Wednesday, August 24, 2016

My Niece Visiting My Daughter

My niece, Harvest, visited Lily's special spot for the first time this past weekend on a visit to Virginia... One cousin in the earthly realm and one in the spiritual. It was entirely bittersweet. This is the only way Harvest can "visit" Lily. I sure hope she grows up thinking about her, talking and asking about her, and loving her. I know there will be many visits here through the years. 💕


My sister-in-law Kala telling Harvest about Lily.


My brother Joseph, Kala, and Harvest.


Harvest seemed to like the bright colors and Lily's stone. :)


Joseph telling his daughter about his niece/her cousin.


Notice her butterfly shirt worn in her big cousin's honor. Bumma gave the shirt to me to give to Harvest. :) I want one just like it - the butterfly, ruffles, and color are beautiful.



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August 2009 Series ~ He Preserved Her Life

The month of August 2009 is when God intervened in my life and radically altered my life, through my unborn baby, my darling Lily girl. Each August, I am flooded with memories of His faithfulness, in both the huge things and the smallest details that He used to speak to me. I like to share the blog entries about that time each August to share of His great love and faithfulness. I will call the posts the "August 2009 Series."

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The summer months cause me to reflect upon the beginning of Lily's life and legacy and the time that I got pregnant with her and my life was turned upside down in the best way possible.

When I got pregnant with Lily, I took the Plan B pill. I find it so incredible that despite my attempts to keep a baby's life from beginning, her life was sustained by God. He so obviously sent her to Earth for a purpose.

Against all odds, He preserved her life. He protected her from the morning after pill and the planned abortion. He preserved her life within me, even though the powers of hell were waging war against my soul and her very life. He fought mightily to save us both. His victory speaks that He is the most powerful of all and nothing stands in the way of His plan.

That's how I'm certain that her death was in His hands... because of how He so fiercely preserved her life. He wouldn't have allowed her to purposelessly perish. Her life and death were not a surprise, but planned from the beginning of time. The enemy didn't win. Jesus is still Victor. Lily still lives. And because of His sacrifice on the cross on my behalf and what He did in me through my daughter, I will live with them both forever.


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Life for Lily Day 2016

Last year on Life for Lily Day (August 15th), we had a beautiful butterfly release at Lily's special spot. This year, I had planned on doing a couple things around Raleigh with family and friends, but ended up being in Virginia.

I didn't have anything "big" planned, but was just thankful to be there at her spot. Sometimes simple is perfectly sweet. A few family members and a couple friends gathered in the evening at Lily's spot. I was a bit nervous about the weather forecast, as it was showing possible thunderstorms. The minute we pulled into the cemetery, it started raining. Right in front of us, painted across the sky, was a gorgeous rainbow! The Lord sent it for us! :)


Thankfully, it soon stopped raining and we were able to gather around Lily's spot. I shared about her stone, the decorations, and something I wrote and read aloud last year about the significance of the day.


I decorated Lily's spot in all-things-butterfly... a balloon, wind-chime, flag, her name in the sand photo in a butterfly frame, a pinwheel, and flowers. I wanted her spot looking its best. :) Butterflies for Lily's life and the new life she brought me.





I was thankful the Lord held off the rain/storm long enough for us to visit for a bit and for me to share. We then had red-velvet cake ice-cream! The storm was coming in quickly by this point, the thunder was booming, and the sky was a dark gray color, so we packed things up, I divvied up the ice-cream in the bowls, and we ate in our cars as the rain fell. We all agree that the ice-cream was delicious! It was a perfect summer treat. 🍦 I had googled to see if red-velvet ice-cream was even a thing. It said online that it was in one of the bigger stores in the area, but on that day, I couldn't find it there. I had mentioned that I was going to get the ice-cream in front of my uncle and he "happened" to see it on sale at the small local grocery store in town. I went there and couldn't find it anywhere. I asked about it and they said they remembered seeing it, but didn't know if they had any left because it was a seasonal flavor... well, what do ya know, there was one left in the back, just waiting for me! I definitely want to have it again. Of course, those who have been following my blog for a while know that red-velvet is a "Lily thing." We had red-velvet cake at my Valentine's baby shower for Lily, so now it's tradition to have something red-velvet each year on her birthday and other special occasions. I love that it makes others think of her too. :)


