Wednesday, November 25, 2015

I Can’t Believe That I Could Ever Think of Life Without You

It was 6 years ago this month that the picture below was taken and I wrote the following on this blog (one of my very first posts). I am so thankful to have these words that I wrote during that time. It is a gift to see my perspective at that point and to see just how much God was working in my heart and life.....

I first heard the song "Little One" yesterday during the ending credits of the new movie, Sarah's Choice, starring Rebecca St. James. I had been eagerly anticipating the release of this movie that portrays a single woman who must make the decision whether she is going to choose life or death for her unborn child. My expectations for this movie were definitely met! In fact, more movies like it need to be made. The story really struck a chord in my own heart because in the story of my own real life, I am dealing with a situation very much like this one. The story is raw and it is powerful and I feel like I understood everything "Sarah" was experiencing.

Listen to "Little One" below (email subscribers click HERE).
This song will always be incredibly special to me.

Over the past few months, I have had to make the decision about what "choice" to make with my own unborn child. Then, I realized the choice was never mine to make. God gives and God takes away. I feel like the words to this song truly echo the words that my heart longs to express. How could I have ever lived my whole life without knowing my precious daughter? How could I have gone without ever holding her, kissing her, knowing her? I can't fully explain the joy and peace I feel these days and months that I'm carrying my baby. Feeling her kick and move is unbelievably exciting and amazing! It seems like whenever I try to let someone feel, she always stops! But, my little sister finally felt her kicking last night! Just knowing what is going on inside my body is enough to keep me thinking and pondering forever about God's goodness.

What once seemed to be the thing that would end my life is now one of the reasons that I live. Sure, my life is going to be different now than what I had originally dreamed or anticipated. But, God has so much planned for this little life growing inside me! And so much planned for me! He is already giving me a new vision and new dreams for my life! I now see that being unmarried and pregnant is not a sin in itself, but what got me here was the sin. My baby is not a sin. She is still a blessing and nothing to be ashamed of! I have turned from my sin and walked away, and God is blessing me for that. He is taking a situation the world would look at as horrible and is bringing Himself glory and changing my heart for the better.

My sweet Lily almost never got the chance to live. But, my God saved her! Praise You, Jesus, for changing my heart and saving my child! And God saved me. He is truly an awesome, amazing God with a heart full of love and compassion. God, teach me how to love this baby. Teach me how to be a wonderful mother. Give me Your heart, patience, guidance, strength, wisdom, love, and peace. I feel so inadequate to be entrusted with such a great responsibility! But, I know You alone will give me what I need to get through each new challenge and each new day. And when that day comes, which is soon, that this lily-white princess is born, I will truly be looking into a face showcasing Jesus' love, forgiveness, and redemption. I long for the day I can gaze into her blue and curious eyes and know that I made the right choice. Life. And what a beautiful choice it is!

Reading what I wrote, I see how the Lord was giving me a mother's heart of love for my child. It is bittersweet to read these words. Bitter because I never did get to gaze into Lily's blue and curious eyes. Sweet because of how she changed my life.

I wrote this post to say that I was thankful that I had chosen LIFE for my baby. At that point in time, I never would have wished it any other way. I want to say right here, right now, that even though things didn't end up the way I thought they would (they were already going to be so different than what I had planned when I wrote this post), I am still so thankful that I chose not to have an abortion. Life is still a beautiful choice, when your baby lives and when your baby dies. It is still the right choice. As I wrote in my post, God gives and God takes away. Though I never could have dreamed He'd take her so soon, I still believe that Lily's life was/is in His hands.

This post left me:

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Lily's Christmas Tree

I decided to get a different mini Christmas tree for Lily this year because the usual green one I use got damaged in storage. I found a pretty gold one at Target for only $8 and think the color looks pretty in my room. Here's a peek at my room with Lily's tree decorated with white lights and all her ornaments that I've gotten and have been given over the years. It's sitting on top of her cedar memory chest.

On another note, when I was taking the ornament box out of storage, one of the fragile ornaments a friend made for me in Lily's honor in 2012 broke. :( I'm sad that happened, but hope to get the glass part replaced, even though it won't be the original.

