Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Joseph's Memorial

Picture on Program drawn by Aunt Jennifer

Joseph's visitation lasted every bit of four hours. We saw so many old and new friends and people who only knew him from the blog. Many from Atlanta made the trip as well as friends from across the country and lots of family from overseas. It was overwhelming. While it was draining, it was also greatly encouraging to see how Joseph's short life had touched so many people.

The funeral was such a beautiful service. At the beginning of the service we were treated to some video of Joseph being his wild, funny, sweet self. We sang a few hymns and heard some great music. One of Gillian's sister's friend knows Natalie Grant who wrote the song Held that has meant so much to Gill; and she was able to be here and sang it for us. It was an amazing moment. We heard from Aunt Jennifer, Uncle Matt B., and Uncle Sam as they told stories about Joseph and shared their thoughts and their pain. Then I shared a few thoughts and played a song that I wrote for Joseph over the past few weeks. Since Gill usually shares her thoughts, I'm going to just post what I said for those who couldn't be there:

Thank you all so much for coming. Joseph would have loved seeing all of these people together at one time. He was definitely a people person. He always had to be with one of us all the time, until we started making him have “room time” a few months ago so that he would learn to entertain himself at least a little. But there is no doubt that he was happiest when he was around people that he loved and I can only imagine his face to see all of his friends and relatives together in one building.

Way back last year a few weeks before Joseph’s original diagnosis, our good friends the Slotkins had to watch their son Luke die in their arms. I was talking with BJ sometime after and trying to put myself in his shoes and all I could say was that he was handling it unbelievably well and that God would never let that happen to me because I couldn’t handle it half as well as he did. I said that I would probably in anger chuck all of my beliefs in the goodness of God and would turn away from Him. Now that we’ve gone through so much with Joseph, I tell people that it’s not that I haven’t given up on God, but that He hasn’t given up on me. He won’t let me go. Every time I am angry beyond control at Him, He refuses to leave me alone. We definitely struggle with believing in God’s goodness. I now feel that the phrase God is good all the time, and all the time God is good has to be chanted over and over and over again until it’s driven in your head. God is good, it’s just that our understanding of what is good is so limited. Another phrase that I have repeatedly repeated is that He is God and I am not. He is God and I am not.

Throughout all of this past year Gillian and I have seen and felt the body of Christ supporting us through physical needs like meals and presents and cards, but especially through prayer. There is no way that we could express adequate thanks for everything that everyone has done. Gillian and I also want to thank our families who have helped us in so many countless ways. From free babysitting from all four grandparents, to housing from Jennifer and Matt and the Taaffes, but mainly for just being around for Joseph and helping his time here on earth even that much sweeter.

Now about the boy, cause that’s why we’re here. I want to tell just a few of our favorite stories about him. My new favorite story of all time actually happened last week. Our friends from Atlanta the Slotkins came up with Joe’s best buddy Logan for a weekend visit. Joseph was so excited to see him. Anyways, on Sunday before they left all three of the kids were playing in the play room. Holly snatched a toy away from Logan and he retaliated by pushing her while trying to get it back. Joseph didn’t see that Holly started it and even though he could barely walk, he marched over to him and just let him have one. Of course we don’t teach out children to hit, but seeing him want to defend his sister was so sweet and shows so much about him. He was passionate and fiercely loyal. He loved his sister so much even though they didn’t get along all of the time.

Joseph had so many trips and adventures during his last few months. We went to Disney world, Florida a couple of times, and we tried to do just about everything that we thought would be fun for him. But I noticed on all these trips that he was actually more excited to go home than he was during the trip. He loved being at home and he loved the normal day to day life. All he wanted was Mommy, Daddy, and Holly. There’s a lot that I have learned from him and his life, but I keep coming back to this lesson. We should all take the greatest joy in our day to day living and just being surrounded by the people we love.

