Thursday, July 30, 2015

A Mentor in Marilyn

The Lord sets up conversations and encounters with others at just the right moment and in just the right way to speak to us through them.

When I was in Virginia a few weeks ago, I went with my grandmother to one of the (many lol) groups she's involved with. It's a Bible study/book study/share testimonies and devotionals/whatever the Lord leads it to be group (aka AWESOME!) They were singing worship songs that evening and it was wonderful! I was fortunate enough to sit beside a lady named Marilyn who has an absolutely beautiful singing voice. Marilyn is my grandmother's friend who was kind enough to sing a couple songs, accompanied by her guitar, at the celebration on Lily's 4th birthday last March.

Anyways, it's interesting that Marilyn went at all the night that I was in town, because apparently she hadn't been going to the group much recently. I believe it was because the Lord wanted us to connect. I was able to share with her a bit of how the lullaby song she sang on Lily's birthday has blessed me over the past year and a half. I recorded it, so am able to listen to it whenever I want. Her voice, the words, the guitar, everything about it is breathtaking. Have a listen:

Marilyn invited me over to her house one afternoon for lunch (which was delicious, by the way... they could totally serve it at Panera Bread or somewhere). My grandmother had wanted us to have the opportunity to share more of our stories with each other, so I was glad to finally be able to do so. She truly took the time to listen to my heart and to share some of her own with me. I cannot tell you how much her encouragement and wisdom impacted me. Her testimony is powerful and God-glorifying even in the midst of deep pain and darkness. I'm still processing the things we discussed. Some of the things are perhaps things I've thought about before, but it is good for them to be brought to the forefront of my mind and to hear them in a different way, coming from someone who has experiences of her own and can speak to me from a place of wisdom and maturity.

For one thing, she shared with me a bit of her own beautiful love story and how the Lord brought her and her husband together. She boldly and adamantly spoke over me that the very thing that might appear to keep me from having the sort of husband/love story I desire could be the very thing God uses to bring us together. Meaning, with all my regrets and struggles over my past, and feeling like I don't deserve a godly man, and in sharing my story so publicly, perhaps God will use that very thing to bring us together. Perhaps he too will have a passion for standing for the unborn. Maybe even having something similar to me in his past? With my own experiences and over time, I am open to marrying someone with a "past" of his own, maybe even with a child. How could I expect someone to love Lily if she were here, but not be willing to do the same? What matters is who someone is today and their relationship with Christ now.

I could hear these things from anyone (which I *have* heard and thought them before) and even if they are true, they wouldn't hold quite the same weight as a woman who married at the age of 45 and knows a thing or two about waiting. And this same woman knows a thing or two about my experiences because she has had some similar and can relate to what I expressed to her. Someone who got married at 18 or 19 and has not experienced these things could say the exact same things to me that she said and it wouldn't impact me in nearly the same way. Our words have weight when we have walked a similar road.

She also said something else to me that I needed to hear. She asked if I am okay with whatever God has for me in my ministry. Would I be content with whatever His plan is, even if it's not what I would choose or what I thought it'd be. If He asked me to give up all my dreams and desires of speaking and writing a book and sharing my story in all the ways I do, would I be okay with that? Because ultimately, my satisfaction and fulfillment cannot and will not come from anything or anyone outside of Him, even dreams that were put in my heart by Him in the first place. If He asks me to entirely surrender them, I have to be willing. I have to always hold them out with open hands because it is He who has written this story, He who holds this story, He who has opened the doors for me to share it. He can close the doors anytime He sees fit too. And I must be ready to be obedient and glad in my obedience.

I must recognize that my status as a mother does not change even if things were to become more quiet and private, even if I never shared another time publicly. I do believe God has much more for me to do in sharing my story, but if He were to ask me right now to lay it down, I honestly know that I would have a hard time letting go. Because maybe I do see some of my status as a mother in what I do for Lily and Luke. But me being a mother does not change depending upon what I do or don't do, just as it does not change just because my children are not growing up on Earth. And the significance of Lily and Luke's lives is not measured in how many people hear their story.

