Happy 6th Birthday, Rachel!

Six years ago tonight, Ralph and I were making the final plans for Rachel's arrival. Yes, we knew she was coming on May 4, 2006, and we had named her.  When we learned at 32 weeks pre-birth that our baby was of great concern to the medical staff at Mac, we knew we had to name her.  Our appointments in the spring were not just about this baby not yet born - our appointments were reminders for us and for our community to pray for Rachel Joy.  Our ray of sunshine, created by God, created in His image and created for His glory.  

Tonight, Emily and Sophia asked a couple of questions about what time Rachel was born (just before 5 PM) and where they were (with Dwayne and Tracy Bulthuis).  Sophia commented that all of it was just a blur to her.  And parts of Rachel's birth are a blur to us - but there are moments in that delivery when I remember every minute.  

I can recall the tension in the room and how very different the environment felt to when I had birthed Sophia.  I can recall how worried everyone looked, but how optimistic their voices tried to be.  I can remember sitting by myself in the labour room, after Rachel was born, wondering what our new life held.  Rachel, Ralph, and the staff had left the room to take care of her needs, and I had time to myself in the dark labour room.  

At that moment, the very room that was supposed to welcome life felt almost like a tomb.  It was a bit of a suffocating feeling in that moment, wondering where God was taking our family.  What exactly were we celebrating that night with her arrival?  

I remember seeing the look on my dad's face later that evening, when all he and Linda could do was pray with Ralph and I.  I wanted him to say everything was going to be fine (that's what dads are supposed to do, right?), but he couldn't.  His face betrayed his concern. This was not a familiar experience to him either.  

Yet... in all of this, we knew we had to TRUST.  We had to let go and let God.  

And tomorrow?  May 4, 2012?  We celebrate a beautiful six year old girl who continues to amaze us and surprise us.  She has reminded us of the need for music, and she never fails to bring joy as we care for her.

Unfortunately, she developed a cold this week, so on the eve of her birthday, she is doing more resting than anticipating.  It has been difficult to watch her cry and not know her pain, yet we give thanks that each year, she seems to have more ability to share her emotions with us.  Holding my 50 lb Rachel this morning, I gave thanks that she was able to smile at me through her tears and be comforted by me.  Such a different feeling from when I held a very sick 10 lb Rachel, unable to breathe on her own, on May 4, 2006.

Rachel has brought us community, and she has taught us a deeper sense of what it means to live joyfully. Yep, we are nervous about what the future holds, but we still live one day at a time.

We know she is loved.  We know God named her and knows her.  We trust that He will give us the strength to care for her as long as He wills.  We look forward to more memories with our Ray-Ray.

(And we look forward to more work on the renovations this weekend.  Stop in.... we'd love to show you around.)