Sunday, August 14, 2016

And then.... She went to Kindergarten

I will never forget the morning I learned about you.... I'd been feeling so sick for so long and had absolutely no thought that it could possibly be you. Nevertheless, when I woke up on December 1st, 2009, the very first thing I learned that day was that you were on the way. Daddy fist bumped the air and skipped out the door with an extra spring in his step...  I spent most of that day crying - silly me, I had no idea that you were my miracle.

I will never forget our first sonogram and telling the doctor we wanted to be surprised by who you were  - we wanted to pray over your character for the full 40 weeks without knowing specifics. It was our joy to pray as we watched you grow, to dream as we prepared our lives for you.... we moved to Coppell because of you... it was my joy to eat cottage cheese and fruit to my heart's content (and it warms my heart to know that cottage cheese is still your favorite food).

July 31, 2010 was the day you were born and was the day my life changed forever. Daddy screamed "its a girl" then had the chance to hold you close.... and then it was my turn. I remember the room, the smells, the euphoric and surreal feeling it still gives me when I think about the first moment you and I locked eyes. Sometimes, you still make that same resting face and I'm immediately transported back to this moment with you in my arms for the first time. If I ever lose my mind, I'm sure I'll never lose that memory... its forever engrained.  We hadn't even named you yet.... but I knew. I knew you were going to be my Eleanor Michael... a little girl of compassion and honor who's life brings glory and honor to God... that is what your name means and that is who you've become.

To say that the next six years have been a blur, or on warp speed, or too fast, or too wonderful, or too EVERYTHING would be an understatement. Nothing could have gone by faster... and yet, I pray I remember details as I do now, for a lifetime. You are not perfect. But you are my joy. From your first coos, to your sarcastic humor... I've had more fun getting to know you than I could put into words. Watching you blossom into this confident, funny, caring, loyal, unique, witty, kind and beautiful little girl is pretty much more than my heart can take. I've learned so much from you and have so much respect for you, already... your humble, yet assured countenance is so graceful. Your kind spirit is contagious. Your smile (even with your mouth closed) displays a heart inside of you so full of joy. Loving you is easy, baby girl. And I had to say all that because now I have to admit this......

Tomorrow, we start a new chapter. Punkin Bottom YOU are a Kindergartener. How do I have a kindergartener? I remember being one, myself! When you walk through that door and you sit down in that classroom, chapter two of your story begins..... and baby girl, you are ready. I may not be, but you are. You are ready to make new friends, fall in love with learning, to be brave and kind and inclusive and hilarious, to continue to be fashioned into the girl God has created you to be... and Eleanor, we can't wait to watch this all unfold! We can't wait to cheer for you, pray for you, pray with you, study alongside of you, challenge you and believe in you.

So as you go... the verse we named you from is, again, a perfectly suited prayer and charge over you:
Colossians 3
12 - Put on then, as God's chose one, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness and patience..... oh Eleanor, you have such a kind and loving heart. May God continue to shape it in His own unique and perfect way for you... we pray you grow to be a girl that is confidently passionate about who she is, sees others, pursues people with intention and works diligently with respect for authority and others.
13 - bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.... we pray you are quick to offer reconciliation, grace and forgiveness. We live in an imperfect world where not everyone will be kind or always choose the right thing, but we pray that you first come to an understanding of the free gift of salvation Christ offers you and that you can truly grasp the overwhelming grace He has extended to you.... this is paramount, sweetie.
14 - And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.... We've always told you that you are the most beautiful girl in the world. And I hope you remember that we immediately follow up that statement with what makes you beautiful... your precious, loving, tender, caring, kind heart makes you beautiful, Eleanor. Never forget that... be loving. We pray you stand out for being kind and unassuming, because you are different in your pursuit of people, and for being FOR others.
15 - And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful... Its okay to be scared, its okay to be unsure, but Eleanor we pray you lean on our comforter... He is our peace. We pray you take deep root in the knowledge and understanding of Christ, that you know He is good, He knows you, He is for you... and you know how Daddy and I love you more that words can express???.... well, He loves you more. Walk confidently knowing that the Creator of the universe sees and knows and loves you. 
16 - Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.... I can't wait to watch you learn to read. I can't wait to be part of you learning Scripture. I love hearing you sing and it brings me joy to know that as you study, God's word will be implanted on your heart. We pray you hold fast to it all of your days, that it becomes a safe haven and a love story and a way you learn more of who God is... and that it will bring you to praise. 
17 - And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.... You can be anything you want to be, Eleanor. You will work hard, you will lose a lot of races, you will get frustrated and there will be things you don't naturally excel at.... and then there will be the things in which you soar, the things you learn that make your heart sing, that make your heart pump a little faster, that open your eyes to this incredible world we live in and to all the things your incredible mind and body can do. Whatever you do, we love you. We love you, we love you, we love you. Whatever you do, we pray you recognize your life is a gift... and all of the gifts, talents, strengths you acquire are a gift. We pray that you live and learn and respond and grow in such a way that it points to something greater... it points to Christ. 

