Monday, February 6, 2012

Luke Shiloh's Story

All my wrong choices caught up with me in a way I couldn't escape, though I tried. 

February 6, 2009.

Before that week, I never knew such pain was imaginable. The deepest parts of me were shaking, screaming. My soul was crying out for a Mighty Rescuer. Inside of me, I knew the gravity of what I was doing. I tried to run from those feelings that suffocated, but the tears were evidence of a heart broken.

My heart was shattered...and in the deepest pit of despair.



I drove to Planned Parenthood that Friday morning. It seems odd now that it's called Planned Parenthood, like I could somehow change the fact that I was already mothering a babe in my womb. The nausea I was feeling day and night was a constant reminder of this. I had never planned for this. I had never wanted a baby before marriage. I never thought I'd have to deal with such a thing. Funny how nobody ever facing this situation ever thought it would happen to them...

Two of us entered that clinic...my nineteen-year-old, selfish, sinful, broken self and my six-week-old child. Only one of us was able to voice what we wanted. Only one of us made it out alive.

I lost my first child to an abortion. I can't stand that word. I wish there was a prettier word I could use to talk about it. There's not...

I took what was God's and decided I knew what was best. A loss I'll live with the rest of my life. My hands are empty, with nothing tangible to grieve the loss of my first child, flesh of my flesh. Yes, Lily was my firstborn, but not my first child...With Lily, I have her footprints and handprints, photos, a lock of her hair, among many other things. But not with my first child, the very soul that rendered me a mother. It deeply grieves me when I so desperately want to honor and remember this life.

(I don't agree with all of these lyrics, for I believe it's important to name the child and they not go "nameless." However, I can relate to the song in other ways)

My mind often goes back to that place, that place that's hard to go. There's healing there now. But, the what if's will remain. What would my baby be like today if I had chosen LIFE? What color would his eyes be...would he like trains or dinosaurs...what shape would his nose have...what would his first word have been...who would he have grown up to be...a mighty man of God...a voice for unborn life...

(I don't agree with all the lyrics in this song, but I can definitely relate in a lot of ways)



This gift of life...we take it for granted because it's a given, we all have it. But, what if someone took your life before it ever truly began? What if someone screamed so loud they wanted their way that your silent scream, your plead for a chance to live and be loved was smothered out?

Ever thought of it like that?

For this child, my child. And for all the other helpless, innocent ones may we...Be the voice that can't be heard. Their 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.

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

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

I say his voice, though I was only six weeks gestation, much too early for doctor's to discover the gender. But, just as the Lord showed my mother heart that Lily was a girl long before any doctor could tell me a thing. It was like He said, you have a little girl. Her name is Lily. She's to be a symbol of your renewed innocence and purity in Me. In the same way, He's shown me from the beginning my first child was a boy. I somehow always knew I'd be the mother of a boy first. 

It may seem strange that I would address this child as my son, this child that I aborted. This child that my actions spoke to the world of how I didn't want him. It's important not to forget him. He will always be a part of me, he will always be my first baby. Even though I've been sharing my story and God has brought so much healing, He's shown me that I haven't really acknowledged this child as my own, the way He desires me to. There's still so much more healing He is desiring to work within me. Deep healing. In a way, I suppose I was rejecting this child as my son. There was still a part of me that didn't really believe he was a person. Was it easier just to move on and forget? 

In the last month or so, the Lord has brought that deep healing that I didn't even recognize wasn't yet mine. Not until I recognized and acknowledged that I was and am and always will be his mother. Not until I took that first step and called Planned Parenthood to get my records. I had wanted to do this for more than two years. I hoped to find out more information about my first baby and really hoped for an ultrasound photo. My friend Holly greatly encouraged me and gave me boldness to step out and take that first step in calling them. She shared with me what I should say and that helped a lot. So, I called and said I'd be in town and wanted to stop by to get my records. I had no idea whether they'd have an ultrasound photo or not...I mean, I remember getting an ultrasound, but don't recall them printing anything off. I think part of the reason I put it off for so long is because I was scared they wouldn't have one and that would break my heart. 

