Monday, June 8, 2015

Flowers for Eleni

It arrived on Friday, a big squishy package from my dear friend, Jodi.  I knew what I'd find inside, and I got exactly this far, then stopped.

Flowers for Eleni from YOU ALL!

Over the weekend I waited for the right moment to open it.  To tell you the truth, I was scared.  I know these Flowers for Eleni are full of So Much Love, but they also bring me back to the initial, staggering loss.  I was afraid that having the quilt here would somehow hurt more.

Flowers for Eleni from YOU ALL!

On Sunday I went to church without Brandon and Eleni.  We've decided to start taking turns going to church with our big kids, because when we all go we find ourselves sitting in the back with the other parents with young babies.  It is too heartbreaking to see these other healthy babies the same age as Eleni right now.  And then Eleni misses her nap, and we're both distracted anyways.  
Anyways, I bring up the service because I learned something yesterday.  I am called not just to hope for Eleni's healing, but also to have faith that we can be happy even if she remains low functioning/severely affected.

Flowers for Eleni from YOU ALL!

Deep breath.

I really, really, really don't like that option, and I don't see how it's possible for me to be happy that way (let alone for her to be happy, for Brandon to be happy, for Aria and Liam to be happy...), but that's not the point.  It's like when Jesus called Peter out on the water, out of the boat in the midst of the storm.  Peter didn't know how to walk on water.  The boat was his only safety.  In the same way, I'm called to accept and hope for happiness even if my baby's not healed, even though I can't fathom how.  Although I can work like the dickens for her healing, if I'm to have freedom in my heart I need to be able to step out of the "boat" of her being well someday and start walking on water.

Flowers for Eleni from YOU ALL!

At church I was inspired and yielding to that idea.  Then I came home and saw her again and felt so much resistance - I so desperately want her to be well!  I know it's OK to want her to be well.  It's opening my heart to being OK if she isn't, that's so much harder.

Flowers for Eleni from YOU ALL!

On Sunday afternoon I gathered myself and slowly opened the quilt.  And I think it was just the right moment.  I realized that your quilt reminds me of how I must accept this painful part of my life.  I must look for the beauty in it, for the flowers, for the love that comes round the world and ultimately from the Father.  

Flowers for Eleni from YOU ALL!

It's beautifully done, front and back.  I am just starting to discover the special bits of quilting too.  My gratitude to each of you who sent flowers to Jodi in Australia.  I hear there is another flowers quilt - even bigger! - that might grace Eleni's bed someday.  One day, when she's older and I tell her from which these flowers grew, she'll understand why I sang this hymn to her so often in the NICU:

For the Beauty of the earth,
For the Glory of the skies,
For the Love that From Our Birth
Over and around us lies,
Lord of all, to Thee we raise,
This our hymn of Grateful Praise.

Thank you for surrounding us with love!

Flowers for Eleni from YOU ALL!

79 comments:

  1. Tears in my eyes...such a beautiful quilt filled with love.

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  2. It's a beautiful quilt and you can see the love in it just looking at it over the internet. I love the different colors and the way it is all put together.

    Many additional hugs from up here in NYC. I am keeping you and your family in my practice (I'm a Buddhist practitioner) and will continue to do so as you adjust to your new life with Eleni (who is cute as a button btw). It all sounds like a lot but you both sound like amazing parents and I'm sure you'll get her to her fullest potential and have great times as she ages and continues to develop. It's just different which is always good news/bad news and thus can be overwhelming. Hang in there.

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  3. Wow you always manage to say the right things with the best attitude Rachel. Life is life, and as I wrestle with our eternally empty nest I'm often thinking of you and yours...I'm thrilled beyond words to have made something with my hands that now lives in your house and heart xxx Jodi did such a wonderful job! Clare x

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  4. How incredibly brave of you to bare your soul to your unseen readers. We came to see quilts and have stayed through so much more. The quilt is beautiful.

