Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Place of Light and Hope

As August comes to a close, my posts about August 2009 also come to a close. It has been good for me to look back on all God has done...

On this date five years ago, August 31st, 2009, I had an appointment at the Pregnancy Center of Central Virginia in Charlottesville. I had already made the choice of LIFE for my unborn child, but was still unsure if I would choose adoption or parenting. I needed someone to talk to about everything, which is when the appointment was made at the PCCV. It is just a mile or so from the Planned Parenthood where I had an abortion just months before.

  http://donationsstatic.ebay.com/extend/logos/1195658209801.jpg

From the moment I walked in the doors of the pregnancy center, I felt accepted and loved. The way I like to describe it as is "the place of light and hope." It was such a contrast to "the place of darkness and despair" (Planned Parenthood). I literally remember the sunshine streaming in the windows as I walked in, as a physical representation of what the center is spiritually.

I met with Anna, who was the center director then, and was so blessed by our time together. I wrote about my visit to the center in an email to Bex, the friend I just posted about. I am so thankful to have these words to see what exactly I was thinking then:
I went to the Pregnancy Center on Monday. I met with one of the counselors there, Anna. I didn't really know what to expect going in there. The Pregnancy Center of Central Virginia is a Christian establishment and as soon as I walked in the door, I felt comfortable and loved. The lady at the front desk had a warm smile on her face and was very helpful. Then, I met with Anna and I knew she wasn't judging me or thinking about what a horrible person I am. Her words were tender and sweet, and I felt comfortable enough to openly discuss everything with her. I told her I am considering adoption and she recommended Bethany Christian Services, the very same place you sent me a link to in your first message to me! She gave me all sorts of pamphlets when I left with information on the things we had discussed. She gave me the number to Bethany, as well as the number to both hospitals in the area, so I can get set up with a doctor. She told me someone that works in the Center has a daughter that got pregnant and put her baby up for adoption. I told her the church I have been attending with my grandmother, and then told her the church I would like to try. Her eyes lit up and she said, "that's the church I attend." She invited me to go with her. She talked with me as long as I wanted, and then prayed for me. Her prayer was heartfelt and sincere, and brought tears to my eyes. While she was getting all the pamphlets together for me, I watched a fifteen minute video on adoption. I was filled with emotion and tears were streaming down my face. I am scared of the pain that is to come if I do indeed choose adoption. I walked out of the Pregnancy Center that day with great hope. I was at complete peace with my choice of LIFE.

I really wanted to have an ultrasound on that day, but was unable to. I remember Anna sharing the fetal models they have at the center and I was able to see around the size Lily was at that gestation.

Throughout my pregnancy, I kept meaning to write Anna to tell her how much that short visit with her had deeply impacted me. I told my mom about her and just smiled whenever I thought of sweet Anna. I saw her in October at the annual pregnancy center banquet that I went to with my grandmother, but didn't say anything to her. Not everyone knew yet about my pregnancy.

I did eventually contact Anna, just not in the way I every thought I'd have to. I called the center in March of 2010 and asked her if she would attend my daughter's Celebration of LIFE burial service. She was happy to come. It means so much to me that she would attend. She has gotten to see the story unfold from the beginning.

Meeting at the center because of my pregnancy was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Since then, we have gotten together many times and I treasure our relationship. She has spoken truth into my life when I needed to hear it and has been a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on. Isn't it amazing how God brings good things into our lives in ways we never could have expected?

On New Year's Eve 2011, Anna got married and she asked me to be her wedding photographer! She said what I thought...who would have ever imagined when we first met that one day I would be photographing her wedding! Anna has since had a sweet daughter and is currently pregnant again.

