Saturday, December 27, 2014

Silence Is Overrated

Another Christmas without my Christmas baby - and it still hurts.  I didn't have much time leading up to Christmas to think about it with all that was going on with Papa, my Grandpa and my own health - but on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, I felt it just the same.

This was the first year that I went the entire two days without hearing a word from anyone about Rachel.  Her name wasn't on any of the cards... not included in any of the gifts...nobody said it out loud... and nobody visited her grave, unless they did without leaving anything....?  When I went there on Christmas day, it felt very vacant.

I did get a gift card to the flower shop from my mom in Rachel's PO Box last night and I heard a message my mother in law left on Christmas day that mentioned Rachel - I just didn't get either by Christmas day.  So as the night closed in, and I realized that nobody remembers her anymore, I was so sad.  Ironically, this year, even in the midst of just barely putting Christmas together, I got Rachel a few things.  I usually hang her stocking and put candy in it, but this year I bought gifts and wrapped them.  God knew what I was going to need... and I really needed her to be included.

I bought all of the kids pillow pets for a trip we're going to take and I 'accidentally' ordered one too many and it 'just happened' to be a pink pig, so I kept it for Rachel, knowing I will be happy to use it and have something representing her on a trip I would love to take her with us on.

I also bought her a pink memory box like the ones I got for the hospital that I really liked.  The first one came damaged, but I returned it and the new one came in time!  It's perfect... pink, yellow and green with a daisy type flower!

I wrote on Facebook a couple days before Christmas that while I was in the shower, the kids knocked over and shattered the shadow box I had put together.  Her hand and foot molds were okay, so I wasn't upset.  Thankfully I reacted extremely calmly to the whole thing, because Sam felt so bad he knocked it over.  I was so glad I just said it was ok and to stay away from the glass... he would have been devastated if I had gotten upset.  He apologized a hundred times.

I had said that I doubted they would be on sale again and the only reason I could get it in the first place was by spending money I didn't have and justifying it because it was 40% off.  But the sides were also broken apart and I didn't feel safe trying to fix it and putting her irreplaceable things in there.

So that day, I decided to drive to Newington and see what else they had.  I walked in and they were 40% off again!!  I was so excited, until I couldn't find the same one. It took me HOURS to put together so I was hoping to just switch out the backs.  They had the same one in black, which I didn't really want - or one a little deeper in white (which I found I really could use deeper when I set up the first one, but it was $15 more!)  I lamented over it until my kids were running wild and losing patience and I finally grabbed the white one and got in line, again spending money I didn't have... but my heart really needed this.  As I stood there, a woman approached me and said "I have this coupon I can't use, would you like it?" as she held it up for me to see.

And what do ya know?   After the 40% off, her coupon made up the difference between the black and white one!! So I paid the same for the new one as I did for the first one!  Then when I got it home, not only was it deep enough to not squish her lamb's head, but it was slightly bigger - the sizes were supposedly the same, but it had more room around the edges, which allowed me to fit the other items I *really* wanted in there, but couldn't fit before!  Suddenly, I was really glad I needed a new one. lol

I put it together tonight... I love it so much more!  And now I plan to use the other one for stuff from our wedding to hang in our bedroom.  I hate that stuff sitting in a box in my closet too.  So I'll work on that in all my free time....  anyway, here it is!!

Her cloth diaper wasn't in the other one, but I really wanted it to be.
I couldn't even come close to fitting it before, although I tried like crazy!
This is the one she wore while with us, the other she is buried in.

I added a piece of her blanket - I also had to build platforms for her molds because of how low the
frame went - but I tied her feet together (ribbon was from something my mom left on her grave when
she went the first time) and so now they are WAY more sturdy and it looks cuter too!!
Her hands are on the box from her cross necklace, which 'just happened' to have daisies on it.

The "It's a girl" ribbon, my mom put it on the table at her funeral with a bear and flowers
in a basket - the basket is still in my bathroom on our changing table.
Also added her hospital bracelet

 I added her necklace... we received two of these, not on purpose!  And so
She is buried in one and we have one.

So, as I was gathering the extra stuff for this and getting things organized in her new memory box, I came back up from the basement and Sam was crying.  I asked him what was wrong and he said "I'm sad that Rachel died."  I said "Me too... do you want to help me put her box together?  This is what I do that helps me when I'm sad..."  He took my hand and followed me in to the living room and worked really hard helping me build the platforms for her molds.  I was so thankful for his company.  I'm so used to doing everything like this alone... it's nice to know that someone else finds it meaningful and important... and that it can help his little heart too.

But tonight, I feel the harsh reality of the fact that she is fading from others' memory... that Christmas won't always - if it even still does - remind people of my girl like it used to... my baby due on Christmas day... the absence of whom made the words of "Silent Night" something that will always remind me of that stupid shirt I bought before I knew she would die... "All mommy wants for Christmas is a silent night" it said... I threw it away.  I wanted anything but a silent night.  I wanted to be up all night with a crying baby who needed me. But it was silent in 2010, and it still is each year as I miss her like crazy, while the rest of the world celebrates what Christmas is to everyone who didn't bury a baby who was due on Christmas day.

I was so thankful for THIS ARTICLE that I found in my email this morning.  I almost didn't read it because of the title, but it was such an encouragement to me.  Please read it if you have a few minutes, it's a short read but it really spoke to my heart...  my hurting, lonely heart...  I'm thankful to know that Christ came for the exact reasons I hurt.  And that he conquered death and that in him, I have victory over anything that could stand against me.

While I'm here... I cry, I mourn, I feel left behind and alone...I make memory boxes.

But this is my temporary home and one day I will leave this earth and all of the memory decor behind and I will go to heaven with my Lord and my daughter and I will not fear hand and foot molds being broken... or find myself taking deep whiffs of her hats to try to remember what she smelled like... because I won't need to.  I will have the real thing right in front of me.

And there will be no silent nights... no darkness... only light and singing and dancing and worshiping Jesus.  I never wanted a silent night.  Those early days without her when my house was quiet as could be, brought me the least sleep I've ever had in my life.  I love sleep, don't get me wrong, but I'm ridiculously excited about the day when I no longer need it because quite frankly, it's hard to come by and exhaustion is awful.

