Saturday, March 28, 2015

Even When It Feels like I'm Drowning

This post might be all over the place, so bear with me. I'm about to get really raw and vulnerable.

I don't want Lily to be seen as a "sad thing that happened to me." I don't want other people to look at her life and death and only see her death because of the dark shadow it has cast over my life since March 2010. I don't want to not live fully and honor her with my every breath, each a breath she will never take. I want her to bring happiness to my life, rather than take it away.

And she does bring me so much joy. She has brought me so much more beauty than pain. And I do know I am living in a way that brings her honor and God glory and that I am doing many beautiful things because of her.

However... I feel as if I will never be whole again. I know I will be in Heaven and that God will wipe away every tear from my eyes. But here... on Earth... I fear I might never feel only happiness again, without the tinge of sorrow.

There is a certain kind of loneliness in grieving your child without a spouse and in not having another child born either before or after the child you lost. I know I have friends and family who love and miss Lily, but not in the way I do, not in the way only a parent can. And I have hope that I will one day have another child, but who knows when and if that will ever be. I don't even have any prospect of a man in my life and it's difficult for me to picture finding someone that "fits" with me. It is so hard. SO HARD. to see people who had a loss around the time I did go on to have one, two, or even three more children since that time. And here I am, still single and without a child to raise. So many people who have a loss are able to go on and have another child to help fill their empty arms shortly after. I know that having another baby will never, ever replace Lily or completely take that pain and ache away, however, I imagine that there is a healing that comes only when you have another child. It's been FIVE years for me. I have been feeling forgotten by God. I know I am not, but I wonder why He finds it best to keep me single and childless still, all these years later.

My soul is weary in the waiting and wondering if I will ever have another child to call my own. I'm tired of feeling that oh so familiar, yet unwanted, pang of jealousy when I see what seems like everyone around me be given the gifts that I long for - marriage and more children. I'm burdened by the ache of loneliness I feel when it seems every other woman has a strong arm around her except me. I'm afraid that no man will ever "get" me or want to marry me. I'm weighed down from what it's done to me to miss my daughter for 5 years now. I'm tired of feeling like people think I am strange or unhealthy in how I express my grief and love for Lily. I'm tired of feeling like I have to work at making her "count" in other people's minds. It makes me sad when it seems other people avoid me and my posts about Lily, when I see them commenting all over other people's posts. I know people say, "it's just Facebook," but behind every Facebook account is a person. And it hurts to feel avoided. It hurts when I wonder if people think I'm a "Debbie downer" or that my posts are depressing. Even though they have no idea what it's like to walk a mile in my shoes. I feel alone in my feelings and like people just don't get it. Sometimes I just don't even want to explain myself about things... like why it would be hard to go to an Easter egg hunt because my child isn't here to participate. Or why I wouldn't want a living child to share a birthday with my daughter, when it's one of the only things I will ever have of her and it would be a bitter reminder each year of everything I'm missing out on. I feel like people think I'm mean or selfish when they have no idea how hard this is for me to carry. I'm just worn.

This is just me being (maybe too??) honest. I am far from perfect (anyone who knows me well is thinking, yeah, no kidding). But seriously, I don't want this blog to be a place where it seems as if I have this grief thing "figured out." Or that I never struggle. I want to be authentic and real and want others to be encouraged, even in their trials. I know that I have not always responded in a gracious and loving way while grieving Lily. I am trying to figure it out still.

People have asked me many times about Lily's father and if we are still together, what happened between us, and what not. I struggle with knowing what to say because I don't want to say too much or not enough. It's a very private grief and apart from losing Lily, the deepest and longest-lasting, most excruciating pain my heart has ever felt. The anguish reaches clear to my soul, the innermost part of my being. The wound is deeper than the sea. I have been haunted by "what ifs" and "if onlys."

Maybe in the future, I will share more. In fact, I believe fully that I will because I believe part of the ministry God has for me in the future is to reach out to others experiencing similar things.

