Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Place of Light and Hope

On this date, August 31st, in 2009, I had an appointment at the Pregnancy Center of Central Virginia in Charlottesville. I had already made the choice of LIFE for my unborn child, but was still unsure if I would choose adoption or parenting. I needed someone to talk to about everything, which is when the appointment was made at the PCCV. It is just a mile or so from the Planned Parenthood where I had an abortion just months before.
 
From the moment I walked in the doors of the pregnancy center, I felt accepted and loved. The way I like to describe it as is "the place of light and hope." It was such a contrast to "the place of darkness and despair" (Planned Parenthood). I literally remember the sunshine streaming in the windows as I walked in, as a physical representation of what the center is spiritually.

I met with Anna, who was the center director then, and was so blessed by our time together. I wrote about my visit to the center in an email to Bex, the friend I just posted about. I am so thankful to have these words to see what exactly I was thinking then:
I went to the Pregnancy Center on Monday. I met with one of the counselors there, Anna. I didn't really know what to expect going in there. The Pregnancy Center of Central Virginia is a Christian establishment and as soon as I walked in the door, I felt comfortable and loved. The lady at the front desk had a warm smile on her face and was very helpful. Then, I met with Anna and I knew she wasn't judging me or thinking about what a horrible person I am. Her words were tender and sweet, and I felt comfortable enough to openly discuss everything with her. I told her I am considering adoption and she recommended Bethany Christian Services, the very same place you sent me a link to in your first message to me! She gave me all sorts of pamphlets when I left with information on the things we had discussed. She gave me the number to Bethany, as well as the number to both hospitals in the area, so I can get set up with a doctor. She told me someone that works in the Center has a daughter that got pregnant and put her baby up for adoption. I told her the church I have been attending with my grandmother, and then told her the church I would like to try. Her eyes lit up and she said, "that's the church I attend." She invited me to go with her. She talked with me as long as I wanted, and then prayed for me. Her prayer was heartfelt and sincere, and brought tears to my eyes. While she was getting all the pamphlets together for me, I watched a fifteen minute video on adoption. I was filled with emotion and tears were streaming down my face. I am scared of the pain that is to come if I do indeed choose adoption. I walked out of the Pregnancy Center that day with great hope. I was at complete peace with my choice of LIFE.

I really wanted to have an ultrasound on that day, but was unable to. I remember Anna sharing the fetal models they have at the center and I was able to see around the size Lily was at that gestation.

Throughout my pregnancy, I kept meaning to write Anna to tell her how much that short visit with her had deeply impacted me. I told my mom about her and just smiled whenever I thought of sweet Anna. I saw her in October at the annual pregnancy center banquet that I went to with my grandmother, but didn't say anything to her. Not everyone knew yet about my pregnancy.

I did eventually contact Anna, just not in the way I every thought I'd have to. I called the center in March of 2010 and asked her if she would attend my daughter's Celebration of LIFE burial service. She was happy to come. It means so much to me that she would attend. She has gotten to see the story unfold from the beginning.

Meeting at the center because of my pregnancy was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Since then, we have gotten together many times and I treasure our relationship. She has spoken truth into my life when I needed to hear it and has been a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on. Isn't it amazing how God brings good things into our lives in ways we never could have expected?

On New Year's Eve 2011, Anna got married and she asked me to be her wedding photographer! She said what I thought...who would have ever imagined when we first met that one day I would be photographing her wedding! Anna has since had a sweet daughter and is currently pregnant again.

