OnlyAdverb – “and no one or nothing more besides”


This is for the mother  of an “only” child.


This is for the mother of an “only” child  who has battled infertility.

The mother who has tearfully pleaded with Jesus for their “only” child.

The mother who bravely marched on year after year without answers.

The mother who knew that even one child would defy all likelihood.

The mother whose heart burst with joy as she was  brought to her knees over those two little lines.

The mother who rocks her “only” child just a little bit longer, and hugs her “only” baby just a little bit tighter because she is constantly  aware that the very breath in their lungs is a miracle.


This is for the mother of an “only” child who has lost children.

The mother who holds the hand of one child through the store, and the heavy love of so many more in her heart.

The mother who see siblings playing in the park and an involuntary pang of guilt and grief shoot through her  body.

The mother who will forever stumble over the question, “How many children do you have?”.

The mother who aches for the chaos of a full house.

The mother who secretly cries because she never even got to hold her other children.


This is for the mother of an “only” child who chose to have an “only” child.

The mother who battled postpartum so profoundly that it simply was not a choice to go through that mental anguish again.

The mother whose family is joyfully completed by that one perfect soul.

The mother who poured every last dime into adopting that one incredible kid.

The mother who prayed for wisdom, and the Lord answered with “only” one child.

The mother who couldn’t imagine doing life any other way.


This for the mother of an “only” child…

…who lost her spouse and proudly faces life with her “only” child at her side.

…whose body can no longer carry a baby into this world.

…whose marriage would be enormously strained by another child.

…who makes just enough money to feed and clothe her “only” child.

…who is scared that she just couldn’t  handle another baby.


You are a mother of a child made in the image of God.


Your child is EVERYTHING to Jesus.


Your worth as a mother has nothing to do with the number of children under your roof, and everything to do with the fact that the Creator of the Universe called YOU to nurture, love, and raise this AMAZING creation.


You are worthy of the title of Mother.


You should never feel or be made to feel anything less than a mother who pours every ounce of love and energy she has into the child she is raising.


You will sometimes grow weary. You will be pushed to your limits – the number of children you are raising does not determine whether or not you are allowed to lose your mind because a tiny human has exhausted every resource you have.


You will be questioned: “Why did you choose to have “only” one kid?” “When is number two coming?”.


You will be doubted: “It is so much easier shopping with just one in the grocery store.” “Oh – just one is NOTHING!”


You are still a mother.


You have been chosen by God to raise up a soul to spread  the radical outrageous  love of Jesus.


Your calling is awesome and huge.


This is for the mother of an “only” child.


Your child is everything.


I see you.


You are doing an AMAZING work.


You’re 3!

September 15, 2015

I’ve been relatively silent over the past 2 years.

We wanted your story told. We needed our world to know about you. We wanted to chronicle each moment of your brief life – from the first heartbeat to the last.

But that is such a small part of your story Keller. Your story is still being told. You are still doing mighty and incredible things 3 years later. So much more of your story needs to be told.

I think I’m finally ready to tell part 2 of your amazing life Keller Norman.

Last year I couldn’t even bring myself to write on your 2nd birthday.


I’ve mentioned the mental health demons I battled head on during Keller’s pregnancy. After our Zoe was born the demons returned with fury. I sank. Depression, OCD, Panic, & Anxiety nearly buried me.

I do NOT say this lightly when I say, it was the darkest time in my life.

I groped for a light I couldn’t find. I clenched my fists and held on as tight as I knew how while being bloodied and beaten by demons. I searched for an ounce of hope that eventually the day wouldn’t end with me begging, broken, and desperate. Most days I couldn’t find the hope. I cried openly and often. My mom lived with us for nearly 3 months. I lived in constant panic. I wanted to hide. For months there was not a moment that I did want to sprint as quickly as I could and hide under something dark, heavy, and secure. Nothing felt safe. Nothing felt the same. Nothing felt good. I only held on so tirelessly because those who had found their way out of the darkness assured me deliverance would come. I only held on because I had seen God’s love break through the black of death first hand. I couldn’t see the light then. Sometimes I waivered in believing the dawn would come. Slowly the sky faded from black to blue. The blue melted into reds and purples and oranges and yellows. The sun rose. It always does. It always will. It’s ok if you can’t see the sunrise right now. It’s a tunnel – not a cave.