Not only does my status as a mother not change depending on what I do, but neither does my status as a Christian. My value and worth to God is not found in what I do for Him. He doesn't love me more or less whether or not I've spoken a certain number of times in a year. He loves me, regardless of how I view my own "performance" as a Christian serving Him.

When I shared with Marilyn different struggles I have, she said something along the lines of how being decades older than I am, relating to my present struggles in her past, she said she realizes more and more how fleeting this life is. And maybe the cares of this world start to fade as we get older and realize all the things that can feel so heavy and all-consuming are really "just an illusion" as she put it. This is just the introduction to Heaven, to Eternity, where we will spend forever, where it's really real so to speak. Those words helped put things in perspective for me and reminded me to be more Eternity-focused.

Marilyn is like a spiritual mentor/mother and I greatly treasure the time we've spent together. I look forward to getting to know her more over the coming years.

Marilyn and I at Lily's 4th birthday celebration
Marilyn singing and playing her guitar at Lily's birthday celebration


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Compassionate Friends a Decade+ Later

The end of June and beginning of July, I was in my home area of Virginia with my mom "house-sitting" and helping to care for her friend's plants and goats (who would've ever thought a goat could capture my heart). ;-) We enjoyed visiting with friends and family, eating at favorite places, and seeing the Blue Ridge Mountains that feel like home.

Anyways, as I have written about before, my grandmother attends Compassionate Friends meetings and has for many, many years. She lost her 7th child, my Aunt Rachel, when she was 3 months old, in 1965.

When I was 15 and living in Virginia, I started accompanying my grandmother to her Compassionate Friends meetings. How many people would willingly choose to go to such a sad meeting? CF is a place of support for bereaved parents. Looking back, I wonder why I ever wanted to go, especially at such a young age? But then God whispers to my heart...

"This is what the past is for! Every experience God gives us, every person He puts in our lives is the perfect preparation for the future that only He can see." -Corrie ten Boom

He was preparing me for the future only He could see. He knew that one day, just a few years later, I myself would be a bereaved parent. My grandmother and I would be connected as women who lost their baby girls.

It was strange in a way going back with her to the same church, with many of the same people. It was so familiar, yet so much has changed in the more than a decade since I first attended one of these meetings. I cannot even remember my life before loving Lily.

As we were leaving that night, a gorgeous pink sunset was waiting for us to behold.

It felt like a reminder from Heaven that our baby girls are with Him, awaiting our homecoming.


Be Ready or Get Ready

A couple weeks ago, after the first Planned Parenthood sting video was released by The Center for Medical Progress, an opportunity arose for me to talk on a radio station. This particular station is part of a popular conservative news site and they were looking for a young post-abortive woman to share.

A lady I know in the pro-life movement/post-abortion ministry thought of me and asked if I'd be interested in sharing. Honestly, my first immediate thought was saying that no, I was not interested, because it was an extremely intimidating thought!

But, then after thinking about it for about 30 seconds, I said that yes, I was definitely interested. They took my information and over the next hour or so, I was nervous thinking about the possibility of a radio interview, but I was preparing in my mind about what to say, what I might possibly be asked, etc. I went from being nervous to having confidence mixed in there. ;)

Anyways, after a while, I got a follow-up email saying that I was unfortunately bumped from the show because there were too many guests in the queue.

I share all this to say that even though my first reaction was fear, anxiety, nervousness, and wanting to run the opposite direction, I chose to say yes. God spoke to me that I need to be ready to speak whenever He opens up a door of opportunity for me to do so. I ask Him what I can do to be a voice for the voiceless ones, and if He directly shows me what to do, I need to submit myself and walk in obedience.

Not only that, but I also need to rest assured that He will give me what I need... the confidence, the words, etc. It might be scary to me, but He is not intimidated by it and will provide what I need to do what He's asking of me.

It also meant a lot to me that I was thought of as a potential person to share.

BE READY, with whatever God is asking of you... and if you're not ready yet, GET READY. Educate yourself on what is going on so that you will be ready to speak. This not only applies to abortion, but whatever it is God is asking you to speak out on.


Thursday, July 23, 2015

Joy and Regret, He's Been My God Through All of It

One of the things I have felt most deeply over the past several years is regret. It has weighed down on my entire being like a ton of bricks. Did I ruin God's plan for my life?