And on that note, I better get to bed, even though I feel like this post is not at all what I wanted it to be... welcome to the writings of a mom of 5 living kids...  Little, sweet Ezra is such a gift, but I'll tell you what, #6 (5 at home and so much to do for one in heaven) has been more than I was ready for... this is HARD stuff!!  Even 4 (#5 - when we added Asa) was completely different for me and I have had my last 4 all within 4 years of each other.  So it's not like they were all that spaced out before.  I had all but Des really close together.

I always remember Michelle Duggar saying that when they had 5 it was harder than having 19 because they were all little and close together... and since I seriously look up to her, I find that encouraging that she thought it was hard too! LOL.  So for anyone with 5 kids thinking it's way harder than you expected - ME TOO!!  I hope that encourages you!! LOL.  These are the *very best* days of our lives... hard, but beautiful... don't lose sight of that because they will go by way too fast and we will miss them!  It's not something people just say... if you have 5 kids, you must love kids and if you love kids, you *will* miss them when they are gone and your house is quiet!  Bring on the grand-babies!!

Anyway, we don't get a silent night here... ever.  Someone is always waking up - last night we were up about 5 times between 3 of them and Sam had his elbow in my back or was coughing in my face most of the night.  Same thing the night before, except we also had to change sheets because someone had an accident... we literally do. not. sleep.  And you know what?  I'm okay with that.  It's hard... but it's not anywhere near as hard as a silent night.

Take it from me, silence is overrated.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Winter Came Too Soon

My Papa died on Friday night.  I was running behind with errands and told myself I would go in the morning to visit because I needed to get home and do our Friday family movie & pizza night and it was already dinner time.  I was on my way home and I just couldn't drive by without stopping in - so I said I'd go really quick.  I ended up there for a very long time.  I didn't want to leave him.

Papa looked nothing like himself at this point, but he was comfortable and breathing steady, which was better than the day before when he was in pain and his breath kept stopping.  His son Mark was there so I stayed and talked to him for a while.  We told some stories about Papa and laughed and cried over them.  My aunt got there and we did some more of the same and then I leaned over and, holding his cold hand, said "Papa, I'm going to go have pizza with the kids... it's not Tuesday (we did pizza every Tues with him for a LONG time when I was a young adult) but we do ours on Friday. So I'm going to go do that and I'll be back tomorrow"  I told him I loved him, thanked him for all he has done for me and said it was okay to go. He squeezed my finger a tiny bit and his eyebrow went up. (maybe just from pain) I prayed for him silently... for God's mercy and for his salvation.

About 15 minutes after I got home, my mom called me to tell me he was gone.  I was so caught off guard.  I was *just* there - and he was doing ok... whatever 'ok' means for someone dying from multiple cancers - and even though I knew it was coming soon, I cried like it was brand new news.  And then after a few phone calls, I had to pull it together to sit down with the kids for their movie.

It made me think of when I went to Rachel's grave after the first snow fall in November and this tree stopped me in my tracks.

It was as if the tree wasn't ready for the snow.  

She knew it was coming... clearly her leaves were preparing.  The cool nights and warm days of autumn were stripping the life from them and they had started to fall.  You could look from a distance and know that one day soon, that tree would be bear.  The natural order of the seasons of life was taking place... and the cold and bare days of winter were not going to be able to be avoided.  With each and every day, her leaves grew weaker and more brittle as they one by one fell to the ground to blend back into the earth beneath her.  But I don't think I've ever seen so many leaves on top of so much snow... or maybe I just never noticed.

Every fall, as the last of the leaves falls to the ground, my heart feels heavy as I prepare for a long and cold and lonely winter -  like the trunk of a tree, surviving and standing after the loss of a huge part of who I am.  Because even though the last part of my journey with Rachel alive was beautiful for people to watch, it was only a short part of my long journey.

Often times I've been thankful for the time I had before she died to 'prepare' - to do and say the things I wanted to... and after this last 4 months of watching my Papa slowly die, I was thankful for the chance to tell him all I wanted to tell him.  It was August to December, just like Rachel... 

Some think having time knowing it's coming makes it 'easier' than if it were sudden... and I've always thought I agreed with that.  But I'm not so sure anymore.  There is an unreal amount of stress on your mind and heart as you wait for someone to die.  There is a weight of guilt as you continue to live while they die.  There is a constant sadness and a grief that is so out of place when nobody has died yet.  And there is the fact that, even if you have that time, it doesn't change anything about how it feels when they are actually gone.

My Papa spent every day for months, maybe even years visiting my Nana's grave just up the hill from where Rachel is buried.  Most people never understood what someone would do at a grave every day for all that time... and now decades later, I have spent similar days at a grave in the same cemetery.  I'm guessing since my Nana died on January 16th, Papa's autumns probably felt similar - and I'm guessing he spent more than his share of time gazing upon this same tree. I'm sure my mom has done the same. It's directly down the hill from my Nana's spot. 

I look at this photo, with the snow under the leaves - totally opposite of how things 'should be' and that's how I feel.  I feel like winter came too soon.  I feel like all the preparation in the world wouldn't have had me ready.  I feel like it caught me off guard, even though I saw it coming.  

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Another December Heartbreak

After my post about meatloaf, I got a small package and was brought to tears when I opened it to find a real chef hat in it.  (thank you Lisa)

On Saturday I went to visit my Papa and although he was doing much worse than the previous visit earlier that week, we had a really good visit.  He was joking and smiling and seemed glad to have company.  His son Gary and his wife Elaine were there when I got there, so when Papa got too tired to talk, he either dosed off or listened to us talk and reminisce about the "good old days" as we read through some of his journal.  At one point Elaine said that her daughter follows my blog (I haven't seen Papa's kid and grandkids in years so I had no idea any of them even knew about Rachel!) and that since we do so much to help so many others, she wanted to give me a little something... she reached in her wallet to hand me something and my Papa blurts out "You better get your check book out, she has a lot of kids!"  

I sat next to him on the bed and reminded him about our meatloaf Fridays and asked if he remembered telling me each week that I needed a chef hat.  He said he did.  So I pulled out the chef hat Lisa sent me and told him how a friend read about that and sent it to me.  I put it on and he got the biggest smile...  when I sat next to him to take this, my eyes welled up with tears.

