About Me

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Kirkland, Washington, United States
I am a child of God. I am a follower of Jesus. I am a wife, momma, daughter, sister and friend. I love good conversation and hearty laughter. A good cup of coffee is always appreciated. Most of all, I desire to bring others into an experience with Jesus. One that will shape their lives and rock their souls for Him. Geoff is my best friend and amazing husband. Parker is my handsome boy who lives in Heaven. Norah is my bright star and bringer of joy. Tori is my overcomer and peaceful warrior. I live to show Jesus' love to each person He places in my path. I pray this blog strengthens you, comforts you and encourages you and that it MOST OF ALL causes you to want to get to know Jesus in a deeper level.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Pictures of Opie

Nathan meeting Opie for the first time
(he was a little scared...HA!)


Natalie with Uncle Geoff and Opie, just this past summer
(doesn't he look so happy here? :) )


Geoff and Opie, fast asleep on the floor while we were packing to move
to our new house.

Opie, fast asleep while Geoff and I were doing homework
(at our old house, probably sometime during our Jr. or Sr. year of college)

Opie, riding in the backseat of our Civic
during one of many car rides to visit family in Yakima


My neice Kate, when she was about 1, sitting on Opie
He's so patient.


Geoff and Opie at our first house
(this was taken during our 1st year of marriage)

The GREATEST Dog Ever...Opie

On Christmas day, my family did something that we have never done before...we went to a movie.

We all piled into our cars and headed to the theatre to see Marley and Me. It was SUCH a good movie. After laughing and crying I was inspired to write a blog about my favorite Labrador, Opie (full name, Mr. Bailey's Opus).

***

Here are the basic information about Opie:
~Opie is a pure-bred, Chocolate Labrador
~His full registered name is Mr. Bailey's Opus
~He weighs roughly 90lbs
~He is our "clearance puppy" (see Marley and Me and you'll get that)
~My parent's favorite nickname for Opie is "Opus Maximus" because he's so big
~I have many nicknames for Opie:
~Opus
~Opie Ropie
~Handsome
~Puppy Roo
~Opie Ropes
~Opie Doo
(just to name a few)

He's been Geoff's faithful dog ever since Geoff was in high school and he has been our faithful dog for the entire 5 years of our marriage. I'll never forget the night I found out I was pregnant. I had come home from work, terrified, with one pregnancy test in hand. I ran in the house, went straight to the bathroom, having only turned on one light in the living room, the rest of house was dark. Opie, and my sister-in-law's dog, Tucker (who we were watching at the time while she was in Argentina) came running towards the bathroom where I was. Both sat right outside the door, waiting for me. After I took the test, Opie walked into the bathroom and sat right beside me while I called my friend Corrie first and then my mom. I sobbed that night, because we were not planning on getting pregnant (however, we weren't really preventing it either). Opie laid his head on my lap while I sat on the couch, talking on the phone with my sister, sobbing. He didn't leave my side that entire night.

During my entire pregnancy that's exactly how he behaved with me. He would follow me all over that house and back. Every time I woke up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, he followed me right there and laid outside the bathroom waiting for me.

I remember that fateful night at the hospital laying in my bed, looking at the ceiling wishing Opie could be there with us. Geoff had to run home to feed him and asked me if there was anything from home that I wanted. I asked him if he could pack Opie in a bag for me and bring him to the hospital. I missed him the most I have ever missed him during those days in the hospital.

When we came home on the 16th, Opie calmly walked up, sat right in front of me and greeted me gently. He followed me all over the house and each place I would "land", whether it was on the couch or in the kitchen, Opie would lay down at my feet or sit next to me with his head in my lap. He never left my side, or Geoff's, during those first few weeks back home without our Parker.

There were a few nights, when I would sit down on the floor next to him, crying and would wrap my arms around him. He's the best comfort for me, next only to my husband.

There was one night, that I was truly impressed with my dog. Geoff and I were sitting on the couch, eating dinner and watching TV. Usually, Opie curls up on the floor in front of the coffee table while we watch TV, but this particular night we couldn't find Opie. I sat up to see if maybe he was behind the easy chair (which is another one of his favorite spots), but he wasn't there either. So I got up and looked in the office, not there. Then I looked across the hall in the nursery, and there he was, curled up on the floor. It touched my heart. He's just the sweetest dog.

When we're happy, he's happy. When we're sad, he's sad. When we need comfort, he's there to comfort us. He's just the best.

I love my Opie, the GREATEST dog ever!

***

GO SEE MARLEY AND ME! (OH, one more thing, there's a scene in the movie that Geoff and I can totally identify with. Every single thing that the doctor and the nurse say is exactly how it happened to Geoff and I. Then, the way that Marley behaves that night is EXACTLY how Opie behaved...crazy stuff, but I felt like they had taken a snapshot of our lives. GO SEE IT!)

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas for these Harmons

Following Parker's death, I found myself dreading his due date, October 19th. However, Geoff and I did so well that day. It had landed on a Sunday. We went to church, had dinner with his parents, like we usually do, and then we went home. It was a normal day, not a single sad thought or emotion in sight.

After making it successfully through that day, I found myself dreading Thanksgiving, to some degree. I was dreading it because it would be the first holiday that we would be celebrating following Parker's death. Geoff and I had no clue how Thanksgiving would be for us. However, when the day finally came, everything was just...fine. It was wonderful, in fact. Grady had invited a friend over for Thanksgiving dinner, BJ had flown in from Arizona, and everything was...fine, perfectly fine and normal.

This gave me hope. It gave both Geoff and I hope that Christmas would be perfectly fine and normal.

As the Christmas season approached, following Halloween...HA, oh just kidding. Anyway, as the Christmas season approached, Geoff and I kept tabs on each others emotions. We constantly asked the other how they were doing, how they were handling the fast approaching Christmas. So far, we were doing just fine. It was great, Christmas looked really hopeful.

December 23rd came fast, this was the night that we celebrated Christmas with the Harmon's before heading off to Yakima to be with my family for Christmas. We arrived at Mark and Vanessa's at about 9:30, following the sad loss of BSU to TCU (sad for Geoff) at the Poinsettia bowl. Geoff and I brought a yummy treat for everyone to enjoy, as well as all of their presents to open. I was so excited to have this early Christmas. We opened everyones presents. A beautiful purse from Stefanie to me, an awesome Ferrari shirt from Stefanie for Geoff, and some other fun gifts as well. It was a great Christmas.

Then, before all the presents were over, Geoff opened up a shirt from his parent's. It was a shirt that Vanessa had purchased for Geoff when I was pregnant with Parker. It has a white background with a bunch of different black guitars on it. She bought the same shirt for Parker, only his was black with white guitars on it. Geoff was with her when she bought them, and knew that he would have to wait until Christmas to have it. The night we found out Parker had died, Geoff thought about those shirts. I think he was sort of excited about that gift in a bitter sweet sort of way. When he opened it, on Tuesday night, he was so excited to finally have that shirt. He then asked his mom about Parker's and if she still had it. Grandma Precious, went downstairs and brought it up, still wrapped in it's Target bag. We opened the bag, pulled out the shirt and held it up to look at it. So stinkin' cute! We decided to take it home and save it for the next little one we have. We decided, boy or girl, they will wear it.

It was a great great Christmas with our Harmon family. There wasn't one single sad thought in sight for us. No "poor us" feelings at all. It was a night full of happiness, laughter and good times had by everyone there. I praise the Lord for a good Christmas with our Harmon family.

That night, Geoff and I opened our presents to each other, then packed up and got ready for our trip to Yakima.

At 11:00am we ventured out on the highway and headed to Yakima to be with our Russell family. We drove over icy roads, through snow showers and zero visibility and finally arrived safe and sound in Yakima. We were greeted by our 4 year old niece Kate, jumping off my mom's lap and squeezing us tight, what a wonderful welcoming. That night, Christmas Eve night, Geoff, myself, mom, dad, Keri and Robby, played a rousing game of Pit, laughed until we cried and were just plain loud. It was a classic Russell family gathering, complete with lots of food, fun and laughter. Geoff and I played with our nieces, 4 year old Kate and 14 month old Annie. We giggled with them, tickled them and loved on them like any other good aunt and uncle. We were so thrilled to be there. At about 11:00pm we all crawled into bed and fell fast asleep.

The next morning, Christmas morning, I got up at around 7:00am, went into the living room and drank some coffee with my big brother Robby and my dad (one of my favorite things to do with them). We sat in the warm living room, I marveled at the tree and all the gifts, and giggled with Annie bell. At about 8:15am Brad and Sarah arrived to open presents with us. We ripped through each and every gift, filling mom and dad's living room with the torn remnants of wrapping paper. Gift after gift was opened. Ooo's and Ah's were heard all around. It was a great morning.

About halfway through the opening of the gifts, mom was handed three tiny boxes wrapped in red and white gift wrap. Each box was for mom. One was from Kate, one from Annie and the last one was from Parker. It was a gift that Keri and I had spoken about shortly after Thanksgiving. This was mom's Grandma necklace. Inside each of the boxes held the child's birthstone. It was precious. We all cried a little as mom opened each box. It was absolutely beautiful. Then following the opening of these three boxes, mom opened the gift from Geoff and I.

