Saturday, March 30, 2013

Napkin Gift

I went out for dinner with my friend Vanessa last night.  We were sitting there talking when this young girl came up, placed a napkin on our table, said "Happy Easter" in a sweet little voice and turned and walked away.

I read it and started crying as I opened to find a $20 bill inside.  I looked to see where she went, but she was gone.  I wanted to get up and chase her down and see who it was - to tell her how perfect her timing was and to say "Thank You".... but I just sat in tears. 

I'll never know why God chose me to be Rachel's Mama.... or why her story reached so far in such a short time and continues to leave me feeling loved by perfect strangers in public places regularly....

All I know is that she has been such a blessing and I am so thankful for all the people who have supported and followed my long, and sometimes very difficult to watch, journey through this thing we call grief - as if giving it a name makes it any less ugly or more predictable.  I'm grateful for everyone who has loved me just as I am, showing me again and again that God is in this and has not forgotten me.

Thank you for letting me know - in all the big and small ways - that Rachel's life was not for nothing and that my sharing her (even when I don't do it perfectly) has been used by God.  Thank you for reminding me I'm not alone. 


This morning I was showing Des this napkin just as Matt was talking about needing to get sand for the sandbox.  The boys have been digging in our supposed-to-be-yard that is all mud.  So, that is what we used it for.... to buy sandbox sand... we still need more, but they played in it for hours!  And every time the kids play in it, my mind will go back to the Good Friday night at Applebees where a sweet little voice wished me a "Happy Easter" and I, yet again, was blessed by someone who was blessed by Rachel's life.

Whoever you are, Thank you.... from one baby loss mama to another.  I only wish I could have hugged you!!  Every time I think that everyone is moving on, something like this happens and I am reminded that it just isn't so.  Even if I didn't do anything else for Rachel, she can't be forgotten.  She won't be.

And so tomorrow, as we celebrate that Jesus did not stay dead - I rejoice that because of that fact, Rachel didn't either - and with every heartfelt gift (whether in time, treasure or a simple hug) slipped to me as a result of what He has done in another's life through her, I thank Him for how only He can return beauty for ashes and make life out of death.

Her story would never be any of this without Jesus.  It couldn't be.  And neither could mine.  Without Jesus, it would all just be a story of death - but with Him, and because of Him, it's a story of LIFE. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Matt's Vacation

Matt was on vacation the week before last and we took some day trips.... have I mentioned I love homeschool?  Such a blessing to be able to make our own schedule with vacations and 'field trips'!  We had a busy, but simple week of FREE fun! 
 
A movie place,  Smitty's was having a "Mommy and Me" day where they show a free movie for moms (and dads on vacation!) and their kids.  Smitty's is cool cause you sit in these big comfy chairs around a table and you order food while watching the movie.  We got a sitter for Asa for this day so we could actually relax. (Thanks Millie!!)  Our food was the only cost and it was both Isaiah and Sam's first movie - Des' first since she was like 5 so it was fun.  It was also a stress free lunch out for Matt & I, which after I swore I'd never eat out again with these guys, was a blessing!
 
One of my blog followers in the manager of the new Pet Smart in our town.  She invited us to come in for a tour - they showed the kids all the animals, told them about how they are cared for, let them touch and hold them all (except the fish, which they got to feed!)  They also showed them the water filtration system out back - which is amazing!  And gave them a book to bring home.  It was fun and we were totally spoiled. 
 
 
 
 

 
A while into our visit, Matt said "Oh, they put flowers up for you"
 
I looked around - no idea what he was talking about....
 
Sue said "Yes, we decorated for you" and showed me their tanks are all numbered and this one....tank #43.... they put stickers on it for Rachel.  Yes, I cried.   I am so grateful for people who remember her... she was on my mind too!
 
 
Another day we went to check out the fish hatchery a couple towns away.  The kids were absolutely thrilled to see all the fish swimming so close to them.  There is a place we swim up in Maine that there are always schools of fish, but when you get close enough to see them, they swim away.  These fish couldn't! 
 
You are supposed to have to buy food to throw to them, but the guy gave us a big bucket with more than enough for us to feed them at each stop!  Again, we are SPOILED.  But I think it helps to have a van full of really cute kids... I mean, how could he resist them??
 
 
They gave us information on the kinds of fish and what lakes and ponds they raise them to bring them to.  They also gave us a card that shows all the different types of paw prints you might find in the wild and what they belong to - the boys are anxious to go bear hunting.....
 
Des & I had fun walking together behind all our boys...  she kept saying over and over how cute Asa was...  if only she knew he looks just like she did (except she had long hair by this age) when she was that old :)
 
 
Asa was running around like such a big boy - I swear he was wishing we didn't live in the city so he could run around in the mud more without worrying about cars.... or maybe that was just me.  Either way, he had a blast and didn't slow down for a minute!
 
 
And the best part of it all..... quality time with Daddy.  I'm so blessed to be the wife and mama to these beautiful people.  Thankful for all the time we get to spend together - it's such a gift.  And with each minute we do, I'm forever reminded of the little girl who taught me to cherish every moment, because you never know which one will be your last. 
 
And, it's no surprise, that just as we got to the end of our tour.... Isaiah yelled "Hey, there's a heart over there!"  I thought he was just talking about the shape of the water - but it was more than that... Not sure if you can see this in the picture, but in real life it was VERY obvious.... there was a heart in the middle of the water.  It doesn't surprise me that she'd show up on our family outing... she always does.
 
 
 
 


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

My Strength and Portion

I came across this video in one of my old blog posts.  It has me in tears - hands high in praise - all over again.  In my first sharing of it, back in August of 2011, I wrote that Matt & I were watching it together and we're both in tears.

My heart and my flesh may fail, but He is my strength and my portion forever.

(pause music at the bottom of blog before you play video)  it's less than 3 mins long.



Monday, March 25, 2013

Sing Like Never Before

Moving through life, one step at a time.... tears never far from my eyes.  I take each step as if I'm somehow one step closer to anything but heaven.  I move as if I'm moving towards something that will somehow take it all away.  Somehow bring me back to a place where I didn't know this pain. Where somehow the beauty will finally truly conquer the sorrow and bring some relief. 

Why wouldn't I be?  That's what I've been told will happen.  I look around and know it's expected of me from others.  It seems to even happen for other baby loss mothers.  Just not this one.  I feel the air on my neck as another shoulder rubs past me at church.  Another person I used to consider a friend with no desire to step outside their comfort zone and enter my uncomfortable one. No desire to reach out to me and love me where I'm at.  And I feel it.  I'm alone in it.  I'm part of a club that nobody wants to join - not even for a visit, that nobody understands, and that somehow is supposed to be something I am to grow comfortable in myself and get used to.  And maybe they are waiting for me to decide that I'm ready to leave my grief in the past and be someone else.... someone easier to talk to.... someone less enveloped with pain....or with less needs.  Believe me, I wish I could.

My comfort zone will never exist again.  Every minute of every day I am missing something. And I can't get away from it.  I never wanted to before because it meant trying to get away from her.

But yesterday I wanted to just rip down all my photos of her, all my memories, her hand and foot molds, her pieces of hair, the still wet prints I try to touch as if I'll somehow feel her again - and I just wanted out.  Forget it all and be done with this all.  Get her out of here, out of my mind, out of my heart and just be normal again.  Where people didn't shun me because I am messy and I could just exist in my ignorant bliss.  Where people weren't afraid to give me a hug.  Where smiles and conversation weren't an unusual thing for me to be given.  Where people weren't afraid to ask me how I was doing because they knew there would be no dead baby talk if they did.  Where I wasn't so needy and left so uncared for.  I looked around and I just wanted it all gone.  I had to fight the urge to tear it all down.  I'm so sorry Rachel, I don't really feel that way.....  I felt the baby kick and I sobbed.  All. Afternoon. Long.

