Company in the Void

A deep aching void has been etched into my soul; the space that used to be filled with squeals and happy babbling, the sweet smell of baby skin, soft fuzzy hair — now a vacuum. There is no one and nothing that can fully replenish that emptiness, but sometimes it’s just nice to have company there.

On December 31, 2014 a couple of completely adorable and very identical twin baby boys were born, Ari & Ezra. Their Mom, Melanie is the über talented photographer that captured the emotionally captivating shots of Nora’s birth. {I hate to keep referring to her just as “Nora’s birth photographer” because she is really so much more than that.}. Adjusting to life with two new babies was difficult enough without a frightening bout of RSV that landed one and then both of the babies in the NICU when they were just a couple weeks old. Mixed in to this chaos back at home were also a 5 year old sister, Nori, and a super-mega-high energy 3 year old brother named Nico. When they were all finally back home and under the same roof it wasn’t enough to just bring them dinner. I got that “nudge” to get up off my butt and go help them.

Before Nora was born, and we had no idea what to expect from one day to the next, Melanie had written to me by email. She heard about our situation through her high school friend — my sister Emily. Melanie offered to take the birth photos, which might be the only photos of our baby. I was extremely touched that Melanie was willing to get so close to what MIGHT be a very sad and somber occasion. When she had written to me, she was only 3 months removed from the tragic loss of her sister, Ali.

After Nora scampered off to heaven, two full years later, it should have come as no surprise that the very first grave plot we were shown was literally in arm’s reach of Ali’s earthly resting spot. I had had NO IDEA where Ali was buried until that moment — and about flipped my lid when I figured it out!!! Incredible Godwink, and such a consolation. It was as if God were reminding us that none of this was “by chance”.

After Ari & Ezra were back to health I offered to come over imposed my extra set of empty hands and arms on Melanie and her sweet “Bigs” and “Littles”. There’s no way to fully fill the void of my loss, but it’s been nice to have the company of these precious little bundles in it, and the comic relief of sweet Nori & Nico, and the friendship of their dear mama.

I was delighted to brush up on my baff giving skillz each week. How precious to watch their scrawny little bodies ease into a state of delerious tranquility as the warmth of the water cascaded over their soft baby skin. Each week they got bigger and chunkier, now almost busting out of the sink. All the chins and rolls present a bit more of a challenge. Melanie warned me that there might be “cream cheese” growing in the depths of those rolls! 😂

Gavin & Greta got to come with me one day and in the words of Greta, “It sure felt good to hold a baby again!”

And how sweet to watch my “big tough” 11 year old boy respond to these baby guys with such gentle awe. This precious interaction was restorative to his soul as well.

I know full well I could never ever, even remotely, fill or take Ali’s space. But I also know that if Ali were still physically here on this earth that she would be over at that house every possible second. I’m not a replacement, not a substitute – maybe I’m just company in the void too.

Getting SO big!!!!

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
(‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭1‬:‭3-4‬ NIV)


It was a Friday night in March. Embraced by the warmth of my blankets, I lazily scrolled through my newsfeeds, my eyelids growing heavy. I was about to call it a night when a text came through. It was Kim Botto, my dear friend from church who had officiated Nora’s funeral and has helped us through our loss. A family from church had just been dealt the devastating blow of a prenatal trisomy 18 diagnosis. She wrote, “You would be the perfect one to reach out to them.”

I recalled our own first horrible days after Nora’s diagnosis. Although I did not recognize their names or yet know them, my heart broke for this family. I assured Kim I would reach out to Natalie the next day.

As I laid there on into the night I wished I could fast forward time for them to get them through these awful, anxiety-ridden days. Then I recalled the story of a butterfly cocoon from Streams in the Desert from January 9’s page (Jan. 9 was the date we received Nora’s diagnosis!!! Coincidence?!):

“I once kept a bottle-shaped cocoon of an emperor moth for nearly one year. The cocoon was very strange in its construction. The neck of the “bottle” had a narrow opening through which the mature insect forces its way. Therefore the abandoned cocoon is as perfect as one still inhabited, with no tearing of the interwoven fibers having taken place. The great disparity between the size of the opening and the size of the imprisoned insect makes a person wonder how the moth ever exits at all. Of course, it is never accomplished without great labor and difficulty. It is believed the pressure to which the moth’s body is subjected when passing through such a narrow opening is nature’s way of forcing fluids into the wings, since they are less developed at the time of emerging from the cocoon than in other insects.

