Friday, April 29, 2016

Butterfly Cake

My sweet friend Christine in my Bible study gave me this because the butterfly reminded her of my Lily girl. Not only does her thoughtfulness mean a lot to me, but it's neat that I was actually wanting something to make butterfly-shaped cakes, and had even looked into getting one a couple months ago. :)


Wednesday, April 27, 2016

She Made Me a Mom

A sweet lady named Rachel made me this beautiful graphic in Lily's honor for Mother's Day.


All That Love Can Do

A Facebook group called "All That Love Can Do" was making graphics for the parents of babies in Heaven. I requested for Lily Katherine's name to be done. I love seeing her name written out. It's so beautiful for a real little girl.


Lily Remembered in Staunton

A family friend named Bob thoughtfully sent me this photo of Lily's name written in blades of grass in Staunton, Virginia. :)


Monday, April 25, 2016

A Garment of Praise

Baby showers for me are... well... complicated. 

On one hand, babies are wonderful and precious and such a delight.

On the other hand, they are a huge trigger of pain for me. They remind me of my beautiful baby lost. The innocence and blissful joyful expectation that surrounds baby showers tells me that I just don't quite fit in. And I never will again in such settings.

I don't have my living baby when I made it to term in pregnancy and went through the whole baby shower thing too.

People who have baby showers could never fathom their baby dying before they have the chance to use any of the darling outfits, miniature diapers, etc.

My unique array of experiences make things complicated. 

You see, I am passionately pro-life and love babies and believe all babies deserve life... However, because my own baby who I chose life for never had life beyond the womb, it makes being around other babies difficult for my heart. It's not that I don't love them and find them precious beyond words... In fact, it's because I do find them precious beyond words that it makes it ache. so. very. much. And of course add in my experience of loss through abortion and that adds another element of complication for my heart. I almost feel guilty for it being painful to be around and see babies because I'm pro-life and love babies. But I lost mine. Two of mine. And it hurts.

I know some people who have lost babies avoid the baby shower scene altogether. And honestly, I haven't been up to going to some I've been invited to. I have made it to some. But I ache at every one and wonder if it's worth putting myself through the pain, when I could just send a gift and card in my place. I'd hope they'd at least try to understand. And if they can't, well, that's a whole different issue. But, I digress...

There have been baby showers lately that I haven't been able to avoid. Don't get me wrong, I want to be there to celebrate my niece and my brother and his wife becoming a father and mother for the first time. 

This weekend, my mom and I will be hosting a baby shower in Kala's honor for some close friends. And I must admit, I didn't realize how hard the whole planning aspect was going to be... the Google searches, the planning, and shopping. I want to do it and I would do it again if I had the chance, even knowing how difficult it's been on my heart.

But that's the thing - I don't want the complications anymore. I want to feel "normal." I want to be like other people who think throwing a baby shower is only-happy and who can't imagine how it could be anything but that. I want to be able to believe that at the end of most pregnancies, healthy babies will be born and will get to ride home in their car seat in their pre-selected "going home from the hospital outfit." Not buried in that outfit instead, like my Lily was. I want to believe my niece will arrive safely and we will have the blessing of watching her grow up. I don't want to nag my sister-in-law with questioning if she's been counting my niece's kicks faithfully. I don't want to worry about the increased risk of stillbirth with each potential day she may go over her due date. I don't want to picture what it would be like if my niece died and wonder how I would respond and how we could make it through the tragedy of stillbirth striking our family so closely twice.

This is what living with stillbirth is like... even 6 years later. This is how stillbirth can impact your feelings and thinking in more ways than someone who hasn't experienced stillbirth could ever realize. I think some things are ok and healthy to avoid and I don't need to feel obligated to always go to everything or be involved in everything, however I also don't want my pain to isolate and consume me.

There are so many moments, too many than I could ever record, where I feel like my pain colors how I think about things. What am I to do with all the heaviness? How does Jesus desire me to live and approach this area in my life?

At church yesterday, my Pastor was talking about how in Isaiah 61, it talks about putting on a garment of praise for a spirit of heaviness. It doesn't say put on a garment of praise when the heaviness lifts, but for the heaviness, to combat the heaviness. Whether that heaviness be discouragement, depression, doubt, unanswered questions, or whatever the heaviness in our lives may be. We are to praise.

There is no situation or feeling too complicated that Jesus doesn't understand and have the answer. He is the answer. Our praises pull us out of the heaviness. In that moment when my Pastor was talking about this, it was like God whispered to me that this is the answer to my question of what I'm to do with my feelings and pain. I am to praise.

What does praising look like?

