Sunday, May 25, 2014

Turmoil and Surrender...

I usually have an idea for the point I am trying to make with my posts when I write a new one.  This one I'm not entirely sure what it is, but I should probably say I am coming from a place of some inner turmoil right now.  I just felt the prompting to write tonight, so I'm not entirely sure where this one is going.  Hopefully it will make sense in the end.

It's interesting how life can come at us and turn things upside down with no warning whatsoever, or so it seems.  In our family's case we lost Jack and Hayes with no warning or sign that it was coming.  It was a case of one moment they were here, and the next they were gone.  There was no preparation for what was coming or the way life was forever changed. 

I remember giving Jack one last kiss and telling him I loved him as Jess jumped in the car with him to take him to the hospital totally expecting that he was going to be just fine.  After all he was awake and talking, and it seemed like it was more of a precaution than anything.  That was the last time I would see him alive and have the opportunity to kiss my little boy and tell him I loved him on this side of eternity.

Hayes I also remember kissing and telling him I loved him as I dropped him off at our sitters for the day.  I fully expected to see him that afternoon when I went to pick him up like I would every time.  Again, that was the last time I ever got to kiss my little boy and tell him I loved him on this side of eternity. 

I am so grateful that I have those memories because I am able to hold on to the fact that my last words to Jack and Hayes were "I love you" before they got to meet Jesus face to face.  I feel like I did this before we lost the boys, but now I always try to make a point to tell Jess, Noah, and Drew that I love them whenever I leave, or they leave.  There is just no way to know what life may hold from moment to moment.

I think we all have experiences in this life where we get blindsided with things that we did not see coming.  It may be the death of a child or loved one, it could be a diagnosis of cancer, it could be the loss of a job, or any significant event we didn't see coming.  There is a big part of me now that feels like when things are seemingly going good I should prepare because something invariably always seems to end up coming and hitting me like a ton of bricks to change all of that.    

The question is what do we do when life blindsides us?  I think it really depends on where you place your trust.  I have seen some who react in anger when these kinds of things happen.  Not that anger is wrong because I believe it is an emotion that God gave us, but when we allow ourselves to stay in that place that is when it becomes a problem. 

There are those that dwell in their grief and depression over the events that have happened.  Again, grief and depression is a perfectly normal and a realistic reaction to horrible events.  I have walked through grief for the last three years, and struggle with it at different times.  It is when a person allows themselves to stay in these places and never walk through them that it becomes an issue. 

There are those that turn to "things" to help, but they do not actually do anything to help and instead make things even worse.  Some of these things could be drugs, alcohol, relationships, food, sex, porn, television, video games, and the list could go on.  Some of these things are obviously bad, and many others aren't at all in and of themselves.  I think the best way I have ever heard it put is by Pastor Mark Driscoll when he has said it's a problem "when a good thing becomes a god thing".  Anything we put on a pedestal in our life that isn't God and or his will it becomes an idol, and does nothing help us deal with these things that happen in life. 

I could obviously go on, but I guess what I am trying to get at through this post tonight is that to truly deal with the crap that life throws at us is to allow God to come in and lead us through it.  I know that I never in a million years could deal with the loss of our boys through any other way than through the grace, peace, and comfort that is only found in Jesus. 

Every time in the moments that life throws at us we have a choice to make.  Do we turn to and dwell in negative emotions, feelings, and reactions to everything else from there on out?  Do we mask these moments with "things"?  These reactions are so easy to do, and I know I have been guilty in many ways of some of them myself.  There is really only one thing that we should be doing, and I pray that anyone who reads my blog will do it.

You have to turn to the creator of all things and allow him to come and take the hurt, pain, frustration, anger, depression, grief and replace it with his love, peace, joy, and comfort.  That is only done through Jesus.  Even when we find ourselves in a place that is of our own doing the only answer is found in Christ. 

I'll close with this, the initial step of surrendering to Christ is easy when it comes down to it because all you have to do is ask for his forgiveness and grace!  My prayer is always the same whenever I post on this blog, and that is each and every person who reads it will make that decision. 

When that decision is made to follow Christ it doesn't mean that the road ahead is easy.  When we find ourselves blindsided with life through none of our own doing, or completely because we made the mess on our own, there is going to be work ahead.  No matter the struggle it's a matter of making the decision every day to surrender, and to do the things we know we have to do.  I honestly don't know if this post will help anyone or even make sense, but I know that God laid it on my heart to put out there. 

There are things I know I have to do to move forward on the path God has called me to.  The question is what has God called you to do to move forward from where you find yourself?  If you don't know the answer to that question, first surrender your life to Christ and ask for wisdom.  I guarantee if you are truly seeking you will find the answers you are looking for in Christ.  If you find yourself in a place where you are stuck because life has blindsided you, stop and surrender yourself to God right now.  That is where you will find the answers you are looking for. 

24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life[g] will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.

Matthew 16:24-27

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 hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. 28 You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.

