Only God Himself

I know I’ve said this again and again and I will probably continue to say this as we move through losing Everett, but thank you!!!!  Our most sincere of thanks.  We are blown away daily by how God is using His people to love on our family in the most thoughtful, kind and tangible ways.  From prayers and cards to food and gifts to help with medical and funeral expenses.  We have surely felt seen, loved and cherished.  Please please please know how deeply grateful we are.

It’s been 9 days since we lost Everett and it has been hellish and beautiful.  I feel like a crazy person because I have a hard time completing even the simplest of tasks.  My mind and heart are all over the place and the grief of losing our child is another facet of loss I clearly was not prepared for.  It’s just a whole new ballgame coupled with navigating 5 children who are grieving the loss of their brother.  Josh Kelley and I say all the time how this whole thing feels stupid.  Why in the world did our sweet Everett have to die?!?  It makes no sense.  Our littlest asks everyday why Everett died and I just sit with her and explain in my best kid friendly way how his little heart and mind we’re sick and sometimes shitty things happen because our world is fallen.  We are all sad and angry and do not understand a piece of it.  We miss Everett something terrible and it simply feels like we’re all just flailing around in crazy deep waters close to drowning.  When people ask how we’re doing all I can say is that we’re making it.  Just making it.

In the midst of this madness we have been consumed by the love, support, encouragement and kindness of others.  I’ve seen the goodness of God in the faces of His people and everywhere we look.  I know our sadness is deep and we’re really unsure of how to even get up each morning, but I still see face-to-face His goodness woven through out our days.  Every single day He meets us in the midst of our sadness and loss and grieves with us.  He hears our cries and knows our hearts.  And even when it is hard we will still praise His name.

I remind our kids and myself every day that God is still good and He did not change when Everett died.  He is the same God who works miracles and heals.  He is the same God that loves endlessly and without condition.  He is the same God who gives us underserved mercy and grace.  He is the same God who lives in us and shares the peace of the Holy Spirit with us.  While we do not for the life of us understand why God did not choose to heal Everett we must choose to still trust Him and continue to remind ourselves His love has not changed.

I do not believe God planned for Everett to die.  Obviously I do not know God’s thoughts and ways, but my mind and heart can’t wrap around God planning this.  What I do believe is that God absolutely knew Everett would die…it did not surprise Him…and He is broken with us.  This world we live in is not of any permanance or our future.  It is a temporary place full of broken beauty.  God takes the broken parts…all of our messes…all of the unfair parts that make zero sense…all of our ashes and springs forth beauty.  That is what God does.  That is the power of God.  He make things new.

Does Everett’s death feel beautiful right now?  No.  Do I feel a peace about Everett dying?  No.  Do I understand why God chose not to heal Everett?  No.  Do I like seeing my husband absolutely crushed in a way I have never seen?  No.  Do I like planning my 3-year-olds funeral and cradling my other babies while they sob for their brother?  No.  Does any of this make any sense to our family?  No.  But the incredible love of Jesus is this, He knows.  And no matter how we feel about what has happened I do know, that I know, that I know, God loves us something fierce and has used and will continue to use Everett and his story for His own glory.  He commands the praise.  He feels all our feelings and is crushed along with us.  And that is why every day I will choose to get out of bed and again put my trust in Him.  I do not see another way through this mess other than Jesus.

Please know we are not good people.  In the Bible Jesus says Himself that God alone is good.  We are a mess…a giant sinful broken mess.  We are not anything special or something to behold.  The only thing we have going for us is God Himself.  The only thing good in us is God Himself.  The only thing special about us is God Himself.  The only thing keeping us afloat is God Himself.  The only thing to behold in our family is God Himself.  May we lift His name high right here in our darkest moment and praise His name when we don’t even feel like it.


  1. Amen and amen.
    I love all the colors, I love how you are choosing to celebrate Everett in the midst of the awful, and I love the t-shirts. I was really hoping someone would find or make Fiesta the Donkey t-shirts and those are awesome.
    Still paying for your family when you come to mind.

