God is Faithful, Even in Loss

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On June 15th I published the post, Not Inoculated; I reflected on the realization that although we had suffered a terrible tragedy, we were not protected from future sorrow. One week later, on June 22nd, my son, Nick, died.

If you’ve read my Tell it Well series, you know that Nick was born when I was a teen and I was forced to give him up for adoption. It was the late seventies and adoption was just beginning to change allowing more openness, sadly Catholic Charities was not at the forefront of that movement. The adoption was closed and I was devastated.

When Nick was 16 I got an email from him with the subject line, “Is this for real? I’m your son.” Thus began a very messy reunion. Thankfully, it grew sweeter and better over the years and the past six months since our accident, Nick was in the closest contact we had ever experienced.

One month before he died he told me his health was failing and that he needed to see me in the next six months. He had a long history of heart problems, but to be honest, I never dreamed it was this severe. I was planning to visit him this fall. He died of a massive heart attack at the age of 36.

I was standing in the kitchen last Thursday night talking with Samuel, Annarose, and Claire. The younger kids and I had just gotten home from a VBS potluck.  I was waiting for a friend to arrive when I got this text from Mike (Nick’s birthfather), “Lisa, how did Nick die?” It was one of the most horrible moments of my life. The physical shock was so strong and I completely fell apart. I kept crying, “No, no no….” Samuel grabbed me and held me tight, telling me it was true.

I didn’t know then, but Samuel had seen a message on Nick’s Facebook wall saying Nick had died, and my sweet son had come over; he didn’t want me to learn it in the same way. Samuel hadn’t had a chance to tell me before I received the text.

Mike had heard from his daughter, who also saw it on FB. He was texting from the Phillipines, where he is a missionary, and he was in the midst of a typhoon, so our communication was brief. Shortly afterward I got a FB message from Mike’s ex-wife who is the mother of four of Nick’s sisters. She said she was trying to get more information and hoped to talk with Nick’s mother.

I could hardly speak through my tears when I called Russ in Kenya. He was nearing the end of a two week trip and was scheduled to begin the long trip home the following day. He was already on his way back to Nairobi from Kitale.

Noah and Katie were celebrating their anniversary in Leavenworth, about four hours away. When they heard the news, they decided to drive here on Friday. Signe came and spent Friday morning with me, just letting me talk, and making sure I wasn’t alone.

Since that day I’ve been in touch with Nick’s sisters, two of whom live not far away, and their mom. She had a conversation with Nick’s mother. I imagine she is doing the best she can as she walks through her own grief.

One of my last texts with Nick was about my visit and he wrote, “Thank you Mom. I love you dearly.”

That visit will never happen and I am heartbroken. And while I’ve managed to write 600 words, I still have this sense of being speechless – like I just don’t know what to say.

This loss on top of losing Kalkidan has laid me low in my heart. I know the Lord is with me, I know he is so near, and I trust him. I’m not happy with him, but I trust him and I bow my knee to him. He is God, I am not.

Saturday I lay on my bed, curled around Kalkidan’s favorite stuffed animal, and wept as I listened to Sovereign Over Us from her memorial service.

You are wisdom unimagined,

Who could understand your ways

Reigning high above the heavens,

Reaching down in endless grace

You’re the lifter of the lowly

Compassionate and kind

You surround and You uphold me,

And your promises are my delight

I don’t know how to embed the video, but you can find it on my One Thankful Mom FB page. It’s on the left side of the page, scroll down just a little. The kids plan to record it for me next fall after Isaiah is home. Sovereign Over Us has become my life anthem.

Once again, friends, I thank you for reading, caring, praying. I am so honored to share my life with you.

Lisa

This post may contain Amazon Affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.

103 Comments

  1. jentompkins
    June 30, 2015

    We are humbled to stand with you in prayer. There are just no words, just groanings from our hearts to God's ears. Much love and hugs, Lisa.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      June 30, 2015

      Thank you, Jen. Who could have imagined? It's just so much.

