Monday, June 30, 2014

Breathtaking Lilies

A few days ago, I walked out the front door onto the porch to take an evening walk and was greeted by these beautiful lilies. The sun was filtering through them in a way that took my breath away. It reminded me of how many times the beauty of Lily's life and legacy has taken my breath away.

"We can’t know why the lily has so brief a time to bloom in the warmth of sunlight’s kiss upon its face before it folds into its fragrance and bids the world good night to rest its beauty in a gentler place. But we can know that nothing that is loved is ever lost and no one who has touched a heart can really pass away because some beauty lingers on in each memory of which they’ve been a part.” -Ellen Brenneman


Sunday, June 29, 2014

Created for Her

For those who have read this blog for a while, you know I have been working on two scrapbooks for Lily Katherine for four years now. I do a couple/few pages at a time and then take a break because it can get heavy on my heart going through photos and memories. I have had so many goals as to when to complete the scrapbook (usually around her birthday), but am still not done. I guess this sort of thing cannot be rushed. It should be a healing process. I got a lot done before Lily's 4th birthday, but have taken a break until a couple days ago. Now, my mind feels fresh with ideas and creativity working on it again. And it was good for my heart to take a little break.

One of my scrapbooks is for my pregnancy and one is for the hospital/Lily's service/her headstone, etc. I really enjoy scrapbooking and wish I was creating one for Lily for each year of her life. But, instead, this is all I have. I want it to be perfect, which is another reason why it's taken me so long. I have found stickers and other things for it through the years from many different places. Every year, it's like there is one major thing I like to do for Lily. Last year, it was designing and placing her headstone. This year, it's completing her scrapbooks.

Over the next couple weeks, I plan on setting up a "scrapbooking station" in my home to complete them. It's hard to get the stuff out (I have quite a lot) and put it away again and again. I wish I had a craft room! ;) 

Anyways, I just wanted to share a sneak peek of a couple of the pages (from the hospital on the day Lily was born). I will be sharing all the pages on my blog when I complete them, along with many ideas for other babyloss parents wanting to create a scrapbook for their child, but not knowing where to start. Stay tuned. :)


Saturday, June 28, 2014

Rachel's Race

One of my dear friends named Stacy, whose daughter Rachel is also with Jesus, has an annual 5K called Rachel's Race. It is a fundraising event that honors the Lord, remembers Rachel and other babies in Heaven, educates others about anencephaly, and supports life-affirming ministries. (It was Stacy who raised money through her nonprofit that she runs in honor of Rachel that helped me get Lily's headstone!)

Check out Stacy's blog - Baby Rachel's Legacy (it is one of my favorites!). And if you are in the New Hampshire area, please consider walking in person at the 5K on Saturday, August 2nd. If you (like me) are too far away to attend in person, there is an option to be a virtual walker/runner. My mom and I are registered to be virtual walkers and will be taking photos to post on the Baby Rachel's Legacy Facebook page on the day the race is held (we will walk by ourselves somewhere local). We will each be receiving a beautiful Rachel's Race t-shirt to wear on that day. :) Please support this race/Baby Rachel's Legacy in whatever way you can!

If you are a babyloss parent, you can have your child honored on race day. This is what the website says: "Until Rachel, we were unaware of the large number of babies lost each year to miscarriage, stillbirth and neonatal deaths. As we have walked this path, we have heard hundreds of stories of parents who have had to say goodbye to their children too soon. We know the pain that this brings. If you are a grieving mother or father, we are so sorry for your loss. We know how important it is to have your baby recognized and we would love to honor your child by name at Rachel's Race." Click HERE to sign up to have your baby honored.

For much more information about the 5K, please click HERE.

The amazing race logo (which you can read about HERE) with Rachel's precious prints

Here's a little video from the first annual Baby Rachel's Legacy 5K so you can get more of an idea what it's like:


Friday, June 27, 2014

If She Were Here, I'd Get That for Her

Just because Lily is not here doesn't mean I can turn off the natural instinct as a mother to notice outfits for little girls the age she'd be on a regular basis. There are so many times that I see an outfit either online or out shopping and think to myself (or say aloud to my mom or a friend), "if Lily were here, I'd get that for her."