What I will say now is I felt God ask me to give him up, to place that relationship in His hands. The Lord saw best to take that relationship away. Had Lily lived, things might have turned out differently. But, I have complete peace in knowing God asked me to let go of him.

Now, I always assumed it was because He had someone better suited for me. And maybe He does. But, I don't know that. I struggle at times wondering why God has not brought me my husband yet. I will be 26 this year and always pictured myself getting married very young, late teens or early twenties. I never imagined I'd still be single at this age. I also never imagined that after having Lily I would still not have another child 5 years later. I almost felt like God would certainly fulfill those dreams, after I had experienced so much pain. I don't know that I'll ever get married.

But, here's what I do know... I know that I would rather be single forever and in the center of God's perfect will for my life than having settled on the wrong person for me. Because here is the thing, HE (Jesus) is the right one for me, first and foremost, before any other guy. And purity is not just waiting for the "something better" or "someone better," but realizing HE (Jesus) is our something/Someone better, even if an Earthly Prince Charming never comes.

I have had relationships in the past where I could have gotten married had I so chosen to, but I am so thankful that the Lord kept me from choosing that path. And though it is painful and very lonely at times to wait for a man that I don't even know if he exists, I would rather honor the Lord and my future *hoped for* husband than give my heart away to guys who were never meant to have it.

I desire to seek to honor God in this area, no matter the cost. Even though I struggle with wondering why I still have these feelings for Lily's father and why God hasn't just taken them away, even after all this time, even though I was obedient in surrendering that relationship.

I have to believe it's all for a greater purpose. I have to thank the Lord for having anything to surrender to Him. I have the opportunity to deny myself and what my heart wants because I know what my heart wants is not God's best for my life. I have to trust that He has me still single and childless for a reason. That doesn't take away the pain or keep me from questioning at times. But I trust my loving Father. Even if I never get married or have a living child, I will trust that He is still good, still loving, and still has a perfect plan unfolding.

I'm singing this over my soul when the questions make me feel like I'm drowning:



This beautiful poem was shared with me by a friend and it has been such a blessing to me in this time of waiting...

Desperately, helplessly, longingly, I cried:
Quietly, patiently, lovingly God replied.
I pled and I wept for a clue to my fate,
And the Master so gently said,
“Child, you must wait.”
“Wait? You say, wait!” my indignant reply.
“LORD, I need answers, I need to know why!
Is Your hand shortened? Or have You not heard?
By faith, I have asked, and am claiming Your Word.
“My future, and all to which I can relate
Hangs in the balance, and You tell me to WAIT?
I’m needing a ‘Yes,’ a go-ahead sign,
Or even a ‘No’ to which I can resign.
“And LORD, You promised that if we believe
We need but to ask, and we shall receive.
And, LORD, I’ve been asking, and this is my cry:
‘I’m weary of asking! I need a reply!”
Then quietly, softly, I learned of my fate
As my Master replied once again, “You must wait.”
So, I slumped in my chair, defeated and taut
And grumbled to God, “So I’m waiting…for what?”
He seemed, then, to kneel
And His eyes wept with mine,
And He tenderly said, “I could give you a sign.
I could shake the heavens, and darken the sun.
I could raise the dead, and cause mountains to run.
“All you seek, I could give, and pleased you would be.
You would have what you want-
But, you wouldn’t know Me.
You’d not know the depth of My love for each saint;
You’d not know the power I give to the faint;
“You’d not learn to see through the clouds of despair;
You’d not learn to trust by knowing I’m there;
You’d not know the joy of resting in Me;
When darkness and silence were all you could see.
“You’d never experience that fullness of love
As the peace of My Spirit descend like a dove;
You’d know that I give and I save, for a start,
But you’d not know the depth of the beat of My heart.
“The glow of My comfort late into the night,
The faith that I give when you walk without sight,
The depth that’s beyond getting just what you asked
Of an infinite God, who makes what you have last.
“You’d never know, should your pain quickly flee,
What it means that, “My grace is sufficient for thee.”
Yes, your dreams for your loved one overnight would come true,
But, oh, the loss if I lost what I’m doing in you!
“So, be silent, My child, and in time you will see
That the greatest of gifts is to get to know Me.
And though oft’ may My answers seem terribly late,
My most precious answer of all is still, ‘Wait.'”
-Russell Keller

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This post left me:

22 comments:

  1. Grateful for your honesty, Hannah Rose, and I'm confident that God is using your story and your testimony to further His kingdom in powerful ways. Much love to you!