Gillian and Holly and I and the rest of our families are hurting and missing him so much. I will continue to miss him until I see him again in heaven. But although our pain is real and seems unbearable, we have tremendous peace knowing that he is no longer suffering, that he has a new body that is tumor free, that he is at this moment in heaven being held by his eternal Father. And though we don’t have answers for the questions of why this happened, we know that God is God and we are not and that he is good all the time.

Anyways, thanks to all those who made such an effort to be there for us this weekend. We are truly grateful to have such a strong group of friends and family that are supporting us. We are indeed hurting and strugling to make sense of life now. Please continue to pray for us and for Holly.


Michael and Jana said...

Your words are encouraging even in the midst of your tremendous loss. Thank you for opening up your lives to us. Your faith in the midst of pain is overwhelmingly beautiful. We will continue to pray for you all.

Chris Austin said...

Thank you for taking the time to post this. We have never met, but I have checked this blog daily now since last December. I have grown to love you guys and especially that little boy. I miss him.

I got the short straw; so my better half was able to drive to Nashville and mourn and celebrate with you while I stayed home with our kids.

Colleen tried to tell me everything but it was helpful to read these words. Thanks again,

Nana said...

Allen thank you for writing.Thank you for posting your memories of Joseph.You are an incredible "Daddy Bear" and thank you for loving your baby bears and our baby bear(Mommy bear)aka Gillian so well.We are so proud of you Allen.I am doing what you told us you did"reminding my self that God is good all the time and all the time God is good and that He is God and I am not.Joseph was so protective of his little sister and we all loved "the Logan story" He really did protect Holly.The last time we went to the zoo Holly was being "holly" and was being fussy and didnt want to get back in the stroller beside him.A minute after that Joseph said "Look Nana "Holly is being sweet"She was kissing Joe P. and stroking his face.He didnt want David and I to miss that Holly was now being sweet.It was "a precious moment" and one I will treasure in my heart.Yesterday and last night My mind was flooded with happy memories and little Joe P. expressions of thankfulness like "thank you Nana my new shirt" how many kids thank you for a new shirt???Sweet precious Joseph.I will miss chasing and hiding in the pantry our trips to Waffle house and Target I will miss looking for trains that "Sir Toppin Hat" hid in our house and in your house.Eli our oldest grandchild reminded me when he saw me crying.He said Nana no more pain no more sorrow no more crying in heaven.He is right."I have fought the good fight.I have finished the race.I have kept the faith.Now there is in store for me the crown of rightousness which the Lord the rightous Judge will award to me on that day-and not only to me but also to al who have longed for His appearing".2nd Timothy v7-8.We love you all and we miss Joe P.

Jason said...

We hurt so much for you guys.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing the message from Joseph's service - we were sad we could not be there in person. I continue to pray for the LORD to carry you through - today and the days ahead. May the Lord make his face shine upon you and bring you His peace.
Alyssa B

Jody (atlanta) said...

Thanks for taking time to post this. I have been trying to tell people about the memorial and cannot do it justice. You/Allen and your WHOLE family are amazing and the love and connection of you all was so inspirational. I love you all so much and thank God for bringing you, Allen, Joe, Holly and your family into my life. Always praying and thinking of you. Look forward to visiting again soon. LOVE YOU GILL! Jody

Praying for Cros said...

i spoke with sarah-jane last night & listened through tears of your week. Know that we are continually praying for your family! thank you for posting your unbelievable words on your blog. You are truly amazing! we think & pray for you SO often and will continue to do so!

Margaret said...

We have prayed that Joseph would have no more pain and now he is healed and whole. We will keep praying for your pain and healing. I feel honored and blessed to have been there Sun & Mon- what an amazing tribute to Joe P. I also know that Joseph will continue to protect Holly always- she has a very special little guardian angel watching out for her.
Through all this sadness, know that you have touched so many people's lives and helped them to not take life for granted and to live it more fully every day.

Anonymous said...

I don't know how strong my belief system is, but for what it's worth, you and your family are in my prayers. I don't know you and didn't know your son, but he sounds like a beautiful soul who I know is missed. Again, I am so sorry for your loss.

michele said...

