Kip, Angie, Noah and Lily

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Happy Father's Day!

Proud Father

"You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it useful again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless. You are the light of the world - like a city on a mountain, glowing in the night for all to see. Don't hide your light under a basket! Instead, put it on a stand and let it shine for all. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father. Matthew 5:13-16


I wanted to thank each of you for being so good to us over the past few months. We have been so overwhelmed with support through your love and prayers during Hogan's journey. We continue to be thankful for your care for us. If you ever know of anyone that is going through a similar situation with their child and you think we might be able to offer any help or support, please let us know. We would be happy to help in any way. We feel that we were chosen to love this special baby named Hogan and want to be able to help others. Again, thank you so much.

Over the past few weeks since Hogan left this earth to be with Jesus I have been trying to heal my heart. The void in that "hidden chamber" of my heart that God gives a parent with each child is still open and hurting. I try to go on with life like normal but it will never be "normal" again. Angie and I have been changed forever. I look at pictures and at videos of him and thank God for the time that we spent together. It is a hard thing to explain because I would never want to go through that trial again but I can see God's hand on his journey and the impact that Hogan made in his short life on earth is just amazing. I knew that God was big but God really has shown me just how big of a God we have! I try to go back to that place in my mind where Angie and I were basically living in the hospital with Hogan. I miss the smell of the hospital lobby. I miss the smell of the soap in the rooms of St. Mary's. I even miss the food at the hospital! It is interesting to me that my emotions are so "fragile" at times and then I seem in total control at other moments. It's that tender "chamber" that is still trying to heal. In the past I would sometimes drive past St. Mary's Hospital and think about the wonderful memories we have had there.... now... I drive past and St. Mary's and it is a battle of emotions. There are the happy moments that I am trying to hold... then there were the horrible moments of watching your son pass away in your arms while there is nothing you can do to help him or save him that come into your mind.

I look at babies totally different now. I have always looked at them and loved them but now it's a feeling of "wow" what a miracle. If you are reading this blog and have had a child then you know what I am referring too. It's the entire process. It's the moment you find out you are pregnant. It's the moment you hear the heart beat. It's the moment you see the first image on the ultrasound. It's the first time you find out if you are having a boy or a girl... then its the emotional roller coaster of the health of your baby. We are all beautifully and wonderfully made. We have two healthy children right now. We had one sick child that has gone to be with Jesus. Hogan's body wasn't "normal". It was special. Although he had many different characteristics than most children he was so beautiful in his own special way. I know that is the way God looks at each of us here on this earth. God doesn't make mistakes. Hogan was beautiful in his eyes. If you are reading this blog... You... are beautiful in his eyes too. I know sometimes in this world there are people that try and make others feel inferior because of their looks, money, etc. etc. but all of these things come and go.... the relationship you have with Jesus doesn't change. He doesn't ever not love you. We are unconditionally loved. I know I searched for happiness in my life for many, many years in all of the wrong places. I have learned that a person doesn't make you happy, money doesn't make you happy, an earthly "thing" no matter what... doesn't make you happy long term. It might give you happiness at times but nothing gives you the peace, true happiness, true joy, and freedom like having a relationship with Jesus. It is just like losing a child or having a child. Although you might try and imagine what it feels like... you really can't until you have gone through it. If you have never experienced a relationship with Jesus then you can't imagine what I am talking about.

I know that I have made many mistakes in my life and will continue to make mistakes. I have gotten many compliments on this blog and it does make me feel good but I know that the words on this computer are all inspired by God through a little baby named Hogan. If Hogan had not been a part of my life, I wouldn't be typing and I wouldn't be the person that I am striving to be today. I saw what God did with a baby with one ear, an over sized heart and small lungs. I saw how many people that God touched through Hogan's life. I continue to hear of lives that have been changed because of God using this little guy. Hogan was only 3 pounds. He only lived 16 days. Hogan's eyes lit up the room like a city on a mountain glowing in the night for all to see. If a little baby can change the world and make the difference that he made in a couple of weeks.... then why can't we?? I know I could insert a laundry list of excuses but there are really no good excuses.

I thank God every day for the ability to be a father here on this earth. I know it's a huge responsibility. I know it's a blessing. I know there are so many that struggle to have children and never get to experience the birth of a child. I don't take being a dad for granted. My heart is so heavy for women and men that have had to deal with this tragedy. My heart also breaks for the parents that have gotten to experience some of the moments I mentioned earlier in this blog and then to have their little one leave early to be with Jesus. I feel like every day is Father's Day. I am living a dream. I am healthy. I have been blessed with 3 beautiful children and the most amazing wife that God could have ever picked for me! Yes, we aren't the Brady Bunch... life isn't always perfect but all in all.... life is good. Life could be sooooo much worse. I don't have to look far to know how blessed our family has been and continues to be.