I went to Planned Parenthood on the afternoon of December 29, 2011 and asked for my records and said I wanted any ultrasound photos that they might have. Holly told me they usually leave this out when women ask for their records unless you specifically ask for them. The girl looked at me strangely and I could tell she was uncomfortable. I was shaking and so nervous, but prayed for courage and the words to say. The Lord gave me confidence. I was waiting in anticipation to see if they had any photos and I saw her go over to the copy machine. I was so happy! Then, I asked if I could have the original copy and that's when the woman who had counseled me when I had my abortion came into the room...she had pulled in right after me. I see that was God's perfect timing. She said they have to keep the original on file for 10 years and I asked if I could have them before they throw them away and she said nobody has ever asked her that and that she'd have to check for me. Then, she asked, "why do you want them?" She looked alarmed at first and asked if I needed to see somebody about this and I said, "no, the Lord has brought me total healing, but having this photo is very important to me to grieve healthily and honor his life." I felt that was my open door to share a shortened version of my testimony with her...with the very woman who was there when I had my abortion! I even mentioned my blog and she wrote it down and said she wanted to read it. The Lord truly put the words in my mouth and it was beautiful to feel His presence there with me. It was very difficult to go back in there after all this time. Then she said she is going to ask if I can have the original copy now, without waiting 7 more years! I truly feel this is a gift from God to have this ultrasound photo...it's another step in this journey of healing and grieving the loss of this precious life. 

So often I've wondered when his due date was and could only guess sometime in late September. Now, I know it was October 1, 2009. What a gift in knowing. Forever I will remember him on this date. 


After getting the ultrasound photo, I knew it was time to name my baby and respect his life in that way. In order to have a name or an identity, one must exist. To exist can never be past tense. The Bible tells us to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8). My dear child not only existed at one time on earth, growing quietly hidden from all eyes within my womb, but has since existed in my heart. And now exists in Heaven with the King of all Kings. In knowing Him, I know my first child. My child who now exists in the only perfect place there is. My little boy who is now with his little sister, Lily. When I meet him there, I will know more than just his name...

For a couple years, I've wanted to name him, but didn't want to do so until I was sure the Lord was revealing to me the gender of the baby. Now that I have peace in that, I didn't want to name him until I was sure it was a name God was giving me, not just any old name. It was frustrating because I didn't want to rush naming him, but also didn't want to keep referring to him as "my first baby." I prayed it would be as beautiful and orchestrated by God as my daughter, Lily Katherine's, name was.

Well, there were two names that kept coming back to my mind. The middle name was one that I never would have considered naming my child, but it just kept coming back. I decided to look up the meaning of both names and was in awe over the beauty and depth of the meaning. It couldn't be more perfect for my story. I see God's fingerprint all over it. 

The name is  ....


Meaning of Luke: The root exists in Greek as well: the word (leukos) means (1) light, bright, brilliant, of sun light, or (2) of color: white. In the sense of white, the name Luke is related to the Hebrew name Laban, except that the Hebrew root that gave rise to this name never means light-giving. This Greek word for white shows up in words such as (leukainos), meaning to make white, and an enormous array of words like that - from having white blossoms to having white arms or to be with white horses. The noun (luchnos) denotes a portable lamp, and the very fair word (amphiluke) denotes the morning twilight.

Wow.

In the midst of my darkness, my sin, my sorrow, God has brought light. He lifted me up out of my pit, cleaned me off, and set me on a firm Rock. My story looks like one of utter darkness, yet look how the Lord has redeemed it and turned it into a beautiful story! Only HE can do that! I am whiter than snow in the eyes of my Jesus because of His cloak of righteousness around me. He has made me white. He has brought light out of the darkness of my abortion. After the darkness, comes the morning twilight. After my abortion and living in sin has come beauty and redemption, unlike any I could have dreamed. 

"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 

"So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light." -Romans 13:12b...I saw this Scripture a couple days ago and it was confirmed that this is my baby's name. I have put aside the deeds of darkness in my life, my past behavior and have put on the armor of light. What the enemy meant to destroy me with, God has brought light out of it. As we are willing to bring what is in darkness into the light, the Lord heals...

Meaning of Shiloh: Hebrew-Peace. Possibly a symbolic name for the Messiah, Jesus Christ.
The Lord has brought complete peace and healing to my heart. Things that would take those in the world many decades to heal from, Jesus Christ brings healing with a single breath, a single word. He defies all darkness. Also possibly a symbolic name for the Messiah. It serves as a reminder that He is coming and will wipe away every tear and we will have complete peace for eternity with Him. And I will be reunited with both my babies that glorious day.


Luke Shiloh, this is because of you...in honor of you...

I'm sure there are many reading this that wonder why I so openly and honestly share this raw and deeply personal part of my story. Nothing in me desires to show what a wretched sinner I am, yet I write because I am compelled. With everything in me, I declare Jesus is Victor, always and it is my desire that whoever reads or hears my story will walk away with that truth in their heart...

Any darkness can be overcome by the precious blood that the Lord Jesus Christ shed for us. And it is only by His blood that we even have testimonies to share! What an honor and a responsibility it is to share hope, truth, and life with those who don't know Him. With each breath, I will sing Him praises and tell of how He transformed my heart and breathed life into my being. I share my story with you because He has told me to do so...He has made the desire so deeply engrained in my heart that I have no choice but to proclaim to all who will hear how He has saved a wretch like me! This isn't my story, it's His story, the story He's chosen to write for my life. I am weak and I am nothing without my precious Lord. Oh, but what a blessing and an honor to be chosen by Him to be the words in His redeeming story of LIFE. I am so incredibly humbled that He would speak through my story.