After we enjoyed our ice-cream in our cars, we went over to Mint Springs (one of my favorite places) and enjoyed the breezes, mountain views, and pleasant conversation. The rain let up by that point too. I was glad I could share Lily's stone for the first time and Mint Springs with my friend Cambry who I met in Colorado at Ellerslie last Fall. When we met, we were excited to discover she lives near my hometown across the country! When I make it up to Virginia, we enjoy our visits. While in Colorado, I called her "my Virginia friend." :)


 Oh, and I wore my butterfly shirt. :)

Here are a couple group photos we were able to get before the storm
(those who came were: my Aunt Sarah, brother Adam, friends 
Cambry and Elise, Uncle Steve, and grandmother "Bumma")



The evening didn't turn out quite like expected, but it was certainly an adventure to remember! I am learning through many circumstances (big and small) lately to be more flexible and to trust the Lord in all things. It's not the end of the world if things don't go as *I* plan.

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Sunday, August 21, 2016

August 2009 Series ~ He Gave Me a Mother's Heart

The month of August 2009 is when God intervened in my life and radically altered my life, through my unborn baby, my darling Lily girl. Each August, I am flooded with memories of His faithfulness, in both the huge things and the smallest details that He used to speak to me. I like to share the blog entries about that time each August to share of His great love and faithfulness. I will call the posts the "August 2009 Series."

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Every so often, I will remember something totally random from my pregnancy with Lily. Because I have been busy working on my pregnancy scrapbook lately, it seems I have been remembering more. I want to be sure to write all these things down so I never forget the precious time when she was alive within me.

One particular memory I have been thinking about over the past couple days happened in mid to late August 2009. I was around 11 or 12 weeks pregnant at the time and was working at a little restaurant in my hometown in Virginia.

It is amazing how things you haven't thought of in years can suddenly be so vivid and clear in your mind. As I remember this day, it feels as if I am back there on that hot August summer afternoon. The sky was clear and blue and the sun was warm on my skin. I remember I was wearing a green shirt I often wore and my favorite pair of jeans. It's almost like a movie and I am watching myself but also experiencing it again myself (I don't even know if that makes sense).

I had just celebrated my 20th birthday. God had been changing my heart so much in such a short amount of time. He kept me from going through with having an abortion on August 15th. My baby was still safe and alive.

At my job each week, we would receive a shipment of supplies and food needed for the coming week and I would help carry in the heavy boxes. Well this particular day, I remember so clearly thinking that I better not lift anything too heavy because I was pregnant and I didn't want to hurt my baby. Nobody I worked with knew I was pregnant. I hadn't even shared the news with my family yet. Only my child's father and a new friend who had also experienced an unplanned pregnancy knew.

This is one of the first times I recall feeling my motherly instinct to protect my child. It brings happy tears to my eyes to think of this because I was in despair not long before this day. But look how God had breathed LIFE into me and was giving me hope that can only come from HIM. Hope for my life and the life of my child. Assurance that He would give me everything I needed the moment I needed it and that He cared more for my unborn baby than I could ever know or comprehend. I knew we were in His hands. He was giving me a heart of love and the desire to care for and protect my sweet babe.

I remember my heart smiling on this August afternoon and a real smile finding it's way to my face, as an overflow from my heart. It was one of the first times I was excited to be pregnant, despite my circumstances. I had a baby in my belly! And for a short while longer, it felt like it was a precious secret shared between my sweet child and myself...

That was the beginning of my desire to protect Lily's life. Now I have a desire to honor her legacy.


I actually ate at the restaurant where I worked a couple days ago and it made the memories flood back all the more.

