Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The REST of Her Birthday

It's been a strange week.  And I feel like God has shown me something that I wasn't expecting...how unlike Him!

Yesterday started off with an extremely emotional morning, hence the early blog post.  As the day went on, I was kind of surprised by it.  There was a lot that happened, I'll try to condense.

I've received a bunch of emails over the past 2 years about how the #43 stands for "love you".  Back in the days of paging, you would type 143 for "I love you" and so 43 was shortened to "love you".  Lots of people have written to tell me they think that Rachel's 43 minutes was to say "love you" to me.  I got an email saying this the morning of her birthday too and then on facebook, someone had written "Rachel, please send your Mama a 43 today".

I posted about Restoring Aching Arms at exactly 10:27am, in remembrance of the time she was born.  I started getting ready to go to her grave - and each minute was on my mind.  Was this really all I got with her?  43 minutes doesn't last long.   I got the kids ready, packed the top of her cake and some plates and plasticware, plus of course, my camera and we left. 

I stopped at the post office to check her box.  I sat in the parking lot to read the cards that came in and as I finished and pulled to the end of the parking lot, I looked at the clock and it was 11:10am.  43 minutes had come and gone and it went by like a flash.  I took a deep sigh and looked back at the road...  and the car in front of me had this license plate:
Rachel sent me my 43... my 'love you'.  And at the exact time she left me two years ago.  It was unbelievable.  I didn't know whether to smile or cry - so I did both.
We went to her grave and the kids and I sat on a picnic blanket and sang happy birthday and ate cake together.  It was BEAUTIFUL out - 54 degrees!!  A huge difference from the 23 and snowing we had on Saturday!  I sat in the warm sun and read her all of the letters we got about how she has changed the world, while the kids played hide and seek (including Asa!  He's so big!) 

As we were eating, a girl who was visiting a nearby grave came over with her little girl and said to her "Remember Baby Rachel's Playground that we play on?  This is her family."  I told them we were celebrating her birthday and offered them cake. 
We went home and after Des had her piano lesson, I put the baby down for nap and I laid down for a short nap too.  I'm horrible at taking time to rest, but I felt like it was something I wanted to do.  I wasn't feeling real tired, just more like I wanted to pamper myself.... and before I went to sleep I asked God to let her join me in my dream.  I've only dared to ask that one other time before.  I don't know why, but I'm kind of scared to dream about her.  I've only dreamed about her once since I had her.  And unfortunately, she didn't meet me there.  I slept for 45 minutes, which again, flew by.
I got up and made dinner and got dressed to go to a friend's wake.  It was the last thing I felt like doing on Rachel's birthday, but I knew it was right.  We weren't able to get a sitter, so we packed the kids into the van and we went up and took turns going in.  As we were getting ready to leave, I looked at my phone... it was 43 degrees out. ♥  Confirmation that we were supposed to make the time for our friend that night. 
When we left, I asked Matt if he wanted to stop at Rachel's grave on the way home.  He said yes and then I got an idea....
I decided on the spur of the moment to call the party store we were near and ask if they had lighted lanterns... they did, so we stopped and got one.  If you've ever seen the movie Tangled, they release lighted lanterns each year on her birthday in case she ever decides she wants to come back home.... I have been wanting to do a lantern release for a long time... but fires scare me.  I had talked to a friend about doing it this year at her graveside memorial on Saturday and we decided it would be too cold if we stayed in the dark.  It would have never worked on Saturday with all the snow. 

A friend of mine had done a release for her daughter's anniversary in November and she told me that her & her husband saw a shooting star.  It was after she had asked God for comfort and it was so clear that He was answering in a loud way... 
So on the way, Matt was driving too fast and I said to slow down.  He said "I need to go fast so we don't miss the shooting star." 
 The sky was so clear that when we got to her grave, we were in awe of how brightly the stars were shining.  I haven't seen a sky that crisp and clear in a very long time.  But we don't go out at night much!  We lit the lantern and let it go and as it floated away, I whispered to the sky "Lighting your way home, pretty girl..."  But as I watched it float away, I was reminded that this isn't her home.  She's already there.  Maybe I was lighting my way home....

And no sooner did I think that and a shooting star whipped across the sky from behind our heads!!  I gasped and looked at Matt in disbelief... "I saw it too!" he said.  We stood in complete amazement.  It was AWESOME.  God is so good!  
I honestly think that He blessed us for doing what HE wanted us to, rather than what I wanted to that night... because if it wasn't for Billy's wake, we would have sat home and never done the lantern, which has been a desire of my heart for a while.  And we wouldn't have seen the star either!

So, here are my thoughts about this week....

I spent hours preparing and money we didn't have to stand in the snow and freezing cold.  I was let down by so many people and at the end of a very beautiful day, still sad.  It was 23 and snowing Saturday, 30 and raining on Sunday... and out of nowhere, we get a spring day in December on her birthday!  54 degrees, not a cloud in the sky and warm - not to mention the warm night and clear sky.  Then today it was back to cold and dreary and just 39 degrees.

Only a couple people remembered her birthday yesterday.... and people that should have, didn't...and probably never will.  But somehow I had more peace and joy then I had with the group of people standing in the snow.  And I guess it's partly because even though I know they want to support us, I hate feeling like I'm a burden. (they don't make me feel that way, I just do)

I knew God had something in all that snow for me... but I didn't know He would continue it throughout the next few days.  It was actually the stark difference between the two days - and how out of place her actual birthday was weather wise - that finally made me see....

Rachel somehow became famous.  Her story has always been 'loud'.  There's always been a lot of people.  And I've always felt comfort in knowing that so many were affected by her.  As that has started to dwindled, I've fought it because in my heart, it means she is less important than she used to be.  People aren't getting what they used to get from my story, so they are finding new things.  It makes me second guess who they were in it for.... her or them?  And the journey loses some of it's beauty.

I felt like my simple day at home and picnicing on her grave were the best hours I have had in a long time.  I had so much joy on the hardest day of my life - because GOD met me there.  The number of times I got a 43 or another message from above that day are innumerable.  It was a good day.  I never thought I would say that about the anniversary of the day she died.

Sure, at the end of the day, I was sad that only my mom & sister called.  I was sad that she's still gone.  I cried a few times and I still shook my head in disbelief that she is really gone.  I wasn't beyond any of that.  I'm still a human mama with a hole in my heart that can never be replaced...but I knew that I had God's blessing on my day.  I knew I was right where I was supposed to be with the people I needed to be with.  And she felt close. 

So, I don't know what the next year will bring, but I feel like I need to change it up a bit.  To rely on people less and not need their presence and approval to know that she matters.  And God reminded me that even if I do, her legacy cannot be lost.  I've labored long and hard to leave her handprints on peoples' hearts - and I believe they are there.  For the first time since August 2010, I felt like I could rest.  I felt like I was enough as her mama.  I felt like I had all the support I needed while sitting all alone on her grave.  It was beautiful.

Matthew 11:28-30
Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. "Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls. "For My yoke is easy, and My load is light.
Psalm 62:1-2
    My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.
Psalm 127:1-3
Unless the Lord builds the house,
those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
the watchman stays awake in vain.
It is in vain that you rise up early
and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
for he gives to his beloved sleep.
Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
the fruit of the womb a reward


  1. <3 God is good
    Hugs and prayers

  2. It sounds like in the end you found peace in he day. I love the liscense plate-amazing! thinking of you , Kim


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