Thursday, May 31, 2012

Lily Katherine Is for...

L- is for how much your mother LOVES you.
I- is for how IMPORTANT you will always be to your mommy.
L- is for the difference your LIFE has made.
Y- is for how much your mom YEARNS to hold you.

K- is for how your memory is KEPT alive in your mommy's life.
A- is for the ARMS of Jesus who holds you close.
T- is for the precious TIME that your mom got to have with you.
H- is for HOW Jesus was with you and mommy since your beginning.
E- is for EACH life you have changed.
R- is for how you will always be REMEMBERED.
I- is for the INSPIRATION your life has been to many.
N- is for how your mommy will NEVER forget you precious Lily.
E- is for EVERY blessing you brought to her life.

Thank you so much for this, Amy! :-)


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Memorial Brick Paver

For Mother's Day, my mom got me a very special Mother's Day gift. It is the brick paver I've been wanting to get in honor of Lily for a long time, at the National Memorial for the Unborn. Back in January, I ordered my plaque for Luke Shiloh. Now I finally have ordered the brick too.

Here is what the brick paver will say:

Lily Katherine
March 16, 2010
Forever Pure

Her name, birthday and the perfect meaning of her name.

Last spring, my brother and I took a lovely trip to Tennessee to visit our friends Amanda and Jonathan (and kiddos) and the Lord worked out the details for us to make our first trip to NMU on Mother's Day! What a sweet gift it was. Now, I am hoping to take another trip sometime this year, so I can place both the plaque and brick myself. I'm thinking the fall time would be GORGEOUS, both the weather and the trees. Like October...what do you think, Amanda? ;-) I am really looking forward to having the memorial service for Luke and just a sacred time of honoring both my children. It means so much to me to have one place to remember them and honor them at the same time.

If you've had an abortion, I highly recommend looking into getting a plaque on the "Wall of Names" at the memorial. If you've had a miscarriage or stillborn baby, the garden with brick pavers in honor of these babies is such a special place to honor them! Go to the website for more information about the memorial and garden and see the amazing history behind it.

On another note, the funeral home that we used for Lily's burial supplies a temporary marker. My grandmother just called there this week and now they are going to get it made and placed soon! I am hoping it will be ready by this summer for when I go up to visit Virginia. I know it's not as nice (or big) as a real headstone, but I am thankful for at least something there with her name that says it's her spot and so people know where to bring flowers etc. It is actually quite nice. I will definitely post pictures when I finally get up there to see it. Any ideas on what I could take to her spot this summer?


Is Forever Enough?

Sweet Lily girl -
How long do you want to be loved?
Is forever enough?


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Wrightsville Beach, NC

I was recently at Wrightsville Beach for a couple days and wrote Lily's and Luke's names in the sand. :)


Monday, May 28, 2012

A Letter to My Future Child

Dear, sweet baby,

At times, I already feel like I can smell your sweet baby smell. I can almost feel you in my arms, deeply drinking in those first few moments. The first moments our faces meet. Will they be full of tears? Silence? How can I already love you this much? Someone that is only a dream...a hope. Not a promise. Or a given. Someone that will be my rainbow after the storm.

Do you know I already dream of names for you? And think of how special it would be to have rainbows be your nursery theme? :-)

What will it be like when I see that little stick show positive and it fill me with only happiness?

When I first hold you, what will it be like? Will I love you the same as I love Lily? Somehow I know in my heart I will. Somehow I know that first moment will be just as this whole journey has been and will continue to be. Sorrow mixed with joy. Celebration and melancholy. Sorrow because I never got to know your big sister in that way. Joy because I have you! I sometimes worry if I will have enough love to give. But I know that's just a silly thought.

How will I answer when others ask that dreaded question, "Is this your first?" Will I say yes, because I don't want to have to explain everything? Or will I say no, there was a little girl who came before. Would I be in a place where I am comfortable enough to say no? I cannot imagine that ever being so. Yet, I know, no matter what my answer is, Lily will be the first child of my heart. Always. Though I never got to look in her eyes. Though everything past day one that I experience with you will be my first. Not my first baby, but my first time experiencing everything past the womb and hospital.

You will be a part of Lily. She will always be your big sister. I want so much for her to be a part of your life. Our lives. Forever. What will March 16th be like when you come? What will I tell you about your sister? How will we incorporate her into daily happenings? Will I have to teach you how to love her?...or will you simply know?

