Emsley Hope Smith – her story!

Morning friends!

I’m not even sure how to describe how much we appreciate both your words of comfort and your words of rejoicing for us this week. We are overwhelmed at the way each of you entered into our pain and our joy! Saying “thank you” just doesn’t reach the depths of gratitude that my heart is swelling with this morning. This little blog has drawn a community to us that has impacted us in more ways than we can count! You guys are amazing… and we truly love you…

I’m sitting at my parents kitchen island as I type this, sipping a hot cup of organic (swiss water process, decaf) coffee – it’s my little treat I allow myself to have while pregnant. As a side note, if you didn’t know, decaf coffee is typically full of chemicals because of the way they extract the caffeine from the bean (typically using a solvent). BUT, if you can find a brand that provides a decaf coffee that uses the Swiss Water Process (SWP) method- they use steamed water to extract the caffeine, you’re free to indulge without all the added chemicals! Thank you to Kezia at The Whole Food Diary for giving me that pro tip! If you don’t follow her blog or instagram account – you need to, a wealth of information I tell you and lives on a budget! This is the brand I found at our local grocery store Kroger, but if you don’t have one near you they sell it on Vitacost & I’m sure on Amazon.

We’re down in Florida, visiting family for Christmas, and as the holiday approaches I can’t help but think of my favorite gift this year – our baby girl, Emsley Hope. I feel overwhelming blessed to be her mama. Like her brother, I can tell that the Lord’s anointing is on this sweet gift because her testimony already shines forth the glory of the God! So without further ado, I’d like to introduce you to my girl, my precious gift from God – Emsley Hope!


Her story starts well before she was even conceived, so let’s back up just a little. After my postpartum appointment in January for Caden, my biggest prayer was that my body would recover well. If you’ve been following my story for a while, you know that it was a long journey of healing to even get pregnant with Caden, so I did have some anxiety that my hormones wouldn’t level out normally. But February came, and so did my first postpartum cycle – which was such a healthy sign for me! And subsequently the next 3 months were all normal cycles as well. But then the summer rolled in and all of a sudden I wasn’t have monthly cycles, but more like 45 day cycles. Things seemed to be heading in the wrong direction… Ovulation was getting to harder to predict (even with prediction kits) and hope was beginning to wain.

I’ve shared before, but I felt ready to get pregnant fairly quickly after Caden. I’m sure there were several motivating factors that contributed to my readiness – I’m sure some of it was in hopes of quenching the ache of grief, some of it was the longing just to be/feel pregnant again, the desire to be a mama and have a baby to actually raise… But I know that my timing isn’t always the right timing. I trust God’s timing to be the supreme standard of good and right, and yet the waiting for that perfect timing can be so excruciatingly hard. Month after month I would be baffled to see another opportunity to conceive come and go without success. My life was beginning to revolve around this desire to get pregnant. I realized that I was so fanatically focused on this one dream that God had placed in my heart, this one desire, that I was closed off to any other area in which the Lord may have been wanting to move. I began to see that I was postponing making any sort of decision for the future because my internal dialogue was programmed to ask “Well what if I get pregnant?”. I was living for an unknown future, and actually missing “being” in the present.

As I’ve grown older, one of the things I’ve become most appreciative of is the fact that God never wastes anything! While I may feel like I’ve wasted precious time, resources, money, etc. – Jesus is always redeeming on my behalf for His glory! Even in my season of waiting, once again, He was using it to polish areas of my heart that were still tarnished. To learn to not be afraid to move my gaze from a dream that my heart craved, and leave it in His hands. To see what else He was doing in my life and participate in that. Learning to be present really helped to remove the subconscious pressure I had placed on myself and my body to conceive. One of the great truths that kept me trusting, kept me hoping and faithful during this season of waiting was a simple line of Scripture that a dear friend and mentor of mine kept speaking over me. With each passing month, as my hope would begin to wain, she would call me to Hope Against Hope – to press into the Hope of Jesus to Hope for the impossible. It quickly became an anthem for me. I couldn’t have told you where in the Bible that portion of scripture could be found, or even what context it was speaking of – I just knew it was in there and the truth of that short phrase was the reminder I needed daily.

As odd as it sounds I can distinctly remember the moment that I conceived Emsley. I knew it from both a physical sense and a deep spiritual knowing. I even told Josiah that I was pretty sure it had happened (to which he, understandably, looked at me like I was crazy – but also held a glimmer of hope in his eyes that I perhaps I was right). Fast forward to the morning of September 11th – it was a Monday, and Josiah was working from home that morning. I had gotten up and was enjoying breakfast and had decided to listen to a sermon from a Pastor back in Jacksonville for my devotional time that morning. The sermon was centering on Romans 6, so before I hit play – I decided to skim through Romans 4 & 5 just to get my bearings and figure out what the author had been saying leading up to chapter 6. And that’s when it happened y’all! I found it! Well I didn’t really find it, the Lord graciously lead me to it – but I found the verse about “hope against hope”. If you have a minute – I’d love to share it with you:

18 In hope against hope he believed, so that he might become a father of many nations according to that which had been spoken, “So shall your descendants be.” 19 Without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah’s womb; 20 yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, 21 and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform. 22 Therefore it was also credited to him as righteousness. 23 Now not for his sake only was it written that it was credited to him, 24 but for our sake also, to whom it will be credited, as those who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, 25 He who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification.

Y’ALL!!!! Can you even believe it?!? The anthem of my season of waiting actually centers around a miraculous story of hope in the midst of the impossible for the promise of a child that God had given to another couple from millennia ago! I felt so encouraged that morning, that even in my waiting and my longing God saw me – He knew my deep desire, He was proud of me for releasing control of my dream to Him and reassured me that He is able to do WONDERS with the impossible. I quickly got up and headed into the office to share what I had just learned with Josiah. Encouraged himself, my revelation seemed to jolt his memory and he quickly yelled out “Oh my gosh, I can’t believe I haven’t told you this yet!! I had a dream last night and you were in labor again delivering a baby. A baby boy was born, and while the doctors were tending to him, I looked down to realize that another one was coming out – a girl, because she was already wrapped in pink… yeah it was kinda weird but it’s a dream so whatever. I yelled to the doctors “umm, hey guys, there’s another one coming!” but they were busy with our baby boy so I just bent down to catch her.” Dreams are one of the main ways that the Lord communicates with Josiah, I rarely dream (or at least I don’t remember my dreams) but when Josiah dreams, they’re vivid and usually have great meaning attached to them.

As soon as he shared this dream, I felt an urgency to take a pregnancy test. The onslaught of messages felt too much to ignore. I had a test saved that came with my last ovulation test kit, so I ran upstairs and took the test. I decided not to mention that I had taken the test to Josiah, just because if my “feeling” ended up being wrong I didn’t want to create any additional discouragement in him. While I was waiting for the test to read, I changed into gym clothes to try and get a workout in that morning – as soon as I was dressed my phone rang, a FaceTime call from my favorite little peeps in Florida! Distracted by their sweet faces and the timing of the gym class I planned to attend- I left the house without checking the test! It wasn’t until I arrived home from the gym and headed upstairs to take a shower that I remembered I hadn’t checked the test!! I ran into the bathroom to see the test sitting on the counter – with 2 LINES!! 2 LINES!!!! I couldn’t believe it – could this actually be happening again, could I really be pregnant? I had pictured this moment in my mind so many times, would I tell Josiah or would I try to do something to surprise him… in real time I couldn’t contain my excitement and I just yelled for him. He came into the bathroom and I showed him the test. He was so shocked & confused – he hadn’t even known I’d even taken a test, so it took a minute for all of it to sink in. I told him that we needed to go to the store immediately to get a few more tests (I wanted to be SUPER sure!). We grabbed 2 more tests, the ones that read”pregnant” or “not pregnant” so there would be no way to mistake the results. We got home and I took the first test… “not pregnant”. Wait what?! How could that be? So I decided to take the second one right then as well. Again, “not pregnant”. Josiah looked at me with empathetic eyes, pulled me close and said “I’m sorry babe. We’ll keep trying.”

The odd thing is, I wasn’t sad – I looked right back up at him and said “I don’t believe the tests, I think they’re wrong”. Skeptically he looked at me because 2 tests just read “not pregnant”, so how could I even think that they were wrong? I explained to him that I thought perhaps the results were skewed because I had just done a pretty intense workout, and drank a bunch a water to hydrate so I was sure the samples weren’t accurate and concentrated enough. He let me think what I wanted, but I knew he didn’t agree. While I was out grocery shopping that afternoon, I decided to pick up 2 more tests – I was going to wait until that evening to take another one to make sure I gave my body ample time to level out. Time seemed to tick by SO slowly and finally before it was even dinner time I told Josiah I was going to take another test. He came over from his office and stood with me while we waited for the results… minutes later results came that have changed our life (again) forever… “Pregnant”!!!!! We agreed that I would wait until the next morning to take the last test, and that would be the final test we’d take to determine if we were indeed actually pregnant. I didn’t need that final test, I knew I was and I was so excited!


That night I felt like a little girl trying to fall asleep on Christmas Eve, the excitement was too much to bear and I ended up just tossing and turning all night long. It wasn’t until around 5:15am, when I realized I had to pee that I decided to “wake up” and take the final test. I rolled over to tell Josiah, and graciously got up with me to see what the results read. The 3-5 minutes it takes can feel like a lifetime, but it’s completely worth it to see the results flash “Pregnant”. Pregnant!!! We were pregnant!!! We couldn’t contain our excitement, we hugged, we cried, we laughed, we cheered, we thanked God! It all felt surreal, and we were soaking in every euphoric moment. I waited patiently until 5:45am to FaceTime our parents – I knew my Dad would likely be up and that news like this would be something they wouldn’t mind a sunrise call for. My Dad answered, and the first thing he asked was if everything was alright? I told him yes, and asked him if Mom was up yet as well? His response is something that will forever be etched into my mind… “Why do we have some news?!?” As tears welled up in my eyes and a giggle came out of my mouth, he shouted “Oh Jesus we have news!! Thank you God! Thank you God!”. As both parents came on the screen (praise pause for living in a time when I can SEE my parents instantaneously from states away!!) we got to share the exciting news that we were pregnant again. My family are criers, so there were tears being shed all around! We called Josiah’s mom next, and she happily woke my father-in-law up from a dead sleep to hear the good news! Rejoicing ensued once again! This little love was coming into a family that had been LONGING for her for months!

