Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Butterfly Relased for Lily

A beautiful Monarch Butterfly was released for Lily by Jaxon, Colin, and Courtney's mommy, Rachel, from Triplet Butterfly Wings.

"For every time I've wanted to hold you tight, may a butterfly take flight."


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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Prints on my Heart

I finally scanned Lily's hand and footprints to share. The lady that scanned them cut off some of her hands, which makes me sad. But, here they are. My precious daughter's tiny hands and feet. Each time I look at them, I am amazed that someone can be that small.

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Darkness to Light: a Story of Redemption and Life



"And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him, 
who have been called according to His purpose." ~Romans 8:28

"They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony." 
~Revelation 12:11
In order for you to understand who I am today and why I made some of the choices I did, you must understand where I've been. I grew up in a Christian home and always knew God was real. However, He didn't become the center of my life until the summer of 2004, when I turned fifteen. I was homeschooled through the fourth grade, then in fifth grade, I attended public school for the first time. The next few years of my life were full of heartbreak. Once a confident and happy girl, I turned into a shy, awkward girl, lacking any sort of confidence. 

Many things happened in those five years leading up to my fifteenth birthday. Boys broke my heart and tried to rob me of my pure, lily-whiteness. Friends came and went. I hurt some of them, and some of them hurt me. My childhood best friend and I went through everything by each other's side, struggling through those adolescent years, some days feeling more like girls, and other days, longing to be the young women we would soon become.

Those days were filled with make-up, shaving, hair-straighteners, and boys. We were striving for independence with every breath, yet our hearts were still girlishly innocent, playing with Barbies and braiding the hair of our American Girl dolls. We didn't know how the days of childlike innocence would soon be gone.

In the midst of those days, we longed so much to be all grown up, making our own decisions. My heart misses those days. If I had known how fleeting they would be, would I have cherished them more? Maybe I wouldn't have wanted to grow up so fast. I lost something in those years, something very valuable and precious. I lost my innocence.

Looking back, how did I not see what was being done to my pure heart? When I was a mere sixth grader, I remember one of my dearest friends losing her virginity... But she was my age. She was just a girl like me. Shouldn't she have been sheltered by her parents? Shouldn't she have been at home, dressing her dolls, her young, impressionable heart being nurtured and protected? 

My mom had no idea these things were going on in our school, even among my friends. We were simply too young, it was unheard of. So many things I kept from my mom, things I now wish I had told her. But, there was no way she could have known what went on day in and day out in my life. These things were unspeakable, to our parents anyway.

Things only continued to get worse. By seventh grade, boys on my track team were pressuring me into performing sexual acts. I realized at that age that I was supposed to separate my heart from my body, if I was to gain male approval and be seen as desirable. I began to believe that I should be able to do anything with any boy and not become involved emotionally. By eighth grade, my girlish heart was all but ripped out of my chest. My dreams of having a knight in shining armor that would love me and only me forever was fading quickly.

One incident that vividly sticks out in my mind was a time when I was thirteen and went to the local bowling alley with one of my best friends at the time. Her boyfriend who was our age was with us, as well as someone he knew who was twice our age. My mom didn't know he would be there, or she would have never let me go. I didn't know he would be either. This man, this twenty-six year old MAN, kept propositioning me to go outside to his truck with him. I didn't. I was afraid. Weren't adults supposed to do what was right? Weren't they supposed to protect me? After all, the adults in my life were parents, aunts, uncles, and trusted teachers and coaches. And here was this man, twice my age, trying to rob me of my most precious gift. A gift that I would one day give my future husband, the priceless treasure of my heart and body.

The way culture told boys and men to act was taking a toll on me. I wasn't like the confident and beautiful models, actresses, and singers on magazine covers displayed at the grocery store, in the movies, or in hip music videos - these were the people girls my age esteemed. I was me - an ordinary girl, barely in my teens, with a face full of acne and hair that didn't want to cooperate. I longed to be seen as beautiful, but everything around me told me I wasn't. The boys in my grade and at my school told me I wasn't. Everything in the American culture I was growing up in screamed constant messages of how unattractive I was.

There was one certain boy whose bullying haunted me for years. We went through middle school together and when we made it to high-school, he was in a couple of my classes. I dreaded going to school because I didn't want to face this boy. He relentlessly picked on me and made me feel like a nobody. I didn't want to say a word in class, in fear that he would notice me and find something else to pick on me about, thus destroying my heart further. And this was just accepted and tolerated. Boys are expected to act this way, to act as if girls aren't precious and valuable. I started to believe the lie.

Looking back now, I realize that a lot of my searching for male approval was because I was not close with my father. I was desperate for male attention and love and didn't find it at home, so searched for it elsewhere.

Many other things happened in those five years to rob me of my innocence and purity. But, by the time I turned fifteen, I couldn't take it anymore. I was in such a place of brokenness and desperately crying out for more, though I didn't know what. At the time I needed it most, the Lord brought a book into my life that would change the way I looked at the world. I still remember looking around in that Christian bookstore with my mom. It was August and I had just turned fifteen. Looking back, I wish I could remember what it was about the book that caught my eye and captured my attention. I know that it was only the Lord's leading that I came across it. A young girl was holding a delicate and beautiful lily, as it appeared to bloom in her hand. I had no idea at that point how much lilies would come to mean to me. The book is called, "Authentic Beauty," by Leslie Ludy. It was the instrument God used to radically transform my life.


In her book, Leslie addressed exactly what I had been going through and was still going through. Her book gave me hope that my dreams of one day having a chivalrous knight was something that was possible, rather than just a long-lost dream. Leslie introduced me to the true Knight in shining armor, like I had never known Him before. His name is Jesus and He was calling me unto Himself. He showed me that He could use all my past hurts and regrets and shape me back into his lily-white likeness. He gave me hope and a future. (I encourage you to check out the book "Authentic Beauty" for more on this important message for girls and young women).