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  5. Rachel, you are a brave, loving, inspirational woman. Eleni is so lucky to have you as her mother. You are someone that fights and someone that accepts. Wishing you all good things,
    Catherine X

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  6. Sometimes, it takes courage to dream, while other times, it takes courage to accept things as they may be. I hope that you will be capable of courage enough to both dream and accept the outcomes that await you and your family.

    Thank you for sharing your journey. The quilt is beautiful and definitely a reminder that there is still thoughtfullness and caring in the world.

    Take care,
    Stephanie

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  7. You're such a beautiful sweet Mom, Rachel, and what a beautiful quilt from friends all over the world who love you and your family! You are so fortunate to know the love of Jesus and to trust in Him. I don't know how he will help you, but he will. I was looking back over my life early this morning before I read your post and thinking about the especially hard times in my life and how he was with me and helped me through everything. I don't know the answer to your questions, but I do know that God will be there with you, walking with you and Eleni, holding your hands, giving you strength and providing for you every step of the way -- He is faithful. And I think along the way you will find out that the most incredibly beautiful place has been carved out in your heart. And in that place will have grown the most beautiful garden -- a garden that not only nourishes you but everyone around you.

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    1. Amen to that. I agree wholeheartedly, He has you covered in His love Rachel.

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  8. Dear rachel,

    Just read this post and I have goose bumps now. How touching, what an inner struggle. How strong, good and brave you are ... I'll always think of you and Eleni and pray for you whenever I hear the hymn you wrote down, one of my favourites ...

    Take care & hats off to you,
    Carolien

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  9. When you say that you know you are called to have faith that you can be happy even if Eleni's well-being does not significantly improve, it sounds to me as if you have already taken your first steps on the water. You know that that particular article of faith is there, even if you haven't exactly found it yet. You're an inspiration. Thank you for this post.

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  10. Beautiful post, and gorgeous quilt! I hope you can feel that your friends are lifting you up (and wrapping you up) in their love and prayers.

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  11. We cannot control grief...it controls us. I hate that part. Grief comes from love...I get that part. It took me years to reconcile that...if there is a God...it is not me..I still fight accepting life on life terms. Sending small thoughts with great love.

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  12. Beautiful words spoken from a Mother's heart!

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  13. A beautiful heartfelt post - No matter where the journey leads, you will be the best mother for Eleni.

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  14. I hope that you are able to find peace through the coming days, weeks, months, and years. Though I have never experienced a loss like this I know that for me expectation is the thief of my joy. I ask God to help me redefine my expectations and then I'm able to find the happiness in the things that once made me sad. Once again sending you hugs and prayers.

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  15. You are an amazing woman. All of your children are so lucky to have your strength, honesty and wisdom in their lives.

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  16. Tears now! What a wonderful post. I think God has given you this possibility, at the moment it feels like just a straw to clutch, but I'm convinced that your faith will grow as you are able to leave that boat and start walking.

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  17. Such a beautiful quilt and lovely photos!

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  18. Tears in my eyes, praise in my heart! "Hope in God, for I will yet praise Him!" Psalm 43:5. I love that verse because it gives a foundation (God) , hope (will praise) and space (yet). Sounds like God met you in a profound way. Prayer answered. The quilt is beautiful!

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  19. What a lovely post - sad and happy at the same time. Thoughts and prayers for you and your family. Such a beautiful quilt too - I can see my flower on that one. Enjoy it.

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  20. That's a powerful message. Trusting God for happiness now and each day even in hard circumstances or if our hopes aren't met, while still serving/working with a hopeful heart. Lovely to know this quilt has arrived, along with my little silk stitched red flower.

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  21. I hope for you and your family not only the "peace that surpasses all understanding" but also the joy.

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  22. Eleni, what a lovely and beautiful name for a lovely and beautiful baby. With a sincere heart i type the words. You are an amazing woman Ms. Rachel. Eleni is one lucky little one to have you as a mama. I am confident God will continue to support you, Eleni and your family as you journey through life.

