Late in pregnancy, Aislinn and Matthew learned that their son would be born with “hypoplastic left heart syndrome.” The cardiologist explained that this was considered the most severe heart defect that was survivable. He walked them through the three open-heart surgeries that would be required. He explained that, even after those surgeries, there was the possibility of a needed heart transplant. He explained the odds of survival, starting at 50% and improving with each day and surgery. It was overwhelming. In a few moments, their world was turned upside down. They studied and asked questions and sought prayer support. We all moved forward to whatever future God had in store for this baby.
On March 1, Thomas Michael Kelling was born. On March 6th, he had his first open-heart surgery. Thus began months of hospital care. That was followed by another couple of months in Ronald McDonald House, with several short ER and hospital visits. Then, in July, the second open-heart surgery was done. Finally, on August 1st, Thomas Michael Kelling and his whole family got to be together at home. This past Sunday, September 10th, I had the joy and honor of baptizing him into the Body of Christ. I wondered if my heart would burst!
Throughout these months, so many of you have prayed for him, donated funds to help with all the astronomical costs involved, helped care for the family dog or cats, cared for Felicity, provided meals, provided various repairs, and just offered mountains of love and support. The team at Dell Children’s Hospital has been outstanding, as has the cardiology team. When I read Dr. Mery’s bio, I was immediately impressed with his expertise. Meeting him, I immediately appreciated his empathy for the family and deep, compassionate care of Thomas. Before the first surgery, we anointed Thomas and prayed over him. Then I asked Dr. Mery and his PA if we could pray over them. With a big smile, he said, “Absolutely!” That was the moment I knew God had placed him in Thomas’ life.
So many trials and struggles, so many deep and rich blessings, all bringing us to the moment in worship when we baptized Thomas into the Love we call the “Holy Trinity.” I walked him up and down the aisle so that you, who have loved him and his family so well, could get a good look at him. And he looked great! All the tears, the worries, the fretting, the anxiety, the sleepless nights were replaced by sheer joy and light. Yes, there are still great challenges ahead for Thomas. But God has sustained and blessed him and his family so richly and we trust God will continue to do the same.
Hannah prayed for her son, Samuel. When God answered her prayer, she responded by offering Samuel to serve God. We – and I am including all of you - have prayed for Thomas. God has answered that prayer. We responded by offering Thomas in baptism. Now, we wait with anticipation to see what God will next do in Thomas’ life – and in prayerful trust that God has great and wonderful plans for him.