Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Sharing about Aunt Rachel on Still Standing Magazine

I am honored that another thing I wrote is published on Still Standing Magazine. The magazine is a beautiful place for people who have suffered a loss or are dealing with infertility.

I am sharing about my beloved Aunt Rachel and the grief my grandmother and I share.

Read my guest post "My Aunt and Daughter - Forever Babies" on Still Standing here.


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Sunday, July 28, 2013

She's My Baby - Not a Stillborn or a Tragic Circumstance

When I shared a letter I wrote to Lily, a comment someone wrote about it rubbed me the wrong way. I know I'm not the only person who has lost a baby who struggles with well-meaning people who just don't get it. It is my hope that by discussing this it will help others to be more sensitive.

This was the comment: "Goes to show how much even an unsuccessful pregnancy changes the heart of a woman..."

I agree that every life in the womb, whether they are here for a matter of weeks, months, or however long, changes hearts and lives forever... but, I want to clear something up.

My Lily Katherine was NOT an "unsuccessful pregnancy." She IS and will forever be my daughter. My precious child. My beautiful baby girl. I held her in my arms and marveled at her perfect form, her every detail from her nails growing out to her eyelashes and eyebrows. She has a headstone. I have her handprints, footprints, photos, and a lock of her lovely hair to prove she is real. She was here.

I have never liked the word "stillborn" or "stillbirth." Lily was not "a stillborn." She is a sweet little girl. My child who looked just like me. I'm getting to the point where I don't even want to use that word when talking about Lily. In someone's mind, it seems to take away from the devastating reality of what this loss entails. Rather, I will say, "I lost my daughter at full-term." In a way, I don't even like saying I "lost" her because I didn't lose her. She might be gone from this world, but she isn't lost. She is safe at Home with Jesus. She is found in Him. I have assurance that my future is with her in Heaven.

People seem to think that because a stillborn child never lives outside their mother's womb, never takes their first breath in this world, that they somehow matter less. That the loss somehow "doesn't count."

As my friend Tina wrote to me (her daughter Lillian was also stillborn): "They were flesh and blood... who lived and moved... whom we held within the depths of our insides... so near our hearts. As the months went by and as we changed with our growing children, so did our anticipation of meeting them outside of our womb. Too many people truly do not understand and they lessen and cheapen our loss because our child died before birth. It is added agony to something that is already so unreal."

Unless you've walked in someone's specific shoes, you can't fully comprehend what they experience. So, please, let's not compare losses, whether in word or thought.

My daughter is a very real, important, loved baby, who could never be replaced by simply having another. Yes, I hope to have more children on Earth to raise one day, but they will never, ever replace my first-born. Each and every life is precious and valuable. made in the image of God, and irreplaceable.

It is sad that I lost Lily, but she herself isn't a "sad thing that happened to me" or a "tragic circumstance."

She is my beloved little flower. She lived a beautiful life and has a lasting legacy.

If your sweet baby was stillborn but still born and loved, feel free to share their name in the comments. 💕


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Saturday, July 27, 2013

"Expecting a child" and "going to be a mother"

I read this quote by Father Frank Pavone on Facebook yesterday and wanted to share it here. It is something that I think about whenever I hear these words spoken...
"When someone is pregnant, she is not expecting a child, she already has one. She is not going to be a mother, she already is a mother... If we are going to change the way society treats unborn children, we have to change the way we talk about them." -Father Frank Pavone
Every time I hear people say things like this (either about themselves or others), I cringe a little. When society uses such terms, women think they can decide whether or not they want to be a mother while their child is still in the womb. The truth is, once her child is conceived, she already is a mother and she can never not be a mother again.

If the "magic moment" when someone goes from "expecting a child" to "having a child" and being a "soon to be a mom" to "an actual mom" is a child's birth, what about the women who experience pregnancy and infant loss? Does that moment when a child's heart stop beating mean, "oh well, you're not a mother this time... better luck next time?" You see, such terms hurt these women. If a precious child passes away before birth, as my Lily did, are women like me not considered mothers? That's absurd, of course we're mothers! We carried our children, felt them kick, gave birth to them, planned funerals and designed headstones.

I know people don't mean any harm in saying things like this, but it's just not true. Lily was very much alive within me. She never lived outside of me, but that doesn't mean she never lived at all. It is so annoying and hurtful when people think that.

So, please, for the sake of everyone, don't use such terms. Let's treat the unborn with the honor and dignity they deserve. They are precious, valuable, individual human beings, who could never be replaced. And let's treat mothers of unborn children as the mothers they are, not as potential or future mothers. When we view the unborn the way God sees them, more women will choose LIFE. And more people will be empathetic towards the grief of one whose lost a baby.

