Saturday, August 31, 2013

Going Back to College!

I'm officially in college again! I am pursuing my B.S. in Psychology/Crisis Counseling through Liberty University Online. God worked everything out this summer. Before late June, I had no idea I would be back in school this fall.
This is how it all unfolded... in June, I found a mentorship program that I want to start this October (more about that later). When I mentioned it to my dad, he brought up the whole college thing again. He asked if I could do both college and the mentorship program. He really thinks it's a good idea for me to complete my degree. 

Anyways, this year was the first year that I actually seriously considered it. In the years past, I knew it wasn't what God had for me. It's not that I'm against college at all, I just knew God wasn't leading me to be in college at that time in my life. I didn't want to just go to college because most everyone else goes to college. Getting a four-year-degree right after graduating high-school seems to be "the thing" to do. I didn't want to follow the crowd. When I was 18, I attended a college for a year on-campus, as well as a year online during my senior year of high-school. I went mostly because it was what was expected of me, from my dad, as well as from society. I bought into the lie that I wouldn't be worth anything if I didn't have a college education. Like people can't possibly be educated if they aren't "formally educated."

I also didn't want to go unless and until I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I didn't want to get any degree, I wanted to be passionate about my degree. I feel that so many young people go to college, without truly knowing what they want to do with their lives, and then they end up with huge amounts of debt, with a degree they'll never use. Another big factor was I didn't want to be in lots of debt.

Because this was the first year that I didn't immediately know I wasn't supposed to continue my education, I know it was God who opened my heart to going back. It was also important to me to have a Christian-based education. If I went back to school, I knew I didn't want to obtain my degree from a liberal university. Just the fact that I even looked into it proves to me it was God. Christian colleges are very expensive. I know because my freshman year was quite expensive and I was in debt. It's an amazing story of how God got me out of debt.

Anyways, I also knew that I would probably want to continue my education online. At this point in my life, I have a job, I will be traveling and speaking a lot, and I just have a lot of "stuff" going on. I can't exactly move somewhere and focus my entire life on college, like most 18-21 year-olds do.

I looked into Liberty's online program and saw the perfect degree for me. I know several people who went to Liberty, including my best friend. I am from Crozet, Virginia, which is about an hour away from the Liberty campus in Lynchburg, Virginia. I've always known about Liberty and that it's a great Christian school.

It turns out because I am 24 before the end of December (as of August 12th), this is the very first year I am eligible for a grant that will pay a large portion of my tuition. The fact that God put it on my dad's heart to mention college to me again... the fact that I was actually open to it... the fact that I looked into Liberty University, even though I know Christian colleges are expensive... the fact that they have the perfect degree program for me... the fact that this is the very first year I am eligible for this grant... it just amazes me to see the hand of God in this! I knew that if I wasn't meant to do it, the Lord would show me and it wouldn't work out. It was probably within a couple weeks that I applied to the program and was accepted and all registered for classes! It happened really fast.

It's also incredible that when I was 18, I chose the degree of Psychology. It works out that because I already had that degree, nearly all my credits are transferring over, which makes me a third of the way through my program. It's just amazing that I am still sticking with this degree, just with a different focus and passion. Sooo much has happened in my life since I first went to college in 2007-2008.

I will complete my degree in three years, so I will graduate in spring 2016. Since I live close enough, I will go to Lynchburg for my graduation! I could technically finish in two years, but because I have so much going on, I don't want to be overwhelmed. I am a full-time student, but I will be taking the least amount of credits I can to remain full-time.

My degree is Psychology with a specialization in Crisis Counseling. I am really excited about this degree program and know that it will greatly benefit me in ministry and doing whatever it is God calls me to. I believe my degree will better equip me to minister to women in unintended pregnancies, as well as post-abortive women. I am considering continuing my education so I can be a licensed counselor, with the goal of counseling women who have experienced pregnancy and infant loss. Even if I do not continue my education after undergraduate school, I know God has led me to this point and that He will guide me in His plan for my life. I am in a place where I want an education, not just a degree. I will appreciate my education in a way I wouldn't have if I had gone straight through school. I know that even if I never professionally use my degree, it will better equip me to serve Jesus and others in the areas where I feel called to be in ministry. Primarily, I want to be a writer and speaker. And I believe it will help give me credibility in that.

Anyways, after just a couple weeks of school, I am so thrilled that I chose Liberty! They are the largest Christian University in the world, with one of the largest number of online students - 90,000!! They have an amazing, established program, with great professors. And I am so glad to be at a school where I can not only be open about my beliefs, but also everything is taught from a Biblical worldview. It's AWESOME!

I just want to encourage others not to feel like going to college is the only thing that makes you have value. I believe part of the reason I wasn't supposed to go until now was because God wanted to teach me many lessons in waiting... one being to trust Him and not care what other people say or think. Trust the Lord to lead you where He wants you. I also want to encourage people to look into online college. It's so convenient and much cheaper!

I'm off to finish my homework for the week. This is going to be a long journey... please pray for me! :)

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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Designing Your Baby's Headstone - Some Ideas & Inspiration

If you are reading this, it may be because you are ready to design your baby's headstone. If that is you, first of all, I am so sorry. The words baby and headstone are two words that should never be used in the same sentence together. But for those of use who have lost babies, we realize just how important having a memorial stone is. It says that child is valuable, special, important, loved, missed, and could never be replaced. Getting a stone is a beautiful way to memorialize and honor someone's life, no matter how short.

It has taken me three and a half years to design and pay for my daughter Lily Katherine's headstone. Because I have had lots of time to think about exactly what I want to be permanently etched in stone, I decided to share some ideas with others who are going through the painful process of designing a headstone for their baby. I hope my thoughts and suggestions will be of use to you as you decide what story you want to tell of your precious little one's life to those who will see their stone, both friends and family, as well as passersby at the cemetery... now and decades from now.

Here is my daughter Lily Katherine's headstone:




Click HERE to read all about Lily Katherine's stone.