I've been crying constantly for days.

This morning in the shower, it started again.  And, through the tears, I said it out loud.... I don't want to be me. 

I don't.

I don't want my rough past.  I don't want my complicated mind, my sensitive heart, my temper, my quick tongue.  I don't want my deep emotions, my vivid memory. 

I'm not the wife I want to be, the mother I want to be, the friend I want to be.  And every time I think I get there, it falls apart again. 

I'm tired of distance in relationships and everyone expecting me to be the one to change it all....to make them more comfortable around me....to lighten up..... but not being able to.  I hate that I can't be that person.

I don't want grief, depression, or every time I say I'm having a hard time people saying they have to go - or sending me emails about how if I just got the counselor and medication they had that I would feel better, like they do. Or if I just changed my perspective maybe I'd feel more joy. Because the truth is that my real problem is that I'm me.  I've tried it all - and still, I'm me.  I was me in counseling, me on medication, and I will always be me.  I was me before I buried my baby.  And I've only gotten more complicated, sensitive, and heavy hearted since.

So today, I got out of the shower... red faced with puffy, blood shot eyes and I packed the kids up, put on my sunglasses, and went for a walk.  We spent money we don't have on food at the store because it was easy and fun.  One chicken finger and one mozzarella stick each.  The lady who works there came up and TALKED TO ME.... asked me how I was, congratulated me on the new baby and told me again how strong I am (we donated to her daughter on Rachel's first birthday so she knows about Rachel) and I just fell into tears and told her how I was struggling. She just nodded and told me it will be okay.

And although I don't actually believe it will be 'okay' right now.... although in my heart of hearts, I truly believe this is going to get harder before it gets easier - because I have spent all this time building things that are falling down and I have to grieve something new every day.... I just sang.... because what else can I do?

Bless the Lord, O my soul
O my soul
Worship His holy name.
Sing like never before 
O my soul
I'll worship Your Holy name.
 
It's easy to sing - to praise Him - when life is good.  When the cancer gets cleared.  When the baby is healed.  When your surrounded by people who love you unconditionally and who you know you can rely on. It's easy to sing when you feel loved.  It's easy to sing after a trial that you can say is over now.  Or even in the midst of a trial that you can see the end coming soon.
 
But 'singing like never before' for me..... well, it means singing when my baby wasn't healed.  When people don't support me.  When I am alone.  When God - and His people - are silent...distant...and it might even be all my fault.  When I know I will never be able to say this trial is over.  And when I know nobody around me gets that.  It's singing when I am broken, lost, lonely and would rather die.... because I know He is good.  Even when I can't feel Him near.  And clearly, He's all I've got. 

And so even though I am in a dark place right now, I am going to keep singing this until my soul feels it and He responds.  I've sung it so many times today that I heard the kids humming it from the other room.

I need prayer..... and maybe a couple hugs?  Everyone says they don't know what to say to me, but all I've ever asked for was hugs and understanding.  Yet, it seems that those are things most won't give.

But today, at two different times when I was sitting here crying, one friend called and later another stopped by to bring me some daisy solar lights she got for Rachel's grave - and then another sent me a message asking how she could pray for me.  So, I know He hears me - and I'm thankful for the people who listen to His prompting.  It definitely lifted my spirits today.

 

Daisies for Dollars

A friend contacted me offering to do a fundraiser for Rachel....  She is a Lia Sophia consultant and the spring catalog has a daisy necklace and ring featured.  She said she set a goal of selling 43 pieces and would donate all proceeds to Rachel's Legacy.

Since we will not be doing her race - or any other big event this year - I have no income to do any of the ministries I had originally planned and hoped to do for others this year in her memory.   So, the timing of this offer is a huge blessing to my heart - For one, because I was feeling like everyone has forgotten her and like her memory was fading much too fast for me to handle.  And secondly, because if it goes well, it could help enormously in funding some of the simple things I would love to do this year to keep Rachel's memory alive, but can't do without income.  And the best part is it is without effort on my part.  Not to sound lazy, but I am so tired of having to pull everything together myself and just someone offering to do the work for me is something I am not used to - and really encourages me at this point in my journey.  Thank you Elisha...


I also really love the thought of seeing a lot of people wearing a 'Rachel symbol' - or giving them as gifts and telling the receiver about my little girl. Just the idea that people will be talking about her.... that when someone compliments the piece of jewelry, maybe Rachel's name will be spoken.... I don't know.....

Elisha also said that ANY purchase made with my name as 'hostess' will count towards the fundraiser so you don't have to pick a daisy item for the proceeds to go to Baby Rachel's Legacy, just specify my name as hostess and it will count.

I opened my facebook account again to help promote this fundraiser, thinking it was the best way to share it - but nothing has come from that, so I'm sharing it here too.   


Here is what she wrote:

Let's help Rachel continue to leave her legacy! Purchase a Lazy Daisy necklace and or ring before April 8th and I will donate the proceeds to Baby Rachel's Legacy.
Because daisies are one way in which Stacy is reminded of her precious girl,... my goal is to sell 43 daisy pieces - one for each minute she was here.
My name is Elisha, I met Stacy through her blog and have followed her journey and Rachel's journey from the beginning. I want to take the opportunity to show my support with a fundraiser and with all of your help I can!!
To place your order please visit My Page (HERE)  click on "browse jewelry" and type in "Stacy Aube" as hostess. The two fundraiser items are on page 32 D - the lazy daisy ring and necklace - in honor of Rachel and her legacy!!
Any questions please contact me at eac1510@hotmail.com or 603-817-2308
Thank you so much!! I will try to keep an update on where we are at with our goal!! THANK YOU FOR HELPING TO BE AN ENCOURAGEMENT TO THE AUBE FAMILY!!!! (if you would rather have another piece instead the proceeds will still to go BRL)
 
This is what the set looks like.....   

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Still Here With Me

So, yesterday, I was feeling a little better. We had a very productive homeschool morning and so I decided to get over to visit Rachel. I've been missing my Fridays there cause I've been so depressed I have trouble getting out of my own way.  But it was sunny and warm and I thought this was going to make me feel so much better.

When I pulled up, her spot wasn't shoveled for the first time since shortly after she died. My first thought was "We've been spoiled", but when I realized I had no shovel or anything to make my own path, I was wishing I would have stayed home. I wouldn't have known if I just stayed home, and that would have hurt less.

But I knew eventually this would happen.... I've sort of been waiting on it because I know realistically someone else isn't going to shovel my baby's grave forever.  I had noticed the paths getting smaller each time it snowed and was wondering if it was getting to be too much - if I should just tell them that they had done it long enough and give them the ok to stop since we do live in NH and get a lot of snow.  I didn't want her to feel obligated.  I just appreciate all they've done already. 

But, I suppose in the last couple of months I have found myself losing my drive to get things done.... backing out of everything because it seems easier and trying to convince myself that my heart will be fine even so.   And my heart isn't fine like this.  And I honestly have not a clue what God is trying to do through all of this in my life. He's confusing the crap out of me.

So, I sat there for a minute asking God what His purpose was.... was I supposed to keep on driving and come back another day with Matt and a shovel?  Or was I supposed to get out in my slip on Sketchers and clear a path without a shovel?  Or was just being able to see her stone supposed to be enough?

