Monday, February 29, 2016

Her Heart and Mouth Confessing Jesus' Name

As I was blogging earlier this morning, I was listening to a Bethany Dillon playlist on YouTube. The music was softly playing, but my ears picked up certain words to the song that was on.

The song is called "You're the Best Song." Here are the lyrics:

Good morning
You and the sun are up before I'm ready
But ready or not, you need me
So here I am

I'm learning that in the long hard days
There is beauty
Do you know my favorite place to see it
It's when I look at you

And though I'm tired now
You're worth every sleepless night
You're worth it all, cause I know...

You're the best song I'll ever write
And we're humming and dancing through the years together
You're the best song I'll ever write
And I pray you'll hear Jesus in it when you're older

I remember when you were just a heartbeat that I heard
and now our eyes meet
Forever is not enough to love you

Every prayer for you is like a seed in the ground
Every tear I cry is like rain
And in its due season
I pray a harvest will be found
Your heart and mouth confessing Jesus' name
Your heart and mouth confessing Jesus' name

The song is clearly about the love between a mother and her child. My heart sinks with the words that remind me of everything I didn't get to experience with Lily. I didn't have any long, hard days with her. She never woke up needing me early in the morning. My sleepless nights were because of grief, not because of caring for my baby. We're not humming and dancing through the years together. I remember her sweet heartbeat... little did I know that's one of the only memories I'd get with her. And our eyes never did meet. It's ironic I just wrote a post a couple days ago about how much I ache over not having seen Lily's eyes while she was alive.

But even still... even though my motherhood looks different than this song, different than how motherhood looks to most mothers, forever is still not enough to love my Lily girl. She was still worth it all... worth the sleepless nights of grief, worth the difficult pregnancy, worth the labor and delivery, and every stretch mark. She is worth loving through it all.

And the most beautiful part in it all is the comfort I have in knowing I will never have to wonder if Lily will love and serve Jesus. Her heart and her mouth are already confessing Jesus' name. His was the first face she saw. And His name was the first word she spoke.

Listen to the song below (email subscribers click HERE).


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Lily's Beloved Auntie

On Saturday, I shared on both my blog and Instagram about how much it haunts and hurts that I never got to meet Lily outside of the womb or gaze into her eyes.

My little sister, Emma, commented on that post and said, "I feel the same way to this day, even as simply her auntie. ❤️ I love you so much. Never forget the strength gained from such a loss."

When I read her words, I burst into tears. I can't explain how much they mean to me. Sometimes it feels like my sister doesn't think about or care about Lily as much as she once did, because she rarely talks about her. And she doesn't spend March 16 with me.

I was honestly shocked by her comment. I guess it goes to show that not everybody expresses their feelings in the same way, but that doesn't mean they don't care or have forgotten. Maybe it's too painful for her to share in the way I do.

I feel sad for my little sister, who lost her niece at only 15. She was still a kid herself in so many ways. Lily was going to be living in the same home with her Auntie Em, so that feels like a dream snatched away. Emma was thrilled to be an auntie. She has always been good with babies. She absolutely adores them. That is such a heavy loss to carry at 15.

I clearly remember one of the first times I felt Lily kicking and moving and reaching for my sister's hand to feel. What sacred moments that I will hold dear for the rest of my life. My sister was one of the only people to hold Lily on this side of Heaven, one of the only people who felt her kicking in the womb, one of the only people present for ultrasounds where we listened to Lily's heart beating strongly and watched her dancing, one of the only people in the delivery room on March 16, 2010. The first tears I cried on that day were when I heard my sweet little sister crying, jolting me to reality.

Bub, you will always be Lily's beloved auntie. She knew your voice and felt your love. The joy we experienced those months with Lily can never be taken away. She was and is part of our "girl's club."

Summer 2014 - visiting Lily's special spot with Auntie Em

November 2009 - 25 weeks with Lily and Auntie Em

Auntie Em with sweet Lily girl on March 16, 2010

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Saturday, February 27, 2016

Her Baby Blues

Something I think will always haunt me is that I never got to look into Lily's eyes. Ask anyone who has experienced stillbirth and I guarantee this will be a resounding feeling.

I would give anything to have gotten to meet Lily alive... even for just a moment. It stings when I hear of other mothers who lost babies that did get to meet them outside of the womb. I wish I could have met the little girl who grew within, the little girl who I felt so full of life. I cannot even imagine what it's like to have a baby that I get to look into his/her eyes.

I'm haunted by wondering the question that will forever remain unanswered - what color were the eyes behind those lids shut-tight? The eyes that never opened to see the beauty to be discovered in this world God created. You know how "they" say the eyes are the window to the soul? Well, I never got to gaze into her soul, I never got to say "hello" to my baby before having to say "goodbye."


