Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Grace Greater than All Our Sin

The following is a chapter from a book by Elisabeth Elliot that richly blessed and encouraged me, so I wanted to pass it along, as I'm sure it will impact others with similar experiences as well. There are some important truths here.

"If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make Him out to be a liar and His word has no place in our lives." -1 John 1:8-10

A fifteen-year-old girl made up her mind to disobey God and her mother. She gave away her virginity. Her excuses: "Daddy didn't love me very much," and "everybody's doing it."

She now writes, "I was not a Christian at the time but I knew of God and knew in my heart that it was wrong, as Romans 1:20 says, I was "without excuse." The truth in God's eyes was that I had chosen to live in disobedience. I followed with several meaningless relationships until I met my husband, we became Christians by God's grace, and married.

"I am now thirty years old, married to a loving and God-fearing husband, and have three beautiful, healthy children. I am able to stay at home in a very little house, and it would appear that I have all the world at my fingertips. And yet fifteen years later this sin is a grievous weight on my heart. I had made a mistake I could never change.

"The more I study God's Word and the more I desire His presence in my life, the more I grieve over this sin. Just this past year I have begun to realize that the Father's calling for purity and holiness is for me. The Lord spoke to me through Hebrews 10:22, 23: "Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience, and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful."

"Is it possible? I wondered. Could the Lord not only forgive me, but cleanse my conscience and my body?

"My husband, knowing what I was dealing with, decided that we should separate physically for a time so that I could seek the Lord fully and be dealt with by His hand. So he moved into the guest room and was very patient and supportive, always ready to listen with love and forgiveness.

"My prayer for this time was Proverbs 20:27, "The lamp of the Lord searches the spirit of a man; it searches out his inmost being." I prayed that He would search my inmost being and reveal to me how I could receive the cleansing offered in Hebrews 10:10, "we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." I wish I could say that it was an instant cleansing (which was actually what I was expecting!) but instead it was a slow, painful process. One by one the Lord revealed past sins and hurts that I had long since buried. The rejection of my father, the shame of a broken relationship, each revealed and each mourned over one at a time. Often the memories came in dreams, and I would wake up sobbing and broken. Many of my sins I knew I needed to confess to my husband, because I would never be able to feel completely loved by him unless he knew the ugly parts of me too. What a wonderful man - he was always much more willing to forgive me than I was to forgive myself.

"After weeks of cleansing, I reached a point of physical and emotional exhaustion. I was at my lowest, and began to pray that the Lord would bandage all my wounds before I bled to death! I remember telling one very dear friend that I felt like "one great big open wound." She opened her Bible and began to read to me from Isaiah 61.

He has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,...
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair...
They will...restore the places long devastated;...
Instead of their shame
my people will receive a double portion,
and instead of disgrace
they will rejoice in their inheritance;
and so they will inherit a double portion in their land,
and everlasting joy will be theirs.

"As she read to me, once again I began to weep, but instead of sadness, I was weeping with joy! This was the healing ointment that my aching heart needed. How loving and faithful our Lord is. Only He could change this dirty, ugly woman into beauty and joy. It was more than I had thought to ask for.

"It has only been a month since I was given this Scripture, but my burden has been cast down at the foot of the cross, and I am learning how to stand up straight, without the stoop that carrying such a load has caused me. Does it still hurt? Yes. I still cannot read Isaiah 61 without crying. But I have been sprinkled from a guilty conscience and washed in pure water, and the One who promised me this has been found faithful.

"Why have I shared all this with you? I have trusted you with my heart, Elisabeth, to tell you this:

"Sexual immorality can be forgiven, but it causes pain like no other sin can (1 Cor. 6:18). I carried it around for fifteen years and as much as I wanted it to go away, it didn't. A girl's body and virginity are precious treasures, and when they are given away before marriage it is a painful mistake and can never be reclaimed. Anyone who says different is a liar. Please don't stop your plea to young people to guard carefully the trust God has given them."

Julia H. Johnston's lovely old hymn expresses the "marvelous grace of our loving Lord."

Sin and despair like the sea waves cold
Threaten the soul with infinite loss;
Grace that is greater, yes, grace untold
Points to the refuge, the Mighty Cross.

Another teenager who, by "sleeping around," squandered the one-time gift of virginity, began very seriously to walk with God when she reached her twenties.