Anna and I
A couple years ago, I asked Anna for her version of when I first came into the center. These words mean so much to me:
I remember the day you (Hannah) walked into the Center with your boyfriend at the time. I remember that you looked scared and a bit down, very down. But in your eyes was a spark of the desire to have hope. You sat down on the couch opposite me, hungry for some direction that would give you peace in your pregnancy. I could see that things were hard between you and him, and that there was so much in your heart and to your soul that he wasn't even aware of. I could see your potential and a bit of who you really were, is what I'm trying to say. As I talked to you I felt the Spirit pouring out His story of hope to you. Choose Life.....maybe even adoption. I could tell that your character was deep, but I wasn't sure how you were feeling - what would be your outcome? As you watched the adoption video, I remember seeing that you had so much emotion welling up - your mother's heart was showing.....and being wrenched. It was in the following days ahead that I really got to see verified what I had only believed was true- as you mentioned that you were going forward, going to have your baby, and give it the best life you could. The most amazing thing of all to me was when you said you just couldn't stay with your boyfriend, but that you had to make a decision to move beyond him, for yourself but most importantly to honor God. I think I cheered at that in my office and bragged on you to the staff!! We don't see that kind of decision hardly EVER! It is rare, though we pray for it to increase. Your heart was breaking over so many losses, but you had your eye on His gain. I knew that would take you far, and, secretly I was hoping we would get to stay in touch so that I could see just how God would bless your heart of David and heart of Esther! As your baby was nearing birth, I was so excited for you....and then, my heart broke, as you told me the news that must crush every mother's most inner sensibility. I felt that loss so acutely. Little Lily was a miracle, and even her name was a testimony to your growing in His light like a flower blooming in her season. Getting to come to the funeral was a huge blessing, as I was able to be with you and also your family (who had supported the Pregnancy Centers for many years and was well known among our staff). I felt that I was getting to be there with the granddaughter of one of the PCCV matrons - your grandma Nancy Virginia Bain! Through time and after Lily's going back to be with Jesus, getting to know you personally has just been one of the sweetest treasures, like nectar bottled up from such a sweet flower of the past. I don't get to get close to all clients like I did you - they are transient, they pass in and out, etc. But, you....God allowed our acquaintance to deepen to friendship and deep sister love in the Spirit. You are so special, and I just know that His plan for you is just radiantly expansive, with impact that ripples like waves out from a rock hitting the water. You are forever precious to me and I hope we will always stay in touch!!!! Also, one of the greatest gifts you gave to me was that you would pursue God and His direction in your life relentlessly. When you could have taken the easy way, you chose HIM!! Every time you'd tell me what you were up to, I could see the little "normal" veerings as you were trying to discover the right way...the path to Life.....but, always you would end up choosing it! It brought joy and surprise to me like I hadn't felt with any other person who had sought the Center for help. You are truly unique!"
The Pregnancy Center of Central Virginia really blessed me and was there at a time that I needed hope and a listening ear. I encourage anyone who is reading this to get involved in your local pregnancy center. Whether you want to become a volunteer or make one donation or regular donations...these centers are helping women and men and their babies and they need support to continue being able to offer these things to their community! You can make an impact on lives!

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Saturday, August 30, 2014

A Whisper of Encouragement

"Surely the Lord purposes precious friendships as quiet whispers of encouragement along the paths we walk." -Kala Allen (my sister-in-law)

Five years ago this month, the Lord brought a very special friend into my life. Besides Lily's father, she was the first person to know about my sweet little flower. I call it our "friendiversary." ;)

I knew about her story because Eric and Leslie Ludy, who have authored several books that have greatly impacted me, adopted her son almost six years ago, when she was 18-years-old. I had read about her and her son, Kip, on their website/blog, so I knew her name. I decided to look her up on Facebook so I could write to her and share what I was going through. I was desperate for a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on so to speak, especially from someone who would understand, someone who had walked a similar path to my own. It is hard to believe that five years ago is when I first contacted her and our friendship began. I pored my heart out to her through words on a screen. She was such a support and encouragement to me at that extremely difficult time. She prayed for me and shared her own heart and story with me. God knew what He was doing when He brought her into my life. She was a whisper of hope and encouragement.

Once I chose life for my baby, I was suddenly facing the choice between adoption and parenting. I knew that either choice would be hard to make. I was seriously considering adoption, when God was bringing me to a place of complete and total surrender. I wanted the best for my child. I pored over videos, songs, and stories about adoption. There were many tears shed over the thought of it. I just wanted the Lord's will for my life and my baby's life. I had to do what I knew God led me to do, no matter how afraid I was of other people's opinions or of what my life would look like.

