Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Still Listening?

Matt uses my phone to listen to Pandora on our kitchen radio.  Last night before I went to bed, I unplugged it and put it on its charger.

If you're on Facebook, you know that my little E has decided that 4am is his wake up time.... today, he slept in until 5:15. I've never had a child wake up this early. For a night owl like me, this is a problem... but not the biggest problem I've ever had - I'd love it if Rachel woke me up every day at 4am.

So, I came down and cleared the mounds of the laundry I folded late last night from the changing table so I could change him.

From behind me I hear....Splash Splash....

Yep, he was playing in the toilet that I didn't flush so I wouldn't wake the others...  And my screech woke Sam.... Sam now sits staring at me from across the table.

I started the coffee and gave E a piece of toast and I remembered the package Des got yesterday, so I unplugged my phone to text Donna and say thank you.  I unlocked my phone and saw a message from Pandora on the screen....

"Are you still listening?  We don't like to play to an empty room"

There were only two choices or else I would have said "no" because Pandora kills the battery on my phone.  But my choices were "Still listening" or "Upgrade now" so I went with still listening.

I opened my messages and clicked "new message" - I didn't realize that music would soon start to play.

However, in the background of my phone a familiar tune started.  It stopped me in my tracks as the song that played when Rachel was born loudly filled my air....

I'm finding myself at a loss for words
And the funny thing is it's okay
The last thing I need is to be heard
But to hear what You would say

Word of God speak
Would You pour down like rain
Washing my eyes to see
Your majesty
To be still and know
That You're in this place
Please let me stay and rest
In Your holiness
Word of God speak

I'm finding myself in the midst of You
Beyond the music, beyond the noise
All that I need is to be with You
And in the quiet hear Your voice

I'm finding myself at a loss for words
And the funny thing is it's okay

I stood there for a minute, now leaning against the wall next to me... almost in disbelief and yet, not surprised.

On Sunday, we had a full day - community breakfast and church in the morning, lunch out with the kids, the park, and back to a different church that night, skipping dinner to make it and by the time we got to Rachel's grave that evening, it was getting late and I was exhausted physically, but also emotionally.  I sat above her and cried.... just wishing I could have bought her a dress for Easter.  Just wishing I could have watched her look for eggs....  Just wishing she could have come to church with us and we could have told her about Jesus' Resurrection and why we celebrate Easter at all...  even though she knows all that better than I do.

And I don't usually talk to her, other than to say a quick "I love you" or "I'll be back next week" because it just feels strange....  but Sunday, I had a full 'talk' with her.  There isn't too much that I won't share on this blog, but this talk was so personal and so heavy, I'm not going to tell you what I said to her.  I will tell you that I asked her to ask God a few specific questions for me and see if she could get Him to answer me because, I said, "I'm asking Him, but he's just not listening...He's not answering me..."

Pandora's message struck me.... "Are you still listening?  We don't like to play to an empty room."

Am I still listening?  I think so.  I try.  I want to.  But I'm so confused on so many things.  I can't tell what is from God and what is Satan's advances and I have a constant battlefield in my mind.  I feel like He's not showing me what I need to see.  I feel like He's not answering my questions.  I feel so uncertain of which direction to go with pretty much every big decision in my life.  And for a planner like me, that is more than uncomfortable.

But is it Him or is it me?  Well, since He's perfect and all - and I'm totally not... I'm thinking it's safe to say, it's me.

How could I find peace in that operating room as I waited for the final count of days... hours... or what turned out to be minutes... and be content in waiting on Him for the next step?  How could He give me so much less than I hoped for with her and leave me with nothing more than a wound in my womb to show she existed and enable me to praise Him through it all?

I've learned before and perhaps I'm learning it again.... God is in the quiet.  The first email I sent out letting family and friend know of Rachel's diagnosis, I wrote those words... Please share verses to encourage us because the Word of God speaks...  and in those excruciating, painfully beautiful 43 minutes as we waited for Him to take her home, He played us that song.  He spoke so loudly in the quiet that there was no mistaking that He was in that place.  That we could rest in His holiness.  That in the midst of Him... in the pain, the uncertainty, the sorrow... that He is with us.  He is with me.  I don't need to be heard by anyone else.  I don't need to be understood by anyone else.  I don't need the answers right now.  I can rest in His holiness - and in the quiet, I can hear His voice... even if all it whispers is "It's okay."

There is no "Upgrade" for me.  I am a daughter of the One True King.  My Savior, Messiah, Redeemer and friend.  He is more than enough.

I let the song play through at the volume it was at.  The sounds carried through the house in the early morning hours, before the sun had fully come up.  I now could hear Asa standing behind me.  His usual cries for a drink were silenced as he listened to the song, watching me.  Soon, I saw Desirae out of the corner of my eye...  little by little, my children were surrounding me, but none of us were speaking.

Something about the silence - the very *unusual* silence in my kitchen spoke to my heart.  We were all together, though not one of us was talking.  And I just knew that God was showing me that even when He isn't easy to hear - whether it's His choosing, or mine... He is with me.  The room I'm in is never empty and His love song is always playing.

