Saturday, June 27, 2015

Her Forever Daddy

Here are Lily's precious hands with her daddy's hand.

She looked just like me, but she had his big hands and feet. I'm so thankful to have this photo, of course because it's her hands, but also because she shared that with him. And he will always be her daddy, even though we aren't together now. We will always share her. 

I couldn't help but think of him on Father's Day Sunday. I wonder if anyone else acknowledged him on that day. I wonder if it's a hard day for him. 

I wish our little girl were here to spend special days with us.

Here are photos of the view of the Blue Ridge Mountains from Lily's spot on Father's Day.

A lovely sunset.

We took Lily some lilies in honor of her daddy for Father's Day. We are housesitting for some friends and they have over 400 lilies at their home! My mom selected a variety of colors. She even thought of Lily's father on Father's Day.

He gave her the name "Ball." I will honor him as her father.

This random little drawing is something Lily Kat's daddy sketched when I was carrying her. It's now in her scrapbook. A picture of what might have been. The "what ifs" are hard to live with and something I must surrender to the Lord every day.

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Saturday, June 20, 2015

What Would Have Been Missed

The week leading up to Mother's Day, I was in South Carolina with my sister-in-law for a few days. The weather was gorgeous and even though we had important matters to attend to, we also had our fair share of fun and made time to enjoy fellowship with each other and with a couple of my friends that live around there.

I knew that one of my newly-married friends, who I first met at Ellerslie in Colorado in 2011 named Suzanne, had recently moved to that area with her husband, so we thought it would be neat to spend some time with her. Last June, I had the honor of attending her wedding.

I did want to see Suzanne, but I am going to be completely honest in saying it crossed my mind not to contact her and let her know we were in the area because I knew she was full-term in her first pregnancy. She would likely not have known that we were there if I had not contacted her. It's not like her feelings would have been hurt and my feelings would have been preserved. It has always been hard for me to be around pregnant women, no matter who they are. It doesn't mean I'm not thrilled for them, but it is difficult emotionally for me to remember back to my pregnancy with Lily and to wonder if I'll ever have the blessing of being pregnant again... and if I'll ever get to take my baby home. It was also an emotional time for me with Mother's Day fast approaching.

Quite frankly, I almost didn't call her.. but then I felt my Lord ask me to entrust my feelings in this area to Him. It feels like it's my "right" to have these feelings, because they are understandable, I think. I didn't realize how tightly I had been clinging to them. I just accepted them as part of my life. I didn't realize God wanted me to give Him control of even that part of my heart.

So, I decided to step outside of my comfort zone and ask Jesus to be Lord of this part of my woundedness. Though honestly, I didn't know if it was possible to find freedom from those feelings because they have been a part of my life for half a decade.

I opened my clinched hands and prayed something along the lines of: Lord, please allow me to be only joyful for my friend, without that familiar tinge of jealousy and sadness.

The morning that Kala and I were going to meet with Suzanne, I felt a calmness in my spirit, though I did feel a bit nervous.

What a fond memory I have of the breakfast we three shared together at Chick-fil-A that morning. God answered my prayer. I felt only joy and not sadness. I was able to rejoice with my friend and have hope and trust that my life and future is in God's hands.

My purpose in sharing all this is to point to how faithful my Lord is and how powerful He is to mend our broken hearts. He wants us to entrust each area of our lives to Him and He will take tender care of us.

I felt Him whisper to my heart that day.... imagine what you would have missed if you had listened to your feelings instead of my leading. I would have missed the blessing of having Him answer my prayer, having my hope, strength, and trust built up. I would have missed being tenderly cared for by my faithful Heavenly Father and realizing at a deeper level that He works outside of what is "natural." I would have missed a time of sweet encouragement and fellowship with two dear friends.

And not only that, but I would have missed the joy of hearing as Lily's mommy more of the impact she is making in this world, in so many different ways. I would have missed hearing Suzanne speak of how my story and Lily's life have helped teach her to treasure the days she does have with her baby, because tomorrow is never guaranteed. I would have missed the opportunity to encourage her as her impending labor and delivery drew near. I would not have been able to share about my own crippling fears of labor and delivery and how I never could have dreamed I'd one day have to give birth under such tragic circumstances. I would not have been able to share from personal experience how God meets us where we are every day and in every circumstance, and He is perfectly capable of sustaining us through the most difficult challenges and darkest valleys. If He can carry little ol' me through laboring and delivering Lily in the way I did, He can carry anyone through that process. I look back and almost cannot believe that was me. I look back and smile at how beautiful that experience of being Lily's mother was and how thankful I am to have those memories. And what a gift it was for me to be able to share those memories with Suzanne and Kala. I look back absolutely amazed at how faithful my God is, in big ways and in small ways.

God set this meeting up, and in the perfect time. Just two days later, Suzanne gave birth to her healthy baby boy (I had such a strong feeling he was a boy, even though they didn't find out before his birth). :) The day after I saw her was her birthday and two days after he was born was Mother's Day... so that was quite the week for her, I'd say! ;)

The Lord used our time together to speak so many things to my heart and I hope it was an encouraging time for Kala and Suzanne as well.

Imagine what would have been missed...

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Thursday, June 18, 2015

A Mark of Life, Honor, Beauty, and Sacrifice

I inwardly (and sometimes outwardly) grumble and complain about how my body changed after carrying Lily. I was once a fit athlete, a toned cross-country runner. Then came Lily. Much of the time, I don't like how my body changed. I have the body of a mother whose carried a child to term, but no child here to show as the fruit of those months of nurturing and protection.