This post left me:

Monday, November 23, 2015

Lily's Christmas Stocking!

I never got around to sharing Lily's completed memorial Christmas stocking last year. Here it is. :)

It was created with love by my grandmother "Bumma" for her great-granddaughter. My mom and sister-in-love, Kala, also helped with the dangle balls. It's simply perfect. I wanted the colors to be Christmassy colors, while also appropriate for a little girl. They also remind me of Valentine's Day, which makes me think of Lily because I had a Valentine's-themed baby shower.

Bumma and I first started discussing her making Lily's Christmas stocking a couple years ago. It took a while to figure out exactly what we wanted to do. Then last summer we went together to pick out the yarn at a store on the downtown mall in Charlottesville, Virginia called The Needle Lady. I wanted to support a local business and the quality of yarn was better too (made in Turkey!)

My grandmother made me a stocking when I was a little girl (see picture below). :)

I was her first granddaughter and Lily was her first great-granddaughter. This was something special the three of us can share. And it'll be extremely special for me to have this through the years, even long after my grandmother goes Home to be with Jesus. Because she was here when Lily was and she would have been there seeing her grow up. That is so hard for me to know they would know each other if Lily were here and to have no idea if she'll know my future children. Having this stocking reminds me that Bumma does love and know Lily. She loves her and knows her because she has the special bond that a great-grandmother has with her great-granddaughter, even if they never officially "met." And she knows her through me (shout out to my #1 blog follower, Bumma, who is reading this on her email haha!)

Here is a picture I captured of Bumma knitting Lily's stocking during our vacation at Massanutten last fall.

I plan on hanging her stocking each year, one day next to her future siblings' stockings. She will always be a part of my life and Christmas.

Read all the posts about Lily's stocking by clicking HERE.

This post left me:

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Copeland Concert... 6 Years Later

I've posted several times about my favorite band from when I was pregnant with Lily and how I went to see them in concert on their Farewell Tour when I was 9 months gestation in March 2010. Because of this, they will now always make me think of her.

A year ago, they released another album after deciding to get back together and make new music after 6 years.

Well, a couple weeks ago, my sister Emma and her boyfriend, and our sister-in-law Kala went to see them in concert. Hello, bittersweet nostalgia. It was in the same venue in Chapel Hill as it was when Lily was with us. The layout was a bit different after all these years, but it was still much the same. The entire night felt like a blast from the past, driving over there and going out to dinner, going to the concert and hearing some of the very songs they played in 2010. Because it was their Farewell Tour then, I never imagined I'd see them again in concert or that they'd make new music. When my sister texted me a couple months ago to tell me they were coming to our area again, I couldn't believe it. I was so excited... mostly because they do remind me of her and going there was a way to do something I did with her, which makes the memories of her feel closer.

It was surreal being there and realizing how many years have passed and how much has changed. I thought about how I was pregnant the first concert I went to and now Kala was pregnant this time. I remember meeting the band and getting pictures with them and their autographs in 2010 and they said one day I could tell Lily she went to see them in concert. My little baby girl would now be my big Kindergarten kid.

Here are the Copeland concert pages in Lily's scrapbook :)
Kala & I got a picture in my house in the same spot that my mom, 
sis & I got one nearly 6 years ago (November 2015 above and March 2010 below)

Excitedly on our way to Chapel Hill
Kala & I out to dinner

My sister Emma & I... wow she has changed and grown up so much in the past 6 years

Copeland making beautiful music
For a little taste of Copeland's music, here is a song from their new album that I like a lot (email subscribers click HERE). The song is called "In Her Arms You Will Never Starve." It is so beautiful and reminds me of the love of a mother and/or a wife... the love I ache with hope and longing to be able to give my own family one day.

These are the lyrics: 
"In her arms you will never starve
You will never freeze, and when the world is hard,
you can fall asleep there
in a world of chaos, she could be your silence
The oceans of her kindness, they will pull you under
So fall in. Break through it,
and when you stumble in the cold,
she will urge you onward
And in your darkest hour,
should storms rage around you now,
her love will be a shelter,
and she will pull you under"

This post left me:

Friday, November 20, 2015

Both of Their Hearts

This is an update post on something I shared half a year ago - Thesis on Sanctity of Human Life.

