New Year, Old Grief, Same God.

January 1st is the day of new beginnings. It is the day of new goals and possibilities. It is the day to turn the page on regret and disappointment- a day pregnant with hope.

And yet…

January first is Corey’s birthday. He would be 27 today, my sweet, fun, brother-in-law, unexpectedly taken from this world nearly four years ago. For my family, each New Year begins with sadness and longing for a son, a brother, a friend, who is gone. [Read more...]

He Is Coming

I was six years old. Our little church’s Christmas Eve service had just ended and I raced outside without stopping to grab my coat. I thrust myself onto the cold ground and stared up into the starlit heavens…

I was searching for Santa.

I was desperate to catch a glimpse of the sleigh pulled by his eight magical reindeer. I can still feel that feeling. The giddy delight of anticipation. The eagerness for that one unmatched, magical moment I experienced every year- the wonder and joy that only this holiday could bring. Christmas meant…

He was coming.

And it didn’t matter if I’d been naughty or nice, because time had proven that there would be packages with my name on it, even though I always had much to feel regret for. I wasn’t always a good girl. In fact, I was the self-willed, difficult child in my family. But none the less…

He was coming.

Gifts were coming.

Goodness was coming.

I am thirty-five-years-old and I still get completely lost in the wonder of Christmas. I love the lights and cocoa and the smell of pine. I love early mornings all alone with my favorite Christmas mug snuggled up by the tree. I love Christmas music and hearing my three year old sing “jinger bells” at the top of his lungs. I love buying gifts. I love picking the perfect paper for my carefully selected parcels for the people in my life I want to express love and thanks to. I love Christmas parties and family gatherings and caroling. I love candlelight services and Christmas plays, but most especially, I love the joy and wonder I see in the eyes of my children. And with every year that goes by, every year that another twelve months pass, my longing for Christmas becomes greater.

Because Christmas means…

He is coming.

And it doesn’t matter if I’ve been naughty or nice, because Christmas rescues me from all that.


He is coming.

Gifts are coming.

Goodness is coming.

This Christmas I find myself much like that little six year old shadow of me, staring once again, staring into the stable. Staring at how love came down to rescue me. Staring at how God nestled himself within the womb of a girl to know life in every way I have known it. I see the mission of love before me. The rescue mission that snatched me from the grips of hell and set eternity in my underserving soul. From a crib full of hay to a cross on a hill- this baby, this man, this God- He has rescued me. And this Christmas, perhaps more than ever before, I am aware of my need, my love and my desperation for Emmanuel.

As I mediate on Christmas, I find myself…amazed. I am deeply,deeply astounded at the incarnation. He could’ve conjured up another rescue plan…right? But for you and me He chose to make Himself small. He chose to leave the glory and perfection of heaven, the place where he is honored and adored, to enter the mess and madness of humanity. Do I really grasp what that means?  Do I really understand the magnitude,the glory and goodness of the word, the name, Jesus?

Can you feel it? Are you looking with me, searching the heavens? Searching your heart? This God who came, is coming again.

There is something else that accompanies my joyful expectancy for Christmas this year. It’s panic. It’s anxiety. It’s bouts of depression and exhaustion and suffocating empathy and fear. I am a mess. I am a desperate mama, a tired, frazzled, anxious, weary mess.

And here is my Christmas list…

Comfort and release from my grief.

Peace for all my pain.

Joy for all my sadness.

A fresh start for all my failures.

Light for all my darkness.

Victory for all my battles.

Freedom from all my fears.


He is coming.

Gifts are coming.

Goodness is coming.

The spirit of God takes me by the hand and leads me here,

“Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given. And the government will be upon His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6

This one tiny baby is all of this for me, for you. Within every name, I find the answers, the gifts my heart begs for.

What Christmas list would your soul inscribe to the Lord this year? What wish list would you offer to the King of Kings, the One who is willing and able to satisfy your deepest needs and longings? We spend so much time thinking and planning and wishing for the things that could fill our lives and homes. What gifts might you ask for to fill your heart?

Wonderful Counselor

Almighty God

Everlasting Father

Prince of Peace.

This is His name. This is our God, Our Emmanuel.


He is coming

Gifts are coming.

Goodness is coming.

Thankful for The Shepherd


That is exactly how I’ve felt everyday of the past month since we released The Jesus of My Grief.

Overwhelmed by your kindness.

Overwhelmed by your love.

Overwhelmed by your pain.

Thank you for sharing your stories with me. I am humbled and honored to hold your words, your woes in my heart. I must tell you, I have placed them all at the feet of Jesus. [Read more...]

The Book Is Here!

For years I have thought about how I would begin this post…years.

