It’s Time to Rise Up and Take Off Your Grave Clothes

For the past three years, I have really struggled to write and speak the way I once did. In 2020 it was almost as if my inkwell had dried up and I figured that my writing days were behind me. A few months ago my husband ran the kids to youth group while I stayed back. I was overwhelmed with so many things and decided I needed to pray and ask G-d what I was supposed to do next. So I decided to put some music on the TV and saw a video from one of my favorite speakers with a title that caught my eye. I figured I was having a squirrel brain moment and told myself that I needed to focus and look it up later. However, I couldn’t shake that I needed to watch it, so I did.

Do you know how people say, “It was as if the person on the TV was speaking directly to me!” It was one of those moments. Everything she spoke was as if she had been following me around for the past three years and was telling me, it was time to get out of the grave! You aren’t truly alive! All the way down to the words “There are some of you that in 2020 you stopped doing what you were supposed to do. You were supposed to plant something but instead, you buried it…”

I sat there dumbfounded. It hit me deeply. I knew G-d was up to something.

The next day I ended up putting on some praise music. I try to do this to get my day started on a positive note. There is a band name Cain that my sister introduced me to that I have fallen in love with. This day they played the song “Rise Up (Lazarus).” I had heard the song before but this time it stopped me dead in my tracks.

Their lyrics of:

In the dark and all alone, growing comfortable
Are you too scared to move and walk out of this tomb?
Buried underneath, the lies that you believed
Safe and sound, stuck in the ground
Too lost to be found

You’re just asleep and it’s time to leave

Come on and rise up, take a breath, you’re alive now
Can’t you hear the voice of Jesus calling us
Out from the grave like Lazarus
You’re brand new, the power of death couldn’t hold you
Can’t you hear the voice of Jesus calling us
Out from the grave like Lazarus
Rise up, rise up, rise up
Out from the grave like Lazarus”

At that moment I felt like Holy Spirit quietly whispered, It’s been three years, Kelly. This is your Lazarus moment. It’s time to rise up.

Let’s just say this was a Selah moment.

I’ve read the story of Lazarus so many times. I’ve even quoted “Jesus wept,” in my writing pertaining to grief. What came to my heart the other day was, could he have been weeping not only because he was moved to compassion but also frustration in the hopelessness, possibly even in the unbelief? Did his heartache that they couldn’t see what G-d was and is capable of doing in our lives for any situation that looks like it is over? Didn’t they remember the miracles they had seen? They had seen his power! They had heard his words! Nothing ends with death with G-d. He revives, restores, and sometimes completely makes a situation brand new, when did I forget that?

Even if a person passes away, in the natural it looks as if it’s all over. However, for that person, they are being transformed and made whole. It’s us that see the ending and grieve for what we’ve known.

Even as I write this what comes to my mind is how the enemy whispers into our ears that things will NEVER be better. It’s hopeless. I have to protect myself. I can’t trust anyone. They aren’t coming back. Nothing but death does he speak.

Then I imagine G-d saying, Who told you that? Don’t you know what I can do? Anything is possible for those who BELIEVE.

You see my friend, G-d is calling us out of our comfort zones. He is calling us to be obedient to Him and take off the grave clothes that have kept us paralyzed and unable to speak. He wants us to “Rise up, (fill in your name).”

We often retreat to our “safe” space feeling that we need to protect ourselves. Maybe it’s a health diagnosis, job loss, fractured relationship, a dream that just doesn’t even seem possible anymore… Whatever it is that you have given up hope, laid down, and possibly buried, it’s time “Rise up” and choose life.

So often we choose death without even realizing it. Whether it be our hearts become hardened silently or we declare it out of our mouths, it’s not life.

Not only is G-d love, but when I hear love, I think of abundant life. We must CHOOSE life! It doesn’t matter how bleak a situation is, do you believe Jesus is our savior? Do you believe that G-d can do what He says He can do?

Then it’s time to take off the grave clothes that have bound you for so long.

It’s time to:




Just listen for his voice and trust that if we believe everything he says is true, we will choose to follow and learn to live again.

Are you offended? It’s time to forgive.

Are you afraid? Step out.

Are you disappointed? It’s time to hope again.

It’s time to walk out of the tomb and choose life.

Are You Wandering in the Wilderness?

Ahh, the wilderness… If you are anything like me, hearing this word tends to put a picture in your mind of being lost and maybe dread. Lately, I have been challenged to think differently and it’s opened a whole new world of excitement that I haven’t had in a long time.

Anytime we go through seasons where all of the sudden (or maybe even slowly) you have gotten into such a steady regiment of predictability or comfort and then what used to work doesn’t anymore. It normally isn’t just one thing but rather one thing after another of doors and windows closing and you can’t figure out the reason why. At first, maybe you’ll continue to do what you’ve always done figuring it’s probably a simple error only to find they are sealed shut.

