Sunday, June 29, 2014

Rachel's Impact - Part 3

A couple more reminders of the great gift Rachel was, not just to me, but to people near and far.  I'm honored I get to call myself her Mama.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Amazing Vacation Rental for Sale!! Cheap!

My good friend Donna won a silent auction item at a fundraising banquet a while back.  She had won it for a steal of $600 and intended to give it to a family member as a gift.

Before last year's race, she offered it to me because her family member wasn't able to use it.  She said I could use it at the auction at Rachel's Race.

Then I called off the race last year.

I've been sitting on this unbelievable auction item for over a year now because of technicalities.  See, in order to do a raffle, you have to have a permit.  And since different states have different laws on raffles, you aren't supposed to do one on line.  So I was going to hold it until this years race and auction it there.

After talking to Denise (one of the owners), she mentioned that the house there is on the market.  Apparently it has been for some time with no bites, but this adds a complexity to the situation.

The item is for a week stay in an amazing 5 bedroom, 2 bath home in the Bahamas.  It has everything you need except for food and clothes right there for you to use, including kayaks, beach stuff, a washer and dryer, and games for kids!  They have a Bronco you can rent for $50 a day (or you can rent your own vehicle through a rental place) and their property manager will pick you up at the airport and drive you to the house at no extra charge!  I know many people who have vacationed there and love it!

So here is what I was thinking... Check out the site here., read about the amenities and if you are interested in going (which I have no doubt you will be if you look at the site!)  and would like to not only get an extremely discounted price for such accommodations on your vacation, but also have every dime you spend on it go towards Rachel's Legacy... email me or message me on Facebook.  I am not setting a price because something is better than nothing, so don't hesitate to make an offer!!

I believe the usual cost of a week stay here is $1750.  I will sell it to whoever is willing to pay the best reasonable offer and all proceeds will go towards Rachel's Race.

Since buying something like this while it is on the market comes with a risk, I will guarantee a refund of your money until the end of October.  If you try to use it before then and are not able to because they sell their house, you will get your money back.  The owners have people reserved into October, so you will want to book your week soon!!  You can see what is available right on their site!

*Please note:  Airfare is NOT included and is your own responsibility. This is for one week stay at Parlay at Sunset ONLY.  

Friday, June 27, 2014

Rachel's Impact - Part 2

It's amazing to me the great diversity in my blog readers... the way God has used Rachel, not only to help other moms going through the same thing - it's become so much more than I ever expected when I first started out.  And reading these notes reminded me of just that.  She is changing people everywhere - not just in the baby loss community - it's been so much bigger than that.  Something I could have never planned on my own or made happen in my strength, no matter how determined I am to help Rachel leave her legacy.  God had a plan with little Rachel Alice and it was huge - and I believe it still is.  Although I never would refer to it as such, I originally thought it was going to be a pro-life kind of message... 

It is and it isn't.

I mean, it's more of a message about ETERNAL LIFE than simply the idea of carrying a baby to a natural and God ordained end.  While I still wholeheartedly believe that the latter is very important and the best road to healing for a mom, I am more and more convinced that it wasn't the complete message God had in mind for me to share when He gave me Rachel.  

I am deeply humbled and full of gratitude that God would use me... in all my pain and imperfectness... and Rachel... with all that she 'wasn't' to most people on earth... to shout His story of Redemption - His promise of life after death - His provision and care and love for those who are called to be His children....  that He would bring beauty out of ashes...  That He would let me be part of His eternal purposes and even be so gracious at to let me know about it!  

I still remember in the operating room waiting to get cut open to meet Rachel... having a c-section had always been my biggest fear in child birth, and yet I had chosen it for the chance of even a minute with her.  I was laying on the table and we were waiting for Matt to come in.  My body was out in the open, uncovered - everyone around me so covered in scrubs and masks that I had no idea who they were....Staring at the ceiling, I asked "Have any of you met a baby with Anencephaly before?"  I can't remember, I think they all said no, Rachel would be the first - and I responded "Well, you're about to meet Rachel Alice and she's pretty amazing, if I do say so myself."  My nurse Kim said "Well of course she is, she has an amazing mother." and without thinking twice I said "She has an amazing God."

