b l o o m

“12 years ago this Christmas eve, my wife’s brother went into the hospital. January 16th, he went home. But not his earthly home. For months, my wife cried herself to sleep. Their incredible parents experienced something no parent ever should. Time doesn’t heal all wounds, time with God’s presence heals all wounds. So many lives were impacted by this man, his life and his passing. I’ve never known another death to make more of an impact…

…I asked my wife now, 12 years later, ‘If you had to lose all the good, but you had your brother back, would you have him back?”

The entire congregation sat in silence as we awaited the answer she gave our pastor.

“Without hesitation, she says, ‘I’d never want to go through that again, I’d never choose it again. But under no circumstances would I want him back after all the good that I saw God do through it.’ The very worst nightmare in her life, she wouldn’t change because she saw how God used it.”

This was the Sunday before Christmas, one I won’t soon forget. It knocked me off balance. It caught me off guard. The title of the sermon was actually called “When God Seems Uncooperative”. (Click to watch)

You see, I was recovering from an apparent sinus infection, it was tempting to skip church that morning and opt for my cozy, warm bed. But something was tugging at me to pull it together and be there.

By the end, I could hardly hold it together. For some reason, on this day, each point he made hit incredibly close to my heart.

I felt overwhelmed and understood. This wise man literally put into words so many of the things we felt and thought throughout Audrey’s short life. I have learned to seek the joy in her life…her story. I wouldn’t choose it again, but He used her in such beautiful ways.

I wept in the church lobby, completely embraced by my loving husband. We didn’t even have to speak. And then, I just couldn’t turn it off. It had been so long since I cried for her…I didn’t think that was still in me. I have felt so balanced and have moved into a place of peace, but this day reminded me that it never, ever goes away. Nor would I want it to. She was real, she was alive in my belly and, miraculously, in my arms. She will always be our daughter.

I couldn’t stay in the house, I would have crawled into bed with my Audrey Bunny and just cried. So, I decided to be productive and left for Target. I should have known this trip would be different. It was everything I never expected and everything I absolutely needed. I started in by filling my cart with produce, moving to the inside aisles that the Devil himself put there. The bread, cereal, crackers…the most delicious of the groceries! Not two aisles in, I turned and my dear Amy met my eyes and once again, I found myself in the loving embrace of someone I love while tears fell. Of course, she just got it…because she misses Audrey too. While I was a complete mess, Audrey’s nurse and someone who has become precious to me, Kim, turned the corner with her husband and brand new baby boy! We chatted, I met these two important gentlemen in her life, hugged and went about our shopping trips. I nearly entered the baking aisle (judge not, I beg you) when I looked to my left and Sarah was strolling toward me. I told her about this day and she listened to each messy detail and helped bring such a calm over me, in a way that only she can.

It was no accident that these women were there at such a time, perfectly placed. The sermon, seeing the girls, talking to Chris, to my parents and to Carrie…it all just beautifully reminded me that she still lives in all of us. These moments may not come as often as the years pass, but just like the scar where they separated her from me, she is always there.

And I know my emotions were heightened for one reason in particular.

An itty bitty baby girl is blooming within me. 

BabyGirl

A new life has begun…her own story is unfolding. As we wait, hope and expect this baby, I find myself trying to balance out…well, everything.

We wait to learn more about her as her body grows and reveals itself to us and to doctors.

We hope that she will develop in a healthy manner, and thus far, she has.

We expect her to arrive in June.

Sometimes it is hard to think of Audrey and her baby sister at the same time. Sometimes I feel undeserving. Sometimes I feel guilty. Sometimes I feel scared. Sometimes I feel elated. Sometimes I feel hopeful. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed with joy.

But I always feel blessed. I always feel love.

I want so badly to shout out that having this baby doesn’t mean that Audrey wasn’t enough. Or when people ask if I have any other kids other than the one I’m growing, I want them to know that this is my third child.

When Cooper asked innocently and logically, “Mama, will we get to keep this one?” You can imagine…I felt all the feels.

