Saturday, June 30, 2012



It's been a very difficult few weeks for me.  I feel distant from my feelings about Rachel... and not in the 'moving on' kind of way, more in a "avoiding it so I don't start crying and never stop" kind of way.  I've had hard things to deal with - and some regular old daily life stuff, too.  But the one thing that is cutting through my heart is the silence - in every direction.

This has been building up for the last couple of weeks with many unanswered requests for adivce, info about/support for Rachel's race, or even just talking to the kids and it's as if I'm a mute.  Sometimes I feel like I'm screaming for help and nobody can hear me - or worse, they just keep walking.   But tonight, the straw broke the camels back and I wondered why I bother trying to do anything. 

I was tempted to be bitter... but the truth is it really makes me sad - so instead I cried.  but as I sat there with tears flowing down my face and a complete "I give up" attitude, all I could hear was the lyrics to Selah's "I will carry you" song. (if you've been with me from the beginning, it used to be the song my blogged played) and specifically the line that says...

Such a long road
All this madness
But I know that the silence
Has brought me to His voice

While driving yesterday, Des started playing the CD that we gave out as favors at the baby shower we had for Rachel.  And that was one of the songs.  I made her change it.  I just couldn't listen to it. 

I started crying and told her about how when I was pregnant with Rachel things felt easier... not that they were, but God was so close, so real, so LOUD.  I didn't have to wait out silence... He was always speaking - and everyone and their sister wanted to 'be there' for me... sending me remiders that they were thinking of me and letting me know they love me - as well as sharing things that had happened to them that makes them identify with me so I don't feel so alone.  Just saying her name.   I will forever be so thankful for all the love I received during that time, but with each new day.... it gets softer, more distant... almost non-existant.   I guess it has to.  The phone doesn't ring, my inbox remains mostly empty, people say one thing and do another, and my attempts to interact with people go unaknowledged.  And I'll be honest, I'm following suit.  I officially have lost my drive to respond.  'Discouraged' doesn't suffice.

And so I guess, as much as the silence hurts, I'm just begging God that in it, I will find His voice. His direction.  His answers.  His friendship, support, love.  

Please Lord don't let this silence just be empty.

Friday, June 29, 2012

With Hope

Another Friday of waiting...aching...holding on....and letting go....
With Hope.

I miss you every minute of my life pretty girl

With Hope...written by Steven Curtis Chapman after his little girl died

This is not at all how
We thought it was supposed to be
We had so many plans for you
We had so many dreams
And now you've gone away
And left us with the memories of your smile
And nothing we can say
And nothing we can do
Can take away the pain
The pain of losing you, but ...

We can cry with hope
We can say goodbye with hope
'Cause we know our goodbye is not the end, oh no
And we can grieve with hope
'Cause we believe with hope
(There's a place by God's grace)
There's a place where we'll see your face again
We'll see your face again

And never have I known
Anything so hard to understand
And never have I questioned more
The wisdom of God's plan
But through the cloud of tears
I see the Father's smile and say well done
And I imagine you
Where you wanted most to be
Seeing all your dreams come true
'Cause now you're home
And now you're free, and ...

We have this hope as an anchor
'Cause we believe that everything
God promised us is true, so ...

So we can cry with hope
And say goodbye with hope

We wait with hope
And we ache with hope
We hold on with hope
We let go with hope

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

You know me and goals....

OK, here we go.... We're into the last month before Rachel's Race and after just watching a video from Willie Batson (Family Builders Ministries) he posted on their financial need, I feel compelled to ask a favor...

If you are planning on coming to our 2nd Annual race, but have been putting signing up off...

Could you take a few minutes to take the plunge and sign up? If you can't come, could you consider either donating or sponsoring a registration for someone who would like to but can't afford it? I feel this could be a great encouragement to Family Builders Ministries in response to his request. 
I have sensed God stirring a lot of things under the surface. I am confident that there will be a lot happening in the next few weeks - but if you love Rachel and love Family Builders Ministries (or what they stand for), let's show them how much! 

