Dearest Arianna

Dearest Arianna,
It’s been 2 months since we lost you, and even though I’ve been carrying on and feeling happy again, I still can’t bring myself to say that I’m ok.  Truth is, I’m not ok, and I don’t really expect to be ok, at least not for a little while longer…

And I must to tell you that I love you and think of you often, and I’m proud of you.  Yes, I’m proud…just as proud as I would be if you had just been placed in my arms because you are my daughter.  And while I pray and wish for just a glimpse of your beautiful face, I still have your name, and I say it often.  Arianna Joy, most holy joy, I know you and remember you.

Baby girl, your life is one of greatness; I know because you have already been so loved.  Even as tiny as you were inside my belly, you evoked such love and joy inside all of us, and we are better because of you.

You are beautiful.  You are fearfully and wonderfully created.  You are my daughter, and I am your mommy.  And until I can be with you there, know that I love you.  Save a place for me, I’ll be there soon.



Every Time I Hear Her Name

I was just sitting here doing reading about a home schooling family with 4 children – Sarah, Joel, Nathan, and Joy – and immediately my eyes filled with tears.  Every time I hear her name, every time I see it in writing, I’m overcome with indescribable emotion – literally, I cannot describe what it does to me, except to say that it moves me to tears.   

Arianna, Joy, Arianna Joy

My eyes still fill with tears every time I hear your name

Every time I see those beautiful words in writing, my heart cries

There’s joy and love accompanied by a stinging pain

And some times it’s as if something inside of me dies

But then, in a moment of Divine healing

Hope returns with a song arising

A gentle hand, in love, starts peeling

Back another layer and there’s beauty surprising

Yes there’s pain, but there’s also glory

For I know this is not the end of the story

You are mine and will forever be

And you’re face I still shall see

In this I find comfort, despite the pain

Yours is a life eternal not spent in vain

Daughter, I miss you, but this is my boast

My future holds you and He who loves me most


Not sure this is quite finished, but we’ll see.

Another One For The File

Shew, that was a close one…I almost missed my weekly blog, but it’s just 7:36 pm and there’s still a few hours to spare before the day ends with me falling asleep on the floor of the boys’ bedroom.  (What happens most nights when trying to keep Justice in his bed.)  As I’m sure you can tell by now, today has not been the ordinary Wednesday for me.  But then again, I seem to be saying that a lot lately, so I guess it’d be more accurate to say that I just don’t have ordinary Wednesdays.

What would a normal Wednesday look like for me anyway?  It’s hard for me to say any more, which kills me.  I thrive when I have a set routine.  I feel successful and accomplished and productive when I have lists of items that I can check off as I do them, even if they’re just mental lists.  But even though I work best with lists, I find myself getting caught up in all of my daily duties and not taking the time to use them.  And why?  It would be, or seem to be,  so easy to just start the day with collecting my thoughts and organizing them into bullets of what I wish to accomplish that day.  Yet, day after day, I find myself being drug out of the bed, either by Jason or any one of the kids, because the day has already begun.

Ideally, I would be getting up somewhere around 5 am, while everyone is still asleep and the house is quiet, to have some time to myself.  I would start with Pilates (a morning stretch always feels so good to me), then read my bible and pray, and then have breakfast started by the time everyone else woke up.  That really is my goal for the start of every single day, and sometimes, sometimes, it does happen.  But when it doesn’t, I try to not to freak out, but just start right where I am.  That’s the phrase I have to recite to myself often, “Just start where you are.”  When the kids are running around the house begging for cereal and milk, and Jason is rushing to start work, and the dishes didn’t get washed the night before so there aren’t any clean spoons, I have to tell myself to just start with washing the spoons.

I comfort myself with the realization it won’t always be this way.  Soon enough, the kids won’t be so dependant on me for such small tasks, and I will miss it.  And I think I’ve been doing a pretty good job with giving myself a lot of grace in this area; it’s evident with how often the dishes aren’t washed, and how behind I am with the laundry.  But I no longer kill myself to get everything done before I go to bed.  Like Scarlett O’Hara, I can “think about that tomorrow.”

Through all of the chaos that comes with raising and homeschooling 3 kids (all 5 and under), and cooking and cleaning and laundry, I have had one constant…Wednesday Morning Watch.  It’s a special time of prayer and worship, harp and bowl style, from 7-8 am every Wednesday morning at The Vineyard, and it’s pretty much the highlight of my week, one of them at least - a time for just me to spend in God’s presence.  It is saaaa-weeeet.  So while my schedule for the rest of the week still needs tweaking, I am consistent with Wednesday mornings…mornings, that is.  Which is why that is the time I have committed to my blog, to make sure it actually gets done.  So for better or worse, here’s another one for the file.