Practically, I think it looks like many things, including turning on one of my favorite worship albums and singing along at the top of my lungs, getting in the Word more, hiding his Word in my heart, praying His promises back to Him, praying and praising Him for Who He is, thanking Him for being faithful and declaring over my soul that He is, and remembering all that He has done in my life.

Dr. Bill Bright said, "Praise is a way of being liberated from the bondage of grief."

Putting on a garment of praise... that's how I'm to handle my emotions, my pain, and my questions when they arise. By putting on a garment of praise for all the things that are so very heavy, cumbersome, and burdensome. I am going to trust that Jesus will carry me through as He always has. I am going to cast my anxieties and cares on Him because He cares for me (1 Peter 5:7). He wants us to give Him all our cares.

I love this beautiful song called "Beauty for Ashes" by Shane & Shane (email subscribers click HERE to listen).

As for my anxiety over my niece's life and safe arrival, that is another care I must cast upon the Lord. I am reminded of a few Scripture passages that the Lord has been using to comfort me and as a reminder to trust Him...

Luke 12:25 says, "And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?"

My worrying about her life is not going to add a single hour to her life. Of course, we should show wisdom in things, but me freaking out about it is not going to save her.

Psalm 139:16 says, "Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in Your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them."

All of my niece's days are ordained by God. They are all already formed, just as Lily's were. 

Job 42:2 says, "I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted."

No plan or purpose for my niece's life can be thwarted... no matter how her life unfolds and whether it looks how we want it to or not. God is ultimately in control.

Please pray that this time of preparing for and hosting the baby shower will be a blessing and healing time. Please pray that I would trust the Lord with getting my niece here safely, and that the labor and delivery would go smoothly (she is due in only 2 weeks and 3 days). Pray she will be healthy and that Joseph and Kala will be given grace and wisdom as they transition into their new life after she is born. I can't wait to share that sweet little girl's name and picture when she arrives. :) I plan on having some lilies at the shower on Saturday in honor of my niece's big cousin, Lily. :)


Saturday, April 23, 2016

6th Birthday Flag

My grandmother had misplaced the special 6th birthday flag that I got for Lily's birthday on Etsy. She just found it this week and took this photo for me. It was a surprise to receive it. Better late than never. ;)


Disenfranchised Grief on Mother's Day

I'm already dreading Mother's Day approaching in a couple weeks in the U.S. It is an extremely painful day as a mother without living children.

This year will be my EIGHTH year as a mother on Mother's Day. That is crazy. How does one mark such a day as a mother to children who live with God?

Mothers who have lost children to abortion and stillbirth are often not understood or their experiences and motherhood acknowledged, leaving them to walk through the loneliness and isolation of disenfranchised grief. This is especially true for those without any living children.

I consider my first Mother's Day as a mother to have been in 2009. I was at Virginia Beach that weekend and would have still been carrying Luke Shiloh. I would have been 19 weeks 3 days gestation, to be exact. Instead, Luke had been with the Lord since 6 weeks gestation. But that doesn't change that he was real and that he made me a mother, whether I wanted to be one yet or not. His heartbeat was real. His DNA was real and would never be repeated again.

The following year, in 2010, would have been my first Mother's Day with Lily Katherine here. She would have been 2 months old at that point. We spent the week at Massanutten and I was going to have a baby shower with Virginia friends and family. Only there was no need for a baby shower and no baby in my arms. She too was with the Lord and her big brother, Luke.

The ache of Mother's Day gets more pronounced with each passing spring. How do mothers like me mark such a day? When our love for our children is the same, yet those on the outside looking in can't see them. When we don't have people sending us flowers and gifts, taking us out to eat, or telling us "Happy Mother's Day." When our arms are empty, empty, empty, yet our love and desire to care for our children in tangible ways is just as alive and real as the mothers around us with their children in adorable outfits.

When the only proof of my motherhood is the love I carry, the echo of the memory of the two hearts that beat within, and the marks of motherhood underneath my shirt.

Mothers who have lost children to stillbirth, abortion, or miscarriage, know you are not alone. Your babies matter and are real. Your motherhood is valid and important. Do whatever you need to do to heal and get through Mother's Day... Whether that be staying home from church and avoiding the baby dedications that make you want to scream and run, staying home altogether, making a delicious meal, going for a hike and picnic, listening to beautiful music, getting together with other mothers with similar experiences, getting flowers in your child's honor, staying away from social media, among many other things.

Please feel free to share your child's name and story in the comments section, as well as any ideas for how to mark Mother's Day.


Thursday, April 21, 2016

Lily's Secret World

Her secret world
In mama's womb
Safe and sheltered

Sacred, beautiful, awe
Formed by the Almighty
Hidden from all eyes

Though unseen -
Sounds heard...
Music that brings dance...
Voices familiar...
Mama's heart thumping...
Food tasted...
Love felt...

