Thursday, March 16, 2017

Her 7th Birthday ~ Her Story Isn't Over 💕

Another March 16th. Another would-be year older. Another year of Lily remaining my forever baby. Another year of cherishing her life and mothering her legacy.

It's been 7 years of her name being written in the sand, the snow, and just about any way you could imagine. 7 years of Lily leaving her mark on thousands of hearts. Each birthday makes me smile with the knowledge that more people know her name and story than did last March 16th. 💕




With this time of year, there is a unique sadness that creeps its way into the depths of my being... but with that said, there is also a unique strength. There is a tangible realness to the grace of God that is mine for the grasping hold of. The sorrow of March is written all over my heart, something I've grown rather accustomed to experiencing each year at this time, now expecting it. But Jesus is ever-faithful, ever-present, ever-upholding me, ever reminding me of His love for both me and my girl.

My Lily Katherine is a beautiful mystery. There is so much about her that I wonder... Who would she be? What/who would she look like? What interests would she have? What would her voice sound like? And her laugh? What color would her eyes be? Blue I think. At times, these things can hurt to think about. If she were here, if I'd delivered her shortly before she was born, before her little heart stopped for no apparent reason, there wouldn't be this giant question-mark on everything her life might have held.

Lily was my little mini-me, strikingly resembling her mommy at birth. At each age she'd be, I am comforted by picturing her looking and acting like I did at that very age. I picture her as the perfect blend of girly-girl and tomboy, seeking adventure and heartily playing outdoors, while also loving to twirl around the living room like a ballet dancer and endlessly playing with her American Girl dolls. I picture her as sweet and gentle as the flower she's named after, while at the same time feisty and courageous. I picture her as hilarious and full of exuberant laughter. I picture her as a lover of babies and cats, and with a soft heart for Jesus, who I'd pray would be her first love always.

I picture this abundant life here on Earth and I ache because when you lose your child, you lose a lifetime of maybes. I think of all my own life held up until age 7 and it highlights all that I'm missing with my own little girl. One life holds so much and I won't know any of what Lily's would have held beyond the womb.

The thing is, though, deep in my heart, I know that she was never meant to be a little girl of this world. She was always meant to be my daughter of Heaven. The Lord numbered her days (Psalm 139:16) and chose for each of those days to be lived within her mommy's womb.

Instead of thinking too much about who she could have been on Earth, I imagine who she is in Heaven! Because she is alive and I am so excited I will get to know her there. The Lord has been so good to give me glimpses into her life there, through dreams I've had as well as friends have had.

I want to share part of what my friend Kate wrote about a dream she had a few years back: "It was short, and was one of those dreams that truly feel like a dream because it was so peaceful and beautiful. You and I were just sitting in chairs next to each other in a living room somewhere. And Lily was there. I don't remember you or I saying a word to each other, we just smiled and laughed and watched Lily. She wasn't a baby, she actually looked like the just barely two-year-old that she should be. All I remember is that she had really sweet wispy blonde hair, and gorgeous blue eyes. And I knew she was Lily; she truly did look just like a little mini you. It seemed so completely natural that she was there with you, as she would run playfully around the room, and then straight back to you again. That was pretty much all, except that right before I woke up, she looked up at me and smiled, and from that moment I knew that I was supposed to remember this dream and share it with you. It made something I had remembered reading on your blog very real - that while she only got to be a little Lily-bud here, she is most definitely blooming with life in Jesus. That even when little heats seem to stop on Earth, they never miss a beat in the Heavenly realm. What I feel most strongly when I think of it is that - Lily is alive. Vibrantly alive. And that you are mother to an adorable, blonde-haired, blue-eyed, Lily, and you always will be. Even though you're missing her now, Eternity awaits."

I cannot describe how much hope and anticipation these beautiful words give me for the future to come with my blue-eyed girl.

That is my future, but I still have a life to live presently on this Earth. Each breath God gives me is one full of purpose and meaning. It's not by chance.

After 7 years, I know my story isn't over yet, and Lily's isn't either. Her heart beats with every beat of mine and her story is lived through me.