      Reply
  2. Jennifer
    June 30, 2015

    I am so, so sorry. Holding you and your family in my thoughts and prayers

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      June 30, 2015

      Thank you, Jennifer.

      Reply
  3. Gloria
    June 30, 2015

    Blessings and prayers, Lisa.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      June 30, 2015

      Thank you Gloria.

      Reply
  4. Leslie in VA
    June 30, 2015

    Thank you Lisa for sharing your cross with us. I have never commented before but realized you might have a minuscule grain of sand consolation to know of yet another person praying for you. My sister (also named Lisa) lost two daughters in a car accident a few years ago. . . in her struggle, I have seen God giving her the grace of the moment. I pray that you find peace in that grace of the moment.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      June 30, 2015

      Leslie, I'm sorry for your sister's loss – such a heavy blow. Thank you for your prayers for all of us. Nick has a great big family that loves him.

      Reply
  5. Lauren McMurray
    June 30, 2015

    You are heavy on my heart and I'm praying continually for you. This grief is too heavy to bear alone.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      June 30, 2015

      Lauren, you're so right. I am deeply thankful for the Body of Christ that upholds us.

      Reply
  6. Sarah
    June 30, 2015

    In my prayers all over again. As long as you need.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      June 30, 2015

      Thank you, Sarah. We're thankful for your prayers.

      Reply
  7. Dawn
    June 30, 2015

    Although we've never met, I found you online through adoption circles. I am so very sorry, and I pray for your family often. Your honest sharing has helped me as I walk closely with a friend who lost her 9 year old daughter (and my daughter's close friend) one year ago next week. Dawn

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      June 30, 2015

      Dawn, I'm so very sorry for your friend's loss, and yours. Losing a child is so devastating. I am praying for your friend right now.

      Reply
  8. Alisa
    June 30, 2015

    It is much. Praying for you.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      June 30, 2015

      Thank you, Alisa.

      Reply
  9. Tisha
    June 30, 2015

    I cannot begin to imagine your grief. My heart has been so heavy for you. My your comfort amid your sorrow be great.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      June 30, 2015

      Thank you, Tisha. I so appreciate hearing from you.

      Reply
  10. Karen Inch
    June 30, 2015

    I am so sorry! Hugs! You are on my prayer list every day. Can't wait to see you at camp.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      June 30, 2015

      Thank you, Karen. Camp will be especially sweet for us this year.

      Reply
  11. Lisa H.
    June 30, 2015

    I'm so sorry this is the road you have to walk and I have so much respect for your faith and humility before God. He is being lifted up in your life, He has a plan to make new and redeem the pain this world has brought you and the whole story isn't told yet….I really believe these things, but I still hate that you have to walk it like this. Praying for you, friend. A big hug to you!

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      June 30, 2015

      I hate it too, Lisa. I really have to cling to the truth – what would we do without Jesus?

      Reply
  12. Becky
    June 30, 2015

    Oh Lisa. I am so honored to be praying for you and your family. I just can't imagine the pain. I know from the few short days I got to spend with you at C2L that you love those kids of yours with your whole heart and, even more, you love God. Sending you much love and a great, big, HUGE (((hug))).

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      June 30, 2015

      Becky, thank you for your words, your love, and your prayers.

      Reply
  13. Alaina
    June 30, 2015

    Oh Lisa. My heart has ached for you since the post letting us first know about Nick's death. I feel my spirit just aching for you. I will keep you and your family in prayer as often as I think of you in the coming days, weeks, and months. May God grant you some measure of peace in this time of severe trial.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      June 30, 2015

      Your prayers are a gift Alaina. Thank you.

      Reply
  14. kristine nesslar
    June 30, 2015

    Lisa, I have no words, other than to say I am holding you in my heart and you and your family are in my daily prayers. Peace.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      June 30, 2015

      Thank you Kristine.

      Reply
  15. Tammy Berg
    June 30, 2015

    I'm so sorry. It is just too much. I pray for you and your sweet family.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      June 30, 2015

      Thank you, Tammy, for your prayers and for saying it's too much – it really is.