I just need to follow his lead and dance.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

43 Days to Raise for Race Day!

I've been trying to avoid having to ask for donations before Rachel's Race this year.... and I realize that I may not have even really blogged about the fact that I am doing it this summer... I still have a pretty awesome post (If I do say so myself) that I want to share on some details, but I'll have to get to that another time.

Over the past couple of months, I literally have not worked much at all on the race.  Which is good.  And bad.

It's good because my promise to my family this time around was that I wouldn't be too preoccupied with Rachel's Race that they suffered.  It's bad because things still need to be done!!  And somebody has to do them!

So, I've been working here and there on different things... getting things lined up and services reserved.  And everything costs money.  I wanted to wait for the race day proceeds to cover expenses, but they are coming in now as I prepare.  I also thought that as people registered, I would have what I needed, but only 2 people have registered so far - which is AWESOME since it's so early, it's just not working out on the cost side of things.

Long story short, check out this site I set up - if you aren't coming to the race and would like to help, this would be a great way to do that.  If you can't help, please just pass this on and share with your friends!

And most importantly, if you could all be praying for me as I come to mind.... for provision with expenses and for enough proceeds to cover next year's Baby Rachel's Legacy non profit ministry.  I'd love this to be the last time I have to ask for donations!!  I'm so tired of fundraising!

Thank you for your continuous support through all of my requests.  I couldn't do any of this without all of you.

OH, and when I set up this page, it asked for an end date.  I picked June 1st randomly.  When I went to review the page, it said there were 43 days left..... of course there are!!!

Click Here: Raising for Race Time!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

4 Years of I Love You's

4 years ago today, Matt & I were on a marriage retreat when I discovered I was expecting our 4th child.

It seems so long ago and yet I can't believe it's been 4 years.  I hate that it's been 4 years.

I didn't want to just let the day go by.  So last night I put an invite out there on facebook to see if anyone wanted to meet up with us to play at Rachel's Playground.

A few people met us there and we spent over 4 hours playing on Rachel's Ark.  It was really sunny, but kind of chilly... but the kids were happy as could be (minus Sam's *constant* crying over *everything*).  That is the most time we have spent there since we built it almost 3 years ago.

My mom came and brought pizzas and salad and friends helped me rake her garden and helped with the kids while I was raking.  And Matt came up when he got out of work and helped us move the HUGE pile of leaves we took off of her garden into the woods.  It looks pretty there and you can see the green sprouting now.

It was exactly what my heart needed.

In the early days, I remember feeling so torn with her playground.  Everyone expected it to make me feel happy and full of joy to see other kids playing on it,  But in my heavy grief, I didn't see anything but people trampling on something that I poured my entire heart into. Something that was only there because my baby was dead.  And many of them didn't even know who she was.  Some days it felt like a huge headstone to me.

Obviously I knew it was meant to be played on and obviously I knew some kids wouldn't treat it right. And obviously there wasn't a guarantee that all parents would tell their kids why the playground was there and help Rachel be remembered... But I seriously couldn't handle it.  So I pretty much never went out there after church on Sundays because it became a source of great pain and frustration for my heart.  I would only go when I could be alone there with my kids or when I was organizing some kind of clean up or maintenance day.

Looking back, I can see that I missed out on some of the joy that could have come with watching other kids enjoy it.  But in those days, I did the best I could do with what I had and some times my best just wasn't good enough.  Some days my best made no sense.  Some days it left me judged and looked at as ungrateful or negative.  But I really wasn't.  It just hurt and I tried to bend with the wind as much as I could... but some days were really windy.....

Today was just so good for my heart.  I felt so carefree the entire time I was there - close to her and doing something special to remember her on this big day in my history - while being able to relax and enjoy fellowship with my friends and the kids playing and having fun.

And tonight after dinner, I went out to get the kids some Easter stuff and I picked up flowers for Rachel and as I was checking out, another cashier walked behind me and said "Hi Rachel's Mama!" with a big smile... and I'm thinking my smile got pretty big too.

That's me.  Rachel's Mama - been her Mama for 4 years now.  I didn't know she was a girl 4 years ago, but on this day in 2010, that was the first time I whispered to her how much I loved her... and I've done it every day since.  And I will for the rest of my life on earth... and when we meet again in heaven.

The kids on top of Rachel's slide

at the bottom.. Isaiah was holding Ezra's "Team Rachel" blanket to represent Rachel in this.

I spent 10 minutes trying to get my kids to give me a decent picture, which I never really got after taking a bunch of pictures.  They were at the bottom and when I finally gave up, we looked up and my friend Mel's kids were at the top sitting in a perfect row, waiting their turn to slide.  Here they are showing my kids up - LOL  So cute!!!

Pizza with Nana!

E was pretty excited about the pizza

And I somehow forgot to get pictures of the other families that came later, but I'm so thankful for everyone who came out and played with us in Rachel's honor today.  Thank you!!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

I AM With You

I was talking to a fellow grieving mama friend tonight, her words could have been my own.... she said:

"People don't get it.  They don't get grief.... God is teaching me to keep being the bigger person, and to learn to live with being lonely......
Sometimes I think the loneliness is worse than the grief, and that is the true thorn we must bear until heaven."

