Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Let me start at the beginning

I am finding it to be very good for me to "journal." My thoughts are racing and my heart is so full of things I want to share. I pray that what comes out is only what God wants shared. I know there's really no such thing as "too good to be true" with God but so many times over the years I've thought this. Then, I would say to God, "This is bad theology the way I'm thinking. It's too good to be true that you sent your son to die for me, a sinner." This fact alone is too wonderful for me to comprehend....and not just this but also that I have a purpose to my life. I'm not just here to live, get married, have children and die. I can know God personally and He can transform my whole world. And the BEST part is that I get to spend eternity with Him where there is no pain, no sadness, no loss. But still, I thought my life was too good. My parents are awesome, I have wonderful friends, I couldn't ask for a better husband, I've been blessed with four children that are all happy and healthy. I've never struggled with believing God is good because He has never allowed anything in my life to cause me to doubt Him, well nothing really "big" anyway. I've mostly had to trust God in the lives of my friends, as I've watched them struggle with really big things. Struggling marriages, loss of a newborn, raising kids(I have struggled along with them on this one,) feeling lonely, depression, etc.
Some of you have already read that I've struggled with fear the past few months. God has been preparing me for this loss. Over and over in my head I would think, "What would I do if I lost Billy or one of the children?" Every time I would go back to trusting a God who has perfect love for me. I didn't really pray, "God, please never let this happen," because I believe God ordains everything! I would always think that God would give me the grace to make it no matter how painful. I can remember in our Chicago house when we put everybody to bed at night I would just want to protect the children. God just let me keep them where they are, safe and content in their beds and nothing can harm them. I knew I wasn't in control even though I wanted to be.
I'm not making this up.....I promise! The night before Alaina died I went to sleep thinking about my life. We had been planning a reunion with some of my college friends and I was saying to God...."When all of us get together, what am I going to share? One has lost a baby, one has lost her Dad as a teenager and gone through infertility, one has gone through a major hurricane and one just buried her brother. What's my struggle to share???? Am I just there to comfort them, having never gone through anything hard compared to them???
The next morning I found my daughter....she was gone. I still have the horrible images in my head. You can pray about that for me. I can still hear my mom screaming in the background. I still feel physically sick just thinking about that morning. On Tuesday Alaina came in my room at around 5:00 am and said "Mama I threw up in my bed." I went in her room and saw that she had but is wasn't much because she had an empty stomach. I gave her a bath and made her a place on the couch to rest. I just thought she had a stomach several she has had before. All the classic symptoms...weak, can't keep anything down, tired. She slept a lot that day but was awake some. I remember vividly that she got up from the recliner to hide from my Dad when he came home. She covered herself with a blanket on the couch and giggled when he found her. At one point she wanted to watch The Wizard of OZ and when I got her settled in the bed she was asleep before the movie even started. I just thought she was really worn out from our crazy schedule on top of being sick. She tried a Popsicle and some juice and water but couldn't keep it down. I decided around 6:00pm not to give her anything else to eat or drink. She slept in the recliner until around 9:00 when I went to bed and put her in the bed with me. She moved and talked in her sleep. I got up around 3:00am and couldn't sleep so I got on the couch and eventually fell asleep. I heard Mary Helen crying the next morning. She was in a pack n play in Alaina's room. I walked in the room and Alaina wasn't on the bed and I had a flash of panic in my head. I looked on the other side of the bed and she had fallen off. I reached down to get her and knew something felt different. She didn't feel right. I won't give anymore details but I will tell you that I immediately started CPR. In my head I kept thinking she was already gone, but maybe I was wrong. Maybe I could save her life. The paramedics got there quickly and they were with her maybe 15 minutes or so. I was outside holding onto my mom and dad (Billy wasn't here.) I prayed for a miracle but could just sense what they would come out and tell us. My dad came out and his words were "No baby, she's gone." Never have I known such intense pain....physical, emotional, mental. It's physically hard to type right now.
What makes it even harder is that we had no time to prepare.....even if we had taken her to the Dr. and they had told us it was Meningitis and there was nothing they could least I would've had a day to think about it. But God is God and I am not. He is the one that makes those decisions. You know all the places your mind goes, though. What if I had only?
So today, this is where God finds me. Desperate, sad, broken, empty, hitting rock bottom. Sobbing as today I look through the pool bag to get Holden some goggles and see Lew's pink goggles. Picturing her learning to swim this summer and how proud she was. Looking up and seeing Holden standing in the door watching me cry with such a pitiful look on his face. Seeing Elley wearing some of Alaina's clothes(they had so many matching things), watching her walk around in Alaina'a sandals. The sting is everywhere. You can't escape it, you can't bury it, it's staring you in the face. You must walk through it. But how?????? It's a one word answer....GOD. It's the gospel of grace. That's why I want to press on. My hope is in him. My hope is in spending eternity with Him. Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't think people in heaven can see us down here. If they could they would see how sad we are and it would make them sad. And just as the song at the funeral said "then all hurt and pain will cease and we will be with Him forever and in His presence we will live." I would go nuts if I thought for one minute that she was sad, lonely or looking for me. I know my God sees me, though. He is carrying my burden because it's too much for me. The reality is my Lew is better than she has ever been. She is with her heavenly Daddy and has never known such joy! This makes me smile. This brings some joy back to me. This makes me long for heaven. Jesus, Thank You!!! Thank you that you made this possible. Because of this gospel of grace, I will make it!!!!!