"I thrill again and again as I realize the power of God to change lives so drastically. I dated a very exemplary Christian fellow. He proposed to me several times, and several times I declined, fearing engagement and marriage because I felt I could not tell my husband-to-be about my past, yet I felt it was wrong not to tell him. I would need his forgiveness, desperately, but I could not face the risk of not being forgiven, and consequently, of being rejected. I cried many, many nights over this unchangeable status. One day in Bible college I was talking with my dorm mother with whom I was very close. She was so pleased and happy that I took such an interest in her nine-year-old daughter because she wanted her daughter to be around godly young people. I could not but cry. In the past, parents had told their kids to stay away from me, and here was a heroine of mine saying she was glad her daughter had the opportunity of being around me. My tears, of course, made her inquisitive, and tremblingly, I poured out my story to her. I told her my fear of telling a husband-to-be. She encouraged me to keep no secrets from my husband as keeping secrets would create a barrier in my marriage. She assured me that should God bring a young man into my life, then at the right time God would both give me courage to tell him and would pour out His grace on the young man so that he would readily forgive me. That idea sounded not only impossible but ridiculous!

"This summer I had a few dates with a young man in his thirties. I'm his first girlfriend. We committed to communicate. Little by little I revealed something of my past, keeping it all rather vague. I was torn between wanting him to pick up on my hints and wanting him to miss them altogether. He revealed his past, too - he had been a good kid!

"We became engaged in March, to be married in June. In April the "right time" came. Bringing up my past seemed easy. It was late at night but he just sat at the kitchen table waiting patiently for me to talk until I had completely relieved my heart. He told me he had picked up the hints last summer. He was determined not to leave until I had told him as much as I wanted to tell him. I finally admitted to him that I was struggling with not knowing if he could forgive me if he knew that his arms were not the first to hold me, his kisses not my first kisses, and things that I should have been able to give him as "firsts" I could not because they were already gone.

"He told me, "I don't understand it myself, but somehow it doesn't matter to me, because I see what you are now, and I know what God has done in your life. You aren't what you used to be. I love you." I finally got my courage up and asked if it didn't matter either if our first night would not be the first time. He said, "I guess you expect me to say it does matter, but even that really doesn't. God has changed you. I still love you so much I want to marry you."

"The grace of God is a wonderful thing, isn't it?

Something has changed in our relationship. When he says, "I love you," it means more than it ever had before, and my telling him my whole heart thrilled him because he knows that I am really committed to doing everything I can, even if it is painful to me, to make our marriage the best I can.

"He stated that he is still looking forward to our first night as a very special time and wondered if I felt that our first night had lost the specialness. I replied that it has not lost all special meaning because he loves me, and the other guys really didn't. "So," he said, "I am a first after all!"

"Isn't he sweet?"

Johnston's hymn continues:

Dark is the stain that we cannot hide.
What can avail to wash it away?
Look! there is flowing a crimson tide.
Whiter than snow you may be today.

A twenty-four-year-old, supposing she was the only virgin among her peers, gave herself to a man she thought was "safe enough."

"Little did I know that this sexual union would lead to years of miserable attachment to this man. I felt at times I needed to die in order to get away from him. I gave in to my fleshly desires with other men, deceiving myself into thinking it was okay to go out alone with Christian as well as non-Christian men. I allowed them into my apartment, allowed them to kiss and hug me. I know my limits, I told myself, I know how far I can go. I had not surrendered my passions to Christ - I was still in control, and my foolishness led to more sexual encounters and much grief.

"God graciously gave me the gift of repentance and I began to pray to pray to be made pure again. I had my doubts. We tend to think that God is going to give us what we deserve, and we forget about His grace.

"Several months later God caused the head of a single man in my church to turn toward me. He cautiously began to make conversation with me, introduced me to his parents, maintained a certain distance. I, now wiser, followed his lead, but felt frustrated at the slow pace of the relationship - was he ever going to hold my hand? declare his feelings? God graciously gave me patience.

"The day came when he confessed his love for me and asked me to be his wife. We had never held hands or embraced, but we had come to know one another and knew that we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together, not because of sexual chemistry or physical attraction, but because of love and respect, and a regard for God working in our lives and bringing us together.

"God not only restored my sense of purity, He blessed me with a man that I couldn't even envision, let alone hope for. My husband was not only a virgin, he had never kissed a woman! It was too good to be true.