I was privileged to attend the funeral, or celebration of Joseph's life. It was an incredible blessing to be there and hear the amazing words spoken through Jennifer, Matt, Sam, and Allen. It was nice to have the pastors there, with their strength and wisdom, but everything they said was already expressed through Joseph's family members - his sweet aunt Jennifer(and Mimi), wonderful uncles Matt and Sam, and precious Daddy. Allen, for you to play your guitar and sing your song, "A Promise to Joseph", and to have Natalie Grant there singing "Held", is beyond words. Allen, can you post you singing your song on the blog so we can hear again and again? I've been listening to "Held" over and over and over.

Praying, praying, praying...interceding... for all of you: Gillian, Allen, precious little Holly, Kathy (my connection to the Peabody family) and every one of Joseph's precious family and friends. God IS holding you...

Jean Joiner said...

you guys are so amazing. thanks for continuing to be so real with us and so vulnerable. you are ministering to our hearts when it should be the other way around. joseph was indeed a sweet, loving boy and we miss him so much. i'll never forget his huge smiles and how he lit up the room. we will continue to pray for you all. it was a privilege to be at the visitation and to participate in celebrating Joseph's life.
with love,

susan and brian said...

Dear Gillian and Allen and families:

We really wanted to be at the service but it was impossible to get there but we were thinking about you all the time and willing you to know we were with you in spirit.

Allen's description of the service for Joseph was wonderful, would have loved to have heard him sing his song to Joseph - I'm sure Joseph was listening with his lovely smile on his face, maybe tapping his foot.

Nana's comment today was so moving and having had the privilege of knowing her and Billy for 40 years and know how big their hearts are I know that they will always be there for all the family and friends and life will get better slowly for all around them.

I thought this quote was nice and thought I'd share it with you.

Perhaps they are not the stars, but rather openings in Heaven where the love of our lost ones pours through and shines down upon us to let us know they are happy. ~Author Unknown

Love always to you all.

Dee Dee said...

Praying for your dear family.
I know your pain is great. Thank you for sharing with us. Praying for you as hang on to Him, and so thankful that He is hanging on to you.
He is Good. Even when we just have to hang on to the words and trust Him to show our heart that those words are true.

Dee Dee said...

And Jennifer's picture of your precious son is beautiful. I am so glad she could do that for you.

the morris gang said...

Thanks for sharing from your daddy's heart, Allen. A father's love for his son is so powerful, and it is seen and felt through your words. Hurting for your all and praying.

Riddles said...

Thank you so much for posting about the service and the words you spoke. I wish we could have been there with you. Our hearts and prayers are with you, Gill and Holly.
Jason and Kristin

Anonymous said...

Those are beautiful words. That picture of Joseph is perfect. I feel like I've gotten to know Joseph through this blog and for that I'm grateful. You know G-d is good when he graces our presence with such a sweet and loving little boy even if for a shorter than natural time. He will always be alive in memories. Much love,
Lauren Klein

CraigD2599 said...

Allen and Gillian...
Again I am at a loss. And again I am filled with memories of my own family's hurt. And again I am thankful for the blessing of being able to tell you, because of that experience, that you will survive this. God's grace is sufficient. Of all the words He could have used to describe His grace to us, He chose "sufficient". Just enough. If He had said His grace was overflowing and abundant, then in times like these you would be certain He was a cruel liar. because there is no way to see abundance in these painful moments. But He will abide with you and He will never ever leave your side in any of this even when you are certain you hate Him and you want Him to just leave you alone. (believe me...those moments will come) Remember how he wept with Lazarus' family at their loss. He wept so hard the people around him were amazed and said "gee...look how much he loved him!" Jesus didn't just cry a few tears and tell Mary and Martha how sorry He was for their loss. He immersed Himself in their grief and felt it with them...all of it.
He did this for my family too and 12 years after Collettes passing, I can assure you that we still look back in amazement at the little things God did during those first few days when the grief and shock seemed to overlap like an abstract painting. He wrapped His arms around my mom and dad even when they didn't want Him to touch them. He was the patient recipient of all our wrath and bile and questions shouted at the top of our voices during all those sleepless nights. He never once shuddered under the load of grief we so desperately threw His way. Years later, we occassionally feel his loving embrace whenever one of us gets the chance to weep along with someone who is walking this sad path. Whenever we can look back at His sufficient grace and recount how He got us through each by our deepest unrelenting pain. It isn't easy. Every time I find myself in this position, relating my familys' pain to someone who is where we were, it is like reliving it in a small way. But if it brings some small, microscopic measure of comfort to someone who is where we were, then it redeems our own pain in some small way. And one day you will be there too...relaying your own stories to some grieving, wounded mom and dad, and hearing God's whispers echoing in your own words..."My grace is sufficient for you..."

