Sunday, March 31, 2013

Goodbye Bittersweet March

The month of March will officially be over in less than half an hour...this month has flown by. It feels like I was just posting my "Well, it's March" post on the first day of the month.

I have mixed feelings about it ending...in one sense, I feel like I can now breathe a sigh of relief. March is hard on me. It is emotionally really difficult to relive all the significant dates from March 2010.

On the other hand, March truly has a very special place in my heart. It is hard, yes, but it is beautiful...it is her month. And somehow living in it makes me feel somehow closer to her. She feels right here. Though it's tough, that is not something I would ever give up. I want to feel her near. I am so thankful she has a special day all her own that we can celebrate.

It's bittersweet...that's the perfect word.

I will miss her month. Though, it will be good to not feel the fog for a while. Next time March rolls around, Lily would be 4! Time just keeps marching by.

This month has been busy. All the anniversary dates...Lily's due date, her birthday, the day of her Celebration of LIFE Service and burial, St. Patrick's Day, and Easter just to name a few...

So many amazing things have happened in the month of March for Lily's birth month. I got the official letter saying I am speaking at my first Pregnancy Center Banquet in Illinois in October, I ordered Lily's headstone, I was asked by the Founder of Huntsville Right to Life to share my story on their website, now Lily's name will be in the credits of Return to Zero...and something else super exciting (which I will be sharing tomorrow hopefully).

And I have some other amazing news from this month! My BROTHER, Joseph, is ENGAGED...to my BEST FRIEND, Kala!! I thought Easter would be the perfect day to share this exciting news because their God-written love story is a beautiful story of redemption and grace! We are all thrilled! I already said my "official title" is Maid of Honor/Best Woman. ;)

It's been a beautiful and special month of celebration, remembrance, opened doors, and new seasons beginning.

I love you so much, Lily! My precious March flower...

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Easter Sunday

My sweet Lily was born just a couple weeks before Easter Sunday. It was on April 4th in 2010. I had so anticipated dressing her in a pink frilly dress and putting together her first Easter basket.

Thank you to my sweet friend, Catherine, for making these Easter 
eggs for Lily and Luke and for taking photos of them for me. :-)

Besides St. Patrick's Day, Easter would have been Lily's first "big" holiday. It was the first big holiday without her. Each year, it will remind me of her...though I suppose every holiday does, but some more than others.

I have been seeing so many posts and pictures on facebook of kiddos with their Easter outfits and baskets. I've been hearing friends talk about Easter egg hunts...with each word, picture, and post, the ache in my heart stirs...

I have no little girl to dress in her Easter Sunday best. Nobody will ooh and aah over how pretty she looks in her pink dress, sandals, and big bow. This year, she would have been old enough to help pick out her specisl outfit. This would already be her 4th Easter...how can that be?

I see the hand of my God in choosing for Lily's birthday, the genesis of Spring, and Easter to all be within just a couple weeks of each other. He silently speaks with the vibrant colors, fresh smells, and the beauty of the season. 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!

So, on this day that I wish was full of a 3-year-old Lily going on an Easter egg hunt and dressing in a pretty outfit...and though I don't have any child to do those things with...

I am rejoicing on this Easter Sunday that Jesus is Victor...always! He is Victor over sin and death. He is Victor over sorrow that pierces the soul. He is Victor over stillbirth. He is Victor over anything and everything that holds us down. And because of His victory over the grave, I can rest in the assurance that I will see my sweet girl again...

"There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain:
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave he rose again!
And as He stands in victory
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me,
For I am His and He is mine -
Bought with the precious blood of Christ."

"Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for He has risen." ~Matthew 28:5

"And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away." ~Revelation 21:4

"He died not for men, but for each man. If each had been the only man made, He would have done no less." ~C.S Lewis

I love Fernando Ortega's voice and music...and love the words in this song. So appropriate for Resurrection Sunday.










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Friday, March 29, 2013

Lily's Name in a Movie!

I am so excited to share that my precious Lily Katherine Allen-Ball's name is going to be in the credits of a new movie coming out about stillbirth called Return to Zero. I am so proud to call her my daughter. :-)



In an exclusive section to appear BEFORE the other credits, the film will read:
This film was made possible through the generous donations of StillBirthday Families
Immediately below this line, will list the names of many precious babies in Heaven, including my girl! This is a special prominant section of the credits and will be highly visible!

For a short time, anyone who donated $5 to the movie could have their child's name added...now it has gone back up to $250. I'm thankful I made my donation in time!

The movie will be distributed in theaters around the country at some point either at the end of 2013 or beginning of 2014. That's the estimate that they are currently giving. And how awesome that I will get to go see it in the actual theatre and will see my daughter's name on the screen!! I will definitely post again when I know it's coming out.

