Thursday, February 27, 2014

He's Got This

It appears as though my blood pressure is finally coming down. The doctor has given me the go ahead to start weaning off my meds, so long as it stays low as I do.

I have been asking doctors and nurses since Ezra was a day old about this strange cramp I keep getting in my stomach and I have been blown off every time.  Today she finally paid attention and confirmed what I had been suspecting all along, I have a hernia.

I'm feeling really discouraged with this.  Not necessarily the hernia, but more so my entire physical state.  Seems like it is one thing after another and I'm just trying to be a young, healthy and somewhat fit mom so I can be involved in my children's lives and enjoy their younger days with them...  It's gone from my blood pressure issues to painful autoimmune diseases to a complicated gene 'mutation' to anxiety and now a hernia...  I'm pretty tired.  Not physically, but more so mentally and emotionally.

I felt mostly fine about this all day, but tonight at church, I cried a lot.   I wasn't really engaged in the crying, I just couldn't stop the tears.  And as I thought about the why of it, I realized that I was just starting to feel like things were getting better.  I've been doing an exercise program at home, 15 minutes a day and have seen amazing results physically, mentally and emotionally... and I've been feeling stronger and healthier - I've been in less pain....

On top of that, today is the day that the city voted on the approval for Rachel's Race... I'm supposed to call in the morning to get the official okay... 

And on top of that... I don't have insurance.  We tried to get me onto Matt's and they wanted us to pay back to November to sign on mid-term - so I looked into Obamacare, which somehow concluded that we could afford almost $1000 a month for just me (crazy!!!) but they would give us most of it back at the end of the year - that would be great if we had that up front, but we don't. 

I asked the doctor today about the exercises I do and she said it should be fine.  What I'm reading on line isn't so sure about that... and this is the doctor that told me I was just constipated for the last few months... do I trust her?  Not really... but I can't afford the surgeon without insurance.

The exercise is what has been helping me feel better as far as my horrible joint pain and I don't want to stop.  I like being able to move better and I like not looking 6 months pregnant anymore.  But what if I make the hernia worse?  But if I stop, the joint pain will undoubtedly get worse again. I was feeling extremely laid back and calm about Rachel's Race for once and I don't know how this will all play into that - like, how does a person run a 5K event after having surgery? (or with a hernia?)  And how will I care for the 5 kids I have at home if I can't lift for 5 weeks?  And what about nursing?  And a whole bunch of other 'what if's' that I don't have answers to because at this moment in time, I don't even know how bad the hernia is or what kind of surgery it will require because I don't have insurance and can't afford an ultrasound. 

I just feel so stuck.  I feel a little robbed.  Like here I am with all these things finally lining up and feeling a little more human - and now it's taken out from under me and I'm going back to square one.  But maybe that's just an illusion because the last diagnosis I got, I've just ignored because I didn't know what to do with that either. 

During our prayer time tonight at church, one of the ladies reminded me that 'God's got this'.  And I know He does.  He has never once left me alone or failed me.  He has shown me in a bunch of different ways today that he is here and in the details... starting with the bouquet of daisies and pink roses that met me at check in before I got this news this morning and the bouquet of daisies that met me at my house when I got home from my appointment... and the multiple references I have been sent or 'stumbled upon' reminding me to REST in the Lord.

So, I am feeling low... and it probably won't be hard to tell by looking at me... but there isn't a valley I've walked through that My Lord has not met me in to light the way - and so as uncertain as this feels and as frustrated as I am... I will rest in Him... because He didn't bring me this far to drop me. Everything I do is for His glory - so I am believing He will see it all through in his perfect way and time.  I'm trusting that He's got this.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A Time to Laugh

Thursday night Matt parked across the street so he could shovel our driveway.  I mentioned at about 10pm that he should move his car back to our side of the street and shouldn't leave it there.

He said "It's fine."

Friday morning I woke to Isaiah telling me he saw footprints up to our front door.  I shooed him away and went back to sleep.  Next thing I hear is Matt saying "Stacy, you're never going to believe this... I went out to get your Valentines gift out of my car... and my car is gone...."

We all threw our boots on and jumped in the van.  Matt was the last one in and I instructed the kids to all yell "Happy Valentines Day Daddy!!" when he got in the van. He laughed.  As we drove, he said he was going to ask them to give him a discount.  And he was serious, which was the cute part. :)  I told him "I know you're special and all, but you're only that special to me."

