Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Walking With You - Overcoming Guilt and Embracing Joy

I am participating in the Walking With You series that Kelly from Sufficient Grace Ministries is hosting. To see all my posts for this series, click here.

Week 4: January 28, 2013 ~ Overcoming Guilt and Embracing Joy

One area so many mothers struggle with is guilt, especially those who experience the loss of a baby/child. We want to address this struggle in this post. It will help mothers quietly battling guilt for living life and experiencing joy to know they are not alone. Other moms silently battle this as well. Whether it is the startling first time you really laugh after losing your child, or whether you have experienced the healing balm of joy for years, share your thoughts on this week’s post.

*Click here to join in this week.*

As I was thinking about what to write this week, I recalled the guilt I have experienced in more than one way since losing Lily...

I remember the first feelings of guilt came days after losing her. I was writing a letter that I read to Lily at her Celebration of LIFE/Memorial Service. I was struck with feeling guilt...for myself and for the world. I felt guilty that my life and the lives of everyone around me continued on like my world hadn't been completely shattered. Like she hadn't died.

This is what I wrote to Lily in my letter: goes on. I still hear laughter. The moon still rises and the sun still sets. But, I won't forget. Even when I smile, thoughts of you are always dancing in the back of my mind. Shouldn't the whole world just stop? Mine has. How does the wind still blow? Doesn't it know you aren't here?

It just felt wrong to smile and laugh. It felt wrong that the days, weeks, and months continued marching by. Lily was born just days before the genesis of spring. This is what I wrote a couple weeks after she was born and died:

Days are now bittersweet. With the promise of spring, came the promise of Lily. Like the new life all around me bursting forth from the earth, Lily was new life. We wait. We anticipate. Spring and Lily...they came together. Now, spring will always remind me of the time Lily came...and went. How cruel it seems. Now, I'm not sure what the future holds...I'm not sure what to dream anymore, how to feel. What promises does tomorrow hold? How can all the plants and flowers still look so pretty without her here? They seem so happy. Everyone seems so happy, out playing in the warm weather and sunshine. Spring and summer clothes now being brought out of storage. I can't blame them though. I would be doing the same thing.

Each year on her birthday, it feels so odd to celebrate. There is still a sense of dread within me when I think of her birthday in March, which is just over the horizon. Yet, each year, it changes just a little. I now get that excitement and anticipation for my daughter's birthday, just like I got growing up for my own birthday. I know that just because she isn't here doesn't mean we shouldn't still celebrate her precious LIFE and all God has done in me and so many others because of her!

Lily only knows complete satisfaction and joy in Heaven, which brings me so much peace. For a brief while, I felt guilty for wanting her here with me in this broken, sinful world when she has all of Heaven's glory! She never knew sin or sorrow. Yet, I realize that is just a mother's intrinsic longing, to be with her child. Oh, there is no where else I'd rather she be than safe at Home with Jesus!

I know that Lily wouldn't want me to feel guilty. She wouldn't want me to be sad forever. She wants me to be happy. She knows that the world continues on, whether or not she's here. I can have so much joy in my life, while at the same time missing her with every breath. As time goes on, truly my love for her only deepens. I can take all I've been through and surrender it to the Lord. He gives beauty for ashes and a heart of praise. I can take my sorrow and joy, and my feelings of missing her so tremendously, and use it to honor her and glorify my King! I felt for so long that feeling sad meant I was closer to her. Yes, it's true that in those moments of sadness, I can feel her close to me. It is a reminder that she is real. Yet, I don't need to feel sad to feel her close...she is with Him and He is with me, so really she is all around. Her heart beats with every beat of my own, so she is never far off.

If you have lost a baby, don't ever feel like you love them any less or miss them any less because you are "moving on." Moving on doesn't mean moving on from loving them or missing them. You will carry them tucked safely away inside your heart forever! So much of who we are now is because of those little babes that came to earth but for a brief while, yet did so much in their brief stay! The fact is, we live in a temporal world where we have no choice but to move on...but never, ever forgetting. 

I also have struggled with wondering if I did something that caused Lily's death. Because her autopsy results came back inconclusive, there was no real reason or explanation for why she passed. It honestly hasn't been that big of a struggle for me, but the thoughts have entered my mind on a few occasions. Thoughts such as was there something I should have done differently and she would still be alive today? Was there something I didn't catch and should have, which makes it my fault? If I had delivered her earlier, would she be here? Did I sleep wrong and cut off life-supply to her body? Did I have some sort of infection that killed her?

This is what I wrote in my journal before my 6-week postpartum check-up when I found out the results of her autopsy:

Without the Lord in my life, I would be haunted by 'what ifs'? and many, many questions about her death. But, I know this was part of God's plan all along. And even though I didn't see it coming, He wasn't surprised like I was. He had planned her name and its meaning (Lily Katherine, meaning purity and innocence, which she will forever be) long before I ever knew what was to come. This has shown me that He is still in control, even when I don't understand. She was never meant to experience the pain and suffering of this world. All that's happened doesn't mean her life wasn't beautiful and she didn't fulfill the purposes she was sent for. He did what's best for Lily and for me. 

God somehow spoke this truth to my heart, that He simply took her. I see that He has a plan and a purpose for all of this, far beyond what we can even see now. The Lord worked it out for me to have a free, full autopsy so He could bring peace to my heart. So I don't have to always wonder why she died, what the medical reason is. Because you see, God is much greater than "medical explanations." If He wanted her here with me, she would be. I know there's nothing I did wrong that hurt her and there was nothing physically wrong with me or her.

