AMALYA – A Documentary of Love, Life, and Donation

It was a cold day in January when I got a phone call from one of our friends at IIAM (International Institute for the Advancement of Medicine – the organization who placed Amalya’s donations with various researchers) asking what I thought about the idea of turning Amalya Nathaniel’s story into a documentary.

Are you serious??? My initial shock was followed by excitement. Then questions. Then a little fear and trepidation. Then more excitement.

After talking with my husband, we decided that, yes, we would be willing to share our story and our son with others in a new way.

Before I knew it, it was March and a producer was walking up our sidewalk to meet us and film our story. To be honest, I felt intimidated, inadequate, and vulnerable. I was getting ready to relive our story in front of a camera and did not know if I could truly express how special our journey had been. Yet, I knew in all things our Lord is faithful. After all, our Amalya Nathaniel is a “Work of the Lord, Given by God”, so all I needed to do was be open and let the Lord do the rest.

After 2 full days of filming, it was over.

Then the waiting began. The producer had the job of taking 2 days worth of footage and cutting it down to under 10 minutes (I’m so glad I did not have to be part of that process). A few months later we were able to view the final product. Talk about a surreal moment. And yes, I cried.

I’m so very blessed to be able to share with you our film. Although there was no way to capture every aspect of our story, the film focuses on the love we had for our boy, how we celebrated his life, why we wanted to participate in donation, and what has come of his precious gifts.

And now, I would like you to sit back and enjoy AMALYA

Amalya Nathaniel

Photography by EJ Fleck, Bella Baby Photographer

Special thanks to our friends at IIAM, MTF, The Human Story, and Organize for all the hard work that went into creating this film.

Purposeful Gift Turns One!

It’s hard to believe, but July marks the one year anniversary of Purposeful Gift. We are proud to say that over the past year, the site has doubled in size! It has been fun watching it grow and change as we add information, resources, new pages, and stories from families.Rack-Cards-Purposeful-Gift

Since our launch we have been able to share about Purposeful Gift and neonatal organ donation through speaking engagements, Facebook pages, and word of mouth. We have also been featured in an NBC news article and mentioned on various websites. We have been asked to make rack cards for hospitals, had the privilege of working directly with OPOs from around the country and have been able to encourage numerous families pursuing donation.

In honor of stepping into our second year, we have decided to create a Facebook Page for Purposeful Gift. We hope this will be another way to raise awareness about the donation choices that exist for families facing a terminal diagnosis, and share the importance of donation in general.

Creating this site a year ago was a step of faith, but has become a ministry that we hold close to our hearts. It has been amazing to see how the Lord has used it to touch others. As we venture into our second year, we are eager to see what the Lord has in store. As we continue to grow, we would love to hear feedback on the ways Purposeful Gift has ministered to you, or be given ideas on how to make the site better. We are also always looking for new resources to add that can help families, and we are always interested in sharing new donation stories. We would love to hear from you. Feel free to contact us privately or leave a comment below!

Thank you for all the love and support!
Eric and Bethany

The Importance of Heart Valves

Recently I had the amazing opportunity to work directly with a family and Organ Procurement Organization to help coordinate a possible donation from a baby whose life is expected to be brief. One of the potential donations being discussed was the donation of heart valves. As we were discussing the various possibilities and logistics, the coordinator from the OPO looked at one of the family members and asked if they knew the importance of heart valve donation. The coordinator went on to explain that when a child needs a heart valve replaced they can either get an artificial /mechanical heart valve, a human heart valve, or whole heart transplant to fix the condition. But, if the child receives an artificial /mechanical heart valve, they will need to get it replaced several times as they grow because the heart valve will not grow with them. Obviously, having multiple surgeries as you grow up would be very difficult and opens up the potential for complications. If the child gets a human heart valve as a transplant, they will not need multiple replacements because the valve will grow with them!! Which is pretty amazing. Now, if the child ends up getting a whole heart transplant, they will need to be on immunosuppressants to ensure the body does not reject the heart. These immunosuppressents come with various negative side effects. Receiving a human heart valve instead would alleviate the need for the immunosuppressants, and eliminates the side effects associated with them.
These tiny, yet precious gifts, are so very, very important. Not only can they ultimately save a life, but they also allow the recipient to have a better quality of life. What an amazing blessing for that child and their family.
Thank you to all those who have given in the face of loss and allowed another person’s child to not only have life, but the opportunity for a quality life!

