In honor of Avery -

Tomorrow will be one year to the day that Avery left this world for Home in Heaven. 

"It was the day the world went wrong. 
I screamed 'till my voice was gone, and watched through the tears as everything came crashing down. 
Slowly panic turns to pain, as we awake to what remains, and sift through the ashes that are left behind. 
But buried deep beneath all our broken dreams we have this hope - 
Out of these ashes, beauty will rise! And we will dance among the ruins, we will see it with our own eyes! 
Out of these ashes, beauty will rise, for we know joy is coming in the morning. 
In the morning, beauty will rise!" by Steven Curtis Chapman

I remember every moment of that day. That horrible, heart-wrenching, dreams-breaking day. I remember the shock. The hysteria. The grief. My stunned mind slamming to a halt, my voice hoarse from weeping. My sweet family trying to hold me up, to encourage me, to pray for me, to mourn with me.

Everything falling away in the realization that he was gone. Gone from here with no answer from the Savior and Healer Who we'd begged a miracle from for days. In the dawn of that morning, I'd believed without a doubt that God would heal Avery, in the afternoon of that day, Avery was gone. 

So unbelievably hard to wrap my mind around. 

Over the course of those days, God gave me a song to get me through. It was a song Laurie had shared with me....and it blessed me so much. Now I can barely listen to it. It's like I am there in that moment, praying with all my heart for Avery. When I listen to that song, something in my heart thinks he is yet alive in TN. And then the bubble shatters and he is not here. He is yes, more fully ALIVE than we've ever been here, nonetheless, GONE from our world into a world we can only dream of. 

When I came home from the conference on Tuesday night, I was sorting through Sovereign Grace music, and found this song. I was just thinking this morning, that the faithfulness and love of my Father God to me was shown so richly. Because one year later, God led me to that song, which is my song for this year. For this anniversary. I could not have been blessed in a better way by my Heavenly Father. 

When I think of how much it touches last year's verse that I clung to, it gives me chills. I am amazed. I will share it with you in a moment. 

But first I want to share something else. I have grieved and mourned for Avery so deeply for one reason - because I loved him so deeply. He was a symbol of God's gift of LIFE and grace to John and Audra after the loss of Melody. He was everything I prayed for for them. And everything they prayed for too. My memory of seeing him and holding him for the first time - it still stuns me. It was like I was holding a living, breathing, smiling piece of answered prayer in my arms. So precious. 

Because I loved Avery so deeply, his memory means so much to me. I find myself eager to talk about him, unwilling for his loss to be .... a loss of sharing him in my world. He is remembered in smiles and photos and here on my blog. He is talked about to total strangers and to my friends. I wanted to do something really special for his Home-going anniversary, so months ago when I decided to cut my hair, I decided to sell it instead of donating it. And I decided to donate some of the money to a charity that really means so much to me. 

So today I sent in my donation to Show Hope in memory of one little boy who changed my life -  
Avery John Notgrass. 
Avery at 4 months old

Avery had such weight in my world and still does. The money will be used for a life-saving surgery for a little Chinese boy or girl. It was a sweetly sad moment. And it feels so right to bring honor to the memory of him in this way.

He really was 16 months of wonder and awe of the Lord's goodness. One of the things I miss the most is praying for him. I prayed for him often, and thanked God for him every single time. He was a much loved little boy. I don't think I've known many better parents than John and Audra. They literally pour all their love and patience and joy into their children. They have inspired me and many others in what love looks like. And in the death of Avery, they have inspired me in how trust and HOPE looks like too. The Lord did great things in Avery, and through Avery, and my prayer is that through Avery's name, the Lord's name will be glorified.

One of the verses I used to pray over Avery and be comforted by when Avery was in Audra's womb was -
"Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, 
The days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them." ~ Psalm 139:16 

Which is why it hit me like a train and the lights went on this morning when I realized that this song the Lord led me to this week that has been so impacting for this anniversary had that verse in it. You have permission to be stunned. I was. I was blown away that the verse that so comforted me years ago, and last year was in this song that the Lord had given me this week. Maybe I shouldn't be so surprised by the Lord's love for me.

One of my favorite parts in the song is where it says this -
"And though we grieve for those we love who fall asleep in Christ,
we know they'll see the Savior's face, and gaze into His eyes.
So now we grieve, yet we don't grieve as those who have no hope.
For just as Jesus rose again, He'll raise His own."

Your prayers for John and Audra and Henry are much coveted. Just as we mourned with them last year, so also we mourn and rejoice with them this year. Avery is forever, as they love to say. We one day will be too. I could not long for anything more. All praise and glory to the One Who brings us to life, now and forever. Amen.

With much love from my heart,
~ Jemmie ~


  1. Praying for Avery's family and for you! Thank you for sharing your heart!


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