That night we planned to go skating with the kids.  We got to the rink and it was closed for snow removal on the roof... we decided to stop at Hannaford's and get a snack for the kids.  My wonderful husband dropped me at the door in front of the grocery store and as I made my way to the entrance, he began yelling as loud as he could "I LOVE YOU HONEY CAKES... HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY... I LOVE YOU!!!" (In a voice that sounded almost as if he was in pain) Everyone around me was embarrassed too...and of course there was a 'traffic jam' at the door and like 10 people going in at the same time. One lady said "You're loved" and I mentioned that, actually he was just going out of his way to embarrass me. "His is coming to him" she said...

As I walked through the store (wearing my loudly swishing snow pants) I kept laughing out loud to myself. I pretty much looked crazy. And then when I went back to the van, he locked the doors and started yelling "Do a dance honey!" As he threw his arms around encouraging me to dance as if that was the 'password'.  The kids were cracking up and probably a bit nervous for his life - But, after I busted a move in the Hannaford parking lot in my snow pants, I promised him I would get him back.

Well, 'his time came' when we went to a Murder Mystery Dinner Sat for our anniversary. We had other plans that got canceled because of the storm and last minute we decided to go to this show that we had no idea what it even was! It ended up being an interactive play where there is a murder and you have to figure out who did it (think the game Clue) They gave us fake cash to buy clues, but in one room when they offered the 'highest bidder' a song made up for - and sung to - the person of their choice, I bid all my money to get Matt up there... and this is what came of that... 

And after he was thoroughly embarrassed... I promised him I was putting it on the internet. :)

Next time you see him, do me a favor and say "Hi Big Bad Matt!" He can just thank me that I didn't make him do the running man. ;)  

I think this may have been the most fun anniversary we've had yet and I realized just how much we love to laugh. Something our relationship was founded on and can get lost in the day to day of life... but as silly as it sounds, this weekend brought that back for us and it feels awesome.  Looking forward to another year with my "Hot Matt". LOL!!!

While the journey with Rachel was hard on us in so many ways - and honestly, I know with all I am that God' grace alone kept us together through it... I am so thankful for how our sweet little girl gave us a different vision for our lives.  We stopped on the way home Sunday to shovel out Rachel and a couple other graves and I said to Matt "This was never what I envisioned when we stood in that church 8 years ago... that we'd spend so much time shoveling graves..."  And my next thought was "Whatever you do, do it as unto the Lord" 

Rachel taught us how to shine - and how to see light - in dark places.  She taught us how to love... to live... to laugh...right where we are and in whatever circumstance He sends our way. Our lives and our marriage are so much richer from loving this little girl who some saw a just a burden.  You'll never see me slap on a fake smile, but I've never been more sure that the joy that the Lord gives makes me strong.  It just comes in a completely different package than I expected. 

Today we celebrate 8 years of marriage, 6 babies, all our needs constantly provides for by our amazing God....and we look forward to every day we get to spend together in the future here on earth... and eternity together in heaven.  We are undeservedly blessed.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Love Never Fails

Getting caught up on some posts today - sickness has us home from church and I have trouble finding time to write during the week now.  Homeschool is busier than ever (obviously) and by the time I teach, get Asa down for nap, eat lunch & exercise and then's time to make dinner.  Anyone who thinks a homeschooling family is suffering from boredom is delusional.

So anyway... I have struggled since E arrived to get to Rachel's grave on Fridays.  Our new church is in Dover, so we have been stopping there a lot on the way home.  I feel okay about it.  Like I've said, I do what my heart needs and I haven't really been *yearning* to get there on Fridays like I used to (right now).  But every once in a while, I *need* to go. 

As January came to an end, I was aching to get her grave "up to date" in décor.  Her tree was still up and every time I went, I felt like it was time - but I never seemed to be able to plan anything out and so I always showed up empty handed.  I refused to take down our Christmas stuff at home until I changed hers out since it went up on her birthday at both places.

I usually put out a bouquet of daisies and tulips (our wedding flowers) for February since our anniversary is on the 18th.  But I went up in the attic to get them down and the last 3 years of weather had done a job on them.  They looked beaten up.  I went out to Walmart to try to get something and after looking forever, came across a DIY project page for a Kissing Ball...

I had just said to Matt the night before that I thought the kissing ball we put out for Christmas worked good because the snow didn't stick to it... and a kissing ball seemed appropriate for February - so that was it.  I picked out some flowers to mix into the old ones (the old ones have a lot of sentimental value since my mom had brought them to her birthday at the hospital) and I went home and got my glue gun out. 

After about an hour of messing with the ribbon, flowers and hot glue, I felt it....

I *really* needed to do something for her. 