A plethora of emotions starts to set in and if you are anything like me, you might even resemble a mixture of Piglet, Eeyore, and Rabbit. Panic and worry may tangle your thoughts with a tinge of “Oh bother…” Followed by some ranting and raving and then repeat. It’s a vicious cycle that is definitely not as cute as the “Winne the Pooh” characters, that’s for sure.

I’m walking through a wilderness period myself. I have been praying over and over to G-d to help me. Now everywhere I look this word seems to be appearing. It popped up in my scripture reading, songs on my music stations, sermon messages, and I was like, “Okay Lord, I got the memo. Wilderness. Now, what do I do?”

Sure enough, He delivered two messages from two of my favorite pastors and it clicked into place; “Stop dreading the wilderness. This is your time to learn to trust, obey, and prepare you for what I’ve promised you.”

How often do you hear from people when they share that they are in a wilderness time where their world has been flipped upside down? Our first response is usually one filled with an ache in our hearts to hope they can hurry through it and just get it over with. Or maybe another response is to give them advice figuring it might help them avoid it. What I’m finding is this is the best time to listen because this is a journey they need to take with G-d.

I’ve been challenged to look back at the story of the Exodus. The Israelites were in Egypt in slavery and bondage. They were crying out to be set free. The Lord answered their prayers and sent them Moses to help lead them out. Along the way there were major trials as Pharaoh refused to let them go without a fight, isn’t that just like the enemy? As he finally relents, the people pack up to leave everything behind and go where they have never been. They get to witness amazing miracles but their memory is short-term and they complain while longing over what they had known even though it was their bondage. What was supposed to be an eleven-day journey took forty years.

It’s easy to judge the people and say we would never be so foolish, and yet when I think about some things that I’ve carried with me since I was a child, it makes me cringe. How many years have I complained or been disappointed because things didn’t happen the way I thought they should?

As I look back on the past two years with Covid I had this thought come to my mind repeatedly. What if Covid was the marker of another great Exodus? Our world has never been in more turmoil since the Coronavirus, how many of us have forgotten the love of the Lord and His commands? How many have fallen in love with their own ideals and forgotten how to love their neighbors as themselves? How many have forgotten to love or forget what it feels like? Could Covid and all of its variations be part of the plagues to help us to get our hearts and houses in order? How many have proclaimed a few years ago how much they hated the way things are and now after Covid are wishing to have those days back?

So this challenged my thoughts not only in my personal life but on a global scale. We need to focus on this time as a time to press into G-d and his word like never before. With Jesus leading the way we need to fill our hearts with praise and continuously be speaking to each other in love and scriptural truth that we may not grow weary and faint. We need to get our hearts to a point of focusing on the road that the Lord has for each of us while recognizing that everyone’s path may be a different pace and encourage each other with not just words but actions! We need to remind ourselves and others of the miracles that have, are, and will be happening with each step we take. The best part of being in the wilderness is it’s okay to not have a plan. It’s okay to be still and know that each day as we come to Him, He will guide our steps at His pace.

It’s time to leave Eygpt and step out into something we’ve never seen before.

Each of us has a journey to walk out. Maybe you are fresh in grief over a tremendous loss.

He is with you.

Maybe you are dealing with chronic health or circumstantial issues.

He will go before you.

Maybe you have no idea what in the world you are supposed to be doing and you feel lost.

He has your path carved out for you.

So if you are in a wilderness time, may we rejoice that what looks barren is the perfect place to see miracles that your eyes could never have imagined.

I want to encourage you to meditate on Isaiah 35:1-10 NLT and just repeat it daily. I’ll leave you with verses 3 and 4:

“With this news, strengthen those who have tired hands, and encourage those who have weak knees. Say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, and do not fear, for your G-d is coming to destroy your enemies. He is coming to save you.”

As you read this whole passage prepare your heart for hope and restoration. The wilderness is a place of preparation for the promised land. This whole world is being prepared for amazing things our minds can’t conceive if only we choose to trust and obey. May we not grumble and press on to what our true calling in life is and that’s to love the Lord our G-d with everything in us and trust that the best is yet to come.

Missing You On Mother’s Day

In this unusual season of quarantine, I think Mother’s Day looks much different than anyone had anticipated. Some may have their mother and children physically alive but can’t visit them for fear of sickness or “Shelter in Place” orders. There are many of us who have a more permanent situation where our visits aren’t met with a hug but rather a headstone. Either way, we are all grieving in some way, shape, or form the way things once were. I can only pray that we all take this time to connect in fun ways for those who are still here and find a reason to celebrate this special bond that is between a mother and a child.

As I stood in the hospital room watching my son’s heartbeat for the last few times, I was in shock. The whole room played out like a slow-motion scene, I felt frozen. I didn’t know how to move or if I could ever breathe again. Elijah was our whole world and all I could think of was, “How do I live without you?”

This scene has played out in my mind for years. I never know when it will strike but when it does I find myself deep in thought. Sometimes it’s just to remember that he was really here. Sometimes the memories torment me as I cave into fear.