      Reply
  16. Mary DeGennaro
    June 30, 2015

    Lisa, I was so shocked to learn of Nick's death. And thought, how much more can she bear? I know you are trusting God, even if not happy with Him right now. I will be praying for you as you try to navigate this additional grief. My heart grieves with you. In friendship and ove, Mary

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      June 30, 2015

      Mary, thank you for your friendship, love, and prayers.

      Reply
  17. Mary
    June 30, 2015

    He is sovereign and He sends his Spirit to comfort. May you feel those comforting arms around you today and tomorrow and every tomorrow.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      June 30, 2015

      Thank you Mary.

      Reply
  18. cathylank
    June 30, 2015

    I'm so very sorry for your loss, and I am praying for you and your family.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      June 30, 2015

      Thank you for your prayers Cathy.

      Reply
  19. Joelle
    June 30, 2015

    Oh Lisa, my heart is so heavy for you. I'm grateful you can still speak of the sovereignty of God while you weep and hurt. I have been praying daily for you. I wish I could carry some of this load for you but will continue to lift you up to the One who bore all our burdens and grieves right along with you. Thank you for sharing more details so quickly.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      June 30, 2015

      I wish we were going to see you at family reunion so we could take a long walk and talk. Thanks for loving us.

      Reply
  20. Chantelle
    June 30, 2015

    My heart aches for you…I mean my chest physically aches as I read of your loss(es) and try to imagine your pain. (((((((((hug))))))))) I admire you so much for your testimony of faith in times like these. I respect you and I'm learning much from watching you endure these immense trials. Bless you for blessing us so much even in your pain.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      June 30, 2015

      Thanks for the big hug Chantelle. I appreciate your friendship.

      Reply
  21. Jeri
    June 30, 2015

    I’m praying for all of Nick’s family. So much healing to be had. Sometimes it just feels like it’s such a lonely road in this adoption life.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      June 30, 2015

      Prayers for all of us would be a sweet blessing. Thank you Jeri.

      Reply
  22. helenhsm
    June 30, 2015

    Life can be so heartbreakingly sad. I'm so sorry for your loss.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      June 30, 2015

      It really can, Helen. Thanks for leaving a comment.

      Reply
  23. Carol Alexander
    June 30, 2015

    There are just no words to ease your grief except to say that I'm praying for you and your family, asking God to provide his comfort, and to give you his peace and understanding. May Jesus keep holding you up under the crushing blows you have suffered.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      June 30, 2015

      Carol, thank you for praying and thinking of us.

      Reply
  24. Susan Ringoen
    June 30, 2015

    My heart is breaking for you Lisa, as I read this. I cannot imagine this pain or sorrow of losing two children in one year! I weep and grieve alongside you!

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      June 30, 2015

      Oh Susan, you know so well that pain of loss. Thank you for grieving with us.

      Reply
  25. Kerri
    June 30, 2015

    Our prayers for your family continue.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      June 30, 2015

      Thank you Kerri.

      Reply
  26. trhanna
    June 30, 2015

    Praying for you and your family Lisa…my heart hurts for you and I have not forgotten to pray for you all these months and will continue to remember. Thank you for your honesty in all that your family has been asked to walk through with the Lord. Hugs.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      June 30, 2015

      Continued prayer is a gift. Thank you.

      Reply
  27. Robin
    June 30, 2015

    Lisa, when I read the news about Nick, I immediately thought of your recent post, Not Inoculated. The Spirit was ministering to your heart, I think, and I love how you are tenaciously clinging to the truth about our Father. I am so sorry for you and all of Nick's family! I feel the weight of your grief in a physical way, and like so many who love you here, I wish there was something that I could do to lift a tiny bit of your suffering. I am praying for all of you.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      June 30, 2015

      Robin, it's really nice to hear from you. Thank you for blessing me and praying for all of us. Nick has so many people who love him.

