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January 3, 2012

Another... New Beginning...

Well, we made it. We made through the year 2011.

There were times when I didn't think I would even make it through a day after January the 8th, but here I am, almost an entire year later.

I'm still standing, still breathing, still going. And for that, I give ALL the credit to the Lord.

I remember vividly sitting down to write my very first blog on January the 25th, just a short two weeks after Madeline went to be with the Lord. I didn't know what to title that first post. I sat and thought and thought and finally, I thought to use "A new beginning." And it was.

Life as I knew it was changed forever. My carefree, nonchalant way of living was altered in a moment of time. A moment when a worst fear came to reality. The moment that my "perfect" life was no more. Gone in a breath.

I'll never forget approaching the day of January the 6th in 2011. I was over the moon excited to meet my little girl, the completion of our perfect little family. I remember walking into the hospital and crying. I told Rick I was sad that the pregnancy was coming to an end (I love being pregnant :) but that I was so excited to meet her. It made me sad to think that I wouldn't have any more babies. Little did I know, I would be doing it all over again the same year. =) Isn't it neat how God works?

This year, as I approach January the 6th, I am a completely different person. I'm a different mother, a different wife, and a different Christian. I do not remember that girl I was before Maddie Grace. She changed me. Forever.

I do not miss who I was at all. I do not miss where I was in life either. I took everything for granted. I was selfish. I was consumed with what seemed "perfect" for me. I was carefree and naive to what life really had to offer. I didn't understand what real "living" was. Living in the moment and not taking a second for granted.

Today, that is how I live. I'm cherishing my family and each breath they take. For I do not know when one could be our last.

I love to remember a quote I once heard, "Life is not measured my the number of breaths we take, but my the moments that take our breath away..."

Maddie took my breath away on that sweet snowy day of January the 6th. She still does, every time I look at one of her beautiful pictures. Oh she was so precious.

So as I approach this Friday, her one year birthday; my heart aches.

I miss her. I want her. I need her.

I always will.

But when God called her home, he gave me a new beginning. He gave me a new life.

All last year, Rick and I prayed our way through each and every day. The week following her death was such a blur. The nightmares started and continued for months on end. The tears flowed endless hours of the day. Everywhere we looked, we saw her. Everything reminded us of our sweet girl.

We had to start over. We had to let go of "what wasn't" and learn how to live with "what was."

Day by day, we cried out to God for help, for comfort. Night by night, we held each other and cried together and to the Lord. We clung to the Lord and His word. We searched for answers. We searched for peace.

God provided.

With each soul that was saved, He showed us. With every single person who was touched by her life, we knew. Her purpose was fulfilled in those two little days. She lived her entire life's purpose in just two little days. She completed her "race" early. Her quilt was finished quickly. =)

As months went by, it got a little easier. The pain and the heaviness on our hearts stayed the same, but we were able breathe just a little easier as time went on. Lives continued to be touched by her story and Rick and I were getting the opportunity to tell ours.

As I look back through my 122 blog posts, I'm astonished and amazed at just how far the Lord has brought us. Every day he provided the grace and strength we needed. Everyday he filled us up so we could carry on.

We never got angry at the Lord. We never one time charged Him foolishly. Never once. But there were times we just wanted to know "why?" Through His word, through our Church, through those lives that were changed, through you... We understand a little more.

Why us? We truly believe that God knew He could trust us to go through this and continue to trust and serve Him. He knew how we would react before He ever called our daughter back home. He knew all along. I do not doubt that.

Now as I'm another year stronger and wiser, I understand a little more.

Where I was and where I am now are complete polar opposites, and the best part of it is, God carried me the WHOLE way. He held my hand, He lead my feet and in the moments when I truly couldn't take another step; He carried me.

Maddie's ministry is a year in the running now. Lives are continuing to be touched by her precious little life. I am so grateful that God has given us a story to tell. I'm so honored that you all have followed our story and read my words. I'm thankful that God gave me these words to write. I'm honored to do so.

This blog will continue to be "Maddie's story." I will always talk about her. Now we have more wonderful things going on in our life and I believe that Maddie definitely made a way for them.

She made a way for sweet Jonah Asher.

I'll never forget the moment I found out I was expecting after Maddie passed. Rick and I have called this baby our "hope" baby from the beginning. He he has been just that. He has provided a renewed hope when we felt like all hope was lost. He has given us a reason to smile again. He has filled our aching arms, something we've dreamed about for so long. Jonah did all those things.

