Monday, May 31, 2010

Candle for Lily

A candle lit for Lily from Alexandra's mommy, Maggie.


Friday, May 28, 2010

I will follow, Lord

I smile in the face of sorrow.
I dance in the ruin.
I have unspeakable joy on this journey of grief.
Inexplicable peace in the chaos.

How? I've had a taste of what is truly divine. And I'm left longing for more. My Jesus is merely a crutch to get me through the pain, you say? No. There is no strength in me. There is no joy. I've come face to face with the wretched condition of this soul. I've seen the complete lack of peace, lack of joy, lack of anything good in me.

I've also seen what's awaiting me in a life fully surrendered to Him. I've seen the supernatural conquering power that He brings. The storms are raging around me, yet I stand firm. I know I'm in His palm.

I'm afraid Lord, I'm afraid. I'm weak, Lord, I'm weak. I'm broken, Lord, I'm broken.

Breathing deeply, I collapse. But, this is where I'm meant to fall...Into his strong arms. I sigh and I fall where I belong. He's been waiting for me to realize my weakness. This weakness that makes me surrender to His strength. It matters not where He leads, for I will follow wherever He goes. Through the darkness, through the pain, through the sorrow, through the laughter, and the tears. If it makes me more like my Jesus, then I welcome whatever comes. And all the while, I will have His radiant, consuming joy in my heart. I will sing praises to Him, the Most High God. I will worship Him with my life. I will wear a beaming smile on my face because I know He is for me. So who can be against me?

"I am no longer anxious about anything as I realize that He is able to carry out His will, and His will is mine. It makes no matter where He places me, or how. That is for Him to consider rather than me; for in the easiest positions He will give me His grace, and in the most difficult His grace is sufficient." ~Hudson Taylor


Monday, May 24, 2010

Gianna Jessen, abortion SURVIVOR!

Gianna Jessen is absolutely radiant, beautiful and her speak to Parliament in Australia 2008.




Saturday, May 22, 2010

Silent ones, I will be your voice

To be the voice that can't be heard. The silence is a voice in itself, speaking volumes if only we'd listen. It tells of the lives that never got to be, but were.

They were.

And even if you explain it away, these are souls, not just bodies. And they need a voice. And HE is that voice. And HE is to give me that voice.

My mind wonders to thoughts of a child, gasping for every breath, but with lungs too frail to survive. I see the fight in his eyes, the desperation of his sweet spirit. And I know his own mother chose that.

That her own child would suffer. And die.

I'm hooked. One thought of this helpless life, and a warrior rises up in me.

My heart bleeds for each one of these silent ones. I will not remain silent. I will be a voice. Their voice. And I will tell the world of this.


Thursday, May 20, 2010

my Heart and my Mind

At times, I find myself in this surreal state of questioning whether or not this is really my life. My mind says, yes, it is. But, my heart tells me she's here. She's not forever silent. Forever still.

I can go peek over at her in her crib in the middle of the night, just to watch her chest go up and down, in repetitive motions, breathing and existing. I can cuddle with her tiny, warm body snuggled up to me, her eyes locking with mine, gazing into my soul.

She's part of me.

My heart tells me it's still winter, and I'm still waiting in joyful expectation for her life to begin and mine to begin anew, with her. My heart leads me to the baby section to search for pink, frilly outfits, suitable only for a princess.

But, my mind jolts me back to reality, reminding me that yes, this is my forever, continual reality. And yes, she is gone.

No, I never got to hear her cry. No, I never had the chance to gaze into the eyes of this gift, this new life, such a part of me, so fresh from God. She never got to meet her mama, her home for 40 weeks and 2 days, the only world she ever knew. She never got to see the face of the one whose voice was so familiar. She never got to feel my warm skin against hers, my salty tears of joy falling on her beautiful face as I held her for the first time.

No. None of this can be so.

Yet, it is.

I did hold her in my arms. But, never once did she take a breath. Never once have I held my child with life within her. What I know about her is only memories of her in me. My body where she was alive. She was real.

This new soul, created by God. Taken so soon. No cries. No laughter. No birthday parties. No snuggling with mama. No road trips. No wedding. No babies. No future.

Nothing but the imprint left on the hearts of those who will never forget. Who will go on loving. Go on missing. Go on adoring. Only from afar. But, adoring her nonetheless.

Her earthly life, no more.
But her legacy, always...