Not a breath
Yet an intricate, extravagant
Purposeful life

Days don't equal worth
Nor accomplishment
But the fingerprint of God


Pray with Me for Abortion-minded Woman

I was made aware of a young woman who is 7 weeks gestation and is scheduled to have an abortion this Friday, April 22nd. Please join me in prayer that she would not go through with it. Don't underestimate the power of or importance of prayer.

Lord Jesus, we ask for You to mightily intervene in the heart and life of this precious young woman. Awaken her to how much you love her, as well as her unborn baby. Give her an understanding of the sanctity of life and show her this is a real child in her womb already, never to be replicated again. Comfort her, give her peace, and strengthen her. Give her the courage to choose life. Put people around her that will encourage her and show her spiritual, emotional, and practical support. May Your hand so evidently be seen in this situation. Intervene in whatever way You need so that she will not go through with this. Father, please save the life of this baby and the eternal life of this mother. May she be shown compassion, care, and sensitivity. In Your name we pray, Amen.


Meeting Her

I wish I could have looked into Lily's lovely blue eyes and met her before saying "see you soon, my love." I know that sentiment is nothing new... However, I was recently comforted by the thought that I *did* meet her....

I met her during each of the 5 ultrasounds I was blessed to have. I met her as she danced wildly for us on the screen at the 3D/4D ultrasound, when I was just shy of 18 weeks and was told she was a girl, though I knew in my heart she was all along. I got to know her with seeing her unique personality sweetly on display as she was spunky and precious, appearing to look directly at us and showing off.

I got to know her with each gentle movement and hard kick or punch with her big hands and feet.

With each day her body grew within mine, my love grew too. My soul was well acquainted with her soul. How could it not have been? Her heart beat for the first and last time within me. I knew her and she knew me.

I did meet her.

(look closely and you'll see Lily's dear little head and face, arms and hands up by her face, and that precious foot towards the bottom left!)


Monday, April 18, 2016

Sound of a Living Heart

It's been almost a year since the Lord moved mightily in my life in a specific area that I want to share about. He revealed Himself as my Restorer, restoring places deep within that had felt wounded for the past several years. I was beginning to wonder if it was possible for Him to mend those broken places... not that I didn't think He could, but I wondered if He would.

Then, just like that, He has brought more healing in my life in the last year than had come in the last few years. And He has been calling out to my soul for it to LIVE again. There were spaces in me that felt dead. I was clinging so tightly to my right to be broken, most especially in the area of losing Lily and her father.

But my Heavenly Father loves me too much to leave me in that place. He showed me He cares more about my freedom and healing than I do. And it was Him Who drew me out of that place. It was He Who called me unto Himself and breathed LIFE back into these dry, weary bones. It was He Who caused me to be so utterly miserable in the place where I was that I was willing to do whatever it was He asked of me, whatever it took to be free. It was He who revealed to me what was really going on so I could recognize it and pray against it. It was He Who has brought me VICTORY IN CHRIST. It is He Who I will praise and glorify all the days of my life.

In the spring of last year, I was in a dark place with grieving over the loss of Lily's father. It felt like an endless pain and I wondered if I'd ever be freed of it. I wondered if I'd ever be free to love another. I was burdened by the dreadful thought that I'd never be whole and healed. Now don't get me wrong, there has been much healing that God has brought in so many areas.... but oh, the regret and pain in this area!

Last May, I was in South Carolina with my sister-in-law Kala (who is also my best friend) and I was pouring out my broken heart to her. She is one person I can always count on to see what's really going on and she's not afraid to speak the truth I need to hear. She said, "you keep saying, "I feel this," and "I feel that." When really what I needed to do was recognize those were lies from the enemy! We decided instead of talking, we needed to pray.

I started off praying by saying I really had no idea what to pray and the Holy Spirit met me there and He prayed through me... it was literally the most intense and powerful prayer of my life. And I was weeping from the deepest parts of me, confessing things and repenting of things I wasn't even aware of until God drew it out of me. It was Him working in me! It was Him fighting! Literally in that moment, I know there was a spiritual breakthrough. I can't fully articulate or understand it, but I know God broke down walls that had been built up for years. He tore them down and proved Himself stronger.

I asked Him to make me willing to be made willing to do whatever He was asking of me for victory and healing. And He was faithful to reveal what needed to be done. He showed me that I had not obeyed something He had asked me to do long before this. He asked me how could I expect to be triumphant in something when I wasn't even willing to do what He showed me needed to be done?! It reminded me of a quote I had read that says, "God will not advance your instructions beyond your last act of disobedience." At that point, I was feeling a lack of direction in my life.

