Nate Kittelson's Journal
Full year update
Written Jan 30, 2014 1:46amWell, the big one year anniversary of Nate's going home to the Lord is upon us. What a year. What a Lord.
We want to thank everyone for their prayers and support over the year. We know those who were very close to Nate have also grieved. Our prayer is that we all receive His healing and be able to press on in service to Him. Here's an update on "how we are doing".
Since the update last May, 2013 we have been through all the birthdays, holidays, family gatherings, life, struggle, victory, loss, etc. that all of us experience. But we are greatly healed PTL! Along the way a few things happened that still stick in my mind that are I think a reflection of God's goodness and caring. A few are just plain surprising and I think really great.
Way back on the day Nate passed away, the news spread quickly by text messaging. A family from Hope church have adopted a child named Marco who is autistic. They have been raising him in love and skill and Marco knew Nate. The family was quite close to Nate and they were talking softly about their loss when suddenly Marco chirped up "Clap for Nate! Clap for Nate!". Hmmm, did he merely overhear or did he understand something by the Spirit of God? I think it is wonderful.
Along the lines of our May 2013 posting, we had begun to actively thank the Lord for exercising His supernatural, transcendental omniscience in choosing to take Nate home to be with Him. Only the Lord is big enough and outside of what we call time to see the big picture. Because He is Holy, He will always do the right thing.
After about a month of regularly thanking God and putting our trust in Him I asked of the Lord one Sunday morning what he wanted to show me or teach me that day. In my mind I heard clearly "Acts 6" so I grabbed my bible and started to read.
Acts 6 introduces us to a man named Stephen who I have always imagined as a rather young man, perhaps Nate's age (20 or so) and filled with zeal by the Spirit of the Lord. That zeal and Holy Spirit power is described in Acts 6 and it got him into a lot of trouble. He got arrested and hauled before the Sanhedrin, effectively charged with blasphemy. In Acts 7, we learn how he handled himself.
Before the Sanhedrin, Stephen recounted the history of the Jews, starting with Abraham. God told Abraham that his descendents would be oppressed in a foreign land for 400 years and then they would come back to what is now Israel and possess the land. It's quite a story and as you can see, it contains prophecy that was given to Abraham and fulfilled 400 years later. When I read that section of scripture, the words on the page got just a bit 3-D like and it made me pause. I heard in my mind the Lord speaking to me as clearly as I've ever heard anything.
The Lord said "Spence, do you see that I see the end from the beginning, and I know what I'm doing. You have chosen to trust me. You are on the right track. Keep trusting me, I know what I'm doing."
Wow! It was confirmation that turning towards the Lord is the right path, that choosing to praise and honor and trust Him is exactly what we should be doing. That He spoke so clearly to my mind and heart and soul was good therapy. It was just what I needed to keep going in the right direction of renewed trust in Him. it was deeply personal for me and remains a touchstone of my faith walk.
Sheila had an interesting interaction with the Lord too but in a totally different way. Back in June of 2013 our eldest son Amos was about to get married at an outdoor ceremony by a lovely pond by the church. It was breezy and cool with solid gray overcast. The forecast was 100% cloud cover for the rest of the day.
As Sheila was driving out to the church, she was thinking how much Nate would have loved to be involved in Amos's wedding. Looking up at the sky she asked the Lord if perhaps He would let Nate see what was going on that day. If the clouds parted a bit she would receive that as a sign of the loving Lord hearing her prayer. I had no idea Sheila had asked the Lord about this until much later, after the wedding.
As we witnessed the ceremony it was nice but cloudy gray and we were focused on Heather the bride and Amos our son. Pastor Lance was sharing about marriage when right smack in the middle of his message a bit of sunshine peeked through the clouds and lit up everyone with warmth and brightness. I looked up and around and noted that there was a sort of rectangular gap in the clouds. The very southern edge was cleared just enough to let the sun shine down on us. The sky had a narrow blue gap in it that led far to the north. It was a nice moment that lasted perhaps 10 minutes or so and then the clouds closed and the wedding ceremony was soon done.
Later, when Sheila shared that she had asked the Lord for that little bitty favor it made me smile. I later checked some satellite cloud cover data for the day and sure enough, the entire region for miles around was solid overcast for hours before and after, except for that funny gap that appeared at just the right time. Hmmm, now why would that happen? Bless the Lord!
