sweet haven grace

My heart is aching today for my friends. Yesterday, my pastor’s little girl, Haven Grace, died at three years old.

Three. Years. Old.

Haven was born with a serious heart condition and was very ill until, by a great miracle, she survived a heart transplant in August of 2010. When they finally came home from the hospital, she seemed like a new child, and suddenly she was running around with my little ones every Sunday after church, bursting with energy and just like mine, talking a mile a minute.

She captured our hearts right away- the first time we really met her, she held out her arms and said to my 302608_526960640651640_1498251339_nhusband, “hode you.” He was more than a little surprised, but took her from the arms of her mama, and a big smile spread across his face as Haven looked up with a smile at him. My husband- the man whom I’d never seen willingly hold any child but ours.

She was truly special. I really don’t like to say it like that because it seems so cliché to say it of a person, but she was genuinely a gift from God.

Four weeks ago, as we stood in church singing, I spotted little bitty Haven in the arms of her tall grandfather, lifting her hands in praise as she sang.

I couldn’t stop crying.

Tiny hands lifted in praise to the Creator of all things.

Jesus had given Haven a wonderful gift. She knew Him. It seems crazy to say it, but seeing her interact with people was amazing. She would sit in the laps of my friends at church, look them straight in the eye and smile deep into their soul. It was like having Jesus tell you “I love you” through the eyes of a tiny little child.

I would hear stories from her dad as he led our growth group of how she wouldn’t cry or fuss when they stuck her over and over again- how the nurses and doctors were in awe, and how she drew them in and made them love her like the rest of us.

She had health issues; like any heart-transplant patient, her life was never really “normal”. Her mama, Lacy, showed me her medicine cabinet once and I was blown away. They had more medicine bottles than drinking glasses.

But her frequent heart tests came back rejection-free, and we all rejoiced as life returned to semi-normal for their sweet little family. They were able to move back home after living in the Ronald McDonald house for months, and Haven and her mama got to come to church when everyone was well.

Then suddenly last week, Haven started showing serious signs of rejection- they care-flighted her to the hospital last Wednesday and exactly one week later, her little heart gave up and she went to be with Jesus. Just like that.

My heart breaks for my friends. They are some of the sweetest, most faithful people I know. They’ve been such amazing examples of trusting in God through trial, and to see their faith being refined in such an impossible situation testifies unquestionably to the work and comfort of the Holy Spirit. We’re so blessed to know them and to see God working in their lives.

I don’t even know what happens when you lose a child. I try to imagine it, but I can’t really. At all.

I don’t know what happens next. I am having a hard time going about my daily chores and everyday life- what can this day be like for them?

I know they rejoice in the Hope. I know they aren’t grieving like the rest of the world does. They know they will see her again.

But they are still living here, together without her for the time, and that breaks my heart.

I love them dearly. Will you pray for their family this week, and as you remember them?



  1. I cried the entire time I read this. My heart hurts for this family. I'll be keeping them in my prayers

  2. Hi Mandy, We lost our second daughter after 50 hours, 14 years ago. It is unimaginable grief; and we knew her for only 50 hours in the flesh! How much harder for these parents. I have a couple of sites for you that I thought might help: Molly is the daughter-in-law of John Piper. She lost her little girl a couple of years ago.

    This site has some helpful info and links as well: http://www.raisingarrows.net/the-grieving-mother/


  3. Oh. my heart is aching. I just popped in to catch up on your blog and have now need to reapply my makeup before I head out. Grief is so, so hard. I, like you, have trouble even imagining such great loss. I read Mary Beth Chapman's "Choosing to See" last year and had a difficult time even allowing myself to go to the place she was. Sometimes there are no words...and thank God for the Holy Spirit who speaks to our hearts.
    I am a pediatric ER nurse and the pain in that place in sometimes too much.

    Oh Jesus, cover in peace this sweet family. Peace only you can bring.
    What a blessed family to call you their friend.
    Lifting them (and you) before our GREAT GOD now.