"God has allowed so much healing to come into my life because of the love of a man who purposed in his heart to remain pure. Although, sadly, I was promiscuous and "used," I received a wonderful gift. But why didn't God bless my husband with a virgin? I believe that He gave him instead a glorious opportunity to love his wife as Christ loves the church - not holding their sins against her, but accepting her and loving her unconditionally."

Nothing seems more miraculous, more difficult for us who insist on figuring things out, than this matter of grace. Logic has nothing to do with it. It is the incomprehensible and inscrutable High and Mighty One pouring Himself out in love for His helpless, sinning creatures. Through the sacrifice of Himself He offers us, when we ask for it, absolute forgiveness.

Nor does He merely forgive. He sanctifies us, definitively establishing a new quality of life in the cleansed soul, communicating to us His life and love, quite apart from any merit whatsover on our side.

Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace,
freely bestowed on all who believe;
You that are longing to see His face -
Will you this moment His grace receive?

Grace, grace, God's grace,
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
Grace, grace, infinite grace,
Grace that is greater than all our sin.

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Lily in Philly

This picture makes me smile. It was taken 5 years ago at this time, on one of the days between Christmas and New Year's Day, when I took a trip to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with my mom, brothers, and sister. I wasn't far into my third trimester of pregnancy when Lily visited Philly. We had such a fun and memorable trip, walking around downtown, getting hot beverages at charming local coffee shops, exploring historic/touristy destinations, trying the famous Philly cheesesteak sub, and staying at the oldest hotel in the city. My mom and brothers went to an Eagle's football game. I kept having contractions and we joked that "Lily wanted to be born in Philly." My belly was getting a lot bigger, to the point of not being able to button up this coat all the way, as you can see in the photo. That makes me giggle. Lily was growing big and strong! My girl had lots of adventures during her time on Earth with her adoring family.


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Monday, December 29, 2014

My One-of-a-Kind Girl

My one-of-a-kind snowflake for my one-of-a-kind girl. Just as no two snowflakes are just alike, each life is unique, precious and irreplaceable. This was made on a website that creates snowflakes. ❄️❄️❄️


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Sunday, December 21, 2014

Hope on the Horizon

My grandmother, sister-in-love, and I visited Lily's spot today to decorate it for Christmas. Before we left, I spent some time just lost in my own thoughts of how much my beautiful girl means to me. Kala and Bumma went to the car to give me space. I had no idea my thoughtful sister-in-law was taking this candid photo for me. It is so symbolic - me standing before her grave, missing and loving her always, yet the sun on the horizon, as a reminder of the hope I have in Christ, that I will one day see her again. This is my now, but she and Him are my future. The bright sun is what overwhelms the picture with beauty, even in a cold and lonely cemetery in December. On this first day of winter, I trust that spring is coming. This photo is completely unedited.


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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Lily's Lamb Ornament

This is the beautiful ornament my grandmother gave me in honor of Lily Katherine for Christmas. Lambs are significant to me, for my pure and innocent one, like both her first and middle names means. Her stone has a lamb on top.


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Thursday, December 18, 2014

A Little Bit of Heaven

My friend Bonnie from Covered in Love Ministries gave this beautiful print to everyone in our group for Christmas. I'll be adding it to Lily's scrapbook. It's such a sweet quote.


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Friday, December 12, 2014

I Believe She Felt My Love for Her

Sometimes I get sad thinking that not only did I never get to look at Lily in her eyes, but she also never got to look into mine. I struggle with wondering if she knew me. And if she knew how much I adore her.


All those months of growing a tiny human are spent in eager anticipation, waiting for the moment where as a mother you will finally gaze into the eyes of the sweet child whose face you've imagined countless times.

When I was told Lily's heart had stopped beating on the day I was to finally see her face, it felt like that dream was shattered. Like this was something that was snatched away from me before I ever got to fully have it, something that I had longed for. How do you find closure in that? I held her, but I never got to meet her outside of the womb.

A friend of mine recently shared this video of a newborn baby who doesn't want to leave her mother. She is literally clinging to her face and is so calm and peaceful when she is right by her mother. As soon as she is pulled away from her, she cries. Oh, how I wish I could have heard Lily's sweet newborn cry, how I wish we could have shared a moment like in this video. This baby knows her mother.