You are forever in my prayers...

Chris and Melissa said...

Thank you for sharing about Joseph's memorial. We were there in spirit and prayer. Your transparency admist the pain has truly ministered and encouraged us. We will continue to pray for your family.

Chris and Melissa Cooper

LAURA said...

Thank you for posting your words from the service for those of us who could not be present--We were there in prayer and spirit. though it seems trite to say, we ache for you and will continue to lift you up in prayer. Your transparency and honesty about who you have found God to be despite your circumstance and thru the pain are encouraging to us all, and lift His name high --- you are a faithful servant and witness in that regard--I can only imagine that our heavenly Father is pleased with you, your family, and how you speak His truth in the storm. Sweet family, we love you and will continue to support you thru prayer.
With much respect,
Laura Penney (Harris) and family

Sarah Partain said...

I love the picture of Joseph from Jennifer. I wish we could've been at the service but we weren't able to made the trip. I remember thinking, "Wow, who would have thought that as we were making stupid Vanilla Ice videos at your house in Jr High, that someday, your family would go through this!"
Someday, you all will be able to comfort someone else who may go through a similar experience, and offer them perspective, speaking out of your journey. You will understand what it's like and you will be a great blessing to them. And then you will know that all of this was not in vain; that God had a plan for Joseph's life, to bring comfort to someone else who is hurting, growth and depth of faith to you and glory to God.
And in the mean time, he will continue to comfort you and give you strength that you never knew you had.

Anonymous said...

Our thoughts are constantly with you.
-The Cadenheads

randibisme said...

Praying for you all. Thank you so much for giving me an image of how everything went. I was praying for you guys so hard that everything would be as beautiful as Joseph's life was.
My family and I will not stop praying. Even though we have never met you, we love you as brothers and sisters in Christ.
Chris, Randi, Nate and Tony Booth

Kathy and Joseph Taaffe said...

Gillian,Allen,Holly and all the Taaffes,Our thoughts and prayers are with you and hope that you can find the strength to get through this. We never met little Joseph but I can see that he was an amazing boy and a son that you are very proud of. Thank you for opening your heart and sharing all of your stories with us.I think that this will really help you heal from this terrible pain.

Love from Kathy, Joseph,Liam and Orlagh

Chloe said...

Hi Gillian, Allen and the lovely Holly. I have been thinking about you all for the past few days, and thinking about Joe P a lot too. I am glad that I met him, and I wanted to share my memory of the last time I saw him.

It was July 4th, after the cottonwood parade. We were at the Peabody's, enjoying a delicious post parade breakfast. Pauline, Anne and I were leaving to go shopping and my flight home was the next day.

Joe P was sitting in the kitchen and I leant over to give him a kiss and say goodbye. As my face got closer to his, his finger came up and pointed to my nose. What's that black thing in your nose? he asked. It's a nose ring - like an earring, but in my nose, I replied. I always forget that I have a nose ring, I've had it for so long, but I love being reminded by kids, as they are so forward and just say what they see. I continued to ask him did he like it. Yes! was the resounding answer. I think that was a compliment. Thanks Joe P.