Anonymous said...

Hope, I don't know if you or Billy will know who I am but my name is Amy (Jones) Kilpatrick. I went to TSU and a couple of beach projects. First and foremost, thank you for sharing your heart so honestly. Please know that I am praying for you and your family. I am praying that you would be protected from any lies that satan might try to whisper to you. I am also praying for protection over your marriage and family. I am so sorry for the loss of your precious little one.
Lamentations 3:22-23

Parks Avenue said...

Oh Hope, hearing the events breaks my heart and sickens my stomach. I literally cannot imagine the intense pain that you feel. I'm thankful that you are able to take joy in the fact that she certainly is with her heavenly Daddy and He loves her more than we could ever imagine!
I had a dream about her the other night. It was actually the night before the funeral. I didn't sleep well, but when I did, I dreamed about the night she died. It was like I was the fly on the wall, watching the events unfold. She was sleeping like an angel, and the Lord came in and stood in the corner and whispered ever so sweetly for her to wake up. She opened here eyes, and he said, "Come with me sweet child!" She got out of bed to walk toward Him and He swept her off her feet! She threw her head back and belly laughed out loud. As soon as she laughed, I sat up in my bed and thought I heard one of my children.
Anyway, I wasn't gonna say anything about dreaming about her, but in a way, I thought you should know. We love you and are praying still.
-annie parks

JJMERKEL said...

Oh Hope, it breaks my heart to read the events on what happened. I just can't even imagine the pain that you and Billy are feeling with all of this. I also think that Alaina is in a wonderful place, with no sadness and pain. She is with God.

Peter Chiou said...

Billy and Hope,

We weep with you. No words can express our sadness for your loss. Take your time to cry.

Peter Chiou

Chelsey said...

thank you for sharing your story. you are a pillar of strength.

The Veenstra Family said...

Philippians 4:13

I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

We hold you close to our hearts and lift your names to Him.

Dan & Kari

Bragans said...

Hope, thank you for being real and sharing your heart. My name is Joy (Graham) Bragan and I was a high school student that attended First Baptist Church Troy when Billy was in college. I ended up going to TSU and attended some beach projects and a ITP. You guys impacted my life from afar. The Lord continually brings you and your family to my mind. We are praying for you and for God's continue grace to be poured out and that He will continue to strengthen you each day. We are so sorry for your loss.

Debra (Enlow) Carl said...

Hope & Billy,

THANK YOU for allowing me inside your lives as you struggle through these painfully difficult days. I hope you are greatly encouraged, even as your heart breaks wide open, that my life is being changed as a result of the events in yours. You have mentioned your fears these past months...fears that are so common to us all (especially us mommies) as we struggle to obey in daily surrendering all things. And now, here you are walking through just what you feared the most, and in the midst of it all demonstrating to me what I, in the depths of my soul, hardly dare to believe (though I want to with all my might) -- that God will be enough in the face of those huge "What ifs". You are daily affirming in the midst of your honest struggling, that indeed, He is enough. And my faith is encouraged beyond words. I will never be the same because of the lessons I am learning through you. Because of you, I will have a richer storehouse of hope to offer myself and others who suffer in this world that is His but not yet fully conquered, this world where our "What ifs" sometimes do materialize. And yet we eagerly await the time when everything will be redeemed and made whole in Him. I know her loss must cause more pain than you think you can bear, but I pray the riches you find in Christ are deeper still. I am praying for you, and am so thankful that in the providence of God, that I am appointed a glimpse of these truths through you.