Find a monument company to work with. It is easiest to work with one locally. I chose a monument company in Seattle, Washington, I live in Raleigh, North Carolina, and my daughter is buried in Crozet, Virginia (so yeah, it was hard to work it all out). The reason I chose to work with a monument company so far away is because I knew I wanted Lily's stone to be a certain way and I wasn't going to settle until I found a company that could give me exactly what I wanted. That's something to consider... do you want to go with a stone design option that's already available to you, or would you prefer to design your own stone (which will cost extra)? Cheaper doesn't mean better... don't settle for a company just because they promise to do it cheaper. This is a one time thing, so you want quality workmanship. You want it "just right." You can cut costs in other ways such as the type of stone you use, the size of the stone, and how much you include on the stone. Even if you need to work with a company long-distance (by phone, mail, and email) it is worth it to get what you want. I tried calling several monument companies local to where my daughter is buried and couldn't find anyone who could give me what I wanted. And even looking online, it took me a long time to find a monument company with a good reputation, who had high-quality work. The whole process of designing Lily's stone has taken me 6 months of back-and-forth emails, mailings, phone calls, etc. But they have helped me develop my vision, making it even better than I pictured it would be! They didn't settle until I was happy, even when that included completely re-sculpting part of the stone. Call the monument companies in your area and set up a time to sit down and discuss what options are available to you. If you don't like anything they have to offer, discuss the possibility of them making something you have in mind. If this doesn't work out, start searching online for options. I would be happy to recommend the monument company I worked with if you just ask. :)

Do you want a headstone for just your baby, or would you like to have one with yours and your spouse's names included as well for when you pass away? If you lost multiples, do you want them to each have their own stone (maybe identical, just with their individual names) or a shared stone?

Decide if you want your baby's stone to be flat or upright. Be sure to find out what the rules and regulations are at the specific cemetery where your baby is buried. Some cemeteries, like where my daughter is buried, allow people complete creative control over headstone designs. Other cemeteries have rules that must be followed, such as all the stones have to be flat. There are many beautiful options for both flat and upright stones.

What shape do you want the stone to be? If it's going to be upright, consider these - an angel, cross, heart, teddy bear, baby toy, lamb, rocking horse, butterfly, etc. You can do a simple Google search with keywords that you have in mind and you will find many beautiful stones for inspiration and ideas.

Think about what picture or design you would like on the front or back of the stone, or on the top, if the stone is flat. Is there an animal or symbol that is special to you? What did you use in your baby's nursery, at their shower, etc.? If you don't have any special symbols, think about including something "babyish," such as a building block, pacifier, bib, toy plane, train, or baby booties. Jesus holding a baby would make a beautiful image on a headstone. For a list of ideas of symbols and their meanings, click HERE.

Decide what size you want your baby's stone to be. Personally, I wanted my daughter's stone to be tiny and sweet since she was a baby. The size of the stone will also determine the price.

What kind of stone do you prefer? Dark or light? Some options you have are granite (this is what I chose), marble, limestone, sandstone, slate, iron, and bronze. Google search these images to see what colors and stones you like. Remember, what you choose to make your baby's special memorial stone in will determine the pricing.

Now, what would you like the inscription on the stone to be? Generally, a person's name, birthdate and date of death are included (or when a child is born still, like my Lily was, just one date is listed). Since there is not much space and this is a permanent memorial, think long and hard about what you want on your baby's stone. You can include writing on the front and back of the stone (and in some cases, even on the top part of the base, like I chose to have done). Of course, every monument company will operate differently and will have different fees. What perfect wording do you want? What story do you want to tell of your child's life and legacy? You can either use something someone else wrote or write something yourself. Do you want a heading such as "In Loving Memory of" above your child's name? Do you want something under their name and birthdate? Do you want to include the time they were born and died? Consider using Scripture verses that point to the promise of Eternal LIFE in Heaven.

You could also use a special quote, phrase, song lyrics, or nursery rhyme. Click HERE for some inscription ideas. Here are some of my favorite examples:

  • “Budded on Earth to bloom in Heaven”
  • "A moment in our arms, a lifetime in our hearts"
  • “You touched our lives for the briefest of moments, yet you will stay with us forever”
  • “An angel in the book of life wrote down my baby’s birth. Then whispered as she closed the book ‘too beautiful for earth’”
  • "There are no goodbyes; where ever we are, you'll always be in our hearts"
  • "As long as I'm living, my baby you'll be"
The unique and beautiful options for what you can do with your baby's stone are endless. There are many modern things that you can include that you wouldn't have been able to 100 years ago. For instance, you could have their picture put on it. You could have their handprints and/or footprints engraved. You could even have your own handwriting etched into the stone like my friend Morgan did for her son, Marcellus's stone. I thought a lot about putting a secret message to Lily in my own handwriting somewhere on her stone, but in the end chose not to. I also seriously thought about including her prints... however, I thought I wanted to make it look more like a stone you'd find from long ago.

What kind of font do you want on the stone? Click HERE for some font examples. What color do you want the font to be?

Do you want a flower vase to be included on top of the flat stone if you choose for it to be flat or on the side of the upright stone? Make sure you consider this before signing off on design plans because it may change the pricing and where the actual stone will be placed on the base.

I know how it can be a financial burden to purchase a headstone for a baby, something you never imagined you'd have to purchase. And I get it that headstones are expensive. That's why it's taken me so long to get my daughter's stone. It has been really tough waiting, but in a way I am glad I did because I have had time to think about exactly what I want, rather than rushing into it. It can be discouraging if you think you can't afford it. There are amazing organizations that offer financial support to those purchasing a headstone for their baby. Check out The Dempsey Burdick Memorial Foundation, Your Baby My Baby, The Tiana Foundation, and Hana's Gift (there might be other organizations that you can search for online). You should also know that you don't necessarily have to pay the entire cost of the headstone up front. For instance, I put down a deposit on half the cost of the stone and then they were able to begin production. I have been working on paying it off the entire time that it's been in production. You could possibly do a fundraiser for your baby's headstone (GoFundMe is a great option) and ask friends and family to consider contributing.

I know these are difficult decisions to make and can be quite overwhelming because how do you choose something that you will be satisfied with forever? Especially when it's a headstone for your baby and you want it to be perfect. It's especially hard knowing it's one of the last things you can do for your baby. If you need someone to talk to or want advice on design plans, please feel free to contact me at roseandherlily@gmail.com.