  4. praying as tears fill my eyes and a weird kind joy knowing she is singing with Jesus and praising him right there with him.

  5. I will mostly definitely pray for this sweet family.

  6. My children and I prayed for them yesterday after reading your request, and I prayed for them this morning. We will continue to pray for them - after a tragic loss in our family a year ago this month, I know that they will continue on, but they will be entirely changed by her having been part of their life, and by her leaving their lives so soon. I know that giref-groups have helped our family continue living, perhaps they can be connected with one through the hospital, transplant center, or church. Prayers for you and your family as well, as you look to how you can support them through this time. Don't be afraid to love them, mention Haven in conversation, and remember her special days.

  7. Oh it's always so heartbreaking when a child dies or is severely ill or suffering in any other way. I can't imagine what it would be like and don't want to even think about it. These things were hard before I had children of my own - now that I have a 19 month old son and another on the way it feels so much harder because I know now from my own experience just how deep the love for one's child is and how much you want your child to be safe and have a long happy life. I will absolutely pray for this family. It gives some comfort that she seemed to know Christ beyond her years. From the way you described her she truly seemed like a little angel.

  8. This makes me so very sad. she is a beautiful little girl, now she is with our Lord above. We will be praying for this family, as they will need all the prayers they can get.

  9. This is heartbreaking to read. My grandson has a terminal disease and I dread the day we lose him. I belong to a group of people who have already lost their babies and it tears my heart out. Their faith is such a blessed thing to sustain them through this. I cry at their loss and pray that their faith continues to hold strong for them.

  10. It's so sad to hear about this, I will defintely say a prayer for your friends. I can't imagine how they are feeling, but I know God will comfort them.

  11. praying for this sweet family...I wept as I read this. it never ceases to amaze me that those little ones that have challenges early in life often get a glimpse of Jesus that the rest of rest rarely get. your description of her raising her hands in worship was so sweet. Praying that those around them will be the hands and feet of Jesus and that all of us will as Steven Curtis Chapman said in song long before he lost his own daughter, "carry them to Jesus on our knees."

  12. What a very sweet picture you have painted for us who do not know Haven or her family......I imagine her name to be "Heaven's Grace" because from what you tell us, she so obviously was. Prayers to her family during this tough time and also to you....a child's death is never easy on anyone they have touched.

    Jenifer M

  13. Losing a child is so terribly difficult. Friends of ours buried their little boy about 18 months ago, and their grief is still so real, though our Lord is tenderly caring for them. Hayley keeps a blog that at some time your friends may want to read. It is http://firefightersfamily-dhjc.blogspot.com/p/gabes-story.html

  14. I will keep Haven's family in my prayers. It is never understandable when a little one has to endure so much, and then to see her so full of vigor and watch it slip away. My heart breaks for this family and your church family as you all mourn. Haven will continue to live on in your hearts and through the light of Jesus that she shined.

  15. My heart breaks for you and for sweet Haven's family. I will keep all of you in my thoughts and prayers.

  16. Oh, what a precious little girl she was! My grandmother's second child, Margaret, died when she was three. It was on Valentine's day. My great-aunt told me that my grandmother had said she was her valentine to Jesus. Blessings, Haven

  17. One of my friends linked her facebook page yesterday, and I read her story and prayed for her. So sad to hear she passed away. Praying for her family and loved ones.

  18. I will pray for them....for strength to persevere, for eyes to see his hand and for faith to be grown by leaps and bounds. No, I can't even imagine and most times I don't even try but that's so selfish so I think I should try to put myself in the shoes of those that lose children because maybe that's the only way I can minister to them the way the Lord needs me to. I will pray for you....Lord, give Mandy words to say or not any at all, whatever encourages the hearts of her friends. Let your Holy Spirit so guide them to minister to their needs. Show yourself faithful like we trust you to be. We praise you because we do believe that every time is appointed by you, therefore it is a good gift. Help us to see it as a grace from you, even in this loss! Amen


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