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Friday, August 19, 2016

Lily Remembered at Ocracoke Island

Lily's name in the sand at Ocracoke Island, NC - from my sweet friend, Ashelyn. :)


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She Is Still with Us

My brother, Adam, was saying something about our niece this morning, and instead of saying her name, Harvest, he said Lily's name. It made me tear up because if Lily were here, people would be getting their names mixed up sometimes because they would both be present in our lives, the two cousins. He said, "she's still in our thoughts." It's such a sweet and simple reminder that even though she's not present physically, she is always with us.


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Life for Lily Day

Monday (August 15th) was Life for Lily Day (I also call it my Spiritual Birthday)! A year ago on that date, family and friends gathered with me for a butterfly release at her special spot.


Here is part of what I shared about what Life for Lily Day is/means to me:

It was on this date in 2009 that I had an abortion appointment scheduled at Planned Parenthood. Blinded by my fear and shame, I thought I needed to "take care" of the "problem" of an unplanned pregnancy. After all, I had just turned only 20-years-old, was not married, and not in a place in my life where I thought I was ready to welcome a child into this world. 

It is only because of God's grace that August 15th does not hold painful memories of walking through those abortion clinic doors with my child safely nestled in my womb and walking out with her body having been violently ripped from mine. It is only because of His loving-kindness and intervention in my life that we are all standing here together, in this moment, at the beautiful memorial stone for a little girl named Lily Katherine. On the day that the enemy of our souls intended to be death for Lily day, we can rejoice that because of God's mercy that instead we celebrate Life for Lily Day! It is only because of His victory over darkness that when the clock struck midnight on August 16th in 2009 that my child's heart was still beating strongly within me. 

God whispered to my heart in August 2009 that I had come to a fork in the road in my life and had a very big decision to make. He showed me that if I chose to have an abortion, I couldn't imagine the pain and darkness that would follow, but if I chose life, I couldn't imagine the beauty that He would bring. On an August evening around dusk, I was watching the pink clouds dance across the sky, when suddenly the decision became clear to me: I had to obey Him and choose life. Suddenly all my fears melted away when the light of truth shined on my heart. I knew my God would be with me and would give me everything I needed to face the journey ahead.

I don't even want to imagine what my life would be like right now and all we would have missed had August 15th gone the way I had planned. Every year, I would have tearfully remembered that just three days after my own birthday, I denied my child the gift of having her own birthday. Because of the one who loves us more than life and had a plan beyond what I could see or comprehend, she does have a birthday - it's March 16th, 2010, a date that would have held no significance to me had the date of August 15th turned into one of anguish rather than rejoicing. Instead of ending her life, my Father in Heaven gave me the courage to embrace her life, and then put His love for her within me, even when I was selfish and broken and had none of my own to give.

You might think to yourself that Lily died anyways before birth, so what's the big deal, why shouldn't I have gone through with the abortion and saved myself the heartache of her untimely death? You see, she may have died, but she LIVED first. And she did not die before the purposes for her life were put into motion by the one who crafted her life and legacy before the foundation of the world. She didn't die before she changed my entire life, future, and calling. My child died with dignity, rather than at the hands of an abortionist, paid for by her mother. God had His will for her life and in my life, rather than me having my will and playing god in taking her life myself. It is the Lord who gives and takes away. May His Name be praised!

Butterflies symbolize new life and that is what Lily brought me. Her new life in the womb was a reflection of and the instrument used by God to bring me to life in Him. Her name means "purity and innocence," as a symbol of my redemption in Christ. Because of His shed blood, I am washed whiter than snow. He has cleared the blemishes of my past and makes them as if they never were.... like an unborn babe.... like Lily. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new!"

As my friend Anna wrote, "little Lily was a miracle, and even her name was a testimony to your growing in His light like a flower blooming in her season." Summer is the perfect time of year to release butterflies for the baby girl who brought me new life, as it was the time of year her life began. Obviously butterflies are significant enough to me to include one on the back of Lily's stone. Her life brought transformation.

