The Splendor of Things Unseen

All praise, honor, and glory to Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior!

Strange first words back on the blog after Kailen’s passing? I think not. Kailen went to be with Jesus 13 days ago (318 hours ago, to be precise), and during that time, I am personally aware of more than 50 people that have made professions of faith in Jesus Christ, including close friends and family members from both sides of our family. Strange first words? If you think so, I would pose this question: What would Kailen be saying right now, if these were her fingers tapping the keys instead of mine? Would she be pouting, wallowing in some insatiable desire for earthly martyrdom? The answer is obvious; it was written on her arm for all to see.

YET I WILL PRAISE HIM.

Am I confused? Yes, but I will continue to trust in Him who can do far more than I could ever ask or imagine. Am I broken? Of course, but I will place my faith in Him whose power is made perfect in weakness. Am I sleeping/eating/breathing normally? Not even a little bit, but I will praise the name of Jesus, who tells me that though I am outwardly wasting away, inwardly I am being renewed day by day.

As I’m sure you’ve discovered, I have decided to continue Kailen’s blog. She and I had so many things in common, so many shared passions, but one of the most unique and highly-valued was our common love of the written word. While we were dating, we discovered our shared love for writing through the poems we wrote for one another. My first poem to her was entitled “Beauty and the Beast”; she titled her’s “Prayers for a Prince.” The complementary nature of our writing styles was immediately undeniable, and I believe, even to this day, that our common affinity for words catalyzed and amplified our young love and helped it blossom into something far greater, far more enduring.

So in death, as in life, I will seek to honor her with my words (along with every breath I take). But there is something very important you must understand from the onset: I will fail miserably. I am capable of constructing well-formed, highly-varied sentences, of giving life to creative ideas, of properly employing the use of a fancy word every now and then. But I am not capable of painting her splendor onto the page; ink and paper and electrons are all too finite, too simple, too two-dimensional. Kailen was, and is, every word I don’t know, every color I cannot see; but it is no matter. Even if I knew the words, even if I could see the colors and somehow translate them for you, it would be a futile and arrogant effort.

The page could not and would not hold her.

Kailen was consumed by the essence of heavenly things. That essence is too wondrous, too magnificent to be reduced down to some empiric babble. I held her when she was healthy, when she was sick, when she was bleeding, when she was crying, when she was trembling, when she was falling, when she was seizing, and when she was dying, but even I cannot fully grasp the beauty I’m trying to describe. The way I’ve come to understand it is quite pathetic, but it’s the best I’ve got — I’m a pharmacy nerd, people (cut me some slack): As humans, our immune system is hardwired to recognize “self” and “non-self” entities. Entities that are recognized as “self” are unharmed and are allowed to live peaceably within the body. Entities discovered to be “non-self” are attacked, engulfed, savagely ripped apart, killed, and ultimately expelled in some manner. Well, think of the world as a human body. This earth is satan’s dominion, his playground, so consider satan as the immune system for that body. He decides what is “self” and “non-self”, which means he decides what gets attacked.

The moment Kailen was conceived in her mother’s womb, satan began screaming. “NON-SELF! NON-SELF! NON-SELF! ATTACK! ATTACK! ATTACK!” And that is precisely what happened. Kailen was born with a collapsed lung that earned her a lengthy stay in the NICU, and the physical ailments quite literally never stopped from that point forward. Much like our bodies treat bacteria and viruses, this world attacked, engulfed, savagely ripped apart, and ultimately killed Kailen’s body. It was all satan could do; she was simply too big of a risk, too much of a liability. She stood in the way of his plans.

I told you it was pathetic, but it’s the only illustration that comes close. Kailen was a warrior for Jesus, and even in the death of her body, she would not be silenced. 50 people. FIFTY. Have come to know Jesus, either as a direct result or an intimate correlate, of Kailen’s passing. Congratulations satan, you piece of deplorable filth: you failed. Again. 

But back to my point: I will not be successful in conveying K’s magnificence through this blog, nor will I be able to fully convey to you how deeply I loved her or, subsequently, how deeply I miss her. Even on his best day, Van Gogh would have painted a poor picture of My Beloved. Earthly talents, even of the virtuoso–which I am far from–simply aren’t adequate. Thus, forgive my inadequacy from the onset.