I used to spend all sorts of time creating things for her grave.  I liked everything to be handmade and from me with lots of meaning.  And I just haven't been able to do that for a long time.  (5 kids at home takes up most of my time)  Often I pick stuff up on the way and make it there, but always in a rush (and the last time was when Matt cut his finger in August!!)  But back in the early days, it was how I worked through my intense need to care for her when I couldn't actually care for *her*.  I just didn't realize I was craving that so much. 

I didn't make it on Friday... so we planned to go on Saturday.  That didn't happen, so it became the plan for Sunday.

Sunday when we got out of church, we were in two separate cars because we had Jailyn & Caleb and we don't all fit in one.  It was a long morning, so the plan became to go home and I'd go back later to decorate...but something happened to me.

I think a mix of being completely exhausted....

( Side note:  If you have never taken care of someone who has disabilities before, this may not have crossed your mind - but please say a prayer for my family, especially my sister - as great and amazing as Jay is doing, it's a huge amount of work and Jay requires a lot of help.  It's also just very hard to see someone you love have a sudden tragic thing take away so much from them. It brings on a different kind of very real grief for everyone. It's easy for people to see her and only think "wow, so amazing" - and don't get me wrong - it IS... she is alive and walking and she is absolutely proving the doctors wrong and proving how amazing God is... but my heart breaks over and over again as I watch her try to lift her arm by her shoulder or push her bowl to her chest to try to eat without dropping it... or to sit and watch kids run or wrestle and get angry at them for being able to and feeling left out. Or the crazy amount of medicine she has to take through her G-tube.  Quite frankly, this journey has just begun for them and it's a hard one.)

... and feeling the weight of this huge burden I have to be a light in an often dark and painful world....

I found myself leaving Matt going in a different direction and driving straight to Rachel's grave.  I was pouring tears before we ever left the parking lot of the church.  I stopped suddenly at her spot, stepped out, took a few good size steps to her stone and fell on my knees on top of her grave. 

The ground wet and muddy from the snow having been shoveled away, I had a complete breakdown - like a face-on-the-ground kind of breakdown.  Bent around my knees, I sobbed and clutched the ground over her tiny body, leaving fingerprints on the grass, and it was not even about her completely...

It was more about everyone I love having no interest in their Salvation through Jesus and I can't do anything about it... It was communion Sunday and the sermon at church was amazing... but usually when I hear about how God rescued me from eternity in hell, I usually feel so thankful - but this day, I wanted to just ask if He was going to fill my heart with so much love for people who would turn from him, couldn't he have just left me in my ignorance?  I know it sounds stupid... I mean what kind of fool prays to be ignorant and go to hell?

I sit on top of Rachel's grave and hate the ground that separates us and I just fear the day that any of them die and I don't have anything else but the ground between us...  no promise of seeing them again - not a true one anyway.... and no ability to picture them in 'a better place'.... and honestly, it makes me want to puke.  It makes me beg Him to take me first.  I know their eternity isn't supposed to be about me... and it's not... but I don't know how I would make it through losing any of them knowing heaven was not their destiny. 

So there you have it... I'm a selfish, afraid, and now soaking wet and puffy faced mother, daughter, sister, friend... who would rather go to hell with you than leave you behind.

But I can't give it to anyone  - and most the time I'm not even a good example of what it means to be in the body of Christ... I feel like I can't even rightly show them why they would or should even desire to know Him... and it literally feels like a million tons of bricks crushing my chest and stealing my breath. And because I know all too well that we aren't guaranteed 90 years with anyone... time feels like it's going to steal them from me.

I got back in the van, pushed my frizzy  hair away from my face, wiped my mascara from my cheek to my pants, I looked back and begged Desirae and Jailyn to take their relationship with God seriously - and drove home...crying.  They probably thought I had gone off the deep end.  But dear Lord please don't let me be a stumbling block to my children and my family...don't let me fail them. Show me what it means to never let love fail.

The plan became to bring Rachel her new stuff on Monday...which "just happened" to be the 3rd.

We took a vacation day from school and went to Rachel's grave.  Packed up the Christmas stuff and put out the Valentines/Anniversary stuff...

I'm pretty happy with how the kissing balls came out. I made one for our house too. My best friend Lisa had sent me a new flag for Rachel a couple weeks back that has her hands on it and it says "Love Lives Here - Hope does not disappoint us - Romans 5:5" I thought it would be perfect, so I ordered another one.  I try to always have matching stuff here and there, which actually helps me on the weeks when I don't get there.  I feel like I can still see how her stuff is doing even without driving over there.  The other flag isn't here yet (I'm guessing it will show up on Valentines or our Anniversary - because that's just the way things go around here!) so I put the "Thank Heaven for Little Girls" flag with her for now and her hands here at our house. 