Will there always be that empty place that only she was meant to fill? Will there be that hole in your heart, because you weren't meant to be the eldest? I picture future family photos and realize those portraits will never be complete. There will always be a special someone missing from them. A piece of my heart left with this special someone. Yet, she is still here. I carry her with me. Will you carry her with you?

For now I will go on loving the dream of you. Though I can't see your face, though I don't know your name, whether you're a boy or girl, or anything else about you. I know that you are loved already. I know that you will heal my heart in so many ways. I will go on hoping that you aren't just a dream. And one day, you will look into my eyes, as I gaze back into yours...something I never got to do with your sister. And so many parts of my heart will sob and sing at the same time. Do you know how much I long for that moment?

I know He already knows your name. He knows the plans He has for your life. He knows it all. I don't know how long until we meet. How long until I am given the most beautiful gift of having a child grow within once again...yet I know when that day comes, it will be worth all the waiting. And all the tears. It will be a true taste of Heaven on earth. It will be glorious. 

I love you, my healing baby. My future. My gift from the Lord. My beautiful rainbow.

Until we meet,


The meaning of a "rainbow baby": 

The understanding that the beauty of a rainbow does not negate the ravages of the storm. When a rainbow appears, it doesn’t mean the storm never happened or that the family is not still dealing with its aftermath. What it means is that something beautiful and full of light has appeared in the midst of the darkness and clouds. Storm clouds may still hover but the rainbow provides a counterbalance of color and hope.


Saturday, May 26, 2012

Walking a Mile with Sorrow

"I walked a mile with Pleasure
She chattered all the way;
But left me none the wiser
For all she had to say.

I walked a mile with Sorrow
And ne'er a word said she;
But oh, the things I learned from her
When Sorrow walked with me."
-Robert Browning Hamilton


Right Where I Am: Two Years, Two Months, Ten Days

I can hardly believe it's been over two years since I last held my daughter. In ways it seems like it just happened, yet it also seems like so much time has passed. Isn't it odd how so much of my life, all 8,317 days I've lived, is focused around, because of, and affected by 

March 16th, 2010.

One flicker in light of eternity. One soul out of billions. Yet, because of this one little life, everything about me and my future has been forever altered. Others, too, are changed. I won't understand how many have been affected by her life until the day I arrive home. And that's okay. All I need to know is that her life had meaning. It mattered. 

And I know it did.

Time keeps marching on. Each year bringing with it newness, growth, change. Each year another without her by my side. Each year, wondering what she'd be like if she were here.

I no longer mark the 16th of each month. Occasionally, I will realize it's the 16th, which will remind me what the 16th means to me. But, it's not always on the forefront of my mind.

I don't read babyloss blogs like I once did. I try to keep up with some. They were once a lifeline, now they are an occasional read.

Grief changes, just as the seasons. How strange it is that I am like a "veteran" in this world of babyloss. I can encourage others and tell them what they might expect in the coming months. I am coming to understand more and more that though the rawness isn't there like it once was, a continual still comes and can feel so fresh. Just not as often. I now know how to handle it. I know that it will pass. The grief, the love, has become etched into the very fabric of my being. It is so much a part of me that I cannot even remember life before Lily. I cannot remember not having a grieving mother's heart. My life is marked as either "before Lily" or "after Lily." The shock of losing her has worn off and it is now just a part of me.

"Her life had moved on, and she tried her best to live in the moment. But their baby remained in the shadows, a constant presence, there in Emma's mind the way the date or day of the week was there. She didn't go through the hours reminding herself constantly that this was Friday. It simply was Friday. And that fact stayed subtly with her, coloring the background of everything else about the day. It was like that with their baby." ~Karen Kingsbury in her book, Shades of Blue

Losing Lily and loving Lily colors every moment of my every day. Though I don't think of her nonstop, she is always there, in the back of my mind, in the midst of everything. My mom said just as her four living children are always in her thoughts, it is only natural for me as a mother to have my child in my thoughts. Just because she isn't here doesn't change that mother's love. Every day, there are so many reminders of her.

"Your absence has gone through me
Like thread through a needle.
Everything I do is stitched with its color."
~W.S. Merwin

I am determined to not allow feelings, emotions, and grief to rule me. I look to Jesus Christ for my comfort, joy, and security. My hope is in Him. My hope is in eternity. My future rests in His hands. I don't know if I will ever have another baby, a healthy baby, to raise on earth. What a gift that would be.

I don't feel like I fit in anywhere. Not with singles, not with those in their 20s, not even with babyloss parents. Because I am not in a place where I can try again. And I see everyone else go on to have their "rainbow babies." Will I get my rainbow one day?