And it got me thinking, Lily really did know me, like this baby knows her mother. She knew my voice, she heard my heart beating and my blood rushing through my veins for almost an entire year. And even though she never saw my eyes, never felt me holding her, never was cared for me as a child is when they grow up on Earth, I truly believe she felt my love for her... just as I believe each of our babies who were lost before or shortly after birth knew their mamas and felt their immeasurable love.

It is a comforting thought to know her entire life on Earth was peaceful. She was fiercely loved by everyone close to her. She was longed for and embraced, even if her life didn't fit into "my plan" of how things should go. She only ever felt warmth and love... never sadness, cold, pain, jealousy, or any of the other things that can make life hurt. She never felt tears running down her cheeks or felt ugly or not enough. She was never bullied and never had her heart broken. She only felt love.

The first beat of her heart and the last were within me, in the sacred place of my womb, the only home she ever knew. And now she knows the perfect love of her Father in Heaven. What a gift for me as her mother to know these things.

She knew me and I her. The bond we shared can never be taken away.


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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Owen Turns 5

Lily's cousin, Owen, turns 5 today. Owen is my first cousin, Daniel's, son. I have written many times about how Owen and Lily are boy and girl cousins born three months apart, just as Daniel and I are boy and girl cousins born four months apart.

As the years have passed, honestly it has gotten a lot easier for me to think about Owen growing up and to see photos of him. He is absolutely adorable! But each year on his birthday, I am reminded afresh of the little girl who should be having a birthday close behind him.

I wish I was feeling sad because of how fast my daughter is growing up, how the years are flying by... but instead, I am sad that the years are flying by, but my daughter will never grow up. She will always be a baby.

Anyways, I don't really feel like I have much in me to share this year. I have already shared a lot of feelings about this. You can read all the posts I've written about Owen through the years by clicking HERE.

There is something about 5 that seems so BIG. By that age, children are past toddlerhood and in the "kid zone." 5 is when Kindergarten starts. All milestones she will miss. All milestones that Owen will experience through his life that will remind me of my own child who'll never experience a single one of them. Sigh.

I thought I'd share some special photos of Owen, Daniel, Lily, and I...

Daniel and I 5 years ago this month - shortly after Owen was born and Lily was growing away! I actually still have and wear that shirt!


Daniel and I visiting Lily's spot last year around Thanksgiving, shortly after her permanent stone was installed.
This photo was taken during the summer of 2010. I didn't even know I had this picture until I found it on a disc recently. It was the first time I met Owen and would have been the first time three-month-old Lily would have met him too.
Daniel and I when we were little - how I wish Lily and Owen were in pictures like this together too!
But instead, these are the only sort of pictures they'll ever take "together." Each year, Owen makes a birthday sign in honor of Lily and takes a photo. I really treasure those photos. Each year, he grows bigger and she stays the same.

Happy 5th birthday, Mr. O! I love you!

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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

She's Literally a Part of Me

I read an article that has brought me so much comfort. It said the following:

You have stem cells from each of your babies in your brain.
The physical and emotional link between a mother and her child is about as close as a relationship can be. New research now shows the physical connection is even deeper than anyone previously thought.
Stem cells from the fetus have now been found in many areas of the mother’s brain, heart and other organs. These stem cells are ‘pluripotent’ that is, they can potentially be induced to form many different cells lines such as brain or cardiac tissue and help in regeneration.
Another study illustrated their potential. The heart of pregnant animals were damaged by blockage of a coronary artery, simulating a severe heart attack, though this was not lethal. Later after the animals delivered, the heart was examined. Stem cells from their fetus had migrated to the damaged mother’s heart and helped it repair itself.
These cells from each and every one of your children are there, in your brain and heart…. for life. And they will all still be there when you die. 

Just WOW. I feel like crying each time I read this. Not only is Lily a part of me forever, carried in my heart and thoughts, but her cells are literally in my body and will be there until I die, until the day we are reunited in Heaven.

Her heart might not be beating on this Earth any longer, but she is alive... her legacy is alive, her cells are alive within me as proof that she was a real little girl, and most importantly, she is eternally alive with Jesus Christ.

God's design is breathtaking and how He bonds mothers and their babies is more beautiful than words could describe. And Lily's cells could even help my body repair itself. She has brought much good to my life.