You could even go to your local cemetery for some ideas, which is what I did. As a matter of fact, at a big cemetery in Raleigh is where I found the exact size stone I wanted. I took measurements that I sent to the monument company and I took photos of the lamb to show them what I wanted... that way I knew exactly what I was getting.

I will end with a few beautiful examples of stones for inspiration (if you would like your baby's headstone to be pictured here for inspiration, please send a photo to me!)

If you can think of any other useful ideas and tips, please let me know!

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Sunday, August 25, 2013

Empty Cradle

My mom got me this amazingly beautiful sculpture for my 24th birthday from one of my favorite artists, The Midnight Orange. It's called "Empty Cradle," and oh, how that empty cradle hurt so much.


The Midnight Orange artist, Dana, sculpted the mother (me) in the color I selected and her dad, who is a master craftsman and woodworker, made the cradle. This piece is actually retired and I was so touched that Dana would create this specially for me.

Look at the intricate detail! Both of them are incredibly talented. I love and collect her sculptures because they are unique and I love knowing they are made specifically for me, rather than mass-produced.

As she wrote: "This piece depicts the depth of loss and longing in missing a little one. I am so incredibly sorry if you connect with this sculpture."

This is one of my favorite memorial keepsakes. It reminds me of the song, "I Will Carry You," that was played at Lily's service...

I will carry you, while your heartbeat's here, long beyond the empty cradle, through the coming years. I will carry you, all your life. And I will praise the One whose chosen me to carry you."

That cradle is still empty, but my heart is full. I will carry her with me always and forever.

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24 and the best birthday gift!

Two weeks ago tomorrow, I celebrated my 24th birthday! So, yes, this post is overdue and I've been slacking a little with blogging... that's only because so much has been going on... Anyways, I wanted to share some birthday thoughts...


I truly cannot believe I'm already in my mid-20s. Because my birthday has always fallen right around the start of a new school year, August feels like a new chapter in my life beginning, with being a new age and starting a new grade or whatever I've done each year (which every year of my life has been different than the year before). It also feels like a new chapter beginning at the start of each new calendar year, as well as around Lily's birthday.

Whenever one chapter ends and another begins (whether I get another year older, another year passes, or Lily should have gotten another year older), I feel a certain heaviness. It feels as if I'm getting farther away from Lily. I was only 19 and 20 when Lily was here, so it's strange for the years to keep marching by so quickly. It may sound strange, but it feels like I'm leaving Lily and Luke behind in my younger years. I imagine that turning 30 will be really difficult, like I'm leaving them in another decade of my life.

It makes me sad that both Lily and Luke never got to celebrate one single birthday and I've now celebrated 24.

My birthday also brings back memories... I am glad Lily got to be here with me on my 20th birthday (she was growing within me). But, then I think to my 21st birthday and how we had planned to go to the beach with my should-have-been-almost-five-month-old. We had wanted to go with a friend we met at the pregnancy center in the pregnancy/birth/parenting class. She ended up having her baby girl, healthy and happy, less than two months after Lily was born. We never went to the beach. We had even gotten the most darling pink dress that would have fit Lily at that age. I wanted her to wear it on her mommy's 21st birthday.

I wish Lily was here to celebrate each of my birthdays with me. She should be here for every birthday until I die. I never could have known that I'd have to give her back so soon... four years after the birthday she was here with me, I never imagined I'd be finalizing the plans on her memorial stone... and that's what I'd have to look forward to. Not watching her grow and change.

Does anyone else whose lost a baby struggle with birthdays?

My life is sprinkled with bittersweet moments. The Lord is always there to lift my spirits and to remind me that He has a plan for it all... and will continue to make beauty from ashes and work it all together for good.

This year, He made my birthday extra sweet, by showing me in a special way that Lily will never be forgotten. A very dear friend of mine named Stacy raised money for Lily's stone, in honor and memory of both our girls. Her precious daughter Rachel also went Home to be with Jesus in 2010. Stacy found out I was working on paying off Lily's stone and said she wanted to help. So, during the month of August, the month of her Rachel's diagnosis (read more of her story HERE), she raised $823 through her Non-Profit, Baby Rachel's Legacy!! To make an amazing gift extra sweet, the fundraiser wrapped up the day before my birthday... so she told me the final total on my birthday! I am blown away by the kindness and generosity of others! This is the best birthday gift ever. I had no idea she'd be able to raise so much, close to what I need to finish paying everything off! Stacy said one of the donations even came from Switzerland... it touches my heart to have people around the world thinking of and talking about Lily. It means more than words can say to have others honor Lily with me in this way. Thank you so much Stacy and Rachel - I love you both! And thank you everyone who contributed! The Lord is so good to me to put this on Stacy's heart, for my Lily girl.

*I am about ready to wrap up the fundraiser I'm doing for Lily's stone... if you are interested in contributing to help with the little bit more needed, click HERE.*

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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Her Choice to Heal - Free eBook

Download the eBook "Her Choice to Heal: Finding Spiritual and Emotional Peace After Abortion" for FREE today on BookShout! Share this so everyone can get a free copy. Whether you are a post-abortive woman, know someone whose had an abortion and/or want to better understand and minister to post-abortive women, this book is an awesome resource!

*CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE BOOK!*



Book Description:
What do 33% of American women have in common?  They've experienced abortion.You might be one of these women. Or maybe it's your friend, sister, coworker, or the woman sitting next to you at church. Regardless, post-abortive women are in pain, and at some point, most will experience post-abortion syndrome (PAS), a form of post traumatic stress disorder. But they may never talk about it. Many are silent because they are filled with shame, grief and guilt, afraid of judgment and condemnation.  Few realize that peace is attainable through Christ's mourning process and the knowledge that because of His grace, they will reunite with their lost loved ones in Heaven.Her Choice to Heal is designed to help women find a way to God's healing after this devastating choice.  Written by a post-abortive woman, it includes testimonies of strength, healing and hope.  Sydna compassionately leads you on the difficult journey through denial, anger, and grief, to forgiveness, redemption, and letting go.  Her Choice to Heal offers a roadmap to healing - practical suggestions, resources for help, space to journal, with the encouragement and hope found in Christ alone. 
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Sunday, August 18, 2013

Mother-Daughter Resemblance

Last Monday (August 12th), I celebrated my 24th birthday. 

