Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Her Hand in Mine

This is a photo I've never shared before because it's blurry and not the best angle... However, each time I look at it, memories of Lily's birth wash over me.

This may have been the first photo taken of Lily, literally right after she was born. The time stamped on it may very well be 4:24 p.m.

The moment is so clearly etched forever in my memory, when her perfectly formed body was delivered into this world, no longer a part of my body, after all those months with her as my constant companion, my budding flower.

Here's this moment we dream of all our lives, we who since diapers ourselves long for one day having babies of our own.

Those dreams never consist of how March 16, 2010 unfolded for me. How in that miraculous moment when a new life emerges from the womb, that instead of being greeted by shouts of delight and celebration over sweet newborn cries and a scrunched-up face and curled-up body, we see our loved child, who we also have imagined meeting for months, once so full of life within us, now lifeless, limp, and silent. That somehow deafening silence that pierces your heart. All you hear are your own wails and pleads to God to please make this all be just a bad nightmare that you'll eventually wake up from.

When Lily was born, they held up her perfect little body and I gasped in adoration and heartbreak all at once. And the tears seemed they'd never cease.

The love overshadowed the pain in that moment when they placed her on my chest, right around the time this picture was taken. I gentle cradles her delicate form and held her little hand in mine, almost like I'd hurt her if I wasn't careful. But it was only my heart that was hurting. And she would never be hurt by anything in this world.

I held her and I reveled in the beauty of her most angelic features and how she looked like my mini. I rejoiced that I was given the gift of her life and the joy of the adventure of carrying her for nearly 4 seasons. I sobbed. I clung to Jesus, and find myself still clinging because I know He is the only One who has carried me for the 7 years without that hand wrapped around mine. He is a good, good Father, who gave me the gift of a baby, my baby who changed everything. ❤️

This post left me:

Monday, March 20, 2017

Spring is Coming

This is a post I originally wrote and shared in 2012. I am reminded of it each year around this time.


Spring is officially here and for me, it's a bittersweet time of year. It reminds me of the time Lily came...and went. She was born just days before Spring started. 

In the first few weeks after losing her, all the flowers were blooming beautifully and the sun grew warmer on my skin. The birds were happily chirping along, preparing nests for their wee ones. It felt wrong that life was marching on and the seasons were changing, even though she wasn't there. It felt like everything was supposed to stop since her life had ended. 

With the promise of Spring, came the promise of Lily. Like the new life bursting forth from the earth, Lily was new life. Spring and Lily...they came together.

I see the hand of my God in choosing for her to be born right before the genesis of Spring. He silently speaks with the vibrant colors, fresh smells, and the beauty of the season. There may be pain, there may be sorrow, there may be winter...oh, but in Him, we have the hope and the certainty that joy and Spring are coming! 

There have been so many of these reminders in my life. Like on the day she was born, it was dark and gloomy out and seemed to reflect the heart of God grieving along with us. Then, suddenly, unexpectedly, the sun peeked out from behind the clouds and a hint of blue could be seen. And it reminds me of this dance of sorrow and joy and how this whole journey is marked by both kinds of tears.

With Spring comes new life and fresh hope. Even here on Earth, the Lord is bringing beauty from ashes. There is Spring even here, in this fallen world. The Lord is giving me a life and a purpose through Lily's life and legacy. What the world would look at as hopeless, God has turned into something so breathtakingly beautiful. In the midst of darkness, He brings glorious light. He uses the very things the enemy means to destroy us with and brings glory to Himself. He uses all things together for our good (Romans 8:28). He brings new life out of tragedy and heartbreak. Even with the pain, I would never choose another way. 

I am honored to have been chosen to be Lily's mother. I am honored that God would choose to speak His promise of everlasting life through Lily's and my story. She was born on March 16 (3:16) and yet again, He silently speaks His promise of Spring...

"For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." -John 3:16 

Not only does God somehow, some magnificent way bring beauty and Spring here on Earth, but He reminds me that Spring is coming. Eternal Spring. Life with Him forever. But, forever doesn't have to begin when I die. I have Him now. I have His promises now, even though I don't tangibly have them all yet, I do have them, for He's promised them to me. And I trust Him. Even with the loss of Lily, I can have the hope that this sorrow is only for a short while longer. Then I will be with my girl for all of Eternity! 