How easy it is to start feeling self-pity. I won't give in to that. Though I don't know what's to come, I trust the Lord wants what's best. He has my life, my future, Lily's life and legacy all in the palm of His hand. And I trust that. I cling to that. No matter if I never hold another child on earth that's mine, I will still love and trust Him.

"However time or circumstance may come between a mother and her child, their lives are interwoven forever." ~Pam Brown

No amount of time could change my love or take away my grief. No separation, not even the grave, could change my mother's heart. I realize that this is a life-long journey, this grief, just as I will forever be a mother. I will never be "over it," but I have accepted it. I am thankful for her life, despite how it all ended. I am thankful for the gift of knowing her, carrying her, loving her. Thankful I get to call her mine. I am learning that it's okay even if others seem to forget my daughter. I know I will never forget and that's what's important.  I am learning how to incorporate her into my life, each day. What it means to honor and love her. What it means to mother my daughter of Heaven.

What joy, what joy for those whose hope is in the name of the Lord.
What peace, what peace for those whose confidence is Him alone.
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah.

Take some time to share about where you are over on Angie's blog.


Friday, May 25, 2012

The Little Reminders

So many little reminders that say she isn't here. They come almost daily, oftentimes taking my breath away. These moments, big and small, say there is something...someone missing...

Walking past the baby section at Target and remembering all the time spent shopping there for my baby. All the outfits that will never be worn by the little girl they were meant for.

How hard it is to say congratulations to someone when I find out they are pregnant or just had a baby. Sometimes I don't say anything right away. It takes courage to say it.

When mom sees all her friends having grandchildren and there's nothing in this world she wants more...

When she gets asked at church on Bereaved Mother's Day if she has any grandchildren and tears can't help but fill her eyes as she explains that yes, she does. But, no, she has none on earth. Of course she gets asked by a lady, about her age, with close to twenty of her own. 

Every time I read about, see, or hear another girl named Lily. And it makes me cringe. Maybe that sounds silly. But, it just feels like it's my girl's name. I feel like others don't realize what a truly beautiful name it is. Especially the meaning of it. I don't get to call to my daughter, "Lily..." I only get to use her name when talking about her. But, I promise I will never let her name die. It will forever remain on my lips.

Not only is it hard to hear of others named Lily, but it seems like I see lilies everywhere I go...whether in paintings, bouquets, names of shops and places, among many other things.

painting I saw at a restaurant in Colorado. The last time I ate 
there with a group of friends, I sat at a table with all different chairs, 
not noticing until the end that I sat on the chair with a lily on it.

a salon I saw in a shopping plaza about 15-20 minutes from my house

When the lady at Walgreen's says something that catches me off guard. I go in to pick up a prescription and she says, "this says you are pregnant. It doesn't look like you are. Are you pregnant or breastfeeding?" Kick in the stomach. No, I'm not pregnant. I haven't been for over two years. And no, I'm not breastfeeding. I never got to do that because my baby died. Of course this is what I only think in my mind. In reality, I simply respond, "No, I'm not. That was over two years ago." And with that, she says she'll update it and I'm on my way. She doesn't realize how much that affected my day.

Hearing the rain fall outside my window and realizing it's just another thing Lily will never get to experience.

Seeing photos of the son of one of my close friends from high-school. Out of all days to be born, he made his grand entrance into this world on March 16, 2010. He shares her birthday. And now I see picture updates that remind me how he is growing so fast. And I will never get to post a picture update. Not a single one. I won't get to show off how adorable my sweet girl is. Nobody will get to ooh and aah over her.

Seeing photos of babies that were in utero at the same time Lily was. Seeing photos of pregnant women. Seeing pregnant women out in public (I'm telling you, they're everywhere)! Ultrasound photos. Photos of any baby for that matter. Hearing babies cry.

Realizing that I will watch my cousin, Owen, grow up...and I will always remember Lily when I look at him. I will remember the age she'd be (just three months younger than him). What will it be like when he turns 10? 15? 20? What would she have been like at that age?

Feeling like I don't belong anywhere...what other single, 22-year-old knows the grief of losing a child? And those that are grieving the loss of their baby, are in the place where they can try again. I am not in that place. It hurts to see everyone that had a loss around the time I did (or after) now having a baby or pregnant with one. Or at least in the place where they are thinking about "trying again." And I don't know when and if that will ever happen for me. 