    • Danielle Egan says:

      I am in complete awe of how you and your family handled this. We began praying for you and your family 2 weeks ago. I wish I could say something that could make this less painful, I think we are struggling along with you for answers. Everett left a mark on us, and your writing brought it all home. God Bless…

  2. You are all in my heart — I’ve continued to tell more and more people about Everett.
    I’m going to kick of the book drive for Mott that we talked about on his birthday, because that seems especially fitting to celebrate him in that way.
    Your friend Kristina and her daughter have given me permission to use her drawing of Fiesta for the book stickers that will go in each book with Everett’s name on them.
    My hope is that we can blow Mott away with a massive donation of books in Everett’s name!

  3. Was just thinking and praying for your family today.

  4. Laura Eveland Swanson says:

    Beautiful. Your writing of Everett & Jesus & God is just beautiful My prayers and love are with you.


  5. Praying for all of you as you journey into and through this. We lost our son 2 months ago. You are correct when you say you are flailing. Im learning that, while it feels like I’m going to drown, there is really a bottomless sea of grace that I’m sinking in.

    May God pull you all close to His face each day and breathe hope into your depths.

  6. Debbie Fisher says:

    Thank you for being so real with us. I am so sorry for your loss. It is hard to understand God’s timing. I have 4 babies waiting in Heaven for me and even though it’s been years, I still do not understand why I couldn’t have outlived them.

  7. Kelly Ford says:

    Amen. We are still lifting you all up in prayer every day. Thank you for sharing and being transparent.

  8. My thoughts and prayers are with your sweet family. Our circumstances may change but God never does. He is good all the time. Even in the mist of heartache, He is good. Even in the mist of trouble, He is good. Even when our world is turned upside down, He is good! Know that He feels your heartache and He hears your questions and He feels your pain.
    I am looking forward to meeting your sweet Everett in Heaven! I will know him by his great big smile that lights up his whole face!

  9. Praying constantly and deeply for you and your beautiful family! I love your realness, your honesty and your sharing of Jesus!! It truly is something special. Hugging you virtually.

  10. He is the only thing that holds us up. He alone. And when the calm after the storm sets in, when the people don’t come around as often, it gets so dark, but God keeps shining His light. Right now in our life, He is the only one who still brings us encouragement each morning. I am so very sorry for your families loss. Praying right now for all of your broken hearts. And for the months to come. Grief is so very hard. Our babies will be with us again. I anticipate His return with the excitement of a child now. It can’t come soon enough. All my love to you all. Thank you for walking the road with praises to our creator. With love and joy, Mary

  11. Shawna Kurth says:

    Girl, You, your family and that boy of yours continue to be the hands of feet of Jesus here on earth. You are changing the world for Him with your testimony and vulnerability. May you feel His arms wrap around you today more than most as your celebrate the sweet life of Everett.

  12. Praying for your family. Standing in the hope that His glory will shine through in the darkest of times. I pray each time I read your post i see you are very strong in your faith and very real. I pray on the days to come that you know more joy than sorrow and those babies of yours find peace and laughter more abundantly.

  13. Gail Stanford says:

    We’re never ready to let go of those who leave us…especially those who are young and have so much to live for, but this is God’s plan for all of us. May Everett’s spirit live on in all of your lives. Praying God will continue to bless you through all the pain and sorrow.

  14. JIllbloodworth says:

    Loving and praying for your family all day long❤️

  15. Thinking of you all through this difficult time. I can not even imagine how your hearts are feeling. You are an inspiration to all that read your beautiful words.

  16. Ellen & Rusty says:

    Our hearts break and grieve for you as we give praise to our eternal God for the hope you continually speak of in the midst of your grief, darkness and pain. May you know “the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!” May He be your “refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble,” your rock of refuge, your fortress, your comfort, your song! We stand in prayer with you! Much Love for you all!!