Not only was Bex the first person that knew about Lily and a part of what God used to give me strength and courage as I faced an unplanned pregnancy, but she supported me throughout my entire pregnancy. She was there when I lost Lily. She's been there through it all. We have both had to let go of our babies, just in different ways. Bex lives in Colorado and I live in North Carolina, though at the time that we met, I was living in Virginia. After two and a half years of friendship, we finally met in person in 2011 when I attended Ellerslie Leadership Training in Colorado, which Eric and Leslie Ludy run. It feels like I've known her so much longer than I have.

We have had many precious times together, sharing our hearts of love for our children, sharing memories, both painful and beautiful, blog entries, songs, letters, and many laughs. I am thankful for her friendship. I have also been meaning to share that Bex got married last September and I was able to go to Colorado for her wedding (will share more about that later). :) It is quite special that I have all of our messages and emails from the time we first met.


Bex and I with Kip in 2011 at his 3rd birthday party
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Thursday, August 28, 2014

A Glimpse into August '09

It is painful to look back over the years of my "Facebook activity" in 2008 and 2009. 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.


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 to Him 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

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

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Precious Feet Pin

In August 2009, when I was facing an unplanned pregnancy and still unsure as to whether or not I was going to go through with an abortion, I was staying at my aunt and uncle's place housesitting/petsitting when I stumbled upon something in their kitchen/dining room area.

There on the counter, like it was waiting for me, was a precious feet pin. The little feet are scaled to the size and shape of what an unborn child's feet look like at 10 weeks gestation. At the time I found this pin, I was around the exact same gestation - 10 weeks. It was right around the time of my 20th birthday on August 12th.

the exact feet I found on that summer day in 2009 - now in Lily's scrapbook

Looking back, I firmly believe know God put these little feet right in my path for me to find. I mean, what a "coincidence" that I found this pin when I was that exact gestation! I don't even know whose pin it was or where it came from. I am going to tell my aunt about finding this little pin at her home and how it impacted me (my grandmother suggested I tell her. I didn't realize I never had until she mentioned it).

When I saw these feet, it was like it made it all the more real to me... I was pregnant. I already had a baby growing in my womb. She already had the tiniest, most precious little feet ever. It helped my mother heart to connect to my little baby's heart. My little Lily.

I don't think I've ever shared this on my blog before, but wanted to this month as I continue to reflect on August 2009. God is so good!

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Monday, August 25, 2014

Generations Missing Her

Earlier this month, when I was in Virginia visiting with friends and family, I met the granddaughter of some dear family friends (my mom has known them for decades).

Anyways, the little girl is 19 months old. She was walking all over the place and is so adorable. Her first name is Catherine, but she goes by a different nickname. Her grandfather kept calling her Catherine though, which really stung to hear. I thought it was really sweet when he said to his granddaughter, "Hannah Rose has a little girl named Lily Katherine."

My grandmother later asked if I felt sad being around her and I said yes, I think it will always hurt to be around little girls, wondering who my little girl would've become (despite how many more children I may have in the future). It is especially hard to see little girls who look similar to how I imagine Lily would've looked, with blue eyes and curly hair, like me as a girl. This little one has brown eyes.

Anyways, I thought it was really sweet and thoughtful of my grandmother when she thought of me and wondered if it was hard for me and she said it's hard for her to hear the name Catherine too (of course we are so happy for our friends, but sad for us). My grandmother said she felt sad for me because my little girl wasn't there, sad for my mom because her granddaughter wasn't there and she was around her friend's granddaughter, and sad for herself, missing her great-granddaughter. It meant a lot to me to know she was thinking all these things. I am thankful for my family who loves Lily so much. I wish I didn't have to feel this ache whenever I hear Lily Katherine's name or see a little girl.

There are generations missing you, my little flower.