I was looking through a scrapbook I made my mom a few years back - it has pictures of me as a baby and photos of my growing up years. I finally found a specific photo that I have been looking for. As soon as Lily was born, I knew she looked like my mini-me. And I remembered this one picture in particular that showed my face well as a newborn. 

I put this photo of me and a photo of Lily side-by-side to see how how we looked alike and I'm struck by the mother-daughter resemblance. The photo on the left is me 24 years ago, just home from the hospital. And on the left is my precious Lily girl at the hospital right after birth. Here we are, both of us at the same age (almost exactly to the day - Lily was born two days past her due date and I was born six days before my due date), just 20 years apart. 

Her nose and lips looked just like mine! And I believe she would have blue eyes like my entire family. The only thing is, my face is all scrunched up because I was a living baby... but, she wasn't. I wonder how she would have looked if she'd been born alive. A lot like her mommy I bet. 


I wonder how she'd look today, at near 3 and half years old. Would she look like I did at that age? 

It hurts seeing the photo of me coming home from the hospital and realizing I never even got to do that with my baby. I never will get to fill a scrapbook of memories made with my girl... the turn of each page marking more years gone by. Each page, Lily looking a little bit older.

Oh my precious mini-me... who would you be today?

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Friday, August 16, 2013

What it means to be pro-EVERY-life

I wrote the following specifically to those who claim to be pro-life... I am addressing the way many pro-lifers treat the post-abortive and those in unintended pregnancies. This is something that has been weighing heavily on my heart and I know the Lord wanted me to share it with others... I had no idea it would spread like it is. It has been published on LifeSiteNews.com, LifeNews.com, and Live Action News (links below). 

There was so much that I left out just because it would have been too long, so I'm thinking of writing a follow-up post. After reading some of the comments, I am so thankful that God is truly giving me "thick skin" so I don't care what others say or think about me. It used to really bother me. But, I know where I stand IN CHRIST. I know I am forgiven and washed white as snow. And I know I will see Luke again one day and that he holds no bitterness towards me and knows how much I love him. Thank you Jesus for NEW LIFE. I know I am called to be a voice for the unborn, as well as those who are post-abortive, and those in unintended pregnancies. 

I also want to add that I am not angry with or judging anybody... I am just speaking out on how I've been made to feel and I know I'm not the only one. The comments that people have been leaving speak for themselves and prove the necessity of sharing this. I am thankful that some people said their eyes have been opened because of this post. Unfortunately, it seems many are either not reading what I've actually written or are not taking it to heart. Also, I know not all pro-lifers are this way! I have been so blessed and encouraged by the flood of loving comments and emails since this article was published. Thank you for loving like Christ! Please share this with others.

LifeSiteNews.com - I aborted my son, but I will be his voice as long as there is breath in my body
LifeNews.com - I Deeply Regret My Abortion and Will Be a Voice for My Baby Now
Live Action News - What it means to be pro-EVERY-life

It deeply saddens me when I receive unloving comments, from those who claim to be pro-life, about the abortion I had as a teenager. The way our society often causes post-abortive women to feel grieves my heart. Many women (and men) carry the secret of a past abortion for decades because it is a forbidden topic of grief that cripples many with shame and guilt. They suffer in silence because they are terrified of what people might say or think of them, since it was, after all, their choice. Quite frankly, a woman who has had an abortion is often portrayed as one unworthy of love and forgiveness.
I am here to tell you that many women, including me, regret our “choice” and wish with our entire beings we could undo it.
On one hand, many in our society are busy telling women that having an abortion is the easy solution to their problem of unintended pregnancy - it is their choice and no big deal. While on the other hand, still others are blaming women for swallowing these rampant lies and for choosing abortion. Living in a nation that constantly bombards us with messages of "choice," “rights” and “look out for number one,” why should we be shocked when people actually live by these all-pervasive messages?
My belief is that the women who choose abortion are often deceived by the message of "choice" and are not truly aware of the destructive consequences that will inevitably follow such a choice. They hear the voices of those vehemently insisting, “It’s just a clump of cells - not a baby.” If abortion were not legal, I never would have chosen to have one, and I know many, many post-abortive women who share this viewpoint.
Yes, abortion is murder, but without minimizing that truth, we must distinguish between the devastating act itself, and the woman who allows the act to be performed on her unborn child. We also must take into consideration the confusion created by this form of murder being sanctioned by the law and by much of society. After all, if it’s legal, it must be right and good.
We can be pro-life and against abortion, yet at the same time: loving, accepting, affirming, and compassionate to those who have endured the heartbreaking tragedy of abortion. Just as Christ doesn't condone our sin, yet He loves us in the midst of it. We need truth illuminating love in order to be effective in the pro-life movement, as well as in the rest of life.
Hannah Rose Allen
Once post-abortive women grasp that it is indeed "a big deal," and they come face-to-face with the truth of what they've participated in, realizing not only did they lose their child, but they played a major part in this loss, do they really need pro-lifers piling further condemnation on them declaring they have no reason or right to grieve? Do they need to be called "baby-killers," "heartless," "murderers," etc.? Would we rather women not regret their abortions? 
Many times when a woman chooses to have an abortion, she is already a broken, hurting person, desperately seeking a quick fix to repair a tough situation.
Some pro-lifers find it easy to judge and condemn women for choosing abortion, yet what are they doing to encourage women to embrace LIFE instead? Are the women being supported practically, emotionally, and spiritually during their time of crisis? How easy it is to pronounce harsh judgment when one is not personally faced with such a crisis. The unborn and the women in unplanned pregnancies both need to be fought for. We need to pray and ask for God’s heart for both sides because He has a plan and purpose for both and loves both equally!
Being pro-life means being pro-every-life.
When I was faced with an unintended pregnancy, my parents, unhesitatingly, welcomed me back home with open arms. I pray that the Christ-like way they loved me will be an example to others on how to respond positively to women facing similar circumstances. Women who do embrace life need to be supported and commended for their choice. How easy it is to talk as if one is pro-life, when one has all of the answers but none of the problems.
When I was pregnant, and unmarried at the age of 19, with my daughter Lily, I felt ashamed when questions seemed to appear in the eyes of outsiders as they noticed my growing belly. I wondered if, in their judgment, they found me undeserving of love, affirmation and forgiveness. It seemed as if people were looking for a wedding ring on my finger. I think the fear of such harsh, undeserved judgment is the reason many choose abortion. How easy it is to cave in to the lie that it will be easier to live with that tragic secret than it will be to face the hateful shunning and unforgiveness of others.


