I’m sitting here in my office trying to find the words to explain this post. Why it’s important, why it’s valid, and necessary and precious. But there are no words–just that I needed to commemorate her life for myself, for Jason, and for my family. We didn’t have the luxury of a lifetime with Ella–these photos are the only physical, visual things we have left of her. You may not see her face, or her tiny hands, or her beautiful eyes–but she is here. She is in every single one of these photos–she is the smile on our faces. Ella was only here on this earth for 22 weeks, and in those 22 weeks she lived life with us. She went on countless road trips with us to Boston, New Hampshire, Connecticut, New York, The Niagara Falls,Canada, California, Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois, Chicago, Missouri, Vermont, Indiana, and Wisconsin. For some reason we humans need some kind of mile-marker in our lives, to pay homage and to see how far we’ve come. We leave little souvenires of ourselves and people we’ve loved; white crosses on the side of the road, shrines dedicated to people we’ve lost, or perhaps our own names etched on the trunk of a tree. Ellas whole being and soul touched this world–because she touched me. This post is my mile-marker, although the real tribute is unseen…a monument etched, burned, and sealed in my heart.


This is a picture of Jason right after I told him we were pregnant. There is nothing Jason has wanted more than to be a dad…he cried, prayed, and can see the moving reaction of pure joy and love.


I’m so glad that I took these pictures from the house…he had no idea, and I had no idea how precious they would be.


One of Ellas first photos…we were amazed at her beautiful profile.


This is me paddle-boarding at North Bar last summer, it was so beautiful.


Jason, Ella, and I were constantly on the go last summer…this is at a camp we stayed at. It was funny because all the kids were hearing rumors that I was pregnant, and we were more than happy to confirm them.


We drove to St. Louis to go to our friends wedding.


This is a memorial I played at last summer in Traverse City. The night was special and emotional to say the least. We all came to honor a young girl who died…Ally. Her parents and brother spoke..and I played a concert for her friends. It’s surreal to look back–now that I know what it feels like to lose a daughter. Life is so…not funny….but funny that way.


Ella got to hear me sing so much while she was alive…I played 3 hour long sets–she would keep me company…and really she was the secret that made me smile no matter how tired I was. I’m thankful for that…


I remember shopping for this dress…it had to accomodate Ellas growing…I think she would have loved it. Little silly things like that are what really break me down…she will never get to go shopping with me…


This was a special moment we shared together at Big Ticket Festival…this man was watching my performance from backstage and he had waited for me to come around so he could say hi. He spoke, but I couldn’t understand his words–but his eyes and his heart were beaming through the tears in his eyes. I started crying and Jason and I prayed for him. We were left thinking that something about my music must have touched him…I can’t wait to get to heaven and find out what it was.


She was there…


Somewhere in Vermont I believe…


Jason, Jenny & Tyler and I at Fandana Music Festival. Jenny & Tyler are an amazingly talented married couple who make the most lovely music. We actually listened to their music on repeat the night I delivered Ella…the words “You are stillness, you are quiet, you are comfort and peace” from their song “When Darkness Falls” was literally an anchor for my soul in immense confusion, distress, and quite honestly –heinous fear.
Click on the photo to hear the song




This is one of the only shows Ella and I did without Jason there–he was in California on a backpacking trip.


This is the first and only picture I took of my baby bump–I sent it to Jason when I was in California for my best friends wedding. Ella literally just popped on that trip. She was my strength and my happy place when I had to fly by myself..I would pray and think of her to calm myself and allude my anxiety over flying. The first time I felt her move was on the plane coming back to Michigan.


Ella was all over SOCAl with me–she even got to go for a swim in the ocean!


This is in Chicago at a songwriters circle I played at with my friends Xoe Wise, and Dan Henig. Xoe sent me the sweetest note and flowers after Ella died…


Jason, Ella and I at our friends wedding. The reception was at a vineyard and I got in trouble for eating grapes off the vine–Everyone tells me that Ella would have been a little stinker, just like me 🙂


We drove through Canada twice over the end of Summer–this was a lovely house concert in Burlington Ontario put on by some amazing fans, who also housed us. We had such a good time with them. They had two adorable daughters, and Jason and I were even more excited to meet ours after spending time with them.