I have known for approximately a week that I would be continuing this blog. The Lord didn’t reveal it to me immediately, but when He did, it was in overwhelming fashion. Once I knew I was supposed to continue it, I began seeking how to begin, how to start writing again after enduring the greatest loss I have ever known. The answer, much like the assignment, washed over me like a crashing wave.

Through what you might call a divinely-fortuitous sequence of events, an opportunity arose for me to take a trip out west with my best friend. At first, frankly, I said no. Why would I take a trip to see all these beautiful places and experience all these wonderful things when my wife, my beloved, my darling among the maidens, had just died? It was foolish, it was selfish, and I wouldn’t do it. Period. That was it. But as God often does, He opened my eyes and allowed me to see the situation from a fresh perspective. In this case, from Kailen’s perspective.

It was less than 2 months before K’s passing that God revealed a simple truth to me: it is not death that hurts, but rather the loss of life. It was a profound moment of clarity that nearly brought me to my knees in the hospital parking lot. I must say, as humbly as I can, that Kailen and I infused more life and love into a heart-wrenching and downright hellacious situation as is humanly possible. But that doesn’t take away the fact that she died at 25, while I, 26, held her hand and sought the Lord’s mercy, begging Him to take her quickly and without any more damn pain.

Loss. Of. Life. 

So much we could have done, so much we should have done, so much we should have seen, heard, smelled, listened to, laughed about, read about, places we should have driven, ran, walked, skipped while holding hands. Having kids, buying a house, going on a real honeymoon…just to name a few. By any rational mind’s estimation, we lost a devastating amount of life.

And so that brings me here, to this hotel room in Burlington, Colorado, my computer sitting on my lap. Instead of staying at home and conducting some sort of self-serving pity party, I got in the car this morning and Ben and I drove 15 hours. Why?  Two reasons: one, Kailen would have punched me in the stomach for even considering foregoing an opportunity such as this, and two, I AM DOING THIS FOR HER! For all the things we didn’t get to experience, for all the loss I feel pressing against my soul. I brought my TeamKCT shirt and a lock of Kailen’s hair with me and I plan to see it all. For her. For us.

So over the next 7-10 days, I will be cataloging the trip on Twitter and Facebook with photos of the different places we’re traveling. I will also continue making blog posts. I haven’t yet decided how frequently I will post on this blog — probably at least once weekly — but for now I will share my trip with you, and part of that will take the form of excerpts from my personal daily journal.

Here is the excerpt from today, September 28th, 2015:

K,

Today we drove west. We climbed the ridges and rolling hills of Missouri and descended into the vast sea of plains and grasslands in Kansas. Tiny townships dotted the flat landscape, each separated from the other by no more than 15-20 miles, and each having, without fail, 2 unyielding staples: a grain silo and a church steeple jutting against the horizon. We drove for over 14 hours until, just after sunset, we breached the eastern edge of Colorado.

As the world scrolled by outside the window, I found myself calling out to you in my mind, desperately searching the fields for any sign of you. The winds whispered back but you stayed quiet. The pain was not so reticent.

This grief, I’ve found, is like a sadistic maze. For everywhere I go, you are there to meet me; and yet, everywhere I go, you are nowhere to be found. You are both everywhere and nowhere, and neither satisfies.

I miss you, beautiful. I love you.

-B

At this point in my life, I feel I have 2 distinct purposes:

1) Glorify Jesus Christ with whatever life he has left for me

2) Honor Kailen

Please join me as I seek to fulfill these purposes. More to come later this week. In the meantime, I pray each of you will experience Jesus in a new way, and that His joy would pervade you, even in (and especially in) your pain.

-Bryan

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13 thoughts on “The Splendor of Things Unseen

  1. What a beautifully worded blog post Bryan. While your writing styles are different, you have honored Kailen through this post, the continuation of her blog, and ultimately the way you are going about living your life for the Lord and for her. She was extremely blessed to have you as a husband, as am I to have you as a brother-in-law and, more importantly, a friend. I pray the Lord reveals Himself in magnificent and mysterious ways as you seek Him through all the pain and confusion that accompanies this next stage of life. Enjoy your time in God’s beautiful creations in Colorado, be in his presence, and feel his supernatural peace rest upon you. I love you brother.

