I was Alexandra’s Bible study leader back in college through our sorority. I’m pretty sure I learned more from her and the other girls in that Bible Study than they did from me. I wasn’t particular qualified to lead anyone at that time in my life. But I digress…
Alexandra was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky. She is married to Anthony who she met at a church function in the summer of 2012. They dated long distance for a little over a year before Anthony moved from Minneapolis to Louisville for his bride. Alexandra explains that aside from their relationship with Jesus, family is most important to them.
Please tell me about your children. How old are they? What are their names? What are you most proud of them for?
My little girl’s name is Anna Cate, and she would have been about 16 months old now. Anna is my heavenly baby. She was born at 39 weeks and 6 days already in the arms of Jesus. Anna’s full name is Anna Catherine. Anna means “grace” and Catherine means “pure.” Anna Cate was both full of grace, and more pure than anything or anyone I have ever met in my life. I am most proud of my Anna girl for following after the Lord’s perfect plan for her life by humbling herself and saying, “Lord, I will go with You even if it means that I don’t get to meet my mommy and daddy. I’ll go with You because I accept the plan you have for my life. I want to please You, so I will go, Lord!” Because of Anna’s choice, I am constantly reminded to have faith like a child.
Charles John “Charlie” Chiles is my little boy, and he is almost four months old. What a joy and delight he is! Charlie has brought so much healing not only to Anthony and me, but also to our entire family in his short life. I didn’t realize how much my heart needed his bright, toothless smile, his gentle cuddles, and his love for me. I love watching him experience new things because he sits and stares so intently and curiously. I am proud of him for how sweet and kind he is. Charlie always smiles at others, and I know it brightens their day as much as it does mine. His middle name means, “Jehovah has been gracious,” and words have never been truer. Jesus knew exactly what He was doing when He gave us the gift of our Charlie boy.
What has been the hardest thing about being a mother?
The hardest thing about being a mother is knowing that my family will never feel complete. When we go out with Charlie and people ask us if he is our first baby, we have to carefully and quickly survey the situation to see if it’s even worth letting them know about our first baby. That is actually quite painful because when I just go with the flow of the conversation and I don’t acknowledge Anna Cate I then feel like a terrible mother. It is tough that we even have to feel the need to survey a conversation to know whether or not we can talk about our girl.
The next hardest part about being a mother for me has been not feeling adequate enough. I find that I try my hardest to be a perfectionist and in control. I have to be reminded daily that I am not the one in control but Jesus is, and I don’t have to be perfect. Do I listen every day? No, I do not. Those are two things that The Lord is still working on with me.
Another hard thing about being a mother is my struggle with patience. After Anna Cate passed away, I longed for Heaven so I could see her again. I wanted that day to come sooner rather than later because my arms ached to hold my girl. Patience also played a big part in the months between Anna Cate passing and Charlie being born. I had to have patience about waiting until I could get pregnant again, and patience while I was pregnant with Charlie. Since Charlie was born, I have realized again that I have very little patience. The Lord has been working with me the last few weeks letting me know that I need more patience.
What is the best thing about being a mother?
The best thing about being a mother to Charlie is receiving smiles from him and hearing him giggle. I LOVE it when I go get him in the morning after he has woken up and he flashes his huge, toothless grin at me. It literally melts my entire heart. This may sound cliché, but another great part about being a mom is that I have a deeper understanding of how much Jesus loves us. I would do anything and everything for Charlie, and Jesus will do that and more for us. I love reading Jesus stories to Charlie at bedtime. He usually just lays there and listens so intently. I am excited to see how The Lord will use him to further His kingdom.
It is hard to say what the best thing about being Anna Cate’s mother is since the only time I had to mother her was the nine months she was in my womb. I felt that all I was good for as a mother was to simply carry a baby and let her go back to God. I feared that was my calling as a mom. I will say though, some of the best things about being her mom are the lessons I have learned through her death.
How did the Lord feel near to you in your grief and mourning?
The night that we found out Anna Cate’s heart was no longer beating, my mom left the hospital to get a few things from my house to bring to me. While she was at my home, she opened a Bible that I had sitting on Anna Cate’s dresser. She sent me a picture of a Bible verse I had written down, Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him and he shall direct thy paths.” I was full of my own understanding for a long time after Anna Cate died. It took me a while to realize that God was in the eye of my storm. I recently heard a sermon where the preacher was talking about a storm and how God is in the middle of it all. All you need to do it pass through the storm, keeping your eye on Him! Through losing Anna Cate, I gained an understanding of what peace which passes all understanding means. People have told me that Anthony and I have been so strong after going through something that was so tragic, but I would be remiss if I didn’t tell them that the only reason for our strength is because of His Peace. How gracious and merciful is Jesus to give us, people who are truly unworthy, unfathomable peace.
When you first lost Anna Cate was there any particular thing (song, book, verse, piece of advice, etc.) that helped you to continue to wake up every morning and get out of bed?
There are so many songs that I listened to after Anna Cate was born! Music is a tool through which I have found healing in my grief. The song “Through the Fire” by the Crabb Family was basically on repeat. Part of the chorus is, “He never promised that the cross would not get heavy and the hill would not be hard to climb. He never offered us victories without our fighting, but He said help would always come in time.” Yes, the burden was the heaviest I have ever felt after Anna Cate died, but Jesus was always there to help bear that burden for me.
Another song that helped me was “For Your Glory” by Tasha Cobbs. The first time Anthony and I went to the cemetery to visit Anna Cate after she died, this song came up randomly on my phone. The lyrics are, “Lord, if I Find favor in Your sight, Lord please, hear my heart’s cry. I’m desperately waiting to be where You are. I’ll cross the hottest desert, I’ll travel near or far, for Your Glory.” When I listened to the song at the time, I wept because I was thinking that Anna Cate was singing those words before she died. It is my belief that she made a choice to leave this life before entering it, and I think the words in that song explain that best.
What are you most looking forward to about Heaven?
I am first of all looking forward to spending eternity with Jesus. Second of all, I am looking forward to being with my girl again, and for our family to have the opportunity to be complete.