Debra (Enlow) Carl

Danny and Jennifer White said...

Still praying for you all .

Anonymous said...

Hope and Billy,

Words will never express how heartbroken I have been for you over the past week. The tearful prayers have been endless! Praise God that He is our Prince of Peace and that our comfort comes from Him alone. I am so encouraged by the way God is using your words in not only my life but so many others. Thank you, for He is being glorified! Our prayers will continue.

Juanita Sanderford

CRSmom said...


Words can not express the pain that we feel for you and your family. We don't personally know you, but from reading your blog, I know that you are incredibly brave and strong. Thank you so much for opening up your heart and sharing your experience. We have been and will continue to pray for you and your family. Alaina is a beautiful girl!

With love,

Stacy and Clint Strong (friends of Cathi and Dallas Maham)
Apex, NC

Shea said...

My heart just aches for you, Hope. To try and imagine the pain and loss that you are feeling right now makes me heart sick for you. Know that you are loved and being constantly lifted in prayer. Thank you for being so real and so honest with all of us. God bless you.

Leigh ANn Renfroe Glass said...

Hope, I don't even know where to begin.I am so sorry to hear about your little angel. And reading all of you blogs it is very peaceful to know where you heart is. Your mom couldn't have given you a better name,..."Hope" what a wonderful name! and it fits you 100%.
You know it is weird when I think about us talking sat at Aunt Mona's about our kids and you telling us the diffrence between 2-4 and you making fun of me not wanting to leave Haleigh with my parents over night. I am so thankful I got to meat Aliana that day! I can remember her not wanting to eat anything but the cupcakes!! I don't blame her she knew what was good:)! another thing that is weird is my mom and I were just talking about you and your beautiful family when Mrs. Alliece called us with the news! right before the phonerangit was crazy because I had just told Mymomhow precious Alaina and Elley were. And how much I enjoyed loving on Mary Helen. Also how blessed you are!! My heartbroke for you then. I just couldn't imagin. But I can truely say you are a blessing! A wonderful mom and a ray of HOPE to all of us!!
Thank you for sharing everything with us on here! It helps me to know you are doing ok!!
All my love and prays are with you,Billy and the kids!
Leigh Ann Renfroe Glass

Anonymous said...

Hope, We are holding you and your family very tightly in our hearts. We love you all and we are lifting you up in prayer. "God bless you, God love you and God keep you." That is my prayer tonight for you and your family.
All my love,
Sharon Shepherd

Anonymous said...

I'm the Daddy, Hope's husband. Let me just say that I beleive I am married to the most awesome women in the world. Her faith has stretched me grately. Thank you for ministering to my wife through this blog site. She reads it daily and I believe God will use this site to help us be ministered to as well as share the "Hope" that we have through Christ. Hope, I love you... thank you for saying "yes".

Talley Images said...

I got here from Aimee's blog.... I just have no words, I wish I did, I wish I could offer something tangible....

but I wanted to thank you for sharing your sweet, sweet story, and really pointing to Christ during this time...

I will be praying for you and your family

Lilnda Dudley said...

Dear Hope and Billy,

As I received word of your tragedy and read your story this morning...I sit here weeping for you all. Please know that your Parkview family is praying for you and wanting desperately to do something to help. I am so glad you were with your parents and astounded at the grace you are receiving from our Lord as you take each step along the way. May He continue to hold you up in the days to come. Give Holden our love.

God bless you and your family,
Linda Dudley

Rachel Hannah said...

Hope, I wanted you to know that I am praying for you right at this moment, as well as all day. I love you dearly and I am a phone call away if you need anything. You are so awesome - such a model of strength and grace. Never doubt, I see God in you. I am here for you, old friend. All my love, Rachel

Donna Key said...

Hope, I don't even know what to say. I want so very much to encourage you, but YOU have been the encouragement to me. My heart is breaking for you and your family right now. I literally had to shut my door at work because I am sobbing reading your post. I appreciate so much you opening your heart to share with all of us who are so concerned for you. I am not sure you will ever know how much it means to us on the outside looking in. Please know that I have been praying continuously for you and Billy.
Donna (Lewis) Key

Amy said...

