Monday, April 27, 2015

Facing My Giants

Where do I start... ?

A couple of weeks ago, on our Friday night family night, we watched Facing the Giants with the kids.  I had seen this movie a bunch of times before - but this time I cried through the ENTIRE movie.  The movie isn't about things going the way you want in the end... but more about allowing complete brokenness and desperation to draw you to love God FIRST.  Before wins, gains, success, or people's approval... and in spite of loss, failure and persecution.  And just really about loving God through the valley and praising him no matter what.  Of course it says it's about football and infertility, but the real story line is God - just like in real life.  You should watch it.

Last Tuesday, I was at Sam's pre-op appointment for his tonsils and there were quadruplet 5 year old boys in the waiting room.  I talked to the mom, who said she was surprised because they were completely natural and not because of fertility treatments.  As she told me about the ultrasound she had for them and how the tech got really odd on her, my mind went back to my ultrasound with Rachel.  She said she finally asked "Is my baby okay?"  I had asked the same thing with Rachel and got silence... but her tech said "Yes, I'm just trying to count them."  She told me of their shock and how she couldn't believe even still that it is real at times.  I could relate, in a different way.

I left that conversation at Sam's appointment, and was on my way to the store, I found myself lost in thought... I had thought about how the anniversary of my positive pregnancy test for Rachel was coming up - just 3 days away - and how if I was pregnant this month, I would have another Christmas baby.  I found myself thinking "I wonder if God will ever give me a Christmas baby I can keep..." and I glanced out my window at the car passing me and as it got in front of me I saw the license plate 4L3.  But all I really saw was the 43... and I just knew, one day.... I started laughing out loud.  Sam asked what was funny and I couldn't answer him, I was giddy, like a kid on his birthday. 

The next day, I saw an advertisement on the side of Facebook for mother's bracelets.  I have been wanting an updated one with E included... so I clicked on it and made a bracelet to see what it would look like and how much it would cost.  I added another December birthstone just for fun - and when I saw the total, I just knew....God is up to something.  ♥*Hi Rachel*♥
I love that I took this screen shot and you can see the date.

So, the next morning on April 16th, two days before I was even due (and the day before Rachel's test had been positive 5 years ago), I saw two pink lines on a home pregnancy test again.  And my heart immediately swelled with love for this little life inside of me.  I didn't even think twice, I was just plain excited. 

Suddenly crying through the old movie made sense.... hormones already in effect!

I went to the dr that day for my cold and they gave me a test and got a negative on theirs. So they sent me for blood work which confirmed that I am with child ♥   I made my first prenatal appointment and the first available they had was for 4/30. ♥*Hi Rachel*♥

That was 11 days ago and we still feel like its not real.  But we are so excited.  Our kids are more than excited. I feel so unbelievably blessed and undeserving of the title of Mama to all these sweet babies.  I feel humbled at the idea that God trusts me with them.  I feel overwhelmed at the task of raising them to be followers of our Lord when I fail so very often and struggle with sin daily.  But mostly, I feel constantly awed by the truth that God is enough.  He is enough for us financially, emotionally, spiritually, physically.  He is enough and He is always good and there are no mistakes in His world.  This baby has a beautiful purpose.

So, as with the last two babies, I have felt the need to cautiously tell people or not tell them altogether.... because most think we have enough kids already or that with Rachel having anencephaly and my health this past year, another baby just isn't worth the risk.  Others think that you need to give each child their own room, sign them up for every activity available, and be able to pay their way through college or else you shouldn't have them.  Some think I'm too old.  Some think our house is too small.  Some think it's not fair to the kids we already have.  Everyone has an opinion.  I have mine too.  And while mine don't line up with most of that, I am still sensitive to other's words - and also saddened that people would look at a child of mine as a bad choice or a hindrance to our lives, or our children's lives... or extended family members' lives... because they are anything but.  They are a gift from God and the only (yet biggest) gift that so many people look at like a death sentence.  I wish more people believed what the Bible says about children, which is that they are a blessing and a reason to rejoice.  And if you don't buy that one, how about the call to rejoice with those who rejoice!?