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  2. Hannah, I have 3 living children (2 before my loss and a rainbow after). I also have a husband of nearly 32 years. I still feel many of the same things you've expressed here. Thanks for being brutally honest. Praying for you.

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  3. Amazing.You have such a gift in describing the heartbreak of losing a child and everything that comes after in the new normal♡

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  4. This brought tears to my eyes you my child have a gift of loving OUR LORD THRU SUCH A TRAGEDY AND YOUR LILY IS SO VERY PROUD OF YOU

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  5. It is so hard. The not knowing where your life is going is very difficult after your loss. You are 26. I recall feeling very "old" at 23.. in reality, you have your life ahead of you. God will look after you and provide the right people to come into your life . You lost your Lily at a very young age. Five years have passed and you're still very young. .even though you don't feel that way. I think it's difficult for others to comment on your posts when they have no idea what to say. The only reason we know is because we listen to each other. Prayers and hugs, my dear. You will get through this pain.

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  6. Some days are just so much harder than others! When almost everything seems to just not be okay. I feel for all the losses you are experiencing. May God "make up for the years the locusts have eaten.". May, one day, as you look back on this struggle, these losses, may you know that this waiting was not in vain...that the best...YOUR best is yet to come! Trusting that our good Lord will grant you the desires of your heart in His perfect timing!

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  7. This was a beautifully raw post. Being vulnerable brings healing to ourselves and for others. I love you so much. Sending up special prayers tonight that you feel His love and presence in a powerful way.

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  8. Hannah, It's hard for those of us who have not experienced pain like yours to know how to respond. Posts like this are so very helpful in understanding more fully the depth of your experiences. Though I have never had a child, your feelings of loneliness are quite familiar to me. I am younger than you, but I still feel old sometimes. Why am I not in a relationship? Why is my life not what I want it to be? Trusting God is so, so hard - especially in matters of love and life which are so close to our hearts. Thank you for sharing part of your heart with us and many prayers as your journey continues!

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  9. Your truthfulness made God smile big! Through your story, I have seen full blown of God's redemption! I love you my opposite side so much! Praying always for you.

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  10. That was beautiful dear really raw and full of emotion and can't explain how much it touched me, I hope and pray for you.

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  11. Hannah, you know I was thinking the other day. When I saw the post of your tattoo, I thought it was questionable. Then later I told my mother and she confirmed what I had been thinking. It has been 5 YEARS since Lily died. I know that it hurts, but don't you think it is time to move along? I have been through the very same thing as you. I know the pain and it hurts. But as Jesus said, "let the dead bury the dead" we must move on! It says in Ecclesiastes that there is a TIME to mourn. I think Jesus puts situations in our lives to teach us something, but then we must think about what the Lord wants us to do next. I am not saying forget her...that is not possible....just stop going crazy at every little mention of the word Lily. She is with Jesus, why are mourning? I know my precious little girl is with my Saviour and the Bible says that we must not mourn as those that have no hope. I will be praying for you. Plus, constantly talking about someone who was been gone for that long will soon begin to make those around you uncomfortable. I know.

