Emily Hutchinson - Beauty From Ashes
Both my husband and I were not raised in strong Christian homes. I knew about Jesus (a little) and I knew and believed there was a God because as a child we went to Catholic Church on the holidays. My husband and I met in 2004 when I was pregnant with my now eleven year-old son Nick (That is for another story). I already had my daughter Reese; she was three and is almost fifteen now. Mike and I were not married – and not really planning on getting married – because to us it was just a ‘piece of paper.'
On October 31th, 2007, our first child together was born. She was absolutely perfect in everyway. We named her Jennifer Louise Hutchinson. Jennifer was after my mom and Louise was my Grandmother and my sister’s middle name. She was such a joy and a beauty. Everything was PERFECT!
She was the missing piece to our blended family. That was it….we had three children and that’s all I ever wanted. We were not planning to have more kids. Our sweet Jenny was the BEST. We all cherished her. On the morning of January 15th, 2008, Jenny died from what the doctors called SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). They call it that when there is no reason or explanation for a baby to die. She was two and a half months old exactly. That day is forever engraved in my brain. I can’t get the memory of having to perform CPR on my tiny daughter until the paramedics arrived and pleading with God to bring her back. I was broken, like my heart was ripped out and I completely died inside. Why her? Why Jenny? I just didn’t understand. How could a mother’s worst nightmare be happening to me? Just let me wake up! Let me wake up and everything be as it was!
I wanted to wake up from this nightmare. I missed her so bad. Jenny was gone. I was not thinking clearly at all; I just wanted my daughter back. I decided that I needed to get pregnant NOW. I thought that having another baby would fill the hole in my heart. So, we got pregnant right away with our son Mikie. I remember finding out that I was pregnant and feeling relief knowing we were going to have a baby boy. Mikie was born on January 25th, 2009, a little over a year after Jenny died. He, too, was perfect. He brought me joy and made my mind shift for a little bit.
But, I was still in so much pain that I didn’t realize how bad it was. I was hurting so bad from missing Jenny and I wasn’t really alive. I mean – I was physically alive (obviously), but my soul felt dead. I started drinking wine about a year after Mikie was born. My husband was also in so much pain and he hid how bad he was hurting from me, but in doing that, he was drinking a lot too. He was consuming about a fifth of alcohol each day. We were both “functioning alcoholics” at that point. I remember people telling me how strong I was for going through the loss of a child. They had no idea I was drinking a bottle of wine a day and completely drowning. I still managed to take care of Nick, Reese and Mikie. And, you are probably thinking that I was the worst mom in the world, but I was still a good mom. I was just sly about hiding my addiction to alcohol. Please, don’t judge me; this was how I coped without God in my life.
Then, in 2012, some friends of ours invited us to The Grove Church. I can’t explain what happened that day. God met us right where we were and opened both my eyes and my husband’s eyes to the love of Jesus. He pulled us both up from our depression and we stopped drinking….almost instantly! Mike never had to go to rehab and I am still in shock over his strength. The huge hole in our hearts was beginning to be filled with Jesus. We had never known love and forgiveness like that. Our sins were forgiven and, more importantly, we forgave ourselves.
The summer after we started going to The Grove Church, they had a community outreach called IHeart . We loved helping our neighbors. Our kids were able to help give back to the community as well. We painted Marysville Pilchuck High school that first year. This past summer was the fourth IHeart we participated with and the second year Mike and I led a site together. It has been life changing! We made forever friendships through IHeart, Lifegroup (ACLG) and my women’s bible studies. We have so much support and real friendships from The Grove Church that have turned into family.
Not Just A Piece Of Paper
You know how I said marriage was just a “piece of paper” to us? Well, no one at The Grove Church ever made us feel out of place or guilty because we weren’t married. But, we saw the relationships and marriages at church and we asked ourselves, “Why aren’t we married?” We know now that it is part of God’s plan to have us in a committed, loving covenant with Him and each other. So, on May 29th, 2014, Mike and I were married by Pastor Nik Baumgart, the head pastor of our church and our friend. It was a glorious day. At this point in our life, we know that everything is part of God’s plan. When I look at my family, they radiate the love of Jesus. We just feel so blessed. And, I love being married!
When I think about what God has given us, I am overwhelmed. I look at Mikie, baby number four, who we never had planned to have until our Jenny died. I would give ANYTHING to have Jenny back, but then we wouldn’t have had Mikie. I would not change one thing in my life because it has made me who I am today. Mikie is my gift, a sign of God’s grace and a light for Jesus. I know God’s plan for my life is good and every single time I look at Mikie I see His plan. Mikie was made so special, with a piece of Jenny in his heart. Mikie has such a love for Jesus that he makes all of that pain we went through have purpose. I can’t wait for the day when God allows me to be with Jenny again in Heaven.
But until then, I know that I am here to shine a light to anyone in the dark. I am trying to be as transparent as my heart will allow. I hope that this story, although painful, will inspire. I truly believe that Jesus saves and that God deserves all the glory for the great things in our life. I think that some of the people who have the most faith and love for Jesus are the ones who have spent time in the dark without Him.
I truly believe that Jesus saves and that God deserves all the glory for the great things in our life. I think that some of the people who have the most faith and love for Jesus are the ones who have spent time in the dark, without Him.
Watching Mikie pray over Jenny’s grave is so powerful for me. Anyone who knows Mikie will say, “He is always smiling!” I pray that he continues to follow Jesus and that he continues to be a light. Our family came back together with God’s help. Our family: Mike, me, Reese, Nick, Mikie and our angel Jenny are stronger than ever.
This right here is what real family looks like. Through everything: all the pain, tears, change, forgiveness, love, laughter, more tears, and through God’s saving grace. THIS IS WHAT FAMILY LOOKS LIKE!!! We are forever ALL IN!
courtesy of The Hutch Oven
Emily and I connected through mutual friends and the wonderful world of Instagram. Upon reading her personal story on her website, I wiped the tears and knew I just had to meet this incredible, God-fearing woman. We recently met for lunch and it was as if we'd been friends for YEARS!
She was so gracious to open her heart and share her journey and experience with loss. We cried together, laughed together, and proclaimed God's loving mercy through the tears. It was soul food. It was a gift.
SAY YES TO A BLESSING
Emily offered some words on encouragement, as well as some suggestions for those witnessing someone walk through loss.
"People want to bless you! So let them! They want to contribute to your healing. Just say YES to the blessing!"
Emily also shared that grieving comes and goes over time. It comes on when you least expect it, or when the anniversary of the loss is approaching. It may feel heavy for days or even weeks at a time. But she encourages those who experience this to let the grief wash over - acknowledge the feelings and talk about it.
Her biggest suggestion to those who are grieving is to be surrounded by encouraging friends. She found her support system through her church and women's groups. It has been a foundation for her recovery and journey forward.
Jenny will be 10 years old this Halloween. Emily still has days when she stays in bed all day and is fatigued by the sadness. She didn't grow up in the church, but knew of God and believed in His presence. Realizing in her darkest hours how crucial her faith would be in healing, she and her husband made the commitment to Christ, themselves, and their family. And in doing so, she is honoring her sweet girl in heaven who Emily says she cannot WAIT to see again.