Beamer, my sister, went on a few road trips with us out East, and through Canada. She made us stop at a cheese museum, of course. Ella did not like goat cheese–the one thing I absolutely love and always mistakenly ate before I sang–bad idea.


Beamer and I in Boston–we did the freedom trail, mixed with a bit of shopping 🙂


Ella got to go to the East Coast and eat some good seafood 🙂


Beautiful ceiling in the State House in Boston


Ella even got to go to Niagara Falls with us. Beamer made us go down to the observation deck–we were soaked head to toe, but it was so worth it.


My sister-in-law Liz and I. Cali and Ella in the womb–cousins forever 🙂


Happy times…


Jason made me take this photo…I’m glad I complied…on one of our many roadtrips


On our way to Duluth to meet our godson Jaxon


This adorable little organ caught my eye at an antique mall and I knew Ella had to have it in her room. The woman who sold it me told me it had been her daughters, and I promised that my daughter would love it one day. This is the last thing I bought for Ella. A few weeks after she died Beamer and I went in her room and played it together singing silly songs from Jungle Book…I wonder if she liked it.


On our way to Duluth the fall colors begged me to pull over and capture this moment in time.


Overlooking Lake Superior…Jason told me this was his favorite photo–I was so happy. I look back at this woman and I don’t know her anymore. That carefree spirit, that future, and that hope are dead. It’s really bittersweet–photos have never been that important to me, but they really do say a thousand words.


The last week Ella was with us I had gigs in Minnesota and Illinois. I drove as Jason worked and Ella made sure to keep me awake with all of her kicking and moving about. She was really active this trip and I couldn’t stop smiling. There are a million memories tied to these last days…one in particular. I was debating with Jason what her middle name should be–we were trying to see if there was any name we loved more than Rae. Our conversation died down, but I really feel like Ella was speaking to me–she kept directing me to Ella Rae. I would think to myself Ella Fiona, and I would almost hear her saying no…Ella Rae. I think about this often.


A thousand words


This photo is so prophetic to me


I will never have the words


I wish I could’ve had a photo like this with my hands but I was in shock…Holding her Daddy’s hand


My dad spoke at her funeral and it was so touching and powerful–my dad is my hero. He and Jason were my rock through delivery–I had both of them with me on either side holding my hands…


My Mom and I …with all my family looking on. She really wanted white roses, but the flower shop was all out of them–so I brought her daisies for Ella.


We buried her right next to my Grandpa…I know he is singing “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine” to her right now on a heavenly gibson 🙂


38 thoughts on “Pictures

  1. Oh sweety, I am so sorry for your loss. I will keep you and Jason in my thoughts and prayers. Losing a baby is something that you can’t quite put into words and somehow, even if you don’t get to hold them they make a place in your heart forever. “But true wisdom and power are found in God; counsel and understanding are His … He uncovers mysteries hidden in darkness; He brings light to the deepest gloom.” (Job 12:13, 22)

  2. You are so strong for sharing your story! My Mom saw you perform a couple of weeks ago in Kalamazoo and told me about your music… I’ve been hooked since 🙂 God may have other plans for your sweet little girl, but He is absolutely using you too, to be a light and inspiration to others. God Bless you and Jason! Keep the faith…Jeremiah 29:11

  3. Sharing your story helped me heal some inside. Thank you for opening up your heart and life. My God Bless you, and yours. Praying for you all. My Jason and I are still trying to heal after our loss almost 2 years ago.

    • Oh Tracy I am so sorry to hear that…We will never fully “heal” because a part of us has died…and that’s ok. I’m on a journey to reconcile that–things will never be the way they should this side of heaven. I am so sorry you have had to experience a loss like this–so painful. Glad I could be a part of your journey..