You may remember that an art student at Appalachian State University contacted me in the spring, after reading something I wrote, about including Lily and Luke in her senior honors thesis on the sanctity of human life. We met at a coffee shop and I shared my heart and my babies with her.

This is the 18x24” portrait she created of Lily and Luke. When she sent it to me, she wrote, "I looked up the real size for a child at six weeks gestation, so little Luke is the small shape by Lily’s chest. I loved what you said about their two hearts starting and stopping their beating in the same place, so I called the piece Both of Their Hearts." Isn't that so touching and beautiful?? :'-)

When she shared it on her Instagram, she wrote something so sweet: "Easily my favorite Humanitās portrait so far. Both of Their Hearts features siblings Luke Shiloh and Lily Katherine, children of Hannah Rose, both of whom tragically died in utero. Luke and Lily, your lives had meaning and purpose, and I will continue to speak for you and children like you."

Originally, the final product was to be "an exhibition of portraits of people of different ages, appearances, and abilities." The unborn were one part of the project.

However, Elizabeth emailed me and wrote, "My show actually ended up taking a different turn after the first critique. It became clear that babies were the ones I really wanted to focus on, rather than people as a whole, and the pieces I’m going to use for my senior show are a set of three monumental paintings, each with a tiny little figure modeled after eighteen weeks gestational age. I felt so passionately about their portrait, Lily and Luke ended up being the catalysts for an entire body of work."

She ended up going large scale for the final pieces and the one of Lily and Luke would have been too small to include in the show.

I am so honored that Elizabeth wanted to include my two precious babies in this and that they inspired her. I am one proud mommy. :) Elizabeth is a gifted artist and it is a blessing to me to see her heart for the unborn.

She invited me to the show in Boone, NC in December, saying, "If you're available, I would love for you to come see the work that your sweet children inspired. Thank you for letting your babies be a part of this incredible journey."

My mom and I are hoping to make the trip (it's only a few hours) to spend a couple days in the mountains and see what Lily and Luke inspired. 

This is Elizabeth's Artist Statement for the show that explains her heart behind it (I LOVE what she wrote!):

“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” 
So wrote George Orwell in his political satire, Animal Farm. Those words fascinated me from the time I first read the book in the seventh grade. Since then, they have echoed in my head with every news story of murder and genocide, every history lesson about apartheid or the Holocaust, and every time one of my peers was made to feel small. It seems that Orwell hit our hubris directly on point. All the hot-button issues that we read about in headline after study after heartfelt open letter, racism, sexism, religious persecution, nationalism, ageism, ableism – all of them point to the idea that we, all of us, for one reason or another, feel that we are more human than somebody else. 
It is now commonly agreed upon that people of different colors are persons, that those of us born female instead of male are persons, that people who speak with an accent are persons. People who object to this are reviled by society, and are rightly seen as deviant, wrong, and outside the norm. What is truly disturbing is that there are still groups whose personhood is an open question. There are still people whose humanity is in contest, and people on the sides of the debate are widely respected. In fact, people on the ‘no’ side are actually renowned for the efforts towards equal rights, in complete ignorance of the humans who have been trampled in the name of that fight. 
I speak, of course, of those among us who have not yet been born. Under the banner of women’s rights, children in the womb have been degraded to the status of a disease, an inconvenience, and outright parasites. These ‘blobs of tissue’, in spite of their beating hearts, unique genetic makeup, and their capability to think, learn, and feel pain, are still widely considered to be subhuman, or at least humans of an inferior nature to born people, certainly inferior to adults and the women who carry them. 
Isn’t that a familiar cry – inferior? Haven’t we heard it before? Weren’t Romans told that Celts were inferior? Didn’t Europeans reassure one another of the inferiority of Africans? Did not the Hutus say it of the Tutsis, and the Nazis of the Jews? With a full third of my generation having been denied the right to their very lives, how can we argue that they were not the victims of genocide, like the Celts and the Africans and the Tutsis and the Jews before them? 
This series is for the little ones, who cannot speak for themselves. Using art historical reference to acts that have long been accepted as wrong (crucifixion, starvation, lynching), I am challenging the worn-out argument that this time, it’s different. Some of us cannot be more equal. All humans are persons, and it’s time to put an end to qualifying addendum's.