Part 2 of baby girl’s story is coming right up…


This Day

Caden Day – Daddy’s Perspective

This day one year ago we got to meet and say goodbye to our son, Caden. A day that changed our lives forever. The darkest of days. Today, we celebrate Caden day. It is a mixed-emotions type of day. The sting of loss is still there; the hurt is real. But there is also joy because our little warrior served out his calling and purpose. Too short a life if you asked me, but I don’t write the story, God does. And He said that Caden fulfilled his purpose. So we celebrate!

It has been a whirlwind of a year; lots of highs and lows. There has been suffering and redemption. This day, the sting is less as God has provided Alicia and I with another special child, a little girl, whom we have named Emsley Hope. For she is a gift and God has been faithful to us even in the midst of the storm. Caden gets promoted to big brother. So we celebrate both our kids on this day, with grateful hearts. Never, until this year, has there been such polar opposite emotions wrapped into a single year. Hard work being done in us and through us, especially for me as I have wrestled deeply with faith, life, joy and grief. There have been many that have stood by us throughout this journey. We are deeply indebted for all the kindness shown to us.

caden day pic

Many thoughts have been swirling in my mind the last few days. One sticks out the most: the realization that Caden is real. There has been an underlying fear of mine this year that, while people hurt with us, Caden gets overlooked, perhaps forgotten. Why and how could I think that? Even our closest family and friends never got to see him or hold him in real life. Just Alicia and I did. To those who have shared our journey, they never were introduced to him in the flesh. But that has been the most overwhelming truth revealed recently….that Caden is real to them too. All the phone calls, texts and cards of family and friends remembering our son and how they think of him often. He is remembered. And it brings tears to my eyes as I swell with many emotions of thankfulness, pride and joy. Clearly my fear was incorrect and has been dispelled and it has brought me such comfort. Comfort that my son’s legacy still lives on. That he can and is changing the world, bringing hope and helping others who have suffered loss to hold on to faith that God has a good plan, even if it doesn’t look that way right at this moment.

This day, while it’s Caden day, it is also Friends & Family day. It would be unfair that as Alicia and I celebrate and remember, that we would not mention those who have journeyed with us. This day is your day also….thank you for standing with us as in our deepest pain and greatest joy this year. To Popo, Kagy, Grammy and Poppy for fielding the phone calls at 3:30am to cry with me as I held Caden since Alicia was still in post-delivery surgery. For traveling up just to be with us. The cards sent throughout the year continued to help us through the pain. To Anthony, Ben and “my guys” for answering the texts and calling me that morning to just be there. Ben, thanks for driving up to just be in the hospital and at home with us for a couple days after. It helped ease the shock of it all. Forever grateful my man. To Auntie Beth, Uncle Jon, Auntie Shan, Uncle J, and RyRy for all the loving support and even coming to the funeral to be the walls of love that we could lean on without crumbling. To our nieces and nephew, who loved and still think about Caden boy. For the toys and cards and sharing your stuff with him, Caden truly felt loved from his cousins. Thank you Sandi for the prayers and support. Thanks Anthony and Kayla for coming up to have some fun and bring comfort to us….we needed it after coming out of hibernation. To Teresa, for the guidance, direction and counseling this year. For helping me wrestle and conquer the hauntings and demons in my life. To help me walk through this while building up my faith. Thanks for letting me brutally honest and providing that space to let it all out. To everyone else not mentioned by name, you are not forgotten. To those who have shared in our story, written words of encouragement, told your own stories and prayed for us, a big thank you to you as well!

There are many things I feel like I missed out on over this last year that I won’t get to experience with Caden. The laughs, cries, funny faces, etc. I guess that will never go away. One day though, it will all make sense. When Jesus comes back to renew all things, then we shall know in full. While the struggle of only knowing in part right now is difficult, hope remains. Today we celebrate you, my son. This day as well as all other days, Caden boy, your life matters. It matters to mommy and daddy and a multitude of family and friends. You matter and your story matters and I am thankful that God is using you to make a difference in the world. May it ripple far beyond what our eyes can see! Happy Caden Day!

A Day of Remembering, Honoring & Celebrating!

Hello Sweet Peeps!

I absolutely LOVE Christmas, like start listening to Christmas music in October, watch ALL the holidays movies, partake in festive Christmas beverages, LOVE it. And while I have still absolutely indulged in all of the above, my Christmas experience has also changed. It’s been life-changing because of One baby (Jesus), but has been forever marked by another sweet babe – my first born little love, Caden Harvest Smith.


Tomorrow marks the 1 year anniversary of Caden leaving this world and getting to meet our Savior face-to-face. Just that image alone brings such a myriad of emotions. Such happiness, joy & hope that my boy is playing, dancing & living a life of perfection with Jesus in person and that one day I am promised to join him! What a family reunion THAT will be! We will no doubt make it a party to remember – we Smiths like to celebrate EVERYTHING. Similar in fashion to wedding festivities of other cultures that enjoy extended celebrations, I could see this party lasting for all of time… But the image, and anniversary itself, also brings with it some heartache, sadness, longing, and questions (still).

I had a sweet friend ask me yesterday how I was feeling about this week. She has been the first person to actually ASK me that question, and I think her extremely brave for doing so. If our roles were reversed, I think I would find it hard to know how to enter into the anniversary of someone’s devastation – so I’d likely let my support be through prayer & a kind text to share how they were in my thoughts. But I’m so grateful for the question, because truly I hadn’t allowed myself to really process how I was feeling until I was asked.

Shortly after losing Caden, Josiah and I knew that his heavenly birthday would be something we’d want to celebrate as a family for the rest of our lives. Yes, actually celebrate! It’ll forever be “Caden Day” in our home, and it’ll be a day of remembering, honoring and celebrating our son (and our future babies’ big brother). Our intent is to choose a fun activity/adventure that we’d love to do/experience with Caden and celebrate him by enjoying in that together as a family. So this year, Josiah and I have decided to go ice skating, to build (our first) gingerbread house and to spend the evening cruising the ‘hood to see all the pretty Christmas lights. As we thought about this day, my focus has been on the celebration – so I’ve actually been looking forward to it! I am thankful that my son is experiencing FULLNESS of life. I am thankful that he gets to play with (and probably be spoiled by) Jesus, Aunt Pat, Grandpa & Nana Corning, Grandpa & Grandma Spearman, Grandma Shirley, Lincoln & Tucker Vaughan… and goodness knows if he’s anything like his Dad (which I have a feeling they were two peas in a pod) he’s likely friends with most of the saints on high by now!

But as I allowed myself to really be asked “how are you feeling about this week Leesh?” – I realized that while there is a real part of me that’s excited to celebrate, there is also a very real part of me that’s scared. I know what you’re probably thinking, “scared? that’s an odd emotion to feel… sad, yes! disappointed, sure! but scared?”. And since I know you people so well, I thought through WHY I’m feeling that way… and I think it’s because it’s a first. It’s the FIRST anniversary of the single most painfully hard and devastating days of my life. I think firsts are always hard, because there’s an element of the unknown – first day of school, first date, first traffic ticket, first fight. Tomorrow is no different, and I’m scared about the element of the unknown. How will I really feel on the day? How will I handle the memories that will surely come flooding back? Will I be able to do the sacred dance between grief & joy? How will Josiah feel? What will tomorrow bring for him? So many questions, with no answers. The answers won’t come until the moment we actually experience it. fullsizeoutput_2a44

And I’ve realized that, while my controlling personality likes to think it’d be better to “be prepared ahead of time”, my heart is beginning to learn that I think the unknown is a picture of God’s gracious love and mercy poured out upon us. Because let’s be honest, are you ever “prepared” to celebrate/mourn the 1 year anniversary of losing your son? No. I think knowing ahead of time would just cause greater anxiety, greater hurt, extended mourning. So today, I’m entering tomorrow hopeful! Because no matter what emotions the day brings, this advent season reminds me of Papa God, who empathizes with our loss from a place of knowing. He, too, lost His one and only Son. He has been, and will continue to be our source of strength, our comforter, our promise keeper… because we KNOW His goodness, we walk into tomorrow trusting Him…

But the ache of tomorrow has also been graciously dulled somewhat by God’s ever present FAITHFULNESS to us, because we walk into tomorrow also knowing that this advent season we have been given another miraculous gift making her debut May 2018!!!

That’s right people – WE. ARE. PREGNANT!!!!! And it’s a sweet baby GIRL!!!!

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Emsley = A Gift from God

Hope = for the Hope against Hope that we had to cling to in trusting God would be faithful to His promise to us. Romans 4:18-24 is the pinnacle of her story, and we pray that she will be a girl/women who is securely rooted in the Hope of Jesus and the deep knowledge that He is a promise keeper!

This little girl is truly a GIFT from God! And her story (already) is worth a post of it’s own – so stay tuned for that!

We love you all. We thank you for the prayers that have already been offered on our behalf for tomorrow! And we pray that this advent season of Hope – no matter what you’re facing, you experience the deep knowing that He defies odds and always keeps His promises.

Recently… Part 2

Hello Friends!

IMG_0775No, this isn’t a recent picture. In fact, it’s from MAY if you can believe it! Although, I thought it a great representation of how we’re feeling today. It’s nice and chilly in Richmond, as I sit at my computer desk with a steamy mug of tea…

First things first – holy moly can you people make a person feel surrounded, seen, loved and uplifted. You all graciously allowed me to “dump” all that we’ve struggled with these past months in my last post, and the responses we received via comments, texts, emails… was overwhelming! So much love was passed our way, and I hope that even as I share our story you feel the deep deep love I have for each of you. Truly…

As promised, part 2 of our lives recently is here! And, in my opinion, its the sweetest, most unexpected part. I have found that even in the midst of the hard, God remains – and because He is a good God, His very presence oozes goodness in very real ways. I have experienced this first hand. So without further ado…

What’s been a blessing?  