I hope so buddy. Can you help us pray that this baby is healthy and will come home with us?

Because how do you reassure a boy who had a baby sister die that this one won’t? He’ll be almost six when she arrives and I just know he will be incredibly helpful, independent and protective.

bloom2

Each of my three children has a story written of their own. No matter how long each one is, it is important. It is valuable. From my healthy, happy five-year-old, and my princess in Heaven, to the rainbow baby taking up residence in my womb…I’m so adoringly in love with them all. I get to tell Cooper this every day, perhaps I should say it more. I don’t get to show or tell Audrey how deep my love is for her anymore. And I’m desperately begging God that the new baby will grow up to know my love.

So we begin 2016 in bloom.  

In other news, I wanted to take a moment to share an incredible update about Wings for Audrey.

In January of 2015, the fund was at $45,672.

Today, exactly one year later…I am humbled to type this number…

$89,170

Wrap your brain around that for a moment. Think of how many people have made this a priority in their lives to be so close to the finish line in just 16 short months.

It’s close. It’s so close, the Foundation is ready to start finalizing the paperwork and solidify how exactly the program will work. We are thinking and praying about this often. Ultimately, we want this to make a difference and an impact all in honor of Audrey. And it will. We need just over $10,000 to make it a reality. And it’s coming…I just know it.

Thank you, from the very depths of my heart, for reading this. It means you care, and for that, I’m humbled and grateful. You’ve been there, on the other side of your screen, through so much. You are helping keep Audrey’s story alive, and this is priceless.

Until I write again…love + hugs,

R

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18 thoughts on “b l o o m

  1. Moved by your post, I begin to type without thinking… The tug to church- the sermon- the testimony underlining that the glory of God while experiencing earthly pain shines and warms us, assures us and beckons us- inexplicably yet as real as the sun….and your stretcher bearers being on your path….His love is amazing and practical and incomprehensible … And your third gift bloomin🌸🌺🌸🌺🌸🌺praise God from whom all blessings flow✨✨✨✨praying for you and baby “tre” as God tends your whole family who grow in love and as she grows in your womb🙏to God be the glory !

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  2. I’m covered in goosebumps and praying for you, your little miracle, and your entire family as you await her arrival. You have ministered to more people that you’ll know this side of Heaven. You remain in my prayers.

  3. So beautifully put, Rachel. My congratulations to you & your sweet family. Blessings as you walk out this next season with grateful anticipation.

  4. Thank you so much for continuing to share your story! We lost our 22 year old nephew this past September. Although I know my pain is nothing like kissing my child like you have the pain is still there and still very raw! I sit here typing with tears rolling down my eyes just as I have several nights since that day in September. Tonight I accidentally deleted this email. Then thought to myself, “No I need to read that one” and retrieved it from my trash. I know that was God also telling me I needed to read this one! I pray that one day I will be able to see all the good from my nephews passing! Again I say thank you!!!!

  5. I am so happy for you and Chris 😊 I think about you often, your strength, your courage, your extraordinary gift for writing from your heart. I cry every time I read one of your posts but tonight they are happy tears.
    I will keep you and your precious baby girl in my prayers.
    Courtney

  6. I have tears POURING down my face… I want to thank you for sharing your story and your journey with all of us! I have read all of your post and I always read and admire how talented you are in your writing. You never know who you will touch and how you can help someone else by sharing your own experiences. Tonight as I read, I started sobbing, though this is not the first time this has happened when reading your posts, there was something different tonight. I felt it my duty to reach out and let you know that I am here with you, going through this amazing journey of life! I am so incredibly happy for you and am keeping you and your family in my thoughts and prayers! I will be anxiously awaiting for your next post! 💜

  7. Rachel! Talk about having “all the feels,” I rode this trading with every high & low & in between. I’m so thankful you share. I care so much! And I’m thrilled for your sweet June arrival news! 💗 Keep me posted. I’ll always be praying. Love y’all.

  8. Rache, you are always surrounded by friends, family and support. I am so excited to hear your wonderful news! I love you dearly and know that God has a plan for you, Audrey and this wonderful new arrival!

