Wednesday, November 30, 2016

She's Literally a Part of Me

This is something I shared a couple years ago that I want to re-share for some grieving mamas who've recently lost their babies... ❤️❤️❤️

I read an article that has brought me so much comfort. It said the following:

"You have stem cells from each of your babies in your brain.
The physical and emotional link between a mother and her child is about as close as a relationship can be. New research now shows the physical connection is even deeper than anyone previously thought.
Stem cells from the fetus have now been found in many areas of the mother’s brain, heart and other organs. These stem cells are ‘pluripotent’ that is, they can potentially be induced to form many different cells lines such as brain or cardiac tissue and help in regeneration.
Another study illustrated their potential. The heart of pregnant animals were damaged by blockage of a coronary artery, simulating a severe heart attack, though this was not lethal. Later after the animals delivered, the heart was examined. Stem cells from their fetus had migrated to the damaged mother’s heart and helped it repair itself.
These cells from each and every one of your children are there, in your brain and heart…. for life. And they will all still be there when you die." 

Just WOW. I feel like crying each time I read this. Not only is Lily a part of me forever, carried in my heart and thoughts, but her cells are literally in my body and will be there until I die, until the day we are reunited in Heaven.

Her heart might not be beating on this Earth any longer, but she is alive... her legacy is alive, her cells are alive within me as proof that she was a real little girl, and most importantly, she is eternally alive with Jesus Christ.

God's design is breathtaking and how He bonds mothers and their babies is more beautiful than words could describe. And Lily's cells could even help my body repair itself. She has brought much good to my life.

For the mother who has not lost a child, this is a neat fact to learn, but for the mother who has lost a child, this is beyond precious. It is so sweet to think that I will carry Lily's cells, as well as the cells of any future children I may have forever. It is a way they will be bonded together as siblings. All of their hearts will begin beating in the same place, in the sacred place of my womb. In the place where Lily's heart not only started beating, but also stopped beating... the only home she ever knew.

When I must leave the cemetery where my beautiful daughter is laid to rest beneath the Virginia earth, the place where a stone has her named etched in it, I can smile through the tears. Her heart beats with each beat of my heart, her cells are within me. I smile because she is alive through me. And because she is alive in the place where I will know her in a way I never got to here.


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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Cherished Maternity Photos

On this date when Lily was here in 2009, I was 25 weeks pregnant and had a fun maternity photo shoot with my sister, Emma, and our cousin, Anna. I realized that I don't think I've ever shared all my photos from that day here on my blog. I usually share my favorites, but any and all photos from Lily's life are cherished (even those with bad lighting or that are unflattering of me), and another piece of her I can share, so here ya go. :) :) :) πŸ’•

my absolute favorite maternity photo


I love this silly photo ;)


my mother's beautiful porch decorating



making hearts over my Lily-belly






with my sister, Emma (a.k.a. "Bub")

with my cousin, Anna

Loads of empathy and support ;)


When I shared this photo on Facebook at the time, my mom commented and said "My lovely Rose! :)"
And I responded and said, "You're just too prec! ;) Now, I'm waiting on my lovely Lily!"


what joy she brought/brings me! :)

I shared a few of these pictures on my blog when we first took them and wrote this (also mentioning the appointment where the ultrasound photos below were taken):

"As of Sunday, I am in my 25th week of pregnancy. My cousin Anna was down visiting from Virginia for the weekend so she, my sister, and I had a little photo shoot. It's so fun to see how much my belly has grown in such a short amount of time! I had an appointment with my Dr. last Tuesday and he said Lily is already 2 pounds and over a foot long! He checked her heart, brain, lungs, among other things and said she is very healthy! She's growing at the right speed and is quite active these days! As of now, Lily is definitely an early riser, waking me in the mornings with all sorts of squirming and kicking around. If this is any indication of what's to come, I better change my sleeping patterns now to get ready for this wild child! All my tests have come back healthy thus far as well. On December 21st, I'll be getting tested for gestational diabetes. Anyways, I'll give more of an update later about what's been going on in my pregnancy these last few weeks. It's quite an exciting time!!"

Here is only the sweetest little girl and one of the best ultrasound photos ever! This was on November 24, 2009, when I was 24 weeks 2 days pregnant. Lily was looking right at us, as if she was saying "Hi Mommy" (which as you can see, my doctor wrote that). All my ultrasound photos and video mean so much to me, especially since I didn't get to meet Lily alive. But live she did! Can you see her sweet face? :)


And here is Lily waving at her mommy! Look at those precious, tiny fingers!


