Monday, July 21, 2014

BRL Status Update!

There has been so much going on and so many ways God has been whispering to me lately... and every time I have something I want to blog, I never get the chance to sit down and do it.  If only I could record the thoughts I need to write when they are on my heart and have someone else enter the text....

I've been pretty busy preparing for Rachel's Race.  I've been able to find a decent balance between race planning and family time... a balance between errands and playing.... a balance between heaven and earth.... it's not easy, but it feels good and was what God had challenged me to earlier this year.

I have managed to roll with punches fairly well this time around and even in just a few short months, God has shown me in different ways why certain things didn't work out or how He uses hard things to bring about better things.  I know that is vague, but if I told you all the ways, I'd be writing all night - and well, I have a race to work on! LOL.

I do want to share one thing though...  well, two things...

First, you all know about my bracelet right?  The one I made at the retreat that I went to after Rachel died?  My sister had come with me, which was really special.  This post HERE has the story of when it all started.  And this post HERE has a follow up in case you aren't familiar.  They are both good reads regardless, so if you're missing reading my posts, by all means... read those! :)

So, I've been wearing this bracelet, which is really gross looking and I don't care... for over 2 years now.  And the other still hangs on Rachel's grave.  Hers (which used to be mine) is now washed white from the rain and sun - and mine (which used to be hers) is now dingy like my original one was when I was wearing it.  But I can't stop wearing it.  It is too meaningful to me.

So about a week and a half ago, I lost my bracelet.  I realized it late at night when I went to take it off before bed.  I was upset and started to feel myself getting worked up about it, but just let it go.  I had this peace about it... a feeling that I would somehow find it again, even though I was pretty sure I lost it outside of my home.  And that if I didn't find it again, that God would lead me to something just as meaningful that I could share with Rachel somehow.

 Last Sunday at church, they were asking for help with VBS and I felt the Spirit nudge me to volunteer.  I had a little talk with God as this was happening about how incredibly busy I am right now, with the race less than 2 weeks away... I don't have time to be helping at VBS!   Matt took vacation this week so I would have more time to work on the race...  But I couldn't shake it and before I knew it, I was signing us up. We've never done this before so serving together as a family in this way was pretty exciting.

We pulled in this morning for our first day and when I got out of the van, I saw something in the dew soaked grass... I walked over and there it was... my bracelet!  Still there from last week!  Even more dingy and totally wet, I slipped it on my wrist with a big smile.  Total confirmation I was right where I was supposed to be.

When we got home, I had planned to go straight to work on race stuff... but before I knew it, I was making plans to go to my moms with the kids so they could swim.  (have I lost my mind?  Race day is coming whether I'm ready or not!!)  We packed the kids up and just as we went to leave, the postman came walking up - I leaned over and took the mail and the first thing I saw was a letter to Baby Rachel's Legacy from the IRS.....I squealed in excitement.... I had been replaying this long awaited moment in my head.  A daydream I guess you could say... since I mailed in my application in January.  I figured by now, no news was good news.... and I just kept seeing in my mind, me opening the letter and it saying we were approved.  I have prayed about it every day for the last few weeks.  I was hoping it would come before the race - and had a feeling it would be very close to the race!  And I guess I was right!

Matt didn't have the same sense of assurance and he was waiting hesitantly as I opened it.  Probably afraid of my disappointment if it was a 'no'.  I read the first line and started to cry.  I didn't even need to know the details.... I saw it... "We are pleased to inform you.... " and I knew!!!  We got approved!

I'm not sure I can put into words how hard this was for me.  In the first couple of years of grief, my mind was in such a fog, I couldn't make sense out of ANY of it.  I put it off for months... even at one point hired (and fired) a lawyer to do it for me.... But in God's perfect timing, when I finally was able to make sense out of it, He guided me through it and I am amazed that I got this approved without a snag... I prayed over that envelope like you wouldn't believe before I mailed it.  I heard it would only take 3 months, but could take 6 months or more if there was a problem.  It's been over 6 months and I remained confident that this letter would bring good news... and it has!  I'm SO thankful.... so thankful.  I didn't just have to put a lot of time and effort into this - I put my heart into it too.