  4. My dear, dear friend. I do not have words, but my heart is with you. I adore you and your family and your sharing of a precious, wonderful life and all the pieces of your heart Ella will always have. I am with you in Spirit.

  5. I have to say, you just put together one of the most beautiful mile-markers a mother could put together for her child. I had to grab a tissue before commenting. It’s not hard to break me anymore…. that’s already been done. I think that it’s the empathy that clicks in immediately, after reading pain and beauty mixed within the words of a mother who has had to say good bye, and would do anything in this world to bring back the one thing that she loved-adored most…. her precious son/daughter. The pictures are priceless and absolutely breathtaking.

    Ella is beautiful, beyond words…. just like her mommy.

  6. A Friend just sent me your link…. There are so many things I could say to try and ease your pain, but I, like you know this pain…and I know there is nothing that I can say, to do just that. I will keep you in my prayers and uplift you with everything I have… Know there are mothers out there who will be your shoulder when no one else will understand…. If you ever feel the need to vent/talk/cry…please don’t hesitate to contact me.

  7. Oh man. This was so beautiful, even though it was also heartbreaking. I loved all the pictures from all your travels…it made me especially happy to see you guys at the MCA in Huntington. I go to school there, so I’m glad Ella got a chance to visit 🙂

    I’m the first born in my family, but my mom had two miscarriages before she had my sister, 8 years after she had me. I don’t remember the first one…I was only 4 or 5, and it was an early miscarriage. But for the second one, I was a little older and it happened 6 months into the pregnancy. My mom delivered her and she lived for about 30 minutes. We keep pictures of Abigail hidden in a little blue box, with other things we got at the hospital. I vaguely remember the service we had for her, but I remember very strongly the sadness that our family experienced. So even though I was only the sister in our story, yours touched me in a very deep way.

    I know how horribly difficult this must be for you, because I saw my mom deal with the same pain. We have our little blue box, but you’re very brave for putting your story and your pictures up for everyone to see. I know for a fact that this will provide “comfort, peace, and hope” to those who need it. I’ve only met you once (at Fandana Festival 2011, if you remember), but from that brief interaction I saw the kindness and beauty of your spirit. I see the same beauty in all these photos. You have already proven to be an amazing parent, and any other future child of yours will be extremely lucky to have you as their mom.

    Again, the pain right now is difficult but I know that God will bless you even more abundantly in the future. The sadness will always be there to some degree, but experiencing loss makes you even more appreciative of the blessings. In the end, we can see God’s light in the midst of darkness and He is glorified. My mom had my sister a year and a half after Abigail was born, and Gabriela has been an awesome, very healthy child for 11 years now 🙂 She’s one of the best things that’s ever happened to me, partly because I waited for so long to get her. Praise God for healing.

    Sorry this is so long! But I really wanted to say all that was on my heart. May God continue to bless you and your family in your healing process.

  8. My heart bleeds for you in your sorrow. May God who heals the broken, Send peace and love to you in your time of brokenness. God bless you always.

  9. Thanks for opening up your heart to us: your friends, family and fans. Though each experience is unique, Peggy and I know the pain you and Jason felt. Our love to you both.

  10. I love you so much. When I was looking at the picture you said, “Is Jason”s favorite picture” I saw the Brit I know. You will always change but something about that beautiful woman will always be. How precious and special was Ella’s life here on earth. It was short but beautiful. I wish I could hug you and comfort you. I love you!!!

  11. I love your pictures and how they so beautifully tell the story of your precious Ella Rae’s life! I had my own Ella, Ella Grace, and I always absurdly feel like kindred spirits to other Moms who have lost their Ellas.

  12. This is so incredibly beautiful and heart wrenching. Thank you…for sharing your journey with precious Ella with us. I love her name…beautiful, beautiful. Her life has now touched my heart as well. I’m grateful for the privilege…getting to know her, just a little. Thank you for joining in with Walking With You. Praying God’s comfort and peace for you both… as He carries you…

  13. Oh my goodness what a beautiful tribute to the special moments with your daughter! I am visiting from Sufficient Grace and I am so glad I came by to meet you and Ella. I am so very sorry you had to say goodbye, I know that pain all to well. Ella’s sweet hand looks so much like my Jonathan’s:) Saying a prayer that you find comfort, peace and healing. Big hugs from one hurting mommy to another.

