March 25, 2020 1:20:11 PM

Today marks the 12th anniversary of the passing of our daughter, Isabella Grace, who was tragically stillborn at 36 weeks. Although we’ve honored her passing every year since her birth on January 7, 2008, this year feels more significant than all the rest.  There is a sense of completion.


I am not entirely surprised by this, since it has been 12 years, knowing that the number 12 signifies “totality” in Biblical numerology, and is also a symbol of faith and the church.  The number 12 is prominently featured throughout the Bible – from the 12 tribes of Israel to the 12 apostles, from the 12 gates of the New Jerusalem to the 12 angels who guard it.

On that tragic day in the hospital delivery room, Scott and I asked the Lord for a word to comfort us in our great sorrow and to give us a name for our child whose empty shell would soon come forth.  The Lord gave us both a comfort and a name in the same verse of Isaiah 61:3. “To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.”

Scott and I claimed that promise, “Beauty for ashes,” by naming her Isabella Grace or “Bella Grace,” which signifies beauty in the presence of God.  I asked the Lord to take her ashes and give to us in exchange not only the beautification of Isabella’s soul in His kingdom, and not only the restoration of our own hearts but also that her life and death would somehow play a significant part in the BECOMING of His heavenly bride. I prayed that Bella’s life would somehow matter in the completion of the Lord’s own passion project.  We had the words, “Beauty for Ashes,” engraved on her tombstone.


Almost immediately after returning home from the hospital, God began waking me up in the watches of the night to minister specific words to my soul.  He would give me one word or one clue at a time.  This often felt frustrating, especially at first. But each whisper would eventually prove itself a step farther away from the valley lands and closer into His gracious and empowering presence. This pattern of being woken up and receiving whispers of truth in my inner man continued consistently over the course of the next 12 years. The Lord was guiding me into the spiritual practices of the ancients and imparting creative ways to implement them for my own healing, and eventually to teach others who also found themselves in the valley of broken pieces.

The Lord Himself mentored me in the way of 12 different spiritual practices for the progressive reconciling of my soul to His, my soul to my regenerated spirit within, and my life to the lives of others in the body. These practices weren’t some kind of new truth. Certainly not. All 12 of these concepts had been there all along, just waiting for me to discover them in the pages of the same Bible I’d studied since childhood. The attributes of God’s character I was now experiencing had been hidden all along in plain sight within the creation itself.  It was the same beauty He’d spoken into existence from the very beginning of time, but which now seemed revelatory to my needy soul.

I’ve come to realize that the Lord is ever-speaking to those who have ears to hear and are willing to take the time to, “Stop, and consider the wondrous works of God”. Because of our prayers and the whispers my spiritual ears had come to discern, I now associate Isabella’s life with that of a pomegranate seed.  A seed that was planted in the sacred garden of my soul.  And one that has since BECOME our household’s ministry of BECOMING. Interestingly enough, pomegranates are not only the most abundant of all fruits, as their meat and their seeds are one and the same. But each seed (or aril) is a 12-sided rhombic dodecahedron. The perfect shape for packing together but never crowding out one another.  Moreover, from the foundations of the world, God designed the pomegranate to bear the mark of the only naturally occurring star of David that can be seen by the naked eye. And a fruit that when sliced in half reveals a glorious flower at its core.

The planting and breaking open of the seed of Isabella’s life caused a profound breaking in me, but which made way for a greater BECOMING in my spiritual life, in my relationships, and in the work of my hands.  A new life has taken root – a contemplative life; a life of intentionally practicing the presence of God each and every time I lose a sense of His abiding peace and abundant grace.  I learned the way into His presence by way of the 12 gates of the new Jerusalem, entryways that have been offered to all who believe in His name.

May the life of our heavenly flower, Bella Grace, continue to sing praises unto God as His beloved Bride BECOMES on earth as she is destined to be in Heaven.

For those still journeying out of the valley lands, below is a video link to a talk Scott and I gave at Focus on the Family, less than a year after our loss, about not wasting your sorrows and surviving in the shadowlands.  Click Here


8 Replies to “A Seed BECOMING”

  1. My dear Story Anna begged me to open a bottle of sparkling pomegranate juice on 1-6-20, your dear Scott and beloved Isabella Grace’s birthday. The bottle had been purchased for New Years Eve and had gone unopened due to the health challenges of her own daddy. I asked her why we needed to open it now and she said, and continued to say, to celebrate! I asked her what we would be celebrating and she said, with unusual joy and enthusiasm, she did not know but that we needed to celebrate! I ignored her. Although very aware of the significance of that day, It wasn’t until I read your post now that I realized what the Holy Spirit was desiring. I have been stuck in my own mourning over that day in memory of praying all night for Isabella to be risen and weeping still over what seemed to be such a disregard for our pleas. I have been unable to look at my own wedding picture, with Isabella safely inside you, without a deep sense of mourning. As Isabella worships at the throne of God with the angels she no doubt is brought deeply aware of the journey of suffering and healing of her own beloved parents. She simultaneously knows that she will spend an eternity with her beautiful family and worships with more excitement in the anticipation. And she knows we are becoming what God, whom she sees face to face, desires. We will celebrate today with our pomegranate juice. Thank you for believing God’s promise of beauty from ashes.


  2. Joni, your words are sacred to me! Thank you for being a bearer of healing balm for us in that season of great sorrow. I am so glad the spirit through Story Anna called you now to join with us again, but this time, not in mourning, but in the celebration of the new wine for the new wine skins God’s preparing for a new day! Like the new spiced wine of the pomegranate spoken about in the Song of Solomon, we will “partake” together of the abundant life God has prepared for His heavenly bride. Much love and gratitude, Kerry


  3. …and you are indeed correct, it was Scott’s birthday, the 6th of January, when we learned that our baby had died in my womb, and the process of delivering her began that evening in the hospital. (Coincidentally, my brother and sister-in-law who had just delivered their son Jacob the day before, (1/5), were only two doors down from our delivery room.) Baby Isabella’s body came forth on the 7th, she likely passed on the 5th, and we learned she had died on the 6th. The 7th is the day we mark to remember her. It has allowed our family a helpful separation in celebrating Scott and Jacob’s lives and honoring our loss.


  4. Thinking of you today, dear friend. Beauty from ashes indeed!




  5. Beautiful. Wondrous to think that Bella is a witness to all of this.

    Sent from my iPad



  6. Kerry what the Lord has given you through this experience is so sacred, so special. Thanks be to Jesus Christ that it has been revealed to you. There is no greater peace then to hear for certain God speaking to your soul. Words cannot express what listening to you in conversation and reading your thoughts from the heart does for me. An understanding, a confirmation as to why the Lord allows us to walk through such dark valleys and when we walk them we learn that his spirit, his presence, his promise is near, that it will never leave us . This is where joy fills our heart- the gratitude we experience for his faithfulness. It’s a process of holding onto truth and keeping our spirit filled with faith. His Holy presence will sweep us up under his wing as we search desperately for Him. He IS AMAZING! I’m so sorry you and Scott and your children had to endure this pain but I am rejoicing in the revelation Bella’s life has brought you in BECOMING more like HIM.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. How did I not see this when it was posted? Now I have. And always remember the Focus on the Family video I viewed just after we met in Colorado Springs. Your writing is so wonderful, your heart so deep . . . of course they go together. Your analysis, “A new life has taken root – a contemplative life; a life of intentionally practicing the presence of God . . . ” is indeed the beauty for ashes. Continue on, my friend. You’re a blessing to many.


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