Photo credit to Priscilla Du Preez

I picked up my phone the other day to call a friend. We were chatting for a while when she asked me a question about some struggles that I have been dealing with Covid-19. I explained the trigger about how hard it was during those final hours with my son. I explained how I had let him down by not getting him to the hospital sooner and how much he suffered because I didn’t know how sick he was.

She paused and then asked me if I had forgiven myself. It caught me off guard but then I gave a long-winded explanation that finally ended with a, “Yes, I have but I haven’t… If you know what I mean.”

She stayed quiet for a minute and then began to share her heart from her point-of-view. She was young when she lost her mother. As she began to open up about her mother’s last days, I leaned in to listen. As she spoke I felt she gave me a perspective of life that I hadn’t walked but could relate to.

Then she said, “I haven’t had to go through what you have, but I get it.”

Her words washed over me like freshly fallen rain. Like a fellow soldier who had been hurt in battle but didn’t stop till she realized that her sister had fallen. She tenderly helped bind up my wounds with truth in love. As she spoke about her journey I could feel the salve of understanding and compassion lifting my heavy heart. At that moment, I knew I wasn’t alone.

As we chatted she pointed out that even though we didn’t know each other, we were probably in the hospital at the same time. I had never made the connection until then, it was in April of 2005 that our worlds had unknowingly collided. We both unexpectedly had to say goodbye when our lives were just starting to begin.

As she so rightly pointed out, G-d had created our relationship intentionally. He placed us together to be able to heal and walk out a journey that so many I pray will never have to know.

As I listened to her reflect on her mother, it’s like her mother came alive in my mind! I could hear my friend chuckle describing her in a way that made me wish I had met her myself. I will never look at my friend the same way as now. I learned where she got most of her characteristics from. My friend was her mother’s rainbow baby (a baby born after the loss of other children). Her mother had several miscarriage and then she was elated to finally have my friend! The child she had always wanted! I could hear my friend’s voice beam as she shared, it was a sacred moment.

The bond between a mother and a child is unbreakable, even in death. I believe there is a longing in every child to be connected and accepted by their mother. No matter how their life plays out, even in deep brokenness and pain, there is a desire that goes beyond words to be connected to the one that gave you life.

For so many of us, our greatest fear is that the memories of our loved ones would be forgotten. For those who have lost their beloved mother or child, we love hearing you say their names. There is no greater gift than a conversation to help bring to life the ones who left an indelible imprint on their heart. Listen for their words to illuminate with joy as they remember the treasures that are awaiting them in Heaven. It is a gift to learn from those who once breathed their last breath into our hearts. We get to carry their amazing lives in our memories no matter how long or short they were.

As I close, for those who have just lost their loved one recently or are still walking the heavy journey of grief, I now realize that I don’t have to live without my children, because they are always with me. As we are all learning from this great time of separation that we were made to be together. I believe that togetherness begins here and continues into eternity.

On days where we long to hold them, may we hold those that are around us tighter. Let us not take one day for granted and celebrate the lives of those He has placed in our life strategically. May we be filled with gratitude to know that we have gotten to experience a taste of Heaven here on earth.

May You realize today that G-d created you. We all are the children He has always wanted.

Happy Mother’s Day

Keep Holding On

It’s been 5,479 days since we last saw our son take his last breath. It was a day of unexpected proportion and one that plays out in my mind often. Often as Christians, we feel that we are doing something bad if we grieve long after our loved one has died.

You hear the words, “But he’s rejoicing in the angels?!” My mind knows this and for him I’m grateful. Yet my heart still grieves.

I want him here.

Our days with Elijah.

My son was born without kidneys. We knew early on in my pregnancy that his life with be a battle. Yet, like any mother, I was unfazed by the challenge. I was willing to give up my life whatever that looked like. If it meant care 24/7, so be it. If I ended up losing my life in the process, I’d do anything for my child.

More often than not, Elijah’s pass-away date falls around the Easter season. I often am able to take this time to remember that death is not our end, but rather a new beginning. This year as it follows Resurrection Sunday, I was reminded of Mary’s grief. We watched this amazing production of “Jesus” by Sight and Sound theaters. One particular scene where Mary is screaming guttural cries as Jesus is being merciless tormented and finally dies, they flashed back to her holding him when he was a baby. She sat there sweetly singing over him and emotion hit me like a ton of bricks.

Maybe it’s because I’ve always thought she was so faith-filled that while she was sad, she was somehow prepared. Yet, at that moment I was reminded that she was a mother watching her son suffer and no amount of knowledge could take away that grief that she bore to see her child die before her very eyes.

My mind immediately brought me back to the OR when Eli was about to be born. It was filled with people waiting to see the baby with no kidneys. I just wanted to see and hear my son. I held my breath as he finally began to cry. He sounded like a little lamb bleating and my heart soared! Oh, how I wanted to stay in the moment as joy overwhelmed me to see our beautiful boy alive!

