One Year

-Written by Anna-

While being acutely aware of the one year mark looming I have felt strong and ready to face it. Yet tonight while (of all things) brushing my teeth I looked up to see tears streaming down my face and there was no stopping them!  Many of the emotions of the last year caught up with me once again and surprised me with their depth! There have been more losses than I can count in the last 12 months of our life as a family. We have shared many of these with you over the last twelve months and we are eternally grateful for your love and prayers through this year. You have been a gift and blessing to our family! 

This is a journey we never asked for or wanted, yet it is one He entrusted to us. Our prayer has been and remains that He would find us faithful of that trust!

One year ago today is a day none of us will forget.

One year ago today we went from the highest of highs (successful surgery with no signs of cancer) to the lowest of lows (a large complete stroke), all within a few hours. None of us could have imagined the journey that awaited us.

There is a fog that surrounds those initial days and yet at the same time a traumatic event brings all of life into sharp focus. You see very clearly the things that matter most in life. In those dark first days we experienced the love of family, friends and even strangers in ways we could never have expected.

  • Cousins who came to sit with Mom after putting their own kids to bed so we could rest.
  • Aunts who cried and prayed with us.
  • Uncles who took night shifts and explained what doctors were saying.
  • Grandfathers who loved and prayed from a distance.
  • Doctors and nurses who fought for Mom.  
  • Friends who drove me home and stayed with me in a very empty house that first night.
  • Friends who brought practical gifts like delicious food, soft blankets, extension cords for charging our phones, a small Christmas tree to decorate the hospital room, etc.
  • Family and friends around the world who prayed so faithfully for us!
  • Strangers in the waiting room who quickly became friends as we each waited on news of loved ones, sharing the good and the bad news of each day.
  • A sweet aide who lovingly washed and dried Moms hair on Christmas day. Due to a drain and 40+ staples in her head, it had been a while and she talked about it for days.
  • A hotel clerk that sweetly and patiently worked with me when I could hardly recall my own name and started crying as I explained that this room was being gifted by friends so we could sleep in a real bed and shower and still be near Mom.
  • Hundreds of e-mails, texts, cards, phone calls from people all over the world letting us know of their love and their prayers
  • And I could continue on…

I recently told my Mom that my only wish for Christmas is that it not be spent in the Neuro ICU! Truer words have never been spoken! And yet, in a way that only a God who takes on flesh and enters the world as a baby in a manger can do, last Christmas felt more real than any we have ever experienced. Her hospital room became like a stable. Immanuel, God with us!

Life is forever changed, there are many losses to grieve, many victories to celebrate, many obstacles still to overcome, and yet I find myself asking Jesus to help me remember those dark days. I want to remember the way we loved each other. I want to remember the way we were loved by others! I want to remember so I can praise Him for all the answers to prayer we have seen! And there are many! 

But most of all I want to remember because on the darkest day of our lives, Jesus was THERE! Isn’t that the message/miracle of Christmas? God came near! I have been taught and have taught that fact my whole life, but on December 14, 2015 I experienced it! It is something I don’t ever want to forget!

I close with the words from an old hymn that my Dad used in opening this blog a year ago.

William Cowper“God Moves in a Mysterious Way”

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

We have been the recipients of His blessings and His amazing grace this past year. And as we look back we see His smiling face even in the midst of the pain.

Words fall short as we humbly thank the Lord for sparing Mom’s life! 

Words also fall short as we humbly thank you for walking with us through the last year. You have been the hands and feet of Jesus and have allowed us to see His smiling face through your love and prayers!

We know that we are not alone in experiencing pain, grief and loss this year! It is part of life this side of heaven. But whatever it is He has entrusted you with our prayer for you is the same as our prayer for ourselves.  May we be willing to know Him, not only in His resurrection power, but also in the fellowship of His sufferings, becoming more and more like Him (Phil. 3:10).



44 thoughts on “One Year

  1. In ways I can’t understand, your blogs have inspired me and I always brighten up when one appears in my inbox.
    Thank you for sharing your journey with us. You can’t know how much you are blessing us and challenging us to remember what a great God we serve.
    Thank you and Christmas Blessings to you and your family!