Since the first day of my life without Lily, I have thought of her beautiful eyes and how I wish I could have seen the light in them. Her father and I peeked at one of them. It was blue, but there was no light of life in them. Of course her eyes could have changed color through the months, but knowing that both her parents have blue eyes, I am nearly certain her eyes would have also remained blue.

This is part of something her daddy wrote to Lily in 2010: "I took a peek at your eyes. I didn't think you would mind. They shined blue, as blue as the clear summer sky. I just wish I had a chance to say "hi." Instead I had to say "goodbye." My love will never fade for you Lily, you are always on my mind and always in my heart."

I hope I have another blue-eyed baby one day. Both my parents, all my siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. have blue (a couple with green) eyes. That's something I have always loved about my family, in a world where brown eyes are dominant and less and less people have blue or green eyes. It's something I want to pass on to my children. And it's painful to think of the little girl who did inherit those blue eyes, the little girl who I never got to see her blue eyes.

I have always felt certain her eyes were blue, and I've always wished I could have locked eyes with hers. In fact, I wrote something about her eyes in my letter to Lily that I read at her Celebration of Life Service:

"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."

I may not have gotten to meet her and see her eyes here on this side of Heaven, but that doesn't mean I won't ever get to. I believe the moment is simply delayed, something I must wait for Heaven to experience. And that moment there will be more amazing than words could ever begin to attempt to describe. For now, I hold onto the comfort of knowing the first face she saw was the face of Jesus. And the first beauty she saw was the unimaginable beauty of Heaven.

A friend of mine posted this song by George Strait called "Baby Blue" about his daughter who passed away early in life. It reminded me of my beautiful girl with baby blues.

These lyrics especially touch my heart:

"I always knew she'd go away when the grass turned green and the sky turned baby blue... And baby blue was the color of her eyes. Baby blue like the Colorado skies. Like a breath of spring, she came and left, and I still don't know why... She brought colors to my life that my eyes had never touched. And when she taught me how to care, I never cared so much."

Lily was born right before spring started. She too went away when the grass turned green and the sky turned baby blue. She too had baby blue eyes. She too was like a breath of spring coming and going, though I don't know why. She too brought vibrant colors to my life and taught me how to care more than I ever cared for anyone or anything in all my life (besides Jesus).


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Wednesday, February 24, 2016

On Rainbows

Many people who have lost babies that I've met in the past 6 years have gone on to have a "rainbow baby," as they are called (many have multiple rainbow babies). A rainbow baby is a child who is born after the storm of losing a child. These people talk about their child bringing them out of the pit of the sorrow that comes when one loses their child.

A particular friend I know lost her son early one year, got pregnant with her daughter later in that same year, then welcomed her into the world at the end of the year. She wrote on her blog about how the day of her daughter's birth overwhelmed her with gladness. She said, "To this day I know she is the only reason I ever recovered. She's the only reason I am not still deep in sadness."

About a year ago, I "met" a mother online whose daughter was due just days before Lily in March 2010. This little girl shares both Lily Katherine's first and middle names, just with a different spelling for both names. She was stillborn in late February of that year, meaning her 6th birthday just passed. We connected over our daughter's similar dates and names. Then she told me she had a healthy daughter a year later. She told me if she lets go of her focus on her living daughter, her heart becomes much heavier about her daughter who is no longer living. On her eldest girl's birthday this year, she took her little sister to her stone.

A good friend of mine who lost her daughter in 2010 as well recently had a healthy baby daughter, with a couple boys born in between those years. When my friends have their rainbows, I am truly delighted for them, but it does sting to see her hold her littlest girl in her arms. I want a little girl in mine.

Seeing and hearing these things is difficult for me, because here I am, 6 years later, and still no living baby. In some ways, I am still deep in sadness. When I read these things, it stings because I wonder, will I recover? In many ways, I think that having a baby in my arms would help heal me in deep and immeasurable ways while on Earth, ways that only ever having another child can heal. Does God not want me to be healed in the way He has allowed others to be? Am I just resigned to the fact that I may always be haunted by silence, never to hear my own baby's sweet cry? Is this what my motherhood is going to look like for the rest of my life?


The way it feels is that I am running this marathon on a track and it seems to be a never-ending race. There are all these other runners, many having started the race after me, who keep passing me, and then lapping me. They are leaving me in the dust. And for some reason, I can't keep up. I picture myself in quick sand, unable to move, despite how much I want to. Each lap represents a new relationship, an engagement, a wedding, a baby, another baby, and then another. And I am still on that same track, still running, still waiting for the rewards of each lap. 

Where exactly do I "fit"? I don't feel completely understood at infant loss support groups because I am not in the place to have another child, like most of the others there are. It's not their fault, and obviously they don't want it to hurt me, but that's just the way it is.

