Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Enough Already

Des came running out of the post office after checking Rachel's PO BOX with an American Girl catalog in her hand.  She a little *too* into these catalogs, telling us of all her plans for how her collection will grow (on someone else's budget - my Dad's) and it gets old quick.  So, while I was excited for the smile on her face, I knew it would only be a matter of time before I needed to remind her that she not only does not need all of that stuff, but isn't getting it.

We got home and I checked the mail at our house.  Another catalog greeted me.  I tossed it on the table without thinking much and started dinner.

Des came in and said "why did I get two?"  I quickly responded, "You didn't, one is yours and one is Rachel's."

And then I realized that there is no Rachel here.

You know, I could write for years about my daily struggles to accept, deal with, live through, grow in and past the loss of my daughter - but if you haven't lost a child, you will never *truly* understand what I mean when I say this grief is the most complicated thing I have ever been through.

People have all sorts of answers, ideas, beliefs, suggestions, and even judgements for and about me...Whether going to the cemetery every week still is healthy or acceptable, how I walk my kids through this, how I never put Asa down or want to share him, how I fear losing him, how often I talk about Rachel, what I blog, how often I blog, how I "throw myself into these big projects to avoid my feelings"  (like my book or her race - as if I EVER avoid my feelings?) which by the way, I know I've even questioned this before, but really, these things are for her honor and HIS glory - and they hurt like hell.  It's impossible to avoid my feelings - for me anyway.  Maybe someone else could, but I can't and I don't.

But these are all parts of my grief journey.  It's more than meets the eye in any given circumstance - what I would have done BEFORE Rachel is not what I will do now - and please don't make that a matter of my faith being weak.  It's real life stuff here - not imagined in my head.  I'm a human with real feelings and God made me that way.  Her dying in my arms has changed how I see everything....and I'm ok with that.  And I bet if your baby or child died in your arms and you never saw them again here on earth, you'd understand why I do what I do.  (all baby loss Mamas are nodding right now)  This is how I'm healing - by allowing myself to be, feel, think, do whatever I need to do at any given moment.  By just accepting where I am instead of putting all these rules and regulations on what my life 'should' look like right now and what I 'should' be doing.  And that is different for all of us who have lost children, but we need to be allowed that space and freedom without judgement and condemnation.

I've gotten a lot 'better' at dealing with it - on the outside.  The two things I hate the most about myself are that I'm too open about my struggles and how that inevitably makes people want to fix me - and how I let peoples' words and attitudes affect me.  I've always been like this.  I wish I was the kind of person who could just let things roll off my back and if I didn't agree, just forget about it.  I wish I didn't internalize everything.  I wish I could just be ok with the fact that I know God is ok with how I'm handling things. That HE understands how complicated this is.  That it's never the people who really do 'get it' that push their advice on me. That I know God would let me know if He wanted me to do something different - and I know that I am willing to work towards anything He asks of me no matter how hard. 

But yesterday when the American Girl magazine came - and I heard myself say one was for Rachel - I looked at the cover and the red haired girl on the front had me in tears - because I always wondered if Rachel would have had red hair like Sam and because I would give anything to watch her play with dolls.... and in that moment, I knew that some people just don't get it.  And I'm glad they don't.  Even if it means I have to listen to tons of unsolicited advice from people who think they know what they would do if they were me. I guess we'll call that part of my trial.  Too bad I'm failing at this part - because in my heart I'm not surrendered to it - I just want it to stop.  I hurt enough already.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Where is Peace?

I was at the doctors today for my bone density scan.  While I was waiting, I saw a pamphlet and started reading it.  On the back it said "You can only find peace in yourself."  I dropped it faster than I picked it up.

I'm so thankful that I know that's not true....

And even more thankful I know where the only true Peace can be found.

Today the Lord put a hymn on my heart and we've decided it's the one we'll sing this week during devotions...

What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.

Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged; take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge, take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do your friends despise, forsake you? Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He’ll take and shield you; you will find a solace there.

Blessed Savior, Thou hast promised Thou wilt all our burdens bear
May we ever, Lord, be bringing all to Thee in earnest prayer.
Soon in glory bright unclouded there will be no need for prayer
Rapture, praise and endless worship will be our sweet portion there.

Yesterday Pastor Willie mentioned a Psalm that spoke to my heart - and today while talking to a friend, she told me to read the same one - I think God wants me to do more than read this....He wants me to claim it and make it real to my heart - My God is alive....His Word is alive.
Psalm 62:5-8
Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken.
My victory and honor come from God alone.
He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me.

O my people, trust in him at all times.
Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Always on My Mind

I was driving into work today and the skies were strange...  Thick clouds, yet very sunny - and it was snowing just a little.  The cool air and strong winds felt like fall.  The fall always makes me think of Rachel...actually, everything makes me think of Rachel.  A song came on that is written by Martina McBride about a woman who finds out she has cancer.  The lyrics are about what her husband said to her when they got her diagnosis...but today, as I listened, I felt like it could very well have been God's words to me....