On Sunday, I was painting Holly Bear's finger and toe nails. Orlagh and I were chatting to her in an effort to keep her still, although we hardly needed to as she was so focussed on the nails. I was quite close to her, painting her right hand, and she said out loud. You have a nose ring! I am sure she must have picked that up from Joe P back on the 4 July, as most kids ask me what it is. Even Orlagh commented, how does she know what a nosering is!

Thanks for sharing the past 9 months. I know it has been a long, emotional, heart breaking and fulfilling journey. Joe was lucky that you were his guardians through this time.

You are in my thoughts and I wish you the courage and continuing strength for the next part of your journey.

Love Chloe

And a final verse from someone more eloquent than my good self-

The Serenity Prayer.

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.

-Reinhold Niebuhr

donnyandkim said...

Thank you so much for sharing about Joseph's memorial service...We are one of the many who wished we could have been there.

As has been my prayer since Gillian posted about "Held," I am praying that you are held closely by the same Father who is holding Joseph right now. God is using your journey to reveal more of himself to me about who he is as a Father and his incredible love for his own (like you posted, Gillian, about the sheep and the shepherd...and how no one can snatch them out of his hand). I am so thankful you had the gift of having "Held", as well as other significant songs, as a part of the service.

Gillian...would you thank your mom for being vulnerable in her post/comment earlier today? I pray for a rich spiritual heritage for my family and my kids like you have.

I feel inadequate to write much more...we continue to hurt with you and your family.

Craig and Gwen said...

Love ya'll so much and praying for ya'll and hoping to get to spend more time with ya'll soon. I really miss my friends. Praying Praying Praying - Gwen

Marissa said...

Hi, I have never posted before, but just wanted to say you are in my prayers. I am so sorry for your unimaginable loss. I pray for peace for you during this time.

Christy said...

Jennifer's picture is amazing. It was perfect.

If ever you have the time and inclination to post your words to "A Promise To Joseph" and Gillian's poem "My Baby," they were both so stunning and beautiful. The kinds of things that make you hold your breath for a long time.

We are all thinking of you and praying for you constantly.

Anonymous said...

That was the best story of Joseph, Logan and Holly. I can just picture him walking over there and doing that. Your words (Allen) of God not giving up on you are haunting and helpful to me. Thank you again for all y'all's honesty and courage and willingness to share your pain and struggles. Joseph seems like such a sweet, brave and loving boy, and I look forward too to one day seeing him. -scott cunningham

Anonymous said...

Gillian and Allen,
We feel so very blessed to have been able to attend the Visitation and the amazing and beautiful Memorial service. It was incredible. Your strength through it all certainly was a comfort for so many and I know that now you are on a long journey to grieve, mourn and reflect. I will pray fervently for you all that you will be comforted always by the precious memories that you have made with Joseph. Thank you for all you have done for everyone in allowing us to walk this road with you. What amazing parents and people you are. It is so hard to understand why God allowed this to happen-- but I do know that He will use you all for many many people to make it through situations. God bless you right now and heal your broken hearts. We love you,
Ann and Terry

alice said...

Dear Gillian, Allen and Holly and all the family i cant say how much i admire your strength and hope at such a sad time. I wish you all the peace possible over the next while and forever. I am so sad for your incredible loss and touched by your amazing faith. We send all our love to you all and wish you all the best. Love from Alice and Maud.

Kellianne said...

May God give you healing, peace, strength and hope in this tough time. You will be in my prayers.

Anonymous said...

The drawing of Joseph by Jennifer is just incredible - the smile, the thick eyebrows, the squinting eye. Gret job Jennifer. -scott cunningham

Anonymous said...

Allen and Jillian, thanks so much for the wonderful memorial to Joseph. I did not know Joseph, but I feel like I knew him all along. I worked with your Dad at ICON and I know you come from a family of very strong and wonderful people. I am so sorry you had to endure this tragedy but I know you have the sweetest little guardian angel looking out for your family in Heaven. I have 2 small children and I know now through this that I will never take life for granted and will hug my kids everyday because I never know when my last days with them will be. I will keep all of your family in my prayers daily to get through this rough time ahead of you.