With the flip of the switch my mind switched over to the Pediatric ICU room six months later and seeing my son laying on the table while the nurses and doctors swarmed the room. Alarms were beeping like crazy and I felt paralyzed as if I was in the water and couldn’t come up for air. I helplessly watched our boy flat-line.

It felt surreal.

I as a mother could do nothing to fix and bring him back. I wanted to go with him, I was his mother, he couldn’t go alone.

As I watched this production and saw that scene in that moment to recognize the agony that Mary felt moved my heart in a unique way.

I believe that when I have hard days where it’s hard to accept that he isn’t here, G-d knows. Not only that, but he understands. I don’t believe He sees me as faithless, I believe He sees my mother’s heart and He weeps with me.

Our son died from a blood infection in his dialysis line. I learned at an early age how dangerous germs have been. I’ve tried to explain to others about my overprotective germ-conscious parenting, but I know it’s hard for most to understand.

That is, until Covid-19.

As I’m watching the whole nation switch to a way of life that has been ours for the last fifteen years my heart grieves. I now see on a broad scale the ravages of the fear of death and sickness. I see people fearing for the lives of their loved ones and I can so relate not because of the news, but because we have lived it.

We had been trained to live this way every day that our son was alive.

Out of trauma, I couldn’t put my rose-colored glasses back on and we continued to live this way. Then we had another son with severe asthma and I almost ended up losing my life so this further solidified this way of living.

Yet, the lesson in all of this is I realize now how much fear has robbed me and so many of us. Fear has often held me in a prison of bondage reminding me over and over “What if it happens again?”

I remind myself:

Yes, it was messy and hard.

But he was worth it.

Life is worth it!

I want to encourage you that whether you are facing the loss of a loved one, loss of a way of life, loss of freedom, loss of control…

I know it is so hard.

Keep holding on.

Keep living and don’t let fear win!

Let out all your emotions and know that our sweet Father in Heaven is weeping with you. He can handle your questions and your pain. It’s okay that we are struggling, that doesn’t mean that you are lacking faith. Rather it’s the admittance that you need Him.

These are places where healing can begin.

While today marks 15 years since our son’s life ended on earth, it also marks 15 years that his new life began in Heaven. I rejoice for Him that he feels no pain or sorrow and someday we will be together again.

But today I miss him and that’s okay.

Elijah Praise Nickerson
Our Sonshine

The Messy Side of Faith

I’d love to wrap this all up into a pretty bow, but what I’m about to reveal is the messy part of my faith. I haven’t written like this in years, probably not since our son died. I used to write with rawness in my years of grieving. I found it hard to be met with judgment when writing with such transparency, so I prettied up my writing. I did this because it hurt so much to share the pieces of my heart and feel that I had done something wrong.

My readers, friends, and family have heard our tale of love, loss, and living with hope. I often wonder if they tire of the same old stories of when G-d touched our lives through our children who have now been received into His arms. Or of the way He rescued me from death’s door.

What I can say, is that I never will.

It is my story and I must continue to share.

Those are sacred times that are forever branded into my heart and soul. It’s within these valleys of the shadow of death, that we learned to feel His presence on the mountain top.

Sometimes things don’t turn out the way that you expect when you follow G-d. While you see His majesty in one breath, your heart aches in another.

I’d love to tell you that after everything I have walked through that I have learned to trust Him completely through it all. To be completely honest, I am a work in progress.

I’ve always been a perfectionist, but after all of this I became a control freak.

A couple of months ago before this virus hit America, G-d gave me a dream. I won’t go into it, but He showed me things that at the time made no sense to me. He’s done this several times in my life when something big was coming. At the beginning of March fear was gripping me tightly as I realized my dream was coming true, everything started to make sense. We called our friends over for prayer as I sobbed because of what I felt was coming. It was all too much and I realized, I am not in control.

That day I sobbed harder than I had in years.

I realized I have been so afraid of losing our two children G-d so lovingly blessed us with, that they haven’t really gotten to live. I tightly monitor everything they do and it has cost us relationships and experiences because of fear.

Anytime anxiety rears it’s ugly head, everyone pays the price.

When the kids were little they had such unconditional grace, which was great for me. As they are now approaching teenage years, they now call me out on it and it sucks.

Yes, I said it sucks.

Stinks just isn’t harsh enough. It needs to be an ugly word.

Yet, I have always raised them to be truthful and in reality, they are right. Even though it hurts. They have been very open about questioning why they didn’t get to do certain things and how they had wished they had. I never realized how much my fear and protection had actually suffocated their living and they felt it. The crazy part is now the way we have been living all these years is what the government is instructing us to do, and it’s so suffocating.

I find myself asking, Are you hanging on so tightly to the future that you aren’t living in the present?

As I let out those guttural cries of all that had been stifled that day, I felt a release and a shift in my heart and perspective.

As we’ve watched this whole pandemic unfold my daughter sweetly says, “Mom, we’ve been preparing for this for our whole lives.”

I smiled but my heart sank inside.