  2. Bryan its 5 am here in East Tennessee. What a thrill to see you try to keep up with Kailen, but you did a great job,it blessed me early God Bless you. Keep up the good work it is needed . don colyer

  3. God bless you and your wonderful family. I am proud to call Mae and Kenneth my friends. Peace be with you in your time of sorrow. Heaven has been blessed with another angel. I look forward to more blogs. They are inspiring to me. Love to you all,
    Diane.

  4. Your blog brought me to tears – tears of grief but tears of victorious joy – JOY that Satan has been put in his place by your words! That alone makes Kailen proud. Giving God the glory for all things, even while you are in pain, is a God-given miracle. Thanks for sharing from your soul.
    Lucy Lucas

  5. Bryan, we have never met but I have followed your journey with Kailen for many years. Kim and I were classmates and dear friends. First, please accept my condolences. I have no words to describe the depth of my soul that Kailen’s faith has touched. For the entire time I’ve followed this extraordinary journey of faith, I’ve often wondered about you. I knew you had to be a strong sweet man, first to have been chosen to experience such a partner in life but also to be able to support her while fulfilling your own goals! I have to admit that I’m not ready to end this journey with Kailen. Her journey didn’t end with her passing. It’s only just begun!! Now you and your beautiful prose will help those of us that don’t know you, to know you better and you will help everyone to realize that death isn’t the end, it’s truly only the beginning for the children of God!
    Thank you and God Bless!
    Pauletta Breeding

  6. You and Kailen are still a team, she partners with you still, from beyond the veil that separates earth and heaven. I think so often about how it takes only “one breath”, or “one heartbeat” to travel from here, to “there”. The heavenly realm is only one. breath. away. Only one. heartbeat. away.

    1) ”Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who by faith have testified to the truth of God’s absolute faithfulness], stripping off every unnecessary weight and the sin which so easily and cleverly entangles us, let us run with endurance and active persistence the race that is set before us,
    2) looking away from all that will distract us and] focusing our eyes on Jesus, who is the Author and Perfecter of faith [the first incentive for our belief and the One who brings our faith to maturity], who for the joy [of accomplishing the goal] set before Him endured the cross, disregarding the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God [revealing His deity, His authority, and the completion of His work].
    3) Just consider and meditate on Him who endured from sinners such bitter hostility against Himself [consider it all in comparison with your trials], so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Hebrews 12:1-3)

    She runs with you, goes before you, and there is a “joy set before” you now, more real than ever before. For the day is coming when we WILL be reunited with our loved ones, and we WILL see Jesus face to Face, stepping out into the ages to come in fulfillment of the destiny for which we have been created all along! God bless and strengthen and fill you with His Spirit continually brother. May His Grace be poured out abundantly on you Bryan and you run your race for Jesus, and in honor of sweet Kailen. To the Glory of God in Christ Jesus!

    Thank you brother for sharing this journey with all of us, and allowing the glory of God, even through brokenness and grief, to shine and flow through. Our prayers continue for you, as well as our praise and worship to God, with you! His Kingdom is coming!!

  7. (Sry if this was posted twice I think I lost my first comment)

    I do the tone it up work outs and followed Kailen on Instagram
    That was a beautiful entry u wrote, I feel like she would be so proud💙

    I’m very encouraged that 50 people came to know Jesus, she actually gets to be at the party in heaven with the Angels that rejoice when one person is saved🎉👑

    I could see she was such a Warrior
    I’m praying for u and your family

    I had an idea that the tone it up community could do regarding her bucket list she talked about in a video I saw.
    U can email me if ur interested
    elishadferrer@gmail.com

    God Bless
    Elisha

  8. Bryan,we are praying for you. I think it’s great that you are continuing Kailyn’s mission. You and Kailn has touched so many lives. May GOD bless you in all your journeys. May everyone remember, Kailyn wouldn’t trade places we no one now.

  9. I felt pulled to read this blog today and I’m starting with your most recent posts and will then go back and read Kailens words from the beginning. This is such a beautiful way to honor her doing something it looks like she was very passionate about as well. I miss her sweet checkins and humor on my TIU page; thank you for sharing these words!

  10. God bless you. Your and Kaelin’s life and testimony inspire us all. Love and faith never die. You are a light in the darkness. It gives hope. Prayers🙏

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