Hope, last night I read this post and I went to bed thinking about what you said especially about Alaina not seeing us and you not being able to bear the thought of her being sad. God brought Heb 12:2 to mind. "Let us fix our eyes Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." This morning I looked up fix (fixing) in other versions and it said to turn the eyes from other things and attach them or concentrate on something else. So all morning I have been thinking about this. If we are called on this earth to strive toward fixing our eyes upon Jesus then when He makes us perfect we would have completely turned from other things and have attached our eyes toward sweet Jesus. Now Alaina is perfect Hope, and you are so right dear friend, she is not sad because she has met face to face the maker of those sweet little eyes and I believe they will stray no more - who would want to turn away from sheer perfection?
I love, love, love hearing your heart. Can't wait to see you soon!

lisa richburg said...

Sweet, Precious, HOPE,
My heart hurts so much for you and Billy. I love you guys. Your strength, vulnerability, honesty, faith, and HOPE are such an encouragement to me. I always run straight to Jesus & soak up His words after I read your words. You're absolutely right, You all will make it b/c God will walk with you (and carry you when necessary) every step of the way!! I tried to call you yesterday, but didn't get an answer. I figured that was just one of those days where no one felt like talking so I prayed all the more for you guys. I had wanted to share what I read in 2Chronicles 20 about Jehoshaphat's prayer when he was facing a battle. I know you aren't facing an army per say; however, you are facing what seems to me is more difficult than a physical army...(of course I've never been on the front lines of a battle field either, so I probably have no business saying that) anyway, I loved the words...
v.6 "...O Lord, God of our fathers, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you. ...v.9-...If calamity comes upon us,...we WILL STAND IN YOUR PRESENCE before this temple that bears your Name and WILL CRY OUT TO YOU IN OUR DISTRESS, AND YOU WILL HEAR US AND SAVE US. ...v.12...For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. WE DO NOT KNOW WHAT TO DO, BUT OUR EYES ARE UPON YOU. ...v.15- Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God's. ...v. 17- You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; STAND FIRM AND SEE THE DELIVERANCE THE LORD WILL GIVE YOU, O Judah and Jerusalem (or Billy and Hope). Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you. ...v.20...HAVE FAITH IN THE LORD YOUR GOD AND YOU WILL BE UPHELD; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful. ...v.21-...Give thanks to the Lord, FOR HIS LOVE ENDURES FOREVER. ...v.30- And the kingdom of Jehoshaphat was at PEACE, for his God had given him rest on every side." I pray for God's words, grace, peace, love, mercy, encouragement, strength, courage, hope, joy, continue to carry you and Billy through this incredible time of pain and loss. I love you and am praying constantly for you all, but especially you and Billy. By the way, I talked to my daddy yesterday and he said he prays for you and Billy all of the time...when he wakes up and is having his 'devotion' :), when he's on his tractor during the day :), when he's driving down the road, when he goes to sleep...all of the time...isn't it sweet of our Heavenly daddy to put you guys on the minds of countless people b/c HE knows you need to be lifted up?!
Stand firm, precious friends, and keep your eyes on Jesus.
Lisa R.

ann said...

Hope & Billy,
Thank you for sharing your lives with us right now. I know my life will be forever changed by watching and listening to you these last few days and seeing God work through the Covenant family. God is being gloried!

I'm praying specifically that the painful images will be deleted from your mind (and your parent's). Not fade - but be eliminated.

I'm praying God's words will be strong and clear to you right now. As Billy said, I know we sound like Charlie Brown's teacher to you - but that God's truths would be crystal clear. "The word of the Lord stands forever.."

I'm praying that you and Billy can cling to each other and have understanding. For your parents and their unique pain.

That the community of believers will be forever changed for God's glory.

For you as you open your eyes each morning and remember. "His mercies are new every morning."

I'm so glad I knew Alaina - her spunk and her sweetness. I saw a frog yesterday and was thinking she'd like to play with it.

Katie and I prayed over the house and church in Cullman on our way home.

I love you and am crying out to the Lord for your family.

Ann Luttrell

Carlton and Aimee Weathers said...

I know that you are finding comfort in how the Lord has been preparing you for this journey. I remember getting "prepared" and when tragedy finally became reality, I was very, very comforted to know that the Lord has been so sweet and gracious to "prepare" me. He didn't have to do that. But, He knew it would be one more thing to confirm in my mind, that HE was ultimately in control. Cling to that. He knew and He loved you so much to prepare your heart. God is so good, even when our heart is breaking into.

thewheelerfamily said...