When you’re weak, I’ll be strong
When you let go, I’ll hold on
When you need to cry, I swear that I’ll be there to dry your eyes
When you feel lost and scared to death,
Like you can’t take one more step
Just take my hand, together we can do it
I’m gonna love you through it.

And when this road gets too long
I'll be the rock you lean on
Just take my hand, together we can do it
I’m gonna love you through it.

I was on the highway, and for some reason I keep going right past my exit for work - I guess it's force of habit that I want to take the same one I take to visit Rachel... and so I took the long way to work and drove right past her cemetery.  I had to wonder if I'm ever going to think of her less.  Am I always going to be preoccupied with her?  And the answer is yes.  I'm preoccupied with all my kids - and she's no different.  She was just smaller.... but boy, for a little 3lb 7oz girl, she sure weighs heavy on my heart.


These past couple of days have been pretty amazing.  I started back doing hair on Thursday.  Today will be my 3rd day working in a row - and I'm having fun, but can't wait for tomorrow when I can stay with my family for a few days.  I have been SO blessed by you guys though....

I was on my way out the door to go to work Thursday when the mail came and I got a card from my friend Donna wishing me a good first day and a little stone with a flower on one side and an angel on the other that says "success".  I smiled, tucked it in my pocket and left.  (Thank you, Donna - I love you!!)

I got in my van and turned around to back out of the driveway.... there were the MOST rainbows from my little heart shaped sun catcher that I've ever seen in my car.  I had to fight back the tears for my mascara's sake, but I just knew that this job - which was desperately needed financially - is being provided by God for our family and really, it's through all of my friends I've made here that this week has been financially 'successful' - but what God really impressed on my heart, which I think of every day when I tuck that stone in my pocket, is that success is not about money.

He 'said' that to me a couple of weeks ago when I started planning Rachel's Race.  That I need to remember that  her race is not a 'success' if we donate a lot of money - her race is a 'success' if people remember her, if people learn of Anencephaly and are a little more prepared should they ever have a baby with it, if other families find healing for their hearts being there and honoring their babies as well.  Money is NOT success.

And I'm seeing that at work already.  Thursday, I did a foil on an old friend Becky.  I met her when I was pregnant with Desirae and she was my lactation consultant at WIC when I was nursing my first baby 9 years ago.  We didn't keep in touch, but I saw her when I was pregnant with Rachel.  We talked about that day - the day she found out that I was the one carrying the baby that was going to die that she had heard about.  I had forgotten details about it.  She told me how she had asked me about the baby , how lucky I was to have another one, and asked the kids if they were excited to have another little sister... I just went along with it and then before I left I passed one of my blog cards to another girl Katie and had her give it to her later.  She told me how she cried at the news.

We did her lowlights in "Caramel" in Rachel's honor.  As we talked about that day, tears were shared and in a way it hurt - and healed - at the same time.  I just kept saying "I can't believe that was me".  And at the same time, I think I was a little sad at how others hurt for me.  It really was devastating news, but I was so determined to make people see her beauty that I didn't allow myself to go there.  I can hardly believe I was walking around, going to all my appointments, continuing on with life as if she wasn't dying - handing out business cards to share her and God with the world.  God gave me that strength - and now He's reminding me of it. 

This is the card I made.  We handed out THOUSANDS of these while I was pregnant with my girl.  If you live in our area, you might have found one stuck in the card spot at your gas pump, on your table in a restaurant, or on a bulletin board at your doctor's office.... we left them EVERYWHERE and handed them out to every cashier, customer service person and random person we talked with throughout those 4 months while Rachel danced in my womb. 

Last night I did another foil on a girl I met for the first time last night, Amy.  She came out in the sleet to support me in this because she has a heart for our family because of Rachel.  I'm just so humbled.  To be able to talk about my girl and not have to explain what I'm talking about is so good for me.  I'm seeing that she is still on the hearts of others... that not everyone has moved on.  My weeks are filling up and they are filling up with all of you.  I'm so thankful ♥  And while this is going to be a huge blessing financially for our family, it's also a huge 'success' in my heart for my sweet Rachel.  I want to say I wish she knew....but you know how I feel about that.  She's much too happy in heaven for any of this to be impressive - and she is much too distracted worshipping her Great God to care.... and I'm happy about that for her.  I wouldn't want it any other way.

But while I'm still here on earth, I'm in awe of how many different ways being her Mama has made my life more successful.... from sharing Christ all the way down to doing hair.... My life is so much richer than it could have ever been without her - and I'm not talking money, I'm talking heart.

