Saturday, June 27, 2015

Her Forever Daddy

Here are Lily's precious hands with her daddy's hand.

She looked just like me, but she had his big hands and feet. I'm so thankful to have this photo, of course because it's her hands, but also because she shared that with him. And he will always be her daddy, even though we aren't together now. We will always share her. 

I couldn't help but think of him on Father's Day Sunday. I wonder if anyone else acknowledged him on that day. I wonder if it's a hard day for him. 

I wish our little girl were here to spend special days with us.

Here are photos of the view of the Blue Ridge Mountains from Lily's spot on Father's Day.

A lovely sunset.

We took Lily some lilies in honor of her daddy for Father's Day. We are housesitting for some friends and they have over 400 lilies at their home! My mom selected a variety of colors. She even thought of Lily's father on Father's Day.

He gave her the name "Ball." I will honor him as her father.

This random little drawing is something Lily Kat's daddy sketched when I was carrying her. It's now in her scrapbook. A picture of what might have been. The "what ifs" are hard to live with and something I must surrender to the Lord every day.


Saturday, June 20, 2015

What Would Have Been Missed

The week leading up to Mother's Day, I was in South Carolina with my sister-in-law for a few days. The weather was gorgeous and even though we had important matters to attend to, we also had our fair share of fun and made time to enjoy fellowship with each other and with a couple of my friends that live around there.

I knew that one of my newly-married friends, who I first met at Ellerslie in Colorado in 2011 named Suzanne, had recently moved to that area with her husband, so we thought it would be neat to spend some time with her. Last June, I had the honor of attending her wedding.

I did want to see Suzanne, but I am going to be completely honest in saying it crossed my mind not to contact her and let her know we were in the area because I knew she was full-term in her first pregnancy. She would likely not have known that we were there if I had not contacted her. It's not like her feelings would have been hurt and my feelings would have been preserved. It has always been hard for me to be around pregnant women, no matter who they are. It doesn't mean I'm not thrilled for them, but it is difficult emotionally for me to remember back to my pregnancy with Lily and to wonder if I'll ever have the blessing of being pregnant again... and if I'll ever get to take my baby home. It was also an emotional time for me with Mother's Day fast approaching.

Quite frankly, I almost didn't call her.. but then I felt my Lord ask me to entrust my feelings in this area to Him. It feels like it's my "right" to have these feelings, because they are understandable, I think. I didn't realize how tightly I had been clinging to them. I just accepted them as part of my life. I didn't realize God wanted me to give Him control of even that part of my heart.

So, I decided to step outside of my comfort zone and ask Jesus to be Lord of this part of my woundedness. Though honestly, I didn't know if it was possible to find freedom from those feelings because they have been a part of my life for half a decade.

I opened my clinched hands and prayed something along the lines of: Lord, please allow me to be only joyful for my friend, without that familiar tinge of jealousy and sadness.

The morning that Kala and I were going to meet with Suzanne, I felt a calmness in my spirit, though I did feel a bit nervous.

What a fond memory I have of the breakfast we three shared together at Chick-fil-A that morning. God answered my prayer. I felt only joy and not sadness. I was able to rejoice with my friend and have hope and trust that my life and future is in God's hands.

My purpose in sharing all this is to point to how faithful my Lord is and how powerful He is to mend our broken hearts. He wants us to entrust each area of our lives to Him and He will take tender care of us.

I felt Him whisper to my heart that day.... imagine what you would have missed if you had listened to your feelings instead of my leading. I would have missed the blessing of having Him answer my prayer, having my hope, strength, and trust built up. I would have missed being tenderly cared for by my faithful Heavenly Father and realizing at a deeper level that He works outside of what is "natural." I would have missed a time of sweet encouragement and fellowship with two dear friends.

