Monday, May 27, 2013

True Love

Singing "My Jesus, I love thee" (one of the best hymns ever) together tonight on the couch during our family devotions....

Asa was giving me each foot, one at a time, for me to pick out his toe jam and I was doing it gladly without thinking twice....

Sam interrupted the song to say "Daddy, you have big teeth" as he sang along with him about 3 inches from his face.

Isaiah was going between really quiet and extremely loud depending on which words he knows.

Des was getting frustrated that we were off beat from the instrumental version we were listening to as background music.

My Little E was dancing around and seemingly trying to get away from big brother Asa who kept kicking my belly with his chubby feet because my toe jam removal was tickling him.

It was a very unorganized display of worship, and yet I knew it was pleasing to God as we loved each other and sang to him.  We are so blessed in so many ways.  The only thing that would make this any better would be if the little girl who made these lyrics so meaningful to me was here with us too.  I bet she would have been twirling around the living room.

I can't remember, but I'm sure I had heard this song before I was pregnant with Rachel, but it was during my time with her that this song became one of my favorites.  At a time when it would have been so easy to be upset with God for the lot He was giving me, I was never so grateful to him... and I think it all came down to the fact that until Rachel, heaven never mattered so much to me.  Because until her, it seemed to be just an intangible place far away that wouldn't apply to me for a long time.  I know as Christians we are supposed to long to be there, but I'll admit it, I didn't.  I loved my earthly life too much to want to be anywhere else, even if it was supposed to be better. 

But as I prepared to meet her and then send her so quickly off to a place where she would still live, but could only go because of Jesus  - and I only had a guarantee of seeing her again because of my belief and trust in His death on the cross...  well, my love for him could only get deeper.  As my pride was diminished in the realization of my dependence on him, His forgiveness of my sins could only be more beautiful.  The sacrifice He made for me more amazing.  The hope of being reunited with her and His promise to carry me until I get there no matter how painful it is along the way.... knowing He was going to take better care of her than I ever could and eventually all of my earthy pain would cease forever....

I'm not sure I can put words to what that feels be able to call Jesus mine and to know I am His.  I'm not sure I can describe what it means to love him in death...the death of my daughter... all I can say is it's way more real and deep and humbling and joyful and awe-filled than anything I ever experienced as I loved him through life before her.  And when I truly started to understand how deep His love for me is and how trustworthy and faithful He is, even when His plan is not what I would choose....  I wonder if perhaps that is when I really began to understand what Love is at all.  I'm not sure I knew True Love before. I thought I did, but I had no idea what I was missing.  It's amazing.

And so while Isaiah's prayer during our prayer time following our songs was "Please don't let the new baby be like Rachel" and I understand what he means,  I am so thankful that Rachel was and is exactly who she was and is.  Because as I sing "If ever I loved Thee, My Jesus, 'tis now" and I feel the tears come to my eyes with gratitude for what He has done for me and my sweet baby, I know that this journey has been a true gift to me in so many ways. 

Jesus, thank You for this hard road so paved with Your True Love and the story of You, my gracious Redeemer and Savior.  Thank you for allowing me the privilege of mothering Rachel, for taking her to heaven to be with you fully, and for the promise of eternity with you both.  I love You Lord....more than ever before....I love You.
My Jesus, I love Thee, I know Thou art mine;
For Thee all the follies of sin I resign;
My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art Thou;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.
I love Thee because Thou hast first loved me,
And purchased my pardon on Calvary’s tree;
I love Thee for wearing the thorns on Thy brow;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.
I’ll love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death,
And praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath;
And say when the death dew lies cold on my brow,
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.
In mansions of glory and endless delight,
I’ll ever adore Thee in heaven so bright;
I’ll sing with the glittering crown on my brow,
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Dunkin Donut Delivery!!

11 years ago today, I signed out of the county jail on a Friday morning for a day of work release at Dunkin Donuts.  I had asked the jail for a pregnancy test a few times, but they were refusing to give me one.  I had been incarcerated for two weeks by then and had another 11 1/2 months ahead of me.  My attorney agreed to buy me a test and bring it to me at work so that I could get the proper care if I was indeed pregnant.

My circumstances didn't exactly scream "This is a perfect time to be pregnant!!" and yet, I was secretly hoping for two lines.  I saw the secretary from my attorney's office approach the front door, I met her there and took the bag from her.  "Let us know how it goes" she said as she left.

I held onto the test, not able to think about anything else until my first break around 10am.  I went in the stinky bathroom and peed on the stick.  Immediately there were two dark lines.  I looked up at my reflection in the mirror with nothing but excitement, like a little child on the way to an amusement park.  I had no idea the ride I was in for, but I couldn't wait to experience it!

I guess in my naivety I didn't expect people to tell me it would be 'more responsible' or the 'right thing to do' to abort my baby.  I was not a believer then, nor was I exactly pro-life, but I was already in love.  Abortions, I thought, were for the young girls who get raped or are 'too young to be a parent' or just didn't want a baby... and since at that point in my life truth and what was right were relative, and I didn't think those applied to me - why would anyone else? 