      Reply
  28. Sheree
    June 30, 2015

    Lisa, I heard through a mutual friend about your terrible loss; I just wanted to let you know that you are in my prayers. I have lost two of our sons, ages 21 and 24, in the past two years, about six months apart. The Lord has been with us through this valley and has given us the strength we need each day. I pray He will comfort and strengthen you and bring peace as only He can. God bless you and your family.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      June 30, 2015

      Sheree, I'm so sorry for your losses – two sons. I can imagine your heart must hurt so much. Thank you for taking a moment to leave a comment. Many blessings to you.

      Reply
  29. Patti
    June 30, 2015

    Oh Lisa, My heart is with you and your family. I can not imagine the sorrow that you have experienced in the last year. I wish I could wrap my arms around you~

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      June 30, 2015

      It's been quite a year – such a hard one.

      Reply
  30. Kathy
    June 30, 2015

    I am so sorry for yet another loss. Continuing to pray for you & your family.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      June 30, 2015

      Your prayers are appreciated Kathy.

      Reply
  31. Bethany Joy B.
    June 30, 2015

    My heart breaks for you and my husband and I are praying for you and your family. May our faithful God hold you especially close in this storm.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      June 30, 2015

      Thank you Bethany. Prayer is exactly what we need.

      Reply
  32. Chantelle
    June 30, 2015

    I also wanted to add how much I appreciated the honesty of this line you wrote: "I trust him. I’m not happy with him, but I trust him and I bow my knee to him."

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      July 1, 2015

      I'm thankful that I can be honest with God. He can handle it.

      Reply
  33. Heidi
    June 30, 2015

    My friend. I am so very sorry. I read Isaiah's post early Sunday morning and cried for you. I wept during worship that morning, so sad for you and so wondering why this is the path for all of you. I too thought of your post "Not Innoculated" and of "Sovereign Over Us". God's ways are so other than ours. May He hold you tight and comfort your hearts.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      July 1, 2015

      Thank you Heidi. It's always sweet to hear from you.

      Reply
  34. AmyE
    June 30, 2015

    Have been praying whenever you come to mind. Unimaginable. And as always, your words, your faith … incredible. "I am not happy with God, … but I bow my knee." A lesson for us all. Prayers will continue

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      July 1, 2015

      Amy, thank you for your sweet words.

      Reply
  35. Kate Kopaczewski
    June 30, 2015

    Lisa you have been on my heart and in my prayers since Saturday and will continue to be. My heart is broken for you.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      July 1, 2015

      Thank you for your prayers Kate.

      Reply
  36. lucylou99
    June 30, 2015

    Lisa, We are praying. May God give you comfort and peace. Love, Cindy Mc

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      July 1, 2015

      Cindy, thank you for your prayers.

      Reply
  37. Mary Andrews
    June 30, 2015

    There are no words, there never are. There is only our faith and our love of God to carry us through this dark valley. There are many of us who have walked this road and every one of us is holding you up as you go. You ache and feel stranded, stuck in mire.You are not alone. We are there with you, praying for you, every step of the way. We always have been and always will be. Love you. Dad and Mom

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      July 1, 2015

      Mom and Dad, I love you. Thanks for being with us.

      Reply
  38. Anita
    June 30, 2015

    Lisa, I'm crying with you though we've never met. I'm praying for you often as you grieve the loss of two very special children in such a short span of time. I'm thankful that the knowledge that the Lord is faithful still remains with you, even when the emotions don't always immediately follow. Praying, praying, praying for rest and comfort for your weary spirit. Thank you for your godly example to me, a young adoptive mama.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      July 1, 2015

      I'm really clinging to His promises Anita. Thank you for praying for us.

      Reply
  39. Sadee
    June 30, 2015

    I am so, so sorry. Crying with you.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      July 1, 2015

      Sadee, thank you for sharing our tears.

      Reply
  40. Cindy Sherman-Norris
    June 30, 2015

    Lisa, i remember the night in youth group when you told your story like it was yesterday. I have always wondered if you got to be reunited with your son. i am so glad you did and profoundly sorry that you lost him a second time.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      July 1, 2015

      So many years ago, Cindy. Nick and I were reunited for twenty years – I'll forever be thankful.