We are at 57 sign ups right now. Have been for a couple of weeks. Let's see if we can get that number to 100 by Sunday! And as I just typed that (feeling slightly crazy), I saw that it means exactly 43 people need to sign up! (love you Rachel! ♥)  

If you want to come, but money is keeping you from registering, please comment below and if anyone offers a scholarship, I will contact you! We can do this you guys!! I'll keep you - And Willie & Cindy Batson - posted!

Love & Hope,
Stacy & Rachel ♥

Register or Donate here!!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A New Video

You may remember that at our first Baby Rachel's Legacy 5K last year, we had a videographer who donated her time and a video that she put together of my speech and the baby remembrance ceremony.

Sadly, I noticed it was gone (it was an on-line link) and when I contacted her was told that she will not allow me to have it because she doesn't think my blog -or more precisely, how I love God and love others - is worthy of it.

I'm heartbroken.  It's irreplaceable footage that I'm wishing I just recorded myself. 
I'm embarrassed. I wish I could do this grief thing better.  I'm so tired of failing God.
I feel betrayed.  I believed her when she said it was a donation and that she was doing it for me.
I'm discouraged.  All I ever wanted was to make Rachel's life beautiful.  And I'm apparently failing her too.

It's not as professional looking, but here is my replacement video for all you other mothers who had babies remembered at Rachel's Race last year. I am so sorry that because of the way I have handled my pain, you don't have the other one anymore, but this one is made with love... for you...for your babies... no strings attached.  And I will never take it away from you.  No matter how imperfect you are. 

And to everyone who loves me just the way I am... thank you for loving me like God does.  I know I can be hard to love at times, but please know that my heart yearns to be more like Jesus every day and I need you more than you know.  It's your unconditional love - and God's - that help me to heal.
You are truly His hands and feet to me.

Here it is... Baby Rachel's Legacy - 1st Annual 5K... I wrote out parts of my speech (Thankfully I kept it!) that on the other video were in my voice.  I think it came out nice, hopefully you enjoy it. 

I've made some bad choices along this journey, but this ceremony was not one of them so it should be shared.  I pray that my heart for God and others is apparent in it.  I did it all for them.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Anger that Heals

I haven't blogged in almost 2 weeks.  Any time I have gone a while before, it's been a struggle to stay away.  Writing is what I do.  But I have had no desire. 

Because, in the aftermath of some harsh words, I've been left crushed in spirit, bruised and broken.  Thankfully, the Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit (psalm 34:18) and as I called on Him for guidance in this valley, He answered. 

I glanced at an old magazine (from October) floating around on my counter the other day and was immediately drawn to and ad for a book in the back.  It's by Joni Eareckson Tada (she was paralyzed from the neck down at age 17 in a swim accident) and is called "A lifetime of wisdom...Embracing the way God heals you" - I guess it caught my eye because the title implies that God's healing may look different than we expect - and I believe that is part of the problem I continue to face with people who judge me according to their idea of what 'healing' means.  I ordered it and started reading it.  One of the first chapters is called "The Anger that Heals" and I want to share a few portions of it that reminded me that I am okay.... incredibly imperfect... but okay. 

She is talking about a point in the book of Job where he questions God's goodness over the circumstances in his life.  He does this in what she says is "not the polite, Wednesday-night-bible-study variety.  They [the questions] were pointed, sharp, and seemed at times to walk the borderline blasphemy."  She lists out the questions and demands Job had and then says this:

"Job's friends were aghast.  They half expected lightning to fall and fry the suffering man for such impudence.  But no lightning fell.  In fact, God greatly preferred the honest, gut-wrenching cries of Job to the self-righteous prattle of the so-called comforters who mouthed all the old formulas and traditional bromides"  (aka: platitudes)

And a couple of paragraphs later....