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  23. Eleni, what a lovely and beautiful name for a lovely and beautiful baby. With a sincere heart i type the words. You are an amazing woman Ms. Rachel. Eleni is one lucky little one to have you as a mama. I am confident God will continue to support you, Eleni and your family as you journey through life.

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  24. She knows your voice, and your touch. That she knew before she was born.
    She knows your love.

    This is a beautiful quilt. Everyone that participated in creating this masterpiece is an angel.
    Acceptance of all matters in life, large and small, is a process.
    I admire your courage. You have expressed your deepest thoughts so well.

    All of you remain in my constant prayers.
    I Love You always, dear Rachel.

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  25. You are blessed beyond measure - as is Eleni. And all the sewists who contributed to this gorgeous work of art. All the good thoughts and prayers that went into it, as well as all the prayers and emotions welling up as we all read your post. Glory!

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  26. Rachel, may your faith in God, see you and your family through this very trying time in your lives. We all want what's best for our children, but sometimes God sends a little special needs angel to a family who he knows, will watch over her, protect her, and love her no matter what imperfections she entered this world with. There may also be a miracle in her future, something that we will continue praying very hard for, hoping that the good Lord hears and answers our prayers.

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  27. Prayers and hope sent to you and your family. May God wrap his loving arms around you and your baby just like that quilt.

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  28. I promise that you can be happy even if your baby doesn't develop normally. Not now, not even soon, but it can and will happen. After she grows and you get a better idea of what you are dealing with, you will will cease to think of your child as different and just think of her as Eleni. You'll even stop wondering about "what might have been" and be joyful with what is. I know because it happened to me.

    I don't know you but I think about you a lot. I remember how devastating and frightening it all was at first, especially after reading your "Together, Alone" post. Keep hoping for healing, both for your daughter and for yourself. You need it as much as she does.

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  29. P.S. I sang that same hymn to my daughter all the time!

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  30. A bittersweet post to read. You have a wonderful way of expressing your thoughts and feelings. The quilt is beautiful...what a special gift! We serve an awesome God and I am so thankful that when our trust in His plan wears thin He is holding our hand and never lets go.

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  31. What an absolutely wonderful show of love. I feel like wrapping up in a quilt is like being wrapped in a hug; warm, comforting, peaceful.

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  32. Beautiful quilt, beautiful show of love, one of my favorite hymns & all for a beautiful family! Thanks for a beautifully written blog post about true love from our Father and the friends & family we have here on this earth!

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  33. Beautiful hymn. It's not one I'd known before. As always, I am praying.

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  34. Thanks for the honesty in your difficult times. I hope wrapping yourself in that quilt reminds you that you are not alone on this journey.

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  35. I'm so glad I read your post today, it's so powerful. Throwing yourself into God's arms and trusting that you will be ok is SO VERY HARD! I pray that you will remember that He loves you when you are feeling upset. This journey you are on is not going to be easy, but God is with you the whole way.

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  36. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus!
    The Lord will give all of you the strength that you need, Rachel.

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  37. As I read these words again, I'm praying the Father keeps weaving his love and colour and comfort through each wonderful and painful and unexpected turn.
    Your photos are lovely!
    xxx

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  38. What beautiful words and photos Rachel. You are a blessing to your family, as they are to you. When we had trouble conceiving and thought we could not have children, we decided we would move overseas and make a new life, so that we wouldn't be around long-time friends giving birth and raising their own children - as much as we were trying to share their joy, it was too painful, too hard - so I absolutely understand your decision to attend church in turns. When we were blessed with two babies, and one baby in heaven, we stayed here in Australia, though my heart always connects to people who are walking a difficult path with their own children (or who have not been blessed with children). Whatever God's plan is for Eleni, and for you all as a family, know that you are all in the palm of His hand. You are grieving for a different life, and it will take as long it takes, for you to all move into this new life. You will meet people you would never otherwise have met, experience emotions you would never otherwise have experienced, and share love and moments as a family that you would not have otherwise shared. My prayers continue for Eleni and for you all. She is a beautiful girl, who is so blessed to have you as her Mum. One prayer is that one day soon, she will turn her head to meet your eyes. Cat x (I saw one of my flowers on your quilt, it's the one made from Ayumi's green floral fabric, with the little 'E' for Eleni. Jodi has done wonderful work).

