Thursday, October 26, 2017

NC Tears Foundation Rock & Walk 2017

This past Saturday, October 21st, we walked for our Lily-girl at the North Carolina Chapter of the TEARS Foundation Rock & Walk! We look forward to this event each October, which coincides with Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. 💗 💙  

Lily's family! #TeamLilysLegacy


The TEARS Foundation financially assists families walking through the loss of a baby. It's such important work!


All the butterflies lined up that honor the babies that the families are walking for. 


Here's a little video I took of all the butterflies...



Here's a video from before the Walk when they read aloud all the names of the babies.. Lily is mentioned towards the end.


Cousins 💗 As were standing near the butterflies before the Walk, a family arrived and a little girl, probably 7 or 8, ran up and found a butterfly, excitedly shouting, "I found my cousin!" It brought tears to my mom and I... soo precious. I hope Harvest is like that one day about Lily.


Lily and Harvest ~ cousins... This is Lily Bear from the ministry Molly Bears. They make bears for families that have lost a baby, weighing exactly what their little one weighed. Lily's is 7 pounds 9 ounces (her birth weight). I've gotten a photo of Harvest and Lily bear at the Walk the last 2 years and want to make it a tradition. 


Here's the photo from last year. :)


Walking for her big cousin!


Lily's butterfly!  They made each of our babies one that we got to take home. :)


I love me some Ellen!


Bo's mom is pretty great!


Bo's grandmother... one of the sweetest ladies for real!


I'm thankful for what these ladies do!


Walking for her cousin wears her out!


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Luke's Should-Have-Been 8th Birthday

As Summer turns to Autumn and the leaves on the trees begin changing hues and the air gets a bit cooler, my heart remembers... This is the time of year he'd be turning 8... Sometimes it feels like I have no right to feel or express my grief since it was a choice I made. But that is a lie and I share so other women and men carrying this regret are free to speak the truth.

The following is something I wrote in February of this year, on the anniversary date of my abortion...

**************

I search my own heart, trying to somehow understand a decision I myself made.

On the outside, I know why I did.

When I discovered I was pregnant, panic and fear immediately gripped my heart and that dreadful word captured my thoughts: abortion. The culture told me it was my choice to decide whether or not I was ready to be a mother. I always knew I wanted to be one, but not then, not under the circumstances I was in. Not while I was still a single teenager. I assumed I could be a mother "when I was ready," as if it's easy to open or close that door. Now I wait, with one abortion in my past and one child in the grave, longing year after year for the opportunity to be a mother again.

I was convinced that abortion was my only solution, as if this was a problem that needed "fixing."

My mind was consumed with thoughts of the shame and humiliation that would come with telling my family and friends I was pregnant outside of marriage. I didn't want people to discover the lifestyle I was leading.

I didn't want to face the pain and sacrifice sure to come with choosing either parenting or adoption.

I didn't want my body to change from pregnancy.

I didn't want permanent ties to the baby's father.

I thought someone might never want to marry me if I had a kid already.

I didn't want my entire future as I thought it should be to be forever altered.

I had grown up in a Christian, pro-life family and had not given much thought to the complex intricacies of what could cause someone to choose abortion. After all, it had never affected me personally. Being pro-life is not hereditary.

I had planned on remaining a virgin until marriage. But somehow along the way, I had made one bad choice after another which took me to a place I never imagined I'd be. My beliefs got buried beneath the pressures and the temptations, buried beneath the longing to be loved, to be known, to be chosen. There are many reasons God has revealed over the years as to why and how.

Because I was "taking care of things" so early (I was only 6 weeks gestation), and because it was a pill I would be taking and not a surgical procedure, I thought it was "no big deal." I couldn't feel any movement yet, never heard the fast thump, thump, thump of my baby's heart beating, and my belly was not yet round. I convinced myself it wasn't really an abortion. I didn't consider the fact that in 34 weeks (or even much less), a fully-formed child would be ready for birth.