Through the years, when I felt Him and when I didn't, He was there. His sovereign hand was on my life, He was guiding and directing me even when I couldn't see that He was. He has been my God through all of it, through the joys and the regrets. He has been working out His plan for my life, not just in spite of my past which has caused such deep regrets, but in many ways through it.

I haven't ruined His plan for my life. He was not surprised by my choices: my abortion, not saving sex for marriage, my unplanned pregnancies, Lily's life and death. He knew what was to come, even when I was a little girl. And He was always working, weaving the story in such a way that only He can do, in such a way that beauty and light would shine through the deep darkness and sin.

I remember when I was around 15 and I felt this impression on my soul that God was calling me to ministry. At that point, I wasn't sure exactly how that would look or what the specific call was for. He was calling me to something that I didn't even understand yet. Only through my experiences over the next several years would He awaken my heart to what my purpose on Earth is. He knew what was to come and knew that He had a plan and purpose in it all! So much so that He would show little ol' 15-year-old me that He had a plan for my life, in serving Him with my life. The choices that led me to my call weren't made yet, but His plan for my life was already crafted, waiting to be unfolded in His perfect timing.

I have always loved writing and remember when I was in middle school and high school, teachers would compliment my writing (not saying this to brag, but showing God's hand in my life). He knew what my future held, before I had any clue. And I believe He gave me the gifts He did because of the specific calling on my life. He gave me the ability to articulate my story and the work He has done in my life. A big part of my sharing over the past several years has been through writing and it is only through His enabling grace to write that I have been able to do so.

On the other hand, not only do my gifts point to His sovereignty and hand in my life, but my weaknesses do as well. I have never wanted to be a public speaker. In fact, during my adolescent years, I was extremely awkward and shy. In many ways, I am still an introvert and can still feel uncomfortable in social settings. I think I express myself much better in writing than speaking. BUT, God is much greater than our weaknesses and insecurities. Just the fact that I am compelled to speak out and share my story is proof to me that it is God calling me to do so. It is so far outside of my comfort zone. I never imagined or desired to speak publicly before crowds of hundreds of people, especially about a topic so intimate and personal. The fact that God has enabled me to do so shows that His grace and strength meets us right we are. He provides what we are lacking. When I am standing before a crowd speaking, even though I can get nervous beforehand, I feel a peace and I know, this is exactly where I'm meant to be.

These are just some of the ways God has shown me how He's been present in my life always and how what is unfolding right now has been His plan for my life since the foundation of the Earth. He has shown me His sovereignty both in my gifts and in what I lack. I am grateful that I can see these things now. It brings comfort knowing that He has been my God through all of it. And He can redeem the regrets. Ask Him to show you how He's always been there through your life as well because He has been, even when we don't see or acknowledge it.

I randomly turned to a radio station a few days ago and heard this song (I know I was meant to). It made me tear up to think of my God being there with me through it all, the joys and the regrets, and how His hand has always been on my life. In His will, I am safe and I am protected. And nothing can take me away from the love of God or His plan for my life.

by Colton Dixon

There are days I've taken more than I can give
And there are choices that I made
That I wouldn't make again
I've had my share of laughter
Of tears and troubled times
This is has been the story of my life

I have won and I have lost
I got it right sometimes
But sometimes I did not
Life's been a journey
I've seen joy, I've seen regret
Oh and You have been my God
Through all of it

You were there when it all came down on me
And I was blinded by my fear
And I struggled to believe
But in those unclear moments
You were the one keeping me strong
This is how my story's always gone

I have won and I have lost
I got it right sometimes
But sometimes I did not
Life's been a journey
I've seen joy, I've seen regret
Oh and You have been my God
Through all of it
Through all of it

And this is who You are
More constant than the stars up in the sky
All these years of our lives
I, I look back and I see You
Right now I still do
And I'm always going to

I have won and I have lost
I got it right sometimes
But sometimes I did not
Life's been a journey
I've seen joy
I've seen regret
Oh and You have been my God
Through all of it
Oh and You have been my God
Through all of it
Oh and You have been my God
Through all of it


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Lily's Name in Canada

Thank you to my friend Rebekah on Instagram for thinking of my Lily and writing her name in the sand in Canada recently. I love how loopy the letters are.