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  39. Such a beautiful work the Father is doing in and through you Rachel, through the pain and the grief. My prayer is that He gives you the strength to accept what you cannot change, and the courage to change what you can, and the contentment that comes from know He walks beside you and your family all the way xx

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  40. God bless you Rachel and your beautiful family.

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  41. Rachel, you speak the truth here and it will heal you. Loving what is is our work here. I heard a person once describe coming to terms with her child, born other than she had hoped - like arriving in Venice when you planned to be in Paris - a very different city but worthy of loving too. To be present in this precious life is all that matters and you know how to do that. I include you and your fabulous family in my meditation practice.

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  42. Eleni is so lucky to have you as her mother. We are so lucky that you share your struggles with us... I am so lucky to read your blog. I am so lucky to read Jodi's blog and know that I can share my love and sew some flowers for you and for Eleni.

    Thanks

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  43. Hardly know what to say, you inspire so many people, encourage and give hope to so many people. God will bless you because of your courage. Sometimes there is a reason for what happens. Sometimes it's not fair. Sometimes it's not obvious and never will be. Your blog, though initially about sewing, quilting, has led so many to feel loved and accepted because of your openness. That is a gift. Thank you... Your courage will be rewarded. Maybe not how you hope, but I believe it will be rewarded. God Bless you and yours. Always x

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  44. Eloquently written post Rachel. Thinking of you all still. Much love xx

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  45. May the Lord carry your burdens so that you might feel light.

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  46. Rachel, God's heart rejoices with your faith and carries you through your struggles. When you are weary, God is strong. The journey ahead is uncertain. But you have all you need in Him. You have built your house on rock, not sand, and so your joy will find a home in a place of the Lord's.
    Flowers will always be part of Eleni's life because you are there for her, giving her love. And oh, if we could only experience a fraction of God's love for her!
    Thank you. You are building my faith by sharing your life and I KNOW you are doing that and more for others.

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  47. so beautiful. I pray for you to find the strength to be strong. What a great, heartfelt post. thanks.

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  48. Rachel, your post and the quilt are both so beautiful that i had to come back to this hours later to comment. This story is uniquely yours, but the struggle is universal. To find contentment in all situations is a huge challenge, and your words about Eleni's and your family's future happiness were heart-wrenching. Still praying for full healing!

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  49. Rachel, I've never doubted that you will step out of the "boat" one day but be kind to yourself. You cannot be all things to all people all the time.

    The flowers quilt is gorgeous and just shows how much you and Eleni are treasured.

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  50. Amen! This is so deep and so true and so sad and so joyful all at once. Thank you for this post. Also, I just love the picture of you up in the treehouse :-).

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  51. It is so difficult to know what to say because words can't take away the pain you feel. I am thankful you know the Lord and are walking with Him through this. I'm also thankful that we can be totally honest with Him and share our hurt and anger as well as thankfulness and joy.

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  52. Thank you so much for this heart-touching blog! As a new follower, a complete stranger to you, I am somewhat reluctant to comment, but I'm going to anyhow!

    One of my 'Heroes of the Faith' is a lady named Darlene Rose. She was a pioneer missionary to Borneo and was taken prisoner by the Japanese at the start of WWII. During the years of her captivity, she lost absolutely everything, and began to doubt the Lord's path for her life. She wrote a book later ("Evidence Not Seen" -- HIGHLY recommended), and one of the statements she made in that book has helped me immensely during the trials of my own life. Darlene Rose wrote, "Sometimes, some of God's most precious gifts come in dark wrappings."