I remember making the collect calls excitedly whispering (because I couldn't let the jail know that I had met up with anyone to get the test) about my new baby.  Matt was excited (I have mentioned he's amazing right?  Just 20 years old, pregnant girlfriend in jail and he was all in and ready to support me)  When I got my first letter from someone in Matt's family who I hardly knew at that point (because I hardly knew HIM!) saying it would be best to abort my baby, I was devastated.  And for the next few weeks, that wouldn't be the last person suggesting it.

Ironically, it was that very letter, in that hard situation, that started to change my belief about the "Pro-Choice" movement.  I now know it is actually a Pro-Abortion movement and really has nothing to do with what the girl who is pregnant wants (otherwise people wouldn't pressure them to move as quickly as possible and under educate them about such a huge decision)  But more to do with their own belief about life and what is important to THEM.  I clearly wanted my baby and these people weren't offering me help with diapers, but instead telling me why I should abort and offering help with payment for her murder.  That would be my sweet, unbelievably smart, gentle, loving and witty Desirae May's murder. 

It doesn't change what it is just because you don't yet know what color her hair would be, how smart she would be, or how beautifully she would play the piano.  And it doesn't change what it is because I haven't yet proven my abilities to care for her or because you don't yet know that I was to be released from jail early.....which I was.  It is murder and it's presented as a good way out of a bad mistake - for both you and the baby who won't have to be subjected to your poor circumstances if you make a better choice and end it's life. ??

I am so thankful that I didn't believe the lies that I was better off without her or that I was unable to care for her.  The fear tactics people used to get me to get rid of my 'problem'.... "You'll have this baby in jail and when you do, my mom will have to take care of it while Matt works two jobs to try to support it... I wonder if mom would be so excited if she knew of these ramifications"  Crushing my heart and trying to take any ounce of excitement away when I had nothing else to live for in life.  What for?  Because she actually truly believed that was a better decision than having my baby.  I think she truly believed I needed to hear that people would support me if I realized what a mistake I was making... and my favorite line in the letter "Nobody would even have to know."   Except, I would.  God would.  And all these years later, I would still be suffering alone because I know that people do not welcome conversations about how you aborted your baby.  If they turn away when I talk about Rachel, I can only imagine the response a post abortive mother gets as she tries to grieve the baby she lost, even if by her own 'choice'.  And this is where I would strongly encourage you not to judge people who have had abortions, because believe me, they didn't get away from that free.  No matter what anyone tries to convince people, abortion hurts everyone involved.  every. single. time.

I'm so glad that fear didn't take over... and instead that God used her - that jail 'pregnancy' - to help me, to draw me to Him, and to change my life for better forever.  Only a God like mine could - and would be willing through his mercy and grace - to take a situation like that, where I was living so against Him, and use it for my good and His glory.  And has He ever. 

I first stepped foot in a church when Desirae was 18 months old because I was a single mother and wanted to do something good 'for her'.  Imagine that.... God using a mother's love and devotion to draw her to Himself.... He makes us with that instinct for a reason.  Later, He used Desirae again to draw Matt to a relationship with Jesus and our family was reunited and now loves and follows Him together.  Desirae was the glue that kept us together as we made our way to Jesus.

I woke up today and the first thought on my mind was "I've been a mother for 11 years."  Anniversaries really stay with me.  I'm so thankful that I am not grieving an anniversary now of a 'choice' I made 11 years ago that I cannot take back.  And I am so thankful for every minute of the past 11 years with this child - and all the ways my life is different because of her.  This is why I strongly encourage you to never judge a young, unwed mother.  God has a plan in everything.  When you see a young girl with no ring and a huge belly, pray for her (WITH her!) - that God will bless her for welcoming His child and use that child to save her soul from eternity in hell.  Pray for protection on that baby, but rejoice that she didn't kill it.  Not just for the baby, but for her too. Pray that it will change her life.  Offer to help His hands and feet in her life....tell her the truth....but don't judge her.  God has that taken care of.

I came downstairs and made a coffee.  I told Des what today was and her response was "Can we have some ice cream?" (apparently I've taught her the right way to celebrate!!) :)   We sat down to do our catechism, and I couldn't help but drift into thought about that morning in the Dunkin Donuts bathroom all those years ago.  Just as I did, I saw one of Desirae's friend's mothers pull up.  It was not even 8am and she's only been here once before to drop Des off after a play date, so I was confused.  I looked at Matt and asked if we were expecting Monica for any reason.... I went to the door and she said "Donut Delivery!" as she handed me 6 Dunkin Donuts, one for each of us. 

I don't suppose God was letting me know He still remembers that day too, 11 years ago in the Dunkins bathroom when I gratefully welcomed His child....  He is in every single detail, through every situation.  Sometimes it's a big news delivery on a Friday morning, all alone in a stinky bathroom at the donut shop - and sometimes it's the small donut delivery surrounded by my family on a Friday morning at home.....And sometimes it is in the way He can make them happen on the same day 11 years apart (of course, on Fridays) when He knows I will notice. 

All of my kids have a flower that represents them in my heart... Desirae's is the pink carnation... and so today when I stopped to pick up Rachel's daisies, I had them wrap up a pretty pink carnation for my big girl too.  I brought it out to her and said "Thanks for making me a Mama" and she was SO excited... She said "First Dunkin Donuts and now a pink carnation!"  I smiled at how closely that resembled my pregnancy with her.... it started at Dunkins and ended with a beautiful pink flower.