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

My Favorite Picture

My friend, Kala, edited my favorite picture with Lily, that was taken by my mom. I just love it and plan on doing something special with it. =)


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Be Mine

These screams echo in my head.
Constant voices badgering my soul.
My inner most being
It aches.
It yearns.
It sees the wretched defilement
of who it is.
What its done.
There's no way out.
I'm stuck in this despair.
Like quick sand, I keep sinking.
Deeper and deeper into this abyss.
The deepest parts of me are crying,
screaming out loud.
But not a tear on my face.
Not a sound to be heard.
The only one who hears me is You.
You see my deepest needs,
my deepest desires,
my fears.
And you hold them in Your hand.
You tell me to cling to You
with all that is in me.
Drown out the voices,
the constant chatter,
the never-ending noise
of the devil and his world.
To cling to You.
With all that is in me.
Holding nothing back.
Run to You,
lean on You.
Please carry me,
hold me,
love me.
I am Yours.
Be mine.


Sunday, May 16, 2010

2 months.

It's been 2 months today since Lily came and went. So short, yet so long. How would she be changing? I miss her so much.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

On Mother's Day, Birth, and Insensitivity

During my pregnancy, I became friends with a few other gals who were also pregnant. We met at the LifeCare Pregnancy Center taking classes on pregnancy, birth, baby-care, etc.

One of my friends was due less than 2 months after I was. The last picture of me pregnant was taken at her baby shower, the day before my due date. I was so excited for our little girls to grow up together. We even planned on going to the beach in August to celebrate both our birthdays. I will be 21 this year.

Well, my precious daughter died. And hers was born healthy. On Mother's Day weekend. As if it's not hard enough to hear of her birth and to know what I should have, it has to be on Mother's Day, my first Mother's Day without my child here to celebrate with me.

Not only that, but she actually had the audacity to complain to me about her labor and delivery experience (nothing traumatic, just normal and expected things). I'm like, seriously?!?!?! Can you not be more sensitive and think of who you are talking to? Guess what, I had to go through labor and delivery too and I don't have my healthy daughter here as the fruit of it all. How can she not realize how hurtful that is? :(


Monday, May 10, 2010

A Day to Rejoice

Mother's Day has come and gone now. I knew I wanted to post something, but didn't quite know what. Words fail me. What is there to possibly say to comfort these mothers who exist without their children? What is there to say, to think, that can possibly comfort myself? Bring me some sort of peace. Where words fail, tears somehow seem to suffice.

All I can do is cry for the loss of Lily. The loss of the babies of women that I have never even met. I cry. For the mommy who doesn't like chocolate, but for Mother's Day ate a piece of Blackout Chocolate Cake, in honor of her precious boy, Matthew, who loved it. For the mommy that lost her twin boys, Dale and Jesse, who were sure to fill her home with vibrant life. For the mommy that lost three babies and is still waiting for a Mother's Day with a child to show for it. For the women that have been trying and trying to become a mommy, to no avail. For the mommy that misses her sweet Kathlyn and just wants to sleep and escape, rather than have the day of flowers, giggles, cards, and joy that should'v been. I cry for the lifetime of "why's?" that each of us babyloss moms live with. I cry for how different Mother's Day would have been if she were here. How proud I would be to show her off and have people know I'm her mommy and wish me a happy Mother's Day. But, nobody said it. No perfect stranger knew that this was my first Mother's Day and I was spending it without my light, my world, my darling. It's a day of beautiful sorrow.

A day that reminds us to cherish and be cherished. To rejoice over our mothers and be rejoiced by our children. I rejoice for the precious gift God gave me in her. And I mourn the life I never knew outside of myself. I'm a mother on Mother's Day without the very soul that rendered me a mother. Yet, I still am a mother. Her mother. I held my daughter in my arms less than two months ago. As my friend, Kala, says...though she doesn't know Lily, she feels her life all around. This Mother's Day, I felt her life, I rejoiced, I remembered, I cried, and I thanked God for giving me the most precious gift I could ever receive.


I am at Massanutten Resort this week with my grandmother (Bumma), sister, mom and brother, Adam. This was the week we had planned on having a baby shower for Lily with Virginia friends and family. And everyone would be meeting her now as well. Definitely lots of emotions wrapped up into the week.

On the way up, I couldn't help but notice a mom with her adorable twins and newborn baby at a rest area. This made me stop in my tracks. I realized that I should have my newborn with me right now.

I kept trying to think of what I could do special for Lily. I read of all these moms doing special things to remember their babies. I just didn't have the energy to do much of anything.