And not only that, but I would have missed the joy of hearing as Lily's mommy more of the impact she is making in this world, in so many different ways. I would have missed hearing Suzanne speak of how my story and Lily's life have helped teach her to treasure the days she does have with her baby, because tomorrow is never guaranteed. I would have missed the opportunity to encourage her as her impending labor and delivery drew near. I would not have been able to share about my own crippling fears of labor and delivery and how I never could have dreamed I'd one day have to give birth under such tragic circumstances. I would not have been able to share from personal experience how God meets us where we are every day and in every circumstance, and He is perfectly capable of sustaining us through the most difficult challenges and darkest valleys. If He can carry little ol' me through laboring and delivering Lily in the way I did, He can carry anyone through that process. I look back and almost cannot believe that was me. I look back and smile at how beautiful that experience of being Lily's mother was and how thankful I am to have those memories. And what a gift it was for me to be able to share those memories with Suzanne and Kala. I look back absolutely amazed at how faithful my God is, in big ways and in small ways.

God set this meeting up, and in the perfect time. Just two days later, Suzanne gave birth to her healthy baby boy (I had such a strong feeling he was a boy, even though they didn't find out before his birth). :) The day after I saw her was her birthday and two days after he was born was Mother's Day... so that was quite the week for her, I'd say! ;)

The Lord used our time together to speak so many things to my heart and I hope it was an encouraging time for Kala and Suzanne as well.

Imagine what would have been missed...


Thursday, June 18, 2015

Marks of Motherhood

I inwardly (and sometimes outwardly) grumble and complain about how my body changed after carrying Lily. I was once a fit and toned athlete. Then came Lily. Much of the time, I don't like how my body changed. I have the body of a mother whose carried a 7 pound 9 ounce 21 inch child to term, but no child here to show as the fruit of those months of nurturing and protection.

I'm trying to look at the changes to my body through different lenses. This body carried her all of her life. This body was my beautiful girl's only home before her Eternal Home. And it was her budding life that caused my widened hips and stretch marks. It was wonderful Lily, so how could I be upset about the changes? They silently speak that she was here. She was real. Each mark is a remembrance of my obedience to the Lord, in choosing life for my unborn child and not allowing shallow or fleeting concerns to govern choices that not only would impact me forever, but also the life of an innocent child.

Even how my body has changed from pregnancy is a reminder not to be overly concerned about things that are actually quite insignificant. I changed and grew so much (no pun intended) through the entire experience of my unplanned pregnancy and losing Lily. Embracing her life was a sacrifice of love.

I want the culture to recognize that a postpartum body is beautiful because WOW, women carry babies made in the image of God! The marks that come from such an awe-inspiring gift from above are nothing to be ashamed of. I want other young women faced with an unplanned pregnancy to realize that yes, their body might change, but it is not something to run and hide from, but rather a mark of life, honor, beauty, and sacrifice. The mark of motherhood. And our babies are worth every mark, every pound and inch gained, every change to our bodies and lives... no matter what happens. ❤️

my picture submission for The Sacred Project


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

He Preserved Her Life

The summer months cause me to reflect upon the beginning of Lily's life and legacy and the time that I got pregnant with her and my life was turned upside down in the best way possible.

When I got pregnant with Lily, I took the Plan B pill. I find it so incredible that despite my attempts to keep a baby's life from beginning, her life was sustained by God. He so obviously sent her to Earth for a purpose.

Against all odds, He preserved her life. He protected her from the morning after pill and the planned abortion. He preserved her life within me, even though the powers of hell were waging war against my soul and her very life. He fought mightily to save us both. His victory speaks that He is the most powerful of all and nothing stands in the way of His plan.

That's how I'm certain that her death was in His hands... because of how He so fiercely preserved her life. He wouldn't have allowed her to purposelessly perish. Her life and death were not a surprise, but planned from the beginning of time. The enemy didn't win. Jesus is still Victor. Lily still lives. And because of His sacrifice on the cross on my behalf and what He did in me through my daughter, I will live with them both forever.


Sunday, June 14, 2015

Sacred Life Forming Within

I am so thankful for the vivid memories I have from the time I was pregnant with Lily and when God intervened in my life and saved the life of my baby girl and my life through her life. I look back and almost cannot believe all that really happened to me.

If you are unfamiliar with my story, click HERE to read it. I had an abortion scheduled at Planned Parenthood for August 15, 2009. However, my God was fighting for my life and the life of my precious unborn wee babe. Spiritual warfare is real. I saw it evidenced in my own life. God was fighting mightily for my freedom and victory in Christ and for the life of my Lily. It gives me chills to think about.