Thank you so much to stillbirthday and Return to Zero for making this possible! Check out the Return to Zero website for more information on the movie. Consider supporting it as well if you are able. And become a fan on their facebook page for updates. This is such an important message that many people need to hear/see. We need to break the silence of stillbirth. I am proud to be Lily's voice! Her life matters, as all the little ones who we must say hello and goodbye to at once.

I will share more about the movie when I see it and will be sure to post a photo of Lily's name in the credits! I'm sure when I finally do see it, I will cry. To know she is making a difference. To see her name on a movie will be a precious reminder that she is real, loved, missed, important, remembered...always.

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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Thoughts

I have been thinking lately that I will never get to hear Lily's voice. I think of her as a child, but the thought hit me...what would she have been like as a grown woman? How would she look? Like me? Like her father? It hurts so deeply that I'll never know.

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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Beautiful Lily Cards

My sweet friend Laura sent me these beautiful lily cards, all photos she took. They arrived today, on the Anniversary of Lily's burial. Perfect timing, I'd say.


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Saturday, March 23, 2013

My 3-Year-Old...

I am missing Lily so much today. Though truly, I cannot and could never find the words to fully articulate or express this profound longing...for my beautiful girl, for what might have been.

I am haunted by dreams and imaginings of who she might be now at 3-years-old. What/who would she look like? What toys and activities would she enjoy? What sort of mannerisms would she have? How would her precious smile look? How different might my days look had she lived? All these thoughts and wonderings will never be answered, explained...fulfilled.

I find myself seeing children the age she'd be and thinking to myself...is that really how 3-year-olds act/look/are? I find myself hardly able to grasp or believe that she'd be that old. How can that much time have passed?

A piece of my heart will forever remain frozen on March 16th, 2010. The time when she was my baby. Though I suppose she will always be my baby. That and whatever age she'd currently be.

It feels as if I'm getting farther away from her and closer to her all at once.

All these dreams I had for her life will forever remain just that...dreams.

The desires I had for her life will never be fulfilled because she was lost barely before her days began.

Oh, but then my Jesus assures me that HIS dreams and desires for her LIFE are still very much alive, just as she is in Heaven...and those purposes will be fulfilled through me.

So many thoughts and feelings on who my 3-year-old Lily would have been. What have I already missed out on, what am I missing out on now, and what will I miss out on in the future? It's the not-knowing that can hurt the most. The questions that linger.

I love and miss her so much it hurts. Some days it hurts more than others and the longing is deeper. Today is one of those days. I am so thankful to have this space, Lily's space, to come and release these things. I suppose a big reason why I am feeling this way is because it's still March ~ her month, and she would now officially be a new age.

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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Spring is Coming...

*This was originally posted on March 20th, 2012*

Spring is officially here and for me, it's a bittersweet time of year. It reminds me of the time Lily came...and went. She was born just days before spring started. In the first few weeks after losing her, all the flowers were blooming so beautifully and the sun grew stronger on my skin. The birds were happily chirping along, preparing nests for their wee ones. It felt wrong that life was marching on, the seasons were changing, even though she wasn't there. It felt like everything was supposed to stop since her life had ended. With the promise of spring, came the promise of Lily. Like the new life bursting forth from the earth, Lily was new life. 

Spring and Lily...they came together.

I see the hand of my God in choosing for Lily's birthday, the genesis of Spring, and Easter to all be within just a couple weeks of each other. He silently speaks with the vibrant colors, fresh smells, and the beauty of the season. 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! 

There have been so many of these reminders in my life. Like on the day she was born, as well as on her 1st, 2nd, and 3rd birthdays, it was dark and gloomy out, and seemed to reflect the heart of God grieving along with us. Then, suddenly, unexpectedly, the sun peeks out from behind the clouds and a hint of blue can be seen. And it reminds me of this dance of sorrow and joy and how this whole journey is marked by tears of happiness and tears of sadness. 

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. Through my own sin and sorrow, He is giving me a life and a purpose through Lily's life and legacy. What the world would look at as hopeless, God has turned into something so breathtakingly beautiful. In the midst of darkness, He brings glorious light. He uses the very things the enemy means to destroy us with and brings glory to Himself. He uses all things together for our good (Romans 8:28). He brings new life out of tragedy and heartbreak. Even with the pain, I would never choose another way. I am honored to have been chosen to be Lily's mother. I am honored that God would choose to speak His promise of everlasting LIFE through Lily's and my story. She was born on March 16 (3:16) and yet again, He silently speaks His promise of spring...

