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October-November 2013


November 2013

Journey of a Lifetime


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Sam's Story


Sam's Story

by Brenda Steedley


“Four little bunnies live under the roots of a big old, oak tree in Dingle Wood. This is Rocky. This is Daisy. This is Blackberry. This is Fern. Fern is a helpful bunny. This is Fern’s story”... and so begins a favorite story my grandchildren and I enjoy reading together.

Everyone has a story. God writes His story through people. In His eyes, no life is too short, too small, or seemingly, too insignificant to tell His story. Such was the life of Sam Steedley.
My husband Kerry and I have seven grandchildren. Maddox is 9. Becca is 8. Dixon is 7. Ruby is 6. Lexie is 4. They live on earth, near us in Mobile, Alabama. Ginna and Sam live in Heaven. Ginna was stillborn on September 20, 2010. Sam was miscarried on January 19, 2012, and this is Sam’s story.

Sam’s parents are Kevin and Shay Steedley, our son and daughter-in-law. Sam has three sisters. Becca and Ruby are lovely, healthy, and very active little girls. Ginna was stillborn because she had Trisomy 18 and was incompatible with life on earth. We all got to see Ginna and hold her. We have pictures of her and other keepsakes given to us by a special ministry called “Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep.” We had a full day of holding Ginna’s body, even though we knew her spirit, the real Ginna, was in the arms of Jesus in Heaven. It gave us comfort to kiss her sweet face and caress her tiny body.

After a graveside and memorial service, we planted a garden in our front yard in Ginna’s memory. Each grandchild planted a rosebush. We have enjoyed tending it and watching Ginna’s Garden grow. We talk about Ginna as we work, wondering what it’s like in Heaven for her.

All of the family was ecstatic when we learned in November 2011 that Shay was pregnant again. A visit to the doctor confirmed her due date as July 19th, Kevin’s birthday. We were overwhelmed with gratitude that God was giving us another baby and a very special birthday gift for Kevin as well. The next doctor’s visit revealed a strong heartbeat and the sonogram looked good. Our hopes were shattered when, at the three-month mark, Shay had a miscarriage. How could this be? We were still grieving over the loss of Ginna. How could we go through this again?


Sam's Story

(Above: The Steedleys at home with their grandchildren)

I am very visual. The person I identify with most in the Bible is Thomas. I want to see to believe. I knew I had another grandchild, my seventh, yet there was no evidence. The only visible evidence of this baby was some bloody tissue in a bag at the hospital, waiting for the time of a mass burial.

I’m the kind of grandmother that, what I do for one grandchild, I do for all. Ginna had a garden, and working in it had become my therapy. As I worked in Ginna’s Garden, I’d pour my heart out to God. I found the saying true: “You can bury a lot of troubles by digging in the dirt.” I’d planted a rosebush for this new baby, but I knew I had to have a memorial garden, a separate space, to honor my newest grandchild whom I would neither see nor know until Heaven. But what would I call the garden? This baby didn’t have a name; we didn’t even know if we had a boy or a girl.

Of course, Kevin and Shay were crying out to God with their own questions and struggles. In his heart, Kevin felt he had a son. He had been studying about Hannah and Samuel when Shay got pregnant and sensed God was sending him a son for a birthday gift. Shay had been reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp; this statement really spoke to her, “Naming gives substance to our gifts from God.” She thought giving the baby a name would make this gift from God more concrete for us all.

Each of our grandchildren have been given significant family names. When Shay mentioned the possibility of a gender-neutral name. I suggested Sam—for Samuel in the Bible or for Samantha, Kerry’s grandmother. By the end of February, our seventh grandchild had a name. I began making plans for Sam’s Space where each grandchild would have an azalea bush to watch grow as we talked about Sam.

Having a stillborn granddaughter and a miscarried grandchild has taught us many lessons. We are learning to comfort others as we allow God to comfort us. Did you know that October 15th is National Baby Mourning Day? Kerry and I learned this when our son Kevin was asked to speak at a memorial service—a ceremony to recognize miscarried babies, including our Sam, and light a candle in memory.