That day on the way home from the store, I heard a song on the radio.  The Voice of Truth.  I tried to sing along, but my voice was not working at all because of a cold I had.  As I tried to use my voice, and couldn't, and listened to the words "The Voice of Truth tells me a different story, the Voice of Truth says do not be afraid.  And the Voice of Truth says this is for My glory,  out of all the voices calling out to me, I will choose to listen and believe the Voice of Truth."  Tears started to fall....

Later, I played the song for Matt on You tube and I was telling him that I had heard it earlier and how it was speaking to me about this baby and he said "When I went out tonight, I heard that song too... and right after it was Word of God Speak."  (Which as most of you know, is the song that played when Rachel was born).  Both of us hearing the same song at different times in the same day, just by 'chance' because we had to run out randomly for things, and him hearing Rachel's song too, really felt like God was confirming His hand in it all and reminding me....

It's not about me.  It's not even about my children.  It's not about if they live.  It's not about if they die.  It's got absolutely NOTHING to do with what anyone thinks about the Aubes growing by another person... or burying another person.  It's not about if I die giving birth.  Every single thing that we do and the only reason we live is for HIS glory.  And I'm not trying to sound careless or like we are being unwise and expecting God to catch us if it all blows up - but rather to tell you that God Himself has created this baby and He HIMSELF will write the story for baby and for us and that He has confirmed in a hundred ways these last couple of weeks that this is His plan.  I'm telling you this to say that we TRUST Him.  And that no matter what happens, we will live for His glory - we will proclaim that HE IS GOOD.  We will praise Him.  And for me, in this, this means facing MY giants in the midst of it all...

Because my "giants" grew by hundreds of feet the day I heard the word Anencephaly.  Fear. Death. Loss. Pain. Disappointment.  I'm scared of them.  I am afraid of feeling even an inkling of the pain I felt carrying Rachel and waiting for her to die.  I'd rather die myself than to feel even a portion of what it felt like to leave her in the cemetery and wait for milk to dry up for my baby who would never nurse.  But I have a new set of giants that stem from my health issues... physical pain, medical emergencies, my kids living without a mom and all that would mean for them... but the more I try to hold onto and protect my own life, the more the fear steals from me.  It's only when I truly surrender myself to my Lord that I am ever truly content and at peace.

My giants are nothing compared to the strength God gives me in my times of need.  Nor are they anything compared to His provision and faithfulness.  Today, I am choosing to listen and believe the Voice of Truth.  My God doesn't ask me to face anything without Him.  David would not have defeated Goliath on his own.  The power of the Lord was with him.  And that same power is in me.  The same power that enabled me to survive what I did with Rachel.  I am never on my own and He has already won my battles.  I can face my giants with confident hope that God has victory, no matter what.

The first couple of days, I was in fear because my naturopath has had me off of my folate this month.  I have been completely off of  the very thing doctors say I need to ensure my baby doesn't have anencephaly.  In my head, I was trying to figure out how I would rearrange our headstone to include another name.... I started to think What if the words "This is for my glory" in the song are him preparing me to glorify Him through another anencephaly journey? 

That next day, a couple of different people sent me this picture....

That would be a "quadruplet rainbow" as the headline called it.  Now, I'm not saying I think I am having quadruplets... lol.. I'm saying it felt like God was saying that my ultrasound would be more like the mom at the dr's office that day... It brought the week into a full circle of God's voice in my life... I won't flood the earth again, He spoke to my heart.  Since Rachel, rainbows have had a way of appearing at the craziest and clearly God-given times... like right after we finished her playground.  But until this week, I always saw them as God saying to me "No matter what happens, I am with you!"  I know Biblically the rainbow is a picture of his promise to never flood the earth again, but I know all too well that as a believer we are not saved from trials, but rather held through them.  But right now, I am standing on his promise to not flood my earth again.