My mom saw a glorious rainbow this morning, stretching all the way from one side of the sky to the other. She said the colors were so vibrant and amazing. How appropriate for this first day of Spring. 

So with this change of season, may we each cling to the Hope that is Christ. May we cling to the promise that He can and will bring beauty and Spring out of sorrow and Winter. Both here on Earth...and for all Eternity. 

Spring is coming. Hallelujah
"Our LORD has written the promises of the Resurrection, not in books alone, but in every leaf in Springtime." -Martin Luther

"Weeping may last for the night, but joy comes with the morning." -Psalm 30:5

This is a song from Steven Curtis Chapman's album, "Beauty Will Rise," that has been most instrumental in my healing journey. It flowed out of the Chapman's loss of their own precious daughter. This song reminds me so much of Lily, Spring, and the promise I have in Christ. 

This post left me:

At Least They Are

This is something I shared last year that I was reminded of.


Somehow between each of Lily's birthdays, I forget how there's a let-down in the days after March 16th. 

I think people could assume that because March is a difficult month for me, that I am glad when it passes. Yes, it is difficult. But I find myself in one moment wanting another March to hurry up and pass quickly by and in the next moment, I love how close it makes me feel to Lily. It's a seesaw of mixed emotions.

There are many people who reach out to me in March, especially on Lily's actual birthday on the 16th, so when the days that follow come, I feel a wave of loneliness wash over me. As I've written about before, it feels like on March 16, people remember her more and understand my missing her more than they do the rest of the year. Because I do miss her, every day of every year. Not just on the 16th day of the 3rd month.

I was also wondering how many people would actually think of Lily on her birthday if I didn't share publicly as I do. Would anyone besides my family care? That's honestly a sad thought because it hurts that it's up to me to make sure people don't forget. I wish they would remember all on their own. And maybe some would. But not all. Not like they would remember if she were alive and here, present in photos, conversations, and life, instead of only present continually in my heart and thoughts.

The love I receive this time of year reminds me why I share. There are times when I wonder if it's worth it to be raw and vulnerable as I am, pouring out a piece of my heart and soul each time I write. Sometimes I feel exposed, like people can know so much of who I am, without me even knowing they are here. But then I will receive a comment or an email from someone who is reading, someone who cares, and it reminds me why I do share. It reminds me this is meaningful and purposeful. 

Even if others are only remembering Lily because I do, at least they are. I can be left disappointed by others when they don't acknowledge Lily's birthday. But instead of thinking of those who don't, I want to focus on gratitude for those who do! Oftentimes I find that the people I would least expect to remember are the most thoughtful.

This post left me:

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Even Today

This is something I originally shared after Lily's 4th birthday... I'm feeling similarly with her 7th.


The days following Lily's birthday have been even harder than the days leading up to, as well as her actual birthday. I wasn't expecting this at all.

I think it is partly because of the weather. It has been cold and rainy for the last few days. Tomorrow is the first day of Spring and I am so ready for sunny skies and warmer days.

Everything is feeling so.... gray.

To be honest, I am having a hard time getting back to day-to-day life. I just want to stay a while in this place where people seem to remember Lily more than the rest of the year. I want to stay a while in my memories of March 16, 2010. This place where maybe people understand more the missing even when they don't understand the other months of the year.

Instead, another March 16th has now passed and we had a beautiful celebration without the guest of honor. Now it is March 19th and life must continue on... without her. Life has been continuing on without her for 7 years now, but that doesn't change the missing. I have been thinking about Lily, her birth, her burial, and other things having to do with her...

Lately, I have been so busy thinking about what to do and actually preparing for Lily's birthday that I didn't have time to feel so sad.

Lily's birthday was really special, but now it's over. I don't want it to already be over. Now that it's over, the sadness is catching up with me. Lily's birthday is a very hard day, but it is such a sacred day where it feels like the distance between Heaven and Earth is a little less and my daughter of Heaven is a little closer.