Dear Hope, You all are in our prayers and we are still weeping even though we are not with you. The funeral was amazing. Thank you for sharing your heart through blogging.

Kari said...

Hope, once again my heart is aching for you. I can't imagine what you are going through, but I want you to know we are still praying for you, Billy,your family and your children.

Robby & Krisha Smith said...

We have been on vacation but you have been on our hearts all week. Our family has hurt and prayed for your family. Thank you for being so vulnerable on your blog. You will never know how much you have ministered to me.


Anonymous said...

Hope, Billy and family>

Tina and I pray for you every night, and have prayed for you since the day we found out, and will continue for days to come. There are know words to express or sorrow and simpathy for you and your family. We loved you guys and your children from the day you moved here to Yorkville. We are here for you guys, now matter what you need.We wish you were coming back for services as we heard earlier, but understand why you won't be back. Please keep us n mind as you move on.

Love, Jason, Tina, and Hailey Erickson.

Jessica said...

Hope, You don't know me, but your loss breaks my heart. I am a mother as well and I can't even imagine what you are going through right now. I will keep you and your family in my thoughts and prayers. God bless you and your family in this truely difficult time in your lives.

Becky Hicks Patterson said...

You don't know me but I met Billy through Beach Project. I am praying for you and am so encouraged by what you are sharing with us.

Your sister in Christ,
Becky Hicks Patterson

Anonymous said...

Hope- its me Shannon Thomas from TSU, DeDe's friend from project. I heard about the news last Wednesday and it took my breath away. I am deeply sorry for your loss of your precious daughter, Alania. I never saw her before I looked at your blog, but she is lovely, she has your joy and a contageious smile. Hope, the words you have written are beautiful-I keep re-reading them. Thank you for sharing your heart. You are being so honest and raw. I love how your wrote Jesus is running to you. How beautiful! He really loves us more than we ever know. Please know that I am sending you, Billy, Holden, Elley, Mary- Helen, and your and Billy's Mom and Dad spirital hugs everyday. My heart and my prayers have been with you Hope everyday since I have known. I have no other words to type, but I do not want to stop typing because in some crazy, cyber-space way I feel connected to you by writing. The words you are writing have illustrated to me that your eyes are fixed on Jesus and His Strength is so alive in your words and I am sure in your presence.
I pray today that you will laugh and joy will be brought to your soul. God's grace, peace to you Hope- all my love shannon

Please know that my husband used to direct a grief camp for children that lost thier loved ones. He has many materials and activities that y'all could do to help your babies,especially Holden, grieve as well. I would love to send them to you. I will some how find your address and mail them to you.
I think I ended up posting this comment twice- I am sorry I new to the blogging thing

Nate said...

Thank you, Hope for sharing with us, it is precious that you welcome us in. We love you.

Kristin said...

Oh, Hope, I love you.

As we were leaving the lunch after the funeral, I got "in line" a 2nd time to tell you a memory of Alaina... but the longer I stood there, the bigger the lump in my throat got, and I knew I wouldn't be able to form words when I stood in front of you.

I remember holding her a week or two after she was born. She was so beautiful and just perfect. I remember it very clearly, because she was the last baby I held before John David was born a few weeks later. Holding her and loving on her made me SO excited knowing that I'd be holding my own little one very soon. It's one of those memories frozen in my mind. She made anticipating John David's birth even sweeter...

I hope we'll see you in a few nights! Love you.

Parks Avenue said...

You may already know about or have seen this but in case you haven't, I thought I'd give you guys the info. Rick Burgess from "Rick and Bubba", lost his two year old recently. He spoke at his memorial service and it was very encouraging. You can find it on You Tube. Just go to the site and type in "A Father's Heart" in the search box and it will pull up all 3 segments. Love you guys.
-annie parks

mjwerneth said...

