I have been struggling with how to write this post for several weeks now. I start it in my head, then I get so overwhelmed with the enormity of it all, I give up. I start again (again in my head) and am worried I will leave someone out. Tonight, I am starting to write on the blog – we’ll see if I can do it! My parents taught me to be thankful from a young age. When someone did something unearned and undeserved, I learned the importance of saying thank you. I don’t think people did what they did to receive a thank you, but learning to say thank you helped me to see gratitude is probably as much for the recipient as it is for the giver. It reminds us we are undeserving.
Over the past eighteen months, you have all been God’s hands and feet. You have shown love and kindness to Kelsey, Alexa and me in literally countless ways. Bringing meals, watching and loving on Alexa, mowing our lawn, planting flowers, cleaning the house, sharing (and even writing) songs and poetry, photo and video sessions, calling to pray with us, sending notes, sharing your homes, helping financially, giving gifts, showing up at the house to spend time with us, sharing truth, sending books, passing along songs of hope, giving the gift of time, and on and on the list goes.
I had a pipe dream I would be able to write a hand-written note to each of you (and perhaps someday my dream can become a reality). Kelsey kept a list of all of the people who had invested in her life in some way until the days came when her hand was so sore it was tough for her to write. She would have me add to the list of people who had given some sort of tangible gift. The problem with the list we wrote down is there are many of you who are not included there. Many of you who prayed faithfully from the moment you heard of Kelsey’s condition until the day she breathed her last here on earth. The other problem is in the swirl of activity after Kelsey died, I was a bit less organized than she was and I know there are people who supported us in one way or another who are not written in the “giving book.”
So, forgive me friends! You may never receive a personal note to thank you for the gift you gave. So many of you gave gifts in memory of Kelsey. I think back now and it is incredible to think there was never a moment when I felt overwhelmed with any sort of financial burden. I honestly believe Alexa and I could live for three months on all of the gift cards we have received. You blessed us beyond measure and continue to do so. You have shared so many special memories of how Kelsey touched your lives, you ask me how Alexa and I are doing and are willing to listen and pray. My church family, both local and universal have been incredible in how you have poured out your love. My work family has been incredible in allowing me time to grieve. My family has been so incredibly supportive – what a blessing it is to have tremendous, godly parents and siblings on both Kelsey’s and my side of the family. I cannot imagine surviving the past 18 months without them. Multiple trips down to MD Anderson, multiple weeks they spent packed into our house – helping with Alexa and helping to care for Kelsey.
A thank you is really inadequate. My prayer is for God to bless each of you for the blessing you have been to me. My words cannot convey the overflowing gratitude I have in my heart as I see a significant part of my ongoing healing has to do with your prayers, love and support.
Are there hard days? Without a doubt. There are moments I look around and wonder how I will make it through the next minute. There are moments of utter exhaustion when I cry out for God’s mercy to get me through the hours before I can fall into bed. But, there are also nearly constant glimpses of God’s love and faithfulness – so many of those coming from you. So thank you! And, I thank God for you!
Please don’t stop now! I covet your prayers for Alexa and me. I am thankful for each time someone shares a song which encourages them, recounts a story of how Kelsey blessed their life, asks how I am doing, gives me a hug or shakes my hand and lets me know they are praying. Don’t stop! You won’t offend me when you bring up Kelsey in conversation. If I ever don’t have the ability to talk about her right then, I will let you know, but those times are very rare.
Many of you have asked how you can be praying for Alexa and me – here are a few specifics:
-- Pray for ongoing opportunities to share God’s love and grace with others. Like it or not, I have joined a community of people who lost spouses at young ages. I have been blessed with wonderful family and friends – others are not as fortunate. Pray I can glorify God in the way I live my life and point others to Him.
-- Pray for sweet times with Alexa. I want to be faithful to capture her memories of her mommy, so when aspects of her memory fade I can point to Kelsey’s tenacity of faith, love for others, and love for Alexa.
-- Pray for wisdom. There are more decisions to be made and time is very limited. Pray I can redeem the moments I have and make wise decisions with my time.
-- Pray for endurance. In a similar fashion, with everything to do, it can be a bit overwhelming at times. Ask God for strength for me to do the things which need to be done and trust Him for the non-crucial ones.
-- Pray for moments to grieve. In the chaos, it can be hard to find the time to take time to understand the loss.
Again, thank you! I have some insight into what Paul wrote in Philippians 1:3: “I thank my God every time I remember you.” I most certainly do thank God every time I remember you – while you may not receive a hand-written letter to that effect, it makes it no less accurate!
I’ll end with a less than perfect selfie of Alexa and me. Unfortunately you can’t see all of Alexa’s Elsa dress – she is very proud of it and was overjoyed when the package arrived in the mail from Mimi and Pop.