The Lord is strong, He is loving, kind, merciful, and He will work in unexpected ways to bring us to Himself. He used a little girl forming in my womb to bring me back to Jesus. I had been living for myself. I had made choices that I was suffering the consequences of and I wished I could take it all back and change so many things. But even though I wanted to change, I felt I couldn't. I was in the bondage of my sin. However, I cried out to the Lord, and He ran to my rescue and defense. And He strengthened me and fought to save the life of my unborn little girl.

The enemy wanted to destroy my life further and end her life. BUT God is more powerful than the enemy of our souls! And yes, some might say, well, Lily still died before being born. Don't you see... she died, but NOT before God's purposes for her life were put in motion! Not before she changed my life, my future, my calling. Her life and death were in God's hands, not mine and not the enemy's. God was in control! Lily died with dignity, rather than at the hand of an abortionist, paid for by her mother.

Right around the time the abortion was scheduled was when God was working in my heart in a way I couldn't deny or escape. He was softening my heart towards my baby and drawing me to repentance. I have a clear recollection of waking up in the middle of the night many times during that week and being overwhelmed with the realization that I was not alone - the Lord was with me. And my baby girl's presence was also felt. She was just a tiny baby growing away, the only proof of her existence being my morning sickness, however, I could feel her with me. And I was beginning to love her, only because He was giving me love for her. I remember my hands and arms gently holding my stomach as I recognized there was sacred life forming within. This is such a precious memory for me now. Thank You, Lord, for bringing me to You and for saving Lily's life and giving me love for her!

As with so many of my pregnancy memories, I want to forever document this so my future children can read about it and as a testimony to God's kindness and faithfulness to me, even when I least deserved it. He loves Lily more than I ever could.


Half a Century in Heaven

My Aunt Rachel Ross would be turning 50 today... she's had nearly half a century with the Lord. She was born on June 14, 1965. June 14 is Flag Day and Rachel was given the middle name Ross partly after Betsy Ross, who sewed the American flag.

Sadly, Rachel only lived for 3 months outside of the womb. She died on the operating table at UVA on September 10, 1965 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). They are standing in front of Holy Comforter Catholic Church in our home area of Charlottesville, Virginia on the day of Rachel's christening. Each year, I remember my Aunt Rachel with my family. Happy birthday in Heaven, Rachel!

My mom was 9 when Rachel died, so she clearly remembers that time and has shared her memories with me. She even has a diary she wrote in then. 

My grandmother still grieves and attends Compassionate Friends meetings and events. We now have the bond of knowing what it's like to have a daughter in Heaven. We were always close, but Lily and Rachel have brought us closer. 

My mom said one of the few times she saw my grandfather cry was when Rachel died. Her absence has left a hole in my family. We will always miss her and wonder who she would have become and what other cousins I might have had. I'll always love her and hope future generations will speak of and remember Lily the way I do Rachel. Even when I was a young teen, before I ever knew I'd lose my own child, I would go to CF meetings with my Bumma. I see now how God was preparing me for a future only He could see.

You can read more about my Aunt Rachel in a blog post I wrote by clicking HERE.


Friday, June 12, 2015

Share a Coke (Part 2)

This post is titled "part 2" because if you'll recall, I recently found "Share a Coke" bottles with Lily and Luke's names on them. Click HERE to read that post.

Anyways, a couple days ago, while checking out at Target, I saw one with the name Katherine on it (it's even spelled correctly, with a "K")! Now I've seen both Lily's first and middle names. And how perfect with my Lily tattoo right beside Katherine. I love my girl's feminine and elegant name. I hope to find Luke's middle name now, which is Shiloh.

Here are the bottles together (only thing is my Lily's name is spelled with two "Ls" and not three. :)


Time Is Not a Healer

My Facebook these days is flooded with happy engagement announcements, whimsical wedding photos, creative pregnancy updates and ultrasound photos showing growing babies, etc. It makes my heart sting with each post I see. Should I "unfollow" that person so I don't have to see their posts regularly?