  2. You all were on my mind yesterday and I knew the one year mark was close. Though the searing pain of loss, the struggles, honesty, victories and joys were your family’s to bear, we were witnesses to a depth of faith and love of Jesus that brought hope. You will never know this side of heaven the victories that were won for His glory, but I believe they were many. May the Savior who was born to die bathe you in peace, grace, joy in family and His presence this Christmas season. We love you Keys! Jer. 29:11


    1. Dear sandy, thank you for entering into our pain and our joy,for just being there, faithful and true, always you! Thanks for persevering with us for a year! Hope we can see you soon….. katy


  3. Anna, Thanks for sharing your heart with us in such an honest and poignant way. The Lord has used you and your mother and father as His witnesses in amazing ways this past year! Your faith and testimonies to God’s love and grace stayed strong and true throughout all that you faced.

    Today we read in your dad’s devotion book the poem he wrote to commemorate the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy of Dec. 14th, 2012. It’s a good reminder that despite the sorrow and tragedy of that day, as well as the sorrow and tragedy that struck your family on Dec. 14th, 2015 – God is With Us. He is Emmanuel – not only at Christmas, but today – and every day! Your family has demonstrated that to us so well this past year. Praise Jesus!

    We love you!


    1. It dawned on me today that while I am no longer able to see you in Africa, He has brought you to me in America, and not just America, but .Wilmore?Thats love, with maybe some pampering, for Him to bring Africa to me, along with precious Carol. He spoils me sometimes! Hurry home , okay? Eager to see you at Christmas! See how He spoils me! Love you both! Katy


    1. Doug, Beth, and LiYan, thanks for following our journey. It can feel long to pray for someone for a year, so thank you so much for caring enough to follow n pray all the way through the yeR with us. I am well. And alive, so all praises!


  4. Thank you, Anna, for blessing me this morning with this post. We also have had another rough year with chronic illness, surgery, 70 or more hospital visits, many doctor appointments, and wound care visits that still continue weekly now, all in our attempts to work with God and the physicians to maintain and restore some measure of failing health for Duane. We also moved from our beloved home of 30 years in November in an effort to be closer to the two children that live stateside. We have had some very exhausting times and if it were not for the everlasting arms and the prayers of friends, I do not think either of us would survive another day. Yes, Emmanuel
    does take on new meaning and comfort through suffering, and sharing the journey as you and your family members have so beautifully done this last year has ministered to Duane and me and several we have shared your blog with. SO, THANK YOU and may you know in fresh ways the blessings of the Christ child this Christmas.


    1. Duane n Linda, we know you know well the Via Dolorosa, path of suffering. We pray for you, too, that this will be a new year, in the sense that HE makes all things new! As I feel old and disabled, I remember this about my God. He’s always making new.He can make me new too, maybe not yet a new body but a fresh, right spirit of rest n peace in the midst of frustration, disappointment, aggravation, discouragement.i know you know. The move had to be hard, exhausting and unsettling! May He settle your spirits n bodies in a new place. Mine too. Much love to all the Rennells from all the Keys this Christmas!katy


  5. I cannot read these words without tears streaming down my face! I am continually in awe of what you have all been through….especially Katy, and yet always looking toward our Savior to thank Him and praise Him! I do empathize with some of what you have gone through and continue to go through…having lost my precious husband and Mother in a relatively short period of time and having to have had open heart surgery without my husband to be there for/with me….and not having been able to get my health and strength back… all seems so difficult! Yet, I do know He has a plan and I want to be willing to accept it and try to fulfill my part through Jesus.
    Reading your posts has been such a blessing…. I pray for Katy and for all of you to get stronger physically and every other way!
    You are such an incredible example of a Godly family!
    Thank you.
    Love in His Holy and Precious Name,
    Rena Doran


    1. Dear Rena, Thank you for your faithful prayers and your expressions of love to our family even in the midst of your own pain! May you sense the tender love and comfort and presence of Jesus in a very real way this Christmas season! He is with us! Love, Anna


  6. So beautiful. So true. His light shines ever brighter in our deepest darkness and He is faithful. Your family has walked dark days in the most beautiful way. God entrusted you because your example has truly reflected surrender to the Saviour each step of the way. Tears today are good. That’s pain’s reality. I cried with you today…my tears are for the incredible blessing of seeing God’s presence up close and personal in your story. Love and many prayers continue for your family.


    1. Dear dear Cathy, You know how dark the darkness can be, yet you never stop moving toward the Light. You have inspired me with your persevering faith. Thanks for weeping with us. Joy comes in the morning. Waiting in Hope with you! Katy


  7. Thank you for sharing as you have and do so well. What you shared today ties in so nicely with Chambers mediation for today from Utmost. Praying that His presence, as you so beautifully illustrated and experienced in the ICU last year, would continue to give you peace in the midst of all.
    He is the supreme Giver!
    In His name!