I feel like life is a constant tightrope of joy and sorrow.  Trying to smile when you want to cry.  Trying to make memories that will help your heart after they are gone.  Holding onto old memories and having no idea where all the time went...  

I have been so sad.  This man has been so much to me.  I'm not ready to say goodbye.  We were told today that hospice says it won't be long.  And it's kind of obvious.  sigh.

So I made a little meatloaf.  Knowing he hasn't really eaten since Thanksgiving (other than Ensures).  But I had that child like faith that maybe if he saw my meatloaf (that I put on his old dishes, with his old silver wear that I now have that we also used way back then) that he'd take a bite or two.  I wasn't hoping for a lot, just a bite.  I made two plates for us on saucers so it would look like a full plate with baby amounts of food and I went to see him.  

He had absolutely no interest in it.  He refused to even look at it. :(  He looked much worse than on Saturday and wasn't able to even sit up to take his indigestion medicine (which is the only thing he takes, I can't believe that... He's a tough cookie)  The nurse did get him to take a couple bites of pudding.  

I stayed for a long time, praying by his bedside and offering help when he woke up choking or whatever... but I'm not even sure if staying was the right thing to do.  I have. no. idea. how to do this.  It's all I think about, I can't fall asleep at night, (well last night was fine because they added another blood pressure medication and it helped my bp all the way down to 80/50... can't find a happy medium...I thought I might never wake up!)  but the past few weeks, have been very hard for me.  

I left there, trying to hold my tears until I got out of the building, but I made it to the last doorway in the hall and a loud gasp came out... a worker asked if I was ok and gave me a hug.  When I started talking, I realized I was practically hyperventilating and having a full blown anxiety attack.  I blubbered "I'm just not ready for this." and then told her I was not able to breathe and needed to go.  And I've been crying on and off since.

Another December heartbreak.  

Please pray for us.

Thursday, December 11, 2014


I have had a very hard week... in more ways than one.

In case you are wondering, yes, I ditched Facebook again.  I went back on to try to help spread the word for Rachel's birthday - and it helped!! Thank you all!!  But I quickly have gone back to being on it more than I even want to be.  I will be back eventually I'm sure, but for now I want to concentrate on my family and the time I have with them - and honestly, I don't feel like friendships get deeper on social media.  I saw more people in person or talked to live people on the phone, while not on Facebook than I had in MONTHS before - or have since I've been back - and that's what I need right now... real connection.  Email me at if you need to contact me!  Or if you have my #, text or call me.

So anyway, on Tuesday, the 9th - Des & I were supposed to go to a ladies conference at Bethany Church (where Matt & I got married) and I ended up being way more sad about Rachel's anniversary than I had ever imagined and topped off my day with a severe headache.  I medicated myself instead of wasting my time at the ER and so even though my headache was under control, my driving wouldn't have been so we had to skip it... which was just another thing that made me feel discouraged.

So Wednesday, Matt & the kids usually have stuff going on, but they skipped so Des & I could go to the 2nd night of this conference... We packed our own Gluten Free cookies because we heard there would be lots of cookies there.

It was SO good for my heart.... I was super excited to be entering into this new phase of life with one of my daughters.  She is growing up way too fast, but she is growing into such an amazing young lady and to sit side by side with my daughter in a church pew *not* on Sunday morning (although that is great too) to connect on a level that only women can... I was just so thankful for her.  I'm thankful that she is mine, that she is here and ultimately, that because of her own faith in Jesus, even if I die tomorrow, I will see her again.  Nothing can ever separate us.  That bond is something I never fully understood until God revealed it to me this year with Rachel... and now as my children get older and have to make their own decisions about what they believe - there is absolutely nothing in this world that I want more than for them to know Christ.  NOTHING.

I had gone to get my massage at the hospital right before we had to leave... I had $43 that my friend Michelle sent me to use towards one, and so originally I only booked 30 mins.  But I decided to pay the difference, which was only $12 and go for the hour because my neck/shoulders are a mess.  So, half was through the massage, she told me that they used to give them on the maternity floor at the hospital, until the budget cuts.  I said I was a victim of those budget cuts... I had Isaiah at that hospital and since he was born on the weekend, they gave me a voucher to come back and get a massage later.  I waited too long to use it and by the time I called, they told me they no longer offered that bc of the budget cuts.  She asked if I still had the voucher and I said no, he's 8 now!  She said "Well, if you were enjoying this massage before, I hope you enjoy it even more now that you know it's FREE!"

I cried... and I said "Awesome, now I can book another one!"  I told her how I got the money for it and about Rachel..... sigh.

So when I got back to get Des, I was late, she was in the shower (I did mention she's growing up... only a pre-teen - or her mom. LOL - would get in the shower just before it is time to go!!)  I threw some cookies in a bag and we were starting to stress and I said "Well, if we're late, it's ok... let's just enjoy the night because it's no fun if we're all uptight."

We walked in over 10 minutes late and went up to pay for our tickets (with the money I didn't have to spend on the extra massage time!!) and the lady said "Here's two tickets... just go in... it pays to be late!"

And later as we stood in line to get the book the speaker wrote signed, (which I would not suggest reading, unfortunately!) someone approached me and asked if I was "Rachel's mom".  I smiled and said yes...she said she reads my blog.   I love how she is known everywhere we go.  I love hearing her name...I will never tire of hearing that someone else recognizes me as her mama and that they are interested in what I have to say!  That still blows my mind... that so many people read what I write... it's crazy!  Thank you!  (And I wish I would have given you a hug!!)

I just can't believe how much we have been blessed this past couple of weeks... over and over!  It's amazing.  

We left there and stopped at the Mall for some late night girls shopping!  I LOVE having a daughter here with me!!  It makes me miss Rachel at times to know all I will miss, but at the same time I cannot imagine if I didn't have her here.  I didn't know when I had her she would be the only girl I ever got to do girl things with... I wish I would have soaked it all up more.  But the best I can do is take that understanding from here and pray that we will grow closer and closer each year...  and that I will still be around for her big life moments to celebrate them with her.  Because I'll tell you what, after doing Lindsey's shower, I cannot wait to be able to give my daughter her baby shower(s)!!!  She'll have some good parties with this Nana on board. :)  Hopefully I don't drive her nuts! lol.