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Friday, August 22, 2014

Be Still and Know

I want to share a musician who the Lord brought into my life during a very dark time. This month, I have been reflecting a lot on August 2009. I want to share bits and pieces of my testimony and the things God used to change my life, in hopes that it will bless others as well. It was that month that my Aunt Sarah gave me a CD by an artist named David Teems. He reads Scripture, with soft piano music playing in the background and soft waves crashing in the distance. It's truly unlike anything I've ever heard.

My heart was in such turmoil at that point in my life. When I heard this CD, I cannot fully convey the peace it brought my heart. I would fall asleep to it nearly every night that August. It was so powerful to have that Scripture, that truth, being spoken over me in my darkest hour. The Scripture was truly food for my hungry soul and water for my thirsty spirit. I was captivated with the beauty of God's Word. He romanced my soul with it. It was during this season that God changed everything for me. I still fall asleep listening to David Teems and it brings me back to that time. It makes me feel that deep desire for my Jesus.

It was during this time that God radically changed my life in such a short amount of time that I heard this Scripture on the David Teems CD. I claimed them as my verses for that season of my life. He was asking me to trust Him, that He was fighting for me and I need only to be still and know.

"Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today." -Exodus 14:13
"The Lord WILL fight for you; you need only to be still." -Exodus 14:14
"Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart, and wait for the Lord." -Psalm 27:14

The two CD's that are my favorites are called "Hope" and "More Hope." My Aunt Sarah also gave me one called "In the Mourning" after losing Lily. The track that affected me the most is entitled, "I Am Poured Out Like Water." All the CD's are very affordable and completely worth it!! I have played them probably hundreds of times. It is a great way to memorize Scripture as well. David has such a soothing voice, especially mixed with the piano and waves. On the actual CD, he doesn't cite what Scripture it is, but it is cited in the CD case. He reads a little from different passages and puts them all together. You can purchase the transcripts for each CD on his website.


Description of David's music from his website:

"...this music offers the listener a moments quiet in the midst of all the gathering noise of the age. In this recording, many textures are woven together to form a structure that will settle warm and tranquil on the soul, and will ask little of you but to listen. The rich poetry of the scripture will touch the untouched in you, and with the voice of soft command."

"This series combines the beauty and reflective emptiness of a solo piano with well chosen scriptures. The voice comes with a soothing type of command, and the music is hardly there at all. It is the artful economy between the two that makes the difference, as well as something unknown that will not be explained."

"These CD's together can offer a timely, sensitive, and power-laden therapy for the soul."

Purchase David's music HERE. On the website, you are able to listen to each song. At some point, I hope to give away one of these CD's on this blog, so stay tuned! :)

You can listen to the "Hope" CD below.


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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

He Gave Me a Mother's Heart

In late August 2009, I was around 11 or 12 weeks pregnant and was working at a little restaurant in my hometown in Virginia.

As I remember this one particular day, it feels as if I am back there on that hot August summer afternoon. The sky was clear and blue and the sun was warm on my skin. I remember I was wearing a green shirt I often wore and my favorite pair of jeans. It's almost like a movie and I am watching myself but also experiencing it again myself (I don't even know if that makes sense).

I had just celebrated my 20th birthday. God had been changing my heart so much in such a short amount of time. He kept me from going through with having an abortion on August 15th. My baby was still safe and alive.

At my job each week, we would receive a shipment of supplies and food needed for the coming week and I would help carry in the heavy boxes. Well this particular day, I remember so clearly thinking that I better not lift anything too heavy because I was pregnant and I didn't want to hurt my baby. Nobody I worked with knew I was pregnant. I hadn't even shared the news with my family yet. Only my child's father and a new friend who had also experienced an unplanned pregnancy knew.

This is one of the first times I recall feeling my motherly instinct to protect my child. It brings happy tears to my eyes to think of this because I was in despair not long before this day. But look how God had breathed LIFE into me and was giving me hope that can only come from HIM. Hope for my life and the life of my child. Assurance that He would give me everything I needed the moment I needed it and that He cared more for my unborn baby than I could ever know or comprehend. I knew we were in His hands. He was giving me a heart of love and the desire to care for and protect my sweet babe.