Now my mind is as blank as this screen and I can’t seem to catch words in this deep sea, this heart rippling full of so much emotion.

I pause.

There is great joy over finishing this six year journey of writing and editing. Great joy over finally publishing and putting it out there…my story, my soul. Death stripped me down, pulled me apart and laid me bare. But today, I am rebuilt and repurposed for something, someone, much greater than myself. I feel as though I am crossing the finish line of a race I have been running for nearly a decade. I am out of breath. I am exhausted. I am elated.

In addition to the joy of completion, today is an extremely significant and special day for another reason. On February 22, 2005 my daughter’s heart stopped beating. But today, it begins beating again in this world as her story is now alive. It has finally been born. I wish you could see the smile on this grieving mama’s face, like sun pushing rays through the dark, joy wins again. But perhaps even more significant and more special than this new life given to Anna Rose Kelty, is the heart beat of the Savior I am privileged to share with you today. It is the sweetest sound I know and my hand is on the volume knob and I am cranking it as far as I possibly can. It is the pulse and the rhythm of love that carried me through the worst and set the tempo for my grief and my healing. It is embedded upon every page of my story and it is my life’s greatest accomplishment to be able to share it with you. It is, after all, all about Him…

The Jesus of My Grief.

The night my sweet Anna died, my sister sat at home anxiously and fearfully awaiting a phone call from me to dispel her fears. She held her Bible in her hands. She prayed against the worst and opened the Word. She quickly flipped to this…

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.  For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Him.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-5

At that, my sister knew, her niece was gone. But she also knew something else, she knew that God would comfort me so profoundly that I would in turn be able to offer that same saving and satisfying comfort to others. During my years of doubting and wrestling with God she held onto this as a promise, as an anchor to our faith.

hate my grief. I hate my pain. But the richest and most satiating moments of my life have been those drenched, saturated, and sopping with the comfort and love of Jesus Christ.

It started as a single beat, a single quality of Him that threw me a rope and pulled me out of the the abyss leaving me with just enough hope to carry on. It was His presence, His constant, abiding, risen presence. He was with me and I saw Him. This moment resonated deeply within, to a part I didn’t even know existed. That first encounter was the reviving jolt that surged a longing for God to pulse through my veins right alongside the fury. Time went on and His heartbeat grew stronger, louder, more complex until it was no longer a drum, but a song, the kind you cannot help but dance to, sing along with, and tell about it. The fury was gone. Divine love kicked it to the curb.

I wrote it all down.

Every heartbeat, an encounter, a chapter, until the very end, my peaceful resolution- joy, redemption, hope.

The God I hated, is the God I love, truly, tenderly, want-to, have-to, need-to, kind of love. Today my heart beats in sync with His and thus my heart also breaks for what breaks His…

Have you lost a baby?

Have you stood paralyzed under a waterfall of weeping that seemed as though it would take you out?

Has life been a thief and a robber of the way “it should have been?

Have you been hurt, wounded, and deceived?

Have you ever asked God ”Why?”

Are you afraid, confused, lost or angry?

Do you believe in Him, but struggle to know Him? See Him? Trust Him? Love Him?

Would you be curious to hear the way His heartbeat sounds to me? How I resolved some of those questions, pains and fears?

To you who answered yes to any one or all of these questions, let me first say this…

I am so deeply sorry and I love you.

I wrote this book for you, for us. The wounded, the weary, the wanting…

There is hope. There is comfort. There is love.

I pray my words wrap you in a blanket, light a fire in your heart and bring you to the hearth of healing. I pray my words guide you into your pain, your own lies and fears, and introduce you to the One I call “Bearer of truth and burdens.” I pray my words leave you longing for and lifted by the true lover of your soul.

This is The Jesus of My Grief.


When My Fear Encounters My God

I remember when I was little being afraid a lot. It was conditional fear. “This bad thing will happen if I don’t do this.” It was obsessive. It was rooted in a false sense of control. I remember my mom telling me that she read in a book that 98% of the things we fear will never happen. That fact gave me peace. It was concrete- something I could hold. I remember calming myself with that information when fear reared its ugly head and the statistic often made my fear recoil. In fact, the things I feared as a child never happened. [Read more...]

Happy Ninth Birthday Anna

The last time I saw Anna was when I gave her to Chris and I watched as he gave her to our nurse Alice. Alice walked over to me and said gently, “So your arms will not be empty” and she placed a small, pink, stuffed hippo in my hands. It was from my dear friend Sue, and we had determined it would be Anna’s favorite. I watched Alice walk away, and I held onto Chris as I watched my sweet baby girl disappear. [Read more...]

Finding Him in The Crazy

Ten weeks ago I had a baby. Ten weeks ago I was entrusted with a gift. That gift likes to cry. This mama…she likes to cry too.