I awoke to breakfast in bed, made by my sweet sister. My family was so dear to go out of their way to treat me like a mother for Mother's Day.

Later in the day, we had lunch at Cracker Barrel (my favorite restaurant!) Mom got me a beautiful Willow tree (which I collect). I got a couple cards and a couple people wishing me a happy Mother's Day.

The day was hard, yes, but overall it was special. A bittersweet day. But, a beautiful day, nonetheless, remembering my lovely Lily. Though I don't have the one here on earth that made me a mother, she is in my heart always. I love and miss you, Lily!! Thank you for making me a mommy on Mother's Day! :)


Friday, May 7, 2010

Lily's Legacy

I started working on a video yesterday, in honor of my precious flower, Lily Katherine. It's not quite as good as I would like, but I plan on creating some more videos for L.K., with footage from the hospital and the services celebrating her life. I also would like to include some footage from the 3D/4D ultrasound I had when we found out Lily was a girl at 17 and a half weeks gestation, including her heartbeat. Please leave some comments. Click on the link to see what I've got so far: Lily's Legacy


Thursday, May 6, 2010

If He wants me to

Brick after brick, hurled in my direction. And I don't know how to dodge them. I'm just standing in this one place, attempting to protect my wounded heart. Attempting to cushion the blows...

I'm angry. With people. I'm sad. With life. I'm yearning. For her.

So, so, so much. Words cannot convey just how much I miss her. Just how deep this sorrow is. Why is it that some days I feel like I'm alright, and then all of a sudden I'm not? I just want to feel better. I just want to be okay. I just want her to be okay. To be giggling and playing and cuddling. This grief threatens to swallow me.

I've been running from this pain. I didn't realize I was. Not until now. Not until the things that I've been clinging to so tightly let me down. I've been looking to places other than God to cope with this tremendous loss. This loss that I wish I never had to face. When you put your trust in people, you will be let down. It's a given. God is teaching me utter dependence upon Him and Him alone.

My heart aches for different reasons. I'm missing people. I feel vulnerable. I don't want to see other people hurting, especially when I caused that hurt.

I'm really ticked off right now. My mom found something that has to do with my sister. Something that exposes her broken heart. Somebody hurt her. Somebody that should know better. No, it's not a boy. Let's just say it's someone closer than most. And I'm ticked off, no I'm pissed off. And there's absolutely nothing I can do about it. Nothing I can say to make it okay. How can someone be so cold?! I just want to shake this person and say, "Don't you see what you're doing? Don't you see that other people matter too. Not just you!!"

It's not only this certain person. It's also this certain person's friends. I feel like these kids parents need to know what bratty, bullies their children are. Kids commit suicide because of how mean other kids are to them. I'm sorry if you think I'm rambling on and maybe you think what I'm saying is inappropriate. But, I just hate seeing people get away with acting so wrong!

The pieces of my sister's broken heart are scattered on the ground. I just want to collect those pieces, mend them, and make her precious heart whole again. But, I know only God can do that. I pray she lets Him.

People are so selfish and insensitive. I'm seeing it every day, more and more. And with Mother's Day rolling around, I'm sure selfishness will be proven once again. It's not about the cards or the flowers. I just want people to remember me and acknowledge that I'm still a mother! Is that selfish of me?! How easy it is for people to say sorry. To tell me I'm in their thoughts and prayers, not really meaning it. I know that with their next breath, I'm nearly forgotten. They don't recognize the extent of my pain and suffering. They don't care to. They go home to the comfortable lives they lead and maybe I cross their minds, maybe not. If you do care, if you really do pray for me...then thank you.

So, yeah. I'm a lot of things right now. And happy isn't one of them. My gentle Savior is waiting for me to let Him take the blows. I don't have to do it alone. I need God's grace and love more and more with every breath I take. Be patient with me as I travel on this road of grief.

He never said it would be easy, He only said I'd never go alone. So, I will walk through this valley if He wants me to.


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Happy Birthday, Jenna Belle! :)

Today, May 5th, is precious Jenna Belle's first birthday! There is a very special birthday celebration going on in Heaven for this precious daughter of the King. Lily and all her other buddies have lots of special surprises in store for her! Pray for Jenna's family today. That they will have peace that passes all understanding.

sweet Jenna Belle

a picture in honor of Jenna Belle, taken in our garden


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

He took her silently (6-week postpartum check-up)

Last Wednesday, I had my 6-week postpartum appointment with Dr. M. I was completely dreading it. Whenever I'm on the hospital premises now, emotion rises up in me, and I have to choke back the tears. It didn't help seeing all the pregnant women in the building. It seemed strange not to be waddling like a penguin down the once seemingly endless hall to get to the elevator. The entrance to the birthing center is right next door to the building where Dr. M's office is, so I tried not to look over there.