New Tools for Families

It is a long, complex journey when a family makes the choice to carry to term after receiving a terminal diagnosis. Everything changes – hopes, dreams, desires, the way plans are made – both simple plans and complex ones. Making choices, setting dates, and determining arrangements can be taxing. All you really want to do is spend time loving your baby and focusing on the positives.

For families pursuing donation, there can be extra challenges as they navigate the unknown and discuss end of life matters. To help parents through this part of the journey we have created two new resources: the Neonatal Donation Preliminary Information Document and the Request to Contact Organ Procurement Organization.

The Preliminary Information Document was created as a tool to help the parent communicate with their local organ procurement organization (OPO) and provide all the necessary information about their pregnancy, their baby, and their desire to donate. The family can print the form, fill it out, and give it to their OPO, or they can use it as a guide when creating their own form. Having all the key information in one place will help the process move forward quickly and easily and may minimize potential back-and-forth conversations with the OPO.

The Request to Contact form was created for parents to use when it is necessary to ask their Obstetrician/Midwife to contact the OPO to coordinate plans prior to a donation. This form lets the medical provider know that the family wishes to pursue donation and gives permission for the provider to communicate with the OPO.

Both of these forms can be found under the Donation Steps and Resources tabs on the website, as well as the links above. Although these forms do not eliminate all the paperwork and they are not meant to replace legal paperwork from the OPO/Medical Provider, they can help facilitate communication which gives the parents an opportunity to be proactive and makes the process a little easier so they can spend more time making memories.

To the families carrying to term: we know from personal experience how difficult the process can be and we truly desire to make things easier. Please feel free to contact us if we can help in any way! We would love to support you through your journey.


Late the other night I realized it had almost been a year since he came home. Amazed at how fast time goes by, I went and got my calendar from last year to double check the date. Sure enough written in the square for May 23, I had written “Amalya came home”.

A little over 8 months after sending him off on his “internship” (whole body donation) to serve the medical community, my baby boy finally came home. It wasn’t in the conventional way, fastened safely into a car seat, dressed in a special outfit, and carried in by giddy parents a few days after being born. No, he arrived around 7:30am via FedEx, in a small gold box protected by a thick layer of bubble wrap. Along with his remains, his hospital blanket and onsie that we sent him away in also came home. This is not the way a parent envisions their child’s homecoming experience would be like, but it was our reality. I remember being overwhelmed with emotion as I held the tiny box filled with his remains. I thought back to the moment I held him for the first time after he was born. I pictured his sweet face and smiled. I thought about how happy I was to have him home with us finally, but also how sad I felt because he was no longer serving the medical community. While he was away at his internship it almost felt like he was still alive in a sense, and when he came home, it was as if he died all over again. Having him home brought such a mix of emotions: sadness that this chapter in our son’s story was over, joy over having him home for the first time, pride for all the things he helped the medical community discover, a newly discovered sense of closure, and a mix of motherly love laced with sorrow. It’s amazing how so many emotions can flood a single moment. That night we carefully placed his ashes in his butterfly music box and brought him to our room where I had prepared a special shelf for him. This special place replaced the nursery that we had originally dreamed of after discovering we were pregnant. As I went to bed that night I remember thinking…. Wow, my son is home.

Amalya's Shelf.opt

Two weeks ago, I was flooded with a whole new set of emotions as I carried my tiny daughter, Hazel Rinoa, into our house just two days after she was born. Home. I brought my daughter home! Fastened safely in a car seat, dressed in a special outfit, giddiness filling my head. Home. The conventional way. Such a stark difference in comparison to Amalya’s homecoming, yet the same amount of love poured out of my heart the moment she came home. As we walked from the car towards the house, we stopped at Amalya’s tree for a picture. This moment was also filled with a wide mix of emotions: excitement over this new life, wonder over who she will become and how she will impact the world, a heavy ache in my heart for Amalya Nathaniel, and a new sensation of a different type of motherly love. I smiled as I looked down at her “little sister” onsie, realizing how surreal all this was … my daughter was home.

Hazel's Home Coming

As I sit and write this I think about how I am a mother of two, and I feel blessed. I am thankful for the opportunity to be a mother to both Amalya Nathaniel and Hazel Rinoa. I am thankful that I have a house filled with love and that both my children are home!