I have complete peace in knowing what I know. Lily was alive one moment and the next she was gone, still. One moment she was in the earthly realm, and the next she was in the spiritual. My Lord breathed the breath of life into her and He took it away. He took her away, but in the most beautiful way possible. It may sound strange for me to say that, but God has a way of bringing beauty to any and all things. Beauty from ashes, sorrow to joy. He has a way of healing and restoring even the most broken of hearts.

This is a poem I wrote after I found out that there was no medical reason why she passed:

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

*I'd love for you to become a follower of my blog, either by email or Google Friend can do so on the lefthand side of this blog. :)*


Monday, January 28, 2013

March for Life '13 in D.C.

Last Friday, January 25th, I marched in honor of my babies and all babies at the annual National March for Life in Washington D.C., which coincides with the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision. It is estimated that there were 650,000 people marching this year! It is growing each year and I praise God that He is awakening hearts to the truth of abortion! I was so blessed to be a part of it. The Lord just opened up the doors for me to go. It was so special that my mom and sister, Emma, were able to join me. I was originally going to be staying with a friend who lives about an hour outside of D.C. But, the week of the March, it worked out for my family to come with me. Thankfully it worked out that way because the day of the March, it snowed and it would have been dangerous to drive back in that weather. My friend also would have had to leave the March early for work, so I would have missed out on things and might not have even gotten to speak! It was also special that we got to explore D.C. until Sunday. We went to the Holocaust Memorial Museum, saw the White House, and lots of monuments. 

Look at this amazing photo that captures the massive amount of people at the March!

On Friday morning before the March, we got to hang out and have coffee and breakfast with the national staff of 40 Days for Life in the penthouse of the Hyatt Regency Hotel, overlooking D.C. There were windows all around the room and the view was incredible!

I got to meet David Bereit, the National Director of 40 Days for Life! He signed his and Shawn Carney's new book (which shares true stories of how God is moving one prayer at a time) for me and I gave him my website address, which he said he would visit to read my story. :) It was such an honor to meet and speak with him! 

I also got to see Shawn Carney again, Campaign Director of 40 Days for Life, after first meeting him in April 2011 at a prayer vigil at the Chapel Hill, North Carolina Planned Parenthood. He remembered me and my story! He was so touched by it that he shared it with his wife and sent me a signed copy of Abby Johnson's book, unPLANNED. When I first met him, he asked if he could share my story when he speaks and I of course said definitely. It was awesome to catch up with him and share a little of what God has been doing in the past almost two years. He also gave me some ideas on how to "get my story out there" more. I am holding up their new book in this photo, which Shawn signed as well.

After leaving the 40 Days for Life gathering, we met up with the Silent No More Awareness Campaign group, who we marched with and who I shared my story with after the March. I got to meet lots of awesome men and women. I got my "I Regret My Abortion" sign that I carried during the March. 

Here are several of the men and women courageously sharing their "I Regret" signs before the March. It was so touching to see all the signs and the precious people behind them. Each person represents a life who never got to live past the's heartbreaking, yet so beautiful to see these men and women speak the truth in love and be a voice for post-abortive men and women, as well as the unborn.

I met Kelly Clinger, who is a spokesperson for Silent No More. She travels around sharing her amazing story of her two babies who were aborted 12 years ago. She is a former backup singer to Britney Spears and was on the Mickey Mouse Club. You can check out more about her and her story on her awesome website!

Here is the front of the March right before it started! Silent No More leads the March each year!

It's hard to truly capture the number of people that were there, but here are some pictures that give an idea. There was a sea of signs and faces, with so many different ages, ethnicities, and church groups represented...yet, we were all there to march for the sanctity of human life. It was truly so powerful to be a part of. A lot of these pictures I found online. Since I was in the midst of the crowd, it was hard to get good pictures. It was also difficult since I was holding my sign and trying not to trip over anyone. It was quite an experience! It is almost hard to describe what it was like. It all happened so fast it felt like and I didn't fully get to take it all in. I wish I had time to hear all the speakers and meet more people, but there is always next year...and the year after that! You can see lots more photos of the March on Google. It is hard to grasp just how many people are there when you are in the midst of everything. I kept getting separated from the group and had to find my way back. I had to make sure not to bump into people or trip over was just so packed, which is awesome!

As we marched and I held my sign up high, tears kept coming to my eyes as I thought of how far God has brought me in four years. There I was, holding a sign stating in big, bold letters that I REGRET MY ABORTION, when not too long ago, I hoped nobody would ever find out about it. How much God can turn our lives around and how He amazingly heals our hearts! It brought me so much joy knowing I am keeping my promise to Luke and Lily, to always be their voice. I wore my new necklace for Luke close to my heart that says, "I Will Be Your Voice," with his name and Heaven Day on it. I also wore an angel necklace with Lily's birthstone in her honor. 

At the end of the March, the Silent No More Awareness Campaign gathered in front of the Supreme Court. It was a powerful time of people sharing their stories of regretted abortion. Though the stories were all so different and the women chose abortion for many different reasons, there was a common thread...regret...healing...hope and redemption in Christ. It was so amazing to hear all the women and men sharing about their precious babies who await them in Heaven. 

As the testimonies began, it started snowing heavily. Kelly Clinger said she praised God that He has washed us white as snow! How amazingly symbolic.

As I walked up to the podium, all my nerves and fears just melted away. I knew that God had opened up the door for me to be there and He would give me the courage to speak to the massive crowd. I looked out at the sea of faces looking back at me and in my heart, fell to my knees thanking the Lord for such an amazing opportunity. In less than two weeks, February 6th will mark the 4th remembrance anniversary of my abortion. I never could have dreamed while I was walking through that deep darkness all God had planned for my life. I didn't want anyone to know about the "choices" I was making, yet here I am now, standing up in front of anyone who cares to hear, and sharing about my Luke Shiloh and Lily Katherine. I never could have dreamed all He had planned for the lives and legacies of my children. He truly does have a glorious plan and purpose for each one of us, born and unborn. What an amazing God, that He can take our sin and pain, the very things the enemy means to destroy us with, and turn them into something truly beautiful. He promises to work all things together for our good and His glory and my story is a reflection of that promise. It was so amazing to be able to speak the name of Jesus there in front of the Supreme Court, in a country that doesn't put Jesus first anymore. His truth is still the same as it was when this country was founded on Christian principles. What an honor to share what He has done in my life and give hope to others that He can do the same in theirs! 