This year – I can write. Happy 3rd birthday baby boy! The sun has risen!

God has worked through the hands of so many to bring me to this place of rich, deep, genuine joy. Your big sister Mary just started Kindergarten and is absolutely thriving. Praise God! We continue to cover each school day in prayer and I am just so confident His light will shine through the darkness. Your little sister Zoe is starting to walk and talk, and I just KNOW you would love, love, love playing with her. I miss you. We all miss you. Mary talks about you the most. She never forgets you in family drawings. She always draws you and Jesus together in the sky. I like that she always draws Jesus in our family too. She is excited about you turning 3, and maybe starting preschool in Heaven? We think it would be AMAZING if Jesus was your preschool teacher. I mean – I’ve known Him for a while – maybe I can pray in a request ;).

Your Dad and I miss you all the time.

We have met so many new people in the past 3 years. We miss you most when people ask how many children we have. That question never gets easier. I never don’t stumble over my answer. Your Dad and I both wish we could boldly and confidently say “We have got a boy in Heaven, and his name is Keller, and we REALLY love and miss him”. But that’s hard. Sometimes it’s easier than other times. Sometimes it’s just a perfunctory response to the cashier, “Yup, these are our two girls.” It hurts every time because it means you aren’t here. It means for a short time you were, and now you are not. The question always puts a sort of burden on my heart. We are selfish. We really want you. We want our son. We want a 3 year old boy running around with his goofball 5 & 1 year old sisters.

But the really cool thing is that while our arms ache to scoop you up, hug you tight, and read you bedtime stories in your monster footed jammies – in so many ways – you ARE here. You are still living. You are with Jesus. You are doing incredible work here. It blows our minds how much goodness God has created through your tiny and perfect life.

We love you so much and we want the world to know that you are our son – but we are so thrilled that you are and forever will be His son.

We can’t wait to see you both in full glory. The day we are all born again to the fullness this world desperately lacks. The best birthday.

Happy 3rd Birthday Keller!

September 15, 2015

I pray for you.

I want to be writing about giant joy bubbles that burst with mushy gushy infatuation.

I want to be writing about lazy days filled with quiet cuddles and precious new coos.

I want to be writing about dreamy moments of simple motherhood.

While there very much have been bubbles, coos, and moments, most of the string of days post partum have been littered with panic and dread.

I feel guilty for even writing that.

However, I need to speak my truth to give a voice to those that cannot form the words to describe the terror inside.

So. This is for you new mom.

To the new moms who carry guilt for not savoring each morsel of motherhood, or even more, fearfully dislike the doldrums of this new life – I pray for you.

To the new moms who are plagued with irrational fears – fears that you will somehow lose control and harm the children that you love more intensely than you knew possible – I pray for you.

To the new moms whose minds become foggy and melancholy courses through your veins – I pray for you.

To the new moms that frantically search the internet, certain that something is intensely wrong, and you are going insane – I pray for you.

To the new mom who weeps – ashamed, lonely, and isolated – I pray for you.

To the new mom who questions her value and her worthiness of motherhood – I pray for you.

I storm the heavens for you because I intimately know the torment you are experiencing.

I am so sorry.

I love you.

I pray for you.

I’m struggling to know what else to write or say that wouldn’t be somewhat hypocritical. While you are in the throws of postpartum depression, anxiety, or OCD, it’s difficult to encourage someone to hang on and assure them that this indeed will get better because truth be told in most moments I cannot even fathom a world where this torture relents.

So this is an open letter both to myself, and the new moms.

Hang on tight. It’s a wild ride, but YOU ARE NOT ALONE. I’m here, even if no one else is.

You are not a bad mother – your brain and body are just struggling to interpret these raging hormones and emotions.

You will not harm anyone. It doesn’t matter how gripping, petrifying, and real the intrusive, irrational fears may seem. Feelings aren’t facts. Thoughts aren’t truths.