Shortly after Parker died, I decided I wanted to get my mom and mother-in-law the same necklace that I have, with one minor difference. Instead of having just Parker's name on it, I wanted all of their grandkids name's on them. So Geoff and I got Vanessa a necklace that has Natalie, Nathan and Parker's name tags on it as well as a pearl, and for my mom we got her a necklace that has Kate, Annie and Parker's name tags on it with a pearl. Both mom's loved the gift. It's something that Geoff and I cherish them having as well.

***

Christmas has been wonderful for Geoff and I. We have cherished everyone blessed moment with our families. We made an effort this year to make sure that Christmas was a joyous time. We didn't want to allow it to get eaten up in sadness.

I have always considered myself to be a "Glass totally full" kind of girl, and I wanted to hold true to that this Christmas. Geoff and I wanted to make sure that we didn't bury our emotions, but at the same time we wanted to make sure that our emotions didn't bury us. We wanted to experience the joys of Christmas that we have every single Christmas of our lives. We wanted to fully experience the joy of being around family. The joy of Christmas morning. The joy of giving and receiving. Ultimately, we wanted to be free of all sadness and grief, so that we could allow the true joy, the true joyful message of Christmas to resonate within us. We wanted to allow for the BIRTH of our Lord Jesus to be something that we didn't think about with pain, but rather with joy in our hearts, because that is what Christmas has, and always will be about for us, no matter what season of life we are going through.

Yes, we miss Parker, everyday we miss him and think about him But do we dread life even without him here? No. Do we dread the holidays since his death? No, not anymore. We look forward to more children, who will grow up knowing all about their big brother, Parker Geofferson Harmon and who will also grow up knowing the joy that, because Jesus came to this earth, they will some day get to meet their big brother face to face...

PRAISE THE LORD!!

MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!

Monday, December 15, 2008

I Love Dr. Rudeen!!

Ever since Parker's death, I have discovered just how blessed Geoff and I are to have Dr. Rudeen as my OB/GYN.

On Thursday, Geoff and I went to visit with Dr. Rudeen about getting pregnant again. We had discussed this with him before, shortly after Parker's death, but I needed to hear it one more time.

Thursday, the 11th, at 4:00pm, Geoff and I met with Dr. Rudeen. We sat down, in the same exam room that we had always met with him, and discussed the risks of getting pregnant again.

Dr. Rudeen started off by addressing the normal risks associated with women my age and health level. Being that I am 25, have excellent health and blood pressure, and because I'm slightly overweight (working on that), I have the same risks as any other woman. I have the same risks, as any other woman, of having a baby with Downs Syndrome (1/600). Also, I have the same risks, as any other woman, of having a baby with a genetic defect of any kind (1/500). *whew*

In terms of having another stillbirth, my risks levels are slightly higher than the average woman simply because of my history. He then quickly followed up by saying that my chances of this happening again are very minute. *whew*

Then, Dr. Rudeen, continued by telling me that, once I get pregnant again, I have the choice of having an Ultra Test performed. This is where, between 9 and 12 weeks, Dr. Rudeen would take a sample of my blood and test it against several different genetic disorders. If the test comes back, showing that the baby has some sort of disorder, then I have the option, at 15 weeks, of having an Amnio. performed. Geoff and I aren't sure if that is something we plan on doing. Seeing as how Dr. Rudeen has no concern of us having a baby with any sort of genetic disorder, Geoff and I, more than likely, will not have this test performed.

Following the talk of testing, Dr. Rudeen went on to tell Geoff and I that he will perform extra ultrasounds for us. He will also, in the second or third trimester, have me take a non-stress test as well as hooking up a heart monitor to my belly to monitor the baby's heart. According to Dr. Rudeen, all of these will be performed for my peace of mind and not because he has any concerns of this happening again. *whew*

Finally, Dr. Rudeen stated that, due to Parker's size at 35 weeks (6lbs. 3oz.) the chances of Geoff and I having large babies is strong (Parker would have been upwards of 8lbs or more). Dr. Rudeen predicts our subsequent children weighing anywhere between 7 - 8lbs. Because of this fact, and also because I had a somewhat hard labor (2 1/2 hrs - 3 hrs of pushing), Dr. Rudeen is planning on inducing me between 10 to 14 days earlier than the baby's due date. This does not upset me one bit, in fact, it feels kind of like opening Christmas presents earlier! :) Plus, he plans on taking the next baby early to help with any anxieties I may have as the due date draws near. Dr. Rudeen also went on to say that, if I have any difficulty with the next delivery, he will not hesitate to perform a C-section (which also does not bother me). He said he wouldn't hesitate simply because of our history and the stress we've already been through.

All in all, it was a very reassuring and comforting doctor's visit. Dr. Rudeen simply stated, at the end of the appointment, the chances of us having another stillbirth is very very minute. He also stated that he will be treating me as high risk, simply for my peace of mind. As we were leaving the exam room Dr. Rudeen, stated once more, that we will definitely be able to have healthy, living babies and lots of them. *whew*

Following the appointment I felt like I was floating on cloud nine. Geoff and I were so happy with how positive the appointment had been. Whenever the day arrives, where Geoff and I are ready to start trying again, my fears will be minimal. I will have God and Dr. Rudeen walking Geoff and I through every step of that pregnancy, I simply cannot wait! :)

Praise the Lord!!

Faith

The definition of Faith according to Webster's dictionary: 2 a (1): belief and trust in and loyalty to God (2): belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion 2 b (1): firm belief in something for which there is no proof (2): complete trust

***

Wednesday evening I made a decision to live IN faith. I have concluded that there is no better place or way to live, then by faith and faith alone. That is the only way that I will be able to survive another pregnancy. That is the only way I will be able to stay sane during my next pregnancy. So today, I tell you all this, so that I can be held accountable. Accountable to live IN my faith.

Let me explain a little further how I came to make this decision.

On Wednesday of this week I was talking with a friend of mine about the dream that I had and how I have been praying for our future little ones every chance I get. Then she brought up something that I have never thought of. She said, "You just need to have a little faith baby." It literally blew my mind. She then went on to say that I should thank God for the babies he will give Geoff and I. That I should thank God for the healthy children that we will bring home from the hospital.

So from this day forward, that is just what I plan on doing. I plan on living in faith and hope. Having faith that God will provide the things that Geoff and I hold dear to our hearts and hoping for the best.

Praise the Lord!!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Parker's Headstone




Here are the pictures of Parker's headstone. We decided that the music notes were a perfect representation of Geoff and I and what we had dreamed for Parker. The verse 2 Corinthians 12:9 is the verse that we have lived by since loosing our dear Parker Geofferson, it reads:
"9But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me."






Oh What a Dream...Hopefully It Will Come True

Just a quick one...

Have you ever awoke from a dream that made you lay there and say, "I hope that dream comes true"? In third grade I had a dream like that. It was of this boy, my crush for that particular week, we were playing on the playground and he ran up and kissed me. Then he grabbed my hand and asked if I'd like to be his girlfriend. Next thing I know, my mom's calling my name, telling me it's time to get up for school. *Poof* the dream is over. I desperately wanted to either sleep forever or have that dream come true, unfortunately neither happened. I went to school that day and the dream never came true.

Last night, I had another dream that made me lay in bed this morning hoping it will come true. The dream goes like this...

...I'm sitting in a chair holding a newborn baby. The baby looks similar to Parker, but I know that it's not Parker. The baby is wearing a red outfit. In my dream I can feel that the baby is very chunky and heavy (which is such a treat!). In my dream I can also see that the baby has just a skiff of hair. I'm not sure if the baby is a boy or a girl, but in my dream I'm feeling like it's a boy. Anyway, as I'm holding the baby, with one hand under their head, and the other under their rump, I'm staring at the baby's belly making sure it's breathing. In the background I hear Geoff say not to worry, that everything will be fine. I keep staring at the baby, examining the baby's face and then looking at the belly again to make sure the baby is breathing. Again, in the background Geoff tells me not to worry. Then the baby starts to cry, I can't hear the cries. I start to rock the baby gently as it slowly calms down and falls asleep. I continue to hold the baby, afraid to put the baby down, watching the baby's belly fall and rise. Geoff tells me, once more, that everything is fine and that I should let the baby sleep. That's it. The end. The alarm blared loud and I woke up.

What a beautiful dream. This was one of the most reassuring dreams I have had since Parker died. When I was pregnant with Parker I never had a dream like this. I never dreamt of holding Parker, never dreamt of having him here with us. So to have a dream of another baby, possibly one of our future little ones, is so SO reassuring!! Praise the Lord for reassuring dreams.

A Beautiful Moment & A Beautiful Tribute

Yesterday, on facebook, my girlfriend Corrie left me this message, and I just HAVE to share it here.
(Just a little background: Corrie and her husband David attend our church and they have a sweet little girl named Alexandria, who I believe is around 18 months old.)

"I went to see your Parker today. His headstone is beautiful. The music notes are a perfect reflection of you and Geoff. I'm sure Parker would have been a great musician/singer like his parents, he wouldn't have had a choice :) Alexandria was with me and she was really cute. She stood in front of the headstone and reached down and gently patted it as if to say "hello". They would have been great friends, I'm sure."

I cherish messages like this. Thank you Corrie and Alexandria for visiting my Parker and sharing this beautiful moment.