Postpartum helped me confront the brutal facts about my relationship with my body & food:

For the majority of my life, I have had a love/hate relationship with food. I don’t think our culture has done a good job of empowering women to love, nourish and appreciate their bodies. Starting in childhood, I learned food was something to be restricted, controlled, manipulated for a specific “end goal” – being at a good weight. I never felt safe to indulge, feast or even properly feed my body because I had voices whispering constantly “You can’t eat that, it’ll make you fatter than you already are. You’re not like other people who can metabolize those foods, so you shouldn’t eat that.”. I had no clue, at that age, that those voices were in fact lies, and that those lies were heaping layers and layers of shame on an already vulnerable heart. Adolescence is typically a season of self-discovery, and it’s hard enough without having to combat false truths about who you are or what brings you worth. Consequently, I grew into an adult having no clue how to truly nourish my body. And the stress of graduating college, starting my first “career” job, meeting and dating my future husband – took a toll on my body. It began to just shutdown, and I was helpless to fix it with any “quick” remedies. Thus began my journey of healing, but like with most seasons of healing – sometimes things get messier before they get better. My digestion was wrecked, I had a systemic case of SIBO & no foods felt safe. I went on a pretty severe restriction diet to try and detox my body from the bacterial imbalance/overgrowth. I didn’t want to mask symptoms any longer, I wanted to get to the root of my issue and allow TRUE healing to occur. Little did I know that the Lord meant for this season to get to more than just the root of my digestive issues. I lost a lot of weight, and I do mean a lot. I was severely underweight (at my lowest being 100lbs at 5’6″), but truthfully I didn’t care – the agony I was in on a daily basis was more consuming than the way I looked. If I’m being completely honest, I think I found some relief in that. For the first time in my life, I wasn’t body conscious! But with the weight loss came the loss of normal cyclical hormone regulation. Many things contributed to the return of my cycle, one of them being gaining some weight – and walking through that was harder than I ever imagined. For almost 3 years I was free of the voices – and suddenly as I began to heal, and weight slowly started to return, so did the voices. It created a war within me, one that would send me running back to my safe, restrictive, healthy diet. What I thought was fighting the issue, was actually the luring of the enemy to return to the imprisonment of my body insecurity. If he could keep me fearful of food, fearful of gaining weight – I’d stay insecure, self-hating and unable to release myself to enjoy life. Postpartum made me come face-to-face with this issue. For the first 6 months, my weight wouldn’t budge no matter how healthy I ate, or how often I worked out. While a hard issue to face, I am FOREVER grateful that it surfaced. I did and continue to do the hard work of learning how to accept my body in ALL of it’s divine glory and human limitations. I’m learning how to eat intuitively for what my body needs and craves week to week (like some weeks – I couldn’t seem to eat enough butter!). I’m also learning to indulge and celebrate – and for that to include treats! There is still work to be done, but a blessing from this season nonetheless!

Music: French poet and writer, Victor Hugo, says “Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.” I love this quote and have found it to be so true over and over and over again in my life. And this past season is no different, and the sweetest part – I really feel like the Lord hand-picked the perfect songs for me just when I needed them most. I had so many moments when I felt like my heart was so full of emotions it might burst, but my mind had no words to convey them. It was in those moments I’d come across a new song – one that would send me to tears – because it said what my heart needed or wanted to but my mouth didn’t know how. I would go for walks and listen to them on repeat – sometimes until they no longer became prayers or cries of my heart but declarations of Truth I actually believed and hoped for. I’m incredibly grateful to those who God has gifted to string words together in a way that dances beautifully with a melody that reaches deep into your soul and begins releasing healing and freedom into your soul. Hoping that by sharing a few of my favorites – they may also reach deep within you and do the same…

  1. Do it again – Elevation Worship
  2. Fullness – Elevation Worship
  3. There is a Cloud – Elevation Worship
  4. You came – Bethel Music
  5. King of my Heart – Bethel Music
  6. I have this Hope – Tenth Avenue North
  7. Thy will be done – Hillary Scott & The Scott Family
  8. Even If – Mercy Me

Friendship: While I do agree that making new friends for kids can be hard, it’s down right challenging to try and make new friends as an adult! If you’ve followed our story for any length of time, you know that building community has been one of the hardest things for us. 3 weeks prior to losing Caden, we had finally found the church we felt like the Lord had intended for us to commit to – but it left very little time to build friendships before entering into such a vulnerable season of our lives. After some time of hibernating, I knew I needed women in my life. Not being close to our families and friends (and they have been an UNREAL support system for us), I knew that finding community and family up in Richmond was not only needed but necessary. And yet, I had NO desire to pursue new friendships – I just didn’t have the capacity. I can vividly remember having conversation with the Lord, telling Him that if He intended for me to have friends He was going to have to send some who would pursue me, who would invite me into their worlds (assuming that this would never happen). And wouldn’t you know it was probably a week later that I met a sweet girl one Sunday morning, who introduced herself and asked if I was new because she’d never seen me before. I told her I was, that we were still fairly new to Richmond – and she immediately invited me to a girls Bible study that she and a friend were starting… The rest is history! Those girls have become dear friends who have listened, cried, comforted, empathized, prayed for & encouraged me along the way. They have never ceased to pursue me (and still don’t!). And even while our small group took a break over the summer, the Lord lead me to another group of women at a summer study at the church that have equally become close friends. What felt like an elusive dream, became a reality (and one of my current life’s biggest blessings) this postpartum season!

Adventure: One of our most FUN blessings during this season have been the adventures we’ve been blessed to experience. Our favorite by far was an Alaskan Cruise back in May! Neither of us had ever gone one a cruise together (we’ve done them separately) – and Alaska was a bucket list trip! We were blessed to splurge and use our tax return money for the trip. At first, my sensible, logical, practical and responsible self felt VERY irresponsible for spending this money on such a luxurious thing. Wouldn’t it be better to just save this money? Aren’t there “better” things we need to use for? And after spending more time trying to talk myself into it, the Lord seemed to whisper to me – Leash, take the vacation, release the fear, play, have fun, experience adventure and joy again. It will be good for you and Josiah. So we did! And, boy am I so glad! It was exactly what we needed, exacly when we needed it! Check out this photos to see what I mean :

Soul Healing: I’m beginning to understand more what James was trying to convey when he says

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, when you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its works so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4

But if I could (humbly) make any suggestions to James, I think I’d tell him to flip flop theses verses! I think it’s so important to know that the pure joy you can experience when facing trials, is because you have persevered and have allowed the process of perseverance to prune, refine, rebuild and empower you to see that when the trial has done it’s complete work – you lack NOTHING! The strength of perseverance comes from God alone, and the process of perseverance through the suffering to it’s complete work in you isn’t pain free, and it may even leave a few scars. But I think one of the things I’ve learned during this season is that – when you yield to the Lord’s sovereignty through many of the trials He allows us to walk through, and you see the yucky in you that begins to get pruned away (kind of like me having to face my body image issues) and new beautiful things begin to bloom (deepening of Hope, enjoyment of life, a heart that burns to love people) – you begin to see that James wasn’t crazy! You can actually then consider them pure joy! Soul healing continues to happen (and it will until I breathe my last breath and get to meet Jesus face-to-face) – but I’m beginning to see the beauty of God’s maturation process in me, and to consider every moment that He has ordained for me, pure joy…

Once again – thank you for following along on our broken, crazy, unexpected, joyous and beautiful journey… Love you all. Pray you are well & if not, we’d love to pray for you – so please drop us a note!


Recently.. Part 1

Hello friends…

Goodness it’s been a while since I’ve sat down to share with you. Truth be told I haven’t felt like it. Right after we first lost Caden, I had so much I needed to purge – so much I needed and wanted to share. I felt it my mama duty to capture my boy’s story, so the words flowed easily. At the beginning, I seemed to be able to easily identify how I was feeling, but recently… I have found myself at different intersections of an emotional maze, trying to figure out where exactly I was and how I even got there. Honestly, my heart has broken for the victims of the hurricane disasters, earthquakes and wildfires- in an instant havoc was wreaked on their lives. On one hand, I have no clue how they personally feel and yet on the other I feel a connectedness to them. Trauma and loss of any kind is life-changing. And after the devastating event occurs, after the cavalry of loving helpers have left, you are left to continue to sort through the rubble day by day. Some moments all you can see is the devastation, and yet… over time… God begins to give you glimpses that the ruins are NEVER the end of the story. New life will bloom, from those once just heaps of ash.

True to His nature – God has been so faithful (even when my faith waned- and trust me, it has), so near (even when I tried to create distance) and so loving (even when I’ve been unlovable). Thankful that His affection for me is constant, not contingent on my thoughts, behavior, actions or progress – because I would fall short every. single. time.

Since it’s been so long, I thought I’d right this post as a recap. Sharing with you where we’ve been & where we are.

What’s been hard? 

