Thursday, December 31, 2015

Just Do Today

In years past, I have written posts reflecting on the past year and dreaming about the coming year. 2015 was a rich year full of huge leaps in my healing, getting closer to my college degree, and going back to Ellerslie for the Advanced Program, which is something I have wanted to do ever since my Basic Semester in 2011.

This New Year's Eve, as I anticipate 2016, I have been in an interesting place in my heart. To be honest with you, dear reader, I feel more uncertain about my future than ever before. I will be 27 in this coming year and for someone closing in on 30, I can hardly believe how the years have flown by and how little I tangibly have to show for them in the eyes of the world.


In the spring, I am scheduled to graduate with my Bachelor's Degree. It took me a few years to go back to school, but with everything I've been through, I am proud of myself. It has never been about impressing anybody or doing it simply because it's "what people are expected to do" after high-school. In fact, I quite rebelled against college for a while because I didn't feel called to a specific job and didn't want to go and get into debt for no good reason.

Speaking of not feeling called to a specific job or career path, I look around me at my peers and those younger than me and wonder what's wrong with me that I don't have the passion and desire to become a nurse, an accountant, among other respectable careers that make enough money to live a comfortable life. Not to mention I am more of a Writing/English/History kinda gal rather than Math/Science (that's seriously an understatement ha!).

But when it comes down to it, my dream has always been one that's considered old-fashioned these days. I want to be a wife and mother with all my heart. I know some people think that's "wasting my potential," but I've never cared what other people thought. Let them think I am not smart or that I'm not "feminist" enough in my thinking. I know that being a wife and mom is one of the most beautiful things to be entrusted with in all of life.

After Luke and Lily and everything that I experienced, it was as if God awakened my heart to another passion and desire so embedded deep within me. To share my story and the working of Jesus Christ in my life with anyone willing to listen.

For a few years, I was so anticipating the future that I knew God would script for my ministry. I knew He was calling me to be a writer and speaker and that He would open up the doors in His perfect time and way... and He did. I have had the blessing of sharing my story with literally thousands of people.

Then along the way, different things happened that caused me to become disillusioned with the "pro-life movement." Hurtful things. Some things I did nothing to cause and other things caused by me in my immaturity and sinfulness. Things that I know have wounded me that I carry that I need to fully allow Jesus to carry for me. Things that cannot be undone, but must be surrendered and set free. I have grieved realizing the pro-life movement is not what I thought it was and how wrongly I have been treated by those who have the name of Jesus on their lips and a passion for life in their hearts. Don't get me wrong... I of course am still pro-life, but I realize more and more that I don't want to be associated with a particular "movement." As I have said many times, my story just so happens to be pro-life, but even more than that, it is about JESUS. Life matters because of the Author of life!

I have grieved wondering why people seem to dislike me, want to silence me, and why they can't see the beauty in this story God has written for me. I have also grieved the ways I have messed up and wondering if I have completely let the Lord down and ruined His plans for my life and ministry. Though He can't truly be surprised by anything, right? He who knows the end from the beginning. He who created me and my purpose.

There are some situations that seem impossible to be redeemed. But with God, nothing is impossible (Matthew 19:26). That's what He is in the business of doing, after all.

So as I said, I feel called to a life of ministry and being a wife and mom. These things are good desires that honor God. The only problem is, none of them are happening as I expected. I am single and my only children are in Heaven. I do speak and write and have opportunities to share, but it's certainly not full-time, as I thought and dreamed it'd be.

Life is just not happening as I thought it would. I am clinging ever so tightly to my faithful Heavenly Father in the uncertainty of an unknown future and unanswered questions and prayers. When nothing feels like it's happening, I am choosing to trust that He is working behind-the-scenes for what's to come. I am praying that 2016 brings fresh hope when it feels like my life is in a constant waiting room, stuck between the missing and the longing, as I recently shared. I am entrusting my past sins, mistakes, failures, hopes, and dreams to Him. I trust that He is working all things together for good as He promises to do (Romans 8:28). May my weakness and inability only highlight and point to His strength and ability and how He delights in impossibility.