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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Awaken

I absolutely love the piano and violin. I find that these two instruments so beautifully capture and express so many feelings, emotions, and longings that could never be put into words. That's what's so amazing about music - that it can touch a place so deep within us.

The Jane Eyre Soundtrack is so beautiful. I listened to a song today from that soundtrack and it reminded me of my precious Lily girl. Honestly, it doesn't take much to be reminded of her. So many songs make me think of her. And miss her so.

This particular song is called Awaken. It's simply lovely... so sad, yet so beautiful. So moving and graceful. It reminds me of my darling daughter who danced into my heart and life and left me changed forever. It articulates in a way words cannot express the beauty her life has brought to mine and the sorrow that's come from losing her. Yet the sorrow could never take away or overshadow the lifelong beauty that's flowed from her brief life.

Even the name of the song reminds me of her. Because she awakened me to life. New LIFE in Him. She awakened my heart to true love, beauty, peace, and joy. She awakened my eyes to see Truth, which is Jesus. God used her valuable, precious life to change mine forever... to awaken me to my calling. The calling that I've had my entire life, but that was only revealed through her...


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Saturday, July 13, 2013

Speaking at my third Pregnancy Center Banquet

I shared before that I will be speaking at my first and second Pregnancy Center Fundraiser Banquets this fall (one in Illinois in October and one in Kentucky in November).

I was contacted by somebody who works for the Havelock Pregnancy Resource Center, which is located near the North Carolina coast. She read something that I wrote on LifeNews.com and was very touched by my story. I have been asked to be their keynote speaker at their annual banquet this September 19th (my grandmother's birthday). Since it's in NC and I live in NC, I will not have to fly and will be able to drive there.

It turns out, this will actually be my first banquet since it's happening before the other two... and my mom will be able to come with me since it's only a couple hours away! That was really important to the both of us that she could hear me speak in person.

Anyways, this is such an honor and joy and I'm really looking forward to the many speaking engagements coming up. I'm preparing my heart and words... and praying that the Lord brings even more opportunities my way. :)

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Friday, July 12, 2013

Lockets for Lily Origami Owl Fundraiser

A sweet friend of mine named Stephanie is doing an online fundraiser to help our with the costs of Lily's memorial headstone. She is an Independent Designer for Origami Owl and will be donating 20% of all sales associated with this fundraiser to go directly towards honoring Lily!


More information for those interested in honoring Lily with me in this way:

Create a living locket! You personalize it to your life, milestones, things you love, your passions, etc. You can tell your story with jewelry. I fell in love with Origami Owl when I first saw it. It's a great way to express yourself. It's also a great gift idea!

** I will be donating 20% from all sales that are associated with this fundraiser to Hannah Rose so she can move forward in providing her daughter with a memorial stone. If you would like to donate to Lily's Memorial Stone without placing an order you can visit http://www.gofundme.com/LilyKatherine

To order online you can go to Stephanie's website:

When you get to the site for first time you will need to Create An Account. On the check out page you will see an area called Jewelry Bar Information with a drop-down menu which will list Lockets for Lily as the hostess. Please select Lockets for Lily's party at checkout. It will look like this:

(176259) Lockets for Lily - Fundraiser to raise money for Lily's memorial stone - 7/19/2013

You can also contact Stephanie and place your order with her as well. Email: itsowlgoodlockets@gmail.com

Don't forget to book your own Origami Owl Jewelry Bar, contact Stephanie to set your date and tell her you are supporting Lockets for Lily! 

Party ends 07/19/2013 (so all orders need to be placed by this date)

Thank you for considering honoring my daughter with me in this way... since there will never be any birthday or Christmas gifts, this is one of the only things anybody can ever do for her. I wanted to give others the gift of honoring her with me. Take a look around on the Origami Owl website - they have so many lovely options for everyone!

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Thursday, July 11, 2013

Lily Remembered at Cove Point

My neighbor and good friend, Joanna, was so sweet and thoughtful to write Lily's name in the sand at Cove Point, Lusby/Solomons, Maryland last weekend! Her daughter was also born on March 16th, several years before Lily. 


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Lily would be the age Sierra was

A few weeks ago, I was thinking about something and forgot to write about it... so wanted to share it now before I forget again.

In fall 2011, I went to Colorado for a season to attend Ellerslie Leadership Training. It will always remain one of the most precious times of my life and has shaped me immensely.