Anna and I
A couple years ago, I asked Anna for her version of when I first came into the center. These words mean so much to me:
I remember the day you (Hannah) walked into the Center with your boyfriend at the time. I remember that you looked scared and a bit down, very down. But in your eyes was a spark of the desire to have hope. You sat down on the couch opposite me, hungry for some direction that would give you peace in your pregnancy. I could see that things were hard between you and him, and that there was so much in your heart and to your soul that he wasn't even aware of. I could see your potential and a bit of who you really were, is what I'm trying to say. As I talked to you I felt the Spirit pouring out His story of hope to you. Choose Life.....maybe even adoption. I could tell that your character was deep, but I wasn't sure how you were feeling - what would be your outcome? As you watched the adoption video, I remember seeing that you had so much emotion welling up - your mother's heart was showing.....and being wrenched. It was in the following days ahead that I really got to see verified what I had only believed was true- as you mentioned that you were going forward, going to have your baby, and give it the best life you could. The most amazing thing of all to me was when you said you just couldn't stay with your boyfriend, but that you had to make a decision to move beyond him, for yourself but most importantly to honor God. I think I cheered at that in my office and bragged on you to the staff!! We don't see that kind of decision hardly EVER! It is rare, though we pray for it to increase. Your heart was breaking over so many losses, but you had your eye on His gain. I knew that would take you far, and, secretly I was hoping we would get to stay in touch so that I could see just how God would bless your heart of David and heart of Esther! As your baby was nearing birth, I was so excited for you....and then, my heart broke, as you told me the news that must crush every mother's most inner sensibility. I felt that loss so acutely. 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. Getting to come to the funeral was a huge blessing, as I was able to be with you and also your family (who had supported the Pregnancy Centers for many years and was well known among our staff). I felt that I was getting to be there with the granddaughter of one of the PCCV matrons - your grandma Nancy Virginia Bain! Through time and after Lily's going back to be with Jesus, getting to know you personally has just been one of the sweetest treasures, like nectar bottled up from such a sweet flower of the past. I don't get to get close to all clients like I did you - they are transient, they pass in and out, etc. But, you....God allowed our acquaintance to deepen to friendship and deep sister love in the Spirit. You are so special, and I just know that His plan for you is just radiantly expansive, with impact that ripples like waves out from a rock hitting the water. You are forever precious to me and I hope we will always stay in touch!!!! Also, one of the greatest gifts you gave to me was that you would pursue God and His direction in your life relentlessly. When you could have taken the easy way, you chose HIM!! Every time you'd tell me what you were up to, I could see the little "normal" veerings as you were trying to discover the right way...the path to Life.....but, always you would end up choosing it! It brought joy and surprise to me like I hadn't felt with any other person who had sought the Center for help. You are truly unique!"
The Pregnancy Center of Central Virginia really blessed me and was there at a time that I needed hope and a listening ear. I encourage anyone who is reading this to get involved in your local pregnancy center. Whether you want to become a volunteer or make one donation or regular donations...these centers are helping women and men and their babies and they need support to continue being able to offer these things to their community! You can make an impact on lives!

Photobucket
This post left me:

Saturday, August 30, 2014

A Whisper of Encouragement

"Surely the Lord purposes precious friendships as quiet whispers of encouragement along the paths we walk." -Kala Allen (my sister-in-law)

Five years ago this month, the Lord brought a very special friend into my life. Besides Lily's father, she was the first person to know about my sweet little flower. I call it our "friendiversary." ;)

I knew about her story because Eric and Leslie Ludy, who have authored several books that have greatly impacted me, adopted her son almost six years ago, when she was 18-years-old. I had read about her and her son, Kip, on their website/blog, so I knew her name. I decided to look her up on Facebook so I could write to her and share what I was going through. I was desperate for a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on so to speak, especially from someone who would understand, someone who had walked a similar path to my own. It is hard to believe that five years ago is when I first contacted her and our friendship began. I pored my heart out to her through words on a screen. She was such a support and encouragement to me at that extremely difficult time. She prayed for me and shared her own heart and story with me. God knew what He was doing when He brought her into my life. She was a whisper of hope and encouragement.