A friend of mine named Tina recently wrote me an email and encouraged me in my singleness. She told me to not allow Satan to get me all knotted up and to "just do today." Those three words I have been carrying close to my heart. Tomorrow is not guaranteed and Scripture tells us to not fret over tomorrow (Matthew 6:34). May I trust Him today in my singleness. He has called me to be single today and His grace is sufficient.

I realized that I want to do something "BIG" for God... world-altering Kingdom work... But isn't that in itself prideful and selfish?! Deep down, I want to feel important in the eyes of this world (even if it's Christians) and special to God, like He'll love me more or less, dependent upon what I accomplish for Him.

"Just do today" applies to ministry as well. I don't need to see His plan for the coming year after I graduate, for 5 years from now, 10, or 20. May I focus on what He is asking me to do today. Even if I ever only serve Him again in small, unnoticed, and unapplauded ways, may I surrender everything, even my dreams that are good.

What can I do today?

I can give a comfort box to a local family whose baby boy isn't expected to survive outside the womb.

I can write faithfully on my own little space on the internet for a hurting heart somewhere in the world, though they may never even write a single comment, yet I know they are reading and parts of them are being healed because someone else is willing to openly share that has been where they are or have been.

I can email the young woman who my heart aches for because she reminds me of myself and how I struggled in similar ways as a teen because of my wrong choices.

I can volunteer at a pregnancy center.

I can remember my friend's baby who was regretfully aborted... my other friend's baby who was lost before birth... I can acknowledge their baby's life, their love for their baby, and their grief.

I can thank God for the opportunity and ability to do anything in His name and for the realization that each life is worth all the pouring into I can give. It is not about reaching thousands of people outside of God's will, but reaching few, if it's inside of His will. Because ultimately, I will make more of an impact when I surrender and follow His will, rather than my own... even if the "numbers" of impact don't line up.

If He never opens another door again for me to speak, am I okay with that? Do I trust it's up to Him in the first place to do so and that He'll lead me? I wouldn't want to share outside of His will for me to do so. Even if I question what He's doing and why He's not using me as I thought He would.

This all reminds me of something I shared on my blog this summer: "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."

As I look forward with joyful expectancy to the new year, I am remembering that my identity is not to be tied up in my dreams and hopes for the future. To sum it up, this life is about Him, not me... not my dreams for ministry, not my desire for being a wife and mom.

It is not a scary thing to be in His perfect will, but the safest place. He will open doors for me to share. And if not, He will show me what job to pursue. He will give me just what I need, the moment I need it... whether that be good health to work (I haven't shared much about my health struggles on this blog, but perhaps I will soon)... or direction for a job... or opportunities to speak. Whatever it is, He's got it. And oh, what a beautiful gift it is to be ALIVE!

As I continue waiting, I will remember that obedience is not wasted. Surrender is not for nothing. I am going to "just do today."

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Monday, December 28, 2015

When Lily Went to Philly

On Saturday night, I watched a few minutes of the Philadelphia Eagles vs. the Washington Redskins football game on TV (my brother Joseph's favorite team is the Eagles and my brother Adam's favorite team is the Redskins. Otherwise, I wouldn't care haha).

Anyways, the game was in Philadelphia, which brought back memories of when Lily went to Philly at this very time of year 6 years ago. I was right at 29 weeks pregnant at the time.


Then, yesterday I saw these two things on Facebook "Memories" that I posted on that date in 2009:


My mom, brothers, sister, Lily and I were together on this fun and memorable trip. We walked around downtown, got hot beverages at charming local coffee shops, explored historic/touristy destinations, tried the famous Philly cheesesteak sub, and stayed at the oldest hotel in the city. My mom and brothers went to an Eagle's football game. 

I kept having contractions and we joked that "Lily wanted to be born in Philly." My belly was getting a lot bigger, to the point of not being able to button up my coat all the way, as you can see in the photo above. That makes me giggle. :) Lily was growing big and strong!