It's special knowing that these belly pictures are from almost the same day that Lily was waving at her mommy in the womb. That's how big she was!

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Monday, November 28, 2016

From Before Life's First Cry

There are some lyrics in a popular song that remind me of past posts I've shared. The song is called "In Christ Alone" by Keith and Kristyn Getty (who I recently heard in concert, by the way, and am hoping to make it to their Christmas concert next month)! :) Anyways, the song is well-known and I've heard it many times before, but recently heard it live at their concert and knew then I wanted to write about it.

Anyways, the lyrics say, "From life's first cry to final breath, Jesus commands my destiny."

I know obviously they don't mean anything hurtful or wrong by this, but with the way my brain works because of Lily, I don't like these words. Jesus commands our destiny from the moment of conception to final breath, even after final breath when all who are in Christ will go to Heaven. He still commanded Lily's life and destiny, though she died before taking her first breath or crying at all. His purpose for her life was not thwarted by the lack of her first cry.

Going along with this, earlier in the year, I watched a movie called "Where Hope Grows," which is centered around a man who could have been a baseball star and a young man with Down Syndrome. It is a moving story of friendship, redemption, and the value of each life. Did you know that about 70% of children who are diagnosed with Down Syndrome in the womb are aborted? As if they are any less valuable or worthy of life. It just breaks my heart. Every life is such a precious gift and there are many lessons we can only learn from the weakest among us, as Gianna Jessen, who survived an abortion and now lives with Cerebral Palsy, says.

There was one part that rubbed me the wrong way, though I recognize it was unintentional on the part of the producers and writers of the film because they clearly recognize the sanctity of life, though I hope that I can explain why one particular part is a way of thinking that takes away from the value of some.

A Pastor says in the movie: "You look around a cemetery and you see there are two dates on every tombstone - a birthday and a date of death. Every human being is guaranteed those two dates, but that little dash that lies in between those two numbers, that's what defines our life. So make your dash count. Live, really live."

If I had not lost my own child in the way I did, I doubt I would even notice those words. I doubt they'd rub me the wrong way and I doubt I'd pick up on the fallacy of them. But you see, every human being is in fact not "guaranteed" those two dates. My daughter Lily Katherine only has one date on her stone. She has no dash. But that is not what defines her, or any of us. And even though she only has one date, she did "really live." And babies who were lost in pregnancy before they even had a birthday still lived.


I am reminded of a post I wrote 3 years ago about a song I heard that has a similar message. This is from what I wrote:

The song "The Line Between the Two" by Mark Harris has a beautiful meaning that we should live our lives in such a way that we will have no regrets when we come to die. We should live today the legacy we want to leave. Because the fact is we all will leave a legacy... the question is what do we want that legacy to be?

The song talks about "the line between the two," meaning the line on our headstone between our date of birth and date of death. We need to make the line between the two count.

A beginning and an ending, dates upon a stone
But the moment in the middle is how we will be known
Cause what defines us can be found within a line
Finding reason for our time

As I listened to the words of this song, I couldn't help but think to myself... what about when there is no line? What about when there is only one date on one's headstone? When the beginning and the ending are combined? When one doesn't live long enough to have that line between the two? When the death date comes before the birth date? Imagine how that would look on a stone. Does that mean their life didn't matter? Does that mean their life doesn't have significance and purpose because they weren't able to make an impact with the days represented by that line?

God is not confined by that little line. He is such a big, sovereign, amazing God and He does the most beautiful things in ways we'd least expect. He can use a sweet baby who never took a breath or spoke a word to make an impact greater than someone whose lived 100 years on Earth. Let's not put Him and His plans into a little box of our own understanding. He works outside of our lines...

It's hurtful that Lily only has one date that could be put on her headstone. She shouldn't even have a headstone until long after I have one. My friend Stacy whose daughter Rachel is with Lily in Heaven said something so profoundly beautiful regarding this same thing. Stacy and her husband created Rachel's beautiful headstone with their names on it as well. Since they are both still living, there obviously are no death dates for them yet. Rachel also only had one date and this is hard for Stacy. Here is a little excerpt from her blog:
I remember going to the hospital to have her and thinking on the way "I just want there to be a dash"... it's always bothered me that Rachel only has one date.  I wanted her birthday and the day she died to be different.  But what mother wouldn't?
I stared at her name and date for a minute and again was questioning God... "Why couldn't there have been a dash? was that too much to ask?"  I looked at my name, then Matt's... I looked at my date and then at Matt's...  I wondered about our "future" dates....
and for the first time in all the HUNDREDS of hours that I have spent standing on her spot, I looked at the dates differently and I am positive this was a picture God gave me to remind me of His promises.... I saw that we all have just one date.  And God spoke to my heart....
You have one date because you are still alive....
And so does she....