This baby's days are already written - and so the only thing worse than saying goodbye too soon is missing the chance to celebrate life while it's here.  Technically I could sit in fear every day that one of my other kids will die suddenly or that I won't be able to provide for them everything they desire.  But I don't because I trust God in all things.... I choose to trust Him even in this scariest aspect of my life - my babies - and the possibility of painfully losing another.  I choose to believe He has my best in mind and hope that it is that I get to keep this Christmas baby.... but trusting that if He does differently, He knows more than I do.

 And then comes the real question... the question that the Facing the Giants movie had it's story based around...if it's not okay...if this doesn't end in the way I would ask or want...will I still love God?   Will I still praise Him? And the unwavering answer is YES.  And I think most people who know me, know that to be true after watching me lose and grieve Rachel.  I could never turn my back on or be unfaithful to my God who has been more to me than I have ever deserved. My God who has always been everything I need and more.  Who has made beauty from my ashes and brought life out of death.  I wouldn't think of it because I need him more than I need anything else on the face of the planet.

Do we love God no matter what?  Or just when life goes how we hope?  Rachel taught me the better part... the resting in God part... the falling on my face in despair and need for God - and the closeness of Him to the brokenhearted.. the blessings from Him when he makes himself real to us.  No matter how the story ends.... She also showed me His goodness like I never knew before her.

I decided that a cute announcement was in order, so I Googled "pregnancy announcement ideas for Christmas baby" and the first article to come up was "How to Avoid A Christmas baby".  I clicked on it, just out of curiosity and it said "If you get pregnant on 4/3, you will be due on Christmas day."  ♥*Hi Rachel*♥ 

I guess I never realized that Rachel's life went from Easter to Christmas - or that a conception on 4/3 would give you a 12/25 due date - but now that I see it, I'm all the more certain how perfectly timed she was right between my two most favorite days of the year... and I'm thankful for another chance at the pregnancy dates that Google obviously has had people looking to avoid.  After Rachel died, I would have given anything to have a Christmas baby with me.  I pray this is God's way of answering the desires of my heart... desires that my earthly self never had until His Spirit taught me about what *really* matters through the death of my little Christmas girl. 
the announcement I made... featuring Rachel's little feet and
a new pair of booties and a 2nd E ♥

This baby will be called "Baby E2" (as in E the 2nd) for now since we need only one more E name to finish off spelling "DESIRAE" with the first letter of all of our children's names.  We do have a girl and boy name already picked, but of course subject to change.  We picked and agreed on them the first day though, so that's pretty impressive! lol.  They both have significant meaning to us so it would be hard to sell a different idea, but we are still tossing ideas around and open to suggestions for E names if you have them ;)

So there you have it... we have another little Aube on the way and we are so thankful.  We thoroughly appreciate every encouraging and positive response we get.  Thank you to all who are excited for us.  Please keep us in your prayers as we venture through the days ahead!  What an amazing journey we're on.... 

Voice of Truth by Casting Crowns
Oh what I would do to have
The kind of faith it takes
To climb out of this boat I'm in
Onto the crashing waves
To step out of my comfort zone
Into the realm of the unknown where Jesus is
And He's holding out His hand

But the waves are calling out my name
And they laugh at me
Reminding me of all the times
I've tried before and failed
The waves they keep on telling me
Time and time again. "Boy, you'll never win!"
"You'll never win!"

But the voice of truth tells me a different story
The voice of truth says, "Do not be afraid!"
The voice of truth says, "This is for My glory"
Out of all the voices calling out to me
I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth

Oh what I would do to have
The kind of strength it takes to stand before a giant
With just a sling and a stone
Surrounded by the sound of a thousand warriors
Shaking in their armor
Wishing they'd have had the strength to stand

But the giant's calling out my name
And he laughs at me
Reminding me of all the times
I've tried before and failed
The giant keeps on telling me
Time and time again. "Boy you'll never win!"
"You'll never win!"