Body Changes: For me one of the first and hardest things to deal with were all of the body changes that both immediately and gradually happened over the first 6 months postpartum. I can remember coming home from the hospital, seeing myself in the mirror for the first time and immediately bursting into tears… my rounded belly was gone and the weight of what had happened seem to settle in more deeply. I will be the first to admit that I was VERY unprepared for labor, delivery & postpartum. I hadn’t done my research because I was hoping and expecting to have 3 more months to learn what I needed to. So a lot of the changes that came postpartum, were completely unexpected and somewhat scary for me. Three days after my delivery, I remember waking up completely engorged – my milk had officially come in and while I knew my body had gone through labor/delivery, I just wasn’t aware that it would continue to progress “normally”. Then about a week after delivery, I began waking up in the middle of the night shivering – completely drenched from head to toe in sweat. This lasted for about a week & thankfully a good friend of mine reassured me that this was all “normal postpartum” symptoms. Between eating for comfort & eating because I was starving – December and January were months of non-stop eating. By the time February rolled around, both Josiah and I were itching to get out of our house (we hibernated most of December and January- only leaving the house when necessary) – and we thought getting active again would be healthy not only for our bodies but also for our minds & hearts. So we joined a local YMCA. It was one of the best decisions we could have made. Josiah went back to work in January, but I didn’t have anything to “distract me” – so the gym became a place I could go to a couple times a week, to add a little structure back into my life. But after months (and yes I mean MONTHS) of consistently going to the gym 3-4 times a week, I was SHOCKED when my body had hardly changed. The weight seemed to be sticking to me, refusing to leave. I felt like I had realistic expectations – I was 31 and knew my body wasn’t going to just “bounce back” but after months of hard work and being careful with my diet again I did not expect to be virtually where I had started. I now know that all of this is normal, and for most first time mamas it’s worth it. I can remember my sweet sister trying to encourage me to show myself more grace, that it would take time, I had a baby and my body would easily need 6-12 months to recover physically and hormonally. The hard part for me was that I didn’t have the sweet face of my babe to stare at and think “it’s all worth it”. So the changes my body was and wasn’t going through were just reminders of what I’d lost…

Crisis of Purpose: I tried to show myself as much grace as I possibly could for the first couple of months after losing Caden. I had very few expectations, did very little dreaming or thinking of the future. I was just happy to continue to heal day by day by day – God was so very near to me, reminding me that He was with me, He was seeing each of my moments and that I wasn’t alone in this (even though some days it felt that way). He drew near through His people – we had many friends and family who remained immovably close to us, checking in constantly, praying without ceasing. My mother-in-law sent a card a week for what felt like the first 6 months after. I just allowed myself to be carried by Him, by them those first several months. But then my heart began to awaken again to dreaming (I suppose it’s just how I’m wired) – and as this began to happen I realized a brick wall was creating a major block in me – I was having a crisis of purpose. What on Earth had God created me for? In this season of life, I was supposed to be a mother. I was supposed to be learning how to live off of very little sleep, breastfeed despite the discomfort, practice tummy time, go to Mom’s group dates… and yet, that wasn’t my reality. So for months I wrestled with so many questions – what did God want me to be doing? What was His purpose for this time?

Marriage Tensions: First let me start by saying that God’s grace is NEVER ending, and if it weren’t for that grace – I’m not sure how Josiah and I would have survived such a life-altering devastation. We’ve admitted that we can truly understand how couples who lose a child get divorced post loss. When 2 people are both hurting so deeply, you end up hurting each other – especially when you don’t know how to bring your hurt to the only One who can handle it, Jesus. God was so incredibly merciful to us, because He allowed us to process differently and at different times. While I can look back on it now as mercy, in the moment it felt isolating and lonely. My main emotion was just deep sadness. And I know this was excruciating for Josiah to see. He felt helpless, the day I went into labor and then again in the midst of my grieving. I was also hard to predict – somedays I’d be fine, other days doing the dishes would trigger something and I’d break down weeping. He woke up daily not knowing what he’d get, but his endurance and patience with me were tangible evidence that God was in our midst. I didn’t understand God’s decision to pen my story the way He was, but thankfully I never once questioned His goodness (which I know now was truly a gift of faith that only He could place within me). I had walked through many years prior where the Lord was gently, but persistently “undoing” so much that I had believed about who He was that was inaccurate (whether from well-intentioned but completely wrong teaching, or some broken life experiences and relationships) – and He was courting me in such a way that I was getting to truly know Him, to truly love Him. Josiah processed our loss completely different from me. His main emotion was anger. He was mad and wrestled with believing God was indeed actually good. From his vantage point, losing our son wasn’t good – thus how could God be good if He allowed that to happen? I hated to see Josiah wrestling like he did. I hated to see the hurt manifest itself the way it did. I so badly wanted to take the pain, the deep hurt away. And I tried at first. I tried to “help him”, to “fix it”. I tried to help him know God’s goodness again. But this was like throwing gasoline on the fire. It wasn’t helpful (even though my heart was to help) and at times I think it made him feel guilty for feeling the way He did (something that still breaks my heart). Praise God that He intervenes when our “best intentions” blow up in our face. He sweetly but firmly reminded me that He was God, and Josiah was His son and that He didn’t need my help in being His messenger to Josiah. That He was at work, and what He needed of me was to step back and learn how to love my husband best in this season. We’ve both had to do that. We’ve had to get to know our new selves and allow one another to learn who we are now. Loss changes a person, and we had to give each other grace to relearn how to love well. We’re still learning!

The fight to wait & waiting well: I can still remember our doctor’s words of hope and encouragement at my 6 weeks postpartum appointment. He is an amazing doctor, so tender, kind and fiercely invested – and wanting to impart hope into our broken hearts he told us that if there was any upside to this postpartum season it was that most women are more fertile right after a miscarriage, so the likelihood of us getting pregnant again soon was higher. Hope indeed WAS imparted! I got my first postpartum cycle back at the beginning of February and by March I was taking ovulation tests again. After my hormone history, I was so grateful that my body seemed to be recovering in a normal way hormonally. I don’t know if Josiah was as ready to jump back into trying to conceive as soon as I was – but I couldn’t wait to be pregnant again. And yet, month after month my cycle would return and I would be left waiting until the next month to see if our dream would come true then. I learned a lot about hope in this season, and my tendency to attach expectations to things I was hopeful for. I realized that my hope was centered around me – my expectations, my timeframes, my understanding. And when month after month those expectations & timeframes weren’t met, my hope waned a bit. Would this ever happen again? Truth be told, the only thing that kept me hopeful was a very personal vision the Lord had given me 1.5 years before. I share it with you for many reasons – but the main being:

  • To remind you, or invite you to understand for the first time that God is real, He is good and He LOVES to speak to His children (you and me) in tangible ways
  • To restore hope in your own heart where it may be waning, or completely snuffed out

In April of 2016 (4 months before I got pregnant with my Caden boy), I was attending a healing prayer conference with a ministry in Jacksonville I have gushed to you about multiple times. They are so near to my heart, because God used them in such powerful ways to bring His healing power, His love, His realness to me. During the final day of this conference weekend, I received a vision that has only grown more powerful with time. For those of you not familiar with, or who may even find this type of thing to be weird or for “whoo-whoos” – trust me when I tell you that I too had my doubts.  Growing up, when people would say “I got a word or a vision from the Lord”, in my heart of hearts I wanted to believe they were telling the truth, but I had NEVER experienced anything like that so it was hard for me to know for sure. If I’ve learned anything up to this point in my life- it’s that the Lord loves deeply. And He desires to interact with us!

My vision was simply just a picture – something so crystal clear that seemed to stay in my mind for what felt like 15 minutes. I had been praying all weekend, asking the Lord to affirm that He saw my struggle with getting pregnant and my deep desire to be a mama. I just wanted to know that He saw me, that He hadn’t forgotten. And that’s when He gave me this picture:

It was of a hospital room. I was sitting up in the hospital bed and I was holding a baby wrapped in blue, Josiah was standing to the left and he was holding a baby wrapped in pink and Jesus was standing to the right (don’t ask me how I knew it was Jesus, I just seemed to know) and He was holding a baby wrapped in white.

I had no clue what this picture meant at the time. It just felt encouraging- the promise of 3 babies?! Would it be triplets? And that 3rd baby in white- was He keeping the gender a surprise? I think part of me didn’t want to consider what the baby in white really might mean, but now I know it was my sweet Caden boy! This picture has been what I’ve clinged to during the waiting. It’s a picture that’s reminded me as I wait, that we’ve been promised at least 2 more sweet babes – a baby in blue and a baby in pink. It’s a picture that’s allowed me to release my dreams of being a mama again, fears of it not actually happening and my expectations/timeframes – and has allowed me to rest in knowing that He is a promise keeper, His timing is perfect and He knows the bigger story. It has helped me not just wait, but wait well…

Living IN the present, not FOR the future:

God has been so good to invite me into the lives of some of the most hospitable, loving & wise women here in Richmond. He has used the church we’ve decided to belong to, and the women there to bring friendship and community to me in a season when I had no capacity to seek it out on my own. Our church leads a church wide women Bible study each summer, and with this being my first summer of attending Third Church, I decided to check it out. The study was centered around a book that, just from the title, caught my attention. It’s called Finding Faith in the Dark by Laurie Short. I had great hope and great fear going into the study. I knew that it would be likely that I’d have to share my story, and while I tend to lean on the side of being an open book – it’s takes quite a bit of prayer/courage to get there. The group of women are divided up into smaller groups to facilitate a better environment for discussion of the book. And to say that God divinely orchestrated my group is a gross understatement. It was THE group I needed to be with. And this was THE book I needed to read with them.

The premise of her book is receiving the faith to trust in God’s goodness and sovereignty, “when the story of your life takes a turn you didn’t plan”. I highlighted something on almost every single page of the book, which should indicate what I thought about it! Things I knew were reinforced, and new things were learned. One thing in particular had a profound impact on me. One of the chapters in the book is titled “Living in the Now”. In it, Laurie talks about learning to:

Be here now. These three words are so simple to write, but not nearly as simple to live. Especially when we find ourselves in a place we’d rather not be. In circumstances we don’t want, we long to be anywhere other than where we are. But where are holds the pathway to where God is leading us – though we usually can’t see that until we look back.”

It is this call to learn to live IN the present, and not FOR the future. Something I admittedly had been doing. I was living for the day I’d get pregnant again, waiting, longing. And truthfully making decisions about my present day, based upon this desire for my future dream. I was fearful to commit to anything, because “what if I get pregnant?”. I stifled dreams pertaining to ANY other area of my life, because I was laser-focused on seeing a dream come true in one area of my life & one area only. I was living in, what felt like a modern day version of groundhogs day. But, it’s because I was living FOR the future and missing what God was actually doing IN the present. I was challenged to shift my gaze, to release my dream (which is so much easier to say and harder to do) to the Lord and seek to see Him each day. Laurie puts it best:

“Exile is a place God has permitted. A hopeful future is what he has planned. The challenge before us is to be here now. To live where we are, respond to what lies in front of us, and trust that every day, every choice brings an opportunity to see the hand of God. And he is leading us in a plan far bigger than we can see.”

Stay tuned for Part 2 – it’ll be the contrast to this blog – “What’s been good.. what’s been a blessing in this season…”. Because despite all the truth contained above (in the hard), He has still brought so much good – and THAT deserves more time in the spotlight!