The specific thing God had asked me to do might seem like a small thing, but to me it was huge. He had asked me to throw away anything and everything having to do with my relationship with Lily's father. To me, throwing these items away felt like ripping my heart out. It felt like if I threw those things away, I was in a way throwing Lily away because in my heart, she is tied to him... or she was. God showed me that He would separate the two of them in my heart and mind. And for some reason, those tangible items were keeping me tied to him. I didn't want to do it and didn't for a long time. Until God gave me the strength to obey.

I told my sister-in-law what I knew He was asking me to do and said it needed to be done THAT DAY that I got back home. I literally couldn't wait any longer to obey my Father! I had disobeyed Him and couldn't bear it anymore. So I gathered everything together, the pictures, letters, songs, etc. and took it to the local dump. I wanted it to be symbolic, like these things are something I can never get back and this relationship I can never get back. It is over, it is finished forever.

On the day I took these things to the dump, God nudged me to get rid of anything from my past having to do with guys (even seemingly innocent things from guys I didn't have a serious relationship with). It was like I couldn't bear to have those things in my possession, even the things I hadn't thought about for years. Everything had to go! The thought of my future husband made me realize how much I already love him and how I will do anything to show him that. I can't bear the thought of him being hurt by my holding onto these items. And I wouldn't want him to be holding onto any items from girls in his past (even seemingly innocent things) so why would I? Everything was thrown out. And it was easy! It was a joy! Once I decided to obey the Lord, no matter the cost, and that I desired to love and honor my husband even now, God gave me supernatural grace.

I listened to a song on that day that was the cry of my heart. It's called "To Win Christ" by Ben Zornes. I listened to it over and over and over again and journaled the lyrics. Listen to it below (email subscribers click HERE).

Literally, the day after I was obedient in this, God whispered "Ellerslie Advanced" to my heart. I have my journal entries from around this time. I knew that I had wanted to return to Colorado for Advanced since my Basic Semester 4 years before... but honestly it was not even on my radar at that point because I was a full-time student, scheduled to graduate this spring. But He so clearly put this on my heart that it was what I was supposed to do in the next season of my life. Suddenly, I could hear my Jesus again. I had direction when before I didn't... all because of being obedient to Him.

It has been AMAZING to see His faithful hand guiding me to Ellerslie, how He worked out all the details of my school, finances, everything. And how much He did in me while I was there.

The Lord has spoken so much through the book of Exodus and how He was faithful to lead the Israelites out of Egypt and into the Promised Land. Oh, how it is so easy for me to read about them and think how ridiculous they were for not trusting the Lord and for looking back at and longing for Egypt... then the Lord so clearly spoke to my heart that I am just like them, looking back to my own Egypt, to past relationships and longing for what was when what was wasn't God's best. Forgetting the misery and captivity. Knowing that He is calling me out of that, into something so much more beautiful than I can begin to fathom. I am not looking back anymore. I am following Him and trusting He will lead me through.

I'm beginning again... I'm living again... This is the sound of a living heart.

I hear Jesus calling me
Out of the grave I've been sleeping in
With new lungs I'll begin again
Lift my voice and sing my part
This is the sound of a living heart

(Email subscribers click HERE to listen).


Thursday, April 14, 2016

Letter to Lily

I printed the letter to Lily that I wrote and read aloud to her at her Celebration of Life Service in March 2010, to include in her scrapbook. I thought it was worth re-sharing here.


Dear Lily,

My little love. My constant companion. My precious flower. You whispered "goodbye" before I had a chance to say "hello." I'm left with a bruised heart and shaken dreams. Empty arms desperate to be filled with you. When I heard those words, those dreadful words, that your heart was no longer beating, it was like I was suffocating. I keep having to remind myself to breathe...Why is it so hard to breathe?! 

I couldn't cry at first...I was just shocked. My world was shattered, crumbling around me. Somehow the physical pain didn't seem to matter much anymore. You went straight from my womb to the arms of Jesus. Why did you have to go? Doesn't He know I need you here? Doesn't He know that you're my world? And yet life goes on. I still hear laughter. The moon still rises and the sun still sets. But, I won't forget. Even when I smile, thoughts of you are always dancing in the back of my mind. Shouldn't the whole world just stop? Mine has. How does the wind still blow? Doesn't it know you aren't here?

Oh, the plans I had for your life. All the things I wanted to show you and teach you. I longed for the day you would finally fill all those clothes that are just for you. I waited and waited to see that beautiful, toothless smile I'd imagined so many times before. The way your eyes would sparkle. I would rock you for hours and softly sing sweet lullabies in your ear. I can't help thinking of all that could have been. All that was meant to be. You should be at home in your Moses basket now, not in that little white box.

