Celebrating Ariel’s Life

Ariel Joy Yoder

December 27, 2012 – April 25, 2014


The death of a loved one stops us in our tracks and makes us think about our own mortality.  But there is something extra sobering about the death of a child. They are not suppose to die before they have had a chance to live life to its fullest.

Yesterday we celebrated the short life of Ariel Joy who died from SMA-Type 1  (Werdnig-Hoffman Disease).  In 16 months she  had shyly charmed her way into many hearts. She couldn’t speak except to utter a few noises but she could smile.  Her huge brown eyes would connect with the person talking to her for a few seconds as she flashed a big, wide smile.  Then very quickly she would drop her gaze as she glanced to the side. It was sweet, demure, bashful and charming.  If you wanted one of those precious smiles you had to drop to her level and look her in the eye.


Ariel and Grandma Yoder


She left behind no wealth, no words of wisdom, and no achievements.  She never said a bad word, fed herself, or learned to walk. She was never able to approach people, they had to come to her.  She left her legacy: joy in the form of  her smiles, lot of smiles, and the quiet presence of a life she struggled to live.

Ariel was loved.  Her two brothers adorned their little sister and her parents faithfully and without any complaint attended to her every need.  Ariel went to church and she was told about Jesus and His love for her. She was prayed for by her family, extended family, church family, friends and friends of friends who fervently hoped and longed for a miracle of healing.

Ariel lost her fight to live on earth but she gained heaven’s victory. SMA is a cruel disease rubbing the body of the ability to move and grow. At 16 months she weighed a mere 10-1/2 lbs. But now she is fully and wholly free and perfectly healed.  She can sing and dance, run and jump. She is celebrating life to the fullest in the presence of Jesus.

And so it causes me once again to pause and think. I think about life and what it means, I think about the finality of death and infinity of eternity.  I think about choices and our ability to choose in life where we will spend eternity. At the moment of death there is no second chance, no coming back, no opportunity to change my mind. Regardless of the allotted years, I will have had my chance at life.

The last weeks had become an increasing struggle for Ariel. Breathing and eating became more difficult and she had several choking episodes. She started running a fever and about 1:30 on Friday morning Cheryl got her and put her between them in bed. At six when they awoke she was gone.  We don’t know all that happens at death but God’s Word gives us nuggets of information, treasures that bring peace to our minds and understanding to our hearts.  Sometimes the veil between earth and heaven is briefly lifted for someone who comes back from death and we have their testimony of life on the other side.

We know that we have guardian angels and that they do the bidding of our Heavenly Father. (Psalms 91:11) We know they come at the time of death and carry us to heaven (Luke 16:22). I envision excitement in heaven as the order was given to go and get little Ariel.  Heaven paid a visit to 7300 Kathydale Rd. The angels knew exactly where to go and went with haste. Did they lovingly caress Jeremy and Cheryl as they slept and kiss them on the cheek as they gently cradled Ariel’s spirit to take her home to Jesus?  Were six little cousins* and other extended family members summoned to the pearly gates to welcome her home?

Psalms 116:15 says “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.”   As we laid to rest little Ariel we celebrated her short, sweet, innocent life not only with tears of loss and sorrow but also with tears of joy and release.

At the close of the memorial service the rafters in the Church of Baltimore rang as we sang with passion “I Know That My Redeemer Liveth” by Jessie B. Pounds.

I know that my Redeemer liveth,
And on the earth again shall stand;
I know eternal life He giveth,
That grace and power are in His hand.


I know, I know, that Jesus liveth,
And on the earth again shall stand;
I know, I know, that life He giveth,
That grace and power are in His hand.

I know His promise never faileth,
The Word He speaks, it cannot die;
Though cruel death my flesh assaileth,
Yet I shall see Him by and by.


I know my mansion He prepareth,
That where He is there I may be;
O wondrous thought, for me He careth,
And He at last will come for me.


*Note: There have been numerous miscarriages in the family and Ariel’s little cousin Truman died two years ago from the same disease. Someday I will write about our two children who also died of the same disease.

Ariel Joy (About her struggle to live in the last weeks)

The Life of Truman

How Truman Touched Our Lives 



  1. mabel Powell Said:

    What a beautiful testimony of love and faith!

    • AudreyJoannCoggins Said:

      yes, just a beautiful testimony.it saddens me,but the little Ariel is
      at peace Amen!

  2. Polly Yoder Said:

    Pat thank you so much for writing this post. This evening as we gathered here as a family are hearts ached for our dear little Ariel. We also rejoice that she is in heaven and celebrate the goodness of our God.
    Thanks again, Ariel’s Grandma Polly

  3. Emily l h Said:

    Thank you, thank you, Pat. Your words encompassed so much. God is using you and what you’ve been through to minister to others for sure.

  4. June Flory Said:

    Oh Pat, Your love and compassion and knowledge tugs at my heart. I could not agree with you more. Everything you say about Ariel’s journey touches the cords within me as I also think of our son Justin. He never knew Ariel but he knew Jeremy. Was he one of the family waiting to welcome this darling into Heaven? I can only imagine the reunion that is waiting each of God’s chosen. What a day to look forward to.

  5. Reba Hewitt Said:

    what a beautiful testimony, she is healed and very much alive

  6. Harvey Yoder Said:

    What a sweet child, a great-grandniece of my wife’s. Could I post her picture on my blog. You can respond at harvyoder@gmailcom. I would of course provide a link to your blog.

    • Pat Said:

      You sure may. Pat

  7. Linda Burkholder Said:

    Such a sweet, beautiful, precious little girl! We are so very sorry for your loss but rejoicing with you in heaven’s gain! Our love and prayers are with you and yours during this difficult time in your lives. Love, Dwight and Linda Date: Mon, 28 Apr 2014 22:56:57 +0000 To: dlsburk@hotmail.com

  8. Sherry Wroten Said:

    Polly, I am now learning about the loss of Jeremy’s/Cheryl’s little girl. It certainly is god’s gain. I learned today in church it is ok to cry and grieve but along with that is the everlasting hope of the love of the lord. I have missed you and your family. I remain confident in god’s love to deliver my daughter Brittany from her addictions. She is now married and the mother of 2 children. Bentley-2yrs. old and Brystol -3months old. My faith has gotten stronger day after day and remember you telling me something years ago about my daughter to let her go and let god have her. I will be always grateful for that bit of godly wisdom. I will continue to pray for your family. Please tell Mark hello and thanks for all the blessings I received working at Country Rest Home.

    Sherry Davis Wroten

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