It’s ok to not enjoy each moment of motherhood. No one enjoys each aspect of any job, and motherhood is one giant job – so giant in fact it often knocks us to our knees and makes us question everything.

You are not crazy – you are just tired and need a snack. And maybe someone to hold your hand and scratch your back.

Those who have never experienced any form of mental illness or distress can’t understand simply because their brains work and interpret things differently. When reaching out to others – keep this in mind and pile all the grace you can on top of yourself.

Go out and get help. Shout it from the rooftops if you have to. If you don’t know where to start – message me.

If this reads melodramatic – you have not experienced this agony. Take a moment to pause and praise God .

I love you sister. I pray for you.

God provides every time – even in the darkness.



Two Days.

In two days, we will be going to the hospital to be induced with our third child.

Two days.

In two days, little sister will begin making her entrance into this world. A world that shouts his majesty from the mountaintops, and whispers His glory through the cracks.

In two days, my pregnancy with this thriving, wiggling, chubby-cheeked little girl will be replaced with a crying, sleepy-eyed, trusting infant in my arms.

This pregnancy has been a screaming-from-the-rooftops testimony of the love, peace, and power of our Abba Father.

He has gently, but firmly held my hand with each step. He has surrounded me with a host of His children. Children that are filled with His Spirit, and love, and unflinching dedication. My name, my husband’s name, and my children’s names have been laid at the feet of our Lord by souls across the country.

Until recently, I have trusted, nearly effortlessly, because as I walked out towards Jesus on these unknown waters, the waves gently and almost kindly lapped around my feet.

In two days, we will be going to the hospital to meet our third child.

In the past month, my heart and mind have begun to register the reality and weight of this truth. The waves have grown and the fear has mounted, as I work to balance the terror alongside growing joy and excitement. My eyes keep flickering away from Jesus. My eyes keep darting towards to rolling waves and my unsteady feet.

Anxiety and panic have inched their way in, and honestly –

I’m just scared.

My obsessive compulsive brain registers this fear and morphs it into intrusive, unrelenting, unreasonable, and absurd fears. I keep looking at these fears. Meditating on the “what-if” scenario. Panicking over panic.

The waves.

Truthfully, most moments I’m looking directly down at stormy waters. I find my heart begin to trust – not only in the senseless, constant fears – but simply in the fact that these waves exist, and navigating through the waters will be full of hazards, panic, and disorder. And I’m scared. I’m scared about everything. EVERYTHING.

And then, for a moment, I look up.

Jesus is still there. Still reaching out with a soft reassuring smile and a gentle, but firm hand.

“He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.”

Mark 4:39

“The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.”

Matthew 7:25

“But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

“Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” 

Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” 

And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Matthew 14:27-32

“You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”

1 John 4:4

“Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” “

Exodus 14:13-14

“You need only be still”. Fix my eyes Jesus. Set my eyes. Make me to stare deeply into your eyes and see.  May I be soul-assured of just how deep the Father’s love for us. Make me to trust “without borders”. Gift me an even greater trust in your divine, undeniable might. May the whispers of your love drown out the deafening roar of the thundering waves.

In two days, I will be literal inches and moments away from meeting our daughter.

I love her with such a fierce, protective, all encompassing love that any threat – no matter how minute or unrealistic – causes me to instinctively and completely dive headlong into any possible answer or solution to keep her safe, sheltered, and secure.

HOW MUCH MORE Abba Father do you love me – your daughter? My love is imperfect and partial. Your love is perfect, complete, and fathomless. You love me more deeply than I have ever loved Mary, Keller, or baby sister. This is more than I can reach my mind around. You love me bigger, more fiercely, and more perfectly than the most powerful love I have ever known.

I am your child and you are begging me, “Peace, be still.”

You will carry me.

You won’t stop now.

In two days, we will step into a hospital, preparing our hearts, minds, and bodies to meet our little girl.

She will come into this world, and I will scoop our daughter tightly into my arms, with tears of joy and gratitude in my eyes, and whisper, “I will never stop loving you. I will never stop protecting you. I will give all of myself for all of you.”

