Coping with Grief
We would like to offer our sincere support to anyone coping with grief. Enter your email below for our complimentary daily grief messages. Messages run for up to one year and you can stop at any time. Your email will not be used for any other purpose.
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” Job 1:21 Emmalee Joy McKeown was born in Gastonia, North Carolina, on Friday, September 22, 2023 into the arms of Jesus. The Father graciously gave us the gift of loving, knowing, carrying, and rejoicing over our beloved daughter and sister for 18 weeks in the womb and in our hearts for eternity. Emmalee’s first steps were on holy ground. Her first sight was the face of Jesus. The first sound that she heard was the song of angels. He is the giver of every good and perfect gift and we praise Him for the honor of entrusting us with the gift of Emmalee Joy’s life and death. Our greatest gift, Jesus Christ, is a man of sorrows and acquainted with our grief. Though He cause grief, He will have compassion according to the abundance of His steadfast love. He will give us beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit, so that He may be glorified. Even the darkness is not dark to Him, for darkness is as light with Him. God is the Potter and we are the clay. Every life is created in His image as His perfect masterpiece. The same God who holds our Emmalee Joy has engraved us in the palm of His hand. She was fearfully and wonderfully made, knit together in the womb, and created for His glory. The Lord has fulfilled His purpose for her on this earth. We pray her death will bring many to come to know the saving grace and inexpressible love of Jesus Christ our Lord. Friday, June 23, 2023, we were surprised to find out we were pregnant with our 5th child and our hearts were overwhelmed with joy. Excitement and anticipation filled the weeks to come as we prayed, prepared, and shared the gift of our daughter and baby sister with family and friends. Wednesday, September 20, 2023, we heard the words no parent wants to hear at our 18-week ultrasound. “we can’t find her heartbeat.” God in His perfect faithfulness gave us Job 1:21 in those painful, heartbreaking moments and we clung to His Word like we never had before. The next night we had our family devotion in Luke 22:42 and moved by the Holy Spirit, Caris shared, “Tonight, we are in the garden. Tomorrow we must go to the cross, but Sunday is coming.” We worship and serve a risen Lord and King. Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life. He co-suffers with us. The one who has the Son has life and because of Jesus the best is yet to come. We do not grieve without hope, but with a full assurance that He who promised is faithful. Emma, meaning “whole,” is whole and home in the arms of Jesus. Emma, a reminder of our Emmanuel, God with us, faithfully present through the valley of the shadow of death. Lee, named after Pastor Lee, founder of The Baby Box in Seoul, South Korea, a man full of compassion, gentleness and humility. Also named after her great grandfather, Dr. Frank Lea Butler, of McComb, MS, a devoted servant of the Lord, who walked many families through this same brokenness as a doctor. Joy, for the surprise of her life and the unspeakable eternal joy she now rests in with the Father. Emmalee is preceded in death by her, “Gigi,” Gay Griffith McKeown of Charlotte, NC. She is survived by her Daddy and Mommy, Trey and Courtney McKeown, siblings, Caris Claire, Mikiyas Zion, Addisyn Kathryn, “Addie Kate” and Eliana Elisabeth. She is also survived by her, “Noonie and Pal,” Courtney and Marc Butler of Charlotte, NC, “Granddaddy and Mops,” Mac and Karen McKeown of McConnells, SC, aunts and uncles, Pratt and Ashley Butler of Queretaro, Mexico, Zach and McKinley Butler of Charlotte, NC, Wes Butler of Columbia, SC, Nevin and Cinda McKeown of Fletcher, NC, Jeremy and Mary McKeown of McConnells, SC, and the best cousin crew in the world, Ada, Nolan, Leo, Bennett and Millie Butler, Ian, Audrey Ann, Mark and Lucas McKeown. In addition, she is survived by a community of friends, who have faithfully loved and served our family with humility, kindness, compassion and Christ-like hospitality. Though our hearts grieve, we know He alone can bind up the broken-hearted and bring joy in the mourning. In grief and in glory, still great is His faithfulness. We seek the city that is to come and rejoice this is only the beginning of the story. For the joy, we endure this painful cross because He first endured for us, “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God…For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.” (Hebrews 12:2, 13:14) We know how the story ends. We will be with Him again. He’s our Savior, our defense, no more fear in life or death. To Him belongs eternal praise. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. Behold, He is making all things new! For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be glory forever. Amen. A Celebration of Hope service will be held Saturday, October 28, 2023, at 11am at Stowe Nursery Pond, 1361 Union New Hope Road, Gastonia, NC. We will gather to worship our good and gracious God and share the eternal hope we have through Jesus Christ. Memorial contributions may be made in Emmalee Joy’s honor with the purpose of the advancement of the kingdom to: First ARP Church Gastonia, Korean Designated Fund, PO Box 550545, Gastonia, NC 28055-0545; The Baby Box, Seoul, South Korea, give online at www.godslove.or.kr.