Tag Archive | Kyleigh’s Gift

Eye’s Openend

Few things happen in life that opens your eyes to the incredible possibility of how things could be rather than simply how they are. I saw something last night that was both remarkable and transformational. The Scriptures speak of the future Kingdom of God, but we caught a glimpse of that when 40+ people gathered to celebrate the launch of the first major initiative for Kyleigh’s Gift. All babies born at Liberty Hospital will now receive a Halo sleep sack to promote safe sleeping habits. This is a product created by an engineer who likewise lost an infant. He designed a product to help babies stay on their backs, and we have partnered with a community to put this tool into the hands of all families leaving the hospital. This is a great way to remember and celebrate Kyleigh as her second birthday approaches, but it’s also so much more than that.

This eye-opening experience is what it’s about today. For a Christian, this happens at the time of re-birth. I think it also happens when the Spirit illuminates and moves us to see the world differently. Much like putting glasses on, things become clearer, or as if focus on a single goal or objective is achieved and the pathway becomes bright. It’s the opposite of walking through a lush forest with barley a clearing to lead you the next 10 feet, but glowing step stones that lead you safely across the river. So it was for me last night looking out at the faces of people that gathered to celebrate the launch of a community initiative…all bearing Kyleigh’s name.

This is remarkable because we have never celebrated a member of the family as we have and do for Kyleigh. She has proved so be quite the catalyst. The need was there and the community was willing, we all just needed something to mobilize everyone to act. She provides that motivation, and that makes her a change agent. Nearly two years have passed, but more people know her story now and all families at Liberty Hospital will now receive a card with their sleep sacks introducing her to their families as well. People are better off today than they were before she was born, and they will be better still in the years ahead as the momentum continues. God only knows what the future holds, but it’s certainly true that with him all things are possible (Matthew 19:26).

So once again I find myself in the wake of an eye-opening experience. I have seen both friendly and unfamiliar faces unite under Kyleigh’s name to make their world a better place. I have seen the Church (even if it didn’t know that it was the Church), combine to focus and achieve a goal. For certain, there is still much work to do to make the effort succeed, but I have no doubt that it will. We are a blessed family. More so today than we were yesterday and we will continue to be as we honor Kyleigh and glorify our God.


The following is the outline for the words that Leann and I shared at the event last evening:

First we need to say thank you to everyone in attendance tonight. I know that for many people, this is quite a drive and we’re thankful that everyone took the time to come out and celebrate with us. There are a few other people that Leann and I would like to recognize that have helped us over these past two years that without which, we simply wouldn’t be here.

The Liberty Hospital Foundation continues to help in so many ways and it’s truly remarkable. We have said to ourselves many times that having an organization like this to partner with to manage resources, logistics and provide insight has been a real blessing.

We need to recognize Cathy Bonderer for providing the idea to send a sleep sack home with every newborn, and for working with Halo to bring sleep sacks bearing Kyleigh’s name to the birthing center. We learned of the concept almost a year ago just one week before her first birthday and starting tomorrow, every parent leaving this building will be equipped with one more tool to help them care for their babies while they sleep. For us, that’s a powerful way to honor and remember Kyleigh especially now that we’re just weeks away from her second birthday.

There’s an account in 2nd Kings Chapter 6 of a man of God [Elisha] and his servant surrounded by an army of horses and chariots that had enveloped them during the night. They awoke in the morning to find themselves facing insurmountable odds and his servant was afraid. Almost two years ago we felt like that too. We know what’s it’s like to wake up in the valley of the shadow of death as do many others in this room.

But Elisha, he had friends that nobody else saw: not the surrounding army and not his servant. The text continues with Elisha saying:

“Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” And the Lord opened the servant’s eyes and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.”

We look around this room and see people with big hearts. We see people that are unwilling to leave the world just as they find it, but rather those that are committed to using their time and resources to make a difference. These sleep sacks are one very real and tangible way for us to do just that. Every child now gets a sleep sack and if just one family is saved by these efforts, then it’s all worth it. And the best part is, we will never know.

Lastly we need to thank everyone for the lesson this helps us teach our boys, Kyleigh’s brothers. There’s power in multiples that is often times very difficult to teach. Sports is one attempt, but the pursuit of perfection and the pressure of competition diminishes the lesson of working together as a team. Every one of you is helping us to raise our boys to show them the purpose of life is not self-centeredness, but it’s what we do for others that makes a lasting impact.

Thank you and God bless you all.

Where Do I Belong?