I remember my heart smiling on this August afternoon and a real smile finding it's way to my face, as an overflow from my heart. It was one of the first times I was excited to be pregnant, despite my circumstances. I had a baby in my belly! And for a short while longer, it felt like it was a precious secret shared between my sweet child and myself...

That was the beginning of my desire to protect Lily's LIFE... now I have a desire to honor her legacy.

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Monday, August 18, 2014

It Sure Feels Good to Finally Share It

Over the last couple weeks, I've had the blessing of sharing Lily Katherine's pregnancy scrapbook with quite a few people, both friends and family (Kala, Grace, Sharon, Bumma, Anna, Nana, and Patricia). It will be shared many more times with many more people in the coming days.

One of the people I was most excited to share it with is my grandmother "Bumma." I took my time, going over every detail of every page.


This is how I mother Lily, this is how I share her with others. This is how her story will continue being told through the generations.

I told Bumma what a gift it is to me for people to want to hear about Lily and to want to see her scrapbook. That speaks more love to me than I can describe. Sharing her heals my heart. Having others genuinely want to talk about her and hear about her is a huge blessing. Thank you to those who care.

After putting more hours than I can count into working on this scrapbook and more love than can be measured, it sure feels good to finally share it.

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Saturday, August 16, 2014

He Shattered My Darkness

On August 15th, I celebrated my "spiritual birthday." It just so happens to be three days after my birthday.


I grew up in a Christian home and Christ was a part of my life from a young age, so I don't recall any specific date that I became a born-again Christian. It was more like a gradual thing. But, five 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 the 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 knowing I am completely unworthy of my 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.

Jesus, You are my Victorious Warrior, my Rescuer! I rejoice over LIFE. I 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.

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! Lyrics to the song are included in the video.


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Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Emptiness of All Besides

I'm going to continue sharing about August 2009...

I remember so clearly watching the Lifehouse "Everything" Skit that month. I was immediately captivated by it because I realized that girl was me. I was young and in love with Jesus, but then the world and the enemy came in and tried to rob me of His life within. I looked for satisfaction and fulfillment in many things outside of Christ, the only true source of LIFE. I was that broken, miserable, desperate soul. And I got to the point of being totally broken, realizing my weakness and that I could never return to the Lord in my own strength. I got sick of all the temporary highs of this world. I cried out desperately for my Mighty Rescuer, Jesus Christ, and He ran to my defense. He broke the chains that had held me down so long. Even though those things were making me miserable, I was helpless to change. I never got to the point of wanting to commit suicide, but I knew deeply in my core that my soul was dying.

I saw this skit during the time I was actually living through that spiritual battle. God used it to speak so much to my heart. He showed me His love for me. He showed me His power, His victory in all circumstances. No matter what is holding you down, He is stronger! But you must make that decision to turn from your sin. You must be willing to fight! Oh how He still adores us even when we break His heart by turning to other lovers. May we come to Him with a heart of repentance! 

I will let the skit tell you the story of my life. I still cannot watch it without tears, like that August five years ago. So many tears. I watch it each August to be reminded afresh of how Jesus broke my chains. It reminds me of the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15. I was a prodigal daughter. I was dead, but am ALIVE again! I was lost, but am now found! -Luke 15:32. 

Please take the time to watch the powerful video below (or by clicking HERE) and let it minister to your heart. I read that a group performs it in nightclubs around the country and it has radically changed hearts and lives! Amazing!! What are the things that keep you back from Jesus? I pray that those chains will be broken. Our Lord Jesus is victorious always! 

"Nothing teaches us so much the preciousness of the Creator, as when we learn the emptiness of all besides." -Charles Spurgeon 



Find me here, and speak to me 
I want to feel You, I need to hear You 
You are the light that's leading me to the place 
Where I find peace again 
You are the strength that keeps me walking 
You are the hope that keeps me trusting 
You are the life to my soul 
You are my purpose 
You're everything 
And how can I stand here with You 
And not be moved by You 
Would You tell me how could it be any better than this? 