My Dream…probably not what you would expect

I’ve just finished reading Prince Caspian,  of the Chronicles of Narnia, to the kids, and in so doing, I’m in a pretty dreamy mood.  So I figure that taking some time to let my mind run away with itself would be the basis of my blog today.

My dream is to live on a farm.  Not what some of you might have guessed, but I would absolutely love farm life.  To wake up to our rooster crowing just at the break of dawn with the birds singing their morning , and the smell of sweet fruit growing from our trees with the sound of water flowing softly close by - that is my dream.  Not anything too big or commercial…just a quaint little property with a cozy home, and plenty of room for all of our gardening needs and all of the adorable animals I want to raise.

I am not unhappy with our current home by any means, or its location.  In fact, I am more than content with all that we’ve been blessed with, but with all the things that God has placed on mine and Jason’s hearts, we are finding ourselves, wanting, more and more, room outside of a subdivision.  I love the house that God has given us.  You would never see it on Million Dollar Homes, and it’s not a mansion by any stretch of the imagination, but it is everything I’ve ever wanted.  (And the story of how God worked everything out for us to get our home is one of my favorites, but you’ll have to read that in an earlier blog.)  If I could just transplant our house onto some land somewhere I would, but alas, I cannot.  We are, by no means, searching for another place to live, but if a nice-size, beautiful piece of land, with some woods and a creek, came available to us…well let’s just say that I would think twice about it, and maybe 3 or 4 more times after that, and then discuss it further with Jason, and then…

I am a farm-girl at heart, and have always been so, mostly due to my love for nature and just about any little (but big too) critter.  Jason’s desires have grown more recently - a true working of the Holy Spirit, I believe, but that will have to be a whole other blog too, and one that maybe should come straight from him.  Nevertheless, we find ourselves on a daily basis thinking, and talking, and planning, for if and when we have more land, and even what we can start doing now with just our 1 acre lot.

So this is what I want…I would like to find about 15 acres (I think, I’m not really a numbers kind of person) nestled in a nice little wood front with a little creek streaming through it.  And perhaps a big, beautiful willow tree just overshadowing the creek, along with plenty of Dogwoods (they’re my favorite) and some Oaks and Maples too.  We’d have all the fresh fruits and vegetables we could ever want right outside our door for picking every day, and all the trees and water would bring the wildlife right to our back door for endless pleasure.  I’d like to start out raising chickens, along with a couple of pygmy goats and a baby pig.  We’d, of course have a dog or two, preferably a Redbone hound and a Weimaraner, and maybe a tomcat roaming the property (but just strictly for mousing and for Bella’s sake…she wants a cat so bad).  And eventually we might add some horses and a cow.  All the animals would be mostly for enjoyment, although they would all serve other useful purposes, and all the produce would just be to provide for our family and sharing with others, not to make a fortune.  So like I said before, nothing too big, just enough to get us and our kids out in the middle of God’s creation and living life the way he intended – abundantly.

Lord, I Need Help

My heart is heavy tonight.  What started out as a great morning turned into a “let’s-stay-on-track” noon time, and a “let’s-pull-it-back-together” afternoon time,  and a “we-can-still-turn-things-around” evening, and a “what-in-the-world-happened?” bedtime.  R-O-L-L-E-R-C-O-A-S-T-E-R – the only word that I think adequately describes the emotional state that we have all been in.  And I’m totally aware that the madness that has been going on originates with me.  I’m suppose to be the peace and joy and stability of our home, but instead I have just been a wreck.  I feel so raw, like my heart is bleeding.  Yep, that’s me – the bleeding heart- only not in the usual sense.  I am far too apt to lose my happiness these days, and I am too quick to begin feeling hopeless.  I feel so weakened by the sorrow I have experienced that the normal, every-day little trials have been getting the best of me.  This week started out rather good.  I felt happy, energetic, and ready to tackle all of my responsibilities.  But as each day has passed, I have felt more and more run down by from all the running around and trying to get caught up on and staying on top of things, and tonight I am just purely exhausted.  Each trip to town, every load of laundry, all the dirty dishes and scattered toys, every minute of school, and all the trying of my patience - it has all just wiped me out.  My strength is failing; I’m wearing out.  I feel the way Bilbo Baggins described in The Fellowship of The Ring, “Thin, like butter scraped over too much bread.”  And as I’m sitting here saying all of this to myself, I realize that I need more of God…much, much more of God, cause what I have isn’t enough.  Or perhaps I have it all wrong, because He has already given all there is to give.  Maybe it’s that I need to give Him much, much more of me.  Yes, that seems right.  That would be the better way, the easier yoke, the lighter burden.

Lord, I need help.  I know I can do nothing in my own strength, but it seems that I have been trying.  Why is it so easy for me to forget that I don’t have to?  But I am weary, and once again I turn to you.  I am calling out to you for a strength exchange.  All I have are ashes and heaviness, but I know you can make them into something beautiful. I will gladly take your joy for my weakness.  Just lay Your hands on me Lord, and I will be brand new.

