Saturday, June 30, 2012

Every Life Matters Video Contest

About a week and a half ago, I got an email from Protect Our Girls (part of the Live Action Pro-Life ministry) with information about their new video contest called Every Life Matters.

Here are the contest details:

Your video must be under 5 minutes long. Tell the inspirational story of someone who was spared being aborted. Share this person's life story, and explain how he or she has positively impacted your life and/or the lives of others. Your video should testify to the reasons why every human life is precious, important, and deserves protection.

This video can be about a person you know personally or someone you don't. But it should be an inspiring story about life and how one life can impact the world.

Every video MUST include the following text (possibly at the end of your video):
  • We lose over 3,000 children every day in America because of abortion.
  • Some are killed because they are girls, some because they are disables, some because they're the wrong race. Discrimination kills.
  • Every life is precious and deserves to be protected. We need to end abortion now.

Right away, I knew I had to enter and tell Lily's story. The contest seemed just perfect for me. I was quite intimidated by having myself filmed for the world to see. I am not always ready and eager to be in the "spotlight," but I know that God has asked me to share my testimony and I must do that, no matter how awkward or uncomfortable it may be.

Not only did I not want to make the video because it felt awkward, but literally so many hurdles got in the way. This week out of all weeks, my skin on my face has been having issues. It got really swollen and I was thinking, I am definitely not going on camera like this! Well, the swelling went down some, but not completely and I knew I had to still make it. I also had issues converting files and figuring out all the technology aspects to making the video. It is apparent that the enemy doesn't want me sharing my story, but God does and God always wins! :)

My mom, brother, and I spent the morning viewing all the video submissions. Lots of tears, smiles, and my heart being moved even more to action! It's been so neat to see the different styles of videos people are submitting. There are so many different stories of LIFE. Click here to see all the other amazing videos that share precious stories of LIFE!

A special thanks to my sister for helping me create this video and to my mom for her ideas. We are certainly no pros, but we did our best. I am so thankful for the opportunity to share Lily's beautiful LIFE and legacy!

Here is my video below. Tell me what you think! :) 

This story of Lily's LIFE and legacy proclaims how JUST ONE LIFE can make a forever impact on this world. It's a testimony to the beauty and purpose of each individual life, created in God's image. Your ONE LIFE will make a difference!


Thursday, June 28, 2012

Babyloss Shadow Box

I have been wanting to make a shadow box with Lily's things for a long time, but didn't know how to go about it. I didn't know where I could get an affordable one and I didn't exactly know what I had in mind.

I was at T.J. Maxx shopping a couple weeks ago and looking in the clearance section. It was there I found a beautiful shadow box for 50% off-only $20! Right away, I knew it was perfect for my room and for Lily's things.

I wasn't sure what I wanted to add in my shadow box, but knew I wanted at least some specific things in it. I don't like having Lily's hand and footprints in her memory chest all the time. I like to be able to see them every day, rather than going through her chest just to look at them.

My room isn't very big, so the shadow box is quite small. I didn't want it to be too cluttered, so decided on having just a few things in it. I decided on including Lily's hand and footprints, her foot impression, and the hat she wore at the hospital right after birth. These are some of the most tangible memories I have of Lily and it's really special to have them displayed to see daily and to share with others. I also added a beautiful butterfly card that my best friend, Kala, gave me last year for Babylost Mother's Day. Butterflies are very symbolic to me and I wanted to cover up that dreadful leaf with a teardrop on it.

my Lily Shadow Box

There are lots of ways to do a shadow box in memory of your baby.

Here are some ideas for you:

1. Decide how big and what shape you want your shadow box to be. Where do you want it to be displayed and what are you planning on putting in it-this should help you make your decision. Do some shopping in local stores or online, or if you or your husband is a handyman, consider making one. This could be a real labor of love to make something special for your baby. Do you want it painted a certain color or solid wood?

2. Next, decide what you want the background of your box to be. I found beautiful butterfly wrapping paper at World Market, which I then cut out to fit in my shadow box. There was quite a bit left over to use for scrapbook pages and other things. What reminds you of your baby? Do you want a solid color or something on it?