We were at the office for one and a half hours. I don't understand why they would allow us to wait in there that long. Don't they know how hard it is for us to be in there? There are memories there that I don't want to face just yet...memories of seeing her chubby cheeks on the ultrasound screen, memories of hearing her heart beat week after week, memories of setting up my induction date, memories of talking about her, preparing for her.

When I first arrived, they made me fill out a stupid paper to see if I have postpartum depression. It was the same sheet they made me fill out at my 3 week appointment. I'm telling ya, they seemed like trick questions. I wanted to ask what the right answer was. Umm, duh I feel sad. I mean, I did just lose my baby less than two months ago. But, no I'm not going to commit suicide or whatever it is you're afraid I might do. So, I just tried to answer what I thought they would want to hear. In my answer choices, I tried to show that yes, I'm sad, but yes, I'm going to make it. I have Jesus.

I hate the way so many people look at me these days. As soon as they find out that I lost my baby, they immediately become uncomfortable and have no idea what to say. Either they avoid it completely, or say nothing at all. I noticed some of these "looks" in Dr. M's office. Bridget was the only one who seemed like she truly wanted to talk to me. She came right out of her office as soon as she knew I was there and hugged me, with a big smile on her face. She lost a baby nineteen years ago, so she's not awkward about it at all. In fact, she called me when I was in the hospital and told me how sorry she was and she's there for me if I need anything. I plan on going with her to an "infant loss support group" sometime soon.

I'm healing up well physically. I can start running again. I did run on Saturday evening. But, I'm still recovering from it. I mean I expected to be sore after not running for so long, but this is beyond sore. My stomach muscles are really hurting, as in like it's hard to walk hurting. I think I'm going to have to join Planet Fitness right away so I can get back into shape, without having to hurt myself too much in the process.

My mom and I went back to talk with Dr. M alone in His office. We were in and out of there in minutes, like he didn't have enough time to answer our questions...he kept saying, "anything else...anything else?" Even before giving us a chance to say what we wanted. He went right into telling us there is no medical explanation for why Lily died. Honestly, this is what I was expecting. I was just waiting to hear the words from him. God somehow spoke this truth to my heart,
that He simply took her. There was no reason other than the fact that He needed her with Him. He needed her far more than me. And He has a plan far beyond what I can comprehend.

I remember at the hospital saying it didn't matter what the autopsy results discovered because it wouldn't bring her back. That's why I opted not to get one. But, then the hospital offered to give a free full autopsy, and I agreed. I know God worked that out because He didn't want me to always wonder why she died, what the medical explanation is. Because, you see, God is much greater than "medical explanations." If He wanted her here with me, she would be! I have to keep reminding myself of this.

For a while, I wondered if I would rather have a medical explanation or not. Which would be harder? Would it be harder to know there was something that could have been done to save her, even though it's too late or have no reason at all? At least I know there is nothing wrong with me. At least I know there was nothing I did. And I'm thankful I now know that I need to have c-sections in the future to avoid any complications in childbirth. If Lily had lived, she might be permanently damaged now because she barely fit through my pelvic bone. I'm thankful God made it work out that I had a natural delivery, so I would find this out. I'm thankful that I had that experience with her. I will always treasure the memory of giving birth to her, my baby. It made me feel like a mother. I didn't have much of a chance to be a good mother to her.

I have complete peace in what I now know. She didn't suffer, she didn't flop around in pain. She was alive one moment, and the next she was gone...Still. One minute she was in the earthly realm, the next in the spiritual. He breathed the breath of life into her, and he took it away. He took her away. In the most beautiful way possible. It may sound strange for me to say that, but God has a way of bringing beauty to any and all things. He has a way of healing and restoring even the most broken of hearts.