Last night I had a pretty bad scare health wise.  I don't know what happened.  It was after just 15 minutes of moderate exercise (that I was doing for a lot of months until late August) and I seriously thought I might drop dead.  I didn't even feel like I was over doing it at all.  But my legs and lips went completely numb (couldn't stand) and I got really sick.  My blood pressure was normal for once so I have no idea... all I know is I know that God would take great care of my family if I left too soon, but I want to take care of them.  Nothing seems to be turning up on any of the tests and I really believe it's because most of it has to do with my MTHFR mutations being uncontrolled for too long now and there isn't a doctor I've seen that has a clue about it at all.  Please pray for me that I will be able to get in with a doctor who can help me get this figured out so I can start getting strong again.  I really fear that if I don't find someone who knows what they are doing, you will be reading my obituary in the not so distant future - OH, I hope it is a good one!  LOL, I seriously just worried about who will write my obituary!  I'm a writer to the depths of my being!

I just hope that if I never got to write another sentence that anyone who knows me - whether in person or through this blog for Rachel... knows that I love my God and that He is good, even when life is hard.  I hope my kids know even a glimpse of the fierce and unconditional love I have for them and the loyalty I have for them, for their Daddy and for Jesus.  Because Jesus pulled me up out of my darkness and gave me Matt and from there, all of these beautiful babies... including Rachel... and although we regularly feel broke, we never go without.  We live a RICH life.  And although we haven't always liked what has come our way, His plan has been the best for us... And if I never see another day, I adore Him for all he has been to me and my family and I will adore Him for all of eternity in heaven.

If you don't know where you will go when you die, I beg you to ask Jesus if He's real... and be prepared to go for the ride of a life time.  Because He IS and when you knock, the door will be opened. Also be prepared to make some changes as He gently leads you to a life more like He requires.  Anyone who says you can be a Christian and do whatever you want doesn't know Jesus.  Following him requires sacrifice, but not as big as the one he made for us!  Life won't get easy - you've seen my life, right? - but there isn't a better life to live.

I adore Him.

And as it says in the picture above with Des... I am a daughter of a King who is not moved by the world - for my God is with me and goes before me.  I do not fear because I AM HIS.  

I will probably need to recite that to myself over and over, but it's exactly what I need to remember in these times of uncertainty.  He is the Answer.  I need to seek him.  Not anything or anyone else.  Him.  And when I do, He will grant me everything I need.  I am not told to not fear because my life will be easy.  I'm told to not fear because I AM HIS and He has this.

And so when I fear, because I am also human and I will.  I will recite this and remember who holds life and death in his hands.  It's all Him. And I'm all His.  And my God will take care of me in life - and my God conquered the grave and so death will have no victory over me.

Think on that this Christmas season.... why do we celebrate?  I know we remember the baby in that manger...we remember his birth.  But we should also remember the entire story and think on His death... what he did for us sinners.  I celebrate because even with all the ways I've failed and fall short... and all the ways I have sinned against him and others, he says I AM HIS.  

And one of my all time favorite pieces of Scripture just came to mind..... 

Isaiah 43:1-4

But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
    he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
    I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
    and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
    and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
I give Egypt as your ransom,
    Cush and Seba in exchange for you.
Because you are precious in my eyes,
    and honored, and I love you,

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Cake & Cocoa

It's been 4 years since we said our final goodbye and had to leave her tiny casket at the cemetery.

I've discovered that this day is harder than her birthday as an anniversary.   

I miss her.

I woke up to find that my brand new dairy free creamer was bad so I couldn't make coffee.  Not good.  Then I had this great plan that after Ezra's ENT appointment today we would head over to Rachel and eat her ballerina cake there... maybe get some hot chocolate and leave one for her...  I had the cake packed (along with gluten/dairy free cupcakes for me & Des).  We've had decent weather on the 3rd every year until this one.  So this has been hard for me.

I started to realize that I was more emotional than I had anticipated I would be when I was in tears on the way to the ENT.

When we got out of his appointment, it was raining and VERY cold and the kids were not in very good moods....and I had a bad headache starting again.  There isn't much you can do except drive through the cemetery when it's that kind of weather, so I decided we wouldn't be able to go visit Rachel.

Plan B was to go home and try to figure out a way to make hot chocolate that I can drink and eat her cake there.  I made the hot chocolate our of cocoa powder and almond milk.  (it was better than nothing, but would take getting used to, the kids weren't impressed!)  

I got all the cups ready for pouring.  I counted them out and there were just enough for the kids in one kind of mug, so I picked a little different one for me.  I had already poured E's in to a sippy with extra milk... I began looking around for one to use as Rachel's.  I went back and forth in my mind trying to figure out if that was a ridiculous thing to do... I put the idea on hold for a second while I helped the kids add their fixins... and then I realized....

I had 6 kids cups out... 5 of the mugs and the sippy.  I said to Des "There are already six cups there... it's an automatic thing for me to count her." and found myself in tears again.

This day was a constant battle against tears.  I have been so sad... feeling so much like I hate that she is dead today.  Feeling the sting of trying to get into the Christmas cheer when I feel so heavy hearted.

We finally cut her cake and all sat down to have some with our cocoa.... I'm so thankful for these 5 precious kids... and it blesses my heart to hear their little voices talk about Rachel... to hear them say her name is a beautiful sound. ♥

And of course we left her cup on the table with us.  

It worked out ok because when my sister and Jailyn stopped by, she asked for some and I said "You can have Rachel's!"  

Then we sang to her... which was a mess, but they had fun.... You will notice Asa under the table at one point... that is what he did when the doctor asked him to stand on one foot yesterday... LOL

I took a quick trip to the store to pick up a couple things and on the way I heard the song "Hope is what we crave."  I know I blogged about that song a long time ago... today it had me in tears as I looked at our Christmas lights all across our fence that we light each year on the 3rd for her birthday... I usually leave these lights going until into spring time... Mother's day even at times... because 'light' is 'hope' to me. And hope is what I crave....