I found Planned Parenthood while searching the internet, called and made the appointment for that Friday morning, February 6th, 2009 - 8 years ago today.

I convinced myself it was a pregnancy, rather than a baby. But deep down, in a place I was afraid to even visit, I knew that I was already a mother. The tears I cried during that week are proof. As Anne of Green Gables would describe it, I was in the depths of despair.

That morning came and I had collected the $350 that it would take to stop that tiny heartbeat. I cringe at the thought. I firmly and wholeheartedly believe that had it not been legal and "my choice," and had an abortion not been so easily accessible, and praised even in this society, than I never would have sought one out. I know that I wouldn't have had a back-alley abortion. That's why I can't stand when people use that argument for why abortion should remain legal. We need to empower women to see they can choose life, while still pursuing their dreams.

I wish I had known that my child's heart had already begun beating. I wish I had seen that even though I was ending my pregnancy, I would never again not be a mother.

I wish I could tell you I didn't take the little RU486 pill that I thought would solve all my problems. I wish I could tell you I ran as far and as fast as I could from that clinic with my baby still alive.

But I can't.

February 6th will be etched into my memory forever. My child would be 8 this year. As Summer turns to Autumn and the leaves on the trees begin changing hues and the air gets a bit cooler, my heart remembers. He was due at the beginning of October...

After that February weekend in 2009, I thought I could forget the nightmare ever happened. I just wanted to get back to my "normal life." The pain quickly began catching up with me. The suffering was too great so I shut myself off, my heart turning cold. I drowned my inexpressible sorrow in drinking, partying, and dating a new guy. I so desperately wanted to fill that gaping wound in my heart.

I felt beyond repair, like there was no hope for me. I kept my mind constantly busy and occupied so I didn't have to face the things I so desperately wanted to escape.

I search my own heart to try to make sense of what happened. On this side of having gone through with an abortion, now 8 years later, the better part of a decade, all my reasoning and struggling to recall doesn't seem good enough. The reasons and explanations that sprang up out of my heart to justify ending a life seem shallow.

I convinced myself that somehow this page in the story of my life could be erased, torn out. That's what the deceiver whispered in my ear. But, now I see so clearly. It was a lie. And I was in such a place of vulnerability and desperation that I was willing, eager even, to believe it.

God has used this experience to give me a deeper compassion for others than I believe I could have ever had. I realize this could happen to anyone given the right, or shall I say wrong, circumstances.

I don't even recognize myself and can barely fathom that it was out of my own heart that I chose abortion. It doesn't feel like it could have been me. I don't even know that person who chose abortion.

As alone as I feel at times in loving and missing Lily, I feel even more so about Luke. But how could I expect others to miss him when I didn't even know him? How can I expect others to love him when I loved him too late?

This wasn't the end of the story... Just a few short months later, God's mercy and love would be demonstrated through another life planted within my womb. A life I did not deserve to be entrusted with. Redemption would be written all over her every cell.

Thomas Watson wrote, "Never do the flowers of grace grow more, than after a shower of repentant tears."

The dam of my damaged turned calloused heart had been stopped up until a little flower was planted, in my life, in my womb, in this world, bringing forth the repentance. And it's through that little flower named Lily that God's grace grew within my life and heart. It's through her that He brought healing from the choice to have an abortion. It's through the love He gave me for her that He opened up my heart to love Luke. In treasuring the sanctity of her life, He taught me to value the sanctity of my first baby's life and all life.

There have been some people who have asked me (some even assuming I feel this way), that God punished me for having an abortion with Lily's death. And to this I say, my God doesn't work that way. The blood of Jesus wiped out my abortion when I came to Jesus in repentance. Any child in the womb is a GIFT! Lily died, but the blessings of her life and legacy certainly are not a punishment. As I've written before, she is an eternal flower sent as an eternal gift from an eternal God. She is the farthest thing from a punishment and the fact that she is in Heaven is a comfort. Yes, I miss her and always will, but I have the peace and assurance at the core of my heart and soul that she was never meant to be a little girl of this world. She was called to a higher purpose.