I saw Matt pull up after work with a long red rose and smiled.... He had stopped at the same flower shop I had gone to earlier to get me some daisies and they told him that I had already been in and that I bought Rachel and Des both flowers... so he got me a rose instead.

So this morning we all ate donuts for breakfast and tonight, all the Aube girls have pretty fresh flowers.  And of course, we celebrated with ice cream, which helped the boys to not feel left out! It's been a good day.
Matt had Asa hand it to me... he really wanted to keep it!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Dancing With My Little Seed

I was stopped at a stop light the other day when this perfectly shaped dandelion seed floated in through the passenger window and danced around me.  It was an unlikely place in the center of town for dandelion seeds to be in the air, but that thought never crossed my mind until right now....

I cupped my hand and moved it around under it, trying to catch it without affecting it's beauty.  No longer concerned with the color of the stop light in front of me, I'm not sure if I held up traffic or not.  But I couldn't ignore it.  The air coming in from both sides of the van was causing it to move back and forth.  The kids were now cheering me on in hopes I would be able to keep this little seed that I was so determined to hold.

I realized if I wanted to catch it for keeps, I'd have to slow the air flow so, without taking my eyes off of it, I reached with my left hand and rolled up my window.... and then moved to the button for the passenger window.... the second window started to go up and I knew I would have the seed safe within my hand in just a few moments....

It started to fall towards me as the breeze slowed.... it touched my hand for just a brief moment and immediately rose again and flew out the window.  I looked in the rear view to see all of the kids looking at me with unsure faces....Did Mama get to keep the seed?

I told them it got away and looked back to the traffic light.... which was green.... and carried on our route.

In those few shorts moments with this beautiful seed and my attempt at catching it, I knew it was just like my girl....  The second it touched my skin and then floated away, I knew it.   It was a picture of her... dancing around me as I tried to find a way to keep it, touching down so momentarily and floating away too soon....sure to leave flowers in places I will never be able to identify... and sadly, just not mine to keep.

I told Matt about it yesterday and as I told him about it landing for a second in my hand, Des added from the back seat... "And it made Mama giggle when it touched her."

I smiled as I remembered that I had giggled like a little girl who just had a butterfly land on her hand... But somehow I hadn't remembered that part.  But I did. I giggled.  It brought this unexplainable and unexpected little piece of joy and laughter to my heart in that moment that if I had just stared straight ahead at the light and kept going, I would have missed.  And the amazing thing about it all is that I can still remember everything about the short time there.... the bright sun, the warm breeze, the music playing, the kids watching me, the determination I had, the smile it brought, the acceptance I had as it flew right back to where it had come from.

And I know that I will probably remember that moment every time I pass that corner in the middle of town.  The place where it is legal to turn right on red, but I didn't.  I stayed still and let God have His way with my heart and this little seed He created.  Some may wonder, what's the point?  It's just a seed that will float away anyway and maybe plant a weed somewhere...  But when I see dandelions, I don't see them as weeds... I see them as unstoppable flowers that grow in the harshest conditions and add a lasting legacy of color everywhere you look, making generations of children laugh, giggle, dance and spin.... with innocence and hope.

I think of how many places, people, stories and little pieces of joy and laughter I have had along this journey with Rachel and I am carried away in a sweet breeze of thankfulness and hopeful expectation, knowing that I have been given such an amazing gift in her... and precisely because of how gentle, delicate and short my time with her was... learning the hard lesson that no matter how hard I try, sometimes God has different plans and as I every day have to again commit my daughter to His hands and trust His great and perfect plan for me - and for her.

Irreplaceable, undeniable, unexplainable, everlasting, eternal, full of hope and acceptance...peace and joy... I put my all into holding her and was blessed to do that for just a short time before she drifted away. 

But the dance, the Hope, the giggle.... their mine to keep and even though it hurts and I'm disappointed with the outcome, I will always remember that place in time.  And every time I see a little flower, I will wonder if my little seed planted it.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Purpose Given Brain

Just finished our end of the year CAT testing... we did the online version, not sure I love that - seems time was wasted scrolling up and down and fighting with the computer. But I LOVE that you get instant results...

I'm so proud and yet so humbled by how well my girl scored.  10 yrs old scoring in the 5th month of 10th grade in language?!  Based on her age, she should be at the end of 4th grade right now.  I know it's not all that uncommon with homeschoolers.... and she usually does score high, but the last couple of years have been hard with Rachel and Asa and now Baby E and I really felt like I wasn't doing well teaching her.  I honestly thought we were going to have to work through the summer to keep up with where she 'should be'.  Even in the subjects I thought she was 'behind' in, she scored above average.  We actually finished our curriculum for this year over a month ago and I moved her right into the next year's work because I felt like she should be further.  I'm such an over achiever... 

I reminded her that her brain is a gift from God that not everyone is given - and of course as I say the words, Rachel is so heavy on my heart I can't tell if my tears are from how proud I am of Des or if they are because I am so painfully aware of the magnitude of what I am saying to her. 