Also, I wanted to let you know I have made a contribution to St. Judes in Joseph's honor. He is such an inspiration as well as you and Allen. Thanks so much for being such wonderful Godly parents!!!

Love Tracy Koumiss and Family

Jan said...

Allen & Gillian,

I remember, Allen, at Intown, when 9/11 happened and someone had set up a TV on wheels in that room off the lobby. You and I kept sneaking in there to watch. I walked in soon after the 1st building pancaked and you were sitting there, so mad. I remember that you said, "I'm ready to sign up!" You were mad, and I recall thinking that you were a really good guy, tough where you should be and gentle where you could be. I'm getting this same vision of Joseph from this past year as I've followed your blog.

I remember seeing Gillian every year during the Reformation unit at the Pitts Theological Library, many times in Halloween costume--so un-Protestant and funny! Gillian, you always came over to help us at the computers, or to just say hi.

I see that Joseph was a gift of grace. One of my favorite authors, Ellis Peters, said that grace is like a fountain: sometimes it overflows and spills over--an abundance! And other times, it stops and is dry. The timing is not in our hands. But the grace, when it comes, is a gift.

What a gift of grace you, and I think in some measure, all of us, have received. The timing is not what anyone would have wanted, but the gift remains. And the grace remains. Memory, too, I think, is a special grace because it holds the gift tight.

You are in my prayers, and I will share your thoughts with my classes tomorrow, especially about the importance of prayer.

God bless you and Joseph,

Jan Collier

Kelly and Evan said...

Allen, thank you so much for posting what you said. I wanted so badly to be able to attend the services. Everyone at Emory is thinking and praying for you, Gillian, and Holly. I am so glad that Joseph is able to be eternally happy, and I am also so thankful that you are Christians, and that you are able to know that God is God, and none of us are. That is so simple, yet so profound at the same time. And, you will be with Joseph again, and he will be there saying "Welcome to Heaven!" just like he used to say, "Welcome to Moe's!" You will continue to be in our prayers. We miss you, and everyone continues to say how great a doctor you were!

Deneshia said...

I am a friend of the shell family, I have been reading your blog since last December and praying for your family. I will continue to pray for your family in the upcoming moments and days. You are an amazing witness for Christ. I am so sorry for your loss.

Trey said...

"i know that my Redeemer lives" ...and Joseph is with his redeemer.
with tears of sorrow, grief with hope, and prayers for comfort, Ashlie

ps....would love to hear/read your song for joseph

Heather Beam said...

In this time of grief (even for those of us who never knew Joseph or your sweet family), I want you to know that small groups, MOPS' steering teams and others have lifted you all in prayer for many months. Our hearts are breaking for you even 600 miles away. It's amazing how God can knit His children's hearts together to love one another even through something like the internet (of all things!). From the moment I became aware of Joseph's story, I've followed along and wept for people I've never met. I know one day we'll all meet and I look forward to it. We will continue to pray for God's comfort to be upon you.

Praising Him that Joseph is healed,
Heather Beam

Lisa Allen said...


Thanks for sharing your speech with everyone who couldn't be at the funeral. Beth Slotkin and Tracey Shell told us all about your speech and wonderful song you wrote/played, but it's even better to read your actual words. We are praying for all of you. Our hearts truly ache for your family.

Bill, Lisa, and Tripp Allen

Chesley said...

I came across your blog tonight as I was blog surfing and my heart is breaking for you. My son just turned 3 this month and I can't imagine going through what you have. I am praying God gives you an abundance of peace.
Joseph is such a beautiful boy. That is a wonderful picture of him as you open your site.

Hugs and much love,

Vanessa and John said...

I know no words can comfort but don't ever doubt that God has left you b/c he hasn't. I too have exoperienced deep soul wrenching pain and though I pray fervently for my daughter's healing; though he has'nt healed her, I feel Him next to me giving me peace. I
My prayer is that He focus all His peace on u and ur family.