Finally, here is the note that was left at Parker's grave by Gretchin.
(pictures of his headstone will be posted tonight)

"Parker, I know it is supposed to be your "Birth" day. We will miss you and remember you even though we never met. Your parents are faithfully trusting God to help fill the void they are feeling. They are in my prayers. Many Blessings to them as God is with them minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day, for all eternity."

I cherish tributes like this, to my Parker. Thank you Gretchin for the beautiful tribute.

Have a great day all :) I know I am so far :) and HAPPY BIRTHDAY KARA! :) :)

Friday, December 5, 2008

Packing up Hopes and Dreams...For Now Anyway

I wrote the previous post on December 1st, in hopes of having people ask questions, but I was completely blown away by the responses. Not at all what I was expecting. I am blessed. Blessed by each and every one of you that chooses to read my blog. You have no idea how it refuels me, and reinvigorates me. It truly helps to keep me going. So thank you.

This past week has been a great week, in all honesty. Geoff and I have experienced quite a few things that, to me, show how well the healing process is truly going.

Last Saturday, Geoff and I went to Kohlerlawn and visited Parker's grave for the first time. I wanted to wait until the headstone went in. Some time on Friday it was put in, so we decided to go and see how it looked. It's beautiful and perfect in every way. As Geoff said, as we stood there looking down at his headstone, it's exactly how we wanted it. I'll be posting a picture of it soon.

We arrived at the cemetery at about 2:00, Saturday afternoon. The drive to the cemetery was a little weird for me. The last time I drove this route was the day of the funeral, September 18th. A few strange feelings developed, but never really amounted to anything more than nerves in my stomach. As we pulled into Kohlerlawn and pulled up to the section where all the little babies are buried, I was flooded with emotions and moved to silence. Geoff and I quietly got out of the car and walked slowly through the graves towards Parker's. We approached the grave and stood in silence looking down at his beautiful headstone, still covered in plastic to protect the fresh cement from the elements. Above Parker's headstone was the white basket that carried the flowers from his grandparents. Inside the basket, now lays a box, a sweet blue and white deer and a bundle of fake white flower buds. When I saw the deer and white flower buds I figured they were from Betty Mitchell (who lost a baby 50 years ago, her name is Roni Lou and she's buried on the same row as Parker) because the same deer and white flowers laid on her daughter's grave just down from Parker's. I also knew that the basket was from the grandparents flower arrangement, but I could not figure out who the box was from.

I knelt down by Parker's grave, picked up the plastic box and opened it to reveal it's contents. Inside the box were the ribbons that were left after all the flowers died following the graveside service. Also in the box was the banner that laid across the grandparents flowers that read, "Beloved Grandson". Then there was another item in the box, it was a beautiful note that was written to Parker on his due date, or his "birth" day. I read the note and tears welled up. What a beautiful tribute to my beloved Parker. I plan on going back to the grave this weekend to take the note and post it here. It's something that I will cherish. I had no idea, at the time, who could have written such a wonderful tribute. I assumed that it had to have been Betty, but then realized who it actually was.

Ever since Parker died, Gretchin, our churches administrative pastor, has been visiting Parker's grave. She goes there and makes sure it's cleaned up and looking nice. She is the one who put the box together. She kept all of the ribbons and the banner. She is also the one who wrote that beautiful note. Sunday I thanked her for the beautiful note and asked if I could steal it away from the grave. I will post it here later.

After shedding a few tears and talking about how surreal this all was, Geoff and I headed out for the rest of our day. We had coffee at Flying M, shopped for Christmas presents and went out for dinner. It was a good day, but overhung a dark cloud that was filled with the sadness of Parker not being with us. The dark cloud had formed while visiting his grave and stayed with me the rest of the day. I tried to shake it off, but it just wouldn't leave. Instead of trying to drive it away, I sat under it and allowed myself to grieve a little.

The next day was Sunday. Geoff and I went to Sunday school and church, had dinner with his parents and then came home. We decorated the tree and then relaxed in front of the TV. Geoff had fallen asleep on the couch beside me, exhausted after leading worship that day. I decided, while he was sleeping, to get to work packing up Parker's room. I figured it would be an easy task, and one that I could do by myself.

I grabbed the bins that we had purchased the night before and began to fill them with his clothes. I was doing just fine until I ran across the onesie that my parents had purchased for him at Cracker Barrel the day we found out we were having a boy. It read, "Little Slugger". I held it tight, then quickly folded it and laid it in the bin. Right away I found another onesie that we purchased that same weekend. This one read "Grandpa's my Hero". I looked it over, folded it gently and laid it in the bin. I kept coming across more and more onesies that held special meaning for me and reminded me of specific events during my pregnancy. With each onesie that I came across, my pulse would quicken, my heart would pound, and my face would redden. Finally, it was like my body couldn't take it anymore. I began to breathe heavy, and felt like my chest would cave in, but no tears. I leaned on the dresser, trying to catch my breath. I called for Geoff, "Honey! Babe!! GEOFF!!! I NEED YOU!!!!" Out of his sleep, he jumped up from the couch and ran into the nursery. He asked me what I needed. I fell into his arms and wept for just a little. He told me I didn't need to do this right now. He said that I could take a break, that I didn't have to pack up the entire nursery in one night. It was too late, I had to finish what I started. So I dried my tears, kissed my Geoffrey and continued with my task.

Now, in his nursery, there sits two full bins, an empty crib and changing table, his stroller and his car seat. Eventually, those will be removed and stored in the garage until we are ready and pregnant with the next little Harmon.

Just like the headstone finally being laid at Parker's grave, packing the nursery felt like one more piece of closure. I look forward to being able to revamp that room. To creating a beautiful guest room or an oasis of some kind. I look forward to having a "blank slate" so to speak. An empty room to begin with that has so much potential. But I also look forward to the day, when we can put it all back. The day when Geoff and I will put the crib, changing table, stroller and carseat back in that room. I look forward to that day, but for now, the bins are packed, and the furniture sits, waiting to be put away...temporarily, thank you Lord.

PRAISE THE LORD for helping Geoff and I thus far and into the future! Praise the Lord.

And PRAISE THE LORD for each and every one of you that has lifted Geoff and I up and carried us through this! Praise the Lord.

2 Corinthians 12:9

Monday, December 1, 2008

I Want to Know, So Tell Me!

Do I write about this? Do I "broadcast" this across the internet? I have learned that sometimes I need to refrain from writing certain things on this blog. So do I write about my "blah" feeling anyway? Do I open my soul and tell you what's really making this "blah" feeling? I have always said that I want to be an open book, but is that a good thing? Is it a good thing to let people in? Should I just stop writing and start talking with people? Do you understand why I'm having these "blah" feelings? What do I do? This is worse then hormonal emotions during pregnancy.

This is what I have concluded...

I'm not saying a word. I have said quite a lot. I have told you how Geoff and I have been dealing. I have tried to paint a picture of our grief and how we are doing. I have tried to be as open as possible with the good, the bad, and the ugly of grief. But have I said enough? Have I painted a good enough picture? Have I let you all in enough? Do you all understand? Do you know where I'm coming from and how Geoff and I are REALLY doing? I honestly want to know.

So I ask, to everyone who reads this (all two of you..HA!), is there anything I have not shared that you still want to know? Is there any "stone left unturned" that you would like to have turned over? What do you want to know? What would you like to ask? I am open and ready for whatever questions you may have, so bring 'em! Write them down and I will do my best to answer them. HIT ME! I'm ready...seriously...ask me anything and I will do my best to answer the question to the best of my ability.

I'm ready!

Monday, November 24, 2008

A Simple Request

Just a short one today...a prayer request.

Geoff and I have talked, quite a bit lately, about when we will start trying for baby #2 (a topic that I usually bring up). We have decided that we want to wait a while for several reasons. However, once we are ready I know that the fear of the great "what if" will be looming overhead. We are nervous about this happening again, even though the odds of this happening again are less than 1%. Dr. Rudeen has reassured me, on two seperate occasions, that we will definitely have healthy babies. This was a fluke, a freak accident, a terrible tragedy, but even so, I worry about it happening again. Dr. Rudeen has delievered roughly 4500 babies in his 28 years of practice and has never had this happen to the same woman twice (so encouraging), but I worry that I may break that run. I think to myself, if I could be that 1 out of 200, then why couldn't I be the 1 out of 4500?

I tell you all this because I need your prayers. Geoff and I need your prayers. We are both excited to start our family again, but we are nervous. So, when you think of us, please pray for our next baby. Please pray that Geoff and I will be calm through the next pregnancy. Please pray that God keeps us and our future little one safe. Please pray that our next baby will be healthy. Please pray that our next little one will be able to come home with us. Please pray for Geoff and I and our subsequent baby. Thank you :)

Friday, November 21, 2008

In Honor of Thanksgiving

My Ode to Thanksgiving...

I am thankful for...

...Geoffrey's warm hugs.

...Opie's protective spirit.

...My two sets of parents (Bob & Amarie, Mark & Vanessa).

I am thankful for...

...Ben & Jerry's Half-Baked.

...Starbucks Grande extra-hot Lattes.

...Panda Express Orange Chicken.

I am thankful for...

...belly achin' laughter.

..."that's what she said".

...Stewie.

I am thankful for...

...sisters who live in other states & countries but feel so close (Sarah, Keri, Stefanie, Ashley).

...Aunts, Uncles, Cousins & Grandmas who have covered Geoff & I with their love & prayers.

...a big brother who appears tough, but is just a big softy who loves his little sisters.