 "Hope is what we crave"
Hope is what we crave, and that will never change

So I stand and wait
I need a drop of grace to carry me today,
A simple song to say
It's written on my soul:
Hope's what we crave 
To live, to die,

To lose, to get,
To rise above
To love again

It's the 9th of December... the day I had to leave my baby in a grave in the cold.  If there was ever a day I needed to cling to HOPE, this day in 2010 was it.  Today is a very hard day for me, but not one on most people's radars.  It's hard to have everyone around me, every store, every music station, all be covered in Christmas... and my heart hurts so much.  It's hard to live, to die, to lose, to get, to rise above and love again.  It's hard to have a broken heart - to be missing a piece of you - and for the world around you to keep moving.  It feels like everyone is going at a speed that I just can't keep up with... and don't really want to.

Then on the way back I heard "Broken Hallelujah" which was a song I blogged about on her birthday, last year I think.... 

                                                           "Broken Hallelujah"

I can barely stand right now.
Everything is crashing down,
And I wonder where You are.

I try to find the words to pray.
I don't always know what to say,
But You're the one that can hear my heart.

Even though I don't know what your plan is,
I know You're making beauty from these ashes.

I've seen joy and I've seen pain.
On my knees, I call Your name.
Here's my broken hallelujah.

With nothing left to hold onto,
I raise these empty hands to You.
Here's my broken hallelujah.

You know the things that have brought me here.
You know the story of every tear.
‘Cause You've been here from the very start.

Even though I don't know what your plan is,
I know You're making beauty from these ashes.

I've seen joy and I've seen pain.
On my knees, I call Your name.
Here's my broken hallelujah.

With nothing left to hold onto,
I raise these empty hands to You.
Here's my broken hallelujah.

When all is taken away, don't let my heart be changed.
Let me always sing Hallelujah
When I feel afraid, don't let my hope be erased
Let me always sing Hallelujah.
Let me always sing Hallelujah.

I will always sing
I will always sing
Here's my broken hallelujah.

I had this crazy thought this morning as I drove... I remembered the vision in my head of how many cars were here on Saturday and I had an overwhelming feeling of gratitude - For Rachel's life... for her death... and even for what took her from me... anencephaly.  I doubt this is something I will feel regularly, but today I thanked God for anencephaly because people don't love Rachel despite her defect... they love her *because* of it.  She is a special girl because she shows us all how much God can do with a little innocent and not fully formed baby who never made a sound or stepped foot on the earth that has people all over it still talking about how she changed them.  For a moment, I felt like I had finally made peace with anencephaly and what it means for our family.  Because this road has been broken and painful, but it has been beautiful and full of praises to our Lord.   

My 'hallelujah' is broken - but it's not going anywhere... and with each year, even with all the ups and downs emotionally and physically - my trust, my hope, my praise is with the One True God Jesus Christ who holds my little girl as I wait.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Unreal Details

We had the baby shower for Rachel today. 


It snowed last night and rained today - so another yucky day weather wise...  Matt took the kids out so I could clean and get things ready for the party - and yet when people started showing up, I was still decorating and putting food out.  So the beginning was a whirlwind and I felt pretty overwhelmed.  I felt a little like I was in survival mode for the first half hour or so... but as things settled....And people kept coming in... I was blown away.

There were so many people here!  I've never had that many people in my house - I think the closest I've ever come was at E's gender reveal.  We live in 1200 sq feet on two floors.  So just our family makes this house feel full!  But here's the funny part... I told Matt I was planning for 50, even though my RSVP's said 11.  When Karla & Caroline contacted me the night before to ask how many pretzels to make, I told Matt I wanted to tell her 50 and he said not to overdo it (I have a habit of doing that!)... so I said 25 would be safe.  She wrote back and said "We've decided to do 43."

About half way through the shower, I suddenly *needed* to know how many people were here.  So, if you were here and saw me walking around looking like I had lost something, I was just counting - LOL.  I counted 50, including the kids.

It took me until tonight as I sat here uploading pictures to realize that if we didn't count the 7 of us, that made 43 guests.

I feel so emotional tonight.

As I looked around, I felt that feeling I had on her first birthday when I pulled into the cemetery and couldn't believe the amount of people there...  ironically, that year we did a baby shower type thing too, except we had people send gift cards and brought all the items that I bought with them to Options and left them for a girl to pick up there.  Maybe this is what I'm supposed to be doing.... I don't know.  Matt also seems to really thrive being able to love on people like we did today. He had so much fun talking to all the strangers in our house - LOL. It's one of the few parties we have had that he told me "I had a blast!"  Our testimony of where we came from certainly gives us a different perspective on so many things.  And today I learned that I don't need to shy away from having people over just because our house isn't huge.  Hospitality has not a whole lot to do with the size of your home as it does the size of your heart.

A couple of times, Matt had to go out and move cars because there were so many cars parked on both sides of our street that neighbors were having trouble getting down the street!!  And I didn't feel a bit of stress about it,  I just looked at Donna and laughed!  She said "Well, you said you wanted a lot of people to show up and you got it! They have to direct traffic!!"  I felt so full of joy.... so in God's will.

So much so that thinking about it, brings me to tears.  Over and over.

Thank you so much to everyone who sent gifts, donations, cards, prayers... Thank you to everyone who came and showered this young couple with your love.  What a testimony of God's love.  I am so honored to be able to do things like this in Rachel's memory and have so many people find it worthy of their time and treasures.  I'm so thankful that you continue to remember Rachel with me.  I'm so unbelievably grateful to be able to share her even still.  To love others in her memory when I can't love her.  And I couldn't do any of this, like this, alone.  From the very depths of my heart and soul, I thank you.  You will never know what it means to me.  Words could never express.

I'm also so thankful for those of you who brought me & Rachel gifts.  I opened them after everyone was gone (so as to not steal the show at the shower) and I'm glad I was alone... I couldn't stop crying.  Simple things, but so perfect.  One item was a HOPE garden decoration "For Rachel's garden" which just reading the words made me happy enough, but when I saw that it is one I have the exact same thing of - that Matt & the kids gave me for Mother's Day after Rachel died and I didn't put out this year because I like to have 2 of everything so I can put one here and one at her grave - I just wonder... how can God love me so much?  Seriously... the details...  it's unreal. 

