Saturday, August 27, 2016

He Orchestrates the Details and Weaves Stories Together

When I was in Virginia a couple weeks ago, I got a message from the mother of a close friend of mine from high-school.

This friend had her healthy first child on March 16, 2010 - Lily's exact birthday! I've blogged about it before. Sadly, not only do we have that date in common now...

As I said, her mom wrote me on Tuesday, the 16th of August, letting me know that my friend had lost her baby... Ryleigh Grace was unexpectedly stillborn the day before, on August 15th... Life for Lily Day. Yet another significant date we have in common. And baby girls who now live with Jesus.

Ryleigh was born just shy of 38 weeks gestation, a beautiful little girl with her cord tied tightly around her neck.

Both my friend and her mom thought of me and hoped I could talk on the phone, knowing I understand what they're going through. I told her I was deeply sorry for their loss and not only could I talk on the phone, but I also "happened" to be in town (remember, I live in NC now, away from my hometown and where Lily is layed to rest).

I see how the Lord orchestrated my being there at that time, to put together a comfort box for this mother and to attend Ryleigh's service with my grandmother, who also lost a baby.

I wasn't able to put together the exact type of box I usually do (because some of the things have to be ordered online), but it ended up being quite special, I think. We had a day to prepare the box, so Bumma and I went around Charlottesville to different shops, collecting items. I was thankful Bumma was willing and eager to be a part of this. I'll explain more about what we included in the box below.

The service was beautiful and it was an honor to be there. Ryleigh was layed to rest in the same cemetery as my grandparents (dad's parents). There are rolling hills and breathtaking Blue Ridge Mountain views from this cemetery. Ryleigh's mommy wrote a moving poem that was read aloud at the service. It was the first service for a baby that I've been to since Lily's (that I can recall). It was definitely emotional for me. Of course it is heartbreaking when anyone loses their baby, but when it is someone I know, it hurts more.

I know that because of my own loss of Lily, I understand in a deeper and fuller way the heartbreak that infant loss entails, and therefore can pray and intercede for this family in a unique way. I keep bringing this family to the Lord, remembering the rawness and shock of those first days and weeks after Lily died. I pray that I am able to bear a little bit of their burden.

"Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ." -Galatians 6:2

After the service, there was a meal at a church in the area. I was glad Bumma and I could talk some with them, both at the graveside service and at the church afterwards, in a way that only those who've lost a baby can converse. We were all discussing how crazy it is all the similarities between our stories... The Lord certainly orchestrates the details and weaves stories together in a way only He can. I will continue to keep in contact with them in the months ahead, especially when a lot of the initial support wears off, yet the pain of the loss remains.

Here is the box...


I knew right when I thought about putting together a box that I wanted to include something with Ryleigh's name and birthdate on it. When you lose a baby, those are some of the only things connected to them. Their names are sacred and unspeakably precious. They are a reminder that they are real and they were here. They will always be our children, who we will love and call by name.

As soon as I thought of getting something with her name, I believe the Lord placed my friend Cambry's name in my heart. She is my friend I shared about recently in my Life for Lily Day post. We met at Ellerslie in Colorado last year and discovered she lives near my hometown in Virginia. She had just come to the Life for Lily Day celebration the day before, and we had gotten together to frolic about in downtown Staunton that day. Cambry is a talented artist and sells some of her work at times. I asked if she'd be willing to paint a custom piece for my friend for the box and immediately, she graciously and willingly said yes. I love her generous heart. She had one day to paint this and then met with me the morning of the service to give it to me. I could tell my friend loved the painting and so did everyone she showed it to. I like this picture Cambry took in her own personal outdoor art studio. ;)



Most of the items for the box were from Ten Thousand Villages or T.J. Maxx (a couple of my favorite stores). I stuck to a butterfly theme, as usual. :) The box was colorful with butterflies and flowers, perfect to store keepsakes in.



a butterfly card with a handwritten and signed note from my grandmother and I... with my blog card inside and an explanation of all the items in the box


a lamb (for innocence and purity) to hold in their empty arms
and a teddy bear for big brother


Forget-Me-Not flower seeds to plant in memory of the baby they'll never forget


a butterfly bracelet to wear in remembrance of Ryleigh


a "hope" stone, as a tangible reminder to hold onto hope


lavender and chamomile (both known to be calming and soothing) 
soap and bubble bath to pamper mom and help her heal


chamomile lavender tea to also pamper mom


a journal to write pregnancy memories, the birth story, letters or poems, feelings, etc. 
(writing means so much to me and has been a huge part of my healing and my friend likes to write too - remember a poem she wrote was read aloud at the service).. I was glad I found the journal with Scripture on each page and butterflies on the cover that I used in the comfort boxes 
given to the hospital for Lily's birthday this year.


a candle to light in remembrance of Ryleigh


a packet of tissues for their tears


a butterfly wind-chime (made in Indonesia - Lily has the same one at her spot) 
for their home or Ryleigh's spot... my friend was saying how at the service, she was
already thinking of wanting to decorate her spot. I thought the wind-chime would be
perfect... also, it is touching that a mother's instinct to do something for her child, even
if it's decorating their gravesite, kicks in fast


Please pray that Jesus will comfort this grieving family and hold their broken hearts.