You calm the storms and You give me rest 
You hold me in your hands 
You won't let me fall 
You steal my heart and You take my breath away 
Would You take me in, take me deeper now 
And how can I stand here with You and not be moved by You 
Would You tell me how could it be any better than this 
And how can I stand here with You and not be moved by You 
Would You tell me how could it be any better than this 

Cause You're all I want, You're all I need 
You're everything, everything 

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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

A Quarter of a Century

Yesterday, August 12th, I celebrated my 25th birthday. I am a QUARTER OF A CENTURY, people! Where have the years gone?? I had quite a lovely day.

Did you know that the frontal lobe of the brain doesn't finish developing until age 25? Well, we have this joke in my family that anytime somebody makes a not-so-wise decision before 25, we say their brain isn't finished developing, so that's the reason/excuse. My grandmother gave me a funny birthday note that says, "Welcome to the world of the fully developed frontal lobe! Happy decisions in the future!" Here's to the next quarter century of making wise decisions! ;)

Anyways, I absolutely LOVE birthdays (especially mine and Lily's) and get really excited about them. Birthdays feel so magical and special. I think I'll always feel that way, no matter what age I'm turning. Despite how much I enjoy my birthday, I can't help but think of the little person who should be here celebrating with me on my birthday. I have already had FIVE birthdays without her.

That first year, when I turned 21, it was so hard because I thought she'd be there then. We planned on going to the beach, something we've often done on my birthday through the years, and even had a darling pink dress picked out for her. I sometimes forget just how young I was when I had Lily.

Here is a side-by-side picture comparison of me at Lily's special spot on my 21st birthday (left) and me at Lily's special spot just days before my 25th birthday (right)... (I'm ironically wearing the same shirt haha!). Since then, I am so thankful that Lily has gotten a beautiful permanent headstone, rather than just having a wind-chime. Looking at my face in both pictures, I can really see a lot of aging and maturity. I only recently realized how I've changed through the years.


The only year Lily was with me on my birthday was when I turned 20. I was in Virginia that year and was just shy of 10 weeks pregnant. I went hiking and swimming at Sugar Hollow and ate at my favorite restaurant, Cracker Barrel (where we eat each year on Lily's birthday). I can honestly not believe that was FIVE YEARS ago... it feels like just yesterday, yet so long ago all at the same time.

I was sharing my scrapbook with my mom and grandmother recently and they both mentioned how young I looked in two separate photos from when I was pregnant with Lily. I really do look different. Here is a side-by-side comparison of me on my 20th birthday (left) and me on my 25th birthday (right). I love that picture of me on my 20th birthday because I know that Lily was just a wee one, growing away. In the photo of me on my 25th birthday, I am wearing a necklace with Lily's handprint engraved on it.


My face has changed. My grandmother brought up the saying, "the eyes are the window to the soul," and said how could I not look different, after everything I've been through? Do my eyes tell the story of a mother's love and loss?

I feel an ache in my heart on my birthday for a few reasons.... I wish my daughter was here to celebrate with me. I cannot believe how much time has passed since she was here and that half of my twenties have just flown by. Lily was here part of my teens and in my 20s. And in only five more years, I will be in my 30s. It will feel like I'm leaving her behind even more. Now that I'm 25, I also feel like I should be married by now. I am just not where I thought I'd be at this point in my life at all. As a child and teenager, I always thought 25 sounded so grown-up and mature. Now that I am 25, I'm like... umm I don't have anything that I thought I'd have by this age. My own house, a husband, a few kids, etc. God's plan for our lives is always different than our own plans and I am learning to trust that He has me right where He wants me. I am thankful for what He's done in my heart and life, even if I don't yet have the things other people my age have. I am thankful to be ALIVE.

I promise to live my life for the both of us, Lily Kat. I promise to live my life to the fullest and to honor you with each breath I take. With each birthday that passes, both mine and yours, my love for you only grows.

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Monday, August 11, 2014

Christmas in August

Last December, I wrote about how my grandmother is going to make Lily a Christmas stocking, like she made me one when I was a little girl. This is something that the two of them can share, as great-grandmother and great-granddaughter. And it is something I will treasure for the rest of my life. I will hang this stocking with my future children's stockings each Christmas.

