Saturday, September 22, 2012


Yesterday was an amazing day for so many different reasons.  We had the joy of spending the afternoon with so many amazing people celebrating our little Hayes' life.  The outpouring of support that we have received from so many different avenues has been nothing short of amazing!  It is another reminder of the fact of how God can take something as horrific as losing a child a second time and turn it into an amazing and joyful celebration!

For those of you who were not able to attend or watch it online yesterday it is going to be on our church website under the series archives in about two weeks.  If you go to and look under the media tab you will find the series archives.  It will probably be labeled as the "memorial service for Hayes Jackson Kelly".  I will post something when it is actually available.

It has been a little bit since my last post and I have been sitting back looking over the events of the last month in the last couple of days.  This road that we are now is one that I would have never chosen to be on, but as we are continuing down it I am struck by what God is doing as a result.  There are so many things that I could share where I can say I see the hand of God working through Jack and Hayes' lives, and I will as time continues to go on, but I want to focus on a couple of aspects with this post.

As I spoke yesterday at Hayes' service I kept coming back to hope and the anchor of my soul.  Without the deep rooted and real hope that my wife and I have, we would not be able to function much less praise God in the midst of this storm.  There have been many that have said how they are in awe of how we are handling these losses, but I constantly say back that there is nothing special in us whatsoever!  The thing that is getting us through and giving us the strength is nothing other than the grace and power of Jesus Christ.

It may seem like I continue to go back to talking about Jesus and essentially preaching through these post, and that is a pretty fair assessment of my blog. :)  It is all about Jesus!  I am making the point to point out to any person that ever reads this blog that the anchor and hope that so many seem to be looking for in this life is found only through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.  This is not just a religion to me or a crutch that I am falling back on to get me through this time in our life.  It is an anchor that is rooted so deep in my soul that I do not have any other choice but to share it.

I made the point to mention yesterday that the theme that had arisen over the last few weeks since Hayes' passing was the idea of hope.  The fact that there is a hope for anyone who needs it if they will only turn to the one who offers that hope.  This was brought home and into focus through a sermon from Louie Giglio that was recommended we watch.  I would highly recommend to all of you to watch this message.  It can be found on Youtube by looking up Louie Giglio and the title is called Hope.  It is broke up into 10 small videos and it is a phenomenal message!  It really takes what Jess and I have been feeling and expresses exactly where we are right now.

I want to give you the big idea of what that is, and wanted to make sure I gave proper credit for some of what I have to say.  The big idea is that no matter who you are, or where you find yourself in life, you are going to have trouble at some point.  I am not talking about little trouble like you lose your keys, get a speeding ticket, or you just have a bad day.  I am talking about big all caps TROUBLE!  I am talking about the kind of trouble that completely turns your life upside down, such as losing a child.  It could be losing a loved one, being told you have cancer, your spouse is leaving you, losing your job with nothing on the horizon to replace it, or anything that comes and is so seemingly insurmountable that you do not know what to do or where to turn.  It is in those moments of life the question arises asking what do I do?

There is only one way to get through those moments of life.  It is at that moment you find out if the foundation you have built your life on is on the rock, or if the foundation of your life is built on the sand and is washing away from underneath you.  I can feel God speaking to me that some of you reading this find yourself in the position where everything you have built your life on is literally seeming to wash away from below you.  I am here to tell you that there is only one foundation that your life can be built on that will not wash away when trouble comes.  That is as it is described in Psalms 118 the chief cornerstone, which is Jesus Christ.  These kinds of trouble are going to come at you and the question is how are you going to handle them.  There are so many in this world that are searching for that answer and I am here to say I have found it beyond a shadow of a doubt!

The one thing I want to say is just because a person turns to Jesus doesn't mean all trouble is going to go away, because as my family is a testament to it does not.  Trouble is going to come regardless of you being a Christian or not, but how you get through it is going to hinge on Christ.  There are those that will read this and probably say I have made it through the troubles in my life okay without Jesus and I don't think I need Him.  I am here to tell you, yes, that may be the case now but I can guarantee there will more than likely be an event that will challenge that assumption at some point in your life.  I pray that when those times do come you will be able to stop, look back, and remember that there is a HOPE in Christ, and that you will turn to Him.

