Monday, January 30, 2017

Birthday Bulbs

My friend Emily stopped by today to give me the first gift in honor of Lily's 7th birthday coming up (on March 16). A few weeks early, but these beautiful lilies should be planted now. And as we were saying, the celebration of her life can last all season. πŸ˜Œ 

These bulbs are from the Netherlands, which is neat. Em was so thoughtful to get white for purity and pink for my little girl. I look forward to seeing them bloom in Lily's Memorial Garden this Summer and hopefully each year after that. Love the names too - "lily guiding light" and "lily stargazer." Also, note the card has a red-velvet cupcake on it. This gift has Lily Katherine written all over it. πŸ’•  #ineedalilyemoji


Rose and Lily on Card

A rose and lily drawn on the envelope of a card I received recently via snail mail from my dear friend Heather. The simplest gestures mean so much. Those loopy letters are lovely. ❤️ πŸŒΉ ❤️


Sunday, January 29, 2017

A Friendship Because of Lily

There are those special friends who you can pick up with right where you left off after not seeing each other for years. Anna is one of those friends to me. :)

She was one of the first people to know about my sweet Lily. We met when I went to a Pregnancy Center in Virginia, where Anna was serving as the Director, in August 2009, when I was in my first trimester of pregnancy. She radiated such love, compassion, and kindness, and offered rich wisdom that left a lasting impact on me. I thought of her often throughout the months of carrying Lily and wanted to tell her how much my time with her meant and how it helped shape my outlook and helped me be brave.

When I finally did contact her, it was unexpectedly to invite her to Lily's Memorial Burial Service in March 2010. I'm thankful that she came to celebrate her life and mourn her loss.

A couple years later, Anna got married and I was honored to photograph their beautiful wedding.

Each time I visit with her, I'm encouraged by her life and testimony. I loved getting to meet her adorable daughters yesterday and having her meet my niece. When I was a few weeks pregnant, God whispered to my heart that if I chose life, I couldn't imagine the beauty that He would bring. Well, Anna's friendship and a passion for photography were two of the realities of that promise. 

Anna recently moved back to Virginia and told me that every time she passes the Cemetery where Lily's spot is, she thinks of her. That made me teary-eyed. I was reflecting and telling her how crazy it is how long we've known each other and that she was one of the first people to know of the precious girl who is known by thousands now, and she said that's why Lily is so special to her. ❤️

This is something I wrote about my visit to the Pregnancy Center in an email to my friend Bex. I am so thankful to have these words to see what exactly I was thinking then:
I went to the Pregnancy Center on Monday. I met with one of the counselors there, Anna. I didn't really know what to expect going in there. The Pregnancy Center of Central Virginia is a Christian establishment and as soon as I walked in the door, I felt comfortable and loved. The lady at the front desk had a warm smile on her face and was very helpful. Then, I met with Anna and I knew she wasn't judging me or thinking about what a horrible person I am. Her words were tender and sweet, and I felt comfortable enough to openly discuss everything with her. I told her I am considering adoption and she recommended Bethany Christian Services, the very same place you sent me a link to in your first message to me! She gave me all sorts of pamphlets when I left with information on the things we had discussed. She gave me the number to Bethany, as well as the number to both hospitals in the area, so I can get set up with a doctor. She told me someone that works in the Center has a daughter that got pregnant and placed her baby for adoption. I told her the church I have been attending with my grandmother, and then told her the church I would like to try. Her eyes lit up and she said, "that's the church I attend." She invited me to go with her. She talked with me as long as I wanted, and then prayed for me. Her prayer was heartfelt and sincere, and brought tears to my eyes. While she was getting all the pamphlets together for me, I watched a fifteen minute video on adoption. I was filled with emotion and tears were streaming down my face. I am scared of the pain that is to come if I do indeed choose adoption. I walked out of the Pregnancy Center that day with great hope. I was at complete peace with my choice of life.