My Beloved Jesus was whispering to me...
"Rise up my love, my fair one, and come away." ~Song of Songs 2:10

"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. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." ~Jeremiah 29:11-13

I spent hours at the feet of my Lord. I began writing in my journal to pour out my heart to Him, not realizing then how special those entries would one day become. He was romancing my heart with the way He treasured and adored me like nobody before. I begged Him to never let me go, not even if I let go of Him. And oh, He didn't. He chased me and pursued me from the moment He first breathed life into my being.

The Lord truly works all things together for good, even that which the devil means for destruction in our lives. It is incredible how He can turn our heartbreak into a blessing in our eyes. It may sound strange to hear this, but I am forever, totally, and completely thankful for those extremely difficult adolescent years. I am thankful for all the bullying and feeling like I was worthless. I am thankful the Lord allowed it to happen to me. Because it was only in that brokenness and in that pain that I was open to Jesus and how He was calling me away. I was desperate. I was lonely. I was searching for truth. If I had been "popular" or content with my life, I truly believe I never would have been open to Jesus and might have never heard the voice of my Lord as clearly as I did. 

And standing where I am today, now more than a decade later and a completely different person than I was then, I see that the Lord allowed me to be captivated by Him in a very real way so that years later, when I was going through the darkest night of my life, I would hear His voice beckoning me to return to Him, to all I had left behind. He gave me a taste of Him, of the real thing, at such a young age so that I would come running back to Him

"And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose." ~Romans 8:28

I was still so weak in my faith and was striving in my own strength to live a set-apart life unto Jesus. I didn't have people in my life that were supportive or understanding of the radical life I wanted to live. It was extremely difficult to live in a culture which totally mocks anything pure and lovely. I slowly began letting go of the Lord and sliding into a life of sin. I didn't want to live this life, but I was weak and didn't understand the Lord's supernatural grace. I didn't know how to live for Him, when I felt so alone and so misunderstood. I was living with one foot in the world and one foot in the murky waters of modern American Christianity, as Leslie Ludy describes it. I knew the Lord was calling me to so much more, but it always felt just out of my grasp.

For the remaining years of high-school, I lived a mediocre, half-hearted Christian life. I wanted more of Jesus, but I honestly felt ashamed of Him at times. I didn't want to be an outcast and looked at as a "Jesus freak." So, I changed who I was, depending on who I was around. When I graduated from high-school, in May of 2007, my graduation gift was going to a Set-Apart Girl weekend with Eric and Leslie Ludy in Estes Park, Colorado. I felt encouraged and inspired and truly wanted to live wholeheartedly for Jesus.

me with Leslie and Eric Ludy, May 2007

For my freshman year of college, I decided to go to a private, Christian school in Tennessee called Bryan College (it was technically my sophomore year because during my senior year of high-school, I took online college courses through Bryan). I went with the hope that the people there would build me up in my faith and that it would be much different than high-school was. I was disappointed in finding that most of the people there were no different than anyone else I knew. I was so young, naive, and vulnerable and got involved with a crowd of people that liked partying and drinking alcohol. By the second semester of my freshman year of college, I fell into this life myself. 

That summer, which was 2008, I came home and was in a very dark place. I wanted to change, but I was feeling so guilty over choices I had made. I wasn't quite ready to give up my sinful, selfish lifestyle. Things with my parents went downhill and by the end of the summer, I was not going back to college and ended up moving to another state with my brother. I wanted independence and freedom.

The wild, party lifestyle continued and I became involved with a man from my work place. I was miserable and had no idea how everything in my life had so quickly spiraled downhill. I wanted to change, but was so weak. When I was around others, I put on a happy face and acted like a wild, party girl. But, this was all just a cover-up. Inside, I was a broken girl, crying out for a Mighty Rescuer...

Early 2009

In that bathroom, I sat all alone, waiting for that little stick to show the two blue lines, indicating that I was pregnant. Even though I knew in my heart I was, the confirmation that those positive blue lines brought made my heart sink. Could this be real? What was I going to do? I couldn't possibly keep this baby. There was no way. What turned my stomach the most, besides the nausea I was experiencing night and day, was wondering how everyone would react. After all, how careless must someone be to get pregnant before marriage? In a pro-life family, it was always easy to agree with those beliefs, never thinking I would be tested by them. I had never really given much thought to abortion because it was something that had never affected me or my family personally. It was just one of those issues where "good Christian girls" nod along in agreement when people tell them it's wrong.

It was much less complicated to think of this as a pregnancy, rather than as a baby. I knew what I had to do - have an abortion. Face the consequences of my actions, tell my family what I had done, shame them with an unplanned, unwanted, teenage pregnancy before marriage, carry and deliver a baby, have shattered plans for my future, say goodbye to my teenage figure, have permanent ties to the father, or go through the pain that is sure to come with parenting or adoption? No, I simply couldn’t. I was weak and vulnerable. I had no other choice, or so I thought. If I had known the inevitable pain, depression, sadness, and guilt that would follow, perhaps I would have chosen a different path. Perhaps I would have given my child a choice. Perhaps he would have been given his first unalienable right, his life. But, in the midst of my heartache and despair, I regret having to say that's not the choice I made.

I can’t recall when I set up the appointment with Planned Parenthood. Was it the day I found out I was pregnant? Was it that week? So many of the details of those dark days I have blocked out of my mind. The Lord has graciously allowed me to forget them. At some point, after my whole world came crashing down on me from such a tiny blue positive sign, I called Planned Parenthood and it was set. That Friday, February 6th, at 8:30 a.m., I was going to drive to Charlottesville and have an abortion. Did my baby know what I was planning?