One of the first posts on this blog of mine was something I wrote when we were in Philadelphia - City of Brotherly Love. I talked about wanting to treasure the time with my family, especially my sister, who was growing up so fast... little did I know that I was living some of the only days with my daughter that I'd ever get. It never could have crossed my mind. I am so thankful my girl had lots of adventures during her time on Earth with her adoring family.

Here are some of my favorite photos from that trip...








I have several pages in Lily's scrapbook from our Philly trip. Excuse the bad-lighting photos with glaring (from the page protectors). I'll explain more about them when I eventually (hopefully sooner rather than later) share my entire scrapbook for Lily.




Oh, those little socks... we got them at the Betsy Ross House for our Lily girl. Now they will remain in a scrapbook, never having been worn by her. But they are so very precious to me as they were bought specifically for her... when she was still here.


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Sunday, December 27, 2015

Christmas Is Proof Light Wins

The following is something I wrote on Christmas:

I walked into my kitchen tonight to get a glass of water. The lamps were off, but the light from the moon was noticeably bright.

 Peeking out the window, my eyes squinted because of the brightness of the beautifully round and full moon. Finding my phone, I looked online and discovered there is a full moon on this Christmas night, for the first time in 4 decades, the first time since I've been alive. The fact that I could see the moon at all with how cloudy and rainy it's been lately is incredible.

All day I've been in such pain missing my daughter. As I stepped out on my back deck to see it more fully, it was as if God whispered these words to my heart... "I am brighter than any dark night of your soul." And the peace and hope I've been searching for flooded through my entire being in that moment.

Christmas is a reminder that darkness does not win. And the same God who is so awesome and powerfully HUGE that He created the moon I'm gazing upon, still nearly too bright for my eyes to look into directly, even all these thousands of miles away... that same God is not too big to cradle my tiny daughter and my heart. I love her with all I am. But He loves her more. Christmas is proof.



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Thursday, December 24, 2015

Waiting Between Missing and Longing

I know this sounds awful, but I have honestly not been looking forward to Christmas Day this year. I feel stuck in the waiting between missing and longing... what I mean by that is my life constantly feels like I'm waiting for something *more* to happen. I miss Lily so much at Christmas. And I long for a family of my own to spend Christmas with.

I wish my girl were here for what would be her SIXTH Christmas this year. It's hard to believe how many years it's been, yet my heart misses her the same as I wonder who she'd be this December and what gifts I'd be giving her, based on what would have been things she'd like that I'll never know. In the heaviness, I must remind myself she's with the One whom Christmas is all about.


My brother and his wife will be with her family for Christmas. My sister will be spending some of the day with her boyfriend and his family. We aren't going to Virginia for Christmas to be with my grandmother and other extended family. So, it'll just be me, my other brother, and our parents.

For these reasons and others, the missing and the longing feel especially highlighted this Christmas season.

As I have been attending my own little pity party, I came across something I underlined in one of my favorite books called "Glenda's Story: Led by Grace" by Glenda Revell.

She wrote: "Satan gains a foothold when a person believes that those things he desires and for which he longs (but is denied) are "in some mysterious sense, his personal birthright." This explains why holidays are so much more difficult than ordinary days when spent in any type of suffering or pain. If at no other time, don't we deserve to be happy at Christmas? Or on our birthday or anniversary? Satan would have us think so. For at the moment we begin to believe we have a right to something that we have been denied, we become miserable, despondent, and angry."

When I read this, I felt big time convicted. I have been miserable this Christmas season because I am in pain and I feel God is for some reason choosing to withhold from me that which would take away my pain. Don't people deserve to feel happy at Christmas?

I think it's understandable that I am missing and longing, especially during the Christmas season, a time of year that focuses on family and joy.

But in my Christmas-missing-and-longing, I have become consumed with feeling deprived by the God who sent His own Son as a precious baby who would grow up to die on the cross, a ransom for all mankind. That, my friends, is what Christmas is about. It isn't about my happiness or my dreams coming true. It isn't about me getting what I deserve, thank God... because what I deserve is not happiness, a godly husband, and healthy children. What I deserve is hell. But because of the sweet baby named Jesus that was sent all those years ago, I don't get what I deserve. I have the hope and certainty that Lily is safe in the arms of that same Jesus... for eternity. I have the hope of spending eternity with them both. I have the hope for a beautiful future, whether that includes a husband and more children or not. I know it will be beautiful because it will be written by the Author of all things beautiful. I have parents who love me, a cozy home with gifts under an adorable Christmas tree, and siblings who I will celebrate with at some point, even if not on Christmas Day.