Baby Rachel's Legacy is officially a 501c3 and that is retroactive as promised, back to January 2012!

I am so relieved... and proud... and honored... and excited... and emotional... and even broken again... for all that Rachel's life and death has prompted me to work towards.  This status is going to give us the ability to do so much more to minister to people who walk a similar path.  And my deepest prayer is that each and every person touched by Rachel's Legacy will be left with an overwhelming realization of what it means to hope in Jesus.  May His great and holy Name be glorified.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Up All Night

A recap of last night...

I stayed up way too late organizing auction items.  went up to bed at almost 1am. Sam was sleeping in my bed with Matt.  I thought that was cute until we went to move him back to his bed and realized he had also peed. (he is not a bed wetter, so this was special for my bed!)  My spot was soaked!

Matt went in to get his bed ready and discovered Isaiah had peed the bed.  He changed his sheets while I took ours off, only to realize that we don't have a 2nd set of sheets anymore. I grabbed a chuck pad and laid a blanket over it, started a load of laundry and we got back into bed...

Then felt something wet... he had peed on Rachel's blanket too and I was snuggling with it - I ran down and threw that in the wash too.  Her blanket has been washed VERY few times since she was born.  I don't like to wash it if I don't have to - and I am not used to sleeping without it, I never do.  So that was hard.

I got back into bed....1:35.  5 minutes later, the baby woke up.  I got up and nursed him.  2:15 rolls around, I climbed back into bed.  2:20 we hear Asa crying, calling for Daddy... he peed in his bed... (yes, he was wearing a diaper, but it apparently wasn't in the right position) another bed change and we finally closed our eyes at 2:40, with my hand around Matt's finger under his pillow.

At 4 am... Ezra crying.... nursed him, got back in bed 4:30... 6 am, our well rested boys sleeping in beds with sheets woke up ready for the day.  Matt had gone to bed earlier than me, so he got up with them and let me stay in bed, but I wasn't sleeping good.  By the time morning comes, my body is aching so much, it's hard to sleep.  I rolled out of bed slowly, anticipating how much my feet would hurt when they hit the floor.  Some days it's a LOT.  Today was one of them.

And that is why I'm falling asleep sitting up at 9pm.  But somehow in the middle of all of that pee and sleep deprivation, I felt amazingly blessed.  I'm so thankful for each of my babies, here and in heaven.  I'm thankful for full hands and a full heart.  I'm thankful for beds to change and babies to nurse and blankets to wash.  And I'm thankful for Matt to walk through it all with... marriage is quite the experience... who else knows exactly what our pee covered house looks like at 2am?  We are a team... and without even needing to discuss a plan of action, we both step into our roles and get it done.  I know that might sound cheesy, but it was kind of nice... just to know that he's in this with me - 24 hours a day/7 days a week.

I knew it all along, that she had given me a different perspective... but last night was one of the times when I realized how much so.  I could feel God's grace all over me in those late hours when I was dying to sleep, but able to care for my family with such a desire to serve and love them... and I know Rachel had part in that.  I know her coming and leaving made me see inconveniences from children as something I longed for and something to be thankful for.  And I know that even though I have had much more time with each of them then I did with her so far, no amount of time is guaranteed and each day could be a last.

Lately, I'm overwhelmed with the idea of how short life really is.  I can hardly believe Ezra is almost a year old.  Time goes by so fast and as hard as these days are, I have no desire to rush them along.  I love these days - and nights... and I know one day I will look back and miss them... especially after a good night of sleep.

Friday, July 4, 2014

He Called It "Rachel's Mama"

I know I have many MANY more notes... cards... letters... emails... and even phone calls from random people I had never met and have never heard from again... all telling me what a profound impact Rachel had on them through me.  Almost every one of them has left me in tears.  It's amazing.

I know that each and every person touched by her life and death were in actuality touched by the Spirit of God.  I could feel Him working in every fiber of my being since the first day we got her diagnosis.  And while I feel like I've already said a million ways how Rachel has impacted ME, I feel like it would not be a good Mama thing to do, to be posting all about her impact on others and not say something myself.

