GUEST SPOTLIGHT: ASHLEE KARASCH OF LILIA GRACE
Late last year I mentioned there were some big things in the works for The Noble Paperie, specifically for our community of mamas that diligently follow us here on the blog and on our social media platforms. One of our goals for 2018, is to give back by bringing some quality content to our followers. Enter: our Guest Spotlight series!
Every couple of months, we plan on sharing a Guest Spotlight here on the Noble Paperie Blog. We will share inspiring stories of other women in the miscarriage, infertility, and loss communities. We want to not only highlight these women, but share how they are using their experience to support other mothers now walking the same path. We hope these words spread a bit of hope and grace to our community, while lifting others up at the same time.
To kick off our Guest Spotlight, I am honored to share the story of Ashlee Karasch of Lilia Grace!
Hello! My name is Ashlee, the founder of Lilia Grace, an online ministry and meaningful shop for women walking through early pregnancy loss. In 2013, my husband and I walked through 2 miscarriages and nearly 2 years of trying to get pregnant. It was an incredibly hard season for me. I experienced anxiety, fear, and depression. During that season, I really struggled to read scripture and trust in the character of the Lord. Since this time, the Lord has done a great work in my heart in freeing me from much of the bondage I experienced during that time, and at the same time birthed a deep desire to minister to women walking this same road.
Lilia Grace is not only the names of two of my babies in heaven. Combined, it means "all is God's, and all is grace," which I believe the image below, the one of hands cupping blueberries, captures most beautifully. You see, that's how big our little ones were when they left us. The size of a blueberry. Hands carefully and gracefully holding blueberries. When I picture that, I think of the Lord—His hands held our babies from before the beginning of time. His hands held them as they grew inside my womb, and His hands held them as their tiny hearts stopped beating. He holds everything in His hands, and everything He gives and takes away is given in grace.
Q. 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage and 1 in 8 couples are walking through infertility. With so many women being affected by these issues we believe there is power in the story. What was the turning point for you to feel safe enough to share your own?
A. Early on in our grief, I REALLY struggled to speak openly about our losses. I wanted to give the perception that everything was alright and loosing those babies didn't have that great of an impact on me. But that's not true right! Loosing a life (regardless of when) is really hard and we are all affected by it in some way. For me, it was about a year after our first loss when I decided to start a blog and write out my story. It was 3 very long posts but they were the most vulnerable words I was able to speak and write. It was at that point I began feeling safe enough and comfortable enough to start talking with other women. I began to realize that many women were experiencing loss too, and looking for a safe place to go. I really wanted to be that safe place. I really wanted to live out 2 Corinthians 1:3-6 despite still being in that season of trying and questioning whether the Lord would ever give us children.
Q. Everyone grieves differently. What was something that helped you to heal and process your grief?
A. I actually have two things that were critical to processing through my grief. The first was a small flip book I made of scripture specific to the gospel and God's character that I carried around with me everywhere! I really struggled reading my Bible and struggled EVEN more with trusting and believing in who God was, but I KNEW it was going to be HIS word, and HIS Spirit that would heal me. The second thing that was essential, was having another woman to walk through my grief with me. I was blessed to have been working at a pregnancy crisis clinic at the time, and was training under a counselor when we lost our first babies. I met with her once a week for 6 months and we walked through the different stages of grief, and dug into scripture as I questioned and struggled through my faith. She was a safe place to bring those struggles to, and she was someone who spoke hard truths to me when I didn't want to hear them!
Q. Was there ever a time someone said something insensitive to you about your pregnancy, pregnancy-loss, or infertility? Knowing what you know now, how would you respond?
A. There were many things that were probably said that I took personally during that time. The one thing that really sticks out is a friend and her husband announced they were pregnant with their first child just weeks after our 2nd loss. It was around the holidays (I miscarried our 2nd on Thanksgiving) and I remember running to my closet moments after we hung up from that conversation and just screamed and cried. I was so angry that God would bless this couple and so jealous at how easy it was for them. It was an ugly moment for me. It was a moment where my deep grief was exposed but also my sin in how much of an idol I had made being pregnant and having a baby. I now pray that I would respond in grace toward anyone who would share such exciting news.
We are responsible for how we respond to outside circumstances. It's ok to grieve, and question, and be angry at a situation. But it's important to remember that people aren't being malicious in how they try to offer us comfort. Most just don't know what to say or what to do, so it's easy to take it personally and internalize it.
Q. We are firm believers that every woman who opens her heart to have children is a mother. What is your most favorite thing about motherhood? And what is the most difficult thing about motherhood?
A. Right now, we have 2 small boys and 3 babies in heaven. The best thing about motherhood is seeing my boys grow in their awareness of Christ and others around them. My two year old has the sweetest heart and is just so in tune with the needs of others. It has been precious to see, and I am humbled to be able to foster that. The hardest thing about motherhood is believing that I am a good mom and that the Lord has appointed these children for me to raise. Motherhood is full of doubt and comparison and I think believing I am enough in Christ is the biggest challenge.
Q. How are you using your gifts to lift others up who are walking through pregnancy-loss, infertility, or other pregnancy-related issues?
A. I have a passion for sharing Jesus, and the Lord has graciously directed me to this online community to minister to. Most days I definitely feel very inadequate, but it's been a process full of learning and growing.
Q. Grief and loss, especially with miscarriage, infertility, and pregnancy-loss, can feel very isolating. What is something you would say to yourself in the first days after your loss?
A. This is such a hard question because the things people said to me during that time were all meant to be encouraging, but at the time just weren't. My heart wasn't ready to receive advice or encouragement. But if I had to say something, it would be this:
Healing looks so different for so many. But it is possible through Christ. Even in our grief, as a believer, we have EVERYTHING we need to live a life of godliness. It is hard and feels impossible sometimes but it can come.
A special thank you to Gina Zeidler and Valerie Duvick for their absolutely stunning photographs we have included here.
And thank you so much friends! Thank you for following us and allowing us to share a little bit about Ashlee, her background, experiences, and story. Did you enjoy this? Do you know a mama who would be a good fit for a Guest Spotlight with us? Feel free to comment here, or drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to hear what you think!