Julianna Grace Ministry
Loss of child gives birth to special service
“Lisa, she’s gone. She’s gone.”
Lisa Rowell will never forget her doctor’s words.
Thursday, Sept. 5, 2013 – the day Lisa and her husband’s lives were torn apart. Five months into Lisa’s pregnancy, her daughter Julianna’s heart stopped beating.
“She wasn’t moving the night before, and I had kind of noticed she had slowed her movement two days before that.”
Gone were the plans to refurbish a crib, buy a car seat and paint Julianna’s nursery green and light purple.
Now began the self-blame. “I must have done something.” “I killed my child.”
Now began the questions. “What did I do to you, God?” “Why do you hate me?” “Why can’t I just have a normal life?” Four days later, Lisa was in the hospital, giving birth to a child she would never know.
“As I was driving there, I felt like I was driving toward my deathbed,” Lisa remembered. “I had this heaviness that I was going to die there. When you lose a child, you feel like a part of you is dead.”
But during 24 hours of labor, “all of a sudden, this peace came over me,” Lisa said. “I can’t explain it, but God started to remind me where (Julianna) is, and this is just her remains.”
In death, there was birth – the birth of Julianna Grace Ministry. In memory of her late daughter, Lisa accepts donations to buy items that go into a basket. That basket is delivered to mothers whose children have died at a young age. A typical basket includes devotionals, scripture cards and musical CDs, all meant to help a family get through the darkest days of their lives.
“The basket tells you that you are not alone – that other people have gone through this,” Lisa said. “This ministry – this basket – was filled by donors – people who have been through this. It shows that God still loves them, cares for them and understands what they are going through, because he lost his son.”
Charlene Parker received her basket about two weeks after her and her husband’s second child, Chase, died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Adopted at birth, “I actually saw him enter the world and take his first little breath.” Chase was just two months and two days old.
“I had fed him at 1 or 2 in the morning,” Charlene said. “When I got up at 5 a.m. for work, I just had this urge to check on him, and he was gone. I don’t think I will ever forget it – carrying him and just how lifeless he was. I will never forget that – just how lifeless he was. I called out to my husband, ‘He won’t wake up! He won’t wake up!’” Of all the items in Charlene’s basket, there was one which became her favorite – a book entitled “Heaven.”
“Because, of course, we are Christian, we know about heaven. But what we really had to look at is that I would love to have him back, but I need to know more about this place where he is. One thing that has helped is to know that it would be incredibly selfish to have him back, rather than him be where he is right now. He is in such a better place than we are.”
Lisa estimates that has given more than 300 baskets to grieving parents. A special donation to some of the baskets are from the Ministry of Barrett’s Bears, founded by Natalie and Walker Boggs, whose son Anthony died when he was just over 4 months old. The comfort bears serve as a loving memory to each baby, and they are inscribed with the child’s name. (Visit barretsbearsministry.com to donate or request a bear.)
“People who donate are donors who lost children and never dealt with it,” Lisa said. “Through their donation, they are able to be healed.”
Lisa’s story doesn’t end with Julianna’s death. A few months later, Lisa became pregnant.
“I had no desire to have other children,” Lisa explained, “but my husband wanted a baby. Then, this other woman told me her regret of not having more children. Through faith, I didn’t want to end up with regret, so I went ahead and got pregnant.”
For the first five and a half months, Lisa was apprehensive. It was always in the back of her mind that something could go wrong. She even bought a Fetal Doppler, a hand-held ultrasound device.
“I checked her heartbeat once or twice a day.”
“It was the 23rd week that we lost Julianna. I didn’t have peace until after the 23rd week that I knew things were going to be OK.”
Despite being born five weeks early, Gabriella Grace Rowell is a happy, healthy 6-year-old. She is called a “Rainbow Child” for two reasons.
“A day after I came home (from giving birth to Julianna), I actually had a rainbow in one of my eyes,” Lisa said. “I would look at a light, and I would see a rainbow. I saw this rainbow in my eye until the day of Gabriella’s first birthday, then it went away.”
The second reason is more philosophical.
“When you see a rainbow, it is a beautiful thing, but there was a storm that happened that created this rainbow. So even though you get to enjoy the rainbow, you are constantly reminded of the storm that happened before it.”
Gabriella is the pot of gold at the end of Lisa’s rainbow.
To learn more about Julianna Grace Ministry, you may visit: www. juliannagraceministry.weebly.com. You may also visit Calvary Chapel Shreveport at www.ccshreveport.org.