Once I chose life for my baby, I was suddenly facing the choice between adoption and parenting. I knew that either choice would be hard to make. I was seriously considering adoption, when God was bringing me to a place of complete and total surrender. I wanted the best for my child. I pored over videos, songs, and stories about adoption. There were many tears shed over the thought of it. I just wanted the Lord's will for my life and my baby's life. I had to do what I knew God led me to do, no matter how afraid I was of other people's opinions or of what my life would look like.

Not only was Bex the first person that knew about Lily and a part of what God used to give me strength and courage as I faced an unplanned pregnancy, but she supported me throughout my entire pregnancy. She was there when I lost Lily. She's been there through it all. We have both had to let go of our babies, just in different ways. Bex lives in Colorado and I live in North Carolina, though at the time that we met, I was living in Virginia. After two and a half years of friendship, we finally met in person in 2011 when I attended Ellerslie Leadership Training in Colorado, which Eric and Leslie Ludy run. It feels like I've known her so much longer than I have.

We have had many precious times together, sharing our hearts of love for our children, sharing memories, both painful and beautiful, blog entries, songs, letters, and many laughs. I am thankful for her friendship. I have also been meaning to share that Bex got married last September and I was able to go to Colorado for her wedding (will share more about that later). :) It is quite special that I have all of our messages and emails from the time we first met.


Bex and I with Kip in 2011 at his 3rd birthday party
Photobucket
This post left me:

Thursday, August 28, 2014

A Glimpse into August '09

It is painful to look back over the years of my "Facebook activity" in 2008 and 2009. It is honestly very telling of someone's life. I feel somewhat embarrassed if people were to look back at the things I posted. Reading and seeing some things from the past years brought up bad feelings and memories and made me feel nauseated. How much I despise the old Hannah Rose... seeing what I wrote and posted is a part of who I once was. A part of what God brought me out of.

It is amazing that I can even see the change in my heart and life in August 2009 from what I posted on my Facebook page. They were just Facebook statuses, but to me they are evidence of the LIFE Jesus was breathing back into my dry bones...

I can witness the change within myself, just through Facebook statuses. I mean, I know what I experienced in the depths of my heart during that time where Jesus changed everything... but to read posts that I wrote - Scriptures, quotes, and lyrics God put on my heart in the midst of that season, it's just really special. I didn't remember what I posted. It is so beautiful to see how the things I posted changed suddenly and drastically. Just a couple months before this, I posted really ridiculous things about such worldly things... then, the Lord captivated my heart. He wooed me and brought me to the foot of the Cross. And I am forever changed. I stand in awe once again at the transforming work of Christ.

This picture of me was taken on my 20th birthday - August 12th, 2009. It was three days before the scheduled abortion. There are few pictures of me during this time, so it's somewhat strange to see myself then... to know what was going on inside me, the battle that was raging. I am smiling, but I'm not smiling with my entire face, with my eyes. I was empty and broken. I had no idea all that God was doing and was going to do and how I'd look back on that season, seeing how it was a crossroads in my life. I chose the path of LIFE. I chose Jesus. Little did I know how those choices I made during that month would shape my life forever. How they would shape the story God was writing for my life and how He'd use it for my good and His glory. How He'd bring me to my passion and purpose.


I took screenshots of those statuses from August and September 2009 when the transformation occurred to share exactly what I wrote and on what dates. I really want to personally keep track of this always. It was almost as if the first half of August was where the battle for my soul and my child's life was raging. Then, God really opened my heart and drastically changed everything in a short amount of time. He can heal and redeem and restore with just a single word. These posts were when He had drawn my heart back to Himself and I was completely and utterly desperate for Jesus! I had Scripture being poured over me daily and was walking through a deep time of repentance, cleansing, and healing. 

The first post is from five days after my scheduled abortion... obviously I never went! I was so desperate for Jesus.