"We repress those murky, edgy emotions about our suffering.  We choose to be polite, speaking sanitized words, or not speaking at all.  We bottle up our troubling questions and unspeakable feelings towards God, hiding behind an orthodox, evangelical glaze as we "give it all over to the Lord"  Except that we don't.  And He knows that too.  Why would God rather have our anger, our venom, our rage, our cry of desolation rather than our measured, controlled, even-tempered, theologically correct prayer?  It's all about the heart. (have I said that recently?)  Over and over again in Scripture you can hear God saying 'Give Me your heart or nothing at all.'  God doesn't have time to play games, He wants reality"

Two pages later:

"When Ephesians 4:26 says, "In your anger do not sin," it's clear that hostility is not always synonymous with sin.  Not all anger is wrong.  Cancer, bankruptcy, divorce, betrayal, or the birth of longed-for children with multiple handicaps push people to extremes.  And please hear me here: Affliction will either warm you up towards spiritual things or turn you cold.  Jesus said in Revelation 3:15-16: 'I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot.  I wish you were either one or the other!  So, because you are lukewarm - neither hot nor cold - I am about to spit you out of my mouth.'   
Hate is sometimes closer to love than a temperate, smiling indifference.  And lukewarmness is the only road that never gets to God."
Next page:

"Sometimes brokenhearted people say harsh things.  Sometimes some toxic cynicism or long-repressed anger can spurt out of a lacerated heart.  The Lord knows that...and wants to be close anyway. Sometimes bitter emotions and acid words can ooze from a crushed spirit.  The Lord understands that , as well....and draws near to comfort."
I know Joni Eareckson Tada is not God and her book is not the bible.  But she is a woman that I consider a very strong Christian with qualities to be admired.... and she felt like I do sometimes.... AND she isn't afraid to admit it.  You know why?  Because admitting it helps other people - and although they are hard things to admit and for some to even hear, the truth is that God is using her pain - because she is not aware that little old me is sitting in a little old house in a little town so far away from her reading her words and saying "Thank you for being brave enough to share your ugliness too because now I feel like I'm not alone."  This book was put in my path at just the right time - and reading her words helped me to feel like I'm not a complete failure after all.

I pray that for every person who is not happy with how 'unsanitized' I am at times, that there are a hundred more who are sitting in their livingrooms reading my words, nodding their heads and thankful that they aren't alone.  That was my entire purpose for this blog... it wasn't to lead people to Christ, although I do believe that if you follow along on my journey, you can't miss Him.  I just really hope I can lift other people's burdens just a little.... post by post, heartache after heartache and joy after God continues to walk WITH me through my ups and downs, never leaving or forsaking me - being patient with me and loving me just the way I am...  I pray that others find His love for them too and know that they don't have to be all cleaned up to be loved by My God. 

I'm again and again reminded of the story of Job and how his friends came to his side and sat with him for DAYS in silence and felt sorrow for him - until he opened his mouth.  And as soon as he started talking, they started with all advice and criticisms, telling him if only he did x-y-z, he would be delivered from his pain and bad circumstances.   I'm sure they meant well... they just wanted him to be better... but they were hurting him even more.

In a way, I look at my decision to blog through my loss and grief kind of like when Job opened his mouth.... some people believe that they now have the 'ok' to let me know what they think... and I guess they kind of do.  I just wish when God gave me this task, He would have given me thicker skin.  I'm too sensitive for this stuff. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Coupon for Rachel's Race

Father's Day Special for Rachel's Race...

$2 off each adult registration now through Sunday night! Use code DAD2 at checkout! If you know you're coming, nows the time to sign up! 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

I'm Running

Last night I asked my friend Michelle to pray for me in a message...  and this morning, as I found myself singing a song we sang on Sunday at church, the last line of my message to Michelle rang in my heart.

The last line I wrote had said "I can feel Him holding me... I'm glad He's strong cause right now, I feel like running"

And today, I'm running....

I suppose it was no coincidence that after we sang this song on Sunday, we also sang "Yet I will praise You Lord" which was the song done at Rachel's service as well as last year's race.  I also taught it to myself on the guitar after my miscarriage.....  and when I watched this video, the rainbows and the heart-shaped clouds and holes of sun - plus the plant that looks just like the one on the race website! - seem to have been put there just for me. (I mean, seriously, can you believe that?)