Thank You Lord for giving me the great opportunity - and responsibility - of being Rachel's Mama.  I will not let either of you down

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust

Last Ash Wednesday was on March 9th.... the day I got two lines on my test revealing that Asa was with us.  What a year it's been.  I remember posting last year on the day after our Lent service and telling you all I was expecting.  I remember sitting in that room so full of so many different emotions and hearing them say "from dust you came and to dust you shall return" and realizing I was, at the same time, experiencing both extremes with my babies.  The one just being formed and the one buried in the ground.

The kids & I decided we were giving up juice for Lent and that we will drink water instead - reminding us that we need the Living Water from God more than anything else in this world.

Tonight I stood there holding this sweet, healthy, alive baby boy.  During worship, they invited everyone up to get ashes put on our foreheads, as a sign of repentence to God.  I walked up with Asa and Pastor Doug made a cross on my forehead with the ashes.  I turned Asa towards him and he made a cross on his forehead - and as he did, he said "Ashes to ashes, Dust to dust".   It was kind of intense hearing those words directed at my boy - and I realized that I'm still so scared of losing him.  I walked back to my seat and the song playing said "Fear has no place at the sound of your name" - and I just knew.

For Lent, I need to give up more than juice.  I need to give up fear.

Isaiah got his hands on Asa's cross :o)

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Wind Beneath Her Wings

Since I stopped running from music to avoid my feelings, I'm feeling them alright....

This morning I went onto a blog my friend Laura Groen (a baby loss friend, Mama of Lindsay - blog on sidebar) had posted about another little girl named Lindsay who also had a heart condition.  I clicked on the music player and saw an old familiar song - The Wind Beneath My Wings - it all started with one click...and I came undone. 

Let me give you the background.... when my Nana died at only 56 of a heart attack, this was a song that reminded us all of her, but especially for my mom & her siblings.  For years, this song made me think of and cry over Nana.

When I got sober, I spent lots of time wood working at rehab (I know, strange they'd trust us with saws & polyurethene, but they did)  And I made my mom an eagle with "You are the wind beneath my wings" carved in it and I put my 6 month sobriety chip in it.  As I grew up - and out - of my drug addiction, I became very aware that my mom had a strength and a love for her children that was unmatchable.  Now when I listened to the song, I thought of Nana - but I cried over my mom.

So then my sister had her first baby...unexpectedly and in not such perfect circumstances....and she made a video of Jailyn's baby pictures with that song on it.  Looking back, we can all see what a blessing Jailyn is - although at times single motherhood tires my sweet sister out - we are all so thankful she kept her and that she is with us.  I can't imagine life without her and I know my sister can't either.  But at this point, the song not only spoke of how a mother helps her children to me - but also how our children help us and make us stronger....they keep us going. 

It's a mother's love - whether recieving or giving it - that keeps us going when things are hard.  Some people don't get it growing up or as adults.  Some don't know how to give it.  But in my family, I have been so blessed to do both.

So, I clicked on the song... and I at first was thinking about all of the above.  But then as I listened, I started thinking about how Rachel in all her sweetness has inspired me to keep going... to do greater things... to be a better person.  But then the roles switched - and at the risk of sounding full of myself (please believe I'm not) I'm going to share this...

I sometimes struggle with people saying things like "look at all the amazing things Rachel has done" or "read Rachel's blog" or "God had big plans with her life"  - or even the term "Baby Rachel's Legacy" - among the many other ways that people talk about what Rachel's short life has accomplished for God's kingdom.  And when I say "people" I am including myself in this.  I say it all too.  And I WANT NOTHING MORE than for people to remember Rachel, talk about Rachel, give Rachel and God the glory for all of this.  (so please don't stop!)

But the human (sinful) part of me longs for someone to recognize that this is my legacy too.  That this is my blog - my words - my pain - my journey.  I IN NO WAY AT ALL want to take anything away from or steal any glory from my sweet, precious, irreplacable baby girl.  That was never and will never be my purpose. 

But as I listened to this song this morning, I started crying....hard.  Asa on my lap and catching some of my tears on his fully formed head, I heard this song for the first time - TO me. From Rachel and from God, my Father.  I was, for the first time, on the receiving end of this song - admittedly feeling kind of strange about the fact that I was deciding this for myself as apposed to having my child decide it for themselves.  But in a way, I felt like God was affirming for me what Rachel will never be able to... 

that I helped her to soar... to shine... to be known.  That she couldn't have done it without me - and that maybe that is exactly why God chose me to carry her.  And while I'm perfectly aware and completely convinced that I could not have done any of this without the strength of my Great God - I know I did do it.  I know I still am.  I know I always will.  I will, for the rest of my life, help Rachel to shine.  I will be strong for her.  I will stand in the cold shadow of her death, every single Friday for the rest of my life and all the days in between - and I will be the wind beneath her wings.

I miss you Nana
I love you Mom
I love you Meggie (& Jailyn)
Miss you Rachel Alice Aube

And to everyone who has lost a baby or a mother....I'm so very sorry for your loss... whether you are the wings soaring high or the wind beneath them holding them up, it's a hard place to be - but a place where a love and a beauty like no other shines.

