Nate Kittelson's Journal
A quarter year update - Some events
Written May 23, 2013 3:30pm
Everyone,On May 1 it was 13 weeks, 3 calendar months - A full quarter year that had elapsed since Nathaniel went home to the Lord.On May 12 it was Mother's day.On May 20 Sheila and I shared our 35th anniversary.Sigh.Each of these dates and our interactions had a kind of shadow of sadness over it. Not too severe but still present. May 1 was mostly just a milestone, noted but not too much. Mother's day was a day of sharing with the family across four generations but a conspicuous absence dampened the day. Our anniversary was a somber one with lots of talk about Nate and where we are at and where we are going. Nate's passing still looms large in our thoughts, feelings and conversation. Yet, we are steadily healing.Feelings are sometimes pretty raw but overall we are progressing about as well as can be expected. We choose to honor, praise and thank the Lord. We have even begun to thank Him for his sovereign wisdom - actually thanking Him for taking Nate home to be with Him, based upon His supernatural, transcendental wisdom. That sounds weird in your own ears the first time you say it out loud, almost like hearing a third party. It gets easier as you daily choose to honor His perfect judgment. As Ps 19:9 says:The judgments of the LORD are true; they are righteous altogether.It does not get much more definitive than that. We trust Him.Praise God we have a son who is safely home with the Lord! We have kids living in California, Iowa, South Dakota and Heaven and they all know the Lord. That's pretty great for parents and we know our grandchildren are being brought up in the knowledge of God. Amen to that!Do we still hurt? Yes (and quite often but less so than previously).Do we have questions? Lots of them.Do we expect answers? Not really (but we are still hopeful).Do thoughts of Nate dominate our days? No (and that is a relief).Is our faith in God intact? Yes - perhaps stronger than ever but our concepts of God have been severely tested. We really have to stand on fundamentals that we are sure of, such as the integrity and authorship of the scriptures. Sheila stated it brilliantly "Spence, we don't know enough to turn away from God". What we really understand about His word and its translation are being refined.Do we wonder if we should have done things differently during Nate's long travail, especially near the end? Of course.That issue has endless "what if" branches so I think we wisely examine legitimate branches and then bring them before the Lord and leave them there. A lot of this is a moot point and we know that. Yet, it is hard to not second guess our own roles, examine our own failings and weaknesses, ponder our own culpability. If done before the Lord and with serving Him in mind, it's a kind of healthy self check and we are not going to fall into a trap of self flagellation.
We realize God could have intervened at any time to heal Nate and He chose not to do so. That is His good wisdom and He takes into account our strengths, failings, Nate's personal will, etc. We don't have to like it but we will respect it and thank Him for it.Thank you Lord for exercising divine wisdom and taking Nate home to be with you. We miss him and ache for even the thought of his presence but we will eventually join him and it will be a great reunion.A very recent sunny, warm day had Sheila thinking how much Nate would have enjoyed it. The sun, the heat, the freedom. Sigh...If only...We realize that what we really hurt about is that we would have enjoyed sharing it with him - that is really what we miss. The missing of the sharing and it is a forewarning of all the other family and personal times we will miss such as the ones noted at the beginning of this post. Rats - sigh again (and we know there will be many more sighs in the future).We note again that our focus is extremely sharpened. As the old hymn notes "The things of earth grow strangely dim..." Here is a nice Youtube link (there are many others):
What really matters is knowing the Lord and loving people and getting the gospel truth to them. We have a platform to share from. We are now qualified to minister to some of those who have tragic loss. We expect to be used in the future.
Our lives now of course still wrap around Micah and the rest of the family. We have a lot of living yet to do. Yet Sheila has so clearly identified the deeper need in our lives: To hear the Lord clearly and then obey His direction. That is our now more urgent objective in the life walk. Get closer, learn to hear more clearly and be more willing to act on His instruction. Less of us and more of Him. We are in our mid fifties and we want the rest of our lives to really count for His kingdom. Youngest son Micah has a couple more years at home and then who knows what journey God will take us on.
As before, the focus is on the Lord most high and what brings Him glory and honor. Nate is doing great in His kingdom and we are getting back in the game. We are so, so happy for Nate and our curiosity over what Nate is up to for the Lord is keen. Perhaps the Lord will grant us a glimpse one day.
Thank you all for your prayers and support. It has made a huge difference in our lives.
I Choose Life (thoughts from Nate's sister, Bessie)
Written Mar 31, 2013 10:07pmIt's a funny thing, grief. Just when I feel like I should be moving forward, I slip backwards and hurt deeper than I ever have before. It seems that as time goes on instead of it getting easier to deal with the loss (however temporary) of my brother, it feels almost more fresh and even more raw than it did in the first weeks following that day he passed into the loving arms of his Savior.