But the stone was just the right size
To put the giant on the ground
And the waves they don't seem so high
From on top of them lookin' down
I will soar with the wings of eagles
When I stop and listen to the sound of Jesus
Singing over me
I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth

Here is the song... the verses throughout are perfect, too!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Sunday is Coming

Yesterday was insanely overflowing with God's love.

It was Good Friday, 4/3.  We know how I feel about Fridays and 43's...

It was also 4 years, 3 months, 4 weeks and 3 days since Rachel came and went. 

I had an appointment for Asa in Dover and they scheduled it for 11:10.  The time Rachel died.

I went to Rachel's grave to decorate for Good Friday and Easter and when I left, I got two texts within a few minutes of each other that friends were either thinking about going there - or already there.  She was on people's minds ♥  I love that.

Wish Matt was in this one... the boys are sitting on Tupperware I had in my truck
because the ground is really wet still.  Love these guys so much.
My friend Mel sent me a text after she went to visit with the temp her phone had on it... 43 degrees of course... only strange part was it *wasn't* 43 degrees out anymore!  It was the warmest day of the year and actually got up to 69 in the afternoon at my house.  Because my boys are crazy, I then found them running around in the snow barefoot and Isaiah had shorts on and was begging me to use the sprinkler... we are all ready for some warm weather around here!!

I had Sam's OT apt as well - OT has been helping him a TON and been a huge blessing from God.  I don't even know how I ended up there with him (a mis-diagnosis of Tourette's!) but it's been the only thing that has helped him at all - and the insurance code for his visits is 430.

This number game God gave us all day not only gave us both the opportunity to share with people at stores and while Matt was working about Rachel and how God is with us, but it also served as an amazing reminder that her life went exactly how it was supposed to.

God knew this day over 4 years later would line up like this.  He knew I'd notice.  And the only reason I noticed was because I have the ticker on my blog that counts days, weeks, months and years and I was on my blog the night before.  Otherwise I wouldn't have noticed because once Friday came, it changed the counter to 4 weeks since it counts from that first Friday.  But the night before it said this...

I had so many days of sadness that she didn't live longer.  I wanted to bring her home in the worst way.  I wanted her to prove people wrong - to be more 'compatible with life' than they gave her credit for... But God knew all along that He was going to show His faithfulness in a million little ways with that time span between 10:27 and 11:10.  A minute more or a minute less and none of this would have added up today.  It doesn't make it hurt less that she is gone, but it does continue to help me trust Him through it all.  It overwhelms me with the thought of "who am I that He is mindful of me...?" (Psalm 8:4) 

I started getting letters from the hospital weeks ago saying the kids' genetic testing wasn't covered by insurance... 5 nice bills were waiting for my payment. I called this week to start the appeal process and when I got a call back on Friday, the woman from Frisbie said "Insurance doesn't cover those tests, but we're going to go ahead and take care of that for you so you can throw those away." Stunned, I asked what I had to do and she said nothing. No application for assistance, no special request, send no payment... the debt was just wiped clean. You can imagine how thankful I was. They didn't have to do that for me and I technically owed the money, even if it didn't make sense I had to pay it.... all it took was me acknowledging my need for and requesting their help.

 Now pause for a moment and think about the debt Jesus paid for me... every one of my sins wiped clean on a debt I could never pay myself. I did nothing to earn the favor, just acknowledged my need and requested His help. He paid it ALL.
This Truth can be yours, too.