  17. Jacko presley says:

    Continued prayers for your sweet family! I would love to be able to purchase a couple shirts to remember your loving boy and benefit your family. Please let me know how!

  18. Hollie Wood says:

    I am so sorry for your loss. I am praying peace for you. I encourage you to cling to the hope of the resurrection and God’s promises of whole body restored when Christ comes back. We know that God never intended for us to die, but he really did make a way out for our bodies to be raised like Jesus. You won’t ever lose hope because he rose again and little Everett will too with a perfect heart. Praying for you!!

  19. My heart is absolutely broken for you. Praying for strength and peace. We have an almost 4 year old with a single ventricle heart who looks a lot like your E… and I am hugging him harder today.

  20. Bekah k-t says:

    Oh Laura, so hard! I’m wrapping you and family with love and prayers.

  21. Thank you Laura, beautiful and so well said! Prayerfully walking through this with you.

  22. Yes. HE is worthy and can carry our burdens. Continuing to pray for you all to walk this road, hand in hand and facing HIM . ♥️

  23. I am astounded by your words! It blows me away reading your testimony of faith through adversity and such heartbreaking loss! God is pleased with his children when they turn back praise to Him in the face of circumstances so utterly devastating that anyone could lose their right mind and turn their hearts away from the God who gives and takes away. In the midst oug deep sorrow you are living proof that faith in God is not only necessary, but inspiring! So many of us have read your blog praying and hoping that God would reveal Himself mightily through a miraculous healing. And He very well could have. But we won’t understand why he didn’t choose to heal Everett on this earth. But we pray now, for you and your sweet family, that He continues to show his fierce love to you all and shine His light and love through you as you turn sorrow into celebration for a beautiful little life, Everett, and how God so loves you and cares!! Praying for strength, comfort, peace, and mercy for the whole Kelley family these coming days and weeks as you navigate the cool, dark waters of grief. I’ve come to love a family I don’t even know personally! Thank you for sharing your Everett, your love, your faith, your vulnerability, your pain, your light, and your family story with us. Praying God’s blessings be poured out beyond measure!!!

  24. Frances Dunaway says:

    I have felt a sadness all week -sadness over Everett, sadness for your grieving children and sadness for you and Josh. Even sadness for myself and all who could see and know the blessing he was for all of us.
    Yes, we do ask why, what lesson is to be learned but all we can do is continue to Look to God and praise His name

  25. carolyn a says:

    This has been a true test of faith and you are amazingly holding fast and strong. Peace and God’s love and blessings are wished for you all daily.

  26. Catherine Pratt says:

    You are a vessel for God’s goodness. I am sorry to miss the celebration this weekend as I will be on a mission with my church family, but know that my thoughts and prayers are/have been with your family. Sending love to your precious children, the ones that have spent time in my classroom and the one that became an angel.

  27. Thank you. This is more powerful than any Sunday sermon I’ve heard in a long while. I also absolutely love all the things you’re gathering for Saturday. God’s promises (one being given through a rainbow) are always true. Praying for y’all and so sorry for your loss of Everett. I don’t understand either. I just don’t. God IS. That’s all I know most days myself. <3

  28. I am praying for you and your sweet family grace, strength and mercy that only God can give each of you! I am so sorry!