"Wind Beneath My Wings"

It must have been cold there in my shadow,
to never have sunlight on your face.
You were content to let me shine, that's your way.
You always walked a step behind.

So I was the one with all the glory,
while you were the one with all the strength.
A beautiful face without a name for so long.
A beautiful smile to hide the pain.

Did you ever know that you're my hero,
and everything I would like to be?
I can fly higher than an eagle,
'cause you are the wind beneath my wings.

It might have appeared to go unnoticed,
but I've got it all here in my heart.
I want you to know I know the truth, of course I know it.
I would be nothing without you.

Did you ever know that you're my hero?
You're everything I wish I could be.
I could fly higher than an eagle,
'cause you are the wind beneath my wings.

Did I ever tell you you're my hero?
You're everything, everything I wish I could be.
Oh, and I, I could fly higher than an eagle,
'cause you are the wind beneath my wings,
'cause you are the wind beneath my wings.
Oh, the wind beneath my wings.
You, you, you, you are the wind beneath my wings.
Fly, fly, fly away. You let me fly so high.
Oh, you, you, you, the wind beneath my wings.
Oh, you, you, you, the wind beneath my wings.

Fly, fly, fly high against the sky,
so high I almost touch the sky.
Thank you, thank you,
thank God for you, the wind beneath my wings.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Nothing Compares

If only I could *really* explain with words what happens in my soul during worship....  I can't, but I'm gonna try to give you a glimpse of how the Spirit moved in me this morning...

First of all, I have to preface this with the fact that I have kind of been avoiding my 'feelings' lately.  My heart has been hurting and I almost feel like if I allow myself to go there, I'll never come up for air again.  I know that's not true - and it's not even really a conscious decision I make, but as I was talking to a couple of friends about my book on Thursday (and lack of work on it) I was choking back tears.  It was then that I realized there is a reason I haven't sat down in over a week to write.... it hurts.  And I'm kind of tired of hurting.

I also feel like, while it's great to make my 'gifts list' each week, I had to *force* myself to sit down and do it yesterday.  I hate the fact that nothing I write in those posts leaves room for the Spirit to lead my words.  I guess it just feels dry, even if it's all good stuff - and it seems like it's about everything other than Rachel - which defeats the purpose of blogging.  I'm blogging to work through my grief, not avoid it.   I also want to make sure I can still minister to the women who are just starting this journey - and I'm not sure that's the best way to do it.  I plan to continue my list, but I'm not sure I'll do it here.  It was good for me for where I was at, but as usual, I'm finding out how I need to bend with my grief and make changes accordingly. 

Last week when I got to church the worship team played 2 songs from Rachel's funeral in a row.  I sensed a complete breakdown coming.  I detached myself from worship because (are you ready for this...totally vain here...)  I didn't want to ruin my make up before the open house at the salon. (just being honest) I knew if I opened my heart, the tears were going to flow hard - so I didn't. 

This morning was a different story.  And my heart was so blessed.  The lyrics in each of the songs seemed to mesh together...all revealing the same truth:  Nothing compares to the promise I have in Him.

The first song was "I Could Sing of Your Love Forever" - the verse that always gets me and where my tears started rolling today was this:

Oh I feel like dancing
It's foolishness I know
But when the world has seen the light
They will dance with joy
Like they're dancing now

I stood there, tears streaming down and a smile on my face (you know the official 'crazy look' I was talking about) :o)  with two thoughts.... I could just imagine Rachel dancing in heaven and the day I get to join her there - And amazed at how God helped me to 'dance' throughout my time with her.  How can I be dancing when my baby is dead?  I completely understand that to some it's foolishness....a joy that's incomprehensible.  His love... you have to know Him to know it.  And once you do, you wonder how you ever made it through life without it... or without Him.

I was meditating on that truth as we started singing these words...

My Jesus, My Saviour,

Lord there is no one like you,
All of my days, I want to praise
The wonders of Your mighty love....

My comfort, my shelter,

Tower of refuge and strength
Let every breath, all that I am
Never cease to worship You.

I couldn't help it... my mind went to why couldn't You have just let her breathe?  and before I finished the thought, the next sentence reminded me that she's not missing out on anything, it's just me.  She is worshipping Him with all that she is...for all eternity.  I on the other hand, have to ask him to keep me close because I am prone to wander and forget.  And I am so thankful for how He pursues me.

I sing for joy at the work of your hands,
Forever I'll love you, forever I'll stand
Nothing compares to the promise I have in You.

The work of His hands.... at times this is the exact reason I struggle - to know that He is in control of everything and allowed me to lose a child.  To know - and fully believe - He could have stopped it all...and didn't.  It is only through this trial that I have become all the more certain that loving and trusting God is my only hope for true joy.  And the Promise I'm holding out for isn't on earth - it's in heaven.  And there, Rachel is not dead.