I have many different experiences, making it impossible to find someone who can relate to them all. This has driven me more into the arms of Jesus, as I recognize nobody can or ever will be able to understand completely. But I know He does. And maybe I'm meant to be in the place where I feel completely isolated and misunderstood, so that I will turn to the only One who validates, understands, and loves me through it all. Not everyone gets their "rainbow." I pray that the Lord reveals in and through my life that even if we don't get what most people think will heal us and make us whole, He is still enough. He is my rainbow, my hope in life and for eternal life. I am exactly where I'm supposed to be on the "track of life," referencing the marathon analogy.

If you are also a bereaved mother without a living child, check out the website Still Mothers (there is also a Facebook page and an online support group).

I appreciate this article about The Unique Grief of Mothers without Living Children.

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Keeping Her Things Safe

In North Carolina today, there are severe threats of tornadoes (insert nervous-face emoji). The schools are even releasing kids hours early.

Whenever I hear about severe weather brewing, or think of the possibility of there being a fire in my house, the first thing I think about is how can I protect my keepsakes of Lily? Obviously, the most important thing is that everyone is safe. But after that, I have this fear of something happening to her things.


Most of my possessions are just that, replaceable possessions. But my Lily things... they are tangible things of her. I would be devastated if I lost them, especially her prints, snippet of hair, and foot impression. Those things are impossible to replace.

This has led me, on multiple occasions, to consider getting a fireproof safe to keep these items at least somewhat safe. I realize that it's quite unlikely that anything will actually happen, but you never know.

Thankfully, I carry Lily in my heart, where she can never be lost, and she lives in Heaven, where she is safe.

Please pray for safety for those in my area today.

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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Shared Sacred Place

As my niece's due date gets closer (2 1/2 months away now), I am thinking more about how she is to be born at "Lily's hospital."

Honestly, I am nervous about how it's going to feel on that day. It seems wrong, almost dishonoring to Lily, for my family to have happy memories in the sacred place where I birthed my silent daughter and had to leave with empty arms and an empty carseat. I don't know that I would ever want to go back to that same hospital myself to give birth in the future, let alone going for someone else, let alone for the little girl who is taking Lily's tangible place as the eldest living grandchild and niece in the family.

Lily's "I was born at Rex" newborn shirt. I had seen it in the gift shop while I was
pregnant and knew I wanted to get it when Lily was born. Well, obviously, I never
could have dreamed she'd be born not alive, but I still wanted it because she was still
born at Rex. I mentioned it to my postpartum nurse and she sweetly brought me
one. It now remains tucked away in Lily's memory chest.

I don't how how I'll sit in that waiting room where I know my family and Lily's father and his family awaited news on the birth of our precious girl who would never take a breath. It breaks my heart to think of them surrounded by joyfully expectant families, with pink or blue congratulatory balloons. They were puffy-eyed and broken-hearted. It seems wrong for grieving families to be put in the same room with happy families. It somehow makes the pain of loss cut deeper, when you see all these families around you, knowing that every year on that date, their little one will share a birthday with your child. Only yours will forever remain a baby.

So yeah, I'm not sure how I'm going to sit in that waiting room. I feel anxious just walking through when I go to the hospital. And not to mention the area outside where a man is there to install infant car seats. Throughout my pregnancy, when I would go to my prenatal appointments in the building next to the birth center, I dreamed of when I would soon be wheeled out of the birth center, showing off my new baby. It would finally be my turn. Only, I never got that moment. Instead, I was wheeled out with only a few tangible keepsakes to remember my daughter. My mom and I had gone to get her car seat installed a few weeks before she was born. And out of all the times we had seen him out there, he wasn't there for some reason on the day we went. Ironic seeing how we didn't need it installed anyways.

Will the happy moments shared with my niece overshadow the moments shared with my daughter in the same hospital walls? Will people think of her instead of my girl when they think of that hospital? Will Lily be pushed even farther back in people's minds and hearts? Will my extended family visit my niece in the hospital, even though not one of them came from VA to NC to be with us in the 10 days between Lily's birth and when we went to Crozet for Lily's celebration of life service and burial? Though how much more support people need when their baby dies instead of lives.

I used to not even want to go to that hospital. But now, I can see how God has been giving me opportunities to go, to help me get used to it. Over the past year, I have had the blessing of getting involved with the Perinatal Bereavement Committee. There are monthly meetings that I try to make it to, as well as going on Lily's birthday to take comfort boxes and red-velvet cupcakes for the nurses (something I want to make a tradition on Lily's special day each year. Red-velvet of course because of my Valentine's baby shower). I have also been asked to share a couple times about my girl and my experience at the hospital, to help medical professionals learn how to better care for others who've lost their babies.

Going to the hospital multiple times over the past year has helped me warm up to the idea of going in May for my niece's birth. However, it has been about Lily each time I've been. I have been asked to speak about her by nurses who know and speak her name. When I go for another baby's birth, I'm not sure how it'll feel.