I will always and forever be the mother of two children that now wait for me in Heaven. No matter how many other children I have in the future that the Lord allows me the blessing of raising them on earth, I will always first be mother to a little boy, Luke Shiloh, and a little girl, Lily Katherine. As their mother, I feel it is my job to keep their memory and their legacy alive. That's why I'm their voice. That's why I share as I do. That's why I make hospital care packages. That's why I have my photography.

All is not lost...Luke Shiloh's life had meaning and purpose and God is using it, even though he's not here. Because of his life, people are seeing how abortion affects women. People are seeing how precious each life is to our God, through the stories of both my precious children. The cry of my heart is that the Lord would use the life of my Luke in the life of another. That through this story, someone else might choose life for their baby. I pray that whoever is reading this will see the gravity of what this all means. 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 son. She died with dignity. My abortion grieves my heart much more intensely than my stillborn daughter. 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.

My first child who matters deeply to me and to God. My first child who I will openly grieve the loss of.  My first child, who should be over two years old today.

I pray that through my story women and men will see the healing God can offer your heart after an abortion. One in four women have 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. It is not a political issue, but an issue of life and death.

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! It is important we pray for the end of abortion, by praying for hearts and laws to change. I fight for unborn life, but, I also fight for the women in the unplanned pregnancies, as well as those who have already chosen to have an abortion. There are many people that are hurting. I feel that the culture and so many people put the face of a monster on women who've been involved with an abortion and the enemy uses this to keep these women silent. These women are not monsters! And don't pretend like you understand their situations until you walk a mile in their shoes. It is easy to agree with beliefs, never being tested by them yourself. No, these are precious men and women who are loved by God as much as these unborn babies are. He has a plan for both. He desires to heal, redeem, transform. No matter how one is affected, He is greater! Be available to these men and women as a listening ear. Pray for them!

This process of accepting our aborted children may look different for each of us. For me, naming Luke Shiloh and getting his ultrasound photo were the first steps. First of all, I would suggest going to the clinic where you had your abortion and ask for your records and specifically your ultrasound photo. I know this can seem intimidating, but it truly has been very healing for me. I cannot guarantee they'd still have yours, but it doesn't hurt to try. And they only hold it a specific amount of time, so the sooner you try, the better.

Then, I got a plaque for him at the National Memorial for the Unborn. The memorial has an indoor granite memorial wall in honor of babies lost to abortion and gardens outside with brick pavers in honor of babies lost to stillbirth and miscarriage. There is a pregnancy center in the other half of the building and it all sits on the site and in the same building where an abortion clinic was for many years. The entire site has a sacred essence to it, especially the room that is honoring aborted babies. I felt such a deep feeling of reverence in there as I was overwhelmed by all the names on the wall and the special things left behind by grieving family and friends of these lost little ones. It was so moving to read all the letters and poems. I went to visit for the first time on Mother's Day of 2011. What a special gift to be there on that day! A time and place to honor and remember BOTH my babies at once, the only place on earth where I can tangibly do this. What was once a place of great sorrow where thousands of babies were killed is now a place that honors and remembers these lives, a place dedicated to the Lord, a place of hope and healing. Getting this plaque was a huge step for me. It feels like I'm acknowledging he is and always will be my first child. If you've had an abortion, seriously look into getting a plaque made here. You can do it completely anonymously, if you so choose. It is a place of healing, closure, and saying, yes this life mattered and this life truly existed.

This is what my plaque says:

Luke Shiloh
February 6, 2009
Darkness to Light

His name, the day he went to Heaven, and the three perfect words to describe my story and what God has done...I am so excited to receive my copy of it in the mail! And I am planning a trip out to Chattanooga to place the plaque on the wall myself at the service I'm going to have for Luke Shiloh. (Yes, you are able to have beautiful services when you place your plaque and/or brick!) After the service, I will receive a Certificate of Life for him. I plan on video-taping the entire memorial so my future children and husband can be a part of it. I will also be placing the brick paver there in the garden dedicated to miscarried and stillborn babies for my daughter, Lily Katherine. It is so special to have a place to honor and memorialize both my babies at once!


I also am putting together a "In Honor of Luke Shiloh Memorial Box." It is a small, wooden box that my mom has had for several years and gave to me for this purpose. The things I have in it thus far are Luke's ultrasound photo, a hankie with his name embroidered on it, a tea-light candle to light in honor of him on Mother's Day, his due date, and the day he went to Heaven and a tiny painting that reminds me of both my children. I am planning on adding other things to it and will post pictures as I get it more together.