Recently, the thought occurred to me that nobody gets to see the outfits I'd dress her in. And that thought alone is a reminder of yet another thing I'm missing out on in mothering my daughter...

I see Facebook photos of friend's daughters dressed in adorable outfits. Nobody gets to see how adorable Lily would be (because trust me, not only would she herself be beautiful, but so would her outfits and accessories). Come on, everyone knows part of what makes having a daughter so exciting is dressing them in pink and lace.

My mom always dressed me in dresses and girly things growing up and I would have done the same thing with Lily. She'd look so old-fashioned and feminine. I wouldn't put her in all the modern things little girls wear these days (at least until she started wanting to dress herself because what I'd choose for her would be so not cool. That time inevitably comes in the life of every girl).

I was a mixture of tomboy and girly-girl growing up and picture Lily being that way too.

This is the sort of thing I'd dress Lily in - an April Cornell dress

Thursday, June 26, 2014

"The smallest coffins are the heaviest"

I saw this posted on a Facebook page. It speaks for itself. It's amazing how so few words can speak so much.

I remember seeing Lily's tiny white coffin and thinking how strange it was that they even have to make them that small. Seems so unnatural. Shouldn't coffins be used for people who have lived long and full lives, with children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren?? Not for babies who never took a single breath.


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Visiting Charlotte

I went to Charlotte, North Carolina this month for a friend's wedding (it is about three hours from Raleigh). It was fun staying in a hotel downtown.

Memories of Lily kept flashing through my heart and mind. Last time I stayed in Charlotte was in September 2009 when I was just beginning my second trimester of pregnancy. My brothers, mom, and I went to Charlotte for an NFL football game (the Eagles vs. Panthers, my twin brothers favorite teams at the time). I was able to get a ticket last minute. I didn't care so much about football, but wanted to spend time with them.

I had just recently told my mom I was pregnant and came back to NC for my pregnancy. I remember feeling so sick in the hotel (because of being pregnant), but hadn't told my brothers I was yet, so they didn't know why I was sick. I clearly remember the hotel, driving around downtown at night, and sitting in the stands at the football game feeling ill because it was such a hot day.

I thought we had taken photos that trip with a disposable camera, but haven't been able to find them. Maybe one day they'll show up. I treasure any and all pictures from my pregnancy.

Just being in Charlotte again made all those memories come to the forefront of my mind and made me miss my sweet girl.

part of downtown Charlotte, NC
got a photo of the football stadium while driving past it
with some friends and my sister-in-law at my friend Suzanne's wedding

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Just the Way I Like Her Spot

I visited Virginia for the first weekend of summer with my brothers. My brother Adam moved back to Virginia. Now the Allen siblings are spread across three states.

Anyways, I was so blessed to be able to visit Lily's spot and tidy it up just the way I like it. The grass is so green! It looks so much different than it looks in the winter and brings color to her spot. I pulled a lot of weeds around Lily's stone. One thing I don't like about Hillsboro Cemetery is that they don't keep the grass looking beautiful. They don't even seem to mow it on a regular enough basis. However, like my grandmother said, it can be tricky to mow the grass around the stones that aren't flat. I would rather have a cemetery where I could choose whatever stone I want and can leave whatever decorations I want, rather than a cemetery with nice grass, but with lots of rules and regulations.

I cleaned all the dirt and grass off Lily's stone and got things the way I like them. Then I changed out the summer decorations for July 4th/Independence Day decorations (which I will share in another post). I decided to take the flag stand down for now because the butterfly flag doesn't really match the 4th of July decor. I like how sweet and simple the stone looks with just the new decorations.

After the fourth of July, my brother and grandmother are going to take back the summer flowers and flag stand. I like Lily's spot to always have decorations for the different seasons and holidays. It makes me so sad that I can't do it myself because I am quite particular about how I like things arranged/looking. My family and friends do their best to help me out, which I appreciate so much, but it's not the same as me doing it myself. I don't want to sound picky and annoying with asking for things to be a certain way, but as I've written about before, I do want things perfect because this is the only thing I can do as a mother.

