Deeper Still.

With Ian at his high school graduation four years ago.

With Ian at his high school graduation four years ago.

Today is a good day. Today, Mom, Dad, Stephen, Emily and I pile into a car to meet my extended family in South Carolina to watch my twin baby cousins graduate from high school.

At least, they were babies yesterday. They just love it when I remind them of that.

I ADORE my family, and I’m thrilled to get to celebrate with them.

The thing is, it’s the first time that my family has been able to all travel in a five passenger car…well, in a long, long time. And I just can’t stand the fact that we’ll fit.

Tomorrow won’t be a good day. Tomorrow, I will attend NC State’s graduation ceremony. I’ll watch thousands of bright-eyed college students in red caps and gowns eagerly walk across a stage to receive the diplomas that they’ve worked so hard for. They’ll flip their tassels and throw their caps in the air and boldly step into a waiting world to make a splash.

Ian was supposed to be with them. He was so excited to graduate.

But my little brother won’t walk across the stage tomorrow. There is no red gown for him. There will be no over-the-top graduation party, no first “real” job—he’ll never even get to hold the diploma that he worked so hard for. Instead, tomorrow amidst the pomp and circumstance, I will watch the dean hand Ian’s diploma to my Mom and Dad.

Can I be honest? I think it sucks. It’s sad and it sucks and I hate it and I miss my little brother.

I think a lot about grief lately. Corrie Ten Boom once remarked that, “ There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still.”  Deeper still. The thing that nobody tells you about loss is that the initial loss of losing your little brother is only the beginning. There will be relentless waves of loss for the rest of your life that beat and overwhelm until hope seems like nothing more than a morphine-induced hallucination. Eleven groomsmen where twelve should have stood. A graduation gown that will go unworn. Twenty-two birthday candles on a July day that will not be blown out. Five in a family of six driving to South Carolina.

There are always new depths to grief-each heart-wrenching discovery met with an impossibly exhausted cry of not this too! Please, no more. No more.  But unyielding waves of loss will crash over and over again for the rest of our lives, each one a suffocating reminder that all is not as it should be. And it won’t be okay until heaven.

The promise, though, is not that it will be okay. [Because goodness, it isn’t.] The promise is that in Christ, there is always, always hope for the hopeless and new mercy for each new wave. And for each new wave that crashes, each new depth of grief discovered, there is a love that is deeper still.

Today, I am thankful for the promise of  “deeper still”.


  1. Kierstin Devers says:

    Ashley, I am a member of the Summit Church, and although we have never met, I truly enjoying reading your blog. Please know, that my husband and family are praying for you and your family during this difficult time. Also, you are such an encouragement to young women who are striving to live a life in Christ! Thank you for sharing this!

    • Kierstin, thank you so much for praying for my family! We’re really grateful. :) And thanks for your encouragement! I’d love to meet you in person some weekend that I’m back home. :)

  2. I am also a staff kid. Living in Texas. My heart goes out to you, I can’t imagine what your going through. I just love the way you are so raw and real and so open in your posts. God is using you for beautiful things. Thank you for posting, even when I’m sure it’s hard to type it all down.

    • :) You know, strangely it’s most often therapeutic instead of difficult, Thank you for being so encouraging–while I know that God is using Ian’s death for good, it’s really helpful to get to hear from people that see pieces of it. I can’t, all the time. So thank you. :)

  3. Hi Ashley! I am a friend of Kellan’s from CpR in Maryland from way back when and I’ve been following your blog since you were in Senegal… so sad to read of Ian’s death. I have been praying for your family and rejoiced to see your wedding pics on fb (um, in the least stalkerish way!). Kellan rocks and I know you do too :-). And I just love your writing. If you are in Portland sometime pleeeease come have dinner in my hobbit house! Hugs to you and K.

    • Hi Emily! I totally remember you. :) Thanks for praying for my family–K and I would LOVE to come have dinner at your hobbit house if we’re ever in Portland! One of my very best friends lives there so it’s likely we’ll make our way that direction some time. :) I hope you’re doing well!

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