"For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." ~John 3:16 

Not only does God somehow, some magnificent way bring beauty and spring here on earth, but He reminds me that spring is coming. Eternal spring. Life with Him forever. But, forever doesn't have to begin when I die. I have Him now. I have His promises now, even though I don't tangibly have them yet, I do have them, for He's promised them to me. And I trust Him. Even with the loss of Lily, I can have the hope that this sorrow is only for a short while longer. Then I will be with my girl for all of Eternity! 

My mom saw a glorious rainbow this morning, stretching all the way from one side of the sky to the other. She said the colors were so vibrant and amazing. How appropriate for this first day of spring. :-)

So with this change of season, 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
  
"Our LORD has written the promises of THE RESURRECTION, not in books alone, but in every leaf in Springtime." ~Martin Luther

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

This is a song off Steven Curtis Chapman's album, "Beauty Will Rise," that has been most instrumental in my healing journey. It flowed out of the Chapman's loss of their own precious daughter. This song reminds me so much of Lily, spring, and the promise I have in Christ. May you be blessed by it today as well.



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Monday, March 18, 2013

Triple Giveaway Winners!

Thank you to everyone who entered into the triple giveaway in honor of Lily's 3rd birthday!

Time to announce the winners! :)


-Molly Smith won the "Gone Too Soon" Magnet - Painting by Stephanie Dyer of Beyond Words Designs on her Eden Elizabeth's 1st Birthday in Heaven today!


-Kyla Hill won the Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Ribbon Car Magnet 




-Jennifer Ross won the LIFE Bracelet 


Blessings, friends! :)

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Sunday, March 17, 2013

St. Patrick's Day

To most people, St. Patrick's Day is just another holiday and a time to wear green and pretend to be Irish even if you're not.

Thank you for this photo, Catherine! :)

To me, this holiday is the day I left the hospital without Lily. It was the day I last held her in my arms and had to leave her there and drive home with an empty carseat. I remember a lady who worked at the hospital came into my room with her green hat and shirt. I hadn't even realized it was St. Patrick's Day until I saw her in her outfit...it was the furthest thing from my mind.

I have been seeing St. Patty's Day stuff in stores for the past couple weeks and each time I see these things, they remind me of my girl...

Anytime I hear about the holiday or see anything associated with it, my mind goes right to her. And I think it will always feel that way.

It was one of the only two days in this life where I got to hold and spend time with my first-born, giving her enough hugs and kisses to last a lifetime. Today, I was remembering what this day held three years ago...

Here are Lily Bear and I wearing our green today, in honor of my almost-St-Patty's-Day-baby!


I got this adorable St. Patrick's Day skirt form T.J. Maxx for really cheap! I couldn't pass it up a few weeks ago while I was shopping because of course it reminded me of Lily. It's perfect for her bear. :)


I also got these St. Patrick's Day socks at Target to wear in honor of Lily today! Missing my mid-March baby girl!


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Saturday, March 16, 2013

To Love is to Celebrate - Her 3rd Birthday

Today is Lily Katherine's 3rd birthday. The day that holds both the celebration of her birth and the mourning of her death...how can it be that these two things can be intertwined? A day that should be marked by such joy and delight is marked by deep sorrow. Births shouldn't bring burial plans and funeral arrangements...yet it did. Hers did.


I've been seeing all over facebook what this day means to others...completely happy birthdays, a baby shower, multiple weddings...among so many other things. I mean seriously, it seems like today is the day a lot of kids were born...mostly children, rather than adults. And about three people I've seen are celebrating their family member's 3rd birthday today. Each time I see these posts, it's like salt on an open wound.

My mind tells me that March 16th shouldn't be just another day for anyone. And it most certainly shouldn't be an only-happy day. It's happy-sad. Bittersweet. Shouldn't everyone be pausing and reflecting on what March 16th was to me, is to me, and will always be to me? Shouldn't the whole world just stop...And think about Lily? It's a sacred, set-apart day. Yet, life goes on for everyone around me. 


It's bizarre realizing that today she would be 3. I would have a 3-year-old?! A part of my heart sees her as the 3-year-old she would be, while another part of my heart sees her as yet a babe...my forever babe.


It feels almost wrong to celebrate without her, yet I will celebrate her life. I will rejoice that she was. I will trust that God has a plan and that He will restore the most broken places of my heart. To love is to celebrate. I love her with every piece of me and could never not remember, honor, celebrate, rejoice on this day. Her day.

Though I celebrate the life of someone who isn't even here to celebrate with me, I realize what a precious thing it is for Lily to even have a birthday. How many babies never live to see their birthdays? But, Lily had one. Luke didn't. I got so many things with her that I'll never have with him.