After my recent posts about rainbows and clouds, I hope the timing of this encourages you too - God is in every detail.  Even when things seem bad...He uses each situation to guide us and for our good.  All of them - even the ones others mean for evil.  And then He shows us all along the way that (as it says in Yet I will praise You) "even when my whole world shatters and it seems all hope is gone..."  He is worthy of praise.  I'm so thankful He loves me just the way I am, right where I'm at and doesn't take back gifts He has given me based on my performance.  He is so good - even when there's nothing good in me.

For those of you who are reading on your phone and can't watch... here are the lyrics - He's been and IS all this to me and more...I'm thankful for writers who write songs that show me I'm not the only human out there who is imperfect - or that will admit it.  Just like in the  book of Psalms or Lamentations or even Job... I'm thankful for people who remind me that I can feel pain and despair and still not doubt the love of Christ for me.

You are good, You are good
When there's nothing good in me
You are love, You are love
On display for all to see
You are light, You are light
When the darkness closes in
You are hope, You are hope
You have covered all my sin

You are peace, You are peace
When my fear is crippling
You are true, You are true
Even in my wandering

You are joy, You are joy
You're the reason that I sing
You are life, You are life,
In You death has lost its sting

Oh, I'm running to Your arms, I'm running to Your arms
The riches of Your love Will always be enough
Nothing compares to Your embrace.
Light of the world forever reign

You are more, You are more
Than my words will ever say
You are Lord, You are Lord
All creation will proclaim

You are here, You are here
In Your presence I'm made whole
You are God, You are God,
Of all else I'm letting go

Oh, I'm running to Your arms
I'm running to Your arms
The riches of Your love, Will always be enough
Nothing compares to Your embrace.
Light of the world forever reign

My heart will sing no other Name
Jesus, Jesus

Oh, I'm running to Your arms
I'm running to Your arms
The riches of Your love Will always be enough
Nothing compares to Your embrace.
Light of the world forever reign

Sunday, June 10, 2012

All Heart

After watching Rocky III, I had to really resist writing a post titled "The Eye of the Tiger"....for real. I'll admit, I am aware that I look deeper into these things than most people probably would.  I'm not sure what you call that part of my personality, but it just is who I am.  And I believe God made me that way for a purpose.

So, Netflix (the company we use for streaming videos) has failed me again.  Seems every time they get wind that I might actually like a series they have, they get rid of it before I'm finished... so I'm getting rid of them!  But we now have Amazon Prime and we were able to order Rocky IV as a rental the other night. 

Let me give you the run down...  The guy that Rocky lost to in the first movie (Apollo Creed), that he then beat in part 2, has since become his trainer - helping him kick Mr. T's behind in part III  In this one, Apollo decides he wants to go back in the ring to fight this "Russian Giant" who they are unaware is on steroids.  He's a mean machine and Apollo doesn't make it through 2 rounds before he got knocked down and killed.  So, Rocky buries his friend and then has no choice but to mess this guy up.... Adrian isn't happy about this because she wants him to stop and just "move on like everyone else".  She tells him "You can't win!" but Rocky says he can't stop because he's a fighter and that's what fighters do...fight.

Since the Russian had proven to be CrAzY, on the way into the ring, Rocky's brother-in-law Polly tells him that if he could be anyone in the world, he'd choose him cause 'he's all heart.'

In the beginning of the fight, they said "this is truly a case of David vs Goliath".  Rocky goes to the last round at which point they show them each in their corners - the giant says "This guy isn't human" and Rocky says "He's just a man" - Seems after the crazy steroid guy goes a few rounds with someone who is all heart, he starts to get tired and give up.  He isn't used to people who get back up after he knocks them down.... but as we learned in Rocky II....Rocky always gets back up.

In the last round, Rocky knocked him out....  GO ROCKY!  I love that guy!  Seriously, how could anyone not like him??   But I'm getting off track...  what's my point....My point is that it had nothing to do with ability, strength or size.  He won because his heart was in it.

Yesterday Matt & I went out for 4 hours while my sister babysat and we put up posters for Rachel's race everywhere.  We put up yard signs and talked to tons of people.  People would say "no, you can't hang a sign in my window" and we'd pull it out and show them our sweet girl and tell them our story and within minutes, the poster was up or they were asking for another one to hang up somewhere else.  People can't resist her.... or our heart for her.