Dr. Alveda King (who is Martin Luther King Jr.'s niece) shared her story of her regretted abortions right after me! If you look closely in the photo, you can see her in the background. What an honor! She narrated the documentary film "Blood Money" which is so powerful and I recommend that everyone watches it to educate themselves on the truth of abortion.

Here is Dr. Alveda King sharing her story!

The Silent No More group made the front cover of The Washington Post on Saturday, the day after the March! There I am! Well...sort of. That's my turqoise hat in the background, but it's still way cool! My mom and I were joking that it's not every day your hat makes it on the cover haha. At least I know it's me. :) I went into Walgreens to get a copy of the newspaper and told the lady that was my hat! She thought it was neat. It is just such an awesome thing to be a part of! On the right is Kelly Clinger and in the center is Julia Holcomb, who was engaged to Steven Tyler, lead singer of the rock band Aerosmith. When she was 17 years old and 5 months pregnant, she was coerced into a saline abortion. She shared her amazing story of how Jesus Christ rescued and redeemed her! You can read her incredibly beautiful testimony here.

Shortly after I shared, we went inside Union Station for a while to get some food and hot drinks and warm up. Later in the evening, we went to have a time of fellowship with the Silent No More group.

We got to speak with Dr. Alveda King and told her I loved her! To which she replied that she loved me too and thought my story was beautiful. She thanked me for sharing my testimony. That was so special to me because she has been such a blessing in all she does for the unborn and those affected by abortion.

My mom, Ginny, and I with Dr. Alveda King.

My sister, Emma, with Dr. Alveda King.

I also got to meet Georgette Forney and Janet Morana, the Founders of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign. I wasn't able to get a photo with Georgette, but here is one of Janet and I. I got a copy of her amazing new book, Recall Abortion, and she signed it for me. It was in her suite where we had a time of fellowship after the March.

Mom with her "Courageously Abolishing Abortion" sign in front of the Capital! Too bad it's so blurry...and too bad we didn't even think to get a photo of the three of us together marching! Silly us. :(

All the testimonies that were shared were recorded. Click here to watch the video of me speaking. In order to share, you will need to share the link to the video. It will eventually be uploaded to YouTube.

And here's the written version of what I shared:
My life changed forever at the age of 19 when I had an unplanned pregnancy. Growing up in a pro-life family, I never dreamed my beliefs would be tested. I didn't want to shame my family or live with a shattered future. I convinced myself that ending my pregnancy at only six weeks gestation wasn't really an abortion. On February 6th, 2009, I took the RU-486 pill and after a night of darkness, it was over. I was relieved to get back to my normal life. Trying to forget what I had done, over the next few months, I sought comfort for my wounded, aching heart through drinking and living promiscuously...Four months later, I was pregnant...again. I fooled myself into thinking I would get my life together after what I thought was another necessary abortion. The appointment was set at Planned Parenthood...However, Jesus was fighting for me and for my unborn baby. God showed me that if I chose to have another abortion, I couldn't imagine the pain and darkness that would follow. But, if I chose LIFE, I couldn't imagine the beauty that He would bring...Instead of walking through those clinic doors a second time, I chose to walk into the light towards freedom. It was as if the reasoning for abortion fell away when I knew God would be with me every step of my difficult journey. I was at peace knowing I was making the right choice - the choice of LIFE...On March 16th, 2010, ready to deliver my full-term daughter, I was told the devastating news that her perfect little heart was no longer beating...Through the lives of two babies who never spoke a word or took a breath, God is speaking that if you choose LIFE, no matter the outcome, you will have no regrets. Through choosing LIFE for my second child, God brought peace and healing to my heart that was broken from aborting my first... This is a tribute to my babies' precious lives and all God has done in me and so many others because of them. Luke Shiloh and Lily Katherine, I once wanted to be rid of you and hoped nobody would ever find out you even existed. Now, I want the world to know you are my children. I promise to always be your voice and to honor you in whatever way I can for as long as I live. That's why I am silent no more and why I believe abortion should be recalled! 
I speak for my King and His glory! I am so humbled and honored to have had this opportunity and that the Lord would work everything out for me to go. This has been a dream of mine for the past three years. God gave me the desire less than a month ago to truly pursue making this a reality, and here we are. I am really excited to see what doors the Lord opens up next for me to share my story.

The day after the March, there was a gun-control march in D.C. The media reported repeatedly on this march, but hardly said a word about the March for LIFE.

"So a few thousand march for gun control and it's all over the media. 650,000 march for LIFE and we hear nothing. Friends, our nation is so confused. Guns don't kill people, Planned Parenthood does." ~Kelly Clinger

How very sad, but true! Pray that hearts would be opened to the truth! I am sick of seing reports on whether or not Beyonce was lip-synching at the inauguration, whether or not Manti Te'o is trying to pull something over on everybody, and gun-control. Why isn't it newsworthy to report over half a million people marching for LIFE in the capital city?!

From the time we left the hotel to when we got back was 12 hours. It was a long day of riding the metro, walking to where we needed to be, marching, meeting people, sharing and hearing other people share, and just trying to keep warm!