I feel like it's such a picture of my journey - I've been laid out like an open book for all of you to see - I don't hide under anything, like so many in the world do.  It can feel rather unsafe, yet in the moments of my pain and weakness, I am not phased by that discomfort at all....I am so convinced that God can use it, that I don't worry about people's opinions. But you certainly see much more of me than I ever will of you - some of you I don't even know are there.... 

But I have a goal in mind.  Just like that day in the OR, my goal was to meet my daughter.  In this life, my goal is to meet my Lord - and I know when I do, I will meet Rachel again too.  And if I have to face my biggest fears, wear my heart on my sleeve, fail in front of an audience and admit when I am painfully aware of how much I need Him to get me through it all in order for you to catch a glimpse of how big and strong and powerful and merciful and loving and gracious and eternal my God is....  well, I consider it great joy to be part of God's story in your lives.  I share my journey through anencephaly here, but I am so thankful that God has used it to bring so many people closer to Him.  That this doesn't start and end with dead or dying babies.  It starts and ends with God... His plan, His dance, His ending, His home for us together forever.  And I am looking forward to an amazing reunion one day - with Jesus and Rachel and all the people believe in Him who will join us there.  I can't wait to meet every single one of you.  You'll know who I am... I'll be the one dancing in daisies with a cute little girl at Jesus' feet.

I didn't intend to write so much... these posts are supposed to be short!!  I miss writing... hoping I can find time to do it more soon.  But for now, here are another two notes from Rachel's 2nd birthday.... I hope you can read the last part of the 2nd one, it's amazing!!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Rachel's Impact - Part 1

For Rachel's 2nd Birthday, I asked people to send us notes letting us know how Rachel impacted their lives.  We read them out loud and had them placed all around our house during her party that year.  It was really special to read together all the responses we got, knowing that it was only a small portion of the innumerable ways Rachel changed the world.  I had meant to post them for you all to read, but that year turned out to be very difficult for me and I never got to it.  

Since I'm barely blogging right now with the race coming up, but still have the deep desire to continue sharing her with you all, I have decided I will start sharing them this week - one or so at a time....  Kind of the way she continues to touch hearts.... 

Here we go.....


Thursday, June 12, 2014

Turning In My Superhero Cape

I'm not sure how to say what is on my mind without sounding like I'm complaining, but I am at a place where I have to say it - and I guess I might be complaining...

Everyone thinks that I'm some sort of miracle worker - like I can run a non profit, organize a large event, run a home business, raise 5 kids and homeschool them, sell my house, and look for a new one all while getting approximately 5 hours of interrupted sleep each night and being in a lot of pain.

Or maybe it's me who is dumb enough to think I can do all of the above and still enjoy life.  Maybe I give everyone the wrong idea.

I'm tired.  I'm overwhelmed.  I need help.  And if one more person says "wow, that's a lot, I'll be praying for you" I might lose it.

I covet your prayers, I really do.  But I actually need real. tangible. help, too.  Not that I don't believe prayer to be powerful, you know I do.  I just really need people - I need someone to help carry this with me.

Matt told me that if this year's race stressed me out, we wouldn't be able to hold another one.  It is impossible to not get stressed when the load is so heavy and free time to work on it only comes at midnight when nothing is open.  I have been feeling so laid back about the entire thing, I thought wow, this is great. Until I realized I'm feeling laid back because nothing is getting done and just how much needs to be done and the fact that I have 6 weeks to do it.  You know, if I was older and didn't have little kids - or if half my kids went to school each day - or if I had a handful of people who were as invested in the success of this as I am... maybe it would be more enjoyable.  But I am and have none of those things.

So, am I just not meant to have races?  Am I not meant to have a nonprofit?  Am I supposed to just let it all go and give myself a break?  Let Rachel's life and death become a thing of the past and not try to continue to use her to leave a legacy of hope and to help people to choose life when presented with the same path? Have I been misunderstanding God's direction?  Or am I just overwhelmed and making more of it than I need to?

I don't know.

Here's what I know... I am in over my head.