The mug that a friend gave me that she bought me 2 years ago and forgot to give me - the verse on it... The Lord will guide you always, you will be like a well watered garden - Isaiah 58:11.... and at the very time that I have been getting amazing leading from Him on my health issues that just a week back I was trying to figure out in my own strength and relying WAY too much on doctors and not enough on my Great Physician... oh, and did I mention, I also started reading Isaiah again this week?  What I've been praying is that He will guide me and restore my health.  I read "you will be like a well watered garden" and I know in my heart that He is going to restore my health as I learn to lean on HIS understanding... not mine... not the doctors... just like I said a few posts back!  The details... I can't make this stuff up.

The snow globe with a ballerina and perfectly falling "Rachel snow" all around her.... made me cry. 

And the cake!!  The cake.  It's so perfect, everyone thought it was fake.  And I still haven't cut into it because I can't get myself to do it.  It's amazing and it was a gift.  A free gift.  Unreal.

I found this ballerina cake on Pintrest and asked a friend to make something
like it... she made it *exactly* like the picture, but I asked her to add an
umbrella on the top to make it a "Dancing in the rain" cake. 
My tiny dancer... she keeps teaching me how to dance in the rain.

I also got a card this week with $43 to use towards a massage - so I am going to get one at the hospital this week (cheaper and you don't tip there!) to hopefully help with my headaches... I. can't. wait.  And then today a friend gave me 110 minute massage to a therapeutic message place!  It took serious math skills for me to realize that I have never had a massage that long in my life!  Will I be able to get up after?  I'm SO EXCITED!!!!  This is what my neck and shoulders need - and you know how I know?  Not because the neurologist said, but because I prayed and asked God "Please lead me with my health... if you want me to get massages, please provide a way"  !!!  I mean, does it get more clear than that?!?!?!  The details... I can't stop crying....  I am overwhelmed by His love.

There was also multiple people wearing Rachel gear... daisy shirts and necklaces and Team Rachel/Rachel's Cousin shirts.  It was awesome.  So good for my heart.  People were really fired up to celebrate Rachel.  Like really into it.  It wasn't just me.  And it was with excitement over her life.  Like she's not just a sad story, a dead baby. But that her life is to be celebrated.

God, I miss her....

OH!! And at the end of the party when most had left,  a friend asked me if she could mop my floor!  what?!?  UM, yes please!  And then when she got done taking care of my floor, she massaged my neck - which totally stopped my headache that was brewing all day!  Thank You God!  I'm so blessed.  And I don't mean I'm blessed because I'm happy right now.  I mean I am blessed in my heart because I can so clearly see how God takes care of me.  Through the hard....  Through the pain... through the emotions... through the details.... I offer Him my "yes" and He pours his provision out on me.  It's amazing. 

I also wanted to share this....

My friend Hannah Rose - we (you!) helped her get her daughter Lily's headstone last year - sent $43 in honor of Rachel's birthday and in honor of Lily for Christmas and asked me to get something special for Lindsey.  I waited to see what would be left on the registry and it was mostly just diapers... which didn't feel enough like Lily and this morning, when I opened my eyes, it came to me!  A baby carrier and a memory book!  What else says "We carry our babies everywhere we go and their memories are special" more than those together?!  So I left to go get them and decided KMart would be faster than Walmart (I don't often go to KMart so I had no idea what to expect from their baby section) I picked up the carrier and the memory book I wanted without even thinking of price, because honestly, I didn't have time to!  Do you know how much they cost?  Yep, $43.  UNREAL!! 

I also added in the little "I'm on my way!" ultrasound picture frame as a special thing in Lily's honor because Hannah is a pro life speaker and writer and I felt like the idea of celebrating LIFE from the beginning - not when they come out, but when they are created - would be a good way to honor Lily for Christmas too!  Love you Hannah <3 p="">
I also got 2 of the nicest cards from Matt and the kids I have ever gotten.  Matt said he's "proud of me and how I care for them and share Rachel with the world for God's glory and those blessed to be touched by her rich life."  I don't want to say he's never said that before.... but well, I don't think he's ever said that before!  I need that.  Des wrote in the "Sister" card from her and the boys and drew a dandelion.  It was all so sweet.  They gave them to me on the 3rd and actually, I cried at the fact they got them before I ever even opened them and read them.  I'm so thankful.

And by now you all know my sweet Caroline??  Do you remember a while back I blogged that she was entering a picture of Rachel she drew in a contest that benefited Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep?  Well, she won! :) And she won a $100 gift card to Bay Photo Lab and that 'just so happens' to be my favorite photo lab - and she is giving it to me for Rachel's birthday!

I am so so so SO thankful that people love Rachel.  So thankful. 

Let's see... what else... oh yeah... I was looking at this picture...

And I was overwhelmed with the thought "That used to be us."  We were the young unmarried couple having a baby.  And how amazing that we can come along side of people in a similar situation and comfort with the comfort we have received!  I see this as a great honor and I was so appreciative that they let us do this for them, as awkward as it may have been! 

What's this? you ask?  This is a hot chocolate station for my girl... with all the fixins... marshmallows, andes mints, peppermint chips, white chocolate chips and of course, caramel melts...  The only mistake I made as I planned food was forgetting I wouldn't be able to have any of it!  I mean to tell you when this day ended, I was STARVING. 

Last minute a blog reader (Hi Caroline!) walked in... she gave me way more compliments than I deserve and is probably good for my ego... but I would like to share that she said in person I am "Much younger and way more tiny" than she thought from my blog! LOL, I almost pooped my pants.  I love that.  I'm young and tiny.  ha!  But in all seriousness, she reminded me a lot of why I do all I do here... to help other people know they aren't alone - even if it's been many, many years since their loss. 

I'm the one just crazy enough to wear my heart on my sleeve on the World Wide Web... and I'm amazed that God can use it... me... in all my imperfections and weaknesses.... for His purposes.  I will never grow tired of hearing how Rachel has changed someone's life.  I'm honored to play a huge role in that - but I'd be doing everyone a great disservice if I took any of the credit or if I gave Rachel any of the credit - because every bit of it all is from the Lord.  I'm humbled that He chose me to use in such a big way with Rachel's precious and perfect life.  I hope I don't let either of them down.
The water bottle labels I had made as favors

I posted a slideshow of more pictures from today on the right side of my blog!  Enjoy!