I would give anything, literally ANYTHING, to go back and revisit different moments (if not all the moments) in these last six years with you. I'd give anything to hold you swaddled up with a paci, cuddle up and listen to you sing "You are my sunshine" as a toddler, go back to the day you took your very first dance class, or saw the ocean for the very first time, or have a conversation with you as a 2, 3, 4, 5 year old again because those memories and moments are some of the best in my life. But I'm ready for chapter two... I'm giddy for the memories we will make in your kindergarten year.... and beyond. 

You are my first miracle, Eleanor. Loving you is easy and profound and knowing you is life-changing. I love you, fiercely, and pray for years and years and years and years to get to know you, to love you, to disciple you and to enjoy you. You'll be my best girl, forever. Like I said, I may not be ready... but I am because you are. You are ready, sweet girl.... and so mama's heart swells. 

Class of 2029... here she comes. 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

One Year Later

Today is an anniversary that I imagine many who have one, like me, hate to recognize. It was in the wee hours of the morning just one year ago that I woke up and knew.... that precious Baby #3 that my body was carrying, was no longer going to be a baby I would carry on earth. To say it was horrific would be an understatement. Not just because of the physical act in and of itself, but because in that very moment hopes, dreams, plans for our future were stolen. I remember being so matter-of-fact when I told BJ what was happening... its was about 4am, so it kind of seemed matter-of-fact. But it was in waking up that morning... realizing it wasn't a dream. It was a nightmare... my real life nightmare.

Something strange happened as I lost that sweet baby... many of my close friends are aware, but about 10 days later I had a pretty bad fall while picking up Tripp. When I fell, I didn't get back on my feet for the next 5 weeks (literally) with the exception of Eleanor's birthday and a few other random events. When I lost Baby #3, my physical miscarriage ended up doing a world of damage to my already tense back.... I ended up having a herniated and torn disc, that to this day I remain constantly aware of. I've spent the last year (literally) in the doctors office. Whether it was a chiropractor, a physical therapist, or other specialized treatment... the only activity I have been allowed to do is what has been prescribed by a doctor. Talk about insult to injury - in so many ways, losing baby #3 was always at the front of my mind. How could it not be... I am at the doctor or in bed or unable to play with E&T like I should as a result... but more importantly, how could it not be? period.

Its no secret that I have always dreamed of having a big family - before BJ and I were even married I often joked, but was never joking, that I wanted 4 kids in 5 years. When we had Eleanor and found out that we were pregnant with Tripp, I was beside myself that kid-S were actually really in the cards for us. I've never been more humbled in my entire life than in hearing my babies' first cries. They were real, they were gifts to BJ and I, they were a dream come true. Eleanor and Tripp are a dream come true. I am baffled by the fact that I am old enough to be their mom, but wise enough to know that I am not wise at all.... learning along the way. And I guess I just needed a place to say, I am humbled. If Eleanor Michael and Tripper are the two children that have been entrusted to us, and will be the only children ever biologically entrusted to us, I am humbled. Overwhelmed. Joyful. Thankful.

So here I sit today, sad... devastated even, that I am not holding a 4 month old little nugget. My soul hurts today. Like I could throw-up kind of pain. I sit here questioning.... where are you in this, God? What is true about You? about our future? about our hope? about contentment? I'm not afraid to be transparent (obviously), so after months of "trying" to conceive, visiting doctors to figure out why we haven't or how we can.... I'm pretty bummed today to say we are not pregnant. A year later, and no new Rector baby is here on earth or growing in me. "My dream" for my big family seems to just a big question mark. And today, I'll admit that hurts... but I'm okay. I'm not at peace, but I trust the peace-giver. So I'll start there.

But today, I'm also giving thanks. Thank you, Jesus, for Eleanor and Tripp. Thank you for the miracles that they are. I know this now more than ever... they are MIRACLES. I don't take that lightly, nor take them for granted... I'm overwhelmed today as Tripper is literally snuggling with me as I type. Yes, I'm grieving the loss of an unborn baby.... but I'm loving on one right here. Thank you for my babies. I'll be honest, I pray for more. I am mourning not holding Baby #3. For the controlling type, like I am, it is suffocating to not be in control. But, I trust. Today, Tomorrow... I trust. I also realize that my pain today, the loss we had, the unknown future that stands before us does not dictate if God is good. He is... He's saved me, held me, protected and preserved me... and He is faithful to do so until the end.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Well, here we go!