thank you for loving us enough to let us grieve with you. when i first heard that alaina was gone, i felt terrible grief for you and then fear. how does this happen? i, like you, have tried to protect my kids and then trust God because i knew that i could not. i never worried before i had children. since having luke and leah, my mind has been overwhelmed with the worst scenerios - abduction, them running in front of a car... but at the funeral, when i looked in your eyes, the Lord took my fear away. it was so terrible to face your reality, and i wanted to take it away from you so badly. im so sorry, hope. and yet, "because he lives..." i loved the pictures of her, felt myself fall in love with her too, and wished that i had known her more. mostly my heart just screamed inside as i felt your pain. but for the first time ever, i feel that i believed in the reality of heaven. i believe in God so strongly, but heaven was so far off to me. at her funeral, i just knew in a way that i have never known that alaina was with him and he was with us. wasnt jesus so real that day? when i got home, i tried to explain to luke how he is so fully with both of us at the same time because the truth of it overwhelmed me. leah looked at alaina's picture and said that she wanted to go to heaven too. "right now!", my spunky one said. "i want to be with her; shes so pretty. right now!" i know that she doesnt understand fully, but she expressed what i felt too. we will all long to be with her and our Lord until we see her. as i lifted my hands with you and sang through tears, i felt that inward shout, "right now, Jesus! come now!" i pray that he remains powerfully real to you as he carries you through this. i will continue to pray for you, my friend! it was so terrible to say goodbye to her and so beautiful to celebrate her life. thank you for sharing your faith with me and for increasing my faith. my children are no longer in a closed hand but an open one. may fear never have a place in my life again. may my jesus, your jesus, always be enough. i love you hope

Joy said...

Hope and Billy,
I have had you heavy on my heart every day. Know that whatever you are feeling each day, you are being lifted to the Father by many, many people.

Isaiah 43:2
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.

Praying for you,
Joy (Goode) Hutzler

nick, robyn and taylor said...

Hope and Billy, I look at your blog numerous times a day and have wanted to comment but was never quite sure what to write. I'm still not, but just wanted y'all to know that I am praying for y'all and have been ever since Shelley called me last Wednesday morning. Nick and I never really knew y'all but just knew of you through Campus Outreach. My heart is so sad though I know I don't feel even a fraction of your pain. But know that I am praying some very specific things for you and Billy. Even before you wrote about the memories you have from that morning I have been praying about that specifically because I performed CPR years ago on a friend who did not make it. Like Amy Kilpatrick, I am praying against the lies that the evil one will throw your way. I can just picture Jesus shielding you from them. Last Sunday in church I was so burdened for y'all and so weepy. Jennifer White sang "'Tis So Sweet To Trust in Jesus" and all I could think about was y'all. Know that y'all are in our prayers and will continue to be.

"'Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, and to take Him at His Word; Just to rest upon His promise, and to know, Thus saith the Lord.
Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him! How I've proved Him o'er and o'er! Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus! O for grace to trust Him more!"

Robyn (Streed) Villacampa

Diane@A Picture is Worth.... said...

I don't know you...I was sent your blog link by my cousin. I just want you to know that you and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.

I can't comprehend what you all must be going through. I commend you for your honesty and openness in your blog. You are an example to everyone, and your words will provide comfort to others I'm sure.

Shelley said...

I was just able to read your blog today for the first time due to our internet. I was so sorry I couldn't go to the funeral but Jill shared every detail and brought me a program. It is by my bed and I look at it daily. Just like everyone has said, I think about you often. Today we are praying for Holden as well. Something you said in this post struck home with me. I am working with my two toddlers on "first-time obedience". Over the past week when I spank them for their repeated disobedience I think of you. I know it is important but it seems so less important now. So, I say all that to say, that even in the small day-to-day details I am remembering you and praying for you.

Jo said...


I am another of your blog readers who has never had the priviledge of meeting you.
I am now on the 7th time of attempting to write this comment as I truly do not know what to say.

But my overwelming desire is to say THANK YOU. I have recently been stuggling in my relationship with the Lord.
However, God has used your loss and willingness to share your heart, to draw me back to himself.

Your post says 'I don't know how God will use it (this blog) through a sinner like me, but I trust that He will.'
Hope, He has used you in my life and as I sit here longing to sit at Jesus' feet again, I Thank You for allowing God to use you in the midst of your loss.
Praying for you,
Jo Beynon

Bob & Mai Xia said...

Dear Hope,

I found your blog through Aimee's. She and I met online during her pregnancy with Sophie Ann and I was going through a similar loss with my daughter, Rachel. Nothing about the loss of a child makes much sense. I pray that you will continue to cling to Jesus and lean on the friends and family that God has given you. It is obvious that you and your family are greatly loved. May you feel the comfort and peace of our Lord Jesus in the days, months, and years to come.

A sister in Christ,
Mai Xia Hoffman

flee said...

Dear sweet sister....

I found my way to your blog thru an old friend of mine, Alysia Shahady. I just wanted you to know that I join you and so many others that are laboring over your family in prayer right now. I stand beside you, lifting your family before the throne. May God keep you in his peace.