For the mother who has not lost a child, this is a neat fact to learn, but for the mother who has lost a child, this is beyond precious. It is so sweet to think that I will carry Lily's cells, as well as the cells of any future children I may have forever. It is a way they will be bonded together as siblings. All of their hearts will begin beating in the same place, in the sacred place of my womb. In the place where Lily's heart not only started beating, but also stopped beating... the only home she ever knew.

When I must leave the cemetery where my beautiful daughter is laid to rest beneath the Virginia earth, the place where a stone has her named etched in it, I can smile through the tears. Her heart beats with each beat of my heart, her cells are within me. I smile because she is alive through me. And because she is alive in the place where I will know her in a way I never got to here.


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Josie Duggar Turns 5

I was scrolling through my Facebook News Feed today, when I came across this.


Ah yes, Josie Duggar turns 5 today. Seeing this made my heart sink a little. You see, Josie was due on March 18th, 2010, and Lily was due on March 14th, 2010, and was born on March 16th, 2010. I remember when I was pregnant with Lily and finding out that Michelle was pregnant with Josie and thinking it was special they were due just days apart.

And then of course little Josie was born over three months prematurely, spending time in the NICU.

While this tiny girl was fighting for her life, my Lily grew big and strong in the safest place on Earth, in her mother's womb. 

But Josie survived to see her 5th birthday. And Lily did not... even though she was in the best place I thought she could be. I sometimes think if Lily had just been born a few days earlier, she would have been born alive. It's difficult to know that she could have survived for literally months outside of the womb before the time she was born, yet she died because she was in the safe place. It's all so hard to wrap my mind around.

Josie Duggar will always remind me of Lily. Seeing her grow up on the 19 Kids and Counting television show just blows my mind to know my girl would be that big too. They are equally as real and equally as important and cherished by their families.

Yes, Duggars, as you wrote in your post, time does fly. I am thankful too that the Lord brought Lily to me, though she is not here to celebrate her 5th birthday in three months. 

Happy 5th birthday, beautiful Josie!

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Monday, December 8, 2014

"We carry our babies everywhere we go and their memories are special"

My friend Stacy hosted a baby shower in honor of her daughter Rachel's 4th birthday in Heaven. It was for a young woman who is expecting her first child in March, the same month Lily was born.

This is what Stacy shared on her blog when she first posted about it:
"God has presented us with another opportunity to celebrate life and share the love of Christ. We have been led to a young girl from our local high-school who is expecting a baby boy in March. We have never met her, the girls who work at the gas station around the corner told us that she is in need of help preparing for her baby and doesn't have much support. Her name is Lindsey and I hear she is almost done high school, will be graduating in January, has a job too and is a hard worker.
I gave her the option of us having a shower with her in attendance or just gathering and donating items to her. I told her I am pretty good at throwing parties and she accepted. :)  I admit this feels awkward to me. I am nervous about it being a flop and her feeling disappointed or let down. But God put it on my heart and so I am going with it and I'm hoping you will help me!!
I have been having fun helping her pick items and making the invitations. It's such an honor to remember Rachel this way... by pouring my love on others. I have to say the thought of having your first baby so young and not having a time where people gather and celebrate sounds sad to me. I'm pretty sure she would not have had a shower if it wasn't for Rachel. I think this young lady needs to know that choosing life doesn't leave you alone....and I want her to feel the love that God so freely gives through us. So if you are local and can make this, I would be ever so grateful if you stop by and show your support even if you cannot bring a gift."

I was touched that Stacy was doing this, especially after facing two unplanned pregnancies myself. I am passionate about the church of Christ loving on mothers who do choose LIFE for their baby.  

Each year for Christmas, my mom and I like to do something in Lily's honor. The last 2 years, we've given a box to Operation Christmas Child. This year, it seemed perfect to be a part of this baby shower... in Lily's honor for Christmas, in Rachel's honor for her birthday, and as a way to show this mama and her sweet baby some love. We could not make it in person because Stacy lives many states away, but we sent a card that shared a bit about Lily's life and legacy and encouragement for this young mother, along with $43 (43 is a special number to Stacy because that is how many minutes Rachel lives outside the womb).