What a comforting thought. Lily and Rachel are alive! More than we ever will be here.

The ending of Lily's physical life is only the beginning of her Eternal life. The ending of her physical life does not mark the ending of her legacy. She is not defined by the lack of a line. She is defined by being a daughter of Christ. There is reason for her time on Earth, though brief. She is not known for the moments in the middle of her birth and death dates, but rather for the moments even before her birth date.

God used a little girl who has no line to forever change my line... now the rest of my days on Earth that make up that line will be spent to honor Lily and bring glory to my Father in Heaven. In being her voice, I will give life to the little girl whose life was so short, yet so wide...

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Sunday, November 27, 2016

A Butterfly for Lily Kat

A memorial butterfly just for Lily Kat from MissingLinkArts on Etsy. Not sure yet if I'll frame it or include it in her scrapbook. Butterflies are special and symbolic to me, if you'll recall. There is a butterfly on her stone and we had a butterfly relase for her. πŸ’™πŸ’—πŸ’š


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That Positive Sign Too Soon Turned to Flowers for a Stone

This is something I shared on my blog 2 years ago this month that touched my heart re-reading it, so I want to share it again:

When I was in Charlottesville a couple weeks ago on our girl's trip, my sister, friends, and I went to Kroger to get a few snacks.

This is the same Kroger I went to in the summer of 2009 to get the pregnancy tests that confirmed Lily was on her way. There's currently a lot of construction and changes going on, so it looks very different than how I remember it. I don't think I've even been there since that summer.

I picked out a lovely fresh bouquet of flowers to take to Lily's spot and just felt very sad at how everything turned out, how much I never could have dreamed things would go in the past 5+ years.

From the beginning of Lily's life, getting those pregnancy tests, and all the crazy emotions that came with that.... to the end of Lily's life, getting flowers for her headstone, and all the crazy emotions that come with that.


It reminded me of a post I wrote last November called "From pregnancy test to headstone."

It also made me think of a poem I wrote this June where the last part says, "That positive sign too soon turned to words etched in stone. It all started with those two lines in June."

Oh, the irony of getting one thing that marked the beginning of her life at the same store that I am now getting another thing that marks the end. That positive sign too soon turned to flowers for a stone.

But you know what the beautiful part in it all is?

The beautiful part is how God changed my heart in the time between that pregnancy test and those flowers... how at first I saw my unborn child as a burden. And how now I see her as a blessing and love her more than anyone in this world. And how I got her a beautiful stone and take her fresh flowers because I love her so much.

The sadness I feel in missing her is even a tribute to how God changes our hearts at the core, and a testimony to the sanctity of each irreplaceable, precious life. πŸ’•πŸ’πŸŽƒ



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Friday, November 25, 2016

I Can’t Believe That I Could Ever Think of Life Without You

It was 7 years ago this month that this picture was taken and I wrote the following on this blog (one of my very first posts). I am so thankful to have these words that I wrote during that time. It is a gift to see my perspective at that point and to see just how much God was working in my heart and life.....


I first heard the song "Little One" yesterday during the ending credits of the new movie, Sarah's Choice, starring Rebecca St. James. I had been eagerly anticipating the release of this movie that portrays a single woman who must make the decision whether she is going to choose life or death for her unborn child. My expectations for this movie were definitely met! In fact, more movies like it need to be made. The story really struck a chord in my own heart because in the story of my own real life, I am dealing with a situation very much like this one. The story is raw and it is powerful and I feel like I understood everything "Sarah" was experiencing.

This song will always be incredibly special to me.

Hush my baby be still inside me
Rest my child all is well
Hush my baby grow inside me
You are safe there my little girl

I can't believe that I would ever think
That you were not to be
But darling mommy feels like a child herself

I will give my life to love you little one
I will give my life to protect you darling
Always, always

Hush my baby I'm dreaming of you
Wondering just who you'll become
Hush my baby, smile inside me
Warmed by knowing you are loved

I can't believe that I could ever think
Of life without you
But darling mommy sometimes feels afraid

I will give my life to love you little one
I will give my life to protect you darling
Always, always

I will give my life to love you little one
I will give my life to protect you darling
Always, always

Hush my baby, smile inside me
Warmed by knowing you are loved

Over the past few months, I have had to make the decision about what "choice" to make with my own unborn child. Then, I realized the choice was never mine to make. God gives and God takes away. I feel like the words to this song truly echo the words that my heart longs to express. How could I have ever lived my whole life without knowing my precious daughter? How could I have gone without ever holding her, kissing her, knowing her? I can't fully explain the joy and peace I feel these days and months that I'm carrying my baby. Feeling her kick and move is unbelievably exciting and amazing! It seems like whenever I try to let someone feel, she always stops! But, my little sister finally felt her kicking last night! Just knowing what is going on inside my body is enough to keep me thinking and pondering forever about God's goodness.