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    1. You hide behind anonymity and attack a grieving mother for mourning her child. How much lower can one sink? You admit to gossip and then make a half hearted attempt to point to scripture to back up your harsh statements. Ecclesiastes does speak of there being a time to mourn. It doesn't state the time frame so why are you? The bible also says "We grieve with hope!" There are things in this world that we grieve. IT'S OK TO GRIEVE!!! It is NATURAL! Jesus even grieved! I honestly don't know Hannah personally. I have just read her beautiful words that express her brokenness over losing her daughter...then I read your cold-hearted comment and wonder why you are so bitter and hateful against a momma who has lost so much. So I did a little FB stalking. You know what I saw? I saw a young lady with a broken heart reaching out to other mommies who have lost their child by bringing things to the hospital to help them make it through this hard time. I saw her reaching out in appreciation to the nurses who were there for her. I see someone who is so broken but determined to help someone else. If you want to attack someone then do it without hiding behind the safety of "Anonymous." If you want to be helpful, sit down with her and ask her about her daughter. Let her know that her daughter will never be forgotten. Write her a kind, sweet letter of encouragement...not criticizing her grief. You know, be Christ-like. My daughter was heaven born just one short year ago. My heart breaks every day...over and over. This isn't something you just move along from as you would prefer. Perhaps you and your mom should do some reading as to how to help a grieving momma instead of hurting one. If you need some resources to help you better help a grieving mother, I would be more than happy to give you some. You owe Hannah an apology.

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    2. We should use God's Word to BUILD EACH OTHER UP, not tear each other down. And you should not take his Word out of context.
      In Matthew:8:22 Jesus was responding to a request from one of His followers who asked to be excused from his responsibilities to "go and bury his father" It sounds like he's asking to go plan his funeral, but he was actually asking Christ to excuse him from his spiritual responsibilities, so that he could return to live with his aging father until he died. Instead, Christ told him to focus on his calling. In other words, Jesus may have said "Don't neglect the high spiritual calling I've given you; let the spiritually dead attend to the routine tasks of life."
      Those verses do not mean "move on" at all. You, Hannah, have never failed to tend to the spiritual calling God has given you. It might be different than the one He has given "Anonymous", but you are absolutely working for the Kingdom of God through each step of your days without Lily.
      Instead of mourning with those who mourn (Romans 12:15), many well-meaning Christians think the Christian thing to do is to chide mourning Christians for not rejoicing. Paul spoke often of the tears he shed in his labors for the Lord. I'm saddened by those who sincerely think we are following his exhortations to have joy and rejoice by never showing sorrow. It doesn't have to be one or the other and I've experienced my most sacred times with the Lord when I was right in the middle of BOTH - and I know you have too.
      The Psalms are filled with praise and rejoicing but also filled with strong laments and complaints. Many of the psalms that end in praise only get there after working their way through grief. That is what I saw in this post. You started out revealing your heart and ended with complete trust in God, as usual - sounds pretty Biblical to me! Although each psalm can be read quickly, it summarizes a real-life emotional journey that surely took much longer... maybe even 5 YEARS! Hope lessens grief, but it does not eliminate it.
      I understand that the Bible says there is “a time to mourn” but I see nowhere a time limit being set on how long we are allowed to do that before it is 'time to move along.' That one statement alone has me heartbroken for you... You are doing an amazing job with a very long, hard and lonely road at a very young age. Your parents must be so proud of the woman you have become through this situation that could have taken you in a very different direction and instead it brought you into a right relationship with God. Lily was a true gift to you and you have ALWAYS recognized her as such. I'm not sure what else people want from you... I'm sorry you have to endure negativity like that.
      I know you wonder what God has in store, but girl, watching you cling to Him, I know it is something good. I believe wholeheartedly that it includes an amazing husband who 'gets you' and other children you can hold on earth. You have not lost hope just because you have days that are hard... you know it, I know it and God knows it... you don't need to convince anyone else - and PLEASE don't listen to that person and shy away from talking about Lily. Sometimes people being 'uncomfortable' isn't a bad thing! And maybe, just maybe, if we believe God uses all things to work together for the good of those who love him, we then believe that He can use Lily in every life that crosses your path. Don't shy from talking about her. You know God has called you to this ministry through her life and death. Your story is a great example of how God loves us... with unending, unconditional, unashamed, long suffering, deep, wide and far LOVE. People need to hear that message. And God gave it to you in Lily!
      And I love your tattoo!!

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  12. Anonymous, would you respect Hannah Rose and Lily by stepping out of the shadows of anonymity into the light of identification?