You can connect with Elizabeth and check out more of her work here:

This post left me:

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Lily's Cousin!

I have some exciting news.... I am an AUNTIE!! For the first time! My precious nephew or niece is due on May 13th. :) :) :) I am not *going* to be an auntie when my nephew or niece is born, but am one the entire time he/she is growing away! My siblings didn't all of a sudden get the title of "aunt" and "uncle" taken from them because Lily died. They will always be her aunts and uncles. The birth of a baby does not give that title and the death of a baby does not take away that title.

I was honored that my brother Joseph and his wife Kala asked me to take their "pregnancy announcement photo." This is what we came up with. I'm a big fan of baby pumpkins and whimsical photos. ;) Seriously, what an adorable couple, right?!

I actually found out the big news in September when I was in Colorado for Ellerslie. It was quite special to learn this news when I was at a place so dear to me (even if I wasn't with my family). It was exciting because I could immediately share me elation with my friends there since my brother and his wife weren't officially announcing the news to everyone we know yet haha. I literally made an announcement the day after I found out and told everyone if they saw me walking around crying the night before to know they were happy tears. ;)

If you have followed my blog for a while, you may remember me sharing how difficult it has been for me to think of another child "replacing" Lily as the oldest grandchild in my family. It might sound selfish, but I just wanted my child to be the one my family experiences many firsts with because she would have been.

Because of how painful and difficult it was to even think about, it has clearly been God's hand of grace on me in the last few months...

A couple weeks before I left for Ellerslie, I was talking with my mom one day and told her I had a feeling my brother and his wife would be announcing they were pregnant soon. They got married a couple years ago so there was no real reason to believe it was about to be announced. But I told my mom I felt like God had prepared my heart for the news.

Then, when I was out at Ellerslie, my friend Shalea was talking about how excited she was to be an aunt to her precious nephew due to be born around Christmas. I thought to myself when I heard her talking about this that I couldn't wait to be an aunt myself one day. Then, I told Shalea on Friday, September 11th when we were enjoying yummy pumpkin-spice lattes and lovely conversation together at Windsor Lake that I felt in my spirit that a change was coming, both in my personal life and my family, though I didn't exactly know what that meant.

Only a couple days later, on Monday, September 14th, my family tried calling and texting me to tell me the news that Joseph and Kala had just confirmed. I didn't have my phone on me at the time, but called my brother back as soon as I was able. The entire family would have been together to tell me had I answered when they first tried to contact. But I see that it worked out perfectly for it to be a private conversation between me and my big brother. Because of the urgency they conveyed in the text messages, I was concerned something was wrong.

When I called him, Joseph answered and said, "Sis (my nickname), I have some exciting news for you.... you're an aunt!" With this news, I immediately burst into tears. And you know what.... through all those months, years even, of dreading this news, in fear that my heart couldn't handle the pain of both wanting to be happy for them, but also feeling sad for me and for the fact that Lily isn't here... I can honestly say, in that moment, I felt nothing but JOY. No sadness. Only joy. That is what I remember most about that conversation... how excitement, anticipation, and joy spilled out of my heart. This could only be God supplying me with His grace, healing my heart in places I wondered if it could ever be healed. It struck me in a whole new way how He truly does give us just what we need the moment we need it, not a second too soon or too late. All the things I fear facing in the future, I know my God will sustain me and will supply me with what I need to face those things too... such as the gender of this baby and the fact he/she will be born at "Lily's hospital."

What also made the news not sting as much was the sensitivity Joseph showed. Joseph knows how hard losing Lily has been on me. He obviously didn't want it to be painful for me to hear. He had told Kala he thought he would cry when he told me, out of a mixture of many emotions. He even expressed to my dad his concern over telling me and my dad told him to pray about it and to trust God with my heart. The fact that he was thinking about this and wanted to show sensitivity towards me honestly makes all the difference.

