolates too.  I was getting our drinks and the cop turned around and asked if they were all mine.  I let him know there's another one whose not with us, but he seemed to miss that part and keep talking.  He told me about how much easier boys are....  I just smiled at my boys as he talked, but man, I would love to have another little girl being difficult in our girl ways. 

As I was walking up to the counter, I realized that I didn't bring in enough money - I'm not used to Sam being able to drink them so I only had $4.  they cost $1.08 each.  I was planning on asking the girl that works there if I could pay later - but as I walked up to the counter I heard the cop say "I'll add their 4 drinks to mine" and he turned and told me "I love big families, I think that's great" :o)  I told the kids to say thank you to Officer M.  and they did - and then Sam yelled "Bye!!" and waved really cute :o)  I wonder how many free coffees I've missed leaving my cute kids in the car? Ha!

I remembered my post from the fall 2010, titled One Serving Short of Complete about how I love to have hot chocolate with my kids after playing in the snow....and how I will always be painfully aware that we are one serving short.  And when I just went to copy the link for you so you can read it, I read it again - and I had written it after going to the cemetery to pick out her stone.... (yep, I'm crying again - you should read it if you can)

Today, the kids & I had planned on building a snowman for Rachel, but the snow wasn't sticky enough.  Des made a snow angel and I wrote my friend Nat's son, Sebastian's name in the snow for her (she lives in Australia and has no snow).  It felt like a gift to be able to do something for someone else at Rachel's grave.  I asked them on the way over if they thought Rachel knew what we do for her..... Isaiah said yes.  I'm just not sure...and can't help but wonder. (obviously, I'm asking my kids to tell me what they think!)  I hate being so far away from my girl.

We had fun playing and they ran around a bunch.  I hate that in order to get a picture of "all of us" we have to include a headstone or a picture frame....and I would have given anything to watch her run in the snow with them today....
I was nervous on the way over that the roads wouldn't be plowed yet - we have a lot of snow here!  I thought back to last year when we would truck through 3 feet of snow to get to Rachel's grave.  I couldn't NOT go in there - and I let nothing stop me.   It was so hard.  I knew if it wasn't clear today, my knees and new baby wouldn't allow that and I prepared my heart for that.  But when I pulled up, not only were the roads clear (LOVE this cemetery!!) but Rachel's spot was shoveled out too.  I didn't expect that since Brent & Naomi just had a baby and they are the ones who usually shovel for me.

When I pulled up and my heart smiled seeing the clearing, I realized two things... I'm totally spoiled - but not without complete gratitude!! and I think I know now why it snowed so much last year....

Every time I pulled up to her grave last year, I felt loved.  Through those first very difficult months, I could see the tangible way people were caring for me and loving me and Rachel because it came in the form of snow removal!!  If there was no snow, I wouldn't have realized how many people were remembering us.  I knew I wasn't alone.  Even though as I sat at her grave each week, my heart felt more than alone,  I knew that we weren't forgotten.  And apparently we still aren't.  I'm so thankful for that. ♥

And so while I thought that the snow was exactly opposite of what I wanted back then, today when we visited Rachel, I realized how much joy it brought to my aching heart last year - and still does.  There is something about snow (and rain) that reminds me of Rachel - I'm assuming because it did both a ton while I was pregnant with her and after she died.  But when I see snow falling, I can almost feel her in my arms the night she was born as I watched the first snowflakes of the year fall to the ground.  And in those moments I'm as close to her as I'll ever be on this side of heaven.

Have I mentioned I miss my girl?  sigh.......