Amanda was excited as she prepared for her wedding day. Like any bride, she knew it would be one of the best days of her life. But as the big day approached, it couldn't help but remind her of one of the worst days of her life — the day she lost her 6-year-old daughter, Azalee, to cancer.
"[Azalee] was the most amazing soul I ever had the pleasure of coming in contact with,” Amanda told The Huffington Post. “She was a special soul. She'd say her prayers at night and pray for all the other little kids in the world. We spent every minute together.”
A Little Fighter
The sweet girl was diagnosed with neuroblastoma the day before she turned 5, and she spent the following year fighting for her life. When God called Azalee home, it was extremely difficult for the single mom and Azalee's younger brother. So, one year later, Amanda knew it was a blessing to meet her future husband, Chip. She says,
"I know without a shadow of doubt that Azalee brought us together. He just welcomed my broken heart with open arms.”
Because Azalee wouldn't be there in person to see her mom walk down the aisle, Amanda had planned several tributes to honor her memory. But as it turns out, God had a special plan for making sure the bride knew her little girl was truly there in Spirit!
Amanda asked her best friend and photographer, Ashley Frantz, to take the photos on the big day. The two decided they would also take a few shots to include Azalee. The results were absolutely touching.
The photo shoot was special for Amanda's best friend as well. Ashley says, "It was such an honor to be able to do this for her and I’m so thankful God has given me a talent that I can use to make broken hearts just a tad less broken."
Ashley also had a beautiful way of incorporating Azalee into Amanda's wedding dress. According to Ashley, Azalee was known for being "quite the little artist," and she frequently drew pictures for the people she loved. And so, Ashley took one of Azalee's drawings and had it sewn onto the back of the dress.
Amanda was thrilled by all of the special touches throughout the wedding that honored Azalee. But an unexpected answer to a prayer became the most special moment of all.
A Sign From Heaven
Amanda and Chip had decided to release butterflies during the ceremony as a way to represent the free spirit of Azalee.
“I prayed for signs for days and days — girl just let me know you're there with me,” Amanda says.
And God did just that. As the sky filled with the fluttering of beautiful wings, one butterfly stayed behind. It perched upon Amanda, close to her heart, and the touching moment provoked a heart-wrenching cry from the bride, groom and entire congregation. Thankfully, Ashley was there with her camera to capture the beautiful moment.
Ashley posted the photos and touching details on Facebook, where the incredible story has gone viral. And, what a beautiful reminder that our loved ones are not lost, but just waiting for us to join them in Heaven!
"Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going." John 14:1-4
A sign from God saved this man’s life, LITERALLY!