"For you have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling; I will walk before the LORD in the land of the living." Psalm 116:8&9

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Helpful Books on Grief and Suffering

Since losing Barry, reading has become a big part of how I spend my time.  I always loved to read, but it usually got trumped by other things - namely, spending time with my husband.  Now, it has not only become a way to fill lonely, dark hours of the night, but a way to fight sin and depression, to keep me focused on truth and not emotion, to process my grief and feelings, and to help me navigate this new journey I'm on.  The following are a list of books that I have found to be helpful during the last 3 months.

Passages of Scripture:
(While the words of men can be inspiring and helpful, nothing will ever hold more truth, bring more healing or show me God the way Scripture does)
Genesis 37-50 The story of Joseph
1 & 2 Samuel The Life of David
Psalm 30, 34, 40, 116, 121, 146, 147
Romans 5, 8
1 Peter (specifically 1:1-12, 3:8-22, 4:12-19)
Revelation 21:1-8

Suffering and the Sovereignty of God by John Piper and Justin Taylor
A Sweet and Bitter Providence by John Piper
Holding on to Hope by Nancy Guthrie
A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis
Let Me Grieve but not Forever by Verdell Davis
Hudson Taylor's Spiritual Secret by Dr. and Mrs. Howard Taylor

Sunday, May 23, 2010


It's been an interesting 24 hours...

My wonderful parents kept the kids on Friday night so I could get some sleep.  I'm amazed at how tired I am lately.  This single mom thing is hard!  So, I slept.  A lot.  God was preparing me.

On Saturday morning (while out to eat with my parents), Layla got sick.  Very sick.  She threw-up 4 times.  Poor grandparents.  I called our pediatrician and got some Zofran for her.  It worked.  I put the kids to bed at 7pm.  At 8pm, William started screaming in his bed.  Poor little man was sick too.  Over the next 2 hours, he threw up 7 times.  After talking to the pediatrician (again!), I decided it was time to go to the emergency room.  So at 11pm, my parents came over so mom could stay with Layla and dad could go to the ER with me and Will.  It was not a fun night.  He ended up needing an IV, throwing up more than 10 times (I lost count) and we finally came home at 5am.  

I must say though, in all of the sickness and exhaustion, I found myself extremely thankful.  Thankful for the following reasons:

1.  I have insurance.  
2.  I live 20 minutes away from one of the best children's hospitals in the nation.
3.  I have parents that will drop everything to come help.
4.  Layla, although sick, didn't need to go to the hospital.  
5.  The Holy Spirit woke up a dear friend to pray for us - she had no idea what was going on.  She texted me around midnight to tell me she was praying for me.  It brought so much comfort.  
6.  The IV and meds worked quickly.  
7.  William is already feeling so much better.  The little virus he has claims the lives of thousands of children each week in other parts of the world because they don't have medicine and healthcare.  
8.  And most importantly, 3 of us walked into the ER together and 3 of us walked out of the ER together.  Thank you God for your provision and healing.

I can guarantee that I would not have been so thankful in this situation 3 months ago.  I would have been irritated.  I would have whined about being tired.  It's amazing how the most painful thing I've ever experienced has brought me to a place of such gratitude.  Each day is a gift - not always easy, but a sweet, precious gift from the Creator.  

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Father's Love

My children are great sleepers - they are easy to put to bed, they sleep all night, they wake up happy.  So when they cry out during the night, something is wrong.  A few nights ago, the kids had been asleep for several hours and I was sitting on the couch in my living room crying.  Well, sobbing really.  You know that kind of cry that is just gross?  I had been reading my Bible and praying, taking my grief before the Lord, and just felt so alone.  And between sobs, I began to hear William sobbing in his bed.  It was amazing how my tears and my pain were suddenly irrelevant.  I ran upstairs to William's room and found him sitting in the dark crying, missing his daddy.  My heart broke.  I would have done anything to take away his pain.  And the Lord spoke to my heart.