  29. Jeff Glueck says:

    I (Jeff) divorced myself from Facebook some time ago due to the hatred perceived anonymity tend to bring out in people. My wife Bonnie on the other hand, still uses FB for what it was intended for…pictures, puppy dogs, and rainbows. She has been following y’all story since Amon (he is getting big!). Seems creepy for perfect strangers to feel so connected to your family and to witness first hand, the pain you are feeling and EXPERIENCING. First let me say, that (with 2 children of my own) I have zero concept how y’all do what you do and function with what you are experiencing. Secondly, the love you demonstrate (present tense) to Everett is really something I have not witnessed before. The selfless love you both have is a live and in color demonstration of God and flows, given by Him, through you without filter through out this process. I don’t know what I am really trying to say here, other than I (and Bonnie) are really sorry. Thank you for being open about your wrestling with God over this. Thanks for yelling out to Him with “really?! WHY not?! Can’t You see what we are trying to DO here? Whom we are working SO hard to save and provide a love-filled life and honor You out of seemingly blind obedience?! How could You not heal this beautiful boy?” Thank you for being so transparent and for praising Him despite it all in what can only be described as blind faith…faith that transcends the FEELING, but relies on the Truth in His Word. A few summers ago, I read “A Grief Observed” written by C.S. Lewis which is a reflection of his bereavement following the death of his wife, Joy. They were not married all that long before she contracted cancer. The book describes his grieving process and how he, quite literally, wrestled with God over her passing. It is a beautiful story. One thing really stuck out for me in that book. He talks about how he was praying SO hard, and yet he heard NOTHING from God. Nothing. He prayed and prayed and prayed. Yelled in anger, and questioned of his beliefs….God finally spoke to him and Lewis asked him….Father, in Luke 11:9-10, you say “knock it will be opened by you”…well Father, I’ve been POUNDING on the door!! The Lord replied, yes, I know. You were pounding SO hard on that door, you didn’t hear me answering you”.
    I paraphrased that, but that is the jist of it. I believe God ALWAYS answers us when we knock, always opens. It’s the being still part to hear what He is saying is the really, really hard part.
    My (our) prayer for you is that you find (or continue to find) the comfort of stillness to hear Jesus speak to you, and FEEL His arms around you and your family.
    Jeff and Bonnie Glueck

  30. He understands.

  31. Stan cunningham says:

    Thank you!!!!!!!!!!! God bless you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  32. Susan Harris says:

    I have prayed along your journey and mourn with y’all…We lost our only child, Amanda, when she was 22 years old, she had given birth to her second son 4 weeks before, the doctors do not know why or what caused her death, it was sudden! May I share two things God taught me in my grief? 1st the Lord spoke to me through his Word, “Set your mind on things above, and not on the things of this earth.” 2nd all of Amanda’s days were ordained before she lived one(Psalm 139); therefore, She lived a completed life! He is not through with us yet, we had two small boys, 4 and 4 weeks old to raise, they are her legacy, they are now 18 and 13years old! We are so sorry for your loss, I pray this may encourage y’all in the days ahead.., God’s richest blessings!

  33. Michele jones says:

    You lift the name of Jesus and I am humbled to be reminded again that He does not change, EVER and is worthy of praise. I know you are doing tons of things to help your family grieve so please know this suggestion is just another idea for you. It might be helpful to contact your local non profit hospice agency. Many non profit hospices provide community bereavement support and special programs for children. I am sure you have plenty of things in place for them but thought this might be another idea to put in your arsenal in trying to address the grief your family is experiencing.

  34. Andrew Marsh says:

    My heart simply aches for you all. Like you, I know that God knows. And cares. And loves you all unreservedly. And I know that He has Everett! He did not want this to happen but He’s there with you, with Everett, with all of us, HE IS THERE! Yet, my heart aches. Do you know yet when you can say your final goodbye to Everett’s earthly body?

  35. looks like it will be a wonderful celebration of everett’s life! love the colors! thank you for your truthfulness…i’m going to share your post, because i know people who turned their back on God because of a death…sibling, child…and i am hoping reading your post will help them know what they felt is real, and yet, feeling all those emotions, one can still choose to trust that God is still loving and good…even when we don’t understand the “no’s”…no I won’t heal him, no I did’t save him here on earth, etc. we don’t know the why’s or see the bigger picture. we just have to trust. and tho i am so sad for you all, i can’t even imagine what you are going through, it gives me hope seeing you are still trusting our God. may He continue to carry you all through this time, and bring healing so you can go on, so you can get up every day and continue with life. i am praying for you all in my quiet time every morning. i read your story through the rosevine cottage girls posts. bless you.

  36. Continued prayers for you and your family! You are loved and God is with you!

  37. MichelLe says:

    Continuing to pray for you and your family! Laying you at His feet!

