Sunday we will remember our son Parker William Ankerich, born March 13, 2003 straight into Jesus’ arms.

It was a beautiful spring day when we celebrated Parker’s life in a nearby chapel. We gathered with friends and family to say goodbye to our first son lost in childbirth. I knew then and know now, it was the darkest time of my life.

Now 13 years later, I still cry thinking about him, and the life we didn’t get to live together. It seems strange to imagine a teenage son to love, but I think he would be just like Scott; gentle, kind, and the biggest heart in the world. Sweet dream isn’t it?

At the time, I would have traded all that pain to have my son well and in my arms. That’s how clouded my thinking was and what I imagined, didn’t compare to the plans God had for us.

Our youth pastor, Brian presided over the funeral. It felt like I wasn’t there, like I was watching from above with Parker. I didn’t want to be there. I didn’t want all the attention and the awkward hugs, but I had three little girls watching me grieve their little brother. I held it together for them. Brian read a passage from Ephesians 3:14-21:

Paul’s Prayer for Spiritual Growth

14 When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father,[e] 15 the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth.[f] 16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

20 Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. 21 Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.

At the time, I didn’t listen to this passage with my heart. They were only words in the pain of loss. Even in my numbness God was preparing my soul for the greatest story of redemption. How did Brian know this prayer, lavished over our family, was prophetic of the joy to come in the years to follow. He was assuring us we don’t go through pain and suffering for nothing. It all works together for the one that loves God.

In the days and months after Parker’s death, I wanted to hide from the world. People would say the oddest things, hurtful really.

“It’s good that he was so little. Didn’t get too attached to him.”

“I remember how sad I was when I lost a baby.”

“He is so much better off.”

I didn’t want to be constantly reminded we had lost our baby. I knew he was gone because of the big hole in my heart. I was teaching school at the time and took personal leave to grieve and get myself back together.

14 When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father,[e] 15 the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth.

The girls were in school, so I was alone most of the day. Scott called often to check on me. I sat on the sofa all day reading my bible and journaling. I wrote down every thought I was thinking about the life we had lost. I was hurt, didn’t understand why, and wished it hadn’t happened.

16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.

In the turmoil of it all, Scott and I intentionally prayed God would grow our family closer through the pain and bring joy back to us. We turned in and held each other together. It was in this strength God began His promise to us in Ephesians 3. I get chills thinking back on how His plan began to unfold.

18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

In 2004 Scott and Savannah both came home to share a story of Stephen Curtis Chapman’s family adopting three little girls from China. It was then God began healing the pain of loss in my heart with the prayers of adoption. We had never even considered growing our family this way. We didn’t know anyone who had adopted but in the coming weeks, we would meet family after family with little girls from China. God was so sweet to us. We were beginning to understand “how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love’ was for us.

That October we sent an application to CCAI (Chinese Children Adoption International) and began the adoption process. We had no idea the blessing God would pour on us, but we knew He brought us to this through the loss of Parker. He gave us life through death; beauty through ashes. He was showing us the beautiful redemption given to us when He gave His only Son to die for us, so we could be beloved sons and daughters too. It was so much clearer to us how God must have felt to lose his Son for us. We understood.

ELLA!!!

20 Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. 21 Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.

We will soon celebrate EK’s 10th gotcha day. She was the blessing of God’s mighty power at work within Scott and I. We could so easily have chosen to let the grief and anger eat us alive, destroy our marriage, and gone our separate ways. We didn’t even consider it. We KNEW God would bless our faithfulness to Him, and He DID!

2016-03-05 17.06.07-2

On March 27, 2006, God gave us another child through the miracle of adoption. We instantly loved her as our ‘infinitely MORE than we might ask or think’. GLORY TO HIM!!!

None of us would ever choose to suffer grief, loss, or death, but I am living proof if you give it to ‘the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth’, it will be good. The best is always to come.

I have written our family story at Everything Beautiful for 10 years. Eccl 3:11 is the foundation I wrote on, and the promise I believed with my whole heart. God does bring beauty in time. It might be on earth or in heaven.

Either way, we can rest in this truth… He gives us His Best always.

Ecclesiastes 3:11  He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 

Maybe you have felt loss and are searching for meaning in the pain. I have been there and know giving it to God can be the difference in continued pain and healing. How has God brought beauty through your ashes?

In His Love and for His Glory!