This is what Stacy wrote on her blog about our gift for the shower (I think what she selected is perfect):
"My friend Hannah Rose - we (you!) helped her get her daughter Lily's headstone last year - sent $43 in honor of Rachel's birthday and in honor of Lily for Christmas and asked me to get something special for Lindsey. I waited to see what would be left on the registry and it was mostly just diapers... which didn't feel enough like Lily and Rachel...so this morning, when I opened my eyes, it came to me! A baby carrier and a memory book! What else says "We carry our babies everywhere we go and their memories are special" more than those together?! So I left to go get them and decided KMart would be faster than Walmart (I don't often go to KMart so I had no idea what to expect from their baby section) I picked up the carrier and the memory book I wanted without even thinking of price, because honestly, I didn't have time to! Do you know how much they cost? Yep, $43. UNREAL!!
I also added in the little "I'm on my way!" ultrasound picture frame as a special thing in Lily's honor because Hannah is a pro-life speaker and writer and I felt like the idea of celebrating LIFE from the beginning - not when they come out, but when they are created - would be a good way to honor Lily for Christmas too! Love you Hannah"

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Sunday, December 7, 2014

Lily's Christmas Ornaments and Tree

A few days ago, I got out my box of memorial ornaments that I have collected over the past 5 Christmases - some I got while I was pregnant with Lily, some were given as gifts, some were made by me or others, while others were bought by me. Each year, I like to add to my growing collection. I hope to make one this year.


And here is Lily's mini memorial Christmas tree, adorned with her lovely ornaments. I will also take her a tree to decorate her grave for Christmas/winter.


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Saturday, December 6, 2014

Help Me See the Beauty

Sometimes all I see is the pain and the questions.

The pain of losing Lily and the heaviness of living the rest of my life without my first-born. And the questions of why it happened to me, to my baby.

I recently heard someone share her story about going through an unintended pregnancy and how at one point early in the pregnancy, she almost lost her baby. This person said how she talked to her belly and told the tiny baby growing that she had to fight to stay alive... and then she said her daughter is now almost 19 and the reason she fights for the unborn...

As I listened to this story, burning tears came to my eyes and I felt the jab in my heart, why God? Why did you save her baby, but let mine die? Why did my sweet daughter go fullterm and die for no apparent reason?! While other babies who are born micro preemies survive?

In that moment of pain and questioning, it was as if God put this whispered prayer in my heart, please help me see the beauty in this... because right now I am blinded by the pain.

I know God has a plan and purpose. I am just wondering why a part of His plan had to be Lily dying??

My grandmother found two VHS tapes for me at the thrift store where she is one of the founders of in my hometown in Virginia. The series is called "Suffering Is Not For Nothing" by Elisabeth Elliot. There are six 30 minute segments. It has been bringing so much peace and comfort to my heart watching this series. My faith is being renewed. I firmly believe God puts books, movies, sermons, etc. into our path at just the right moment. In one of the sessions, Elisabeth Elliot even talks about a couple who lost their baby daughter. I couldn't believe it, but then I could believe it because I know God brought this series to me for a reason. This is what Elisabeth said:

If we learn to know God in the midst of our pain, we come to know Him as one who is not a High Priest who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities. He is one who has been over every inch of the road. I love that old hymn from I think the seventeenth century by Richard Baxter: “Christ leads me through no darker rooms than He went through before.” I love those words.
I have some dear friends who are missionaries in North Africa. He was one of the many seminary students who have lived in our house. I had a letter from them about a year or so ago to tell me that they had just lost their baby girl. I think it was either at birth or just within a few hours after birth. Their letter was filled with the anguish that that cost them. And of course, I wanted to answer the letter. But I never lost a baby. I only have one child who was ten months old when her father was killed. So I couldn’t write to Phil and Janet and say, “I know exactly what you’ve been through.”
But I’ve read the wonderful letters of Samuel Rutherford, that Scottish preacher from the seventeenth century who seems to have been through just about every imaginable human mill and he had lost at least one child. I had his letters in my study. So I looked up one of his letters to a woman who had lost a child. This is what he wrote to her, and I quoted these words to Phil and Janet after saying to them, “I don’t know what you’re going through, but I know the One who knows.” I sent them Samuel Rutherford’s words. He had lost two daughters; I have here in my notes. This is what he said:
Grace rooteth not out the affections of a mother but putteth them on His wheel who maketh all things new, that they may be refined. He commandeth you to weep. And that Princely One took up to Heaven with Him a man’s heart to be a compassionate High Priest. The cup ye drink was at the lip of sweet Jesus, and He drank of it.
And Janet wrote to me these words: “The storm of pain is calming down and the Lord is painting a new and different picture of Himself.” I saw in her experience that the very suffering itself was an irreplaceable medium. God was using that thing to speak to Janet and Phil in a way that He could not have spoken if He had not gotten their attention through the death of that little child.
Now, I don’t mean to oversimplify things as though that explains it, that God had to say something to those two people because if I know anything about godliness, I know that Phil and Janet Linton are both godly people.
That raises another painful question, doesn’t it. We often say, “Why did such and such have to happen to her. She is such a wonderful person. Why did he have to go through this? He’s such a wonderful person.” Well, again, the word is, “Trust Me.”