I just found out that we need another police officer for our course and they are paid, so that's another $260.  $1,000 on police alone.  So that puts us up to approximately $3700 it costs to put this event on and I don't have any corporate sponsors this year.  None.  That means we're relying on race day to cover costs and hopefully bring in enough to actually run our nonprofit for the year.  And honestly, at this point, we usually have well over $5,000 in sponsorships... so I'm getting nervous.  I have no money to back this.  I must be out of my mind.  I don't want to hold a race just to say I did - or worse, for it to cost us money to have it.

Then we have about 7 adults and a few kids who have signed up to help on race day - we need more like 40.  Enough said.

All that to beg, really... is there anyone out there willing and able to help me in the coming weeks to get this organized?  Anyone willing and ABLE to dedicate a bit of time and allow me to delegate some things and know they'll get done?  (warning: behind the scenes race stuff isn't much fun) Anyone willing to commit to helping on race day?  I would be thrilled if I had even 1 or 2 people who were invested in this with me for the next few weeks.  I can hardly keep track of my own crazy life and what I need to do, let alone the errands and tasks required for the race and my new 'business'.

I need a couple people to be on Team Rachel... like, really on the team... like working along side me instead of me needing to micro-manage everything and constantly follow up because it's not getting done.

Someone recommended that I contact the church in Dover who is raising money to get a new roof and tell them I'll donate to their roof if they will send people to help me.  That sounds fabulous and all - and I don't want to sound like I have a sense of entitlement, because I really don't - but I kind of feel like when you are in the body of Christ, you should not have to pay the body to help.  And I don't say that just because I don't have any more money that I can pay - but it's true, I don't.  I can't 'budget' in any other expenses since I'm not even sure if we'll cover the ones we already have.

OK, so for all of you who can't be here to help... but want to... I have some tangible things you can do from a distance.

1. You can register as a "Virtual Walker or Runner" and participate from where you are. (see post below titled "Join us from far away" (or something like that)
2. You can make a donation on the "You Caring" link at the top of my blog or sponsor one of the following:
   1. Police - $1040 (4 @$260 ea)
   2. Timing Service - $625
   3. Race Announcer - $200
   4. Potties - $250
   5. Shirts - $1000 (we could talk about putting your company logo on the backs of them if that is         something that makes this more appealing to you!)
   6. Course Certification - $355
   7. Awards, gifts, medals - $150
   8. Finish line food and water - $75
   9. Snack stand food - $40
  10. Event Insurance - $302
3. You can sponsor a pledge towards my children's walk (they would be so excited!)
4. You can pray every day.
5. You can send an item for our auction - any item is great - you can mail it to Baby Rachel's Legacy, PO Box 454, Rochester NH 03866-0454

If you are coming to the race to participate and are wondering how you can help more...

1. Print up the pledge sheet and ask friends and family to sponsor your walk/run
2. Ask around for donations for the auction
3. Spread the word and get your friends to join you!
4. Pray every day.
If you are around here and would like to (NOT feel pressured or guilty and so you'll do it... but actually *want* to) be a part of this year's preparation for the race - PLEASE message me on Facebook or email me and we can set up a time to get together and come up with a game plan to get me and my family through the next few weeks without me losing my mind - and hopefully make Rachel's Race a success in more ways than one.  By that I mean that I want to do well financially, but I also want to honor Rachel and glorify God through it and I can't do that when I am feeling so overwhelmed.  I am not trying to sound mean or ungrateful, but I really do not want anyone to say they will help if they aren't self motivated to get things done because I literally wake up in the night thinking about the things that are left undone and I NEED people to follow through on their own if they say they will do something.  I promise to not overwhelm you with too many things to do - there really isn't *that* much, it's just a lot of foot work for only me to do.  I can think of a handful of things that I need to do that I have not been able to get to that weigh on me.  It's not like there are a million things - just more than I can do alone.

A friend stopped by and dropped off some diapers today and said to me that she thought my new business was a great idea - and I just dumped all of this on her in a puddle of tears... I'm in over my head and the bottom line is I just can't do it all.

So there you have it - I'm turning in my superhero cape and begging for a hand.

Can you help me?  I'll let you have my cape......

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Crafty It Is!

I have so much to say, but so little time to say it that I end up not writing because I can't figure out where to start and how to condense it all into a post.

But I've decided something is better than nothing... so here it's going to be a long one...

