Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Completely Unclinched

I keep thinking I should write.... and then I don't know what to say.  I've had all sorts of things I've wanted to share, moments with God.... ups and downs....  but I rarely have the energy to do it.  And I don't mean physical energy, I mean mental and emotional energy.

I thought perhaps I was just moving into a new stage of my grief... you know, that 'easier' part I've heard so much about.... 

I thought that maybe I'm just so overwhelmed with everything going on in my life separate from Rachel (although none of it is EVER truly 'separate from her' to me, but it is to everyone else so I'll go with it) that I just don't have time to focus on her.... and maybe that's good....right?

I thought that maybe it's just me so busy being pregnant for the 7th time and raising 4 energetic children whom I also get the amazing privilege of homeschooling, and so no minute in the day is unclaimed.....

I thought maybe I'm in a horrible depression... after all, this is what 'they' say you need to look out for... not wanting to go anywhere, or do anything... not having energy or desire to do the things outside the house that you have always done.... losing interest in things that 'should be' important to you.... not talking to people about - or writing about - what's on my heart, which for an outward processor like me, is actually usually a really bad thing.....becoming content with surface conversations and unconcerned with peoples' opinions of me.....

I feel like time is flying by....like I'm letting time slip away and not achieving anything.... like I can see a new wrinkle each day in the mirror and my kids are growing in front of my eyes, and even though I am completely and totally here... in my home... in my life... with my family.... dedicated to them and God alone....in His Word more....not preoccupied for the first time in for as long as I can remember as the good over-achiever I am.....I don't answer the phone (ever, literally) and I use the computer about 1/10 of the time I used to.....I still feel like I can't slow it all down and I'm missing them grow.  (losing the last 3 years of photos when my computer crashed last night doesn't help that feeling at all!)

But mostly, I just feel confused.  And I realize as I write this and the song "I will carry you" plays in the background, bringing tears to my eyes, that it's still not easier....  I realize that this numbness doesn't need to be explained... and even if it was, it wouldn't be explained away.  Because it is what it is. 

And the truth is that for even as much as I have slowed down with the ways in which I busied myself before....  I have just gotten better at not going 'there'.... because 'there' still hurts like hell and sometimes I just don't have it in me.  Sometimes I just don't want to feel my way through it.  And sometimes.... sometimes I just still feel that unexplainable peace from God as I still still in 'it'.... knowing I am the odd man out in my little place on earth, knowing that this journey has held much more pain than just that associated with Rachel's death - the disappointment, betrayal, loss after loss....loneliness, abandonment, judgement....silence, fear, alienation.....and it's okay. It really is.

Sometimes I just wish 'they' were right and that moving into the 'stage of acceptance' (which by the way I did in September 2010 while I was still pregnant with her, but don't try to tell the grief specialist - or grief layman - that because they know too much to believe that could be possible since it's clearly out of the correct text book order) would mean that I now just lived within my 'new normal' and this just became part of who I am and the tears no longer had a reason to fall because I was finally 'accepting' the fact that I couldn't escape her death.  I finally stopped fighting it and now I would just be okay with her being gone. I finally just learned to forgive and forget.....  and I finally could call my grieving 'done' and just continue on with my life, preferably from where I left off almost 3 years ago.  And who knows, maybe that is the difference between losing a child and other losses and maybe those text book answers really do apply to other people.  Maybe it's just me or my kind....


What the heck am I trying to say?  I don't know... see, that's my point.... I start thinking or writing and I feel like I'm making sense but I never get anywhere and I'm just not used to that.  I have no 'clincher' to this post. I like to have clinchers.  Good writers always have clinchers.  that's how I come up with my title... How do I title this if I don't have a clincher and don't even know what my point is?  And why write without a point?

But I guess it wouldn't be unlike me to be over thinking it - because the truth is that I have had this unbelievable contentment with things just the way they are - undecided, undone, unplanned...unclinched. (if that's a word?)

I went out to plant the flowers I bought for Rachel for Easter in my garden and decided to sit with a book in the sun instead.  And I didn't feel bad.  My Rachel tulips look like they have been mangled under the ground, not growing well at all, and it's not breaking my heart. (yet)  I've missed a few different weeks of visits with Rachel and I didn't feel like I let her down.  (although the thought of missing the blooms on her tulips there is weighing on me...they were close to blooming on Friday...but not bothering me enough for me to drive down there, I guess)  I have her entire nonprofit up in the air... the board members, the tasks at hand, the future plans for ministry.... and I just do nothing.

And I know some people think this is improvement... like I'm finally stepping into a better place and letting go of my need to 'do'.  I'm not convinced.  I feel like I don't know me... like this just isn't me.  None of this is anything like me, even before Rachel.  And I don't know for sure if that is even what God wants from me.  And honestly, I'm a little worried that I will awake from this numbness one day and regret my complacency and how it is undoubtedly going to do nothing more but leave me more alone in this - and make it harder to do the things I have worked so hard to do for her and for God's glory.  And yet I don't care to do anything about it.

Is that good?  Bad?  I don't know and strangely, right now, I don't care.  I'm just hoping He has a purpose in it and that even though I don't know how to conclude the wide range of emotions and thoughts I have,  that even though I feel completely unclinched, that He will never let me drift so far off the story line that He can't bring it all back around to one amazing clincher. 

So, as I let all the things I have no idea what to do about sit and slip away, I will sit in the sun with an iced coffee, a good book and my amazing children every day because I can. I will enjoy each moment I get with them here.  I will care for my home, my husband, my children with great humility and thanksgiving, believing that my sometimes thankless and most often glamorless role as the maker of this home was designed by the Maker of this Universe and is the most beautiful gift I have ever been given next to my salvation in Jesus Christ. 