I won't forget you, Ryleigh... I will hold onto your obituary, the bulletin from your service, the memory of your beautiful face, and the knowledge of the forever love your family will have for you.

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My Girl - Always with Me

My brother, our grandmother, and I were driving around Waynesboro, Virginia one evening last week, when we spotted "Lily Drive" and "Hannah Circle" within about a mile of each other. My girl is always with me. 😊💕


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Friday, August 26, 2016

August 2009 Series ~ He Moves in the Most Unlikely Ways

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."

~~~~~~~~~~~

I have been thinking a lot about something God used to change my life in August 2009. If you are familiar with my story, you know that when I was pregnant with Lily, I was planning on having an abortion and even scheduled the appointment at Planned Parenthood for August 15th, 2009. I was too many weeks into pregnancy to have the medical abortion (RU486 pill) so was doing some research online to see what sort of abortion procedure I would be getting and what to expect.

In the midst of my research, I was horrified to read about the surgical abortion procedures. By the Lord's leading, I came across stories of men and women who had formerly been involved in the abortion industry, but after God changing their hearts and lives, they became passionately pro-life. I read stories of brokenhearted men and women who regret their decision to abort their unborn child. I also came across stories of those who chose life and adoption for their child. I pored over these stories and wept over them.

The testimony that stands out most vividly in my mind is that of Dr. Bernard Nathanson, who was an American doctor and co-founder of the NARAL (National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws). He was one of the people that most passionately spoke our for abortion before it was legalized, and then he became passionately pro-life. The development of ultrasound in the 1970s helped change his mind that the unborn are human beings, worthy of protection and life. He even performed an abortion on his own unborn child, along with ending the lives of thousands of other unborn babies. :-(

BUT our God is a God of redemption. And He can take the darkest and most hopeless stories and make them radiate His light and healing touch. Dr. Nathanson has impacted millions of people around the world with his spoken and written words. Click HERE to read a post shared on The Gospel Coalition blog about Dr. Bernard Nathanson this week.

I wish that I could tell him how much his movie, The Silent Scream, impacted my life. I first saw it in August 2009 and can honestly say, it is in fact partly because of this film that I chose life for Lily. She was close to the same size and gestation of the baby in the film.


Watch The Silent Scream below or by clicking HERE. Note: the video was made in 1984, so it is not the best quality. Also, WARNING: it is graphic, so may be extremely difficult to hear about and watch. But this society must come to a realization of the truth of what abortion is. That's what it took for me.


When I was originally researching abortion because I was planning on getting one, the Lord turned my world upside down by stirring my soul and igniting a passion within me to give a voice to those who have no voice. He opened the eyes of my heart to sense the depth of the darkness of abortion in a way I haven't felt since. I realized how ignorant I had been. He showed me how precious each life is to Him and how He has a unique plan and purpose for everyone. Talk about a 180!

I hope that in sharing what God did in my life in this way, you see that He can move in the most unlikely of ways, in the most unexpected circumstances. He is sovereign and mighty. He is so much more powerful than any darkness in this world. He can use the very thing the enemy means to bring destruction and devastation to our lives and totally and completely turn it around for our good and His glory. I will never stop speaking out about how He rescued me and set me free.

And how He brought me to a 180... through testimonies of men and women who have in some intimate way been impacted by abortion, the people who would seem the most unqualified to be pro-life and speak out against abortion. Yet God truly uses the "unqualified" to bring His purposes to pass on Earth and to showcase His strength! Those of us who have been touched by abortion first-hand need to speak out. Our voices are needed, even if anyone makes you feel like you're unworthy of being heard. We can speak about abortion in a way others cannot.

It's amazing to me the ripple effects that occur when we choose to share. Me seeing Dr. Nathanson's video helped me find the courage to choose life, which in turn began a journey of God awakening my heart to share my own story through speaking and writing. It shows what ripple effects come out of our sharing, when one person is impacted and then they go on to impact more people, and so on and so forth. Never feel like you cannot make a difference in this world for life because you most certainly can!

I can only hope and pray that a woman who finds herself in an unplanned pregnancy, like I was in, will also be searching the internet, googling terms having to do with abortion, and will find her way here to my blog. I hope that even if she never writes to me or makes it known, that somehow my words and the lives of Luke and Lily, will show her that choosing LIFE is always the better way. The internet is a powerful tool that can be wielded for good or bad. I pray that the Lord will lead many people in crisis to stories like that of Dr. Bernard Nathanson, Jill Stanek, Abby Johnson, etc. And please continue to share these stories on social media and with those you know because you never know who needs to hear them, and who will remember them when a crisis pregnancy comes knocking.

Here is a Jill Stanek video that I also remember watching in August 2009 (along with researching partial birth abortion).


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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."

~~~~~~~~~~~

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."

~~~~~~~~~~~

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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