March is a hard month - from the beginning to the end. It is a gift to my mother heart when people simply remember Lily with me this month. Thank you to those who remember her.

On the day after Lily's birthday, I woke up feeling so deeply sorrowful. Lily's day was over. Now it's back to life without her. It's back to people not thinking of her.

My sister-in-law sent me an uplifting email that morning that felt like sweet encouragement from above. I hadn't told Kala how I was feeling, so this literally felt like God was giving me a message through her.

"Hope you are doing OK today. Remember, Jesus said He is with you always... all day, every day! He is with you today, March 17th just as much as He was with you yesterday, March 16th. :) We still remember Lily, even today, even March 27th, even April 7th. Even April 17th. Her footprints on our hearts and lives won't be forgotten, can't be forgotten. Please know this. We are who we are in part because of her life and the testimony of her mother (I am speaking of myself specifically). May this bring you comfort my dear sister."

This was such a precious reminder that Jesus is always with me, every day of every March and every other day of the year too. And He loves Lily and remembers her with me even today. And tomorrow I can say even today too... and every day after that it will be even today.

And not only that, but those that love Lily will always love Lily and will never forget her. The Lord has been giving me many beautiful reminders of this lately.

As we move further away from March 16, I pray He keeps these comforting truths on my heart. And I pray He lifts some of this heaviness off of my shoulders. Just having people remember her with me helps lighten the load.

This post left me:

Friday, March 17, 2017

Going Green for Lily 💚

Today, March 17th, is St. Patrick's Day.... it's the day after Lily was born. One of two days in this world I held her. The day I left the hospital with an empty carseat a few keepsakes, instead of my newborn baby girl. Shamrocks and the green associated with this holiday will always remind me of her... green for new life. How appropriate considering that's what she brought me. 💚

This is a Shamrock made out of Lily's sweet footprints. I found it on Etsy. :)

I am rockin' my St. Patrick's Day green for my mid-March girl. Found this for only a couple dollars at "The One Spot" at Target. Custom handprint necklace is from My Forever Child (can't recommend highly enough!)

Lily's spot went green!

From BreAnna for my mid-March girl.

St. Patrick's Day pillow, also from "The One Spot."

From Catherine :)

This post left me:

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Her 7th Birthday ~ Her Story Isn't Over 💕

Another March 16th. Another would-be year older. Another year of Lily remaining my forever baby. Another year of cherishing her life and mothering her legacy.

It's been 7 years of her name being written in the sand, the snow, and just about any way you could imagine. 7 years of Lily leaving her mark on thousands of hearts. Each birthday makes me smile with the knowledge that more people know her name and story than did last March 16th. 💕

With this time of year, there is a unique sadness that creeps its way into the depths of my being... but with that said, there is also a unique strength. There is a tangible realness to the grace of God that is mine for the grasping hold of. The sorrow of March is written all over my heart, something I've grown rather accustomed to experiencing each year at this time, now expecting it. But Jesus is ever-faithful, ever-present, ever-upholding me, ever reminding me of His love for both me and my girl.

My Lily Katherine is a beautiful mystery. There is so much about her that I wonder... Who would she be? What/who would she look like? What interests would she have? What would her voice sound like? And her laugh? What color would her eyes be? Blue I think. At times, these things can hurt to think about. If she were here, if I'd delivered her shortly before she was born, before her little heart stopped for no apparent reason, there wouldn't be this giant question-mark on everything her life might have held.

Lily was my little mini-me, strikingly resembling her mommy at birth. At each age she'd be, I am comforted by picturing her looking and acting like I did at that very age. I picture her as the perfect blend of girly-girl and tomboy, seeking adventure and heartily playing outdoors, while also loving to twirl around the living room like a ballet dancer and endlessly playing with her American Girl dolls. I picture her as sweet and gentle as the flower she's named after, while at the same time feisty and courageous. I picture her as hilarious and full of exuberant laughter. I picture her as a lover of babies and cats, and with a soft heart for Jesus, who I'd pray would be her first love always.