Jesus gave me a gift in March 16th...yes, it's a difficult gift to receive, but one I am so, so thankful for. He gave me the gift of Lily's legacy. He gave me the gift of holding and meeting her. He gave me the gift of knowing her and being her mother.

Some may think it's strange for me to say I was given a gift on the day I lost my daughter...but you see, I didn't really lose her because I and many others have and will gain so much through her life. And I truly believe the world will gain more through her life without her here than they would have had she lived. Though that is hard for me to say, I truly believe it to be true. Without ever speaking a single word or even taking a breath, look at all God is speaking...that is so, so powerful. The Lord is good always...when babies live and when they die. And He always has a beautiful plan, beyond what we can see and comprehend. 

"March 16th, I don't think there are any words that could follow this date. It's become a meaning of its own. It's this day that changed our lives forever because of dear Lily Katherine. While you were a life giver to her, she was and is a bringer of spiritual life through the redemptive story of King Jesus. What a beautiful soul sent for a beautiful purpose." ~my best friend, Kala

Ah yes, so beautiful and so, so true.

Here is Lily's video tribute. Please watch and share, in honor of her special day.

I will carry you
While your heart beats here
Long beyond the empty cradle
Through the coming years
I will carry you
All my life
And I will praise the One who's chosen me
To carry you

The years are coming, sweet Lily. And I have not forgotten. I could never forget. I will carry you until the day I take my last breath and I will share you with the world. I will praise the One who gave me the sweet gift of you.

I have many more thoughts on Lily's birthday to share and I look forward to sharing soon how we made her day special...for now, I will spend some time with my Jesus and think on His goodness, mercy, and grace. I am so overwhelmed with the beauty of the story He has written, which is quite the contrast to how I felt upon waking this morning. He is sovereign over us.


Favorite song as of late...letting the words sink into the depths. Just amazing.


It would mean so much to me if you would honor and remember Lily Katherine with me on her special day...wear pink in her honor, eat hashbrowns or red-velvet cake/cupcake, light a candle, release a balloon, or write her name somewhere and send it to me. Speak her name and the name of Jesus...share her story with someone of how He used and continues to use her life. Just thinking about her is enough to make this mama heart of mine smile knowing she is not being forgotten.

*Read about March 16th, 2010 (the day Lily was born) by clicking here.
*Don't forget to enter the triple giveaway in honor of Lily's 3rd birthday (ends tomorrow) by clicking here.

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Friday, March 15, 2013

Lily's Headstone is Ordered!

I am thrilled to share that I just made the initial deposit on Lily's headstone, which means it's official that her stone is now in the process of getting designed and created! :)

I have been wanting to do this for literally three years, as it is extremely important to me to honor her precious LIFE in this way. However, for different reasons it hasn't worked out until now. I will share more about that at a later time. If you have read this blog for a while, you will know how much this means to me.

I am so thankful that God led me to a monument company that is dependable, high-quality, and friendly. They will make sure her stone is exactly as I picture it and it will be the only one just like it in the world, specially crafted by a sculptor in her honor.

I had hoped it would be ready to be placed by her birthday this year, but it is exciting that the order was placed right before her special day! (which I planned and waited until today to make the deposit...I wanted to do it on her birthday, but since it's on a Saturday, the company isn't open that day...so I got it as close to the day as possible.) I am so excited to see it by the summertime and to have a permanent monument that says Lily Katherine was a real, important, special someone who is very loved and missed. Her LIFE is of value, as each life is who is created by God.

I am so ready, eager, and happy to begin this process and see how her beautiful stone comes together. It will be tiny and sweet, just like her. :) I will share more about how her stone will look when I get drawings from the Monument Company...for now, I will tell you it includes a lamb, a rose and a lily. And it is sooo darling!

There is something so strange about being 23-years-old and having to buy a headstone for my child...

I will share more at a later time about what having a headstone for Lily means to me...

It is the night before Lily's birthday. My best friend sent me this text: "May God give you sweet dreams of His loving presence and the healing power of Jesus on this night. He is close to the brokenhearted. I love you." ~Kala

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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Disappointed

As I mentioned earlier, tonight we had a special party with our neighbors, which I was really excited about and looking forward to. Over the last year, we've gotten really close with them. It turns out, "J's" daughter shares a birthday with Lily - March 16th. "A" will be turning 10 this year. Since we have gotten close with them, we decided it would be special to have a party this evening in honor of both our girls. It was obviously a party for the both of them and I was really looking forward to it. We brought snacks and drinks, got a gift for "A" for the third year in a row (which we like to do in honor of Lily) and balloons. "J" was going to get the cake.