Each February, I like to go back and read the book and watch the movie Tilly, which is 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."

Honestly, this day is not one of shame, humiliation, and debilitating sorrow. But, it is one of remembrance. Remembering recognizes the sanctity of life and honors and celebrates Luke. Remembering is healthy and important.

One of my favorite musicians, Bethany Dillon (now Barnard) is releasing her first full-length record in almost a decade! It comes out in a few days and since I preordered it, I have access to the first couple songs. One of the songs is called "A Better Word," and it seems so appropriate to be listening to this song on repeat this month. I am singing this over my life and have so much comfort in the Lord.

Here are some of the lyrics (you simply must get the album!): "I hear the blood of Abel speak an accusation over me. I'm guilty and I am in need of mercy. You have broken the power of my sin. The curse I lived in has been reversed. The blood of Jesus is my provision. You have spoken a better word. Your blood speaks of the covenant for the both of us you have kept. Betrothed to You in faithfulness, I am redeemed.... No condemnation, I am free. The blood of Jesus speaks for me. The Lamb was slain, now I can sing a better word...." (see Hebrews 12:24)

Now when I look back at this page in my story, it isn't erased, no... but where the blood of my own child was shed because of my own choice, now I see the blood of Christ covering it.













This poem by John Piper powerfully articulates how a mother whose chosen abortion attempts to view the life of her unborn child as an "it":

I waited in my nausea,
Surrounded by stone-faced bourgeois
With rolls of twenty-dollar bills
In jacket pockets with their pills,
Funds from the ATM outside
The clinic door, because the guide,
Imbedded in the website said
"Cash only in advance." The dread
Concealed - as if I really read
The Mademoiselle - my eyes instead
Were staring at the vinyl floor,
So clean and cold, a wise decor
In case a mother's vomit soiled
The luster underfoot, and spoiled
This sterile place.

And then, all through the brief and mindless interview
And prep, they called my baby "it."
I tried to think that what God knit
In me was only "it." I gripped
For dear life every word - a script
To somehow make this life an "it."

But then, with legs still split
In clamps, I lifted up my head,
And saw there on the table, dead,
A tiny torso, not an "it," but "she,"
Destroyed, and with her, me.

************
I will end with this poem I wrote Luke:

First child of my womb,
Quietly you grew, hidden from all eyes.
Why didn't I choose Life?
Why did I believe the lies?

Flesh of my flesh,
My baby, forever you'll be.
I'm sorry I chose the wrong way.
I'm sorry I didn't SEE.

Your life was not wasted.
Valued and precious you are.
God is speaking mightily through you.
From my thoughts, you will never be far.

From darkness to light,
You will always be a part of the story.
Our Father in Heaven promises
To work all this together for His glory.

Your name means "light" and "peace,"
My precious little one.
That's what He's brought in all of this.
In Christ, the victory is won!

I promise to be your voice
Until my days on Earth are through.
I will never be silent
Until the time that I meet you.

In that moment, 
I will gaze upon your face.
I will hold you, kiss you, know you,
In awe of His great mercy and amazing grace.

Even then I know,
Your legacy will still live.
For He breathes beauty into this story,
And purpose He will continue to give.

I love you, my little Lukey.
Thank you for changing me.
Until we meet, my darling,
A forever part of me you'll be.

With all my might, I'll fight in your honor,
Until the battle for Life is won.
In my eyes and heart,
You will always be my son.

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Lily Remembered at Lake Gaston

Lily's name was written in the sand at Lake Gaston, North Carolina by my friend Natalie! 😌 ❤️  


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Hard to Breathe

Isn't this the truth? 😔  #stillbirthhurts

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Wednesday, October 25, 2017

8-Year "Blogoversary"

It was 8 years ago today, on October 25, 2009, that I wrote my very first blog post, titled "My Hope for this Blog."

