-Written by Anna-

No one ever dreams of spending their Christmas in the neuro ICU and yet the reality that God is WITH US has never felt more real! This morning we had our first moment as a family at home while Jeannine Brabon (a stroke survivor herself) sat with Mom. We then took a small Christmas celebration in to Mom. She loved watching us open a couple of presents that she had bought and wrapped for us almost as much as we loved sharing this moment with her.

As I walked in and received a warm Merry Christmas hug from our nurse (Mom has quickly become one of the favorite patients which doesn’t surprise any of us!) I found myself so grateful for those who sacrifice their own Christmas to love and care for people like my Mom. I looked around to see so much suffering on this holy day and instead of feeling despair, it felt sacred! This is WHY He came! He willingly entered into the suffering of all mankind to redeem and bring hope! He walks with us through the hardest and darkest of days and nowhere do you sense that more than in a neuro ICU on Christmas Day!

The first Christmas was not one of good meals, family time, lights, decorations and presents. For Mary and Joseph it was one of pain, confusion and wondering why in the world God would chose to make His entrance in this way. He came in a stable as a baby and, as a precious friend who came on Christmas Eve to pray over Mom wrote, “Katy’s room became for me that ‘stable’ on Christmas Eve, for Christ was born in Katy and Stan’s lives, but I got to see that birth afresh this Christmas Eve.”

We are seeing new life as Mom is making a little progress each day. Her speech and memories continue to improve. And while she is never comfortable, the pain seems to be less. Her body is fighting and we are grateful for that. Continue to pray for healing and strength. Pray for encouragement and peace! Yesterday she realized her new realities in a whole new way and we grieved with her.  But Jesus met her last night, she is still grieving but this morning she had chosen to be grateful and was sharing it with us. She expressed her gratitude for her nurse Debbie who brought her ice chips and told her Merry Christmas (best Christmas present for my Mom who still can’t eat or drink). She expressed her gratitude for Dalton another nurse who washed her hair this morning and made her feel more human! She was quick to tell us – and them – that while she never wanted to be here on Christmas those were her Christmas miracles!

She shared with us that if Jesus willingly entered suffering then why shouldn’t she? She never wants to forget this experience of being totally dependent and even the humiliation of it all as this is where we find Jesus!

Tonight as we wrap up a Christmas we will not soon forget we want to thank each one of you for your love and prayers as we have walked through these days. There are no words to adequately express what it has meant to our family! Don’t tell our Mom but we have not been able to keep up and have not sent one single thank you! But we are thankful! When we could not even express our needs, many of you listened to Jesus and provided, gave, showed up, called, etc. You have been the hands and feet of Jesus to us this Christmas! From providing hotel rooms so we could stay close, to meals at the hospital when we couldn’t even think about food, to showing up on Christmas morning to wish Mom a Merry Christmas, sharing prayers for and stories about my Mom, writing out Scriptures for us to read when we most needed them…we just want to say thank you and Merry Christmas!


22 thoughts on “Gratitude

  1. I have been so strengthened and encouraged through your sharing of this journey your family is on. The light of life and love shines through you all. God is pleased and we, on the outside looking in, are honored o partner with you all in prayer.


  2. Dear Key Family, What a beautiful Christmas story retold in your family’s life. Thank you for the gratitude update. Thank you!! You were all close to my heart today. I’m down here in TX- now 5 years after our family tragedy and looking back I see the faithful handprint of my Savior. Already in any ways through the tears, tiredness and pain you are finding His fellowship in your suffering to be precious. So wonderful to hear about the ‘ministering angels’ – nurses, doctors, friends! So thankful to hear of the creative ways you are finding to bless your dear mother in her extreme loss and sin. Praying for strength for tomorrow.

    Sent from my iPhone


    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for the update, especially on Christmas Day. You have shared the true meaning of Christmas in a new light and circumstances. May we all have the courage in our own difficulties that you have shown in yours. May we also have the courage your mother has shown. While she is a gentle person, she is also spiritually strong and a fine example to us all! Thoughts and prayers for/of you will continue. Love you all!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Beautiful pictures. So thankful for each small step of progress. I was thrilled to hear that you had time together to celebrate Christmas and then again with Katy in the hospital. Holding you all in my heart. Praying continually for healing, strength, and rest.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Your Mom’s gratitude decision as well as your Dad’s comment in your “Pause” posting show how deep their faith is and you and Elizabeth being able to write theses posts during this difficult time are an inspiration. Your “new normal” is difficult, especially for your Mom, but the Christmas miracles are a source of hope. Such special caregivers that are blessing your Mom on Christmas. I have been praying for a Christmas miracle but I had a different idea of what that meant. Thank you for changing my perspective on miracles. Small steps and blessings are God’s idea of miracles. Love to you all and continued blessings to you all.