It’s Never Too Late For Goodness

I’m afraid that today’s blog is coming from a point of aggravation.  On top of the emotional rollercoaster I’ve been on, I still have all the little every day frustrations to deal with, and I’m just going to go ahead and admit, up front, that I have not been doing a good job.  The recent turn of events has left us shattered, and now that all the smoke has cleared and the ashes have settled, I find myself struggling to pull the all the pieces of our lives back together.  Difficult could not even begin to describe the task that I am now facing.  Needless to say, whatever can go wrong will, and just when I feel like the pieces are falling back into place, it all falls apart again.

Right now we should be doing our school lesson, but instead, Judah sits on his bed – feeling sorry, no doubt, along with a bunch of other emotions – and me, I’m desperately trying to find my composure and the strength to hold it together.  I know my little boy better than anyone, and this just isn’t him today, but I haven’t been myself either. My children now know, too personally, the sting of death, and a little bit more of their innocence has been taken away. I just don’t know how to handle their fragile little emotions and still do what we need to do. I’m not sure how to handle my emotions and still do what we need to do.  I really have not been doing a good job.  God please help me, because now it’s time to pull it together, and feed my family lunch, and try to carry on with our day.  Jesus, You who makes all things new, help me to salvage this day.  It’s never too late for goodness.  It’s never too late for goodness.  It’s never too late for goodness.

Arianna Joy

It’s been one month today since we lost our baby. Already a month…just a month…time is funny that way. It’s goes by so quickly, and yet it seems so long. My friend Camille is right – I do have the need to talk about Arianna, to tell her story and have people know what I know – that her’s was a valid life in God, and though not on this earth, she is living in eternity. She is a life, and a life worth mentioning. So here is her story…

Arianna had been wanted, and longed for, for well over a year. If I had to say, the closest to an accurate number that I could give would be for 29 years.  For as long as there was a me, there was always a desire for her. Long before I was ever married and had kids, she existed as a dream in my heart. And after getting married and starting my life with Jason, I couldn’t wait to start our family.  And even after having all 3 of my beauties that I have now, she was still wanted - a much-needed piece of the puzzle I call family.

And of course I was not alone in my desires for her. Judah and Bella, and even Justice, had asked for a baby sister for a year. We heard their pleas and request for a baby sister every day. Judah would tell me that he wanted God to give me 4 kids, 2 boys and 2 girls, and Bella would ask Jesus for a baby sister almost every night. And even Justice, at age 2, saw his newborn baby cousin and exclaimed, “I want that! I want one!” It got to the point of him answering what he wanted for Christmas was a baby sister. Likewise, what Bella wanted for her birthday was a baby sister.

So it was like being in our own little fairy tale when we discovered that I was expecting again on Bella’s birthday, only our Happily Ever After had been delayed.  On December 17 I had a doctor’s appointment. It was just supposed to be a normal check-up, but all of a sudden I was having to listen to the doctor say, “Amanda, there’s no heartbeat, ” and I was having to let go of who I never got to hold.

It was just 12 weeks, but she was a part of me in way that only she and 3 others have ever been, and that’s long enough. She is my daughter, and I am a mother of 4, and I do have the need to share her life with others. But all I really know about her is that we wanted her so much, and that we were already so in love with her, and that she had already brought us so much joy.  So I just had to say to God, “I would like to tell people about her, but what do I say?  What is her purpose?  What is her destiny?”   And this is what He said…

Tell them she was formed by My hand, made in My image, and she is beautiful.  Her purpose is joy, and her destiny is holiness, and that is why she is here – to bring Me joy, in holiness.

This is her story -  that she was fearfully and wonderfully made, and known by God even before she was formed in her mother’s womb.  And she was loved by Him, and by us.

We have named her Arianna Joy - Arianna meaning most holy, and Joy meaning joy.  She has brought us much joy.  I love saying her name, and I love seeing it in writing.

Arieanna Joy Collage

I’m Holding On To The Love That Has Laid Hold Of Me

Happy Wednesday morning!  I had another special time at Morning Watch, even though there were a couple of glitches getting started.  It’s such a special time for me, in the secret place with God.  I know I’ve said it before, but I must say it again; it’s not’s a duty, it’s not a chore, it’s my pleasure to spend the early Wednesday morning hour in fellowship with the Lover of my soul, and those who are lovesick for Him.  This morning was particularly healing for me, singing songs that have been lifting my soul and bringing me through everything.

