Sunday, February 26, 2012

Learning to grieve...

I quite literally feel like an emotional time bomb that is just waiting to go off most of the time. I usually know a little ahead of time that I could have the potential to lose it and be sad all day, but sometimes it just hits me out of the blue. This weekend was a little bit that way. In the last couple weeks I have often thought to myself, “wow, I haven’t had too many emotional moments lately…I wonder when it’s going to hit me again? Maybe I am over the most of the sadness now.” How silly I was to think that. I have learned that grief doesn’t work that way. It is never something you “get over” and forget. It is something that gets easier with time, but never goes away. Grief is very new to me, and praise God it’s not something I have had prior experience with until now. Not grief like this anyway. It has never been in my nature or personality to stay in a dark place of sadness because I don’t believe that is what God wants for our lives. When something hard has happened to me in the past, I always had an optimistic attitude about it and would only be sad for a short time. I didn’t “force” myself to be happy again or consciously “stop” being sad. I just naturally found joy in the situation. Overall, I am a pretty easy-going, joyful, glass is half-full, content kind of person. I have always been the type of person to see the good in people and in situations, and I have to say that I haven’t really changed that perspective though this time in my life. I just have more of what a good friend called “breakdowns” or “episodes” then I ever had before all this. It is not something that I am used to and is something very new as I am learning how to grieve. I still try to see the good in my life despite the chaos that surrounds my daily thoughts. I have learned what it means to DAILY trust God and CHOOSE joy instead of sorrow because, believe me, it is not something that comes naturally for anyone. But, to be completely honest, there are some days that I don’t want to choose joy. I want to stay in my sadness and allow myself to be sad and to cry all day and to just have a “breakdown”. I feel that these breakdowns make me feel human and could just be a part of my life from now on. However, I am not saying that it is always a good thing to have these breakdowns. I know that it could mean that I do not believe God is enough, or that his grace is sufficient for my sorrows, or that I am succumbing to sadness. But that is not what it is for me. I believe these breakdowns are truly part of my healing process. Like I mentioned before, it is not like me to stay in the dark places for long periods of time. But I have also learned that it is OK to be sad and depressed for a day and visit the dark moments. And whether I like it or not, I will have these days in my life. As time goes on they will happen less often, but I feel that it is normal when you go through something like this. I even think it would be weird if I didn’t have these “episodes” in my life.

If you ever talk to me in person, there may be times that it seems like I am strong and have it all together as I talk about Blair without shedding a tear. But there are also times that I can’t hold back the tears and they come freely. I never know how it will be. More often then not, though, I am stronger in public then I am in private. And I have God to thank for my sweet husband who sees me in all the moments of my life. In the strong, and not so strong moments he is there by my side holding me through this life. He truly is my rock and the most amazing man I know! I feel we can get through anything together and God gave us each other to lean on through the good and bad.

So all of this rambling to say, I feel like I had an emotional bomb go off this weekend. I never know how long it will last or when it will come back again. It could last for a couple minutes, hours, or days. And it could be weeks or months until it comes back again. But I know that in those moments God is near me and feels my pain. He sees me through it and I come out stronger. I will look back at these times in my life and see growth…and I know these times won’t last forever. So I will use this time in my life to Praise God in the storm. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Holden Uganda

There have been many people who have asked, "Where can we give money in memory of Blair?" and my response has been, "I'll let you know soon, or give to where you feel there is a need." Many of you have done that and we are so grateful! I feel there are so many great places to give and we truly feel honored that Blair's life can serve as a way to help others, giving God the glory through it all. 

A great friend who has become near and dear to me lost her son, Holden, in August of 2010. Shortly after, God laid it on her and her husbands hearts to start an organization in memory of Holden to provide clean drinking water through artesian wells to African communities. They called it Holden Uganda and it has been successful in building wells ever since. Find out more about this amazing organization here.

Each well that is built is dedicated to a baby or child who went to heaven before their parents. It is our hope and prayer to build a well in Blair's honor to help an African community. Each well costs about $2000-2400 to build, so donations are needed to make this happen! That is where you come in...

Would you consider helping us build this well in Blair's honor? You can donate money in any amount to help us out! Here are the details if you're interested (please also pass this info on to anyone you think would be interested):

Go to the website

Find "Blair Nicole Schuelke" on the drop down menu of the donation link.

