I looked for answers for so long. But I was looking in the wrong places and in the wrong things.
I wanted to validate my son’s life by making his name great. I wanted to honor him and his life and build a thing that would ensure his life would never be forgotten.
In April of 2015 God quietly whispered to me, “He mattered and matters still…” Even if the world never knows him. Even if a big memorial is never built in his name or a lasting legacy made. He matters.
And less than one week later God gave me the vision for The Morning.
A vision for something so much bigger than me, so much bigger than my son. A vision of hope and joy for those who were hurting. A vision of community for those who suddenly feel absolutely and utterly alone. A vision for everyday help amidst the confusing and jarring journey of grief.
For years after my son died I had been trying to make sense of the pain and the suffering and the longing. To validate the hurt with a bigger reason. And I missed one of the beautiful purposes of suffering:
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”
1 Corinthians 1:3-4
Though my pain is real and my son of great value and our story of significance, this is not about me and this is not about my son. This is about God–the creator and giver of all comfort. My pain is in fact not without purpose. But the purpose isn’t to build a legacy in remembrance of my son; the purpose is far deeper and more significant than my own loss. As God has comforted me in my deepest affliction, I am now called to comfort others with that same comfort, that same grace, that same joy, that same message of hope.
“…that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.”
1 Thessalonians 4:13
HOW IT BEGAN
God has been planting seeds of this vision since August of 2011 when I shared my story of loss at the first Stationery Academy (now Society for Creative Founders), Whitney English pulled me aside and asked “have you ever considered doing something with your story…”
That question lead to the sweetest brainstorming session while sitting on a Florida beach with 3 women I had only met days before; the loveliest of ladies who I will forever treasure. Amber, Amber & Courtney, you will never know what your friendship and encouragement meant to me. I do not think for a single moment that our meeting was happenstance.
For the next few years I would fumble my way through what I thought was God’s answer to that original question, the AadenSage shop opened and closed and opened again, but there was never peace about that specific direction so in the end it closed for good. In October of 2013, God spoke through Shay Cochrane on Aaden’s 5th birthday with the idea to start the AadenSage Birthday Project – a powerful project sending reminders to parents that their loss, their baby, is forever loved and never forgotten.
I felt very strongly that God was calling me to pursue the idea of helping mamas who were hurting but beyond the AadenSage Birthday Project I had no idea of what that looked like practically, so in January 2015 I began praying specifically for direction, for wisdom and for God to just tell me what in the world He wanted me to do, if anything.
In April I felt God say this isn’t about Aaden. And then a week later at the Inspired Retreat I had the most powerful and helpful and meaningful and embarrassingly weepy conversation with Samantha Shepherd from Studio Calico. She said “Ashlee, what do these women need most when facing such loss?” My answer is to question is what will be The Morning. A place for hope. A place for help. A place for community.
And lastly in July of of 2015 I sent a desperate email to Emily Ley saying “this is what I think I’m supposed to do, what do you think…” and the sweetest text message ever came in response: “DO IT!!!!!!!!!”
So I did. Not without hours and hours and hours and hours of prayer. Not without much wisdom seeking from those much wiser than myself. And not without plenty of tears and heartbreak as I walked through the pain of loss with women I love dearly.
None of this was ever my own doing. God used incredibly wise and talented women to bring this vision to life. Whitney, Amber, Amber, Courtney, Shay, Samantha & Emily – I am forever grateful for you and the role you have played in my life and the role you have played in bringing hope to the broken.
THE MORNING IS DEDICATED TO:
Aaden Sage Proffitt
Anna Rose Kelty and her mama, Kate Kelty
Grace Evangeline Young and her mama, Heather Young
Kinley Rose Compton and her mama, Jessy Compton
Sarah Beth Sandel
and all the women who have written me asking me how to love well their friends who were hurting. Thank you for coming alongside your friend who is hurting, for not shying away from the depths of pain and for the desire to love well the one who is hurting.