On the phone, the people I spoke with were so nonchalant about the whole ordeal. They were involved with abortion on a daily basis, so it was just another day at the office for them. Could they really disconnect themselves that much from what they were doing? Did they not see the magnitude of what they were involved in? Didn't they see that my world was crumbling? Everything as I knew it was crashing down around me and they didn't seem to notice.

I dreaded that Friday morning, but at the same time, I was ready for it to come. I was ready for my life to get back to normal and ready to feel normal again, whatever "normal" is. Much of those days are a blur of heartbreak and tears. Sleepless nights were spent, with agony at the depths of my heart and soul, rattling me to the core. It was the first thing I thought of when I awoke, and the tears would freely fall, against my will. I never thought I would have to deal with this. I never knew such pain was imaginable. I had never felt farther away from my Lord than I felt that week. But, all the while, He was holding onto me, even when I was as far from Him as I have ever been.

Friday, February 6th, 2009.

Waking up that morning, all I remember are the tears...buckets and buckets of tears...I now know that the tears I've cried over my baby are small in comparison to what my Lord cried for me and for the one who grew for a short time, quietly within my womb, hidden from all eyes.

I went to Planned Parenthood, diminishing the gravity of what I was about to do. Trying to escape reality, I was living in my own world. I didn't want to admit the severity of my decisions and choices that had so quickly caught up with me. I somehow convinced myself that because I was "taking care of things" so early, it would be easier. Because it was a pill I would be taking and not a procedure, it wasn't really an abortion. It was just a medical "problem" that needed "fixed."

This had to be okay because it was legal, right? The culture I lived in told me it was my choice and it wasn't a big deal...how did I start to believe the lies? My spirit was breaking over this decision, this impending loss...the tears were proof of this. The tears were proof that deep inside, my heart knew that I was already a mother who was carrying her first babe. 

I walked into the Planned Parenthood alone, signed in and gave my identification to prove I was of age. Of age for what - to decide if killing my baby was a good idea or not? They collected three-hundred and fifty dollars. Is that the price of life? After forcing myself to fill out the required paperwork, I sat and waited. Time seemed to pass so slowly...

I will never forget the faces I saw in that waiting room, the girls that were there for the same reason as me. Were they in the agony I was in? I didn't want to make eye-contact with anyone. I felt embarrassed as I thought to myself that everyone there knew I was there to have an abortion.

...Beside me, she talked loudly on her cell phone, about such meaningless things...

...Across from me sat a girl no older than fourteen or fifteen. I vividly remember her hair pulled back in a bun and her outfit, black like she must have felt inside. Her eyes, filled with glossy tears, threatening to spill over. Her face, full of heartbreak and unspeakable pain. My heart sank. I knew what she was going through. But, she was so young, so fragile. She should be protected, I thought to myself. Was this her decision or had someone else decided the fate of her baby for her? At times, I still picture this broken young girl, who isn't so young anymore. Does she live with the secret? Does she know my Jesus?

After a while, I was called back and instructed to pee in a cup. Then, they did some blood-work and took my blood pressure. After that, they took me to a different room where they told me to get undressed from the waist down for an ultrasound so they could confirm what I already knew.

"You are indeed pregnant," the nurse told me.
I was silent.
"You are measuring six weeks."
...
"Do you wish to be informed if ultrasound indicates twin gestation?"
"Yes."
Why did I answer that way? Would it have changed anything? Would it have somehow made it feel more real since I have always wanted twins, have twin brothers, and twin aunts?

I don't remember her printing anything off. I didn't see my baby on the screen. I wish I had. I wish my heart had made that connection that this was already a life and I could not be magically "un-pregnant."

More waiting...I wanted to meet with one of the counselors. It was a big room, a recovery room. She sat at a desk in the corner. At Planned Parenthood, they like to call an abortion, "terminating a pregnancy." I guess it's an easier choice of words than, "killing a baby." She told me there were some risks involved with the RU486 medical abortion pill, but I shouldn't worry. Later though, I found out that these seemingly nonexistent risks were a lot greater than she led me to believe. Many girls and young women have died from abortions, including the kind I got. She told me that I could have blood clots as big as a lemon, among other side-effects. I was scared that I was going to have to call the hospital in an emergency and then my parents would find out. 

She then told me something that I still can't believe to this day. She told me that some initial sadness would be normal, but after a couple days, if I was still feeling depressed, that would not be normal and I should seek help. So, apparently most women feel relief and maybe initial sadness, but are quickly able to get on with their lives, as if nothing ever happened.

How wrong she was.

Another room. Another ultrasound. This time a man. I felt my privacy was invaded. I felt like I was on display. After this, I was told to leave for a couple hours because the abortionist wouldn't be there until later that afternoon. My best friend at the time came to pick me up and we drove to McDonald's. I was too sick to eat because the nausea was overwhelming me. I kept choking on my tears, despite how much I was trying to remain calm. As we were riding down the road, tears were streaming down my face. I was shaking and crying uncontrollably. I had over-sized sunglasses on, trying to hide how horrible I looked and how puffy my eyes were. The way I looked on the outside was a reflection of how I felt on the inside.

When we got back to Planned Parenthood, I was taken upstairs to yet another waiting room. A smaller one, with several women already waiting in it. A soap opera played on the tiny television in the corner of the room. Magazines were sitting on the table, inviting us to read them. Oh yeah, like I was really in the mood to look at magazines or watch a stupid soap opera at a time like this.