(side note:  My knees are getting better!!  I hurt a little, but after all that walking, not bad!)

We came home and while looking for something on a computer I don't use often (but used while I was at the hospital having her), I came across her birth photos from my camera.... and her birth video.  I didn't cry much...  but I did find myself talking to her as if she could hear me.  I was saying things like "you're so pretty", "you were amazing" and "I miss you baby girl".  I watched her birth a couple of times and stared at the photos of me as I was getting ready to meet her in the operating room and as I held her.  I thought back to those moments and what it felt like.  I remember feeling relieved that I finally knew what was going to happen; how it all would unfold, even though I wasn't happy with it - and also that I got to meet her alive... and then being so disappointed that she didn't live longer.  I wanted the kids to meet her alive too.

But as I looked at each picture, the look on my face was clearly one of love, hope, and dedication.  And I'll never regret going to the last round against my 'giant' for her.  I remember looking up at Matt as I felt them tugging her out and saying to him "she's coming" and I was scared to death.  That moment forever changed who I am.  I had to dig deep and pray like I had never prayed before and trust Him like I had never trusted Him before.  I had chosen to be cut open for a chance at just a few minutes with my daughter... and that is all I got.  When they handed her back to me after putting me on a different bed to bring us back to my room, she was already gone and yet, I can see it there too....  I was all heart.  I didn't know I could love like that.  I put my whole heart into it... into her... the life that God gave to me and allows me to call mine - even though she was really His. 

And you know what?  I'm not stopping there.  I don't care if people think I'm holding on to this longer than I should.  I don't care if people judge me for not 'letting it go' - They don't understand my life as a whole, nor do they take the time to.  They just judge me and assume they know by looking at me or a couple of blog posts how far I've come in my 'healing' (or what they define healing as) as if that's ever going to happen completely on this side of heaven. 

I love my dead daughter just like I love my living children and my God.  With an unashamed love that goes deeper, wider, longer than I ever knew possible... with all my heart. With the heart that He gave me.  It's not from me, it's from Him and it's for His purposes.  And I trust His purposes, even when I don't like His plan.  I trust that I have this unquenchable desire to share her with the world because God gave it to me and is going to use it for His glory.  It's not about hanging on to the past or not moving forward.  It's not even about making something good out of something hard.  I'm not that strong. It's about obedience to my Lord. It's about surrender.  It's about the fact that God knew before the foundations of the earth that Rachel would live, die, and that I would be her mother...  and when He created me, He knew what was going to come - and He foreordained every. single. thing. that happened in my life from the day I came out of my mother (thanks, Mom) :o) until now to prepare me... my heart... for this task... this unbelievable honor... of loving that little girl with all that I am and leaving a legacy with her of what it means to hope in Jesus. And along the way, having the honor of being able to bless other people in her memory.  How could I do all that if I try to forget and move on?  I can't do it....This is who I am now.  And I like who I am because of her.

I'm going to the last round....  and I WILL still be standing.  Satan can try to tell me I can't win, the crowd can all boo and throw tomatoes at me...even cheer for the Russian guy. Everyone can say I'm nuts.  I don't care.  I know what I'm being called to.  One day I will stand before God and I am absolutely certain that HE will be pleased with my sacrifice, even if nobody else understands why I can't just stop fighting and move on.  God and only God will tell me when it's time to leave her in the past.   

Can you hear that??  I think I hear The Eye of the Tiger :o)  grrrrrr.....

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Holes of Sun

I spent some time at a friend's house this afternoon with the kids, sitting on the porch with the sun warming my back.  It was absolutely beautiful out.  We started getting ready to head out and it started to DOWNPOUR out of nowhere.  My friend came out with her umbrella and walked Sam to the van while I ran with the baby.  Within just a couple short minutes, we were all soaked.  The carseats got wet just opening the doors.

When we got home, we ran inside and I was so wet I had to change.... Des looked out the back door and told me that there was a big hole of sun shining through the dark clouds.  I took a look and had to share...