Sometimes I think God is the most glorified in the midst of suffering... in the place of unanswered questions and pain where a heart still points to Heaven and says, I trust Him and know He is good always.

God is speaking clearly to my heart that I am to trust Him. I am reminded of a quote that I love that I can't remember who said it, "When you cannot trace His hand, you can always trust His heart."

There are certain things the Lord can teach us only through suffering. Suffering is not for nothing. And Lily's life and death was not for nothing. Some of the beauty that I am finding is in the suffering.

I know that somewhere deep down, hidden beneath the seemingly endless pain, is the beauty. I see glimpses of this beauty and know that one day, in Heaven, the fullness of the beauty of Lily's life and legacy will be revealed. When the sorrow and suffering is no more. And my beautiful blue-eyed baby girl will finally be in my arms.... forever.

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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

I Share for Babies Like Her and Mothers Like Hers

I read an article on LifeNews that really touched my heart. It is written by someone whose sister was born still many decades ago.

Click here to read the beautiful post and then I will share my thoughts on it.

I relate to so much of what this writer said. For one, she wrote, "My mother said she would have given anything, anything at all, to have had her baby live even for one short moment after birth, to have touched her warm face and stroke her tiny hand, to pour a lifetime of love into that fleeting minute. But it wasn't to be. The loss of that time haunted her. It broke her heart."

I get this completely. How many times I have wished that Lily had been born alive, even if just for a moment, so I could have seen her eyes. That is something I feel will haunt me for the rest of my days.

The writer of this post said of her mother, "In those days there were no grief counsellors, no dedicated support to help you through the shock. You were just expected to get over it... Mam didn’t talk much about that, about how Máire’s death had affected her. Even when we occasionally broached the subject, it was as if the grief still choked her, even though one, then two, and then three decades had passed. I realize now that it was simply too hard. The shock of losing her child was so overwhelming and so profound, that it was almost unbearable, and the longer it was left unexpressed the more it became impossible to articulate without spasms of grief. It was a sorrow that mothers of her time carried deep inside, and did not share."

Losing a baby is something you never, ever "get over." This mother was deeply affected by the loss of her precious daughter, from the time she lost her, all through the decades of living without her. Honestly, reading things like this brings me comfort and validation that I am not strange to love and miss Lily so much, even almost five years later. And it would not be healthy for me to suppress my feelings.

Máire’s life mattered. It breaks my heart that in the "old days," people were expected to immediately get over the loss of a baby, move on, not talk about it, and pretend their child never existed. I am so thankful for how things have changed since then. It is partly for babies like Máire and mothers like hers that I write. For all the years they weren't able to write, to share, to grieve... I write, I share, and I grieve openly.

I love how the writer of this post addresses the importance of having support while grieving the loss of a baby and how necessary it is to recognize and acknowledge the life of the little one who has passed away. She ends the post by saying how "love is stronger than pain and loss" and that one day, the parents who have lost a baby will see them again and be comforted, but for now, our voices should be heard that every life counts!

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Rachel Alice's 4th Birthday

Today is a very special little girl named Rachel Alice Aube's 4th birthday in Heaven! Rachel was born on December 3, 2010 and spent 43 precious minutes with her adoring family before going to her Eternal home where she dances for Jesus.

Her mother, Stacy, is one of my dearest friends who has been an encourager, supporter, and someone who shares so much wisdom, love, and truth with me. She makes me feel understood and validated, while at the same time always pointing me to Jesus.

Baby Rachel's Legacy is so beautiful and she will never be forgotten, by me or anyone else whose life she has touched. I just know that Rachel Alice and Lily Katherine must be friends and must know their mommies are now friends because of them!