My deepest prayer is that she will use her brain for His purposes and never take for granted that what some have to work so hard to achieve comes easy to her.  I pray she never forgets that every thought, every idea, every bit of intellect that she possesses comes from God, wrapped in an organ that her little sister was not given...and that she can't take credit for. (neither can I)  And just as there are eternal purposes for Rachel being made perfectly without her brain, I pray that Desirae understands that her being born with one should be used for God's eternal purposes as well.  Nothing more.  Nothing less. 
Philippians 3:8
Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ

And so as I sat here looking at her scores, I wasn't prepared for the overflow of emotion that would follow.  I sat here crying and I can't even really put my finger on what about.... thankful for her brain... sad that Rachel didn't have one... relief that I haven't failed her completely (yet) ...humbled....proud....grateful to have the opportunity to have such a huge role in this part of my children's lives.... scared that the others will struggle more than she does and I won't be able to help them....guilt over doubting her... fear of missing something she needs to know....the weight of the responsibility of everything they need resting on I enough?  In a world that constantly insists that children are better off with someone else, away from their homes, letting the 'professionals' take care of them because their mother couldn't possibly meet all their needs... heck, how could she fill them if she doesn't even really understand them without her teaching degree??... am I enough?   

And then I remember that God gave me this role.... and if He gave me a task to do - to raise and teach my children, which He did - He isn't going to leave me to do it alone.  And HE IS ENOUGH!  And I am just so thankful because I am completely inadequate for this job.  I stink at math, I hate doing science projects (although I love watching them, so I must be lazy too!), I am unorganized and undisciplined, and patience has never been a virtue that comes easy to me.  I have a house full of little kids and couldn't even get the room quiet for her testing - all the while feeling like I was failing her for 'denying' her the quietness of a classroom filled with 30 kids all her own age and a teacher other than me with a stop watch sending the loud kids to the office. (oh, how I wish I could send the loud kids to the office some days!!)  I have been pregnant over and over and half of the things on my heart to do for these guys never get done because I am not capable.

Matthew 6:33
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 

And I'm just crazy enough to admit all that, although most people won't, because I know there is someone who will relate and will be encouraged to know that I don't have it all together either.  I hate when people say "I couldn't homeschool... I'm not patient enough".... oh. my. gosh.... me either!!!  But that's just it.... God is refining me in this position he gave ME - in His infinite wisdom and mercy, He is making me more like Him as my impatience is put right in my face every day.  And as that happens, HIS unbelievable patience with ME is even more clear and I am again humbled by His love.  He has a plan in this.... Good things are hard and worth sacrifice.

2 Corinthians 12:9 
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

So, I've decided, not only are we not going to do school through the summer, we are starting our break today!! This child does not need summer school! I am going to use my time to get next year mapped out (for the planner in me) and lesson plans done so that when the baby gets here, I will be good to go for a while. In the meantime, I'm going to work with them on devotions, obedience and godly character... my three favorite homeschool subjects that never get attention in other schools. :) And while I'm teaching them, I am sure God will be teaching me in the same areas.

I totally didn't expect all of that to just come out.... I guess my main point is my daughter is a genius, we can't take credit for it, and summer time has begun at the Aube house!  Looking forward to a whole bunch of nothing with my kids as we love God and each other, getting to know Him and each other more and more each day because we can!  I honestly have never been more excited about my Daughter of God, Devoted Wife, and Full Time Homeschool Mama role than I am right now - and it has absolutely nothing to do with her grades....  but you know, I do believe that God used Rachel to help get me here - in more ways than one.

Our first day of summer break... kicked off with a picnic near Rachel's garden!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

After the Rain - My Mother's Day Sun

My 3rd Mother's Day since she left.....  hard to believe I'm on my 3rd round of 'withouts'.

We have had nothing but sunshine for weeks and this weekend was rainy.  I woke up to pouring rain and was slightly disappointed.  Rain is never fun at the cemetery and I knew I wanted to get there.  I grabbed my daisy umbrella on the way out to church and accepted that God must have something in this rain for me - and it might not be for today.

At church, we sang the song "You dance over me, while I am unaware, You sing all around, but I never hear a sound.... Lord I'm amazed by You, Lord I'm amazed by You, Lord I'm amazed by You... how You love me."

Baby E hardly ever moves (at least that I feel) while I am up and moving around... but I could feel the dance moves going.... I smiled as I remembered how Rachel always did that - didn't matter if I was standing or not, that girl danced....especially during worship.  I was also overwhelmed with the thoughts of how amazingly God loves me - and how the dance that Rachel & I had together was not just the two of us... He was in every step.  I was brought right back to the day she was born.... no sound at all, and yet I could feel Him there and I knew she was there...and somehow when her soul left her body, I could feel it - even though not much changed about her body yet....and in that moment, I think I felt more of Him than I ever had before and ever will again.  Dancing over me... singing all around....welcoming my little girl into His arms....

During the sermon, the program from Rachel's service slipped from a few pages back in my bible... I looked at Matt and the tears just fell.  I didn't think I was fighting them back, I hadn't felt overly emotional yet, but in that moment I really wanted them to stop and they wouldn't.  I can't believe I really lost a child.  