At the meeting at the beginning of this month, I was talking about these things with Sandra, one of the wonderful nurses I've gotten to know, and my friend Heather, who is also involved with the Bereavement Committee there after giving birth to her daughter Addison, who was stillborn about a half a year before Lily. Anyways, they were so sweet and affirming. And Sandra said when Kala goes into labor, that I should let her know and see if one of the nurses I know can be Kala's nurse that day. How kind of her to not only understand that it may be difficult for me, but to also be thoughtful in making it as gentle as possible on my heart. I would love if Sandra could be there that day, knowing about the first little girl in my family who was born there 6 years ago. We also talked about how if I need a "break," I can go visit the new memorial garden that is to be dedicated sometime this spring.

Not only will I be thinking about Lily being born there, but how much I wish she were there to meet her little cousin, who I'm sure she would be so excited to meet. I wish I was telling Lily how neat it is that her cousin is being born at the same place she was.

I just realized this week that Lily and my niece are almost the exact same ages apart as me and my cousin, Anna, who is just over 6 years younger than me. I've always loved her so much and have enjoyed having a couple cousins that age (my cousin Hope, who was adopted from China, is the same age). Anna is Daniel's younger sister. Daniel is Owen's dad (Owen was born 3 months before Lily). We called Anna, Hope, and my sister Emma, "the little girls." Still do sometimes. I am sad Lily will be missing out on that cousin relationship. I am sad they will never take pictures together like this one of me and Anna.


I will also be thinking about how much I long to have more babies, more cousins for my niece. I don't want them to be 10 years or something apart. I want them to be close in age, close friends growing up together. And I have no idea if and when that'll happen.

For now, I am trying to see past my immediate feelings, and realize that my family will tell my niece about Lily and she will love her in her own way. I am remembering that God has all the future grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and children in my family planned and I can rest in that plan.

And Lily is just sharing her hospital with her cousin. It can be a shared sacred place. Maybe the joyful memories will help ease the more painful ones. One birth doesn't have to overshadow another. They are both irreplaceable parts of our family.

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Monday, February 22, 2016

Lily Remembered in Florida

Lily's name was written in the sand in Florida for the first time by my friend Roanna. She wrote it over the weekend at Amelia Island (Fernandina Beach, Florida). When she sent the picture, she wrote along with it, "You and your sweet Lily are being thought of!" This kind friend made my day. Yet another beautiful photo to add to my treasured collection. :)


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Sunday, February 21, 2016

Roselily

My mom learned on a television show a few weeks ago that there is now a flower called a Roselily! She was excited to tell me. Isn't that so special? I really want a bouquet of Roselilies, especially for Lily's birthday. :)


According to the website, where you can learn more about this flower and see more photos of it: "Roselily is a collective term for a unique series of double-flowering lilies with exceptionally positive characteristics. First of all, these Roselily varieties do not have the heavily spicy scent so characteristic of some lilies. Secondly, their flowers produce no pollen - once again, an important advantage over traditional lilies. And thirdly, Roselily varieties are especially attractive. As their flowers open, what they most resemble is a rose. No wonder this series was named for two flowers: the rose and the lily. The natural beauty of two flowers combined into one!"

I also discovered on the website that Roselily was registered as a brand in 2010, Lily's birth year. Some brothers who breed plants discovered the flower in the 90s. Apparently, the flower came about by accident. It got me thinking of how my girl wasn't "planned" like society likes to say children should be. But she was never an accident. She was planned by God. And me being her mommy was planned by Him too.

She is always with me... and this beautiful flower reminds me of that. On the front of Lily's headstone, there is a rose and lily intertwined, just like on the logo of my blog. It is to symbolize how Lily was with me all her days on Earth and the hope I have that we will spend Eternity together. For the rest of my life, I will still carry her with me.


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Her Song

Sometimes I still can't believe Lily Katherine has the most special of songs written about her. I'll never tire of it, or of the fact that my friend did this for me, after the Lord prompting her to do so.

I'll never forget how just a short time before Heather sent me the song, I was on a friend's blog and saw someone wrote her daughter a song (she is also with Jesus) and I longed to have one for Lily. God knew that Heather was in the process of preparing this most sacred gift for me, and even led me to desire it, without the slightest clue I already had one "in the works!" He wanted to bless me with Lily being honored in this way. :)

It was wonderful hearing it in person for the first time a few months ago. I have been listening to it several times lately, with Lily's birthday approaching, and told Heather it expresses parts of my heart I never knew could be expressed. It's a keepsake of Lily's life and legacy in itself.

(Email subscribers click HERE to listen).

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Saturday, February 20, 2016

Sleep Well

I know I've shared before about how special the Jewel "Lullaby" CD is to me. My mom gave it to me when I was carrying Lily. I was filled with excitement when I thought of playing it for her once she was born, dreaming of rocking her while nursing and listening to these tunes that would cause her to drift off to sleep.