Thank you to everyone who prayed for safe travels, good health, and good weather (even though it was freezing in the 20's and snowed, it was still nice and people still came, obviously!) Pray that those who have had an abortion and need healing will begin their road towards hope and healing by turning to Jesus.

As I said about Sanctity of Life Sunday, I am going to say the same thing about the March for Life. We as Christians must be standing up for the unborn every day of the year, not just a couple days. Seek the Lord in what He is leading you to do to get involved.

Here is a video I found with lots of clips from the March. You can get an idea of how many people were there.


Thursday, January 24, 2013

On Our Way to the March for Life!

Today my mom, sister and I travel to Washington D.C. to get settled in. Tomorrow is the biggest March for Life in the country. Just one day! And I get to be a part of it!! This has been a dream of mine for the past three years. God gave me the desire less than a month ago to truly pursue making this a reality, and here we are. There will literally be hundreds of thousands of people there, including lots of well-known people in the pro-life movement, such as Lila Rose, Abby Johnson and Jill Stanek.

Please pray that everyone going to the March will have safe travels, pray for good weather (it is supposed to snow tomorrow in D.C.), and pray for good health. Pray that the people there will be peaceful and that those who need to hear the message of LIFE will have open hearts. Pray that those who have had an abortion and need healing will begin their road towards hope and healing by turning to Jesus. Pray that all the details will be worked out and that God's will shall be done in every heart and circumstance! And please pray that He would prepare me to speak in front of the Supreme Court after the March. I will be sharing sometime between 2:30 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. If you think to pray during that time, for me and all the other men and women, that would be amazing. I am getting a little bit nervous, but I know God will give me the courage to speak.


Monday, January 21, 2013

Walking With You - Steps Back into Life

I am participating in the Walking With You series that Kelly from Sufficient Grace Ministries is hosting. To see all my posts for this series, click here.

Week 3: January 21, 2013 ~ Steps Back into Life
Share about your first steps back into life. What helped you survive in the world outside as you took those first tender steps? Are there still tender areas for you today, living in a world that doesn’t embrace or understand the loss of a baby/child? How do you cope with those struggles? What advice would you offer those new to this walk to encourage and bring hope? How has this changed for you from the beginning? If you are in early grief, what do you fear/struggle with as you try to navigate a new without your baby?
*Click here to join in this week.*

Don't feel like as a Christian, you are not allowed to experience sorrow. The shortest verse in the Bible is John 11:35, which says "Jesus wept." The Son of God Himself experienced great emotion. It shows His tenderness as our Friend and our Father. It is not improper to weep and is an expression that God does not forbid or condemn. We just must be careful not to harden our hearts towards God because of our grief, but keep our hearts tender towards Him. As you step back into life after loss, cry and mourn, but do so with submission to God. Never feel like so much time has passed that you are no longer allowed to cry. This is a loss that has irrevocable changed you and your life forever and you will never be "over it." I have felt at times that people expect me to be over it, as if losing Lily is comparable to having the flu or something. I have come to realize that I will always miss Lily and there will always be a sort of sadness in my heart...yet, even in the midst of sorrow, the Lord can and does bring great joy!! It doesn't mean something is wrong if you forever love and miss your baby. Don't listen to those who say otherwise. The Lord Jesus is there to comfort and heal us. And it won't always be as hard as it is in the beginning. The joy He brings is so much greater than the sorrow, my friends...

"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted." ~Matthew 5:4

"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

"Weeping may last for the night, but joy comes with the morning." ~Psalm 30:5

Something that was really difficult for me stepping back into life was how everyone so soon seemed to move on and forget Lily and the great loss I had experienced. I remember seeing several of my family members just about three months after Lily's Memorial Service and nobody mentioning a word to me about her. Nobody asked me how I was or said they were thinking about me or her. Hardly anyone in my family remembers or recognizes Lily on her birthday each year and that has been extremely hurtful. As if she wasn't even real. Would they not remember her special day if she were alive? No, that is silly...of course they would. Well, she has the same importance living in Heaven as she would have had living on earth. And my mother love is still the same and didn't die the day she did. Lily is loved and missed and deserves to have her name spoken. She has a beautiful legacy and I know she is important to the Lord. My encouragement to others who feel as if others are forgetting is to remember that our Heavenly Father never forgets. He adores each of our precious babies. And He always remembers them and us. Remember, He sees our tears. And we will never forget, never stop loving, never stop missing and when it comes down to it...that's what matters. Try to keep in mind that most people have good intentions, they just don't know how to act or what to say to someone who has lost a baby. The truth is, it isn't a much-talked-about topic and many people feel uncomfortable with it. I also believe that because abortion is an accepted part of the American culture today, when "wanted" babies die, it doesn't seem like a bit deal. The way people view precious unborn life at its most innocent form is very sad.

While I was pregnant with Lily, I started this blog, back in October of 2009. It was meant to be a place to chronicle my pregnancy, share my Pro-Life testimony, and eventually document Lily's life. Just 13 days after losing her and embarking on my grief journey, I wrote that first post that would embark me on my babyloss blogging journey. I haven't looked back since. It is coming up on three years since I started blogging about loss, grief, and healing. At times, I have been more active in my blogging than others. But, I can honestly say that sharing my heart here has been one of the greatest instruments God has used to heal me, besides Himself. I have always felt this is my safe place, where I am free to write whatever I am feeling. I've chosen to keep it public for anyone to read, which at times is quite intimidating. I have thought about going private and choosing to invite who I want to have the access to read my heart on a screen. But, I feel God has wanted me to keep it give a voice to the unborn, women affected by abortion, women in unplanned pregnancies, and those affected by stillbirth and babyloss. God has blessed me so much in my sharing and through reading others blogs. It has been such a wonderful community to be a part of, with people that "get it," at least more than most others do. It has been so encouraging to read the blogs of other women who are farther along in their grief than me and it has been a blessing to be an encouragement to other women who are not as far along in their grief as me. In the early stages of grief, I would pour over so many blogs and it was so comforting to my heart. I knew I wasn't alone in my thoughts and feelings. I see my blog as a living memorialI recommend writing down your thoughts, feelings, and journey, whether through a public or private blog or in a journal. It is amazing to look back and see how far you have come in your grief and also to see the faithfulness of God to carry you through! I have found that just writing out my prayers and feelings has been a great release for me. I write on my blog, but also in private letters to Lily or in journals. I recommend doing that as well. It is special to look back and see exactly how I was feeling on certain days, such as Lily's birthday, Mother's Day, or Christmas.