I write about grief, about loss, and how we find grace, find Jesus in the emptiness. But what about the fullness? What about a life bursting at the seams with…life? Things likecrying babies, a three-year-old that poops on the floor, cavities (four of them!), and being the new kid at school. Things like…two soccer leagues (what were we thinking?) clogged milk ducts, mounds of laundry and putrid smells you cannot locate no matter how hard you try…cannot. Things like…hurt feelings, a broken refrigerator and did I mention the crying baby?

Life is full, full of life, and I am searching for Jesus in this season as well.

This is a time to simplify, not complicate. This is a season to remember whose I am and who He is and what that means for me, and not try to climb a faith mountain.

Singing Jesus Loves Me for the hundredth time in a baby’s ear to coax sleep is not just a lullaby- it is worship. It is a simple truth to swaddle myself in- a lullaby my restless heart needs, coaxing frantic feelings to find rest in Him. Jesus.

Fighting boys, a screaming toddler, a wailing baby and beeping toys all at once- the Kelty symphony. It is a sensory overload that causes me to LOSE it, adding my own noise to the cacophony. I see their faces, the scared look in their eyes, the hurt I caused. Later when it’s quiet, I fall to my knees in regret, in confession, in need. I stand up once again in forgiveness and in grace- a fresh start every time. Jesus.

And oh how they need me- the waitress, the chef, the house keeper, the counselor, the chauffeur, the secretary, the baby whisperer. It’s overwhelming. Sometimes I hide in the bathroom. I grumble under my breath with a scowl…Oh how they need me. In the bathroom, I call out His name. I repeat it a few times. I take a deep breath in, taking in peace and this time I whisper it slow, with a smile…Oh how they need me. Gratitude wins the fight against grumbling. There was a day when no one needed me. Life wasn’t demanding at all and I wept in the silence. And then a deeper thought comes- I am needy. All the time, and He never tires of me. God never hides in the bathroom. Gratitude charges deeper in my weary heart and I open the bathroom door to re-enter the noise with perspective, with joy. Jesus.

The two youngest have just fallen asleep for an afternoon nap. It’s simultaneous. It’s a miracle. I nearly trip running down the stairs, sprinting to this rare break. I find my bible in the clutter. I open to anything. I read a line. I take a sip of the living water. Another verse. Another sip. And then I hear it- the crying. Maybe I’m imagining it, I hope to myself. I look at the monitor and all lights are flashing. I feel a moment of anger rise- a moment of pure frustration. Go back to sleep, Go back to sleep, I chant. I NEED this time to myself…NEED this time with Jesus. The crying gets louder. I toss my bible on the couch and huff and puff as I climb the stairs. Half way up, I stop. I pray. And then it occurs to me (is given to me), Jesus isn’t a sentence. He isn’t a “quiet time” or a “devotional.” My God is a person and He is alive and He is with me on the stairs. I shut my eyes and am awakened to His presence. I invite His spirit to come flood my house. I pick up the baby and I meditate on the words I’ve just read. The two sips become a full glass- I chug. I am satiated as I bounce and rock and pat and shush and sway. Jesus.

In this season, the one bursting with life and sucking me dry, the well, the living water I am so desperate for is everywhere I turn. It’s not the perfect moment. It’s not a hot cup of tea or a freshly marked page in my journal or my favorite pen to underline and circle the Word. It’s so much more than that. It’s so much less contained and calculated. It’s all encompassing and it’s pervasive…if I allow it to be. He is real and He lives at my crazy house, among the noise and mess and bad smells I cannot find. In the light and in the dark, in the quiet and in the loud, in the coos and in the cries, when I call on His name and open myself to His presence, my life becomes a devotional. My “crazy” is an invitation for all that He is to bounce and rock and pat and shush and sway me. Jesus.

New Baby, New Love.

As I sit here staring at the computer, words bouncing all around this full, but tired mind, a sweet baby boy is curled up beside me. He is in a word, precious. My Jonah.

This name, Jonah, in Hebrew means dove, which represents the presence of the Holy Spirit and peace. I chose this name because in my life now more than ever I am desperate for these two realities, the presence and power of the Holy Spirit and peace- wonderful, inexplicable, transcending, Jesus-only peace. And so here he is, Jonah. And I do feel a new gust of peace, a new awareness of God’s presence and the waking and rising of His Spirit within me. It’s a new season for this rattled and wanting soul.
As I sit here gazing at fragile, helpless infant life, I am wonderfully tranquil in an old truth that has come to settle in a new place in my heart and mind. It took weeks of struggling in my human experience to receive it, weeks of wrestling in the final days of my pregnancy, but now I am resting in the most excellent of truths- I am loved- deeply, tenderly, completely, without merit, without cause…simply because I belong to Him.
Here is how this came to rest within me: 
In the weeks leading up to Jonah’s birth, I was shaken, deep down to the core, shaken. I tried to understand it, to know it and name it, to apply truth to it and to conquer it- but I failed.
These thoughts chided me…

But it’s been ten years. I have a blog, a book even. I have SO MUCH TRUTH, so many weapons I have collected against grief and fear. Shouldn’t I be able to kick this? Shouldn’t I be able to lasso God’s power and peace in such a way that my emotions must heel at my command?