What once seemed to be the thing that would end my life is now one of the reasons that I live. Sure, my life is going to be different now than what I had originally dreamed or anticipated. But, God has so much planned for this little life growing inside me! And so much planned for me! He is already giving me a new vision and new dreams for my life! I now see that being unmarried and pregnant is not a sin in itself, but what got me here was the sin. My baby is not a sin. She is still a blessing and nothing to be ashamed of! I have turned from my sin and walked away, and God is blessing me for that. He is taking a situation the world would look at as horrible and is bringing Himself glory and changing my heart for the better.

My sweet Lily almost never got the chance to live. But, my God saved her! Praise You, Jesus, for changing my heart and saving my child! And God saved me. He is truly an awesome, amazing God with a heart full of love and compassion. God, teach me how to love this baby. Teach me how to be a wonderful mother. Give me Your heart, patience, guidance, strength, wisdom, love, and peace. I feel so inadequate to be entrusted with such a great responsibility! But, I know You alone will give me what I need to get through each new challenge and each new day. And when that day comes, which is soon, that this lily-white princess is born, I will truly be looking into a face showcasing Jesus' love, forgiveness, and redemption. I long for the day I can gaze into her blue and curious eyes and know that I made the right choice. Life. And what a beautiful choice it is!

***********

Reading what I wrote, I see how the Lord was giving me a mother's heart of love for my child. It is bittersweet to read these words. Bitter because I never did get to gaze into Lily's blue and curious eyes. Sweet because of how she changed my life.

I wrote this post to say that I was thankful that I had chosen life for my baby. At that point in time, I never would have wished it any other way. I want to say right here, right now, that even though things didn't end up the way I thought they would (they were already going to be so different than what I had planned when I wrote this post), I am still so thankful that I chose not to have an abortion. Life is still a beautiful choice, when your baby lives and when your baby dies. It is still the right choice. As I wrote in my post, God gives and God takes away. Though I never could have dreamed He'd take her so soon, I still believe that Lily's life, and death, was/is in His hands. And He is still teaching me how to be her mommy. ❤️

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Lily Remembered in Australia on Thanksgiving

How special... in recognition of Thanksgiving in America, Carly Marie streamed a live video last night where she wrote baby's names in the sand. How touching to see my beautiful Lily's name in the sand on a night that I was missing her so much. I loved being able to watch as it was written and to listen to the waves crashing. Technology can be so cool. :) It was also sweet to see the name Rose right before my Lily. Roses and lilies are always crossing my path. This was at Mullaloo Beach in Perth, Australia. πŸŒŠπŸšπŸ¬πŸ³


Here are screenshots from the live video. :)


And here's a recording of Carly writing Lily's name. 

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Thursday, November 24, 2016

An Empty Chair at Thanksgiving

It's important to be purposefully thankful, to truly take the time in stillness and quietness of heart to thank the Lord for the many, many blessings He lavishes upon us. πŸŒ½πŸπŸ‚πŸ—πŸŒ°πŸˆπŸ‘πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡ΈπŸŽ‰❤️

Just a few of that which I'm thankful for (in no particular order): another day waking up with breath in my lungs, my family... growing up with brothers and a sister, having both my parents and their love and support, my sister-in-law who feels more like my sister than an in-law, my darling 6-month-old niece who brightens up my world simply by existing, having my dear 85-year-old grandmother still here on Earth just a drive, call, email, or text away (yes, she's texting now haha), aunts, uncles, and cousins, friends who are kindred-spirits, including so many of you who are reading, my spunky and cuddly kitty Pumpkin Muffie, living in America and having the freedoms afforded us here, freedoms that much of the world doesn't have and we so easily take for granted, having the liberty to read my Bible openly and talk about and share Jesus, having the honor of defending the unborn, unending books galore, beautiful music, an internship that has turned into a job starting in the New Year doing what I love (it doesn't really feel like a job at all), living near both the beach and mountains, having a safe and reliable car, good food that I have the luxury of selecting, clothes to wear that can be cute and girly, being chosen to be the mother of the most lovely Heavenly flower, the months I had with her and bonded with her, the gift of being a forever citizen of Heaven! What are you thankful for?