Today is a big day in the Rector household. Today begins a new era for our family. I don’t know if I can adequately put my feelings into words to describe where we are, the changes that today bring, and all that they mean for us. But I’ll try. 

In July 2012 I began a (little) journey that was completely foreign to me. After the transition home from event planning to raising Eleanor and Tripp, I quickly realized that living under a tight budget was possible, but scary considering how expensive life is and will continue to be. I knew that BJ was doing what he could to give me what I desired most… the chance to be home and raise our babies. The toll was large because it took him out of the home, sometimes out of the city, to provide financially for our family to look the way it did. 
So when I was introduced to a little business called Rodan + Fields, I was intrigued by the simple fact that inside my home, on my terms, in my yoga pants and during nap time, I could bring in any supplemental income to take whatever pressures off of BJ that I could.  BJ and I decided, "Why not us?" Why not see where this little opportunity could lead? I’ll admit a few things to you…
1. Direct sales has never attracted me.  In fact, I was really turned off by the idea of it simply because I assumed it would turn me into a version of someone that my friends (and I) wouldn’t like. I hated the idea that people would think I'd pursue them for a buck, so I never dreamed I would find myself in a career like this. But, I have been pleasantly surprised that I do NOT feel this way. (Hopefully my peeps don’t feel this way about me either.) 
2. I have never been a product junkie.  I have always used Neutrogena (or the like) for my skin (alongside of prescription steroid cream for eczema).  I am not the girl who must try the newest or the best skincare line; I typically try the cheapest. :) 
3. I do, however, really love people. I love pursuing people - intentional relationships - and though I’m not the best at it, I really love being a part of the lives of those I am around. And the thought of a business that is solely based on new and existing relationships… well, that is exciting for a momma who went from a fast-paced social career to building blocks and coloring with kiddos all day. It could give me a part of ME back.

When I first heard about Rodan + Fields I had just transitioned into life as a stay-at-home mom leaving a high-stress, demanding and exciting job in event planning to raise my babies. My husband, BJ, works hard and has sacrificed his hobbies, many of his passions and time at home all to ensure that our needs are met and that I don't have to work. Rodan + Fields offers me the opportunity to stay home with my kids, and yet strive to bless our family financial situation to take whatever pressures off of BJ that I am able. In the short term, this may look as simple as having extra date, clothes or play money... but I am dreaming big, and I am confident that in time I will be able to bring in substantial funds that would allow our family to grow, enable us to give, save and invest... all while I have the opportunity to invest in the lives of my husband, my kids and the people I meet along the way. - (this is what I wrote in August 2012 about a week after I joined R+F)

Having never tried the product and having never been in a sales position, I decided I had nothing to lose.  These products were created by Drs. Rodan and Fields, world-renowned dermatologists who still practice and who have created quite a reputation for their incredible ventures. This business was completely based on lifestyle marketing - not sales - but on sharing as I went, where I was, in a way that keeps me true to who I am and what matters most.  There is a 60-day empty bottle guarantee - I knew if I started using the products and didn’t like them or the business that I could opt out no-harm, no-foul.  And quite frankly, I knew that if (at best) I could bring home a couple hundred dollars a month without compromising my priorities, that THIS would be a blessing. I can honestly admit that never in a million years did I think it would be so much more than an opportunity to make a couple hundred dollars, take pressure off of BJ, and allow me to accomplish all of this around my kiddos schedules. Instead, what has happened has been nothing short of life-changing. 

After my first couple of months as a consultant with Rodan + Fields, I quickly realized I was sitting on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.  I earned a few trips, I earned a Lexus SUV, I replaced my old income and more…. and I got to stay Momma. I never had to miss a playdate, I didn’t have to give up bible studies or ballet and gymnastics classes. I got to stay active with my book club and have date nights with my husband… I got to stay me.  But, I’ve been able to revive a part of me professionally that I really do adore. I TRULY only work this business during nap times, when my kids are at preschool, or a night or two after they are down, and yet, it has changed everything.