One of the most precious memories from when Lily was here was when I was driving over to a friend's house for a visit one day and had the CD turned up loud for my 30-minute drive. Lily moved so happily and wildly in my belly to this music! She loved it. Babies enjoy music in the womb and oftentimes remember it after they are born. I bet Lily would still love it to this day.


I love listening to the CD now, knowing Lily heard it with her own two perfect little ears.

My favorite song on the album, what I call mine and Lily's song, is "Forever and a Day." That song is 3 minutes and 16 seconds (3:16, like Lily's birthday). I've written about that song before. I even considered getting "Forever and a Day" on Lily's stone. I did get the phrase inscribed on a locket for her.

Anyways, another favorite of mine from the album is called "Sov Gott." It's a Swedish lullaby that Jewel wrote in the early 90s. According to her website: "The song was originally conceived during a road trip from San Francisco to Colorado when Jewel was 17. To help pass the time constructively, she decided to have her traveling companion teach her some rudimentary Swedish, starting with the alphabet and random words and phrases that interested her. When she learned several words and phrases (kiss, dolphin, wolf, sleep well and I love you for all time), she began writing a new song utilizing what she learned as the lyrics. The result was "Sov Gott," a simple fable where a dolphin has the misfortune to fall in love with a wolf."

Jewel said this about it: "The ill-fated love can never be realized by the animals from two different worlds, so each night they decide to meet at sunset, and wish each other good night and sleep well, and they kiss (OK, touch noses) at the shoreline, declaring eternal love. After they meet at sunset and touch, they also proclaim that tomorrow, "morning wakens when we kiss."

Here are the Swedish lyrics translated to English:

Sleep well, beautiful dolphin
Sweet dreams, my white wolf
We have love for each other
For each other
Forever

Sleep well, beautiful dolphin
Sweet dreams, my white wolf
We have love for each other
For each other
Forever

Sweet dreams
Sweet dreams, my white wolf
The morning wake up
Then we kiss
We kiss, kiss us,
Sweet dreams
Sleep well, forever

Sleep well, beautiful dolphin
Sweet dreams, my white wolf
We have love for each other
For each other, forever

Sweet dreams
Sweet dreams, my white wolf
The morning wake up
When we kiss,
When we kiss, forever,
When we kiss, forever
Sweet dreams
Sweet dreams
Sweet dreams

It is amazing that such simple lyrics written out of her elementary knowledge of Swedish can produce such a breathtakingly beautiful lullaby. This song, oh this song makes me ache for my Lily girl.

When I looked up the lyrics, I was struck that in a roundabout way, it describes our mother-daughter relationship. The dolphin and wolf were from two different worlds and could not be together. Lily and I are essentially in two different worlds right now, me in the temporal world, and she in the Heavenly and eternal one. We cannot be together right now either, though I long for us to be. For now, I too must declare my eternal love and tell her to "sleep well," only not forever as the song says, but rather the rest of my Earthly days. She is only asleep to this world, but always alive in Jesus. Now dolphins remind me of my girl.

Here is the song (email subscribers click here to listen).

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February 20th

It's February 20th, which always reminds me of the song "February 20th," by Steven Curtis Chapman, written about his daughter, Maria Sue, who went to be with Jesus in 2008. February 20th was the day she surrendered to Jesus as Lord of her life.

(Email subscribers click HERE to listen).

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Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Cutest Chubby Cheeks Ever

According to "Facebook Memories," I had an ultrasound on this date in 2010. Lily was 6 pounds and "had the cutest chubby cheeks ever!"

My cousin Daniel commented and said his son Owen, who was born 3 months before Lily, had a better triple chin than her. It was a joke between us, how much our babies loved eating and who would be chunkiest.

Memories like this make me laugh and my heart swell with joy... But at the same time, I don't think I'll ever not get the feeling I get when I think of her full life ending so soon.


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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Lily's Name in the Sand Around the World!

Over the years, one of my favorite ways Lily has been honored is by having her name written by me and others in the sand on lakes and beaches across the world.

So far it's been written multiple times in Australia, 3 times in Canada (including at Prince Edward Island), 2 times in New Zealand, 2 times in Scotland, 2 times in Italy, on friend's honeymoons in the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Dominican Republic, and all over the United States: 5 times in Hawaii (including at Maui, Nanakuli, and Waikiki), California a few times, Maryland, Oregon, New Jersey, South Carolina, and many beaches in North Carolina. They are all unique, with different backgrounds and writing styles, but all equally treasured. What I love most is the fact that others remember her with me. It's really incredible that when people are all over the world, some vacationing, some traveling for studies, among other things, that they think of me and my sweet girl. :)

Here is a slideshow with all the photos (email subscribers may need to click HERE to see):



If you're interested in seeing all the photos, where they were taken, when, and by whom, you can see the album on my blog Facebook page by clicking HERE.

