Monday, May 30, 2016

Graduation Weekend

A couple weekends ago, I graduated from Liberty University. In a way, it feels like I've been back in school for a while, yet at the same time, it feels as if it flew by.

The weekend was busy, busy, busy, and special. After Virginia getting a lot of rain lately, we were thankful for nice weather on the day of my graduation, especially since we were outside for Commencement. I was also thankful it wasn't too hot since we were sitting on the football field in our black caps and gowns, which could have felt a lot different if the temperatures had been higher.

Here I am in my graduation attire. :) I love those mountains in the background!



My brother Joseph and sister-in-law Kala were unable to attend my graduation (hello 40 weeks into pregnancy), but they did send me off with a fun graduation weekend care package. :)



Apparently, hotels start booking up early in the year for graduation weekend in Lynchburg. We didn't even think about that until we were trying to book a room and couldn't find one! Not only that, but the rooms are way more expensive for graduation weekend than any other time. So, we weren't exactly sure where we were going to stay and didn't want to have to leave suuuper early in the morning to drive up. My mom decided to look about a week before graduation for a hotel a bit outside of Lynchburg, but somehow stumbled upon a hotel just a couple miles from Liberty's campus... there must have been a cancellation and she found it. And get this, we got the room for about half the price! The Lord certainly provided in that. :)

We drove up on Friday for the Baccalaureate Service... powerful music and message!




The Commencement Ceremony was on Saturday morning. Liberty had the largest graduating class they've ever had... over 19,000!! It was crazy to be there amidst the huge crowd. Here's a photo my Aunt Nana snapped of the crowd (again, notice those mountains).


I thought of the sweet would-be-6-year-old that should have also been wearing a *miniature* cap and gown. Lily Katherine would be "graduating" from Kindergarten. Maybe we'd get pictures in our caps and gowns together. I know I for sure would be proud of her and I bet she'd be proud of me too.

I wore a Lily-necklace and my dress had lilies on it, which was special to include my girl as a part of the day in those ways. 


I met a couple friends that I sat with at Commencement, who also live in North Carolina. They were fun to chat with. :)



After Commencement in the morning, the separate departments had their own Degree Presentation Ceremonies. The Psychology Department had theirs in the afternoon.







Here's a video of me receiving my degree. :)

My parents, brother Adam, grandmother "Bumma," Aunt Nana, and Aunt Helen were all able to attend my graduation (I missed my little sister, Emma!). It was a blessing to have them all there to celebrate with me!

With my parents


With my brother, Adam


With my Aunt Nana


With my Aunt Helen


With my grandmother, aunt, and mom


I love these pictures with my dear Bumma :)



My mom loves to fist bump ;)



Here's a treat for ya... Bumma in her official "picture taking stance" ;)


With my Aunt Helen again


We knew we would be tired after a full graduation day, so we decided to stay a second night in Lynchburg. My grandmother and aunt were also able to stay. The hotel we stayed in was nice and had a lovely restaurant, where we ate dinner after graduation, thanks to Bumma for treating! 

Here's a photo of us at dinner... my dad decided to take a picture without forewarning any of us, hence the bewildered looks and faces full of food haha


The next morning, we enjoyed breakfast together at Bob Evans. Bumma was wearing my cap around, which was so cute and funny to hear and see the responses she got. ;)


After breakfast, we explored around the quint downtown Lynchburg and went to a coffee shop that I like and remember going to with friends in the past. The weekend felt like a whirlwind, that's for sure.


Here's a rose and lily painting side-by-side I saw downtown.


Here's some butterfly artwork I saw downtown that reminded me of Lily.


On the way out of town, we saw a business called "Lily's." I was unable to snap a photo in time, so here's a screenshot of the Facebook page.


It's hard to believe graduation is now behind me and my niece has been born! Let's see what the Lord has in store next. :)

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Sunday, May 29, 2016

The Bleeding Heart

Some family friends named the Kirchmans gave me a bleeding heart plant at Lily's Celebration of Life/Memorial Service in March 2010.

I remember when they first gave it to me thinking that the little pink hearts were a powerful reflection of my bleeding mother heart. My heart that bleeds both love and sorrow. And how perfect that hearts remind me of her and my Valentine's baby shower.

We planted the bleeding heart in Lily's memorial garden and each spring around her birthday, it blooms.

Unfortunately, I didn't see it blooming this year... I checked several times to no avail. Perhaps the rain made the blooms fall off before I was able to see them, I don't know. I must admit, it was rather disappointing because it is something I look forward to each spring. I'm praying it comes back next year and for many years after that.

Here's a photo of the blooms in spring 2015.


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Friday, May 27, 2016

Country Road Lilies

My friend Amanda is such a sweetheart... She picked these lilies for me on the side of a country road and brought them to me yesterday. It made me laugh to think of that cute little pregnant southern lady on the side of the road picking them. ;) I love that lilies make others think of my girl.


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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Lily's Impact Down Unda

A good friend of mine named Karen who lives in Australia sent me a sweet picture and message. It made my day and of course I have to document on my blog more of Lily's impact across the world. :)

She wrote, along with sending the photo below: "Today I attended a pro-life rally outside our Parliament House as they're looking to change the abortion law and basically make it possible whenever for whatever reason. I wore my flower you made me and a scarf with butterflies, which I know you like. I was also able to share your story with other pro-lifers. More evidence of the impact of your story down unda!"

Such a thoughtful friend. :) Pray the Lord will move in Australia and keep the precious babies protected in the womb.