Felicia Patten
Searcy, AR

Laura said...

Hope and Billy,
We are thinking about you guys, praying for you...We think about all you are going through and about Alaina everyday. Just wanted you guys to know, we are here. Are you guys still in Butler? Al wants to make sure Billy got his message about the closing in Chicago. Let us know if we can do anything. Until then, we will continue to pray. We love you guys.

Kristin said...

Just wanted you to know we are praying and praying and praying for Holden. We love you.

Jeanne said...

I know your pain, but my sister knows it more. We lost our darling niece at 27. Yes, she had more years on this earth and she was a mother of 3 small children, but her loss was a trial of our faith. I can only say thank God for your faith. we couldn't survive without our faith in God. My heart is broken for you and your family. My God bless you and keep you strong.

Love with prayers, Jeanne

Beverly said...

You don't know me; I was led to your blog by another blog.

I am so comforted that you are sitting down to try to express your feelings. Keep writing - maybe this is your way to get through each day.

Grief is such a personal thing - everyone grieves so differently. I don't believe there is a right or wrong way - just anyway that you can. You are right, people will learn from your grief. Just remember to breathe. I know God is looking on you and your family with love.

I am a mother, and while I haven't lost my child, I do know a mother's love. It is consuming. Our children are our own heart beating in another body.

I like to think that our loved ones can communicate with us from Heaven. To me it has always been a comfort. I believe that the communication is in many ways - like the butterfly you see flitting from flower to flower, and the smile it brings to your heart that you so much need. Or like the look and sound and smell of the rain that cleanses your soul that is so in need of cleansing. All of the little everyday things in life that we take for granted, I believe those are God and our loved ones reaching out to send us love and support.

My heart is broken for you. You will remain in your prayers. God will continue to carry you every moment of every day. He is speaking to you and through you with each breath you take.

Connie said...

I found your site from a link on another site. I am at a loss for words. I can't even fathom what you and your family are going through. I am truly heartbroken for all of you. I will continue to uplift you in my prayers.

I live in Cullman, Alabama...well actually a small suburb called Good Hope. We live on Smith Lake and we attend First Baptist Church of Cullman. It's right downtown across from the courthouse. We would love for you to visit with us. When you guys move to Cullman, I would love to show you around Cullman and other areas around here.
I thank you for opening up your heart and sharing with so many that you don't even know. You have touched my heart in way that you can't imagine.
I will continue to lift you in my prayers.

Sarah said...

Hope, this is Sarah Griffith. We lived in Butler when you were in High School and you spent alot of time with our family. I heard about your loss from Melanie Norris. I was devastated when I heard. Steve and I are living in Tuscaloosa now and in June we went to the beach and as we passed through Fairhope I wondered about you and how y'all were doing. I have thought of you often over the years. I'm so sorry for you loss and the pain you are experiencing. I know this is a difficult time and I am glad you are hanging on to God. I just wanted you to know that we are praying for you and your family. We are here if you need anything.

Picket said...

Hello dear friend...I was sent here by another blogger and I am sitting here feeling like my very inner most part has been ripped out of me.....As a mama of five grown kids I know the depth of a mother's love for her children...but from one mother to another...I cannot even begin to imagine you loss...I pray that God breath on you and lift up...You have already shown a strength that most of us will never heart goes out to you and your family and I will call your name...God be with you always my friend....I am so sorry.

Laura said...

I came on to check if there was any new info. on Holden. We are praying like never before for you guys and for him. I am so proud of your faith. Keep us updated on how he is doing. We love you guys and can be there in a few hours if we can be of any help.

Anonymous said...

I sit here in awe as I read all the comments and I am just amazed at all the seeds of God's love that have been sown because of you and your willingness to spread His gospel. Stay strong Hope and know that His love will carry you through the storm.
I love you
Mrs. Cowan

Anonymous said...

I sit here in awe as I read all the comments and I am just amazed at all the seeds of God's love that have been sown because of you and your willingness to spread His gospel. Stay strong Hope and know that His love will carry you through the storm.
I love you
Mrs. Cowan

Ken and Jenny McNeill said...

Billy and Hope,
We just wanted to let you know that we are continuing to pray for you guys and especially for Holden. We still trust and know with you that God is good. We are asking with you now that His goodness will be shown through His mercy.
We love you guys,
Ken and Jenny

Tootsie said...