Abba will also scoop me up into His tender and magnificent arms and whisper, “I will never stop loving you. I will never stop protecting you. I have given all of myself for all of you.”


The Hardest Thing

10 years ago
, the heartache and tears following a break up was the hardest thing I had ever been through. I felt and mourned deep loss of romance and friendship. I cried and rarely felt like leaving my apartment. I became quite literally sick with grief.

5 years ago
, social and relational anxiety was the hardest thing I had ever been through. I was a newlywed navigating unknown territory of what it meant to be a wife, as well as what it meant to have and love a husband. I had just moved across the country and I was completely immersed in a new culture, climate, and circle of friends. My deep southern roots slowly adjusted to the fast paced diversity of the Silicon Valley. I cried nearly every single day for an entire year. I wasn’t sad and I wasn’t miserable. Rather, I was deeply unsure of myself, and my new role in this drastically differently life.

3 years ago, new motherhood, breastfeeding, and Post Partum Anxiety were the hardest things I had ever been through. They brought me to my knees and threatened my stability. I had entered motherhood expecting my transition to be natural and effortless. However, in the first year, I gulped equal amounts water and air, as I struggled to keep my head just above the surface. Intrusive thoughts petrified and immobilized me. In the first 3 months, my daughter screamed from 30 minutes to 5 hours every single time I attempted to feed her. I was guilt ridden, scared, and exhausted.

1 year ago, giving birth to my stillborn son, Keller NormanBartlett, was the hardest thing I had ever been through. My husband and I shattered as we labored to bring his lifeless body into this world. Words are insufficient to describe this type of pain and sudden, shocking loss. The days, weeks, and months to follow have often been battlefields – ridden with pain attacks, depression, and anger.

Comparison is an evil and deceptive enemy. It lies and tells us that our joy is insufficient and our pain is inconsequential. Even worse, it deceives us into thinking our friends and family’s joys are mediocre and their pain minute in comparison to whatever battle you yourself may be facing.

As mothers, I think we are especially susceptible to falling into the pit of comparison. We are bombarded with pictures, videos, and stories detailing the “highlight reel” of other family’s lives. Without much thought, we can trip into the darkness of believing we need more (clothing, housing, activities, romance, holiness) in order to achieve the “same level” of happiness, contentment, and joy. We rob ourselves of the abundance and goodness surrounding us. Comparison literally blinds us. We become incapable of realizing and accepting our own joy.

Equally, we are very often met with the darkest and most painful moments in other’s lives. Newsfeeds are filled with “case of the Mondays” hardships, personal confessions of struggle and depression, prayer requests for heartache, and the deep groaning’s of death. The corruption of comparison reaches to pain as well.

10 years ago, the hardest thing I had ever faced was – simply – a break up. The trials and hardships I have faced since, can and have caused me to scoff and mock my 20 year old self. I had “no idea what true pain was”. This is false and caustic comparison. 10 years ago – the heartache of that lost friendship brought me to my knees. I wept to God that He would mend that relationship. He didn’t. He knew the pain and growth were far more beneficial than a temporary patching of my heart. Many who had known far greater pain, could have grinned and said “there, there”. They didn’t. They hunkered down by my side, saw my pain for what it was – the hardest thing I had ever been through – and prayed, and loyally and patiently kept by my side.

As mothers, it is difficult to meet the pain of other mothers and not compare it to your own.

“At least their baby doesn’t have colic!”

“At least they have parents near to help out.” 

“At least their husband is home!”

“It’s just a stomach bug…”

“I wish my kid only woke up twice a night.”

We see the pain of others and almost instinctively compare it to our own struggle (or at least I do). We minimize the pain of others because poisonous comparison has entered into our hearts.

Conversely, we can see the pain of others and minimize our own pain and hardships.

“I only have one kid – this shouldn’t be so hard.”

“I know my baby only wakes up once – why am I so tired? Why is this so hard?”

“None of my kids are chronically ill – I shouldn’t be struggling so much just because they’ve had a cold for 2 weeks.”