I would ask at this point that you do not wait until those big trials and tribulations come to turn to Christ, but I would ask that you turn to Him now.  God has been so good to my family even in the midst of losing two of our boys.  I know I am going to see my boys again!!  I can see how God is taking what was totally meant for evil in the loss of our boys and turning it into something beautiful!  The same hope and anchor that my wife and I have holding us steady is available to you.  It is a free gift that is there for you if only you will receive it.  I pray that you will do that today!  I will close with the words of Jesus from Matthew 7.

24 “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: 25 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.
26 “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: 27 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”

Matthew 7:24-27

Thursday, September 13, 2012


I amazed at the faithfulness of God throughout this entire time in my family's life!  It is amazing how in the midst of this unbelievable tragedy God continues to give us glimpses of how He is using Jack and Hayes' lives to touch others. 

There are moments that arise throughout each and every day where it is almost unbearable the pain of missing them.  It seems like it is a dream that we are in right now, and at some point we will wake up and find that Jack and Hayes are still here as they should be.  I do not mean to belabor the point of how unbelievable it is, but sometimes I just can't get past that fact.  It is in the moments where I feel the lowest that God seems to give me a glimpse behind the curtain to see what it is He is doing. 

There are many, including myself, that look at tragedies like what has happened to our family and ask God where were you?  It sometimes seems like God is so distant and uncaring when you look at the evil that is in this world, and at all the horrendous things that seem to happen all over the place.  There are many who would ask how a loving God could allow all this evil to happen.  I do not have all the answers to those questions, but I can offer my own experience and how God has manifested His presence and care in my life. 

When tragedy strikes the question comes down to where do you turn?  It is easy to point at God in these types of situations and ask why didn't you change this outcome when I know you could.  If God is all knowing and able to direct our lives then why would He let such unbelievable tragedies to fall on us?  I don't want to give the pat answer and just say that God's ways are not our ways, even though that is true.  As I have said in previous post God did not create death, destruction, and evil.  He is altogether good and loving.  This evil that exist in the world is not how God originally designed it to be.  It was through the first sin of Adam and Eve that death and destruction entered the world. 

I know that all of this is something that many of you have heard when tragedy strikes, but it is hard to truly take it to heart and have it mean anything to us.  What I hope to do through this blog is take our loss and the faithfulness that God is showing our family, and hopefully bring home to you what a good God He truly is!  He truly cares for each and everyone of you in a way that we can not even fathom.

I wish that each and every person that reads this blog or hears our story would experience the reality of Christ in their life as my family has.  I do not say all of this to insinuate that there is anything special about my family because that is the farthest thing from the truth.  To be going through this loss of a child a second time is something that could easily put Jess, myself, and our family into a tailspin that we could never pull out of.  While I know many families make it through these kinds of experiences, there are also many that do not.  There is nothing I have within myself that pulls me through this other than the power and grace of Christ!  If it was not for the power of God I would not be able to function let alone go on with my life in any sort of meaningful way. 

That not only goes for me, but for my wife as well.  There is something about being a mommy and losing a child that goes to a level that I can't even understand.  Not to say that she mourns and misses our boys more than me, but I know that there is something within in a mothers grief that I as a dad cannot understand.  I can honestly say that it is only through the strength and grace of Christ that Jess is functioning today as well. 

The big idea that I am trying to get across here is that the God of the Bible is as real and tangible as you and I are.  He is not some distant entity that does not care about what is going on in this world, and more importantly in your life.  He cares so much that Christ came and lived as a man and died for the sins of the world!  He took all of our sin upon Himself and washed us clean if we choose to accept it, and rose again three days later so that we can live eternally in His presence. 

God is so incredibly real!!  I pray that you all experience the reality that I know to be true in the very core of my being.  I am not relying on this as a crutch as some have wondered, I am relying on the one true God who formed me and cares about my every hurt and need.  It is because of Christ that I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am going to get to see my boys again!  It is not some wish, hope, and fairytale that I am relying on, but the promise of the one and only God.  I do not say all of this to preach and point fingers at anyone, but I say it only because I want anyone who ever hears our story to come to the confidence and peace that I have. 

I am so unbelievably grateful for the prayers, support, and outpouring of love we have received!!  Words cannot adequately express our gratitude, but know that we are in awe.  I would ask as I close this post that when the trials and tribulations come, because they will, that you go to the true anchor for your soul.  If you already know Christ I would ask that you look at how He has been faithful to you even in the midst of the tragedies and tribulations.  For those of you who do not know Christ on that personal level I would ask that you go to Him and accept Him as you savior, so that you may know the same peace that is getting our family through this unbelievable time.  Thank you all and know that as you are praying for us, we are asking God to minister to each and everyone of you at the same time.............