I decided to print the pictures to keep in an album all together, so I can look at them and share them with others. I hope the book will one day be full. Thank you to everyone who has remembered my girl with me in this special and meaningful way. Her name is beyond precious to me. It's hers. It's a reminder she is real. 

Here is the front of the album. I got it at Target on sale a while back and didn't know what to do with it until now. Also, see a video of the album below (email subscribers click HERE).



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Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Sprinkled Throughout My Days

This past Saturday (the day we had Lily's baby shower 6 years ago, also on a Saturday), my mom, sister-in-law, and I had a fun "Galentine's Day" = the Allen gals celebrating Valentine's Day. ;)

Even the little Allen gals were with us, Lily in my heart and my niece in Kala's belly. We were just missing my sister, Emma.

We went to a neat place in Raleigh called Lafayette Village, which is made to look like Europe. We had a delightful dinner by the fireside at a place called Simply Crepes, then we went to a fun coffee shop, and got glazed donuts for dessert.

It was good for me to get out and do something fun on a day full of memories. They are happy memories, yes, but still a reminder that my girl isn't here. I got a latte and they did a heart on top, which made me smile thinking of my little Valentine and how reminders of her are sprinkled throughout my days. I don't have to look far to know she is with me. Always. :)


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Valentine's Day and John 3:16

On Valentine's Day, three different people shared this picture with me:


I thought it was special they thought to send it to me, because it speaks to me in many ways. 

For one, Lily's birthday is March 16 (3:16), like John 3:16. God spoke His promise of everlasting life through choosing her birthday to be on that date. The Scripture reference is on the back of her stone (see photo below), with a butterfly, symbolizing her new life in the womb being a symbol and reflection of the new life God was working within me... as well as a symbol of her new life with Jesus right now, and the new life we can all have in Him, if we believe in Him, like John 3:16 says.


Also, I had a Valentine's-themed baby shower, so Valentine's Day also reminds me of Lily because of that. Those two things together makes the picture extra special. Lily is my forever Heavenly Valentine. :)

On another note, speaking of March 16, Lily's birthday is a month from today. It's approaching quickly.

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Lily's Valentine's Poem

My mom wrote the beautiful poem below for me for Valentine's Day in 2011.


GOODBYE LILY KATHERINE
By Ginny Allen, Lily's grandmother

In my daughter's womb, grew her gift from above.
We readied a room, for her wee one to love.
 
On our merry way rejoicing, to a glorious celebration.
Expecting our flower’s arriving, Jesus' tears hid the sun.

God had bid her go before we said, "Hello."

Goodbye budding life. Goodbye shattered dreams.

Goodbye precious babe lying still in our arms.

Goodbye sweet nursing and soft cries.
Goodbye to rocking and lullabies.

Goodbye wonder and curiosity.
Goodbye to kissing who you would be.

Goodbye to hearing "Dukes" and "ma-ma" too.
Goodbye to discovering wonderful you.

Goodbye snuggling you to our hearts.
Goodbye tore our lives apart.

Goodbye to our pure Lily Katherine.
Goodbye ‘til we meet you in Heaven.

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Saturday, February 13, 2016

6 Years Ago - My Valentine's Baby Shower

Today is full of precious memories for me. On this date 6 years ago, February 13th, 2010, I had my Valentine's-themed baby shower. It was also on a Saturday that year, the day in between my "half-birthday" (yes, I celebrate those lol) and Valentine's Day. The Winter Olympics were on at the time. I miss my little Valentine, but am incredibly thankful for happy memories like from that day.


I was 35 weeks pregnant. Everything was pink for my sweet little princess.

I made the baby shower invitations. During my pregnancy, I got really into card-making. I spent hours in December making Christmas cards to send to basically everyone my family knows. The top left photo shows the two invites that I sent out. I kept two for myself and am so thankful I did. They are now in Lily's memory chest. One of the invitations was supposed to look like a heart-shaped chocolate box and the other one was supposed to look like a sweethearts candy box. On the back where there is nutrition information on candy, I had information about the shower. Also pictured in the top left photo is the "It's a GIRL" balloon from my shower that I keep in Lily's memory chest.

The top middle photo is of the area in the kitchen where we had the "beverage center" where the ladies could have tea or other drinks. Also pictured are the gift bags I put together for my guests. I kept one of the bags that I created and now have that in my memory chest.

The top right picture is of the cake we had at the shower. It was red-velvet, in honor of Valentine's Day. That's where I started the tradition of having red-velvet cake for Lily's birthday each year. It will always remind me of her now. It said "A Lily Among Thorns" from the Scripture verse Song of Solomon 2:2 "Like a lily among the thorns, so is my darling among the maidens." (in honor of her name, Lily.)