I am thankful for...

...Kate and Annie.

...Natalie and Nathan.

...all the little ones at Lakeview Nazarene.

I am thankful for...

...a warm home.

...a stable job.

...a reliable paycheck.

I am thankful for...

...ALL of our church families.

...old friends who, no matter how long it's been, when you see them, it feels like no time has passed.

...new friends who feel like they are becoming better friends.

I am thankful for...

...delicious turkey.

...hot steaming stuffing.

...cranberry sauce (you know, the kind that, when it comes out of the can is still in the form of the can...mmm...delicious).

I am thankful for...

...the Macy's Thanksgiving day parade.

...24 hour marathon of A Christmas Story ("You'll shoot your eye out!") on PBS the day after Thanksgiving.

...24/7 Christmas music beginning the day after Thanksgiving on Light FM with Delilah (not thankful for Delilah...)

But most of all, this Thanksgiving, I am thankful for my Parker and my God.

I am thankful for 35 beautiful weeks with Parker. I am thankful for his kicks, hiccups and dances. I am thankful for meeting him nearly 3 months ago. I am thankful for Parker Geofferson Harmon.

I am thankful for having a relationship with my beloved Savior Jesus Christ. I am thankful for his steadfast, unending grace, love and protection. I am thankful for his strength and for everyday-right under your nose-blessings.

I am thankful for all of you. All of you that have touched our lives through the loss of our son Parker and through the love of our big, all powerful, all knowing, all loving, so AWESOMELY WONDERFUL God!!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!! (a few days early...I know, but still...)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

What an Awesome God!

God's pretty funny...here's why...

Nearly two weeks ago, Geoff and I bought a gym membership at the REC center. We felt it was a good idea to do something good for ourselves. PLUS when you work out, it releases positive endorphins, so that's a good thing. Anyway, we purchased our gym membership and then signed up to take a fitness test with one of the trainers who would help us set up a workout program.

On Saturday, the 15th of November, Geoff and I went in and took our fitness tests. The results were not surprising in the least, we are both horribly out of shape (SHOCKING!). Geoff went first and then I followed right after. The test includes recording your current weight, blood pressure, BMI, flexibility, strength and cardiovascular health. All the tests are pretty easy except for the cardiovascular test.

For this particular test, they strap a heart monitor to your chest and have you ride the stationary bike for 12 minutes. Every 3 minutes the resistance on the pedals increases, causing you to have to work harder. When Geoff took it, I harassed him telling him that it looked really easy so why was he panting so hard; however, when it was my turn I found out why. IT SUCKS! That thing pushes you so hard! I honestly thought I was going to die! I pushed and pushed and wanted to quit! My heart was working so hard! So wouldn't you know that after all that my results ended up not getting recorded by the computer. Basically, all that pushing and panting was for nothing!

I couldn't take the cardiovascular test again right then because the results would not have been accurate, I would have to wait until later. So Jennifer, our trainer that was administering the test, decided that I would retake the cardiovascular test when I came in to set up my program. I arranged to come in again on Tuesday night and retake the test and set up my program with Jennifer.

Tuesday came fast and I was really excited to finally get an exercise program started. At eight o'clock that night I arrived at the REC center, went straight back to the trainer's area and got right to the test. I had been pedaling for nearly 4 minutes when Jennifer started asking me about what I was wanting to get out of my workout. I told her that I wanted to loose weight and tone up. She asked if I had a goal weight in mind. For some reason, the only way I saw to answer this question was to tell her that I just had a baby, which then led to telling her about Parker. She sat, in shock, jaw dropped and silent. I finished by saying, "All that to say, I would like to get back to at least my pre-pregnancy weight." Jennifer was still sitting in shock. Finally she said, "Wow, um...OK. WOW!" Then (and this is the part where God is so funny) Jennifer says, "OK, this is going to be kind of awkward, but my husband is a pastor, so". I nearly fell off the bike. I quickly interrupted her and said, "No way! That is so awesome! My dad's a pastor and so is my father-in-law!" Jennifer brightened up, eyes widened and says, "Oh well then you're covered! Where do they pastor?" So we began to talk.

Evidently, she and her husband had been music/youth pastors in Florida for 12 years and were called to Christian Faith Center in Nampa this past June as ministers of music. We talked for the duration of the bike ride and sat and talked some more after that before venturing out into the weight room. When we were done working on my exercise program Jennifer said that she and her husband would be praying for Geoff and I.

God is funny, not in like a "ha ha that's funny" sort of way, but rather a "huh...that's funny" way. I am floored that, the trainer that I just happened to get assigned to is a Pastor's wife. The trainer that helps me start up an exercise program just happens to be a christian and someone that I can talk openly with. What a blessing!!

God is pretty funny, and that's why I love him. He places people along our paths that he knows will help brighten our days. He does things for us that he knows will make us smile.

God is SO good!!

PRAISE THE LORD!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Soul Cleansing: A feel good kind of hurt

So it's been almost two weeks since my last post. Life in the Harmon house has been totally normal. Nothing too terribly exciting, just...normal. Which is great! However, this doesn't mean that the bad days are done; because those, I am discovering, are part of being normal. The other day I was reminded of just that.

As I was driving home from work, the sadness hit like a ton of bricks.

It had been a relatively good day, but all day I had this nagging feeling. A feeling of emptiness, that I suppressed. I pushed it back and did my best to ignore it, did my best to pretend it wasn't there. I didn't want to feel sad. So I suppressed the emptiness as best I could.

I focused on work, chatted with friends on gmail, updated my facebook and ignored the emptiness. A little before 6:00 Linnea and I locked up for the night and headed home. I got in the car, turned on the Vince Guaraldi Christmas CD that I had listened to on the way to work, hummed along to a few songs and decided that I wanted to listen to Selah instead.

As the CD got started I turned up the volume to fill the car with sound. I sang at the top of my lungs the lyrics of You Raise Me Up and before I knew it, that feeling I had been suppressing all day reared their ugly head once more; however, this time I could not suppress it any longer. I tried choking back the tears, I tried to wipe them away, but it simply didn't work. They flowed. They flowed long and hard. I cried from the bottom of my toes. It was a cry that made me feel like either my chest would cave in or I would throw up. It was a hard hard cry. I let it all out. I hit the steering wheel and yelled out to God. I cried out, "DAMMIT!"

My Parker is gone! My baby is gone! My baby, that I carried for eight months, is gone. My Parker, that Geoff and I prepared for for eight months is gone. This made me mad.

This cry was a cry of anger. Since loosing Parker, I had not had a cry of anger. I had cried out in sorrow and grief, but I had yet to cry out in anger. I wasn't angry at God, I was just...ANGRY! Angry that I don't have my boy. I was ANGRY, DAMMIT!

I hit the steering wheel until my hand ached. I cried until I felt like my body would collapse. I bawled. As I cried, yelled and cursed, I prayed. I talked to my God, my Abba, my Papa. I talked to God, asked him to draw near and hold me tight. I told him the desires of my heart. I told him about my desire to have more children, children that I could bring home from the hospital, children that Geoff and I can hold, and raise. I told God that Geoff and I want to be a mommy and daddy to a baby that is with us on earth. I cried a deep, painful, cleansing cry.

I calmed down right about the same time that I pulled into the garage. I walked through the door and went straight into the kitchen where Geoff was cooking dinner. I stood in front of him and let him wrap his arms around me. He held me while I cried some more. I told him I was mad and he said it was OK. I told him I want more babies, babies that I can hold and kiss, and he said he did too. I told him I hit the steering wheel, he asked if it helped and I said it did. He's so good to me. He dried my tears and said that he could hold me while he stirred the soup, which made me laugh.

The evening ended much better then it had begun. After my good, soul cleansing cry, my heart felt light and my mood was much better. The emptiness that had been nagging me all day was gone. It was replaced by hope and happiness.

Geoff and I ate dinner together, watched our favorite show (Friday Night Lights) and headed off to the REC center to work out. After working out for an hour and a half (and blowing off major steam) we came home and collapsed into bed.

***

Crying is hard, especially crying like that, but it's so cleansing and SOUL cleansing. I find that once I get it out of my system I seriously feel ten thousand pounds lighter. Talking to God, while I cry, also helps. It helps because I can tangibly feel him coming alongside and wrapping his arms around me.

So today, even though I still miss my son, today is easier because Wednesday's cry is one less cry that I have to endure. The feelings that bubbled up Wednesday may come back, but they don't have to come back today. God is with me, walking beside me. God is with Geoff, walking beside him. That's what helps me know that I can face whatever feelings come my way and be triumphant.

God is good.

PRAISE THE LORD!

2 Corinthians 12:9

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Oh the Beauty of Democracy

Today has been a good day so far...

I awoke this morning at around 5:50 having a coughing fit. I hate the tail ends of colds, they seem to hang on forever. I rolled over and tried to go back to sleep, but I simply couldn't. I laid there, eyes open, staring into the dark bedroom deciding if I should get up or simply possum sleep. I closed my eyes and drifted back into sleep. The alarm blared at 6:50am. Geoff jumped up, darted to the alarm clock and reset it for 7:10am, 20 more minutes to attempt peaceful sleep. At 7:10am the alarm blared once more, this time I stumbled out of bed, hit the alarm and got in the shower. After finishing my shower, I woke Geoff up, made coffee and finished getting ready for the day.