Well, we walked in the front door and I saw the cute little cake down the hallway in the kitchen sitting on the table. I smiled and went in to look at it and noticed there were words. I was thinking, oh I wonder what it says. Then, when I only saw "Happy 10th Birthday, A" my heart just sank...it threw me off for the rest of the night. After that, I was going to ask if we could sing happy birthday to both Lily and "A" because I brought 10 candles for "A" and a "3" candle for Lily. Well, before I could ask, everyone started singing and didn't include Lily's name. Crushing. Then, I figured later maybe "J" would at least give us a card or something, especially because last year she mentioned she should have given us something and that was before we were really even close with her. Since we give "A" a sweet gift each year. And the thing is, I don't really care about a gift...it's the thought behind picking out a card or something and saying you care.

"J" knows we love Lily and are very open about talking about her. I thought she "understood" in a special way. I even took over a few of Lily's things to share. When we got home, my mom knew immediately what was wrong and that I would be hurt by all three of those things. She said when she saw the cake she felt bad for me. I am glad at least she understands.

This all might sound silly and like not a big deal. I don't know, I am just disappointed with how tonight went and really wish I didn't always feel so foreign in this world. It felt like Lily was going to be celebrated and honored in almost a "normal" way...at least as normal as it can be to celebrate someone's birthday without them here. I was happy about this. But, it ended up me feeling so not normal, as usual. It feels like others don't value my daughter. I wish it wasn't always so awkward. I wish people could understand without this happening to them, if that makes sense. I wish I wasn't hurt by things like this. I wish people saw Lily the same way they see other children. She is just as valuable and precious and special. And it is just as much her birthday as "A's." I just wish it wasn't so hard. I know that "J" cares about us and Lily and didn't mean to hurt me of course...I just wish it were different. I wish people would make an effort to include my daughter because she is real and important. I wish people would understand that they don't need to make it an uncomfortable thing because it isn't to me.

I am thankful to have the love and support of my mom and some of my family and many dear friends...but sometimes it just hurts to be disappointed with how people "handle Lily and I."

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Our Little Spud - the Anniversary of Lily's Due Date

Lily Katherine was due three years ago today, March 14th, 2010 (National Potato Chip Day), so one of her nicknames is "Spud." :)

Ironically, the food I ate nonstop during my pregnancy were hashbrowns. I craved them daily and enjoyed them homemade, as well as at all different restaurants. It's only appropriate to make eating them a tradition each year on this day, in honor of our little Spud. Mom made them for breakfast - some soft and some crispy, just the way I like them. And with ketchup. Delicious!


Though Lily was not born on March 14th, it was the day she was due, the date I associated with her my entire pregnancy and shared that date when people asked how far along I was. So naturally, I still think of her on this date. I thought it sounded like such a pretty day to be due. I always liked even numbers better, rather than odd.

I love having special days/memories/cute stories like this to share with others...because the fact is, I hardly got to make any memories at all with my first-born babe. And things like this remind me that she was real! She was truly here. That may sound confusing to some, but to me March just helps remind me and others around me that I didn't just lose an idea of a person, but a real, living, important, special someone...my precious daughter.

My sweet friend Naomi, from Blessings Close To My Heart (who lives in Canada), took this photo for me today! Aww, I love it! Thank you so much, friend...for being so thoughtful, having hashbrowns for Lily, and capturing it in a photo! :)


My friend Kyla, from Tossie's Tree and Painted Rocks (who lives in Missouri), shared this photo with me of the hashbrowns she made for her family to eat for dinner! She said this: "Just wanted to show you what my family had for dinner...Homemade hashbrowns! I even added red peppers for Lily  Much love to you today and this weekend. " Thank you for doing that and for taking a photo. It means so much to me! And how precious that your whole family had them. :)


My blog friend Jaime, from Handprint On My Heart, shared this photo with me today. Her precious daughter, Claire, was due on March 10th, 2010...just four days before my Lily girl! Claire came unexpectedly early, on October 1st, 2009 (Luke's exact due date), and also now lives in Heaven. Hearts remind Jamie of Claire and she has sweet photo collages each month of all the "winks" Claire sends, whether to her directly or through friends.

Jaime posted this photo on my facebook and said this: "I thought I would share a few of Claire's winks in honor of your Lily's due date... I think they just might put a smile on your face! x o"


Thank you, Jaime! This is so sweet and certainly did put a smile on my face. :) I am glad I could share with you that today is National Potato Chip Day! This photo is special obviously because of the chips, but also because hearts remind me of Lily from my Valentine's-themed baby shower! And it's sweet to have so many dates and things in common with you.