“A miscarriage is common – so many women have had them – why do I feel so sad for so long?”

“My family is close by and so many people don’t have thatkind of help – I shouldn’t be having to fight depression so hard.”

Your battles are hard simply because they are the hardest thing you are going through.

God sees your pain and reaches out with perfect love and compassion. He isn’t sitting on high telling you to “get over it” because He’s seen and experienced “much worse”. He just sees brokenness and pain and meets it with love. He effortlessly understands that this trial is the hardest battle you have faced, and He is ready to carry you through the waves of any storm you may face. ANY STORM. He doesn’t see a small difficulty and think, “That’s nothing. Seriously, handle it yourself.” He just offers his hand. Every single time.

I pray that time, wisdom, experience and God’s mercy can scrub the stains of constant comparison from my heart. I want to see the heartache of others and meet it with compassion – not comparison. There is such power joining joy to joy and heartache to heartache. Seeing other’s battles as the hardest thing they are facing is empowering. It validates each other’s struggles and creates a network of love and trust that can move mountains.

Theodore Roosevelt famously said, “Comparison is the thief of joy”. Amen, right? Rather than defaulting to the thievery of comparison, let’s work towards the compassion of God.

“He’s the one who comforts us in all our trouble so that we can comfort other people who are in every kind of trouble. We offer the same comfort that we ourselves received from God.” –II Corinthians 1:4

The next part of our journey. 

So much of Keller’s story happens in the everyday. His story is learning to cope with strangers unknowingly saying “Is she your only child?”, “It is just SO MUCH harder when you have to juggle two.”, and “Do you have any other kids?”.

So much of Keller’s story is simply accepting the quiet simple days. My heart aches to have two children screaming in my ears. I would much rather cry with my hands full, than weep with empty arms. 

I am constantly convicted by Keller and the lessons the Lord has revealed through his death. My heart needs to share these lessons. 

I am ready to share the next part of our journey. 

God is creating new life for our family. Our third child is due June 6, 2017. 

Praise our ALMIGHTY GOD. 

We covet prayers. We are humbled and thankful by the incredible goodness God has given us. 

Mary is excited. She kisses baby often. She is PINING for a baby sister. 

“God will say ‘I gave them a brother already. Now I will give them a sister!'”

We wanted to take a moment to rejoice with all of you – a moment of unrestrained joy and happiness. 

I am ready to write again. I think I need to share the struggles and joys of creation following death. Thank you for blessing me with this platform. Thank you for your overflowing compassion and love. Thank you for your eager ears and tender hearts. You are doing a mighty work. 

Hey new baby – Mommy, Daddy, Mary, and Keller welcome you to our family. We love you a lot. Jesus loves you a lot. I hope you like hugs and kisses. 

Part Two.

Wow. I feel a bit ashamed to say that I have been SHOCKED at the mighty work God has done through Keller’s story. Only the Lord can use a story of death and waves of agony and pain to spread love and hope. I am seriously on my knees astounded at God. Glory to God in the highest.

When we set out to write this love song, this was our goal:

“Our story isn’t exceptional. We aren’t unique because we have met death. Loss fills the lives of most we meet. But if we can point those in the pit,  those in the darkness with no touchstone, to the Light – Praise the Lord -Hosanna.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.  For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.  If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort. 

(2 Cor. 1:3-7 ESV)

Each day we will share a piece of Keller’s life. We want to mourn, laugh, worship, and celebrate with you – our dearest friends – and with you – the ones whom the Spirit led to this space because you needed to know you aren’t alone and there is indeed Good News.”

The Lord answered every part of this prayer, and then in true Creator-style, went above and beyond all we could ask or imagine.

Thank you. Thank you for sharing in our journey in such an intimate way. You have made yourselves vulnerable to our suffering and reached out with love. This is such a gift. We continue to be encouraged and strengthened by our community. You all have such a talent for active, compassion-filled love.

The Spirit has used this space and led me to amazing souls that I had not known before sitting down to write our Keller story. I am so thankful for each person I have been connected to and each opportunity that has been afforded. Again, it BLOWS me away.