What will life be like when what should have been your firsts come? Your first 'mama,' your first grin, your first giggle when you’d see me coming to get you out of your crib in the morning, your first tooth, the first time you'd crawl…and walk. Your first Christmas and how your eyes would light up with all the beautiful lights and decorations. Your first birthday and how you'd get cake all over your special birthday dress. Your first trip to the beach and mountains. As the months pass, I will wonder how you might have looked...growing so fast. Would your hair be curly? Who would you look like? Would you be talking yet? Walking yet? All that could have been...should have been. Yet, it will never be. This ache in my heart will remain because I'll never get to see all these firsts...and seconds and thirds. I'll never get to see my baby girl turn into a beautiful lady. I'll never get to hold her baby. Parents should never have to bury their children. That's not how it should be. It seems so unnatural.

My little blessing from Heaven, blue skies turned to gray when you slipped away. A piece of my heart left with you. Sometimes it feels like people are already forgetting you. But, I won't forget. So, don't feel like you're missing out on all the fun. Because wherever I go, there you'll be too.

My sweet, sweet Baby...You have changed me forever. You have left a footprint on many hearts. Someone so tiny has accomplished so much! More than a lot of people do in a long lifetime. How precious you are to God! And to me! In a matter of months, I went from looking at you as a burden to loving you more than I ever thought I could love anyone. My world was built around you. Now, I can't imagine the rest of my life without you by my side.

I miss every little thing about you and everything that reminds me of you. I don't want to forget a thing. Feeling you kicking in the middle of the night, joking about you, talking to you, calling you by your nicknames (Spud, my little flower, Lily Kat, Lilliputian, Lilykins, L.O. (Little One), Lily Kate), hearing your sweet heartbeat, seeing your chubby cheeks on the ultrasound screen, and being so amazed as I saw God form you inside of me. My belly grew as my love for you grew. I even miss waking up a thousand times every night for nine months to go to the bathroom and waddling around like a penguin. It's funny how all these things that used to annoy me are now the things I long to experience again. Just the comfort of knowing you were inside me - living, growing, thriving...In the safest place you could be. You were always with me...always protected.

God's hand was on you while you were in my womb. He saved you and you saved me. Thank you. I want the world to know how wonderful you are! The beautiful legacy you leave behind will never be forgotten. YOU will never be forgotten, precious Lily. My love, you are so pure, so precious, so tiny, so perfect. When I held you in my arms I had a taste of something truly divine. Such a sweet spirit. When I looked into your face, I saw the face of my Jesus. I glimpsed Eternity. I am so blessed to have known you. You will never have to know this world marred with pain and sin. You will forever be pure and innocent. I am proud to call you my child. Proud that God would choose me to carry you! A princess.

For now, I will have to hold onto the memories of you. The bittersweet memories of your little button nose, your little fingers and toes. How perfect you were. Every last detail of you just right. I will cherish these memories forever. For now, I'll have to hold onto the little keepsakes - the journal I wrote for you, your precious footprints and handprints, and pictures. They are not enough, but will have to do...For now. Because I know one day I will meet you at the gates of Heaven. Will you wait for me there? On that day, my Jesus will place you in my arms and I will finally be able to hold you, sing to you, smell your sweet baby smell, and look into your lovely blue eyes. Until then, I know He'll take good care of you. Until then, I will cling to the One who holds the world in His hands. Thank you for changing my life. I will never forget you little one, my precious angel who was simply too beautiful for Earth.

Love, Mommy


Watercolor PAIL Ribbon

I love this beautiful customizable Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Ribbon! It's lovely with the butterfly incorporated. It looks like watercolor, which reminds me of the watercolor rose and lily in my blog header. :) You can get one too with or without a name by clicking HERE. It's perfect for Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month in October.


Tuesday, April 12, 2016


I wrote this on February 21st, 2016...

My niece is due on May 12th.

You may remember that I volunteer weekly at a pregnancy resource center. They offer classes for pregnant women/couples there, with information regarding pregnancy, labor and delivery, breastfeeding, fetal development, etc. The classes go up until the time a child is 2! It's really an incredible resource. Not only are these mothers and fathers able to learn valuable information about caring for themselves and their children, but they also earn "mommy and daddy money." Since my brother is unable to go during the hours they are open because of work, I've been going as Kala's support person, to earn more "money" and just to be there for her. The money is able to be "spent" in the baby boutique, where there is everything from diapers, to swings, clothes, etc. All things baby. I jokingly said they need "auntie money" too. ;)

Anyways, today the lessons were on breastfeeding. That's a bit of a touchy subject for me. I planned on breastfeeding Lily. I was excited about bonding with my baby in that way and knowing I was giving her the best I could for her health. When Lily died, there was no way I could explain to my new-mother body that there wasn't a living baby to feed. That means my milk came in on one of the days between her birth and burial. It was painful physically and emotionally (obviously), to be recovering from birth, milk coming in for a baby who would never need it, all while preparing for the service and burial of my baby girl.