The timing is hard since I have made all these recent decisions to stop doing things I once felt led to do (her race and the 501c3)   It's like all at once I have let go of the things I do to keep Rachel's Legacy going and instantly everyone is forgetting about her.  I'm sure these aren't necessarily related, I've felt it coming for a while now, but it's very hard on my heart and makes me wonder if I can seriously move forward this way...  because right now I'm not even convinced I made the right decisions in backing down from those things since I was driven to that point because of lack of help.  I am positive that if I had proper help, I wouldn't need to take so much time away from my family.  I just can't do it all myself.  But since I never seemed to be able to rely on others to carry any of the load, I decided I had to let go of the things I had control of - the very things I did not want to let go of.  And with how discouraged I am with feeling like I've been abandoned with all the responsibilities - mixed with how tired and busy I am - I'm not sure right now is a good time to make such permanent decisions for Rachel's Legacy...but the pit just keeps getting deeper and deeper.  If only I was able to see this in February and make wiser decisions that actually addressed the real problem.

But anyway......

I guess there's always been that thing deep down in me that refuses to give up.... or maybe I'm just at a point where I am starting to see that this new direction isn't as good for me as I thought it would be.  I could analyze and try to explain where I'm at, but like I said, I am completely confused and I have no idea what will come out of these last couple of weeks (months) of pain.  All I know is that it has been very hard.  And like it or not, I need others to help me if I am going to be able to do what is on my heart for her - and help is so hard to find.

And so I got out and made my way to her grave - because I am capable....she is my girl....it was Friday... and my heart needed to conquer at least one of the obstacles in my path right now - and this was one that was in my control, and I didn't have to worry about anyone being mad at me about. Because honestly, I'm so tired of people being mad at me...

My kids are awesome and they excitedly helped me.... with our feet, hands and an ice scraper I had in the van.... we even built a little snow girl with a pigtail.  My belly hurt a bit afterwards, but it was already sore from our trip so I think it's just sore muscles.  (if I have any muscles in there!!) 





As pathetic as it sounds, I am just not ready to let go and watch her memory fade.  Even if only in the minds and hearts of others.  I'm sure that doesn't make sense to some people.  But in the ground or not, she's my daughter - and all I have is memories....so I cling to them just as tight as I would cling to her if she were here with me. And I will do anything to keep them alive, just like I would do for her if she were here with me.  Because to everyone else, she is gone....has been for a long time... but in my heart... she is still here with me.





Friday, March 22, 2013

Our Getaway

After an extremely hard week last week, a friend from Ohio (that I met through my blog) was going on a trip and she offered for us to come down to stay at a timeshare with her and her family.  Our own 2 bedroom, condo style room, in a nice resort on the beach near Cape Cod was all ours if we wanted it.

I said no at first because Matt was on vacation the week before and couldn't go with us....and then decided to make the trip alone.  I had spent 2 days straight in my bed crying (long story, but I never lay in my bed except to sleep, not even after Rachel died did I hide in my room to cry, but I've been in a very rough place - I guess mostly with the nonprofit stuff, but really what that equates to in my mind and heart is Rachel either being remembered - or forgotten)  and I really thought I needed to just get away from everything.  None of us like being anywhere fun without Matt though, it just isn't the same. And I'm not used to doing even daily stuff without his help (I'm ridiculously blessed with how helpful he is), let alone packing the van and kids up for a three day trip while 5 months pregnant.  I was tired before we even hit the road.  The kids did awesome helping me get everything in the van and were lifting stuff for me so I didn't have to.  Isaiah took his role as 'man of the house' seriously without Daddy around.  It was so cute.

The trip was a complicated thing....  she has a boy and 4 girls - one being a little girl who is the same age Rachel would be and she just had another baby 5 months ago that they asked me if it was okay if they named Rachel.  At times both are fine and at other times, both are.... well, complicated.  I wouldn't say it hurts necessarily.... I don't know.  I am able to be open with her about it all which makes a huge difference.  But I guess being around little girls will always just sting a little.

The trip was nice, it was raining there and back at home we got over a foot of snow.  The kids had fun and I survived the city driving and potty breaks alone.  They got to swim and stay up late, watch movies, relax in the jacuzzi tub.... they had it made.  My "vacation" was a lot more work than that!  I did get a half hour of quiet time on Tuesday which never happens here.  I sat and read and ate a yummy salad...uninterrupted.  If I have to drive 3 hours for a half hour of quiet, I guess it's worth it cause it felt awesome.

The hardest part was Asa's relentless desire and strong will to destroy everything in his path.  I could hardly keep up with him.  That, and his very unusual insistence on hugging the little girl who is the same age as Rachel.... he usually hits, but he wanted to hug her and he forced himself on her, squeezing her from behind - until she screamed for help.  I also caught him bouncing his belly into her and also trying to climb on her lap.  Partly I think he was just being annoying on purpose....but I think he might also have really been intrigued by her since she was the closest in age to him - he just doesn't know his own strength... or care that if someone is running away from you, it might mean they don't want a hug (but hey, there are adults who don't get that!) And then I would watch them and know that that is how far apart he & Rachel would have been and feel sad for all we're missing.
He handed me both pairs of goggles and asked me to put them on him
and then went to the door yelling "Go!" over and over.  He wanted to go swimming!

Des & her oldest girl have been writing to each other so it was cool for them to see each other again (they came to Rachel's Race this past year and came to church with us the day after, which is when we all first met in person)  but at one point, I heard them talking about how having little sisters is so much more fun than little brothers because you can do their hair - and I felt sad for Des. She always tries to put headbands and stuff on Asa and we joke about what a cute girl he would make.... but she would love to be doing Rachel's hair right now, I'm sure.  The second night we were there, the girls put all the boys hair up.  It was amusing...
my sweet Isaiah

This kid cracks me up.

I was prepared for the emotions that might arise being around the little girls.... but they weren't as hard as I thought.  Or maybe I was just so distracted by my crazy boys that I didn't have much time to think about it.  Matt & I also had some long phone conversations each night which was fun.  We haven't talked on the phone that long since back before I had Des.  Of course, it's always a bonus that I didn't have to call collect :) 

On Wednesday before we left, we went down to the beach.  It was so sunny, but pretty cold still.  Yet again, would have been an amazing walk on the beach if Asa wasn't determined to get into the water!  I spent the whole time chasing him down and picking him up out of his tantrums on the ground.  He is very difficult right now. (especially with me being pregnant)  But there's just something about him you gotta love....  just like Isaiah.  I know the work now is hard, but one day this boy is going to make his mama proud.  I never thought I'd say it about Isaiah, but every day I do.  It only took 5 1/2 years of insanity to get there, but I know he's going to be an amazing godly man, just like his Daddy.  And so I have hope that this season with Asa will all turn out fine..... *deep breath*
This was cute until he figured out that the nozzle turned all the way around and he could spray the water OUTSIDE the tub!

I'm gonna guess that is a seagull skeleton Isaiah is proudly showing off....? Whatever it is, it's on my counter waiting to be discovered....

getting ready to go :(

We came home to a clean house and a crockpot meal ready for us.  And as usual, time away just reminded me how much I love our home and family.  I did definitely feel a sense of accomplishment and was glad I didn't miss the opportunity, but I was so glad to be home and I was exhausted.  I had to go to a meeting at work that night after driving all day and then pick the kids up at Awana after.  It was 9pm by the time I sat down.  The next day, I put Asa down for nap and I crashed for 2 hours.  I was so worn out. 

I brought food and so the entire trip only cost us gas money, which we had half of in our Memories Money and so for $25 out of our regular budget, we had a 3 day getaway.  We are so blessed.