Getting balloons for a 2nd Heavenly birthday balloon release at the same time a family in front of me gets balloons for a 2nd earthly birthday party.

Thinking lots on what sort of headstone to get for my daughter.

Every song somehow makes me think of her.

Seeing a girl I once worked with walk out of Target with her little girl, born two weeks before my little girl. My head turns to watch how she walks away. Seeing what a little person that age is like. And realizing Lily will forever remain my baby. She will never be my toddler. Or little girl. Or young lady. My forever baby. I will never get to see her hair in pigtails...or how her curls would fall...

These are the little things that remind me of how different my life is from other's lives. How different I am from most 22-year-olds. How different I am from other mothers. How different my love is for my child. How can I possibly love someone so much I held in my arms for a day...

These are the little reminders, the everyday moments, that can be the hardest. The moments when nobody else realizes how difficult they are for me. The moments when I'm desperately aching for a child to hold, to raise on earth. The moments when I miss the little girl I had to let go of before I ever even got to know. These are the reminders that dangle what could have, should have, might have been in my face.

In these reminders, I am reminded that it only hurts so much because I love her so much. The pain reminds me that she was real and important. I wouldn't be hurting for her, unless she was real! Unless she existed! Oh thank You, Jesus, she was here...her footprint forever left in my heart. And because she was here, she will be forever. I would choose to hurt this much, if it meant I get to have had her. Still have her. Still, forever love her.

Her story is still being written. Though her life was only nine short months, never having breathed in this world. The Author of LIFE continues writing, each chapter being more beautiful than the one before. Lives are still being touched and changed. This is just the beginning of her legacy. There are plenty more pages to be written...


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Josie and Jubilee Shalom

Sweet little Josie Duggar was due on March 18th, 2010...just four days after my Lily's due date. Two days after Lily's birthday. When I heard Michelle and Jim Bob were expecting at the same time I was, I felt a special connection to their family. I had always liked the Duggar family and loved how they are so open about their love for the Lord on their show. But, when I discovered that their sweet girl was literally just days younger than my girl, it made me like them even more. From then on, I knew that I would watch the show and see Josie, who would always remind me of Lily.

Well, those of you that know the Duggars, know that they fought long and hard to keep little Josie alive. Weighing in at a mere one pound, 6 ounces, Josie arrived at 25 weeks gestation, on December 10th, 2009. My precious cousin (Daniel's son, Owen) was born a day after that, on December 11th. So, that gave me another special connection with them. I was heartbroken to learn of her premature birth and that she wasn't doing well for a long time. I was always cheering this sweet girl on! I just don't understand that Lily made it PAST her due date and didn't make it. Yet, this precious preemie girl did. I am so thankful she did.

I don't watch The Duggars often, but when I do, it always takes my breath away to see how much Josie has grown. And I always think...that might be how Lily would look now, how she might be acting now.

This past fall, 2011, something tragic happened in the Duggar family that gave us something else in common, something I wish wasn't so. Michelle and Jim Bob were at a routine 19 week ultrasound and were thrilled to find out if the baby was a boy or girl. They waited and waited to hear that sweet, familiar flicker, but no heartbeat was found at that appointment. They discovered that their precious twentieth child had already gone home to be with the Lord, at around 18 weeks gestation. They were devastated and so was their whole family. Their sweet baby, due April 2012, would not be coming home with them.

I don't get cable television, but knew I wanted to watch the season finale of the Duggars, because it dealt with her miscarriage. So, for all those of you who want to watch the episode, but don't have cable or satellite, you can do so by purchasing the episode for $1.99 on amazon. You can make it full screen on the computer. We have a cord that allows us to connect it to the tv, which is pretty neat.

Anyways, when I looked up the episode, I saw that the original air date was March 27th. The anniversary of the day I buried my daughter. Another thing in common.

I really respected and liked how they handled the miscarriage, especially with being in the public eye. They got a lot of nasty comments, but they didn't allow that to change how they honored Jubilee's life. With such a big family, it was so beautiful and precious to see how much they all grieved the loss. How much they already loved this life. How much she, Jubilee Shalom, will always be a part of this family. A part that nobody else can replace. Just as nobody could ever replace Lily or take away the beauty and importance of her life. I think with abortion being an accepted part of this culture, people are less affected and saddened when someone miscarries or has a pregnancy loss. People aren't seeing the value and beauty of each individual LIFE. But, it is wonderful to see the Duggars standing up and being a voice for those that have lost babies. They are showing that it is a devastating loss that brings much sorrow. They are showing it is healthy and normal to grieve that loss. Yet our hope is in eternity...Our hope is in Jesus.