Thursday, July 16, 2015

Unexpectedly Thrown Off

Anniversary dates, such as February (Luke's month) and March (Lily's month) being back-to-back can throw me off and make me feel dazed until late spring. But there are also random and unexpected things that can throw me off...

When I was in Virginia recently, my family and I ate at a neat restaurant that is down the road from where my brothers used to live. As soon as I walked in, I had this sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. I couldn't put my finger on it. My mind and my heart were remembering something in my subconscious before I understood what it was.

This is the place where I came with a friend 6 1/2 years ago to use the internet to research abortion methods, something that before that day, I was largely uninformed about. I was trying to decide what abortion I needed to get myself. The sickness of the situation mixed with the nausea of early pregnancy were pronounced memories that made me feel sick all these years later.

How could that have really happened?


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

For You and for Them

I have been seeing article after article posted on my Facebook News Feed today about the undercover video that was just released showing a Planned Parenthood executive casually over lunch, sipping her wine, discuss partial-birth abortion and the profitable selling of these children's organs and limbs. It causes me to shudder to even write about such a gruesome thing, but there is no possible way to make abortion sound prettier than what it truly is.

This is America, this is my country? These are our fellow Americans who are being literally torn apart in their mother's wombs... all in the name of "choice," all for the almighty dollar.

What causes my stomach to churn the most is thinking of my little Lily, my cherished daughter, who passed away just before being born at term in 2010.

You see, these babies are Lily. Whether they are treasured like her (or your child) or not doesn't determine their worth or right to life. They are the same. They are her brothers and sisters of the womb. And so when I think of them being killed and sold for profit, I feel outraged, I feel disgusted, I feel devastated. It makes my blood boil to think of their value being diminished, as if they aren't real, as if they don't matter. Killing them is sheer evil, but then add in selling their body parts into the mix, and you have evil at an entire new level. These precious little bodies have had all dignity stripped away from them.

How much is it going to take to wake us up? What are we going to do about it? Are we simply going to get mad and then do nothing? Or will we allow the passion caused by this great injustice to move us to action?

My fellow Christians... my fellow Americans - I don't care what your political affiliation is, how can you hear about what is going on on our own soil, right under our noses, and not care? This is what abortion truly looks like. NOW is the time to stand firm, NOW is the time to be a voice for these voiceless ones who are crying out for a rescuer.

Father, infuse courage into the hearts of men and women facing crisis pregnancies. Give boldness and passion to people to do what it takes to see abortion end in America and the world. Reveal the truth to hearts so hardened by lies.

What are YOU going to do about it?? We are here for such a time as this. And I count it a great honor and responsibility to be able to speak up for the least of these.

My Lily - I will spend my life sharing your value. Each one of your brothers and sisters in the womb are precious and irreplaceable and my heart aches for others to recognize this. I will never stop sharing... for you... for them.

You can see the video and read more at The Gospel Coalition​ by clicking HERE.


Monday, July 13, 2015

One Sparkler That Wasn't Used

Last weekend was full of laughter, joy, energy, and love as we celebrated Independence Day weekend in America. My family had a delicious picnic, watched our small hometown parade, and enjoyed the fireworks on a cool summer evening.

I was able to spend some time at Lily's spot and what I felt the entire day came bubbling to the surface. On a day full of the richness of life, I deeply long for the little girl who should be living out her childhood right now, laughing along with my family and playing with sparklers, wearing red, white, and blue, and standing in awe as she'd watch bright colors light up the summer night sky.

Instead, I go to "visit her" in a place of silence. She will never be 5-year-old Lily with curly hair, frizzy from the July humidity, eating messy watermelon and doing whatever she would have loved. I can't stand feeling like I'm the only one who thinks of and misses her on random days. My own family doesn't get to know my own daughter. There will be one sparkler this year that will not be used, but oh her light shines brightly in and from Heaven.

Here is Lily's spot decorated for Independence Day. We took her flowers on my mom's birthday, which is July 2nd. They had matching flowers. :)

A photo from the fireworks display.