We left and went for our Mother's Day trip to the greenhouse.  This has turned into an annual thing.  It's one of my favorite places to go and if I can go with my family and they are excited to be there... even better!! 
I began my 3rd trimester today!!  28 weeks!

If you remember, last year we 'accidentally' stumbled upon annual dahlias called "Rachel".  I just reread my post about last year's Mother's Day.... I'm glad I write because I didn't remember most of it.  You can read it HERE.  God is very good. 

I had told Matt that for my gift this year, all I wanted was to get some plants for my garden.  I knew I wanted the same "Rachel" Dahlias, but wasn't sure they'd have them again.  And Matt said he had bought me a pot that he wanted to get a house plant for.  We found the dahlias pretty easily, and I was so relieved.  Picked up 6 this year, one for each of the kids, and then picked out some flowers for Rachel's grave.  I picked out some yellow ones since yellow (ironically not pink or purple!) has always been a color that reminds me of her.  I started to second guess that maybe I wanted a more vibrant color and decided to check the names... the yellow ones were called "Sunshine".... In the cart they went! 

I couldn't believe how smoothly the trip was going - and because it wasn't sunny, it wasn't 100 degrees in there like usual, which was much more enjoyable.  We made our way into the section for house plants and stopped at the first table.  I picked up a cute little plant and looked at the name.... "Hope"  Imagine that! first one I touched!  I showed Matt and he said "That's the one!  I prayed that this day would be special for you. God is answering." and he put it in the cart.  I asked "How much is it?" and words I never hear come from my husband's mouth came out.... "I don't care how much it is, it's perfect." 

I read the back of the card to check what it required for care... it reads "Thick green rounded leaves with a trailing habit and low water requirements... this plant is a survivor."  If you read my post from last year, you will see that when I summed up my feelings on the day, I said "I survived it." 

I have survived this entire journey on one thing alone.... HOPE.  Hope in miracles, Hope in Jesus, Hope in heaven.  This plant was heaven sent, just like the Rachel Dahlias were last year.  I'm thankful for moments like these when I know that God is still present - still leading us - still caring about the details of our life after losing Rachel.  Still giving us Hope to plant... and letting us see Rachel bloom through His perfect combination of rain and sunshine.
He even potted it for me when we got home!
We left there and grabbed some pizza and went to Rachel's grave.  Unlike last year, I was not greeted with a bunch of gifts on her grave.  There wasn't one.  And strangely, I didn't even notice the huge contrast until I read last year's post. 
What I did receive when I got there was unbelievable sunshine!!  The day went from pouring to absolutely perfect, beautiful weather.  Matt cleaned up around her stone for me (he used a plastic butter knife to cut the grass!!) and the kids ran around in the field of dandelions across the way laughing and chasing each other. They are so thoughtful and truly the best gifts of my life... Des & Isaiah kept bringing me flowers and seeded dandelions - so excited to be including Rachel for me.  Isaiah would yell "Mama, I have something that will remind you of Rachel!"
There was another woman bringing Daisies to her husband and son's grave nearby and she came to tell us that her and her husband used to visit Rachel together when they visited their son and loved all the pretty things I put there for her.  She said she walked down the isle 49 years ago with daisies in her hand.  At one point I turned to look and Asa was standing next to her, smelling her flowers.  I went over to get him and talked to her again for a while and as I did, Isaiah sat at our feet clearing around her husband and son's graves with a plastic knife just like Matt did for me!  And here and there he would get involved in the conversation with things like "Did Mike love God?"  I love that kid, he is really a mini-Matt.  I love his servants heart and how he unashamedly talks to people - even complete strangers - about God.
We came home and worked in the garden together for a couple of hours.  And I noticed that in just the last 2 days of rain, everything in my garden has sprouted like crazy!  The weeks of sun didn't accomplish what 2 days of rain did.  The peonies are now at least 6 inches higher than they were before the rain - I've never seen anything like it.  But I don't think it's a coincidence that on Mother's Day I am reminded so clearly that pretty things need rain to grow.... but you never notice the growth while it's raining, nor do you reap the benefits.... it's after the rain that the beauty blooms and the scent lingers.  And somehow, after a few days of darkness, we all appreciate more truly the same sun that before we had taken for granted.  That's my journey with Rachel.... dancing in the rain... thanking God for everything.  Everything.  Not just the sun, or what we deem to be a 'good' day.  Because He has purposes in the rain and I've come to realize that the rain makes everything more beautiful. 
We ate dinner, did our family devotion time, had ice cream sundaes. I soaked my feet and then I instructed Matt on how to give me a pedicure.... and he did every detail from pushing my cuticles back (which he totally didn't understand the point of, but trust me, it's important), to scrubbing the calluses and giving me a great foot rub! It might be the best pedicure I've ever had.  My feet are very happy.
Throughout the entire day, the kids were so excited to celebrate Mother's Day.... they would randomly shout "Happy Mother's Day Mama!" and kept saying how it was the "best day ever".... and I think I would have to agree.  My entire family was out working to get our yard cleaned up for me.  They helped me dig and plant things just where I wanted and they were so cheerful about it.  It was such a blessing. 
This is the life I have always wanted.... We don't have a lot, but always enough. Things aren't always easy, but God is always faithful.  We have endured some storms.... but in those times, we have learned how to dance in the rain.  And best of all, we have gotten closer to each other and to our God as we have allowed Him to grow us through the dark rainy days.

