September 28, 2013 — 27 Comments


I had pictured it in my mind a thousand times.

I would wake with a lump in my throat, happy that she had finally found “the one”, and broken hearted that my little redheaded angel, lovingly known as “sister”, would no longer be found in the crib but all grow’d up, in the arms of her love.

I would spend the day reminiscing of times when she was a baby. I would think about when we brought her home, the look on her brothers faces when they first laid eyes on her, and the many family trips we took together. I would be overwhelmed with emotion and probably be a crying mess, because that’s what having a little girl had done to me.

I would shake a little as I put on my tuxedo. I would rehearse the steps for the father/daughter dance in my mind. I would be left breathless when seeing her in her wedding gown for the first time. I would savor every measured step, with her hand in mine, as we walked down the aisle.

Her groom had come; it would be time to give her away.


On September 28th, 2011, when our precious Aria Joy went to be with Jesus, my dream seemed to have been crushed. Without warning or any ability to brace for impact…crushed. HOW DID THIS HAPPEN? She was perfectly healthy! She was perfect!

I was the one who put her down for a nap that day. Kelley usually put her down for bed while I would get the boys settled down. Why did this happen when I PUT HER TO SLEEP?! Did I do something wrong? Did I swaddle her wrong?

This COULDN’T happen! I hadn’t seen her walk for the first time yet; I hadnt’t picked her up from soccer practice yet; I hadn’t had the chance to scare off the boys trying to call and see if Aria is at home; we didn’t get our dance!!! NO!

I remember sitting in my bed, facing our new reality, and trying to sort through and put away the future memories, most of which would not come to pass. I was hurt. I was mad. I was broken, but I was not alone. Christ was with me. He had been with me. He gave me license to break. I didn’t have to hold it all together. He would. So I told Him:

“You know I wanted so bad to look into her eyes the way Kelley’s dad looked into her eyes on our wedding day. You know how many times I’ve dreamed of walking her down the aisle, holding her tightly, and presenting her to her groom! Why did you take that away from me?! I wanted to GIVE HER AWAY!!!

He wasn’t embarrassed by my grief or put off by my questioning. It was in that place that He gave me something I’ll cherish for the rest of my life. He simply said…

“You did.”

“You cared for her, you loved her, and on that day you got her dressed, held her tight, and presented Aria Joy to her groom. You gave her to Me

He gave me back my dream.


Today I woke up with a lump in my throat, happy that she had finally found “The One”, and broken hearted that my little redheaded angel, lovingly known as “sister”, would no longer be found in the crib but in the arms of Love.

I will spend the day reminiscing of times when she was a baby. I will think about when we brought her home, the look on her brothers faces when they first laid eyes on her, and the many family trips we took together. I will be overwhelmed with emotion and probably be a crying mess, because that’s what having a little girl had done to me.

It has been 2 years since Aria Joy went to be with Jesus; and today like everyday until Christ returns, her mother and I will give her away. Surrendering her to her groom…our Savior…our Risen Hope. And because He is the Resurrection and the Life I now have more than a dream; I have a promise.

One day, in the fullness of the presence of God and a multitude of witnesses, I will be left breathless seeing her again for the first time. I will savor every measured step as I walk to my little girl all grow’d up. I will get my dance.


“I have said these these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” 

John 16:33 (ESV)




27 responses to THE GIVING AWAY

  1. Beautiful. <3

  2. This moved me to tears. Thank you for sharing, Jon O! Your family is so blessed, and your perspective is inspiring to praise God in every season of the soul. What a wonderful revelation He gave you!

  3. Thanks for this beautiful tribute to an amazing union in Christ. We lost a son… and still to this day I am only comforted in knowing he sees Jesus in person… he didn’t have to face temptation, sin, guilt, or pain… just peace! He passed at birth… we never saw his eyes or heard his cry… but one day we will hear his laughter and kiss his face! Blessings be upon you and your family!

  4. So powerful. Thank you for sharing your grief in this public way. You and Kelley are in our hearts and prayers today.

  5. I loved your story! I, too, lost a beautiful baby all too soon. My Mark was a dream come true for a mom that had lost 5 babies to miscarriage. And Mark was perfect in every way until the day he was baptized and our Lord took him home that night to be with him. I struggled mightily with my faith for many months after that. It just didn’t seem fair! How could a good and loving God take my baby after all we had lost already? Not a day goes by that I don’t think of him, miss him and wonder about what life would be with him. He would have been 9 this Oct 21st. I now know that sometimes, the best and purest are taken to be with our Lord in heaven. I don’t LIKE it but there is no better place for him to be.