I'm not sure I've ever explained the crosses I had put on Rachel's stone.  We got the three crosses that represent the cross Jesus and the two thieves hung on, on that Friday all those years ago...  Actually, I saw the crosses on a picture frame my friend Melissa had with her baby girl Amelia in it and used that to show the memorial company what I was hoping for.  Our girls both had anencephaly and she was one of my best friends through those hardest days.  When I look at the crosses on our stone, I always think of Amelia too. ♥ 

The reason I wanted the three crosses is because when Jesus hung on the cross, He asked God the Father why He had forsaken him and just before He died, He cried out "It is Finished".  Those crosses are a constant reminder that Friday was hard, but Sunday is coming... He has victory over death and we will see her again in paradise.

As I stood on that ground every Friday for over 3 years straight, enveloped in the pain of death, I was always encouraged by the truth that this is not the end for those who die in Christ.  Surrendering the pain to him and in him was the biggest faith builder I have ever experienced.  Not that things turned out how I wanted, but that I learned how close and good He is to me in the deepest valleys.

Which brings me to our Good Friday service at church... it was such a sweet time of worship and I was humbled in gratitude of all that Christ did for me so that I don't have to ever die.  I got really sad thinking about all the people I love who don't know Him.  I swear, it's like having survivor's guilt.  Why me and not them?  It's not like I deserve it or even went searching for it... for Him... He came and got me... when will He go get them?  What if He doesn't?  It puts a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes even thinking about it.... 

Every year at this time we remember the cross and celebrate the resurrection - but this year I am seriously overwhelmed by it all.  Like, completely broken over Christ's death and His suffering - and knowing he did it for *me* - as in for every sin I ever committed before knowing him - the horrible things I did... all of it - and since knowing him... and for the rest of my life...  knowing that I still mess up every single day in so many ways - externally and internally.  And He loves me?  And enough to speak to me in such an intricate way that He lines up numbers and sends me people and writes of financial debt... all if only to just give me a *glimpse* of what He has truly done for me.

wow.  sigh.

"Amazing Grace, how can it be, that You, my King, would die for me? Amazing Love, I know it's true - and it's my joy to honor You, in all I do... let me honor You."

I hope you all have an amazing Easter - and if you don't know the Lord, I pray that this Easter you would allow him to enter into your brokenness and let him be your God.   We all have 'Fridays' - days that are more than we can handle alone.  But when the Fridays bring pain-filled questions, where do you get your answers and to who or what do you set your eyes on?  Let it be Jesus and you will never regret it.

Fridays are hard, but Sunday is coming.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

I Stand Amazed

Update on my scan... my aneurysm hasn't had changed, so that's good.  I'm going to get my record to lay eyes on the actual report to make sure they are giving me the whole story - since in my experience they like to leave out things that they don't think I need to 'worry about'... but for now, it's good news.  I don't have to have another scan for a year.  My only restrictions are to be careful lifting and not to get emotionally upset... good luck with that with 6 children...

I went for my stress test this week and it was frustrating because they neglected to tell me I was supposed to hold my blood pressure meds.  I wondered, but figured they would have told me if it was needed and I didn't call.  This is why I always second guess them.  So they told me I'd have to come back.  That is going to happen in a couple of weeks. 

The nurse brought me back and she was having trouble getting my blood pressure.  She put the cuff down and started listening for my pulse and said she was having trouble hearing it so she started to feel for it.  She looked up at me with a curious look and said "You look familiar."  I just smiled and shrugged and she said "I'll figure it out, but first let me figure this out" referring to my pulse.  "Yeah, let's see if I'm alive" I joked.  She said "I know you're alive because you are pink and talking to me... I'm just not able to feel your pulse."  I pointed to my tattoo and told her I have "Alive" written over where you feel for a pulse as a memorial for my daughter.  "Rachel's Legacy!!" she shouted.  "I knew it would come to me!  I ran in the race you do a couple years ago."  She moved her hand down to my wrist and there she was able to feel the beat of my heart. ♥  Hi Rachel! ♥

I blogged about this a couple years ago, but if you haven't seen that, here's as
short as I can make the explanation of what this means to me...
The middle of dandelion is a broken heart made out of a 43 and
it says "Alive" in the (bleeding heart shaped) flower bulb.  Even though
she is under the ground, she is ALIVE in every beat of my bleeding heart - and she continues
to bloom here on earth and spread seeds of hope with how her 43 minutes impacted my heart
and the hearts of those who came to know her through me ♥
Well, that was worth the trip alone...  she found my pulse and then told me we had to reschedule - but we had a conversation about the race.  She told me about her brother dying in his teens from bone cancer and how she did a golf tournament for him and she understands how hard it is to put stuff like that on.  But then she said "The hardest part about my brother dying was watching my parents lose their son."