You can also send checks to:
Holden Uganda
P.O. Box 1101
Snyder, TX  79550
Please note "Blair Nicole" or "Blair Schuelke" in the memo line of the check!

Thank you so much for helping us bring hope to an African community, while we rest in God's hope for our family. Let us know if you have any questions!! God bless!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Thank you!

Looking back from the moment we heard the news about our sweet Blair to now, there are so many people who have done so much to show their love and support to us. I can not even begin to repay or thank everyone for all that has been would literally take forever! A great friend, Sarah Erwin said it perfectly in a recent post on her blog when she said, "I feel like I am a "walking, living, breathing thank you card", but one that is terribly lame compared to what we have been given." I can relate to that so well! There seems to be nothing we can do to really show how much we appreciate everyone except to know that the Lord will bless you for your kindness. You are storing up treasures in heaven! It has been so humbling to see the body of Christ come together to be the hands and feet of Christ. We have seen God work through our family and friends to show us His love in so many ways. Thank you to everyone for all the thoughts, prayers, cards, gifts, food, texts, emails, messages, hugs, tears, listening ears, words of encouragement, truth & wisdom, donations given to charities and organizations in Blairs name, and for simply just caring enough to be there for us. We can not thank you enough! 

"I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers."

Saturday, February 11, 2012

3 months today

My sweet Blair would have been 3 months old today and instead of celebrating that milestone with us here, she is celebrating it with Jesus. While I know there is no better place for her to be, I still find myself so jealous and sad that she is not here with me. As I lay around on this lazy Saturday afternoon I picture what it would've been like. What would we be doing? I know one thing for sure...we would be taking lots of pictures to send to family and friends capturing this 3 month mark. My life would've been so different and I was so ready for that change. I was (and still am) ready to be a mommy! I looked forward to watching her grow up and soaking in every moment. I realize now that I took those moments with her in my womb for granted! Oh what I would do to have those moments back with a different outcome!!! I will never understand this side of heaven why my baby girl couldn't be here with us! But I have to daily hold onto the truth of God's promises that I will see her again! It's just so hard and makes me long for heaven even more! I know that Blair's life has changed mine already so much. I have a different view of life and just how special the gift of a child is. To any other person (and myself before November 11, 2011) having children was just part of normal life. You go to school, date, get married, find a house, get pregnant, and have a healthy baby to raise followed by more down the road. But what I've realized is how different that dream of a normal life is when something tragic like this happens. It reminds me that we don't deserve and are not entitled to have all the culturally "normal" things of this world. Each day is a gift from the Lord. Every daily breath, your family and friends, financial security, a house to call a home, food, cars, clothes, EVERYTHING is a gift. And I want to live each day not taking anything for-granted, but to live a life of gratitude with a thankful heart. Blair's life is a gift, not a curse or a mistake. I want to live each day looking for the good things that have happened rather then the bad or sad things. However, I will continue to mourn the "little deaths" of each dream I had with Blair and I feel that is normal. But mourning those dreams will make me realize how special each moment is with my future children (Lord willing).  And while I wish with all my heart that Blair's life didn't have to end so early, her life is still a sweet gift to our family. I don't think any of us will ever be the same after going through this. I don't think any of us with ever view heaven the same or each day God has given us on Earth. It is my prayer that we not live in anger, but in hope and joy as we carry on Blair's legacy and realize every day the gift she was and still is to us. 

Happy 3 month to our sweet angel! 

 Todays feelings=hopeful and thankful...Tomorrows feelings=who knows! Every day is different.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Blair Nicole Schuelke

The story of our sweet baby Blair all began on April 2, 2011 when my husband Clint and I found out I was pregnant with our first child! We had prayed about when to start our family and felt the Lord’s confirmation as we saw the two lines on the pregnancy stick. We were SO excited about the thought of having a child to call our own. As a Pre-K teacher, I have always loved kids and couldn’t wait to take care of my own rather then a classroom full of others. I decided after 4 years of teaching that this was going to be my last year, and that I would begin my new career as a mom in December. So I packed up my classroom with anticipation for the future.