3. What items do you want placed in it? Will it be displayed somewhere private or in a room where friends and family will see it-this might help you decide what to put. What things of your baby do you want to always be able to see? Do you want it to look neat or do you want more things in it?

Some ideas for items to include are:

  • baby's footprints and handprints
  • hospital bracelets, hat, outfit, blanket, shoes
  • foot molds or impressions
  • lock of baby's hair
  • your baby's name or first letter of name
  • decorations such as flowers
  • special things from your pregnancy
  • dried flowers from memorial service
  • photos of your baby (ultrasound photos and/or photos of his/her face and you holding him/her)
  • a Willow Tree
  • your baby's Birth Certificate
  • a poem or a letter written to your baby
  • other sacred keepsakes that remind you of your baby

These are merely suggestions for how to go about making a shadow box in honor and memory of your baby. I hope it at least helps give you some inspiration to get started. Really whatever you want to add will be perfect and beautiful. I'd love to have you share photos of your shadow box or ideas you have for making one! :)

Much love and hugs,

Monday, June 25, 2012

Remembered at Topsail Island

My friends Morgan and Mike wrote Lily's and Luke's names in the sand at Topsail Island, North Carolina on Father's Day!


Butterflies and New LIFE

Butterflies are very meaningful and special to me. Not only do lilies (obviously) remind me of my little girl, but butterflies remind me so much of both my babies. I love anything and everything to do with roses, lilies, and butterflies. :)

Butterflies symbolize 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. 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.

Lily's sand butterfly from Carly Marie

Luke's Sand Butterfly from Carly Marie

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

Carly Marie created this gorgeous new "faery butterfly" (photo below) on Christian's Beach in Australia. When I saw it, my heart smiled. How perfect for me and my sweet Lily and Luke...butterflies, a lily and roses all three, together forever. I wrote Carly, telling her why it was extra special to me and asked when it would be available to purchase and she sent me one for free! Thank you so much for being so sweet and thoughtful, Carly! :) I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who adored her GORGEOUS work...I just can't get enough of it! I am so thankful and appreciative of all that she does for the babyloss community. 

How do you like my new blog header? I LOOOVE it. Every now and again I get a little bored with my layout and need to freshen things up a bit. It couldn't be more beautiful or more perfect!


Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sky Lantern Release for Babies in Heaven

Hello readers :)

I just wanted to let my babyloss friends know that Jenn from Treasuring Life's Blessings is doing a special sky lantern release on July 13, in honor of her son, Noah's, 2nd Heavenly Birthday celebration. She wants to include as many babies as possible on the lanterns.

What Jenn says on her blog:

"The lanterns I got are 36" tall so there is plenty of room to include MANY names. If you'd like to help us celebrate, you may either leave a comment here with your baby's name or you can email me. Before we release the lanterns, I will take pictures of all the names and post them here so you can see your precious baby's name as I know how much it means to see their name in writing. Please feel free to pass this along to other baby loss families in your circles/blogs as well. It would bless & encourage me to include as many babies names as possible."

Jenn, what a sweet way to remember your boy. Thank you for including Lily and Luke in this. Click here to request your baby's name to be included. And be sure to add it to your blog as well.

Blessings and much love.


Friday, June 22, 2012

Marching for Babies

On April 28, I marched for babies in the annual March of Dimes walk in Raleigh, NC. The team I was a part of was called Marcellus's Marchers, created by my friends Morgan and Mike, in honor of their sweet son Marcellus Robert. In the fall of 2011, Marcellus lived for twelve days in the NICU, before he unexpectedly lost his battle to NEC. His name means "young warrior," which describes him perfectly. It also describes his mommy and daddy.

There were about twenty people marching for our team, along with thousands of others from other teams (including teams of our friends from our support group). Marcellus's Marchers got second place for most money raised by a family team. It was a bit of a chilly day, but we quickly warmed up with the walk. I forgot to wear my Lily necklace, which made me a little sad, but that's okay.

with Morgan and Mike after the walk

The shirts were so awesome that our team won the award for best family team t-shirt design! Great job designing them, Mike! There were butterflies on the front for each baby the team was walking for, along with the baby's names on the back of the shirts.

the back of my shirt/the team shirts. See Luke and Lily's names on there? :)

Before the walk, we decorated little onesies for our babies.