As I look to those who I know, or know of, who have lost children, I see a wide spectrum regarding what they have done publically to remember their child. Some have started foundations, either to bring awareness to the cause of their child’s death, or to carry on a dream their child had, but never got to fulfill. A family from our former church lost a six month old son to the flu, just days before Christmas. They started Ian’s Rainbow Flu Foundation in his memory. Every year they hold a walk to raise money to fight the flu and bring awareness to others about the flu. We participated one year. A family at our current church lost their daughter due to a stray bullet on the 4th of July last year. Someone thought it would be a good idea to shoot their gun in the air to celebrate. What they didn’t think about was where that bullet would land. Blair’s Foster Socks was started in memory of Blair and in honor of her dream to provide foster children with socks. Others that I know have adopted a highway in memory of their child and take the time to keep our roads free of trash. Some participate in walks for organizations, such as the March of Dimes.

Then there are those that do not do anything publically. They haven’t started a foundation or put their child’s name on a plaque. They haven’t raised money or shared their story through a blog. They haven’t added their story of loss to baby loss websites or those sites dedicated to bereaved parents. They continue to remember their child privately within their immediate circle of family and friends.

No matter where those who have lost a child fall on the spectrum, neither is right or wrong. Each family, each person, has done what is best for themselves. What I am trying to figure out is, “Where do I belong on the spectrum?” I have been struggling with this lately, as I have idea after idea of what we can do to honor Kyleigh, to remember her.

I met with a friend a few weeks ago and was talking with her about this exact thing. I told her I feel like I’m at this in between point where the intense sadness and grief has diminished, but I don’t know what to expect next. I have the desire to do something about all of this, but not the energy. When I look at others who have lost someone close, whether it’s a child, parent or sibling, there is usually a clear action to be taken. Those who lose someone to cancer can donate money to the American Cancer Society or run in a Race for the Cure. There are organizations that educate expectant parents about SIDS. There are walks/runs for almost anything you can think of: ovarian cancer, fighting the flu, premature babies, AIDS. And I think this is where I find my struggle. There is nothing established for babies who die during childbirth for no known reason.

As I talked with my friend about this struggle to figure out what to do and where we fit into all of this, she asked me what my goal was. What did I want to come out of any action that I might take? My answer is clear and simple and hasn’t changed from the start … I want people to remember Kyleigh. I don’t want them to forget. She set a clear boundary for my thoughts, and that is, that my job is to make sure my boys do not forget their sister. Rodger and I have a responsibility to keep Kyleigh a part of our immediate family through our words and actions. She told me to start small with them and see where that takes us. I don’t have to put on a big show or raise thousands of dollars. I need to focus on what is right for our family and once we set our routines and traditions to keep Kyleigh’s memory alive within us, the rest will fall into place. She also reminded me that I cannot control what others do and I cannot make other people remember Kyleigh. What I can do is talk about her, give gentle reminders around anniversaries and holidays. Some will respond with kind words of remembrance and some will not.

Since then, we have started doing a few personal things at home to include Kyleigh in our daily lives. The boys know that it’s okay to talk about her and ask questions. We encourage them to do so. I have also taken the time to reflect upon the things that I know others are doing on a regular basis to remember Kyleigh:

-Two friends are making a monthly donation in her name to K-LOVE, a Christian radio station.

-A friend keeps our family picture, as well as Kyleigh’s picture, in her bedroom and prays for us each morning.

-A girl with the birthdate of April 5, is being sponsored by a friend through World Vision.

-Talking about Kyleigh and praying for our family every night from a friend with three young children.

These are just a few of the things that people are doing for us and for Kyleigh. I know there are more out there, some that we know about and some that we do not.

I still have ideas for what I would like to do long term. We have a memorial set up through the Liberty Hospital Foundation in Kyleigh’s name, called Kyleigh’s Gift. At some point, we will get to meet with the head of the LHF and help decide where that money goes. We would love for it to be an ongoing memorial, as we plan to donate money every year in her memory. I hope to share with you soon about what we plan to do through Kyleigh’s Gift, along with other ideas that we have to keep her memory alive.

Kyleigh’s story is just that, Kyleigh’s story, nobody else’s. I’m not going to find somebody with the same story. All I can do is figure out where I fall on the spectrum and do what I need to do for myself and my family to keep Kyleigh alive in our hearts. I hope you join me in this journey to find a way to keep Kyleigh alive in your heart.


*My disclaimer: The links provided in this post are just that, links. Click them if you want more information. Leave them alone if you do not want more information. Some are clearly used for examples only, while others are very close to my heart.

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