He wanted to bring me the assurance, the peace, that she's not here because she was never meant to experience the pain and sufferings of this world. It's amazing that God even worked out the details of her name, long before I truly realized the amazing depth behind the meaning. I named her Lily because I she was to be a symbol of renewed purity, redemption. Little did I know how much she would live up to her name. God gave me the name,
Lily Katherine. I had no idea that Katherine also means purity. Both her names, both mean purity. And she will forever be pure. God delights in the small things, He places such a sacred essence on things as small as a name. My Lily is with a beautiful God who knows her by name, gave her her name, gave her life, and took her life. I praise Him through this storm.

He took her silently
He took her away
She was far too beautiful to stay
He took her perfect
He took her pure
She knew no sin,
No suffering to endure.
He took her painlessly
In the night
The only thing she knows
Is Heaven's light
He loves her more than I do
And knows what's best
In His arms, is where I'll rest
There is no reason
No one to blame
Still, I miss her just the same.
I'm a mother who held her baby
For just a day
But, in Heaven she waits
That's where she'll stay.
I'll hold her again,
Kiss her, and love her.
Of this I am sure.


Lily's Obituary

(This is the obituary that was in the Daily Progress Newspaper in Charlottesville, Virginia on Friday, March 26th, 2010. Feel free to sign the guest book on the website. It was emotionally difficult to sit down and have to write this in the days following Lily's birth and death, but I knew I wanted it to be beautiful for her. And I knew I wanted to glorify Jesus in my words...)

Lily Katherine Allen-Ball went straight from her loving mother's womb to the arms of her sweet Jesus on Tuesday, March 16th, 2010 at 4:24 p.m. She was born at the Rex Birthing Center in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Although brief, Lily's life was beautiful, and many purposes of her life were evident long before she left this world. Those that know and love her have been deeply impacted by her tiny life forever. The bittersweet memories of time with Lily have brought such richness and joy to her family's lives and can never be taken away. Her family feels so blessed to have been part of such a special little girl's life. Both her first and middle names mean pure and she will forever be perfectly that. Never having to struggle through a world marred with pain and sin, Lily now has all Heaven's Glory! Through this time of immense sorrow, Jesus has given the family great hope, strength, and peace that passes all understanding. Lily's mother is so thankful that she chose LIFE for her baby and praises the One who chose her to carry someone so wonderfully made.

Lily's parents, Hannah Rose Allen of Knightdale, North Carolina, and Joey D. Ball of Charlottesville, Virginia, would like to invite anyone who'd like to come to the memorial service honoring the life of their precious flower, Lily Katherine. It will be held 11 a.m. Saturday, March 27th, 2010, at the Hillsboro Cemetery in Crozet, Virginia, with Pastor Robert French officiating. Under the open sky and surrounded by the majestic Blue Ridge mountains, all are welcome to gather around sweet Lily to celebrate her life!

Friends will also be received by Lily's great-grandmother, Nancy Virginia Bain of Crozet, Virginia; and grandparents, Ginny Bain Allen and Chuck Allen, both of Knightdale, North Carolina, Don Ball, and Suzanne Ball, both of Lancaster County, Virginia; as well as loving aunts, uncles and cousins. Her family greatly rejoices that they will one day again be with their precious angel, who was simply too beautiful for earth.

Here are the comments from the online guest book

May 04, 2010
I love you my precious flower, Lily Katherine. Forever you will be in my heart, Mommy
March 26, 2010
As the days and weeks pass, and as you return to life's routine, may you continue to feel comforted by the love and support of family and friends. We are deeply sorry for your loss.
March 26, 2010
What a beautiful tribute to your little flower. A copy will be printed and added to our Family Bible along side many other obituaries of people I have known and loved.
March 26, 2010
We will hold you in our hearts forever, my precious granddarling Lily Katherine! Praise God Jesus has taken you to live with Him forever! ~Your Dukes (aka Ginny Kirk Bain Allen)


Monday, May 3, 2010

The Master's Fingerprint (the Day of Lily's Burial)

These are the details of March 27, 2010 - the day my daughter was buried beneath the earth. The day I left a piece of me in the ground in Virginia. 

The day was so beautiful, a mere human never could have planned it out. As a dear family friend named Bob Kirchman said, the Master's Fingerprint is all over the details of that day, from the beginning to the end...

Waking up that spring morning, I couldn't wait to open the curtains and peek outside. More than anything else, I didn't want another rainy, gloomy day. To my delight, the sky was blue and the sun felt bright and warm on my face. We had Lily's Celebration of LIFE/Memorial Service the evening before, on March 26th, and it had been dark and rainy. The contrast in the two days was a sweet reminder of how the sorrow and joy dance the heart of God grieved along with us...yet, in Christ, we have the hope of Eternity and the hope that while on Earth, He will breathe beauty into the story and turn our weeping into dancing. He will work all things together for our good and His glory...