I feel like I write about this a lot, but it's a continual struggle for me. I wouldn't change having Lily's final resting place in my hometown because that is the only place it feels right, however I wish I could take her fresh flowers all the time, make sure the decorations are in place, and pull weeds whenever I want. Sigh...


Monday, June 23, 2014

A Windchime for Her Great-Granddaughter

One of my grandmother's friends gave her a beautiful wind chime in honor of Lily Katherine, her first great-granddaughter. She had it hanging on a tree outside her bedroom window so whenever she heard it, she'd think of Lily.

Well, apparently there is a wind chime thief that went up and down my grandmother's street, stealing all the wind chimes. I wonder if they knew what this wind chime was for if they still would have taken it.

I have wanted to get my grandmother a wind chime to replace the one that was stolen for a long time. I finally found one online and sent it to her for Mother's Day.

The flowers and butterflies are perfect. Flowers for my Lily and butterflies because my grandmother and I share a love for them and they remind us both of our daughters of Heaven, Lily and my Aunt Rachel.

My grandmother loves her new wind chime, though she decided not to hang it up on the tree outside her window (she doesn't want it to be stolen too). She took it the cemetery where Lily and Rachel are layed to rest instead. I love the sound of wind chimes!


Sunday, June 22, 2014

It Makes Me a Mother

Sometimes I wonder if people get sick of seeing my blog posts/pictures about Lily on Facebook or anywhere else. It makes me cringe to think of people thinking of Lily as "the dead baby" and me as "the gal with the dead baby."

It used to bother me thinking if people were tired of hearing about her after all these years. But, then it recently occurred to me, if people really think that, they aren't genuine, true friends. And I don't care to be "Facebook friends" with them anyways. I don't mean to sound harsh, I just really don't care to be "friends" with people who think Lily wasn't a real child and that I should be "over this." I really don't care what people think about me. I will never be just like everyone else, so I won't worry too much about what I appear to be to other people.

Lily is still very much a part of my life because she will always be my daughter, even though she passed away. That doesn't make me crazy, it makes me a mother.


Saturday, June 21, 2014

Statistically Speaking

My dad and I were discussing statistics and the probability of things happening and how unlikely different things are (random I know, but he likes statistics).

Anyways, I told him that yes, something may be very unlikely to happen to us, statistically speaking, however I view statistics differently now. I always used to think things happened "to other people." Now, after losing Lily and being one of the statistics, I realize that things don't always happen to others. They can happen to me too. So, I don't look at the large number of people things don't happen to, but the smaller number of people that things do happen to.

It has made me realize more than ever how little control we truly have over things. We can be as safe as possible and use wisdom in our life decisions, however we cannot keep every bad thing from happening.

That is where faith and trust in the Lord comes in. If I allowed myself to dwell in fear and thoughts of "what could" happen, I would be so anxious all the time. I entrust my life and future to God and know that I am in His hands and that anything that touches my life must go through Him first. And He promises to work ALL things together for my good and His glory.

Try memorizing some Scripture verses about worry/anxiety so that next time these feelings are rising up within you, you can speak truth.

Here are a couple to get you started:

"And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?" 
-Matthew 6:27

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." -Philippians 4:6-7

P.S. Happy first day of Summer! Enjoy all the extra light on the "longest day of the year." :)


Thursday, June 19, 2014

Sharing Lily

My dear friend Karen from Australia was in North Carolina visiting for a couple weeks. I was able to spend lots of quality time with her and our other friend Lindy. We all met at Ellerslie in Colorado in 2011. They both came over to my house one day last week for lunch and a lovely visit.

I was able to share Lily's memory chest, (unfinished) scrapbook, and memorial garden with them. I shared her footprints and handprints, lock of hair, among so many other meaningful (and random) things that remind me of her.

It was so very special and brought me such joy to share my girl with others. I haven't been able to share these things with many people in person, so it was definitely a gift to my mother heart. :) And to have people who care about hearing about/seeing these things really means more than I can express. Love both you ladies so much!