After the walk, all the team signed one of the onesies.

Before the walk started, they had someone share their story of their preemie baby. They also had a moment of silence for the babies in Heaven. I wasn't expecting to get so emotional, but I did. It just broke my heart to see all those healthy babies there and wonder why mine couldn't be. It just made me wonder how a baby born at less than 24 weeks gestation is now healthy and happy, but my healthy fullterm baby isn't here. I just wish all babies could be here with their families.

Our team (and other teams) marching in the walk.

I love this shot of so many people walking for sweet babies, both those on earth and in Heaven. It was nice to be able to tell people about Lily and hear about their babies as well.

Marcellus's Marcher's team picture.

After the walk, we went with Morgan and Mike to Marcellus's special tree at a local park. We had lunch there (from Lily's Pizza, so it felt like she was a special part of the day). Overall, it was a very sweet day and I am honored that I was a part of it. :)


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Seasons of the Heart

Most days, these days, I feel alright. The joy far outweighs the sadness. But there are days, like today, that my heart aches a little more than usual.

When losing Lily was fresh, I would feel that twinge of extra sadness each afternoon around 4:24, the time of her birth and on Tuesdays, the day of her birth. As time went on, the sadness would show up extra on the 16th of each month, the date she was born. After some time, it changed and the moments added up one on top of the other until I didn't even realize what was happening and how my grief was changing. I then started only feeling extra sad on anniversary dates (due dates, burial date, etc) and holidays (my birthday, Christmas, Thanksgiving, her birthday). Add in a couple extra sad days into the mix and I'd say I've been doing pretty good.

That's why I felt my soul sort of breathe a great big sigh of relief as we entered June. Sigh. All the "big dates" are behind me for the year. Late winter/early spring seem to be when the hardest times come back to back. Like February because of Luke, Lily's birthday and the days leading up to it, as well as the days after it with the anniversary of her service of LIFE and burial. Then Easter and Mother's Day and now here we are. June. And I felt this weight lifted off of me. I don't have any really tough days until my birthday in August, Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day in October and of course the time of being thankful and celebrating Jesus' birth.

But, this week, I have been having a hard time. I started wondering why this is? As if I need a reason to miss my girl. The simple truth is...every single day without her by my side, I miss her in a way words cannot describe. The Lord graciously gives me what I need to endure each moment without her.

Waves is a befitting description of grief. A giant wave just crashed upon the shore of my heart. Most days the waves are small, but they are always there. I have just learned how to keep my balance as they crash around me. Sometimes the sea of grief can seem peaceful and calm...other days, the intensity of the raging water feels like they will knock me over. Take my breath away.

I have noticed that the season of my grief often coincides with the actual seasons. Every season, in some way, reminds me of my girl and makes me miss her in a different way. Right now, we are embarking upon summer...the time of year when Lily's life within me first began. I am reminded of all the memories and emotions associated with that. Autumn reminds me of my pregnancy, pumpkin-spiced lattes, chilly front-porch mornings, and wearing my orange shirt that made me look like a pumpkin ;-) (see photo below). There are so many sounds, sights, and aromas that can evoke an emotion in me. A feeling of missing Lily. So many things remind me of her, all year round.

A cell-phone photo, so bad quality. Oh how I wish I
had many more, high-quality photos from my pregnancy

Before I know it, my birthday will be here. My 23rd...the third one without my girl. I was 19 when I got pregnant with her. That was three years ago, in the summer. As we are in summer now (officially tomorrow) I am just feeling so far away from her. Like I am moving farther and farther from those months and years where she lived. 2009 and 2010. I am getting older, the days, weeks, months, and years are passing by, with no regard for who it leaves behind. I just want to stay put for a moment. I must look at it not as moving farther away from her, but moving closer to her, where we will be together for all Eternity.

There are so many seasons to grief and seasons of love. In this season I am, I am feeling like the whole world is moving on except for me. I feel like I am standing still, frozen in time, while the rest of the world moves at a fast-paced-blur around me. Going on to get married, have babies, get everything I long to do. My own life at times feels like a blur. How am I already an Ellerslie graduate? There are so many things I wish weren't over yet, so many things I wish to relive, even if for a moment.