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Aubes and the All Good Very Bad Day

We left at 8 am to go to an appointment for three of the kids.  I booked them together so as to only have to make one trip... and it went really well since it was right after breakfast and nobody was cranky yet. 

We weren't far from Rachel, so that also let me get there earlier which was nice.  We pulled up and at the same time I noticed, Desirae said "Hey, there is a path of dandelions leading to Rachel's grave!"  And there really was... it was like a path was cleared through all the flowers just for us to walk over to her and there was a perfect line of bright yellow right up to her stone.

The kids ran over and started yelling to me that someone had left something.  I went over to see and they scattered to run and play.  One of my favorite sounds ever is the sound of them giggling and chasing each other while I visit Rachel's grave....  I stood there looking at the stone that was left, remembering how the "It was then that I carried you" quote applied so much to both how I was blessed to carry Rachel and be carried by God at the same time.  I thought back to the rainbow of her footprints that I made and also how I put that full poem on the back of her funeral program with a picture of her cute little feet and all of a sudden it hit me....  only one set of footprints.... I never got to see her feet grow.  It's not as if I didn't know it, but the thought of never seeing her footprints grow... ever... brought me to tears.  I swear, grief is the most unpredictable thing in the world.
Thank you to whoever left this!
I don't often cry there, and if I do, it's not usually hard... this morning I cried - and hard.  Des heard me and came over to hug me.  Isaiah came over and asked "What is it?" with a confused look on his face.  And I have to say, it made me realize that, if my children are confused when they see me cry there, it means they don't view a cemetery as a sad or scary place.... which honestly, makes me feel pretty good as their mother - to know that they understand death, but aren't afraid of it.  That they know the soul is separate from the body and that their sister's is safe in heaven because of Jesus.  That they haven't lost their innocence through this trial.  That even though we have always been completely honest with them about it all and never sheltered them from the truth, they aren't heavy hearted or emotionally scarred.  And in fact, today I realized that they are actually so much stronger and more secure than they ever could have been without watching me walk this road honestly and openly.
No sooner did I have those thoughts and I turned to find Samuel with his pants dropped at the line of the woods, peeing on a tree.  I won't lie, we all started cracking up.... my kids aren't the pee outside kind of kids because we live in the city and never go camping - so I guess Matt needs to teach them how to pee outside with a little more modesty! (not that I'm saying they learned this from his example!)  Pants around your ankles, facing the road, in the open isn't it!  But boy, it was funny.  They all ran off laughing and played hide-n-seek for a few while I finished up and wiped my eyes and we left... with Sam saying "That was fun at Rachel's grave" as we drove off..... 

So, the day was going good.... but it was only 9:45.... I decided to stop at Walmart.  I've been needing to for a week and haven't had the energy so I went.  Everything was going fantastic until we got almost to the end of shopping and I realized that it was 11:15 and my prenatal appt was at 11am!  I grabbed the last Mother's Day card I needed and attempted to fly out of there - but this is where it all started.

I picked the SLOWEST cashier EVER.  Who also was really nice and relaxed.  Meaning, she wanted to talk to me about everything I was buying... how cute it was, if I wanted the hangers, and she also liked to bag VERY precisely... and roll her neck a lot  ??  She asked me at one point if I was ok because I looked stressed.  I told her I had forgot my appt and was running really behind... she grabbed the sponges that she was ringing through and started going thru bags ALREADY IN THE CART to find the one that had the dish soap in it because she wanted to bag them together.... I appreciate her thoroughness... but is she serious?!  Just put them in a bag lady....  so, this is when my patience started going....

Then, we get to the van and Sam smashes his head and starts screaming... I called and moved my appt... told them I could be there in 25 minutes... stopped and spent money we don't have on fast food... and was looking like I was going to be able to pull it together... until the dude 5 cars up decided to go 30 in a 45... the entire drive back to town.... 

I got to my new appt 5 minutes late - and realized.... I was supposed to drink that drink for my glucose test!  ergh....  we went in and I told them, not only was I late for my 2nd appt today, but I also forgot to be prepared for it.  I asked if I could leave the kids in the waiting room, which I never do, figuring they would be happier and more content if they could just keep playing out there.  About 5 minutes into my appt, I hear SCREAMING - and more than one person doing it....  I went to get them... Sam started yelling about how he had to poop, Asa was now sitting in poop (and did I have the diaper bag? no, I didn't) and when I brought them into the room with me, Isaiah picked up the model of a vagina and said "So, that's what an ear drum looks like!"  Nope, honey, that's a vagina...
They somehow all managed to leave there after hearing their heartbeats again on the doppler and with their own measuring tape.... and all the people in the place feeling bad for me.  My goal: get home and do naptime and sit on the couch until my eyes stopped hurting. 