They got a lot of scrutiny for sharing Jubilee's photos. This really makes me upset. I too have gotten nasty comments about sharing Lily's photos. Yet, I won't let that stop me from sharing. Those are the only photos I will ever have of my child. Those are the only memories I will ever have of her/with her. And I am proud of my beautiful daughter and want to show her off, just as any mother wants to show her child off. All babyloss moms can understand this. The Duggars had pictures done by Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, a nonprofit organization that offers free professional portraiture photography to those experiencing pregnancy and infant loss. It is a gift of remembrance. A gift to honor that child's legacy. I so wish my hospital had told me about this service. But, I am so thankful the Duggars got it. I am thankful they are breaking the silence about a topic that so many are uncomfortable with. You can read a post I wrote about this topic by clicking here.

The episode shows Michelle and Jim Bob at the appointment, when they first find out about the loss. It also shows Jubilee's service and burial. They played part of the song, "I Will Carry You" by Selah on the show. They played it at her service, which is also the song I played at Lily's services. I won't give away any more, so those of you that want to watch it can. It was beautiful.

This is the recording of the letter Michelle wrote to Jubilee Shalom, which was read at her service. It is precious. I also wrote a letter to Lily and read it at her Celebration of LIFE Service. You can also read what was written about their loss on the Duggar's blog.


Monday, May 21, 2012

butterflies and new life

My best friend, Kala, surprised me with a beautiful package a couple weeks ago, for Bereaved Mother's Day. I opened it to find a necklace that I will now cherish always. The necklace just looks like it was made for me. This is what Kala wrote:

Dearest Hannah,

I saw this necklace and immediately thought to get it for you. Don't forget to open the locket. I have anointed it's inside with the Lily of the Valley oil. I wish I would have had it for her birthday, but friends never really need a special occasion to give a gift from the heart. The necklace was perfect even down to the butterfly charm dangling close to your heart, that would tell of new life each time it catches your eye. In this case, a special and sacred new life, the kind that never ends and rests always in the hope of life, of love.

Thank you so much for this, dear Kala! How thoughtful and sweet to anoint the inside with Lily of the Valley oil. I carry the fragrance of her life with me always. My world is colored with her life. I have my necklace with Lily's footprints on it, but am so thankful to now have something that honors both my babies. I plan on wearing this beautiful piece on each special day...Mother's Day. Christmas.

I carry my sweet babes with me each day, but they are especially on my heart on those days.

Kala wrote Lily and Luke inside of the locket. Along with their names, I wear the beautiful butterfly around my neck...symbolizing that I am born again in Christ. He makes all things new. He makes all things beautiful, in His time.

"He has made everything beautiful in its time..." ~Ecclesiastes 3:11

My old man is dead, and my new man is alive in Christ. Lily and Luke were a part of that transformation. When Jesus brought beauty from ashes and light from the midst of my darkness...just as a caterpillar turns into a beautiful butterfly. He redeemed me and made me a new creation, by His blood.

Butterflies now hold special significance in my life, just as lilies do. They also remind me that my babies have LIFE in Jesus and will be eternally safe in His loving arms. From my loving womb to His loving arms. Their bodies are whole and complete. They are new creations. Perfect. Always.

The following is a quote from the Duggars, written about their daughter, Jubilee Shalom, who was born into Heaven in the fall of 2011. It brings me peace when I think of my own sweet babies, born into Heaven.

"She is the quiet, gentle, and peaceful picture of new life leaving the cocoon, taking flight to Heaven."

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new!" ~2 Corinthians 5:17


Saturday, May 19, 2012

Auntie Em

Today, May 19, is my sister Emmaline's 18th birthday! 

A picture I took of Bub last spring, for her junior year of high-school

I am thanking the Lord for you! I am thankful He saw fit to make us sisters. It is a blessing and joy to be witness to how Jesus is working in your life. I am expecting that as the coming year unfolds, it will be the best yet, because you now walk hand in hand with Him! :-)

Emmaline went to Ellerslie Leadership Training from February through April of this year. While she was there, Jesus captured her heart. She surrendered all to Him. And it got me thinking...

The only reason she went to Ellerslie is because I did first. The only reason I went to Ellerslie is because of Lily. Because of how God worked in my life through my little girl. Now my brother, Joseph, is also hoping to go to Ellerslie one day soon. 