That's the thing... if I were to unfollow each person who posts such things, I would have to unfollow a huge majority of my friend list. Which then makes me want to just deactivate Facebook altogether. Social media can be really neat in ways, helping people keep up with friends and family, being able to reach more people, and what not. However, it can also facilitate a discontentment with where God has someone in their life. How easy it is to compare our lives to others! And Facebook has a way of making everyone else's life look so much better than one's own because let's be honest, most people only put their best foot forward in the "online world."

I don't want to feel like I want to unfollow people or leave social media. Because I am in the season of life where my peers are doing these things... getting engaged, married, and having babies. But, why, oh why, must it hurt so badly?! I want to be okay with these posts. I don't want my heart to hurt when I see these announcements and updates. Don't get me wrong, I am truly happy for these people... but I want to be only happy for them, without that familiar tinge of sadness for me. I don't want to compare my life to theirs. I don't want to grow bitter. I don't want to be annoyed. I don't want to be discontent. I don't want to question what God is doing. I don't want to feel overlooked or forgotten by Him or by others. And seeing how what seems like "everyone else" (though I know of course that is not true) have the things I so deeply long for with all my being just plain hurts.

And you know how "they" say that time is a healer?

Well... I am here to tell you that is simply untrue. Five years have done nothing to heal my heart. Yes, I have gotten used to living life without Lily. But, in some ways, it has gotten more difficult, especially as the years tick by and I remain single and without a living child.

I don't want this to seem like a pity party because I know that some people seem to think that about how I feel. But, the truth is, nobody knows what it's like to walk in another's shoes. Nobody knows the longings of their heart or their pain. How easy it is for someone not in a particular situation to judge.

God is the only One who can heal my pain. He is the only One who can give me grace for the path He has called me to walk, even when I feel faint, even when I'm filled with questions. Lord, please hold this heart of mine. Teach me to walk in trust, faith, humility, love, and grace.

**Update** I first wrote this post around a month or two ago and it sat in my drafts for a while. While I still struggle with this, I can honestly say that God has been giving me His amazing grace, patience, and contentment for the season He has me in. I am realizing more and more every day that He is truly all I need in this life and I am praising Him for the hard things in my life that are drawing me closer to Him.


Thursday, June 11, 2015

Knit Together in Christ

I feel comforted by my deep love for Lily... it's a love that reaches beyond the grave, a love unexplainable, a love unconditional upon her physical presence, a love that grows with each passing day.

As time goes on, I become more secure in what I share with her, a love that never needed any words or even eyes to meet. It's a love that could only have been placed within me by the very Author of life and love.

My spirit feels connected to her and I am comforted by feeling her near. We are forever knit together in Christ. And the spiritual realm where she lives is even more real than this physical one where I temporarily dwell. When I abide in Christ, I know my little flower is with Him, therefore she is not far away. I know we will be together again.

I am afraid of Lily one day being forgotten about and not spoken of anymore after I'm gone from this world. I want her legacy to live on. I wonder if I were to get dementia in my old age, would I forget her? I believe my connection with her is in the deepest fiber of my heart and being, so even if I "forget," I'll never really forget.

The desire for Lily's legacy to live on after me is something I must surrender to The Lord. What He chooses to do with her story has always been and will always be in His hands. And besides, by that point, I'll already be with Lily, dancing before The Lord and it won't matter to me anymore anyways.


How He Crosses Our Path with Others

A couple weeks ago, I was in a shop at the Vintage Village in Raleigh when I told the owner that I liked the beautiful music she was playing. She told me it was the new Hillsong CD. I took a picture of the album cover to look it up later and mentioned a new worship album I am enjoying.

I told her the reason I liked a particular piece of artwork is because it has roses and lilies and why those flowers are significant to me. She mentioned her granddaughter who is due to be born in a few weeks might be named Lily (she was told her name starts with an "L").

Anyways, we had many other things in common as well. I jotted down my blog address for her and told her it's about my pro-life story. She then told me she is strongly pro-life and got involved in pro-life ministry in the 1970s and she's looking forward to checking out my blog.

It's just so neat how God crosses our paths with others. Don't be nervous about striking up conversations with people, you never know who you'll meet or how you can share the Gospel. :)

Here is what I got from her shop.