I thought this was pretty neat...a lady on facebook saw my status about what today means to me on my Lily's Legacy facebook page and said this: "That is so weird. I craved them today and ate them. So I guess Spud is on my heart." How precious! :)

I know due dates mean different things for people who have lost babies. For me, the due date is a special, happy memory because I was still carrying Lily and was oblivious to the fact that she was already gone. Due dates are probably more painful for those who lost their babies early in pregnancy because they should have been pregnant up until that time and due dates are a reminder of what should have been. Lily's birthday is a reminder to me of what could have been...

This evening, mom and and I are going over to our neighbor "J's" home, just one house down, for a special celebration. In the past year, we have gotten really close with her. Two years ago, around Lily's 1st birthday, we found out her daughter "A" shares Lily's birthday, March 16th! She will be turning 10 on Lily's 3rd birthday. Since we all have our own plans on Saturday, we still wanted to celebrate together. I suggested doing it today since it's close to the actual day and because it was Lily's due date. So, we will be having cake and yummy snacks tonight in honor of both our girls! This will also be the third year in a row that we will give "A" a gift. It is a sweet way to honor Lily's life and special day...and besides, we really enjoy shopping for little girls! :)

If you like hashbrowns, today is a great day to eat them in honor of little Lily. ♥ And if you do, please let me know and maybe even take a picture? It would mean a lot to me. :)

Just two days away from Lily's 3rd birthday...

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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Recognition of Life

I got these "Recognition of Life" images from Carly Marie in honor of Luke Shiloh and Lily Katherine. I was able to select the quotes I wanted on them. Since Luke will never have a birth certificate, this is a way for me to honor his life.



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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Speaking at my first Pregnancy Center Banquet!

I have been waiting to announce this until I got the official confirmation in print! I am super excited to share that I will be speaking at my first Pregnancy Center Banquet this October! 

For a long time, I have known in my heart that part of the Lord's plan for my life and future is to share my story, both in speaking and writing. I just wasn't sure exactly how this would look...when it would happen, how it would happen, or where exactly I'd be sharing. The Lord has truly worked it all out and scripted the story so beautifully. When He writes the story of our lives, it's always so much better than anything we could ever write. :)

This is how it happened...

My dear friend, Dusty, who I met at Ellerslie, started volunteering at her local Crisis Pregnancy Center where she lives in Illinois...which is really awesome! Anyways, she randomly mentioned to some of the ladies there about my testimony and they sort of raised their eyebrows and looked at her and said they were looking for a speaker for their annual fall fund-raising banquet. She had an audio recording of me sharing my story at Ellerslie last April and let them listen to it. They said that was what they were looking for and they were going to present it to the board of directors at their next meeting. She sent me a letter and then called me (this was around the time I got back from the March for LIFE in D.C.) and asked if I would be interested in speaking there...would I?! :)

The meeting took a few weeks to happen...In that time, I was praying and surrendering this dream to the Lord. I was already so excited about the possibility of this actually happening, but didn't want to get too caught up in it that I was so disappointed if it ended up not working out. The Lord gave me the grace to surrender it into His hands. I really wanted it, but only if it was what God wanted. I knew if it was in His plan and timing, it would all work out...

Well, on February 18th (I like to keep track of dates) I got the email from Dusty saying that the board of directors decided that they do want me to come and speak! It was my first unofficial email. 

A couple days later, I spoke on the phone with one of the ladies who is on the board. She was so sweet and encouraging and invited me to speak! We had a lovely conversation and I happily accepted the request!

Then, I waited to get the "official confirmation" in the mail - which came yesterday, March 11th. I just noticed that at the top of the letter, there are two butterflies (which are very symbolic to me, symbolizing new life. This is a part of my new life in Christ and the purposes He has for me...and two...Luke and Lily). :)


This was a really special way to start off Lily's birthday week...like a sweet gift from my Jesus. :) I am going to keep this invitation in Lily's memory chest always...as a precious reminder of how the Lord brings beauty from ashes, restores and redeems, works all things together for our good and His glory. It is amazing, almost dream-like, to see these things becoming reality. For so long, I have known this would happen, but didn't know how or when. It is incredible to watch it all unfold, only by the hand of my God. It is so humbling to see how He gives me the platform to share His redeeming story of LIFE. 

The first time (actually, the first two times) I spoke in front of a large group of people sharing my story was at Ellerslie. This was such a gift because of how much the Ludy's ministry has affected my life and walk with Christ. And now my next time speaking (besides the March for LIFE) will be through someone I met at Ellerslie. God has opened many doors and worked many awesome things in my life through this amazing place and the people there. 

Here's what I know about the banquet so far...it is October 3rd and I will be given 15-20 minutes to share my testimony with an audience of around 220 adults. They are praying for me as I prepare for this special evening and they are expecting God to move in a powerful way "as the cause of Life is defended, God's grace is extended, and God's name is exalted." What I really love and appreciate about this particular Center is that they are focused on Christ, the Author of LIFE and that is why they are passionate about unborn LIFE. I am so excited, humbled, and honored to be chosen to be the featured speaker for this event. 