We could have stopped worshipping right here and I would have already left revived in my faith - but then these lyrics:

Higher than the mountains that I face

Stronger than the power of the grave
Constant through the trial and the change
One thing remains

Your love never fails it never gives up it never runs out on me

On and on and on and on it goes
It overwhelms and satisfies my soul
And I never ever have to be afraid

One thing remains

In death and in life I'm confident and covered by the power of your great love
My debt is paid there's nothing that can separate my heart from your great love

I thought about all the people in my life who have failed me, given up on me or run out on me.... all the disappointments in this world....  My God isn't like that.  Never will be.  On top of never leaving or forsaking me, he also paid my debt for all my sins in full.  I will never really understand why - and I'm certain I'm not worthy.
So, from the bottom of my heart and from deep within my soul I begged that He would make the last verse we sang my reality - that in all I am and in all I do - for Him, for Rachel, for others....that He would consume me from the inside out and shine through me....
Take this life and let it be
All for You and for Your Glory
Take my life and let it be Yours
Glory to God, Glory to God, Glory to God....Forever.
I'm all Yours Lord.  Nothing Compares to the Promise I have in You.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Gifts 103-143

I've got a lot of catching up to do, so I'm jumping right into my gifts list from the last 2 weeks and I'll try to blog some other stuff soon.  I've been SUPER busy with getting ready for work and starting to work on Rachel's race, which is awesome, but it's time consuming. I hate to use up all my time cause I've got this super cuddly baby here and like hanging out with him.  But I've got a couple of blogs I need to get out of my head soon....here's my list!
103. The sound of coffee brewing
104. Crisp blue skies
105. Warm days in the middle of winter
106. Tiny socks
107. When I catch myself laughing again
108. Rebirth
        I got Matt to bring Rachel's bench in so I could keep it in the mudroom.  I was out at the store and wanted to get a plant to put on it.  I was drawn to this little strange looking plant that hadn't bloomed yet.  I looked at the tag, it was going to be tall and purple.  Not the usual type of plant I'd buy for Rachel, but I picked up some yellow daffodils and put them back down... I just knew this was the one.  I got home and looked it up to see what it needed for care and what it symbolized.... "Rebirth" it said.  No wonder it made me think of my girl. When it bloomed, it was not only beautiful, but it smelled amazing.  God knew I needed the reminder that she's not dead.

109. fruit smoothies
110. The excitement in the boys when a train passes (goes RIGHT by our house)
111. Food in our refrigerator
112. Neighbors talking together - our close knit neighborhood.
113. A yard full of toys revealing good times had
114. Inquiries about Rachel's 2nd Annual Race ALREADY!!
        and as I was on line making up some of the advertisements for it on Vistaprint, I decided to search for coupons and I found this:

That would be a heart, a 43 and a rainbow all at once :o) 

115. Being loved, Being Mama

116. A 'temporary' inspection for Matt's car (long story, but no more walking!)
117. Comfort from God on hard nights
118. Salon booth rental inspection passed
119. Days out with all my kids gone smoothly
120. An encouraging talk with another homeschooling mom
121. Lots of appointments already booked for when I start work!!
122. My guy always reminding me I'm his girl
        Remember I told you how we write on our cups and reuse them for the day?  This is what I found on Tuesday morning ♥  The D is Des' cup.

123. Asa growing so much new clothes go unused.
124. Being discovered as "Rachel's Mama" while I'm out.
125. A clean house
126. A bird hopping from branch to branch
127. Color photos of Rachel (thank you Lisa!!)

128. Every tear that reveals how deeply I love
129. A great turnout at our open house at Pin Up!
130. A bed prepared for me each night without me asking
131. Eggs & Turkey Bacon
132. the opportunity to teach my children
133. A Valentines Day poem from Matt
134. Homeschool friends and parties!

135. the innocence of children
136. Solar powered lights for Rachel
137. Lower blood pressure for me & for Matt.
138. Listening to Sam count
139. The help of a hot glue gun
140. Sam passed the milk test!! Look out dairy, here he comes!
141. Asa's giggle (my Valentines Day present)
142. A full nest
        My anniversary present from Matt.... a nest necklace and matching ring, made to order... 3 boys, 2 girls and a white charm pearl to represent the baby I miscarried.  I LOVE this necklace & ring... I LOVE my full nest of beautiful children...and I LOVE the man God gave me to spend my life with.

