Ryleigh Payne — An Angel Returns Home


Ask children if God exists and you’ll get unanimous affirmation. Children don’t question this because it’s so obvious to them. Why is this? It’s because children are naturally attuned to God and the Angels. Jesus said, “Suffer little children to come to me,for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to these.” It’s not until we grow older, where the world has had the time to sink its claws into us, that we begin to doubt this.

I’ve pulled the last 24 years of incarceration with the daily fear that I will lose those I love. All around me, every week of every month of every year, I watch the devastating effects loss has on guys serving time–the loss of a mother or father, even a brother or a sister–and I have hugged and cried with them so many times. In the grief of others I have confronted my own fears.

However, one type of loss is felt above all others. It’s the loss of one’s child. Especially a child as young as Ryleigh Payne, born December 16, 2010 and called home by the Lord on March 22, 2019. Ryleigh fell sick, and even in today’s modern world, our best doctors and our best medicines sometimes aren’t enough. Who can still the hand of the Lord? We are humbled before Him.


For years I asked myself, “Why does the Lord allow these things to happen?” And through these years of incarceration I have found the answer. Through our loss and grief, the Lord allows us to grow as His Children. Through our pain and sufferings we discover our humanity, and through the grief of others we discover ourselves. In the end, our discovery and understanding brings us closer to God. This is all that He wants, for us to come to know Him for that is all that matters in life.

In His wisdom we are yet again humbled.

Today is Ryleigh’s 9th birthday. It’s no coincidence that this wonderful little girl found her way into my life. And, it’s no coincidence that I post weekly posts on Mondays, and that today just so happens to be her birthday and a Monday.


The Lord works behind the scene in all of our lives. It’s easy for us to miss this, but if you seek Him, you will find him and you will see His hand at work. Through Ryleigh the Lord has reminded us that we are His children, and that all of us will return home to Him someday. I am honored to commemorate the life of Ryleigh before friends, and the many of you around the world who will read this post.

Ryleigh Payne is the daughter of Arianne Payne and James Carver Jr. She leaves behind her sister and brother, Paige and Jareyn Payne. Ryleigh loved soft music, and her favorite song was “Man In the Mirror.” Will you not listen to this song now? It’s no coincidence that she loved this song, and through Ryleigh’s brief journey, the world is reminded that our journey to God begins with ourselves.

Thank you Ryleigh for blessing us one last time.


*The images in this post were taken as my friend here painted this portrait of Ryleigh for her family. Please share this post with everyone.


6 thoughts on “Ryleigh Payne — An Angel Returns Home

    1. Bev Myers

      The commissioned artist is a dear friend. Thank you for sharing your gift in celebration of the life of this precious precious little one❤️

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