I had the most perfect pregnancy! I was always waiting for the day that I would start to feel nauseous, but that day never came and I went 36 weeks with no sickness to speak of. Other then the persistent backache after 30 weeks, leg cramps at night, and frequent trips to the restroom, I loved being pregnant! I had never felt better! I had a cute maternity wardrobe along with many compliments on how cute my baby bump was and comments of how everyone couldn’t wait to meet Blair. When we found out we were having a girl, it added so much excitement to what was already so wonderful! We had the perfect name picked out; Blair Nicole. Blair is Clint’s middle name, which was a name his parents loved because of a good friend they knew with that name. Nicole is my middle name, which my parents picked out simply because they just liked the name. Our little girl’s name would have a little of both her parents. We began thinking and preparing for the future as we started a remodel on our house with a new kitchen, living room, and nursery. I couldn’t wait to set it up for Blair, but would have to wait until after our remodel was finished. But it was ok with me…all that was important was having a healthy baby; the details and decorations would come later. Life was good with so much to look forward to!

My life changed dramatically on November 5th, 2011, a month before her December 5th due date. I had gone to my baby care class at the hospital that morning and lunch and shopping with friends that afternoon. It wasn’t until that evening that I realized I hadn’t felt Blair move as much as she had the day before. I was a little worried, but soon felt her have the hiccups so I felt a lot better. The weekend continued with a little concern, as she still did not have the usual kicks and jabs I was so used to. I was also having a lot of Braxton hicks, so I wondered if she was just moving less because of that. When Monday came we called the doctor and went in for a Non-Stress Test. The nurse found the heartbeat with the Doppler and then hooked me up to the machine. Her heartbeat was normal and I was supposed to push a button every time I felt her kick. After eating chocolate, I was able to push the button more often, but the doctor wasn’t comfortable with the amount of kicks she made. So we went in for an ultrasound. Immediately we were able to see her moving, which was a huge relief. The ultrasound tech was supposed to look for 8 things in order to say I “passed”. She had 30 minutes to find those things and she passed 100% of the test in 15 minutes. Blair was alive and seemed to be healthy from what we saw and what we were told. There wasn’t a huge concern from the fill-in doctor (my doctor was out taking her boards) or nurses and we were sent home. We went home with excitement and peace knowing that she was ok and we had done everything in our power to make sure she was. The rest of the week went on about the same. I still didn’t feel Blair the same as I had before, but I thought this was the new norm being so close to the end. I also had an appointment scheduled for Thursday, so I knew everything would be checked out again. I was confident that everything was ok.

On Thursday, November 10th I picked my mom up from the airport. She flew in for the last of my three baby showers. We had plans to start organizing and getting Blair’s space set up (we still were not in our house at this point because of the remodel, but we were living in my grandpas house he only stays at on the weekends). Normally my husband had gone to every appointment with me, but this was starting my weekly appointments so it fell on the week he was working. It worked out great that my mom would be able to go with me. My appointment was at 3:45, and again I had no fear or worry going into it.  I got undressed because at 36 weeks and 4 days along this was the first appointment that she would check to see if I was starting to dilate. As I lay back on the table, my doctor began to look for the heartbeat with the Doppler. She pressed it against my stomach in several places stopping every once and awhile to really listen saying, “I think that is it…” But I knew it wasn’t the same sound I had heard in every appointment before this.  She remained calm and said that sometimes the Doppler didn’t work very well. She rolled in a cart with an ultrasound machine to get a better reading. She did the same thing again; saying that she wasn’t always good at reading the machine and that her ultrasound tech had better equipment. This is when the panic set in! She asked me to get dressed, but not to panic yet…(Yeah right!) She would have me come into the other room to get a better look. When the ultrasound tech began the test, I knew immediately, but was in denial. I didn’t see the heart moving like I had before and as she called the doctor back in I knew my life would forever be changed. My mom was definitely freaking out with unbelief and confusion. “How could this happen!” All I could do was stare in unbelief asking the same questions. “How!? Why?! Not me!! I want Clint here now!!!” And then she said the words I never wanted to hear or hear ever again! “Brooke, I am so sorry. There is no heartbeat. Blair is no longer alive.” My doctor took us back to her office so I could call my husband and have a safe place to cry. All I could do was cry and wonder “is this really happening!? We were here Monday and everything was ok!! We saw her moving!”  After many tests, our biggest question of how it happened never got answered and never will be answered on this side of heaven. It is something we have to just give to God and trust that He has a plan.