Before leaving for the service that morning, when I saw my grandmother (who also lost a baby), she gave me a beautiful necklace. It was a heart and symbolized the four generations - three pearls on the bottom to symbolize my grandmother, mother, and myself (living on Earth), and the stone above symbolizes Lily in Heaven. How incredibly sweet and thoughtful! It was so special to have to wear to the service.

I wanted the service and burial to be as natural as possible, meaning no green tents, chairs, etc. (basically anything you think of when you hear the word "funeral.") It seemed like because she was a baby, she needed a more "babyish" service. I didn't want people wearing too much black. Her life had brought so much color to my world. And even though we were grieving, we were rejoicing that she was safe at home with Jesus and would never know a world marred with sin and pain. The service was lovely, just perfect. Looking back, the one thing I wish I could change would be to include programs with Lily's name, birthday, footprints, and a photo and poem perhaps, for people to take home with them to remember the sacred day. I also wish I had thought of and had the time to make a beautiful video tribute (like I've shared below) to play at her service. That would have been really special.

As her obituary stated, under the open sky and surrounded by the majestic Blue Ridge Mountains, all were welcomed to gather around sweet Lily to celebrate her LIFE at the Hillsboro Cemetery in Crozet, Virginia. It was a time of mourning, yes, but not like those who mourn that have no hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13). We celebrated that she was...and that she will forever be in Heaven.

A partial view of the mountains from Hillsboro Cemetery on the day of Lily's burial.

Of course, the flowers were roses and lilies, which rested on top of her little white casket. White, perfect for my pure and innocent one. Pink roses and and white lilies - such beautiful colors together. It felt wrong to see a casket that tiny. On top of the "little white box" as I called it were the words "loved and cherished." Yes, she was is. Thank you to my Aunt Helen and Uncle Scott for getting Lily's service flowers.

Our family's pastor growing up, Pastor Bob, efficiated the service. He baptized me the summer I was 14, he was there when I buried my child, and one day, I hope he will marry me. He has been with my family through the ups and the downs, the good and the bad. I am so thankful he was there as a special part of the day.

For the service, we rested Lily's casket on top of my grandparent's and Aunt Rachel's headstone bench. It is such a unique and beautiful bench that I sit on now when I visit Lily and my other family at Hillsboro Cemetery.

A family friend, Mrs. Deale, brought beautiful yellow flowers for several of us. That was such a sweet gesture that I will never forget. The flowers are now dried out. Some will go in a memory chest for Lily and some will go in a scrapbook.

I wore my maternity dress, the very one I had worn a month and a half before at my baby shower. I got it at a cute little maternity shop called "Love in Bloom" across the street from Rex Hospital, where I had all my doctor's appointments and where Lily was born. That morning, I remember looking in the mirror at how the dress fell over me and I realized how different I looked in it this time than the last. The last time I wore it, it was filled with her life. It seemed only appropriate to wear it. The dress was black, so I splashed it up with a white coat. I guess the two colors matched my mixed emotions...the sorrow dancing with the joy. After only a week and a half since delivering a fullterm baby, I still looked somewhat pregnant.

It was hurtful that more people didn't make more of an effort to come. I mean, I understand that life stuff is going on, but this sort of thing doesn't happen every day, to your friend or family member. It felt like people thought other things were more important than mourning and celebrating my daughter's life with me. It's not like they can come at a further notice. It's not like they can come to her birthday parties through the years. This was it. Someone even told my mom that they couldn't make it because they had a baby shower to attend. What an ironic twist. There will be years to celebrate that life, but only one time to celebrate Lily's in this way... I guess the simple fact is people make an effort to be there for the things that are truly important to them. If this service had truly been important to them, they would have been there.

I am thankful my best friend, Kala, took photos of the day. Someone asked her there why she was taking them, as if it was unthoughtful and strange. You see, these are some of the only memories I will ever have of my child. These are some of the only pictures that will fill a scrapbook just for her. These pictures mean so much to me...I have heard several other parents who have lost a baby say they wish they had thought of taking photos at their child's service.

There was a place set up outside for friends and family to sign a special memorial guest book.