14 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Hebrews 4:14-16


Thursday, September 6, 2012

Joyful Mourning...........

I am struck by the swings in emotions that bombard me on a daily basis.  There are many times throughout the day that I feel as if I am doing okay, but I will think of or see pictures of the boys and will find myself incredibly sad.  The ache of knowing that I will not see and hold my boys again in this lifetime is sometimes overwhelming to think about.  There are moments of laughter and fun that come throughout each day as well, and you never know what is coming when.  It is that roller coaster of emotions that we find ourselves on once again, and I still sit back in shock that we find ourselves here all over again.

I was saying to my wife the other day, in shock really, that I never in a million years could have imagined Jack not being ever present in my thoughts each day.  Those of you that have lost a child know exactly what I mean by this.  After Jack died I can honestly say that there was not a day that would go by that when I would wake up I would think about him first thing.  He would always be in the back of my mind throughout the day, and be the last thing I would think about when I would go to sleep.  I have not been living my life revolving around him being gone, but the realization that he was gone is ever present in us as parents.  When Hayes died, it has been the first time that it is not Jack necessarily being the first one I think about, but instead it has been Hayes because it is so fresh.  In so many ways it is extremely tough to wrap my mind around.

Finding ourselves in this position less than a year and a half after Jack died is truly unbelievable.  I don't mean to harp on that, but I still am in shock that this is where we are again.  I look at the pictures of my boys and it is so surreal realizing that out of our four boys only two of them are here with us.  It is amazing to think that 11 years into our marriage and we basically are on our third family setup in regards to the kids we have with us.  It is just unbelievable.........

I say this though with the knowledge and complete confidence that Christ is in control.  There is a purpose to all of this, and it is in that knowledge that I can take refuge.  Even in the midst of all this turmoil, emotion, and heartache there is the foundation that I know is built on the unmovable rock of Christ.  I can honestly say that I find myself joyfully mourning.  I am not implying that I am joyful in the fact my boys are gone, but I am able to rejoice in the fact that my boys are with Jesus!  This is not some cliche that I am resting on in thinking my boys are in a better place that is spoken about at so many funerals.  I say this with all the conviction of a man that knows I serve a real tangible God!

I have found as we are meeting so many people and our story is spreading, it seems that there is a segment of those out there that don't understand where this peace and joy comes from, or if it is even real.  What I can say is that there is nothing within myself that gives it to me.  It is only through Christ that I have this confidence.  I can honestly say that there is no other way in the world that I could ever see turning too that would get my family through this. 

God has been so good to me time and again that I know beyond a shadow of a doubt He is holding my boys, and has only good for me and my family.  God is so incredibly faithful and the love that I have for my boys pales in comparison to the love I know He has for each and every one of us.  How can I not have joy and a peace that passes all understanding, knowing that I have the perfect Father in Heaven who loves me so much that He blessed me with those two boys and will one day reunite us together!

Through all the valleys and dark places I find myself in, I am so keenly aware that Christ has been right there beside me in them all.  I rejoice in the fact God has my boys and because of the price paid on the cross I will get to see them again!!  This is why in the midst of all this sadness I can say I am joyfully mourning.........

“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions;[a] if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.[b] And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.”
Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?”
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

John 14:1-6


Saturday, September 1, 2012

Beyond Us............

I have to say first and foremost that I am overwhelmed by the outpouring I have received from my post yesterday!  Thank you all for the prayers and words of encouragement!  Knowing that so many people care and would take the time to pray for our family during this time is amazing.  It means so much to know that so many people care.

I am sitting here tonight thinking about my boys and how much I miss them.  I just got done spending some time with, Paul, who is one of my incredible friends that God has put in our lives.  We spent some time sitting on the deck under the beautiful moon that is out tonight discussing the things that God is doing through this road of losing a child we are now on for a second time.  There is so much that seems to be going on as a result that it takes some time to process it all, and work through all the thoughts and emotions that are flowing as well.

Losing Jack was such a shock that it took several weeks before I even felt like I came out of the fog of that first day when he died.  Even then we weren't really out of the fog, but more coming to grips with the life changing realization that our family was forever changed.  It was really once Hayes was born last November, and our family had the joy of new life to focus on, that I really felt like things were entering that new normal that was our family.  Hayes was such a blessing and gift from God that it was so evident that God brought him into our lives to bring us through the shock of losing Jack. 