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  13. You know, I am not going to step out of the shadow of anonymous, but I will say this. I was perhaps a little rash. And perhaps it is because my own heart is breaking and I am struggling to find a way of relief! It has only been six months since my own sweet baby girls was taken into the arms of my Lord. The consolation I have found in this short time has been that He did it for a reason, and so I stopped feeling sorry for myself and tried to focus on what He was trying to say. Instead of thinking constantly about her, and keeping myself in a constant state of horrible grief, I thought of my sweet Lord and how He was holding her. I know for months, every time I saw a baby or the name of my child, I would get sick to my stomach. And I am not bashing what Hannah is doing! I think it is beautiful. The Bible talks about comforting those by the comfort which we have been comforted by. I am glad she is doing it since I am not able to. It was the tattoo that was troubling me and talking to your mother about something you think is unbiblical is NOT gossiping! Hannah if I offended you I am truly sorry. Please forgive me!

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    1. well we knew it was your own issue. Clearly it wasn't a legitimate 'concern' for Hannah - what people say is always more about them than the person they are saying it to. I will say that I am be guilty of the same judgmental attitude as you when I was only 6 months in from my daughter Rachel dying. I would look at people around me further along in their journey and think "I'm not going to be that sad that long from now because *I* am doing this the *right* way. I'm going to work through it early on so that I will be happy when I get to 20 years from now." Well, year 2-3 was my hardest year, you know why? Because I realized it doesn't EVER go away. No matter how much I trust the Lord or LOVE that she IS IN HEAVEN. I'm glad she is there - she won't ever have to have another woman be mean to her! I still over 4 years later do things for others in Rachel's memory and I always will. I don't sit around in tears or freak out at the mention of her name, but there remains and empty place in my family that will never be filled on this earth. But, remembering your daughter and missing her and even crying about missing her is not "feeling sorry for yourself". You have a long road ahead of you and I would not suggest acting as if you have it all together and have overcome this because if you really lost a baby, it's not ever going away. You will one day have to feel what you are avoiding now and it won't be any easier then. If you have this type of attitude and judgment towards anyone who is open about how they feel, you will isolate yourself from the very people you will need eventually - and the only ones who will *really* be there to support you. Your comment is clear that you don't have a lot of support or feel comfortable talking about your daughter with people around you. It's not going to get easier and you won't want to talk about her less as years past. You don't believe it now, but it's true. You are just still naïve to the fact that time doesn't heal all wounds. Any peace you have is from the Lord and everything we get from the Lord is a GIFT so that no man can boast. Your "I am pulling myself up by my boot straps" attitude is going to leave you wanting and alone. God opposed the proud, but gives grace to the humble - and let's face it, women need each other - especially women who have buried babies. We should SUPPORT each other's individual paths and ways of working through our deepest pain. And tattoos are not unbiblical. If you have a conviction over it, then it is sin for YOU. It took me years to realize that not every conviction I have means it is a sin for others but if God convicts me of something, and I don't listen, it becomes sin for me. I hope you aren't going around judging every person for every thing you see that you aren't comfortable with... not for the people who have to endure your criticisms, but for you because that's not a good place to be. You will have to answer for that when you meet the Lord....

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  14. I realize my mistake and I am sooo sorry!!! Never stop talking about her, never stop mourning for her. The reason I said to in the first place is because I have no support and nobody wants to talk with me about her. So I am forced to move on, because that is what everyone is telling me. My Lord is the only one who listens to my grief sometimes. Hannah I am sorry. Thank you Rachel's Mama for helping me understand that what is true for one person may not be for the next. I need someone like Hannah in my life to talk to. I need comfort:-(( please will you forgive me Hannah???

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    1. Thank you so much for your humbleness. I know it will help ease Hannah's hurt. I hope you know that regardless of all of this, if you need support and want to support others, there is a huge community of mothers who will love you and your daughter and remember her with you. I don't know how anyone makes it without other baby loss mothers to talk to. So I'm sure Hannah would agree when I say that if you need us, we are here and we are sorry your daughter is not with you. ♥

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    2. I most definitely forgive you.

