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


  1. Hello. I found a red Mylar balloon in my yard today (April 17, 2014 - I'm in Happy Valley), shaped like a star. It carried a message in the careful handwriting of a little boy called Noah. The message was to his brother Jack, telling him how much he and the whole family miss him, telling him about the new baby, and hoping that Jack likes football and basketball. The whole family was there on the balloon, represented in stick figure.

    I think anyone who found this balloon would be touched by the message it carries. But I almost feel it found me for a reason. You see, my family has experienced the loss of a child - our beloved, forever 9-year old Shelby. It will be ten years ago this coming October.

    It seems impossible that it has been ten years since we've seen her, touched her, heard her sing-song voice. We still miss her as keenly today as we did in those first moments. You never stop grieving, you just become better at it.You become a survival expert (if you're lucky, as it can just as easily take you under). It's nothing I ever wanted to be an expert in, but it is a singular truth that demands continual acknowledgement. It changes you, both physically and spiritually.

    I'm thankful every day for the support within and around my family. I think we are all the stronger for embracing this challenge. I know all families who go through this aren't as fortunate.

    Anyway. I'm so sorry your family has lost two beautiful children. I'm heartened by your faith. I'm so glad I received this balloon. The weather was too cold yesterday for it to fly, but the sun is out this morning. So I'll send it off to Jack this afternoon.

    Peace be with you. And please give Noah a hug for me.


    1. Hi Heather,

      Thank you so much for your message! It meant a lot to my wife and I. It does not bother me at all and I think that it was definitely meant for you to find. :) I was wondering if someone would find those balloons because I could tell they weren't going very far yesterday. Thank you so much for sending it off again and I will definitely let Noah know and give him a hug for you too!

      Thank you,


  2. PS - I posted about Noah's balloon on my facebook page in some hope someone might know who you were (before I found this blog). I used Noah's and Jack's names. A couple of my friends have in turn shared the post as a way of spreading Noah's message. I will take it down if this makes you uncomfortable, as that was not my intention.