I love you. You, the one reading this page right now, I love you. I love you a LOT. I wish I could hug and kiss you at this very moment and thank you for all you have meant in our lives. Thank you for keeping Keller “real” and giving him the ability to still be a mover and a shaker in so many ways.

There is a lot more I want and need to say. This is only Part 1 of our story. So much of losing a loved one is the daily and constant struggle to live with and adjust to that reality. In the coming months, I want to share moments and lessons this first year without Keller has taught us. There is a lot my heart still needs to put out there.

For now, I need a break. My heart is tired. My brain is tired. My body is pretty tired too. Writing has been good, important, and therapeutic, but not easy. I have always said I am a better writer than I am a speaker, so writing helps me sort out things my brain has all jumbled up inside. It’s quite draining essentially taking your heart and splattering it all over a computer screen. It has been a good, but difficult work. I still struggle many (most) days. Keller’s death is constantly in my line of vision. Sometimes I can function, and other times it clouds my view so much that I want to curl up into a ball and hide underneath the bed. A lot of days I want to curl up into a ball and hide underneath the bed.

Which leads into another message I need to share. Everyone grieves differently. I grieve through writing and reflection. However, I have only just now begun to grieve in this way. For the bulk of the first year, Keller’s death was still too raw and tender to approach in such a head on manner. If you are grieving, I pray you can grieve in just the way you need to grieve without any pressure to mourn in any sort of “right way”. I often put this pressure on myself whenever I experience emotions I believe are too unpleasant and unfit to experience. This kind of frustrates the process. Ride the waves and keep trusting. The Lord provides.

Nathan and I thank you all with every ounce of strength we can muster up. You are the hands and feet of Jesus and you are doing a good work. Thank you for loving Keller Feller. He’s a really awesome kid, and it brings us giant joy knowing so many people know his name. It brings us even more joy knowing that Keller’s life proclaims the name of Jesus.

Let them see Jesus today.

Happy 1st Birthday Keller!

Happy Birthday Keller!


I told Mary about your birthday and she asked, “Are we going to go to Heaven for his birthday?” I told her we couldn’t until we died. She then responded with, “But how will he get his cake?” Our family clearly values food. Mary hopes you enjoy the vanilla cake with sprinkles that God made you. We are going to have a small family birthday party for you today. (Mary is going to eat some cake down here for you.) I wish you could be here. I know that you wish we could be with you and the Lord. I think you are right, that is the better option. One day Keller Feller. One day.

Your Mommy, Daddy, and sister love you so much. I am thankful you have only ever known love. I can only imagine how incredible it is to sit at the feet of Jesus. I long to sit with you in my lap and hold you tight as we sway and sing praises to our King. One day Keller Feller. One day. I know you never lived here on earth, but a lot of people know and love you. They all say, “Happy Birthday!” too. Your short life has done mighty things. It’s really incredible. People all over the world love you and praise and trust the Lord more fully because of the really awesome work God did through your life. I’m so proud of you. You are such a good boy. We really are over the top proud of you Keller. We’ll make sure to keep telling more and more people about Jesus the Overcomer. I know you know Jesus pretty well by now. That’s really cool. Tell God to give you extra hugs and kisses today. Mary hopes you enjoy the balloon.

Miss you so much,

Mommy, Daddy, and Mary

“Keller moments.”


A lot of large and important decisions must be made relatively quickly following the death of a loved one. There are many practical aspects of death that must be addressed. It’s bizarre to make nearly “business-like” decisions after death has stopped your world from turning. But you have to. So you do.

We chose to have Keller’s perfect body cremated. My sister found a funeral home that offered this service as well as an official death certificate. Having a death certificate was important to me. I needed some official document proving that Keller Norman Bartlett lived, even if recording his death was the only way to legally do so.

Going to the funeral home was an interesting experience. I am thankful for those who dedicate their lives to helping others say goodbye to loved ones. It is a job that has great potential to reach out and hug all of humanity and love them in their darkest moments. It is an incredibly selfless and mighty work.