It also got me thinking though... I don't want people to feel like they cannot tell me news like this. I don't want people to be hesitant or fearful of how I'll take it. Sensitive yes, but not overly concerned. I want to respond with grace and love always, not allowing my feelings to overshadow someone else's joy. I told that to Joseph and Kala... that I don't want Lily's death to take away my ability to live with joy. I want her life to only bring me life. That's not to say things like this aren't difficult or understandably painful. But I want my Lord to be Lord of all things in my life, including my feelings.

I don't want to make this "all about me." Because it's not. My losing Lily should not overshadow the joy my big brother has over being a father. He has wanted to be a daddy for many years and I want to REJOICE with him completely. I want to respond how I know Christ wants me to.

And you know what else... I have been so afraid that Lily will be forgotten or replaced. But I realize that is a ridiculous fear. She will never, could never, be replaced. She is the oldest grandchild. Even though she isn't here in person, that fact will never be questioned or changed. And my family would never want it to be. They love Lily. They will never forget her. She is this baby's cousin. I only wish she were here to get excited over a new baby coming, due to arrive a couple months after her 6th birthday. One day... one day I believe the cousins will meet.

My good friend who is a nurse at a pregnancy center did Kala's first ultrasound when she was 11 weeks gestation (she is now almost 15 weeks). It was a gift for she, my mom, and I to go together. Joseph and Kala should be finding out the gender in a few weeks. Look at these sweet ultrasound photos I got to keep. :)

look at that little hand waving!

and Auntie loves you, little one :)

Another thing God has comforted me with... I long to get married and have more babies of my own and it's so hard waiting. This is obviously not the timing for that right now, but God has shown me what a rich blessing and gift to my life this baby is. I don't have my own baby to love on, but I have my brother's baby. How cool is that?! It's one step down from having my own baby. Not only that, but Kala is my best friend! My best friend is having a baby and my brother is having a baby... and it's the same baby! Haha it's just so exciting I can hardly wrap my mind around it. This baby is so loved already!

I am a person who remembers dates of both random and significant things (it's just how my brain works). Anyways, I remembered on September 8th how it was on that date 6 years ago that I told my mom that she was a grandmother. I wrote in my journal on that date this year how I prayed for my mom to be given the gift of having another grandchild soon, a grandchild that gets to stay on Earth to grow up. It's been 6 years since Lily was born and died and it's been a long journey for my family. It has been so hard to see my family, my mom especially, wanting another baby to fill our arms and hearts. When I wrote that journal entry, I had no idea that my mom already was a grandmother again and that we'd be finding out just a few days later. And get this - the day we found out was the day after Grandparents Day! I just felt like this was God showing us that He is bringing restoration and is promising to bring healing through this new life. My mom has already been asked a few times if this is her first grandchild and she always says no. I know it's hard for her and she doesn't want people to ask more questions where she has to explain the circumstances. But it certainly does make my heart smile when she acknowledges Lily... She told me she even thinks of Luke too when she gets asked that question.

My sweet little nephew or niece, there is enough love in this family for you and many more children. The God of love is capable of growing our hearts with His love for all the little ones He blesses us with. You are already adored by so many. I can't wait to meet you and spoil you, little one! I just know we will be so close because your mommy and daddy are two of my best friends in the world! I will always tell you about Lily. You will know her because she lives on in me. I will share her with you through the years... your big cousin who I know you will love. How could you not??

This post left me:

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Dearest Thing in All Thinking

"For to have been thought about, born in God's thought, and then made by God, is the dearest, grandest, and most precious thing in all thinking." -George MacDonald

This quote... oh, this quote.

The Lord could have used anything or anyone to change my life and bring me back to Himself... but He chose a sweet little girl named Lily Katherine. He thought of her and crafted her life and purpose.

I ache with missing her, especially around the holidays. But I ache even more with love and gratitude for the undeserved gift of being her mother.


This post left me:
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...