Look how God is still using Lily Katherine's precious LIFE. This truly is just the beginning of the ripple effects of her beautiful legacy. 

I thought her story was already written. I thought it was over. Yet, each day, I see more and more that her story of LIFE is still being written, by the very Author of LIFE. Each day, He gives me another glimpse of the beautiful tapestry He is weaving. 

I see a little more clearly, each time He reveals something new. And one glorious day, I will see the whole thing.

When I was pregnant with Lily, we called my sister Auntie Em. Oh, she was so excited to be an aunt to a sweet little baby girl. She was devastated when we lost her. Even though Lily's not here, she will always be Auntie Em. She will always first be the aunt of Lily. I hope one day she will have more nieces and nephews to love on, rather than a little girl she held briefly in her arms and now forever in her heart.

Happy Birthday, Auntie Em! I am thankful Lily has such an amazing aunt that loves her so much!

Auntie Em and sweet Lily girl on March 16, 2010
Emmaline and I at her Ellerslie graduation on April 15, 2012


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Lilies because of my Lily (Mother's Day)

When I got home last Thursday night, there was a package waiting for me. My mom had actually called me while I was out and told me something very special had arrived, but I waited until I got home to see what the surprise was.

I opened the package to find the most beautiful white lilies inside. Anything to do with lilies makes my heart melt, especially when others think to send me something to honor my daughter. This definitely caught me off guard. I had a couple guesses as to who the flowers could be from. But, when I looked at the little card, I was surprised yet again. I read this:

Thinking of you and your little ones, and marveling at the beautiful testimony that the Lord is continuing to weave through each of your lives, this Mother's Day. " give them beauty for ashes, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness...that He might be glorified." -Isaiah 61:3 ~Much love in Jesus, Your Ellerslie Sister, Kate

My heart just smiled. :-) To know someone was thinking of and remembering me and my babies during Mother's Day week. I have found that the people I'd most expect to remember don't and those that I least expect to, do. The lilies sat on the kitchen counter for days where they were enjoyed by my entire family. Then, I brought them up to my room and there they still sit. It is amazing how long they have stayed beautiful! As I write this, they are looking lovely over on my dresser. A couple of them are still pure white. :-)

The next day, I got a letter in the mail from Kate. It is one of the most precious letters I've ever received. She shared with me how she had been her mom's "rainbow baby" and how she's always felt a connection with those that have lost children. She has been following the blog of one of my favorite blogger friends for two years! She realized when she got home and looked up my blog that she had already read my story before going to Ellerslie! Isn't it just incredible how the Lord works and connects hearts?

Kate, thank you so much for being so thoughtful and kind. I look forward to getting to know you more over the coming years. I wish we had more time to get to know each other while at Ellerslie. But, it's all in His perfect timing. These lilies say more to me than you could know...they say I am a mother. 

Lilies because of my Lily. 

White lilies, symbolizing my pure Lily Katherine.

Lilies that gently remind me of the faithfulness and love of my Jesus. They truly are a gift from Him. He has shown me that I have been looking to human acknowledgement for my joy. But it doesn't matter if nobody in the world recognizes me as a mother today or any day. For He does.

And even though I have barely anything tangible to show for my motherhood, I have a heart that's been changed. My entire life and future has been changed. Others hearts are being changed and brought to The Light.

And though my sweet girl isn't blooming here, my love for her only continues to bloom on earth and one day, we will be reunited for all eternity. 

For now, I cling to the hope I have. For now, it is enough to know she is more alive than I could ever be here. Than she could have ever been here. A little girl that never took a breath on earth is more alive than you and I...

I will leave you with a dream that Kate shared with me that she had a few weeks ago. I pray that this dream will comfort other mothers whose precious children live with Jesus. Thank You, Lord, for this dream. When Lily was born, right away I knew she looked just like me. Everyone else said so too. And somehow in my mother heart, I know she had blue eyes. Maybe this dream will one day truly happen when we get to Heaven.

Lord, thank You for giving me a glimpse of my blue-eyed daughter of Heaven...

"I have thought of you often since being home, and have continued to check up on your blog pretty frequently, but was still surprised when I had a dream about you a few weeks ago.