So watching these videos about breastfeeding and how beneficial it is, techniques for it, and what not, oh how my heart ached! Breastmilk is life-giving. And the fact my baby never needed it is a reminder that she didn't have life. It feels like I was gipped. All the things that motherhood entails were taken from under me. Death robbed me of breastfeeding, it robbed me of hearing my baby cry at birth, it robbed me of everything Lily's life would have held up until this point. It almost feels like my motherhood was stolen from me by death much of the time, when I never got to mother Lily outside of the womb alive.

I should be able to give Kala tips about breastfeeding, out of my own experience. Instead, I'm just about as clueless as she is. I still have the unused nursing bra I got shortly before Lily was born.

Going to the classes with Kala brings my mind back to 6+ years ago when my mom and I went to similar classes at another pregnancy center across town, a center that is no longer under the same name or at the same location. I cannot tell you how painful it is that 6 years after the classes I went to when I was pregnant and learning about these very things, such as breastfeeding, that I still have not had that shared bonding experience with my baby. I still have not been able to mother a living child in any tangible ways.

Sitting in the classes, my mind drifted to happy daydreams of one day getting married and sharing in the joy of finding out with my husband that we are having a baby!... dreams of going to the ultrasounds together and watching our wee one flip on the screen, finding out the baby's gender, praying about and selecting a name, shopping for baby, planning, hoping, dreaming, rejoicing, praising God, having a smooth and safe delivery of a living baby, learning to breastfeed... all the things I feel I didn't get. I mean, I got some of those things with Lily, but I didn't have a husband by my side. And obviously I experienced none of the things after birth.

Honestly, thinking about these things gives me hope... because I wondered for a long time if I would ever be able to feel joyfully expectant over a new life, without overwhelming sadness, fear, and anxiety. And you know what I realized, what I feel God has been speaking to me over and over lately. He can and will restore all things to me, even the things that feel impossible. I have hope for my future, hope for having a beautiful marriage with a wonderful man who loves the Lord, hope that we will have such sweet pregnancies, not overshadowed by the loss of Lily, but instead enriched by her life... and even her death. I know that the man God has for me will love my girl too and will love who I am and how God has sanctified me through her life and death. I will love our future babies in a deeper way because of my first-born baby.

My God will restore unto me what was lost. I told my mom and Kala that I am not sure how that restoration will look in my life, whether it will include a husband and children or not. But I know He will restore. I pray in the deepest part of my being that part of that restoration comes from being given those gifts.

It was a gift to be able to talk with Kala and my mom about these things. Because sometimes I can feel alone in my memories and my dreams. Like when I went to a prenatal appointment and we heard my niece's heartbeat, I thought of all the times I heard Lily's heartbeat and then the time when I didn't.

I realize I don't have to feel alone in these things because I have people who care about me and Lily.


Friday, April 8, 2016

Wait on the Lord

"For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,
for my hope is from Him.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
On God rests my salvation and my glory;
my mighty rock, my refuge is God.
Trust in Him at all times, O people;
pour out your heart before Him;
God is a refuge for us."
-Psalm 62:5-8

I am in one of those life seasons where it feels like nothing is happening. I know that isn't true. Things are happening. Life is beautiful and it is unfolding. Sometimes I need to be reminded of this. My niece is due to arrive in only 5 weeks! I am going to be graduating college next month. I have my doula training coming up, an internship that I haven't quite figured out the details for yet, among other possibilities.

But, the deepest dreams of my heart are buried deep within, dreams that I don't know if they will ever be given as tangible gifts on Earth. I am referring to my desire to get married, to have more children that I raise on Earth, as well as ministry dreams. It feels like God has pushed the giant "pause" button in these areas of my life as I watch everyone else's stories play out around me.

In my unanswered questions, doubts, fears, and concerns... I can hear Him gently asking me to "wait." I hear Him asking me if I will trust Him, His timing and His plan, even if it is the opposite of what I think it should be. Do I trust His character and that He knows best for my life, that He can see the end from the beginning, and knows me better than I know myself? He knows the name of my future husband (if I'm to be married), he knows the names, faces, and purposes of my future children! How can I doubt the God who knows and sees it all? The God who laid down His life that I might have life.