John 14:27-28 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Jack: 3 Years In, A Beautiful Masterpiece

I'm sitting here writing this as our family remembers Jack and the impact he had, and continues to have, on our family.  As always it amazes me what the last three years have looked like after that beautiful Palm Sunday on April 17th, 2011.  I sometimes feel like 3 years ago was a lifetime ago, but in other ways it seems like yesterday.

I can still remember that beautiful Palm Sunday when Jack went home to be with Jesus.  I remember the absolute disbelief that he was really gone, our families and pastors coming to be with us at the hospital, the shock that the doctors and nurses had on their faces as they had to deal with something that they did not see in that emergency room very often.  I remember holding my little boy for the last time, who had been alive and talking to me only a few hours before, and the way my heart broke as a father in a way that I cannot even begin to describe.  I remember feeling the most helpless I have ever felt in my entire life because I realized just how little control we have over the plans we have for this life.

Whenever we come up on Jack's anniversary, or Hayes' in August, I find myself going back much more often and looking at their slide shows, photos, and sometimes their memorial service videos.  At Hayes' service one of our pastors read a letter that my amazing wife wrote to Hayes in which she said, "I know there's a plan at work, but it won't be shown to us on this side of eternity. I know that God is painting a masterpiece with our lives, but right now we are just to close to the picture to see much of anything.  Someday when we are standing back we will see the Creator and what he was creating".  This statement not only applies to our losses of Jack and Hayes, but it is a perspective that each and everyone of us should apply to those monumental life shaking moments we all experience at one point or another in our lives.

As I think about that day there are amazing things that I can now look back on in the light of having a much better perspective now that time has broadened the view.  I remember the absolute beauty in that day.  The way the sun was shining, the beautiful cherry blossoms on the trees, the warm breeze, and the beautiful sunset we saw on our way out of the hospital that evening.  I remember the gifts that God gave us that day that showed up in a nurse that was with Jack and us from the moment we got there till the moment he was taken away by the medical examiner, and who prayed with and for us throughout much of that day.  The amazing pastors who left church that morning the middle of their sermons to be with our family as soon as they heard what was happening.  Our families who came to be at our side, sit with us in the hospital, and just to be there as a support.  The amazing friends who activated support and sprung into action in the first few hours of that day.

I remember the smile Jack had on his face as we held him for the last time.  It was something we both saw and made us realize that the first thing Jack probably saw when he left this life was Jesus.  I remember how one day Jack excitedly pointed at a blank wall about two weeks before he died proclaiming that Jesus was standing there, and how insistent he was.  I remember and take comfort in the fact that Jesus was preparing my baby for that moment he saw him on the other side of this life.

There are countless things that I have witnessed since then that have come out of the deaths of both Jack and Hayes that can only be described as blessings from God.  I have met friends that I would never have met had it not been for our losses.  I have seen God move through people to minister to our family in ways that they will never know how much blessed us.  I have seen how many amazing people are out there who care regardless of knowing our family or not.

I say all of this because I want to remember my son, but more importantly I want the story of Jack to bring hope to you.  There are three things that I have taken from the losses of Jack and Hayes I want to quickly give you.  The first is that I want to encourage you to love your spouse and children everyday like it is their last day.  We all experience frustration and conflict in our relationships, but you never know when the last time you will see them is.  We aren't guaranteed anything past the breath that is in our lungs right now.  Don't let the trials of everyday life ruin those precious moments you have with your loved ones.  Especially you parents, love your children everyday and spend as much time with them as you can.  They are truly gifts from God and it is an awesome responsibility that each of us as parents have been given.  Kiss, hug, and tell your kids how much you love them today, and everyday!!

Secondly, to those of you who have lost a child, or experienced any kind of loss for that matter, there is a way through the grief and pain.  If it wasn't for Jesus Christ our family would not have survived and still be standing today.  I can honestly say as I have many times before that I have experienced a peace, hope, and joy that can only be expressed as truly passing all understanding.  It is the hope I have in Christ that gives me that peace and joy.

I feel compelled to also say this, that not a single individual dies before it is their time.  Can I explain why I would lose two boys 16 months apart at the ages of 3 years old and 9 months old?  The answer is no, but I do know that there is a masterpiece being painted through all of this and God knows the number of days we have on this earth.  Not a single individual's death takes God by surprise and there is a greater plan at work that will be revealed as you put your trust in him alone.

The last thing I want to say is that there is ALWAYS HOPE no matter how dark the situation you are facing seems.  I can honestly say through each loss we have experienced, God has always been with us every step of the way.  Often times he has carried us because there was honestly no strength within us to carry on.  There is never anything to big for God to handle, but you must go to Jesus and lay it at his feet.  It doesn't matter what you are experiencing or have done, take it to Christ and he will lift the burden.  I would encourage you to not waste any time, but turn to Christ today and he will give you the rest and peace you are looking for.

If you are interested there is still a site dedicated to Jack that was setup by our wonderful friend Brian at  It has a beautiful slideshow and video showing off the amazing life of our precious Jackson Reed Kelly.

Daddy loves you Jack and give your little brother a kiss for me, and I will see you both again one day....

22 And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. 24 Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! 25 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 26 If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? 27 Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 28 But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! 29 And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. 30 For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.

Luke 12:22-31