Lily now has eternal life with Jesus. God spoke His promise of eternal life, redemption, and the love and mercy of Christ through Lily's birthday: March 16. 3:16, like John 3:16: "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life." Her life is a picture of this.

Not only are butterflies significant to me because they remind me of Lily's new life, the new life she brought me, and my new life in Christ, but they are also beautiful creatures with short life spans. Maybe God wanted to speak through how He designed butterflies to be so lovely, knowing they would live a brief time, that it is not length that brings beauty and significance. I believe the butterfly is a reflection of the beauty, depth, and intricacy of Lily's life and legacy. Although the length of her life was short, the depth of it is immeasurable in how it's changed the breadth of the rest of my life.

There is a part in Lily's song that perfectly captures what August 15th means to me - "How close I had come to that fatal mistake, but I knew that your life was not mine to take. Through the turmoil and questions broke God's gentle voice: "will you entrust Me with this child, with this choice?"

The song "Alive Again" by Matt Maher beautifully articulates the season in my life when the Lord broke through my darkness. The chorus of the song says, "You called and You shouted, broke through my deafness, now I'm breathing in and breathing out, I'm alive again. You shattered my darkness, washed away my blindness, Now I'm breathing in and breathing out, I'm alive again."


The song "You Are On Our Side," by Bethany Dillon is another special one for me. On August 6th, 2009, I wrote in my journal about how desperate I was for Jesus and how deeply I regretted choices I had made. I asked Him to fulfill His purposes in my life and to take away anything keeping me from Him. In that journal entry, I wrote the lyrics to this song. The chorus says, "You sit at the table with the wounded and the poor, You laugh and share stories with the thief and the whore. When You could just be silent and leave us here to die, still You sent Your Son for us, You are on our side."

He showed me He is on my side.... in how He whispered hope and life to me, in how He brought the victory, in leading me to ask Him in my journal to rescue me from myself so He could prove Himself ever-faithful and present, in how He led me to the "Lifehouse Everything" skit online, in how He led my Aunt Sarah to lend me her David Teems CD so Scripture could be read over me during those nights where a battle was literally raging in the spiritual world and His power was released through His Word, in how He led me to reach out to a young woman named Bex who had courageously chosen life and adoption for her little boy and was able to be just the support and encouragement I needed in my own unplanned pregnancy, in how He led me to the pregnancy center, the "place of hope and light" as I call it, where I was able to cry and talk it out with my now good friend, Anna, in how He led me to listen to many different songs during that time that ministered to my heart, in how He put His love for Lily within me and the desire to protect her from harm, in how I found a Precious Feet pin of a 10-week unborn baby's feet when I was also 10-weeks pregnant and my heart was able to grasp that I had a precious life within me, in how I was initially researching abortion methods because I was planning on having one, when God turned my world upside down and showed me the truth about abortion and first birthed within me the desire to be a voice for the voiceless, in how He whispered to my heart that I was carrying a little girl named Lily while I was still in my first trimester. He showed me He was on my side through all these things and more. Through all these years, He has continued to show me He is on my side.

My spiritual birthday, or Life for Lily Day, is a "stone of remembrance." We praise the Lord for what He's done and we thank Him for sending Lily to Earth. As the decades pass, and my hair turns gray, and aging-wrinkles form on my face, I will remember. My love will only increase with time. While I remain on Earth, I will do all I can to share her story with others and bring glory to the Lord as she have done. Because I know the time is coming when we will be together forever and this life will have been but a breath in light of eternity. All the tears will dry up and the sorrow will fade away, on that day when Jesus greets me at the gates of Heaven, where I know she will be waiting with Him, to welcome me Home. As John Piper wrote in a letter to a mother whose son was stillborn, "she simply skipped Earth. For now. But in the new heavens and the new earth, she will know the best of earth and all the joys earth can give without any of its sorrows." When we first lock eyes, dear Lily, all the years of missing you will be no more and I will hold you and never let go. I will thank you for bringing me new life...

Life for Lily Day Butterfly Release


For more pictures and more on the butterfly release, you can read my blog post from last year by clicking here.

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