Just this week, when I was visiting Virginia for a few days, we finally picked out the yarn and stocking pattern, which we've been wanting to do for a long time. I told her that it's making me excited about Christmas, even though it's still summer. ;)

We had originally planned on going to Michael's, but were on the historic downtown mall in Charlottesville, Virginia and she reminded me of a shop there called The Needle Lady, which is owned by someone our family knows.


I would much rather support a local business in my home area and the area where Lily's final resting place is than a chain store, so we went there instead. I'm so glad we did! The store is so adorable and had so many options for us to choose from. The gal working in there (the owner's daughter) was really helpful.


I already had an idea of what I want, it was just a matter of choosing the specific type of yarn, shade of the colors, and what size and shape I want the stocking to be. I knew I want the colors to be pink, red, and cream - Christmasy, Valentiney, and perfect for a little girl. Just like Lily's stone, I knew I want her stocking to be small, the perfect size for a baby.

These are the colors of the yarn we picked out! I like them more and more as the days go by.


All the yarn was made in Turkey. We also picked out some red, cream, and green felt mini balls to be used as embellishment on the stocking. And Lily's name will be at the top in cursive. I'm also thinking of including a little lamb on it. My grandmother and I discussed all the details of how I want it to look. She is going to be starting on it soon and said it won't take long at all (what takes the most amount of time is deciding on everything). 

I am so excited! Thank you so much, Bumma, for doing this for Lily and I!

You can check out The Needle Lady on Facebook! You can also purchase things from her shop online if you are interested.

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Sunday, August 10, 2014

Lily's Summer Spot

I was in my hometown in Virginia for a few days this past week visiting friends and family. As usual, it was special to be able to spend time at Lily's spot. I had been wanting to take fresh pink Gerbera Daisies (I love pink daisies!) to Lily for summer for months and finally got to do so. My birthday is on August 12th, so I'm glad there will be some pretty flowers there then. I put water and plant food in the vase and they've been staying beautiful for days. I cleaned off Lily's stone and pulled weeds around her spot. One day while I was there, a couple men were there mowing the grass, so I was glad I could see it looking nice. I also saw three people visiting the cemetery twice while I was there, which is very unusual. I never see anyone there (besides the people who are with me). One man that we saw is actually a distant cousin, on my grandmother's side of the family. It was quite interesting when we spoke with him.




My sister got quite a few lovely shots of me with Lily's stone.






Four generations - my grandmother, mom, me, and Lily
My mom and I at her granddarling's spot

My sister (Auntie Em) and I visiting our Lily girl

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Friday, August 8, 2014

Reminders of Lily Everywhere

Last week, I was in Maryland visiting a family friend. On Saturday, August 2nd, there were reminders of my sweet girl everywhere. I went to a place called the Lilypons Water Gardens, where there were many beautiful lilies.


After we left Lilypons, we drove past "Katherine Way" and just a few miles later, we drove past "Ball Road." I miss and love you, my precious Lily Katherine Allen-Ball... you are always on my heart and in my thoughts.

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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

You Are On Our Side

Each year when August rolls around yet again, I reflect on August 2009. I will be sharing posts this month about that time that the Lord intervened in my heart and life and fought for me, rescued me, and saved my eternal life and the life of my unborn child.

Five years ago today, I wrote the following in my journal. I remember where I was and how I felt when I wrote it. I felt so desperately lost, yet still had a small glimmer of hope. I have journaled most of my life, but when I was living apart from Jesus, I couldn't write anymore. My writings are my prayers and I didn't feel close to God anymore. 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 6th, 2009. Each time I read it, my heart recalls the brokenness and deep sadness I felt. I realize now that the Lord 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. He ran to my rescue! Just days after I wrote this is when God turned my world upside down and changed me forever. All He was waiting for was for me to cry out to Him. And He's waiting 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! I want to share a 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 can 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 6th 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 had 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!"

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."

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.


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