It made my heart sink in my chest.  I can't imagine... I can, but I can't.  I know you can't compare apples and oranges, but I know how painful losing my baby who I didn't spend every day of 19 years with.  I can only imagine how much you miss a child and how that hurts when you spend your life getting to know and love them and they are a part of your every day - and then you watch them go through something like cancer or a heart problem or addiction - and after a long hard road, you have to say goodbye. 

At times I wonder why God makes the mother to child bond so deep and then allows us to suffer such pain in being separated.  To give us the deep need to nurture our children and then make it so we can't.

I can't speak for every situation, but I know in my life, He has used this to draw me to himself... to prove my faith genuine... to teach me trust... to give me a longing for heaven I never had... to show me how He loves me...  He used Rachel to remove my pride, my ego, my false sense of control.  Not that those things don't crop up, but I have been shown so much truth about myself and my need for God and how good He is even when I fail that I don't often find myself feeling better than anyone anymore.  I used to think I had it all together.  I used to feel like I knew the answers to so many questions.  I used to push my strong opinions on others and when I didn't, I was probably holding back because like I said, I knew everything.  Just ask me and I could tell you.  I used to do all those things and they always left me wanting.  I always wished I was different.  But now I actually am.

I don't pretend for a minute that that makes it worth it to me to bury Rachel.  I'm not saying that it means I think this is a great idea.  I'm not even saying that it then applies to everyone who loses a child.  It doesn't.  I'm just saying that in the end, Rachel - being exactly who she was for exactly as long as she was and for exactly what her legacy is - has been an amazing gift to me from God.  She has been my deepest valley and brought me the darkest nights.

But in order for there to be light, it needs to invade dark spaces.

I didn't see my life as dark.  But now that the light of those Truths shine on it, I know I was not filled then.  My life looked a lot neater on the outside, but God did me a favor when He removed all that 'security' and taught me that He is enough.  He is enough.  He IS enough.  In the good, bad, the ugly.  In the mess - even ones I create myself.  I'm so thankful that He loves me and calls me His.  I can't believe He calls me His.

He is the reason my heart beats at all.  He is the reason I'm alive.... she's alive... and the reason I am blessed to be able to nod my head when someone says "Rachel's Legacy!" and I can proudly agree that "That's my girl".  He is the reason I am made uncomfortable time and time again as some random stranger tells me they know about Rachel... that they follow my blog... that they know me - and that maybe - if only through me being willing to share so much of my heart in such a scary way - I've helped them to know HIM.  And somehow, in ways I could have never seen coming, He has done all of this in the middle of complete, utter, brokenness with a wretch of a sinner who never deserved any of it.

And in that, I stand amazed.

I stand amazed in the presence
of Jesus the Nazarene,
and wonder how he could love me,
a sinner, condemned, unclean.

 For me it was in the garden
he prayed: "Not my will, but Thine."
He had no tears for his own griefs,
but sweat-drops of blood for mine.

In pity angels beheld him,
and came from the world of light
to comfort him in the sorrows
he bore for my soul that night.

He took my sins and my sorrows,
he made them his very own;
he bore the burden to Calvary,
and suffered and died alone.

When with the ransomed in glory
his face I at last shall see,
'twill be my joy through the ages
to sing of his love for me.
 How marvelous! How wonderful!
And my song shall ever be:
How marvelous! How wonderful
is my Savior's love for me!