Amalya and Hazel


As we get ready to turn the page on our calendars from April to May, I want to take a moment and reflect on some awesome things that happened during April and discuss why April is special to me.

As some of you know, April is Donate Life Awareness Month. Before Amalya Nathaniel, I had no clue this month even existed, and now it is something I celebrate and look forward to each year. For me, it is another opportunity to remember my little man, promote donation, and help other families. This year for Donate Life Awareness Month, I chose to honor our little guy’s memory by creating a special cover photo for my Facebook page. I’m really happy with how it turned out! I actually think it would make a great bumper sticker, too. DonateLife_optI was also able to change the name on the photo and make a few for some of my donor-momma friends. This was extra special for me, because I do not always get the chance to do something special for other infant-loss moms. I loved having the chance to honor their babies and help keep their little ones’ legacies alive. I have been so blessed by the number of friends that I have made because of Amalya Nathaniel.

This past month I was also very excited to have three different families share their story of neonatal organ/tissue donation (Stella’s Story, Denali’s Story, Kipton’s Story). What a perfect month for these families to share about the special gifts their babies were able to give. If you have not had the opportunity to read these stories, I would encourage you to do so! Each is an amazing story of love, loss, donation, and healing. I am so grateful for all the families who have been willing to share their stories with others!!! These stories are so very powerful, and I know each story is having a huge impact on others.

Eric and I were also blessed with two speaking engagements this past month. The first was for a group of graduate students at the University of Dayton, which is the school Eric is currently attending for grad school. The second time was a webinar organized by ISOP (International Society for Organ Preservation). This was our first webinar and, despite being nervous, I think it went over well. It was awesome being able to present to people all over the US without traveling. Although the audiences were very different, it was such an honor to share our story for both of these groups. We love talking about our son, but more than that, we LOVE helping others learn more about the opportunities surrounding neonatal organ donation and how important it is to work with neonate families.
April is also special for us because last April was the first time we were asked to publically share our story and discuss neonatal organ donation. Since last April, we have been able to speak eight different times. We also have two more speaking engagements lined up for the summer and fall. We feel so blessed.

This past year we have also seen MANY, MANY changes occur in the organ donation world, making neonatal donation (especially donation for research) more possible for families who are wanting to do so. We hope to see changes continue to occur in the years to come.

Although April is over, and May will bring a new awareness month, promoting donation does not end for me. I am so blessed that I get to serve the neonate community year round and help families create lasting legacies for their little ones.

Defining Moments

If you are like me, most days are filled with routine, day-to-day activities, maybe even mundane activities. On occasion, something special happens, but for the most part life is just a normal. But, have you ever had a moment that changes everything? A truly Defining moment. A moment where, after the moment passes, things are never the same?

These truly defining moments don’t happen very often, which is what makes them so impactful.

Two years ago today, on March 12, 2012, I had one of these truly defining moments. When I woke up that Monday, I had no idea that things were going to change… Even after the moment occurred, I didn’t realize JUST how much that moment would impact the rest of my life. What was this moment? It was the moment I learned that the tiny baby growing inside of me had a terminal condition, and would not live long after birth. This little life, which was only 11 weeks 2 days in utero, had already brought so much love and joy to my heart, yet in one earth-shattering moment, I learned my baby was not created for this world. It’s hard to explain the emotions of that day. With a few words from a doctor, it felt like my world was turned upside-down. I felt crushed, my head started to spin, and instantly fog surrounded me. I could hardly process what was occurring, or what would occur.

Thankfully, the fog eventually lifted, and Eric and I were able to make sense of what we had been told. Despite our devastation, we made a plan of how we would approach our pregnancy. We chose to embrace this child for however long we might have. The Lord was so gracious in those moments of brokenness. He protected us as we fumbled through the fog, and held us until we were able to emerge, holding tightly to each other, and tighter still onto His hands for guidance and support.