Today was the first time I opened my computer since Sunday - and I didn't even want to.  Unfortunately, the problems that I had before I left didn't disappear while I was gone... but my kids wouldn't know that and I guess that was the whole point of getting away. 

I love you guys and would do anything for you.... all six of you... you will always come first - right after God and Daddy....But always before me. 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

A Hard Week

 
 
I knew something in my new photos looked familiar.....
 
My Rachel
 
My Little E

I think the new baby might look a little like big sister, Rachel....

I think I've just had the hardest week I've had all year.  Literally.  Being in this week of  'where I was when I got the news about Rachel' is shear torture. Remembering what it was like to learn she was going to die at the same time I started feeling her move all the time.  Every kick reminding me she was going to die.  Every day closer to her death.   And with every kick, twist and turn that my Little E does, I feel it in my heart.... why did she have to die?  And everyone around me is so beyond emotions over Rachel that it isn't even something they consider - let alone give me any understanding or grace for. 

Hormones, grief, the pressure to 'be happy' over a new healthy baby, the responsibilities of life and failed attempts at trying to communicate simple things about my heart with defensive people.  I hate it all.

Ever since my pregnancy with Rachel, I have tended to want to be more introverted - especially in pregnancy.  Forgive me if being pregnant isn't all smiles and joy anymore.  Forgive me if I fail to use the right words - or want to talk about something that still hurts from 2 years ago.  Forgive me that I am far from perfect.  That I have expectations.  That I have standards for what I consider to be 'loving' and dare say so.  Forgive me that I am not always easy to love.

But you know what, I am all done trying to please people.  It's an impossible job.  Somebody is always unhappy with something I've done, said, or don't do. And quite honestly, I have reached the end of my rope.

I'm just trying to get through a complicated life, with a ton of responsibility and no help.  I don't have a role model for marriage, for raising a bunch of kids to love God, for how to grieve a dead baby and run a nonprofit.  I daily just try to hang on by a thread and trust God.  And to be honest, therein lies my biggest struggle - I don't get Him.  And I'm sick of trying to convince myself I am just so happy with this road He gave me to travel. 

Right now I don't even care what His point is or what 'beauty' has come from it - all that beauty that everyone else got to experience while I received the pain and judgement necessary for it all to come to be.  Although that does sound similar to the cross that Jesus had to bear, I must admit in my humanness,  I struggle with the desire to want to take that on for everyone else's sake.  If only I were Jesus.... or could be more like Him.  I guess it does make me appreciate even more the truth about what He did for me. 

I wish I could turn back time and keep my daughter and not have to deal with any of this and just live a normal freaking life.  that's what I want.  A life where "being like Jesus" just meant I served at the soup kitchen or helped a neighbor in need.  Why did I have to get such a heavy cross?  And when the heck is it going to lighten up?   Even Jesus had someone come along him and help him carry His cross when it looked like he couldn't go anymore.  It's like nobody thinks mine is still heavy.  Well, it is.  I'm thankful for all the help I had over 2 years ago, but I'm still in this, still carrying the weight, still trying to do what God wants, and still missing her like crazy.

I just want her back and she is never coming back.  And I don't know why He couldn't have made it different.  He's God.  Put the stars in the sky and knows them by name....  why couldn't He have just healed her?  For my good?  I don't know.  I believe it some days - today isn't one of them.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Time

I just found myself reading an old post from when I took Asa home from the hospital.  I saw the little link for it at the bottom of yesterday's post and clicked on it.

Of course, it has me crying. 

Then as I scrolled back up, I looked at my pregnancy ticker on the side of my blog..."143 days to go."

I remember with Rachel hating that count down... being sad when it went below 100... watching as the days flew by - and wishing time could stand still.  And yet, with all my other pregnancies, the days tend to go slow and I find myself wishing they would speed up. 

I'm tempted to ask "why?"   "Why couldn't it be different... the opposite?... why couldn't my time lingered with Rachel and just fly by with the babies I get to keep?"

But what sense does it make to ask?  It isn't that way.  :\


On another note, could you all please pray for my friend's cousin Dawn.  She has been battling melanoma cancer for a few years and she's reached the point where surgery was unsuccessful and she's too ill to continue treatment. She's getting her things in order. Arranging care for her 2 sons (ages 7 and 9) etc. They  need a miracle. They asked us to specifically pray that God can heal her from the current tumor/bleeding so she can continue to fight the rest of the cancer.

And I'm tempted to ask "Why?"  ??  

All I can think is that it's bad enough to be separated from your children because they die a young death, knowing that they are in a better place and safe... but I cannot begin to imagine what it feels like to know you will be separated from your children, leaving them behind in this sin filled world without you,  and not be able to do anything to protect them or provide for them.  My heart breaks for her.  Even if they will be totally okay and God will provide for them and protect them, I cannot begin to understand the depth of the pain a mother's heart must go through trying to accept that her time with them is running out -  and then explain that to her children.  Please pray for them.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Today's Results

It's been a very LONG day.....  we left the house at 10am and didn't get back until 5pm.  Came home and had to find something to feed the kids (settled on a salad with nuggets in it) and Matt is just finally getting them all tucked in now... WAY passed their bedtime.
 
My ultrasound started the way all of Rachel's did... with an hour long wait in the waiting room!  By the time they called us in, it was already way past my lunch time!  We had an awesome tech who was very thorough and explained everything she was doing.  She seemed to really enjoy watching our baby move and squirm with us and was patient with all of our questions.  The final results??.....
 
Baby's scull... perfect.
Baby's brain... perfect.
Baby's heart... perfect.
Baby's kidneys... perfect.
Baby's belly... perfect.
Baby's bladder... perfect.
Baby's gallbladder... perfect.
Baby's spine...perfect.
Placenta and cord... perfect.
 
Two arms.  Two legs.  Two hands.  Two feet.  Two eyes.  Two ears.  A cute little mouth and perfect Aube nose.   We watched baby dance around and yawn and wave and stretched like it's been a hard day.  We laughed and smiled and cried happy tears. 
 
We are so blessed.  Blessed to have a good report - and even more blessed to know what a blessing a good report is.  We take not one of these amazing and intricate details for granted, knowing that every single day hundreds of families grieve the loss of their child for one or more of these things not working properly.  We've felt that pain... and today, we are so humbled that it isn't our truth with this baby... this time... yet.  And we thank God for giving us the possibility of taking this precious baby home this summer to join our crazy family.... knowing it is never a guarantee and thanking Him for every second we get with this baby even so.
 
Baby E is approximately 12 oz.... right on track.  She said that they don't usually give 4D pics this early because since they are still skinny, some people get 'wierded out'.  I didn't say it, but I was thinking after the ultrasounds I have seen of my baby without a head, I think I can handle 'skinny'.  But it just made me realize even more how some people really have no idea what they are blessed with in a healthy baby. 
 
I love this pic with hand waving in front!


We left and went to eat at Longhorn's.... the same place we ate after Rachel's second opinion.  I remember sitting in that restaurant 2 1/2 years ago discussing how we were going to handle telling people that our daughter was going to die.  The only part of that meal that I remember is trying to hide my tears from everyone around us.  I don't even remember actually eating, never mind tasting the food.

This time, we ate food that we could actually taste and I wasn't crying.  We imagined what it will be like to add this baby to our family and dreamed about growing old with another child in our lives.  We prayed a prayer of thanks instead of a prayer of desperation.  We told the waitress about our new little one on the way, the good news we had just received... and of course, about our little girl who made us who we are today and showed us why this 'routine ultrasound' is not to be taken lightly.