My favorite song lately that has been constantly playing on repeat is "To Those Who Wait," by Bethany Dillon. You can listen to it below (email subscribers click HERE).

Here are the lyrics:

I am waiting on You,
I am waiting on You.
You say You're good to those who wait.

My heart's discouraged,
So I come to You expectant.
You say You're good to those who wait.

Lord, today You know what I need to do,
But You can do more in my waiting than in my doing I could do.
So I won't run anymore.
I'm waiting on You.

Oh, wretched man that I am!
Free me from my distractions.
You say You're good to those who wait.

Then confession and repentance
Find me in the quiet.
You say You're good to those who wait.
Now I know You're good to those who wait.

Lord, today You know what I need to do,
But You can do more in my waiting than in my doing I could do.
So I won't run anymore.
I'm waiting on You.

Oh, my soul,
Wait upon the Lord.
Keep your lamp filled with oil.
Oh, my soul,
Be not deceived!
Wait for Him.
Don't be quick to leave.

Lord, today You know what I need to do,
But You can do more in my waiting than in my doing I could do.
So I won't run anymore.
I'm waiting on You.

Isn't that the most beautiful line - He can do more in our waiting than in our doing we could do. He is showing me that my waiting is not for nothing. It is not accomplishing nothing, even if it feels that way in this temporal world. Even if it feels like He is not working and moving, I trust that He is doing more in my waiting than in my doing I could do. Waiting is meant to be active and faith-building.

I must instruct my soul to wait upon Him. I must remind my soul not to be quick to lead, though I can feel so tempted to take initiative in leading when nothing appears to be happening... whether that be the thought that perhaps I should try online dating, perhaps I need to "get my name out there more" in ministry, perhaps I need to try out different churches where there are more eligible young men.

First of all, no big life decision should be made out of desperation. I am not saying that these things are necessarily wrong for everyone. But I know they would be wrong for me, out of a heart of desperation and distrust. I know that God has specifically asked me to wait even when it appears nothing is happening. Part of learning to wait is trusting that He is doing more in my waiting than I could ever do.

When I was at Ellerslie for the Advanced Semester this past fall, I had a conversation with a woman who is a missionary around the world. The week that she came in to teach us was one of the things that left the most lasting impression on me from my time at Ellerslie.

I asked her about ministry and told her people have essentially told me I need to pursue things further and "get my name out there." But I feel God has asked me to wait and trust Him to open the doors He desires to be opened, which He has faithfully done up until this point. Some people find that lazy or not being serious. I asked her what she thought. She told me that she knew the specific call God had on her life as well and people would say the same things to her. She too felt God telling her to wait. She encouraged me to wait and trust that in His perfect time and way, things will unfold. She shared how through a series of events, God opened doors for her, after decades of waiting upon Him! Decades! I felt the Lord confirming within me that He is asking me to wait as well. And to know that the waiting, even if it lasts for decades, is for a purpose.

So often I believe we put God in a box. We assume He will use us most effectively in our youth. But here is this amazing woman of God that waited until she was in her 50s until God opened doors in ministry. Think of Corrie ten Boom, one of my heroines, and how she started traveling the world sharing her message of God's love and forgiveness, when she too was in her 50s! She shared the Gospel around the globe for close to 40 years. Age is no factor or obstacle to God and it shouldn't be to us either.

This reminds me of something written by R.T. Kendall:

In His Time 
"When God shows us that He is going to use us (and He can do that), we usually tend to think that we are going to see this happen in the next week or two. What often happens is that it is a long time before God gets around to using us as He has planned. Take Moses.
When Moses grew up, he refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, "choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season" (Hebrews 11:25). Moses thought that when he left the palace and identified himself with his brethren, they would clap their hands and say, "Welcome. We've been waiting for you to come." The truth is they rejected him, and Moses needed another forty years of preparation.
It may be a good while indeed before God's greater purpose in us will be realized. It could be that you, too, are in a similar situation. Perhaps you are older and you have yet to see what God's greater purpose in your own life is. Perhaps you have just about given up. You thought at one time that God was going to use you. You were convinced of it. God's message to you right now is: the end is not yet."

As we are in the waiting, what should we be doing? It shouldn't be a time of doing nothing. We should be actively seeking Him... through studying His Word, getting plugged into a local church, reading books and articles, praying without ceasing, building relationships with other believers, and being faithful to love the people He places on our path. Carry on with your life because tomorrow is not guaranteed and neither is what you think or hope your life will be.

We are to be abiding in Him, for it is only out of a close relationship with Jesus Christ that an effective and fruitful ministry can flow out. Remember, He is the vine and we are the branches (I encourage you to read and study John 15 in depth).