I again measured 4 weeks too big and had another large weight gain so she scheduled an ultrasound for next Wed. Please pray I am smart enough to get a sitter for that! haha.... I've never worried about gaining too much weight, and actually I expect it - all my healthy babies brought along some extra weight for me - the only times I didn't gain a lot, I either miscarried, was about to - or later found a serious birth defect that left me skinny, but broken hearted... so I am not one to worry about gaining weight while pregnant, I actually find more comfort in that than the opposite....and my perpective is just much different since Rachel so I hardly care about the vain side of all of this - but I will say that I'm slightly concerned because the numbers don't make sense, I've been in a lot of pain, and I am nervous about early labor. 

Anyway, I had to run to the Post Office and I was so relieved to be almost home after my morning - now much past the baby's nap time... only to be told by a flagger that they had JUST started paving the end of my street and I couldn't go home.  She said I had to give it a half an hour.  Asa was still in poop and screaming... I now had food, including freezer stuff that I bought at Walmart that had been in the hot van for over 2 hours, still sitting there... and I pulled over and just started bawling.  I called Matt and gave him the short version of the above, except in a very pathetic pregnant mama weepy voice, with some sobbing in between.... and then pulled it together, changed the baby (without baby wipes, because why would those be in a diaper bag??) and we went to Wendy's to use the free Frosty cards my friend Michelle gave me last week!  (I knew there was a good reason I forgot them when I wanted them last week)  It was a perfect way to pass the time, everyone was happy (I put on a few more ounces!) and on the way home I appologized to the kids for forgetting my appointment and making our day stressful and Isaiah said "Mama, I hope your day gets better... I've never seen you cry over a bad day before."  I laughed and in my "don't -worry-Mama's-got-this" voice I said "Well guys, even when days are bad, God is still good...."

And now we're home... have I mentioned I love it here?  The only thing better will be when Matt walks through the door in a few minutes and I get to hear my babies all run and scream "Daddddy!!!" and wait to get the last kiss as I greet him at the door and patiently wait for him to hug all the kids first - with my big ol' belly full of baby E and my heart still full of my sweet Rachel.  I do love Fridays.....even hard ones.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

A Mother's Pain

5 years ago today, I found out for the first time that being a mother could be the most painful thing in the world.  Up until that day, I never knew it could hurt like that.

But on that day, I was 8 weeks pregnant and I felt something fall from me into the toilet.... I quickly scooped it out and inspected it in a little cup and although I really in my heart of hearts felt like it was my baby still in its sac, since I had no other pain or bleeding up until that point, I convinced myself it was just a blood clot and flushed it down the toilet.

I called the doctor and they scheduled me to come in for an ultrasound a few hours later.  They said just to stay off my feet and drink water....I was probably just dehydrated.  I started to feel some cramping, but it wasn't painful like I had heard miscarriages were.

I went into that ultrasound expecting the worst, hoping for the best.  She did the scan and said nothing.  She pulled out the scope and it was covered in blood.  She still said nothing.  She had me move into a regular room and said nothing.  We waited....

The doctor came in and said "I'm sorry, there was nothing left."  I started crying and she gave me a minute and then interrupted my tears with "I see you're wearing a cross, do you have a religious group you can call for support?"

I nodded and kept crying.  Immediately I knew I had flushed my baby down the toilet.  What kind of mother does that?

I went home that day feeling like life had been stripped from me.  And it had.  I had only known for 4 weeks that I was carrying another child and already I was deeply connected.  God made us mothers that way.... I couldn't sleep, I couldn't eat.... I couldn't stop crying.  It was the worst pain I had ever felt in my life.  I remember conversation after conversation as I gave our families and friends the news.... "It must have had something wrong with it".... "At least it happened now"..... "It was just a little zygote"..... "Don't worry, you can have another one"...... "This is why you should wait until 12 weeks to tell anyone".....

And then that weekend.... Mother's Day.  It was the first time I tasted joy and sorrow mingled.  Celebrating my other two children... being a mom... and grieving the loss of a child so freshly.

I had no idea that later on down the road, I would experience anything worse.  I didn't think it possible. 

2 years ago today, we had the grand opening at Rachel's Playground.  I picked the build for her playground to end that day specifically to include Baby Aube #3 - and that year, it also landed on Mother's Day, which I felt would be perfect.  I didn't think it could actually hurt.  But again, I was surprised by the places where pain can move in.  All day I had people telling me what an amazing Mother's Day it must be for me.... what an amazing gift to get on Mother's Day.... how it must remove some of the bitterness to my first Mother's Day without Rachel.

It didn't.  And couldn't.  And only someone who has never buried a child would think it could - or dare I say it... a man.  And I do not say that with ANY negative tone or sarcasm... it is just the way it is, men do not feel it the same way women do.  It's just different for them.  And many of them, even ones who have lost children have no idea the depth of the mother's pain....even if they want to.  I look at her playground and most of the time, I feel like I am looking at a huge sign that says "She is gone."  I want to feel happy.  I want to feel good.  But usually those times come when it's just me, Matt and the kids playing and I know that everyone there knows and remembers that she is gone too.  Otherwise it just tends to hurt - and I have a hard time hiding that so honestly, I hardly ever go out there after church service.  I hate to be the party pooper.