As always, thank you to everyone who has followed (and continues to follow) our story. Your love, prayers, encouragement & presence has been life giving, life changing. Such deep love for you…


Sweet Relief

It’s crazy to think that in two weeks the Sweet Smith Stories show will have been happening live and in person from Richmond, VA for an entire year. An entire year people! And what a radically different year it has been – different than I would have ever written (if I were actually the writer of my own story). Sitting here, I’ve been asking myself why I continue to be shocked that life still unfolds in completely different ways than I imagine… Truthfully I think it’s because most days I’m still largely unaware of how “not in control” of my life I really am. My systematic brain follows the logical and linear progression of how events should or have historically played out, so when the progression deviates from that – I stand befuddled. But if our transition to Richmond has taught me anything, it’s that I’m finding there is sweet sweet relief in leaving it up to Him. After all, He knows me better than I even know myself…

Almost 1 year ago!

It’s no secret that one of our greatest struggles and deepest longings since moving to Virginia has been establishing friendships, building community. The heart of our church back in Jacksonville really centered on 3 things: Big Faith. Radical Discipleship. Spiritual Family. All of which are relational at their core. So we had become to accustomed to having any/all opportunities to connect with others & were surrounded by people who held the same desire for authentic friendships. Yet, buying our very first home gave us a starting place. We did our best to pursue relationships with the people God had placed around us – our neighbors! But we quickly realized that, not unlike other places, people here lived their own lives, with their own routines, doing their own things, how they wanted, when they wanted with very little thought of stopping to truly connect with the one living next door (no judgment from this lady – I have been, too often, one of those people). Many times I’ve had flashbacks to being the “new kid” in school, although I will say building friendships when I was younger wasn’t nearly as challenging! And I don’t think our culture helps any – with phrases such as “my tribe” or “my people” being so commonplace now, we’re unconsciously building fences to keep others out. To protect what we have, fearful that opening our lives to anyone might make things messy. And I’ll never cast stones, because I am so guilty of this! But it’s given me a new perspective. It’s helped me see my own propensity to resist opening my life to others, or alternatively to be highly selective about who I will allow in. Thank you Jesus that He doesn’t choose His friends like I do (because if He did, this girl would still be left sitting on the outside looking in).

After getting pregnant with Caden, my fervor for pursuing relationships diminished. I actually still have some guilt around it (wondering if I didn’t love well during that time), but with all of the physical complications & the emotional highs and lows – I just didn’t have the energy to intentionally seek out people. And honestly, I didn’t want to. I still don’t want to. I would even share that with the Lord frequently during our conversations – and mention that if I wasn’t right in feeling that way, then I was going to need Him to change my heart & mind, because I had no desire to be an initiator anymore. Just being real… And while I desperately knew I wanted & truly needed friendships after losing my boy, I can also tell you that it brought a whole new level of “hard” to it as well. If you could get a glimpse into my life for the first 2 months after losing Caden – you might not even recognize the girl you were watching. I did a lot of hiding. A lot. I watched more TV & movies in those first 2 months than I think I’ve watched in the last 6 years combined. I ate constantly. When I was hungry and even when I wasn’t. I avoided phone calls. And I don’t have an ounce of regret or remorse over any of it. In moments, I would feel surprised at my behavior & sometimes self-conscious. Is this healthy? Should I be forcing myself to do & be “more productive”? Should I really be eating peanut butter out of the jar with a spoon? And then I got the greatest gift I could have – a dear dear friend reminded me to show myself grace. That this behavior, while unable to last forever, was certainly allowable during this time. That eventually I would find my footing again. I would reacclimatize to a new normal, but in the mean time to be gentle on myself.

This advice gave space for me to just breathe deeply. To stop overanalyzing myself (which by default I’m constantly doing). And to just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Day by day by day. It was life-giving advice. It reminded me again of the BEAUTY of living a life of surrender to the One who created me. Being able to just “be” – knowing that it was never too much for Him to handle (even if it felt like it was too much for me). I can remember one moment in particular when I had to pull this advice out of my back pocket & remind myself to use it once again…

The church that we’ve been attending is a far cry from any other church we’ve ever been apart of. And, if I’m being honest, I wrote it off initially. At first glance, it just wasn’t my style. The Pastor’s teaching was amazing, but the service itself is extremely traditional. I’m talking hymnals, choir robes & an organ traditional. (Note: I do not think there is ANYTHING wrong with any of the above mentioned. I happen to prefer a more contemporary style of service & worship – but that’s just it, a preference). And yet, every week we were drawn to go back, because every week we met another couple or young family around our age. We sensed that perhaps the Lord was answering our prayers for community, and calling us to lay down our preference for worship. During one Sunday recently, the time for greeting others around you came and I introduced myself to a few people sitting closely around me. Following the service, and I reached down to grab my purse, and as I did I felt someone standing next to me. A sweet young mommy-to-be was standing there, and she happily reached out her hand to me saying “Hi I’m Emilie – I didn’t get a chance to meet you earlier in the service”. She could tell I was knew to the church and after finding out I was also fairly knew to the area – she mentioned she and some other girls in the church were just starting up a Bible study and, if I were interested, she’d love to have me join. We exchanged information & she emailed over all the information for the first Bible study night.

I left church that day feeling pretty excited – a Bible study with girls my own age?!? It was certainly an answered prayer. I really do love that God cares about me – ALL of me – including friendships – which may seem somewhat trivial for God to actually care about. Nevertheless, He does! The following Tuesday evening was the first night of Bible study, and as the night approached, anxiety began to creep in. Have you ever felt like you’re at complete odds within your own self? Like a battle is happening – but the field being fought on is actually in you? So often throughout these past 2 months I have felt that way. My mind will want one thing, but then my heart siezes up at the idea of it. Or sometimes my heart wants something, but my mind tries to rationalize or shame it away? Initially I was really excited at the potential for making new friends, especially with other girls my age (I think I’ve shared with you about my prior attempts in attending Bible studies up here – needless to say, I have been the youngest by DECADES). But as the night drew near, some of my greatest fears post-Caden began to surface.

One of the reasons I hid (and sometimes still hide) after losing Caden was because I couldn’t bring myself to have to relive the reality. Especially being in a city where I had very little community already. Having to face questions like “Do you have any kids?” from well-meaning people who were just trying to get to know me, was more than I could handle. So even though part me of was excited at the opportunity to have a girls night with new friends, there was another very real part that wasn’t sure I could do it. I literally called, texted & emailed all of my family and friends to ask for prayers – that God would shield me from having to answer any questions I just wasn’t ready to answer. And He did! I went to Bible study that week – sweaty, anxious & afraid – but I went, I did my very small part of showing up and God handled the rest!

But then the next week rolled around – and for no reason at all, other than it was a regular Tuesday & grief decided that he wanted to park himself in my home that day – I lost it. I was overwhelmed by the thought of having to go to the Bible study. By the fear of having to face new friends, answer questions, relive any of the story. I battled all day long. Trying to “get myself together”, to “muster up the strength”, but nothing I could do seemed to help. And I felt so so guilty for that. But that’s when the Holy Spirit reminded me of that life-giving advice my friend had shared with me: Allow yourself to be funky some days, show yourself some grace. The advice was echoed by the reassuring voice of my husband who told me, if you don’t feel like you’re up to going, then don’t go! It was the release I needed to stop being so strict with myself & allow grace to have its place…

Are there areas of your life where you need this gentle reminder? Grace isn’t a free pass to live for self, or in partial obedience to what God may be calling you to. But it is a free GIFT, given in love, as a reminder that we don’t have it all together & we never will. But the One who created us, never told us we had to in the first place! If fact, He reminds us over and over again to remain plugged into Him – because He’s the only one to have it all together & He’s the only one who needs to. Somedays we have to remind ourselves that “no rest for the weary” is a lie – and in fact, Jesus beckons us to come to Him and find rest! So today my prayer for me & my prayer for you is that we release ourselves to allow Love to His way in us and through…



Caden’s Mama





So much time has passed since my last update. It’s February already, and looking back at January feels like such a blur! I have actually sat down multiple times to write this blog. For some reason the words just haven’t come as easily this time around, but I really want to continue to capture the story – so I’m doing my best to create a routine to try and write more often.

I again have such deep thankfulness for all of you who continue to pray for us. Your calls, texts, emails & messages have been GREAT encouragement to this mama’s emotional heart.

While December 13, 2016 will forever be an important day in my life – January 11, 2017 was an incredibly big milestone. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d bury a child. Not ever. The day I actually delivered Caden was surreal – but it was that very day that we also had to make the decision about how we wanted to lay him to rest. Private burial? Cremation? The community burial service the hospital assisted with? I had very little capacity to process what had actually happened that day, let alone properly think through these options. Being so new to Richmond, not having much community or support, Josiah and I had both decided that the hospital community service would be the best option. I am unbelievably grateful for the hospital offering a community service – it was one less thing to think about during a time when my brain had seemed to shut down.

The weekend before Caden’s service we got to experience our first snowstorm in our new city! It came in fast and furious with around 10 inches of snow in 24 hours and for those of you who know me, you can probably guess that I loved every minute of it’s wintery beauty. It felt like a gift, specifically delivered to me from Jesus. It was a reminder, as if He were telling me – Leesh, I know this is going to be a hard & sad week for you, just remember I am with you. Always.

There is something so relaxing, so calming about a fresh snow. Everything slows down. Even the chatter of birds or the rustling of squirrels stops in those first few hours – all of creation seems to take that moment to just rest and breathe. And for us – it was certainly a weekend of peace that we needed.



Our families traveled in for the ceremony – a priceless gift that I would have paid a million dollars to have made happen. To have their physical presence, support & love for what was an emotionally exhausting & sad day was more tangible evidence of God’s grace. While He warns us that our earthly lives won’t be void of hardships (even as Christ followers), He also promises to be with us – every minute of every day, He is Emmanuel. And we felt His closeness through our people.