  14. When you are ready, I’m There for You by Michelle Featherstone. People will offer lots of dumb advice, books, and blogs that you may or may not find helpful. This song will carry you when you need it. God’s peace to you and your family. Our prayers are with you, Jason, and sweet Ella in heaven.

  15. Hello, I found you on the Sufficient Grace Ministries blog. I am also participating in the “Walking With You” series. Thank you for sharing your heart and your precious Ella! This is such a powerful and beautiful tribute to her life. It is similar to something I am working on for my daughter, Lily Katherine, who was born silently into this world on March 16, 2010. It is called “Sweet Memories With Lily – Her Life in Photos.” Pictures truly do speak a thousand words! Your sweet girl’s life has touched my heart deeply. I am so sorry for your loss. Much love and hugs, Hannah Rose

  16. Beautiful! Every word, every picture. Thank you for sharing your beautiful Ella with us. My heart and prayers to you and Jason and your families. You are both so precious to me! I am honored that you have shared your story .

  17. I adore those pictures…what special memories you have or your time with her. I love your style too, BTW! Those dresses and outfits are gorgeous.

  18. Hello,

    We met last spring 2012 at WCC. I was in Eric Wojahn’s Audio Recording 2 class and I was one of the only females in the class- you were so kind to volunteer your time to us for a recording session.

    This is so heartbreaking and so beautiful at the same time. My heart feels very heavy for you and your husband and family. Some things just happen and we don’t know why. Your photos really do capture 1000 words and I praise you for your courage to share this with so many of us. I admire you and hope for better things to come in your future. It has been from my experience that out of darkness comes light and something truly wonderful is bound to be right around the corner.


  19. Visiting from Kelly’s linky at Sufficient Grace…
    What a beautiful, beautiful little life your sweet girl had. So much love and joy filled her mother, and in turn, filled her. Your pictures are such a gorgeous story of joy and hope and pure love.

    Thank you for sharing them. She was beautiful.

  20. sending love and peace to you both and wishing your Ella safe passage into the next part of her journey!!! No words of condolences or kind thoughts for peace, i’m sure, could ever be enough to over-come the insurmountable emotions you both must be facing… I would just say, look for strength in one another… no other person knows how you feel as your partner will… be there for each other… and sing for Ella forever!!!

  21. Coming here for Sufficient Grace Ministries… What an amazing, beautiful tribute to Ella’s life. Her earthside life was far too short, but what a full life you gave her! Joy can seem so far away in these early days, weeks, months, but it will return. You are a mother, forever changed by your sweet Ella, and your love for her shows through these words and photos.

  22. Thank you for sharing… On Jan 3rd 2012, my daughter lost our little Rachel at 22 wks…and on Jan 3rd 2011, she lost our 14 day old baby Lila to a congenital heart problem. The “Joy” is gone from my daughters face and from her heart. My daughter and her husband live in Gaylord, MI… They have a 4 year old son…and he brings sunshine into our lives. I feel your pain and you are not alone… my daughter and her husband are with you… I am just the grandma, but I have never experienced such pain… Our little Angels are beholding the face of God…and somewhere, in some foreign land, we will meet them again…

  23. Jetty, wishing you God’s love & peace. I thank God for the grace He has given you during this time of your life. So glad you have a wonderful, loving, and supportive husband and family. We love you too. Seems like we know you because your CD is always playing in my car when the grand-girls are with me (almost everyday)…so you are part of our daily lives. I first met you at Fandana (Huntington College) last summer, and then I took the girls to see you in Kalamazoon on NY’s Eve. they could NOT believe they got to meet you in “real” life. they talked about it all the way home! they have your picturecard on their dresser. i’m so glad you are one of God’s servants as a positive and Christian role model for our girls. We will continue to pray for you and your husband and your ministry!

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