Matt asked me if I wanted to get a bead for my Chamilia bracelet as a way to remember today.  I was shocked because he doesn't usually come up with ways to spend money.... especially with how tight our finances are right now. 

I had won the bid on a Chamilia Bracelet and a couple of charms at Rachel's last race.  (it was being auctioned as the "Rachel bracelet" so I had to win it!)  We have not added any beads to it and I wasn't overly crazy about the ones it came with.  but they go for like $30 a piece and we just don't spend that kind of money - so I don't wear it much.  Anyway, we finished eating and went to the jewelry store nearby.  I was going between two beads... I liked the other one better, but wasn't sure if it said "Rachel" more than "Baby E" and I wanted something that said both... but I knew I needed today to be about Baby E, not just Rachel.  So, finally Matt asked me "Which one means more as far as today goes?"  I looked at them both for a couple more minutes, but every time I looked at this one, I got choked up, so I knew it was the one. 

I remember writing a post when I was pregnant with Asa talking about why we call the babies after a loss "Rainbow babies".  Because a rainbow doesn't mean that the storm never happened, but that there is beauty after the rain.... and I remember writing about how God gave Noah a rainbow to serve as a promise that He would never flood the whole earth again - but that my "rainbow" wasn't about Him promising to never take another child of mine again... but that MY rainbow was that no matter what...He would be with me. 

So, every time my eyes met this rainbow charm again, I would hear in my heart "I am with you" and feel like I was going to cry right there.  Also, the bead has 6 stones on it... one for each of my children.  And we do have another healthy rainbow on the way..... I CANNOT WAIT to hold this baby in my arms! 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Facebook

The big question:  Did you deactivate your facebook?
The answer: Yes, I did.

I am not sure I will be going back at all - or if I do what I will do to fix my problem... but I have found that the risks are not outweighing the benefits.

I originally only started using Facebook as a way to share my blog posts - and it works unbelievably.  On Rachel's birthday, I would give Facebook much of the credit for how many people were watching and praying.  People shared my blog with everyone they knew and it landed over 4,000 people on my blog the day she came and went.  It was amazing.  So, after I saw that, I started using it.  I also accepted every 'friend request' I got, regardless of if I knew them because my blog is public and so it didn't seem to really matter.  I had a different purpose than most for using it at all.  Out of the 400 something 'friends' I have, I only initiated like 3 of them!  And many I do not know at all.  Over time though, I have started using it more personally, and this becomes a problem.

People taking photos that don't belong to them.  Stalker-ish behaviors.  Arguments and other things that would have never happened without it.  And that is just some of it.... never mind the time I lose reading (albeit, sometimes funny and sometimes nice to know) random stuff and having a false idea of support and friendship.  Never knowing who is really there or not, and expecting "likes" or short comments to make each other feel like we are connected.  It works in some ways, but in others, not so much.

 In the past two days, I have seen a dramatic difference in the number of views on my posts since I made that change.  I am hoping once everyone figures out they have to come here directly, that will change.  I won't lie, it makes me nervous.  If I do go back to Facebook, that will be my #1 reason. 

I waited to post my "Open Casket" post to see how many people go directly to my blog without relying on my posting it to Facebook to read.  It was at around 14 after many hours.  I posted it to Facebook and within an hour, it was up close to 150.  Not sure how to reconcile that at this point.  I've posted the recent posts to my Baby Rachel's Legacy FB Page in hopes it will help without me having to use a personal page - but it doesn't appear to be making a difference.  (Can you 'like' and follow me there?)

In the end, I have to remember that I started - and was sharing her story across the world - without Facebook... God did that and He doesn't need Facebook.  But for some reason, I struggle to believe I don't.  We'll see how long my heart can take the small amount of views before I give in!  It's rough timing with all the changes I just made in my plans for events this coming year.  I don't want to let it all slip away......

Friday, March 8, 2013

19 Weeks

This picture is from last week when I was 18 weeks.  Tomorrow will make 19 weeks.

It's strange when I think about it.  I was this far along when I found out Rachel wouldn't live.  Some times it feels like I knew my entire pregnancy, but I didn't.... and with how much I love this baby already, I cannot imagine having to hear (s)he will die.  My heart breaks just knowing it's a possibility - one I didn't used to know could happen to me.

My ultrasound is on Tuesday.  I had felt mostly excited - I can't wait to see how big baby is now and all the parts of its body formed.... but the last day or so has me feeling more nervous.  I couldn't believe I was even excited at all, that never happened with Asa, I was always scared... so I've been very thankful for that.  But just the idea of driving that familiar trip to Maine to get the ultrasound brings me back to my weekly trips with Rachel.  My appointments were all day affairs and they happened every week.  I don't know how we did it.  Well, yes I do....God was with us. 

So, I'm trying to think of 'how am I feeling with this pregnancy in relation to Rachel"..... and it is hard to put words to. It's been MUCH different than my pregnancy with Asa, but I'm also not 10 weeks out from burying her. On the other hand, I feel many of the same emotions as far as being sensitive to how nobody else seems to understand how complicated simple things like 'routine' ultrasounds or even going in to hear the heartbeat are - or what it does to my heart when people ask "When are you due? Do you know what you're having? So, what do you have now, one girl and three boys?"

The lady at the deli asked me these questions... she started with "Are they all yours?" and I joked and said "I don't usually pick up all the neighborhood kids to go grocery shopping" and we laughed... She did the count (like EVERYONE does!) and determined us girls were short... I told her about Rachel, but so briefly that it almost got ignored entirely. I do that so people don't need to be uncomfortable and figure if they want to know, they'll ask... but she didn't, she just continued... "Do you know what you're having? Looks like you need another girl..." and I just went along and said me & Des were hoping we would get another girl cause we're a little out numbered... as Isaiah and Sam yelled "It's a boy!!"..... but I left feeling SO guilty.....

Why does everyone think that what is inside my body is for their information?  Pregnancy and delivery have become spectator sports where everyone thinks (including me) that I have to answer any question they feel they want to know. Isn't there some kind of etiquette for personal things? Like some things you wait to be told instead of putting people in uncomfortable positions to have to either answer or find words to avoid answering? For heaven's sake, the other day at Chuck E Cheese someone asked me if I was going to get my TUBES TIED after this baby!!! Um, is that any of your business?? "No, I'm not, can you pass the potatoes?" What is wrong with people?! The condition of my fallopian tubes is none of their business - and neither is how many kids I am going to have! And I wish I would have just said that instead of answering her really rude question!

So, if I was to sum up my pregnancy experience so far with this baby, I would say that I've been much more excited than I ever was able to be with Asa... I feel pretty good physically, mostly good emotionally, and usually good mentally (minus the other stuff I've been dealing with that are separate from this pregnancy) My nightmares stopped after I asked you all to pray, so thank you! Still no dreams of Rachel, though....But I would say that I am still extremely affected by the trauma of my days with Rachel and the medical stuff around that. I would say I struggle with the fact that nobody seems to take things like 'routine ultrasounds' with this baby as seriously, as if they have forgotten how difficult they are for me - or the fact that just because this baby has a skull doesn't mean it's heart or other organs are developing correctly. I would say that I am frustrated with everyone's preoccupation with what I'm having - even if I myself have the same curiosity, which I do... and even that irritates me because I know that I could get another girl and have to bury her. And I would say that I still know that I am only guaranteed this very moment with this baby and I am soaking it up every chance I get.