I've been struggling with some serious writers block lately, so I feel unable to express it in words... but again, I can't not try. And I'm sure this won't scratch the surface, but here it goes...

If I was to tell you that Rachel had an amazing, unbelievable, beautifully painful and completely life changing affect on my life... that would be an understatement.

I'll start first with the fact that before Rachel, I not only struggled with my trust in God and believing He has my best interest in mind at ALL times... but I also constantly doubted my salvation.  I would read the scripture that talks about testing yourself to see if you are really of the faith and I would wonder... How on earth could a Holy God love ME?  To really know me to the core and love me fully - enough to send His Son to die for me?  It just didn't seem possible. And why did anyone need to die anyway? It didn't make sense. And heaven seemed like a great idea, but real?  Hard to grasp.

When I walked out of my ultrasound on August 4, 2010, the first words out of my mouth were "This is what He was preparing me for."  It was as if in that very instant, I could see all the flashes of the weeks and months leading up to that day - and He had absolutely prepared me!  What a humbling and awe inspiring idea... that the King of the Universe is that mindful of me.  And from that day until this, I have been so certain of my God's faithfulness and love... proven over and over again... and I have been so certain of my true and genuine faith in Him... proven over and over again as I have had nowhere else I wanted to turn.  As He called me to empty myself... my heart... my arms... and give it all over to Him, He has also granted me the ability to do it... the strength, the grace, the peace and joy in the midst of deep sorrow.  As He carried me when I was too broken to walk alone.

Carrying Rachel as I waited for her death was the hardest thing I've ever done.  Each kick and turn made my heart ache with a pain I could never describe in words.  Picking out her grave, her burial outfit, her funeral program... before I ever saw her face was something I cannot even write without crying, still to this day.  It was the heaviest and most intense burden I have ever carried in my life.  And with each "When are you due?"  or "Do you know what you're having?"  I felt like I was trapped in a nightmare and I would beg to wake up... let it all be a dream... how can it be real?

But along the road of bittersweet, something happened.  I am no longer the person who walked into that ultrasound that day.  I'm not the person who left my house that morning.  Our kids got a different mother - Matt got a different wife - my mom and dad got a different daughter - my sister and brother, a different sister - my friends...a different friend.  And although, at times, I miss feeling lighter and more carefree... I don't think it's a bad thing that the Stacy Aube of August 3, 2010 has been replaced.

I have been broken down to the point of complete surrender.  I had nowhere I could go and not a thing I could do to change it or control it or to fix it... I had to sit in it and feel it.  And bit by bit as it tore me apart, God worked on each and every detail like he was fine tuning His masterpiece... and He called it Rachel's Mama.

When I call myself Rachel's Mama - it is so much more than a title to that little girl.  "Rachel's Mama" is to me the beauty God can make out of ashes.  "Rachel's Mama" is a place in His arms where I am sheltered from the storm.  "Rachel's Mama" is the reminder of Who is in charge of life and death and that we don't always get what we want.  "Rachel's Mama" is seeing perfect in her like God does.  It's being honored to be part of His eternal purposes and believing in their beauty, even when it hurts. "Rachel's Mama" is the way my Great God comforts and is close to the brokenhearted.  "Rachel's Mama" is how He proved to me that heaven is real... that He always provides... that I am His daughter... and that salvation has been given to me... for keeps....eternally.  "Rachel's Mama" is a name that means so much more to me than what I am to her... It's a name that speaks of who she is to me - and who I am to God - and who she is to God.... it's His work of art... sometimes messy, but always working towards the final masterpiece.  (We're talking oil on canvas - not Photoshop here)

Because I know with everything I am that there was absolutely no mistake - nor was it by 'chance' - that God made me Rachel's Mama.  The last 4 years have been hard.  They've been painful.  They've brought judgement and pity and misunderstanding.  They've brought loneliness and heartache.  But I would do it all over again.

Whenever I say those words, I always ask myself... Would I do it all over again if I could go back and keep her instead?  Would I *really* do it again if given the chance not to live without her?

And if I had to try to put into words the most profound affect that Rachel has had on me, this would be it.... because the biggest and most important change in me since I got her diagnosis is that I wholeheartedly desire what God wants for me in my life.  And even when it's hard... even when I don't like it... even when it hurts like hell and seems unending.... I know that my God is working ALL things together for my good and His glory.