Standing here now, two years after learning the word “anencephaly,” and being given the knowledge that our child would die, I can now see that in this single defining moment the Lord was placing us on new life path and setting a series of events in motion that have turned out to be an incredible blessing. I must admit that in that moment I was not very thankful to learn that Lord had created my child with a condition which would bring earthly death shortly after being born. Now, although I miss my child and wish he could be here with us, I am so very grateful that the Lord has chosen to use us and our child. I know the Lord did not make a mistake. He had, and still has, a purpose. To quote from a song my sister wrote, “And when God knit you together in your mother’s womb, Not a stitch of His work went awry, But He followed a plan that was higher than ours, So we’ll love you all the way home.” (“Little One” By Lydia Elkins

I am thrilled to say that we are still seeing the Lord’s plans continue to unfold. If Amalya had been born healthy and lived, he would be 18 months right now and would probably be tearing through our house and babbling up a storm. Although my momma’s heart hurts that I can’t experience those things, I am blown away at the things he IS doing without even being here. At 18 months, Amalya has an amazing legacy, and his story continues to grow.

Last week, Eric and I were blessed with the opportunity to have Amalya’s story filmed and it is currently being turned into a short documentary!!! This documentary not only discussed our choice to carry to term and love our son, but will also focus on the impact of neonatal organ donation, and how donation can help create a lasting legacy for a life that is brief. We are told that this documentary may be used on several national levels, both in professional settings for care providers in the medical community, and to reach out to mothers who are carrying to term after a terminal diagnosis. We were blown away when we were asked to be part of this project. It has been such an honor and privilege to share our story and to see the Lord, once again, use us and our son in mighty ways. (Please stay tuned for more details about the documentary in the months to come).

Happy 18 months AMALYA NATHANIEL! Thank you, Lord, for continuing YOUR WORK in the legacy of our son!!!

Yes, two years ago today was definitely a defining moment for our lives. As I end this blog post, I would encourage you, as you experience defining moments in your life, even hard ones, be open to the work of the Lord. It may be painful, even heart wrenching. It may mean great sacrifice on your part. It may mean that you need to submit your will to the will of the Lord, BUT, it may also open the door to something AMAZING.

Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)
By Hillsong United

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand

And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You’ve never failed and You won’t start now

So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

I will call upon Your Name
Keep my eyes above the waves
My soul will rest in Your embrace
I am Yours and You are mine

Becoming A Bereavement Doula

Back in July 2013, I felt the Lord tugging at my heart to pursue a way to serve families in a more hands-on way. Although I have the opportunity to serve families through my website, I don’t always get the opportunity to serve face-to-face. Typically, I just get the opportunity to disseminate information, answer questions, provide direction, and give encouragement via e-mail or Facebook. And please don’t get me wrong…I love, love, LOVE this! And, from time to time, I even get to connect on a deeper level, but not very often. Despite the passion I have for serving through my website, I could not shake the desire to connect with families on a different level and serve them in a more personal way. I also felt the pull to serve more than just donation families, but also to serve families who were experiencing multiple types of loss.

I wasn’t sure how the Lord was going to foster this desire, but I knew that sooner or later He would show me what He had in store. Not long after I felt this tug, I saw a post on the Sufficient Grace Ministries Facebook page stating that there was a need for bereavement doulas in the city that I live in. This immediately caught my attention and I decided to learn more. I was familiar with the concept of a doula, but wasn’t familiar with the concept of a bereavement doula. So, for those of you who are like me and are unfamiliar with the term “doula” or “bereavement doula”… a doula is a non-medically trained support person (also called: birth assistant, birth companion, labor support professional) who assists a mother before, during, or just after childbirth with both physical and emotional needs. A bereavement doula does those same things, but supports a family who has learned their baby has already passed away in utero due to miscarriage or stillbirth, or is carrying a baby who will pass away shortly after birth due to a terminal diagnosis. After learning what a bereavement doula does, I immediately knew this was something that I wanted to do. I thought this might be a way I could fulfill that tug on my heart.