There was the fourteen-year old sitting across the room from me again. All different ages of women were in there. Everyone was talking leisurely. Some were even laughing and cracking jokes. I was listening, but never said a word. I was just trying not to cry. After some chatter, the fourteen-year old made it known that she was six weeks along, just like me. The older women's lighthearted attitudes seemed to make her feel better about her abortion. Some of them were talking about how they had previous abortions. Some said they already had children and couldn't afford another. Most were farther along in their pregnancy than I was, so were too far to have a medical abortion. They were waiting for a surgical one. They were waiting for a surgery to end their baby's life and they were laughing. It's easier for women to dispose of their baby if they refer to it as a a fetus or a blob of cells. It's easier to get rid of a baby before you can see your belly getting bigger or feel the baby kicking or moving. These women were so nonchalant about what they were about to do. The mindless chatter, the laughter, and the small talk about their abortions all seemed like a dream.

The abortionist took a long time getting there that afternoon. We were all waiting to be fit into his busy schedule. When he finally arrived, I was taken into a room and had to get undressed from the waist down. More waiting, all alone with my thoughts in that cold and sterile room.

How did I end up here again? Wasn't I the good girl who loved Jesus and vowed to remain pure until marriage? 

I was so nervous, not knowing what to expect. I heard rustling around in the room next to mine. Paper thin walls. Another woman and nurses were preparing for surgery. Gulp. I felt even sicker than before. I was sitting on an examination table, one like you'd see at any doctor's office, like this was just another appointment and I was just getting any old medication. It was the last time I'd be alone with my baby growing safely inside me. A nurse I'd seen downstairs kept coming and going, getting supplies ready. I will never forget her face.

He finally came in, but didn't have much time...one afternoon to perform all those abortions. He looked nothing like I expected him to. Though, I guess you never know how to imagine an abortionist looking. He was a bit heavier set, bald, with red facial hair. A young, Asian woman accompanied him. I suppose she was "in training." The nurse was there as well. Private, sacred domain invaded for the third time...

It was around four that afternoon when the pill that would cut off all life supply to my thriving baby was placed in my hand. Hannah Rose, run! Don't do it! I wish I could talk my selfish, sinful, broken nineteen-year old self out of taking that pill. They stood there coolly, watching me put the tiny pill on my tongue and the cool water to my lips. I swallowed. There was no going back. This little pill called mifepristone would block the hormone progesterone, which is needed to maintain pregnancy. Once I took this first pill, I was required to take the next set between 24-72 hours later.  

I was told one last time what to expect and that if I had any serious side-effects, I was to go to the emergency room. What were "serious" side-effects? What he told me I would be experiencing seemed pretty serious to me. I was instructed to come back on February 17th, to make sure the pregnancy was "thoroughly terminated" and that everything had gone smoothly. If there were complications, I'd have to have a surgical abortion to complete the "termination". They sent me on my way. I left that afternoon in tears. Tears describe this entire chapter of my life. No words were spoken. What was there to say?

Dreading the side effects that were sure to come from taking that tiny pill, I waited all day and night. Nothing happened. Not until I took the next set of pills twenty-four hours later at around four in the afternoon on Saturday, February 7th, 2009. There were four of them this time. I took the misoprostol pills out of the bottle and followed the instructions. Instead of swallowing these pills, I had to put them in my gums, two on top and two on bottom, and let them dissolve. This took about thirty minutes. These four pills cause the uterus to contract and "expel" the placenta and embryo. 

Not long after taking these pills, I got a severe headache, nausea, cramping and bleeding. I was not prepared for this pain. I started getting frantic and ran to the bathroom. In agony, I didn't know what to do. I was sitting on the toilet, passing blood clots, and moaning and groaning. The nausea overwhelmed me and I threw up, just once. The bright light was bothering me. I needed it dark. My best friend at the time took care of me that night. She was a good friend to me, in the only way she knew how to be. She put a cold washcloth on my head, brought me water, gave me a heating pad, and did whatever else she could to help ease the pain. I just lay there, in total darkness. Staying perfectly still helped me to finally drift off to sleep. My friend had to set her alarm throughout the night and wake me up so I could take more pills. Antibiotics to fight an infection, pain pills, and pills for nausea.

After the night of darkness, it was over, at least the physical part of it. I am so thankful the Lord kept me from having any serious complications. The following morning, I felt weak, but relieved. On February 17th, I walked back into those same Planned Parenthood doors for my follow up appointment. That was hard. They had given me the wrong appointment date. I had to go back again on February 25th, for the third time. They did another ultrasound. Empty screen. Empty womb. "It" was taken care of. I wanted to move on as if the nightmare had never happened and forget the immense pain. I wanted my heart healed. And there He was, waiting to heal me, waiting for me to realize just how desperately I needed Him...

In my search to find peace for my aching heart, I was looking for love in all the wrong places. The next several months were filled with sin and darkness. Seeking comfort in many places, the one place I didn't go was to the accepting arms of Jesus, the only place I would ever truly find it. I felt beyond repair, like I had passed the point of no return. This had to be the unforgivable sin. I was so ashamed of what I had done and who I had become. Drinking and dating a new guy were ways I tried to fill that void in my heart. The point came where I didn’t care what people thought about me or what I did. I was completely miserable and trying to escape the deep pain I was in.

Too broken and weak to make changes, I had become desensitized and was ruining my life. I had so desperately wanted independence and freedom, yet ironically, there I was, in chains. I had run from my family and everything that I knew to be truth growing up. I had nobody in my life telling me the way I was living was wrong. But deep down, I knew it was. 

Before I knew it, it was July and the nausea had crept up on me once again. I tried to hide from this present reality, from this truth I knew I had to face.

I was pregnant...again.