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The Lily, Stimulating Our Hearts Towards the Lord

My friend Sarah wrote me the following message a while back that I am now getting around to sharing: "I was thinking about you this morning! I am doing a paper on literary symbolism and I am researching the term lily and thought that you would think this was interesting. "The fragrance of the lily makes snakes flee because the scent stimulates the heart" and in the story I am reading, a woman named Lily brings new life and love to a man who is dying of loneliness. I was also thinking about how the lily represents the Gospel in stimulating our hearts towards the Lord and away from the serpent."

Wow, this just blows me away! My Lily's name was so beautifully ordained and given to me from the Lord. And she was used to stimulate my heart towards the Lord and away from my sinful lifestyle/the enemy's schemes in my life. My Lily brought me new life.


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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

My Niece's Birth

Praise the Lord for the safe arrival of my healthy first niece, Harvest Brooke, born at 4:33 p.m. on Friday, May 20th (a day after her Auntie Em's birthday... we were thinking it would have been super special for her to be born on the same day, but it's still special because they have their own days and they are back-to-back). Harvest is a petite girl, at only 5 pounds 15 ounces and 19 inches. I am relieved she is here and that she, my sister-in-law, and brother are all doing well. Life is a miracle and lil H is one of the cutest babies in all the world. :)

God gave Joseph the name "Harvest," which has a precious meaning to them, and then "Brooke" is Kala's maiden middle name. Isn't it a unique and beautiful name?

Here's a photo of me meeting and holding her for the first time.



Harvest was born in the same hospital as Lily... in the room right next door. They were born 9 minutes apart in the afternoon, Lily having been born at 4:24 p.m.

This is certainly a bittersweet time, as I miss the baby girl born 6 years ago and ache because she isn't here to meet her little cousin. My brother has been especially sweet thinking about his niece at this time, realizing in a different way all I lost, after seeing and holding his own baby. He is such an empathetic and loving person and has helped me so much at this time, acknowledging my motherhood and that he will never forget Lily either. It makes me tear up as I write this. My little girl was his first niece and his little girl is my first niece. :'-)

It is actually quite amazing that the baby girl cousins greatly resemble each other. It makes me smile that others, both family and friends, see Lily in Harvest too. 

Photo below: Harvest on left and Lily on right.



Being at the hospital waiting for my niece's birth was especially hard, surrounded by memories of Lily's birth and how different the situations and outcomes were. And then there was something else going on over the weekend, a loss I was walking through with others that really impacted me. It really made me miss Lily even more. I was also thinking that I should have 6 years of memories with my daughter, but now my sister-in-law has already experienced more with her newborn daughter than I experienced with my child. 

I am truly feeling so blessed that I have a little baby in my life to hold, love on, and spoil. I am excited to be a part of her life for the rest of my life. And hopefully one day, she will have more cousins from me and my other siblings. Until then, she will for sure know about her older cousin.

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Friday, May 13, 2016

May, a Month of Milestones

Just a quick update...

My niece's due date was yesterday and there's still no indication that she'll be born any time soon. I feel a peace about it all though, even though she is going over her due date. I know the Lord is holding us all in His hands and that He has her date of birth and everything planned out perfectly, according to His will. Please continue praying that He would keep mother and baby healthy and that she would come soon... but not too soon, meaning this weekend when I am out of town, because...

I graduate tomorrow! My parents, one of my brothers, and I are on the way to Lynchburg, Virginia this weekend for my graduation from Liberty University. My grandmother and a couple aunts are planning on coming as well, so that will be a blessing to celebrate with them. And I'm trying to convince Bumma to come back here with us so she will be here when little one arrives. ;)

I have more to share about Mother's Day and my graduation, but there's no time... still have to finish that last paper that it due today, so I can walk across that stage tomorrow.

Until next time!


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Monday, May 9, 2016

Please Be Born Soon

I'm on edge today.

My niece's due date is in 3 days and my sister-in-law has an appointment today.

I had an appointment 3 days before Lily's due date as well. Everything was fine. Lily looked perfect on the ultrasound screen (photo from that day below).


And then the next day she was gone...

I know obviously that just because it happened to me doesn't mean the exact same thing is going to happen to her too. I honestly believe that my niece will be born healthy and alive.

But, that doesn't keep me from thinking about it. That doesn't keep me from wanting her to be born as quickly as possible, to make sure she gets here with wide-eyes and a beautiful cry. That doesn't keep me from wondering why the doctor won't ensure her being born this week, because she'd be safer on the outside than possibly dying on the inside.

I keep thinking about how if Lily were born on this date of gestation in my pregnancy, she would most likely be here. And if my niece is born today, she will most likely be here to grow up.

That's the way my mind words. After it happens to you, you fear it happening to those you love too. Because it doesn't just happen "to other people." It happens to those who least expect it. It  happens to healthy full-term babies and healthy mothers with no warning signs.

It happened to my daughter.

And I beg God it doesn't happen to my niece too.

Please pray for my niece to be born healthy and soon. And that I would give my anxiety over this to the Lord.

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Saturday, May 7, 2016

Pieces of My Motherhood


Real heartbeat
Unique DNA
My Luke Shiloh

A new name
He gave me
"Mother"

Only 6 weeks
Too soon with Jesus
Missed all my life

Another heartbeat
Unique DNA
My Lily Katherine

Memories held dear
Pregnancy to birth
My first-born

40 glorious weeks
Sacred and sweet
Beautiful girl missed

A not-yet heartbeat
Unique DNA
My hoped-for baby

I pray more than weeks
But a lifetime to raise
His will be done

All my babies -
First child of my heart,
First-born,
Future first-to-raise -
Irreplaceable pieces of my motherhood

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