Thursday, January 26, 2012

Kael's Story: Part 1

Today I have the honor of introducing you to my friends Derek & Dawn Grooters. Theirs is a story of suffering and tragedy. They have walked through the valley of the shadow of death in a way that no parent would ever want to experience. And yet, as they share their story of their little man Kael, in their words you will see something. You will see their unwavering hope in our God who gives and takes away. The same God who brought them to this has picked them up and is literally carrying them through…they feel it, and all that know them or meet them in person can clearly see it. Dawn has said that it has taken them awhile to come to terms with sharing their heart break out loud, but by doing just that they have seen God work in so many people. Today, you will hear part 1 of Kael’s story. Tomorrow you will see how God is using Kael’s story to help orphans around the world to come home to their forever families…

In Dawn’s words…

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 life was 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 and we know that 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 and he has helped us touch so many people through our faith and God’s strength he has provided for us. There are so many stories we have heard from people that have been inspired by our faith, but truly it is God working through us. There is no way we can get through each day and keep going without God’s continued strength and grace he provides for us.

Before I go on, let me tell you a little bit about our boys. Kyler is all boy and very energetic. He loves to run around, play with construction trucks, legos and loves everything orange. Kyler is just full of spirit. Kyler helped to keep us going this past year, 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.

Kael was our laidback son. He loved watching his brother and Kyler made him laugh more than anyone. Kael was crawling and had just learned how to walk. He had bright blue eyes and always smiled so much. He was a happy and content baby who loved to be held. 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 bring another baby into our family, but it made us miss Kael more. We knew God had 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 were interrupted by kicks from a little girl who reminded 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 the more children 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 I 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 baby, Kyler, that the time goes 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 1 year birthday party invitations and we made chocolate cupcakes and Kael got to eat one. It was his first cupcake and I was so glad he got to have a birthday cake here with us before he was gone. 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. It is so incomprehensible and then I thought about how God sacrificed his son for us. That afternoon, I got the call about Kael. God was preparing me.

As we look back this year, there are so many events and ways God has helped us walk with Him through our grief. We were Christians before Kael passed away and afterwards we relied and trusted in God to carry us through this time. We never intended to inspire people by walking in faith but that is what happened.

Derek’s Lieutenant was the one to call me and tell me that Kael was in the hospital and that it didn’t look good. He was greatly affected by going through this with us. His family went to a church but never felt challenged in their faith. After attending Kael’s memorial service and watching our faith in God, he decided that he wanted to attend our church, Cornerstone Church. They jumped full into Cornerstone and their 2 kids absolutely loved the D6 kid’s ministry and Sunday school. Their family just told me how much their lives have changed and how much their children’s faith has changed in one year. They never would have imagined such a positive change in their family.

We just recently received a note from one of our pastors at church that told us about a junior high kid that accepted Jesus into his heart because his family started coming to Cornerstone after attending Kael’s memorial service. We don’t know who the family or child is, but we are so thankful God is using us to help people come to Jesus.

Last year, I was a sales rep and one of my customers was deeply affected by Kael’s story. In her church, she was asked to speak one Sunday. She asked me if she could tell her church our story and inspire people to live for God. As we sat in the back of the church we watched the tears flow and prayed that God would change hearts in this community as well. We initially said that if 1 person would become a Christian because of Kael’s life then this is worth it. We have seen this multiplied over and over.

Our story is still being written. The month of January has been hard for us. We just made it through what I call Kael’s Heaven Day. That day and the days leading up to the 7th of January were hard but God gave us what we needed to get through that time. We grieved the loss of our son but we celebrated the work God has done in our lives this last year. God put Kael on this earth for 11 ½ months for a reason. We are so thankful for the time we had with him and he changed our lives for the better. Kael’s life has brought so much glory to God and we want to continue that in any way we can. God is using his life to continue to change lives and though we will never know the full extent of what God is doing with Kael’s life for others, we want to continue to be a part of it.

To be continued tomorrow….


Janel said...

Derek & Dawn ~ When I think of Kael’s story I think of the truths in Romans 8:28 ~ And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. Through this tragedy, and the grief that has followed, we all can clearly see God sustaining you, holding you together, and using this to bring more to His only He can do. Looking forward to the day when there will be no more weeping, no tears, no pain – when we’ll get to see Jesus face-to-face as Kael does now.

nick&abby said...

I cannot stop the tears! Thank you for sharing....I am always amazed how God uses these tragedies in life not only to cause us to rely completely on Him, but also to bring others to son is 14 months old, our second born and so laid back.....this is just tearing into my heart and I cannot even begin to fathom the pain of losing a child. Thank you thank you for sharing. This is something I needed to read today.