And at the end of every day...whether I have cried or not... whether I have gone 'there' or not... whether I feel like I accomplished something or not... I will crawl into bed and curl up with a pretty pink and green blanket that held one of the most precious little girls to ever be and I will thank Him for her.  All of it.  The beginning, the middle, and the end... knowing that through her, He changed me.  That because of her, I am different - better.  That in Him, I am with her and she with me.  And that in the end.... well, we're gonna dance, me & her - except it won't be the end, it will be just the beginning - the first day of forever. 

Who doesn't love that kind of clincher? 

Monday, April 29, 2013

2013 Mother's Day Cards

I only made a couple designs this time around, but tried to use language that would cover more bases - and for the people who requested I make some that say "child" instead of just "baby". 

I hope to do more next year, but this was what I could muster up with my energy level.... but I think they came out really nice.  And as usual, they are even more beautiful in person.... just like my girl.

Rachel Alice Aube & Restoring Aching Arms presents.... our 2013 Mother's Day Cards - in memory of my girl and for all my beautiful friends who I have met along the painful, yet amazing, journey of baby loss. 

As mother's day approaches, I want you to know that your babies and children are not - and will never be - forgotten.  Ever.

2013 Mother's Day Cards

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Page 43

Last night, before bedtime, Desirae came down with the book she was reading.  I heard Matt tell her to go back upstairs and I heard her giggle... "I need to read something to Mama." she requested.

She came out in the kitchen and gave me the background of the story...  There was a ship that was caught in a storm and just before it crashed into the rocks, the mother threw her little girl overboard, wrapped in a blanket, into a small boat to people who were trying to save them all.  Another huge wave came and destroyed the boat in front of them and everyone died except the little girl, who was now with them and they decided to keep.  She was a cute little 2 year old with "light brown hair, rosey cheeks and the bluest of blue eyes."

Des began reading me the story and was pausing to giggle as she read each line that the little girl spoke.  She just kept saying how cute she was.  Her excitement and smile alone had me smiling, but every time she giggled, I would too.  She's always had a contagious laugh.

She skipped many of the words, mostly wanting to read me the words of the little girl. The book has her words written in 'little girl language' and she was reading in a little girl voice.

I want to share part with you..... It's from "Saved at Sea" by O.F. Walton

"Oh! How she ran and jumped and played in the garden.  I never saw such a merry little thing, picking up stones, gathering daisies ("day-days" she called them), running down the path and calling me to catch her.  She was never still for an instant!
But every now and then, as I was playing with her, I looked across the sea to Ainslie Crag.  The seas had not gone down much, though the wind had ceased, and I saw the waves still clashing wildly upon the rocks.  And I thought of what lay beneath them, of the shattered ship, and of the child's mother.  "Oh! if she only knew, " I thought, as I listened to her merry laugh which made me more ready to cry than her tears had done."
I asked, but honestly, I already knew the answer....I sensed it in every word.... 

"Des, what page is that on?"

She looked down and her eyes got HUGE and she burst out in laughter as she said "Page 43!!"

Should I be surprised that there, buried in this amazing story, is a 2 year old girl playing in a garden and picking daisies.... on page 43?  At this point, no, it doesn't really surprise me - but it does leave me in awe.

And when I went to look today so that I could share this with you, I saw that, not only is it on page 43, but it's ALL that is on that page.  Every time I read it again, I cry.  I'm not trying to change the meaning out of this awesome classic story, but when I read this I honestly feel like God is speaking to me.  I feel His gentle reassurance that she is happy.  She was welcomed into her new home.  That her laugh is amazing.  That she loves daisies and plays in gardens.  That she is well taken care of. 

I feel His reminder that I'm not forgotten - that the reality of my storm, although in the distance for them and leaving them untouched, is not completely out of their view, it just doesn't hurt them. And can't.  She is safe. The wind ceasing, but the waves still crashing, and I still beneath the shattered ship seems to describe my place right now on this journey perfectly. 

And then the last part... "Oh! if she only knew."  I have often wished Rachel knew all I do for her and how I miss her.  And this line just leaves me thanking God that she is oblivious to my pain.... that maybe she does know of me there and I think maybe even remember my love for her.... but the storm, the shipwreck, the aftermath, the loss.....  She's unaware, happily jumping through a garden.... giggling.... "never sitting still for a minute, " just as I imagined her at the age of 2....

I flipped the book over to see what the back says... how did I buy this without ever noticing this plot? 

It reads:
"As the storm disappears on the horizon, the little mystery girl touches the hearts of some very lonely peeople.  Another stranger arrives on the island and Alick finds out that there is a rock that you can depend on in life, whatever the storms throw at you.  Jesus Christ will always be there - an anchor, a fortress, stronger than a lighthouse on the rocks, stronger even than death!"
And again, this little girl, saved from death, reminds me of my sweet Rachel.... touching hearts, bringing light to dark days, and pointing so many to Hope in Jesus.  And I am reminded that He is stronger than death!

Matt & I have been talking about the fact that there is a chance that Rachel could have only lived 42 minutes... or that if they had listened for her heart again at 44 minutes, instead of 43, they would have called it 44 minutes.  We go by 43 because that is what the doctor told us  - but are they accurate?  Who knows.... but God was in every single detail. 

I'm amazed daily at how He shows me this truth.  Things will happen, I look at the clock at just the right time, I see a flower bloom on a special day, the grass at her grave grows in the shape of a heart...another 43 shows up... a rainbow appears at unbelievable times....there have been so many things.... I could never list them all.  These little "Godwinks" as my friend Melissa calls them have been everywhere since He took my baby girl home, always bringing me both comfort and tears.  And always reminding me He is here with me since her death....

