A Jewel on Loan

Today would have been Susannah’s 6th birthday. As a little background, it seems appropriate to share the story. Nathan and Melanie, my oldest brother and his wife, married in January 2002. Although they desired children, it was four and a half years after their marriage before they received the happy news in September 2006 that Melanie was expecting.

Early in February of 2007, contractions were no longer occasional, and they picked up in intensity, causing Nathan and Melanie to make a late-night trip to the hospital, where doctors stopped the labor with medication. Melanie went on bed rest, and we praised the Lord for each day little Thumper could stay in the womb. Susannah earned the nickname Thumper for how active she was. Day after day went by, with continued contractions. Finally, on the evening of March 20th, contractions kicked in for real. The baby had already been given shots to help develop her lungs. At the hospital, labor progressed well. Doctors monitored the baby, and she was doing great. A little after 5 a.m., on March 21st, Susannah Joy Maxwell was born! But, our joy quickly turned to concern, since she didn’t move or open her eyes. Something was wrong. We prayed, and we waited. Hour after hour went by with no change.

Nathan and Melanie were courageous. They kept their focus on the Lord. We visited Susannah in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Mom was already with Nathan and Melanie. Susannah was gorgeous: dark hair, a precious countenance, delicate features, and so perfectly made by an incredible Creator.

Susannah lived three days before slipping into the arms of our Savior. Tears flowed like never before as we mourned our temporary separation and the reality of not having her here with us. The longed-for-jewel crossed the river, Revelation 22:1, “And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.” What a welcome she must have had in Heaven!

As we remember Susannah, I also remember another family who lost their baby, Spring, at that same time. Over the years of traveling, we have met families who have lost children. Their testimonies of trusting the Lord is incredible.

If you want to watch Susannah’s slideshow of pictures, please see this link. Be prepared though. I was in tears myself after watching it.


Parents, please, treasure every moment with your children. Are you giving your all to raise them for the Lord Jesus? Are you setting aside your desires and pleasures to prepare young people who will be dynamic, on-fire-for-Jesus Christians?

Give your precious little ones an extra hug and a kiss today.

In the mist of the pain, God gives a song in the night: “…joy cometh in the morning.”

Only five months later, Miss Abigail was on the way. Now, with a growing family, Nathan and Melanie make Susannah’s birthday a special time of remembering and allowing their girls to know their older sister.


“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”
Revelation 21:4

25 thoughts on “A Jewel on Loan”

  1. She was a beauty, and rightfully named. We also went 4 years without being able to conceive, were overjoyed with our pregnancy, but it ended in emergency surgery as an ectopic. Eight months later, I found out I was pregnant again, and now we have 4 wonderful children. God is good through happy and sad. (((hugs))) for Nathan, Melanie, and all the family who experienced the loss of this sweet baby girl. She cannot come to you, but you can go to her! PTL!

  2. So, precious. And, yes, watching the slideshow again, as I did 6 years ago, brings tears. I, too, know the loss of a child (both stillborn and miscarriage), but also know the joy of being blessed w/ 7 healthy, growing children.

  3. Yes, it brings tears. My baby boy would be 7 now. …….The Lord giveth and The Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of The Lord. Job 1:21

  4. I still remember being at the site when Nathan and Melanie married, the waiting, and the joy over the pregnancy, and then the loss of Susannah. I was blessed and encouraged, strengthened and challenged, by their trust and faith in God during that time. I also often use the story of the years of waiting following by the years of the blessings of children as an illustration of the fact that it is God who opens and closes the womb.

  5. Life is so precious. It’s wonderful that you all pay tribute each year on Susannah Joy’s birthday. She truly is an integral part of your family, and it’s a blessing to remember and even to grieve again. Grief often makes us more aware of our need to be grateful for the blessings we so often take for granted. It also reminds us of God’s grace and faithfulness during our time of need. We lost our own first son, Andrew John, 17 years ago on March 15. He came prematurely and was perfect, but his lungs were not developed enough for him to survive. The grief was still very fresh last week as we remembered his short but sweet life. This was before the days of blogs, so we wrote a letter to family and friends to tell Andrew’s story. God used the story of our suffering to comfort other hurting parents–we were told that copies of the letter had made it around the world to a missionary couple suffering the loss of their baby, as well. God was so gracious–only two months later we found out we were expecting again. After we found out it was a boy, God gave my husband the name Zachary, and we later found out it means “God has remembered.” How fitting. Over the years, we have had two more losses but God has blessed us with five children, ages 7-16, and we are so humbled that He would entrust them to us for a time. They talk about their brother Andrew and miss what they would have had with him. They mark his birthday in some way each year, often with a visit to his grave. It’s important that they understand God’s sovereignty in our lives, though sometimes difficult, and that all life is valuable. God bless and thank you for this post. Praying for you all today.

