Lessons from our little girl: Aunt Angie’s reflections on life, love, and an unexpected calling

To say that we have been blessed by Angie’s love and presence in the life of our family wouldn’t even begin to scratch the surface. If there was one person I’d change my “5” tattoo into a “6” for, it would be her. She has been present for every high and every low we have walked – from baby showers to funerals, from youth group to small group, from hospitals to hotel rooms, from green rooms to stages, from vacations to Tuesdays. Some of my best laughs and ugliest cries have been with her. She has easily become a welcome fixture on our couch and in our hearts and I couldn’t imagine doing this journey without her.

Many times we’ve prayed that Angie would marry and fulfill the desire of her heart to love and be loved in that type of relationship. We still do. But she would be the first to tell you that a person isn’t defined by their relationship status or their work, but by their Savior and by their heart.

Would we have chosen our stories at first glance — Singleness or Special Needs? Nope.

But looking back, I would choose it again and again. I would stand at the front of the line begging to be Jayden’s and Brooklyn’s mom, and I bet I’d find Angie, standing right next to me begging to be Aunt Ah-gee, too.

Many times we think our plans and timing are best, but when we change our focus, we can see that God has been up to something much better, all along.

Ang, you may not have chosen “Aunt Ah-Gee” over marriage if God dangled them both in front of you 12 years ago, but I am so glad He knew better than to give you a choice back then. We both would have missed watching you live out your purpose for the season J and B were physically present. We all would have missed the blessings.

We should talk about this more, shouldn’t we? Friendships, Plan B, singleness, purpose in pain….

Ang, let’s hit the road!

Seriously though, Angie. Justin and I will always pray for God to find a match for you, but we will also pray, no matter what your relationship status is, that you feel loved, that you know you belong, that you live into your purpose and calling — whatever that is in whatever season you are in — and that you know, deeply and profoundly, you matter to us. We feel honored to be sitting in the front seat to your life just as you have sat in ours.

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Here are Angie’s words from Brooklyn’s service:

The Boyce family came into my life at the impressionable young age of 6. Little did I know then just what an impression they would make. When I met Jut’s sister, Rian, on the playground, I had no idea how that moment would so significantly change my life. God used a simple, yet profound meeting between two first graders, to teach me some of life’s greatest lessons and draw me closer to Him so many years later. I didn’t know, but He did. God knew how that friendship would grow, how Stef would join the family and become like a sister to me, and how it would lead me to one of my greatest callings, Aunt Angie, or Ah-gee as Beeba called me.

To put it simply, I have never met anyone like our sweet and feisty Brooklyn. She could light up the darkest of nights and the saddest of souls. Being in her presence was truly a gift. What I loved about being around her was that she didn’t have any expectations. She didn’t want anything from you; she just wanted you.

Beeba had a way of teaching me that goes beyond any classroom I’ve ever sat in. She was, and still is, the greatest professor in the things that truly matter. 

Like the importance of being present…about showing up even when it’s hard…about living in the moment. There were so many times in her presence that I sat back and thought, “this is what life is all about.” One of those times was just last month – the night before her 9th birthday. Even though it was her birthday, she was the one who gave me the gift…she cuddled with me for a full 20 minutes. And if you know B, you know she rarely sat still long enough for you to steal any snuggles. I didn’t know then that just a few weeks later, she would be in heaven. I’m so thankful I chose to be present in that moment…that I lingered for just a little bit longer. What if we all just lingered for a little bit longer?

Brooklyn also taught me about peace, the kind that passes all understanding. When I was with her, the things of this world didn’t hold much weight. That’s because you could feel the presence of Jesus in her – in her joyous smile, her contagious giggle, in her big, beautiful, blonde hair, and in the sweet medleys she sang. She just had a way about her that drew you in – the goodness, grace, and peace of Jesus all wrapped up in a little girl. 

She also showed me the importance of prioritizing people. Beeba was happiest when surrounded by her family and friends. She didn’t need things; she needed people. Imagine if we all lived like that. Prioritizing people over things. B had it figured out. Community is what matters – we weren’t made to do this life alone. When I look out over this room, I’m in awe of the community that has shown up, not just today, but over the last 9 years. Much of that has to do with the impact Brooklyn made in her short, yet significant life. But it also has to do with the way we’ve been let into this God-inspired story. 

Stef and Jut – Thank you for sharing your children and letting me into the most sacred places of your heart and home. You could’ve locked your doors and closed your blinds and no one would have blamed you. But you let us in so we could all be changed. You’ve led us by example – showing us how to love, how to trust, how to be intentional, how to obey, how to grieve, and how to hope. You have embraced this journey with grace, honesty, and the sincere desire to give God the glory. And that’s exactly what you’ve done. People, some you don’t even know, are closer to God because of the impact your family has had. God could not have chosen better parents for Jayden, Brooklyn, and Ellie.

Ellie – I am so proud of you. I’ve watched you go through this last year with more courage, compassion and wisdom than most people 10 times your age. J & B lucked out when they got you for a sister – and they knew it. You loved them and continue to love them so well. I can already see God using you for big things. And as He does, know that Aunt Angie will always be here for you. And one more thing…as you enter first grade this week, I pray you find a Rian Boyce on the playground.

I want to end with a few lyrics from a song I heard a couple of days after Brooklyn passed. It’s called Living Hope by Phil Wickham. 

“Then came the morning that sealed the promise, 

Your buried body began to breathe, 

Out of the silence, the Roaring Lion, 

Declared the grave has no claim on me. 

Jesus, Yours is the victory!”

I know I’ve referred to Beeba in the past tense, but make no mistake. Brooklyn is alive now more than ever. She is fully restored, walking freely (hopefully with still that cute skip in her step). And she’s talking and singing and pulling J around heaven. And though we know that, we grieve because her physical presence is no longer with us. But we are not ones who grieve without hope. Ours is a Living Hope, and that’s what we’ll cling to until the glorious day we see both J & B again. And until then, being Aunt Ah-gee will always be one of my greatest honors.

3 thoughts on “Lessons from our little girl: Aunt Angie’s reflections on life, love, and an unexpected calling

  1. So beautiful! I did not get to know Brooklyn or Jayden beyond 3 months old, but their lives and the influence of Stef & Jut have lead me to a life following after Jesus… and I am forever grateful!

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  2. This is so beautiful….sitting on the train to work and tears rolling down while thinking about sweet B and J and you all…thanks Stefanie for letting us take part in your grief which has true healing in it…it seems for me so far away that God one day decides that Lea goes home..yet it is always present..allowing me to dive into your grief brings me closer to God in a way I never thought is possible…💕

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  3. Tears for this beautiful life story. Angie. Stephanie, Justin and Ellie, may you continue to be blessed beyond all measure!

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