Every time I read her words, my heart screams "Yes!  I get that."

I've had so many people say to me that they are 'so glad that I found support on line'.... and I am too, but you know what?  I'm surrounded by everyone HERE.  I'm surrounded by people who are glad when I find someone else who can support me.

And that is lonely.

But as we wrote back and forth, my fingertips spoke across the miles....

"Just remember that in your lonely times, God is always there and He never grows weary of your burdens and he will always be strong enough to carry them with and for you - and He loves you unconditionally."

And as I finished up talking with her... one of my long distance friends who gets "it"... my support from behind a screen.... the song Everlasting God came on.  It was one that always encouraged me through my pregnancy with Rachel - I believe it's even on the CD we made and handed out at her baby shower...

Every. Single. Time I listen to this song, the words that stir my heart to cry out in praise are the words "Our God, You reign forever, Our Hope, Our strong Deliverer....You do not faint, You won't grow weary.  You're the Defender of the weak, You comfort those in need"

OK, so it's the whole song!!!

This is for all my friends (now and to come) who know this loneliness...

I *know* it hurts.  I know it's hard and I know the road is long.  I know how alone a full room can feel. I know.  I feel it.  I live it.  I hate it too.

But I cling to the Truth that Our God is an EVERLASTING GOD... He doesn't ever grow weary of my heavy heart.  He doesn't love me any less.  He doesn't want to get away from me or be with someone more 'happy'.  He is CLOSE to the brokenhearted.  He is full of COMPASSION and He is aware of our suffering.  When everyone around me is blind to the burning rage in my heart....when another shoulder turns away at my approaching....when I watch a group of people talking and laughing and grieve that I will never be fully present in a moment like that again....when their eyes widen in discomfort at the mention of her name.... When I grow weary in this loneliness and pain....


He doesn't run.  He doesn't leave.  He doesn't hide his face.  He doesn't stop loving me.

In those valleys, deep and dark and stricken with grief.... when we can't find the words and friends grow tired of carrying our burdens.... He is ENOUGH.

My sweet friends, He IS all we need.  This world will always fail us.  But He never will.

And tomorrow, you can remind me of that.

Love you ladies.... and I am here no matter how long or deep your valley, no matter how heavy your burden. No matter how many times you say the same thing. No matter how complicated or unhappy you feel.  And I know that in those valleys, we will become more like Christ and grow closer to our Everlasting God.

So next time you feel the loneliness in the aftermath of your loss... look up to the heavens and say "Jesus, I'm lonely" and hear Him whisper...."I AM with you."

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Easy Place To Be

Today was a rough day.

To put it simply, I'm tired of being a bereaved mother.

It's been a year now since we first started on our journey of finding a new church and while I've never really *liked* change and so that alone is hard for me, I find it close to excruciating to be somewhere where Rachel isn't known.

Ezra is approaching the 9 month mark and if you've been reading here long, you know this is one of my most favorite ages... and with that comes so much missing her.  I get excited about his milestones and I try to just be happy and focus on what he is doing, but it's impossible to not have each one of those moments be followed by an  "I wonder what she would have been like...."

We stopped at her grave on the way home from church.  The ice was finally gone, so we took down the garland and Christmas lights.  It was a rough visit....  I stood there, fighting with the flag stand and lights - trying to change things up so it looked fresh and tidy, (without actually having anything new to bring to her) as the wind whipped my hair in my face and my hands ached from the cold, I felt this... I don't know... anger mixed with defeat... building up in me.

I haven't been able to get there - I haven't been able to decorate like I used to or want to.... I haven't been able to find the time or have had the drive to bring my ideas to reality... and at times I just can't think of a single thing I could do.  I'm all out of ideas... I feel dry... and I want to just say that perhaps it means it's time to let it go and not worry about it, but any time I have let it go for more than a couple of weeks, I get really emotional and I usually don't even recognize why until I fall apart on top of her grave at some unplanned visit.

I put the flag stand in over and over and over... and over again... I couldn't get it 'right' and finally I blurted out "I'm so F-ing tired of cemeteries!" and I started crying...hard. (kind of goes with the majority of my day today) as I gripped the stand and pushed it deeper into the soil on top of my baby's grave... the daisy lights I had clipped on it fell off and I stood there, blinded by puddles of tears in my eyes and sobbing. Matt just watched me, unsure of what to do and said "It's not an easy place to be..."

Easy place to be?  I don't have one of those... this is my life.  I get no break from this.  Whether I'm fighting with a flag stand in a windy cemetery, sitting in a new place where nobody knows she is *always* on my mind, or watching my newest baby stand for the first time... nothing is easy.  Nothing is simple.  Nothing is what it appears at face value.  And honestly, I'm so tired of things being so emotionally complicated.  I can almost not even stand to be in my own head anymore.  I wish I had an 'easy' place.  I wish I had a simple place.  I *wish* I could talk "normal" mother stuff and have that actually be all that was on my mind. If only for just a short time here and there, I could slip into a space in time where I was more like everyone else and less like a mother who watched my little girl die in my arms before I even knew for sure that she heard me say "I love you".

I would love to have an easy place to be.