Friday, April 30, 2010

Lydia Eileen

For those of you who follow my blog and as a result follow the blog Lydia Eileen I wanted to ask for prayer for Jen and Micah as they had to say goodbye to their little girl on Wednesday morning.

Lydia went to be with Jesus peacefully and very much loved.

These moments have no words. Many of us know exactly what they are feeling however. Please cover them in your prayers.

Micah and Jen,

If you are reading this know that you are being upheld by the prayers of people all over the world who love you and your Lydia and were changed by her life. Also know that you are not alone although it may feel that way at times.

I pray that, somehow, in the midst of all your tears, you experience God's true comfort in unmistakable ways. I also pray that you get restful sleep and that people come out of the woodwork to help you by cleaning your house, cooking your meals, and giving you a break from the daily demands of life while you endure this season.

I am so sorry. I'd give her back if I could. My heart is broken for you. But I promise, it won't always hurt this much. Don't lose hope. God will continue the good work he began the moment Lydia was conceived. Her life was clearly invaluable. And not just to you but to countless others who you may never meet who are forever transformed because she lived. Her life lead all of us to the cross through your words on your blog and the faithfulness you have shown.

I will never forget her. I love you friends.

In Christ,
Rachel

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

So Blessed

I am sitting here by myself. My husband is in the desert all week flying. It is just Dustin and me and the dog.

Its late. The house is quiet. I'm just winding down before bed. And my baby is kicking in my belly like crazy!

He relentlessly moves. Day and night! He never gives me a break. And he moves most when I am resting or trying to sleep. He certainly likes to remind me of his presence (as if I could forget).

But I love it.

Even when it keeps me up at night. And even when it annoys me. These moments are not to be taken for granted.

I am so blessed.

Especially given what today is.

I am so amazingly blessed.

24 Weeks 4 Days

I am 24 weeks and 4 days pregnant today, Tuesday, April 20th, 2010.

Aubrey and Ellie were born at 24 weeks and 4 days also on a Tuesday. Tuesday, June 24th, 2008.

Today is a strange anniversary of sorts.

I have been counting down the days until today, holding my breath the entire time I think. Since I found out I was pregnant I have been hypersensitive to each day of this pregnancy, knowing too well that my new little guy needs more time, enough time.

24 weeks and 4 days just isn't enough.

Every night I prayed for enough time. Every night I prayed for more than 24 weeks and 4 days. Every night I prayed to get through today...

Today is a gift. As is every day after it. Every hour. Every minute. It is all one vital moment closer to enough time.

So why am I still holding my breath?

Today I woke up convinced it would be a turning point but it wasn't. I didn't feel better. Getting to today was not the magic cure all I hoped it would be. Honestly I have more anxiety than ever.

Why?

Because I don't just want one more day. I want ALL the days, every single day my baby needs to be healthy and safe and alive.

I want to bring this baby home.

He needs the days but I need them too. Sometimes I think I need them more.

Fear is such a battle. Daily I ask myself where to draw the line. How far will I let my fear take me? It starts with holding my breath through my entire pregnancy but it won't end when the baby is born. The fear will spill over . I will bring my son home and hold my breath for the first year of his life worried that he might die in his sleep or choke on something. And I'll cry in my prayers every night asking God to keep him safe for just one more day. The thought of losing him will overwhelm my life and I will never have peace...I will spend all the precious days of his life holding my breath...

Unless I choose to breathe.

How life goes, if and when things workout, and all the happy endings DO NOT cure the fear. Fear is choice. Which means letting go of fear is a choice too.

Why is it so hard?

I have to be honest. I don't consider myself a paranoid type of person. But after Aubrey and Ellie died I became afraid for the first time in my life...not afraid of death or loss, but afraid of pain. I never hurt like that before. I can't even explain it. And the thought of feeling that agony again, of having to live though the loss of another child, is my worst fear...one I have felt twice already in my lifetime and pray to God I NEVER have to feel again.

I have said out loud many times to others that I trust God no matter what. I don't want to lose this baby but if I do I trust God to get me through it just like he did before (I know all the right things to say to put others at ease) but inside I feel my stomach turn in knots when I hear those words come out of my mouth. Inside I beg God not to let that happen. Inside I know how it would destroy me.

I know the difference between an intellectual understanding of God's word and an experiential understanding, I have walked out my faith through times of real suffering. I trust God's word. I trust His ways and I trust His love, but I still fear the pain.

I simply don't think I could bare it again.

My struggle these days isn't with my faith, but with myself. For some reason I am choosing fear when I don't have to. When I don't even want to. I don't understand myself sometimes. Pain can trigger bad habits I think, habits we have to purposefully choose to change or risk letting them run our lives. Habits we know are not good for us, yet we allow anyway. Habits that rob us of the peace and joy right in front of us. Habits that harm us.

Today did not turn out to be a repeat of the past after all. My fears did not come true. As a matter of fact, today my prayer was answered.

My hope came true, not my fear.

Two years ago, 24 weeks and 4 days was my worst nightmare, the day my world came crumbling down on me. But today, 24 weeks and 4 days is my gift, my miracle, my reason not to fear.

For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, do not fear; I will help you. Isa 41:13 NIV

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Before and After


This is my son Dustin. I just LOVE this picture. My sister-in-law took it. She is quite talented as you can see. Dustin is 15 months old here. He is 4 years old now. I forgot about those chubby knees. I forgot how cute he was. I miss those days.