SUZANNE said...

I found out about your blog thru a friend and have been praying for your family for a long time. I'm soo sorry for your loss and will continue to pray for all of you. Your words were amazing that your wrote, you could feel that God gave you the strength to write them.

Wifeof1Momof4 said...

Thank you so much for sharing. I wish I could have been there. Thank you for taking the time to post.

I heard Natalie Grant sing "Held" this past weekend at Women of Faith and instantly thought of Joseph. When I read the post last week, I didn't have the volume on and did not know the song was playing on the blog until yesterday. God is so amazing .. how He strings things togther.
What a blessing to have her there to sing.

Praying for you as you remember, as you grieve, as you hurt, as you love, as you take each day, day by day.

Peace and blessing to you and your family.


Allyson said...

I don't know you but I am praying for you. In Eph 3: 16-19 "I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge - that you may be filled to the measure of the fullness of God."
May your hearts be comforted by His abundant love.

Anonymous said...

YES! We will continue to pray! And AMEN for every word spoken. Truth! Truth! God is good & your family is LOVED!!!! May He richly bless you as you press on toward the goal to win the prize for which He has called you heavenward in Christ Jesus. Phil 3:14 Where your sweet boy is rejoicing in the prescence of the Master as one of His Heavenly angels...

Q's NEWS said...

Hi Allen & Gillian,

Just wanted to know you are still on my mind and heart all day and night. I wish I had some words of wisdom or comfort but I don't. I just wanted you to know I was still here, still praying, still trying to understand. I love what was said at service. "Room time" actually made me smile - you two are such wonderful and nurturing parents that actually take the time to teach your kids wonderful things. That doesn't seem to be the norm anymore so I love to read your stories - your parenting style is just wonderful.

Right now I don't want to ever go to Target again and I am glad my grandson is too young to love Lightning & Mater, etc.

Please have Jennifer email me at if there has been anything set up that I can send donations to. We had emailed back and forth early in this journey and my computer had crashed and this is a new one and I have lost her email address to write to her directly. I just really want to help you in some way, any way that I can.

Love from WV,

Journada said...

Allen, Gillian, and Holly-

We are praying for you. We were so sad to miss the visitation and funeral. We wanted to honor Joseph and you all by being there. Thank you for offering your words, so that we can see a little more how loved little Joseph is. It is a blessing to read your words and to continue in prayer for all of you. But it grieves our hearts to know that you are walking such a difficult road.

keely, josh & salem

Anonymous said...

I didnt know your sweet Joseph. I wish I did...he was one in a million. Thinking and praying for your family.

Jaime said...

Continuing to pray fervently for all of you. Your son's passing/story has broken our hearts and changed our lives. Our passions have changed, the way we love our kids, the way we spend our time, the organizations we support etc. Much love and peace to you always, the Loeffels

Erika, Matt and Emily said...

I am a daily blog reader and I was so saddened by Joseph's passing.I am realizing how precious every day and making every moment count. We are praying for your family daily. love and hugs from IL.

Melody said...

I wish I had been able to be at the service in memory of Joseph's beautiful life. Thank you for sharing.

For what it is worth, I think you and Gillian are very strong, amazing parents. You raised quite a sweet little boy! I pray that God binds you two together and covers you both (and Holly) with His overwhelming peace and love.

Praying for your hearts.

Anonymous said...

I am in tears and moved to prayer.

God, give them hope as they trust in your holy name. Lord, show them your glory. Reveal the absolute beauty and glory of heaven to them this day. Holy Spirit rest heavy on them giving them a sense that heaven is not too far from here and one day, the trumpet will sound and we will all be called home......may faith be your strength, may the richness and fullness of Christ be yours today and everyday as you are lifted to Him in prayer by so many. Oh, Lord Jesus, Maranatha, come quickly, come......

Anonymous said...