But something like this, that had to be put together over 8 years before I was even pregnant with her leaves me with this unbelievable sense of security that God has it all planned out...every part of my life...every detail.  Humbled that He cares that much for me to speak to me in this way.  Amazed at how He brings details together that we could not make happen if we tried, no matter how we planned.  I marvel at the thought of Him waiting to catch her as I sent her into His safe keeping during the most overwhelming storm I have ever experienced... the storm of death.... I am thankful for how He helped me to be so unselfish for her sake. .And once again, I am so full of Hope for that glorious day when I will see her again.  I rejoice in my sure salvation through Jesus Christ that grants me that promise true.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Prayer Request

So, last week I mentioned I was feeling sick.  As much as I would love to believe it is just a bug that will go away, it's not.  This would make a first for me... 2nd trimester nausea.  Wonderful.  I feel like I'm back in the first trimester with sudden nausea and extreme exhaustion.

Then at my last appointment, I measured 28 weeks when I was only 23.  I usually do measure 1-2 weeks ahead so that wouldn't surprise me, but 5 was a little shocking.  The doctor said "we" wouldn't worry about it as long as the next couple of months measured consistently from this point.  I tried to go along with her idea of not worrying together, but after what I went through with Rachel, the thought of having polyhyramnios (excess amniotic fluid) again scares the crap out of me.  It was SO painful.  And the medicine they gave me to help control it with Rachel, isn't something I could take with a baby who is 'supposed to live'.  So, while I told her I wouldn't worry, I started worrying.... would this mean I was going to spend the rest of my pregnancy in pain and end up going into labor early?  Would I not be able to have another VBAC?  Would I make it thru the 1 hr 15 min drive to the hospital if my water broke at home early on my 6th baby?  Could I go so early that baby could have trouble surviving?  Somehow, I've managed to take most of my thoughts captive and trust God....

And then it started....  the extreme back pain like I had with Rachel.  I can't make it through a night without waking up in tears and then I'm up for the rest of the day cause laying back down is too painful.  I did fall on the stairs last week, but I don't think it was hard enough to mess anything up.  I mostly just hurt my leg.  I also have arthritis in my back and neck, so bone issues aren't really anything new for me... I can very clearly tell these are NOT muscle pains.  Matt's been rubbing my back throughout the nights and it doesn't help a single bit. I've been in all the good 'back labor positions' to see if baby was laying on a nerve.  And mostly crying a lot. Neither of us are getting much sleep these days.  The pain is from the back of my neck all the way down to my butt and then the entire right side of my body.  Nothing on the left at all.  It feels like my spine gets stiff from laying down and when I move, everything spasms or something.  It's excruciating.  Yesterday at Rachel's Playground, I sat down to go down the slide with they boys and my right arm went completely numb until I stood up again, which makes me think it's a nerve issue....but for the most part, my back only hurts at night, which is good - sort of.

I just talked to the doctor who said exactly what I didn't want to hear... just keep changing my positions and using heat or cold as feels best... and take Tylenol (which everyone knows is useless in pain relief as well as swelling)  I'm going to get a belly support band and probably resort to sleeping in the chair (*so* wish I had a recliner)  She said I could have an ultrasound to measure the fluid, but she thinks it is a little too early to tell if poly is an issue.  I haven't decided what to do on that yet.  The good news is that my original fear was that it meant baby wasn't swallowing right, but when I looked into it, it appears as though they don't start swallowing until right about now so that probably has nothing to do with it.  That's a relief because it means if there is something wrong with someone, it is me, not the baby.

So, here is my point... I really need prayer.  I don't need advice, believe me I've tried it all and will continue to.  I also don't want you to try to make me feel better by minimizing it based on your own experiences - Because, while all mothers have a bit of worrying to do during a pregnancy, this entire thing is more complicated for my heart than the average mother.  The thing is, no matter what anyone says, I will remain scared of going through the next 15 weeks in intense pain (while trying to care for my other children) and the possibility of this affecting a safe delivery for my baby until I get confirmation that I don't have poly again and until this unbelievable pain stops.  So please, just pray.

I was ordering some photos this morning of Rachel's birthday so I can finally get working on her scrapbook and when I came across the ones right before her delivery, I cried when I saw my head hung in prayer.  The unbelievable need for God and God alone and the amazing peace He granted me in those hours.  What else could I do? 

I thought back to the prayer list I had sent out when I got her diagnosis...  That she would stay in me until her due date and be able to come home with us... that she would be here for Des' birthday... that we would need her car seat....that she would have two dates on her headstone....none of it came to be... and so while I'm tempted to wonder what the sense in praying is if God already knows exactly what will happen with this baby and my pregnancy, I know one thing for sure....  I only made it through those days because of the people who continuously carried me to my Father in prayer.  It didn't change my circumstances, but it did help me in so many ways.

And on that note, I'm going to give a prayer list, if you could please pray for these things, it would mean a lot to me.  Not because it will change any of it - but because I need strength to get through it and I know God hears.

- That my back pain would not continue like this for the rest of this pregnancy
- That I don't/won't have polyhydramnios
- For a safe, full term VBAC delivery of this *healthy* little one.
- That the doctors would be proactive in staying on top of my symptoms and not overlook anything.
- For peace in my heart and God's continual protection in my mind.

And while I'm at it, I really need prayer for a couple of other things...