About a month after losing Lily, I started going to a local Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support Group twice a month, which was really helpful for me at the time I needed it. I rarely missed a meeting. I haven't been to a meeting in over a year because I am just in a different place now. But during all those months I went, it was so helpful. I looked forward to those meetings where I knew I could open up and be honest, cry if needed, and share my heart. For those of you who are new to this journey of loss and grief, I recommend getting plugged into a support group in your area. It is not for everyone, but it helps a lot of people to connect with others who have been through similar losses. It wouldn't hurt to try. Connecting with others who "get it," both online and "in real life" have blessed me so much on this grief journey. I also recommend finding a group that is Christian-based because it really does make a big difference to be connected with people who have the same hope and faith in Jesus. If you can't find a local support group or even if you do, there are also lots of great places online to get involved in, such as the Anchored By Hope Online Bible Study, the Illuminate Photography Course, among many other amazing things that you can find here under "Things to Participate In." There truly are so many ways to get connected and so many amazing places that lovingly serve the babyloss community.

I have also discovered that finding ways to honor and remember my babies is very healing. I don't have any living children on earth, so the only motherhood I know is mothering my two babies of Heaven. Honoring them by getting special memorial items, speaking in front of big and small groups, writing, participating in walks, balloon releases, candlelight services...doing everything I do for them is so special and healing for me as a mother. It brings joy to my heart to do things for my babies. It is a precious reminder that I do these things because they lived and they will live forever in my heart. I suggest finding things you can get as a memorial to your babies. Find things to do to honor them. I have ideas for how to honor and remember your little one here. Something as small as getting their name written on the shore in Australia can be so healing and comforting!

Stepping back into "real life" after losing Lily was really tough in many ways. For a long time, it was hard to see pregnant women, hard to hear pregnancy announcements and see birth announcements, hard to hear women complain about pregnancy symptoms, and hard to see picture updates and hear things about children growing up who would be about the same age as my Lily. My advice: Do whatever you need to do to help ease the ache a bit. If you are on facebook and find this to be the place where you are bothered the most by these sort of updates, block updates from that person. And don't feel guilty about it. Do whatever you need to do to heal and minimize the "triggers." Memorize Scripture that you can recite in your head or out loud that will comfort you when you see those pregnant bellies or newborn babies, knowing that should be you. It gets much easier as time goes by, but at least for me, it has never quite disappeared. Mostly, be gentle on yourself as you step back into life. This is something you will carry with you the rest of your days on earth. The Lord will hold you and show you how to handle everything.

*I'd love for you to become a follower of my blog, either by email or Google Friend can do so on the lefthand side of this blog. :)*


Sunday, January 20, 2013

Sanctity of Life Sunday '13

Today is National Sanctity of Human Life Sunday. The date was chosen by Ronald Reagan to coincide with the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court case. He issued the day to fall on the third Sunday of January in the years following, the closest date that coincides with the original January 22nd date.

Each year in Washington D.C., the March for Life is also right around the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Thousands of people join in to take a stand for unborn life. Lots of people even share their stories of regretted abortion...including me this year! That's right, I am driving to D.C. to take part in the March and will be sharing my story in front of the Supreme Court after with the Silent No More Awareness Campaign! Thank you, Lord, for this opportunity. I will share more about this later this week. If you are anywhere near the D.C. area, I recommend taking part in the day! If you will be there, let me know so we can meet up! :)

Today, my mom, brother, and I went to a special service for Sanctity of Life Sunday. A Professor of Theology was giving a special message on Psalm 139. He wasn't the main Pastor of the church.  I looked online a few weeks before today, looking for churches around the area who were having special services, and this is the only one I found! And I live in the capital city of my state. It makes me really sad that more churches aren't speaking out on the topic of abortion. The CEO from a local Pregnancy Center shared some, which was really powerful, and she said this church was the only one who asked her to come speak! If the Church isn't standing up for the unborn and speaking out for LIFE, then who is?! I suggest spreading the word to your Pastors and telling them the significance of this day and how they can take a stand for LIFE each year. But, it shouldn't end with just one day a year. We as the Church of Christ need to be pouring ourselves out for the cause of the unborn. We need to be giving our time, money, and whatever else God asks of us to Pregnancy Centers, homes for pregnant teenage girls, etc. Don't just sit around waiting for something to happen - pray and ask the Lord how He wants you to move and be obedient. Ask for God's heart for the unborn, the men and women in unplanned pregnancies, and those already affected by abortion.

After the service, I spoke with the lady from the Pregnancy Center about the possibility of volunteering there. I am praying that if this is the Center where the Lord wants me that He will make it happen.

EACH life is sacred...precious and valuable to the Lord. Please take the time to listen to this powerful sermon by Eric Ludy from Ellerslie Leadership Training (where I went in fall 2011). It is my absolute favorite sermon of his, and that is saying a lot! How many "Evans" are we missing in this life? Who would they have been? 

Click here to read an excellent article about Sanctity of Life Sunday.


Saturday, January 19, 2013

Now I Sleep...