Blog Cards

I got 500 blog cards from Vistaprint for only $9.99! I'm always mentioning my blog to people I meet and instead of trying to find a random scrap of paper to write it down on, I thought these would be convenient to always keep a few with me. Aren't they pretty? :)


Sunday, July 12, 2015

Lily Remembered in Italy

A friend of mine named Maggie sent me this picture of Lily's name in the sand. She was visiting Italy a few weeks ago and thought of my girl and I while on the beach. So sweet and thoughtful of her, knowing it would be meaningful to me. Another to add to my ever-growing collection. Makes my heart smile when others think of her. :)


The Light of Her Brilliant Life Shines on

The fact that Lily was here for any length of time at all is a gift that I will treasure forever.

The Bible says to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8). Lily is now present with the Lord and when I leave this temporary dwelling place called Earth, I too will be present with the Lord, and Lily too.

Even though she is not here, the light of her brilliant life shines on. She changed my life. She changed my future.

As Pam, a family friend, recently said to me, maybe I'll get to raise Lily in Heaven. Whatever life with her looks like there, it will be beautiful and perfect.

"You taught me the courage of stars before you left.

How light carries on endlessly, even after death.

With shortness of breath, you explained the infinite.

How rare and beautiful it is to even exist."

-Sleeping At Last

Here is the song that I quoted above:


A Bloom and Her Buds

My sweet friend Bex shared this photo with me a few weeks ago and wrote: "this rose with the two buds made me think of you, Luke, and Lily. <3 Love you!" It means so much for my babies to be thought of.

When I was coming up with the title for this blog post, "A Bloom and Her Buds" came to me. It reminds me of "Rose and Her Lily," except it includes Luke too. It would make a catchy blog title. Sometimes I wish Luke were included in my blog title as well, but I did incorporate a butterfly in my logo to symbolize him. And he is such a big part of Lily's story. I am so attached to the name "Rose and Her Lily" now, after naming my blog that nearly 6 years ago when I first created it, so I don't think I could rename it now. I am a bloom on Earth and my two babies are my buds. But they are certainly both blooming in Heaven. Buds mean they existed on Earth.


Jesus Loves Us

I was out to eat at Brixx Wood Fired Pizza last night with my best friend, enjoying a lovely conversation and delicious food. I came out of the restroom and was immediately greeted by this on the chalkboard. 

I believe God sends little winks from Heaven like this, especially to those of us who are looking. These things side-by-side are especially meaningful to me. A reminder that He doesn't forget my Lily. And He loves us both.


Saturday, July 11, 2015

The Grace to See and Express

Sometimes I can go weeks between publishing blog posts, which is more time between posts than I'd like. In the past several weeks, I believe God had a lesson to teach me in this "silence" when I felt like I wanted to share, but couldn't find the words. It was a strange place to be in because writing is my therapy and I seem to never run out of things to say about my love for Lily (and Luke).

The lack of words showed me that when the words do spring forth, it is only because God gives me what He wants me to share. I don't have the ability to express myself in an articulate way in and of myself. It is only through God's grace. If He wants me to share, He stirs it within me, then gives me the desire and the ability to write what's on my heart. If I'm not meant to share, there's nothing that comes. I take for granted at times that it'll always be there, but that's not true.

He literally provides everything we need in this life. Not only is it He who gives me ability to express what He's doing in my life and what He's teaching me, but it is also only Him who opens my eyes in the first place to the beauty of the story He is writing. I only see through eyes of grace because of Him. If it weren't for Him revealing the depth of the profound and breathtaking beauty of Lily and Luke's legacies, I truly think I would be drowning in the sorrow of this story, rather than choosing to focus on the beauty that has risen in the midst of the ashes.

As I have said many times before, yes, my story is sad, but it is so much more than that. I want people who hear it to walk away pondering on the goodness of God and His power to redeem and restore even the most broken among us. 

So when I share post after post on what God is showing me and how He is using my precious babies in Heaven for my good and His glory, I want to always remember that it is He who provides those words for me to use and He who even provided me with the gift of seeing a glimpse of the marvelous tapestry He is weaving.

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