In My Now

December 6, 2010 I left the hospital without my girl.  She had gone on ahead of me... in more ways than one.  

I've wanted to make a shadow box since that first December, but they were always out of my reach money wise.  In November this year, while I was at Michael's buying items for her care packages, I saw a 40% off sale and I sprung for it.

I set it up the day Matt & I got back from our weekend away, but there were a few missing things I wanted to add.  Her little cross necklace (she is wearing an identical one in her grave) and her hospital bracelet.  

I finally got them out of the basement today.

It was hard to decide what to put in since I have a few outfits I put on her that I like... and the one she is actually buried in that I would love to have out - but this little dress is the one that makes me smile most.  

I also wanted a safe place to display her hand and foot molds where I knew they'd be safe from my crazy boys and all the things they throw around.

I didn't plan it on purpose, but it so turns out that I just finished the shadow box - on December 6th - 4 years from the day I first left the hospital with only her things and a cut in my womb to show for the fact that I had just given birth to a beautiful baby girl.  (and of course, it *just happens* to be #4433 in my camera files)

I miss her so much.

I LOVE this shadow box.  I love that I can see her things any time I want without having to schedule time to cry.  I could never just peek in her box - it always required so much more of me.  Having her things on display on my wall will make it possible for me to reminisce easier...  

I look at these things and I smile.

I look at these things and I cry.

I look at these things and I try to remember what she felt like...what she looked like....

I wonder what her voice would sound like.  What she would like to play with and which sibling would be her rival... and which her best friend.

I wonder if she would be a cuddle bug or if she would be hard to pin down, like the boys.

I look and I wish I had more from her... and I'm thankful I have what I do...

I look at the stains all over the little lamb (that Rachel did *not* put there) and I wish she did.

I read the words "Little Sister" and I wish when I referenced 'sister' that the boys knew there was another option besides Desirae... but they don't really grasp that... and I can see why.  

She's not here.

Just her things are.

And they don't even smell like her anymore.  Everything tangible begins a far off dream of what was once here for but a short time - or what will one day be for all of eternity.

But neither bring her back to my now.  Not the past and not the future.  My now will always feel incomplete with this little girl missing from it.

And I will never grow comfortable with that reality.  I want her now.  Right now.  Just the same as I wanted her on December 6, 2010 as I left Maine Med without her.  Time does not heal all wounds.  Only Jesus can.

I'm okay with waiting, knowing he has clothed her with so much more than what I ever could.  I know she is safe.  I know she is cared for.  I know she will be there when I arrive.  I'm thankful to know that her 'now' is amazing.

But I just wish that somehow relieved the pain of my now.  My each and every day... every hour... every moment without her in my here and now.  

Friday, December 5, 2014

He Holds My Heart

Well, another December 3rd has come and gone... 

We woke up to an ice storm and by the looks outside our window and hearing schools in Maine were canceled, I didn't know if we'd be able to go - I had a peace about it all and was pretty sure that even if it ended up being later in the day, we would make it happen... but the late start kind of set us up for a rough lunch time with all the kids.  

The kids all sitting with the box they were donating.

Around 9am, I started feeling a headache coming on.  I could tell it was going to be a bad one.  I took a migraine pill, but when I couldn't finish my coffee because I felt so sick, I knew it was a bad sign.  I forged through the day anyhow....

This is us walking down *The* hallway... I looked down and Asa was clinging onto
Rachel bear.  All three of these babies made this hallway an experience I could never forget.
And I also realized that E's almost as big as Asa!!
When we got to the hospital, Kim (Rachel, Asa & Ezra's nurse and my good friend) came out with a cart and we loaded the boxes on and met up with Alice, who coordinated the care package donations.  First stop: The bathroom (of course, where else does a big family need to go first?) LOL.  Then we went and got in line at security.  So many of my most sacred moments started in that line.  They asked for my ID, which I of course had left in the car.  So thankfully the staff was with me and he gave me my badge anyway.  Sticking it on my shirt, I read it "December 3, 2014 - Visitor"

I love being in that place on her birthday.  I think even if we didn't donate boxes, I would want to go sit there - and next year I might try to arrange more time to do just that... to sit in the cafe or something.  Just spend time where she lived outside of me...  
Us, Rachel bear and Kim
Kim was our nurse, but she took phenomenal care of our girl and has turned
into a great friend since, and also helped deliver Rachel's little brothers too!

When we got upstairs, there were a couple more ladies who were looking forward to meeting us and we were greeted with big hugs and tons of gratitude for putting these boxes together from our perspective - because, one of them said, they wouldn't think of the things we do having not had been through it themselves.  Like having two of everything so one can be buried and one kept. *sigh*
I felt incredibly loved and appreciated and am so thankful that they welcome our
gifts and that they aren't afraid of the topic of Rachel.  I'm so thankful that they see the
need to minister to the families they serve.  And I'm even more thankful that they allow us to include our God
Because He's the best source of Comfort I know and if we couldn't, that would be hard.
What a blessing it is to so many, I'm sure!
As we talked, another lady got out this singing reindeer to keep the boys happy.  Asa followed that thing around for 15 minutes. We were a large crowd, clogging up the hallway, but they seemed happy to have us all there.  Which for this mama, is a gift all in itself.

I asked if Rachel's room was open... I hoped I could go step in it and look around and show the kids where we all spent time with her.  Kim came back and said it was taken and "Ironically, there is a tear drop on the door."
This is what was on the outside of our door while Rachel was with us.  They use this
as a way for staff to know that there is a baby that didn't live in the room.
When Kim told me that Rachel's room was taken and that there was someone in it who was going thru what we went through - on her birthday - I started crying.  She looked at me and said "They might be the first recipients of one of Rachel's boxes."

I got so emotional.  Not really over Rachel... just over the fact that babies die.  It just isn't right.