Anyways, when I was there, so was a precious little girl named Sierra... I wrote about her on my blog before. I got very close with this sweet girl and God used her to heal my heart in new ways. I will always love and miss her so much. At the time when we were at Ellerslie, she was three years old. I remember thinking then that three seemed so grown up and I couldn't imagine what it would be like when the time came that my Lily should be three... she would have been one and a half when I was at Ellerslie. Well, it's coming up on two years since I left for Ellerslie. I truly cannot believe how fast time flies. I realized recently that my Lily would now be the age Sierra was when I was at Ellerslie.

As I write this, Lily would almost be the exact age to the day that Sierra was when we graduated Ellerslie in December 2011. It's a bittersweet thought. How fast my daughter would be growing up. In knowing and remembering Sierra at that age, I can in a small way imagine how Lily might be today. So innocent, precious, and spunky, I imagine her being.

I never know when thoughts like this will catch me off guard. It's just a reminder that this life without Lily is a journey of moments like this...

You can read more about Sierra and how God used her in my life by clicking here.

Here are some of my favorite photos of Sierra and I... :)





*For those who haven't read my letter to Lily, it is also on LifeNews.com and LifeSiteNews.com this week if you're interested in reading!

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Friday, July 5, 2013

A Promise of Days to Come

For my mom's birthday this year (which was July 2nd), I really wanted to give her a special keepsake to symbolize her being a grandmother. You see, she doesn't have any living grandchildren on earth and she deeply loves and misses Luke and Lily, her first grandchild and first-born grandchild. The loss of a baby doesn't just affect the parents of that child, but the entire family. My mom was so excited to be a grandmother! And her dreams came crashing down that stormy day in mid-March 2010. Now, it is really difficult for me, as her daughter, to see all her friends go on to have one, two, three (or more) grandchildren. And to know perhaps they don't even consider her a grandmother...

I am here to say my mom IS a grandmother... and an amazing one at that.

No matter how many future grandchildren there may be in my family (whether my children or my sibling's children) they will never be the first or second. They will never replace our beloved Luke or Lily. My mom is the most wonderful mother and grandmother that I know, truly. She loved me like Jesus when I was 20-years-old and called her to tell her I was pregnant out of wedlock. I had a heart of repentance and humility and wanted her to be a part of my journey that I knew would be difficult. She cried with me on the phone and in that moment, I knew I was forgiven. I knew that my parents would welcome me back home with open arms. They truly "walked their pro-life talk." Of course they weren't happy with the circumstances surrounding my pregnancy, but they saw and knew that I didn't need judgement and condemnation from them. They didn't act embarrassed or ashamed of me. They didn't love their grandchild any less because she wasn't "planned." They saw that I was already made pure before God, by the blood of my precious Savior. And they met me where I was, not saying my sin didn't matter, but realizing that it had been dealt with at the Cross. And God softened their hearts and gave them the grace to love me and my unborn child, in the time I needed love and support the most. My mom loved me unconditionally, in my brokenness.

My mom and dad supported me practically, spiritually, and emotionally throughout my pregnancy. My mom helped me prepare Lily's room. She shopped with me for her "granddarling," as she called her. She went with me to my appointments. She cared for me throughout all my sickness during my pregnancy. I truly don't know what I would have done without both my parents. When God spoke so clearly to my heart that He would work everything out if I obeyed Him and chose LIFE, He meant it...

Then, when Lily unexpectedly passed away, my mom was so supportive and strong for me... she took care of the funeral and burial arrangements. I was 20 and knew nothing of such things... not for an adult, let alone my baby. My mom was so strong, though she was completely devastated. She wants nothing more than to be a grandmother. And she is... I just wish her granddarling was here with her. Even though she's not here, the love in her heart is the same, if not even more so. My mom is the one person I can depend on in this world to celebrate, honor, miss, and remember Lily with me on days like her birthday, Christmas, and Mother's Day. I know I can cry on her shoulder and tell her how my heart is aching. I know she'll cry with me. Because I'm her daughter and I lost my daughter... three generations. We have a special connection between the three of us.

Not every parent or grandparent will be tested the way my mom has been... both with her child facing an unplanned pregnancy and with the loss of her first-born granddarling. I thank God for her support and love. I am so blessed that she loves Luke and Lily so very much, more than words can express.

As I said, I really wanted to give her something special to acknowledge her as a grandmother. I collect the Willow Tree figurines and have several of them, some my mom gave me. She really likes them as well, but nobody has given her one yet. I knew for a long time that I wanted to give her one, but didn't know which. I looked at the different grandmother options, but none of them spoke to my heart as much as "The Quilt."