- We need to find a decent, used, 8 passenger van before this baby arrives - we don't fit in ours with car seats.  (they are next to impossible to locate and we have just our trade towards it financially - we really can't do a larger vehicle due to the cost of gas)
- For a few upcoming decisions (can't specify, but God knows)

Thank you ♥

Saturday, April 20, 2013

He Was Always In Control

The other night before bed, I decided to look back in my journal to the day I found out I was pregnant with Rachel.  I knew this could be torture since I remembered only the happiness from that time in my life. 

I read it and was left speechless.

It was as if I knew right from day one.  And so I went on and read the next couple of entries... all saying the same thing.  I knew something was wrong and I couldn't shake it.  In my memory, I knew I felt that way before Rachel's ultrasound, but I remembered those thoughts and feelings coming much later - but that actually wasn't the case.

On April 17, 2010, I wrote these words:

"My 5th pregnancy confirmed today....  I'm almost scared to be excited.  I want to be free to rejoice in the miracle that God has created and is allowing me to carry, yet feel reserved.  It kind of stinks to know first hand how fragile life is and how little control we have over it.  God, please protect this baby.  Keep it safe and healthy and strong.  Please Lord, don't take it from us... we want to know him or her.  But please dear God helps us to glorify you in everything.  Thank you Jesus for this unexpected gift, who may just share your birthday... due 12/25!!"
And then on May 28, 2010: (a follow up u/s, after having the first u/s where they said it looked like I had a missed miscarriage because there was no baby showing in my sac)

" My Ultrasound went well.  They saw the baby and heartbeat.  But weren't able to hear it on the doppler at my first appt though, which was a bummer.  I know God is trying to get me to hope in Him - I've never had everything go wrong in a pregnancy like this before.  I am amazed at the peace I have had thru it - definitely God.  In my humanness, there would be no way.  I know the ball could drop at any moment and with how everything is going, it wouldn't be a surprise, but I don't feel scared.  It's weird, the peace that passes understanding... but I can see how God has prepared my heart with past experiences."
No matter what life brings my way, I have a God who hears and answers prayers.  He prepares us for the road ahead and even the pain has a purpose.   I remember later in my pregnancy thinking that God was preparing me for a child with Down Syndrome.  I remember walking one day with the kids and seeing the sweetest little girl with Downs and feeling like it was confirmation from God that I was heading down that road.  And when the ultrasound didn't go well, but we didn't know what was wrong yet, I prayed it was Down Syndrome.... I just wanted to keep her.  All I could say to Matt was "I don't care what is wrong with her, I just don't want her to die." as I sobbed, staring at the black and white photo in my hands.

But, even when God says 'no', there is a reason.  And I trust him.  Because so far since I have known Him, (and even before I knew Him, without my knowledge at the time) he has never let me down. 

I have never believed that the best way to love your children is to give them all they want or ask for. (I've seen the results of that in my home and other homes and it isn't pretty)  I believe that setting boundaries and not allowing my kids free reign is not only healthy for them, but best for them. (and the people who have to deal with them!)  I have also seen the fruit of what happens when children are taught they aren't the center of the universe and it is such a blessing.  And so why would I want any less from my Father towards me?  I don't.  Even when it leaves me wanting... in pain... feeling the weight of the sin in this world...even when I feel like life is unfair or when I have to take an honest look at my own heart and I don't like what I see...even when I have to say goodbye to my own child... because when I am weak, then He is strong.  And when I know for a fact that I am small and needy - that is when He is able to provide the best for me. 

So, today, I again look to Him to remind me that this place I am in right now has a purpose and that, even though it feels dry and weary, it is for my good.  He is in control.  Always was.  And I thankfully and humbly release the control to Him, knowing that He is much better at this stuff than me and will carry me through.  He always has.

Another amazing song on my new CD (thanks, Sue!!)  - pause player before playing - And I recommend turning this WAY up :)

 "Our God Is In Control"
Steven Curtis Chapman
This is not how it should be
This is not how it could be
This is how it is
And our God is in control

This is not how it will be
When we finally will see
We'll see with our own eyes
He was always in control

And we'll sing holy, holy, holy is our God
And we will finally really understand what it means
So we'll sing holy, holy, holy is our God
While we're waiting for that day

This is not where we planned to be
When we started this journey
But this is where we are
And our God is in control

Though this first taste is bitter
There will be sweetness forever
When we finally taste and see
That our God is in control

And we'll sing holy, holy, holy is our God
And we will finally really understand what it means
So we'll sing holy, holy, holy is our God
While we're waiting for that day

We're waiting for that day
We'll keep on waiting for that day
And we will rise
Our God is in control

(Holy, holy, holy) [x2]

Our God is in control

(Holy, holy, holy)

Our God is in control

(Holy, holy, holy)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

When He Gave

Words are still escaping me....  but I couldn't let today go by without writing something. 

Throughout the day today, that day 3 years ago came to mind a few times.  The day we found out she was growing inside of me.  It was the first time I ever took a pregnancy test and honestly did not think there was a chance I would be pregnant.  And I guess if I was to try to sum up how I felt when it came to my mind... I would probably just say I miss it.  I miss that day and the weeks following.  I miss my ignorant bliss.

I miss when I didn't know her fate and when she was just alive.  When excitement and dreams to come were not ones that had to do with donating things in her memory or waiting for heaven - but ones of what it would be like to watch her grow.

I didn't have much sadness over it today - but as I write, it wells up inside of me....  and so maybe that is why I've been avoiding writing....  Or maybe I feel like I'm running out of things to say.  How many times can I say it?  Retell it?  How many ways can I explain it?  How could I possibly ever really put it all into words... all my love, sadness, joy and pain?

I can't. 