Here is a piece of the letter:

"We have listened to your testimony and feel that yours is a compelling story of God's grace triumphing over difficult times that gives evidence to His love for all human life."

God is so good to open this door for me to walk through. I know that He will give me the strength, grace, and words. If He has called me to this, He will give me what I need...even though I know I am supposed to speak, I am still quite an introvert and it is nerve-wracking to think of being on stage in front of all those people! That's how I know it's God's will for my life...nothing in me desires to stand before a crowd with a microphone, let alone to share something so raw and intimate...yet I do so because of the burning passion within. I must be the voice of my children. And I must share what Jesus has done for me!

I know how difficult it is to get started speaking publicly because places don't know you or how you will speak unless you have experience and speaking endorsements. I was stressed out about this for a while, but the Lord showed me I needed to surrender that fear. I knew I wasn't supposed to "try to make things happen" myself, but wait on His timing and wait for Him alone to open the doors. Each time I have shared, in writing or speaking, God has worked it all out, without manipulation or control on my part. It's so amazing to see how this is happening. And I believe this will help open doors for more similar speaking engagements! :)

I am very much looking forward to this for many reasons...I get to share my/Luke's/Lily's story in another state and share how amazing Jesus is and the value of LIFE! I hope to visit Chicago for the first time and visit my cousin, Daniel, who lives there! I also hope he can come hear me speak. I get to see some of my dearest friends in the world, my beloved Ellerslie sisters (mini-Ellerslie reunion!) They also get to hear me speak. And as I mentioned above, hopefully this will open up more doors for speaking!

I still don't know exactly how this life of mine will look - how all the chapters will be written, beautifully intertwined. But, I have come to the point where I am okay with that. All I need to know is what God has called me to today. I need to just take one step at a time, in obedience to what He's asking of me. Today, I know that I will be speaking at a Pregnancy Center Banquet in Illinois in October. Beyond that, I'm not sure what God has in store or where He'll lead me. But, I don't need to know...not until the time comes and He reveals the next step on this wild adventure of living for Him...

Not only do I post this to share it with others, but also because I want to record each season of my life...it is so incredible to look back on my life and see how faithful God has been through everything. It is neat to see my feelings, thoughts, and how God orchestrates everything.

Please pray that preparations for this event continue going smoothly. It is a few months out, but pray for good health, safe travels, the power of Jesus to minister, and that God will give me courage to stand up and share my story! I look forward to sharing more about this in the coming months.

I have some more exciting news coming soon! :)

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Monday, March 11, 2013

Her Birthday Week Begins

Lily Katherine's beautiful name was written in the sand by Azalea's mommy, Nicole, in Hawaii... her birthday week begins. 


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Triple Giveaway for Lily's 3rd Birthday!

In honor of Lily's 3rd Birthday in Heaven, I am hosting a triple giveaway!

These are the items I am giving away:

-One "Gone Too Soon" Magnet - Painting by Stephanie Dyer of Beyond Words Designs (only like one of my favorite artists ever) :)

This lovely magnet can be hung on a refrigerator, used in a scrapbook or journal, framed, or basically used for anything else you can think of!


-One 4" x 8" Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Ribbon Car Magnet 


I have one of these magnets on my car and really like it.


-One LIFE Bracelet (Standard Size)

Bound4LIFE invites you to make a covenant. The outward symbol of this covenant is a red wristband engraved with the word LIFE. We wear these bands as a symbol and reminder of the covenant with God that we have made. The covenant has three parts - Pray, Vote and Obey. To read more about this wristband, click here. Lily was buried with one of these and I now wear one on my wrist.
*To enter this giveaway, follow the instructions in the Rafflecopter below! :) Anyone can enter. There will be three separate winners. Giveaway ends the day after Lily's 3rd Birthday - March 17th, 2013 at midnight and the winners will be announced/contacted the following day. All three winners will be decided randomly.


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Friday, March 8, 2013

The Auschwitz Within

In January, when I was in Washington D.C. for the Annual National March for LIFE, my mom and I visited the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.


I had been wanting to go there for a long time, especially since I have become intrigued with the Holocaust over the past few years. I think the main reason for this is because of one of my favorite authors, Corrie ten Boom, who was a Christian living in Holland during World War II. She and her family had a "Hiding Place" in their home where they hid and protected Jews from the Nazis. Her story is so beautiful, though there is so much sadness in it. However, it proclaims that Jesus is triumphant and victorious always! I feel such a deep love for people who lived through this tragedy and am drawn to them.