Yet again I had the same choice to make. After putting off the inevitable for as long as possible, I took that little pregnancy test out of the box from Kroger and within minutes, a positive sign was once again staring back at me. I wasn't shocked, but numb....broken...empty...

Over the next few weeks, I thought I knew what must be done. I kept my mind constantly busy and occupied, never leaving enough time to feel the things I was trying so desperately to escape. It was in the times that all the hustle and bustle around me slowed down, in the middle of the long, lonely nights, that I would hear Him. When the whole world was still, and I alone was awake, I would hear the gentle whisper of my sweet Jesus, beckoning me back to His love, His peace, His joy, His strong arms I had run so far from. After all of my disobedience and running from Him, He had never turned His face from me.

I have never heard the voice of my Lord as clearly as I did during those quiet nights, when every other voice was drowned out. I remember standing in the bathroom gazing at my reflection and not recognizing who I saw looking back at me. How could I have ever gotten here, so far from the arms of God? In the midst of all the confusion and constant noise in my heart and mind, there was still hope, hope that everything could be restored and that I could be forgiven. But, I knew it would only happen with the God of the Universe holding my hand every step of the way. 

In my desperation and helplessness, I cried out to Jesus, begging Him to set me free. Though my cry was soft and weak, it was all I could muster up. Little did I know that in that moment, the King of all Creation heard my plea for help and was running to rescue broken, sinful, undeserving me.

I needed to commit this one last sin, then I would return to Jesus and my life could move on. I would have a fresh start. Surely He would forgive me. I would "get my life together." Commit this one last sin in order to stop sinning? The devil disguised the truth with lies. He knew what choosing death for my baby would mean...suffering, heartache, despair, sin, depression, darkness, a life without the Lover of my soul. But, I believed him. 

The appointment was set at Planned Parenthood for three days after my twentieth birthday - August 15th, 2009.

I felt assured it was what I had to do. After August 15th, I would once again start living for Jesus, instead of for myself. After August 15th, I would finally find forgiveness and healing. But, God had other plans.

August 15th came and went and my baby was still growing inside me. I didn't know why I didn't walk through those clinic doors, but I did know there was something happening beyond what I could see or understand. Instead of walking through those doors, I was walking into the light towards freedom. God was doing something in my heart and life, something beautiful, something radical. He was transforming me and making me new. Something supernatural was happening inside of me, something I can't explain, something I can't fully comprehend. But, He was alive! He was fighting! Ready to trample on the enemy of my soul. I was awesomely aware of the spiritual battle going on, the battle for my very soul, the battle for my baby's life. And guess what, I wasn't fighting. He fought for me! Until I was strong enough, until He built me up, empowered me, strengthened me, to fight with Him! I picture Him as a Mighty and Victorious Warrior, riding in on His white steed, coming to rescue me.

A miracle was happening in my life. There can be no explaining it away. In the midst of my darkness, Jesus brought light. He was smiling on me, saying, "Just wait until you see all I have planned for you and your baby!" He was ready to take my deepest sorrow and sin, radically transform my heart and bring Himself glory. He promised to work all things together for my good and His glory. My heart could barely believe it to be true. Even my abortion? Even my rebellion and giving myself away before marriage? I was glimpsing the mercy and love that our Heavenly Father has for each of us, no matter what we have done. He is on our side! In the first journal entry I wrote in a long time, I poured out my heart to Him. I remembered the lyrics to this song and wrote them out. The words sunk into the deepest parts of me.



"There is no pit too deep that God's love is not deeper still." ~Corrie ten Boom

How strange it was that nobody else was aware of the intense battle between life and death, light and darkness raging within me. I was afraid of what people would say and think, afraid of the pain that would come from choosing life. Slowly though, God was working. Why had I been more concerned over what others thought of me rather than what God thought? Slowly, He was opening my heart up to Him.

In a moment of piercing clarity, the Lord made it abundantly clear that I had come to a fork in the road in my life and I had a very big choice to make. He whispered to my heart that if I chose to have another abortion, I couldn't imagine the pain and darkness that would follow. But, if I chose LIFE, I couldn't imagine the beauty that He would bring. He promised He would be with me every step of my difficult journey and that He'd take care of all the details. I need not fear...

Trust Me. Choose LIFE. I will provide all you need. I am your faithful Father, your Provider, your Sustainer. I'll give you the strength.

"Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of My righteousness." ~Isaiah 41:10

On a lovely August evening around dusk, the sky was clear and blue, and the sunset was simply breathtaking. Although I was alone, the Lord's presence was very real and near. While gazing at the pink clouds dancing across the sky, the decision suddenly became clear to me. I knew what I had to do. I had to obey Him...and choose life. Although I didn’t know what would happen next or where He would lead me, having answers to my questions no longer mattered because He was with me. Feeling alive again in the warm summer sun, I felt sure. Hope had stirred within me once again.

Darkness.
Such darkness that surrounded me.
Threatening to swallow me,
Take me whole.
Stealing the light,
the precious light that once cascaded through me.
It envelopes me, gags me.
Taking the life within me.

My Warrior, my mighty Warrior,
Comes to rescue me.
His princess, His bride.
He fights for me.
Bleeds for me.
Dies for me.
This is enough.
His love overcomes the grave.
Breathing His life, His light,
back into my being.
Through that dark night of faith
He was gazing at me.

I felt the Lord's gentle tug on my heart. He was asking me to trust Him with everything, to trust that He held me and my child in the palm of His hands. His name was written on my forehead. I was His. There must have been rejoicing in Heaven on that summer evening in August. The battle for my soul had been won! My child's life was saved! He was enough. His love conquered the enemy! He whispered to my soul: "Wait until you see what I have planned for you and your baby. Wait until you see how I'm going to use her life. Wait until you see the purposes I have for her. How I'm going to bless you. How I'm going to use you. Just wait. Just wait."