I picture this abundant life here on Earth and I ache because when you lose your child, you lose a lifetime of maybes. I think of all my own life held up until age 7 and it highlights all that I'm missing with my own little girl. One life holds so much and I won't know any of what Lily's would have held beyond the womb.

The thing is, though, deep in my heart, I know that she was never meant to be a little girl of this world. She was always meant to be my daughter of Heaven. The Lord numbered her days (Psalm 139:16) and chose for each of those days to be lived within her mommy's womb.

Instead of thinking too much about who she could have been on Earth, I imagine who she is in Heaven! Because she is alive and I am so excited I will get to know her there. The Lord has been so good to give me glimpses into her life there, through dreams I've had as well as friends have had.

I want to share part of what my friend Kate wrote about a dream she had a few years back: "It was short, and was one of those dreams that truly feel like a dream because it was so peaceful and beautiful. You and I were just sitting in chairs next to each other in a living room somewhere. And Lily was there. I don't remember you or I saying a word to each other, we just smiled and laughed and watched Lily. She wasn't a baby, she actually looked like the just barely two-year-old that she should be. All I remember is that she had really sweet wispy blonde hair, and gorgeous blue eyes. And I knew she was Lily; she truly did look just like a little mini you. It seemed so completely natural that she was there with you, as she would run playfully around the room, and then straight back to you again. That was pretty much all, except that right before I woke up, she looked up at me and smiled, and from that moment I knew that I was supposed to remember this dream and share it with you. It made something I had remembered reading on your blog very real - that while she only got to be a little Lily-bud here, she is most definitely blooming with life in Jesus. That even when little heats seem to stop on Earth, they never miss a beat in the Heavenly realm. What I feel most strongly when I think of it is that - Lily is alive. Vibrantly alive. And that you are mother to an adorable, blonde-haired, blue-eyed, Lily, and you always will be. Even though you're missing her now, Eternity awaits."

I cannot describe how much hope and anticipation these beautiful words give me for the future to come with my blue-eyed girl.

That is my future, but I still have a life to live presently on this Earth. Each breath God gives me is one full of purpose and meaning. It's not by chance.

After 7 years, I know my story isn't over yet, and Lily's isn't either. Her heart beats with every beat of mine and her story is lived through me.

It seems God reserves special blessings for March, blessings that remind me that Lily's story isn't over, that she is still remembered and loved by others, that she will never not matter anymore. These little blessings come in the form of a gift, or a text, or some flowers, or emails such as this one, from people who have followed my blog for years and I had no idea (this lady works at the hospital where Lily was born, though I've not met her yet):

"I wanted to write you at this sacred time for you to let you know that Lily's legacy extends to people you don't even know. Lily reminds me that life is fleeting and precious, and the moments when my youngest doesn't let me cook dinner without screaming, or my blossoming preteen huffs and rolls her eyes at me, are moments to cherish. Just last Summer my husband ran over the lilies we have in the yard and I panicked because I thought of Lily when I looked at them, 'til I remembered lilies come back. And I thought how symbolic. :) and I also wanted to tell you for every person that may tell you you should be over your sadness, there are many more who understand that grief doesn't work that way, and we want to hear you talk about your baby. And I know your sharing helps many people who walk the same path you have. I pray for your strength in the next few days, that you find strength in God, your family, and the legacy that is your daughter."
Or messages like this one:
"I am so sorry you have had to face so much heartbreak. I hate that you aren't planning a beautiful 7th birthday party. But I also want to thank you for the way you carry yourself with such eloquence and grace. The way you write about Lily is breathtaking; I often find myself writing out a sentence of two from your statuses so that I can remember them. The hope you provide to other grieving mothers is such a legacy for Lily. I have felt so, so blessed by your support and friendship. Lily is blessed with one special mother."

I share these things to say wow, look how God is still using the life of a little girl who never spoke a word or took a breath. Look how God can use a yielded life, even when we wonder.

My friend Karen wrote me recently and said: "You and Lily are making an impact. You are a "wounded healer" helping those who are experiencing similar wounds." I thought that was so beautiful. Sometimes we think our wounds will keep us from being able to minister to others when many times it is because of and through our own wounds that we can most effectively empathize with and serve others.