I'm trying to look at the changes to my body through different lenses. This body carried her all of her life. This body was my beautiful girl's only home before her Eternal Home. And it was her budding life that caused my widened hips and stretch marks. It was wonderful Lily, so how could I be upset about the changes? They silently speak that she was here. She was real. Each mark is a remembrance of my obedience to the Lord, in choosing life for my unborn child and not allowing shallow or fleeting concerns to govern choices that not only would impact me forever, but also the life of an innocent child.

Even how my body has changed from pregnancy is a reminder not to be overly concerned about things that are actually quite insignificant. I changed and grew as a Christian and a person so much through the entire experience of my unplanned pregnancy and losing Lily. Embracing her life was a sacrifice of love.

I want the culture to recognize that a postpartum body is beautiful because WOW, women carry babies made in the image of God! The marks that come from such an awe-inspiring gift from above are nothing to be ashamed of. I want other young women faced with an unplanned pregnancy to realize that yes, their body might change, but it is not something to run and hide from, but rather a mark of life, honor, beauty, and sacrifice. The mark of motherhood. And our babies are worth every mark, every pound and inch gained, every change to our bodies and lives... no matter what happens.

my picture submission for The Sacred Project

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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

He Preserved Her Life

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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Sunday, June 14, 2015

Sacred Life Forming Within

I am so thankful for the vivid memories I have from the time I was pregnant with Lily and when God intervened in my life and saved the life of my baby girl and my life through her life. I look back and almost cannot believe all that really happened to me.

If you are unfamiliar with my story, click HERE to read it. I had an abortion scheduled at Planned Parenthood for August 15, 2009. However, my God was fighting for my life and the life of my precious unborn wee babe. Spiritual warfare is real. I saw it evidenced in my own life. God was fighting mightily for my freedom and victory in Christ and for the life of my Lily. It gives me chills to think about.

The Lord is strong, He is loving, kind, merciful, and He will work in unexpected ways to bring us to Himself. He used a little girl forming in my womb to bring me back to Jesus. I had been living for myself for so long. I had made choices that I was suffering the consequences of and I wished I could take it all back and change so many things. But even though I wanted to change, I felt I couldn't. I was in the bondage of my sin. However, I cried out to the Lord, and He ran to my rescue and defense. And He strengthened me and fought to save the life of my unborn little girl.

The enemy wanted to destroy my life further and end her life. BUT God is more powerful than the enemy of our souls! And yes, some might say, well, Lily still died before being born. Don't you see... she died, but NOT before God's purposes for her life were put in motion! Not before she changed my life, my future, my calling. Her life and death were in God's hands, not mine and not the enemy's. Jesus was in control! Lily died with dignity, rather than at the hand of an abortionist, paid for by her mother.

Right around the time the abortion was scheduled was when God was working in my heart in a way I couldn't deny or escape. He was softening my heart towards my baby and drawing me to repentance. I have a clear recollection of waking up in the middle of the night many times during that week and being overwhelmed with the realization that I was not alone... the Lord was with me. And my baby girl's presence was also felt. She was just a tiny baby growing away, the only proof of her existence being my morning sickness, however, I could feel her with me. And I was beginning to love her, only because He was giving me love for her. I remember my hands finding my stomach as I recognized there was sacred life forming within. This is such a precious memory for me now. Thank You, Lord, for bringing me to You and for saving Lily's life and giving me love for her!

As with so many of my pregnancy memories, I want to forever document this so my future children can read about it and as a testimony to God's kindness and faithfulness to me, even when I least deserved it. He loves Lily more than I ever could.

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Half a Century in Heaven

My Aunt Rachel Ross would be turning 50 today... she's had nearly half a century with the Lord. She was born on June 14, 1965. June 14 is Flag Day and Rachel was given the middle name Ross partly after Betsy Ross, who sewed the American flag.

Sadly, Rachel only lived for 3 months outside of the womb. She died on the operating table at UVA on September 10, 1965 as her doctor attempted to save her tiny, deformed heart.

Rachel was the seventh child of my grandparents, James Kirk and Nancy Virginia Bain. My mom is the eldest of the seven. This is the only family picture of all nine of them (baby Rachel in my grandmother's arms and my mom is in the back with the glasses). They are standing in front of Holy Comforter Catholic Church in our home area of Charlottesville, Virginia on the day of Rachel's christening. Each year, I remember my Aunt Rachel with my family. Happy birthday in Heaven, Rachel!

My mom was 9 when Rachel died, so she clearly remembers that time and has shared her memories with me. She even has a diary she wrote in then. 

My grandmother still grieves and attends Compassionate Friends meetings and events. We now have the bond of knowing what it's like to have a daughter in Heaven. We were always close, but Lily and Rachel have brought us closer. 

My mom said one of the few times she saw my grandfather cry was when Rachel died. Her absence has left a hole in my family. We will always miss her and wonder who she would have become and what other cousins I might have had. I'll always love her and hope future generations will speak of and remember Lily the way I do Rachel. Even when I was a young teen, before I ever knew I'd lose my own child, I would go to CF meetings with my Bumma. I see now how God was preparing me for a future only He could see.

You can read more about my Aunt Rachel in a blog post I wrote by clicking HERE.

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Friday, June 12, 2015

Share a Coke (Part 2)

This post is titled "part 2" because if you'll recall, I recently found "Share a Coke" bottles with Lily and Luke's names on them. Click HERE to read that post.

Anyways, a couple days ago, while checking out at Target, I saw one with the name Katherine on it (it's even spelled correctly, with a "K")! Now I've seen both Lily's first and middle names. And how perfect with my Lily tattoo right beside Katherine. I love my girl's feminine and elegant name. I hope to find Luke's middle name now, which is Shiloh.

Here are the bottles together (only thing is my Lily's name is spelled with two "Ls" and not three. :)

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