I want to share a beautiful album that has come to mean a lot to me over the past few months. It is called "Now I Sleep" and is composed, performed, and produced by a very talented musician named John Albert Thomas. It has beautiful solo piano music with songs written for those who mourn the loss of a baby. In 2009, John was inspired by the work of Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, who I have talked about on my blog before and so wish I would have been offered this incredible service when I had Lily.

This is what John wrote on his website about the album:
In 2009, inspired by the compassionate work of Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep (NILMDTS), I set out to compose an album of original solo piano music for ten families who mourned the loss of a baby. I wanted to create a musical gift for remembrance and healing. 
After ten emotional interviews, several months at the piano, and a few days in the studio, I was pleased to finally announce the release of Now I Sleep – Solo Piano in April 2011. 
This album is about giving. Ten families gave me their tragic stories. God gave me the gift of music. Today I am passing this gift along to you. 
Please download this album, enjoy it, and use it freely in any of your non-profit media projects. You can pay what you want, or enter $0 for a free download! 
For the best sound quality and a much more meaningful experience, I highly recommend the Now I Sleep Deluxe CD, which includes two bonus tracks. It was designed with the grieving family in mind, but it will make a wonderful addition to any solo piano collection. 
If you would like to use this music in your commercial business, please purchase a royalty-free music license. I will send a complimentary copy of the Now I Sleep Deluxe CD as a thank you. 
Don’t forget to click the Share link to help spread the word on Facebook, Twitter, your blog, your newsletter, and more. You never know who might find comfort through this music! 
With much gratitude, 
John Albert Thomas
I found this album online and just knew that it was the one I wanted to include in the hospital comfort boxes I am putting together to donate to the hospital where Lily was born, to be given to those going through the loss of a baby, whether through miscarriage, stillbirth, or neonatal loss. I wrote John telling him what I was planning to do and he offered to give me the CD's at 50% off and said he'd ship them to me for free! Thank you again, John! That is so kind of you. It is my prayer that whoever receives this CD will be blessed by it like I have been. If you are interested in purchasing the CD for your own care packages, contact John and ask him about his bereavement rate.

I have enjoyed this music so much and will often listen to it on repeat. It is great music to blog/write/read/fall asleep to, as it is so very soothing. The song that gets me every time the most and seems to speak what I cannot put into words is "Smile Again." It is so very powerful and bittersweet. It pulls at the heart strings. All of these songs have brought me such comfort and healing. A thread of hope runs through each piece and points to the Lord, who is the Great Comforter and Peace-Giver.

Here is a video about the album and my favorite song on the album.

As John says, you can download the album for free, but I greatly encourage supporting this artist and purchasing one of the high-quality albums to add to your music library, especially those who have lost a baby.

I have embed the CD for you to take a listen and hear how beautiful the music is. If you are ever visiting on my blog and want to listen some more, I have added it on the left-hand sidebar. :)


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Sandy Hook and the Value of Life

Nearly everyone around the world has heard of the tragedy that occurred on December 14th, 2012, in Newtown, Connecticut, USA, when a young man entered Sandy Hook Elementary School and opened fire, killing 20 children and 6 adults.

I was shocked and devastated, as all of us were. My own feelings of grief came up as I heard the news and saw all the faces of the children whose precious lives were lost...I can understand in a different way what these parents are experiencing because I too have lost my child. Of course, I realize it's much different and Lily was not lost at the hands of someone else. However, losing a child is always extremely difficult and my heart breaks for these parents that will never again hold their little ones. The siblings of the children lost must be so confused about everything going on.

I can't help but notice how the children who were lost seem to be getting a lot more coverage on the news than the adults who if they were somehow more important. The fact is, every single person who was lost is someone's precious child. They are all just as valuable as each other. But, yet when children die at the hands of another, for no reason, we seem to feel it that much deeper. Why is that? Is it because somewhere deep within, we all know that children are innocent and so very precious and deserving of our protection? Are we mourning for their lives because they barely even started and they were robbed of their days?

Their beds will never be slept on again. Their toys will never be played with. They will never graduate. They will never get married. Never have children of their own. Never grow up...

Why is it that everyone is completely devastated about these 20 who will never grow up, yet the more than 3,000 children in America alone (yesterday, today, and tomorrow, and the day after that) who will never grow up go unnoticed? 

I can't help but see the irony in this...why are the lives of the children lost at Sandy Hook more important than the more than 3,000 babies lost each and every day, in America alone? Why are we so deeply grieved at the loss of the 20, but aren't even moved by the loss of millions? Babies are literally the most vulnerable among us. They have no voice. They are the weakest and look how we treat them.

"They keep saying, 'A school is supposed to be a safe place!' Yeah well so is a womb." ~Pastor John MacArthur

If these same lives had been aborted in their mother's wombs just a few years before they were killed, people wouldn't have given it a second thought. They wouldn't even have been viewed as people...the same exact lives. It would have been viewed as the woman's choice. It would be funded by our tax dollars!

Please hear what I am trying to say...I am not at all minimizing the loss of the 20 little ones. What happened at Sandy Hook is just horrible and tragic.

But have we ever considered that maybe things like this are happening because we don't value life in it's most innocent form?  The measure of a civilization is how it treats its weakest members. 

Where are the tears for the unborn? Is it because we cannot hear the cries of anguish from the babes in the womb that we can so easily pretend abortion is okay?

As I listened to President Obama's speech after the Sandy Hook shooting, I was struck by how his words pertain to the unborn. This week I saw this video, with parts of his speech added in, that was made to be a promotional video for the upcoming March for Life in Washington D.C. Tell me you are not struck by his words as well.