When I look at this picture a flood of memories come rushing back. Just weeks before I watched my husband get on a ship bound for Iraq not to return for at least 6 months (which became 8 months) and packed everything we owned in storage and moved to my parent's house with my son. We would wait out the separation there.

It was me and Dustin against the world, mom and son making the most of dad's time away. And make the most of it we did.

We took walks daily and went to the park regularly. We went to the farmer's market every Saturday morning where Dustin ate strawberries, green tops and all. Occasionally we fell asleep together for afternoon naps and practiced holding our breath in my parent's pool. Daily we used baby sign language, read books, stacked blocks, and sung songs. We even hopped a red-eye or two and had a few adventures sleeping on couches and seeing friends and family in other cities and states.

It was our special time. Just him and I.

What you can't see hidden in the story of that photo are the lonely nights, tears, and unexpected hardships that befall temporary single motherhood. I worried a lot during those months. My husband was not on vacation, he was in Iraq, fighting a war. I just wanted him home safely. I was also very lonely during that time. Putting Dustin to bed at night wasn't as much of a break from a long day chasing a toddler as it was a reminder that I was alone. It would get too quiet sometimes and I missed having a warm body to curl up to in bed at night. Sometimes I would let Dustin sleep in my bed with me just to distract myself from my loneliness. It was tough to take care of my son by myself for eight months, I had regular moments of frustration and exhaustion, but none of them compared to the loneliness of all those quiet nights.

My grandfather also died that summer, and I didn't know it then, but he would be the first of a string of losses in my life.

Harder days were ahead.

This picture represents the life I miss. When my hardest days were a temporary adjustment to a situation with a certain end. When the most exhausting thing in my life was a chubby-kneed little toddler who brought me more joy than I could measure. When I could count down the days until we were all together again...

Today when I see this picture I not only see the life that was, but the life that will never be.

I should have another picture of chubby knees, two sets from the cutest identical twins you ever saw.

But I had to let that picture go when I let them go. Along with a thousand other pictures that will never be.

This picture makes me smile. I see my favorite little boy in the world during a very special time in our lives. I see my old life.

But it also makes me a little sad. I see in it life before...

before loss
before grief
before Aubrey and Ellie

It is bittersweet.

Bittersweet in the most precious way imaginable though.

As I write this, the little boy in my belly is kicking away...I am already impressed with his fiery little personality. He likes his presence known. And I like him. I deeply hope to have a chubby-knee picture of him someday.

And when I look at it I will be reminded not of before, but of after.

God is so gracious to provide us with an after.

What is your after?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Letting Go

My grandmother died one week ago.

I didn't post about it. Only because I was not sure what to say.

I am still not sure what to say.

She had been sick for a long time so it was not unexpected that she passed away. It was a blessing to tell you the truth. I have not enjoyed watching my grandparents get sick and waste away. First it was my grandad three years ago. Then my grandma in March.

There comes a point when watching some one you love suffer becomes too much. I find myself unsure even how to pray, begging only for God's mercy and grace in whatever form he deems necessary.

Restoration through death is God's ultimate healing gift.

It is only painful for those of us left behind.

So watching my grandma lay in bed too weak to even speak, I felt myself letting go. She was better off with the Lord. I knew it. We all knew it. But we each had to let go on our own.

I couldn't let go for all of us.

I can only imagine what my dad is going through losing his last remaining parent. I dread the day I have to say goodbye to my own parents as I know it will break my heart.

But although I don't know the grief of losing a parent, I am no stranger to grief. I think that is why I find myself so accepting of my grandmother's passing. It makes sense. And it was inevitable in my lifetime. Just as it is inevitable that I will someday bury by own parents. That is the way it ought to go God willing. That is the natural order of things.

But I was not supposed to bury my own children.

Letting go of Aubrey and Ellie was not something I did rationally sitting at their bedside, worried and tired of watching them suffer. I wanted to fight for them. I wanted to never give up. I wanted to hold out for a miracle. I wanted them to live.

Everyone around me saw what my girls needed. I could see in their eyes that hope was fading. But I just couldn't let go.

Even as we removed them from life support. Even as I held them in my arms and gave them my blessing to go. Even as I watched them fade away...

I just couldn't let go.

At their funeral I remember feeling like I really wasn't there. There was no way my two babies were in that casket. And the truth of God's grace restoring their tiny little bodies in heaven did not comfort me.

I just could not let go.

It took a year and a half and a new pregnancy, the perfectly timed gift of a tiny little boy, for me to finally let go. I wanted so badly to see twin girls on that ultrasound screen. But I saw just one baby. And later I learned that baby was a boy. I don't know why I thought it might be them. Aubrey and Ellie were not going to return to me.

It was time to let them go.

It was time to accept that my greatest loss was their greatest gain and trust that God did what was best for them despite what it cost me. God saw past my tears and fears and intervened on their behalf. He choose them when I didn't know what choice to make, when the best choice felt like the worst one, when letting go seemed simply impossible to do.

I guess that is why letting go of my grandma came so easily. I have had a lot of practice.

I hold on to temporal things much more loosely these days and instead hold tightly to the hope that we will all be united again in the arms of our Heavenly Father.

I miss my grandma. I am sad she is not with us. But I rejoice in her restoration. And I can't help but be a little jealous that she is with my girls.

Because I miss them most of all.
 
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