Oh, my sweet Lily, who was within me three summers ago...I miss you this season and every season.

"Cast your burden upon the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken." ~Psalm 55:22

beautiful lilies blooming in our garden :-)

My little one, my dear one, my love,
you will be with me forever:
in the thin sunlight and long shadows
of a clear winter's day;
in the dawn excitement of birds
sounding in early spring;
in the rustle of heavy-leafed trees
in a mid-summer's night;
in the rich aromas and bright colors
of a warm autumn day.
All that is excellent,
brushed by Life's
brightness and shadow,
will remind me of you,
My little one, my dear one, my love.
You will beat with my heart,
see through my eyes,
hear with my ears,
feel on my skin.
Because your soul is mingled with my soul, forever,
My little one, my dear one, my love.

~Edward Searl

All of my life, in every season, You are still God, I have a reason to sing. 
I have a reason to worship. I will rejoice, I will declare, God is my 
Victory and He is here. You are here, my Lord.


Monday, June 18, 2012

Amanda and Emily

June 18th is a very special day. It is Emily's (or "Emiwey" as she calls herself) birthday. She turns 3 this year. Emily and her mama, Amanda, hold a special place in my heart. Amanda and I met at Bryan College in 2007, where we both attended for our freshman year. After that year, we both left that school and ended up walking our own paths, apart from Jesus. We both ended up in unplanned pregnancies at the age of 19. We both chose LIFE. We both had baby girls. And the Lord used the lives of our sweet girls to change ours forever. The only difference is Amanda's daughter is here on earth and my daughter is in Heaven.

This is Amanda's amazing, beautiful, God-scripted story. It brings tears to my eyes each time I read it and each time I look into the face of Emily, a sweet gift from above.

"Nothing is a waste. A life is never a mistake.

In May of 2008, I made the decision to stop attending Bryan College. Can't say I haven't struggled with some regret of this decision. But, the story goes on. And gets better. My time at Bryan forced me to examine my own beliefs, their authenticity, and who I really was or was pretending to be. I left it all--denied it all. No longer would I consider myself a Christian, and no longer would I place my trust or faith in a God that all of these Bryan people pretended to believe in. Needless to say, my attitude was bitter.

In the fall of 2008, I was waiting tables at Texas Roadhouse and going to school at Pellissippi State. I was living alone in Oak Ridge in a cluster of buildings that could be classified as "the projects". Well, not entirely alone. I had my dog, Molly, who was my company, friend, and a fur coat to cry on. Was this what I had chosen for myself? Leaving the comfy new dorm at Bryan surrounded by a sweet roommate that loved me dearly for the projects? I left all that for being scared to come home at midnight after closing the restaurant for fear of who would be lurking about my building?

In November, I realized I felt funny. I thought it was just a stomach flu I couldn't shake and the 5 pounds I had lost were due to my limited supply of food. Wrong. In an impulse decision, I made the trip to Walmart, purchased a pregnancy test, and took it. It only took about 5 seconds to show a "positive" result and it only took my hands another 5 seconds to find my stomach and begin loving the child within. Scared is an understatement here--as it is with most single mothers and "unplanned" pregnancies. I called my mom. Thank goodness for a mom who had walked in similar shoes, understood my fears, and loved me despite my situation.

I took 5 more tests. They were all positive. I began seeing a doctor in Oak Ridge. My best friend, Connie went with me to the first appointment. There in that dark tiny room, the ultra sound technician showed us the baby's heart beating. A white and black fluttering on the screen. And then...she turned the volume on and we heard it. I would never be the same again. A sense of reality soon flooded the doubts and feelings of unreality. Along with that comes worry, excitement, dread, and just plain uneasiness.

I ended up losing twenty pounds in the first trimester of the pregnancy and was advised by the doctors to move home. Gladly! I switched doctors--loved the new one--and waited out the rest of the pregnancy. I didn't tell the family until I was 20 weeks along and could hide it no more. Talk about scary. But guess what? They still loved me. And little did I know they would absolutely adore my child.