Our President gave this speech saying we don't get anything right if we don't care for our children, "all of them," and keep them safe from harm. Oh Mr. President, are we caring for and keeping our children safe from harm when we (meaning you) vote against legislation which would require doctors to provide basic care to an infant born alive after a botched abortion? No, you voted in such a way that would allow these babies to be tossed in a bucket and left to suffer and die. Instead of being kept from harm, the unborn are literally treated as and disposed of as trash! Not with the honor and dignity that the children of Sandy Hook have been given by people around the world.

God doesn't see the massive number of children that are aborted each year, but each individual life. He sees the purposes He has for that life. Do we?

"In as much as you have done unto the least of these you have done it unto Me." ~Matthew 25:45

An unborn baby in the womb is definitely the least among us. These precious lives literally cannot speak for themselves. There is a silent holocaust happening right down the road from us...and what are we doing about it? We suffer from depraved indifference. It may move us at some level, but does our heart bleed for these precious ones? We go home and can laugh and act as if all is well in the world. Yet, innocent babies are being ruthlessly slaughtered in our very neighborhoods! Are we willing to spend ourselves for the weak? 

Jesus Christ is the only solution for us and for these unborn babies. Ask Him where He is leading you, who He is leading you to rescue. Pray for our nation's leaders. May we no longer sit by idly, but spend ourselves in order to rescue the least of these! Who will be a champion fighting for their cause? Will you? May we be moved beyond mere human compassion to action...for our King and His glory!

"He is longing for an advocate to stand up and say, 'I'm willing, God, to fight for what is Yours! I'm willing, God. Burden me!" ~Eric Ludy

" is not the will of your Father who is in Heaven that one of these little ones should perish." ~Matthew 18:14

"The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it." ~John 1:5

"Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." ~Romans 12:21  


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Mid-January Memories

I am remembering what mid-January has brought in the past years...

On January 15th, 2010, friends from my local support group gave birth to and lost their precious twin sons, who were born too soon...

On January 15th, 2011, friends from my local support group were supposed to give birth to their precious daughter, who also came too soon, the September before that...

On January 15th, 2012, friends from my local support group were supposed to give birth to their precious son (Marcellus who I have written about quite a few times), who also came too soon, the October before that...

It is crazy how people in my group have so many similar names and dates in common.

Exactly three years ago today, on January 16th, 2010, I remember just what I was doing...Lily was exactly two months from making her arrival. My mom, sister, and I participated in the Raleigh Rally and March for Life downtown. We made signs to carry and I was so proud to show off my prego belly! I remember the powerful speeches that were made, that I have video recorded to this day. I remember walking really far and getting tired, being seven months pregnant and all.

I also remember the precious 6-week old baby boy named Nathaniel who we met mom and I talked to his mom. The family had all red-headed children, including little Nathaniel. He was so cute! Nathaniel seemed enamored with me! I said he knew Lily was growing away inside me. :) We joked and said that he and Lily were going to get married one would be an "arranged marriage," whether they liked it or not. ;) I remember I couldn't stop staring at him because of how precious he was and I longed to one day soon hold my own bundle of baby love.

In 2011, my mom and I saw him and his family at the North Carolina Right to Life Prayer Breakfast. Right away, we recognized his mom from the year before and my heart ached so much knowing Lily should have been there that year, outside of the womb. She could have finally met Nathaniel, who had grown so much in a year's time. He was walking all over the place.

At times, we still think of little Nathaniel and wonder where he is now...he is over 3 now. I bet he still has that red hair. But, he will never marry Lily. Even if it was just a joke, it's just a reminder that she will never marry anyone. Oh, how I dreamed of her marrying an amazing Christian man one day and having precious children of her own - my grandchildren. I didn't just lose a daughter, but more possible family many dreams and desires were lost on that stormy March day in 2010.


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Day I'll Stop Missing You

Lily Katherine,‎

"I dropped a tear in the ocean. The day I find it is the day I'll stop missing you." -Unknown


Monday, January 14, 2013

Walking With You - Clinging in the Pit

I am participating in the Walking With You series that Kelly from Sufficient Grace Ministries is hosting. To see all my posts for this series, click here.

Week 2: January 14, 2013 ~ Clinging in the Pit

If you are not new to loss, talk a bit about early grief. What was it like, clinging for hope in the pits of despair? What did you cling to for hope? How did you survive the early days? What helped? What do you wish you could share with someone new to this walk, clinging in the pit? If you’re in the pit, currently, share your struggles. What can others do to encourage you?

*Click here to join in this week.*

On March 16th, 2010, I quietly waited to deliver the body of my precious daughter who was already waiting for me in the Kingdom. I was suddenly facing something I never could have dreamed I'd have to face...

I'll never forget those words, those dreadful words that will forever be burned into my memory...

"Hannah Rose, this is where her heart is. And it's not beating anymore...I'm so sorry."

What? How could that be? Is this just a nightmare? When will I wake up? I just want to wake up!

But, I didn't wake up. It was real. I was so utterly shocked and frantic that I couldn’t cry at first.

All in a single moment, my whole world crumbled around me and my dreams were shattered. Shaking my head back and forth, the only words I could put together were “no, no no,” half wanting to plead with Dr. M to keep looking until her heart somehow started beating again and half wanting to cry out with tears in my eyes and my arms outstretched to the Heavens,

God, can I please have her back?!

But, there was nothing my doctor could do and there was nothing we could do...just cry.

My little girl was gone.

Deep belly sobs rattled me to the core and for the second time in my life, I felt that ache in my heart that comes from knowing my child is in the arms of the Lord, rather than here with me.

That single moment of finding out my child had already whispered goodbye before I had the chance to even say hello thrust me into a world of heartbreak and loss, grief and joy. That one single day would affect the rest of my days. It would change my heart and life forever...