While I was pregnant, a family friend named Kathy (who my mom has known for decades) made me a very special journal in honor of Lily. I decided to use that for Lily's guest book - which was much more meaningful and prettier than a typical memorial guest book. People wrote sweet messages to me and Lily. It has Jeremiah 29:11 on it, which talks about the plans the Lord has for us. Though the plans He has for Lily's life and legacy are different than what I originally thought or wanted, He still has a plan and purpose, for her life and in her death.

My best friend, Kala, decorated the inside cover for me, which I love. How appropriate that the book has butterflies on it, which have become very symbolic and meaningful to me.

Pastor Bob spoke beautiful words and shared Scripture (one day soon, I hope to share the video recording of Lily's service - another thing I am so incredibly thankful to have). We had discussed the night before what I wanted him to say. I really left a lot of it up to him. My only desire was that all who attended the service would have their hearts and eyes pointed towards Christ. After he was finished sharing, I played three special songs. Songs that will forever remind me of my girl. Two of the songs I found on Jonathan's Journey blog a few months before losing Lily, before I ever knew what was to come. I remember sobbing as I listened to the songs and watched Jonathan's video. They left such a deep impact on my heart. I am thankful that God let me hear them because I remembered them when I lost Lily and had them for her service. I probably wouldn't have known about them if I hadn't of heard them before. I know the Lord led me to those perfect songs.

The first song is called "Childhood Memories" and is a piano instrumental. It seems to express the emotions of having and losing Lily in a way words never could. The second song is my absolute favorite song and is called "I Will Carry You" by Selah. It was so moving and powerful for all to hear it at her service. Oh, I still cannot listen to it without crying. In the first few weeks after losing Lily, I would want to just get out of the house to be alone and would turn it up so loudly and bawl my eyes out. The words are absolutely breathtakingly perfect.

You can hear both of these songs on Lily's video tribute that I made in her honor:

"I Will Carry You" lyrics:
There were photographs I wanted to take
Things I wanted to show you
Sing sweet lullabies, wipe your teary eyes
Who could love you like this?
People say that I am brave but I'm not
Truth is I'm barely hanging on
But there's a greater story
Written long before me
Because He loves you like this
I will carry you
While your heart beats here
Long beyond the empty cradle
Through the coming years
I will carry you
All my life
And I will praise the One who's chosen me
To carry you
Such a short time
Such a long road
All this madness
But I know
That the silence
Has brought me to His voice
And He says
I've shown her photographs of time beginning
Walked her through the parted seas
Angel lullabies, no more teary eyes
Who could love her like this?

The final song I chose to play at her service is called "Your Hands" by JJ Heller. My mom's dear friend Ruby from childhood shared it with me right after I had Lily and it will forever remind me of that time in my life and her service. I feel the music and words beautifully articulate the sorrow and the joy that comes in hoping in Christ. It was important to me to end the service on a "hopeful note." The harmonica is so beautiful. I knew that Jesus was holding me, even in the midst of the deepest despair. I wanted everyone at her service to walk away with that hope tucked away in their hearts...

"Your Hands" lyrics:
I have unanswered prayers
I have trouble I wish wasn't there
And I have asked a thousand ways
That You would take my pain away
That You would take my pain away.
I am trying to understand
How to walk this weary land
Make straight the paths that crooked lie
Oh Lord before these feet of mine
Oh Lord before these feet of mine
When my world is shaking
Heaven stands
When my heart is breaking
I never leave Your hands
When You walked upon the earth
You healed the broken, lost, and hurt
I know You hate to see me cry
One day You will set all things right
Yeah, one day You will set all things right
When my world is shaking
Heaven stands
When my heart is breaking
I never leave Your hands
Your hands
Your hands that shaped the world
Are holding me, they hold me still
Your hands that shaped the world
Are holding me, they hold me still
When my world is shaking
Heaven stands
When my heart is breaking
I never leave You

After the service ended, I knew it was time for the burial. After everyone finished signing Lily's guest book, people were visiting for a while. Some people left, but many stayed.

I had Lily's little bunny and pillow with her for the service and considered having them buried with her, but decided to keep them for her memory chest. Bunnies (and lambs) remind me of Lily. She was born shortly before Easter.

A mama and baby bunny - for me and sweet Lily girl.

On the day of Lily's burial, I was wearing my special red LIFE band, which is a symbol of my commitment to be a voice for unborn LIFE...a voice for my Luke and Lily. Each LIFE is beautiful and sacred and God has a plan and purpose for each individual, precious life, created in His image. I decided at the last minute (which I am very pleased about now) to bury Lily with this band. I now wear another matching LIFE band nearly every day. Lily's story is a glorious story of LIFE and redemption...Jesus brought life to her mommy through her and He will continue to speak LIFE through her story for years to come...