The old ways of life have passed away and it’s time let go. Those things don’t work anymore. I need to do things differently and I believe G-d is calling me to trust Him in a way I’ve always known I should but haven’t.

Do I believe we can have fear and faith at the same time?

Yes. I do believe so.

I believe that with every great faithful person who stepped out in courage, the enemy was right there beside them intimidating them. I know Moses was trembling when he went to Pharaoh to tell him to let his people go, because he actually argued with the Lord. G-d didn’t poo-poo him, He let his brother Aaron go with him!

Most times faith and fear do collide, but I still believe that G-d is big enough to hold our arms up while we battle. He wants us to do something new!

One of the lines from the movie “I Still Believe,” hit me to my very core (If you haven’t seen it yet, watch it!)

The lead actress ends with a line that was a bulls-eye to my heart. She said:

“I’ve learned suffering doesn’t destroy faith, it refines it. And G-d is worth trusting, even when we can’t see.”

As we approach these unprecedented times, I want to encourage you that G-d is big enough for all our thoughts. I never realized how much we would miss seeing people. I realize now we were created for community. He knows the social distancing isn’t the way things are supposed to be. He knows we are lamenting our seniors not getting the much-due celebrations of prom and graduation and kids getting to play with their friends. He knows the heart-ache of those who are living alone or are sick and may never get to physically get to say goodbye to their families.

He knows our need for connection and community.

He knows and He is weeping with us.

Yet my belief in this is that when this is all over, that everyone will live much more intentionally. I pray we will come back to the basics of being so grateful for what is right in front of us and not be so busy. We’ll be tired of binge watching TV and social media and find reason to connect face-to-face with get-together galore. We’ll be moved to compassion to helping one another work through hard things and knowing what it feels to feel isolated. Hopefully, we can put this divisive nature of who is more right about politics and focus on everyone being loved. To love our neighbors as we love ourselves…

We all have so much time on our hands and if you are anything like me you are planning on how to plan so that you can escape the pain. I feel like we have a moment in history like no other, a time to bear our hearts and change the way we live our lives. Maybe this time will shift our family, parenting, and society dynamics for the better? Perhaps this a time we have all been created for, to shift our perspective from the world to why we are really here.

That is to learn to love and live with gratitude and celebrate all life.

As Time Goes By…

It’s been 15 years since our sweet Elijah Praise made his debut here on earth. The loss of a child is never something a parent gets over but rather we carry them with us. Every year our kids become more inquisitive about their siblings. This morning they immediately bombarded me with questions about Eli’s short but purposeful life. What was even a bigger blessing was the deep questions of Heaven that was intertwined.

In a society where grief and pain is quickly swept under the rug, we forget that there are treasures and growth in areas we long to avoid. When we don’t allow ourselves to enter into these sacred spaces of hardship we rob ourselves of amazing encounters of love that can change our view on life and love.

I’ve recently hit a major case of writers block. Frustrated that maybe I had nothing relevant, I put down my computer and figured my time had passed. Oh the lies we so willingly believe when the enemy wants to silence our purpose and hinder us from fulfilling our destiny.

Last night the Lord re-ignited my flame and reminded me just why He gave me the ability to write, to reveal His goodness in our brokenness.

I long for the day when those in grief can honor their loved ones with great support rather than speculation, if taking too long to walk the road of the great sadness.

Friends, we don’t need to let go of our loved ones because they go before us. Yes, they are waiting for us in the great cloud of witnesses, praying and cheering us on as we run our races. It’s in these areas of pain and loss that we can invite in the goodness of G-d into these battle wounds to show us new depths of healing that our minds cannot comprehend.

He is closest to the broken-hearted.

Today, my heart is tender as I ache to hold my son in my arms. I long to be able to stroke his young man face and see his old soul grey-blue eyes. I miss saying and hearing his name every day. I look back into the backseat of our vehicles and wonder what it’d be like having my older kids among our family.

I can say this knowing full-well, I will see them in Heaven. I can also say transparently that I miss the fact that today I’m not planning a birthday party for a room full of teenage boys about to prepare a trough of pizza, pop, and ice cream with all of the hormones flying.

I have found that my kids miss him too. I’ve often wondered how they could since they never met him. I felt the Lord put on my heart my love for Jesus. Even though I’ve never met him in person, I know and love Him. He is my family, just like our families here on Earth. Our souls were created for connection and eternity, G-d designed us in this way.

My kids don’t fear death. They talk of Heaven with great anticipation and are filled with compassion for those who are suffering and grieving. This is a gift that never could have accepted if we hadn’t shared our precious pearls of grief and pain.

I know it sounds crazy that what I thought for years was a punishment, I now see there was a great masterpiece that was being created.

It was Aurora and Elijah’s deaths that set us on a course to seek out G-d and find out truly who He is. He has generously and continuously revealed Himself in the most incredible ways.

His glory is in our story and I am forever grateful that He has allowed me to be Elijah Praise’s mother. I’m thankful for all the children He has given to reveal His heart of a Father and His love for every single person that He has created with great purpose and intention, no matter how long or brief their life is.