I have many, many blessings and they can all be enjoyed because of the baby whose birth we celebrate on Christmas. As I ache this week in the waiting between missing and longing, may I remember Him and choose to keep my gazed fixed on sweet baby Jesus in the manger.

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Saturday, December 19, 2015

Not Left Without Comfort

A blog reader/friend of mine named Tina emailed me a couple weeks ago with something sweet and encouraging, so I want to share part of it here (I left out some of her more personal things). Tina also has a baby daughter who was stillborn who is also named Lilly (just with two l's rather than one like my Lily's name is spelled)

This is what she wrote:

I thought of you one recent morning when I looked out and saw a fresh dusting of snow on our deck table. I felt compelled to write your daughter's name in the pure white snow...then I wrote our daughter's name too.



You can derive so much meaning out of the photos.

*Of course the first thing to see is the purity of our daughters that matches their names.

*Another thing that I see is that the chairs are empty. I put one chair in the photo of your Lily's name, representing you...and two chairs in the photo with both of our daughter's names in it, representing both of us. We share in the great loss of our daughters.
WE became physically empty of our daughters IN their death...both on the inside AND on the outside.

*Less than an hour later, the snow had all melted, leaving behind puddles of water on the table. This represents the brief lives of our daughters.
In a moment (on another "table") we were told that their was no heart beat and the beautiful dreams (with our daughters) evaporated just like the snow, leaving behind puddles of tears that we have shed and are still shedding.

*Though the table is made of glass, it is solid and it holds our tears well. The solidness of the table and the transparency of the glass is like our faith in Jesus Christ. For "now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Hebrews 11:1. We have THE solid and true Lord and Saviour to lean on and to cry it all out too. Though we cannot take a photo (evidence) of our Lord Jesus, He IS SO VERY present. He is so very REAL. HE is not a dream that will ever vanish from us. He has not left us comfortless.

John 14:1-3 - "Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also."

God was SPEAKING to us with words...HIS words...from HIS WORD! I love John 14. Later on these words are written....

"Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me. These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I." (verses 23-28)

Let not your heart be troubled.
My heart was not troubled with our child's "whereabouts." I KNEW that she was with Jesus. But my heart was most certainly in agony. I found myself comforted in the knowledge that God was taking swift notice of our loss and that He was communicating with us through people and through HIS very Word!!! His Holy Ghost was moving and working very clearly. I was further comforted with what the Holy Ghost was bringing to my remembrances. One thing that I was clinging to...and still cling to...is that Jesus is a man of sorrow. He knows all about it! Praise to the Lord.

So often we who are traversing this journey of loss are finding our grief wanting. We want and need to express our grief ON something. The memories of our child are few and we seem to come up to the edge of expressing it fully through something tangible...and we can come up so empty...like the chairs in the photos...like the emptiness of the table. As the mother, our loss cuts extra deep because our loss is physically internal as well as physically external. WE were representing our child in body as our bodies grew with our child. We were getting to know them while they were on the inside...feeling their movements and the weight of them. We were dreaming of their lives on the outside.

My point being, we are NOT left without comfort. God is still moving and doing MIGHTY things. Jesus Christ is the way to TRUE comfort and to the peace that passes all understanding. We can fly to Him and lay our weary heads on His chest. We can spill our hearts out to Him...and furthermore, He WANTS us to!

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I am thankful for friends who "get it." I am thankful for those who meet me where I am and point me to Jesus there. I love my pure Lily's name written in the pure white snow and Tina's reflections on it all. It makes me smile that she thought of Lily when she saw the snow.

I am amazed at how God has been revealing Himself to me in multiple ways lately as my Comforter. I was recently reflecting upon and even wrote about this very attribute of the Holy Spirit. And then I got this email. And then I came across a beautiful song about Him being our Comforter that I've been playing on repeat. I'll leave you all with that (email subscribers click HERE).