After talking with some of the ladies at Sufficient Grace, I decided to take this desire to the next level. I registered to take an 8-week on-line course through to become a certified bereavement doula. I decided that I would like to serve alongside Sufficient Grace when I was finished so I could fill the need they had for bereavement doulas in my area. The 8-week course started in August 2013 and turned out to be an extremely intensive course, but also extremely insightful and amazing. I learned how to support a mother who will give birth to a baby at any gestation age (4 weeks to 40 weeks) and I learned various ways to help the family capture lasting memories regardless of the baby’s gestation age. I also learned about birth in general, lots of support strategies, how to companion a family through loss, and a variety of other practical things. Besides the 8 weeks of online classes, weekly quizzes, and assignments, I was also required to read two books and complete book reports, as well as a community project. Thankfully, I had six months from the beginning of the class in August to finish the book reports and the community project. This was extremely helpful because the rest of my life got a little crazy starting in August. I started a new school year of teaching in a brand new building, my husband started grad school, I started the first trimester of our second pregnancy, and I made some changes to the website. September brought the one-year anniversary of Amalya Nathaniel’s birth, followed by October with several more updates and additions to my website, and some family events. November and December were the holidays, and a whirlwind speaking engagement, and more changes to the website. Basically, I REALLY needed the six months to finish all the requirements for the class.

I am pleased to announce, after a few days off of work due to extreme weather, some direct intervention from the Lord, and an understanding husband, I JUST recently was able to finish all my reports and projects and I FINALLY earned my Bereavement Doula Certificate this past week! I am so excited that I will now be able to serve families who are walking the difficult journey of loss as a bereavement doula and that I will be able to support Sufficient Grace Ministries in their mission of helping those experiencing loss. I am eager to connect with these precious families and support them as they meet their little ones and make memories. I pray that the Lord allows me to be the physical extension of His arms and hands and that I will be able to extend love to others during their time of need.

The Lord has taught me so much through our experience with Amalya Nathaniel. I feel like this is just one more way the Lord is working in and through me because of our sweet son. Despite the pain of loss, I feel so very blessed. I would never trade in our son or our journey for anything. Please join me in prayer that the Lord opens many doors and that He will be glorified as I start down this new path of service.

Stepping Out…

I am excited to share that after months of debate, avoidance, and procrastination, I have finally stepped out and shared Amalya’s story on two different infant loss websites. Although I love talking about my son and sharing him with others, writing is always a struggle for me (especially if it is something formal that I know lots of people might view). But, thanks to some unexpected days off of teaching due to bitter cold and snow, I finally sat down and wrote out his story. Despite my aversion to writing, I feel it is important to share our story so that it might encourage other families who are walking this road and possibly give them hope. I also want to bring glory to the Lord through the work He did.

Today Amalya’s story is being featured on the blog All That Love Can Do. This amazing blog was started by a mother who lost her sweet little boy, Samuel shortly after birth. Her bog has tons of resources for families who are carrying to term after receiving a fatal diagnosis. The love and empathy this mother has for others can clearly be felt through her website. I highly recommend it as a resource for any family carrying to term.

Amalya’s story was also added to the website This is my favorite anencephaly website because the sheer amount of information that it has – it is truly a wealth of knowledge for families who have received this diagnosis. This site was also started by a mother who carried to term after learning her daughter had anencephaly. I highly recommend it for anyone who wants to know more about this condition. Amalya’s story was the 92nd story added to the website!

Thank you to the web hosts of both sites for adding Amalya’s story and allowing me to share with others how the Lord did an incredible worth through my boy.

2013 in Review

I began this blog post back on January 1, but due to a crazy start to the New Year, I never finished it. Each time that I’ve sat down to work on it since then, something pulled me away. Last night, I was finally able to sit down and finish! So, here are my reflections of 2013 in regards to how the Lord used my sweet son.

Reflecting back on 2013, preparing for 2014…

As Eric and I entered 2013, we were only three months out from saying hello and goodbye to our sweet boy, Amalya Nathaniel. I remember so many emotions surrounding that New Year. We were still pretty raw from our loss, and leaving 2012 was difficult because Amalya’s entire existence, from conception to birth and death, had been contained in 2012. Moving into 2013 felt like we were closing the door on his existence. I remember wondering what the Lord had in store for us for the year to come. I wondered if it would include Amalya, and if our son’s life and legacy would have meaning in the new year. Would our son even matter in 2013? Or would his precious life only have meaning in 2012?

Now, standing on this side in 2014, I’m in AWE of the way the Lord orchestrated 2013 to reveal to us His long-lasting plans for our son’s existence.  I am awed by the way He allowed us to see the deep impact our son’s life had on a broad spectrum. I am so thankful to say that 2013 filled my heart with love, joy, peace, healing, hope, and many proud momma moments!!! I am so thankful that the Lord allowed our son to have a lasting impact and that I was able to get a small glimpse of that impact during 2013.