Just like I run to William when he is crying and would do anything to take away his pain and fear, I have a Father who loves me.  He holds me as I weep.  He covers me with his hand.  And even when everything is confusing and crazy, I know He has a perfect plan.  So I must trust him.  I must remember that that while I might find myself sitting alone on my couch again, sobbing uncontrollably, I am never really alone.  My Father feels my pain, holds me as I cry and whispers, " I love you," in the dark silence.  

"He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds." Psalm 147:3

Friday, May 14, 2010

Loving, Protecting and Providing for Your Loved Ones Even in Death - DNR, Organ/Tissue Donation

This is the first in a series of posts about how you can help your loved ones handle the "business side" of death, should the unfortunate occur.

Five years ago, Barry's mom was diagnosed with cancer. For 16 months, she underwent aggressive treatment in an effort to save her life. Unfortunately, she went home to be with Jesus in November 2006. During the last 16 months of her life and following her death, Barry and I had to make some difficult decisions. We were blessed to be able to ask her opinion on many of those decisions before she died.

All of this forced us to have some conversations about death and our desires in death at a very young age. I had no idea I would be faced with these decisions again only a few short years later. Looking back, I am thankful that we were forced to have these conversations. When Barry passed away, I did not have to agonize over what to do with his body or how to handle arrangements - he had told me what he wanted only a few years before. Believe it or not, it helped tremendously.

My hope for you if you are reading this, is that you will have these same conversations with your family or spouse now. I know it is not an enjoyable subject to discuss. But I do believe that by having these conversations, you are loving, protecting and providing for your loved ones - even in death.

So, here goes....

DNR - Do Not Resuscitate
A DNR is a legal document that states that resuscitation should not be attempted if a person suffers cardiac or respiratory arrest. Basically, it is helpful for your loved ones to know if you want CPR preformed to resuscitate you should your heart stop or you stop breathing.

For us, all signs pointed to the fact that my husband had suffered brain damage, but confirming tests could not be performed because he was not stable enough to move for the testing. I had to decide if I wanted CPR performed during testing. I decided to give permission for a DNR order only after family had seen him one last time and had had the opportunity to say goodbye in case he died during testing.

In making decisions about a DNR, you need to understand that there are no black and white situations. So many different things can happen. Instead, what you need to focus on is helping your loved ones understand what extremes you want doctors to go to in a life-threatening situation.

Organ Donation
In the event of your death, so you want your organs donated to another person in need? This is a very personal decision. That is why it is important to discuss it now. You need to take into account your religious beliefs. You also need to take into account how your family feels about donation.

The donation process takes approximately 24 hours. It is not like what you see on tv. Organ donation requires surgery. It often requires certain medical procedures before the operation to prepare the body for the donation. (For example, my husband need several hours of dialysis before they could begin harvesting his organs.) It is not quick. But, it will not interfere with funeral arrangements. And, you can still have an open casket viewing and funeral if you choose to donate.

There are no medical expenses incurred by the family for donation procedures. Also, if you decide to donate, some funeral homes will reduce the cost of services rendered for the deceased.

Tissue Donation
While organ donation is fairly well understood by the public, tissue donation is not. Most people do not even know that tissue donation is an option. In tissue donation, skin, bone, veins and eyes are removed from the deceased and used for medical purposes in a number of other people. When someone agrees to tissue donation, more than 10 people can be helped. Often, the tissue used can help save someone's life, or greatly increase the quality of life in another individual. Skin can be used for burn victims. Eyes can give the gift of sight. Veins can be used for those undergoing heart surgery. There is a great need specifically for eyes and for veins from young men.

Tissue donation is done after organ donation. If there is not organ donation, often times, no medical procedures are needed beforehand. Again, tissue donation will not interfere with funeral arrangements and you can still have an open casket viewing and funeral (the only issue is that if doing bone donation, bone is taken from the upper arm and it is recommended that the deceased be dressed in a long-sleeved shirt.)

