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.
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.
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….