Women are judged if they choose abortion, yet they are also judged if they choose LIFE.
I pray that pro-lifers will learn to respond with love and mercy to those in unintended pregnancies, as Jesus responds to each of us in our sin. Rather than freely exhibiting disdain to the women who are suffering, possibly alone, in their painful situation, from which they see no hopeful escape, forgiveness and unconditional love needs to shower them in abundance.
May we show others the very mercy that Christ has shown us, instead of kicking the wounded when they are down. Abortion is not the unforgivable sin, though humans may attempt to place it in a category of it's own. God is mighty to forgive and wash us clean of each and every sin, if we humbly repent and turn from it. 
As Corrie ten Boom said, "There is no pit so deep that God's love is not deeper still."
Pro-lifers should be grateful for the empowerment of the witness of those who have awakened to the truth of the wrong they have done. Who better to testify to the ravages of abortion than those who have endured such tragedy?
I know too well how publicly sharing my story leaves me vulnerable to the judgment and criticism of others. Nobody is forcing me to share the fact that I had an abortion. And to be quite honest, sometimes I shudder to think that anyone might discover that painful part of my story. I realize it would be easier if I could return to the time when my story was private, but that would not give God the glory He desires. God did not write this powerful story of LIFE for me to keep it selfishly to myself. I believe with every fiber of my being that I am called to be a voice for my son, Luke Shiloh, whom I aborted, and for my daughter, Lily Katherine, who is with her brother in Heaven.
My desire is for other post-abortive men and women to know they are not alone. To know there is healing to be found in Christ and that He alone can wash them white as snow, as if they had never been involved in the selfish sin of abortion. When you turn to God in genuine repentance, He is faithful to forgive, and He remembers your grievous sin no more! Don't allow the lies of others, in their attempt to keep you continually burdened under their unforgiving condemnation, to shame you. I want others who have endured the pain of abortion to know that it's normal and healthy to grieve your missing child. In fact, it's necessary! Don't let anyone tell you otherwise! Allow the Lord to bring beauty from ashes, weaving this together both for your good and His glory.
Though my deeply personal pain is hard to share, no matter what anybody says to or about me, I refuse to remain silent, for I would be irresponsible in doing so. I will love my babies into Eternity and I will keep my promise to them that I will be their voice, as long as there is breath in my body.

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Thursday, August 15, 2013

What August 15th Means to Me

Today I celebrate LIFE in Christ! It's my spiritual birthday! :) And it just so happens to be three days after my "physical birthday."

I grew up in a Christian home and accepted Christ into my life at a young age, so I don't recall any specific date that I was saved. It was more like a gradual thing. But, four years ago, in August 2009, was when my entire world was changed. Jesus wrecked my life. He rescued me from darkness and brought me into His marvelous light. Because of that time in my life, August will always remind me of that. It will always be a sacred month, marked by the beauty found in His victory! He intervened in my life and saved the life of my baby. I am forever changed because of it.

I decided that having a spiritual birthday to celebrate is even more important than the day I was actually born. Since August is so special to me, I wanted to choose a date in August. I chose August 15th. That is the date that I had a scheduled abortion at Planned Parenthood in 2009. That is the day that I didn't go because God kept me from it. I chose a day that could have been a day full of heartbreak, sorrow, and tears. Instead, it is full of tears of another kind. Tears of thankfulness and joy. Tears of feeling and knowing I am completely unworthy of my Precious Lord, yet standing in awe over all He has done for us, His children. August 15th was the day that the enemy wanted to end my baby's life. But, instead it is now a day that I celebrate her LIFE! She lived and she will live forever in my heart. And because of her and all Jesus did in me through her, I have eternal LIFE. Oh, Jesus, You are so beautiful...my Victorious Warrior, my Rescuer!

Today on my spiritual birthday, I will rejoice over LIFE. I will rejoice that You gave Your very life for mine. That my daughter can live forever with You because of Your perfect sacrifice. I could never find the words to thank you, Lord...

When I heard the lyrics to this song for the first time, I was amazed at how perfectly they describe my journey from darkness to light. I couldn't believe where my life was, yet my Jesus broke through.



I came across my journal from the summer of 2009. I have journaled my entire life, but when I was living my selfish rebellious lifestyle, I couldn't write anymore. My writings are my prayers and I didn't feel close to God. I felt I couldn't face Him because I didn't want to face my sin. I was ashamed. The first journal entry I wrote in probably over a year was on August 6, 2009. As I read it now, my heart recalls the brokenness and deep sadness I felt. I realize now that God wanted me to write it so that I would always remember the dark place I was in. I would remember how I came face-to-face with my wretchedness, realized I was nothing and had no strength, and cried out to my Mighty Rescuer. All He was waiting for was for me to cry out to Him. And all He's waiting is for You to cry out to Him. Watch as He runs to Your defense and Your rescue! What a contrast to see where I was in the beginning of August 2009 and the journey God brought me through, ultimately resulting in Him winning the battle! Jesus, You are amazing! I want to share part of that journal entry to show you just how deep in the pit I was in. And I hope and pray that as you see me now, you will realize that "there is no pit too deep that God's love is not deeper still." ~Corrie ten Boom

August 6, 2009

"How can one person feel so alone in a world with billions of people in it? With all the big cities? Yet, I feel like I'm the only one whose felt these feelings, these hurts, the only one whose has these thoughts. I just want Jesus. But, I feel so far from Him. Could I ever experience healing and forgiveness for the things I've done? The mistakes I've made? How could I have done these things? That trap me...slowly kill me. I feel all alone. No one knows my heart, my longings, my every sin. Except Jesus. I am utterly brokenhearted. I never knew I could feel like this. I'm trapped. I don't know how to break free. Lord, break me free. Make me whole again. Hold my heart. Hold me so close to You and never let me go! My soul is lost. The world got a hold of me. Yet, I feel You gently pulling me to You, with tears in Your eyes...Ready to hold me, cry with me, laugh with me, and make me new again. 