It was short, and was one of those dreams that truly feel like a dream because it was so peaceful and beautiful. You and I were just sitting in chairs next to each other in a living room somewhere. And Lily was there. I don't remember you or I saying a word to each other, we just smiled and laughed and watched Lily. She wasn't a baby, she actually looked like the just barely two year old that she should be. All I remember is that she had really sweet wispy blond hair, and gorgeous blue eyes. And I knew she was Lily; she truly did look just like a little mini you. It seemed so completely natural that she was there with you, as she would run playfully around the room, and then straight back to you again. She was absolutely beautiful, Hannah Rose, and she definitely knew that you were her momma. That was pretty much all, except that right before I woke up, she looked up at me and smiled, and from that moment I knew that I was supposed to remember this dream and share it with you. 

It made something I had remembered reading on your blog very real - that while she only got to be a little Lily-bud here, she is most definitely blooming with life in Jesus. That even when little hearts seem to stop on Earth, they never miss a beat in the Heavenly realm. What I feel most strongly when I think of it is that - Lily is alive. Vibrantly alive. And that you are mother to an adorable, blond-haired, blue-eyed, Lily, and little Luke too, and you always will be. Even though you're missing them now, eternity awaits."

I like to think that when Lily smiled up at Kate in the dream, she was smiling down on us from Heaven. A smile that says, just wait until you get Home. You could never imagine how beautiful it is...

"A tiny flower, lent not given, to bud on earth and bloom in Heaven..."


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Motherhood and Tears

The only motherhood I've ever known is mothering a grave. A legacy. It makes me as a mom feel quite out of place, especially on Mother's Day.

I hold my daughter in my heart, rather than my arms.

I have no other living children on Earth with me to help ease the pain. The ache.

My "parenting decisions" are things like what sort of headstone will I pick out for Lily? Do I want it flat or upright? What do I want it to say? What words do I want permanently etched in stone?

What special things should I take to the cemetery where she's buried when I go up to visit this summer?

I have containers of clothes for a little girl that will never wear them. Clothes that go up to about age 2 because mom and I loved shopping for her. Now she'd be outgrowing those clothes. But, there is no need to purchase more. Her "coming home from the hospital outfit" actually turned out to be her "going home to Jesus outfit." Her true home. Her forever home.

I must imagine what my own child might be like. How she might look. Who she might have become in these past 26 months.

What is it even like to look at your child in their eyes? Blue eyes. That's what I truly believe she had. Blue eyes like her mama. She looked just like a mini-me. Can't you tell by this picture? It's one of my favorites.

Oh, she was beautiful.

My daily reality consists of grief. Consists of loving a precious princess that I never got to know past 40 weeks 2 days. Those were the most glorious months of my life. Because they were spent with her.

Instead of thinking what can I do for my daughter, I think of how I can honor her memory. I think of how I can be a mom to her, without her here....I want to make this blog a special tribute to her life and all God has done. I want to share her story with as many people as possible.

Instead of knowing the different stages of babyhood and toddlerhood, I know the different stages of grief. I have to ask my mom how Lily might act now, at the age she'd be.

So often it feels like just a cycle of joy and sorrow. Shedding tears of thankfulness and then tears of sadness. How many tears can be cried for one life? I feel so often like I am simply repeating myself on this blog. On this journey of grief.

How many different ways can I say, I miss her. I miss who she would have become. I miss who she might've been in the future. How many different ways can I say, this is hard. How many different ways can I say, I am thankful still. And the Lord is good, always.

"You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in Your bottle. You have recorded each one in Your book." ~Psalm 56:8

My God sees me. All of me. My tears, my dreams, my grief, my everything. And those tears are precious to Him. So precious that every tear I cry is collected and held in an account! He knows how much I ache to hold my little girl and does not tell me to "get over it" or "move on." He picks me up in His strong, loving arms and tells me I can cry in His shoulder. I can rest in Him. He tells me to pour out my heart, my sorrows, to Him. To share my life.

My pain, and your pain, touch His heart.

Listen to His call today. He is beckoning each of us away, to the secret place, to rest in His sweet embrace. Let the tears flow. No matter what your hurt is...Give it all to Him for He is worthy. He holds each of your tears in a bottle. Not a single one goes unnoticed.

Matthew Henry, a theologian living in the late 1600s and early 1700s, wrote, "God has a bottle and a book for His people's tears, both those for their sins and those for their afflictions. He observes them with compassion and tender concern; He is afflicted in their afflictions, and knows their souls in adversity. Paul was mindful of Timothy's tears (2 Timothy 1:4), and God will not forget the sorrows of His people. God will comfort His people according to the time wherein He has afflicted them, and give to those to reap in joy who sowed in tears. What was sown a tear will come up a pearl."

He is with us always, to the ends of the Earth. Go to Him, He's all you need. 