Just like with organ donation, there are no medical expenses incurred by the family for donation procedures and some funeral homes will reduce the costs of services rendered for the deceased.

For more information on organ and tissue donation, check out this website: http://www.donatelife.net/

How to Help Your Grieving Friend

A few weeks after losing Barry, I came across Molly Piper's blog.  She has an amazing story.  She also has amazing resources for helping a grieving friend.  Molly wrote 11 articles on what those who are grieving experience and how to help them.  As I read these articles, I found myself over and over again saying, "Yup.  That's me.  That's exactly how I feel.  That's exactly what I need."  

Take the time to read her words.  You never know when God will give you an opportunity to minister to the hurting world around you.  

http://mollypiper.com/   (The article links are on the right side)

I have been blessed to walk this road of grief with some amazing friends.  To those of you who have brought me meals, cleaned my house, mowed my lawn, helped me with home maintenance and watched my kids as I've gone ot counseling - THANK YOU!  I would be an absolute mess without you.  You have brought much glory to the Father through your service.  

"Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,  you did it to me.’" Matthew 25:37-39

Learning to Walk

"For you have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling; I will walk before the LORD in the land of the living." Psalm 116:8&9

If you have read any of my other posts, you know that Psalm 116 is a passage that God used to instruct and encourage my heart while Barry was in the hospital and after he passed away. While Barry was in the ICU, I read Psalm 116 over him continually, begging God for his healing and restoration. My desire was to see him walk out of that hospital. He did not.

Over and over again, in the reading I have done on grief, I see the same analogy used for how it feels to loose someone close to you - an amputation. Scripture tells us that when two people are married, they become one. Barry and I were truly one. And the day he died, a piece of me died. Now, I have to relearn how to live life without him. I have to learn how to again walk before the Lord in the land of the living.

Today is May 5. It has been two months since Barry died. And today, my sweet baby girl finally took her first steps. They were shaky and unconfident. She only took about 4 steps before she fell. And then, she tried again.

I am amazed at how the Lord gently speaks to me. I am amazed at his grace and mercy. I think it is no accident that Layla took her first steps today. It was God's gentle way of reminding me that though I feel like my legs have been amputated and I have no business walking in the land of the living, he will help me learn to walk again. He has saved my soul from death through the death of His Son. I will stop crying one day. And though tragedy has caused me to stumble, I can and will walk again - with confidence.

By the end of the week, I'm sure Layla will be walking all over this house. And then she will run. It may take me a little longer, but I have faith that I too will be walking again soon. And because of the faithfulness and generosity of God, one day I will run.

Helpful Children's Books about Grief

Talking with children about death is one of the most challenging and painful things I have ever had to do. I will write another post on how I told my 3-year-old son that his daddy had died very unexpectedly. This post is to share with you some helpful books that we have used in the days and weeks after loosing my husband.

What Is Heaven Like? by Beverly Lewis
I love this book! It is a beautifully illustrated (by Pamela Querin) story about a boy who's grandfather dies. Each page is about the boy asking a different person about what heaven is like. Each answer tells us about what we will see and do in heaven. The thing I love most about this book is that each page has a scripture on the bottom that is the basis for each idea about heaven. It ends with discussing how a person gets to heaven - by loving and trusting Jesus. 

Help Me Say Goodbye by Janis Silverman
My sweet friend Kim sent me this book shortly after Barry died. It is an activity book to help children process and cope with the death of a loved one. Each page gives an activity for the child to draw or write about different feelings and memories the child has about their loved one. Here is an example of one of the activities my son and I did together:
Instructions: Draw your special someone. What do you like to do with your special someone?
(Since Will is 3, he's learning how to draw. He would tell me what to draw - "Momma, draw daddy's head," and he would add the eyes and mouth or color objects in. The pictures of the things Will liked to do with daddy were drawn my me, as dictatcted by Will.)