The bottom left picture is of all the food we had at the shower. I *and Lily* ;) ate so much! It was delicious. We had strawberries (which were a huge craving for me during pregnancy) dipped in melted chocolate, crackers and cheese, cream cheese turkey roll-ups, cookies, and other Valentine's delights.

The bottom center photo is of everyone that was at my shower. From left to right: my sister Emma, my mom, me and Lily, Jean, Sarah, and Stephanie. At that time, I had moved back to North Carolina recently and didn't know many people in the area, except those from years ago when I lived here. So not many people were there. I invited more, but lots of my old friends were away at college or had moved to another state. We were planning on having another baby shower with family and friends when we went to Virginia in May.

I got that dress at the Love in Bloom maternity store, which was across the street from the hospital where I had my prenatal appointments and where Lily was born. I also wore that same dress to Lily's Celebration of LIFE Service, about a month and a half later.

The bottom right picture is of the pink roses that were on display at my shower, which I dried out and now have in a vase in my bedroom. Also pictured is the scrapbook pink paper with a heart that everyone wrote a message to Lily and I. I now have that in Lily's scrapbook.

I was so proud to show off my big baby belly (even though my face and everything else was getting really swollen at that point). We had lots of fun playing games and video recorded some of the shower. Some of the things people said were so funny and make me smile to go back and watch/listen. One of the games we played was people used toilet paper to guess how big around they thought I was and then they held it up to my belly to see how accurate they were. My sister and friend Sarah both got it exactly right! Some were way too long and I was like, geez, how big do I look?! Haha. I saved that piece of toilet paper that was the correct guess and am so glad I have it.

My shower was so much fun and I am so thankful for these precious memories with my sweet girl! It was a happy time and I treasure those happy memories!

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Tuesday, February 9, 2016

February 7 Years Later

This past weekend, the heavy memories were swirling forcefully through my mind. They are hazy, bits and pieces coming back that I had forgotten about in these past 7 years. At this time in 2009, I had my abortion.

The memories are mostly on February 6th and 7th. With the RU486 (what is known as medical abortion), it is a multi-day process. On the 6th, I took that little pill that was intended to cut off the life-supply to my growing 6-week-gestation baby. That day holds the memories of being in the Planned Parenthood. Then on the 7th, I took the next set of pills, that causes a woman's body to essentially go into labor. That day holds the memories of the pain that racked my body, the nausea, the throwing up, the bleeding, knowing my baby was flushed down a toilet.

The memories are from that entire week leading up to the 6th and 7th too... the buckets and buckets of tears cried, the anguish at the core of my being. I can recall bits and pieces of my pain and experience, but honestly sometimes the intensity of pain humans experience can be so severe that the brain blocks those things out in order to protect us. I believe God has protected me from the ability to relive that excruciating pain, but I still remember having experienced it.

This year, I have remembered a couple other things that I had blocked out, things that are happening again this year that have triggered memories from 2009. Obama had just had his inauguration in D.C. I remember watching coverage on television, the details like a movie playing in my head. With the upcoming election this year and the debates that have been going on, that memory was triggered.

Another thing that triggered a memory is the Super Bowl being this weekend. I remembered how the Super Bowl that year was on February 1st, less than a week before my abortion. Not only that, but I actually went to a Broncos/Panthers game around that time and that is who is playing in the Super Bowl this year.

My mom had a dream around the time of my abortion (she didn't know I was having one) and in this dream, she was awakened to me crying out in anguish and desperation, "Mom! Mom!" She said she feels like that was my spirit crying out for help, even though she had no idea exactly what was going on. That does explain the state of my soul at that time, feeling so broken and far from Jesus, but no strength to turn from my sin and bondage in and of myself.

I hesitate to share all these details. Satan tries to convince me I am somehow a worse sinner than other people, that there is something especially "wrong" with me. He tries to make me feel isolated and alone. If you have had an abortion, you are not alone. There are millions of others who have been there too, millions of others with painful memories on the anniversary of their abortion each year. Don't let the devil make you feel you are the only one. By the age of 45, 1 in 3 women will have had an abortion.

In the last week, two women have said to me that it is only by God's grace that they did not have an abortion. They both said if at my same age, they had found themselves in similar circumstances and pregnant, they think they would have had an abortion too. How easy it is for us as humans to judge other people and the choices they make, when honestly, who is to say we wouldn't have made the same choices, if we had similar circumstances? There are multiple factors that cause people to make the choices they do. These things are not excuses for sin, but they can explain why people turn to the things they do outside of Jesus. The devil wants to shame us into believing our sin is the worst of all and there is no hope for us to be reconciled to God. Don't believe that rubbish!

On this weekend more than any other, I remember the weight of my sins and the glorious light of the cross and what Jesus' death and resurrection means. It means the weight is now light. It means Luke is safe and whole. It means I am forgiven and free. Thank You Jesus for the cross...