Since Rachel, I have not grieved our 3rd baby like I did before her.  At times I feel guilty about it, but just like I never knew how much it could hurt to miscarry a baby, I was not prepared for how different the pain would be after Rachel and it totally caught me off guard.  More than that, I was not prepared for how long this pain would last.... or for the fact that another baby wouldn't heal that pain at all.

But today, for some reason, my 3rd baby was heavy on my heart again.  And 'ironically' I woke up to a bunch of my tulips in bloom and the 3rd Hyacinth (I forgot I planted for Rachel in the fall) had poked thru the ground.... and then I discovered that a few of my Forget me nots had also bloomed. 

Tonight, I asked Des to pick our hymn and she picked Holy Holy Holy. Without any knowledge of today being the anniversary or that it was the song we had sang together the day before I miscarried.

I'm not sure why God has me in this place today.  I'm not sure why all these memories are flooding back and Rachel's garden seems to be shining for our other baby in heaven instead of her right now.  And I have no idea how to sum up what is on my heart or in my mind, so I guess I'll just leave you with the lyrics to a song that had me in tears as I prepared dinner tonight. 

"Who Am I"
Who am I, that the Lord of all the earth
Would care to know my name
Would care to feel my hurt
Who am I, that the Bright and Morning Star
Would choose to light the way
For my ever wandering heart

Not because of who I am
But because of what You've done
Not because of what I've done
But because of who You are.

I am a flower quickly fading
Here today and gone tomorrow
A wave tossed in the ocean
A vapor in the wind
Still You hear me when I'm calling
Lord, You catch me when I'm falling
And You've told me who I am
I am Yours, I am Yours
Who Am I, that the eyes that see my sin
Would look on me with love and watch me rise again
Who Am I, that the voice that calmed the sea
Would call out through the rain
And calm the storm in me

I am Yours
Whom shall I fear
Whom shall I fear
'Cause I am Yours
I am Yours
And here's the video if you want to listen to it....

Sunday, May 5, 2013

In The Garden

Doesn't happen often, but Friday landed on a 3rd.... and it's May, which for some reason is always a bit tough - I think because of Mother's Day and because it was on Mother's Day that we first announced we were expecting again in 2010.  Our 4th little one was on her way.....

I had a really emotional morning on Wednesday - couldn't stop crying... so I decided to go and see if Rachel's tulips were in bloom at her grave - and they were...  But only 2 of them.  The rest just aren't coming up.  I don't get it.  The same thing is happening here - over 100 bulbs in the ground and only 18 have tulips coming up.  Some just have greenery and some just never came up at all.  It looks like the daisies might not come back... and the ones at her playground garden don't seem too happy either.  I'm trying to not get too discouraged, but it is hard since I have planted all these things with her on my heart...some while I was pregnant with her... and I can't seem to keep them alive either.

On Friday, I wanted to bring her something -  but I just couldn't get my thoughts straight enough to figure out what.  So I just went.  Her spot looks pretty right now as it is anyway.  We left and I had to stop and get gas, which left me in the wrong position to get on the highway so I took a different route towards home.  I took another 'wrong' turn and ended up outside of a hardware store in town that was selling soil outside.  My plan was to stop at Walmart on the way home so I could get some soil for my garden and work in it for Rachel's day.... so I stopped, figuring it would be easier than bringing all the kids into Walmart.  I picked out what I wanted in the parking lot and then we went in to pay. The guy noticed my tattoo....

"I love that tattoo, by the way" he said. 

"That's my little girl's hand" I said with a smile.

"Most people do footprints, I like that it is a handprint." he said.

"She died the day she was born, but she had the most amazing hands and these great little dimples across her knuckles so that's why I picked her hand instead - I really loved her hands." I responded.

And when he came out to load the back of the van, I showed him the pic I have on the back of it with her hands in the heart shape....

And then every time I thought of it for the rest of the day, I either cried or really wanted to.

The boys helped me unload the bags when we got home.  They lugged those huge bags out of the van and to the right garden beds so that I wouldn't have to lift.  They are very sweet.  Then they followed me around and helped me spread it out and pull weeds.  I love spending my days with these guys and having them work beside me and to be able to teach them what (little) I know about gardening.   Isaiah and I had a great conversation about how I relate weeds to sin and the importance of tearing it out of your heart before the roots get too deep and harder to remove....since he could feel the difference in some of them as he pulled them out, it was like a light bulb went on and he really got it.  It was a precious time with him.

I worked in the garden all afternoon.  Love that I can.  Wish there was more I could actually do for her. And even more than that... I wish I could have her working beside me in the garden.  I feel her there in a different way.  I know we are forever connected through Jesus Christ and that He meets me there in a special way.... and while I'm so grateful for that and so overwhelmed by His presence and how he reminds me she is still alive....and even MORE alive with Him.... I can't help but wish she was next to me too.  Right here.... watching each of these plants peek through the soil and eventually bloom. Having little talks and watching those cute little hands try to copy what I'm doing.  To wonder at God's creation with her.  I miss her a lot in the garden.

But I know that she is probably thinking something similar.... just waiting to show me what a garden in heaven looks like....  we won't have to weed there.... and I bet all the tulips and daisies are always in bloom.  I can't wait to be with her in the garden.