Sunday, May 13, 2012

I am a Mother

The days leading up to this day set-apart to honor mothers have been tough. My own mother heart is missing the very one who made me a mother.

But, that's the thing. Not many recognize me as a mother on this day. Not many remember me on this day. Not many remember Lily on this day. Not many realize what a hard day it is for me. A day of sorrow, joy, longing, aching...

I am a mother, yes. Yet, I mother a grave. I mother a legacy. How does one learn to do this well? How does one navigate this world of loss and learning to honor and remember on these days that are supposed to be only full of happiness?

I had have a precious daughter. And she is vibrantly alive, dancing with Jesus. I birthed her into this world. I have the most adorable hand and footprints and lock of hair that prove that she was here. I have a birth certificate that says she was 21 inches long and 7 pounds, 9 ounces. She had weight in this world. And she will have weight in my life forever, as I carry her memory and legacy with me.

I have beautiful white lilies sitting on my dresser, sent to me as a surprise from a dear Ellerslie sister. Lilies that would not be there if it weren't for my own Lily. Lilies that say I am a mother.

This is already my third Mother's Day. Third. Without her. Time keeps marching on. Funny thing, isn't it? For the first two, I was out of town. That seemed to distract me some from the pain. This time though, I am home. In the time since the last Mother's Day, I forgot just how much it hurts. I am bombarded with happy ads and cards galore.

...My own little girl will never give me a card on Mother's Day with messy writing scrawled across the page, I love you, Mommy. I will never hear her call me mama, mommy, mom, mother. I will never whisper in her ear, I love you, too, sweet Lily girl.

Who knows if I'll ever be recognized as a mother on this day, in the "traditional" fashion. I don't know what God's plan for my life is. It hurts not knowing when and if I'll get to raise a child on earth, rather than just loving one in Heaven.

Maybe one day I will have another child, or maybe more...and they will probably get me a card and some flowers. And it will bring me such joy and contentment. Yet, their will always be that missing piece. That missing little girl that was mine. Is mine. And will forever be mine. The little girl that made me a mother.

Despite all these questions and hurts, I have inexplicable peace. Peace that passes all understanding. Peace that only my Jesus gives. Thank You, my King. Thank You for holding me in Your hands and being my Great Comforter. Thank You for loving my girl. Thank You that she's Your girl. Thank You for giving Your life so that she and I may live forever with You. Thank You for showing me that my love, my mother love, is small in comparison to how You love her. Thank You for Lily. Thank You for changing my life with hers. Thank You for the most precious gift I could ever receive, in her.

Lily girl, I celebrate you today.

To you, dear reader...

"Happy Mother's Day to all mother's, traditional and non-traditional, of children present and accounted for, lost and grieved over, of children born and not-yet born; your daily choice to be a mother makes you more of a mother every day, whether it feels like you thought it would or not." ~quote from a blog my friend, Bex, showed me

Whether you have a child or mother here on earth or in Heaven. Whether you made the selfless choice to place your child for adoption. Whatever your circumstances. Whatever your hurt, I pray that your day would be filled with the peace and beauty of Jesus! 

Last Sunday was International Bereaved Mother's Day. And I want to make note that just because I "celebrated" that day does not make me any less a mother on Mother's Day. I truly appreciate my friends that have also lost children giving support last week, which is why I acknowledge the day. Because I know other people "get" what a difficult time this is and acknowledge me as a mom when so many others don't. However, as my friend Morgan said of her son, I want to be celebrated as a mother with a daughter, not a mother with a dead daughter. I am still just as much a mother as anyone else with their living child. Just to be clear. My amazing friend Bex said something today that I really love. She said, "You chose to be a mommy to chose to love her. That is what a mother does." Just because Lily is not here today doesn't make her any less real and doesn't make me as her mommy any less real. May we not forget why Mother's Day was started in the first place. It was founded by a woman named Anna Jarvis to honor her mother who experienced the death of seven of her children. These days, card companies make money, while bereaved mothers are completely forgotten.

If you know someone who has lost a child, at any age, recognize that they are still a mother and always will be. Click here to visit a website to see what grieving moms want for Mother's Day. As a grieving mother myself, I can tell you first and foremost, it brings me such joy just to hear Lily's name. Just for someone to say, "I know it's a hard day for you. I know you're missing your daughter, but you are on my heart. Happy Mother's Day."

"The mention of my child's name may bring tears to my eyes, but it never fails to bring music to my ears." ~Author Unknown

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