    Rachel, it may take years for you to realize that this illness is one of God's most precious gifts. But it is. He never makes a mistake. He never has an 'oops'. He always desires the absolute best for our lives, and He always gives us His most precious gifts.

    I hope you are not offended by my comment.... I haven't walked your path, but I have walked some pretty difficult paths myself. And I know it to be true. Sometimes, God's most precious gifts come in dark wrappings.

    Sincerely,
    Lynne' Stucke

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  53. What a beautiful, honest, inspiring post. Blessings to you Rachel. Always.

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  54. So very wise, so perfectly stated.

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  55. What a beautiful post - and quilt! Eleni is going to help you and Brandon grow in holiness and grace. You are so wise to put your faith in The Lord for he will always sustain you, even in these most difficult times. I will be praying for your family to ought as I pray the rosary. xoxo

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  56. Rachel--I remember a time with my own loss that I also absolutely believed I could never be happy or laugh again. It happens, though, because time passes, and life takes on a new normal, and the shock and pain subside. That you are grieving in such a public way, albeit with we who would gladly wrap you in dozens of flower quilts if we could diminish your pain even some, amazes and impresses me so much. I just want to tell you how very very sorry I am that your heart so broken for your darling daughter, and that I think of you often.

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  57. You have such a gift for expressing yourself, Rachel. The honesty you allow yourself and share with us is so refreshing. I know it doesn't come easily, that it puts you in touch with a 'you' that you weren't aware even existed. All your family, too. It will be okay, you have to believe that. Flowers for Eleni is absolutely gorgeous. I wish I'd had a part in it.

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  58. I was so excited to see the quilt that I almost forgot the reason we sent our flowers. Nevertheless, I pray for Eleni and you and your family. Thank you for sharing with us. Many of us have experienced pain and loss and the hope that our loved one will be healed here and now. Your post reminded me to stay centered in God's will. He answers all our prayers, in his time. While you wait, take comfort in the love of His children expressed in this quilt!

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  59. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r15PuYoID94

    You can spend so much time grieving for what might have been that you can forget to live in the present and enjoy your Eleni as she is .Never stop trying to improve and enrich her life-and it may take a lot more effort and patience than it did with your other children,but enjoy the here and now also.Who knows when any of us have to face the same challenges? I've spent 24 years in "Holland" upto now, and met some wonderful people along the way.It's been a life of parallels, but no less rewarding for that.Expectations of how development *should* occur are never helpful and do much to bring us heartache. Just love. X Beth (UK)

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  60. The link didn't work well-I'm sorry.It's Welcome to Holland By Emily Perl Kingsley-YouTube and it expresses what I felt when faces with the same situation you currently find yourself in.
    The quilt is beautiful and is probably big enough for her single bed already.Grandmothers flower garden is a labour of love to make too. :-) Nice one ladies.X

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  61. Beautifully written. I am amazed at your strength. So glad the quilt arrived safely. Hope you feel the love and support even in the most difficult heart breaking times.

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  62. It's times like these I wish I could reach through the computer screen and give you a big hug and tell you it's all going to be ok, you're stronger than you think and that you are surrounded by love. <3

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  63. Thinking of you and your family. I hope the quilt is a daily reminder of how many people are hoping along with you.

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  64. Beautifully written, Rachel. This lovely quilt does represent LOTS and LOTS of prayers and hugs for you and your family coming from all over the world. Stay strong and someday soon you'll be ready to step out of that boat.

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  65. Clearly Eleni came to you and your family for a reason. You are such an insightful, inspiring person.

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  66. Clearly Eleni came to you and your family for a reason. You are such an insightful, inspiring person.

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  67. There have been times in my life when I absolutely knew God could fix my problem, could heal me or my child the way Jesus healed so many during his time here. But the answer was No or Not Now. Those times are hard, so very hard. THats when we have to decide if we really have faith in Him and His goodness despite the hard thing we are going through. You seem to be coming to that place. It's definitley a process and a hard one. But once you can say, "please . . . But if not" you find a peace that's unlike any other. He can help you get to that point just as surely as He can heal completely. I'm sill not sure which is the greater miracle. Big hugs for you! Keep on working hard and moving forward. You are strong, you can do it!