  6. Absolutely beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

  7. I don’t know you, I’m a friend of a friend. But oh my goodness, I LOVE your perspective. I lost a little boy in a different way, so while I don’t understand your pain and loss, I do understand missing your baby every single day and cherishing the time you did have. Thank you for your words. They brought me a lot of comfort and I will definitely remember them on the hard days.

  8. Absolutely beautiful friend.

  9. Amen! Thank you for sharing! What a glorious reunion there will be!

  10. Kelley & Jon, people everywhere today are reminded of your sweet girl and the joy she brought to you in her short time. This is a fitting tribute to an angel that deserves to be remembered and never forgotten. Until that time when you are united, blessings, love & prayer for that “peace that passeth all understanding”…..

  11. Wow. Beautiful.

  12. Thanks for sharing Jon. Remembering this day 2 years ago when she went to be with Jesus. Love you and your family. Peace and blessings.

  13. Wow…so very beautiful. Thank you for sharing this…”you gave her to Me”…thank you Lord for your comforting words and for inspiring the Owens family to share those words…having lost our first born baby girl many years ago “you gave her to Me” is newly inscribed on my heart today…Thank you Jon and Kelley. May the Lord continue to whisper words of comfort each and every day. Bless you all!

  14. Awesome!! Thanks for sharing! God bless you and the family on this day! Glad to see you guys found some Joy in the midst of your pain! God is still in control and He is good!!!

  15. Jon. Beautiful. I have a big lump in my throat just reading this. We love you guys and can’t wait to meet sweet Aria one day.

  16. Love and prayers are with you guys. The riches you all have in heaven are beyond my understanding. So blessed and thankful to have been a part of her life. The graceful way you and Kelley have walked this out has been nothing short of a miracle itself. Much Love you all.

  17. My wife is in tears and stutters the words, “you should read your friend’s blog today”. Bro, thank you for sharing your heart. Know that you are leading others to receive healing, comfort and “perspective” from Jesus as you allow us to have a small glimpse into your journey. Thank you. We are thinking and praying for you, Kelley and the boys today. Much love.

  18. I don’t know you and Kelly personally, but I know your mother. She was telling me of what happened to Aria Joy a couple of days ago when I last saw her. Reading “The Giving Away” and watching the video was difficult through the tears that wouldn’t seem to stop. I pray for you and your family today for the comfort and peace that passes all understanding to envelop you today. May the LORD Our God be your steadfastness, your strength and your refuge today and always. Bless you John and Kelly.

  19. Beautiful words. So well said. Love “He wasn’t embarrassed by my grief or put off by my questioning…”

    Love you guys. Thinking of you and praying for continued grace & strength each new day.

  20. I do not “know” you and you do not “know” me, but I know we serve a mighty God who loves us SO much! I read about your story and how Jesus has held you and your family up throughout….and I have grieved with you 2 years ago as you gave your sweet baby to Jesus and now I rejoice with you! I am beyond blessed to know you and your wife and family have found comfort and hope in Him; that He has spoken to you so clearly and given you exactly what you have needed! Praise Him!! I have prayed for you all and will continue to pray – the Holy Spirit is so faithful to place us on the hearts of others to intercede on their behalf. Thank you so much for sharing your story of how Jesus has give you hope! As Lou said, I pray He would continue to speak words of comfort and hope daily.

  21. I remember the day this happened. My heart broke for you and Kelly. Today, I walk with my husband as he battles terminal cancer. I will lose him within the next 3 to 6 months. I pray that I don’t collapse from the weight of watching this devastate my family. Thank you for your faithful example.

  22. Absolutely breathtaking. Thank you… simply but deeply sincerely, “Thank you.”

  23. Tears. I am a friend of a friend, but I thank you for sharing this and your beautiful perspective on life. You are so strong.

  24. Absolutely raw and beautiful, Jon. Humbled by you and your family and our great God. Love you all.

  25. Precious tribute…our Larry Paul was taken as suddenly at age 13 months..and it has been 65 years, now, but in many ways seems like yesterday. The Lord gave much grace and inspiration initially, and on through the years..Chet said at the time: “We have a real connection to heaven, now”, and whenever something unusual has happened, he will comment something like…”Wonder if Larry was sent for that mission?”

  26. I stumbled across your blog seemingly by accident, but now I know it wasn’t an accident at all. I needed to read this. December 1st, 2010 is the day that my husband and I lost our twins. I miscarried. Their names were Helena and Gideon, and I still cry every day. My husband is a youth pastor, and he tries to put the words there for me, but I feel like I have lost my faith. Reading this and watching your tribute to such a beautiful life makes me feel like I can find my way back.

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