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.

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.


2012 Brought Me Joy

The thing about experiencing tragedy at the end of the year is that you can easily forget all the wonderfulness of the previous months.  2012 was a great year for us…getting settled in our new home, starting homeschool, introducing Judah to baseball and discovering his talent for it, letting Bella have at try at soccer and me at coaching, a summer full of fun, getting Bella into dance and watching her do something she loves, joining a homeschool group, having tons of birthday party fun, the homegoing of my grandmother, and so much more.

One of our greatest joys was discovering that we were expecting our 4th child.  It was a very special time for us.  Bella was getting ready to turn 4, and as the time grew closer, I asked her what she wanted for her birthday.  Her response was always the same, “A baby sister.”  It had started early that year when I was grocery shopping with the kids.  We were in Sam’s and passed by a mother that had a tiny little baby girl in a stroller.  Judah looked at me and said, “Look at that baby girl Mommy…I want a baby sister.”  I reminded him that he had one, that Bella was his baby sister, but he responded with, “No, I mean a little one like that,” pointing at the newborn.  From that moment, both Judah’s and Bella’s desire for a new baby sister only grew, and spread to Justice, and eventually to me and Jason.

So it was very special to us when we discovered that I was pregnant the week of Bella’s birthday.  We shared our happy news at her party, and from then, our excitement and joy only grew.  The kids talked about our new baby every day, especially Bella, who would often cry at bedtime that she missed her baby sister.  (From day one, it was a baby sister. It didn’t matter how many times we explained to them that we didn’t know yet if it was a boy or a girl; they were certain it was a girl. And so were Jason and I.)  She couldn’t wait to have her and made sure that every night when we prayed we thanked God for our new baby.  And by the time Christmas was here, even Justice was saying that what he wanted for Christmas was his baby sister.  She was already very much wanted and loved.

There are no words for the grief we felt when we got the news that are baby no longer had a heartbeat, so I won’t even try to convey it.  Instead, what I’d like to share is the joy she brought us in the 12 weeks she was in our lives.  Although we didn’t see her, or hold her in our arms, her life touched ours.  She is forever a part of our family for she was created for eternity.  I don’t understand why things happen the way they do, but what I do know is that my baby’s life will glorify the Lord.  In this I have comfort, and I have joy.

So 2012 was a good year for us, a very good year indeed.  It brought laughter and tears, and joy and sorrow.  It brought me my second daughter, and her name is Arianna Joy, and I am forever grateful for her life.