I happened to witness the first efforts of my imprisoned moth to escape from its long confinement. All morning I watched it patiently striving and struggling to be free. It never seemed able to get beyond a certain point, and at last my patience was exhausted. The confining fibers were probably drier and less elastic than if the cocoon had been left all winter in its native habitat, as nature meant it to be. In any case, I thought I was wiser and more compassionate than its Maker, so I resolved to give it a helping hand. With the point of my scissors, I snipped the confining threads to make the exit just a little easier. Immediately and with perfect ease, my moth crawled out, dragging a huge swollen body and little shriveled wings! I watched in vain to see the marvelous process of expansion in which these wings would silently and swiftly develop before my eyes. As I examined the delicately beautiful spots and markings of various colors that were all there in miniature, I longed to see them assume their ultimate size. I looked for my moth, one of the loveliest of its kind, to appear in all its perfect beauty. But I looked in vain. My misplaced tenderness had proved to be its ruin. The moth suffered an aborted life, crawling painfully through its brief existence instead of flying through the air on rainbow wings.

I have thought of my moth often, especially when watching with tearful eyes those who were struggling with sorrow, suffering, and distress. My tendency would be to quickly alleviate the discipline and bring deliverance. O shortsighted person that I am! How do I know that one of these pains or groans should be relieved? The farsighted, perfect love that seeks the perfection of its object does not weakly shrink away from present, momentary suffering. Our Father’s love is too steadfast to be weak. Because He loves His children, He ‘disciplines us . . . that we may share in his holiness’ (Heb 12:10). With this glorious purpose in sight, He does not relieve our crying. Made perfect through suffering, as our Elder Brother was, we children of God are disciplined to make us obedient, and brought to glory through much tribulation.”

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.(Romans 8:18)


Natalie and I have since met together for coffee a couple of times, shared pieces of our lives, our prayers of hope, and our tears of sorrow with one another. Tucked away in the dark warmth and safety of her mother’s womb is a precious baby girl. She is equipped with an extra 18th chromosome that she will use to bring glory to her Almighty Creator.

While I can’t physically or otherwise fast forward time for Natalie and her family, it is my honor to be able to cheer them on as they emerge THROUGH this present suffering of their lives and in to greatness!

A beautifully written account of Natalie & Will’s journey has been kept on their Caring Bridge page. I encourage you not only to visit it, but please pray for them and their treasured baby girl. Her name is Runner. The meaning behind her name is so perfect and so befitting, as her Mama beautifully illustrates in a touching letter to her unborn baby.


This past Saturday our church embarked on #GoCincinnati — a church-wide endeavor to go out and bless the city and surrounding communities. Our family was assigned to help with landscaping at Imago Nature Preserve. While William helped erect a split rail fence, the kids and I helped clear out some planting areas and some trails.

While all of this was going on I was absolutely smitten with an adorable little boy who was working very hard with his Dad. He made several determined trips to the compost pile with his little red wheel barrow full of weeds. It was impossible not to smile every time I looked over at them and I even snuck a couple of pictures. I’m not really in the habit of taking pictures of “complete strangers” kids, but I just kinda couldn’t help myself!

We were encouraged to share our Go Cincinnati pictures on social media using the hashtag #GoCincinnati – so I posted a few on Instagram (@AleisaAK) including the one of the cute little boy with his wheel barrow.

This cute little guy at #GoCincinnati! :)

This cute little guy at #GoCincinnati! 🙂

I got a phone call from Natalie that evening. She had noticed on Instagram that we might have been at the same site that her husband and son had been working.

“No way!” I exclaimed.

There were several little kids on the site. I asked her what her son looked like. It was all adding up – and then I asked if her son had a little red wheel barrow with him…

“Yes! That was him!!”

Laughing, in utter disbelief, I asked if she had seen the picture I took of her ADORABLE little boy – which I had also posted on Instagram. She explained that she hadn’t scrolled all the way through the pictures yet and couldn’t wait to see!!