143. Daisies and Tulips... and yes, I put this one on # 143 ("I love you") on purpose.  Read This post from our anniversary last year (it's easier than me explaining it all again!)  If you've been reading with me for a while, I'm sure you've caught onto some of this anyway, but when you see how many different ways God made daisies and tulips a part of Rachel's story, you'll know why I can't see one without thinking of her.  They also were a huge part of our wedding, which I didn't realize until last year when I went to do a post for our 5th anniversary.  So this year, I decided that from now on, my February decorating at her grave will consist of these two flowers... and the same ones for as long as they will hold up.  Instead of trying to do something for Valentines day that doesn't look cheesy (which is hard to do, I've discovered)  I made a new bouquet out of the flowers from last year, adding just one new tulip - These flowers were with us at the hospital when I had her. I also made a couple extra decorations out of the bouquet my mom had bought for her funeral.  So this is one of the most meaningful bunch of decorations I've brought there yet.... 

 I hate the fact that I'm getting the hang of putting together grave decor from things I already own.  And yet I'm thankful that I'm able to...for her and for me.  Yesterday I felt kinda like I'm taking care of her "room" - like I do for my kids here once a week....without the frustration of having to try to get her to help.  If only I could serve everyone in my life so selflessly - without expecting anything in return....it brings great joy to my mama's heart to pour out my all for my children.  And yet it is hard not to resent being responsible for everything here sometimes instead of being thankful I can clean their rooms in the warmth of my home and not at a cold cemetery.  I only get a few years to care for these sweet children before they'll leave my nest. (I hope and pray I get that)
A change of heart is coming.....

Monday, February 13, 2012

Crazy For Love

The open house for Pin Up went awesome yesterday - Thank you to everyone who came out to support me in this new endeavor!  I wore my hair in a "pin up" 50's style, which was fun.  I felt a little silly at church beforehand - but had fun doing it!  My mom was the first one to show up and she brought me some daisies for my station. ♥

We were overwhelmed by how many people came and for over 4 hours, I was standing talking to people.... I felt it in my knees when I got home.  I didn't realize how much it would wear me out, but basically when I got home, I pumped, ate dinner and sat on the couch with Asa.  I fell asleep during family devotions at around 7pm and slept all night. (almost)

I woke up at 1am and since I had already slept more than I do in a usual night, felt wide awake.  I had a snack and watched a couple episodes of the Wonder Years (anyone else find that show depressing?? Love it, but the end of each show always leaves me sad...)  I had Asa in his new "I stole Mommy's ♥" shirt.  He was all snuggly laying on my chest.  He stretched and his hand touched my face and he left it resting there.

Two thoughts crossed my mind and stung my heart....

I'm the luckiest girl in the world, I can't believe I get to spend all my time with a real live baby who loves me to pieces....  and....  how on earth did I make it all those months, without Rachel before Asa, without dying from a broken heart and the ache of empty arms??

It hurts so much now I can hardly grasp how much it hurt then.  I know the pain was deeper and more constant - IT WAS ME.  I went through it - and for some reason, I have a hard time really understanding how I'm still alive after pain like that - aside from God carrying me.  It feels like it was someone else - especially when I look at photos from when I was pregnant and from the things I did in her memory just a few months after she had died.  I'm probably not making any sense.... I guess all I can really say is I miss her like crazy and love him like crazy.  The two completely huge and overwhelming feelings sometimes leave me with only two options... cry and never stop or smile and never stop.  Both would make me feel and look crazy and so I guess I'll just go for the ultimate crazy look... I'll do both at the same time for the rest of my life - and maybe I'll wear a pin up just to top it off.

At the open house yesterday, I talked with 2 other mothers who both lost their sons.  These boys were much older than Rachel - they were young men.  But these moms invited me to hang out with them some time because being together helps them to know that they aren't crazy.... "or that if they are crazy, at least they aren't alone in it."  We laughed, but we all knew it was true.  We all long to be understood - to know that with a few simple words someone 'gets us'. We want our new normal to not feel so crazy and unpredictable.

I'll admit, between my hair-do, my broken heart and the depth of my missing Rachel, my intense love for this sweet baby, falling asleep sitting up, eating string cheese at 1 am while watching Kevin Arnold try to figure out life, I felt crazy last night.   But in the best possible way one could ever be crazy. 

Crazy for love. 

I'm thankful that I love so deeply - even if it makes me hurt deeper too.  And if the two have to go hand in hand for the rest of my life, I'm ok with that.  I would never go back to the days before my girl - she has shown me it's okay to be unashamedly crazy for love.

I don't assume they celebrate Valentines Day in heaven, but I bet I'll see a heart in an unusual place tomorrow, reminding me of her presence in my life even still.

I love you with all that I am sweet baby girl....yesterday, today, forever. ♥

Saturday, February 11, 2012


I have a few things I want to blog about, but can't seem to get myself to write them out.  It's been a hard week of missing Rachel.  I've been sad a lot this week and my heart is heavy for her.  There are lots of good things going on.  I'm super busy getting ready to start work and also getting some of the prep work done for Rachel's 2nd annual race this summer.  Everyone here is healthy and things are going okay.  My knees are still a mess (yes, that is now plural) but the one that is fractured is MUCH better than it was and I've lost 9 pounds.  My blood pressure seems to be down now so it was probably just elevated because of my injury.  Matt's car is finally on the road again after 3 months of walking to work.  Matt's been so supportive and in tune with my emotions and my kids have brought me extra laughs and smiles lately, especially Asa who is almost as in love with me as I am with him.