My name is Glenda and I too found your story through another blogger. My heart goes out to you. As a mom of 3 I cannot imagine how your heart is broken. I pray that God continues to lift you and hold you close giving you strength to get through your life with your family. I sit here with tears on my face, and wish there was something I could do to ease the pain your family is in. I admire the strength you have shown and pray you will stay strong.

Tut said...

(I remember that one, MC!!) So I wrote a long message about how strong you are and how God is truly using this terrible experience to witness to so many (myself included) and share His love... Everything happens for a reason... yada yada... But somehow me blogging ends up like Mama Pat trying to hook up a DVD player or use her cell phone, and things don't work as hoped... :)

Trying again, and more brief this time: I love your honesty and your willingness to share. Your strength and at the same time your vulnerability.

Like MC, I read in awe at the power of God in this experience to move people from all over...Butler to Chicago to Cullman to Anywhere, USA. I can attest that this (and you) have moved me personally.

You are loved. I pray for you and your family daily. It takes me back to Ginia and Aunt Debbie's incredible strength. Lean on her...

Billy, I pray for you, too. Thank you for being a good and loving husband and father.

BTW, you are truly anything but Hopeless :)



Caroline Joy said...

I just want to encourage you that God is with you! I have felt great loss in my life at times and felt such a mixed batch of feelings from sadness, despair, grief, anger, hurt, despondancy, exc. Only God could bring hope and restoration of joy to me and He still does on a regular basis. That is really what my blog is about...passing on something that He gave to me. He loves you so so so so so so so much.....and you know I bet your Alaina is playing with my Judah and Shannon in heaven. They would only be about 2years apart in age ! I'm going to ask Him to let them play ! :O) I kind of think God lets people who didn't know the joy of having them here help with them in heaven and I know that Jesus is with them and they are so full of life. I have joy again even though things trigger pain sometimes. I will pray and believe that God will take what was meant to harm you (because the word said that satan comes to kill steal and destroy) and bring you out to know and trust in His goodness, faithfulness, & love. Maybe, I will be brave enough to blog about my testimony like you some day. God has been so faithful to be with me. I just pray that you allow His incredible love to snuggle and consume you ! :O) I am just a blog away if you ever need to talk ! I want to encourage you that joy will come. With His love, Caroline

Katherinellen said...

Billy,Hope,and family,
My prayers wre with you and your family. Phillippians 4:13

Angie said...

Billy, Hope, & family,
I stand in awe at the power of God in your lives as I read the messages you have on your blog. You both are such a vision and I respect your faith and trust in God. The service for Alaina was the most beautiful service I have ever seen. I sat there watching the video, only growing to love your family more and more. I wished that I had known her, but after the service I felt as though I did. Your faith in God is so strong and I only hope that I can grow closer to God as you and Billy have. I thank you for showing those of us that are sometimes so weak and want to question God, to believe in him and trust in him. I am praying for you and for your family daily. I love you and hope that through God's grace you will find peace.

Angie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brandi Barnes Parten said...

Hope & Billy,

I want you to know that you and your family are being prayed for constantly. I am at a complete loss for words except that Marcus and I love you. We will continue to pray for you.

BKicklighter said...

I have been putting off reading your posts because I just didn't know if my heart could bear it. You have encouraged me with your faith and honesty. Thank you for sharing with us.

We have been praying since minute one. IActually, since Karen called)
Becky (Cheely) Kicklighter

Jaime said...

Hope and Billy,
Greg and I love you both and are praying for you.

Billy-thanks for the role you played in Greg's life. If it weren't for you reaching out to him in college, he may have not been the wonderful husband he is today. Thank you also for being so great to my friend.

Kim Lahaie Day said...

Dear Hope,

I found your blog through the newsletter at First Baptist, Orange Park. It was forwarded to me by someone who knew I'd love to hear/read your story. I could be the author of this same story, losing my son to a drowning 7 years ago. The 7 years is only the earthly measurement of time, because in this mother's heart, it only happened yesterday. I don't wish my grief away, but I also do not grieve without hope. I have hope (aren't you thankful for the name your parents gave you??!!) and absolute assurance that I'll see my son again, in your words, "I long for heaven". I'd love to talk with you more about this. And you are also correct that people in heaven do not look "down" and see us; we are assured that in heaven there are no tears, and it would be terribly sad for heaven dwellers to see the wretched, sinful people left on earth! Relish the joy that your daughter is ever with our Savior, let this be your comfort, and allow the Great Comforter sooth your weary heart!