I never dreamed I could be hurt in the ways I have been. You are a beautiful God who is there for the weak and brokenhearted. This song by Bethany Dillon keeps running through my head: "The orphan clings to Your hand, singing the song of how he was found. The widow rejoices, for her oppressors are silenced now. The runaway falls at Your feet, You are what he has searched for. The rich man is broken, when he stands beneath a sky full of stars. And You sit at the table with the wounded and the poor. You laugh and share stories with the thief and the whore. When You could just be silent and leave us here to die...Still You sent Your Son for us...You are on our side!"

"You're all I want! You're all I need! You're EVERYTHING! And how could I stand here with You and not be moved by You?!" ~Lifehouse

God, I need You. From the depths of my soul, I cry out to You! Save me...from myself, from the enemy, from the world. I am broken. I am scared. You are literally all I have. Is that what You want me to feel? Do You want me to cling to You? You're my only hope and that's true. I can't keep living without You...it's eating my very soul.

There are so many things in my life I would have and should have done differently. And, Lord, I know You want to save us from our sins. To wash them away and make us white as snow. You give us a way out...Looking back on my life, You gave me a way out of my pain and misery before I even made the bad choices I did. I'm so sorry. I want You, all of You forever. Break the chains of anything not of You! And hold me in Your strong arms! Fulfill Your purposes in my life. Amen."

It was literally right after I wrote this that the Lord moved mightily in my heart and life! He is so faithful, so true. And He is whispering to your heart...come to Me. I am all you need...

Today is marked by a sacredness, a beauty that cannot be put into words. As I remember who I once was and who I am now in Christ. The tears keep coming today because I am full of joy unspeakable. I knew that I was helpless and could not break the chains of sin myself, but He is mighty and strong always!

This is the song I wrote the lyrics to in my journal. It played in my mind so much during that time as I realized the heart of mercy and love that the Father has for us! He is truly on our side, wants to rescue and redeem us, and strengthen us to carry our His purposes for our lives, for His glory! As I listen to it now, it gives me chills to remember how hard He fought for me, how He never left my side, He wooed me, romanced my heart, captivated me. This song will always be so special to me and remind me of August 2009.


Rejoicing in His abundant LIFE,

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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

I'm published in a book!!

I am super excited to share that I am published in a book!

CausePub (short for Cause-Publishing) is a community of storytellers working together to create best-selling books that directly impact specific causes. Read more about how it works by clicking here.

The CausePub team first creates a book project. This specific project is called Couch Rebels: Because Stories Like These Aren't Told by Potatoes.

What’s the book all about?
Couch Rebels is a crowd-published book project. It contains 86 of the most inspiring true stories from 79 incredible storytellers! Couch rebels are people who have been outside their comfort zones (whether voluntary or involuntary) and have allowed those experiences to change their lives. While the rest of society is imitating potatoes, couch rebels are learning, growing, and experiencing the incredible things life has to offer. These moments of adventure provide us with our best stories. Nobody’s going to tell their friends about how they watched football five years ago on Sunday afternoon. But for the rest of their lives they’ll talk about the time they backpacked through India or when they fed a homeless person. These stories inspire us, challenge us, and give us hope. These stories are packed inside this book.

Then the CausePub team partners the book project with a specific cause.

THE COUCH REBELS CAUSE: CLEAN WATER - Click here to read more
320 million Africans are without access to clean water. For every copy of Couch Rebels sold, the organization, Blood:Water Mission, will be able to provide three people with clean water for one year. The goal of this Cause is to sell 15,000 copies, which means that 45,000 lives can be directly impacted through your participation in this CausePub project! Be part of our strategy to reach this goal. Buy the book!

Then people submit real-life stories that go along with the specific book project (that's where I came in, along with hundreds of others). An acquaintance of mine told me about the project because she knows my story and thought I might like to get involved. So, with just a few days to decide what I wanted to share, I quickly got it together, following the Couch Rebels guidelines. The editors then have to first approve your story, before family and friends can "vote" for it (thanks to everyone who voted for me!)

After the deadline, the editors choose which stories to publish in the book based on votes and their own professional opinions. The list of authors chosen to be published was announced a couple weeks ago, which is when I scrolled down to see my name! I didn't have much time to get it together, so honestly didn't think I would be chosen. I am so honored and excited that I was!!

Couch Rebels was released as a Kindle eBook today - August 14th, 2013! (don’t own a Kindle? No problem. Click here.) My good friend Sarah gave me her old Kindle this past weekend... just in time to get the book I co-authored on it. :) Thanks, Sarah!

BUY YOUR COPY HERE FOR ONLY $9.99!

You can practically get involved by providing clean water for a year to three people in Africa, all from the click of a button. And also support my writing and read many other inspiring stories! It's really a win-win situation. :)

Please share this with your friends!

HELP US MAKE IT A BEST-SELLER ON AMAZON BY SNATCHING IT UP TODAY. In order to reach more people with the book and to provide more clean water to those in Africa, please purchase the book today - August 14th. If you wait until tomorrow, it might be too late! Also, if you have time, please write a review on Amazon to help us stand out as our ranking climbs.

I am so honored to be involved with such a worthwhile project... thank you CausePub for choosing to share my story! I pray the Lord uses it to open more doors for me to share my precious Lily and Luke.

My friend Sarah sent me this photo this morning. It's so cool to see my name/photo/bio on her Kindle!! I love that the book was published right in between my birthday (August 12th) and my spiritual birthday (August 15th). Thank you Lord for another open door!!


Thank you SO much for your support!!

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Saturday, August 10, 2013

We Can Trust Him with Why

My mom recently decided to see what was on Life Today one morning (which she rarely does). She couldn't believe what was mentioned during the show (well, really she could believe it because things like this always seem to happen to us). The guest was Jennifer Rothschild, a gifted musician, and she mentioned babyloss. (You can watch the episode of Life Today HERE if you're interested).