I expected my tenure with grief, my professional, spiritual and intentional relationship with sorrow to give me a leg up, an advantage over this painful reality of trauma and it’s gripping effects.
Not so. Not so.
In the days before Jonah’s birth, the seven days in between the gestational age we lost Anna and the day Jonah was in fact born, a torrent of feelings, grief and fear impaled me. I was stabbed with continual chest pain and had difficulty breathing, sleeping and eating. I was living on the edge of a panic attack for a week. I claimed, I clung and I fought, trying my hardest to be the best good little Christian soldier I knew how to be. But I could not seem to harness God’s truth in such a way that I was victorious over my feelings. I was humiliated and the Pharisee within me, the rule following, ladder climbing, legalistic girl that I am, graded, scorned and shackled me with guilt and shame.

And then Jonah was born. He cried. I let out a deep cry myself, a sob of relief and gratitude. Calm settled in. Was the fear now gone? Was the battle finally over?

The next day I sat nursing new life and an urgent “code blue” bellowed over the intercom and into the deepest valley of my heart. I knew somewhere not too far from me, someone was struggling to breathe…someone was dying. The next day, two different nurses came to my room to report their sad stories of still-birth in the past year. My eyes filled with tears, my heart with agony, my words with empathy.
Life and death are everywhere.
The panic returned.

The battle was far from over.

The first night home from the hospital I barely slept. How could I sleep with a brand new baby to protect? What if he was struggling to breathe?  What if he spit up and choked? What if…

The next morning, exhausted, I wept deep heavy sobs, realizing the fear I thought would end the moment the baby was in my arms was only picking up speed. I collapsed to my knees and cried out desperately, “He’s yours. I give him to you, He’s yours. I cannot maintain his breathing or his beating heart. You have either planned for him to live or die and nothing I can do will change that…and so I give up. I cannot live like this anymore.” And as I knelt there weeping and helpless, a gift, an image came to mind. I saw my mothering wings spread out over my children, and above me I saw, the vast wings of God spread out over us all.
And then it hit me like a wave.
He loves me.

I stopped crying, the winds and waves of my soul growing calm under the command of love.

He loves me….why so powerful, this thought, this truth I have known and spoken a thousand times before?

The image showed me the truth in an intimate way. The picture allowed me to encounter and not just to rehearse my God. I am covered by the outstretched arms of a tender, compassionate Father. Yes, I am an adult, a parent, charged with the responsibility of caring and protecting my babies. But the most central truth to my human existence, the identity more essential, transforming and freeing than all other identities is, I am His child.
I had forgotten.

I struggled through the end of my pregnancy trying to be a hero, a winner instead of a girl shaking in the arms of her tender God. That would have been real winning. I had forgotten that I was accepted, that I belonged and that my oozing scars evoke the tender mercy of my God…not His wrath. I had forgotten that I was a child within the watchful embrace of her compassionate daddy and in doing so, I orphaned myself from love. I assumed my time was up- the alarm had sounded. I assumed the grace period, the tender hour had passed and an expectation of robotic flawlessness had taken its place.

Not so. Not so.
He loves me.

He loves taking care of me. He loves being my dad.

I had missed it- the peace and joy that comes from being nestled in the arms of divine love.  
As I cradled baby Jonah in my arms that night, staring at his helplessness, loving him only because he is mine, I found myself aching to receive God’s love in all the starving places in my heart, those uncharted territories aching to be stormed by the presence of the Good Shepherd. What would happen, who would I become, if being the beloved of God was in fact the greatest truth about me, if my identity were rooted in being a child with her daddy? How would I relate to myself, to my family, to a world in need? Suddenly every other goal, every other ambition, every other definition became meaningless and the barricade holding back rivers of grace broke and washed over me.
Oh He loves me.
He loves me.
Weak and fragile, fearful and frantic.
He loves me.
He loves me.
My babies and I, we are allbut children under the canopy of a good and gracious God. A new chapter of trust has begun. A new chapter of being versus trying.
Oh let me never forget…
He loves me.
“How exquisite your love, Oh God. How eager we are to run under your wings.” Psalm 36:7