Today is election day (hence the getting up earlier then I really needed to to avoid big crowds at the polls). I love election day. I found myself being filled with nervous excitement. Today is the day that the world will change for the next four years, based on one man being moved into the highest office in the US. I love being apart of this process.

At about 8:05am I grabbed my lunch, coffee and purse, headed out of the house and down the street to my polling location. The parking lot was full and overflowing onto the side streets. The church, where I was voting, was overflowing with people only five minutes after the polls opened. It was great. The air was so thick with excitement that you could almost taste it. I stood there, thinking about how great it was that I was exercising my democratic freedoms. I love election day. I love voting.

I finally made it inside the building, after about 20 minutes of standing in line. I walked over and updated my registration information, I then was instructed to get my ballot and place my vote. The time had come. I was about to become apart of the democratic process. I was about to make my voice heard. I was so excited!!

I looked through the ballot first, read through all the names and causes and then began filling in the bubbles. I scribbled so much in the bubble for president that it almost ripped through. I wanted to make sure that the bubble was filled in completely so that my vote was counted. I then moved on to the senate positions that were up for voting, then onto district court judge, county commissioner and several other miscellaneous issues. It was great, I was voting!

I filled out the entire ballot, went back through my decisions and closed the envelope. I walked over to the table where they were collecting ballots. Handed them my updated information and then slipped my ballot in the box. The woman at the table announced, "Rachel Harmon has voted." I beamed from ear to ear. I grabbed my "I VOTED" sticker and bounded out the door.

I wanted to shout at the top of my lungs that I had voted. I wanted to throw my arms up in the air and shout "YES I VOTED!" I was so proud.

It never fails, every time I have voted, whenever they say, "Rachel Harmon has voted" I find myself getting choked up.

Do you realize what a privilege it is? Do you realize, women, who fought for you to gain the right to vote? Do you realize what a long road they traveled in order for us women to gain this right? I am so proud to be a free citizen. I am so proud to be able to freely express my rights, such as voting. I love that I am able to be apart of this process, how ever tiny my part may be.

Oh the beauty of Democracy!

I headed off to work after voting, got off the freeway in Boise and went straight to Starbucks to pick up the free tall brewed coffee that was rightfully owed me for voting. When I walked in, the girl at the counter asked, "Did you vote?" I moved my coat aside to reveal the "I VOTED" sticker on my shirt and said proudly, "Yes I did!" She clapped her hands and said, "YAY!" I beamed! She poured my coffee and handed it off. I passed several people on my way out and smiled at each and everyone of them.

I am so proud,

Proud to say that I voted,

Proud to say I exercised my rights,

Proud to be apart of this Democratic process!

Oh the BEAUTY of Democracy!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Ripping Off The Band-Aid

Yesterday was a hard day.

Sunday morning started just like every other Sunday, the alarm clock blaring at 7:30am to wake me up, getting in and out of the shower, waking Geoff up at 8am, rushing through hair and makeup and then heading off to church at 8:35am. But this Sunday was different then the past few Sundays. We packed up the bassinet and Baby Bjorn, that David and Corrie let us borrow, to give it back to them at church, that was hard, but needed to be done. Plus, we were going to be at Sunday school for the first time since Parker's death. I wasn't really looking forward to this Sunday, at all, but God was near and Geoff was there to hold my hand.

We pulled up to church, Geoff ran in to get set up for sound check, and I quietly followed behind and sat in my pew. I talked to God a little. Asked him to help me through that day. Asked him to be with me during Sunday school and the rest of the day. I needed his strength yesterday more than any other Sunday because I was going to face a group of people that I hadn't faced in quite a while.

9:30 came a lot more quickly then I thought it would. I waited for Geoff to finish up with his worship stuff so we could go to Sunday school together. We walked into class, found our seats and got settled in. I felt so awkward being there. I wanted to get up and run out. I wanted to run to my car, drive off to Flying M and hide there until Sunday school was finished. I wanted to be anywhere else in the world. However, I knew that if I left and avoided those people that I would simply be denying myself the right to work through these hard emotions.

Here's the deal, I want everyone to hear this, if Geoff and I don't face these hard days, if we aren't around and in the situations that make us uncomfortable, then we will never be able to heal.

It's like this...

Say you have a nasty cut, I mean really nasty. You put a band-aid over the cut because that makes it feel better. You keep it covered because you're too afraid to feel the pain when you take the band-aid off. You protect your cut from everything. You put a plastic bag over your cut when you get in the shower, you favor it during daily activities. Eventually your cut never heals, it simply sits there and festers.

This is what would happen if we never faced uncomfortable situations. We have to rip the band-aid off. We have to let air get to the cut and it's going to hurt sometimes, but we have to let the wound heal.

So what does this mean? This means that we don't need people to be fearful of telling us things. This means that we need people to treat us like normal. What does THAT mean? It means treating us like Geoff and Rachel. Talk to us about life, things that are going on in your life. Ask us about ours, ask us about Parker, ask us how we're doing. Be ready for us to maybe cry, but also be ready to laugh with us. This is all part of healing. You can't protect us. We have to face life. We have to experience things that are going to be hard for us. We can't avoid this, and we shouldn't avoid it. The band-aid must come off and we must heal. If you are uncomfortable, then tell us. Talk with us, be honest with us about your emotions and we'll be honest about ours.

I say all of this because things happened yesterday, that I can't really go into very deeply, but things were done by people who felt they were handling it correctly; however, it simply made it hurt more. They thought they were protecting us, helping us, but they were simply holding the band-aid on.

I know I need to offer some grace here because many people have never felt the devastating loss that we have. However, it is important for them to learn. It is important for those of you, who may not know how to behave around us, to learn to simply communicate. Be honest with us. Be honest with us about not know what to say. The other day I had a member come into the credit union. He walked in and came right up to my desk and said "I have nothing to say and no way to understand what you're going through, but know that I'm praying for you." This touched me so much. I was moved by his vulnerability. I was moved by his honesty. He didn't try to use eloquent words or pretend to understand. He didn't try to empathize with me. He simply stated the truth. He was honest with me and that allowed me to feel comfortable with him.

I am not looking for people to understand what Geoff and I are going through, because I know that there are only a select few that truly do. I am not looking for people to have the right things to say, because that's simply not fair.

I am looking for people who want to be vulnerable with me. I am looking for people who are willing to learn. I am looking for people who to want to listen. I am looking for people who want to be around Geoff and I when we talk about Parker. That's what I'm looking for.

As I sit here writing this, there are only a few people, outside of our family, who Geoff and I feel we can be ourselves around. They know who they are. They are the people that have approached us, in person, have genuinely asked how we're doing and have seen our tears. They are people who have allowed us to heal by being honest with us regarding hard issues. They are people who we cherish and want to be around more. We hope this group of people grows. We hope that, with time, people will become more comfortable with us.

I just need to know how to tell these people what Geoff and I need. I need to know how to approach them. I'll figure something out, and when I do I hope the outcome is favorable. I hope that it will make things better and make things feel normal for them.

***

One final thought. A couple of days ago, my mother-in-law Vanessa gave me a verse and it has truly helped in all this. It's from Romans 5:1-5, here is what it says.
"Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, becuase God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us."

Praise the Lord for what he has instore for Geoff and I.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Feeling Crummy Is Never Fun

Today's been a weird day...

I woke up this morning feeling like crap. My nose was plugged solid and my head was so congested I thought it would explode. I did not want to get out of bed, but I knew I needed to go to work. Geoff was feeling just as crummy and if he could go to work then so could I. So I slowly got out of bed and ready for the day.

Today's been one of "those days". Those days that just sneak up on you out of nowhere. One of those days where you just can't seem to shake off the yucky feelings of sadness. Maybe it's because I'm sick, or maybe...maybe it's just because.

I miss Parker today. I miss my baby. I miss feeling him kicking inside me. I miss seeing his face. I miss feeling the reassuring hiccups and jabs. I miss Parker. I miss holding him for that little while in the hospital.

And I'm sad. I'm sad that I don't have Parker today. I'm sad that I won't see him when I go home. I'm sad that I won't be able to scoop him up out of his crib and love on him. I'm sad that I can't show him off to all my friends and family. I'm sad that my Parker isn't with me. Today's been a hard day.

Maybe it is this yucky cold. Maybe I'm feeling blue because I can't breathe out of my nose. Maybe I'm blue because I haven't gotten a good nights sleep in the past few days because I've been coughing every five minutes. Maybe I'm blue because my laugh sounds like the laugh of a person who's been smoking 10 packs a day for 80 years. Who knows, but I'm blue today. I wish I could just think happy thoughts and not be upset anymore, but that's just not realistic. I just need to ride the wave of emotion.

I know that I can choose to be happy. I know that I can read scripture and be comforted, or listen to my Selah CD and feel better. It's just that I will always miss my Parker. I will always have part of my heart that will be stained blue.

Part of me thinks that if we have another baby that I will feel "all better," but I know that that can't be a fix-all. I need to grieve the loss of my boy and today is one of those crappy days. One of those days that I simply have to live through in order to move on to the next day. Today is one of those days where, once it's done, I'll feel strong again. I'll feel strong again because I've fought the battle of this day which makes me stronger for tomorrow.

God is near, I know this to be completely true. I feel his Holy Spirit sitting beside me, walking through this with me. Geoff brought up something that I want everyone to hear.