Belated Mother's Day Gifts

My Aunt Helen surprised me with these beautiful lilies as a belated Mother's Day gift. She gave them to me over Memorial Day weekend when I was visiting Virginia. They aren't real, but certainly look it, so it'll be nice to always have some white lilies on my desk in honor of my pure little flower. I have them in a mug with lily of the valley on it that I got from the gift shop in the hospital where Lily was born.

She also gave me this little lamb (with a flower) that I'll keep in Lily's memory chest. Helen had it originally to use in my cousin Hope's nursery. Hope was adopted from China and is now grown. I think it's special to have. I love that lilies and lambs remind Helen of Lily and I. :)

When Helen gave me this gift, she had tears in her eyes as she told me she hopes one day I will be a mother to more children on Earth. I could tell she deeply meant what she was saying. I can't explain why fully, but it means a lot to know people "see me" here.


Memorial Day Visit to Her Spot

I was able to tend to Lily Kat's special spot over Memorial Day weekend when I was in Virginia visiting. I took her a bouquet of pretty fresh flowers that I put together for summer. The grave will never diminish my love or desire to mother her.

This picture moves me and I feel it speaks so much. The shadow of her death will always dwell in the shadow of my life. But she only died because she first lived... and that is what's most important. Her stone is a symbol of death, but so much more a symbol of her existence and life. But I sure wish a 5-year-old girl's shadow was standing beside me, rather than a memorial stone that doesn't talk, move, or grow...

This is what Lily's spot looks like driving up.

I find peace at her spot. Wish I could go more often.

The color pink and baby's breath remind me of her.

I wanted the flag and flowers to match... they are both so bright for summer!

I had to get a picture of her stone with my tattoo for her. :) Two of the biggest things I've done as her mommy.


Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Telluride Memories

In June 2009, my Aunt Nana and I went on a cross-country road-trip from Virginia to Colorado and then back to Virginia. Whenever I remember this trip, it makes me think of Lily because that is the month her life began within me.

We drove through many states and had such a special time together, stopping along the way and doing memorable things such as going up in the St Louis Arch. The main purpose of our trip was to attend the Telluride Jazz Festival in Telluride, Colorado. Oh my, is Telluride gorgeous!! Colorado is one of the most beautiful states in the country, in my opinion. I'm not sure where any photos from our trip are, but hope to find them at some point. I have souvenirs from the trip, including a mug that I regularly use, and a scarf, and magnets. And in some of the only photos I'll ever have of Lily, her father is wearing a shirt that says "Telluride, Colorado" on it.

This road-trip was such a fun adventure! I can hardly believe it was six years ago now. I was 19. I remember so much from this trip and now associate Telluride with first discovering I was pregnant.

My aunt really liked a singer named Lizz Wright and she was at the jazz festival. Hearing her music takes me right back to that time. It is so bittersweet.

This is random, but it's just another thing that reminds me of Lily that I want to share on my blog. 

Here is Lizz Wright singing:


My Little Girl Forever

Precious Moments sends me their catalogues which I occasionally look through. I came across the page of figurines for little girls to collect as they grow up. This is for 5-year-old girls, the age Lily would be now. She will never be 5... always my baby. I can hardly believe she'd be starting Kindergarten this fall, as depicted in this figurine. What a huge milestone that makes my heart hurt. Ironic that above it says "little girl forever" because that's what she'll be. When people talk about how hard it is for their kids to be growing up, they have no idea how much I wish my daughter could do the same. Such a difference in perspective.


Makes My Day

My friend Bexie sent me this picture recently and said, "Reminders of your little girl are everywhere."

In March, my sister-in-law Kala's brother, Daniel, saw this sign for a charming-looking store in Georgia and snapped a photo for me. How thoughtful!

My friend Chlo√© in New Zealand posted this picture on Facebook last month and said, "Found these in a shop, had to take a photo for Lily Katherine."

It makes my day when people think of Lily Kat! :)


Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Lily Remembered at Loch Leven

My sweet friend Suzie sent me some photos last week when she was walking around Loch (the Scottish name for lake) Leven in Scotland. If you have a moment, you should Google this lake. I am amazed by the beauty there! You can tell it's lovely from this photo. Anyways, it's so special knowing Lily is being thought of and honored around the world. :)

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