This is the story she told:
I settled into my desk chair to listen to the day's emails, and the first one I opened was from a young man named Greg. He and I were introduced several years earlier when he first wrote me with the sad news, "I have cancer and I have faith, and I don't know how to have both."
After a few months of corresponding, his cancer was in remission, and our e-mails grew fewer and fewer.
That particular summer day though, the first line of his e-mail read, "The cancer's back, and I'm afraid."
I was so sad for Greg. My first response was, "O God, why?" I went to the next e-mail. It was from a woman who had been at one of my conferences a few weeks earlier. At the conference, she was pregnant. She wrote to tell me her baby had been born - stillborn - and she was devastated. So was I.
My tears began to fall. "God, why?"
I left my computer and went to my piano with more questions than answers and a heart heavy with compassion and helplessness. As I began to play, wondering why God allows these things, I glanced Heavenward and asked, "Why cancer? Why stillborn babies? Why blindness? It seems so unfair."
Suddenly the shadow of the Cross fell on my questions. As I saw that place of ultimate unfairness through my tears, my question was no longer, "Why suffering," but rather, "Why grace? Why peace? Why love?"
When I am tempted to ask why, as if the existence of pain is an unfairness in this life, I need only to look to the Cross, where true unfairness and the ultimate unanswered question remains. Why does God grant us grace, forgiveness, peace, love? It's not fair that we should receive such benevolence from Him.
As a result of my contemplation, I wrote these lyrics to remind me to embrace the mystery of faith rather than allow the unanswered questions to keep me from intimacy with God - to help me embrace what I can't understand, and in doing so, encounter Him.
That's what I want for Greg in his renewed struggle with cancer, for the precious woman who lost her baby, and for you too, whatever your hurts and unanswered questions might be today.

Isn't it amazing that one of the few days my mom tuned it, this was on? She told me about the beautiful song that Jennifer sang on the show and I just had to find it.

Jennifer Rothschild is completely blind, which she handles with such grace. I feel so drawn to this woman, her song, and her message. Then it occurred to me why... she has truly experienced and known suffering. These words are not empty, from someone whose known little heartache. God is speaking powerfully through her because of what she has endured and continues to endure.

It got me thinking... when we are given a heavy load in life to carry, like Jennifer's blindness, cancer, or the loss of a baby, or whatever it may be, God is able to use us in a special way. We are able to testify to His goodness and mercy, even in the midst of trials, heartache, and despair. The Lord can work whatever it is you are going through into a beautiful tribute for His glory. What an amazing opportunity to be used by God!

I truly can't imagine being blind. Many people have said to me they can't imagine losing a baby. Here's the thing... God gives us the strength and grace to face things we could never imagine facing. And He gives it to us the moment we need it, not a second too soon or too late. Trust that He is sufficient for you and He will carry you through whatever you may face in this life.

We don't have to have all the answers as to "why" He allows certain things to happen. We never will understand everything this side of Heaven. I will never know fully why Lily died before she drew her first breath. However, no matter what we may experience in this life, both the good and the bad, God knows why. And we can rest in His love and care. We can rest in the truth that He holds the whole world in His hands and He is always good and always desires what's best for us, His children.

Instead of dwelling on why Lily died and why I must carry the grief of losing my daughter for the rest of my life... I choose to abide in the shadow of the Cross. Why did God choose to rescue me from my sin and darkness? Why did God choose to write such a beautiful story of LIFE and redemption? Why did God make a way for me to spend Eternity with Lily?! I may never see her grow up on earth, but I know that my future and my hope is in Heaven. And that is where I will find both Lily and Luke awaiting me. I will never understand why God made a way for me, a sinner, to be with Him forever.

In your own heartaches and "whys," allow the shadow of the Cross to fall on your lingering questions.

One day soon, everything will be made NEW. There will be no more whys. No more pain.

You can listen to Jennifer Rothschild sing "Take Me to the Cross" below. I've also shared the lyrics. You can get a FREE download of this song HERE!



He said the cancer's back and he's afraid
He wonders why
So do I.
Now his greatest battle is against his fear
It's so unclear
He wonders why.
The God who heals
Won't reveal Himself
In ways we understand.
She said her baby never had a chance to breathe
So she grieves
So do I.
She struggles with the bitterness and loss
While she looks to the Cross
And she cries.
In the mystery we trust, we adjust, and wonder why.
Oh, take me to the Cross where You cried my tears
Hide me in Your tomb, crucify my fears.
I'll praise You with my pain though the mystery remains
You are a God who cries, You are a Saviour who died
And I can trust You with why.
So I travel down this bumpy road called faith
And with blind eyes,
I still try
To embrace all that I can't understand
Like Your kind plan, Your merciful plan.
I'm not angered, I am anchored.
Yet I feel weightless, I am hateless.
Since You took me to the Cross and cried each of my tears.
Hid me in Your tomb, crucified my fears.
I praise You with my pain though the mystery remains
You are a God who cries, You are a Saviour who died
And I will trust You with why.
I'll ask You why, why, this grace?
Why this peace?
Why, why, this love?
I praise You with my pain though the mystery remains
You are a God who cries, You are a Saviour who died
And I can trust You with why.

"We have depended on God's grace, not on our own human wisdom."
-2 Corinthians 1:12

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Thursday, August 8, 2013

His eye is on the sparrow

Last week when I was out to dinner with my family, somehow it was mentioned in the conversation how God notices even when a bird falls.

Matthew 10:29-31 says, "Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.


It brings me overwhelming joy and a sense of awe to think that the God of the universe cares so deeply about each living thing He has created.

We can trust Him with all our hearts.

He knows everything going on in each of our lives and cares!! He even knows the number of hairs on each of our heads... wow! He cares about small birds in the wild, creatures who we will never see or even know they exist. Yet, He knows and loves them and cares for them. How much more does He care about human beings who are made in His image?

It comforts my heart to know that my Heavenly Father is just that - my Father... Matthew 7:9-11 says, “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in Heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!"

I can trust Him to provide for me. I can trust Him to guide me in His plan and purpose for my life.