After making the decision to obey, miracle after miracle started happening. A barrier had been broken and the Lord was moving. He had broken the chains. I was free. Free from the bondage that had kept me for so long. I see now that the Lord knew it would take something drastic to break those chains and bring me back to Him. I was weak and totally incapable of doing it on my own. But when I cried out to Him, He heard me and He ran to my defense! Because I was obeying God, He had already begun blessing me. He worked out all the details of my pregnancy and took care of me. He took care of all the things that I had feared. Somehow when we surrender our lives to Him, all the things that stressed us out or caused us to fear melt away in light of His glorious presence.

I saw this skit during that time in my life and realized that girl was me. God used it to speak so much to my heart. He showed me His love for me, His power, and His victory in all circumstances. No matter what we face in this life, He is stronger! I searched outside of Him for fulfillment for so long until I cried out to Him to rescue me and He set me free! He can set you free today too.


During the time I was considering having another abortion, I started researching the different abortion methods and watched several videos online. I pored over story after story of women with broken hearts after choosing to have an abortion, as well as people who had been involved in the abortion industry before God changed their hearts. I realized just how ignorant I had been. God opened my eyes to sense the depth of the darkness. Here He was, stirring my soul, giving me a passion to give those a voice that have no voice. I had initially started researching when I was considering an abortion for myself, when God turned my world upside down and lit a fire in my soul, showing me just how precious each life is to Him. He gave me such a heart for all unborn life and those facing unplanned pregnancies, as well as for the men and women affected by abortion.

Once I chose life, I was suddenly facing the choice between adoption and parenting. I knew that either choice would be hard to make and would bring discomfort and pain. I pored over videos, songs, and stories about adoption. There were many tears shed over the thought of it. I just wanted what God wanted. I wanted His will. For so long, I had done what I wanted to do. I had to do what God led me to do and what I knew in my heart He wanted, no matter how afraid I was and no matter what anybody else said or thought. I surrendered my life into His perfectly capable hands. I cried out to Him - take my life and let it be, always, only, all for Thee.


During the time I was considering adoption, a beautiful friendship was forged, with a young woman not much younger than myself. Her name is Bex and she is one of the bravest people I know. When she was eighteen, she went through an unexpected pregnancy and chose life for her baby boy, Kip. She ended up choosing adoption. I knew about her story because Eric and Leslie Ludy adopted her little boy. I knew that if she could get through an unplanned pregnancy, then I could too. If God gave her the strength, He would give me the strength too. I contacted Bex, in search of support and encouragement, before I had the courage to tell anyone else I was pregnant. I wrote her, poring my heart out to her, and telling her my story. She wrote back with such compassion. She knew what I was going through. And she shared her story with me, prayed for me, and encouraged me. It was just what I needed. God knew what He was doing when He brought her into my life.

I went to the local Crisis Pregnancy Center that Bex found for me. I talked with the director there, Anna, and watched a video about adoption. (Since then, Anna has become one of my very dearest friends! I was even her wedding photographer!) When I was at the Center, I cried my eyes out because of the sadness I felt in my heart, but I also felt freedom and joy again for the first time in a long time. Because the choice was no longer between three options (adoption, parenting, and abortion) but now only between two options...both of which ended in my baby having life. It was like a giant burden was lifted from my shoulders and I could breathe a sigh of relief. After wrestling with the decision for weeks, I knew that God was asking me to parent. He wanted me to be willing to do whatever He asked of me before He revealed His heart.

During this very difficult but very beautiful time in my life, God began walking me through my feelings of shame and guilt. I was so embarrassed and felt so guilty over my abortion and how I had been living such a promiscuous and rebellious lifestyle. I felt like my sin was worse than other people's sin because I should have known better. In a lot of ways, I did know better and chose to still disobey God. I truly saw myself for who I am without Christ, a dirty, wretched sinner. But, in Christ, I am a new creation. 

"I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." ~Galatians 2:20

God showed me His heart for me and for each one of His children that accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. With His cloak of righteousness around us, we are washed whiter than snow. Because of what He purchased for us on the Cross, we are seen without blemish. Jesus Himself paid the penalty for our sin so that we wouldn't have to. We must repent and turn from our sin, and accept Him as Lord of our heart and life. 

"Come now, let us reason together," says the LORD. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool." ~Isaiah 1:18

Meditate on those words: white as snow. Pure. Blameless. Spotless. He casts our sins into the depths of the sea! (Micah 7:19

"As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us." ~Psalm 103:12

If He literally remembers them no more, who are we to remember them?! His blood is enough and we must believe and walk in that truth! I realize just how unworthy I am of my precious Lord Jesus Christ, yet He offers His riches to me, in exchange for my rags.

There is a song I heard during this time of healing, cleansing, and repentance that the Lord brought me through that blessed me tremendously. It is actually sung by Leslie Ludy. The words sunk into the depths of my heart and I sobbed and sobbed as the Lord revealed His great love, mercy, grace, and forgiveness! The words felt like they were written just for me, like they were the cry of my soul.





Another thing that changed my life during this time was when I read this passage of Scripture:

"And one of the Pharisees desired him that he would eat with him. And he went into the Pharisee's house, and sat down to meat. And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner. And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on. There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most? Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged. And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet. My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment. Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven. And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also? And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace." ~Luke 7:36-50

I couldn't keep from crying when I read this. Tears describe this chapter of my life as well - but the cleansing and hopeful kind, not the despairing and hopeless kind. I realized that when God promises to work everything together for our good, He means it. He showed me that if I would allow Him to take His rightful throne in my heart and life that He would do abundantly beyond what I could ever imagine, for my good and His glory.