The Spirit spoke through you, I can tell, and I wasn't even there. Thanks for sharing this speech with us as it is an honest and powerful testimony to God's mysterious goodness. I am sure you all felt overwhelmed with the number of people there, and I think sometimes people are so drawn, obviously out of deep sadness for you all, but also by a desire to see how the parents are doing, how they are coping with something so unimaginably difficult. Maybe that is one of the many reasons God made y'all go through what you did, because you certainly brought Him glory in your words and testament. And that is of eternal significance.

juliette said...

Thinking of you today.
J.R. and Juliette

Jody (atlanta) said...

thinking of you all even more today and praying. I just love you all and miss you. Jody

Margaret said...

Thinking of you today-- Margaret

Anonymous said...

Allen -
Thank you. I am sorry that I was unable to attend the funeral but was glad that I got to hug you at the visitation. This may be strange, but I can't help but to think that my father has already met Joseph in heaven and is looking after him now. I am thankful for that image and hope that it may bring you some peace. I am so sorry for your loss and can't imagine what words would help to let you and Gillian rest and allow you both to smile again without regret. Just as you said - God is good and his plan is one not for us to understand sometimes. I used to remind myself of 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 "Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus".
Continually praying for you and yours,
Erin, Thomas and Owen Cabell

sumi said...

Dear Gillian and Allen and Holly

I read about you on another blog and I wanted to send you my love and tell you I am praying for you.

It is true that God gives us the grace to walk this path even when we thought we could never do it. He is faithful to never let us go, like you said.

Joseph will always be your little boy, and I know you feel that same void in your heart that I feel now that our Jenna is with Jesus.

I pray that God will hold you close as you learn how to navigate life without him being here with you.

Many hugs,


Melissa said...

I read about Joseph from another blog and am so happy I found your has been such a joy to read about Joseph; thank you for sharing those memories with us (who may not know you in person, but do know you in spririt). I know God is in control of all of our "time", but it is still so difficult to hear!!! You know that Joseph is in God's presence; he's whole again--no more pain, no more paralyzation...... Please know that everyone is praying for your whole family during this very difficult grieving process.

Anonymous said...

We wanted so badly to go to Joseph's Memorial but circumstances simply did not allow it. Thank you so much for sharing this with us and allowing us to be a part of your lives.

Lindsey and Andy Harman

Sarah-Jane said...

Hey Allen,
I played "held" for Eli yesterday and asked him if he remembered it from the funeral. He said "sort of ". I had downloaded "held" and Hymn from itunes, and he then asked me if I could download Allen's song too. Just wanted you to know that it impacted his little heart and he really wanted to hear it again.
we love you Al and are praying for you!
Phil, sj, eli, bella-claire and deacon.

joann said...

praying praying praying. and will keep praying. ~love from the rosenbaums~

Lizzi said...

Dear Ps,

We were so sad to hear of Joseph's passing. I will always remember the times we spent together in Atlanta, baby-sitting for Joe, and all four of you arriving for dinner at our place with the greeting, "We're here to destroy your home." Joe was such a fun, bright, friendly little guy. His time here was far too short.

We will continue to pray for you as you grieve and heal, one day at a time.

Tony and I are so sorry that we could not be there to say goodbye to Joe. We just moved to Alexandria, VA, and didn't hear the news until Sunday evening.

We love you guys.
Tony & Lizzi

Anonymous said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you so much for posting the video of Allen singing the song he wrote for Joseph. It was amazingly beautiful and I cried again this morning listening to it. I am confident I will be back to play it again in the coming weeks. Thank you also for sharing the words he spoke at the funeral. It was so encouraging to hear him share in person and especially that God won't let you go. Now to re-read the words and soak it in again is powerful too. I will continue to pray for your family as I know the healing/grieving process will be on-going and the conversations with God will continue. He loves you though and so do we. - Laura R.

Suzanne said...

I have been keeping up with your family since Amber wrote me and told me about your blog. We feel so deeply for you and can only pray that God will give you his grace to meet each new day. Praying for you in Budapest, Hungary,
Suzanne Pitts and family