  9. Rachel…I am once again moved to tears as I read your blog. Our stories are so similar that I had to “reply” to this new blog.
    I too, have an angel baby in Heaven. Six months into my pregnancy I had a routine ultrasound and that’s when I heard the words I will never forget. “It’s a girl, however, she has “an aneurysm in ‘The Vein of Galen’ which, which is in her brain. We highly recommend that you terminate this pregnancy because you will never take her home from the hospital.”
    I was devastated. Finally, a girl after 3 boys and the doctors were basically giving her a “death sentence.”
    Long story short…I didn’t “play God with her life.” Instead, I put “Briana” in his hands & prayed for a miracle.
    She came home from the hospital & I was blessed to have her for almost 3 years & then God answered my prayers and healed her completely…He took her to Heaven.
    She went to be with Jesus 09/18/93. I gave birth to her younger brother on 04/24/92.
    During my last pregnancy, I went through an amnio, & many more tests to insure that this baby was healthy. I honestly don’t know why. If he (Austin) hadn’t have been healthy…I still wouldn’t have aborted him.
    So…you see. Our stories are similar & my heart hurts for you because you will never forget Audrey, nor would you want to and this new baby can’t replace her, nor did God give her to you as a replacement for your loss.
    She will be a “gift from God” just as your other children were and you will love her with the same love that you have for Cooper & Audrey.
    You have been in my prayers, sweet Rachel, since I first started reading your blogs & realized that you were around the same age as I was when I lost my daughter.
    Congratulations to you on this precious gift from God!
    Have you picked out a name yet?
    All my thoughts, prayers and love…..s.

  10. Dear Rachel,

    You don’t know me, but I’ve followed your story since the beginning. I’ve been so amazed by the strength God continues to give you and your family throughout your time with Audrey. I pray you will continue to be courageous. I probably would’ve stayed in bed and pulled the covers over my head.

    My daughter and her husband have been trying to have a baby for over three years. They’ve gone through all of the testing and everything is fine with their health, so the diagnosis is unexplained infertility. Every month, when my daughter gets her period, she goes through a grieving period. It’s so hard to have your hopes up only to be disappointed. She’s 29 years old. She watches all around her in quiet pain as it seems the whole world is pregnant. She’s not jealous, she’s very happy for everyone, she just longs to have a child too. She loves children, (she was a nanny for a few years, now a first grade teacher). She and her husband would give anything to be blessed with a child.

    I’m telling you this because the pain we suffer, no matter what the circumstances, is often times carried in silence without anyone knowing. You are blessed to be able to have support from so many people you’ve helped with Audrey’s story, but like my daughter, I know most of the time, you have to be brave alone, with God’s help.

    We lived in Stillwater a long time ago. I think you were a few years older than my daughter when she went to Showstoppers. Also, another thing, your dad delivered her! She’s been my blessing all these years.

    God bless you Rachel and congratulations on awaiting the arrival of your bundle of joy that is the greatest miracle.

    All best,

    Cheryl

  11. Rachel…. Audrey was and still is such a beautiful miracle…..you, Chris, and Cooper have displayed heroic love through your actions and dedication to her. She felt and can still feel this love through you and everyone that you have shared her miraculous life with…..You have done and still are doing such an incredibly amazing job being her mother. My heart often breaks thinking of her, but the way that you and Chris have honored her life and her sacrifice brings such immense comfort. You have created a beautiful example of what true love looks like and is…. She lives in my heart always as my beautiful niece who loved us all so much that she graced us with her presence in a way that we will always remember. Thank you, Rachel, Chris, Cooper, and Audrey, your new baby sister is going to have just as beautiful a story.

  12. Rachel, You are such a blessing in so many lives. Your testimony to” Who God Is” is amazing.
    My prayers are with your new little one and your family. Julie Teubner

  13. Congratulations! Tears are streaming down my face as I read your lovely words. I am filled with joy for what this year will bring and know that sweet Audrey Bunny is too! Xo

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