Lily was lowered beneath the earth in her cozy green Moses basket, the one we had gotten just for her. The one I never could have shared with another baby. It was one of the first things Mom and I picked out for Lily. And having her buried in it was a last-second decision, one I am very pleased with now. As her basket and box were placed into the ground, there was a sacred stillness, a silence, that swept over the place. It swept over every heart. It was as if I was holding my breath, aware of the finality of this moment. We sprinkled the dug-out ground with rose and lily petals, dirt, and tears...

I am so incredibly thankful for the support and love of family and friends. I think this photo captures that really beautifully.

I am not sure how many people actually stayed for the burial, but I couldn't move. It was like I was stuck there and couldn't leave until it was all said and done. And I didn't...I was the last to leave when there was grass where she was now underneath the earth. The roses and lilies rested on top. I didn't know that I was going to stay for the actual burial, but I needed that closure. This was such a difficult day, knowing it was the last time I would physically be near her tiny body. Though I know that she is not in the ground and is alive in Heaven, oh, how I loved that little body...oh, how I miss it...

My family was standing around talking and through only the workings of the Lord, my Aunt Sarah (my mom's sister) decided to marry her fiance, Steve. They had been together literally since I was a baby and yet, she had never made the marriage commitment to him. Family and friends had been trying for years to get them to marry. It is an honor to know that my girl is the instrument God used to finally make it happen. People are realizing how fragile and precious LIFE is because of Lily. This may sound strange and spur of the moment to some, but if you were in my family or know my family, you would understand this wasn't strange at all. It was so special and amazing.

In a way, I didn't want the attention taken off of Lily for this special day, but I also wanted the day to be a reflection of how God works. There is mourning, but even more than that, there is joy and hope. Though Lily passed away, this marriage is a reflection of new life. Their new life together. The hope of new life forever with Lily in Eternity. The marriage covenant is a symbol of the covenant between Christ and His Church. One day, He is coming again. It's His promise...and I cling to it. Because of the redemptive work God did through Lily's life, I will be ready for His coming and will be with Jesus and Lily forever and always!

The family and a few close friends drove over to Mint Springs Valley Park in Crozet, just a few miles from Hillsboro Cemetery. We were planning a picnic lunch there, in honor of Lily. It ended up also being a wedding celebration. Pastor Bob married them on a hilltop there. We laughed and we cried. Pictured in this photo are me, my siblings, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandmother, and Pastor Bob and his wife, Sharon.

We sprinkled some of the flowers from Lily's service on the ground at the marriage ceremony. It was beautiful. In this photo, you can see the bleeding heart plant that was given to me at Lily's service the evening before (so perfectly symbolic). That plant is now in Lily's memorial garden and blooms each year around the time she was born. You can also see a lily plant that was given to me at her service.

We ate and we celebrated.

Aunt Sarah threw her bouquet, the very flowers I had held at Lily's service. She threw them and I caught them. It was a sweet reminder from my God that He has a glorious future planned for me. And a big part of that future is because of Lily and all He did through her precious life. I am a new creation because of Christ Jesus and the plans God holds for my future are far better than I can comprehend and certainly far better than I deserve.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." ~Jeremiah 29:11

March 27th will always be a shared day for my Aunt Sarah and I - the day of my daughter's burial and her wedding day...somehow so beautifully intertwined. 

After everything wrapped up, I took wedding photos of Aunt Sarah and Uncle Steve. Sarah and I also took some photos together. I love this picture of the two of them, with the rabbit to symbolize Lily. She was a huge part of their day. I now hope that when people wish them a happy anniversary each year, they will remember the little girl who was the reason we were all together in the first place...

The day of Lily's burial will forever be remembered as a time of deep grief, yet a time of profound celebration.

A family friend named Bob said something about the day that has stuck with me since. He painted a picture in my mind of Lily sitting in Jesus' lap as He shows her how He works in our lives. Certainly He had much to say about this special day. :-)

The memories of this sacred day will forever be etched into my heart and mind...

Other posts you may be interested in reading:

-March 16th, 2010 (the day Lily was born)
-One Last Kiss...For Now (the last time I saw Lily)
-Lily's Celebration of LIFE/Memorial Service
-Days Nobody Remembers

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