Is it just me, or is it strange how many times there have been heart-shaped 'holes of sun' out my back door??  Gray clouds, rain and sunshine can and do coexist.... and somewhere, there was a rainbow. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Stand in the Rain

Sunday was 18 months since I said hello and goodbye to my girl.  It was a hard day, but I did a good job avoiding tears - which I'm starting to see is what people actually call 'good'.  So, I guess I was 'good'.

I've been meaning to post about the day because some beautiful things happened, but my thoughts are a little tainted by an underlying issue I have going on this week so I'm a little lost for words.  I guess I'll just try....

I spent an hour talking to my friend Kim on the phone before church.  I went to church, with a fresh daisy hooked to my diaper bag representing my girl, and the songs seemed to be hand picked for me.  The general tone of worship being all about God being bigger than death.  My heart cry was of praise to Him for all He's done and carried me through - but also to help me to continue to believe in His promises - here and in heaven.  That He's good and His love is great.

After church Kim came over and spent the afternoon.  We had coffee and then her & I went to Rachel's grave.  We stood above her grave in the rain, just talking, for well over an hour.  She brought a cute pink pin wheel that matches the one she brought to her sister's spot.  The weather was doing the strangest thing...  It would be raining and then stop for just a few minutes and the sun would come out, seemingly shining just for us - and then return to rain.... and I knew there must be a rainbow somewhere.  But the way that weather described the last 18 months of my life is what got me.  Rain. Sun.  Rain.  Sun.  Back and forth.  Inconsistent.  Lots of wind.  Knowing there's a rainbow, doesn't mean you can always see it.  And how growth happens because of the combination of sun and rain...and before you know it, the seeds turn into flowers.  If you stared at a seedling without looking away, you'd never see it growing.... but that doesn't mean it isn't.  I don't usually feel like I've made much 'progress' - but when I compare 18 months ago to now... I can see how God has grown me.

And the most special part was that while I stood there, soaked with rain and mist, I wasn't alone.  I had a friend by my side just 'there' with me - and she was soaked too.  The bests gifts I've been given on this journey don't come in the form of things or words - but rather always ones where my friends are willing to stand in the rain with me - not to tell me how I should view the rain, what I should do about it or where to buy an umbrella so I don't feel it anymore... but just to feel the drops with me and not walk away.  To be with me where I am.

We didn't stand there and talk only about Rachel.  We didn't stand there and 'obsess' over my loss.  We didn't even cry.  We just spent time together in a place where my baby is buried and even had a few laughs.  I know some people don't get this.  I know some people envision me a blubbering mess - and even if I that wrong?  Well, I guess to some it is 'after all this time'...but I'm not a blubbering mess.  I do however think of my daughter every. single. day. multiple times a day.  And will for the rest of my life.  That doesn't mean I don't have hope.  It doesn't mean I don't believe that I'll see her again.  And if you endure the loss of your child, you will know that both pain and joy can and do exist in the same place in your heart.  But heaven feels so far away.

After the cemetery, we came home and ate and hung out a while more.  And when she left, I did some busy work and ended up talking to my friend Amanda for hours until the 3rd had turned into the 4th....again, not only about Rachel and not through tears... all the while knowing I was on the phone solely for the purpose of distracting myself.  I'm so thankful for my friends.

Asa was upstairs asleep in his co-sleeper and when I walked into the room, his little blanket didn't seem to be enough for the cooler air that night.  I looked around, but his blanket had been put into the hamper to be washed and the only one I could see was Rachel's....  I usually sleep with it until he wakes up and then switch the blanket for him...  but he needed it.  So, I covered him up with her pink blanket and crawled into bed without him or 'her' in my arms for the first time in 18 months.

And I fell asleep.......

