Saturday, October 3, 2009

Longing to Honor God

I've been hesitant to post about this...because it's so personal? because I don't know how it will read? because I am nervous it will come off proud instead of sincere? because I think this will sound crazy to someone who doesn't believe in Christ?  I'm not exactly sure what has been holding me back, but I know I've been thinking about this topic for awhile now, and I think it'd be good for me to put into words.  So, here goes.

A few weeks ago I spent a morning at Starbucks (where I am now) reading my Bible and journaling.  It was a blessed time of reflection and introspection.  I was reading Psalm 86 and journaling my way through it.  Lots of the verses felt very pertinent to my experience and sorrow and longing in grieving sweet Samuel.  When I came to verse 11, I caught my breath.  My eyes welled up instantly, and I began to cry.  I realized how deep my longing is to please God in this journey.  Psalm 86:11 says, "Teach me your ways, O Lord, that I may live according to your truth!  Grant me purity of heart, that I may honor you."  That I may honor you.  That is my deepest longing in all of this.  If at the end of all this grief (which I recognize won't be in this life) I have not honored God with how I have responded, how I have trusted or failed to trust, how I have spoken about or thought of God, then it would feel like Samuel's death would be for nothing.

Bryan recounted to me a couple of things that surfaced these ideas.  Andy Stanley, the pastor of our church, told Bryan, "Thank you for not wasting your grief. A lot of people waste their sorrow."  That stuck with me, and I began to mull over what wasting grief would be.  I came to the conclusion that I can't focus on other people and whether or not God changes them through Samuel's life --whether God uses our story in the hearts of others.  That is entirely out of my control.  However my heart is another matter.  If I "waste" this grief -- if I don't allow it to change me and make me more into the woman God wants me to be, what a tragedy.  If I am not more fully His at the end of this road than I was at the beginning, what a waste.

John Woodall, one of Bryan's bosses, also told Bryan, "God is a good steward of trials."  God uses trials well to shape us, change us, claim us as His.  But I have to let God steward this trial in my life.  I have to open my heart to God's changing work and allow Him to do as He wishes within me.  Oh, that He may have His way in my heart!  God, PLEASE "grant me purity of heart, that I may honor you."  Honestly, nothing frightens me more than the thought that I might waste this loss and find I have not had a pure heart, have not allowed God to mold me into His image, have not kept my eyes on Him and trusted Him in new and growing ways.  I feel myself choking up even now to think of that outcome.  I want Samuel's life to count in my life!  I want Samuel's life and death to be meaningful in my heart!

As I have processed all that the last couple of months have held, all the things we asked of God, all the requests He answered, and the big request He didn't, I have come to a critical conclusion.  We have heard many stories of how God has used Samuel's life in other people's hearts.  Each story blesses us and encourages us.  God has drawn people to Himself, some for the first time and some after time away from Him.  I keep thinking that God could have healed Samuel and still done that -- still called people to His heart.  But he didn't.  He chose to take Samuel to Heaven with Him.  There was work He wanted to do through Samuel's death.  And that work must be in my heart, in our hearts as a family.  So though I don't know exactly what that work is, I want Him to do it!  I don't want to waste Samuel's death.  Oh, God, do in me what EVER it is You want to do!  This heart of mine is broken, is rotten, is proud and selfish.  Cleanse it.  Purify me.  Remake me.

When we first learned that Samuel had a heart defect at our 20 week ultrasound, I remember thinking and saying, "I am confident I will be more fully God's at the end of this."  Oh, may that be true.  May I be more fully His because of our precious Samuel.  Lord, "Look down and have mercy on me.  Give strength to your servant; yes, save me, for I am your servant.  Send me a sign of your favor...for you, O Lord, help and comfort me" (Psalm 86:16-17), and please, please "grant me purity of heart that I may honor you" (Psalm 86:11b).


  1. Beautiful Kathryn. Continuing to pray.

  2. And, Kathryn and Bryan, may you continue to know God's peace. I am confident that God doesn't want you to be afraid for anything. We love you.

  3. crinkle! i got your blog link from walpaper. i've been praying today for sparkler (i don't know if you worked w/ her?) as her baby boy is in the NICU w/ severe complications. and, now, i'm praying for you and your family! i'm so so sorry for the loss of your sweet boy and the pain that you have to face each day! i'm also grateful for God's goodness in your life and how he is whispering love to you every moment. there is no way that you will "waste this grief." it is evident in your post that the LORD is working, molding, and continuing his work in your heart and it is BEAUTIFUL!!! thank you for sharing. i'm lifting you up my long lost friend! penski (

  4. Hi Kathryn,
    You don't know me, but your posting came up when I searched Google for “longing and grief”. In a second, I think you will agree that we are more than just sisters in Christ. You see, I too was journaling and praying this morning. Talking to God about… wait… here is what I wrote:

    Good morning, God. I still have my day out of order. Right now, I crave mindless distraction. Silly shows. Silly magazines. Silly foods. Because when I think, I feel. And when I feel, I hurt. It comes up so fast that I don’t even know what it is. Is it sadness, fear, anger, disappointment, longing... That’s it, longing – the intense feeling of wanting something that I can’t have: Kai.

    I, too, lost my baby boy. Due to my severe preeclampsia, Kai was delivered by c-section 14 weeks early. Kai was born on October 11, 2008 - 1 pound, 7 ounces and 11 inches long. His lungs were even less developed than expected at 26-weeks gestation, and his lungs were further damaged during his first weeks of life due to the respiratory complications related to an intestinal blockage. He spent his entire life on various levels of respiratory support. During his 384 days of life, Kai gained more than sixteen pounds. He sat. He rolled over, and he tried to stand. Kai loved his WubbaNub (pacifier). He played. He laughed, and he made everyone who met him smile as big as he did.

    When Kai left the NICU to come home for the first time on September 16, 2009, we knew that there was still a long road ahead of us, but we looked forward to him being healthy enough by the time he was kindergartener to attend school. We didn’t know then that the steroids that were helping him breathe had already started to turn on him. Kai lived all but thirteen days of his life at the children’s hospital. We spent the month of October with him in the Peds ward; Kai died there on October 29, 2009.

    Like you, I trust in God’s plan for all of us. However, when Kai was alive, I clearly understood the impact that his fight was having on all that knew of his story. I, too, plead with God to use a miraculous recovery to touch hearts. And I, too, trust that there is a greater meaning in Kai’s death… even if I will never understand it in my natural life. But your words brought a different shape to me.

    Not only do I want God to use Kai’s life and death to stir the souls of others – I want him to count in my life. And through your words, I now realize that, as my daily routine is returning to “normal”, a fear of a diminished significance is slowly welling up within me.

    I now know that I need to find away to reclaim and continue the intense spiritual growth that occurred during our year with Kai – so that I can continue to honor God “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.” (Psalm 23:4)

    Thank you and God bless!