So anyway, here it is... that was much longer than I expected... sorry!

Always Protects, Trusts, Hopes, Endures.
Love Never Fails
I couldn't get the Christmas lights out, they are frozen on the ground, so had to leave the green garland up for now.

The tulips and daisies from the first February without her (was our 5th anniversary) mixed in
and a little heart shaped rock one of the kids found that I painted for her.

By the time I got the ones at our house set up, it was late at night... but I got them out there on the same day.
My heart wouldn't have allowed anything else.  The bright pink looks so pretty - and 'ironically' I couldn't get to the garland or lights here to take them down because of all the snow... which I didn't realize until right now makes it just like her grave.

Not in This Storm

During one of the recent snow storms, Asa was asleep and me, Matt & the other kids all went outside to play.  It was Ezra's first time playing in the snow - he really liked the sled and seemed to be in awe of the snowflakes.  We all laughed and got so much joy watching his response to the surroundings. It was precious watching him look around, all bundled up and pink cheeks.  He has the cutest little nose - well, all my kids have that nose... it's super cute. :)

As we played, I kept getting this overwhelming feeling that I *really* wished Asa was with us.  He doesn't often get to play in the snow and I knew he would love playing outside with Mama & Daddy too.  I had to regularly fight the urge to go wake him up and bring him out with us. 

At one point or another Matt and each of the kids all said to me that they wished Asa could be there too. 

I was the only one wishing Rachel was there too... (that I know of) but something about this moment helped me to feel a little less 'obsessive' and a little more 'normal'.  I realized that it's not just because Rachel is dead that I miss her.  It's because she is my daughter.  And it's 'normal' for families to miss people in their family when they aren't around, especially if they are making memories together.  I missed Asa just as much as Rachel in that moment - and he was just upstairs sleeping. 

I'm not really into the whole analyzing grief thing.  I've tried to just allow God to do what He will with my pain and my journey for the last 3 years and to allow myself to feel and do - or not do - whatever I need in order to help my heart survive this unimaginable loss.  But this was one of those times that helped me to feel less like I'm just stuck on the memory of my dead baby and more secure in knowing that I would miss her just as much if she was upstairs sleeping.... I would still want her in every picture, still want her in every laugh, still want her in every memory. 

the snow made it hard to get good pictures, it was coming down pretty good.
I've had people suggest to me that I only still miss her like I do because perhaps I feel like if I let go of this pain, she will be too much in the past and I'll have nothing left.  That maybe I force myself to still keep her so included and I should allow myself to move forward and know that she would be okay with it and that it's okay to let her be a great memory that doesn't affect my future. 

While I understand where they might come to that logic, I have always known that grief isn't something that follows logic... at all.  But more than that, I know that a mother's love doesn't follow logic... at all.  And I know that God designed my heart and my mind for His glory, not my comfort.  He never said that life would be all happy smiles and fun.  But what I've found in the middle of this long snow storm; the storm that has forever left me with a painful awareness that we aren't all here... is that the JOY and PEACE and HOPE and unspeakable LOVE that I have experienced in each and every tear as I miss her is something I could have never had without the pain - not without the rain, the gray skies... the snow... 

But while Asa slept upstairs, I was given the perfect picture in my mind of Rachel... just in a different room... probably dancing... until I get to where she is....

I saw that it's okay and totally "healthy" and not stunting my "healing" to wish they were with us everywhere and in everything we do.  Nobody would suggest it of my feelings over Asa, so suggesting it of my feelings of Rachel makes absolutely no sense.  Much less sense than my feelings.

So, while I missed them both while we played in the snow, I knew I would see them both again at different times - and have a chance to play with them both again...  just not in this storm.

ridiculously cute, right?

the Aube nose

My honey
going for a ride!  "What are you guys doing to me?!"

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Getting Ready to Race

Received an e-mail from the Dover Police, in reference to our event permit for Rachel's Race, ending like this:

"I look forward to working with you to help make this event successful and safe for all involved as you continue to honor your daughter’s legacy." 

The word that somehow pulls my heart strings is "continue" - for one because I am and for two, because others know it.  I also love that he refers to her race as 'honoring her legacy'.  I'm just so thankful that the purpose isn't lost to others.

Rachel Alice, you will not soon be forgotten.... Not if I have anything to say about it... which I do and always will :)