Each of us has been dealing with our loss in our own way, and I do not wish to speak for other family members, but I do want to share how I am doing and would ask that you continue to cover our family in prayer as you have for so many months...for which I can not begin to express my heartfelt gratitude, so I will simply say "Thank you." I did not realize just how much I would need to be lifted up in prayer...or how deeply I would need to rely on God to get through this time.
It still hurts, often at unexpected times. Something will catch me off guard and I'll think, "I wish Nate had heard that," or "I wonder how Nate would have responded to that problem..." Last year on Easter weekend Nate and I were sitting at a coffee shop that Saturday in Davenport, IA. It was a beautiful day and we had gone to see our friend Abby in a play that morning, and were just enjoying spending some rare time together - just the two of us. All of a sudden he said, "I really think we should go to Sioux Falls this weekend. I think it would mean a lot to mom." We talked it over and decided that (even though he had to work that Sunday morning service and we both had to be back for work by Tuesday), we would make a mad dash to Sioux Falls to be with family. It was all on a whim and super-short, but I'm so glad we made the time and extra effort to be with family that Resurrection Sunday!
I titled this post "I Choose Life" because I don't want to get stuck in this dark place, nor do I need to stay captive here. Is it okay for me to be sad? Of course. Is it okay for me to miss Nate? duh. ...and yes, it's okay for me to feel that way even though I know he is NOT missing us or sad (ain't nobody got time for that in heaven when you are praising your creator!)!!!
What I am realizing is that I just can not get past this on my own. Yesterday I started reading Romans and 15:13 stuck out at me: "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope." Do you notice in this verse who has the responsibility to act here? It's God's responsibility to fill me with hope, joy, and peace...not mine. All I have to do is surrender to Him and admit that I can not do this on my own. I have to trust it ALL to Him.
After I typed that I looked back at that word "ALL" and realized what those 3 letters have meant to us over this past year. Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (A.L.L.). Fear, frustration, anger, hope, desperation, ache, surrender, life, death, prayer, support, the list could go on and on. God has told me to stop trying to "figure it out," but rather to "give it to him. ALL of it."
So I am not going to live in the shadows. Tomorrow I will seek refuge under the shadow of His wings and I will live. Nate's work was done, and now he gets to rest, but for those of us still on this Earth we have work to do. Philippians 1:22 "If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me." I can not do this on my own, nor was I created to do this on my own, but by the power of the Holy Spirit I may abound in hope. So today on this Resurrection Sunday as we celebrate eternal life through Christ, I am thankful for the promise that someday I will be reunited with my brother in heaven! Praise the Lord!
Thank you for your continued prayers and encouragement. I am so thankful for you. - Bessie
A birthday - Progress - Some thoughts
Written Mar 20, 2013 11:11amEveryone,
Today 20-Mar-2013 would have been Nate's earthly 21st birthday. Of course it's a thoughtful time and we choose to give thanks and praise to our Lord for Nate's life here on earth and now with the Lord. That 2nd stage of life is awesome! PTL indeed!
We have much to be thankful for, even when we have those ouch moments which can still stretch into hours. Yet, the deep, visceral ache is no longer a constant and we give thanks for that too. We still get to share with others and I have gotten recent news of another teenage life affected by the testimony of the Holy Spirit living in Nate's journey.
The first semi-normal days have finally arrived and we can get out together, laugh a bit, enjoy extended family and even withstand some of what would be triggers. It is clear we are healing. Our faith being challenged so deeply is just making it stronger and we are more determined than ever to share that gospel of freedom in Christ with more people and to be His disciples and bear much fruit.
We thank everyone for the thoughts and prayers for our family. We are so surrounded by loving, faith filled folks that we cannot help but count our blessings. We are pretty sure the huge amount of prayer capital invested in Nate (and us) helped keep him strong and able to bear the message of glorifying God in the deepest, most difficult times.
We have all done quite a lot of pondering and praying and I will close with a quote from Micah he posted on Facebook (used with permission):
I've been thinking a lot lately; about Nate and where he went and how he got there... And I walk down the hall at school; looking at all the sad smiles and fake laughs, the ego's and masks people put on; and I can't help but think that everyone has their own story. Their own joys and sorrows, wisdom and philosophies. Its really quite daunting when you step back and look at it.
Treasure life, not YOLO*. Don't be naive.
Whether you believe in a higher power or not, know that it can slip away at any second. Is that not enough to know we are here to serve and love others?
Amen. Micah gets it. Jesus told us to love and to serve. PTL!
*(You Only Live Once)