On June 18, 2009, Emily was born around 10:30. The doctors had put me on bed rest for the last month because I supposedly had IUGR (Intra-Uterine Growth Restriction) and the baby was super small. They induced me a week early because they thought that she could grow better on the outside. Wrong. She was 7 lbs 12 oz. Completely healthy, completely normal, and completely beautiful. An absolute miracle. That was the day it all changed for me.

Throughout the pregnancy, I had been chatting and habitually Facebooking this guy. He talked to me about my faith (or lack of), my doubts, and my past. He was an instrumental part of God's plan to bring me back around. His name is Jonathan. And he proposed 7 months later.

Emily's life changed my life. Emily's heart has changed mine. Her sweet life continues to touch people. Just a smile on her face can brighten an entire room. I'm so thankful for her life. And I am so thankful for my God, who gave me the courage to make the choice of life, even if I wasn't aware of His presence in the situation.

She continues to touch my heart, teach me so many new things, and love me unconditionally. She has the unbridled power to bring a smile to the most downtrodden face, whether it be my familiar face or that of a complete stranger. Her life is precious. The miracle of life never ceases to amaze me. And the faith that I have in the Creator of life continues to grow. 

The praise be Thine."

Look at the beauty of one life and how God uses one so beautifully. So profoundly. If it weren't for Lily and Emily, I wonder where and who Amanda and I would be today. We would be totally different people. Perhaps still lost. The fact is God used these lives to bring us out of the darkness and into His glorious light. And I praise Him. 

Sometimes I imagine if Lily were still here, would she and "Miss Em" as I call her, be best friends? Would they look forward to the next time they got to see each other? I cannot let my mind wander there too much, for it leaves me with a deep longing that cannot be least on this side of Heaven.



Sunday, June 17, 2012

Baby Mine & Father's Day

This weekend, my family has been busy cleaning out the garage and getting ready for a yard sale. I am literally going through all my things and posting them on craigslist, as well as setting them aside for the sale. I just want to simplify my life and only keep what's truly important. Before now, it was a definite NO WAY to getting rid of anything to do with Lily. It just seemed too close to her. Anything from my pregnancy or her life is so deeply connected to her in my heart. Before, it felt like getting rid of any of this stuff would be in a way dishonoring to her. Some of it I planned on saving for my future children and some I planned on saving as just remembrance items for Lily. But, I didn't want to get rid of any of it. I guess you can only really understand this if you've lost a baby too.

This is a really big step for me. I am now at a place where I am ready to sell things. I realize that I cannot keep everything and if and when I have another baby, I can get more things. Not everything that I got for Lily really has a deep personal connection to her, like a mattress, bath tub, etc. These things were meant to be used by her, but the sad fact is, they never were. Isn't it ironic that I am selling things she never used as a baby to save up for her headstone? She never used the most basic items infants use, yet she needs a headstone. Does anybody have ideas on things I could do to save up for one? I have been packing away all her things, putting them in storage, and posting things to sell. I also might take some of her stuff to a local pregnancy center, in her honor, to help a new expecting mommy and their precious bundle of joy. 

I will always have my precious bundle of joy, though she's not here in my arms. Perhaps I was trying to compensate by keeping her things in my arms. I am realizing things aren't so important. Of course, I would never get rid of the things that really remind me of Lily. My most precious possessions are things of her...her hair, her foot and handprints, her foot impression, her ultrasound photos, the outfit she wore at the hospital. All this and more is in her memory chest, memory box, and shadow box. I have reminders of her sprinkled throughout my room. Memories of her are sprinkled throughout my mind and life, so I don't need stuff to secure her special place in my heart. I am letting go of these things...but never ever letting go of her. She will always and forever be Baby of Mine.

This is a beautiful lullaby that I looked forward to singing to Lily as I rocked her. 
Listening to lullabies now makes my heart smile and thing of the sweet joy she 
brings to my life. "You're so precious to me, sweet as can be. Baby of mine."

Today is Father's Day and though Lily's daddy and I are not together, I am thankful she has an earthly father than loves her so much and honors the memory of her. I am thankful for the hope of my future husband one day "adopting" and loving her as his own. And more than any of this, I am thankful she has a Heavenly Father who adores her like nobody else ever could. I am thankful she is safe at Home with Him...forever. She gets to celebrate Father's Day with the best Father EVER!!! :-)

Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there, whether your child is here on earth or in Heaven. <3

Lily's and her daddy's hands. She had his hands and feet.