    1. Thank you, Anna, for sharing inmost thoughts of a year ago. I, too, think of what your Mom has and is experiencing, sometimes when I concentrate on swallowing or doing something so easy with my right arm. It would be different, if only my left arm functioned, being that I am right handed! Remembering back before surgery she sent these words, “We are in His Hands and they are good Hands”. It is amazing, the beautiful witness expressed daily to me by the Key Family. I thank God for each of you and pray for safety and health. Love, Carole


      1. Dearest Carole, I think I heard you are about to have a big birthday! When it comes to you, there is so much to celebrate!! Wish I could show up at your door as a singing telegram. We sing because the world is a better place and our lives are so much richer bcof you! Happy, happy birthday, ourdear dear friend!
        Thank you, dear Lord for Carole! Katy for all the keys


    2. Bill,
      Thank you for your thoughtful comments and your timely reference to Chambers, who I, too, love to read.
      Thanks for following our journey and for praying!katy


  8. We love all of you and know that Jesus continues to be with the whole Key, Kinlaw, etc. family. He truly is faithful. He has always showed up when we have been through difficult times. As Jay likes to say: I have always believed in the resurrection but the Resurrected Jesus came to us.” So the Resurrected Jesus continues to come near. Praying for this special anniversary of His showing up. We are so grateful that Katy is still with us and she gets to enjoy her children and grandchildren. What a privilege. Love you all and may this be a special day. May He heal any wounds that may be lingering.


  9. Dearest Anna, once again you have given us the gift of perspective. The Lord blesses in the midst of suffering and fills our heart with joy. We thank Him for His bountiful grace and mercy. Continued prayers for your family and much love!

    Mel and Fran


  10. Beautifully written, Anna, thank you so much for sharing. We continue to miss the Key family & pray for you all. Bruce & Pamm


  11. Your ability to express what you are feeling so eloquently is a gift to us. Most of us pray that God will receive glory from whatever we go through. You can be SURE that He is using your lives to demonstrate that His steadfast and abiding love are the strongest in the darkest of times. At Christmas time, the reminder of Immanuel is especially poignant. Thank you!


  12. Anna,

    Thank you sharing. It is a powerful message of God’s good sovereignty and your faith in Him. I think often of all of you, and appreciate your keeping us informed.

    Have a blessed Christmas! Christa

    Sent from my iPhone



  13. And words fail me to know how to reply, dear Anna. You and your family have experienced so much hardship, but God is so evidently at work in your lives. And you are a blessings to others. To God be the Glory!


    1. Lori, You have been such a faithful follower of our journey! Thank you for your love and prayers! You are missed here at BFA and we continue to pray for you and your family as you transition to the next thing that Jesus has for you! Merry Christmas to all the Crawfords.


  14. “God moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform. PTL for your spiritual sensitivity and insights on the blessings, especially on how God was with you, Immanuel, in those first weeks. May you be able to recall and revel in the ways that you were loved and gave love.

    I’m not finding the words to a chorus that I’m looking for, but this one is close:

    Christmas joy to all of you,
    Roger and Shirley


  15. Dear Katy and pastor Stan, may the Lord sustain and renew your strength every day at this difficult journey. Praying for your family. “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you;
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

    Thank you, Anna!


    1. Tatyana, I don’t know if this was intentional or not but that is the verse that Jesus gave us the day of her stroke. Elisabeth put it at the top of this blog. Thank you for sharing it with us again and thank you for your love and prayers through this journey! Anna


  16. I continue to pray for a Christmas miracle for Katy. Thank you for sharing your journey with us. You have ministered to us in many ways back here in Albany and to a friend of mine. Have a blessed Christmas and a New Year filled with God’s blessings. ❤️🙏🌲


  17. With tears running down my cheeks, I am so grateful for you allowing us to be part of this journey. Praying for you: May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. ROMANS 15 : 13.


  18. Ana, you touched my heart and brought me to tears. I wish I could be half as faithful as you, Katy and your family. May God continue to richly bless you all.


    1. Ruth, I know you are grieving your own loss this Christmas! May you sense the presence of Jesus in a special way! The entire Key family loves you and is so thankful for your faithful love and prayers for us! Anna


  19. God continue to be with you as you remember those dark hours not really knowing there was a light at the end of the tunnel…continue to accept our prayers that the light will eventually get brighter…God Bless you all at this beautiful time of year….Merry Blessed Christmas…Joan


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