This is what I wrote: "I made this blog because I want to share my story and my testimony with whoever will listen. It's a story of God's love, forgiveness, and redemption. I want to share my passion and my hope with other girls and young women going through circumstances similar to my own. There is hope. There is life. And His name is Jesus."

1,610 published posts and exactly 8 years later and here we are.


My hope for this blog remains the same, though the direction has expanded. At the time when I first started this blog, I pictured it to be a place where young women could come to be encouraged to choose life in an unplanned pregnancy, a place for post-abortive women to feel loved unconditionally, and a place for anyone to come and hear about the power, mercy, and redemption of Jesus Christ.

I never could have imagined, however, that a few months after this, my precious daughter would go to Heaven. I never could have imagined that my blog would also become a place of ministering to others who have lost a baby. And now also a place to share my journey of trusting God as a single Christian.

It has become so much more than I intended it to be, but everything God intended it to be. He had a plan for this blog beyond what I could see or comprehend on this October day 8 years ago.

And the "ironic" (I believe God orchestrates everything) part of it is, I started blogging first after seeing a video and reading a blog that a woman named Lauren wrote in honor of her son, Jonathan, who passed away shortly after birth from Trisomy 13. He was born and went home to with the Lord the very month that I heard his story and started my blog. I watched her video tribute of his life and read some of her blog and was so deeply touched by this little boy's life and legacy. I think it especially impacted me because I was carrying my own sweet baby at the time, in my second trimester of pregnancy. I was understanding at a deeper level every day how God has a plan and purpose for every life created in His image and that each life is so, so precious and irreplaceable. Each life can make a forever impact on this world.

I shared Jonathan's story on my Facebook page 8 years ago yesterday and then the very next day, I was inspired to start my own blog.

Here's a screen shot of that post.


I remember my hope for my new blog, and my desire to minister to other young women, growing within me. This was the same month that I had gone to the Pregnancy Center Banquet in Charlottesville with my grandmother and the Lord had whispered to my heart that I would one day be sharing my story of redemption and life, through speaking and writing. Then God led me to start my blog just a week later. I knew that God was writing the life story of my daughter Lily and I wanted to share that with the world, just as Lauren had done with Jonathan.

It's just so neat to see God's hand in it all... how He put the desire to share within me, how my mom found Lauren's video/blog and shared it with me, how I had never thought about blogging but decided then that I wanted to, etc.

I remember thinking to myself, and saying out loud to my mom probably, that I could never imagine going through the loss of a baby. My mom and I wept so much when we watched Jonathan's video. It still never crossed my mind that it could ever happen to me or my healthy baby. 

I vividly recall sitting in my living room, trying to come up with a name for my blog. I knew I wanted it to be something with a rose and lily in the name... then it came to me, "Rose and Her Lily." I still love the name so much. My little girl was with me all her life and I will carry her with me the rest of my life. 

Even when I couldn't see it, God was preparing me. He was going before me. He was always with me and He's with me still.

The length of time I've been writing regularly on this blog is a testimony to how much I love Lily, how radically God transformed my life through hers, and the sanctity of all life. It has been a place where I can mother Lily and Luke, a place where I process and heal and help point others to the Healer.

Lord, continue to use this blog for Your glory.

In honor of Jonathan and how his precious life impacted mine, here is his tribute video. I remembered the beautiful music from his video when Lily passed away and was able to use it at her Celebration of Life Service after Lauren so graciously sent it to me in March 2010, just a few months after Jonathan was born.