When I saw it, I knew it would be the one I'd give her. I love how these figurines are simple enough that each person can give it the meaning they want. Even though this figurine isn't specifically for grandmothers, I can use it as such. One of the sweet memories I have from childhood is when my mom would rock and sing to me... something I dreamed of and longed to do with Lily when she was born. Something I know my mom also longed to do with her.

She did have the gift of rocking her briefly while in the hospital, after she was born. I am thankful for the photo we have of that sweet memory, though it's not a great photo. And Lily was already gone.


The actual quilt in this figurine is special as well because my mom made me a quilt seven years before my birth with the name Hannah Rose on it, before she had any children and had infertility. She felt that God had given her a promise that one day she would have a child to give the name of Hannah Rose (there's a lot more to this that I will share at some point). Anyways, we wish that we had wrapped Lily in my special quilt at the hospital for photos.

How I described the Willow Tree when I gave it to my mom: As a reminder of precious memories and days gone by and as a reminder of your hope and the promise of your future in Heaven and days to come. 

It's a reminder of the memory of my mom rocking me as a child... days gone by (as well as rocking Lily at the hospital). And it's a reminder of our hope in Christ and the promise of the future my mom has in Heaven... the days to come. She will hold and rock and know Lily again one sweet day, the way she's always longed to.

It was such a sweet moment full of tears when I gave this gift to my mom. She wants to frame the photo of her and Lily to put next to this figurine.

What a sweet image to think of her holding and rocking Luke and Lily in Heaven... it brings tears to my eyes to think when I get there (if she dies before me, which is how it "should" be) perhaps I'll find her holding her two grandbabies. I know she'll tell them all about me. They'll get to know each other before me... but that's alright. It brings joy to my heat to know one day they will be together and I won't be far behind...

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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

My 'Aha Moment'

In May, I received an email from someone who works for Mutual of Omaha's 'aha moment' campaign (have you seen the commercials?) A lady wrote me and said she had come across my blog and thought I might be interested in sharing my aha moment when they came to my city of Raleigh, North Carolina from June 18th-20th... they were set up at a local mall about 15 minutes from my house and so I had a time slot reserved for noon on Wednesday the 19th.

What is an 'aha moment'? It's described on their website as this:

It's a moment of clarity, a defining moment where you gain real wisdom - wisdom you can use to change your life. Whether big or small, funny or sad, they can be surprising and inspiring. Each one is unique, deeply personal, and we think, worth sharing. 
Mutual of Omaha celebrates and honors these moments and the people who act upon them. We're proud to have the products and services that can help people insure their possibilities.

It's amazing all the different kinds of moments people share. I immediately knew I wanted to share my aha moment because I want to share Jesus and Lily's beautiful LIFE and legacy as much as possible! Any door God opens, I'm walking through it. I am thankful and blessed each time I get to share, no matter where it is. I saw this as an opportunity to share the Gospel and God's love, mercy, grace, healing, and redemption. The entire thing only took about 10 minutes. My mom went with me and then we went out to lunch afterwards to Bruegger's Bagels (I can pretend it's Bodo's, to my Charlottesville friends.) :)

Here's a photo of me in front of the Airstream. I was instructed to bring a prop that could symbolize my aha moment, so I brought a heart-shaped frame with a copy of Lily's hand and footprint in it, along with an actual lily from my mom's lovely garden... the lily matched my shirt. ;) Thanks to my mom for that idea! It was nice to have her there for support.


This is the fourth year that they are touring the country in their 34-foot Airstream mobile film studio, visitng 20 cities across America to capture inspirational, life-changing moments from folks all over the place.

I woke up the morning I was going to share feeling sick, so didn't know how it would turn out with a scratchy throat. And I was told the studio has no air-conditioning because it would interfere with the sound in the recording. Yeah, summer in Carolina is rough... so I thought I might be sweating and gross in the video. Thank God, He gave us nice weather that day, so I didn't even think about the temperature at all when I was in there.

It was really neat to go into the Airstream to see all the camera equipment, lights, etc. I got up on the stool, and just shared my story (a very shortened version of it). I was given a few instructions to follow. It was a little awkward, I must admit lol. And it's always weird to see yourself on video. But, I am quite pleased with how it turned out, for only being less than two minutes total. The video was just published on YouTube on July 2nd, my mom's birthday!! You can watch it below... and feel free to share it! :)

Find out more about the aha moment campaign, watch videos of other people's aha moments, and find out if they're coming to a city near you so you can share too on their website.


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