I would say I felt love for this baby before I ever knew I was pregnant - fell totally in love when I saw that second pink line - and will always love this baby for the rest of my life, regardless of how long I get to spend with it here on this earth.  And every day I am reminded of what an amazing gift it is to be able to bond with my baby long before anyone else ever gets to lay eyes on him/her. 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Sam's Birthday

Went to the Children's museum for Sam's bday.  He was so cute showing his fingers to everyone to tell them how old he is now.  It took a lot of concentration to make his fingers go to the new number.  We had fun, the place was empty which made it really easy for me being alone with all of them.  Asa of course, was the hardest... that boy is really giving me a run for my money! 
 

I wanted a picture of everyone and of course that makes me hate that Rachel isn't in them.  But we saw the daisies on the wall upstairs and sat there to include Rachel...

Later, we went to Chili's for dinner cause we had the "kids eat free coupons" and a gift card.  Matt spent half the time in the van trying to talk sense into a 16 month old who was freaking out because he wanted to go see the blue lights at the bar - and Sam ended up dropping his ice cream on the floor - which of course broke the glass bowl and caused some crying.  And that's just part of it. The non-stop screaming from Asa is what really did us (and everyone in the place) in.  The waitress brought us two bowls of cherries (I HATE reinforcing his bad behavior with something he likes!) to try to make him happy.  Really what he needed was discipline, but don't say that in public!  I have officially decided that we will not be going out to eat with the kids anymore.  Take out sounds much more enjoyable.  I actually packaged up the leftover ice cream into a kids cup and took it home where I finished it in the peace of my own home at 11 pm.  The older kids were perfect though... but unfortunately, it only takes one! :\

look at the sweet smile on my right.... and the grumpy boy on my left!!  That was our night!!
I'm thankful for the years we have had with Samuel... he continues to make us laugh and smile every day.  Not sure I've ever blogged this, but we almost lost him in early pregnancy.  They did an ultrasound after a huge amount of bleeding, thinking I had for sure miscarried.  They found his little heart beating - and a pool of blood next to his sac.  They called it a 'threatened miscarriage'.  That was a month after my other miscarriage so I thought I had lost another baby.  But nope, he was still with us - and I am eternally thankful.  It just reminds me of how blessed we are to be picking up glass off the floor at the restaurant as everyone around us wishes we would leave.  Still, next time, I'm ordering out and any screaming kids are going to bed!  AND I will serve the ice cream in plastic bowls... or heck, maybe we'll eat out of the carton.

Happy Birthday Sam.  Mama loves you!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Open Casket

Last night I had another funeral to attend.  I've sadly been to more baby funerals than adult funerals since I had Rachel.  I believe this made my 4th one, not including Rachel's.  However, this is the first one I have been to where the baby had close to the same condition as Rachel (acrania)  And also the first one that the baby was not cremated.  Which meant the first time I have seen a tiny casket with a baby in it - other than Rachel - in person.  It's much different than being at a service with an urn and photos of the baby alive or in their arms - or seeing photos of the babies in caskets on line.

It's an amazing honor to be able to share in such a sacred time with a family who is saying goodbye to their child.  The mom had been standing off to the side greeting people and when I got up to her, she wanted to go sit by her baby so she could show me her... because she knew I knew.  As I told her how beautiful and amazing she is, other people started to gather around.  They started to do the same.  It was beautiful.

I only have a couple things, that when I look back, I would say I would do differently.  I planned so precisely that there isn't much I left out.  But the one thing I was unsure of was whether or not I should have an open casket.  I wanted it.  I wanted to hold her until I wasn't able to anymore.  To see her until that last minute when it was no longer my choice.  But it was recommended to me by the funeral director that I not.  She said that she had been to baby funerals before where people actually left early because they couldn't handle it.  She said it makes them too uncomfortable.  Because I had not decided before she was born, I was in the fog that comes (both from the shock of death and because I was on pain killers from my c-section) and I just did whatever she told me to.  I trusted her judgement and I knew she cared about my experience, so I closed her casket before everyone got there - and then opened it up to say goodbye and kiss her again before I shut it for the last time.

I regret it. 

I had a chance to show off my girl to over 130 people all at once.  The only chance I had.  I lost it because of fear. The truth is that their imaginations were probably doing a much worse thing.  Rachel was beautiful.  Even so many days after she had died, she looked.... beautiful.  Perfect.  When I got there that morning, I was afraid of what I would see... but she looked amazing.  They hadn't put any make up on her because we decided on closed casket, and even still, she was way prettier than many 'normal' adults I see in caskets... and we don't close theirs.  People don't run out of their funerals.

I try to remind myself that God was in all of those details - in every decision I made.  Different people need different things.  That decision might have had nothing to do with me.  Maybe He was protecting someone there who couldn't have handled it.  The following year of my life pretty much confirms that.... people didn't even know how to handle ME after she was gone, never mind a baby in a casket.... but she was so pretty.  And I wish I would have just done it... let the people who would leave, leave.  They are probably gone by now anyway. 

I also know that part of it is that I wasn't ready to share her.  I felt very protective over her.  And maybe it wouldn't have been good for me at that point.  Or maybe the message we shared about God and how He provided for us would have been missed if people were distracted by the tiny baby behind us.  A huge purpose of her service was sharing to the unbelivers we are surrounded by - as well as the believers there - who were struggling with what was happening, that God is GOOD and that He had done great things.  That Rachel was a blessing.  God knew it all.  I have to trust that. 

One of my pastors came last night as well - it was really nice to see him there and since he was one of the few people we had with us at the hospital with Rachel, it's comforting to have him around.  He had asked me if it brought back a lot of memories...  In those moments, I wasn't really feeling like it had...because our service for Rachel was so completely different - and I had a closed casket.  The only thing I could think at that time was "these memories are with me every. single. day of my life - not just at another baby's service".   But today, I found myself feeling depressed, edgy, sad, angry.  I was at the gym and in the middle of working out, I found myself in tears.  I hate that babies die.  I hate that anyone has to put their baby in the ground.  I hate that my baby is dead and in the ground.  I hate that I made decisions based on fear.  I hate that there are no do-overs. 

As pretty as her casket was, and it was gorgeous.... it didn't compare to her.  So, I feel like I need to do this.  To open her casket and let the world see... not the edited photos that I have found so much comfort in....but the unedited version of what I love so dearly.  My baby girl... just the way she was.  I think there is a bit of healing that comes in being able to share these hard moments with others... and I missed that part.  Here I am almost 2 1/2 years later still wishing I could have.  And this is as close as I can get....


I had her bundled up in her blanket (Des made this one, I kept the one I made that she was in at the hospital, it's the one I sleep with - they are identical) when I put her in her casket at the funeral home because I was afraid she would get cold....If we had an open casket, I'm assuming we would have had her hands out and not had her so covered up at least for the service. I'm sure I would have bundled her back up for her burial

the hat we ended up burying her in was one the hospital gave us, so I could keep the ones she wore that I really liked. She is in her footie PJ's that say "Love to Twirl" on them.  months later, I also noticed they have hearts on the bottom of each foot.
♥ Her footprints ♥

And because you can't see her face well in the others, here is a pic of her whole face.
This was taken about 24 hours after she was born.  And I was still staring at her. ♥


I remember saying while I was pregnant (the day I got her casket in the mail and posted the blog titled "Rachel's Cradle")  that "the day I have to shut this forever will be the worse day of my life."

And it was.  Truly worse than any other day. Ever.  Nothing could come close to that pain.  That horrible feeling of making my arms do something that my heart was refusing to do.  Knowing I had no choice.  Knowing it was for the rest of my life.  Knowing it had to be me.
Because I ordered this casket myself, it was delivered to our house and sat in our mudroom for over 3 months while I was pregnant.  My kids would play with it and I would shoo them away.  I was afraid if it got opened and closed too many times, it wouldn't click good when we buried her and wouldn't keep the bugs out.  I can still feel the click under my thumbs as I closed it in this moment.  That sound, that feeling... they will never leave my mind or my heart.  I stood in that very spot and cried for a while after.