This is Anna's account of the day we met, written a few years ago:
I remember the day you (Hannah) walked into the Center with your boyfriend at the time. I remember that you looked scared and a bit down, very down. But in your eyes was a spark of the desire to have hope. You sat down on the couch opposite me, hungry for some direction that would give you peace in your pregnancy. I could see that things were hard between you and him, and that there was so much in your heart and to your soul that he wasn't even aware of. I could see your potential and a bit of who you really were, is what I'm trying to say. As I talked to you I felt the Spirit pouring out His story of hope to you. Choose Life.....maybe even adoption. I could tell that your character was deep, but I wasn't sure how you were feeling - what would be your outcome? As you watched the adoption video, I remember seeing that you had so much emotion welling up - your mother's heart was showing.....and being wrenched. It was in the following days ahead that I really got to see verified what I had only believed was true- as you mentioned that you were going forward, going to have your baby, and give it the best life you could. The most amazing thing of all to me was when you said you just couldn't stay with your boyfriend, but that you had to make a decision to move beyond him, for yourself but most importantly to honor God. I think I cheered at that in my office and bragged on you to the staff!! We don't see that kind of decision hardly EVER! It is rare, though we pray for it to increase. Your heart was breaking over so many losses, but you had your eye on His gain. I knew that would take you far, and, secretly I was hoping we would get to stay in touch so that I could see just how God would bless your heart of David and heart of Esther! As your baby was nearing birth, I was so excited for you....and then, my heart broke, as you told me the news that must crush every mother's most inner sensibility. I felt that loss so acutely. Little Lily was a miracle, and even her name was a testimony to your growing in His light like a flower blooming in her season. Getting to come to the funeral was a huge blessing, as I was able to be with you and also your family (who had supported the Pregnancy Centers for many years and was well known among our staff). I felt that I was getting to be there with the granddaughter of one of the PCCV matrons - your grandma Nancy Virginia Bain! Through time and after Lily's going back to be with Jesus, getting to know you personally has just been one of the sweetest treasures, like nectar bottled up from such a sweet flower of the past. I don't get to get close to all clients like I did you - they are transient, they pass in and out, etc. But, you....God allowed our acquaintance to deepen to friendship and deep sister love in the Spirit. You are so special, and I just know that His plan for you is just radiantly expansive, with impact that ripples like waves out from a rock hitting the water. You are forever precious to me and I hope we will always stay in touch!!!! Also, one of the greatest gifts you gave to me was that you would pursue God and His direction in your life relentlessly. When you could have taken the easy way, you chose HIM!! Every time you'd tell me what you were up to, I could see the little "normal" veerings as you were trying to discover the right way...the path to Life.....but, always you would end up choosing it! It brought joy and surprise to me like I hadn't felt with any other person who had sought the Center for help. You are truly unique!"

In 2013, Anna and I were actually both interviewed for a WORLD Magazine article which you can read by clicking here.


A Lamb for Lily

I enjoy seeing natureplaynanny's amazing photos on Instagram. She shares the art she creates with such thoughtfulness and creativity out of nature.

She made this one in honor of my sweet Lily Katherine. Isn't it beautiful? πŸ˜Œ  My girl has a lamb on her headstone and both her first and middle names mean "pure and innocent" (like the lamb symbolizes) so this is extra special to me. πŸŒΏ ❤️ 🌿 

Here is Lily's custom-made stone with her little lamb sitting on top. :)


Lily in Windsor, NC

My sweet friend Cat thought of my Lily and sent me this photo from the farm fields of Windsor, North Carolina. I love having a physical symbol of her life that reminds people of her. πŸ’• 


Valentine's Heart Wreath

I love this Valentine's heart wreath for Lily Katherine from Danielle. πŸ’• 🌷 πŸ’• 


Forever Loved

An Instagram follower sent me this photo in honor of Lily. :)


Lily Rose Room Spray

My Bumma gave me this Lily room spray from "Once Upon a Rose." πŸ’›  :)


Friday, January 27, 2017

D.C. March for Life

Today I am watching coverage of the March for Life in Washington D.C., where thousands of people are participating.

I wish I could be there in person, but am grateful to be able to tune in from home.

Here is a photo and the video of me speaking at the March for Life in D.C. in 2013 (email subscribers click HERE):

It was a blessing to be there and to share on that day (read about my experience by clicking HERE). I hope it works out for me to go again in the future! I am glad I at least have local marches to be a part of. 

This is something about the day abortion was legalized in America that I shared on my blog a couple years ago:

Today feels like such a heavy and solemn day. I keep thinking about how something that happened on this day over 40 years ago, abortion being legalized, impacted my life decades later. I take responsibility for my choice to have an abortion, however, if abortion had not been legal, I never would have sought a back-alley abortion and would have taken responsibility for my choices. I wouldn't be living with the regret that I will carry for the rest of my days. I wouldn't have to imagine who my child would be today. And so many women who have been deceived by the legal right to choose also wouldn't have to carry this pain for life. I am so thankful for God has healed my heart, but there are days when my heart deeply hurts. Today is one of those days. I think it's important to feel the pain at times, to never forget and to be encouraged to keep fighting, both for the unborn and for the mothers and fathers who find themselves in a situation where they might consider having an abortion.


Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Echo of His Heartbeat

Early year bares a flood of memories from early year 2009.

Now 8 years ago.

19-years-old, in a bathroom with positive pregnancy test in hand and fear in heart. A pledge of abstinence long since forgotten, slipped through fingers.

Blurry memories of sleepless nights, depths of agony and regret, wondering how does a "good Christian girl" find herself here. How did I even get "here?" How did my convictions of waiting until marriage and honoring God get buried beneath the pressures and the temptations? The longing to be loved, to be known, to be chosen.

More blurry memories: From 15 and wearing a red LIFE bracelet, to 19 googling abortion clinics. Wanting normalcy back. Wanting to get "it" over with. Early morning appointment. February 6th. An invasive ultrasound, but no sound or sight of the flicker of life. Being told it would be normal to feel sad for a couple days, but if I was still feeling sad after that, it wouldn't be normal and I should seek help. Driving down the road with oversized sunglasses to hide the never-ending stream of tears. My friend who was being the best friend she knew how to be for me. Does she ever think of that day? Does she think of how she cared for me that night? It hurts to wonder if she carries that shame or one day will carry the regret of her involvement. Those little pills that would change my life and end another. Another day and night of waiting, blood clots, nausea, sleep.