Just because I'm wounded doesn't mean I can't dance. I might dance with a limp, but that limp makes me more thankful that I can still stand. It makes the dance that much more beautiful, even if it doesn't always look graceful.

When I was at a local infant loss support group a couple months ago, a lady was saying how much it lifted her spirits that I wrote her son's names in the snow and it was such a blessing knowing how much this simple act of kindness meant to her. And then my friend Bonnie was saying something too and then said, "this is Lily's gift to all of us, through you." And that made me cry and I realized this time is a gift and I am able to serve others in a unique way with my time as a single woman. This is my time "with" Lily, for Lily.

As I was awake late a couple night ago, I was thinking how unbelievable it is that 7 years have passed now since Lily's birth and going to Heaven. To a lot of people, that should be plenty enough time to stop talking about her/missing her/thinking about her. But part of the beauty in Lily's legacy and my love for her is that it has endured for 7 years. All these years it has strengthened with time. There is beauty in the endurance of a forever love, a love that equates to a forever missing. The beauty is in the testimony to how radically this cold and hardened hard was softened and molded in such a way as to cherish the life of a sweet and delicate flower so immensely. A life that might have ended before blooming fully in the womb, but God kept that from happening. And He has used these 7 years of enduring love to teach me more things than I could ever count... more things than I could finish blogging about in 7 years time.

After 7 years, I still miss Lily like I did the day I lost her. After 7 years, there is the temptation to grow bitter. I refuse to allow the pain to get infected and to fester. I am reminded of an interview that musician Kari Jobe did last year sometime, in which she spoke a few times about her sister and her baby niece who was stillborn like Lily. And she said something so beautiful that has been on my heart ever since... she said, "I refuse to allow the enemy to steal my worship." Because that is just what he wants to do. But as Kari went on to say, we have to want Jesus more than we want answers. We have to trust His goodness above our lack of answers and understanding.

Kari has a beautiful album called "The Garden" that recently came out and many of the songs flowed out of the loss of her darling niece. One in particular reminded me of that interview and it is what I will be singing over and over again on this March 16th...

"I Will Sing"
by Kari Jobe

I need to see You here
I need to know You're in control
Though my heart is torn wide open

I will trust, I will remember

I need to hear Your voice
Speaking to silence all my doubts
Your word won't return empty
You will break through every darkness

Even when my breath is weak
I will sing, I will sing
Even in my suffering
I will sing, I will sing

I need to feel Your hope
Rising above my greatest fears
Even death has been defeated
I will trust, I will remember

Even when the shadows fall
I will sing, I will sing
Even when the night is long
I will sing, I will sing

I surrender all to You
You are God, You won't be shaken
I surrender all to You
You are God, You won't be shaken

I need to see You here
I need to know You're in control
Though my heart is torn wide open
I will trust, I will remember

Here is Lily's song.

And here is Lily's tribute video.

Thank you to everyone who still cares to read and hear about my baby...

Here are the blog posts I've written over the years, both on Lily's birthdays, as well as the posts about how we've celebrated her birthdays:

This post left me:

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

He Holds All My March 16's

This is something I wrote last year on Lily's Birthday Eve. It remains true today. I updated it to reflect the 7-year-mark.


As I lay here trying to get my thoughts to shut off enough to get some sleep, my mind goes back to this night 7 years ago.

I clearly remember being in that space between awake and slumber and feeling an overwhelming sense of peace. I knew it was from God. I had been feeling nervous about giving birth and wondering how I could handle the physical pain. Never could I have imagined that in the coming hours, physical pain would be the least of my concerns.

As I drifted off to sleep that night, unsure of what was to come, the Lord already knew how it would all unfold. He knew that in just a couple hours, I'd awaken to contractions. He knew that in just a few hours, I'd learn what He already knew from the foundation of the world... that my little girl would slip away. That she wasn't meant to grow up on Earth.

I look back and am encouraged as I remember the peace and comfort that washed over me that night. And on this same night 7 years later, I am strengthened because that same peace and comfort is meeting me right where I am. The God who saw me that night could see me on this night. He holds my heart and my little girl. He holds all my March 16s in His hands.

This post left me:
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