"Sweet Comfort"
by Sandra McCracken

Whatever my God ordains is right 
His holy will abides 
I will be still whatever He does 
And follow where He guides 

Sweet comfort, sweet comfort 
Yet shall fill my heart 
Sweet comfort, sweet comfort 
Sorrow shall depart 

Whatever my God ordains is right 
He makes my feet to stand 
Though sorrow, need, or death be mine 
He holds me in His hand 

This bitter cup, I take it 
My fainting heart restored 
So here I stand, unshaken 
I trust upon the Lord 

He is my God though dark my road 
He holds me, I shall not fall 
Whatever my God ordains as right 
To him I leave it all. 

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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Today's Strength for Today

Tomorrow is the day when I will no longer need to refer to my niece OR nephew. My brother and sister-in-law have their gender-reveal scan, at just shy of half-way through the pregnancy.

Honestly, the last few weeks, my heart has been dreading the news. I know no child will ever replace Lily's spot as the eldest grandchild, however, I also realize that in a way, this child will replace many of the the firsts we would have experienced with her. That's just the way it is. Nobody is trying to be hurtful in it, it's just what happens as a result of Lily's death. So though I realize and am thankful that her status as first will not be taken away, the firsts of her life growing up on earth will be.

That's hard to think about any child being the first besides her... but especially a girl. I have strongly felt like this baby is a boy, maybe partly because I want it to be and partly because I know Joseph has talked about how sweet it would be to have his eldest child be a boy, to watch out for his little sisters. My guess was that it would be one baby, which I was right about (we wondered since Joseph is a twin and Kala is a triplet), and that it'll be a boy. But who knows?? Only God until tomorrow.

What makes the possibility of the baby being a girl so difficult for my heart is because things with a girl would be even more a reminder of everything we missed and are still missing with Lily. Any gender has similar baby experiences, but there are of course things specific to each gender... the bows, the pink, all that makes life with a little girl full of "sugar and spice and everything nice." I've asked God to please let this baby be a boy, to soften the ache in my heart. It's already hard enough, so can't He help me out here a little?

Only those who have lost a child understand the inner turmoil in such things as this.

I don't want to be selfish in my thoughts or feelings. I just wish the way my brain worked in things like this could melt away from me forever.

Last week, I begged God to help me. I pleaded with Him to change my heart, to take away my sadness about Lily in this and to allow me to fully embrace this season and rejoice over this new precious life. I told Him that I know it's only Him who can alter my natural inclinations of feeling the way I do. Only He can make me excited. Only He can mend my heart and take away the sting of hearing the news if this baby is a girl. I want to be a wonderful aunt, able to give of my heart fully to this baby, not reserved in any way, because he/she deserves that! Joseph and Kala deserve that.

A few days ago, I was walking past the baby section at Target and some adorable pink girly things caught my attention. I was thinking about how adorable these items were and made a mental note that I'd like to get them if we find out the baby is a girl. And in that moment I saw what God had done... He was opening my heart to this baby being a girl. He was making me okay if he/she is a girl. I need to be okay with it before they find out the gender. How easy it would be to say I am okay with it after finding out the baby is a boy. God wanted to show me He is enough for me in this, no matter what the gender is, just as He's been enough for me in everything I've faced in my life without Lily. He is fully capable of giving me a new heart, with new feelings! If only I will entrust them to Him, surrender, and pray.

He gave me the grace when I learned the news that this baby was on the way, something I had feared. I wondered why I was struggling after being okay with the news. But that's when He showed me that He gives me today's strength for today. And I cannot depend on yesterday's or tomorrow's strength for today. He meets me in the moment I'm in and sustains me there.

I cannot explain the joy I feel in witnessing Him transforming my heart, my thoughts, and feelings. I am eagerly and excitedly awaiting finding out this baby's gender and will truly be pleased as punch, boy or girl! I cannot wait to meet that baby and hold him/her in my arms. But until that day, I want to be there for Kala and Joseph, helping them make beautiful pregnancy memories, like taking maternity photos, and getting a belly cast... all the important things I wish I had done with Lily. All things she taught me the importance and beauty of and because of her, they will have the things I never did. There are so many things I am seeing that I want to buy or make for my niece or nephew. My Father in Heaven, thank You for giving me Your love for this precious child whom You adore!