The funeral home itself was rather macabre. The building was musty and the floor creaked with each step. The lights were kept low and an eery ambiance was cast through purple and yellow stained glass windows. It was almost as if the home was trying to manufacture sadness and sobriety. It made both Nathan and I feel uneasy. In our hearts, death is not something that needs visual and artificial aids in order for the audience to realize the somber finality of it all.

Everyone we worked with was kind and professional. We were asked if we wanted to purchase an urn before leaving. Honestly, looking at the urns made us shudder a bit. None of them made sense for Keller. We declined, and it was then I decided we should paint pottery.

Aside from my parents, our families had gone home. My parents had been busy pouring all the love they had pent up for Keller out on Mary. She was loved up while Nathan and I took care of practicalities, and took advantage of the quiet to mourn and draw closer. Not long after Keller’s memorial service, Nathan and I took Mary out to paint pottery. Nathan and I chose a small lidded box for Keller. Nathan would paint the lid, and I would paint the box. We let Mary choose anything she wanted to paint. We told her it would be her special thing we would keep on her shelf to always remember baby brother. She chose a little boy playing baseball. I think that is just so darling. I was expecting her to choose something  bizarre like a lobster, but she thoughtfully picked a little boy. She has gifted us so many precious moments that I will for always treasure deep in my heart.

We were the only ones in the pottery studio. I think it was a Tuesday afternoon. We all sat and painted. There were no rules. There were no dim lights or mood lighting. It was a bright and cheery space. No one had any idea that the pieces we painted were heavy with significance and loss. We painted anything we wanted. Each little piece expressed a tiny bit of our love for Keller. Everything about that time and space was right. It was a “Keller moment”. It paid tribute to him in the best way we knew how.


Tomorrow is Keller’s first birthday. We have been at a total loss in how best to honor and celebrate his life. Our love for him cannot be fully captured in any one event. It’s been difficult, but I have accepted this. We have decided to spend the day as a family. We will have a picnic, eat birthday cake, and let Mary release a balloon so Keller can have some party decorations up in Heaven. (Mary let me know that God is making him a vanilla cake with sprinkles.) We will spend the day singing the hymns so closely tied to Keller’s life. We will play at the park and watch Mary’s toddler joy and imagine Keller crawling up beside her and flashing her smiles of big sister admiration. It will be our “Keller moment” – the best way we know to pay tribute to our son. We (Nathan and I) will stay up till 11:57 p.m. and light a candle for our boy. A candle to represent the light his life has shown in the middle of total darkness. We will listen to his memorial service and weep with our community all over again. We will praise our Lord for the incredible things He has done through Keller’s life. We will petition to our God for continued comfort, trust, and healing. We will pour our hearts to our God because we deeply long to hold our son again.

I imagine throughout our lives we will have many “Keller moments”. Quiet moments focused in on showing our love for our boy. These moments will join up to a lifetime of “Keller moments”, and even though he was never with us, Keller will keep on living and shining the light of Heaven. That’s Jesus. And that’s awesome.



Surrounded on every side. 


In the days following Keller’s death, Exodus 14 painted the perfect picture of the protection we felt from the Lord. In front and behind, the Isrealites saw only certain death. Threat of death was pressing in from every side, but Moses saw God. “Fear not. Stand firm…the Lord will fight for you. You need only be still.” The Lord made their pathway dry. Ominous waters towered above them on each side, but the Lord, He was in the dry ground. The Lord provided a light on an unknown and untraveled trail. The Lord created a barrier between His children and their enemies. The Lord surrounded His people on every side. They only needed to be still.

It is only by the power of the Almighty Creator that we were and are being carried through on dry ground. Any perceived strength is 1000% the Lord’s strength. The Lord rallied His troops and carried us through the storm. You are His troops. YOU were and are the hands and feet of Jesus in our lives.

Countless cards flooded our mailbox. Cards from people across the entire country. Cards from people we had never and maybe will never meet. 2 dozen bouquets of flowers were delivered to our door. Packages filled with tender and thoughtful gifts, as well as toys and stickers for Mary were received. I cannot capture the magnitude of love we recieved. It astounds me even now. I am left speechless.