I love Father's Day. It is a day that I like to enjoy more than my birthday. There were many years that I never really thought I would get married or have children so the ability to celebrate both at the same time is such blessing. I got married later than most and have had children later than most. I believe that it is a blessing to me because I wasn't ready to be a husband or a father until a few years ago. I believe it was good for me to have these blessings a little later in life because I appreciate the gifts far more than I would have appreciated them earlier in life. I am so thankful for my friends that put their relationship with God first and that love their family more than anything on this earth. I have learned many lessons from these great friends. There was one basketball coach in my life that always said "remember" little eyes are always watching you. I think about that all of the time when I am around children, especially my own. I believe that no matter who you are that "little eyes are always watching". I know there were many father's along my journey in my younger years that had no idea the impact that they were making on my life. I looked to some of them for guidance. I watched how they treated their wife and their children (my friends). I am thankful for great dad's.

I have now lost my biological father and a child before the age of 38. I never knew either of my grandfather's. I know I am not the only person that has lived through the loss of a child and a father. I have thought about the different feelings that I had through each death. My father went into the hospital almost 2 years ago to have triple bypass surgery. My father kept telling me that he was going to be one of the 97% that survives this surgery. Hogan had a 1 in 5000 or 8000 chance of being diagnosed with Trisomy 18. They both didn't survive their conditions. They both died of heart failure. They both impacted my life but did so in different ways. My dad died at the age of 68 and Hogan died after 16 days.

I always wondered what it would feel like to lose a parent. When I was young it was my biggest fear. Now that I am older it was the loss of a child that I feared most. Hogan and my dad both passed away in a hospital. My father died in the ICU in Macon, GA after a battle and my son died in the NICU here at St. Mary's in Athens in a battle of his own. When my father was passing away in August of 2008, Angie and I were at St. Mary's welcoming our Lily Rose into this world. I experienced the birth of a child and the loss of my dad in a week. Lily was born on August 16th and dad passed away on August 22nd. I remember going down to Macon in the middle of the night to be there for my dad after getting the call at 4am that he wasn't doing good and would be rushed into surgery soon. I remember getting called into the "family room" and seeing the counselors and the ministers in the room almost 8 hours later in the day. When I saw the room filled with ministers and counselors, I knew it was his time to leave this world. It wasn't long before the doctor entered the room and said "he's gone".

I had so many mixed emotions when my dad passed away. I was upset because I knew that there would never be any more "time" on this earth to try and have a relationship. I was also sad because I knew that things didn't have to be "that way". My father always told me that I would have regrets when he died. I always wondered if I would have regrets for positions that I was forced to take on things. I always tried to do what was right and always felt like I was doing more than my part to have a father-son relationship although there were times along my journey that I had to make hard decisions. The only feelings that I felt at his death was that I didn't get to tell him that I loved him one last time before he was taken to surgery and the feeling of relief I felt when the doctor said "he's gone". I know that sounds horrible for those of you that have great relationships with your father but I didn't have a good relationship. Many people knew a different person and for that I am thankful. If you are reading this blog and you knew my dad as a friend, then enjoy your memories of him because my dad was a good friend to many. I am not writing this to "bash" my dad. He was far from perfect and so am I. I write this because it all had an enormous impact on my life and eventually Hogan's journey. I am also writing this because if you are a dad and didn't have a great model of a father, then you can change things. I am trying to change things for Noah, Lily and Hogan. I remember always praying that God wouldn't give me a son because I wanted the family name to end and I knew that I had no idea how to be a father to a son. It is hard for me to imagine thinking those thoughts now when I look into the eyes of my children and especially my first born son Noah who my makes my life so much better. He is an amazing blessing and he is the one that I pray will be the most amazing father to his children one day. I thank God for him every day.

One of the greatest honors that I could imagine is for my son to get to my age and want to be just like me or for my daughter to want to marry someone like me. I just felt the enormous responsibility of this desire as I typed those words.

I also thank God that all of us have a Heavenly Father. I tell Noah every night before he goes to sleep that I love him with all of my heart but that there is someone that loves him even more than me and his name is Jesus. If you ask Noah he will tell you that I love him "infinity and beyond". I hope he always thinks this. My desire is to love my children and my wife unconditionally. I know they will disappoint me and I will disappoint them along our journey together but the love will never go away. I will never "not love" my children. I always think about honoring Angie in a way that Lily will want her husband to honor her. Again, I screw up every day but these are my goals! I have learned that when I have my eye's focused on the "point" that Hogan and I discussed during our "guy's night out" in the NICU... that these desires are so much easier.