Clinging to the Cross in Dark Times

It is very difficult to grasp the love of God. As believers, we feel it, see it and believe it. But we experience all those things through eyes and hearts of sin. Sin has robbed us of full and complete knowledge of the love of God. As we are sanctified, our understanding of the love of God grows deeper. And as we experience the joys and pains of life, still deeper.

On Wednesday night, March 3, my husband Barry was admitted into the hospital with what we would learn was Tylenol poisoning. In less than 2 hours, he was transfered into the ICU with kidney and liver failure. Needless to say, fear and despair ran through my soul in a way that cannot be described with words. I spent several hours in the ICU that night crying out to God to save him - to heal his body and restore his health. His nurse told me that he would probably not survive - and if he did, he would need dialysis for the rest of his life. My parents took me home for a few hours in the middle of the night to rest, but rest did not come. But in the darkness of that bedroom, I heard from God.

You see, I knew that I was watching my husband die. I was praying for, begging for and trusting in God to heal. I knew He had the power. But I also knew that He might not choose to exercise that power.

In what seemed so horrible, I came to a deeper understanding of the love of God. The agony of watching the love of my life die was unbearable. I would have given ANYTHING to make his pain stop, to see him healed. Yet in my agony, I could not stop thinking about the cross. How could God, all-powerful God, watch His Son suffer and die? Knowing the love I have for Barry pales in comparison to the love God has for Jesus, I was overwhelmed with the sacrifice of God on my behalf. I am undeserving of the death of Jesus on the cross. Yet God loves me so much that He not only allowed, but orchestrated the death of His Son on the cross for me. Even now, my mind cannot completely wrap around that kind of love.

So, as I walk a very painful road, I walk it knowing that I am deeply loved. The God who loves me so deeply will carry me through this pain. He will carry my children through their pain. He will carry His church through their pain. And He will continue to show us how much He loves us. A love so amazing, so divine it demands my heart, my soul, my all.

Thank you God for the cross. Without it, I would never know love. Because of it, I know true love.

Saying Goodbye - Barry's Eulogy

On March 9, Barry's memorial service was held. It was a beautiful service that reflected everything his life stood for. I am so thankful to The Village Church for all their support and help in holding the service. 

In the days leading up to the service, I spent hours trying to write Barry's eulogy. I literally wrote 7 or 8 different versions and wasn't satisfied with any of them. How was I supposed to honor the man who was my best friend, father of my children and soul mate in a few short minutes? God had done so much in his life, I struggled to find a way to communicate everything that his life was about. Everyone at that service knew what he believed, what his life was about. So I decided to tell them about the man off the stage. The man that only a few people got to see. I spoke of his "adventures" throughout the years - jumping in an alligator pit at a zoo and starting an after-school program for kids who needed Christian men in their lives to point them to Jesus. I spoke of his soft side - calling me countless times from out of town to sing to me. I spoke of his love for our children - nightly giving the kids a bath (which often included splashing contests and learning about sharks) and nightly Bible reading and prayer. And I spoke of his passion and love for Providence Church - his desire to see a community changed by the gospel of Jesus through the church he started. 

I ended Barry's eulogy with a scripture God took me to while he was in the hospital the last days of his life: “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.” Psalm 116:15 

Charles Spurgeon said this about the verse: "Saints will not die prematurely; they will be immortal until their work is done. When their time comes to die, their deaths will be precious. The Lord watches over their death beds, smoothes their pillows, sustains their hearts, and receives their souls. Those who are redeemed with the priceless blood are so cherished by God that even their deaths are precious to him. The death beds of saints are precious to the church, and she often learns much from them. They are precious to believers who treasure the last words of the departed. But they are most precious to the LORD Jehovah. He views the triumphant deaths of His gracious ones with sacred delight. If we have walked before Him in the land of the living, we need not fear to die before him when the hour of our departure is at hand. "

My hope in sharing this and in posting it here, is that we would all rest in the knowledge that God called Barry and those who have also passed away home at the perfect time because their work was done. Until my work is done and Jesus calls me home, I will continue to fight for everything the Keldie family stands for. Come, Lord Jesus, Come!