    In His love,

    Nancy M.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Love you have touched so many for Jesus through the years and specifically your time with CMDA (to say nothing of the long term relationship started between Katy and my daughter Rachel…and now you keep touching us all again and challenging us to remember what we have to be grateful for as well. Loved your honest article in the ASbury paper, Stan. Yes, the feeling of knowing Jesus is indeed in the boat but then the questions of why does it seem like he is sleeping as the disciples experienced? My heart resonates with that question when I think of various times in my life and your honesty in the midst of still great faith reflect the process of Jesus with his father as well…Thanks for sharing this journey with us all…love, Ruth Van Reken


  7. Katy was on my mind when I prayed in the morning on Christmas Day, and the Lord reminded me of what Katy taught me about suffering several years ago. She shared with us in the Sunday School a poem about the privilege of suffering and I have held it close to my heart since. I believe that Katy is in that special place and held steady by the Lord of all comfort. May you be encouraged by the poem that is “endorsed by Katy”, for such a time like this… Anna

    by Martha Snell Nicholson

    I stood a mendicant of God before His royal throne
    And begged him for one priceless gift, which I could call my own.
    I took the gift from out His hand, but as I would depart
    I cried, “But Lord this is a thorn and it has pierced my heart.
    This is a strange, a hurtful gift, which Thou hast given me.”
    He said, “My child, I give good gifts and gave My best to thee.”
    I took it home and though at first the cruel thorn hurt sore,
    As long years passed I learned at last to love it more and more.
    I learned He never gives a thorn without this added grace,
    He takes the thorn to pin aside the veil which hides His face.


  8. “He is as close as the mention of his name,Jesus.” Many prayers for each of you during this season of pain and suffering. Thank you for keeping us updated.


  9. Joy and I look forward every evening for the updates. The picture of you, Stan brought tears to me. Your love for Katy so deep, do tender, so unwavering…she is cherished.
    And I agree with Nancy…we have been praying, hoping for a Christmas miracle. But miracles are His alone to give…His ways not our ways. The Christmas miracle may not be tangible but so evident in the gifts of love…from all to Katy and from her to you. I think of my new grandsons…so needy and the sweetness for Heidi when they gaze on her face. Katy is needy…and God has graciously blessed with many to provide in these days. She gazes at each of you with her deep love.
    He is not finished…miracles still happen. Rejoice…Christ is born!


  10. Thank you for sharing this journey with us. We look forward to reading each day about God’s faithfulness and Katy’s progress. Continue to be assured of our prayers each day. Katy and Stan has meant so much to us. Love, Dave & Barb Green


  11. Although You do not know me and will probably never know me here one day we will meet at the banquet the Lord is preparing for His church. It is encouraging to read the updates and the beautiful way your family saw Christmas this year through different eyes – thank you for sharing that. God is using this in all of your lives as well as so many reading your story – blessings and more this coming year.


  12. Merry Christmas, Key family, and thank you for sharing your blog with all of us. Through your pain and enormous heartache, you have chosen to not isolate and shut the world out but to share your hope, and glorify God! By allowing all of us to enter in to your sufferings, you’ve given us all an unforgetable gifted and taught us how Jesus calls us to handle dark times. We are on our knees with you, praying for comfort, healing and peace for Katy. I was in the ER this Christmas Eve and saw the suffering as well as the human Angels of mercy- doctors and nurses providing care. You’re so right, it opens our eyes to why Jesus came to earth. Thank you for sharing your hearts with us. We love you. Please give Katy my love. Please let us know what your needs are.


  13. Dear Ones, our hearts are blessed by your daily updates and every morning we look to see what miracle the Lord has performed. Music always lifts our hearts. Maybe you could play hymns of praise there in her room. We love and pray for you! Mel and Fran


  14. Hi Key family,

    I’m saddened by the circumstances, but I want you to know your posting this journey is such a beautiful testimony to the grace and glory of our Lord. Every time I read an update I am coming away inspired, encouraged and amazed by how powerfully God is working in your midst. It is so evident how tender His mercies are towards Mrs. Key, how much He is loving her through Pastor Stan and you girls. Your story is showing a glimpse into a life saturated with His grace, expressed in your passion for Jesus as a family. God is allowing you together to suffer for His sake, through His strength, and I know that you all do it for Him, because that is who the Key family is. It is a beautiful and powerful picture of God’s peace surpassing all understanding and if I know the Key family, I have no doubt you will come through this trial in a manner and way that only gives the glory to where it is due. Thank you for sharing your hearts and keeping your church families informed. May God continually sustain, strengthen and establish each one of you. 1 Peter 5:10 “But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.”

    Much love,
    Katie (Wolfe) Dale


  15. Dear Katy, Stan, Anna, Sarah and Liz (and all the grandkids:)

    We have not stopped thinking of you and praying. The prayer card you gave us a few years ago sits out with our Christmas centerpiece so we can “see” you and pray more. Your Christmas message is so powerful – Jesus came to suffer and that suffering and humbling began from the first moment of his life. I can’t help but think that our all-knowing, all loving God has entrusted you, Katy, and Stan, and each member of the family with more of the divine than most get to experience. You are walking where Jesus walked, suffering in ways that many don’t understand, and doing it all in a way that makes Jesus look glorious.

    We love you all and will not cease praying.


  16. May God continue to comfort and bless you all. Thank you for these updates on Katy. We wish you all God’s peace and strength. We are praying for healing and God to work his good through even this. We love you.

    – Marybeth and David Baggett


  17. Dear Katy,

    I hope you get this, I’m not sure about how this blogging works.

    Blessings and prayers,

    In Him,

    Pastor Randy Vinson

    Bridge Community Church

    A multi-ethnic community of the CMA

    5700 Rochester Road

    Troy, MI 48085

    248-879-9500 Church

    248-925-7275 Cell

    “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth.” John 17:17-19

    “The greatest miracle God can do today is take an unholy man out of an unholy world, make that man holy, then put him back into that unholy world and keep him holy in it.” Leonard Ravenhill (1907-1994)


  18. We are so strengthened by the grace and love that your mother shows. There is no doubt about God working in her life. We continue to pray for you each day and the struggles Katy goes through


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