I need to reinforce just how blessed I know my family to be. I am not writing a tragedy. I am not writing because our sorrow was unique or exceptional. I am writing because we love Keller and our God is bigger. I need to tell the world just how much bigger He is.

Love was piled and heaped on top of us. We were fed every single meal for 2 months. (As orchestrated by my incredible and forever friend Megan. Megan gets things done. You need a Megan.) When the meals stopped, (only after asking that they stop – as Megan put it, “This gravy train is only going to stop when you say stop.”) we had dozens of gift cards to provide easy, mess-free dinners out. Every single meal for two months. I am certain that is the actual definition of lavish.

I feared being alone. Alone meant being slammed back into a “new normal” that terrified me. The Lord heard this cry and provided. Nathan had 4 weeks of paternity leave. Nathan’s mom flew in and spent two weeks at my side. Next my bosom friends Kelly, Katie, and Stephanie stepped in to just sit and be with me. I will never be able to convey the fullness of my thanks. I was in the pit. I was riddled with anguish and panic. These friends flew across the country to simply sit and be everything I needed. My mom flew out last minute to hold me tight when panic gripped me.  If it is ever within your power to jump on a plane and be with a friend in the midst of grief – do it. This has profoundly and forever impacted me, and the way I will choose to give and receive love.

Word had circulated that my first full sentence after seeing Keller’s still heart was, “We are going to Hawaii.” We had every intention of happily financing the trip. It was a time we needed and we knew the benefits would far outweigh any costs. We began planning our trip. It was a welcomed and necessary mental break. Not long after the planning began, over-the-top insanely generous friends started a in order to finance our trip. We were and are so undeserving of this generosity. We wanted to say no. We wanted to kindly, but firmly refuse. However, right at the outset we had vowed to accept all the love. Our entire trip was funded in a matter of days.

I have trouble talking about this. I completely understand that people in our community  were searching for a way to express their love and sorrow. I fully process that this trip was a means to let our friends express the love and compassion tied up in their hearts. We are forever thankful for the almost absurd amount of loved ones we have in our life. We cannot begin to imagine facing the death of Keller without our Lord and His army. It is heartbreaking to imagine someone in the throes of the death of a loved one without the Lord to light the path.  I look at my life and see nearly literal mountains of blessings. So many others need copious and absurd amounts of lavish love as well.  So many do not have an army surrounding them  ready to answer their every need and desire. This twists up my heart in a really complicated and convicting way. We should freely give and receive love to all. I know that I am a part of that all, and I need the active love of God as much as anyone. I just long to freely and abundantly pour the love of Jesus to those huddled in a dark corner utterly alone. I struggle to know how this will play out in my life, but I’m ready. I want a love that showers blessings on everyone in my community and then goes out seeks to love those without community. It’s such a radical and big love. It’s an intimidating love. It’s God-sized love and I want it. I have been shown God-sized love over and over and over and over. Lord – lead us down a path delivers heaps of Your love to those without.

I have yet to send out a thank you card to everyone who showered life-giving love on us. (I hate myself for this. There is no excuse. I so desperately want to convey the full extent of my love and thanks to each person that has touched our lives, that I am often painfully slow in acknowledging and expressing thankfulness to our loved ones. From the very bottom of my heart, please forgive me.) I want to (and will) acknowledge each and every act of love offered up on our behalf. Not a single card was “lost amongst the shuffle”. Love and empathy was felt in each and every card. We will forever cherish your kind words and thoughtfulness. Your gift has shown a light on a period when only chaotic darkness surrounded me. If you have reached out and not yet recieved a thank you – Thank You. Thank you for surrounding us on every side with the mighty love of Jesus. Thank you for being Jesus.

I am very humbled writing this post. I have no words to express the thankfullness in our hearts. This is an incredibly feeble attempt to thank our people for loving us with a God-sized love in our darkest hour. I wish you all could use a telescope, peep inside my heart, and whatever picture you saw would some how accurately convey everything we are feeling. Until such a telescope is invented, please accept our feeble attempt at, “Thank you”. And now – let’s bring that Love to everyone.