And those are not words I say because they sound good and are the 'right' thing to say.  I still struggle with disappointment and questions, but I know with all that I am that God is taking care of me always.  And that He will never fail me. And I'm okay with the fact that I might not always like it and that often I will have to surrender to plans that if up to me, I wouldn't pick.  But I know that they are better.

Yesterday I put on my Rachel's Mama shirt to go out and put up signs for her race.  I like to represent, you know? :)  But after I threw my hair up in a clip, I used a mirror to look at it and I noticed that part of my tattoo sticks out of the neck of my shirt.

It was the first time I noticed that "Eternally" was all you could see above a t-shirt - and seeing it next to "Rachel's Mama" felt meaningful, so I had Des take a photo.... as I sit here tonight, I realize that I had no idea what I was going to write when I sat down 30 minutes ago... but the picture keeps coming to mind now...  I am eternally Rachel's Mama.

The rest of the tattoo, for those who don't know, says "Dancing Eternally in His Love" and I got it because that's what it says on her headstone... it's how I picture her... dancing forever with Jesus... At her ultrasound before we knew anything was wrong, they told us she was a girl and that she was moving a lot.  I said through happy tears "She likes to dance just like her mama!"  And the whole time I carried her, that little girl moved.  She was always twirling around and I will always think of her as my little dancer.

Rachel has taught me how to dance in the rain....not just in the sun. As a matter of fact, yesterday when we went to leave to put the signs up, it started to rain as we left and I told the kids "We've danced through worse rain that this before!  Let's get these signs out there, a little rain never killed anyone...."  and so we did... yesterday and today - put race signs everywhere, wearing my Rachel's Mama shirt, as it rained on us the whole time.  Before Rachel, that rain would have kept me home.  I would have waited for another, more sunny day.  But now I know you don't always get another day.  Better circumstances don't always come.  Time isn't always on our side.  And a Mama has to do what a Mama has to do.... even when it rains.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Rachel's Impact - Part 5

I'm so thankful for all the times people have taken the time to let me know that they have been touched by Rachel's life.  It always seems to come just when I'm needing it most.  Some of my hardest, darkest days have been made lighter and brighter by the simple words of another... words that carry the reminder that it wasn't all for nothing... that she has made a difference and that her legacy will live long after I'm gone.  As her Mama, there is nothing I had hoped more throughout this journey of love, pain, hope, and sorrow... 

That she would leave a mark that could never be erased.  

And she has.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Rachel's Impact - Part 4

    I could have never imagined on August 4, 2010 that anyone would be positively affected by the diagnosis we had just received....  I still don't believe I will know the true magnitude of what her life and death have done on this earth until I get to heaven.  

    And these were short notes I got on Facebook.....

    You have touched me by the way you love Rachel and others. Rachel has shown us through you how to love more and be grateful for all you have... it can be gone in a moment, we love you.
    Sarah – ME

    Very thankful for you sweet baby Rachel! You brought your mommy and me together across so many miles. What an impact you have made in so many lives! I love to watch and read about how you live on in your mommy's heart. You are loved, little one. So glad you are in heaven with Jesus, Eliana and all those we miss.
    Melanie – MN

      I did not know you when you had Rachel, but by talking to you I realized I had to make this journey with my precious Alicia. Hearing your story made mine possible. I have had 29 days with my little girl and she is the joy of my life. Rachel's story gave me a miracle. I didn't give up and neither has my girl. So I wanted to say thank you to you and your daughter. God bless you for the journey your story has put me on. <3 p="">
      Jenn - NH
      (mother of Alicia, who was deemed never to survive to birth)

    • Rachel's story makes me see the how much every single moment spend with the ones who we love are important (sorry Stacy, I dont write very well in english) Thanks for chering Rachel to the world.
      Liz – Brazil

    • Amazing little girl, amazing mommy, amazing strength, amazing hope. I love you both!
Amanda – ME

    • There is no truer story of love than your family. Never giving up and always pushing forward and bringing Rachel with you wherever life takes you. A true inspiration
      Susanne – KS