So today, I just thank Him for that day that He chose to give her to me - even though it was in His plan to take her back.... because she was never really mine in the first place - but He gave her to me.  And because through it all, I have learned in a way I could have never without my sweet Rachel Alice - He is faithful... and oh, so good to me.

Listen to this song that has just resonated with me this week....(pause player on bottom of blog before playing!)

Steven Curtis Chapman
I am broken, I am bleeding,
I'm scared and I'm confused,
but You are faithful.
Yes You are faithful.
I am weary, unbelieving.
God please help my unbelief!
Cuz You are faithful.
Yes You are faithful.

I will proclaim it to the world.
I will declare it to my heart
And sing it when the sun is shining.
I will scream it in the dark.

You are faithful!
You are faithful!
When you give and when You take away,
even then still Your name
is faithful!
You are faithful!
And with everything inside of me,
I am choosing to believe
You are faithful.

I am waiting for the rescue
that I know is sure to come,
cuz You are faithful.
Yes You are faithful.
I've dropped anchor in Your promises,
and I am holding on,
cuz You are faithful.
God You are faithful.

I will proclaim it to the world.
I will declare it to my heart
And sing it when the sun is shining.
I will scream it in the dark.

You are faithful!
You are faithful!
When you give and when You take away,
even then still Your name
is faithful!
You are faithful!
And with everything inside of me,
I am choosing to believe You're faithful.

So faithful...

Though I cannot have the answer
that I'm wanting to demand,
I'll remember You are God
and everything is in Your hand.
In Your hands you hold the sun, the moon,
the stars up in the sky,
for the sake of Love, You hung Your own Son
on the cross...to die...

You are faithful...
Yes, You are faithful...
When you give and when You take away,
even then, great is Your faithfulness!
Great is Your faithfulness!

And with everything inside of me,
I am choosing to believe You're faithful!
Oh, oh, oh...
Oh, oh, oh...
When you give and when You take away,
even then still Your name
is faithful!
You are faithful!
And with everything inside of me,
I am choosing to believe...

...You're faithful...

Monday, April 15, 2013


I feel such a loss for words lately.

God is doing something that I haven't quite figured out and won't try to explain.  It's pretty intense and I think is the beginning of a journey I never thought I'd take, let alone want to take. 

But, I do want to take a minute a brag on my amazing friends and how God is loving me through them right now....

In the last week and a half or so, I have been lavished upon with gifts.  There are so many things, I hope I can remember them all. 

First, I received a beautiful cross with a daisy on it from my friend Chloe in New Zealand (She did the drawings of us with Rachel in memory of her daughter Hope).  I don't often go to Rachel's PO BOX these days, but I decided to pop in and found a package from her.  My favorite part: she signed it from her AND Hope.  I love that.

Then I got a package with a Lia Sophia daisy ring and necklace from Elisha.  She sent them as a gift to me during the fundraiser she was doing for Rachel's non profit.  They are beautiful and I love having different jewelry I can wear that shouts "Rachel". 

My friend Sue sent me an album by Steven Curtis Chapman called Beauty Will Rise - He wrote it after losing his daughter and if you have lost a child, you NEED this album.  Every word in every song could be written by my own heart.  The words and feelings all sound so familiar.  I've been listening to it a lot and finding comfort and encouragement in it and the reminder of God's beauty in the midst of deep pain.  It's somewhat of a relief to hear someone other than myself admit that this journey leaves you with questions and unable to breathe at times.... yet still praising God...  even when words fail and reality strikes.
And I suppose it's no coincidence that the inside cover has this:

I got a beautiful metal daisy pinwheel from my friend Nancy in NJ - I kid you not, the very day before it arrived, I had come across another pinwheel that was left for Rachel in the first spring after she died and thought to myself... I wish I had two so I could put one in her garden here and one at her grave... and although they aren't the same, it was an answered prayer... and I cannot wait to set this up in her garden.  It's going to look perfect next to her bench.

I had put in a request for an embroidered hankie from Little Angels Hankies MONTHS ago.  They embroider them for free with the name of your baby on it.  I was wondering about if I should check in with them, knowing that the last time I did, I was up in the hundreds on the waiting list - and then I came home and there it was!  I had planned on bringing it around with me to wipe all my tears... but I am not sure if I want to get it all stained up... and then I wonder, what's the point of having it if I don't catch my tears with it?  We'll see if I dare stain the beautiful white cloth....

And then Friday, my awesome husband brought me home some daisies with a rose tucked in the middle (he still keeps our counter decorated with fresh flowers for Rachel for me - haven't been without them yet since Dec 2010!) and since I hadn't gone to Rachel's grave that day, the timing was perfect.  But to make it even more beautiful, while I was out with friends that night, Des cut them all and arranged them in a vase for me and left me a note.

On top of that, I've had a few more people write and tell me they have recently found - or come back to - my blog and how Rachel is still leaving an impact, through my writing.... something I have struggled to believe was still possible.

And a local midwife, Jessica, offered to do a free belly cast for me.... I'm thinking I might do it - but my heart hurts as I think of it cause someone offered me one while I was pregnant with Rachel and I didn't do it.  It's always hard for me to do anything I regret not doing with her....But I'm trying to come up with a creative way to include her.

In the middle of all of these tangible gifts, God has been pouring out His love and making Himself and His care for me known in so many ways.  And while these types of intangible gifts from God that will never decay or fade will always be the best kind, I am so thankful for all the ways you all have been loving me and for the timing of God's prompting of that love in your hearts.  Thank you.