God used Stacy and Rachel's legacy to honor Lily's legacy by helping to provide for my girl's permanent memorial headstone (through her non-profit, hundreds of dollars were donated!)

Please take the time to read about Rachel's beautiful life and legacy by clicking HERE and be sure to check out and following Stacy's blog (one of my favorites) by clicking HERE.

Stacy and Rachel

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Sunday, November 30, 2014

November Memories

These are some memories from November 2009...

Here is only the sweetest little girl and one of the best ultrasound photos ever! This was on November 24, 2009, when I was 24 weeks 2 days pregnant. Lily was looking right at us, as if she was saying "Hi Mommy" (which as you can see, my doctor wrote that). All my ultrasound photos and video mean so much to me, especially since I didn't get to meet Lily alive. But live she did! Can you see her sweet face? :)


And here is Lily waving at her mommy! Look at those precious, tiny fingers!


Yesterday (November 29th) in 2009, I was 25 weeks pregnant with Lily and had a fun maternity photo shoot with my sister and cousin. I'm so thankful for the pictures we took that day and treasure those sweet memories. Here are some of my favorite photos taken on that day.

I love this silly photo

my absolute favorite maternity photo
what joy she brought/brings me!
with my sister, Emma (a.k.a. "Bub")
with my cousin, Anna

I shared these pictures on my blog when we first took them and wrote this (also mentioning the appointment where the ultrasound photos above were taken):

"As of Sunday, I am in my 25th week of pregnancy. My cousin Anna was down visiting from Virginia for the weekend so she, my sister, and I had a little photo shoot. It's so fun to see how much my belly has grown in such a short amount of time! I had an appointment with my Dr. last Tuesday and he said Lily is already 2 pounds and over a foot long! He checked her heart, brain, lungs, among other things and said she is very healthy! She's growing at the right speed and is quite active these days! As of now, Lily is definitely an early riser, waking me in the mornings with all sorts of squirming and kicking around. If this is any indication of what's to come, I better change my sleeping patterns now to get ready for this wild child! All my tests have come back healthy thus far as well. On December 21st, I'll be getting tested for gestational diabetes. Anyways, I'll give more of an update later about what's been going on in my pregnancy these last few weeks. It's quite an exciting time!!"

It's special knowing that these belly pictures are from almost the same day that Lily was waving at her mommy in the womb. That's how big she was!

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Friday, November 28, 2014

The Most Tangible Keepsake

The most tangible keepsake I have of Lily is this little snippet of her hair. Besides her foot and handprints, this is the only thing that is actually *of her.* It is beyond precious to me. Her hair color matched mine exactly. I wonder what her hair would be like now. I imagine it short and curly like mine was when I was the age she'd be. These things I have remind me she was real and she was truly here, even if for a brief moment in time.


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Thursday, November 27, 2014

No more bitter, only sweet

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm so thankful for the little girl who made me a mother and for the sacred moments that were spent with her, moments that are now memories (and pictures) that I will cherish for life.

Days like today are, and I imagine always will be, bittersweet for me. My heart overflows with gratitude for all the Lord has blessed me with, including the sweetness brought by Lily's beautiful life. Yet, the bitterness of her absence and the empty spot at the table where she'd be sitting is also deeply felt.

Missing you, sweet girl, and longing for Heaven where there will be no more bitter, only sweet.


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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A band that reminds me of Lily

My favorite band, Copeland, released their last album 6 years ago before "breaking up." They announced this past spring they were reuniting to make a new album. I've been waiting months for this and it finally released this week. It is my favorite album of theirs so far!


I'm such a big fan that I saw them in concert on their Farewell Tour in March 2010 when I was 9 months pregnant! I got to meet them and got their autographs and pictures with them, which are now in my pregnancy scrapbook. So they remind me of Lily.

at the concert - 9 months pregnant!
with my mom and sister before leaving for the Copeland concert
with Copeland's lead singer/pianist, Aaron Marsh
with Copelands guitar players, Bryan and Stephen Laurenson
with Copeland's drummer, Jonathan Bucklew

The music and lyrics are just so beautiful and make me feel so much, mostly thinking about Lily.

You can listen to all the songs from the new album on a playlist on YouTube HERE.

These are two of my favorites from the album:



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