  38. MichelLe says:

    Continuing to pray for you and your family!

  39. Oh I was hoping to see Fiesta t-shirts too! I love them, I love all the beautiful preparations you are making to celebrate the life of your sweet boy! But I hate that you are going through all this…I just hate it! I know God is good… but I cannot stand the sadness that your family is going through! Not a day goes by that I don’t say a little prayer for you guys and hope that you are finding a way to get through the awfulness of it all! Love and hugs and continued prayers!!!

  40. Glenda Hoagland says:

    Your words have touched my spirit so deeply. Your faith in Jesus feeds my yearning soul. Thank you for sharing and I continue to pray for you and your family and you walk through this journey. Love to you

  41. Julia Mcconnell says:

    I am sorry you lost your son. God is awesome and still so even though He chose not to heal Everett here on earth. Praying for your family.

  42. Amen! Praise be to God! Laura , we have never met but, you are so, so strong in your faith during this horrible time… you are truly living out your by day, minute by minurte…you are pointing people to Christ! Thank you for your transparency…i have said this before and I will say it again, you are bringing people closer to Christ thru your actions…i will continue to hold up your family in prayer…sending you virtual hugs!!

  43. Julene reed says:

    My love and prayers are being sent to all of you. I do wish I could be there for the celebration, but I will be traveling. Everett’s precious face and sweet smile in the photo here brought tears again. I know you miss him beyond anything I can imagine. Please know my heart and love continue to be sent to you. I wish I had had the honor of knowing this sweet boy. But, I know him now. Thank you for that. ❤️

  44. T Haggerty says:

    My dear, perhaps the question is where would he be now with his leaky valve if you all hadn’t come into his life? Lots of prayer and hope for comfort continue. And will continue on.

  45. Kelly Family…

    I will bd roadtripping today and will have plenty of time to lift you guys up. I’m so glad you are feeling God’s love through His people right now. “Breathin in His grace. Breathin out His praise.” I pray all of you will feel His presence with every breath today.

  46. Beautiful momma, I am so sorry that Everett has gone before you to heaven. That just plain sucks. My tears are with you as well as my prayers of peace and grieving. When you are ready, if you do not have a grief group at your church, GriefShare is a national Christian support group that helped me tons as I was losing my mom. Thanks for sharing so vulnerably online. Love.

  47. Still praying for you all!

  48. Heather N says:

    Thinking of you today, on the day of sweet Everett’s birth. May we all have the courage, strength, and faith of your little man!!!

  49. This completely breaks my heart and at the same time gives me hope. Thank you for being the family that says “follow us as we follow Jesus, no matter where he leads.” There is beauty in the broken that can only be formed by God. Thank you for being the beautiful broken in the midst of your suffering.

  50. Kristie Cox says:

    Your story broke my heart! I cannot even imagin how your hearts are broken! I recently lost my foster son that I had raised for two years and planned to adopt to an Aunt who came after they said no one was in the picture and we were already preparing to adopt him and that pain has been almost unbearable, but even though so far they have not let us see him I know he is alive and well and that’s some comfort even though we are hurting deeply. I am praying for your family. I never realized how one child leaving could affect the others either so I know it’s hard to explain. I pray that God comforts all of your hearts.

  51. Wow, Laura…having lost my son a few years ago…I feel your pain and you and your family are certainly in my thoughts and prayers
    I want to THANK YOU for sharing this incredibly hard journey with the world, for being transparent, for pointing us to Jesus…
    I was a very new Christian when my son passed and while I was able thru God’s grace to stumble through and hold on to some degree of faith I in no way had the strength of Jesus Christ in me that you are showing through your words.
    This post, Only God Himself, and many of the others, have made me WANT TO get out of bed and grab hold of God and say okay, I’m in….
    Thank you again! For sharing it all with us
    For helping me not just believe in GOD but to want to seek HIM again.
    May God comfort you all through this

  52. Susan brewer says:

    I continue to lift up your family in prayer.

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