There is an allusion in the bible (Isaiah 14) about the Lords heaven (3rd heaven) being in the north part of the sky. I kind of like to think of that nice gap in the clouds as His way of letting us know that He hears, He cares and that He understands the geometry He created and that He really did let Nate see, let us know about it and make us all smile (Nate and the Lord included). If the Lord allows us to (at least on occasion) look down from His heaven in the north, it would have been a perfect viewing angle. Neat and PTL again.
There were a couple of other pretty personal God directed things that happened to Sheila and to me that have been helpful. Again, He confirmed that He cares and He feeds us deep in our spirit by His Spirit.
There were other events that are just part of living that made us aware of how deep was our gloom and yet how alive we still were. One was when we went to listen to Micah and his huge high school choir do their spring concert (2013). The vocal instructors are (in our opinion) absolutely the best in the region and they extract college level performance from high school youth. There was a piece near the end with soft, soft, absolutely beautiful harmony and dynamics that just got us right in the heart. It felt so good to feel something other than gloom, to have beauty cut through the fog, to make us sort of gasp as our hearts were squeezed by that performance. It made us realize we were still alive and that we could actually feel human.
Another event was the first time Sheila and I ventured out in public to go out to eat. It had been perhaps two months since Nate's passing and we were trying the waters to simply get out and do something normal. We happened to strike up a conversation with the manager of the place and he was very pleasant. We talked between ourselves and shared a nice light meal.
When we left I could not pay the bill because it had already been paid by the manager who had learned it was our first time out since Nate's going home. We were just fine until then! Again, touched by beauty, that of another human reaching out to us and being loving and giving, well, it kind of messed us up in a good way. I guess that was the day I really knew we'd be OK. We were healing and could feel life again.
Sheila and I have both been pressing in more deeply with the Lord and Micah seems to be pretty solid with good friends, regular work and school and a strong relationship with the Lord. We find our purpose for living to be sharpened and simplified. We all have a mission and our stuff and so many worldly things have really lost their attraction. The things of the Lord are what really matter.
We are more than ever focused on letting everyone know about a personal God in Jesus Christ and how giving your life to Him is the single most important thing anyone will ever do. We have earned the right to speak with others who have suffered great loss because we really do know what it feels like.
Sheila continues in being a Psalmist and worship leader and I am deeply involved in a men's study group where we are all learning to be more like Christ, by His Spirit and by His Truth. Micah is involved with his church youth group and the rest of the family all know the Lord, from the youngest to the eldest.
We are now healed sufficiently that we are ready move forward. We are making Jan 30, 2014 a day of celebration and praise to the Lord. It's an occasion to think of Nate but with focus on the Lord and His glory, His love and His sustaining power.
Nate is doing awesome and I am sure enjoying whatever work the Lord has him doing. Nate is more alive than ever. He was born, then born again by the Spirit, born again-again when he got his stem cell transplant and now he is born AGAIN in the Lord in an ultimate, eternal reality. Wow! Great for Nate and bless the Lord.
Every day we are just that much closer to having our own lives on earth come to a close and then we will get to see the Lord, see Nate, see loved ones gone before us and experience the entire splendor of God's heavenly realm. We can hardly wait!
But while we are here, we have that mission: To tell everyone about the Lord and His salvation. To explain to people that the bible isn't just some weird book but that it is chock full of evidence as to its supernatural origin, quite literally the word of God (and I can prove it).
Nate and I prayed virtually every day for "fruit" from his experience by the power of the Holy Spirit. That fruit that we want is for salvation of everyone we come in contact with, everyone who hears the story, everyone who learns about this awesome God we serve.
We have heard some great stories of fruit in others lives that helped us understand that ministry really can be done from a sick bed, that the patient can minister to the caregivers, that the message of God's love can shine through a frail and beaten human being. Wow. That is His Spirit shining through. Nate is an example of His Spirit shining through.
Ultimately, this is all really about God and the focus is to be upon Him. Through His son Jesus he paid the price for us and by His Spirit He can live within us if we will just ask Him in. Let us all give thanks and praise and glory and honor to the most high God and His son Jesus.
Let us lift up a song of praise, a prayer of gratitude and thank Him for his blessings and for an eternal destiny with Him. Nate has gone ahead of us. Let's be sure we catch up with him by the Lord's salvation.
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