Thursday, June 14, 2012

My Aunt and Daughter - Forever Babies

My Aunt Rachel Ross was born today, June 14th, in 1965. Her middle name is Ross, like Betsy Ross, the maker of our flag. Her birthday is Flag Day.

Rachel's name in the sand in Australia, written by Carly Marie
Rachel has always been very special to me, but even more so since having and losing my own daughter, Lily. Rachel was the youngest of seven children and sadly only lived for three months. She died on the operating table at UVA as her doctor attempted to save her tiny, deformed heart. 

Obviously, I never knew her personally and only know her through photos and stories from my grandmother and mother. My mom is the eldest of the seven, so she probably remembers the most. I have read in her journal from the summer she turned 9 all about her sweet little sister Rachel, who came and went all in the blink of an eye. 

As I write these words, my eyes are welling up with tears as I think of a life that was, yet wasn't. Rachel was perfectly real and the irreplaceable seventh child of Nancy Virginia and James Kirk (my grandparents). Even back in those days when babyloss was much more of a private topic than it is today, my grandmother never stayed silent. When their relatives would talk of their "six" children, she would quickly correct them, saying they had SEVEN children. The little princess she never knew past nine months in the womb and three months out. Yet, Rachel will forever remain loved and missed, by those who met her and those who didn't.

My grandmother still grieves her loss and continues to go to Compassionate Friends meetings to this day, all these decades later. I think now it's more to support the newly bereaved. But, she still goes to the meetings and shares her story, Rachel's story. She still goes to the yearly candlelight service and lights a candle for Rachel, and now for her great-granddaughter too. How can one family lose two babies in such a short amount of time? What's so interesting is that I went with my grandmother to those meetings long before I lost my own child, when I was in my early teens. I wasn't afraid of that type of loss, though others seemed to be. I see now how God was preparing me for the future only He could see. 

Now my grandmother and I have a bond that nobody else in the family has. Not only are we bonded together as grandmother and granddaughter, but we are also marked as women who had to give their babies back to the very One who blessed us with them in the first place. It was so comforting to have my grandmother at Lily's service and burial. She has continued to be a support on my journey of grief and loss. I know she understands me and what I am going through in a way others cannot.

"Bumma" and I at the cemetery visiting our girls.

All these years later, I am missing my Aunt Rachel. Yes, I always have and always will consider her and call her my aunt. I am wondering who she might've been. Would we have been close? How many more cousins might I have loved? Would there maybe be a girl cousin my age? I miss this beloved member of my family that I never got to meet, never got to know. Yet, I miss her and love her nonetheless. I miss all that her life could have held. All that her life would have brought to our lives.

So, today on her birthday, I remember, honor, love, and miss her. I miss what today might have been. I miss not knowing the love she would have given, in her own unique "aunt-way." As I think of all my other aunts, I wonder how she might've differed from them. I am rejoicing that my aunt and my daughter are safe in the arms of Jesus and will be with Him forever, safe and sound. Rachel means "little lamb," and she will forever be Jesus' sweet little pure lamb, just like my pure Lily.

One day, I will meet Rachel and tell her how her life affected mine, though the beginning of my life began decades after the ending of hers. It makes me smile to know that Lily's "special spot" (where she's buried) is right next to her Great-Aunt Rachel's. Two little girls that brought bring this family so much joy. Even though they are gone, they'll live in our hearts forever. Lily got to know Rachel before me and Rachel got to know Lily before me, but that's okay. I am glad they have each other. What a sweet picture to think of Rachel Ross welcoming Lily Katherine HOME.

Lily's spot is on the left and Rachel Ross's bench is on the right. :)

The bench that is right next to Lily's spot. It is for my grandparents and Rachel Ross.

If you are reading this and have had some type of babyloss in your life and family somewhere down the line, I hope this post shows that this is something you never "get over." You can go on to live a happy and fulfilled life, as my grandmother did after her loss, but she was forever changed. It just becomes a part of you. Also, if you feel like everyone is forgetting your baby, no matter how long ago your loss was, you never know how much your child's life has affected others and will continue to for generations. Be encouraged in that.