Wednesday arrived, and Caden’s ceremony was at 9:30am that morning. I woke up that morning – exhausted. The night before had been a heavy one. Both of our families had traveled in that Tuesday, so we had plenty of people in our home for dinner & time together. But as the night approached, tension seemed to rise in Josiah and I. Looking back on that night, I can now see how we were probably operating out of anxious emotions about what the next day would bring. And isn’t it just like the enemy to see a moment of vulnerability & try to seize the opportunity to cause division, chaos & misunderstanding? But we try to NEVER let him win (and by win, I mean dig our heals in the ground, refuse forgiveness and allow anger to take root in our hearts). We are not perfect, but we are learning – the more ground we give, the more ground he takes. So we stayed up late sharing our hearts – and sharing what was ACTUALLY the source of our behavior. I think we were both scared. Scared for what the next morning would bring. Scared that we wouldn’t be able to handle burying our son. Scared that it would somehow erase our Caden boy from existence. We finally ended up getting to bed, but it wasn’t long before the alarm clock went off.

I remember getting out of bed & heading downstairs to make a cup of green tea before jumping in the shower. I woke up in a stupor, completely dazed. And I almost wanted to be that way – I wasn’t sure if I could handle being totally present in those first moments of the day. Having to contemplate what the next few hours would be like. The guest bathroom shower was on, so I knew my family was up and getting ready as well. My Dad was downstairs in the kitchen. He asked how I’d slept and I told him, not long enough. No more words were exchanged, he just lovingly got up from our kitchen table, walked over and wrapped me in his arms. I’m only now beginning to really understand the love that parents have for their children – and I can only imagine how hard it must have been for mine to see their own baby hurting so deeply. Once my tea was made, I headed upstairs to get in the shower.

I finished getting ready, and put on my new dress that I had bought specifically for Caden’s service. For some reason it was really important for me to get a new dress. I guess I wanted my boy to think his mama looked beautiful on that day.

We loaded up cars and headed to the cemetery. One of my requests was that Josiah and I drive separately to and from the funeral. This also happened to be one of the sources of our misunderstandings the night before. In his ever efficient brain (one of the things I truly love about him), it didn’t make sense for us to take additional cars when we could drive other people in ours. But I didn’t care about efficiency on that day. I wanted to know that I’d have the space & freedom I needed to be however I needed to be pre-burial and post. I wasn’t sure how I’d feel or react – and I just needed to know that in the comfort of my own vehicle I could be silent, scream or wail…

Several friends texted me on our way that morning, and while they weren’t there in person – I felt their love from afar. One of the gifts from this season of life has been the birth of a deep deep thankfulness for the relationships that God has given me. We truly have world-class friends. Ones who love without expectation of reciprocity. Ones who sacrifice their own family time to walk beside us. Ones who give so generously.

The closer we got to the cemetery, the quieter our car ride was. Not even our shallow breaths could be heard. I kept having to remind myself to breathe. We arrived and had a parking spot right up front. We had gotten there early – not sure of how the ceremony would unfold. A tiny chapel was located on the property and which would be where Caden’s memorial service would be held.


The service that the hospital offers is a community service – and it’s offered every 6 weeks for parents/families who experience stillbirths or whose babies survive less than 48 hours after birth. So this ceremony wasn’t going to be just for Caden, but for all the babies who hadn’t made it in the past 6 weeks. As we walked up to the chapel, we were handed the program for the service and were SHOCKED to see 30 baby names listed. Not all families were physically present, but just to see how many other parents had experienced similar loss as us was heartbreaking.

The ceremony started and we were seated in the pews. The chapel itself was VERY tiny – so the organizer had asked that only immediate family sit in the pews unless there was extra room. I was thankful to have my sister sitting to my left & Josiah to my right. I understood that they were trying to make sure all parents of the babies were able to have a seat, but I so desperately wanted to be surrounded by people I loved in those moments. I don’t remember much about the ceremony itself (except that it wasn’t Jesus-centered enough for me). I just remember sitting there, my eyes staring straight ahead gazing at the tiny white satin casket that my son laid in. Involuntarily, tears just streamed down my cheeks – I couldn’t have stopped them even if I tried.



I was only brought back to the present moment by the quiet sobs of my sweet love sitting next to me. A man full of such strength, was courageous enough to allow this wave of grief, of deep sorrow to just wash over him. We have processed this loss very differently – one way not being good or best, just different. Knowing the pain that my husband was experiencing felt almost more unbearable than the burial itself. Almost…

The ceremony ended – and typically the burial and committal portion of the service happens graveside but because of the major snowstorm that had come through a few days prior, the grounds were too wet. I think this was God’s fatherly protection over us, the ceremony was hard enough – I think watching them lower my son into the ground would have been too much to bear and our good God knew that.

So often the characteristic of God being present among us, being Emmanuel (which translated means “God with us”) is correlated in my mind with Christmas (which it certainly is – but isn’t only). The Christmas season is a time when I stop to remember that God came down, left the fullness of His majesty, His divinity and took on humanity in the form of a baby, to be present among us. What LOVE that is. And while I’ve believed that He does indeed dwell among us, I am beginning to see that this goes well beyond the Christmas season. He has promised to be with us, always (Matt. 28:20). And if there is anything I know about God it’s that He is a promise keeper. He never goes back on His word. He never makes mistakes or is caught off guard. He is sovereign over ALL. This can be a hard thing to try and reconcile with through the trials and tragedies in our lives. If He is always with us, and in control over ALL things – then how could He allow…. (you fill in your own blank). And believe me when I tell you, that I too, have wrestled with these same thoughts. And truthfully I don’t have “the answer” that will make it better. But here are some of the things that I cling to, and that continue to help me:

He is God & I am not – and I’m so incredibly thankful for that. Because in a season of loss, during chaotic cultural/political times, when emotions seem to ebb and flow like the ocean’s tide – I can rest in knowing that He is God & I am not. I don’t have to have the answers, because He does & He is working out ALL things (there’s that completely inclusive word again- ALL) for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. I may never understand – because His thoughts are higher than my thoughts, and His ways are higher than my ways and that brings comfort – because it means there is ALWAYS someone who does understand, everything. I am human, He is divine – while I can only see in part, I only see a 5 second clip within the larger story playing out – He has directed the entire thing and knows every detail how it’s meant to unfold (and it’s always for my good & His glory).

I don’t know why my story has been written the way it has. And I may never fully know. But I was reminded by a dear mentor of mine, that our story is meant to bring glory to God and that it is. She wrote in an email to me recently

“God shines through in every part. God’s grace, holding power, healing hand and Presence shine forth. God shines forth in your love for another. Your family is a sacrament…an outward and visible sign of the love and Kingdom of God come very near.”

She also reminded that while we may never know why Caden was taken so early, that we do know (at least in part) why my Caden boy was given:

“And why Caden did not survive and thrive here on earth, I do not know. We probably won’t know why in this life…but as you both so beautifully give witness, we know in part why he came…why he was with us, even for such a brief time…as a sign of God’s mighty power, that God hears our prayers and answers us, that God would be glorified in and through you, so that a warrior would be formed in both of you, so that you would meet the amazing cast of medical folks you did and that bonds would be formed among you, and thousands of other reasons…and you will add to that list as time goes by.”

So walk with me friends, through this crazy journey we call life. And if you haven’t yet, I implore you to allow Jesus to have the reigns – He is the Good Shepherd – He knows His sheep (you and me) – He loves His sheep – He never leaves them & He deeply cares for them. Trust Him at His word – remember He is a promise keeper.

Love to you all…



New Season

So much of life has changed since losing our little love. Today marks exactly 4 weeks & as I stop to really think about that, I can’t even begin to believe it’s been that long already. We miss him daily & while the pain of losing him won’t ever go away – we know we are experiencing the abundant grace of God – because every morning, we continue to get up & turn our faces toward Him. Faith isn’t being confident of what we know, or what we can see. No, Hebrews 11:1 tells us that “Faith is the confidence of things HOPED FOR, assurance of what we cannot see.” Josiah & I love Sweet Frog – their froyo is such a special treat for us. But the main reason we love them is because of what they stand for. Their name defines what Faith, in action, is- FROG: Fully Rely On God. We have never been more tested in this in our entire lives. 

Grief is a funny thing. It is unlike any other emotion I have ever experienced. If my emotions were all relatives within the same family- grief would most definitely be my “crazy uncle”. Completely unpredictable & wildly irregular. But I suppose there is one constant – it seems to come in waves. And unlike the ocean, you never know when a wave will hit. You could be at dinner on NYE with your husband & over hear a conversation about babies at the boisterous table next to you- only to have to tell him “we have to go” and immediately get up from the table (thankfully we had been able to finish our food)- WAVE. Or you could be walking into church & run into the Pastor as you walk through the children’s area only to be met with eyes of pain & sorrow, and it’s all you can do to keep it together for the remainder of the service – WAVE. Or it might come in a thousand different ways, none of which you can ever predict or expect. 

People have encouragingly told me that what I’m experiencing is “normal” – as normal as grief can be I suppose. And while I do take comfort in trusting their encouragement, knowing I haven’t totally lost my mind – I wrestle with those words because it isn’t normal for me. The old me… 

One of the weirdest parts to process throughout this journey is that I will never go back to being the woman I was. She was forever changed, not only by her son’s life but also by his death. Life completely changed for me over the course of 3.5 hours. My body changed, my dreams changed, my purpose (for the immediate future) changed… So in moments when I’m grappling for some semblance of normal, of routine – I am met by the reality that those things will have to be forged again. A new normal, a new routine… because we transitioning into a new season. 

And while transitioning into a season that will not hold the physical presence of my precious Caden boy, I do know it will be marked by him. Our prayer for our boy has been answered- he is, indeed, a world changer. 

Caden boy – do you know you changed the world? You not only changed Mommy & Daddy’s world, but you are changing lives everywhere with your story. You, my boy, ran your race well. You taught me to love without reserve – even when it would have been safer to distance my heart. You taught me to trust God with everything I am given – even your precious life. Your warrior spirit birthed a fighter in me I never knew could exist – refusing to let the enemy steal the peace & joy that are always available to me through Jesus. You helped me see & experience the miraculous – the odds you defied shouted the glory of the Lord to everyone around. I am honored to be your mama baby boy. Sure, I am sad that I don’t get to hold & kiss & squeeze you – but know how much I anticipate our reuniting. 