I had a dream last week…not a bad dream, but waking up to the devastating truth that it was not real brought back all my first feelings of sorrow and grief of having lost my baby.  I dreamed that I was having a baby and woke up just as I was about to deliver.  And even though there were silly, nonsensical happenings in the dream, it felt utterly real – so real that I was completely dazed when I woke up.  But then the weight of reality hit me like a hammer:  It’s not real.  I no longer have a baby I lost her.  And I heard again the words that the doctor had spoken to me, “Amanda, there’s no heartbeat.”  I immediately got an aching tightness in my chest and it was hard to breathe, and I thought that I was going to burst with sobbing so I quickly got out of bed and went downstairs.  All I could think was, “Why, God, would you let me dream that?”  And as I sat there with my cries trapped in deep in my chest, and feeling like letting go and giving up, I heard the words of a Jon Thurlow song:

I look into Your eyes of mercy, I look into Your eyes of love

I remember that Your heart is for me

I’m holding on to Your divine love

I’m holding on and I’m not letting go

It’s not my zeal; it’s that Your love is strong

It’s not my strength; it’s that You’re faithful

It’s not so much that I’m holding on, but that I’m being held on to.  And just when my heart would faint, He is here with His rod and His staff and comforts me.  He is with me in the night, in the valley of weeping, turning it all to joy.  He doesn’t just give me mercy; He is Mercy.  He is Joy, and He is Love, and alive in me.  When I can’t find strength, strength finds me.  And “I’m holding on to the love that has laid hold of me.”

As in the words of Laura Hackett’s song, You Satisfy My Soul:

You make my heart sing

You lift me on eagles wings

Just when I thought that my heart would faint

You take the darkest night

And turn it to shining light

Just when I thought that the night had won


Oops, I almost forgot that today was Wednesday and time for me to jot a little something down in my blog again.  I’ll blame it on the fact that I was out of my normal routine for today.  I didn’t get to go to Morning Watch because Jason had to work in Louisville and leave the house before I would get back home.  And so began the Wednesday where I felt mostly out of sorts, if I can use that phrase for what I mean.  I didn’t do things the way I normally would like to.  I was so sleepy and was not ready to get out bed.  But Judah and Bella were up, and Jason was leaving, so I easily gave in to Judah’s persistent request to watch something on tv.  My plan was to lay down on the couch, under the warmth of my new electric blanket Jason got me, and rest until the movie they picked out was over.  But by the time I atually got to make it to the couch, I was awake and decided to do some journaling instead of resting.

Last night Jason bought me a special journal to use for writing through the loss of Arianna and to record the story of her life.  I have come across several instances of people writing, or encouraging to write, to help through the process of grieving, so I decided to give it a try.  So last night we went to Barnes & Noble to shop for one…and we also thought it would do us some good to just get out of the house and let the kids play at the Lego and train table.  I quickly ended up with a whole stack of journals that seemed worthy enough for the purpose, but ended up not getting any of those.  I had searched around for any and all journals that had a picture of a butterfly because I discovered it is a common symbol used for a pregnancy loss.  A butterfly represents a short life – the butterfly transforming from caterpillar (life) through chrysalis (death) to butterfly (resurrection) in only a short space of time.  I didn’t find any, but while I was going through several others, Jason came to me with one he had found.  It was spiral bound, like what I was wanting so I wouldn’t have to deal with a rigid binding that makes it difficult the write, and it had a single butterfly on the cover — simple and beautiful in the color of the flowers we have chosen to plant in honor of our daughter, forget-me-nots.  He didn’t know anything about the symbol of the butterfly, he just saw it and thought it might mean something special to me, and it did.

So this morning I started writing my way through all my emotions, and I think it really is helping.  To be able to express, in complete freedom, the way I feel is, in fact, very healing.  It is bringing me face to face with my true feelings so that I can recognize them, deal with them, and heal from them.


Writing Again

On this first Wednesday morning of the year, I’d like to renew my committment to my blog.  Life has thrown us a couple of curve balls, in recent months, that distracted me from my desire to write.  Lots of up and downs, some really big ups, and even some really big downs, have made their way into our lives.  But through them all, the Lord has been near to us.  He has been right here close, never far away.

Jesus is so good at making things new and good, and just when I didn’t think I could feel anything else but pain, He came and gave me joy.  There is a deeper knowing that can come out of the place of sorrow and loss, and through it comes an intimate understanding of how blessed those are who mourn, for they are comforted.

Jesus is still healing my heart.  It takes time to mend such deep hurts, but it’s just a matter of time.  And in the meantime, He is near to me, closer than a brother.  I am being loved by Love Himself, and  I am being comforted by The Comforter.

So once again, I have the desire to write again, and this is my committment…to spend some time (some time) every Wednesday morning doing a little writing.  And maybe I will find some time in other places of my week to devote to my blog too, at least that is my hope.  I once read that “The desire to write grows with writing.”  I hope to find that true.  And perhaps it will lead to more healing, and to something that will glorify the Lord.