I'm guessing it's also not a coincidence that I have all these reminders of how many hearts she has touched as I approach April 17... the day 3 years ago we found out she was growing inside me.... I knew she would change my life - I just had no idea how much so.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Captivate Us

One of my all time favorite songs - this morning, as the words flow through my home in this beautiful song,  it's requests are my deepest prayer and longing....and it's Truths about my God my greatest comfort in which I rest.

Captivate Us

Your face is beautiful
And Your eyes are like the stars
Your gentle hands have healing
There inside the scars
Your loving arms they draw me near
And Your smile it brings me peace
Draw me closer oh my Lord
Draw me closer Lord to Thee

Captivate us, Lord Jesus
Set our eyes on You
Devastate us with Your presence
Falling down
And rushing river, draw us nearer
Holy fountain consume us with You
Captivate us Lord Jesus, with You

Your voice is powerful
And Your words are radiant bright
In Your breath and shadow
I will come close and abide
You whisper love and life divine
And Your fellowship is free
Draw me closer O my Lord
Draw me closer Lord to Thee


Let everything be lost in the shadows
Of the light of Your face
Let every chain be broken from me
As I’m bound in Your grace
For Your yoke is easy, Your burden is light
You’re full of wisdom, power and might
And every eye will see You
Here is the video:

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Grief Multiplied

Yesterday while the kids & I played outside, we met this cute little family who was walking by.  They live just at the end of our street on the corner.  We talked for a half an hour or so...  her mom recently died from cancer and she is newly at home with her 4 yr old girl.  They let Isaiah walk their dog for a few minutes, which made his day.

We invited them back soon and said goodbye.  And excitedly told Matt about our new friends at dinner.

A couple hours ago, we went to go to the Dollar Store and our street was lined with people shaking their heads.  And then I saw the smoke.... billowing out of their windows.

I stopped and asked my next door neighbor if it was their apartment.... he said "I don't know, they have a little girl and a dog... (my heart sunk) I hope they made it out."

The police moved their cars so I could get through and I headed to the store in tears.  We prayed for them and for the other families who live in the building - as well as for their families and the Fire Fighters. 

As I pulled back onto our street an hour and a half later, the smoke had stopped and it was clear there was nothing left of the apartment.  I saw the mom's head peaking out from behind a few fire fighters and I mouthed to her "Was that your house?" 

She nodded.

She came over and I gave her a big hug....  The first words out of her mouth were "Nothing goes right in my life....It might have been small, but ever since I lost my mom, it is all I have."  And she went on to tell me that they weren't sure if their dog and cat were alive as she stared up at the black holes that used to be windows.... "It just doesn't make sense" she said.

Grief multiplied.

Why it pours when it rains?

Why life is so heavy and confusing?

Why watching her mom die this year wasn't enough? 

How much can one person handle?

Utter helplessness.

Wanting to do something that will help.

Wishing I had enough space that I could just sweep them up and take care of them.

Wanting to fix what I can't.

Feeling guilty for buying a new toilet plunger when this family just lost....everything.

Selfish Disappointment.

We were all so excited to have met them

I thought I saw purpose in our meeting and it involved us living near each other.

I wanted to be able to encourage her in her grief, as well as in her new role as an at home mom.


That God caused our paths to cross just yesterday, giving me the opportunity to love someone through something that I cannot imagine going through.

That even when I am completely broken by how painful this world is, I know this is all just temporary.

That when I think I know what God has planned, I realize it's something much bigger and more important than I had thought.

Please pray for them and also for us to be able to minister to them in a special way through this trial.  A way in which they know that our love is not of us, but straight to them from God.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Silent Soul Taking Refuge

For as hard as I thought last year was, this year has proven to be harder....  in a much different way. 

There are a few different areas we have chosen to take a stand in lately and as a result, we are being judged and attacked from every angle.  We've been praying and God isn't stopping it.  And we find ourselves questioning our stance and wanting to back down for the sake of comfort.  I was given council to wait silently for God to direct me in my words or actions.... and so I sit.... me, speechless?  If it would be from God, yes.  I have all sorts of things I could say from my own depraved mind and heart... but that's not love.

The sad part is that it takes being in a very difficult place for me to completely surrender to God again - but as I have, I am yet again humbled by how He meets me there every time.

I started reading through the Psalms again recently (I plan to read thru them before baby E comes) and this morning, I was in Psalm 22.  It's about the suffering, praise and posterity of the Messiah.... *sigh*... and reminded me that in times of hardship and crisis, what others are doing (even if to me) is not as important as what God is doing.  When I focus on God and what HE wants from me and IS to me, rather than worrying about what anyone else thinks about me or what they think about how we have been led by God, He is always near - and His presence is our deliverance.  Not man's approval or acceptance. 

But, I'm not going to lie.... that is HARD for this girl - I've always cared WAY too much what others think about me.  If their input is based on God's Word and I need to hear it, then I should be.... but if it's worldly chatter and a human perspective.... I can't be.  Or I'll never do what I should.  I'll always be compromising what God calls me to. Which as uncomfortable as it can be at times, I KNOW is for my good and the good of my children whom I have the responsibility to raise to know and love HIS ways - not the worlds.  I guess I am finally seeing just how sacrificial this can be... and it's painful.

Yesterday in church, we sang the song playing on my blog right now.  I know it's just a song - but I was thankful for the timing and how the lyrics lined up with my reading this morning.  God is here.  I am not sure why everything needs to happen at once - or how much He thinks I can handle - but I know He is here.  He is my refuge and strength....and as I lift my eyes up, my God comes through - always.  Maybe not in the form of the world around me understanding or even accepting me, but that's okay because HE is my deliverance.  My soul will rest in Him.