I had seen pictures of her family before, but I honestly did not at all make the connection!!! Because seriously — what are the odds?!?! This was so crazy!!!

Who, what, when, where, why and how would it even be possible for Natalie’s husband and son to be assigned to the same project we were??? Based on the sheer amount of people involved – there was absolutely no way to match people and families up with common interests, common prenatal diagnoses, or otherwise. (Yes, I checked!) Yet there we were were — working side by side to serve others, to serve God, and had no idea until after the fact!

Then I was “angry” 😉 that this perfectly orchestrated opportunity for our families to connect had come and gone and we were all but oblivious! But now we have this serving experience in common now too. God definitely has His loving and watchful eye on each of our families — on ALL OF US.

That God would trouble Himself with these seemingly “little things” in our lives, imagine how much He must care about the BIG things!

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
(‭Luke‬ ‭12‬:‭6-7‬ NIV)

Please don’t forget to check out Natalie & Will’s Caring Bridge site. Your prayers are much appreciated!

ReachOut Pregnancy Center Banquet

In In August of 2014 I was asked if I would be interested in being the key note speaker for Reach Out Pregnancy Center’s 2015 fund raising banquet. I would be speaking on the topics of adoption and the experience of Nora’s prenatal trisomy 18 diagnosis. I was only 2 months removed from having said “see you later” to Nora. It was all still so raw. Could I actually get up on a stage and talk about that?? In front of PEOPLE?? Emotions aside — this was WAY out of my comfort zone! Perhaps it might come as a shock to you if you don’t know me personally, OR if you know me REALLY well – but I am quite the introvert. “What?? But she’s so outspoken on her blog!!??” I thrive in my quiet alone time where I am most creative, where I write, where I am energized and inspired. Being in social settings is often awkward and difficult for me, exacerbated by the instances where people take offense to my quietness and quests for solitude. “I used to think you were such a b***h before I really got to know you!” is a sentiment shared with me from time to time! I’ve finally gotten past the point of feeling like there is something wrong with me and embrace the fact that this is part of who I am. This is how God made me. With that said, I know that it’s not healthy to close myself off from community and friendships. So I force myself to step “dangerously” out of my comfort zone and interact with others (which I DO love once I’m out doing it) — and to get up on stages and deliver speeches now, apparently!!! I agreed to do this speech for Reach Out Pregnancy Center. I got hijacked by the Holy Spirit who spoke through my mouth and excitedly exclaimed, “Sure! I’d be DELIGHTED to be the key note speaker for the Reach Out Pregnancy Center fund raising banquet in May!”

If I’m going to get up on a stage and speak publicly about anything, you can be assured that it is something I am hugely passionate about and/or that my invitation for God to USE ME has been accepted.

The banquet wasn’t until wayyyyy next May which was “FOREVER” away – so I had plenty of time to put a speech together and practice it backwards and forward, weeding out all the “ums” and “uhs” and “ers” (almost). Then like 5 minutes later May 12th was upon us. 

“Not in my power, not to my glory – but YOURS,” I prayed over and over again as the banquet began.

I was doing just fine until the video montage was presented! I knew they were going to do something with my voice over and the pictures and videos I had provided… but I hadn’t seen it yet. It completely exceeded my expectations and was incredibly powerful. It took excessive, excessive strength not to completely fall apart watching it — and then to PULL. IT. TOGETHER. as I walked up onto the stage…

Perhaps one could say that it’s easy to choose life when you’re happily married and you have all of your finances together… or to continue forward when you don’t have a terrifying prenatal diagnosis attached to your pregnancy. 

It might not be easy to choose life when everything is completely upside down, but I have the right to say that it is not impossible either. Here are two “unplanned pregnancies” that I once regarded as absolute catastrophes. Two times I wanted to run screaming out of my skin and leave each “complicated mess” far behind.

Each of these “unplanned pregnancies” turned out to be extraordinary gifts. To such an extreme that I will climb out from my safe introverted little shell, up onto a stage in front of a crowd of people to share the beauty and blessed sorrow of these disguised treasures.

To quote Martin Luther King, “There is nothing to be afraid of if you believe and know that the cause for which you stand for is right. You are ready to face anything and you face it with a humble smile… because you know that all of eternity stands with you and the angels stand beside you.”