Read the first post I wrote about Lily's cousin by clicking HERE.

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Monday, December 14, 2015

He Holds the Stars and He Holds My Heart

Lately I have been meditating on Psalm 147:3-4 which says, "He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He determines the number of the stars; He gives to all of them their names." 

I recently came across this Elisabeth quote:

"Have you noticed those two verses in Psalm 147 that juxtapose God's concern for the wounded *and* His numbering and naming the stars? His compassion and His power are mentioned together that we might understand that the Lord of the Universe is not so preoccupied with the galaxies that He cannot stoop to minister to our sufferings. He is the One who is in sovereign control of our lives, and of every single thing that touches them. Nothing can pass through the fortress of His love." -Elisabeth Elliot 

I then saw this beautiful watercolor print from GraceLaced (she shared on Instagram that she was having a Black Friday sale) and knew I wanted it on my wall as a daily reminder of this precious truth.


After coming across the verse many times recently, it's become quite special to me and something I think Jesus wants me to remember. 

I shared this on my Facebook page on Saturday. Then, later in the day, my sister-in-law and I were out Christmas shopping and I was planning on searching for an ornament for Lily Katherine, something I like to do each year in her honor. I was thinking of a particular ornament shop we could go to at the mall later in the evening. 

We were at the Vintage Village in a store I didn't even think to look in for the ornament when I glanced up and saw this beautiful angel ornament hanging there, like it was waiting for me. 


Because of Psalm 147, stars are significant to me and make me think of that verse. I knew right away it was the perfect ornament for this year because it's an angel, which obviously reminds me of Heaven where Lily is, she's wearing a pearl headband, and pearls symbolize purity which both Lily's first and middle names mean, and she's holding a star. 

The God who created and named the stars created and named my little girl and cares enough about both me and her to send me an ornament with a star. He knew how it would speak clearly to my heart that He ministers to me in my missing her, especially around times like Christmas. "The Lord of the Universe is not so preoccupied with the galaxies" that He cannot show His love by sending His child to a simple Christmas ornament. I didn't even have to look for it. He carries me in my pain, He carries it for me.

And not only that, but it is a reminder that Lily's death didn't "pass through the fortress of His love." He has always been in control of my life and hers. Nothing touches me apart from what He allows.


All this reminds me of a beautiful song by Chris Tomlin where he sings, "He holds the stars and He holds my heart." (email subscribers click HERE to listen to the song).


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Special Day

Lily's Auntie Kala and I were out shopping on Saturday. We got planners for the new year at Barnes & Noble (mine has cats on it). :)

Kala's has pretty flowers on it with a couple pages of fun stickers, with things on them such as "doctor appointment" and "birthday."

As she was looking through them on our drive home, she said, "this one says 'special day' and it has a flower on it. It's perfect for Lily's birthday."

Yes, it is perfect. And it's even more perfect that she thought of her and said that to me.

This is my planner with stickers she shared with me.


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Thursday, December 10, 2015

What Pro-Life Looks Like

Many times I have spoken and written about how my family, especially my parents, truly walked out their pro-life convictions by welcoming me and Lily both home during my unplanned pregnancy. God showered His grace and love on me through them.

I am blessed and thankful to have my family, all of them. They loved my daughter, even though she wasn't "planned." I know some families would view a child "like Lily" as a burden, even attempting to manipulate and push abortion as the best option. Never once did my family do that. Lily was loved, absolutely adored, from the moment her life was known. Now, that is not to say they didn't wish it was under better circumstances that were honoring to God, however, we are all forever thankful for how the Lord used Lily's life in our lives. And life is always a gift. No child is ever unplanned by God, unwanted by Him, or viewed as less than or as an inconvenience. A baby is not a sin.