We're in the hardest place financially we have ever been since we met.  On Tuesday, I sat waiting for food from the food pantry and feeling like a total loser.  Not how I envisioned life.... I decided to open up a My Daily Bread book on the counter and on that day, the verse was Romans 8:28 (which we used at our wedding) and the devotional read this:

"The Israelites learned some valuable spiritual lessons when God allowed them to endure homelessness, uncertainty, and danger.  Their hardships humbled them. (Duet. 8:1-18).  They learned that God would provide for their needs.  When they were hungry, He gave them manna.  When they were thirsty, He gave them water from a rock.  God taught them that despite difficult times, He could bless them.  Finally, the Israelites learned that adversity is not a sign of abandonment.
When we encounter desperate times, we can look for the spiritual lessons embedded in our difficulties - lessons that can help us rely on the One who causes all things to work together for our good and for His glory (Romans 8:28)"
Before I left the house that day, I realized we were out of diapers again.  At this point, we spend around $150 a month on diapers and Goodnights.  It's getting OLD.  I finished reading the book and the woman came around the corner and asked if we needed diapers... all they had was a size 4 she said... that's the size Asa & Ezra both take!  God provided again... diapers at the food pantry?  Awesome.

It has become obvious that we need more income if we plan to keep up with even the basics.  Our new found commitment to not use credit cards has revealed just how much we relied on them - and I'm not going to lie, it's discouraging.  We live very modestly, no car payments, no debt, and a modest home/mortgage.  Other than my cell phone, there is nothing we could cut.  But we're a good size family and living on one also modest income.  With bills starting to pile up for the first time in our marriage, I wrote on Facebook last week asking if anyone had any ideas of "anything other than crafty things that I could do at home at night when the kids are in bed."  People still insisted on suggesting crafty things for me to do.  But one of them really bothered me....

How about you make grave decorations.... 

Grave decorations?  I have been decorating my own daughter's grave for years now, I really don't want to decorate other graves too... is this what my life has come to?  Grave decorating?

And even with those thoughts, I had one of those deep feelings that there was something to this 'crafty' idea and that I needed to think on it more.  So I did what I do any time I need to brainstorm... I messaged Lisa... 

Before the end of the night, I was beginning to think this was something I was going to pursue, but I still felt so *not* into it.   I had decided if I did, I would start with Kissing Balls like the one I made Rachel for Valentines Day.  Lisa was helping me price things out to see what I would use for materials and what I would need to charge to make it worth doing and what I would need to invest to get started. We figure out the size shipping boxes I would need and she looked them up for me.  43 cents each.  Then she sent me $43 to get me started. The next day, I remembered that the craft store around the corner was going out of business and we went over there to see what they had... everything was 80% off.  Before I knew it, I was filling up my cart.  I felt somewhat insane... I don't even want to do this.... grave decorating?  Am I really going to do this? Or was I going to have a nice supply of things to use on Rachel's grave and in my house?

I went up to the counter and the woman asked me what I was making.  I told her I was going to start a grave decorating business.  She looked up from the register as if she was figuring me out... "I know you...  you had the baby...."   "Rachel" I interrupted with a smile.  "Yes!  I helped you back when she first died and you came in here..."

Let me take you back... When Rachel died, I searched everywhere for something nice to put on her grave.  Everything was overpriced and tacky.  And I was horribly devastated by the fact that nothing would ever be good enough for her... grave.  It was a grave.  How in the world do you decorate one of those?  I'm good at decorating bedrooms.  Nursery's are my favorite.  Graves... don't know how to do that.  Don't want to know how to do that.  

So, a few weeks later, in January 2011, I found myself in Ben Franklin's staring at the crafts... I started asking a lady working how to use this stuff.  Not only did I not know how to decorate graves - I didn't know how to use crafts... I actually had to ask her what you do with flower picks... A song came on the radio - "Life's not the breaths you take, but the moments that take your breath away..." and I started crying.  I blurted out that I couldn't believe this song was on right then, and I told her about Rachel and she started crying with me.  

I don't remember seeing her from that point until this, but last week as I purchased my grave decor business supplies, she told me she remembered, that she followed my blog for a while and that she knew me and Rachel.  She told me on Wednesday, they would be having a "fill-a-bag" for $5 sale to get rid of everything left.  