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Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Pink and Blue for Lily

My sweet girl! 💗 💙  #GoingPinkandBlueForLily #PregnancyandInfantLossAwarenessMonth


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Our Family

I love this from a sweet new Instagram friend! She even incorporated roses, lilies, and a butterfly.  🌹 🌸


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Butterfly Journal

My sweet and thoughtful big brother heard me say I like this butterfly journal so he got it for me. 😌   #ButterfliesforLily #AndBumma


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Scrapbook Page from Auntie Kala

Today I was looking at the scrapbook my best friend Kala made for me a few years ago. She is now my sister-in-law and Lily's auntie. :)

This is the page Kala created in Lily's honor. Those are photos of us at Lily's spot on my 21st birthday, just 7 months after Lily's birth and death. So thoughtful and beautiful. 💕 


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Monday, October 23, 2017

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day 2017 💗 💙

This year for the first time since Lily's birth, I was able to be at her spot in Crozet, Virginia on Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day on October 15th for the international Wave of Light. There were a lot of things happening in Virginia over that weekend and I was glad I could be there (will share more later). It turned out to be quite the special and peaceful evening spent with my mom, Aunt Sarah, Uncle Steve, and Aunt Helen. It was actually Helen's birthday, so it meant a lot that she drove almost the hour trip to spend the evening with us.


I had this picture in my head of how I wanted it to look... I wanted multiple candles lining both stones, lighting up the darkness. Lily is buried by family... her great-great-grandparents, great-grandparents, and great-aunt. Bumma and her baby Rachel who she lost are there beside her, so I wanted to be at the place where I could be near them all. My mom found a bag of many small colorful candles at Bumma's house as she was working on cleaning there earlier in the week. So Bumma provided the lights this year! :) I got there before dark and lit the candles and it looked gorgeous with the mountains in the background.



My mom took this short video of me lighting one of the candles.



Each Fall, I like to take mini pumpkins to Lily's spot but couldn't find them anywhere... but then right before driving over to the cemetery, I made another stop to check if this particular store had them and they did!! I was able to decorate Lily's spot just the way I wanted. The bouquet of flowers were gorgeous from the Pregnancy Center Banquet (I'll share about that soon). I brought a couple things for the evening, including Lily's foot and handprint.



The cemetery was actually made cozy by the candles... never thought I'd say that. My mom usually doesn't like going to the cemetery like I do. Some people find it comforting and others don't and that's okay. She said on that evening that it was the first time there that she got a good feeling, and it was because of the warm glow of the candles. My aunt and uncle said it looked pretty as they were driving up.





It was a cool evening and thankfully there wasn't any rain. The evening was simple in that I didn't really have much planned besides the actual candle lighting. I ended up playing a song called "Lily" by Marianne Alme. It's gorgeous and reminds me of my little flower.


I then read aloud a little something I wrote about why I light my candle for the Wave of Light:

October 15th ~ Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. The International Wave of Light.

I light my candle because I treasure the sanctity of each irreplaceable, beautiful life made in the image of God.

I light my candle to say that these lives have dignity and value and they deserve to be acknowledged and remembered.

I light my candle for the little ones I've grown to love over the last 7 1/2 years in knowing their parents... way too many to even begin to name here.

I light my candle for Lily Katherine and Rachel Ross, my daughter and aunt who came into our family and were physically here for a brief time, yet they forever altered the fabric of our lives.

Most of all, I light my candle as a symbol of hope that the Light of Christ shines into the deepest darkness of grief and death and one day He will set all things right.




We stayed for the hour for the Wave of Light in our timezone. I layed on my back in the grass and gazed up at the October night sky, with sparkly stars shining brightly and beautifully.

As we were sitting there chatting, a dog appeared out of nowhere. Then a lady came running up chasing after him (there is a gas station next door to the cemetery). I had her adorable little dog in my arms to give back to her. I thought that she must be thinking we were a bunch of weirdos out there at night in a cemetery with candles lit, so I explained what the day was and what we were doing haha.

After we left the cemetery, we went to Dairy Queen for a treat. I had a pumpkin pie blizzard. :) 

The entire day was special. I went to church with my friend Jer (his dad is a pastor). Then I had lunch with their family. Then we were at Bumma's in the afternoon. The day felt peaceful and I know I will look back on memories of the day with fondness. 

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