I hear some people talk about how their families don't "count" their baby in Heaven, don't talk about them, include them, celebrate them on their birthday, etc. And it makes me realize just how blessed I am to have a family who does love, honor, miss, and count Lily. I spend too much time noticing how people don't measure up to how I want them to honor Lily and help me through my grief. It's true they might not always do or say what I wish they would... but the fact is, they cannot understand exactly what I feel or need because 1) they have never lost a child and 2) they aren't me... They love her in their own way.

My family walked out their pro-life convictions in Lily's life... but honestly what I'm finding is they did so even more in her death... Their love for her and understanding of the sanctity of life was even more pronounced in their depth of weeping when she was buried on that day in late March 2010 (I will never forget how my brother Adam cried in a way I have never seen), in how they celebrate her birthday with me each March 16th, in their sensitivity in how they try to understand best they can what I'm feeling and what I need, in always explaining when asked, that there was another grandchild that came before the baby Allen due next spring, in wanting to visit her "special spot" with me when we're in Virginia, in not being afraid to speak her name - not in a tense and awkwardly forced sort of way, but just normal, because she is a part of the family, in not making me feel like I should stop missing and loving Lily as other people try to make me feel, but entering into my pain and love with me, because they feel it as well, in being gracious and compassionate with me, even when I do get overly emotional and don't always make sense. Her absence is recognized because her value was first.

That, my friends, is what being pro-life looks like.

At Lily's burial service in March 2010

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Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Erased

I don't want to be the only one who remembers and loves her the way I know I always will. Even if it was only me, that would be enough. Even when I am gone from this world and Lily is truly forgotten on Earth, by that point, I will actually be WITH her in Heaven, with the God who created her and could never forget or forsake her.

I think what I am afraid of is her being erased in people's minds and hearts, gone from this world. Her little girl laughter and chatter is not present in our everyday lives, yet her legacy and memory is ever-present for me. I am the only one who felt her kick, felt her life. She wasn't just an idea of a baby. She wasn't a potential life. I felt her life and her spirit. She will never be just a memory for me, but always my cherished daughter.

Even if she were erased from every heart and mind in this world, she cannot and will not EVER be erased from Eternity. She is there and she is not going anywhere. She is an eternal being, an eternal flower as I have written before. Though her life here feels like it was erased, a life I attempt to see through the hazy lines of what could have been... I know that her life there, the place my heart longs for, my true home, will never disappear, erase, be forgotten. It is there where the hazy and unclear lines will be filled in - clear and full-of-color will they be, as the life she never lived here will be perfectly lived out there.

As John Piper wrote in a letter to a mother whose son was stillborn:

"First, please know that I know I don't know what it is like to give birth to a lifeless body. Only a small, sad band of mothers know that. I say "lifeless body" because, as you made clear, your {daughter} is not lifeless. {She} simply skipped earth. For now. But in the new heavens and the new earth, {she} will know the best of earth and all the joys earth can give without any of its sorrows."


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Tuesday, December 8, 2015

NC Tears Foundation Rock & Walk 2015

On October 17th, my mom, sister-in-law, and I participated in the first NC Tears Foundation Rock & Walk! It was a beautiful day.

The Tears Foundation offers financial assistance to those experiencing infant loss. We walked for our Lily girl. It means a lot that they want to be a part of such things with me for her.

I was thankful I could be there because the walk was originally scheduled for October 3rd and I was in Colorado on that date and thought I would miss it, but with all the rain, it was rescheduled for the 17th. It worked out perfectly on time, because I got back from Colorado early in the week, went to speak in Michigan, and then got home the day before the walk.

Because I didn't know I would be able to be at the walk, I was unable to get Lily's name on the back of the t-shirt, get her name in the program, or on one of the butterflies lining the walking path. I am just thankful I was able to be there and besides, there's always next year! An event like this has been missing in the Raleigh area, which is surprising since it's the capital city.

Now get ready for picture overload. :)

Kala, me, my mom
my friend, Ashelyn
my friend, Morgan
my friend, Bonnie, who started Covered in Love, one of the local infant loss support groups in my area










my mom wore her "Lily" necklace she made... and I wore my Lily's handprint necklace



this picture of Kala is funny


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