      And yes, like Rachel's Mama wrote, there are many of us babyloss mamas here to support and encourage you. You are certainly not alone.

      I want to share a letter with you written by John Piper that has deeply impacted me called "Letter to a Parent Grieving the Loss of a Child." You can read here: http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/letter-to-a-parent-grieving-the-loss-of-a-child

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  15. People, I don't understand. You attack this lady who said something of her own opinion, saying that she was being judgemental, yet what do you think you are doing? Jesus said to people who wanted to stone the adulteress, "let him who is without sin cast the first stone" she obviously was sorry for what she said and yet you continue to make her feel worse! Now who is being cold hearted! Rachel's Mama, you said you were glad your daughter was in Heaven so woman couldn't say mean things to her. Could you imagine Jesus saying that? We don't know what this lady has been through, just leave it alone. Obviously the people in her life are telling her to move along, so why should it surprise you when she tells someone who has been mourning for 5 years to move on? It is just her mind- set! Instead of bashing her, encourage her!

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    1. I'm not sure why you say all this since the person we were talking to has written in thanks for what I wrote... ? She's not mad, but you are?
      This a personal blog for Hannah to talk about her loss of Lily. It's actually not the place for other's opinions on her need to "move along." which just for the record, wasn't just your friend's 'opinion' it was an attack on Hannah's character and her Christian walk based (as anonymous later admits) on her own lack of support. Since she is in pain from people telling her not to talk about her baby, one would think when she finds someone who is doing it, rather than tell them not to and all the reasons they are being unbiblical in doing so, she would be relieved that she isn't alone and support her. The words don't really add up... but I'm glad she apologized for Hannah's sake since Hannah is hurting from what she said too - difference being this is Hannah's blog! I'm not going to argue with your anonymous ring of friends from TN but I won't sit here silently and let someone put down a girl who I have watched honor God in everything she has done and let people say that she isn't. And since you seem to think sharing your 'opinion' is ok, you must realize that how I feel about my daughter being in heaven and the hate she is spared from here is my opinion that I am entitled to, right? It's also very Biblical to value the fact that heaven is free of pain, tears, and sin. I'm not sure why you don't think Jesus would agree with that but you think He would agree with telling someone in pain to "move along now" already and to stop talking about their dead child. It's called mourning with those who mourn and carrying each others burdens and God feels very strongly about both. But I'm glad Rachel is in heaven for a lot more reasons than that. I miss her like crazy, but she is better off there. The point is, If you don't like what someone has to say on their blog - or what they are doing with their grief - or what they have tattooed in their skin... you move along and find something else to read. That is what healthy people do when they don't like what someone has to say - not send mean anonymous messages criticizing a young girl in pain. But I am thankful that this conversation, although difficult and I'm sure painful for everyone involved, helped the anonymous baby loss mama to recognize some things that she needed to see. I do hope that she knows that regardless of this conversation, should she ever need someone to talk to about her daughter - no matter how long it has been - we will all be here for her and will never grow tired of hearing her daughter's name. That's how we do it in the baby loss community - we share each other's burdens and help carry their baby's names and remember them together. The rest of the world might think we are strange, but we have each other - and as you can see, we have each other's backs too. Nobody will hold anything against her if she wants to support and be supported.

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  16. Wow Hannah! Thank you for being so raw and open. I've been following your blog for at least a year now, but I think longer. I don't usually comment because I just don't know what to say. I've never been through something as painful and hard as you have. But my heart is usually always full after reading what you right. Thank you for sharing. Through your blogging, I've caught a glimpse of what it's like to lose a child and it helps me to understand a little more of those around me who have lost a child. It makes me more aware and has shown me how important it is to remember. When I read your blog, it points me to Jesus and how He can take the hardest things in life and turn them into something beautiful. When I read your blog, I see a girl following hard after Christ, and I want to be like that! Thank you for your example of following Christ even when it's hard! I have tears in my eyes as I write this...though, I've never met Hannah Rose, you and Lily hold a special place in my heart.
    May God bless you and continue to draw you closer to Him as you grieve the loss of your precious girl!
    ~Sarah H.

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