As the year was coming to an end and Jonah was about to be born, I didn't know what to expect. Fear and grief were part of my thoughts, yet I knew God had a plan. I trusted in him and He did provide exactly what he promised me... Hope.

So as Jonah came to join our family on the 8th of December of 2011, he restored that hope and has continued to do so for the last 3 weeks. God kept his promise to us. He came through completely.

We had a wonderful precious Christmas. It wasn't the Christmas I had pictured a year prior with a little girl in pigtails toddling around. There were no baby dolls under our tree and her name was not on our Christmas card. Yet, she was there...

She was in the pink sunset on Christmas Eve. She was in the smile on my boys faces. She was there with the boys stockings hanging together and in all the ornaments on her tree. We could feel her. She was in our hearts.

As I hold Jonah and cry for her, and I have cried a lot the last few weeks, I can feel her. When Jonah snuggles his soft hair on my cheek, I can feel her. I miss her.

Through our Christmas, all the way until the clock struck midnight, I ached. The year of my Maddie had ended. A year of grace. The year anniversary of her birth and death are upon me.... almost here.

Can I make it? Sure.

God will help me. His grace along with hers will continue to carry me.

I am starting another new beginning... Another new year.

I have another new little life in my arms and I'm eager to see what God has in store... And I have a feeling... It's going to be great. =)

May God bless you in the New Year upon us. May we trust Him fully in all aspects of our lives, remembering, His will (is) perfect.


Much Love,

My prayer is that our story of grace and hope will touch your life in some way. Thank you for standing by us through the hardest year of our lives.

Please pray for us as Friday and Sunday approaches. We know God will carry us but we truly appreciate your prayers!

And now... some more pictures of our hope renewed... Jonah Asher.

Ist day home...

Introduced to his nursery... 2 days old

Checking out his tree. lol

3 days old...

4 days old =)

So thankful for this bundle of hope!

First bath... not a fan =)

Christmas caroling... =)

Jonah Bear, one week old.

First Sunday at Church.

Dedicating Jonah to the Lord...

Papa Ross praying for Jonah.

Our sweet family

Christmas Eve!

Our little gift

Reindeer Baby =)

Mommy and Jonah- 2 weeks old =)

My sweet boys

Santa Baby!

My first Christmas! We were so glad he was here to spend it with us.

Under Grandma's tree

Monkey baby

So sweet

Jonah's "look" he's a little birdie too. =)

My view most of the day... <3

Trying out his new Christmas present.

Tummy time =)

3 weeks old =)

Hoot Hoot, I'm cute =)

We know you are watching over us sweet Maddie Grace. We love you so very much. You will always be a part of this family. We miss you... <3

Stay tuned for friday, I will be uploading a video set to music of some of our favorite moments with Maddie.


  1. Such a gorgeous little boy. :) I love his owl hats. :)

  2. Beautiful! I was reading back on some old posts just this past week, it brings me to tears to see how God has worked in your lives. He has used you for His glory, and Maddie has an awesome legacy. Keeping you in prayer especially this week. May God just wrap His arms around you and give you peace. <3

  3. Love all of the pictures. Praying for you and your family always!!! Thanks for being such an inspiration to all of us!!!

  4. OMGoodness he is just the cutest thing. I am glad that your holiday season was so happy. Maddie is definitely with your family watching over you.

    I hope as this month continues on you will be blessed with strength! <3

  5. I WANT that owl hat!!! I love it. Where did ya get it? It looks like a homemade "etsy" Thank you for the peek into your world lately.
    P.S: I will be thinking of you as the day approaches maddie's year to date. :)

  6. Sending prayers to Heaven for you babe. My prayer is that Friday and Sunday will be days of strength, grace, peace, and celebration.
    Physical and emotional strength to press on and through both days, grace to overwhelm your hearts and souls, peace for knowing the Lord's perfect will has been done, and celebration of her beautiful life and all that God has done through her.
    Love you!!

  7. Look how smart he is! In the 4 day old pic, he is holding up 4 fingers! Ha! Too precious. :) You have handled this trial remarkably well. No doubt these coming dates will bring some heartache, but Praise the Lord your arms of full to help ease your hurt. God really is good, isn't He? (((hugs)))

  8. Oh sweet Natalie...I don't know how I ever came across your blog last January, but you and your family have been such a blessing to me. I have written you one other time to let you know what an impact yoir atory has made on my life. I have suffered 2 miscarriages since November 2010, and both left me so broken. I believe the Lord led me to your blog so that I could see what it really was to be broken and how a faithful family should face trials. I feel like each time I got sad were the times you posted words, quotes, and scriptures that pulled me through. I am so grateful to you. After Doctors telling me I would not be able to get pregnant without medicine, I prayed diligently. Christmas Eve I prayed to the Lord for a Christmas miracle. He knew the desires of my heart, he knew that I was against medical intervention...I knew HE is the great physician. So as I lie here after reading another beautifully written blog of yours, I am in awe of our Lord. In awe of how he has brought such a precious family through the unthinkable and in awe of the blessings he has given me. I'm blessed with a beautiful 3 year old girl and a blessing of "hope" in my tummy! Praise the Lord for his goodness! I'm thankful for you, my friend I've never met!