Clint immediately left work to come to the hospital. We live almost an hour away, so it took him awhile to get there. By the time he got there I was in a labor and delivery room getting dressed in a hospital gown because my doctor was not going to let me go home until she was born. When he got there all we could do was hold each other and cry. At first, all I wanted to do was have a C-section and not go through the agonizing hours of giving birth. I wanted to go home and pretend that it was all just a horrible nightmare. But somehow the Lord gave me strength to press on. Family and friends through either their presence or prayers surrounded us immediately. Being in the hospital and going through what we did was the hardest thing I have ever done! Yet, there was an indescribable peace and power that was with us while we were there that came only from the Lord. And after 23 hours of labor with only 3 pushes we got to see our precious Blair for the first time. We had looked forward to this moment since we found out we were pregnant wondering what she would look like. Who would she look like most?! Never in a million years did we think it would be like this! Blair was the most beautiful baby I have ever seen! She had the most beautiful lips with defined peaks on her upper lip, the same as her daddy. She had a head full of auburn hair like mine covered with a sweet lace bonnet, and the tiniest little features on her 5 pound 1 ounce frame. I will never forget how she felt in my arms and the amount of love I had in that moment. But with that emotion also came pain and deep sadness as I looked at my baby girl who would never open her eyes.

We got to spend 4 hours holding Blair and sharing her with our family. My sister-in-law took lots of pictures as everyone held her and saw how beautiful she was. We also had a professional photographer with an organization called “Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep” take pictures along with the photographer with the hospital. I will forever be grateful for those pictures. Letting her go was the second hardest thing I have ever done with not hearing or seeing her heartbeat being the first. The third hardest followed close by with leaving the hospital without my baby. And again I had to hold onto a strength that comes only from the Lord.

In the days that followed we had many people show their sympathy with visits, phone calls, texts, food, prayers, cards, gifts, hugs, and shared tears. On November 15th we had the sweetest service for Blair at the chapel in the cemetery where her body would be laid to rest. Our brother-in-law, Jeff Scott, who also led our wedding in 2007, led the service with a personal message that spoke to our hearts. We had to think and talk of things that no one else our age would even fathom thinking about. We decided that Blair would be buried in the same plot as me with a gravestone marking her name between ours because she would forever be a part of us. We decided as her parents to carry her casket to the place she would be buried, which helped as closure for us. I will forever carry the memory of beauty with me as I remember the beautiful flowers, words, songs, and caring support of family and friends on this day.  

Clint and I have said from the beginning that we know all things work for good for those who love God, and we will count this grief and pain worth it in the end if lives are changed because of it. Our prayer is that others will give their life to Christ or strengthen their walk with Him upon hearing of Blair’s life and death, and in seeing our hope through it all. Her life had purpose and will continue to have purpose to bring others closer to Him. We have seen the power of prayer and the love of Christ through His people toward us in amazing ways. While we still grieve and forever will grieve, we hold onto hope that we will see Blair again someday. We love and miss Blair with all our hearts, but it brings a smile to our faces that she is loved better than we could ever have loved her here on Earth, and that heaven is all she will ever know. She was simply a little girl made for heaven. A little girl who we will see again someday! 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

First blog..first post!

Well, I did it! I finally started a blog! I have been told many times by my sister, Brittany, that I needed to start this and after meeting a lot of people who have them and are going through the things we have been through I decided I would bite the bullet and start one. So, after hours of playing with the design I decided to go with something basic to start out with and add onto it as time goes on. I LOVE to scrapbook and want it to eventually look like a scrapbook page, so that is the longterm goal. We will see how that goes! Until it is! As I think about what to write, there are so many things that come to mind. I could write about my house and the ongoing project it is...I could write about adjusting to country life...I could write about my daily life and the play by play of my day...or I could write about my wonderful husband that I am blessed to share this life with. However, the thing that is constant on my mind these days is the life of my precious daughter Blair Nicole. Unfortunately, for unknown reasons, her life was cut short on this Earth and she is now dancing in heaven at the feet of Jesus. This is by far the most painful thing we have ever had to endure and not a day goes by that we don't grieve her loss. However, I know that God has a plan and there is beauty in the ashes. While we may not see it now, our pain has a purpose. Blair's life has a purpose to bring God glory and it's our job to make sure her life and legacy live on to change this world around us. Therefore, I want to use this blog as an outlet to talk about her life as well as where God brings us and what he shows us because of Blair. Thanks for walking this journey with us!