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  68. This is a beautiful post, Rachel. As I read it I couldn't help but cry , and wish more than anything I could give you a hug. And what a gorgeous quilt. I can see that you have touched many people's lives! I wish I had been a better student so that I could have sewn one myself ;) Prayers for peace and happiness to surround you, as you navigate these rough waters.

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  69. As long as you continue to have hope, anything is possible. One never knows what the future might bring.

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  70. I cried reading this. Such a difficult situation. The quilt is beautiful. It is so nice to see it in its home now, after all the working and waiting. I pray it becomes a source of comfort for you over the years instead of one of pain. You are a truly inspiring person Rachel.

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  71. You have amazing friends, family, readers, and your faith to help you along the way! It has to be so very difficult for all of you, but there is a reason for everything - even though we may not understand why. What a lovely quilt and blessing to you!

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  72. Another so beautiful post Rachel. I admire your courage and I am so happy to have been able to contribute such a tiny flower of love for you and your family. I hope Eleni gets better and your walk on the water is not as hard as you fear. Love, Celine

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  73. What a terribly hard thing you are facing" I think of you often and pray for you all. Blessings on you. The Lord bless you and keep you

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  74. Beautifully said. We all have our struggles and heartaches - life is hard and messy but to surrender oh how I wish that for you, for me, for us all...our time here is so temporary and while we would all like it to be "happy" sometimes, most of the time, we settle for glimmers - moments of true happiness. They come to us each day whether we see them , well thats a different story. May we all strive to catch those moments and treasure them - may we have the strength to find the purpose in what we have been given.

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  75. My prayers go out to you and your family. That is my favorite hymn, it touches me greatly. I love the quilt, it will serve you in so many ways.

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  76. Beautifully written .. I believe your feelings are felt by every mom out there.
    acceptance & then No ! I can fix her..
    Our Father has given you & only you to be the mother of this precisous girl.. He knows you will always love her & do what is best for her. He gave you to her & her to you .. :-)
    I read in the Bible that HE leads us....... Leads , we follow.. I had read that many times before.. but suddenly it hit home.. Oh........... HE LEADS...... I never have to go alone or go first !
    I won't go into the unknown w/o Him ahead of me, He is not beside me.. but ahead.. His path is not always smooth, but I have Him to Follow & find my way.
    it was such a comforting thought...
    My prayer for you & your sweet family is that you remember that too........
    HE leads..... WE follow .

    Blessings .. Lisa

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  77. Hi my name is Margaret I live in South Australia. I sincerely feel for you and your family. Thirty 36 yrs ago my second nephew was born and everything about him seemed normal, he was a bit stiff but apart from that he was ok. Then one say when he was about 4 - 5 months old I had him while his mum and dad went out. I'd noticed that he was reaching with his left hand but clumsily. I noticed when I put him in his walker he kept slumping over to his right side so I took him out sat him on my knee and placed his favourite toys on the table in front of us. He kept reaching with his left, so I held his left arm to his side, he looked like he wanted to reach with his right but nothing was happening. I told my mother, as I was too afraid to say anything, mum told my brother and his wife and bless them they took my nephew to the doctors. Everything went very fast after that, the diagnosis was CP he was paralysed down the right side of his body. As the years went by my sister-in-law worked with him every day, it came to light that mentally he was very bright. Now as a grown man, having operations on his right Achilles, because as he grew the Achilles shortened and the operation was to clip it to allow his heel to touch the ground again. He's still paralysed in his right hand but at least he can walk. He is the head of his department, he works for the disability section for our state government. And at last seems to gave found a lovely woman, we're keeping our fingers crossed that she's the one. God bless your little one and I hope the future is bright for herπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œ

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