So everything is good.

And yet, I'm still sad.

But it's okay.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Morning Coffee Talk

Isaiah asked to hold Asa and then asked me to take their picture.

I gave him the baby and took their picture and poured myself some coffee. 

"It's good you have that picture, Mama."  He said.  I nodded and told him it was a cute one.
"Cause that way if I die and Asa dies you'll be able to remember us"

My heart sank.  Hardly the morning coffee conversation I had expected.

"I could never forget you, Isaiah" I assured him.
"But what if Daddy did?"
"He couldn't either - we love you too much to ever forget you...we remember Rachel, don't we?"
"Would you be really sad if I died?"
"I would be devastated."

I could see in his eyes that this was weighing on him.  My little 5 year old boy seemed to be figuring out the finality of death....on earth.

Des spoke up and said "I think Isaiah's forgetting that by the time he dies, you'll already be dead cause you're WAY older than him"

"I hope that's the way it goes" I said completely unconvinced that it will go that way - no matter how much I think it should.

I changed the subject and as they moved on to the next topic at hand, I wondered to myself why my children need to know this reality so young.... and wondering if I've completely screwed them up being so open and honest with them along this journey.  I have to believe that God will use this in their lives too and that sheltering them from the reality of death does them no real good.  I know I've followed His lead on how I've walked my kids through this.  But in the back of my mind.... the place where all Mamas store their guilt....I felt like I had made a mistake. 

One dead, Four left to figure it out.  My heart breaks for all of them. 

Friday, February 3, 2012

14 Months, Still Missing Her

This anniversary hit me harder than last month - maybe because last month I was preoccupied with Desirae's birthday - or maybe because this month the 3rd landed on a Friday....or maybe grief is just like that, strange and unpredictable.

When we first got Rachel's diagnosis, I refused to look it up on line.  I knew it wouldn't be good for me.  My sister did research for me and told me anything I needed to know.  But one of the sites she found, she said I should look at cause it would be encouraging for me and help me prepare.  I trusted her advice and that is when I found the Anencephaly.info site.  I used this site and the stories and photos there to help me to understand what I had ahead of me.  I also used the photos that these families shared to help prepare Desirae to meet her little sister.  I have a link for how family and friends can help us on the side of my blog that goes to this same site. 

Yesterday I was honored to receive an email with THIS LINK in it.  When I opened it up, I sat here and cried.  Never did I ever imagine that I would have a child die,  let alone from anencephaly....and even when I knew I was going to see both happen, I never thought she would be on this site and able to help so many other grieving parents.  I'm sad that she qualifies to be there and yet so thankful that this site is available and easy to find for people who receive this devastating diagnosis.

I had wanted to take down her Christmas decorations today, but I failed to pull together a replacement for them and I want to have something to put in their place.  I still have her little tree up here too, I'm waiting until hers comes down before I put this one away.  It somehow makes me feel closer to her if I have things here and there that are similar - I also like to keep things that I will eventually bring there here for a while so it's more like a piece of our home is at her grave.  And then when I take things back home from her grave, I keep them out here.  I know, it probably sounds weird.

I started to feel really bad this morning when I was at the craft store last minute trying to figure out what to do for her grave for February - it's still snowy and cold and too early for spring decor, but the Valentines stuff just wasn't doing it for me and the snow isn't staying deep enough for a snowman.  I started to feel emotional over the whole thing and decided I would leave her grave the way it is and just bring something from home for her.  So I made a little bouquet of flowers I had here and laminated a little poem that I came across the other day from one of the pamphlets I have and when Matt got out of work, we went down to the cemetery.  I've been glad to have him go with me more lately. 

Tonight I bought a fresh bouquet of daisies for my counter.  The ones I bought the day before Desirae's birthday are just starting to wilt.... it's been 14 months of fresh flowers around here, always reminding me of my delicate, unique, beautiful gift from God that was like a splash of color and a sweet fragrance that pushed up through the broken ground.  My sweet Rachel Alice.  I miss you so much it hurts baby girl.

Here is the poem I left for her today....

♥ To Our Rachel Alice ♥

Precious tiny, sweet little one -You will always be to me
So perfect, pure and innocent - Just as you were meant to be.

We dreamed of you and of your life - And all that it would be
We waited and longed for you to come - And join our family.

We never had the chance to play - To laugh, to rock to wiggle
We long to hold you, touch you now - And listen to you giggle.

But now you're gone and yet you're here - We sense you everywhere
You are our sorrow and our joy - There's love in every tear.

Just know our love goes deep and strong - We'll forget you never
The child we had, but never had - And yet will have forever.