For those of us who walk these paths of grief, do not pity us. For there are treasures upon this winding path that are priceless. Our eyes are shifted to Heaven.

No, love never dies. It’s eternal. This life isn’t the end, rather it’s preparing us for destination that never ends, where there with be no more sickness, pain, or sorrow. We are Heaven-bound. My kids just got there before I did. Until that day that I join them, I believe they would want me to share all the love I had for them with everyone else.

Mommy loves you, Elijah. With streams of tears down my face I can honestly say, you changed our world for the better. We love you always.

When I finally make it home….

A Love to Last A Lifetime

Our story goes back to the summer of 1999. I grew up a quiet introvert. I could be bold if I needed (short girls are feisty) but preferred to be a wall flower. I left behind my old ways of life when I moved to Michigan and was determined to become a new person. I met a new friend who invited me out after work to go meet some her friends.

It was dark by the time we got to her friend’s house. She had warned me about a smooth talker named “Steve” (I changed his name to be respectful.) Taking a deep breath we stepped into the backyard where my life would never be the same again.

Seth approached me almost immediately. Since it was dark we couldn’t see each other and I found it easier to be myself. I kept wondering if this was the “Steve” I had been forewarned about. I finally asked him what his name was to which he replied, “My name is Seth,’ and I breathed a sigh of relief.

We talked for a few more hours and eventually had to head into the house. I was pretty worried because our conversation never skipped a beat and now I wondered if we would even be attracted to each other. We both headed into the house when he quickly disappeared. I found out later he ran straight to the bathroom to fix his hair. He finally came into the room and I was smitten. After that night, I literally called my friend a few states away to tell her that I had met the man who I was going to marry.

Each day I waited by the phone hoping he would call, but he didn’t. Two weeks later we ended up at yet another gathering and I saw him sitting on the other side of the room. My pulse quickened and I decided to stay focused on who I was with. Seth called out to me a few times but I didn’t hear him. We ended up meeting up later as we left to go to someone else’s house and finally connected. I had already agreed to go on another date with someone else when Seth decided to throw his hat into the ring.

He was so easy to talk to and so kind. I loved his easy-going nature. I also found him incredibly funny. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed as much as I have since being with him.

On September 1st, 1999 he asked me to be his girlfriend. We knew we wanted to get married only a few short weeks into dating. Our friends would tease us that we acted like an old married couple, we were made for each other. We were opposites and yet we completed each other.

He proposed on December 26th of that year at my favorite restaurant. Honestly, he could have given me a ring that came from a soda-can lid and I would have gladly said yes. One year and one day after he asked me to be his girl, we got married. I remember on our wedding day thinking, I could never love him more than I do right here in this moment, but I was wrong.

We’ve been through a lot in the past twenty years. Still to this day, I follow him around the house and love being with him. We talk on every break that he has at work. We’ve been through so much and definitely walked through several fires both figuratively and metaphorically. He is my best friend.

I adore and love him more each day. He works so hard, rarely complains, listens, and sees the best in everybody. He genuinely loves to help everyone. I look up to him so much and have longed to have his skills. His patience level is off the charts and honestly I could go on and on.

I remember being up at the hospital with our eldest son Elijah. The nurse was explaining with peritoneal dialysis that infections would become the norm. When Seth took over, he took it over so precisely that Eli only had one infection and it wasn’t related to the dialysis. I fell in love with him all over again as I watched him pour out his love to our son every moment that he was alive. My heart broke on the day when Eli passed away before our very eyes and I watched my husband drop to his knees and sob while calling out, “Please don’t go, my buddy…”

He held my hand as I walked deep into grief. As I began to lose myself he was always there to pull me back on track. He took giant leaps of faith with me as I felt the Lord urging us to have more children when to the rest of our community it seemed crazy.

He’s always believed in me. He sees the beauty in myself that still to this day is hard for me to see. I truly believe he is a leader of leaders. He loves to serve those around him and is eager to see everyone succeed. When I was angry at G-d, he led me back to church and reminded me that pain doesn’t come from our Father. We’ve grown together in our faith walk and constantly having deep conversations about our encounters with G-d.

We are celebrating his 40th birthday this weekend. I believe that G-d uses the number 40 to signify a period of testing to prepare us for what is to come. My sweet Seth has truly persevered through great struggles with such humility and grace. Our kids adore him beyond words and still jump on him the second he walks through our door. He continuously puts his time and desires on the back burner so that he can support us first. While he is imperfect, G-d truly has blessed us with a such a wonderful example of His love through my husband.

I love you Seth. I love you more than words can express. You are truly my “Happily Ever After.” I pick you every day and always will. You are my true companion and the world is a better place because of you.

Tomorrow is his birthday, but I wanted to give him a gift of recognition today (something he’d never ask for). I love this man and I would do anything for him (He knows this.). His example makes me want to be a better person every single day. His love has shown me how to love without expectation and judgment. His kindness has taught me how to reach out to others and leave my own desires behind.