It's amazing that the Lord can even change the way we see our broken past and allow us to begin looking at it as a blessing! When we realize how much we've been forgiven, we have the ability to love Him much and love others much. He literally lifts us up out of our darkness, washes the filth off of us, and shows us that He can and will completely redeem all the things the devil meant for destruction. Because of what I had been through, I had a deep compassion and love for people that I had never had before.


"Faith is the inborn capacity to see God behind everything." ~Oswald Chambers

"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose." ~Romans 8:28

Very early in my pregnancy, the Lord revealed to my heart that I was carrying a little girl and her name was Lily. Lily, meaning purity and innocence, who was to be a symbol of my renewed purity and redemption in Jesus Christ. When I was choosing her middle name, the Lord gave me Katherine. At the time, I had no idea Katherine also means purity. Both her names, both mean purity. This precious child was not the sin and neither is any baby conceived in an unplanned pregnancy. God already knew her...He knew she was a she, He knew her name and had it picked out and cared enough to show me her name. He loved her beyond anything my mind could grasp and He had a great and glorious plan for her life.

Corrie ten Boom (one of my spiritual heroes) had a conversation with her father as a young girl. Fear had come into her heart as she thought of the possibility of her father dying and she thought she couldn't live without him. Her father, Casper, then asked her, "Corrie, when we go to Amsterdam, when do I give you your train ticket?" "Why, just before we get on the train," she answered. "Exactly. And our wise Heavenly Father knows when we're going to need things too. Don't run out ahead of Him, Corrie. He will give you the strength you need, just in time." God showed me that He was there holding my hand and would give me the strength to get through whatever came next. If I had known how the story would go, I couldn't have managed. But, God knew and He promised to give me whatever I needed, the moment I needed it...not a second too soon or too late...and oh, He did...His "train ticket" of grace was there for me to face things I never could have imagined facing before. It didn't make it easy, but somehow it was sufficient to bear what would otherwise have crushed me had my hope not been in the Lord.

Jesus was with me when I made the decision to choose life for my child and through all the months I carried her, He sustained me. He was with me when I told my family the news that there would be a new member in the family. He was with them when He supplied the love, grace, and open arms needed to accept me back home. He was with me when I didn't know how I would pay for doctor and hospital bills without insurance, yet He provided for every penny needed. 

Seven months later, He was with me when I arrived at the hospital to deliver my daughter, two days past my due date, after a healthy and normal pregnancy. He was with me on that dark, stormy day, March 16th, 2010, when that little monitor was put up to my swollen belly and those dreadful words filled my ears: “I'm so sorry. Her heart is no longer beating.” He was with me in the quiet, early-morning stillness, as I waited to deliver the body of my daughter who was already waiting for me in Heaven. He was with me when I held the body of my precious flower, Lily Katherine, who whispered goodbye before I had the chance to say hello. He was with me when the silence threatened to suffocate me.

He was with me through the loneliest night of my life as I cried from the very depths of my soul, lying in my hospital bed with the body of my lifeless daughter beside me. He was with me during those few precious, sacred moments I spent alone with her, giving her the hugs and kisses that would have to last a lifetime. He was with me the next afternoon as a blanket was placed over her tiny body and she was pushed down the hallway away from me, never to be held by her mommy again. He was with me when leaving the hospital with empty arms, a broken heart, and shattered dreams. Left with many questions, He was with me when no answers could explain why she was taken so soon. He was with me as I watched her tiny casket, placed inside her cozy Moses basket, be lowered into the opened earth and become showered with tears, rose and lily petals, and dirt.

I was overwhelmed with how her name took on a whole new meaning. My Lily Katherine will forever remain pure and innocent. Untainted. 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 has turned a tragic story into a beautiful one.

My heart was changed forever as my love for this child, previously viewed as a burden, grew along with my belly. As the entire world keeps turning, I am forever changed by a sweet little March flower who taught me what life is truly all about, without ever speaking a single word. I feel honored to have been chosen to carry her, for she was betrothed to the King before her birth.

What a journey these past few years have been. I struggled with why God would let me walk this road, let me carry Lily and love her so much, only to take her from me. But, I know that I belong to Him, she belongs to Him, and He desires what’s best. He asked me if I would trust Him with Lily's legacy as I trusted Him with her life. I have peace in knowing I made the choice to let God be God, to let God give and God take away. I can rest assured that I did the right thing by obeying Him. My daughter died with dignity. The Lord took her away, but I let him have His will, rather than having my own will and taking her life myself.

Lily saved my life. God saved her from death and used her life to bring me back to Him. He used Lily’s life to bring healing from my abortion, as well as from the pain that was caused due to running from Him. Through choosing LIFE for my second child, God brought peace and healing to my heart that was broken from aborting my first. He has been faithful to carry me through the lowest times in my life. Never before was I so fully aware of His deep healing or of how He could restore my soul so completely. Already, He has used my story to touch so many lives, to change so many hearts. Due to Lily's brief life, a family has been healed and friendships have been restored. Many flowers have blossomed because of the rain that fell in my life.

I know that God brings to completion that which He starts. For a while, I struggled with asking Him why He took Lily so soon. He revealed to my heart that she was fullterm, complete. The work He sent her here for, was complete. Though it was in a much shorter time than I ever could have imagined, it was complete and the ripple effects of her life and legacy will echo into Eternity...