And while I did okay sleeping with completely empty arms, I don't view this as a 'step forward' or an 'achievement', nor do I want to be told that it is.  Because to me, I was just doing the same thing for Asa that I always did and always will do for Rachel - sacrificing to care for him.  I didn't want to sleep without her blanket - especially on her anniversary, but there is no need of mine great enough to stop me from giving my everything for my children.  At times it's in the big things like having a c-section for Rachel and at times it's in the small things like sharing her blanket with Asa.  In life, in death - they are my babies... and always will be. 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Fields of Daisies

First, let me say that I just looked on the site for Rachel's Race registrations and we have 45, two of which are helpers and don't count as registrations, which makes 43.  Just in time for her 18 month anniversary - which is the goal I set last month.  THANK YOU for helping me get there.  I can hardly believe it.  Thank you. ♥

Friday when I went to Rachel's grave, I spent some time writing her a letter.  I'm glad I did because it was so nice out and today it's raining and is supposed to for days.  I guess that's fitting considering how I feel.  I can't believe it's been 18 months.  I can't believe she would be walking and talking.  I can't believe how much I miss her.

On the way there, we went passed the on ramp that everyone has been messaging me's covered with daisies.  Honestly, the highway and the edge of every main road around here is right now - I've never seen anything like it and I've lived here my entire life.  I am convinced God is showering me in an extra special way and keeping people thinking about her.  I took a couple pictures (while stopped at the light by the on ramp) and as we picked up speed on to the highway, I was yelling to the kids "look at all the daisies!!! She's everywhere!  God loves us so much!"  They all were smiling at my excitement and Samuel started pointing and yelled along with me... "Look at 'em all!"

I suppose it could be just a coincidence that they bloomed just before her anniversary.... but I doubt it. 

We went to her grave and found a princess wand for Rachel for her birthday and a little gift for Desirae from my friend Elisha.  It was so sweet and Des was so excited to get something for her there.  Elisha wrote to her about what a good big sister she is to Rachel, which made me cry.  She is such an amazing big sister to Rachel....she really is.

I sat down and I wrote....and cried.... and then said goodbye again as I left my girl in the cemetery another time.  But I guess rather than try to tell you how I feel, I'll just share the letter I wrote with you here.

Rachel Alice,
I sit here at your grave, another Friday without you.  The skies are clear, the sun is warm, and there is a light breeze.  The sound of an airplane in the distance makes a white noise over the sounds of your sister and brothers playing.  Everything feels comfortable and nice - everything except the fact that you're still gone.  It's been almost 18 months since I held you and kissed you.  18 long months of trying to make your grave pretty.  18 long months of aching arms and a hole in my heart.  And I'm okay. God is still good.  But I hate my new normal and trying to make purpose out of my pain.  Each day when I wake, you are close to the first thought on my mind and at night, always the last.  I never knew I could hold so much love for someone I hardly knew.  I wasn't prepared for this.  Sometimes I wonder how I can miss you so much when I never had you as a part of my daily life, but you are part of me and when you died, so did a piece of me.  I will never be the same.  And that's okay too.
Until you Rachel, I never knew love - my love or God's love - like I do now.  You have been a blessing beyond compare and I will love you and care for you every day of my life here until I see you again.  Every time I lift my hands in praise to God or dance like no one is watching, I will think of you and smile as I imagine you doing the same with God and the promise of us one day dancing and praising Him together hand in hand.
18 months feels like forever.  It doesn't compare to eternity.  I can't wait to see you again.  I miss you so much.

With all my love,
After Desirae's acting class, we looked across the street and there were MORE!  So, we stopped and Isaiah got out and picked some for Rachel.
 They are sitting on my counter with all her other flowers since we had a 'bathroom emergency' and didn't have time to swing back to her grave like I wanted... but it's okay.  She doesn't care where they are... her garden is way more beautiful than even thousands of wild daisies - although I do picture her running in a field of them.... I bet there are no ticks in her fields!  And one day, I will run in those same fields with her and get to hear her giggle...and see her smile... and hold her....and tell her of the beautiful flowers she planted all over the earth.  In my heart.  In the hearts of so many others.  And I'll tell her about the fields of daisies - and how so many people see them, remember her, and remember God's faithfulness because of our journey together.  Because of daisies.

We serve an awesome God who is the Only One who can comfort in times of such sorrow.  Please remember me in prayer as I make my way through another June 3rd.  I'm already crying and it's just begun.  This is going to be a hard day for me.  But I am confident God can and will carry me through it as I once again lay my daisy at the foot of His cross and fix my eyes on His fields.