When speaking with Dr. Christopher he was asked when he felt nearest (is that a word...it is now) to the Holy Spirit? Geoff sat and thought for a while and said he couldn't think of one time and he was bothered by that. However, when he was recounting the story to me it dawned on him that the reason why he couldn't think of one time is because there hasn't been a moment where we haven't felt the Holy Spirit. Knowing that makes today a little easier. Realizing that as I sit here feeling sorry for myself, the Holy Spirit is sitting right beside me, comforting me. Knowing and realizing that God is cheering me on and wanting me to have a good day comforts me.

I'll make it through today...with God's help. I may even make it through today with no tears, either way, I'll make it through. I'll get through today and be a little stronger. I'll be a little stronger for the next hard day and as I make it through today I'll be one step closer to a new normal. One step closer to our future. One step closer to wanting to be pregnant again. One step closer to being...happily me.

2 Corinthians 12:9
"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me."

Feeling weak today God, I need your strength.

Praise the Lord.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I Love Family

Today has been a good day, except that I have been really sick, but other than that, it's been a good day.

This weekend, Geoff and I ran away to be with my family. We left right after I got off work on Thursday, grabbed dinner at Arby's and headed out. It was almost 7pm.

I hate taking this trip in the dark. It is the longest loneliest trip in the pitch dark. You have no idea where the sky ends and the horizon begins. I found myself being comforted by semis and the taillights of passing cars. I hate driving to Washington in the dark.

As we drove, I could not help but find my mind drifting towards thoughts of Parker. I was consumed with thoughts of, if he had lived we probably wouldn't be taking this trip. However, if we had decided to bring him, he would have been loved on all over. In fact, I found myself smiling as I thought about how mom and Aunt Claudia would have passed him back and forth between the two of them.

At a little before midnight we pulled up to mom and dad's house. They were standing in their doorway waiting for us as we parked the car.

It never fails, every time I go home to my parent's I feel like I'm a little girl again. I love it! I can't really put my finger on why or what provokes this feeling, but it just happens. I love it!

We unloaded our stuff, and got settled in. On our trip, we brought with us Parker's hand mold that we were giving to my parents. It had traveled the 300+ mile trip, safely tucked into it’s own little compartment. I gently took it out of the compartment and brought it inside. My parents, both, gasped at it’s beauty. My mom cupped her hands around it’s base and quietly took it to it’s resting place. I followed closely behind, as if, in a way, making sure it arrived safely.

She opened the door to the secretary and nestled it in amongst the precious china. What a perfectly beautiful spot. Mom and I stood there for a moment, beholding the sweet beauty of his precious little hand. We talked about how perfect it turned out and then stood quietly for a little while more. We then embraced and headed back to the living room. We chatted with mom and dad for a bit and then headed off to bed. This was one of the few nights that I didn’t have to take Tylenol PM to sleep.

The next morning I awoke at about 7:45am. Dad was awake, making breakfast for mom who was getting ready for work. I stumbled out into the kitchen, grabbed a mug and poured myself some coffee. Dad asked me how I slept, I told him fine. We then talked about the day ahead. Mom ate her breakfast and then headed off to work. Geoff got up around 8:30, grabbed some coffee while we talked with dad for a while. After breakfast, and about an hour of talking, dad headed off to work. Geoff and I started getting ready for the day.
At 11:00am Geoff and I met dad at his office, made color copies of Parker’s scrapbook for mom, and then headed out to Subway to grab lunch for mom.

After lunch dad took Geoff and I to his favorite coffee shop in downtown Yakima called North Town Coffee. We sipped on our lattes and talked. Dad asked us about our first support group meeting, which then lead to a very touch subject for me…how Idaho “handles” stillbirth and late term miscarriage.

Truthfully, this topic is a whole other blog post, but I have been provoked. I have been provoked because I have heard enough stories and have become so upset that I have decided something needs to change. I’m making this a mission (this is what my dad, Geoff and I talked about). I want to see how I can convince Idaho to acknowledge that Parker was born. Then, once I conquer Idaho, I’ll get to work making it a nation wide law…(small goals, baby steps)

We sat and discussed how I could get that started. Dad gave me some awesome ideas. I plan to get right on that very soon.

After coffee, Dad went back to work, Geoff and I shopped for birthday presents for Annie and Robby. At about 5:30pm we headed off to Robby and Keri’s house. I could not wait to get to my beloved Seattle and see my sweet nieces.

I love being around family. There is something truly therapeutic about being around people who know you better then anyone else. I also love how I can simply unwind and be myself with them. I don’t have to worry at all about what I say or how I act. It’s great. I love being with family.

We arrived at Robby and Keri’s house around 8:00pm. Keri, Annie and Kate greeted us at the door. Brad and Sarah arrived shortly after we did. We all convened downstairs in their family room. We talked, laughed and reconnected. Then, we went upstairs and had mom open her presents (her birthday was October 15th). We then sat around some more, talking and laughing. I love being with family. Around 10:00pm mom and dad headed to Aunt Claudia’s house, Brad and Sarah headed to grandma Neeley’s house and Geoff and I settled in at Robby and Keri’s. Keri got Kate and Annie ready for bed (I tried to help), while Geoff and Robby played video games. I laid in bed with Kate and read to her and then started dozing off.

At about 7:45 the next morning I woke up to the thundering sound of Tanner and Barclay (Robby and Keri’s yellow labs) running through the house to go outside. I went upstairs to find my brother working on breakfast while Keri corralled the girls. I sat at kitchen table, sipped my latte and talked with my brother.

I love my siblings. Ever since Parker died, my siblings have proven to be so wonderful. I know it’s something to be expected to have family close by at times like this, but I am still blown away that they came as fast as they did and stayed as long as they did. I love my siblings Robby and Sarah (and their spouses). I love that they cared and still care so much. I love my big brother Robby and my big sister Sarah.

Robby and I talked about a lot of stuff, but mainly about his friend who had recently experienced a loss and about Parker. Keri joined in the conversation after a while. I shared with them about how our support group meeting went and how much I cherish that resource. We also talked about when I get pregnant again and then talked about some of my frustrations with how Idaho handles stillbirths. It was a great conversation. Before we knew it, it was almost 9:30am and people would be arriving soon. I hurried, woke Geoff up and started getting ready for the day. Mom, dad, Brad, Sarah, Aunt Claudia, Uncle Tim, Amy, Grandma Neeley and Uncle Steve all arrived around 11:00 to help celebrate Annie’s first birthday.

Before the party started, I had an opportunity to bring out Parker’s scrapbook that my sister-in-law Ashley so lovingly made. I also talked about Parker’s bench that we bought for the corner where Parker’s tree is. I passed the scrapbook around and showed photos of the bench. It was great, but a part of me felt like I needed to be careful to not overshadow Annie’s birthday. So eventually, after about a half hour or so, I took the scrapbook and the photos of the bench and put them away. Annie opened her presents. She got such cute stuff, mainly clothes. It was a great birthday.

Towards the end of the presents, I found myself getting upset. What was happening? Why was I getting upset? I went into the kitchen to try to retreat from the birthday. I started loading my plate with food. My mom approached me and asked if I was OK. I couldn’t look at her. I quietly said, “Um…I think I will be.” As soon as I began to talk the tears welled and I couldn’t fight back the emotion. I walked over to the furthest corner of Robby and Keri’s kitchen and tried to burry my sadness there. I cried. I cried for Parker. I cried for his first birthday that we would never ever celebrate with him here on this earth. I cried. I cried because I had a baby and didn’t have him here with me in the physical sense. I cried.

My mom hugged me, as did Keri. They both asked if this was too much for me, and I immediately told them no. I wanted to be at my nieces first birthday. I wanted to help them celebrate. I didn’t want to rain on anyone’s parade, certainly not my nieces. I dried my tears and tried to compose myself. My Aunt Claudia gave me a hug and I was OK. Then my brother walked in, squeezed me and didn’t let go for a while. I love my big brother. He squeezed me and asked if I was upset because of the Parker’s Root Beer that they purchased at Safeway. I laughed a little and told him no, that there was no real reason why I was crying, this kind of thing just creeps up from time to time. I finally composed myself when Geoff walked in. I saw that he was upset too. We talked quietly, for a bit, in the kitchen. I could tell my family wanted to give us space, but at the same time stay close. They handled it perfectly.

Eventually, Geoff and I started to feel better. He went downstairs and finished his battle with Robby, I stayed upstairs, cuddled my sweet niece Annie and rocked her to sleep. At around 2:00 or so in the afternoon, mom Aunt Claudia, Amy, Keri, Sarah, Kate and I all piled into Aunt Claudia’s van and headed off to Nordstrom’s Rack.

We laughed and talked over each other the entire ride there. It was a loud good time, classic loud Copple fun. I love my family. Whenever we get together it’s just loudness and mayhem, but organized loudness and mayhem…sometimes. Any member of my extended family could easily describe how that van ride was without even being in the car. As I sit here writing this, I can still hear the noise from that ride and Kate’s sweet “excuse me…excuse me everyone,” such a fun trip.

We shopped for a couple of hours, grabbed coffee at a local bakery and then headed back to Robby and Keri’s around 4:30. We all gathered at Robby and Keri’s, ate chili, talked some more, said our goodbyes and then headed our separate ways.