"All that we love deeply becomes a part of us." ~Helen Keller

Dear Aunt Rachel, I deeply love you and you are deeply a part of my life. You are etched into the fabric of this family and we all talk about you and think about you, especially on your birthday. Happy Birthday in Heaven! I miss you. Whenever I go to visit Lily at the cemetery, I visit you and think of you too (and Bumpa of course)! I just want you to know you are never forgotten and I am so excited to know I will get to meet you one day. I don't know if you will be a baby or older than me or what...but it will be perfect and beautiful and just right. I will light a candle for you tonight. Love forever and for always, your niece, Hannah Rosey


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

who I once was, who I am now, and who I'll become

Do you ever look back on memories and years gone by and feel as if it's a different life? That's how I'm feeling these days. I've been thinking of friends from my past and different experiences. And it is such a strange feeling. I barely recognize that girl who I once was. I was so shy and awkward then. Isn't it funny how God chooses the least likely among us to showcase His strength? He takes a girl who was so uncomfortable in social situations, and says, "you...I want you to speak on one of the most heated topics of this day and age." He made me weak so that He could be proven strong. Faithful.

Thinking on old friends and even family have our paths gone completely different ways? What was once a road we walked together has now become two separate paths. Two separate people, living their lives, not ever even speaking a word to each other. I guess I'm just contemplative tonight. God knew all of this was going to happen in my life, even while I was that awkward 12-year-old girl. He knew the plan He had for me and He knew all the years and everything He'd do and use to get me there. For His glory.

It's such a strange thing to see myself change. To wonder who I used to be. To wonder who I might become. And to somehow try to figure out how to sort out all the memories and feelings in my heart. How do I combine who I once was, who I am now, and who I will become? When worlds collide. Maybe I'm missing those days of innocence and living carefree. Not realizing that one day I would lose my baby and have to carry that with me the rest of my days. Not realizing how hard the journey to Heaven would be. But it's worth it...oh so worth it. And I wouldn't trade it for anything. If my Jesus is being high and lifted up, may it be so! Sometimes, I guess, I just wish for a small taste of that innocence again.

It's like there are two Hannah Rose's. The Hannah Rose before losing Lily and the Hannah Rose after losing Lily. And I don't recognize the old me anymore. And even though I sometimes wonder who I'd be if I hadn't rebelled against God, which ultimately caused all the deep pain...I would never change it. Because it did happen, I have to live with it. Therefore, I'm thankful for it all. Isn't God amazing that He can make me thankful for my past, my brokenness, my sorrow, because He has turned it into good! I literally do not wish to be that old me again. Because Lily's life has changed mine forever. God has used her to bring me to my passion and purpose. He has shown me the value and fragility of life. How precious it is. He has drawn me closer to His heart. And sometimes it takes suffering to learn things that you wouldn't learn otherwise. For this, I am thankful.

For her, I am so, so thankful.

Occasionally, I will listen to this song. When I first heard it, the words gripped my heart. "Lord, make me a rainbow, I'll shine down on my mother. She'll know I'm safe with You when she stands under my colors. Oh, and life ain't always what you think it oughta be, no. Ain't even gray, but she buries her baby. The sharp knife of a short life. Well, I've had just enough time." Doesn't it seem so unnatural for a child to die before their mother, especially a baby? The sting of losing Lily will always be there, but I am clinging to the truth that she had enough time on earth and fulfilled the purposes God sent her for.


Beach Butterfly for Lily

The lovely Carly Marie sent me this.


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Lake Boone Trail

Exit 5. That's the Lake Boone Trail exit here in Raleigh, North Carolina. I have taken it countless times for countless reasons. Just recently I was realizing the irony of it...

That's the exit I got off on to go to my doctor's appointments when I was pregnant with Lily. The appointments were in the building right by the Rex Birthing Center, where she was to be delivered. That exit contained so much joy as mom and I drove to appointments, talking excitedly about our lil' Lily. After appointments (when we got to see our sweet girl on the ultrasound screen and hear her precious heart beating), we'd explore the area a little. We found ourselves at a shopping plaza right down the road from Rex, where we shopped at Tuesday Morning (such cheap, adorable baby items there!). Then, we'd eat at the taco shop right next door called Chubby's Tacos. Lily loved those tacos, I'm tellin' ya. :-) These stores and this exit are filled with so many happy, beautiful memories of my darling daughter. Whenever I go now, it's a bittersweet feeling. 