(Author Unknown)

We miss you so much sweet girl - every minute of every day
for the last 14 months and for the rest of my life,
You're in my heart always.

Mama, Daddy, Desirae, Isaiah, Samuel & Asa ♥

Thursday, February 2, 2012

We'll Be Home in a Minute

Yesterday we had an appt for Desirae and as I was packing us to go she asked if we could get a babysitter for the boys.  I told her no, it's easier to just go and she let me in on one of her worries...

"But then everyone is going to say 'Wow, you have YOUR hands full' to you and 'Are you the big sister to ALL of these BOYS?' to me." (add rolling eyes and sarcastic tones)  I smiled because she's totally right.  EVERYONE tells me I have my hands full.  But I didn't notice that they consistently then go onto the next obvious thing...Des is stuck with all boys - 3 of them!  She hates the reminder.

I said "well, when they say that you can just say "I have a sister, too" and smile. 

She liked my idea, I could tell by the way her face lit up at my suggestion - but then she told me how she would finish off the comment...  " Yeah...I'll be like, I have a sister, too... She's at HOME" 

Yes she is. 

As I drove home from that appointment, (after being told I had my hands full!!) I thought about Desirae's words earlier that morning.  I thought about the fact that we are just on our way to where Rachel is, it's just a long ride.  I pondered the idea of time here vs. time in heaven.  And I really think that from the time Rachel got there until when we arrive, to her it might just feel like the time it takes us to drive home from an appointment.  I figure this is one of those areas that we cannot comprehend God.  Time.  Although the minutes on earth feel like forever until I'll see her again, He really hasn't separated us for that long in heaven's minutes. 

I talked to my mother in law on the phone yesterday and when I hung up the timer on the clock indicated it had been exactly 43 minutes since I dialed her number.  I couldn't believe it.  It didn't feel like long to me and my heart broke when I thought about the fact that it was the same amount of time I had with my girl.... I thought back to her birthday - that's it?  It went by so quickly. 

Today Sam had an appointment at the Neurologist.  He has a really deep sacral dimple that a few doctors have been concerned about now.  He had an ultrasound on it when he was 18 months old, but apparently the doctor who ordered that didn't know that would be too old for Spina Bifida to show (another neural tube defect that presents itself as a hole where Sam's dimple is)  So anyway, his primary doctor wanted me to get a 2nd opinion to see if we need to do an MRI on him, which thankfully, he didn't think we do.  But as I sat in his office and looked around, there were models of brains all over the room.  That's what he specializes in....I tried not to think about it, but it was impossible.... she was missing that part.  I wanted to show my kids 'Hey look, this is a brain'  but I couldn't.  I couldn't say it without saying, this is why Rachel died.

Why couldn't it have just formed?  I guess technically, it tried to but because it was exposed to my fluid, couldn't.  Yep, that makes me cry.  I hate it.

I was on my way out of that appointment and the lady said "You have your hands full!"  (I could almost see Des' eyes roll right out of her head!)  I smiled and said "Yes, I do and my heart is full too."  and as I snapped the baby in to his seat, I looked up and said  "we're on our way home."

And suddenly Rachel didn't feel so far away.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Going Back to Work!

OK, if you have hair on your head this post is for you!  I'm going back to work!  I've been anxiously waiting to tell you about this because we had to wait for our inspection, which was today and went fabulously!  So it's official....

I honestly never thought that I would see this day....but Matt & I have decided to take this amazing opportunity for me as a stylist at a new hair studio in Dover that my good friend Heather D. is opening this month.  It's called Pin Up and we'll be using organic and all natural, local products - from the hair color down to the refreshments!  I'm pretty excited about it.  The timing is absolutely perfect the salon is so cute!

We've thought about Matt getting a 2nd job, but this way Matt doesn't have to be gone more - he hates not seeing the kids at night.  This job is going to allow me to work very part time and make my own schedule, which means I can be home until Matt gets home and be back just a few hours later so the kids are always with us and him & I still get to hang out before we go to sleep. 

I went to write in my schedule and realized that the first day I was going to start was the 22nd of February.... That's Ash Wednesday....and we go to church that night.  I erased it and moved it to the 23rd and smiled - I love making my own schedule!

Speaking of schedule... I'll be starting the 23rd of Feb and would love it if you live close enough and want to come get your winter pick-me-up with a cut, color, foils (LOVE foils!) or a treatment to add back some moisture that these dry months take away!  Either email me or message me on facebook and we can get you in.  Right now I'm only planning on working a few hours a week so book now! :o)  I'd love to meet some of you that have walked this road along side me for so long.  AND through April I am able to offer a discounted price of $10-$15 off every service!

If you are able, you should come check us out Sunday the 12th between 12-4 - we're having an open house for Valentines Day....with chocolate and mimosas - I'll be drinking sparkling cider :o)  But I would love for you to come see where I'll be!  Email me for directions.