The kids were asking to hold her again.  I was knelt down talking to Isaiah and I looked up at Tammy (the funeral director) for approval.  I remember her face like it was yesterday... she just shook her head "no" with a solemn face as if to say "not a good idea" - and I just told them "I'm sorry, you can't..."  and my heart broke right along with theirs... I can't hold her again.  The furrow in my brow as Matt picked her up and carried her out said it all. 

I also noticed in this photo how Tammy is looking at me... and I'm holding Rachel's other little lamb.  I carried that lamb and the photo of her hand and foot print around for months.  I think this was one of the hardest parts for Matt.


I have the cross that was carved out from the top of her casket. 

And this was the last time I saw her above ground.  She is now directly below where she is in this photo.
And so yes, as I'm seeing my need to "do-over" my regret... and to replay the last day with Rachel, I am realizing that last night did in fact bring back a lot of memories.  I've heard people who go through tragic things at times just need to repeat what happened.... and now I get it.  There is something that happens when I re-tell my story or finally share something I've always wanted to... it's like it loses a little more of it's power over me.  It defuses maybe?  I don't know.... just bear with me... and know how grateful I am that there are still so many who aren't tired of letting me talk about her.  I wish I could do it more in real life, like actually TALK (not write) about her and how I feel with people...even if I'm repeating myself,  but most are either tired of hearing it or too busy to listen.  I'm so thankful for this outlet, even if only on the computer - it's better than nothing and does bring me some support. 

Next on my list is to share her cute little ears.... which ironically resemble lambs ears - seems fitting for my "innocent lamb" (that's what Rachel means) I used to try to hide them... you know, because they aren't 'normal' and someone might think they are "yucky".... well, I happen to really think they are cute now.  My only regret is trying so hard to hide them that I covered up her beauty.  But I'm sure I can fix that too.

It's been a long, hard day.  But I've had worse.  The first time around was harder.  Maybe I'm glad there are no do-overs.....

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Changing My Desires

As you know, I have been in a place of painful, yet really good, transition in my heart and home.

It started out appearing as though my problem was just trouble getting help with the responsibilities I have as a nonprofit president.  But over the last few weeks, God has shown me that in His infinite wisdom, He was using that for my good. 

Remember my "It's a..." post?  Where I talk about how I was being convicted of the time I am missing with my 10 year old girl while wishing I could have another one just like her? 

I think that was the beginning of all of this.  And I didn't even know it.

So here it goes....  this is a long one, and kind of a bumpy ride, so sit back, get comfortable, and hang on.....

I had been spending HOURS upon hours working on the new website I was attempting to create.  I was also completely engulfed in the 501(c)3 application, trying to figure out what our tax requirements were for this year, and getting Rachel's Race on line registration all ready to go for when we got the race day approved.  I was creating pledge agreements, job roles & responsibilities, proposed budgets, and trying to recruit more people for the board of directors. 

And let's face it, nobody can do all of that and still be doing well with running a household while pregnant, working part time, chasing around a 15 month old and homeschooling the others.  I don't get a lunch break, I don't send them off on that big yellow bus, it's all on me. 

I'm going to admit something that I am ashamed to say.  When this all started to come to a head, the first thing I wanted to flee from was homeschooling.  I had a serious conversation with Matt and said "I can't do this anymore.  I'm not good at it.  I'm failing them.  I am not cut out for this role and I just want a big yellow bus to come pick them up and take them away for the day so I can make cookies at 3pm and feel revived to see them and take care of them.  I need relief."

My husband is amazing.  I might have said that before.... and he just reminded me that I hated it when Des was in school.  I hated being away from her, I hated someone else being her teacher.  I hated the things she was exposed to even in a Christian school.  I hated the homework and early mornings - and getting out the door with 5 kids every morning to drop her off certainly wasn't going to be fun. 

I felt even more helpless.... I hate it now, I'd hate it then.  Is this really my life?  What the heck did I sign up for???!!!  But I knew he was right... I can't not teach my children.  I've tried it and I've never found peace in it because God has called me to homeschool them.  But it seemed the only thing I had the control to change....I can't change that Rachel is gone, I can't change that nonprofits take a lot of work, and I can't change how many hours there are in a day....

And that's when God stepped in.

Things have gotten REALLY hard for me.  The more I tried to keep going, push through, do it all... the more I was falling apart... completely breaking.  I was literally having physical reactions to my stress level.  The kids got sick one after the other.  Almost everyone I have asked for help had completely blown me off.  Asa had been screaming for about 2 months straight at this point (molars were not his friend) and I was on edge, run down, and had lost all my joy.  Let's not forget that I was in the first trimester of this pregnancy and completely sick to my stomach around the clock and exhausted.  Everywhere I went, people were telling me "You look tired".  I would just say I was - but I was more than tired.... I was worn. Losing every piece of my humanness as I just survived my long list of to-do's.

One Friday (the day I couldn't go visit Rachel cause I was stuck on the couch) I was laying here cramping and seriously thought I was going to lose this baby.  And all I could think was "It would be my fault".  That night, I wrote my I Need You, God post.  The floodgates of my heart opened and I surrendered.... and cried....and cried....and cried some more.

And immediately, I knew... If I can't get the help I need to do the things I do for Rachel and not have it totally steal me away mentally, emotionally, physically... then I need to make changes.  I don't think any of the things I am trying to do were ever designed to be done by one person - or at least certainly not one pregnant, homeschooling, working mom of 5 - almost 6.

I spent that weekend just trying to really hear what He was saying.... what this all meant.  Matt & I went out the next day for our anniversary and talked a little about it.  On that Sunday during worship, I had the hardest, deepest, most completely draining meltdown I have had in a very long time.  I was sobbing so uncontrollably that even when the music stopped, I couldn't keep it in.  I'm pretty sure everyone in the sanctuary could hear my wailing.... and I didn't care.  I was broken.  Completely heartbroken.  I didn't want to make the changes I felt Him telling me I had to.  And honestly, I'm so tired of Him asking me to do things I don't want to.  Haven't I said "Yes" enough to You Lord? Can you give me a break and just help something to go right...easy... for me?"

I finally decided that if Rachel's Race was going to happen, someone else was going to have to direct it, but nobody wants that job... so I posted "Changes"

The next morning, God again used something very painful to help me come to another conclusion.

We were cleaning up the living room and I picked up the photo of Rachel & I in the operating room.  I started talking about how much I loved the photo...how cute she looked... how I'm kissing her hand...Sam was talking with me saying things like "He's got boogers... awww... he's so cute... his eyes are open" 

And I noticed it.  Des was mad.  She is usually really positive about Rachel... she loves her... why does she look mad that I am talking about her photo?

I asked her what was wrong and she wouldn't answer.  I wanted to step in and give her some options in case she just didn't know how to say what she was feeling... "Are you sad?"  "Are you mad?"  "Do you miss her?"  But I felt led to just wait.  And she found the words.....

"You're always so busy with stuff for Rachel that you never have time for us" she said.

"I'm always with you" I reassured her.  "You guys are important to me"

"You are always doing websites and stuff" she demanded.

I couldn't defend myself.  She was right.  This has gotten much bigger and more time consuming than I ever planned... and I've followed suit... and they are starting to suffer.  She notices.  It hurts her.