I was surrendering my life and future and the life and future of my unborn child to the Lord, knowing that He had a perfect plan and purpose for both of us... whether that was parenting or adoption. Nobody else knew what these posts were talking about.


He showed me that if I chose LIFE, He would take care of all the details... I knew I could trust Him. I love how Bex commented on this post. :) It was that month that our friendship began and the Lord used her so much in my life! She knew what I meant when I wrote this.


He delivered me from death and my baby from death.


This was right before I was going to tell my mom that I was pregnant and the Lord was showing His faithfulness and guidance to me in so many incredible ways!


I shared the lyrics from the song "Tears of the Saints" by Leeland. I remember listening to this powerful song over and over during this time and how I would just weep. God was giving me such a heart of compassion and love for others who were like me, prodigal sons and daughters. He had led me home to Him and He was longing for His other children to come home to Him. He was showing me that through my brokenness, He would give me the ability to love and serve Him and others in a way I never would have been able to if it weren't for what I had been through and what I was going through. God can truly work all the things in our lives together for good! This is an emergency - that we would love Jesus, serve Him, and bring others to the foot of the Cross. Because we are never promised tomorrow and God doesn't want anyone to perish! In Christ, we are pure, whole, redeemed, healed! So reach out your hands to Him, even though you feel so weak and undeserving.


Click HERE to listen

Here are the lyrics to the song:

There are many prodigal sons 
On our city streets they run 
Searching for shelter 
There are homes broken down 
People's hopes have fallen to the ground 
From failures 

This is an emergency! 

There are tears from the saints 
For the lost and unsaved 
We're crying for them come back home 
We're crying for them come back home 
And all your children will stretch out their hands 
And pick up the crippled man 
Father, we will lead them home 
Father, we will lead them home 

There are schools full of hatred 
Even churches have forsaken 
Love and mercy 
May we see this generation 
In a state of desperation 
For Your glory 

This is an emergency! 

Sinner, reach out your hands! 
Children in Christ you stand! 
Sinner, reach out your hands! 
Children in Christ you stand! 

And all Your children will stretch out their hands 
And pick up the crippled man 
Father, we will lead them home 
Father, we will lead them home

Photobucket
This post left me:

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Precious Feet Pin

In mid August 2009, when I was still unsure as to whether or not I was going to go through with an abortion, I was staying at my aunt and uncle's place housesitting when I stumbled upon something in their kitchen/dining room area.

There on the counter, like it was waiting for me, was a precious feet pin. The little feet are scaled to the size and shape of what an unborn child's feet look like at 10 weeks gestation. At the time I found this pin, I was around the exact same gestation... 10 weeks. It was at the time of my 20th birthday.

the exact feet I found on that summer day in 2009 - now in Lily's scrapbook

Looking back, I really do believe God put these little feet right in my path for me to find... I mean what a "coincidence" that I found this pin when I was that exact gestation! I don't even know whose pin it was or where it came from. I am going to tell my aunt about finding this little pin at her home and how it impacted me (my grandmother suggested I tell her. I didn't realize I never had until she mentioned it).

When I saw these feet, it was like it made it all the more real to me... I was pregnant. I already had a baby growing in my womb. She already had the tiniest, most precious little feet ever. It helped my mother heart to connect to my little baby's heart. My little Lily.

I don't think I've ever shared this on my blog before, but wanted to this month as I continue to reflect on August 2009. God is so good!

Photobucket
This post left me:

Monday, August 25, 2014

Generations Missing Her

Earlier this month, when I was in Virginia visiting with friends and family, I met the granddaughter of some dear family friends (my mom has known them for decades).

Anyways, the little girl is 19 months old. She was walking all over the place and is so adorable. Her first name is Catherine, but she goes by a different nickname. Her grandfather kept calling her Catherine though, which really stung to hear. I thought it was really sweet when he said to his granddaughter, "Hannah Rose has a little girl named Lily Katherine."