I am so thankful for my father friends that have impacted my life. I have asked a handful of them to help me with this blog. I thought it would be interesting and helpful to me and hopefully some of you that follow Hogan's journey to read their response to this scenario....

I have asked a few of these men to picture themselves in a room with their children. These men would know that they only had 2 minutes to talk to their children before they had to leave the room. These men would know that these words would be the last words they would leave with their children because once they walked out of the room they would never see them again on this earth. What would you tell your children in those two minutes? The responses below are from these men. I appreciate these men and their willingness to participate.

* Sons, I love you. You are both a gift from God to your mother and I. We prayed for you before you were born. In your lifetime remember to listen for God's voice and trust Him with all of your heart. Live the rest of your life doing the things you enjoy doing and help make the world a better place for others. I love you and I am so proud of you.

* Getting to be your daddy is the best thing God ever let me do. You are made just the way God wanted you, and He's the ultimate perfectionist. Love Jesus, your Momma and each other, and make sure they know it. All you can do is all you can do, and that's enough, you can't do anything more and shouldn't do anything less. When it comes to others, don't compare with them. In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing. Football is the greatest sport ever invented...... to watch! Go with tennis or golf, you can play them when you get old and more likely to live long enough to try... and... Ranch makes everything taste better!

* That I love them and always have no matter what, and that they should always seek God in all they do and to take care of their mother, each other and their extended families. Always do what you say you will, never take the short cuts in life, if you do you will miss out on a lot of experiences that make life exciting. Always surround yourself with Godly men who are real friends that want hesitate to call you out on the rug when you need it. No matter what is going on in your life never stop asking for and seeking the help of God and never give up because if you do, it will be the only time you really lose. Love your children like God loves you. Treat your children with respect and always discipline them consistently.

* Girls, always remember that the Lord is faithful. Live your life with conviction and obedience. I love you and will see you soon.

* "We've had a great life together. I have already taught you what you need to know. Let me just give you a few key words: REMEMBER, LAUGH, PERSEVERE, BALANCE, LOVE. Remember all that we have said and done together, including the teaching. Don't let the sadness of our separation rob the joy of our lives. Laugh often, and laugh hard! Laugh when you think of me. Laugh in the face of your troubles. Persevere. Don't give up. You know how to live. The question is, WILL YOU PASS IT ON? You must be intentional to pass it on. Balance has always been a big word for me. You can err on either side of the truth, so be careful of extremes. Look for the balancing truths of God's word--freedom and obedience, sovereignty and man's will, faith and works--these are examples. Keep your balance so you don't fall! Finally, LOVE. There are a lot of good things to do in life. Jesus said two are the most important. Love God with ALL you have. And love others just like and even while you love yourself. No matter what else you accomplish, you will ultimately fail if you don't love and God and love others. I wish I had done more, but I have accomplished God's overall purpose for me. Why? Because I love God and I love you all so much."

* I commit to doing these things and encourage you to do the same. To move from good to great in God's eyes I must; 1. Decide great decisions. (I have decided that Jesus Christ is the king of Kings) 2. Glorify Great God (Glorify God in all you do). 3. Commit Great Commitments (Commit to Believe God in everything) 4. Read Great Writings (Choose reading over other temptations emphasizing the Holy Word of God) 5. Think Great Thoughts (I will think more highly of God than ever before in my life) 6. Pray Great Prayers (pray without ceasing each day of my life) 7. Dream Great Dreams (I will dream of doing great things for God) 8. Speak Great Scriptures (Commit to memory key passages of scripture) 9. Love Great Loves (Love God and others) (Matthew 22:37-39) 10. Plan Great Posterity (I will give of my time and talents and material blessings for the remaining days God gives me)

In His Love,



  1. Happy Father's day, Kip. God bless you and your family!

  2. Kip - I'm speechless!! What a beautiful, beautiful post. My heart aches when I hear you write about Hogan. Thank you for opening yours so completely and honestly to share these thoughts with us. Wishing you a beautiful and blessed father's day.


  3. Thanks, Kip, for sharing the gifts that God is giving you. Happy Father's Day!

  4. Thanks for sharing, I am beyond words after reading this. I am so glad you are continuing to write this and reminding us all we should be thankful for all we have and not forget the blessings God has given us. I still cannot imagine what you and your wife are going through. Your faith is so inspiring and I am so glad that you had God to lean on through this all. What a great testimony you are being.