My sister-in-law Kala knows this is a tough weekend for me and asked if we could do something together in honor of Luke. She suggested we get balloons and go to Lake Johnson in Raleigh to release them. I hardly know what to do on this anniversary, but the fact that she not only remembered, but suggested we do something and even came up with the idea was extremely meaningful to me. She simply acknowledged his life with me, and me being his forever mother. She is a nonjudgmental and loving example of what a Christian should be.

we both released a balloon


Here is the video I took of us releasing the balloons. It was a chilly but beautiful day at the lake. We watched the balloons dance into the sky for a long time, until they were so high we couldn't see them anymore.



Tears were shed as we talked about the reality of abortion and the hope we have in Christ. We talked about Luke's life still having purpose. We talked about the many women who live with a past abortion. I played Flypside's song, "Happy Birthday," which I do every year. Kala had never heard it before. I don't believe in everything he says, but the song is still powerful.


I lit a candle on February 6th in honor and memory of Luke.


Tilly is a book (and movie) about a mother who regrets having an abortion and dreams of Heaven where she meets her daughter and finds healing in the love and forgiveness of both Jesus and her daughter.

The last paragraph on the last page brings my eyes to tears and causes my heart to nod along in understanding: "And she would weep quietly, with this and with every new April {February}, for all the children who had no names and no parents, who still lived though never born. Most of all, she would weep for the little daughter {son} she never knew, and give whispered words to what she had always known: "Tilly {Luke}, I love you." But now her heart was at peace and that peace was hers to keep. She only wanted to remember. Just remember."

Luke's ultrasound that I got 3 years later

Luke honored with his name in the sand in Australia
I also played this for Kala when we were talking and rocking in the chairs at Lake Johnson. It is a clip from Arise Sweet Sarah (which I will blog about soon... Luke and Lily's names are in the end credits!). The dancing and lyrics are just... wow. So healing, comforting, and freeing.


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Tuesday, February 2, 2016

No Less Important or Real

Her birthday is next month.

This morning, I looked through the most precious keepsakes I'll ever have - her foot and handprints, snippet of hair, foot impression, ultrasound photos, hospital bracelets, the hat she wore right after she was born, and the outfit she wore at the hospital, one of the only 2 she'd ever wear (the other is her "going Home to Jesus" outfit).

I just needed the reminder that I really am a mommy, even though my daughter who would almost be SIX! isn't here. As my friend Stacy wrote to me, my mothering Lily might look different than other people, but it is no less important or real.


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Good To Me

I recently shared about how difficult it is for me when children are due and then born on or around Lily's birthday. Today I saw another friend of mine from 9th grade who was due with and had her daughter last year on March 14th, Lily's due date.

I know another friend from my junior year of high-school that had her son on the exact same day I had Lily - March 16th, 2010.

I can think of at least two other people off the top of my head, one person from last year and one person this year, whose babies share Lily's due date.

I hear the whispers of the enemy, attempting to convince me that my God loves these women and their babies more than He loves me and Lily. A good God wouldn't allow such suffering. He's left me on my own, the only one whose lost a child and the only one who doesn't have a man in my life and able to have another baby.

As I have been struggling with this today, I have searched for something positive and uplifting in it. There has to be some lesson God wants to teach me, something He wants to cultivate in my spiritual life. Honestly though, I can think of no reason why I have to see multiple people have healthy babies on the same date that mine died.

And it hit me... We won't always see the "why" behind suffering. We won't always understand what God is doing or why He does the things He does and allows the things He does. When we cannot understand, we can trust His character. I am called to trust in the dark. I am to have faith, even when it hurts and there are shadows cast over the heavy questions I carry.

I must remind myself of truth - God wouldn't let Lily die because He doesn't love us as much. That's not the way He operates.

Suffering is not for nothing.

Don't let the lies of the enemy of your soul seep into your heart. Expose his lies, rather than meditating upon them. Choose instead to dwell on God's goodness. Play songs, like this one below, on repeat when you need to remind yourself of who He is. Email subscribers click HERE to listen.


"Good To Me"
by Audrey Assad

I put all my hope in the truth of Your promise
And I steady my heart on the ground of Your goodness
When I'm bowed down with sorrow I will lift up Your name
And the foxes in the vineyard will not steal my joy

Because You are good to me, good to me

I lift up my eyes to the hills where my help is found
Your voice fills the night - raise my head up to hear the sound
Though fires burn all around me I will praise You, my God
And the foxes in the vineyard will not steal my joy

Because You are good to me, good to me

Your goodness and mercy shall follow me
All my life
I will trust in Your promise

I cannot comprehend the glory that is coming. With all I am, I believe I will get to raise my little girl and I will realize tangibly and completely that I didn't miss anything - even if it feels like I have right now. Glory is coming.

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