My grandmother later asked if I felt sad being around her and I said yes, I think it will always hurt to be around little girls, wondering who my little girl would've become (despite how many more children I may have in the future). It is especially hard to see little girls who look similar to how I imagine Lily would've looked, with blue eyes and curly hair, like me as a girl. This little one has brown eyes.

Anyways, I thought it was really sweet and thoughtful of my grandmother when she thought of me and wondered if it was hard for me and she said it's hard for her to hear the name Catherine too (of course we are so happy for our friends, but sad for us). My grandmother said she felt sad for me because my little girl wasn't there, sad for my mom because her granddaughter wasn't there and she was around her friend's granddaughter, and sad for herself, missing her great-granddaughter. It meant a lot to me to know she was thinking all these things. I am thankful for my family who loves Lily so much. I wish I didn't have to feel this ache whenever I hear Lily Katherine's name or see a little girl.

There are generations missing you, my little flower.

Photobucket
This post left me:

Friday, August 22, 2014

Be Still and Know

I want to share a musician who the Lord brought into my life during a very dark time. This month, I have been reflecting a lot on August 2009. I want to share bits and pieces of my testimony and the things God used to change my life, in hopes that it will bless others as well. It was that month that my Aunt Sarah gave me a CD by an artist named David Teems. He reads Scripture, with soft piano music playing in the background and soft waves crashing in the distance. It's truly unlike anything I've ever heard.

My heart was in such turmoil at that point in my life. When I heard this CD, I cannot fully convey the peace it brought my heart. I would fall asleep to it nearly every night that August. It was so powerful to have that Scripture, that truth, being spoken over me in my darkest hour. The Scripture was truly food for my hungry soul and water for my thirsty spirit. I was captivated with the beauty of God's Word. He romanced my soul with it. It was during this season that God changed everything for me. I still fall asleep listening to David Teems and it brings me back to that time. It makes me feel that deep desire for my Jesus.

It was during this time that God radically changed my life in such a short amount of time that I heard this Scripture on the David Teems CD. I claimed them as my verses for that season of my life. He was asking me to trust Him, that He was fighting for me and I need only to be still and know.

"Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today." -Exodus 14:13
"The Lord WILL fight for you; you need only to be still." -Exodus 14:14
"Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart, and wait for the Lord." -Psalm 27:14

The two CD's that are my favorites are called "Hope" and "More Hope." My Aunt Sarah also gave me one called "In the Mourning" after losing Lily. The track that affected me the most is entitled, "I Am Poured Out Like Water." All the CD's are very affordable and completely worth it!! I have played them probably hundreds of times. It is a great way to memorize Scripture as well. David has such a soothing voice, especially mixed with the piano and waves. On the actual CD, he doesn't cite what Scripture it is, but it is cited in the CD case. He reads a little from different passages and puts them all together. You can purchase the transcripts for each CD on his website.


Description of David's music from his website:

"...this music offers the listener a moments quiet in the midst of all the gathering noise of the age. In this recording, many textures are woven together to form a structure that will settle warm and tranquil on the soul, and will ask little of you but to listen. The rich poetry of the scripture will touch the untouched in you, and with the voice of soft command."

"This series combines the beauty and reflective emptiness of a solo piano with well chosen scriptures. The voice comes with a soothing type of command, and the music is hardly there at all. It is the artful economy between the two that makes the difference, as well as something unknown that will not be explained."

"These CD's together can offer a timely, sensitive, and power-laden therapy for the soul."

Purchase David's music HERE. On the website, you are able to listen to each song. At some point, I hope to give away one of these CD's on this blog, so stay tuned! :)

You can listen to the "Hope" CD below.


Photobucket
This post left me:

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

He Gave Me a Mother's Heart

In late August 2009, I was around 11 or 12 weeks pregnant and was working at a little restaurant in my hometown in Virginia.

As I remember this one particular 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.

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