Psalm 62:5-7
5 My soul, wait silently for God alone, For my expectation is from Him.
6 He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be moved.
7 In God is my salvation and my glory; The rock of my strength,
And my refuge, is in God.

Kristian Stanfill
My foes are many, they rise against me
But I will hold my ground
I will not fear the war, I will not fear the storm
My help is on the way, my help is on the way

Oh, my God, He will not delay
My refuge and strength always
I will not fear, His promise is true
My God will come through always, always

Troubles surround me, chaos abounding
My soul will rest in You
I will not fear the war, I will not fear the storm
My help is on the way, my help is on the way

Oh, my God, He will not delay
My refuge and strength always
I will not fear, His promise is true
My God will come through always, always

I lift my eyes up, my help comes from the Lord
I lift my eyes up, my help comes from the Lord
I lift my eyes up, my help comes from the Lord
I lift my eyes up, my help comes from the Lord
From You Lord, from You Lord

Oh, my God, He will not delay
My refuge and strength always
I will not fear, His promise is true
My God will come through always, always

Oh, my God, He will not delay
My refuge and strength always, always

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Just Want to be Her Mama

The other night I went grocery shopping.  I was exhausted, but I went at night so I could go without the kids.  I made it through the trip really quickly and got into line.

The cashier was a young girl.  It said on her name tag she was in her first year there.  There was one problem after another.... she needed a few different voids and help with codes.  The managers were rolling their eyes at her and getting frustrated with her. At one point I could tell she was going to cry.  She moved her hair towards her face to hide a little. 

One of the times when she flipped on her light and he gave her a "what now" look, I spoke up and said "It's not her fault this time, it's yours" (one of the items wouldn't ring up) and tried to make a joke about it... but they are pretty serious about their jobs over there at the Market and he didn't find my humor... nor let up on her.

I felt so bad for her. "It's okay, no worries, I don't care.  You are doing great and you get paid the same amount whether you are stressed out or not, so don't sweat it" I told her.

"Yeah, it's just easier when they aren't mad at me" she said as she looked around and then joked that she would buy them candy after to make them like her again.

I walked out, after being checked out for 25 minutes....

As soon as the cool air outside hit my face, my eyes filled with tears.

I'm never going to get to hear about Rachel's stressful nights at her first job.

It never ceases to amaze me how unpredictable grief is.  I'm not sure who decided it was a condition that lasted for a year and then went away.  But in my experience, it's been more about moments than a constant condition.  It's been more about the times when I realize that other little thing I will miss....not about sitting around for years in tears.  It's been more about wanting to have the chance to speak into my daughter's life as she grows then it is about her dying.

And I guess that's why 'seeing her again in heaven' doesn't usually work at curbing those pains.... because in heaven, none of this will matter - but here.... here I would be able to be something to her that I won't be there.  Her Mama... the one who calms her fears, protects her, listens to her, and cheers her on to be something great and to follow God.

I want to hear about her stressful nights at her first job, her troubles with friends, her love for her children.  I want to be there to answer the phone when she needs to talk.... when she is excited about meeting the man she thinks she will marry and to help her get her hair just right to walk down the isle. 

And I know that's all selfish because I would never be enough for her.  She would always need God more than me.  And I would always be directing her exactly that way.  So, why can't I just be thankful and rejoice that she already has Him fully?

I don't know.  I just want to be her Mama. 

Together In Him

I've gotten behind in my blogging, but I have more to share about Easter.  I figure on the 3rd is a good day to do that....

Last week, I was in a very tough place.  As I sat here one day, blogging about feeling alone, I got a knock on my door.  I almost didn't answer, but looked and saw my friend Donna's car.

I opened the door and she held out a couple boxes of solar powered daisies lights.  She handed me some money and said it was to decorate Rachel's grave.  I started crying.  She looked at me and said "What, you don't like them?"  "No, I love them" I sobbed.

She ended up telling me that we could use the money however we needed most and stayed and talked for a while.  I felt like her visit was straight from God.... but she tends to show up just when I need it most.

I set up one set of lights at Rachel's grave and another set here in the garden where I had her Christmas wreath and lights.  I bought some eggs and a pretty sparkly cross for her grave and used the rest of the money to get the kids' Easter basket fillers. 

I set up  her grave on Friday and our garden on Saturday.  I planned on putting the daisy lights on the pole behind her headstone, but the clips wouldn't fit, so I surrounded her "New life in Christ" flag with them.  In our garden, I put them around the "Grow Baby Grow" sign I used for Asa's pregnancy announcement and because you all know how every bloom I get here reminds me of Rachel...

Saturday night I looked outside to find the brightest solar lights I've ever seen!  And not only are they daisy shaped, but they are multi colored, which I didn't expect and they change colors so subtly that you have to look closely to see it happening.... they are AWESOME!  It made me smile knowing her grave had been so brightly lit on Good Friday.

On Sunday, after Easter service, we went to Rachel's grave. It was gorgeous out. The snow was gone. And since I had already decorated on Friday, I was just there to rejoice over the message I had just heard again in church.... He conquered the grave!! And because I am in Him - and she is with Him... we actually don't even have to wait to be together!! We ARE connected... right now!  We are together in Him!

I stood there and repeated lyrics we had just sang....

Come awake, come awake, come and rise up from the grave..... and the peace of God covered me and reminded me that in Christ, death loses.  It doesn't win.  Rachel isn't bound by it and neither am I.  He who is in me is greater than he who is in the world.  No matter what I struggle with in this life, He is bigger, stronger... He wins. 

O Death, where is your sting?  O hell, where is your victory?? 