So, this is random, but as I was looking through my old photos to find the tear drop picture, I found these pictures in my Blogger account under the tab "On Your Phone".  I remembered taking these pics last year, but I thought I was seeing things when it looked like the snow was falling... in a "Rachel" kind of snow, no less... but I think Google must have animated it... I don't know, but I'm sure it's no coincidence... I was looking for the tear drop picture and discovered an animated picture that has snow falling just like it did the morning after she died outside my hospital room?!  If it's not moving on your end, believe me, it's moving here and I've checked it enough times to know for sure I'm not seeing things!  

And then I found this one from last Christmas... I didn't get to get a good pic this year from Rachel's grave because by the time we got there, I was too sick to get out of the car and it was raining so Matt did it for me... but when I looked close, I could see the sparkles on her stone lighting up!  I have NO idea why this is happening... but I'll take it...  crazy stuff....

OK, so that was off track, but lets see... after we left the hospital, we went to Friendly's with those gift cards we got the day before.  I was telling Kim (she was able to come with us this year!!!) when we got there about how last year someone paid for our meal and how I was praying this year that someone would do it again and then we got $75 in gift cards in one day!  The kids were so thrilled to be able to order whatever they wanted (we are usually a share meals kind of family) and Ezra had his first ice cream to himself.  And believe it or not, we racked up a $78 bill!  We've *never* done that!!

And just when I though the day couldn't get any better (minus getting rid of my headache) a lady behind us asked who Rachel was and told us that was her name.  I told her and she said she was sorry to bring it up - I said, it's ok, that's why we wear the shirts! ;)  So then a bit later, the staff comes out singing a birthday song... the little girl across from us was celebrating her birthday and we tried to figure out if she was 3 or 4, but she was definitely about Rachel's age...  Matt said "I'm going to just assume that song was for Rachel." and we all smiled.  It was a relief that for once, seeing a girl Rachel's age celebrating her birthday didn't hurt.  I missed her and wished for her for a second, but it didn't hurt like it used to.

Then just as we were all letting our meal settle, this tall guy walked over and leaned in and said in a loud voice "I don't know what's going on here, but with the shirts, it looks like it is something good!" He said "What is it?"  "It's our daughter's birthday." I said.  And he goes "Well, that *is* special" and dropped a $50 bill in front of us and walked out before we could even say Thank you.

We all just stared at it.
I started crying.
Kim said "Wow, You told me that happens to you all the time."
Des added, "It is usually because we're cute." and we laughed.
"He doesn't even know she's not alive." I said.

I wanted to tell him.  I wanted to run after him and tell him that she is dead and this was more than the run of the mill birthday celebration.  I wanted to tell him I had been praying someone at Friendly's would pay our bill (I'm sorry if that sounds lame... when you're broke, you pray for lame things!) I wanted to tell him Thank you.

But he just walked off, no idea how much he just impacted our day, my heart... our faith... my kids belief in prayer and in how God answers it.  He has no idea that this was so bittersweet or that he was sent straight from God.

I just kept crying.... it's amazingly humbling to be Rachel's Mama.  To see how far and wide her little life has touched and to read over and over again the ways in which God has used her for his eternal purposes.  It's breath taking to know that people say her name, remember her, and aren't afraid to celebrate her with me, all while letting me miss her like crazy,  It's a true gift to be a part of every high and every single low that I have been since August 4, 2010.  But I have to admit, when I see things like that happen.... when I try to even count the number of times that people have PAID for our meals!!!!!  I am blown away.  And not because our meals get paid for, but because this stuff doesn't just happen all the time to everyone.  Maybe once in a while... but it happens ALL THE TIME to us and the only thing I can say is that God knows.  He knew when I prayed, that the man was going to do that.  He knew when he sent Donna here with $50 in gift cards on the 2nd and sent a $25 gift card to Matt at work that same day - He knew that those were going to be enough... but he also knew he was about to blow me out of the water with his provision!

One gift card would have been enough for me to feel like my prayers were answered... but just in case I ever doubted if he hears or cares... he sent a couple more, a girl named Rachel behind us, a birthday song for a 4 year old in front of us and a $50 bill tossed at us because it was a 'special day'.... all after we got lost and almost didn't make it to that Friendly's....

He is in control of every detail and when we ask, he will give us more than we could imagine.

After our ride back, by the time we got back to Dover and to Rachel's grave, I was extremely sick.  We didn't even finish decorating there and I had to have Matt bring me to the ER again.  Nothing was touching my headache and I was getting really ill.

I sat in the waiting room alone and I started to cry... I felt like my plans for the day hadn't been finished and I really just wanted to go home and decorate the tree with the kids and eat the caramel brownies and dairy free egg nog that awaited.  I wanted to light the fence (thankfully I had hung the lights the day before - again God's provision for my heart) and listen to Rachel's CD from her shower.  I felt so disappointed that my health had yet again gotten in my way of living....

But The day had been so beautiful and God was so gracious that I was able to ride it out knowing that He would take care of what my heart needed.  I told Matt and the kids to go home and finish Rachel's birthday plans and they agreed.  After a couple of hours they sent me on my way and a Facebook friend I didn't know came and picked me up and brought me home.  She walked in asking "What are you doing here on Rachel's birthday?!"  "I know!" So thankful for how many people know it was her big day.

When I arrived home, the tree stood waiting to be decorated - they wanted to do it with me.... and so we finished out the plans... minus the brownies and egg nog.

And at about 9:15, I laid down with Matt on the couch and we fell fast asleep together for the night.

I woke up this morning to a ton of birthday wishes from people who love me and Rachel all over my Facebook page and a bunch of text messages... everyone letting me know she is not forgotten.

And that's all I want.... for her to never be forgotten and for people to think of her and have thoughts of her lead to thoughts of God.  That's why I started writing 4 years ago.

I feel pretty confident that her precious life and all that has come about because of it will remain long after I'm gone.

It's been a long 4 years.  Today was the first day of year 5 and I felt more sad today then I did yesterday... but I'm okay.   It almost felt like today was the day after Christmas... I feel ready to move on from the season already, yet to most, it's just beginning... so now I prepare to spend another Christmas without her.  The first of the Christmas cards came today and I can see why in 2010 they put me over the edge... I'm just not ready for it.

But it's coming and I know God will hold my heart.  I know He'll provide.  I know He'll bring joy in the midst of my sorrow.  He always does.