I felt myself perishing under the weight of this suffering, suddenly overwhelmed with the truth that I couldn’t carry such a burden alone. With all that was in me, I reached out and begged for strength from Emmanuel, God with us, like I had nothing else to help me live. I reached out and touched His face. He was with us. And He freely offered the supernatural peace and strength that flooded over me in a way I had never known. The presence of the Most High God moved through room 235. He gave me the strength to give birth to her, to hold her and spend those sacred hours with her, and then to kiss her goodbye...for now.

I needed more strength as I left the hospital with empty arms and a broken heart. I needed it when I planned my daughter's Celebration of LIFE Service. I needed it when her tiny white casket, placed inside her cozy green Moses basket was placed in the ground and covered with tears, rose and lily petals, and dirt. I needed it when I came home and life marched on, as if she had never existed. I needed it when others so soon forgot her and my grief. I needed it as the days, weeks, months, and now years passed without my precious child here with me. I have needed it in the times that I have yet again fallen into the pit of sorrow and grief. I have needed the strength, grace, peace, and hope of the Lord every day since I took that pregnancy test, confirming I was expecting a little babe at age 19. 

Through my experiences, I have learned one of the greatest lessons of my life...The Lord has shown me that He desires me to live each and every day like March 16th, 2010. Desperately relying on Him for everything and knowing I am helpless without Him. Depending on His strength and trusting fully that He is sufficient for me. Every moment of my life, whether full of sorrow or joy, should be spent at His feet. He desires to be a part of all aspects of my every day. 

He is using me, weak Hannah Rose, to show others how He can provide strength to get through any and all things, when you call out to Him and depend on Him. Me, terrified of child birth, never thinking I'd have to birth my deceased child. I stand in awe, totally amazed, that I got through all this. At times, I find myself looking back on everything I've been through and almost not believing it really happened to me. I find myself wondering how I did it all. And He gently reminds me, you didn't do it. I did it through you. And I smile to myself and think, ah, yes, my precious Jesus, there through it all. And I realize I wouldn't have the strength to get through that today. I feel so weak. He reminds me that no, I don't have the strength to get through it today because I don't need the strength to get through it today. 

My mind goes to a conversation Corrie ten Boom (one of my spiritual heroes) had with her father as a young girl. Fear had come into her heart as she thought of the possibility of her father dying and she thought she couldn't live without him. Her father, Casper, then asks her, "Corrie, when we go to Amsterdam, when do I give you your train ticket?" "Why, just before we get on the train," she answered. "Exactly. And our wise Heavenly father knows when we're going to need things too. Don't run out ahead of Him, Corrie. He will give you the strength you need, just in time."

So many people have said to me they don't know how I've gotten through this and that they never could. It was never me, but my Jesus and I pray my story points all hearts to Him. I pray whoever hears this story will not walk away thinking Hannah Rose, or Lily even, but Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus, for it is He for whom every heart is longing. I pray you will see that He gives us what we need the moment we need it, not a second before or too late. His "train ticket" of grace is there for us to face things we could never imagine facing before. It doesn't make things easy or take away the pain, but somehow it is sufficient to bear what would otherwise crush those who have not made the Lord their hope. Don't expect to understand or know today what you may face tomorrow. Each day has enough trouble of its own. ~Matthew 6:34 If you're called upon to face something unimagineable, rest assured that grace ticket will be handed to you by our loving Father the moment you get on the train, not a moment before. God's strength is there for us when we need it and is not overcome by our circumstances. 

Count your weakness as a joy, a gift because it can draw you to Him and He can prove Himself faithful in your life!

"He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." ~2 Corinthians 12:9-10

If you are new to this walk of grief and are deep in the pit as you read these words, know there are others who have gone before you and others who are walking with you now. Know that the Lord will hold your hand each step of the way. He will never leave you or forsake you.

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

Cling to HIM. Run to HIM. Get in His Holy Word, for it is water for a thirsty soul. He is just what you need and more...

Just because you are in the pit does not mean the Lord is not right there with you, extending His hand to you to pull you out. Don't feel like as a Christian, you are not allowed to experience sorrow and grief. The shortest verse in the Bible is John 11:35, which says "Jesus wept." The Son of God Himself experienced great emotion. It shows His tenderness as our Friend and our Father. It is not improper to weep and is an expression that God does not forbid or condemn. We just must be careful not to harden our hearts towards God because of our grief, but keep our hearts tender towards Him. We must mourn with submission to God.

"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

"Weeping may last for the night, but joy comes with the morning." ~Psalm 30:5

There may be pain, there may be sorrow, there may be winter...oh, but in Him, we have the hope and the certainty that joy and spring are coming! With spring, comes new LIFE, fresh hope. Even here on earth, the Lord is bringing beauty from ashes. There is spring even here, in this fallen world. He uses all things together for our good (Romans 8:28). He brings new life out of tragedy and heartbreak. May we each cling to the HOPE that's Christ. May we cling to the promise that He can and will bring beauty and spring out of sorrow and winter. Both here on earth...and for all eternity. Spring is coming. Hallelujah! 

I highly recommend getting the "Beauty Will Rise" album by Steven Curtis Chapman. It is one of the instruments the Lord has used mightily in my healing. It flowed out of the loss of his own precious daughter.

"Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever." ~Psalm 23:4-6

If you are reading this and you are the friend of family member of someone who has lost a baby, be there for them. Romans 12:15 instructs us to "rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep." If you are looking for other ways to show your support through the loss of one's baby, click here.

Next week, I will discuss more practical things that the Lord used in my life to bring me to healing.

To read more about my healing journey with Luke Shiloh, click here.

*I'd love for you to become a follower of my blog, either by email or Google Friend can do so on the lefthand side of this blog. :)*

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