Wednesday I decided to go over.  I was running late and ended up with Asa with me because he wouldn't stay with the sitter.  I was late, it had started sprinkling, the place was mobbed and I now had a (crazy) child to watch too.  And I really had already spent more than I should have, money we did not have to buy what I had a few days earlier... I had borrowed money from Desirae for this trip with no idea when I could pay her back. I almost turned around and went home.  But I took one of the very last parking spaces and as I walked up, everyone started filing in.  I looked over the people in front of me to see if there were any silk flowers left and I heard someone say "this is the girl I told you about."  They pulled me aside and gave me a bag and told me to take whatever I wanted... to fill them up and that anything that was leftover, they would donate to me... to my grave decorating business....

I once again walked that craft store crying.  I was *blown away* by the amazing way that God brought that full circle.  Then she told me I could leave Asa with her and just go shop!  I had a babysitter and free supplies! Each time my bag was full, she would show up and hand me another one. As I filled bag after bag with high quality flowers, I was again reminded that life since Rachel has not been easy... but wow, it's been beautiful.  I just can't get over how people continue to provide for us and how many hearts her little handprints continue to affect.  I had so much stuff piled up around Asa's stroller that people were trying to pick through it!  I heard the liquidation guy offering Asa to someone for $10. LOL.  They told me to go get my truck and I pulled up and they FILLED the back of the Suburban... I paid $6 because I got a few things that weren't flowers and bought a bag when she wasn't looking because it felt wrong to be getting so much free.  

I went to the Post office on the way home and a special gift I ordered for another baby loss mom from Baby Rachel's Legacy had come... another reminder that Rachel continues to touch hearts.  And then I got home and got a message from someone who received one of Rachel's birthday care packages at the hospital when her baby just died.  She talked about what a blessing everything in it was and I thought... comforting with the comfort I have received... I couldn't be any of this for any of these people if it wasn't for Rachel.  

I told the kids through tears that we are starting a business to help Daddy with the bills.  They listened to me blubber about how it all came to be and all the amazing things that had happened.  I told them I was going to turn our basement into a work space and we decided to paint a picture to put down there.  

By that night, my dark and partially dirt basement became my 'office' and I started working on my new business.  I have always wanted a space that everyone I know who does crafty things has.  A space where I can leave stuff out to go back to in my free moments (whatever those are!) and keep it away from the kids.  My basement is not what I had in mind, but it will work for now.
You can see her tree by the light 

In February, when I made Rachel's kissing ball, I had put the verse from 1 Corinthians 13 about Love (paraphrased) on it.  And since Rachel's "Love Lives Here" flag had flown away, Lisa had ordered me another flag with her hands in the heart shape on it and wrote that on it.  I loved it so much, I got another one for here and they are still hanging.  Because when I stand on her grave, that's how I feel.  I feel like God's love has been POURED out on me there and my love for her has been poured out for her there.  And love remains.... even in a cemetery - and some days, especially in a cemetery.

For Rachel's 2nd birthday, I went to Ben Franklin's to buy her a bigger Christmas tree.  They were $20 and I didn't have enough money.  I bumped into a friend there and started crying about the struggle I have to keep her grave pretty (I've cried a lot there apparently!  I never knew decorating a grave would be so emotionally draining) and she slipped me a $20 to buy it.  The following year, I went back and bought another one so I could have one here that matches (you know I love to have 2 of everything for those days when I can't get there...).  Well, wouldn't you know, there was one little tree left there on Wednesday... the exact same one... I was wondering why it hadn't been snatched up, and I realized when I got home that it is missing a leg.  Some people only like perfect... but I have come to love things that others see as imperfect.  I took it home and am using it as decor in my 'office' to remind me of my Christmas baby who has everlasting life... My girl who stands tall in heaven even though she couldn't stand on earth.

Later that day, I had a doctors appointment.  I have been to this dr a few times already, but apparently never in this room....
On the wall!

yep... She was everywhere!  And my dr who I never told about my blog asked me "Are you still keeping your blog?"  I told her I was and she told me a coworker of hers told her about it and how she has read from the beginning and it's helped her so much in life, even though she has never lost a baby.  God was laying it on me thick... the message that this was not all in vain.  Rachel had a purpose... many purposes...