I was trying to tell her the things on my heart... but she seemed completely unimpressed and she wasn't buying it.  So I gave her my phone and pulled up the post from the night before.  I saw her face changing as she read that I was not willing to miss any more summers with my Desirae.....and then later I saw that at the end of the post, she had commented... "Thanks Mama....  Love, Des"

There are many sacrifices that I am willing to make.  I have given up many personal things from privacy to time and energy to make a difference through my pain.  But I am absolutely not willing to let down my living children for any of this.  Rachel doesn't need me.  She is well taken care of.  And she will not care if I never did another thing for her.

And what do I have to show if I win the approval of people everywhere... bring people back to Christ... help grieving mothers to not feel alone.... change hearts through Rachel's life - if my very own children resent that she came and went... if my living babies walk away from God because their mother was too distracted to notice that their hearts were aching.  If I think I'VE felt alone as I've tried to do this stuff without anyone being willing to give ME their time... how do I think my daughter has felt as I have continuously said "Not now, I'm busy" over these past few weeks ??  And I am not willing to do this.  I can't.  I refuse to let this be a future regret.  I will not sacrifice this.  She needs me... the boys need me... and Matt needs me.  And they are my first ministry.

This realization set me into a transition where I have made many changes.  I cut my hours at work.  I now work just one night a week, instead of 3 days and 1 night.  Our school days have been much more effective and relaxed.  I stopped all work on the nonprofit.  This has opened up an unbelievable amount of time that I have enjoyed spending with my kids....reading, talking, laughing...playing... enjoying each other.  I had no idea I burned that much time on it.  Ironically, the baby has stopped screaming around the clock.  Their attitudes are much better.  I am not constantly on edge.  I even get to shower more. 

We have slowed down our school schedule... one day a week for gym instead of two - and we won't be returning to our Wednesdays at Classical Conversations. I have started scheduling time together... doing things they will like and remember.  Simple and free, but quality time things...without so many demands on our time and rushing around...and we have decided that the little bit of money I get from working, we will set aside in a "memory money" jar that we will save up to take the kids to a special place each month to make memories, instead of using it on bills. 

To counteract the financial loss from cutting my hours, we have done things like make changes to our auto insurance, get rid of unnecessary wants, and put ourselves on a pretty serious food budget... saving $10 here, $20 there - and it makes up for what I've lost in money from working - but I can't ever replace this time.  And I am just so thankful that God has brought me to this place... I just know that in a couple of years I will look back on this and see His amazing mercy and grace.  I know that I need to be pouring myself into my 'tween' aged daughter right now and building our relationship while I can.  He is so so good.

So, here is the reason I am sharing all of this.....

It is with deep regret - and yet an unbelievable peace - that I announce that I am not moving forward with the 501(c)3 application - I am not able to complete it - or move forward with its mission - without it negatively affecting my family.   I have not come to a complete peace about if I should let the nonprofit go entirely at this point, so I am waiting on God for that.  I think I will try to keep that going so we can use it for smaller, more intimate ministries... and you know me, I already have ideas.  But they don't require a 501(c)3 status.  And because I know me, I know I am better off to not have the status, as I will be likely to get a surge of energy and forget all the things God has showed me through this past month and want to do something big again. 

In Rachel's funeral video, there is a line in the song that says "Through the fire, through the pain, we offer You our 'Yes' again" - and that "Yes" has always been my goal.  Many people were telling me when this first all started coming out that I needed to say "No" once in a while and that it was okay to do... to put me first and to take care of myself. 

I need to say that this is not me saying "No" - it's actually me saying "Yes" to the new direction God is leading me, just like I said "Yes" to him in all the other ways He has led me.   It's not what I want, it actually hurts and has been a very painful decision - and I know I will grieve it. I already am. But I also know that He has shown me over the last few weeks that this is the way He wants me to go now. And that has come with a large amount of pain as well. And at this point, I am just surrendering to what He's saying and trying to trust. Because in my human mind, it seems crazy to let everything I have spent the last 2 years pouring my heart and soul into just go. And I HATE that I am not following through with what I said I would do. But how often does He make sense in my life? He is reminding me that my "Yes" has never been about 'doing' but about "surrendering to His plan". Even when I don't like it, understand it, or when it hurts my pride. He is asking me to say "Yes" to a change in my desires.  And I am so willing.   Yes ,Lord.  Lead me and I will follow.....
 
I just keep reminding myself that I am not quitting. I have started and finished a lot. Everything He has led me to and through. At this point, it's more about starting something different that works for my family better. It seems counter productive to stay home with them, homeschool them, and then miss their entire childhood anyway.
 
After I told Matt that I wasn't going to pursue the 501(c)3 and what God was impressing on my heart, he told me of a prayer list he had made on the Thursday night before my "I Need You, God" post, while I was at work... He said he has began praying that God would help guide me in my priorities, my time management, and in getting the help I needed with the nonprofit.  He said it had built his faith and his excitement over the power of prayer to see what God had done in just a few short days...and not just in that I changed my direction, but that I was feeling better already and had peace about it in my heart.
 
I'm totally heart broken to be letting go of my plans, but at the same time, I am excited to see what God does with my life - and even Rachel's legacy - as I surrender to HIS plans. The last week in my house has been so blessed just because of my obedience to follow His call. And I have no doubt that when I start to rest in Him again, He will continue to spread Rachel's Legacy like He did in the beginning without so much useless effort on my part. I've been trying to do it in my own strength, with my own understanding, with human perspective - and it isn't working - because that is sinful. I have not felt this alone in a very long time. And the truth is that it is because I have placed a worldly view of 'success' in front of Him. I've always said I didn't want 'success' to be about how much money we raised. Well, if that's so, then why do I run around like a chicken with my head cut off trying to get it?   Because I've bought into the lie.... money = success. And it just doesn't. 
 
So, I see Rachel's Legacy going back to something much simpler - and much more intimate. Something I can INVOLVE my kids in, not push them aside to get to. Something I can do alone if I need to and not be overwhelmed with stress over. And I think God is going to bless it and bless others through it. And that is what I want my little girl's name to be about.
 
If you donated towards Rachel's Birthday Puzzle fundraiser - with the purpose of helping us pay for the 501(c)3 application fee - and you would like your money back since we will not be using it for that purpose, please contact me at RachelsMama@ymail.com in the next two weeks and I will be glad to give you your money back.  Otherwise, the funds we collected for her birthday will remain in the nonprofit account to be used towards the smaller ministry ideas that are on my heart.  I just don't want anyone to be upset that they donated and the money is being used differently than we had planned, so PLEASE if you are not in agreement with this, just let me know so I can make it right with you.
 
And just to give you an update... I ordered next year's homeschool curriculums yesterday and I was SO EXCITED about it!   I am totally revived for homeschool!  In just one week of a slower schedule and God showing me how important my role in their lives is, my heart has been given a renewed sense of purpose in this - in them.  
 
Tonight I went to MOPS (mothers of preschoolers) with my friend Jaimi....(where the topic was... you guessed it... ladies being too busy!)  and someone told me I looked good!!  I think she actually said  that I don't look like I have a bazillion kids at home and am pregnant!  What a difference from the comments I was getting 10 days ago!!  The last week of slowing down is obvious on my face and in my eyes!  Thank You Lord for bringing me rest...
 
I am ashamed that the first thing I was ready to drop when the plate got so full I was sliding off it, was my children that God has given me and called me to teach.... but I am so thankful for a God who will discipline me to the point where my heart breaks if He needs to in order to save me from making a decision I will regret.  His patient, loving, firm hands continue to guide me in all I do...making my plans seem so unimportant and His ways my desire.