And something else so amazing... the God whose eye is on the sparrow has my two babies in His tender care. How much more does He love them then the sparrow?! It brings me to tears just to think of how He must adore them and care for them. I trust Him with their lives and legacies. God is in control of everything. He sees everything in the earth. He is still in control and has a plan and purpose for the death of Lily... and Luke. He is a God who works ALL things together for our good and His glory. He was not surprised by their deaths. Nothing is hidden from His eyes.

I love the hymn "His eye is on the sparrow" and especially like Audrey Assad's version of it. You can listen to it below. I also shared the lyrics.



Why should I be lonely,
Long for heaven and home
When Jesus is my portion
And a constant Friend I know

I sing because I'm happy,
I sing because I'm free
For His eye is on the sparrow,
His eye is on the sparrow
And I know He's watching me

Why should I be troubled
When His tender word I hear
Know I rest on His goodness
In my doubt and in my fear

I sing because I'm happy,
I sing because I'm free
For His eye is on the sparrow,
His eye is on the sparrow
And I know...

I sing because He loves me,
I sing because I'm free
For His eye is on the sparrow,
His eye is on the sparrow
His eye is on the sparrow
And I know He's watching me
He's watching me
He's watching you
He's watching me

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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

A Glimpse into August '09

Since it is now August, I have been reflecting on August 2009. I am celebrating both the month of my birth and my spiritual birthday. I oftentimes talk about how it was during the month of August that the Lord intervened in my heart and life. He fought for me, rescued me, and saved my eternal life and the life of my unborn child.

Recently, I was looking through my old Facebook posts from 2008 and 2009. It is painful to look back over the years of "Facebook activity." It is honestly very telling of someone's life. I feel somewhat embarrassed if people were to look back at the things I posted. Reading and seeing some things from the past years brought up bad feelings and memories and made me feel nauseated. How much I despise the old Hannah Rose. Seeing what I wrote and posted is a part of who I once was. A part of what God brought me out of.

It is amazing that I can even see the change in my heart and life in August 2009 from what I posted on my Facebook page. They were just Facebook statuses, but to me they are evidence of the LIFE Jesus was breathing back into my dry bones.

I can witness the change within myself, just through Facebook statuses. I mean, I know what I experienced in the depths of my heart during that time where Jesus changed everything, but to read posts that I wrote - Scriptures, quotes, and lyrics God put on my heart in the midst of that season, it's just really special. I didn't remember what I posted. It is so beautiful to see how the things I posted changed suddenly and drastically. Just a couple months before this, I posted really ridiculous things about such worldly things... then, the Lord captivated my heart. He wooed me and brought me to the foot of the Cross. And I am forever changed. I stand in awe once again at the transforming work of Christ.

This picture of me was taken on my 20th birthday - August 12th, 2009. It was three days before the scheduled abortion. There are few pictures of me during this time, so it's somewhat strange to see myself then, to know what was going on inside me, the battle that was raging. I am smiling, but I'm not smiling with my entire face, with my eyes. I was empty and broken. I had no idea all that God was doing and was going to do and how I'd look back on that season, seeing how it was a crossroads in my life. I chose the path of LIFE. I chose Jesus. Little did I know how those choices I made during that month would shape my life forever. How they would shape the story God was writing for my life and how He'd use it for my good and His glory. How He'd bring me to my passion and purpose. During that month of August '09, I went to a Pregnancy Resource Center myself. Now I have Pregnancy Center Banquets booked where I will be the keynote speaker.


I took screenshots of those statuses from August and September 2009 when the transformation occurred to share exactly what I wrote and on what dates. I really want to personally keep track of this always. It was almost as if the first half of August was where the battle for my soul and my child's life was raging. Then, God really opened my heart and drastically changed everything in a short amount of time. He can heal and redeem and restore with just a single word. These posts were when He had drawn my heart back to Himself and I was completely and utterly desperate for Jesus! I had Scripture being poured over me daily and was walking through a deep time of repentance, cleansing, and healing. 

The first post is from five days after my scheduled abortion... obviously I never went! I was so desperate for Jesus.


I was surrendering my life and future and the life and future of my unborn child to the Lord, knowing that He had a perfect plan and purpose for both of us, whether that was parenting or adoption. Nobody else knew what these posts were talking about.


He showed me that if I chose LIFE, He would take care of all the details. I knew I could trust Him. I love how Bex commented on this post. :) It was that month that our friendship began and the Lord used her so much in my life! She knew what I meant when I wrote this.


He delivered me from death and my baby from death.


This was right before I was going to tell my mom that I was pregnant and the Lord was showing His faithfulness and guidance to me in so many incredible ways!


I shared the lyrics from the song "Tears of the Saints" by Leeland. I remember listening to this powerful song over and over during this time and how I would just weep. God was giving me such a heart of compassion and love for others who were like me, prodigal sons and daughters. He had led me Home and He was longing for His other children to come Home to Him. He was showing me that through my brokenness, He would give me the ability to love and serve Him and others in a way I never would have been able to if it weren't for what I had been through and what I was going through. God can truly work all the things in our lives together for good! This is an emergency - that we would love Jesus, serve Him, and bring others to the foot of the Cross. Because we are never promised tomorrow and God doesn't want anyone to perish! In Christ, we are pure, whole, redeemed, healed! So reach out your hands to Him, even though you feel so weak and undeserving.


Click HERE to listen - this is for you, Bumma ;)


Here are the lyrics to the song:

There are many prodigal sons 
On our city streets they run 
Searching for shelter 
There are homes broken down 
People's hopes have fallen to the ground 
From failures 

This is an emergency! 

There are tears from the saints 
For the lost and unsaved 
We're crying for them come back home 
We're crying for them come back home 
And all your children will stretch out their hands 
And pick up the crippled man 
Father, we will lead them home 
Father, we will lead them home 

There are schools full of hatred 
Even churches have forsaken 
Love and mercy 
May we see this generation 
In a state of desperation 
For Your glory 

This is an emergency! 

Sinner, reach out your hands! 
Children in Christ you stand! 
Sinner, reach out your hands! 
Children in Christ you stand! 

And all Your children will stretch out their hands 
And pick up the crippled man 
Father, we will lead them home 
Father, we will lead them home

You can read more posts about August 2009 and what God did in my life during that time by clicking here.

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