Before headed back to the highway to drive home to Yakima, mom and dad wanted to make a pit stop at Grandma Neeley’s house. We visited with Grandma for a while, looked at old family photos and then headed back to Yakima.

We pulled up to mom and dad’s house at about 11:00pm. Mom, Geoff and I sat in the living room and talked until 1:00am. We talked about Parker and how the day turned out being harder then we thought it would be. We also talked about Christmas. Mom suggested that we take the money we would have spent on Parker and use it to help a child or family in need. That’s what we have decided to do. We are going to find a child or a family in need and help make their Christmas special through the loss of our son Parker. I cannot wait. I think it’s an excellent idea.

The next day was Sunday. We worshiped with my parents at their church, went out to lunch at Olive Garden and then said our goodbyes. We left Yakima at about 4:30pm and got home to Idaho around 9:30pm.

It was a great GREAT weekend.

PRAISE THE LORD!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Little Tidbits

I just wanted to share some things that have happened in our lives lately. Things that I like to think of as bright spots. Some of you have already heard some of these funny/embarrassing/sweet moments, but I thought I could share them with everyone on the worldwide web :) So here goes...

***

This story is a cute story from one of Geoff's third graders

Geoff went back to work a week after Parker was born. The principal of the school had sent out a letter to all the parents telling them about what had happened with Parker and asking them to share with their children. This was to avoid any awkward questions from children. Anyway, when Geoff arrived at school the kids hugged him and told him they were sorry. It was really sweet. Geoff appreciated every hug. One child's sentiments stood out. A third grader approached him, patted his back and said, "Tough luck buddy."

Geoff's initial reaction was irritation; however, when he came home that night and recounted the story to my mom and I, we all three busted up laughing. It has become a catchy phrase with Geoff and I. Now, whenever we're feeling frustrated with anything, we simply pat the other on the back and say, "Tough luck buddy".

***

When we found out Parker's heart had stopped we called my mom who then called all my siblings. Keri and Robby came as fast as they could and brought with them my 11 month old niece Annie and my 3 year old niece Kate. This story occurred one morning while I was putting my makeup on and getting ready for the day.

Kate: "Aunt Rachel, when is Parker coming back?"
Me: "Well...Parker won't be coming back Kate."
Kate: "How come?"
Me: "Because he's in heaven and he really likes it there, because it's a really nice place."
Kate: (shrugs her shoulders) "Oh, I've never been."

***

This story occurred just recently following my doctors appointment yesterday.

I walked into WalMart yesterday (sorry dad) to pick up a few things for the house and some goodies too. While I was there I realized that I needed to pick up some Tucks pads and hemorrhoid cream (I am not ashamed, it's a common thing that occurs during delivery). Anyway, while I was heading towards the register I saw Grady, his friend Jay and Jay's girlfriend walking into WalMart. Grady saw me right away. I thought, "Oh crap". I quickly covered up my hemorrhoid cream and Tucks pads as best I could.

Grady, Jay and his girlfriend walked up and started talking to me. I felt my face turning a bright shade of red and sweat beginning to bead up on my forehead. I was so mortified. I think I may have even said something about "You don't want to see what I'm buying." Which of course is like telling someone "DON'T LOOK!" What does that do? It simply peaks their interest.

So I held my arm over my items in an attempt to not attract attention. Jay asked if we were having a party and I said no (must have been the two bags of Brach's pumpkin candies). Then Grady must have asked what I was buying, so I told him, in a whisper, "hemorrhoid creme". He then asked what that was for and I said, in a whisper, "I have hemorrhoids!" To which he replied, "Oh, I didn't need to know that."

I stood there for a while, trying to make small talk, and finally said, "Whelp, it's been real." I turned and ran toward the nearest register and made my purchase.

***

I love life.

PRAISE THE LORD!

Don't Forget...

Yesterday (Monday the 20th) and today have been good days.

Yesterday Geoff and I went to our first SHARE of Idaho meeting. SHARE of Idaho is a support group for parents who have lost babies due to Miscarriage, Stillbirth, SIDS or early infant loss. There are also parents who have had to make the difficult decision of whether or not to save the mom or the baby (a very difficult decision I am sure).

The meetings are held at the Women's Life center near St. Luke's in Boise. It's a beautiful old house (probably built in the 20's or 30's). We sit in the living room and share the stories of our losses. Some of the women there have had years to grieve their loss. One woman's son would be 4 years old this year. Other woman's daughter would be 11 this year. While other's have had very recent losses. Geoff and I have only been grieving our loss of Parker for five weeks, while another woman lost her daughter in June.

Each of our losses are different. One woman lost her baby due to underdeveloped lungs and therefore could not survive on his how outside the uterus. Another woman lost her daughter due to an underdeveloped brain that didn't allow her to live outside the uterus either. Another woman had experienced several miscarriages (each prior to 8 weeks) after trying to get pregnant for decades. Myself and one other woman had had stillborn babies. With all of these differences we have one thing in common, we never want to forget.

We come to that support group to help each other grieve and to find a safe place to talk about our babies. That is something, aside from our losses, that we all have in common. We need a place where we can meet with other moms and dads and discuss our healing. A place where we can vent freely about frustrations we are having. A place where we can freely share our fears and concerns. A place where people will listen because they know exactly what your saying.

They (the facilitator and other women who have been attending this group for a while) said that there is no right or wrong way to grieve. That there is no time line. That the way we grieve is different from person to person. After hearing that I found that it was totally OK to have bad days or hard moments. I also discovered that it is totally OK to have good days and times when I don't feel depressed.

I am so thankful for this support group. It was a serious blessing to go there last night.

***

One of the many blessings that came out of this support group is how receptive they were of Geoff. He came with me last night, and turned out being the only guy there. Each and every one of those women made him feel welcome.

All too often the dads are forgotten. All too often the dads are looked over. All too often the dad's grief is completely ignored. This usually is subconsciously done by those around us. They don't realize that Geoff is grieving just as deeply as I am. They don't realize that his pain is as great as mine. They don't realize that he misses his son just as much as I miss him.

A lot of people tend to believe that because he didn't carry Parker for 8 1/2 months that he doesn't hurt as bad. That is wrong. Some people may think that to talk to Geoff about how he's feeling might make him feel more uncomfortable. That is wrong.

Don't forget the dads.

I say this with feelings of anger and frustration welling up inside me. I want to fill this blog with CAPS LOCK ON AND !!!!! EVERYWHERE! I am frustrated at how the dads are looked over.

The dads hurt just as bad as the moms. They cry for their children just as much as the moms do. They miss their children just as deeply. Their pain is just as great.

Remember the dads

Ask the dads how they're doing.

Reach out the dads.

To let them know that you are thinking about him, or remembering him in your prayers means so much. To let them know that you are willing to listen to them, means so much. To let the dads know that you haven't forgotten about them means SO much. To validate that they have lost a child too, means so much.

Dads hurt too.

Dads grieve too.

Dads have lost too.

Geoff lost his son, Parker Geofferson too.

Don't forget the dads...

...because they haven't forgotten.

***

Pray for the moms.

Pray for the dads.

Pray for the grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.

Pray for each member of the family touched by this loss because they all are greiving too.

And don't ever forget...

PRAISE THE LORD!!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Birthdays and a Bench

This weekend was a great weekend, PRAISE THE LORD!

Yesterday, October 19th, marked Parker's due date. Yesterday, several people were worried how Geoff and I would be doing. Geoff and I didn't even know how yesterday would go. Thank the Lord, it went really well.

Saturday we went to the Farmer's Market and bought a bench for his memorial corner. It's beautiful. It's made from old barn boards. So perfect. It's 4 1/2 feet long and fits perfectly underneath his October Glory tree. Every single leaf on his tree has turned a dark crimson red. It's gorgeous. It's almost as if it happened overnight. So now, Parker's corner is complete. I'll be taking pictures soon and sharing them with everyone.

Off and on, on Saturday, Geoff and I talked about Parker and our subsequent children (subsequent children are those you have after having a stillborn baby). We discussed how we would introduce Parker's little brother or sister to him. How we would bring out his scrapbook on his birthday and share the pictures with them. It's strange to think of how we will remember him on his birthday. It's strange to think about because it's simply one more thing that I have to get used to, introducing our subsequent children to a brother they will never meet here on this earth.

***

On Friday we had Mark and Vanessa over to watch the BSU/Hawaii game and celebrate Mark's birthday. Towards the end of the evening Vanessa and I went into Parker's room. I wanted to show her his memory box. We opened the lid and knelt on the floor beside it. I wasn't sure if I should pull everything out or if we should simply pull out what we wanted to see.

Gradually, as we knelt there, we ended up pulling out his ultrasound picture album and flipping through that. While we were looking at his ultrasounds I had mentioned that I was scared to get pregnant again. She reassured me (as have my parents and my husband) that it's totally normal to be scared. She said it's like getting in a car accident (keep reading). When you get in a car accident, the first thing you are scared to do is get back in the car. The more you do, the easier it gets. Then, it's hard to drive down the street your accident was on. Again, the more you do, the easier it gets. She then suggested surrounding myself with women who have had stillborn babies and then gone on to have subsequent children. She said the more I'm around these women, the more excited I will become about being pregnant again. Just like being in the car accident, the more I drive, the easier it will be. The more I drive down that street, the easier it will get. The more I surround myself with people who have seen the other side of this grief, the easier it will be to imagine Geoff and I on the other side.