It isn't.  You lose.  He wins.  Death has no victory over those who are in Christ.  And this sting... this pain that death has caused me every day for the past 28 months... it still doesn't win because it is temporary and He is ETERNAL.  My pain is here, but this isn't it for me.  Thank You, Jesus.

But I'm not gonna lie... when I sang those words to her on Sunday... Come awake, come awake, come and rise up from the grave... I was sorta hoping she might actually do it... Sure, that sounds crazy, but it's happened before - so call me morbid, but I still sometimes really hope I don't have to wait for heaven to see her again....

Missing you on this 3rd pretty girl....love you yesterday, today, tomorrow, forever....

Let no one caught in sin remain
Inside the lie of inward shame
We fix our eyes upon the cross
And run to Him who showed great love

And bled for us
Freely You've bled for us

Christ is risen from the dead
Trampling over death by death
Come awake, come awake
Come and rise up from the grave

Christ is risen from the dead
We are one with Him again
Come awake, come awake
Come and rise up from the grave

Beneath the weight of all our sin
You bowed to none but heaven's will
No scheme of hell, no scoffer's crown
No burden great can hold You down

In strength You reign
Forever let Your church proclaim

Christ is risen from the dead
Trampling over death by death
Come awake, come awake
Come and rise up from the grave

Christ is risen from the dead
We are one with Him again
Come awake, come awake
Come and rise up from the grave

O death, where is your sting?
O hell, where is your victory?
O church, come stand in the light
The glory of God has defeated the night
Sing it, O death,
where is your sting?
O hell, where is your victory?
O church, come stand in the light
Our God is not dead, He's alive, He's alive!!


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Blessings in the Snow

I wasn't going to share this, but after the note I got on Sunday, I need to.

Remember the man I told you I always see if we go after work hours on Friday to visit Rachel?  He had been on my heart for a long time - always wondering who he visited.  I figured it must be his wife since he was so devoted to getting there. And I figured it must have been fairly recent for him to still be going every Friday.  I guess since he is the only one I see there as consistently as I am, I felt a connection in a way.... I don't really know how to word that....

But anyway, I noticed he had been leaving his fresh flowers each week in the snow bank by the road.  I have been incredibly blessed in my times of not being able to move snow by my friends clearing the way for me to Rachel's grave and could just imagine how his heart felt each week not being able to get over to the stone.
previous weeks' roses buried

So one day when I pulled up to my shoveled area, I walked over and left him a note near his flowers.

I wrote something like:

Please leave us a note on Rachel's grave (two rows down) as to what grave you visit each week.  My family and I would like to make you a path to where your heart is.
And I left him one of the cards we handed out at her birthday with the lyrics to the songs we sang and a verse on it so he would know of our love for the Lord.

I planted it in the snow where he had been leaving his flowers and prayed it wouldn't blow away....

He never responded.  

The next storm, I had Matt go down after work one night and make a path to the area we've seen him at.  And the next time I went, he had left his flowers in the snow anyway.  I wasn't sure how to take it... was he upset that we had overstepped boundaries?  Did he never get the note?  Did he prefer to be left alone?  Did he like leaving them there so they would be upright and get water from the snow?

The next week was when I pulled up and Rachel's spot wasn't shoveled for the first time and I had no idea what God's purpose was in that.  I honestly was slightly disappointed with Him that he would put this on my heart for another person at the same time he took my blessing away.  But I concluded he must just think it's my turn to give.... if only I was physically capable....

On Easter, after church, I found a beautiful yellow rose taped to a card. 

I opened it up and this is what it said:

Dear Good People,

Please allow me to take this opportunity to thank you most sincerely for extending such kindness to someone you have never met.  I am physically disabled and having you clear a path to the resting place of my wife and daughter was most sincerely appreciated. 
God bless you and yours. 
I stood there and cried.... it's his daughter too - I knew I felt a connection to him.... My tears were not of sadness... they were of thankfulness.  Thankfulness that Naomi & Brent have shoveled for me for so long because without them doing that for me, I don't know if I would have ever thought of it myself for someone else.  Thankfulness that my God is REAL... PRESENT....an amazing PROVIDER.... that He puts His people into action that will not only bless the person they are serving, but also themselves.  I cried because He blessed me for something that I only did because of what He has done for me.  How good is my God?!  Indescribably good.  His goodness is immeasurable.  It's incomprehensible.  And I don't deserve it, but He gives himself to me anyway.

We walked over to see the stone.... his wife died 5 years after his daughter who was only 39 when she died.  And it has been 9 years since his wife died and he still comes each week.  Devotion.  My kind of devotion.  I thanked God that He put me near another who showed me it's okay to still visit the cemetery each week even years later.... and that even so many years later, He still meets this man there.... that He doesn't forget him.  That at a time when I'm sure he thinks everyone has moved on, God put him on my heart and that He still shows him he isn't alone!  That I got to share Rachel with another person.  I looked up and two yellow roses, identical to the one he left us at Rachel's grave, hung above the stone.  He gave us one of their roses....and as special as that was, the first thought in my mind was who can I give this to?  I wanted to keep the blessing flowing to someone else.

I walked over to stand with Rachel again for a moment before we left.  The warm sun and breeze on my face, I looked down at her name.... Our sweet girl.... and said "You changed me Rachel.... you did.  Thank you."

Sometimes the blessings in the cold snow aren't revealed until the warmer days of spring.... when new life begins.... interesting that this truth would become so clear in a cemetery on a warm Easter day.  A day when we celebrate not that Jesus existed and died - but that He didn't stay in the grave.  I doubt that was a coincidence.  In December, we celebrate that He was born - as was Rachel.... and on Easter, we celebrate that although He died, He is still very much alive - as is Rachel.