For those of you that read this and have lost a child know that feeling of all the plans you have made for your life and family, and how they are completely shattered at this indescribable loss.  It is unlike any other pain in the world.  Coming home for the first time without your child and knowing that you will never see or hear them within the walls of that house, or realizing that you will never get the opportunity to tuck them into bed, pray with them, and kiss them good night is indescribable.  It is as cataclysmic of an event that you can go through as a parent.  Seeing your other children as they process the unbelievable fact that their brother is gone.  In the case of our son Drew, who was Jack's twin brother and 2 weeks shy of 3 when Jack died, not knowing how to entertain himself while our oldest was at school because he never had been without his constant companion, was heartbreaking to watch.  His world was completely turned upside down.  Explaining to a 6 and almost 3 year old that their brother died and has gone to heaven to be with Jesus, and we can't go see them is one of the hardest conversations I have ever had to have.  It is truly unbelievable and surreal in those moments.

A week ago this last Tuesday, August 21st, when Hayes died the world turned upside down all over again.  I remember Jess and I just sitting there as we came to the realization that we had just got done kissing one of our babies goodbye for the last time on this side of eternity, and looking at each other wondering how it was we were in this spot once again.  I remember the shear exhaustion that came over me thinking about the next couple of ensuing weeks and all that was coming with them.  The conversation with Noah and Drew AGAIN, the sleepless nights, flood of people, flowers, cards, copious amounts of food (which is kind of funny because there is no appetite to go with it), planning of the memorial service, and the list goes on............  

There was a huge part of Jess and I that thought we were exempt from ever having to lose a child again.  We had lost Jack and truly felt that was the one and only time we would be asked to walk down that road.  When lightning struck us this second time, with it came the realization that there is no exemption from the sting of death and loss.  After Jack died both of us lost any fear of death or anything that this world could throw at us, but the only thing that we did fear was losing another child.  Last Tuesday that fear became all to real.

I say all this because I find myself a week and a half later looking at this with a perspective and attitude that is totally different than what is probably expected of me.  I am so incredibly weak and the gaping, smoking hole that is left in the middle of our family is so beyond anything that I, or my wife, am capable of dealing with in and of ourselves.  The pain is so real and indescribable that there are no words to even remotely and adequately describe it.  I know that so many people don't know what to say to us, but that is okay because we don't know what to say either.  The question that is raised then is, how does a person stand up from this and continue to press forward?

I am still working and praying through this, so bear with me, but I can say that my focus and vision has become so much clearer through this.  It is probably not unrealistic to expect to not be able to function and move forward very well at all after going through this loss a second time in less than a year and a half.  I can tell you that there is nothing within ourselves that is giving us the strength to push on, other than anything but the grace of Almighty God.  If it was not for the strength of Christ I would not be able to function at this point. 

People have asked if this reliance on God is real for us or is it just our way of coping in these initial weeks after the loss of Hayes.  I can answer beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is no way to cope with this loss without the divine providence of God.  Without the grace that God has shown both Jess and I, we would be utterly lost!  Here is what it says in John 14:15-18

15 “If you love Me, keep[a] My commandments. 16 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.

I can honestly say that I can feel that comfort that only comes from on High filling me to overflowing.  For those that wonder if where Jess and I are coming from is real, all that I can say is there is no other option for us in these circumstances.  There is absolutely nothing within ourselves that has equipped us for this kind of loss and pain.  It is only by the power and grace of a real, and tangible God that I can move forward from this point.  God has been so gracious to me beyond what I deserve, that I have no choice but to walk down this path that He has laid before me.  I know that God did not cause Jack and Hayes to die, but He knew when they would, and He was right there scooping them into His arms the minute they did.  

I was so blessed to call those boys my own for the short time I had them.  I know that as hard as this road is, God is right there beside us walking every step of the way.  The God I know and serve is not some distant entity who doesn't care, but is a real and loving Father who loves us so much and sacrificed His own son to die for my sins!  If the loss of our boys means others will come to that same saving knowledge of Christ, and find the peace that I know my wife and I have in the midst of this unbelievable storm, then I am going to be okay.  The loss and sorrow will never go away on this side of eternity, but the grace and peace of God is so much greater and I know it will carry my family through..............

27 Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. 28 You have heard Me say to you, ‘I am going away and coming back to you.’ If you loved Me, you would rejoice because I said,[e] ‘I am going to the Father,’ for My Father is greater than I.

John 14:27-28