In all honesty, we want to have more children. I want to be pregnant again. We want to start as soon as possible. BUT at the same time we want to wait. We want to heal. We want to grieve completely. So we will wait. We will surround ourselves with women who have healthy children since their loss. We will become more hopeful, and then we will start trying again.

***

2 Corinthians 12:9

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A Tribute to My Geoff






Today has been a good day. PRAISE THE LORD! Two good days in a row, that hasn't happened in a while.




***




I felt it was due time that I wrote a tribute to my Geoff. To let the world (or at least everyone who reads this blog) know just how much I love him.




Geoff and I met during our freshman year of college. We were part of the same worship band, had several mutual friends and were in the same freshman seminar class. After several days of flirting, chatting over AIM and just being around each other we started dating. I have several wonderful memories from those days. My favorite is when Geoff and I went on one of our first dates (before we become "official"...I love that term) .




Geoff asked if I wanted to go on a drive with him and, of course, I said yes. We jumped in his truck and left campus. We were headed toward Lake Lowell, but some how, he got lost. He began to panic, just a little. He kept asking me if I was scared and I said no. Even though I told him I wasn't scared, he did his best to sound like he knew where he was going. The number of houses on the road became less and less as the clock ticked closer and closer to midnight...curfew for NNU freshman. Eventually, I saw a highway sign that read Nampa - 5 miles. We followed the sign and made our way back into Nampa. It was on this drive that I learned how Geoff truly felt about me. He told me that he was intimdated by my beauty. I love that memory. I remind him of it as often as possible.




Another fun memory is of another one of our first dates. This was truly, the first date we ever went on together. I had been thinking about Geoff quite a lot leading up to this. I had been talking to my roommate Tauni about Geoff non-stop. Finally, she told me that I needed to call him, but I didn't have his number. It was then that I remembered that Geoff's roommate, Forets, had given his number to the entire 2nd floor. So I ran downstairs to the 2nd floor, and hollered that I needed Forest Fisks number. Several girls handed me the slip of paper that had his number on it. I grabbed one and ran back upstairs to my dorm room. I picked up the phone and dialed his number. Geoff answered and I stalled then blurted out that I had cabin fever and needed to get out of the dorm. He agreed to meet me outside Ford Hall in 10 minutes. After hanging up I quickly changed into a cute little outfit, spruced up my hair and makeup and ran downstairs to meet Geoff. We walked around campus and talked about everything, even the number of kids we wanted to have. It was great.




After about an hour of walking around campus, we decided that we were hungry and headed off to McDonald's. We shared a six piece chicken nuggets meal (that I ate most of) and talked some more. I remember him asking me if I liked to eat, and I said "OH yeah!" He asked me, excitedly, "Do you like steaks and buffets?!" and I responded, "Of course!" We then talked about what it was like being Pastor's kids. It was great. I didn't want to leave, but curfew was edging close and McDonald's was starting to close. We headed back to campus and decided that we didn't want the evening to end. So he ran into his dorm room, grabbed a back of crunchy M & M's that his mom had sent him and came back out to the truck. We sat, ate M & M's and talked so more all the way until 11:58. I ran to Ford and he ran into Culver. We got on our computers and talked on AIM into the wee hours of the morning. What a great date.




On September 26th we "became official" as the NNU community puts it. Almost a year later, on my 20th birthday we were engaged.




He took me out to dinner at Macaroni Grill and then took me to his parent's house. There we ate my favorite dessert, Peanut Butter Pie that he made for me and drank sparkling white grape juice on a blanket spread out in his parents side yard. It was then that he had me open my present from him. It was in a beautiful bag, with a white box that held a black velvet ring case. My heart was beating so hard that I thought it would jump right out of my chest. I don't remember what he said. All I remember was that he told me he loved me more than anything and wanted to spend the rest of his life with. He took my ring and slipped it on my finger. We cried and hugged and I just kept saying yes. It was one of the best days of my life!




On June 5th of 2004 Geoff and I got married at Yakima New Hope church of the Nazarene. Our dad's officiated, our siblings were our bridesmaids and groomsmen (except for my friend Amy and Geoff's old roommate Forest). It was a real family affair and a WONDERFUL day! My favorite memory from our wedding is when Geoff surprised me with a song. It's a Steven Curtis Chapman song I Will Be Here. I cried and so did Geoff. Then, when he was done, I looked at our dad's and whispered, "can I kiss him?" To which my dad replied, "we're trying to hold that off for as long as possible." Everyone laughed. That day was the best day of my life.




I love my Geoff. Through our 4 1/2, nearly 5 years of marriage, I have grown more and more in love with him. We have grown closer and closer as a couple should. He is my best friend. My only lover. My knight in shining armor. He is my prine.




These past few weeks since Parker's death, I have realized how much of a blessing Geoff is to me. He has been so incredibly strong, and yet, he has shown me his vulnerable side as well. I am forever thankful for him. He knows how to hold me when I need to be held. He knows how to make me laugh when I need to laugh. He knows how to love me when all I need is his love. He is my Bambino.




I love my Geoffrey




***




As I was working on this blog, I googled I Will Be Here and was blown away by how applicable the lyrics are to our life these days. Here are the lyrics...




Tomorrow mornin' if you wake up

And the sun does not appear

I...I will be here




If in the dark we lose sight of love

Hold my hand and have no fear

'Cause I...I will be here




I will be here...

When you feel like bein' quiet

When you need to speak your mindI will listen


And I will be here

When the laughter turns to cryin'

Through the winnin' and losin' and tryin'

We'll be together

'Cause I will be here




Tomorrow mornin' if you wake up

And the future is unclear

I...I'll be here




Just as sure as seasons are made for change

Our lifetimes are made for years

I...I will be here




I will be here....

You can cry on my shoulder

When the mirror tells us we're older

I will hold you




And I will be here

To watch you grow in beauty

And tell you all the things you are to me

I will be here




I will be true

To the promise I have made

To you and to the

One who gave you to me




I...I will be here




And just as sure as seasons are made for change

Our lifetimes are made for years

'Cause I...I will be here....

We'll be together




Wednesday, October 15, 2008

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

Today is a good day.


I have felt good all day. I woke up feeling good. Got ready for the day feeling good. Drove to work feeling good. Laughed with my coworker, so hard I thought I'd pee my pants. It's been a good day. And guess what, today Parker would be a month old. Today is a good day.


You're probably wondering why I'm having such a good day, on the day that marks my son's 1 month birthday? Well here's why. I rejoice because a month ago today I met my son. I held him. Kissed him. Loved him. One month ago today I saw his sweet little face for the first time. One month ago today I got to feel what it was like to become a mom. One month ago today I met my son and it was good. Those are beautiful memories.


I thank God for that day, September 15th. I thank God that I was able to see him. Hug him. Kiss him. Love him. I thank God for being able to meet my son Parker Geofferson.


***


Today is also national awareness day for lost babies. This day, around our nation and the world, women will light candles at 7:00pm in remembrance of their babies that they have lost due to miscarriage, stillbirth, SIDS, or early infant loss. Today I remember and celebrate Parker. Today I will light my candle and say a prayer for all the families that have lost a baby.


On Angie Smith's blog (audreycaroline.blogspot.com) she had women leave comments that had lost a baby. There were over 1200 comments left on her blog. I was amazed at how many women had experienced a loss of some kind during pregnancy. Most of the comments were from women who had experienced a miscarriage. Did you know that 1 out of 5 pregnancies will not end in a live birth! That's not a very comforting statistic, but it goes to show how many families are touched by this. That means that 20% of women will experience a loss, whether a miscarriage or stillbirth.


So today, I will celebrate Parker and I will celebrate the lives that have been lost. I will pray for them and for their families. Today I will light my candle.


***


Today is my mom's birthday. She'll be....well I won't tell :) She'll be a year older, we'll say that :)


I'm so thankful for my mom. She's the best mom a girl could ask for. She calls and checks on me quite frequently these days. I'm thankful for that.


Last night she called and I cried on the phone with her. She sat and listened to me tell her all about my hard day. Then, after Geoff and I got back from dinner she called again. This time Geoff was able to complain on the phone with her, and she listened. Then I got on the phone and she told me all about her TERRIBLY FUN suprise birthday party and then she listened to me complain some more. I love how she allows Geoff and I to be total "Debbie Downers". She's the best mom in the world (HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM...if you're reading this).


For the past few days I've been shopping for a birthday card. One that will say the right thing. I don't want one that will make her cry, I seem to find TONS of those. I want one that say just the right thing in just the right way. So...since I can't seem to find it at hallmark (shocking) then I'll have to make one myself. I'll work on that today, I'm usually late sending cards anyways (my brother's birthday was October 6th and I still haven't sent him his card...and if mom's reading this, she'll probably call me and tell I need to send him one, or she'll tell me that I can just wait until Annie's first birthday party...love you mom :) ).


***


Today's been a good day.


Filled with good laughter,


Good conversation,


Good memories,


A birthday for mom,


And my God close by.


Happy Birthday MOM!


Happy One Month Birthday Parker!!


PRAISE GOD FOR FAMILY TODAY!!


PRAISE GOD FOR ALL THE BABIES!!
(both alive with us and those angels in heaven)


PRAISE GOD for HE IS SO GOOD!!


2 Corinthians 12:9