"We would worry less if we praised more. Thanksgiving is the enemy of discontent and dissatisfaction." -Henry Ironside


"The table is set and our glasses are full
Though pieces go missing, may we still feel whole."
-Sleeping At Last ❤️🎢

She is that missing piece. And no matter how many are seated around the Thanksgiving table, the place where she'd be will never go unnoticed.

Days like today are, and I imagine always will be, bittersweet for me. My heart overflows with gratitude for all the Lord has blessed me with, including the sweetness brought by Lily's beautiful life. Yet, the bitterness of her absence and the empty spot at the table where she'd be sitting is also deeply felt.

Missing you, sweet girl, and longing for Heaven where there will be no more bitter, only sweet.

"If the joy Jesus promises is real and you believe Him, there's no circumstance that can steal your thanksgiving." -Jon Bloom


My friend Emily sent me this photo below with the following sweet message today: "Hello from New York City! I love how people honor Miss Lily and I wanted to join in. I saw this at a store called Bethel and thought it would be beautiful to send to you from my fave city. "Bethel" means a holy place. How awesome is that? I pray this shows you that God knows where you are and is a reminder that she is there with Him waiting for Mommy to get there. Love, Em"

This was so touching to receive on a tough day... and there are roses in the background. :'-)


This Sunday, when more of my family is in town, we are planning on having our Thanksgiving celebration. For today, the 4 of us who were here got delicious meals at Cracker Barrel (my idea.. my favorite hehe). Anyways, when I was sitting in the parking lot after checking out, I "happened" to glance down at the receipt and saw that the cashier who assisted me is named Lillie. :)


This is the one photo I have that was taken on Thanksgiving Day 2009... the one year Lily was here alive. It's my sister and I on the way to Thanksgiving lunch/dinner.



I'm holding all your hurting hearts close to mine in prayer. Here are some articles I want to share for Thanksgiving:


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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

In All Her Beauty

I have a "new" picture of Lily to share, which I can tell was taken shortly after she was born because of the hat she has on and the blanket she's wrapped in. With vulnerability and bated breath, I post it.

There are actually quite a few photos that I've not shared here because they are not good quality, I look awful in them, or the toll of death is too evident on my tiny little baby.

It's not that I think the photos are disturbing to look at, it's that I know others will think that. I can't bear that thought. I must protect her in the only ways I can.

I'm sorry if it makes you feel uncomfortable when I share photos of her, but she is perfect and precious (I mean, just look at that button nose) and she is my daughter. I want to show her off just like any other parent, and these are the only photos I have of my child. She was real.

I am incredibly thankful for the photos I do have, but looking at them isn't always comforting. I wish with every ounce of my being I knew what she really looked like, before death ravished her delicate form. I wish I could look at a photo of her and see only her beauty, untainted by the sting of stillbirth. It's not that I don't see her beauty, because I do... though I fear others won't. It's not that I cannot look past the uncomfortable and sad aspects of what stillbirth is and does. It's that I wish I could know what my own child looked like. I am haunted by that. I want to know what my baby looked like while in the womb alive. I want to know what my little girl would look like now at 6-years-old.

While I walk this planet, I will remain haunted by not knowing. I will always wish I might have had just one single moment to meet her with her eyes open and see her for who she really was. To have a photo to cherish always that truly captured Lily Katherine Allen-Ball... not merely her Earthly shell.

Oh, I ache for the day I will meet her in all her beauty. I find solace in that hope.


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Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Lily's Christmas Tree

Lily Katherine's (and Luke's) 2016 remembrance Christmas tree! πŸŽ„❤️⭐️❄️

Eight Christmas seasons (including the year I was carrying her and this year) of loving my girl and collecting ornaments for her and it was time to get a larger tree. I also have several ornaments for Luke Shiloh. :)


My little purple room decorated for Christmas. πŸ’œ

My niece, Harvest, admiring her cousin's tree. πŸ˜

Here's a video I took a couple nights ago... late night decorating Lily's tree while listening to Christy Nockels amazing new Christmas album.


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Lily Remembered at Okaloosa Island

Lily's name written in the sand by Kimberly at Okaloosa Island in Florida! ❤️🌊🐚🐬🐳



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