  6. What a beautiful tribute to your niece! May God bless and comfort Nathan and Melanie as they remember little Susannah Joy.

  7. What a heartbreaking, but sweet message. You’re a beautiful writer, Sarah. I admire your faith that your family will be reunited with Susannah in Heaven. Kind thoughts and prayers are with you.

  8. What a wonderful tribute to a beloved family member. I am so sorry she was not able to stay. Faith is a wonderful thing to know where she is now must bring so much comfort.

    Our darling twin girls were born at 23 weeks and I am happy to say are now happy healthy girls at home. Throughout the harrowing 17 weeks in the NICU and SCU the faith in our Saviour brought us some much needed support.
    I know the feeling of loss though as our next baby was called home before he took his first breath here on earth.

    May the Lord comfort you all today and may the memories of your precious daughter/sister/neice and granddaughter bring you all closer together.

    Sending you all prayers

  9. Sweet memories of a beautiful little girl! May the Lord continue to heal your hearts from this loss. Rejoicing with you that you all will be reunited in Heaven!

  10. I am so sorry for your familys loss. I was and am blessed by their faith-I still remember seeing her precious pictures 6 years ago. Susannah is just beautiful!! We lost our baby boy at 4 1/2 months old 18 months ago(October 2011). He spent the first 7 weeks of his life in the ICU and then came home for 3 months before the Lord called him home. He was our 12th child. I was wondering if you would be able to share what they do on Susannahs birthday to make it special. Thank you!

  11. Thanks for the reminder. How we prayed for you all during that time. It was a blessing to see how through tears God got the glory through this difficult time. How much sweeter Heaven will be when we are together with those who have gone on before us. God bless. Thanks for your ministry. It has been a blessing to our family!
    ~The S. Family

  12. She was beautiful. I like to see the memories you put on the blog for her on her birthday. We have friends who lost two little ones through miscarriage and stillborn, then they lost their one-year-old son last year! It was very painful. They now have a healthy baby boy.

    May God comfort you in your sorrow and joy.


    “Say the Name, Say the Name that soothes the soul,
    The Name of gentle healing and peace immutable;
    Say the Name that has heard my cry, Has seen my
    tears and wiped them dry, from now until the end
    of time, I’ll say the Name.
    From now until the end of time, Say the Name.”
    -Margaret Becker

  13. What sweet sorrow. I too am sorry for your loss and look forward to Jesus’ return where we’ll all be united again.

  14. Such an beautiful tribute to a darling little girl.

    We love you all and pray for safe travels for you.

    Q.: Are there any conferences in Oklahoma in the works?

    In Christ,

    Nothing in OK so far.

  15. Such a beautiful baby girl! This post is such a good and sobering reminder not only for parents but also siblings. Thank you!

  16. Safe in the arms of Jesus…

    May that be your comfort in the coming days. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

    Sarah, you wrote a beautiful tribute to your little niece!

  17. I remember Susannah very well. Later that year our daughter gave birth to preterm twins. Will came out pink and screaming and after an uneventful 22d stay in the NICU, he came home to his waiting family. His sister had multiple anomalies that we had been aware of for many weeks. Lila spent am hour and a half in her parents’ arms, knowing only love, before she returned to her

    The most important thing I’ve learned is that grief takes as long as it takes. No time is too short or too long. It’s been 5.5 years, and only in the last few months have there been some days that I have not shed at least a few tears.

  18. Such a sweet post and tribute to Baby Susannah. Prayers for Nathan, Melanie, and all the family.
    Love, Mrs. Patti

  19. What a darling girl. I know she’s in our Father’s tender care. Thank you, for sharing such a beautiful post.
    Blessings to you all.

  20. This sweet post brought so many emotions to me. Last year we had our first born at 6 months, and spent 2 months with him in the NICU then 3 more months on a monitor at home. My heart aches for your brother an sister! We are praying for them! Susannah was a beautiful little girl! God Bless!
    What a road you traveled!

  21. I think it is a real testament that your family has unwavering faith- when a truly devastating thing happens, like the loss of a baby, it would be so easy to fall into the “why is this happening” and “why me?” way of thinking, but instead of falling into that way of thinking, you are able to rest in the knowledge that God is in control and has a plan. That is a good lesson for all of us.
    Although losing that precious child must have been the hardest thing to bear, I admire that instead of focusing on the pain, you are rejoicing in Susannah being with our savior.
    Thank you. God is good, all the time.

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