Eight years ago today, my arms were full of beauty. My arms were full of the marvelous and wonderful gift of creation.  My arms were full of this little feminine package that looked like me. My arms were full of death.  I cannot express this feeling adequately- our joy for beholding her,  and yet our anguish for the stillness, the coldness, the inevitable letting go that loomed over us like lightning, ready to crack and sever our souls.
As I seek to remember, I am flooded with faces, expressions, conversations, moments, and it all feels so contradictory, this life of pain matched up against this life of blessing. Over the past few weeks of my anniversary grief, I have been seeking to be a good steward of the soul God has given me- a servant of the pain and a servant of the praise that beckons to be lifted from this grateful heart.  It’s strange to be so full of both, these hot and cold currents, each reminding me of the good Father who is perfectly loving and sovereign in both.
As I ponder what was and what is on this, Anna’s eighth birthday, I find myself growing deeper in this rich grief soil. I’d love to share it with you, this message I am seeking to live, but for any of it to make sense, I must first tell you a story.
Once upon a time…I offered these words to Jesus,
“Father, give me a prayer specific for this baby.”
His reply came nearly instantly, as if he had just been waiting for me to ask,
 “Child of worship.”
From that day forward, I asked God for this very thing, that my first child would in fact become a child of worship, that she would grow absorbing His love and therefore reflecting back that gratitude and adoration to Him.
A couple months later I came across Luke 2:36 and clutched my bible, realizing the Lord had just whispered my daughter’s name to me.  I ran to Chris and together we read,
“And Anna the prophetess, never left the temple day and night, worshiping God and telling everyone about the promised Messiah.”
In this moment, our baby, our child of worship, became our Anna.
For nearly nine glorious months Anna was tucked in tight, curled up safe and wrapped in crazy measures of love and then… she was gone.  I thought she was sleeping.  And in this moment of my oblivion, the moment before the train hit, Anna was in fact stepping into the truest fulfillment of my prayer for her.
Eight years later and I am still pondering, child of worship.  What began as a simple prayer for my baby has now become…everything.   This phrase hangs in the air like a banner over my life, my grief and my hope.  I have come to realize that child of worship was always His greatest longing for me. Child of worship was always who He wanted us both to become.
So how do I do it- this holy thing God asks of me?  How do I worship as a child and in such a way that worship defines me…becomes me?
I love the way John Piper expresses worship:
Worship is what we were created for. This is the final end of all existence-the worship of God. God created the universe so that it would display the worth of His glory. And He created us so that we would see this glory and reflect it by knowing and loving it-with all our heart and soul and mind and strength.”
Growing in grief by grace has completely redefined my experience and perspective of worship, and it is simply this:
Everything I am, submitted to receive and reflect everything He is.
Our lives, every moment we exist are to be a compliment to God, or as Piper wrote, to display the worth of His glory.  We are to be a round of applause to His beautiful love and perfection.  But how does this happen in grief…in pain?
A few weeks ago I shared with you the sacredness to me of becoming beauty from ashes in my grief.  As I have continued to meditate on this passage from Isaiah 61, I find “child of worship” leaping from the page.
To all who mourn, He will bestow on them
a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor.
There it is again, that phrase…for the display of His splendor or glory.  And who is it that will be on display?  Who will live as applause to His glory?  This passage proclaims that it is those who have mourned and those who have despaired.  When our brokenness comes into intimate contact with Jesus Christ, holy, miraculous, redemptive, restorative, beautiful things happen, and these things…they glorify God.
For me, being a child of worship means staring into the face of God on the bitter days as well as the best days, needing Him, loving Him and absorbing His love for me.  Being a child of worship is kneeling at His feet and knowing that His greatest desire and the truest fulfillment and satisfaction I will ever feel, is to know Him.  Being a child of worship is rooted in child-likeness, that beautiful neediness, trust and bragging rights that “my dad is the best.”
The closest I can get to my daughter this side of heaven, is to get lost, radically and intimately lost in the child of worship experience.  If you find yourself reading my words and there is pain in your life, if you are angry or doubtful, ashamed or broken, grieving or despairing…this is it. This is your grand moment to be a child of worship.  To kneel with all that you are unto all that He is.  Whether you feel it or not, in this moment God gets to be God as you simply fall into the position of His child… His child of worship.  And this, this practice of being a child with your Father, this is what brings resurrection.
So on this day…this day that marks the day I held her for the first and last…this day that ushers tears and pain and a longing I cannot possibly describe- today, I am seeking to worship as I know my girl is doing the same.  I can only imagine how lovely she must look, dazzling in joy and love for Jesus.  I want to be lovely…lovely like Anna, lovely child of worship.
Dear Jesus,
Thank you for being more than enough for my pain.  Thank you for opening up heaven’s doors to our girl.  I am giddy for the day I will finally see you with my own eyes, see the love and tenderness I will have spent a lifetime believing in by faith.  Thank you that redemption is waiting for me and for the little arms that will wrap me up tight, never to let go again.  Let these tears of mine form a river watering grief’s soil, allowing me to grow bigger and bigger for you…for the array of your splendor.  And tell her, tell her everything you can see in this love-sick mama’s heart.  But mostly tell her I’m doing it, tell her I’m worshiping and I am determined to dance and sing my way through the rest of these unknown days until I’m with you both.  But until then…I am, all of me, for all of You.


  1. says

    Kate Kelty…
    I LOVE you and your precious Anna. Tears are streaming down my face as I read this and as I type. Child of worship, child of worship, even when I don’t want to be, even when I’m kicking and screaming and asking why, Child of worship. Thanks for being a light in a dark place for so many of us. Love you SO much!!

  2. Anonymous says

    I cannot take it all in. The photos. The story. What transformation your soul has had the last 8 years. You have challenged me to be a child of worship to Him, my Father. To REALLY love fully, give, hope and participate and be HIS glory here on earth. I’m blessed to know you and call you friend. All this grief work is not wasted. He is esteemed and blessed by your heart. Huge hugs to you today…..and after. Dawn Mast

  3. Jeanne O'Nan Bramer says

    Your words always bring me to a place of yearning – yearning to be a child of worship today. I love what God has done for you through your faithfulness. So few have allowed such a tragedy to be celebrated & caused them to grow more fully in their faith. You are always such an inspiration. I’m so proud to have gotten to meet & hold Anna – and can’t wait to see her again & see as she sees! Thank you. Thank you.
    Much love & admiration,

  4. says

    Dear Kate,
    Wow. I’m searching for words ..
    Thank you for your honesty and for allowing your own pain to help someone else break through to the heart of the grief.
    Praying for you and your family as you continue to lay it all at his feet …

  5. Anonymous says

    To write or not to write…and if I so choose, what to write. I clicked on your link that was a posting for two of my Facebook friends. Little did I know what a blessing I was in for when I did. To read your words, to feel your pain is a privilege you give to us. To leave us astounded at your faith is an inspiration you give to us. Truly, God is using you as a disciple to those who need to hear of His love and compassion; His mercy and forgiveness. Would this have happened without your precious Anna in your world – even for such a short time? You have been blessed…you ARE blessed…and you surely bless those of us who even accidentally stumble across your blog. Thank you.

  6. Megan says

    I Love reading your story. How beautiful is the perspective God has given you. Here’s some beautiful music that describes some of what you said. Well the song has multiple meanings & hope it brings some comfort to your soul. God bless you! I so appreciated the pictures of how you celebrate Anna.


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