Hannah Rose, Karen, Lindy

Monday, June 16, 2014

Lily's Spot Decorated for Summer

Every couple months and/or new holiday or season, I send my grandmother or friend some new decorations for Lily's stone/special spot.

Her spot is now decorated for summer with a pretty new butterfly flag that I found at Hobby Lobby, some wild flowers that I found on sale at Michael's (fake so they will last a while since I cannot be there to take her fresh flowers all the time and I always want there to be color in her vase), and a wind chime.

The grass is finally growing in more!

Thanks Bumma for tending to Lily's spot and for taking this photo for me to see. It brings me peace to know her spot is taken care of and looking beautiful all the time.


Sunday, June 15, 2014

Father's Day

Today is Father's Day. I've been thinking of Lily's father and wondering how he feels on this day each year. Is it hard for him? Does he think of Lily? He will always be her father, even though she is not here. She will always be his first child. Here is a picture of the two of them at the hospital on the day she was born.

I am blessed to spend Father's Day with my dad. I am very thankful to my Heavenly Father for choosing him to be my Earthly father. 

I saw this video about fatherhood and it brought tears to my eyes, especially the part where the couple is telling their dad they are pregnant and the part where the young woman is crying and hugging her dad. It made me think of how supportive my parents were when they found out I was in an unplanned pregnancy. They truly lived pro-life. My parents have been there for me every step of the way, through my pregnancy and the loss of Lily. I can see it in their eyes how much they love their first grandchild, Lily Katherine. Honestly, how they have loved me through the past several years has spoken so much about their character and has shown me at a whole new depth how much they love me, truly unconditionally. How I love Lily shows me how they love me. I am more appreciative and thankful for them than ever before.

Here are my three siblings and I with our dad. This photo was taken seven years ago this month, the weekend of my high-school graduation. My little sister, Emma, had just turned 13, I was almost 18, and my twin big brothers Adam and Joseph, were almost 23.

I saw something on Facebook that I wanted to share here. It said, "For the one who has lost a father, For the father who has lost a child, For the one who longs to be a dad: You're not forgotten this Father's Day. You are in our prayers and we love you."


Saturday, June 14, 2014

Aunt Rachel's 49th Birthday

My Aunt Rachel Ross would be turning 49 today. She was born on June 14, 1965. Sadly, Rachel only lived for three months outside of the womb. She died on the operating table at UVA as her doctor attempted to save her tiny, deformed heart. 

Rachel was the seventh child of my grandparents, James Kirk and Nancy Virginia Bain. My mom is the eldest of the seven. 

This is the only family picture of all nine of them (baby Rachel in my grandmother's arms and my mom is in the back with the glasses). 

Each year, I remember my Aunt Rachel with my family. I just realized today that Rachel would have been the age I am now (24) when I was born. Happy birthday in Heaven, Rachel! 

You can read more about my Aunt Rachel on my blog by clicking HERE.


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Lilies, Lilies Everywhere

There are lilies blooming everywhere this time of year, from planted lilies in gardens to wild lilies growing alongside winding back roads. I love it. All the different colors are so pretty. Each time I see a lily, I am reminded of my own sweet Lily and smile. June is when she came...


Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Summer Came and with It Came You

Five years ago this month was when I got pregnant with Lily. It was the beginning of her short life on Earth and her forever legacy. Anyways, June will always make me think of her. It is the start of my memories of my girl. I cannot believe it's been five years. I decided to write her a little poem on this fifth anniversary of the beginning of her life...

Five years ago this June
Your life within me began
Summer came and with it came you

I was 19 when those two blue lines
Changed my entire life
Telling me you were mine

Afraid of what was to come
Still feeling so young,
At first I wanted to run

Like a delicate bloom,
Slowly opening in Spring
In my heart, for you He made room

As my belly grew
Throughout those months
So, my darling, did my love for you

Five years
You whispered "hello" and "goodbye"
I am left with missing-you-tears

That positive pregnancy test
Something so small changed it all
With your life, I have truly been blessed

I ache with missing, my dear
But I smile with such joy
I am so thankful God sent you here

That positive sign too soon
Turned to words etched in stone...
It all started with those two lines in June... 

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