      Reply
  41. Janet
    June 30, 2015

    I am heartbroken and there are no words. With sighs too deep for words, the Spirit intercedes as I hold you and your family in my thoughts and prayers throughout the days.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      July 1, 2015

      Thank you for holding us before the Lord, Janet.

      Reply
  42. Jennifer
    June 30, 2015

    My heart is so heavy for you Lisa. This just seems too much too bear. May you anchor yourself to all that is good in your world as you move through this immensely difficult season. Many prayers to you and for you.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      July 1, 2015

      There is so much good in my life, Jennifer, you're right that I need to anchor myself to the good gifts.

      Reply
  43. Leslie Raneri
    June 30, 2015

    I'm so, so sorry. My heart is weighed down in sadness again for you all. It's impossoble to understand, so I pray for God's peace that passes understanding to be with you and surround you. Praying for you and all of the family and friends who love Nick to be comforted during this heartbreaking time. Sending you our love and prayers. <3

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      July 1, 2015

      Thank you Leslie. I'm so glad we'll see you later this summer.

      Reply
  44. Karen Hannaford
    July 1, 2015

    It never ceases to amaze me how true it is that when one part of the body hurts, we all hurt. I have never met you. I only know what you post on here. Yet I have cried so many tears for you. I wish I could deliver a hug in person, but I live so far away!

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      July 1, 2015

      I feel your friendship Karen. Thank you.

      Reply
  45. Heather
    July 1, 2015

    Lisa, I've been a reader for quite a while, having stumbled upon your blog when we adopted a sibling group. You brought me such hope with your openness. I am so incredibly sorry for your loss upon loss upon loss. I know you feel like The Lord has pieced together your shattered heart more times than one heart should have to. You are right to trust Him. Your flesh will fight it. Cling to the cross. Love you my dear dear sister.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      July 1, 2015

      "Cling to the cross" – that is my goal for today. Thank you Heather.

      Reply
  46. Mommafoster
    July 1, 2015

    I am so very sorry. I am praying for you, too.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      July 3, 2015

      Thank you friend.

      Reply
  47. sharon
    July 1, 2015

    I am just so sorry and holding your heart from far…. I haven't commented before, but if you can feel once in awhile through your day one more person holding you up through prayer with all the strength we can… lots of love…

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      July 3, 2015

      Thank you for commenting, Sharon, and letting me know you're with me.

      Reply
  48. Kathi McCleary
    July 1, 2015

    Oh, Lisa, I'm so sorry. I pray for daily, minute by minute courage and strength to grieve this devastating, heartbreaking loss. The pain is unimaginable….you and your precious family are in my prayers.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      July 3, 2015

      Thank you Kathi, we are so grateful for your prayers.

      Reply
  49. Sarah M.
    July 1, 2015

    Thank you for the update Lisa. I'm sure writing this was exhausting but I'm thankful to know more serials and to be able to pray better and more specifically for you. God is sovereign!!!! Something I find myself clinging to as I pray every time I drive by yourself. Weeping for you and your two losses.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      July 3, 2015

      Thank you Sarah – I love that you think of us and pray when you drive by our house.

      Reply
  50. Michelle
    July 3, 2015

    I'm so, so sorry! I discovered your blog a while back during a particularly difficult day in our adoption journey. You had just lost Kalkidan. I have no eloquent words… I just want you to know I'm here, learning from you and praying for you and your family.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      July 3, 2015

      Thank you for being here, Michelle, and I hope my blog is helpful to you.

      Reply
      1. Michelle
        July 3, 2015

        It is. Very much so.

        Reply
  51. Angela
    July 8, 2015

    So sorry…. Sometimes what life hands us seems unbearable… I know!! Thinking of you and your family!

    Reply
  52. Becky McKenzie
    July 9, 2015

    I am so, so sorry for the very difficult trials you and your family have gone through this year. My heart goes out to you and breaks with you! I can't imagine loosing two children, let alone loosing them in such a short time of each other. My thoughts and prayers are with you.
    Becky

    Reply

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