I loved you then, now, and always.

Happy Birthday, my love.

It will always be you.

I Will Remember You…

I was speaking with my friend the other day. Often she will ask me questions about our children that have passed. I love these types of conversations as I find them quite therapeutic. I think it is a parent’s greatest fear that their child will be forgotten, not only by others but even by ourselves.

Each time I reminisce, it’s as if I’m able to watch a movie in my mind’s eye and step back in time.

And I’m there again.

Somehow we got on the discussion about would I want them to come back.

Years ago, I would have had a very different answer as it would have been more about what I wanted.  Now, I feel differently.

As I closed my eyes and stepped back into those last moments that our son Elijah was here, my heart sank. Seeing his tiny little body on such a large bed, while doctors and nurses frantically rushed around trying to save him. Watching the numbers on the machines rapidly decline while we helplessly stood there not knowing what to do.

I found myself wondering what he experienced in those moments. While we were listening to the machines beeping incessantly as we sobbed, he was listening to the songs of angels.

I often think of Jesus calling his name so peacefully, “Elijah. Elijah Praise. It’s time to come home.”

I imagine the pain leaving his body and the feeling of wholeness overwhelming his soul. I can only imagine Jesus picking him up with a jovial laugh and bringing him into a world he has never seen! To be surrounded by light so bright and color so vibrant that his eyes are wide with wonder!


Our family and friends who had gone on before him surround him with laughter as they pass him around for hugs and kisses. Then a hush falls over the crowd and everyone steps back. In comes our daughter Aurora with our other two that we never got to meet.

She steps forward in her white eyelet dress, bare feet, and cascading waves of blond hair down her cherub cheeks. “My brother!! We have been waiting for you!” Falling into a deep embrace and laughter, they snuggle together so tightly.

I was so deep in thought that my friend patiently called me back into reality, “Kelly. Kelly…”

“Oh yes, I’m so sorry. My answer would be no. I wouldn’t want him to have to come back into all that pain. It would be for my own desires that I would want him here.”

We sat in silence.

I never thought I would answer that question that way. My heart’s desire has always been to have more time here. Yet the more I learn about G-d and heaven, the more my heart has shifted to wait patiently till I get to go to them.

I often think of the scene in the movie, “The Shack” where the father gets to see his daughter in heaven. As he’s watching his daughter laugh and play around in the green meadow, he stands there lovingly gazing at his daughter. This is the turning point where he can finally be at peace to know she is more than okay.

How could I ever wish my children away from our final destination?

We have had the honor since then to walk beside so many wonderful people who have had to walk the hard road of child loss. Our society wants to convince us that since we didn’t have tangible time with them that it somehow should make it less painful.

Yet, we serve a loving Father who calls us His children.

He too understands the pain of losing His children on a daily basis. He created us to grieve as He grieves. He instilled the bond of a child being woven in the mother’s womb. That connection is not only endless, but it is also sacred.

If you speak to most parents who have lost a child, you will find that it isn’t only the heartache of the loss. It’s also the fear of losing that connection and that somehow they will be forgotten.

The way I feel about my children that I can hold on a daily basis is the way I still feel about the ones in Heaven. Like a mother who has left her kids with the babysitter and checks on them throughout the night, is like a mother who has lost her child. You never stop thinking about them. You never stop wondering what they are doing. You never stop wanting to hold them close.

We are called to be people of remembrance. We are also called to protect and cherish those that cannot speak. These little seeds whether they take root here on earth or in heaven have been divinely created for such a time as this.

Let us choose to look at remembrance as a blessing and not a curse. It is only in the deepest of pain that we realize how deeply we have loved.

You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.  Psalms 56:8 (NLT)


The Inheritance She Left Behind…

“Good people leave an inheritance to their grandchildren, but the sinner’s wealth passes to the godly.” Proverbs 13:22(NLT)


I used to think this was just about money and felt it was a pretty black and white statement. That is until my grandmother passed away in October. She lived to the ripe age of one hundred and would have turned 101 this month.  We know she lived a good long life, but it’s still so hard to say goodbye to someone who has been so constant in your life.

I had been working on her eulogy for several days and I was amazed at how much she had accomplished. She was from a large family that had little money. She was so intelligent that when she begged to go to college and her father said no because she was a girl, the nuns pleaded and changed his mind. She cherished her education and urged us to keep learning.

She was a classy lady that was always dressed properly for every occasion. I never heard her swear and her house was kept in pristine shape. Her and my grandfather were flipping houses long before that was even a thing. She was smart with money and gave abundantly. If you came to her house, she would put out a huge spread of food and set the table like you were royalty.

My parents ended up caring for her for the past eleven years. I am so thankful because we got to spend more time with her than we had when were growing up and living so far away. She went blind soon after she moved and we got to experience her in a whole new way. Every day she kept expecting her eyesight to return, but it never did. When I was sick and couldn’t eat, I was furious with everyone and everything. While she was frustrated, it brought on a humility that I have rarely seen anywhere. She was filled with gratitude, kindness, and smiles.

