Faith with feet – faith in action – changes lives, our own and others.
On February 9, 2008, Trevor and Crystal Gosser looked forward to the birth of their first child, Kaleb, in seven weeks. Crystal felt a little draggy with a cough and congestion, but a doctor checked her the day before and sent her home. “I just thought I had a cold.” As the day progressed, however, breathing became a struggle, and Crystal and Trevor headed for the emergency room.
Facing the Worst
By the time they reached the hospital, both Crystal and Kaleb suffered severe respiratory distress. Following an emergency Caesarean section, a waiting helicopter flew Kaleb to a neonatal intensive care unit in Lexington, Kentucky.
Prayer chains formed in homes and churches.
Initially doctors believed Crystal suffered severe pneumonia. By the next day they realized something had gone horribly wrong with her heart. Harsh weather conditions required transport for specialized cardiac care in Louisville by ground ambulance rather than helicopter. With an estimated life span of four hours or less upon arrival, an external heart pump, ordinarily used for patients awaiting a transplant, provided temporary reprieve.
Special prayer meetings convened.
Because Crystal’s condition was the most life threatening, the family decided Trevor, along with Crystal’s mother and stepfather, would stay with her in Louisville. Trevor’s mother and aunt remained with Kaleb in Lexington.*
Day to Day Faith with Feet
As often as possible, Trevor made trips between the two cities to spend time with Kaleb. He recalls “wondering how I was going to be able to … take care of Kaleb and be with my wife too. I was overwhelmed. Faith … kept me going. That first weekend … without my brother and friends actually taking me back and forth, I couldn’t have made it.”
Meanwhile Trevor’s mother swaddled, held, fed, changed, talked to, sang to, and prayed for Kaleb daily. Typically, the neonatal ICU admits only parents, but love and touch for Kaleb and peace of mind for his parents outweighed any rules.
Throughout their ordeal, videos and snapshots of Kaleb detailed every step of his progress — his motionless little body with all its tubes the first two days, the miraculous change on the third day, his diaper changes, feedings, treatment, nurses and doctors. They documented everything for Crystal. “I didn’t want her to miss anything. I wanted Crystal to be a part of her baby’s life from the moment he was born,” said Crystal’s mother-in-law. She also kept a daily log that included the emotional ups and downs of every change in Kaleb’s care and the sometimes minute-by-minute changes in Crystal’s condition.
Once Crystal regained consciousness, Trevor and his brother propped a computer screen on her tray to share their baby’s first days. Her hand to the screen, she tracked the progress of her baby boy. She saw his wiggles and heard his grunts. She heard her mother-in-law softly tell him of his parents love and plans for their future together.
After removal from the respirator, Crystal talked to Kaleb for the first time by phone. His entire body went on alert. He knew that voice! He’d heard it daily for over six months.
Kaleb’s doctors released him to his grandmother’s care after ten days instead of the two months originally predicted – if he survived.
Prayers of thanks flowed.
“We decided to take Kaleb to his home. We wanted him to know that’s where he belonged … to get into a normal routine … and Crystal to know her baby was waiting for her.” Familiar surroundings for him seemed far more important than temporary personal comfort and convenience. A carefully placed picture of his mommy and daddy held their images in Kaleb’s line of vision. A daily flow of soft music, notably “Jesus Loves Me,” filled the air.
Trevor continued his travel between wife and baby, taking hugs, kisses, and videos back and forth. When home, he combined much needed rest with baby-focused time. He stretched out in the recliner, placing Kaleb on his chest while they snuggled, prayed, and slept.
The family chose to assume Kaleb understood far more than scientific evidence may be able to prove. They refused to miss any opportunity to build a stronger bond with his parents. They did the same for Crystal while she floated in and out of consciousness.
The doctors didn’t want Kaleb at the hospital due to germs, so he was unable to visit Crystal after his release. Nevertheless, her doctor recognized the importance of parental bonding and decided being with her baby would be more beneficial than an extra week of physical therapy.”
Home at Last
Although thrilled at the prospect of Crystal’s going home, Trevor feared for her. “I know her independent nature and was afraid she would try to do too much.” Nodding in agreement, Crystal added, “It was really good to have help. All was ready at the house. Kaleb’s room was ready when I came home.”
Seeing her son the first time and the homemade sign, “Welcome Home, Mommy,” Crystal cried. Trevor, following an exhausting month of keeping them connected, finally had his family together.
Prayers of thanks lifted round the world.
Kaleb’s slow caregiver transition began immediately. Trevor’s mother told Crystal, “Sit down, Honey, and I will give you your baby.” As Crystal grew stronger, she and Trevor took over increasing levels of care. Gradually the grandmothers, who stayed with them the first few days, began stepping aside.
Ongoing Expressions of Faith with Feet
Kaleb and Crystal’s progress amazed everyone. For several years, their family life resembled that of any young family with a happy, trusting, loving child, adored by his parents, grandparents, and all who met him. Both Crystal and Trevor repeatedly voiced gratitude for the “prayers and support of family, friends, and community” who shared in their miracle of life, who daily demonstrated faith with feet. Kaleb grew to understand and accept the greater miracle of what it means to become a child of God.
Kaleb, now a teenager who loves football, fishing, and farming, is 6 feet, 2 inches tall. Anyone unfamiliar with their story would never suspect his uncertain tiny beginning. Crystal works for a water company, cares for her home, and enjoys time with family and friends. Trevor was an agriculture inspector, farmed, and enjoyed all things outdoors, particularly boating on the lake near their home.
On Thursday, September 24, 2020, Crystal, Trevor, and his mother attended one of Kaleb’s out-of-town football games. During the night, Trevor moved to the living room recliner, after complaining of indigestion. Crystal found him early the next morning. He had suffered a massive heart attack and died.
Trevor’s celebration of life included both laughter and tears, as people recalled his hard-working, fun-loving nature. While Crystal and Kaleb continue to find balance without Trevor, they cling to the simple but profound truth found in “Jesus Loves Me.” They also continue to receive the support and prayers of friends and family who demonstrate their love, concern, and faith with feet.
“Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, ‘The Lord has done great things for them.’ The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy” (Psalm 126:2-3 NIV).
*Diana Derringer accompanied Kaleb’s grandmother (her sister) during his hospitalization.