I was still feeling unsure if this grave decorating thing is what God really had for me.  Was all of this just a coincidence? Was it a cute idea that would never really go anywhere?  Should I go get a 'real' job where I know I'll get a paycheck and won't require me to hang out with the bugs in my basement?  Do we have the time to wait out something like this financially?  I was seeing confirmations all over the place, but what if I was hearing wrong?  I *just* cleaned out my basement so we can sell this house!  What am I supposed to do when it's time for a showing?  And then the fear of other people's opinions started... What will the people who think I obsess over dead babies and graves say about this one?!

I put the boys to bed, which is not usually my job.  Matt always does bedtime and so the fact that I found myself up there was out of the ordinary to begin with, but that I decided to read a book to them was even more unusual for me at that time of day.  I am WIPED by 5pm.  So, Isaiah picks this book that I had not read before.  It's called "I'll Teach My Dog 100 Words"... and I'm not trying to sound crazy here... but ....

I heard a different message.... I heard "Just follow ME...You don't need to know the end result, just follow Me.  Trust your Master.  I know where I'm taking you."  And somehow the red letters seemed appropriate....

So, I need a job.  Matt would prefer I not have to leave the house.  I have a basement and it's full of fake flowers.  And I don't know where this will go, but I do believe He's led me this far... so I'm going to do what any smart, hungry dog does... I'm going to follow my Master so He can feed me... and not just in the physical sense.

I went to Rachel's grave to take some photos of what I had made the other day and this was on her spot...
You may remember that when we went to pick out her grave when I was still pregnant, I looked down and there was a single yellow dandelion standing in the center of where she would be.  I remember that moment like it was yesterday.

I sent Lisa a message on Wednesday telling her the short version of the above and I wrote "It's days like this that my heart needs" but auto correct changed it to "It's days like these that my heart beats..."  and I thought it an appropriate 'mistake' - Love LIVES here.

But to top it all off, I went out yesterday to meet with someone about Rachel's Race and decided while I was there, I would stop and visit.  The dandelion above was gone... and this is what was there - literally 2 days later...
LIFE.  For as clear as a cemetery is that there is death on this earth, I have experienced so much LIFE on this sacred ground.  God shows me in a million ways that she is alive.  Dancing eternally in his LOVE.  And standing here this morning, I wondered where heaven really is... I don't think it's actually "up"... like in the clouds or something... but I don't know.  I just felt this overwhelming idea that perhaps where she is dancing isn't so far away... that being completely wrapped in His everlasting Love somehow connects us in a way that can't be divided - not even between heaven and earth.  Maybe I'm not making sense... hard to put this into words.

But anyway, I left and went to the Post Office
and in my box, was a package box key....
And in the package mailbox was a gift for Rachel's Race....
And on the back of it Lisa wrote...

And that is the story of just what 2 days in the life of Rachel's Mama is like.  I am blessed.  I am humbled.  I am thankful.  And I'm apparently officially running a home based business selling grave decor!

And so I announce.....

Find us on FACEBOOK and "Like" our page and check out what I've created so far!  And please SHARE it with your friends.

Also, be sure to enter into the drawing for our GIVEAWAY!!  It's this beautiful 4th of July Kissing Ball (only problem is I want to keep it for Rachel!! lol)  follow directions on the Birthweight Buddies page to enter!

Here's a few of them...

And I hope if I can sell some of these, I can start to work on adding a variety of items to the selection.  It's been a long 3 1/2 years of learning how to fight the weather at the cemetery.  I hope I can make grave decorating a little less of a heartache for others than it's been for me.  And in doing so, I pray I can bless my family, honor my girl Rachel, and glorify my God in heaven.

Please pray for me, for us and for Rachel's Race.  I'm going in a million different directions right now and not getting any sleep at night.  I got more sleep back when E was a new baby at home... so things are hard, but God is still good.

And in case you don't feel like that was long enough... here are a couple of older posts I just stumbled across that show me just how far back God was working out these details. They might come up at the bottom as suggested reading anyway. Apparently, I named a post 'Love Lives Here' in 2012!  That would be what I would pick for this one, but I guess I need something different now. Ha!

Love Lives Here - Sept 2012

Love Never Fails - February 2014