So, why is today a big day? How does it mark a new era? Today, BJ officially resigns from his corporate job. Today, BJ becomes a partner with me in a crazy venture that we believe has incredible potential for the future. Today, as a family we decided that while his job and the opportunity he has had for the last three years was an incredible gift to our family… it is not his future. We want a daddy at home who doesn’t have to hop on a plane weekly, who doesn’t have to be out of the house 9-5 every day…. instead, one that gets to be as much a part of our home life as I am. And it has been made possible by Rodan + Fields. You may think we are nuts (um, we are nuts) but we are also humbled, thankful, overwhelmed, hopeful, and excited for this next chapter of our lives. R+F has made it possible for me to not only bless our family, but also for our family to decide the way we want to move forward, how we want our days/years to look, where we want to spend our time and invest our future. BJ leaving his job doesn’t mean you’ll find him at the golf course every day or that our life will become glamorous… but you will see us both getting to spend our time intentionally with our family, investing in our passions, and dreaming about future ventures we will take. We now have the opportunity to pursue dreams we never thought possible… and we are going to take our time to figure out what this means. 

What I don’t want anyone to hear or to assume: This is not BJ and I celebrating “retirement". This does not mean we have fallen into a get-rich-quick plan that randomly struck us like the lottery. This does not mean it will be forever. I’ve worked hard (although on my own terms) to build a business. Our business, family, and future are all the Lord’s, which we hold with open hands. The reality is that nothing in life is certain and we are choosing to walk by faith that the Lord has given us the gift of time and freedom through our business. The hope and prayerful expectation is that the Lord continues using R+F in our family. He has grown our passions and this business for us.  While sometimes my fleshly fears with our decision are both the perception of others and also the fragility of what “we” have built, the truth is this is and always was the Lord's. Our days have been ordained by Him; this is a blessing, we will walk and move forward, trusting that as we walk we will not only find joy, but also great reward in all that we do. We are so thankful for "Team Rector"... celebrating those that have joined us and the MANY successes that they have seen and that are in their futures, as well. 

So… cheers to new beginnings! Here goes (wait for it)…. everything!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Seeing Closure (but not really).

I'll never forget writing this letter…. I thought about it all day and would not allow myself to go to bed until I had written it. I wanted Baby #3 to know my exact thoughts the day I learned of them - just like I had for Eleanor and Tripp. I guess the funny (actually, not funny at all) thing about writing it, was that I was scared the whole time. I was so nervous that if I actually put my thoughts on paper (or in the computer) that anything going wrong would be magnified that much more. I call that funny only because I really didn't have that with E and T…. of course I was always nervous or scared that I could lose them in the womb, but I don't know if I can explain it. Just a different feeling…. one that I guess I couldn't really believe it was that easy again, pregnant for the third time., and it felt really fragile.

So I wrote what is below…. knowing that the letter to our sweet Baby #3 would be the first in their baby book (um, this blog) like E and T both have. I put it out there and praised the Lord that He had trusted us, again, with a miracle. 

June was a crazy month for us… we had traveled to Hawaii with the kids and both sets of grandparents, BJ had transitioned from a traveling to a home-based role at SAP and I was having a pretty big month in my business. Finding out that we were pregnant on June 23rd simply made for an exciting cherry-on-top to the chaos. I mean, THRILLED, and honestly BJ and I just couldn't believe what blessings were being afforded to us and how our life was really just in an AWESOME place. This was the icing on the cake - to say the least.  Of course my OCD (when I want it to be) mind starting planning, preparing and dreaming about what the nursery would look like, how it would work in our new house, what this baby would look like, etc etc etc….. and I continued to do so for the next week. 

I went to bed on June 30 and remember telling BJ I would never forget that night as long as I lived. Like I said, I was having a pretty big month for business and found out that day that I had officially qualified for a brand new Lexus with my company…. again, humbled beyond belief at all that was going on. I mean, a job that keeps me home with my kids and pays me more than I could have ever dreamed possible, a new car on top of that AND most importantly, a new baby. I'd never forget that feeling, I told myself. And I know it now more than ever, I never will. 

July 1st hit like a tons of bricks. I woke up around 4am and knew… that precious baby, I'd lost it. Only hours before I thought I was untouchable, and here I was in the wee hours of the morning gasping for air, suffocating by the reality that the sweet baby I was rejoicing over was now not going to be a reality on earth. 

I have a lot of friends that have walked through miscarriage - and I've read a lot of blogs over the years describing the loss of a pregnancy or child…. I've read or heard about them, feared it more than anything in the world, but never assumed it would be me. Never even had the idea of what that would feel like…. because who would want to imagine that? Or wish it upon their worst enemy?

