James and Chandler Shelton were thrilled to share the news that they were expecting their first child. Luke Robert Shelton was born on February 26, 2008 – a full–term baby boy weighing seven and a half pounds, with lots of beautiful, dark hair.
Chandler said, “We were elated to hold him in our arms, and in those first few minutes knew the incredible joyous journey we were beginning...but God had other plans.”
A heart murmur had been detected and was serious enough to require Luke to be transferred to intensive care. Doctors discovered several critical heart defects and the anxious parents spent many long hours and sleepless nights at the hospital while Luke was first treated with medication and then two open-heart surgeries.
During a tour of the hospital a nurse pointed out a computer area. “At that point Chandler and I were focused on Luke but her sister sat down and created a CaringBridge website to start putting the word out to the rest of the family,” said James.
Comfort and Support
“We had no idea God would use the tool of CaringBridge to bring us the comfort and hope we needed so badly,” said Chandler. “Friends, family and even strangers provided prayers and scriptures of hope, strength, a fighting spirit, love, patience and peace.”
Visitors to the site benefited from receiving regular updates about Luke without having to bother the family. “When I went back to work, so many people said how great the email updates were. They told me there was a period of silence around the department when everyone was reading the latest update,” said Chandler.
“I think the messages people sent back were uplifting and helped us to keep our faith and really provided a source of encouragement,” said James. “We would go to our CaringBridge site every day when we had a downtime or a couple minutes free.”
After 11 days, the doctor said there was nothing else they could do for Luke. “We said our goodbyes and a short time later the doctor checked Luke’s heart and gently said to us, ‘He is home.’ We knew he meant home in heaven, but it was not our home,” James said.
“Many people at the visitation services for Luke commented on the CaringBridge site,” said Chandler. The site helped family members in Iowa and other locations feel like they were right by Luke’s bedside while he was being treated at the University of Minnesota Children’s Hospital.
James and Chandler credit Luke with teaching them so much in just 11 days, opening their eyes to so many precious things about life. They call these “Luke Lessons.” Here are a few of those treasured lessons.
- We have realized that what we consider on earth to be normal is not the same thing that God sees as normal. Luke has shown us that there is no normal life but only the miracle of life.
- Our eyes were opened to how caring, compassionate and gracious people can be. We were deeply blessed and strengthened by God working through others to support and comfort us.
- Our eyes were opened to just how much a person can be loved. As our son, the love we have for Luke will always be in our hearts.
- Our eyes were opened to the power of God’s will and His love. We believe that God matched Luke to be our son, to shepherd through the days given to him. God picked this family and these friends and this community to be impacted by Luke’s life.
- Our eyes were opened to heaven. We are comforted to know time is not measured in heaven. In heaven, Luke will not know the time that passes before we join him.
James and Chandler continue to be thankful for CaringBridge and the support it offered during such a difficult time. “We still look at Luke’s site on a regular basis and thank God He used our son to lead us back to Him,” they said.