A sadness that would seep its way into my bones and would never fully leave. A sadness that for a while would disguise itself as relief, but would eventually be revealed. Shame and desperation allowed deception to take root.

My child's heartbeat echoes in my memory. I never heard it and didn't bond with him while he was here those short few weeks. But it echoes because even though I didn't want to recognize that I already had a baby, his heart that began beating at only 18 days gestation reminds me that I did. I chose for this heartbeat to cease and a year later, another heartbeat would cease within my body that wasn't my choice. Both hearts beat on in Eternity. Both hearts changed mine. The ceasing of one left me with regret, while the ceasing of the other left me with peace. The difference being the surrender to God's sovereign will.

There is a lot of talk swirling around this time of year with the March for Life and the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, coinciding with these memories.

Never stop sharing. For him, for them, and for us.


Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Lily Remembered at Gleesons Landing

Lily's name was written in the sand by Abbey in Gleesons Landing, South Australia! ❤️


Lily Rose from Karen

My Aussie friend Karen sent me this photo on Snapchat. Translation: "Brissy" is Brisbane. ;)


Sunday, January 22, 2017

Roe v. Wade and Sanctity of Life Sunday

Today is the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, as well as Sanctity of Human Life Sunday.

On this day, many pastors across the country are preaching on the topic of abortion. There are hurting men and women clinging tightly to the secret of having made "the choice" in their past.

I know that this time of year, with the anniversary of when abortion was legalized in America, it's much easier to think about it, talk about it, post about it, etc... but as the calendar flips to February, know that many of those who live with abortion don't only think of it one day, week, or month out of the year. And abortions are still taking place every day.

As you carry on throughout the year, please remember this and please keep having loving conversations about it, so that less men and women will have to live with the pain and regret themselves. Men and women like me.

Know that everyday you wake up is a day multiple men and women are grieving that on that exact date "x" amount of years ago, they chose to end their child's life. February 6th is that date for me. It's a modern-day Holocaust and it needs to end.

Remember this is not a political issue. Remember that beating hearts are at stake. Remember not to vilify and condemn, but to bring the glorious hope of Jesus and the redemption and restoration found at the cross when addressing this issue.

Here's a speech I gave at a Memorial Service for the Unborn on Sanctity of Life Sunday a couple years ago.

Here are some relevant articles you may be interested in reading and sharing:


Thursday, January 19, 2017

Lily Dollywood Gifts

My sweet friends Shelby and Stephanie brought me back these souvenirs from Dollywood! A "Lily" mug and a butterfly bell. πŸ˜ ❤️  Even the "w" in Dollywood is made of a butterfly. This was actually a gift for my birthday last August, but I didn't get around to sharing it before now.


Lily Remembered at Rainbow Springs ‎️‍🌈

My sweet friend ChloΓ© in New Zealand, who constantly remembers Lily and sends me lovely photos, sent these below with these words: "Mark and I were in Rotorua the other day, at Rainbow Springs, and we took a couple of photos for Lily. πŸ’œπŸ™‚"


Lily Remembered in the Netherlands

Sweet Lily was remembered with her name written on a frozen pond at Vondelpark in Amsterdam, Netherlands (for the first time there!) I love it and thank you, Dawn! 


Lily Remembered at Hervey Bay

Lily was honored at Hervey Bay in Queensland, Australia, by my dear friend, Karen! ❤️    

Gorgeous land down unda!

here's a screenshot of a video she sent me of lots of crabs on the beach


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Build-Up

My mom and I were recently having a conversation about Lily and plans for her upcoming birthday.

She said that each January, she gets the same feelings that she got in 2010, the year Lily was born. The anticipation. The expectation. The excitement. The joy.

These feelings are familiar, yet distant.

The joy is contradicted in the sorrow of knowing what happened. How Lily's life ended so abruptly, without warning or cause.

I feel the same way about this month and the precious memories of the weeks leading up to Lily's impending arrival. They are bittersweet. But the bitter will never rob the sweet. The sweet will always outweigh the bitter.

A babyloss friend of mine whose baby daughter was stillborn on March 16th as well feels the same with the arrival of January. It's interesting that this month catapults our hearts back to the lead up to the births of our March baby girls. Her daughter Genesis would be 10 this year.

I wonder if it'll always feel this way...

This month also reminds me of Luke and how at this time of year, I was carrying him. It reminds me of the short time I had with his heart safely beating in this world. It reminds me of the memories of how everything played out in January to early February. It reminds me that just a year later Lily was born.

This time of year has both my babies written all over my heart.


Lily Remembered in Canada

Rebekah in Canada sent me this photo and said, "Thought of your sweet Lily today at the park." ❤️


Monday, January 16, 2017

Lily Remembered in San Diego

Sweet Lily was remembered by a family friend named Joann at La Jolla Cove in San Diego, California. ❤️

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