Remember that our identity is not in our occupation, marital status, or even in ministry. Even if everything in this life were stripped away, we still have Him. Our identify is in Christ.

There are a lot of things I don't know or understand about my future. What about my health issues? What job am I supposed to get? How will I provide for myself? Will I ever be able to purchase a house on my own? Will I be lonely spending my life as a single woman?

He is sovereign over all my life circumstances. 

In the past 2 days, I have heard 2 separate teachers say the same thing (clearly God is speaking to me in this)... I need to be not looking at what God has withheld, the things that everyone around me appears to be given, but instead looking at what He has provided and being thankful for those things. I need to receive all things in my life as coming directly from the Lord.

Waiting on God will always be a theme in our lives, even though what we're waiting on will change.

No mistake or sin on our part can cause His plans to unravel. I need to remember that too. We cannot ruin His plan. Submit your life to Him and trust He can redeem those places that feel too broken.

"I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted." -Job 42:2

There are many more quotes and things on my heart I wish I could share, but for now I need to wrap this up.

Be encouraged, dear reader. He is El Roi, the God who sees. He sees your circumstances, your dreams, your heart. He sees everything about you that nobody else does. He has a perfect and beautiful plan, even if it doesn't match your own. He is asking you to wait. Are you willing to give everything to trust Him and wait upon His will for your life? Whatever it is you are waiting on... direction, guidance on where to attend college, what degree to pursue if one at all, who to marry and if you'll marry, longed-for children, what job to get, how your ministry will unfold, etc... He is with you. He desires what's best. He knows what's best. He is a faithful Shepherd.


Wednesday, April 6, 2016

In Lieu of Flowers

I'm deeply touched... A family received one of my infant loss hospital comfort boxes that I donated for Lily's 6th birthday, and they want their loved ones to donate towards the boxes in lieu of flowers so others can be given the same comfort their received.

This is actually the first time I've heard back from anyone who has been the recipient of one of my boxes and it's incredibly special to know they are making an impact!

A couple other people shared that my boxes have inspired them to make some for their local hospital. Lily's legacy is a ripple effect, stretching far and wide.


For the Coffee Drinkers

You can support NILMDTS with the purchase of coffee. Click HERE to find out more. I'm planning on ordering a bag. :)


Lilly's Coffee Shop

My Bible study leader Terri is so sweet... She saw an advertisement (which she said she'd have to save for me) for a new coffee shop opening in our area called Lilly's, which made her think of my Lily. She said wow, we'll have to go and I couldn't agree more. :)


Lily Remembered at Fort Fisher

My sweet friend, also named Hannah Rose, wrote Lily's name in the sand a few days ago.

She wrote, "I thought of you and your sweet Lily while at the beach. This is her name written down at the rocks at Fort Fisher, NC."

Thank you, HR! :)


Her Adorable Feet

"Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep" asked people to share their baby's feet on a post on their Facebook page yesterday. So I put together this little collage of Lily's adorable feet. I love when I get to share her with others.

It's a picture of her little foot, her foot impression, footprints, and photo of her feet in my favorite brown shoes and "going Home to Jesus" outfit, that was meant to be her coming home from the hospital outfit. Are they not the most darling feet?

I wish I had high-quality pictures of her feet, but I am certainly thankful for what I do have. On that note, here is a picture of her feet that I have never shared before. It's blurry and is hard to look at because it shows the sad reality of infant death. But it's the only photo with both her little feet (without shoes) and I long to share something new. So here it is.


Saturday, April 2, 2016

Another Birthday Gift

Another March is behind me. Honestly it's a relief in many ways and I feel the weight of what March brings lifted.

On the last day of Lily's month, I received one last gift in honor of her. My thoughtful Aunt Helen sent me a few things that had Lily written all over them. It makes me smile when people know what the things are that I associate with her and that those things make others think of her as well.

She sent a sweet little lamb that I'll probably take to Lily's spot, a "Birth Verse" card, with March 16 and John 3:16 on it, some stickers (including butterflies and flowers), and a card.

The card has 6 lambs and balloons for her 6th birthday.

This is what the inside of the "Birth Verse" card says.


Friday, April 1, 2016

For Carleigh's Birthday

This was done by Carly Marie and sent from my sweet friend, Holly. Her beautiful daughter Carleigh just had her 7th birthday in Heaven a few days ago. Holly did something special for all the moms she knows with March babies also in Heaven. :)


World Mag Article

Timehop reminded me that the WORLD Magazine article about my story was published 3 years ago today. What an awesome opportunity that was. :)

You can click HERE to read the article.


Not a Joke

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