Saturday, February 7, 2015

Gift Shop Puzzle

We went to my niece's birthday today at the Seacoast Science Center.  The kids were all busy, so I decided to take a peek in the gift shop.  I love gift shops, but it was an odd decision since I didn't have my wallet on me.

I was looking around when a little boy came up and practically tossed three puzzles at me.  I thanked him for being so generous and put them back on the shelf.  As I did, I noticed there was a heart made out of daisies on it.

That combined with the fact that it was a puzzle ("Always a piece missing") had my heart swelling with thoughts of Rachel.  Just as I put the last one back, this little boy threw his arms around me and wouldn't let go!

I heard his mom say "Aww... look, he's hugging her!" and I leaned in and hugged him back.  He said "Bye" and waved at me and they walked off.

I stood there in total awe.  I just had to tell them about Rachel.

So I followed them over and said "I feel like I should tell you this, although it feels odd to say... but my daughter Rachel died shortly after she was born and daisies are her flower... this year on her 4th birthday, I wore a shirt that had daisies in the shape of a heart that a friend gave me.  That puzzle over there, that your son just gave me, has the same thing..."  She followed me over to see and was in complete amazement when I told her "I feel like the hug your son just gave me was straight from heaven."

I wonder if that thought will stay with her.... I wonder if she will tell other people... I wonder if she knows how incredibly blessed she is to tuck him in tonight.... or how much I wish I could tuck Rachel in tonight....

If I had my wallet on me, I would have bought that puzzle for our next trip to Maine this fall.  But I didn't, so I took a picture.

I didn't know why I was in that gift shop.... I really had no good reason to be in there.  But I walked out of it with the biggest smile on my face and feeling like my girl was right there with me.  I walked out wanting to tell everyone about the hug I just received from a kid I would never see again and about the daisies in a heart shape on the puzzle.  I didn't though, because it was one of those times when words seemed inadequate.  They still do, yet somehow I think you guys will get me.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Be His Hands and Feet

I got a text from my friend Sarah, whose daughter Naomi is buried near Rachel with a picture of how high the snow was over the girls' graves.  I was trying to locate a cordless electric shovel (if one even exists!) to try to make it more doable... but nothing... then I put out a request on facebook asking for help shoveling it.... one friend said she would try to stop by.  So then we decided to drive our snow blower into our truck... This would be reason # 430 that I LOVE having a Suburban!  

When we got there, our friend Naomi who used to shovel Rachel's grave had already cleared her out a nice big spot... The cemetery was so backed up with snow everywhere that even the roads weren't good to drive on... but not Rachel's spot...  Felt like the old days when I would pull up each week and feel the relief of provision.  We had a couple other graves we wanted to help with, so we pulled the snow blower out and Matt got to work on those while I changed the decorations at Rachel's to our February theme:  Pink kissing ball and flowers we had at the hospital when she was born that also 'just happen' to be ones in our wedding.  Since we got married in February, I have put these on her grave each Feb since she died.  I also hang her hands in a heart flag that Lisa made for her.  I have a matching flag and kissing ball here too.

clearing a spot for my grandma to be able to get to her parents stone

clearing Naomi's spot down so you can see her name plate.

I had to bring boiling water to get her tree out which ruined the base I usually put it in :(
But it's out and her pink stuff is in so it's okay.  

Love - Protects, Trusts, Hopes, Perseveres.
Love Never Fails

I've told you about the man who visits his wife and daughter's grave every Friday...
Of course I knew bc I was always there too.  But when the snow is deep, he puts their roses
in the snow by the road bc he can't get to their spot.
So we make him a path...  And come to find out, he is a fellow brother in Christ
who is not physically able to do this himself.  He now leaves us cards at Rachel's grave.

We clean off his girls' spot and reposition all of the frozen roses because I used
to cry when I saw the extent to which people actually cared for Rachel's grave.  Naomi didn't just
do a quick shovel, she would shovel a huge spot and clear off her stone for me so it was perfect.
that's what I want to do for him.

Her coke bottle was still there, so I put it up in a snow bank for walkers to see.

Our work here is done.... and as morbid as this may sound, I think the fact that we spend so much special time together on these grounds, ministering to others and taking care of our spot will eventually be an amazing comfort when death does us part and one of us is under that same ground.  Not many people spend time together at their grave before the are separated by death... unless they share a plot with another family member.  I'm thankful for this, with both Matt and my kids.

So then because we apparently like to do snow removal... we stopped at my grandparents
and widened their walk way and cleaned off their porch... and left a little note in the snow.

It's important to me that I don't appear as though I'm sharing this stuff to tell you all about everything we do.  That is not it at all.  I share because as we are doing it, I am OVERWHELMED with thoughts of how many people did this for us and for how long.  I am totally enveloped in gratitude and thankfulness that just overflows into not just wanting to, but NEEDING to, do something similar for others.

I have no pictures for this one (I'm sure my friends thank me for this) but I have also recently paid forward a huge gift I was given through Rachel... my friend Dixie came and picked up our laundry every week for MONTHS. (until her washer died on her!) She brought it home and the next day returned it clean and folded.  It was such a huge blessing that now when I know someone is struggling, I immediately want to do their laundry.  This is totally from God, because quite frankly, I have a TON of laundry all by myself... and I actually can't stand doing it.  I do 2-3 loads a day just to keep up and that doesn't even take care of it all.  So when I offer to do 10 loads of laundry in a day for someone else, you can believe it's got nothing to do with me... and everything to do with the fact that God provided for me in this way and I want to comfort with the comfort I received.  And it feels awesome to do it!  But I can't take credit since it clearly wouldn't be MY idea!! lol.

So, my point is... well, two things... sometimes when people are in a rough place, we say a broad thing like "Let me know what you need"... and from my experience, it's really hard to pin point what you need when you are in that place... and even more awkward to actually say it.  My friends would have never asked me to take all their laundry home... and actually they both tried to talk me out of it!  It's hard to accept help.  So please, if someone needs help... be BOLD and offer something specific.  I texted my friend and said "Get your laundry bagged up bc I'm on my way over to get it."  And that is exactly what Dixie did for me.  If it's a dinner, call and say "Don't make dinner, it's on it's way."  if you wait for them to tell you something to do, it won't happen.

And the other thing I want to say is this... you have no idea how BIG your little act of kindness can be in someone's life.  You have no idea how long it will continue to affect people.  You have no idea what God will do with it, long after you are done with your service.  I know Dixie never thought I would carry on her blessing to others, but truth is, I would have never thought of it, if she hadn't done it for me!  And I would have never thought of it at the cemetery if Naomi & Brent hadn't done it for us.  But both are such huge and meaningful ways to minister to others, that seriously humble both the giver and receiver. 

So, who do you know that is struggling?  What simple thing can you do for them (without asking them if it's ok, bc they will likely say no to be polite!) ?  How would it make them feel?  Probably loved, provided for, humbled... How would it make you feel?   I'll leave that one for you to think about.  But I would love to hear what you chose to do as a way to minister to one of your loves this February.  Let's be the hands and feet of Jesus... not in words, but in deeds.

My journey with Rachel has shown me what it's like to be on the receiving end of that love... I had no idea how amazing it is to also be on the giving end of it until that love overflowed out of me and I can't help but desire to do things that will comfort others in the way I was comforted. 

God's plan for us to care for each other is a beautiful, simple, meaningful, and humbling picture of how He loves us.  So let's do it.  Are you in?