It seems God reserves special blessings for March, blessings that remind me that Lily's story isn't over, that she is still remembered and loved by others, that she will never not matter anymore. These little blessings come in the form of a gift, or a text, or some flowers, or emails such as this one, from people who have followed my blog for years and I had no idea (this lady works at the hospital where Lily was born, though I've not met her yet):

"I wanted to write you at this sacred time for you to let you know that Lily's legacy extends to people you don't even know. Lily reminds me that life is fleeting and precious, and the moments when my youngest doesn't let me cook dinner without screaming, or my blossoming preteen huffs and rolls her eyes at me, are moments to cherish. Just last Summer my husband ran over the lilies we have in the yard and I panicked because I thought of Lily when I looked at them, 'til I remembered lilies come back. And I thought how symbolic. :) and I also wanted to tell you for every person that may tell you you should be over your sadness, there are many more who understand that grief doesn't work that way, and we want to hear you talk about your baby. And I know your sharing helps many people who walk the same path you have. I pray for your strength in the next few days, that you find strength in God, your family, and the legacy that is your daughter."
Or messages like this one:
"I am so sorry you have had to face so much heartbreak. I hate that you aren't planning a beautiful 7th birthday party. But I also want to thank you for the way you carry yourself with such eloquence and grace. The way you write about Lily is breathtaking; I often find myself writing out a sentence of two from your statuses so that I can remember them. The hope you provide to other grieving mothers is such a legacy for Lily. I have felt so, so blessed by your support and friendship. Lily is blessed with one special mother."

I share these things to say wow, look how God is still using the life of a little girl who never spoke a word or took a breath. Look how God can use a yielded life, even when we wonder.

My friend Karen wrote me recently and said: "You and Lily are making an impact. You are a "wounded healer" helping those who are experiencing similar wounds." I thought that was so beautiful. Sometimes we think our wounds will keep us from being able to minister to others when many times it is because of and through our own wounds that we can most effectively empathize with and serve others.

Just because I'm wounded doesn't mean I can't dance. I might dance with a limp, but that limp makes me more thankful that I can still stand. It makes the dance that much more beautiful, even if it doesn't always look graceful.

When I was at a local infant loss support group a couple months ago, a lady was saying how much it lifted her spirits that I wrote her son's names in the snow and it was such a blessing knowing how much this simple act of kindness meant to her. And then my friend Bonnie was saying something too and then said, "this is Lily's gift to all of us, through you." And that made me cry and I realized this time is a gift and I am able to serve others in a unique way with my time as a single woman. This is my time "with" Lily, for Lily.

As I was awake late a couple night ago, I was thinking how unbelievable it is that 7 years have passed now since Lily's birth and going to Heaven. To a lot of people, that should be plenty enough time to stop talking about her/missing her/thinking about her. But part of the beauty in Lily's legacy and my love for her is that it has endured for 7 years. All these years it has strengthened with time. There is beauty in the endurance of a forever love, a love that equates to a forever missing. The beauty is in the testimony to how radically this cold and hardened hard was softened and molded in such a way as to cherish the life of a sweet and delicate flower so immensely. A life that might have ended before blooming fully in the womb, but God kept that from happening. And He has used these 7 years of enduring love to teach me more things than I could ever count... more things than I could finish blogging about in 7 years time.

After 7 years, I still miss Lily like I did the day I lost her. After 7 years, there is the temptation to grow bitter. I refuse to allow the pain to get infected and to fester. I am reminded of an interview that musician Kari Jobe did last year sometime, in which she spoke a few times about her sister and her baby niece who was stillborn like Lily. And she said something so beautiful that has been on my heart ever since... she said, "I refuse to allow the enemy to steal my worship." Because that is just what he wants to do. But as Kari went on to say, we have to want Jesus more than we want answers. We have to trust His goodness above our lack of answers and understanding.

Kari has a beautiful album called "The Garden" that recently came out and many of the songs flowed out of the loss of her darling niece. One in particular reminded me of that interview and it is what I will be singing over and over again on this March 16th...



"I Will Sing"
by Kari Jobe


I need to see You here
I need to know You're in control
Though my heart is torn wide open

I will trust, I will remember

I need to hear Your voice
Speaking to silence all my doubts
Your word won't return empty
You will break through every darkness

Even when my breath is weak
I will sing, I will sing
Even in my suffering
I will sing, I will sing

I need to feel Your hope
Rising above my greatest fears
Even death has been defeated
I will trust, I will remember

Even when the shadows fall
I will sing, I will sing
Even when the night is long
I will sing, I will sing

Hallelujah
I surrender all to You
Hallelujah
You are God, You won't be shaken
Hallelujah
I surrender all to You
Hallelujah
You are God, You won't be shaken

I need to see You here
I need to know You're in control
Though my heart is torn wide open
I will trust, I will remember












Here is Lily's song.

And here is Lily's tribute video.


Thank you to everyone who still cares to read and hear about my baby...

Here are the blog posts I've written over the years, both on Lily's birthdays, as well as the posts about how we've celebrated her birthdays:

Photobucket
This post left me:

2 comments:

  1. Happy Birthday sweet Lily Katherine! Some lives don't need a long time to make a big impact. Such is your's, though short is making a huge difference!

    ~Sarah H.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Just beautiful!! I love all that God is doing through you in remembering your sweet Lily. Happy birthday little girl!

    ReplyDelete

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