Lake Boone Trail is also the exit where I go pray at an abortion clinic. It's right across the street from this shopping plaza.

It also just so happens to be the exit I take whenever I choose to go to my local infant loss support group. I drive right by the entrance to the hospital, the entrance I drove in so many times. The hospital where I gave birth to and held my daughter for but a day...and then left without her. Mom and I went back once to the hospital, to eat lunch. It was March 17, 2011...the one year mark since leaving without Lily. We also looked around in the gift shop and I remembered the special things I wanted to get to celebrate her arrival. Bubble gum cigars, balloons, flowers. I also went back to visit a friend who was on bed-rest during her pregnancy. That was hard. I wanted to go back to that room where she was born...maybe one day I will. I definitely want to see my nurses again and somehow try to find a way to thank them for being there for me on the hardest day of my life. On my way to group, I also pass Love in Bloom maternity store, where I got my adorable baby shower dress (which I ended up also wearing for Lily's memorial service/day of her burial).

Raleigh is quite a big city and it's just interesting that so many aspects of my life are around this exit. From my pregnancy/Lily's life, to Pro-Life, to my loss.

This exit holds lots of feelings and memories for me. But, it reminds me of the time my girl was here, which makes me smile. :-) Tomorrow, I'm going to that very exit for another kind of appointment. Maybe I'll stop at Chubby's and sit at the exact place I sat so many times before, when Lily was there with us. And I'll eat a ground beef taco (her favorite) and drink some southern sweet tea (yum) just for her. She'd like that.


Sunday, June 10, 2012

In my arms and heart

I met and held a baby girl named Emma Grace this week. She was born on February 16, so she's a little less than four months old. Her mom, my friend Wendy, handed her to me and right away my arms seemed to ache a little less. I can't find words to describe how wonderful it felt to hold a baby. Little Emma Grace grabbed onto my sleeves and it melted my heart. It just felt so right. This may sound weird to say this, but holding a baby with life within felt foreign to me. All I know is holding a baby with no life. Your telling me babies actually move around??

when Emma Grace was in her mama's belly :-)

Emma Grace outside her mama's belly, in my arms :-)

Yes it was hard to hold a baby, especially a girl...but it's more than that now. It's healing. Beautiful. Looking into Emma's blue eyes and having her smile back at me with those chubby delicious baby cheeks, I felt so much joy. I fell in love with this little sweet pea. Love at first sight. And it made me think, if I already love this lil' baby so much that isn't even my own, how much more will I love flesh of my flesh? Of course I love Lily more than I ever dreamed possible, but I still don't know what this type of connection between a mother and her child is like. What will that be like to have my own baby look back and smile up at her mama? Oh, it must be simply glorious.

I hope and pray that one day I get to experience it on this side of Heaven. I truly believe I will. God fulfills the desires of our hearts because He is the One that places them there. 

"Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart." ~Psalm 37:4

When you delight yourself in the Lord, your desires become His because you are truly seeking His heart and you only want for your life what He wants. Your desires become aligned with His. I have begged and pleaded that He would take this desire away if I am not meant to be a wife and mama. But, no, instead of going away, it grows stronger. Now, I pray that this dream would be harnessed and that the emotions involved would not rule my life. I pray that when the time comes for me to fulfill this calling, I will be ready. I am purposeful in making this a time spent in preparation, so I can and will be everything God intends me to be in those roles. That I would honor my future husband all the days of my life (Proverbs 31:10-12). And glorify the Lord each day and in each decision I make. 

If it's so that God is calling me to a life of singleness, I know He will sustain me and give me joy in that. If that's what He's calling me to, I want to be nowhere else. I know, trust, believe that He will make my path clear, in each moment I'm called to make a decision.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths." ~Proverbs 3:5-6

So much joy.

So much hope.

I'm praising the Lord today for the hope of holding another babe to call my own on this side of Heaven...and for the hope of one day soon meeting the two that wait for me there. The two I'll hold forever in my heart.

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