Love you always Caden boy,

Your Mama
(Note: If you think of it – our family could use some prayer coverage this week. While we know that our son is enjoying the glory & majesty of Jesus’ presence – tomorrow will be closure of his earthly life as we remember & bury our love. Please prayer for Mama & Daddy – that Jesus would be EVER PRESENT – lavishing grace, peace, truth & love upon them. Please pray for Kagy, PoPo, Uncle RyRy, Auntie Shan, Uncle Jason, Colin, Annalynn, Lillian, Grammy, Poppy, Auntie Beth, Uncle Jon, Alina, Hallie & Kyla- adoring grandparents, aunts, uncles & cousins who loved our boy deeply and are, too, mourning the loss of our son. Again- we have no words to thank you for the outpouring of love we’ve received. It’s evidence of His grace.) 

Daddy’s Perspective

One thing I’m learning about the grieving process is that it’s incredibly personal. There is no universal way to grieve. It happens differently for each of us. My love is an incredible writer in his own right. Talking just a few days ago, he mentioned that he felt like he was ready to write, that he needed to write. Writing is a way of release, expression & processing for both of us. It’s a way for us to capture moments in our life, yes, but more importantly sometimes it’s how we communicate most authentically with God & with ourselves. So here is the account of the tragic page in the chapter of our lives just written from Daddy’s perspective. I’m warning you (from personal experience)- grab a box of tissues now…


It was a Tuesday. December 13th, 2016 was the worse day of my life. My life forever changed. I now know what it is to walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death. It started the evening of the twelfth. Alicia and I had just driven all day Monday back to Richmond from Jacksonville where we had two baby showers for our son Caden. It was a weekend of celebration and joy with anticipation of his arrival at a later date, which was to be determined based on the pregnancy. Upon our return, we just relaxed in the family room. Nothing unusual about it. As bedtime drew near, it was the same nightly routines as every other day. However, Alicia did mention she was in some pain and having some cramping.

Cramping and Braxton Hicks contractions happened once before to her after a three and a half hour long sonogram appointment, so we thought she must be extra tired from the trip and all the emotions that went along with the festivities. After crawling into bed, the pain begin to get a little worse for her. It was around eleven o’clock. I fell asleep. A little after one o’clock in the morning, Alicia woke me up stating she was having bad pains. I got her some water since dehydration could be a cause of the pain she was having. Also, I got her some essential oils that she’s been using throughout the pregnancy. Nothing seemed to help.

At that time we called our OB/GYN, Dr. Moore, to get some guidance. He said if it continues another hour with no change then we would need to go to the emergency room. Well, we couldn’t wait that long. About fifteen minutes later, Alicia was in excruciating pain. It was time to go to the hospital. So we scurried around quickly, me being half asleep still fumbling around trying to get my bearings together. We hustled out the door and were on our way. My wife is tough. She has been through many challenging life events, many that are and were health related. I have never seen her in this much pain before and it was quite nerve wrecking because I’ve seen her suffer through some major stress but nothing like this; it was different that night.

After going as fast as I could to get there, running several red lights per my wife’s request, we made it to the emergency room around 2:15 in the morning. Alicia’s pain kept getting worse and truth-be-told, I was scared at this point. Grabbing bags out of the car and leaving my car in the valet circle, I rushed her in. Thank God no one else was in there. When we ran inside, the lady at the check-in counter had a look of shock and surprise on her face; like she had seen a ghost or something. I stated Alicia was 24 weeks pregnant and having severe contractions. The lady must have known I meant business, because someone came and got Alicia into a wheelchair within one minute. The desk lady was very nice and already called up to labor and delivery, so by the time we got up there, they were expecting us and hurried us into a room.

From that point on, it was whirlwind. A storm unlike any other I’d ever seen or experienced. The staff worked speedily to get Alicia hooked up to monitors. The nurses prepped her, got her into a gown, and informed us that the doctor would be here in about five minutes. I knew it was bad when the doctor arrived like thirty seconds after they said that. The doctor got the sonogram equipment together and began to scan Alicia’s tummy. She couldn’t find a heartbeat. My heart dropped and my stomach went into my throat. Trying to be strong, I told Alicia, we will be okay. I peered at the monitor when the doctor tried a second time and again no heartbeat was found. I was perplexed and obviously am not a doctor, but I didn’t even see our little warrior on the screen and was dumbfounded. By that time the doctor was manually checking Alicia and realized that our son was already in the vaginal canal which was why we couldn’t see him on the sonogram monitor.

Holding my wife’s hand and hearing the doctor’s words was just crushing. How could he be coming already? Would they be able to get Caden’s heart beating again? Trying to concentrate on helping Alicia and making sure she was fine while wondering what was happening to our son, I bet I had about one billion thoughts each second rushing through my head. I kept telling her we were going to be alright, all the while knowing that this situation was not alright. Then the doctor said she saw Caden’s head and she was needing Alicia to push. With one or two surreal pushes, out he came into the doctor’s hands; lifeless. My heart and body started to crumble as I stood there leaning over Alicia. I looked back and forth from her to my son. It was 2:35 in the morning when my son arrived. The doctor checked his little chest; there was nothing she could do. She said she was sorry and handed our son to a nurse who laid him in the baby cart in the corner of the room. There was still work to be done with Alicia.

There was a problem with the cord and the placenta in which the cord broke off. The doctor couldn’t get the placenta out and after trying multiple times, she stated Alicia was going to need surgery in order for them to get the placenta. Everyone quickly ran out of the room to prep the operating room and within five minutes the anesthesiologist came in and did his introduction and explained what they needed to do. I couldn’t go with her. All the nurses came back and they wheeled her out about ten minutes after that. They whisked her away as I kept telling Alicia she was going to be alright.

And just like that, all the commotion stopped. The frantic pace of nurses running back and forth ceased. I breathed for the first time in a half hour. I was alone in the room. I walked from the doorway to the corner of the room where my son was laying in the cart. I couldn’t believe this just happened. It seemed like a nightmare. How could I be looking at my son, my little warrior, being born at 24 weeks and laying there before my eyes with no movement? As I looked at his precious face, a nurse came back in to check on me. She whispered how sorry she was for us. I asked her if she could get a fresh blanket around him so I could hold him. She was happy to do so. I took him from her and sat in the chair that was next to the cart. She left the room. Again, I was alone and now I was holding my son for the first time and I just lost it. I don’t cry; ask anyone who knows me. But I just couldn’t help it. My whole body shook uncontrollably as I just sat there holding and looking at my Caden, my son.

So many questions ran though my head. No answers to be found. Shock was probably the main emotion felt. I just couldn’t believe it, it was so surreal. The loss was devastating. I just sat there crying as I held him. I felt alone. I kept repeating, ‘how could this happen’ over and over again. There were complications the entire pregnancy. We knew that he had severely low amniotic fluid. But when we had went for our checkup the Thursday before all this, he still looked perfect. Strong heartbeat, measuring where he should, and organs all looked good. No significant change in fluid. All seemed okay. As I sat there, I repeated over and over ‘how perfect he was on Thursday, what the hell happened’? Again no answers, just questions. I had lost my first born son. A dream had died.

While holding him, I’m not sure how I had any wits about me, but I knew I needed to make a couple calls and inform family. I had called my mom, Alicia’s dad and my childhood best friend, Anthony. I would have called my sister, but I didn’t feel like waking her up in the middle of the night. Holding Caden, I explained to them, in brief, what had happened and that I would call them later that morning. Looking at my son, he was beautiful. Again, by some miracle, I had enough wherewithal to make sure I took pictures of him. I wanted to capture his life, so I did. I’m thankful God dropped those thoughts into my head or we really wouldn’t have any photos of our little guy, our warrior, our Caden boy.

Somewhere between thirty to forty-five minutes, the doctor came in and said that everything went well with Alicia. The bright spot was that they didn’t need to do additional surgery. Once they gave her the local anesthetic, her body relaxed enough where the placenta came out on its own without any further surgery being required. The nurses wheeled her in about five minutes after that. Alicia did get through it all; she was amazing! Once they got Alicia and the bed all squared away and hooked up, the brutal reality set in for her. As I was still clutching our little one, Alicia just began to cry. It was time for mommy and baby time, as I laid Caden on her chest so she could hold him. We were a family of three. In our wildest nightmares and preparations for his coming, we never thought this could happen. Unfortunately, this is our story and for some reason, we do not know why God wrote it up this way. But in that moment, it was just us three; and all our emotions.

I took a few more pictures of mommy and son. It was hard for me to see her brokenness. There was nothing I could have done or do. We just cried together. Alicia held him for a while then I got to hold him again. I didn’t want to let him go. I’m not exactly sure for how long I held him before handing him off to the nurses to get his measurements and hand and foot prints. I fought the idea of giving him up. An eternity’s worth of time wouldn’t be long enough to hold him. Eventually I acquiesced to letting him go. There was no pressure, but it was time. Saying goodbye to my son was the hardest thing ever. Even as I write this, I tear up and cry again. I just wanted to clutch him forever, the time was too short.

Then it was just Alicia and I. Confused, lost and hurt. Where do we go from here? Why did this happen? Where is God? All these thoughts and many, many more filled my head. Broken in pieces, how could life be scripted this way? Our story is still being written, by an Author we know. There is more to come and that is what I cling to right now.



Caden Boy…

Our weekend of celebrating had come to a close. Little did we know that this day, Monday, December 12th would usher in a day that literally changed our lives forever.