We visited the Museum on January 27th and had no idea that it was International Holocaust Remembrance Day. We discovered this when we got stickers like in the photo below. I thought that was quite special to be there on that day of remembrance.


Here I am in front of the Museum.

As soon as I entered the Museum, tears came to my eyes as I looked around at the quotes on the wall.


Before you are taken on an elevator to the top floor to begin touring the Museum, you are given an Identification Card, with the name and story of someone who truly was a victim of the Holocaust. I randomly grabbed my card from the large stack of female cards. There are four floors of the Museum and each time you finish touring one floor, you read what is on that page and then turn the page to read the next page when you finish touring the next floor. At the end of the tour, you find out what happened to that specific person.


When I opened mine, I saw the name Liliana. Lily is often a nickname for the name Liliana. There are constantly reminders of my girl throughout my days. This Liliana was also born on the 16th of a month. I was thankful to learn that Liliana survived the Holocaust and emigrated to America in 1950.


As we went up to the top floor to begin the tour of the Museum, I was crying and was so deeply impacted by the videos and displays. I know some people doubt that the Holocaust ever truly happened, which is completely absurd. But, here in this Museum, is proof. There are clothes that the prisoners wore, personal items, pictures, videos, and materials from the camps. For anyone who doubts, what can they possibly say to this?

As we walked from one level to the next, something kept pressing on my heart more and more...maybe I am drawn to the Holocaust so much because I am living through the American Holocaust. Abortion. The Auschwitz Within(Such an appropriate description. I got the title of this post from a Sermon by Eric Ludy. It is a must-watch. Click on the link to do so.) I believe my calling and a big purpose God has for me are to be a voice for LIFE, those in unplanned pregnancies, and those affected by abortion.

What happened in the Holocaust is dreadful, yet what is happening in abortion is just as dreadful. There have been millions more lives lost to abortion in the past 40 years than lives lost in the Holocaust. Yet, abortion is an accepted and even praised part of the culture.

Maybe it's easy for people to believe that abortion is okay because they don't allow themselves to think of these precious lives as real babies. They think they are just "blobs of tissue." Just as people choose to believe the Holocaust didn't happen, people choose to avoid the abortion issue. Is it easier to not be affected by the Holocaust or abortion if you don't see the truth with your own eyes? Somehow seeing it for oneself makes it seem more real. There can be no more excuses. No more explaining it away. No more justifications. When the reality of abortion is faced, I believe many eyes will be opened and hearts changed.

It is hard for people to see just what the Holocaust did. Yet, just because it's difficult doesn't mean it shouldn't be faced. It shows honor to acknowledge what happened to these people. Seeing these real items from this time period somehow makes ones heart grasp it in a deeper sense. I believe it is time that we see what abortion really is so that our hearts will grasp what it is truly doing to the unborn.

Some people are disturbed and disgusted to see Pro-Life activists marching around with graphic signs of aborted babies. I don't agree with those approach at all...however, if it's nothing more than a "blob of tissue," then what is there to get so upset over? Is it possibly because people are afraid that questions will start to be asked if the world begins to see what these babies look like at different gestational ages? And how they are unmistakably human.

Please, please take some time out of your day to watch this film called Baby Choice with Melody Green (Keith Green's wife).



-Also, please watch Here's the Blood.
-And click here to see developing baby images, abortion
procedure diagrams, and aborted baby images.

It struck me as so ironic that the United States has such a beautiful memorial to the lives lost in the Holocaust...yet we fight to keep the killing of the unborn legal. How do people not see how the quotes in the Museum pertain to the unborn?




Are we not going to speak out because we aren't the unborn?

Just as Liliana (whose Identification Card I had on my tour) is now being honored and remembered and is seen as worthy to be spoken for...I pray we start to see that babies like my Lily deserve to be honored, spoken for, fought for...

I pray that one day there will be a National Memorial that thousands visit, as a tribute to the millions of unborn children lost to abortion. And you know how many say about the Holocaust - how did the Americans and the world just sit back and let it happen? Well, I refuse for that to be said of me when generations from now look back on abortion. I refuse for them to ask, where were the advocates for these innocent ones? I want to do everything I can, everything God leads me to do, to be the voice, to fight with all my heart and strength so that my name will not be counted among those that did nothing.

Are you with me?

Remember, we are their witnesses (Isaiah 43:10). I pray we never forget it.

"I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented." ~Elie Wiesel, Holocaust Survivor

"Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act." ~Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who died during the Holocaust

"The dismembering of a human being routinely in 30 minutes on an outpatient basis - or any other way - is barbaric. Four blocks from our church all year long - like churches within smelling distance of Auschwitz or Dachau or Buchenwald." ~John Piper

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