I pray that through my story, someone else might choose LIFE for their baby. I pray that whoever is reading this will see the gravity of their decisions. Maybe you are in an unplanned pregnancy right now or maybe you will face one in the future. I pray you remember these words, this story, and CHOOSE LIFE. The Lord has you here, reading this, for a purpose. I can truly say I get it because I do. These are not empty words, but words from someone whose walked in those shoes. Twice. The first time, I chose an abortion. The second time, I chose LIFE. And even though my daughter died at fullterm, I would never choose another way. The loss of her is so different than the loss of my first baby. She died with dignity. I promise you the Lord will give you what you need to choose life and obey Him. Take it from someone whose chosen both ways. No matter what happens, whether you choose adoption or parenting, whether you're baby is stillborn like mine was or whether they are born completely healthy...Know that no matter what happens, when you obey God and choose LIFE, He will give you what you need. Many of the beautiful things in my life now are because of my choice of LIFE; the friendships, the passions, the joy. When you choose LIFE, no matter the outcome, it is the right choice, a choice I've never regretted! However, I will forever regret my abortion and long for the first child of my womb. My precious Luke Shiloh, my son who I will only ever know in Heaven. I have realized that all the things that made me choose abortion were temporary problems. Even the things that seem so overwhelming in the moment won't always feel that way. Luke Shiloh's name means "light and peace" because that is what God has brought in all of this. He has brought light in the midst of the deepest darkness and peace to my wounded, aching heart. In the deepest parts of me, I truly believe the Lord has revealed my first baby was a boy.

If your heart is breaking over a past abortion, Jesus can meet you where you are. You don't have to live with the sorrow that leaves you breathless and the shame that cripples. Cry out to Jesus and watch as He runs to your rescue. I pray that through my story, women and men will see the healing God can offer hearts after abortion. Statistics show that one in four women has had an abortion. That means that many men have been involved in it as well, whether they realize it or not. Because it is something that happens so often, I am sure that there are people who will read these words of mine who have been in these shoes. Don't be afraid to accept your child as your own. It is so important to name him/her. Ask the Lord to reveal to you what gender your baby was. Ask Him what his/her name is. I can tell you from personal experience how healing this is. It is so important that people talk about the issue of abortion and not leave it hidden in the dark. There are women that have lived with the pain, shame, and regret of it for decades. It is time to bring what is in the darkness to the light! My first baby is as much a part of this story as Lily because if I had not had him, she might have been the one I aborted. I shudder to think where I would be today had I chosen to abort her. If you are in search of healing after an abortion, I highly recommend going through a post-abortion Bible study or retreat. 


"He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds." ~Psalm 147:3

The Lord can redeem anyone, and any situation. He restores even the most broken of hearts. He uses all things together for our good and His glory. I am a living testimony of this. Even the things that the devil meant for destruction, the Lord can turn into growth in Him. In pain, He brings beauty. The darkness trembles at His voice. All the ways I betrayed Him, all the ways I hurt Him...He loved me. He still had a plan. What a God I serve that somehow, some beautiful way, turned my sin, my heartache, into a glorious display of His sovereignty, power, and triumphant love!

Lily’s life, that was conceived in my sin, has reminded us all of the value and dignity God places on every life. My entire life and future has been changed by one little girl who never spoke one word or took one breath, yet her life speaks loud and clear just how precious, beautiful, and valuable each life is to God. The Lord has a mighty plan and purpose for each individual life. Lily came to Earth and accomplished all God had sent her for. 

I don't love Lily because of anything she did and she doesn't have value for living a long life or for accomplishing something remarkable in the eyes of the world. I love her for simply being who God created her to be. He created her to live her days in the safety of my womb. She lived no more days than she was purposed to and no less days. She is valuable simply because she is HIS. She was crafted by His hand, in His very image. She's a masterpiece, His masterpiece!

A little girl who never opened her eyes to see this world has opened my eyes and heart to see what's truly important in this world. God has taught me more about selfless love, grace, the redemption of Christ, and the sanctity of human life through a little girl who never spoke a word or took a breath than anything else in this world. Lily changed my entire life, my heart, and my future. Her life is sacred because she was created by God and He has given her life great purpose! No striving on my part to get others to recognize her value will make her any more valuable. Simply by existing, she matters. And I can rest in knowing her value doesn't change depending on what others think of her. My love is no less real even if people don't understand.

It was a gift the Lord gave me when He opened up my heart to love her as much as I do. And because of how much I love her, I miss her with that same great measure. The grief, in turn, is also a gift, for even that points to the sanctity of her life and each life, no matter how brief!

I pray Lily's life is a reminder to us all that nothing we do or have makes us valuable. The care we drive, the house we live in, the job we have, all these things are temporal. Our value comes in being children of God. Each of us has been valuable from the moment of our conception and nothing in this world can add to or take away from that intrinsic value.

This is only the beginning of my new life in Him, and the beginning of the promise of Lily’s and Luke's legacies. This is only the beginning.

"The amount of time on Earth matters very little: a man can live in greed and pride 90 years and never find God, know Him or accomplish His Plan. A stillborn baby on the other hand, teaches people to love, brings people to the Lord, teaches us the tenuous nature of life and teaches us a faith that those who have not suffered loss can never know. A child who has never taken a breath can have an impact greater than a famous preacher. The purpose of a life is not ours to decide nor in our hands: it is brought about by God." ~Author Unknown

-Read about the day Lily was born by clicking here
-Read about my journey of healing from my abortion, how I named Luke Shiloh, and how I honor and remember him by clicking here.
-Read about the reasons why I share by clicking here.
-To read my other "favorite posts," click here.


This is a song written by my dear friend Heather Cofer about Lily's LIFE and legacy

This is a video tribute I made for Lily

I'd love to hear from you. Please leave a comment here (you don't have to be a follower or member) or send me an email at roseandherlily@gmail.com. Thank you so much for reading and many blessings to you. 

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