Another way I've chosen to honor Luke's life is by getting his name written at To Write Their Names In The SandCarly Marie writes baby's and children's names in the sand under gorgeous sunsets on a beautiful beach called Mullaloo Point in Western Australia, near Perth. It's a way to honor and remember children in Heaven. You can get your child's name written and a tribute post for free. But, you can also purchase the high-resolution images to help continue all the work Carly Marie does. I got Luke's and Lily's names written and will be printing them on canvas to hang on my wall! Carly Marie has literally written thousands of names, in honor of babies and children from all over the world. I am so thankful for these beautiful pictures!




There are also retreat weekends to attend to find healing, such as Project Rachel. A lot of pregnancy centers offer post-abortion Bible studies. If you'd rather do a Bible study by yourself, I recommend "Forgiven and Set Free" by Linda Cochrane.

A balloon release and candle lighting ceremony can be healing ways to honor and remember aborted babies as well. As well as writing your baby a letter or poem. Sharing your story and getting it into the light will bring so much healing and it will show you that your baby's life still can have an impact and purpose, by showing people the truth about abortion and that it destroys lives. It can save other baby's lives!

Again, this process may look different for each person. These are suggestions and ways that the Lord has brought healing into my life. I encourage you to ask the Lord how He's leading you to healing. Remember, it is okay to grieve the loss of your precious baby. The world may tell you it's not okay. I understand that it's the silent grief. Forbidden grief. The enemy wants to keep your abortion in the dark and keep you silent. Don't let him have his way. Only when what is in the darkness is brought to the light can Jesus' healing touch reach your heart and life.

Jesus will meet you where you are. You don't have to live with the sorrow that leaves you breathless, the shame that cripples. You are not alone. If you need someone to talk to as you begin walking down your path towards healing, I am here for you.

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

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


















Photobucket
This post left me:

12 comments:

  1. I'm so glad you are willing to share your story and reach out to others. It is a blessing to others for sure.

    I smiled to see you posted the Happy Birthday video b/c it's one I've watched for years now.

    ReplyDelete
  2. This is such a beautiful story. I LOVE the meaning of Luke Shiloh's name. I am so thankful for our God of love and redemption. Thank you for sharing your story, and for affirming the value of Life!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Just proud of your bravery and your heart. Love you. xoxo

    ReplyDelete
  4. Wow. I'm in tears now. I don't think I've ever seen anybody open their heart as much as you have in this post. It really touched me and made me think, about a lot of things. Much love and many blessings to you.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hannah, I cried through the entire post. Wow. Thank you for writing this. It has helped me in ways you will never know. I am so glad to see what Jesus is doing in you and through you.

    ReplyDelete
  6. You wrote a beautiful post!!! I have had to watch my mother who will be 50 in November deal with the two abortions she was forced to have she had when she was 16 & 17, and I know the heartache it causes. I watched her relive that heartache as I suffered a miscarriage. I am happy to say that through my heartache she has been able to heal as I have healed and is no longer in so much pain over a decision that was not hers to make. I think your post will bring healing to many people and I think you are a very brave woman to post it!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Absolutely beautiful Hannah! You are so brave for sharing your story and I loved reading how our redemptive God has allowed you to grieve, heal, and then become an advocate for the silent voices! You are awesome!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hannah, what a beautiful post. Thank you so much for sharing about your journey in such a vulnerable way. It is so evident that you possess a deep mother's love for your babies. Thank you for sharing Luke Shiloh and Lily Katherine with us <3 Their names are beautiful and so are you.

    (sorry for deleting this comment the first time...my computer was all crazy and it posted before I was done!)

    ReplyDelete
  9. I love what you did for Luke Shiloh. I too had an abortion, but mine was when I was 17 years old. At first I thought it was the right choice and that I couldn't be a teen mom. After losing my son Liam in 2011, 12 years after the abortion, I look back and hate what I did. When Liam died I truly thought I was getting punished for what I did. I started going to church and went to confession about the abortion and even talked to people through project rachel. I know now that Liam's passing wasn't me getting punished but I really hate what I did and wish I could take it back. I have often wondered what that child would be like now, to think that I would have a 12 year old boy or girl right now. I haven't told a lot of people this and think its great that you are trying to get the word out. I wish I knew now what I didn't know then.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Oh Hannah.
    I love that you wrote this...
    As far as the east is from the west...He forgives and heals and redeems and restores.
    And Heaven changes everything.
    I love his name--
    Luke Shiloh.
    It's perfect.

    ReplyDelete
  11. What a touching story! Through your faith and willingness to share what God has done for you, lives will be saved from Satan's grip. I will soon send you Luke Shiloh's balloon picture. Thank you for sharing him with us. Praise be to God!

    Hugs & Love,
    Gale (don't forget we are going to meet and have lunch!)

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...