I don't have a point to this…. nor a conclusion that I even know how to write. I just wanted to have a place where I could honor that sweet baby we wanted, we lost and that quite frankly, I am still really grieving. Not sure I ever want to stop grieving, because then it is as if I've moved on… or forgotten… I haven't. I won't. I would be lying if I said I'm not angry, confused and sad that I won't know that child this side of heaven. And yet here I am, again, choosing to trust that I have  a Father who meets me in the pain. He has… I'm breathing today and that is proof. Grace for the moment, I constantly need it and He's given it. 

Don't challenge my theology here, because well, my heart won't be able to handle it…. but Lord beg the day when our faith shall be sight. United with our Savior in heaven and my Sweet Baby #3.

I've been nauseous for the last 4 days. I think a part of me kept denying that I really was feeling queasy because so badly I had hoped I was dizzy for a reason. We haven't been trying for another baby... but on the same note, we haven't NOT been trying, either. So I kind of wonder every month if I could, in fact, be pregnant.

Right after we had Tripper boy, BJ and I agreed that we would cool our baby-making jets for 5 minutes and take a bit of a gap between Tripp and any other kids that may join our clan. Specifically, we knew we were headed to Hawaii this June and BJ desperately wanted to travel with someone not pregnant (the last 2 times we had been there I was most definitely with child). So we agreed that while we both didn't believe our family was "complete", that for the foreseeable future we would play it cool.

Well, we returned from Hawaii about 2 weeks ago now (boo!).... and we never really talked much about it, didn't "table it" for further discussion... but we both agreed that we were happy we made it to our goal of going on vacation and being able to enjoy adult beverages :).

So back to yesterday.... I've been super nauseous all week and started cramping pretty badly at one point in they day... so I told BJ that I was pretty sure I was about to (ahem) become a lady. It really didn't even cross our minds (not true - it was absolutely smeared all over my mind) that I could be pregnant. I just didn't want to get my hopes up and then (ahem) become a lady.... but then a few more hours passed and that all-too-familiar "morning" sickness made itself completely obvious. There was NO way that this was just heartburn, or carsickness, or indigestion, or dizziness, or fatigue... No, I felt like this a total of 32 weeks in my life before, so I know it well (12 with Eleanor and 20 with Tripp).

In the most ridiculous "let's play it cool there is NO way I am pregnant I just want to be positive" way, I sent BJ to the store to buy a test... seeing as it was 10:30pm at night, we went to bed knowing they work best in the morning. The problem... the "morning" sickness... it was super full-throttle by this point and I was miserable trying to go to bed for the better part of all night long. Woo.

Woke up to sweet Tripper saying "Mommmmmmaaa.....!!!" in his bed around 7:30am (I think I had fallen asleep around 3am.... and decided I would take the test before I went to get him from his crib. I found myself nervous and anxious and worried and excited all at once. Thinking, ok if this stick says "not pregnant" you will be okay - because I am pretty sure I am not and we haven't even tried and I mean, the Lord's timing will be perfect..... but at the same time, giddy just hoping I would see this....

Tripper and I walked back in to find this little message and both started to cry. Not really, Tripper said "milk" and I cried and laughed and smiled and squeezed my middle child with great joy. We went straight to get Eleanor and I couldn't believe my baby girl would be the oldest of my children... and that this BIG girl is actually old enough to have two siblings younger than her when I feel like I remember this moment finding out that I was pregnant with her as if it was yesterday. Life is so bizarrely fast. And so, so good.

It took BJ all of 3 minutes after walking in from work to ask if I had taken "the test".... and I couldn't hold it in. Yep, its true. Momma isn't nuts... I know my body, I know "morning" sickness and Baby Rector #3 is coming March 1 (or late February). We. Are. THRILLED.

Little one, you are LOVED - I can't even tell you how excited I am to have you in my tummy right now.  I had to write it out before I went to bed because I never want to forget how humbled, how emotional, how excited I am about finding out that you are growing and our family gets YOU. You have been prayed FOR, you are a blessing and you have the two best older siblings already practicing (on each other) for how to properly hold a baby. Thank you, Jesus, for this gift - my dreams are coming true, again.... You are so faithful to know the desires of our hearts and have timing that is perfectly from You.... Baby Rector #3, come to Momma :)!

BLURG. Reading that again hurts. So why share this? I never want to forget (not like I ever would). But I also never realized how many people have gone through, are going through or possibly will go through this one day... I just want to shout out: you are not alone. And you are not crazy for your pain. It hurts - It sucks - Its real... but He heals. He calls us to rest in that.... "Come to ME all of you who are weary and heavy laden, I WILL give you rest." Matthew 11:28