the story of the arrow

One thing that Brian and I agree on easily is names. Some couples battle it out and take months to finally agree on what to name their child. Not us. We have had names picked out for years. Owen was our top boy name, so when we found out we were having a boy, there really wasn't much of a discussion. We just knew. But naming a person is hard! It's a lot of pressure. I decided we needed to make a final decision because I wanted to paint letters to hang on his wall. And clearly, that's a big deal. But for some reason, we couldn't really call him Owen until he was born. We had to make sure he really was an Owen first. We told people his name, but made sure they knew it could be changed at the last minute if it didn't feel right. But when we saw him, we knew he was definitely an Owen. 

I remember googling the meaning of Owen just to make sure it didn't have some horrible meaning. When I read that it means "strong warrior" I had no idea how significant that would become in his life. 

Most of you know that I make and sell custom onesies. I have sold a ton of them on etsy and have given lots as gifts. When I was five months pregnant, I decided to make an original onesie for Owen... I wanted him to have a special one no other baby had. I had just gotten some new cute fabric that reminded me of arrows, so that's what I made. I only made this one for him because I wanted to meet him first. I needed to know his little personality! 

On Owen's second night at Egleston, Ginger, one of the night nurses, made him this sign. She wasn't Owen's nurse that night, but she still made it, and he drew an arrow on it! She had no idea about the onesie I had made him. No other babies in the unit had an arrow on their signs, just Owen.
The next morning I remembered the meaning of Owen's name and how significant it was in his life already. I also realized how appropriate an arrow was for the meaning of his name. At just a few days old, he already was a strong warrior. 

The arrow really became the symbol that represented Owen. Friends and family showed their support during his life by taking pictures holding Team Owen signs with arrows on them and posted them on facebook. We had them all hanging on the wall next to his bed, and people at the hospital would come by and comment on how many fans he had. Team Owen tee shirts were made with arrows on them to raise money for his medical bills. Arrows were popping up all over the place. Every day, we told Owen how strong and how brave he was. We told him he was a warrior and a fighter. 
After he died I received several pieces of jewelry with arrows on them. One bracelet came with a card that quoted Proverbs 35:6. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight." After the verse, the card said, "Like an arrow, straight and true, God guides our lives. Submit yourself to the one who knows where each path leads."  We included this on the program at his funeral. 

During Owen's life, I didn't know where God was going to lead his path. I didn't know if he was going to allow him to live for hours, days, weeks, months, or years. I wrestled with the fact that by trusting God fully, I had to accept the fact that he may choose to take Owen from me. I didn't want to pray for God's will to be done. I wanted to pray for Owen's body to be healed and for him to live a long healthy life. I can't tell you how painful it was to be faced with the possibility of my newborn baby dying. I knew that God's ways may not be my ways. 

It was an hourly struggle for me... to trust God knowing that He might allow my worst fear to come true. It was gut wrenching. The fact that I had no control over anything was completely thrown in my face minute by minute as I watched my precious baby literally fight for his life, knowing there was nothing I could do to help. 

I felt helpless, but not hopeless.  

I trusted God, but I also prayed boldly for a miracle. We all asked for a miracle. God chose to heal Owen's body in heaven. And yet, we are still trusting... In Holding On To Hope, Nancy Guthrie writes:  

"Trusting God when the miracle does not come, when urgent prayer gets no answer, when there is only darkness-- this is the kind of faith God values perhaps most of all. This is the kind of faith that can be developed and displayed only in the midst of difficult circumstances. This is the kind of faith that cannot be shaken because it is the result of having been shaken."

This is such an encouragement to me. The reality is that I'm sad. Most things are just hard. Everything takes so much energy. I'm living many hours of my days in darkness, but knowing that my faith cannot be shaken anymore than it already has been is a comfort. I am trying so hard to trust God in the midst of my worst nightmare. My discomfort and moments of darkness have awakened me from my routine and remind me that I am not in control. I can be angry at God about my circumstances, or I can draw closer to Him.

On a walk with my friend Kristin last week, we noticed stones on the ground in the shape of an arrow, and we thought of Owen. I see arrows everywhere and they make me smile. Just as I was working on this blog post, I received a package at my door with this framed print inside. It's not a coincidence. It's God's work in everything, even the little things. 
Not only do arrows remind me of Owen, but they remind me that God is loving and that he has a purpose for Owen's life and for our suffering. I have come to terms with the fact that I will never know why all of this happened until I get to heaven. In Holding On To Hope, Nancy Guthrie encourages us to stop asking God "Why"?" but instead "For what purpose?" She challenges us to "look beyond this life and embrace the Redeemer, who will take the pieces of your life and transform them into something beautiful if you invite him to do so.


  1. From today's Jesus Today: "Sometimes my sovereign hand- my control over your life- places you in humbling circumstances. You feel held down, held back, and powerless to change things. You long to break free and feel in control of your life once again. Although this is an uncomfortable position, it is actually a good place to be. Your discomfort awakens you from the slumber of routine and reminds you that I am in charge of your life. It also presents you with an important choice: You can lash out at your circumstances-resenting my ways with you-or you can draw closer to me.

    When you are suffering, your need for me is greater than ever. The more you choose to come near Me, affirming your trust in Me, the more you can find hope in my unfailing love. You can even learn to be joyful in hope while waiting in my presence- where joy abounds. Persevere in trusting me, and I will eventually lift you up. Meanwhile, cast all your anxiety on me, knowing that I care for you affectionately and am watching over you continually."

  2. I see arrows everywhere too, and I always think of your sweet boy and a reminder to pray for you guys. Love you friend. xo

  3. This is beautiful, Allison. Thank you for sharing your heart during this time of darkness. What you said about your faith cannot be shaken because it has already been done so already, is so powerful and true. I agree that you can choose to be angry with God or draw closer to Him. You're so strong and such an inspiration to me and so many others. Praying for you and your heart.