So, what did the Lord do with Amalya Nathaniel in 2013? Well, lots!!! Here is a small overview of some of the things the Lord did with our son. For starters, He allowed our son to be a catalyst to spark the new Neonatal Donation Program at IIAM (the organization who placed his organs with the various researchers). Since the launch of the Neonatal Donation Program in summer of 2013, at least twelve other families have been able to participate in organ donation for research after saying goodbye to their little ones.  For us this is simply amazing. We are happy that because of our son’s initial donation, other families are now able to donate and create lasting legacies for their children.

The Lord has also allowed our son’s story to touch the hearts of hundreds of people through public speaking opportunities that Eric and I had. During 2013, the Lord allowed us to speak in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Nevada (twice). We have been able to share with members of the organ procurement community, nurses and hospital staff, and various researchers. Each time that we speak, we get to share about the amazing life of our son, the gift that he truly was from God, and how special his donations have been for us. Each time we speak, we get to hear from people who have been impacted by his story, and each time it reminds me to be thankful for my son.

The Lord also used our son’s organs with each researcher in unique ways. During 2013, we were blessed to hear back from each researcher who used part of Amalya. We received a letter from the group who used his liver. We met a representative from the research group who received his pancreas and received an e-mail with specific ways his pancreas was utilized. We have also been in touch multiple times with the researchers who received Amalya’s whole body. That particular research organization has gone above and beyond to reach out to us and share with us how they used our son. We have learned that his whole body donation truly was a blessing and has solved the problems to multiple medical questions/problems that this group had been researching. They believe that in the long run, THOUSANDS of lives will be saved due to the things they learned and through the professionals they were able to train with their new knowledge. Not all families hear back from the researchers with specifics about how their loved one’s gifts were used, so for us this is just another miracle in our son’s story. We are so happy that his donations had a long lasting impact. This is just another way that his legacy will live on for years to come.

2013 also revealed a fire that the Lord had placed in my heart to serve other families. I have been able to reach out to the infant loss community on multiple levels, which has been such a blessing to me. Each time I work with another family, I get to share things I’ve learned through my experience with my son, and his life once again impacts others.

And finally, the Lord used our son to allow this website to be created. I started this website only six months ago, and in that short time the Lord has allowed it to grow and be used in many ways. I have been blessed to hear from others how helpful the site has been to them, which is my goal. Not only do I want to help families pursing donation, but any family who is carrying to term after receiving a terminal diagnosis. Recently I added a special section just for Organ Procurement Organizations to help answer their questions and help them interact with families in a positive way. Each time I work on my website, I think about my son and remember how blessed we were that the Lord chose us to be his parents.

So, why do I write these things? Am I just trying to brag?? No… My goal in writing these things is to show how amazing the Lord truly is. How He was able to take a situation, a devastating situation like the loss of a child, and turn it into something incredible. I want to show how the Lord’s plan for our son’s life is still playing out. Although our son is no longer physically with us, and wasn’t with us for very long, that does not mean the Lord’s plan for his existence is over. This “Work of the Lord, Given by God” is not yet finished. We do not know what else the Lord will do with our son, for our son is truly HIS WORK… It is amazing to see the Lord’s plans for my son’s life unfold. I am so very blessed to be Amalya’s mother.

I also write this to encourage other families to consider donation. You don’t know what type of legacy donation will allow to be created. Please realize, that I know donation is not for everyone, and that not every family will be able to donate, and that donation isn’t the ONLY way to create a lasting legacy for a child whose life will be brief… BUT, I do believe that it is something worth considering.

As I end this, I must add that these are just a FEW of the things the Lord did in 2013 with our son. There are other things that I did not share. There are also things that I probably don’t even know about. Someday I hope to learn all of the special things the Lord did with our son, but for now I feel so blessed that I have a small glimpse into the amazing ways He used my boy. I cannot say enough how blessed I feel to have been given such a gift. Our son has truly brought us a deep long lasting joy. We know that the Lord formed him in the womb for a special purpose, and it is awesome to see that purpose unfold. I am thankful that his existence did not end in 2012, and we look forward to what 2014 might hold. I’m sure the Lord has many more plans for our son. I pray that this blog post is uplifting and brings hope to others that are walking this road. Know that we serve a mighty Lord, and He can create beauty out of the ashes.