“Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But the endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing” James: 1:2-4.
When 2011 started out, we had no way of knowing what God had planned in our lives. We started out January 1st, 2011 with 2 beautiful boys and we thought our lives were so full. Kyler, our oldest son was 3 ½ years old and our 2nd son Kael was 11 ½ months old, he would turn one year old on the 26th of January. But everything changed so quickly for us on January 7th, 2011. Our son, Kael passed away during a nap at his daycare shortly after he fell asleep. Kael was a healthy little boy and so full of life. We still don’t know medically why Kael’s little heart stopped that day, but we do know that God wanted to take Kael to heaven that day. God has a purpose. We may never fully understand why our family had to go through this but in the grand scheme of things; our understanding won’t help us heal. We have seen God work through each one of us. God has helped us touch so many people through our faith and the strength He has given us.
Before I go on, let me tell you a little bit about our children. Kyler is all boy and very energetic. He loves to run around, play with construction trucks and legos, and loves everything orange. Kyler is just full of spirit. Kyler helped to keep us going and his childlike faith was an inspiration to us. We experienced several Holy Spirit moments with Kyler; it was so neat to see God working in Kyler as well. During the first few months after Kael’s death, Kyler would randomly sing “Jesus Loves Me” and that made us feel like God was right there with us in that moment. Kyler had many questions, and we tried to be as honest and open with him as you can be with a 3 1/2 year old. God helped us to answer the questions that we did know the answers to or understand.
Kael was our laid-back son. He loved watching his brother and Kyler made him laugh more than anyone. Kael was crawling and had just learned how to walk all by himself the week before he passed away. He had bright blue eyes and always smiled. He was a happy and content baby who loved to be held. He loved it when we danced around the kitchen, tickled him and sang songs to him. Kael just smiled every time we sang the Johnny Appleseed prayer at mealtime. He was such a joy to be around and his smile would light up a room.
About 1 ½ months after Kael passed away, we found out we were pregnant. This was a bittersweet moment. We were happy to welcome another baby into our family, but it made us miss Kael more. We knew God has a plan for this baby and she is a gift that has helped our faith grow even more. God is good. She is an example of that and we are putting our faith in God to help us parent our children with the faith that God will take care of them. The birth of our baby also gave us something to look forward to especially on the dark days. Grieving the loss of my son and experiencing a pregnancy was not easy but on the days and moments that were full of sadness, they are interrupted by kicks from a little girl who reminds me God is with me. Our beautiful baby girl, Kella Faith arrived on November 10th, 2011 and she has brought us so much joy. If you are a parent, you know that with each child you have, the more your heart grows and expands to love all your children. And that is what happened for us. Kella does not replace Kael or the love we have for him but she added much more love to our hearts. She is a blessing and we are so happy she is part of our family.
As we look back before Kael passed away, we know that God was preparing us for what we were going to experience in several ways. I knew how quickly the baby stage would be over so I always held Kael a little longer, hugged him a little closer and kissed him a little more. I just knew after having my first son that the baby stage goes by so quickly so I was going to savor it with Kael. I think God put that on my heart so I would take advantage of the time I had with him on this earth. The night before Kael passed away, we finished his first birthday party invitations, and we made chocolate cupcakes. Kael got to eat one; it was his first cupcake. We were so glad he got to have a birthday cake here with us before he went to heaven. The morning of Kael’s passing, I was listening to the Bible on CD as I drove. The last story I heard that morning was the story of Abraham sacrificing Isaac. As I listened to the story, I kept thinking how hard it would be for a parent to sacrifice their child. I couldn’t comprehend it, and then I thought about how God sacrificed his son for us. That afternoon, I got the call about Kael. God was preparing us. “And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” Phillippians 4:7.God has helped us walk with Him through our grief. Just like the Footprints poem, God carried us especially during the first few months when we didn’t know how to live with the loss of our son. We were Christians before Kael passed away, and afterward we relied and trusted in God to carry us through this time. God put several people in our lives to help us through this time, and we are very thankful for them. Daily, I pray Philippians 4:13 “I am able to do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” This prayer helps us to keep going each day, and God gives us strength. Now that we feel like the fog has lifted, God is showing us how to live our lives without Kael but all for Him. We are two broken-hearted parents that want to remember our son and follow God’s path for our family. Our story is still being written and we are putting our faith and trust in God to lead us each and every day.
In the last seven years since Kael passed away, we have seen God do amazing things in our lives and the lives of those around us. God put on our hearts to start the Kael Man race to honor God, remember our special little boy, and help bring orphans home to their forever families. Over the years, we have met so many families from around the U.S. who stepped out in faith praying God would help them to adopt children who needed loving homes. We have heard remarkable stories of the way God has used the Kael Man race and the funds to unite waiting families with their children at just the right time. We have been so blessed to be part of this and watch God do far more than we imagined. We set out to remember Kael and do something good, but God had far bigger plans. We did not know that when we started this race and the grants, that God would soften and open our hearts to adoption for our family. But that is exactly what He did. When Kael passed away, God set into motion His plans for our family that we did not understand, but we had faith that His plan is good because He is always good. God is now calling us to adopt children into our family, and we are at complete peace knowing we are on the right path for our family.