When I look back, I can’t believe I didn’t recognize this sooner. She was showing what it looks like to fully surrender to G-d’s plan and not be bitter by it, but to be grateful. As I thought of the words of Proverbs, all my life I had thought about it being about something financial, but it’s not just that. Everytime that we step into our identity as a child of G-d, His gifts for us not only blossom, but they flourish.

I would pray for my grandma to get her eyesight back regularly and often wonder why G-d hadn’t healed her. We believed by faith that she would be healed, yet His plan was different for her. He became her eyesight and her vision. It wasn’t a waste. She didn’t miss out. Rather, I think He changed her focus and her heart.

As soon as we had heard she slipped away my heart broke. I had been wanting to visit but wasn’t able to get to her due to my family being sick. As I started to live in regret, I was reminded of how she lived. She didn’t live in fear and anxiety, she lived in prayer. She thought about the good old days and not on her regrets. She was always thanking us and telling us how much she loved us, especially in those last years.

I now realize that the inheritance that my grandmother left behind was greater than any dollar amount. Instead, she left behind a priceless trail of intercessory prayer, faith, kindness, hospitality, humility, love, gratitude, and class.

Our pastor spoke about this verse:

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” Romans 1:1 (NLT)

This comforted me. I have realized in the past few years how much her prayers have changed our life for the better and I was thinking, who will pray for us now? She has not gone away, rather she stands with so many others who have gone before us and she is still cheering us on.  She has left behind a great inheritance of unwavering faith, devotion, and prayer for her family and I pray one day to do the same.



He Will Meet You There

Grief isn’t a place where most want to hang out. It takes great patience, perseverance, and peace that comes only from the hands of Heaven to help us hang on. I have been fighting my emotions all week. I have finally entered into a season of joy and hate the idea of backtracking to sorrow. It’s a season that plants seeds of good fruit, but it’s very heavy and deep. Yet I know it is where we do some of our best growing.

This is also the season of our first son Elijah. It is hard to not retrace our steps of where we were twelve years ago at this moment and all of the what should have been’s. While I know he is in Heaven free from pain, I will always be his mother. A mother never gets used to her children being gone.

Around the time that he died, the book, “The Shack,” came out. It was received with great controversy, but I didn’t care. I was on the brink of suicide and felt very angry about my loving Father taking my daughter and now my son.

As I read the book I could relate to the emotions of the main character and wept as he went on his journey to meet the trinity. It encouraged me at a time where I had no hope. I longed for the days of a movie to see how his journey of faith and grief would be played out to please my visual appetite.

With great excitement, the movie came out this March and again great controversy ensued. I wrestled with going, but my husband surprised me with a birthday date to see the movie.

I prayed before I went in and wondered if it was okay that I was even there. As the movie played, it reawoke a sleeping part of my grief that I thought had been long healed.

But it wasn’t.

As the lead character gets to meet G-d, Jesus, and Holy Spirit I felt this childlike faith enter in as he explores the necessary questions those who have had experienced loss ask. Not only that, but I could feel the Lord’s presence as he drained pain that had been locked away for so long, but encompassed with love.

I would love to go into detail, but I don’t want to ruin it for anyone. While we know that this is just a book, a story, it put into play emotions that had been long hidden in the secret places of my heart and the resolution was freedom.

For those of you who feel that this book isn’t a good depiction of sound doctrine, it’s a story. While I did just watch the movie, I encountered G-d. Not on the screen, but in my heart. He uprooted some deep pain that had been coursing through my thoughts for years and I KNOW He met me there.

I literally choked back my sobbing in a way I haven’t cried since the burial of my son. I felt years of oppressive thoughts of how G-d loved me and my children fade away, and finally, let go and see how my Father really sees me.

He is love.

I could barely stand up after the movie as I was so full of emotion. As I fought to keep my joy and stuff my tears I am reminded of these verses:

Ecclesiastics 7:2-4 NASB

“It is better to go to a house of mourning
Then to go to a house of feasting,
Because that is the end of every man,
And the living takes it to heart.

Sorrow is better than laughter,
For when a face is sad a heart may be happy.

The mind of the wise is in the house of mourning,
While the mind of fools is in the house of pleasure.”

As I listen to the words of Stephen Curtis Chapman’s song, “Jesus Will Meet You There,” the cello seems to be the sound of my heart’s cry. With each note, I can feel my emotions rise and fall with each movement of the bow.

I must have listened to his album a thousand times. To have someone be able to speak your pain into words, music, or a visually stimulating movie, it never ceases to amaze me how the Lord heals through creativity.

G-d is the Lord of creative miracles. Maybe today your head is buried in your hands and it seems like you hit a dead end. But I know my G-d is living and loves to resurrect what looks hopeless.

While you wait, know this, Jesus will meet you there. Your pain isn’t going to be wasted, know that beauty will come from these ashes.

But while you wait wherever you are, Jesus will meet you there.