  9. Jonah is beautiful. The picture of the three boys in their matching argyle/plaid sweaters is breathtaking. My favorite verse is from Romans 4:18 " Against all hope, in hope I believe...". So fitting for your family.

    God bless you this week, God bless your this year!

  10. You have some of the prettiest kids I have ever seen!! They are just precious! I love reading about your faith in the Lord. It is truely inspriational. God bless you and your family! I will continue praying for you all.

    I loooooooooove all of your kids' clothes!! Where is your favorite place to shop??

  11. As always leaving your blog crying, I will be keeping you in my prayers throughout the upcoming weekend. Looking forward to Friday's video. Loved all the pictures of sweet Jonah Asher! all of your children are beautiful!

  12. These photos are beautiful. He is simply perfect and I love seeing how happy you and your whole family are. The photo of all three of your boys in matching sweaters is priceless. You have a gorgeous family and I couldn't be happier for you. I know with all the happiness, there will still always be a little girl who is missed. Thinking of you as you approach her birthday. Thank you for sharing.

  13. Hi Natalie, your blog is lovely, the pictures of Jonah are scrumptious. What a blessing your posts have been! I have loved reading your testimony and it encourages me in my faith. I went to Crown for a year, you may not remember me. I married Brian McCobb and we're missionaries in Paraguay now. Praying for you!

  14. Thank you for sharing your story. It has been 8 months and 4 days since my little granddaughter Nevaeh Grace went home to be with Jesus. Like your precious little one, she lived two days with us on earth and we are so thankful for the gift of those days. I just wanted to thank you for writing and sharing your story. I ran across this "by accident" today but with God, there are no accidents.

  15. Hi Natalie,
    Your friend Cynthia Rena Gillie shared her love & sorrow for you as well as your link on Facebook, which led me to reading your story. I am so sorry anyone has to endure such grief. It doesn't seem humanly possible. Your eloquent writing and intimate sharing are deeply touching. I send you my love and hope that while you are struggling through the grief, the collective love of God, family, friends, and even strangers surrounds you. I'm glad you have Jonah to cuddle. While no one could ever replace your precious daughter, This new little guy is completely devoted to you, I'm sure.
    Wishing you peace.
    Suzanne Kash

  16. Oh my I love these! And am so very happy you can see God through it all.

  17. Thank you so much for your blog. I've spent the last several hours sitting here reading, can't seem to pull myself away. It has made me cry, but also it has encouraged my heart seeing God's grace in your life also. It really hit me when you talked about seeing the Mom at Disney with her little girl in a wheel chair. Our oldest is in a wheel chair. We almost lost her when she was a baby. It's always such an encouragement to see God's grace in the lives of others too. I don't know if we have met. My husband and I used to live in Lebanon OH too. I just wanted to thank you for sharing your life with us. Helping us see God's hand in others. Liberty Pranger

  18. Just came on to check my own blog, and I seen yours, not by coincidence (as always) but by God's Divine Providence! I have been following your story the entire 12 months, and SO MUCH has changed! Congratulations on the birth of Jonah Asher! He looks SO MUCH like Maddie Grace!

    I WILL be praying for your sweet family as Friday and Sunday approaches, and THANK YOU SO MUCH for your godly testimony. I have a godly jealousy to have such a testimony.

    God bless!

  19. Oh Natalie!! What a blessing to see precious, little Jonah in your arms. I followed you for a bit on here last year as you walked this trial. Then, I faced a huge trial of my own all summer. I was away from computers for a LONG time. I just now connected with you again from seeing you on A Perfect Lily's sidebar. I cannot tell you how amazing it is to see you hold Jonah in your arms. What a gift he is!! And he is like the cutest, little boy. Wow. And I just saw the video remembering Maddie. It is clear to see how God has orchestrated everything to work together for the good in your lives. May He richly bless you all in 2012!!!! Enjoy little Jonah- well, I KNOW you are. Much love to you.