We were up and off on our way back to Richmond! It’s a long drive – a good solid 9 hours – but with traffic can be longer. I have been so pleased with my body and the way it’s been able to handle traveling- especially at 6 months pregnant (another testament to the healing work God has done in and through me!). Most of our drive time consists of either singing to music (and recently it’s been non-stop Christmas music) or just talking to each other. I’m the co-pilot, Josiah is always pilot – and like any good co-pilot, I like to keep my pilot company on these long drives. So we might occasionally listen to a podcast or sermon, but most of the time we just talk… and more importantly, we’re both learning to listen. These road trips have made space for us to hear and be heard. To share mundane, trivial thoughts but to also expose some of the most intimate and vulnerable pieces of our hearts with one another. And we’re learning – like any married couple, how to listen WELL to the other person. Our road trips have quickly become one of my favorite past times with my love…

We made it back to Richmond in great time, stopped at the store to pick up a few things and then unloaded our car full of baby goodies once we arrived home. We were so blessed by friends and family over the weekend – and as we made trip after trip of unloading everything, I couldn’t help be reminded of ALL the love and support God has surrounded us with. Richly blessed…

We made an easy dinner (because neither of us felt like cooking anything) and we settled into the family room to relax for a bit before heading to bed. We played a game of Farkle and then decided to watch a little TV. Sitting on the floor playing the game, I began to feel a slight pain in my lower abdomen – so as soon as the game was over, I crawled up on the couch and laid there trying to rest. But the pain just kept getting worse. It was about 10:00pm at this point, and I was finding myself having to breathe deeply through the waves of pain. It reminded me of the braxton hicks contractions I experienced weeks before. And like those, the pain soon enough traveled to my back and then pressure began to build in my lower abdomen and bum again. At 10:30pm, we decided to retire to bed, thinking that perhaps all of the festivities from our weekend of celebrating had been too much, and my body was just in need of some rest. We crawled into bed around 11:00pm, read to Caden out of the Jesus Storybook Bible (something that had become a nightly routine) and tried to get some rest.

Josiah fell asleep quickly, but the waves of pain I was experiencing were keeping me up. They weren’t subsiding like the last time, in fact I laid there feeling like the pain and pressure were becoming more intense, and the intervals of time in between becoming much shorter. At around 1:30am, I woke Josiah up because the pain hadn’t yet stopped and I didn’t know what to do. He quickly looked up causes of braxton hicks, and saw that dehydration is one of the causes- so he ran downstairs to get me some water. I put some essential oils on (ones that were safe during pregnancy & that I had been using the entire time) and tried to lay there for a few more minutes – but I was beginning to get scared. I needed to know when/if I should go to the hospital. So I woke Josiah up again and told him I needed him to call our OB, Dr. Moore. God bless our doctor – because it was probably 1:50am and we woke him up out of his sleep. Josiah explained what I was experiencing, and he said to drink a bit more water but that if the contractions didn’t stop in 1 hour, to make our way to the hospital. I drank the rest of the glass of water, and then waited…

Maybe 10 minutes passed, and I knew I couldn’t wait any longer. It was no longer a physical urgency to get to the hospital, something in my spirit didn’t feel right and I knew we needed to go and needed to go now! Josiah jumped out of bed, got dressed, helped me get dressed and loaded me in the car. I was in writhing pain at this point & the hospital was a 30 minute drive away. What I remember about that car ride is feeling like I was fighting against my own body. Everything in me wanted to push – and the pressure and pain were so intense I wasn’t sure I could keep it in for much longer. I knew this wasn’t good – and all I could do was press my feet firmly into the floorboard of the car (as if me pushing back in the opposite direction would somehow keep our baby boy inside of me), and cry out “Jesus, please let me make it” and “Bring peace to my womb Lord, Shalom in my womb!”. Over and over and over again I repeated those phrases, sometimes only able to get out the word “peace” or “shalom”.

We were 6 minutes away from the hospital, when we came to our first red light – and I told Josiah that I needed him to run the red light otherwise I wasn’t going to make it. I made him run 2 red lights that night before finally pulling into the Emergency Room valet of the hospital. Josiah parked the car there, and came around to the door to help me in to the hospital. I could barely stand, and as I walked in holding the bottom of my belly, I can remember the women responsible for check-ins asking “Are you in labor”. I could only manage a breathy, “yes”… before Josiah came to my rescue letting this women know that I was only 24 weeks pregnant and having major contractions. Josiah tells me that a transporter was down to get me in less than a minute, but it felt like the longest minute of my life. I kept thinking in my head, “if I can just get back there, the doctors can give me something to calm my body and stop the contractions”. I so wish that had been what happened…

The transporter took me back in a wheelchair, and by the time we arrived on the 3rd floor of the hospital (the Labor & Delivery floor) I was immediately taken to a delivery room. A team of nurses seemed to be swirling around the room, but I barely remember much of anything because I was in so much pain. I remember a nurse quickly undressing me and throwing a hospital gown over me. I remember my husband standing by telling me over and over again that everything was going to be alright. I remember telling them to please help me. And I remember them hooking me up to their monitors and getting an IV of fluids started. The doctor came in about 5 minutes later, and asked when I started to experience this pain. Josiah gave her a quick run down of the night, but also of our case. She asked the nurse to pass her the ultrasound equipment because she wanted to try and find out where exactly baby was (he had been breeched the entire pregnancy). And it was in that moment that our lives changed forever. She couldn’t find a heartbeat…

She checked again & this time not only could she not find a heartbeat, she couldn’t even find our little love. I remember the doctor telling me that she was going to do a physical exam to see how dilated I was. As she inserted the tool, I could feel every fiber of my body tighten – the pain was excruciating. I looked over at Josiah, who continued to tell me everything would be okay and then over at the nurse who was trying to help me get control of my breath. And that’s when I heard the doctor tell me, “Mrs Smith, I’m so sorry but I couldn’t find a heart beat. Your baby has no heart beat and he is already in the vaginal canal (which is why she couldn’t find him on the ultrasound). I’m going to need you to deliver this baby Mrs Smith.” In the next moment, I remember taking a deep breath in and bearing down to push like my body had been wanting to this entire time. After 2 pushes, out came my Caden boy. The doctor held him in one hand, and tried to massage around his chest with the other. Blood was everywhere. I can remember seeing how soaked the doctor was, and realizing that was all my blood. And then seconds later she looked up at me and confirmed my worst nightmare – “I’m so sorry Mrs. Smith, there is no heart beat and there is nothing we can do…“.

My body and brain seemed to go into a state of shock. I couldn’t compute any of what just happened. I looked over at my Warrior of a husband (our Caden boy definitely took after his Daddy) who just kept telling me “I love you” and “We’re going to be okay babe“.

The next thing I knew, I was being prepped for surgery. Apparently, there was a complication with the umbilical and it had broken off inside of me once Caden was out – which was preventing the doctor from delivering the placenta. She tried a couple times, but the placenta wouldn’t budge. So they called in an Anesthesiologist, who quickly introduced himself to me and told me I was heading into surgery. I can remember the nurses telling Josiah that he couldn’t go with me, but I remember him looking at me and telling me loved me and that I was going to be okay. They wheeled me to the OR, and transferred me from the hospital bed I was in onto the operating room table. I can then remember the anesthesiologist telling me that I was going to go to sleep for a little bit, and when I woke up it would be all over. I can remember his hand being over my throat, as if holding on to my esophagus – which makes sense because I later found out that they inserted a tube down my throat for precautionary purposes. Before drifting off to sleep, I can remember feeling like I was leaking a ton of blood and telling them that. Come to find out – as soon as my body relaxed due to the general anesthesia, my placenta delivered itself and surgery wasn’t needed (which I am so grateful for).

The next thing I remember is being back in our labor & delivery room. I remember seeing Josiah, and he was holding our son wrapped in a blanket. He came over to me and laid my sweet Caden boy on my chest. I just stared at him – not being able to believe all that had just happened. I couldn’t believe he was finally here, but this wasn’t how it was supposed to be… I cried and held my boy for a while & Josiah just stood hovering over both of us. We were simultaneously enjoying & mourning our first family moments. He was the sweetest of boys. The image of his profile proved to be so true – my boy had the most perfect nose, lips and chin I’ve ever seen. His skin, so soft. His body, so small.

It’s been a week since that horrific day – and it has been the hardest week of our lives. We yearn to hold our boy again. We miss him more with each passing day. We grieve the dreams that have stopped being dreamed about him. We are allowing ourselves to cry whenever we need to & vent whenever we need to. We are wrestling with ALL the many questions. We are processing all of the change – especially a lot of the physical changes that happened to me so quickly. I am mourning the loss of my pregnant belly & the daily reminder of what happened as it continues to shrink each day. I am mourning the fact that my milk came in, milk intended to bring life and nourishment to my boy, but milk I had to allow to dry up without a drop making it to my son’s mouth. I feel like a bear in hibernation mode. Not wanting to leave the comforts of home for a variety of reasons. And truly, writing this update has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. So why write it? And why so soon?

For 2 reasons, 2 very important reasons.

  1. I wanted to try and capture Caden’s story without forgetting too many of the details. I want to be able to recount & remember him forever and to record this event so that when God’s redemptive plan takes shape in our lives (because I promise you, it will) – I will have all of the details of what was, so that I’m BLOWN AWAY by the “what is”  of our future.
  2. I want to make sure Caden’s legacy, the true legacy is what remains intact. The resounding theme of Caden’s story has been about what a miracle baby he was. Defying the odds from conception, Caden Harvest Smith is proof that God is real, that He is good & that He still performs miracles today. But some might look at the end of his story and doubt that any of that is true. If God is so real, so good & able to perform miracles then how could He let this happen? Trust me when I tell you that we, ourselves, have wrestled with those very same questions. And truth-be-told, I don’t have the answer we’re all looking for. I don’t know the “why”. But what I do know is that January of 2016 is when I had my first period in over 6 years without any medical intervention. And in August of that same year, I took 3 pregnancy tests that all told me I was pregnant. And that despite fatal reports from 5 weeks on, our Caden boy defied the odds week after week and made it to 24 weeks.

And I know that NONE of those things could & would have happened, if God wasn’t real (and wasn’t who He says He is), if He wasn’t good & if He wasn’t able to still perform miracles today. We don’t know why our son was taken from this physical world so early, but rest assured our hearts anticipate the day of being reunited with him – oh what a celebration THAT day will be!


(Note: Thank you to ALL of the people near & far who have prayed for our Caden Harvest. Words escape us as we think of you. Please continue to pray for Mama and Daddy as we navigate daily life without him. We know it will be a hard process, but we ask that you pray that amidst the junkyard, we’re able to see the single roses God places before us. We love you all.)