Unfortunately, just one week earlier, Kerry had agreed to speak that same weekend at a church homecoming service in Georgia. I was distraught. How could we not be there with our son? God, in His providence, arranged this. On Thursday evening before we were to leave on Friday, a church leader called to apologize. Due to a death in the church family, they would have to reschedule.

God wants me to know He is intimately involved in every detail of my life. Because He made me and understands me so well, He knew I needed that memorial service to bring closure to that stage of my grieving and allow Him to continue the healing process.

I’m thankful God patiently grows my faith. He leads me gently and as His strong, comforting arms embrace me, I know that two of His little lambs, my Ginna and Sam, are close to His heart as well. He gives me just enough substance to cling to and enough concrete evidence for what I cannot see to keep me encouraged. One day, my faith will be sight, and I will see Him (and Ginna and Sam) face to face.


About the writer: Brenda Steedley, wife of retired FWB Army Chaplain Kerry Steedley graciously served for 34 years in the toughest job in the Army, that of Army wife. WNAC provides spiritual support for women in all walks of life. See



A Day With Sam


A Day With Sam

It started with a pleasant continental breakfast with former CTS Director Samuel Johnson and his wife. Of the 200 people in that crowded breakfast area who could have joined Kerry and me at our table, by God’s appointment I sat across from Mr. Sam Johnson. Church Training Service (CTS) was a significant source of my childhood Bible training. I vividly remember studying and competing in sword drills and declamation contests. What an honor to become acquainted with this kind, gracious couple. I learned that Mr. Johnson had taught school in Georgia, my home state, and those teaching skills equipped him to serve our denomination.

As we walked back to our room I said to Kerry, “You do realize that we just had breakfast with Sam.” Thinking of our Sam in Heaven, I wondered if we had a Samuel like Mr. Johnson.

During the morning session, Mr. Joe Jones’ dramatic recitation, “Go Down Death” brought tears as the Holy Spirit ministered to me. Eighteen years earlier (March 14, 1994) I had sat beside the casket of my mother. Reading the retreat program, I was intrigued to find that Joe Jones was from Samantha, Alabama.

For lunch, Kerry and I went to the Apple Barn Restaurant. My eyes grew large as I read the letters-SAM, on our waitress’ nametag. “Could you tell me about your name?” I politely asked. This beautiful, vivacious young woman laughed and said, “Well, my name is Samantha, but they call me Sam because I was a tomboy when I was little.” After she took our order, I looked at Kerry and said, “We had breakfast with Sam and now we’re having lunch with Sam.” I had to know more. When this server brought our food, I continued, “I’m curious to know your middle name.” She laughed again and said, “I have two because my Mom couldn’t decide on just one. I am Samantha Elizabeth Dianne.”

I sat speechless. Finally, I was able to say to Kerry, “Do you realize that those are the three middle names of our Sam’s grandmothers in descending order?” Kerry’s grandmother was Samantha, his mother was Elaine Elizabeth, and I am Brenda Dianne. Somehow I felt there was a message from God in this for me.

When Sam, our server, returned to check on us, I told her the name story and asked, “Do you mind telling me your birthdate?” When she said, “April 6th,” I almost fell out of my chair—Kevin’s and Shay’s anniversary date. Curious to know more, I asked, “What year and where?” “1984 in Wurzburg, Germany,” she answered, wondering where that answer would fit in. By this time, she also was sensing this wasn’t just coincidental. I explained that Kerry was a Chaplain in the Army, and we lived in Germany from 1983-1986. In fact, we lived in the Wurzburg community and enjoyed looking out our windows and seeing the Wurzburg Castle lit up at night. We were in Germany in 1984 and had visited the hospital where she was born. Shay’s family had also once been stationed in Wurzburg; her sister was born there.

I told Sam, our server, about Sam, our grandchild, and why her name and birthdate were significant to us. She was gracious enough to invite us back for breakfast when she would have more time to hear about our family and tell us about hers.

I left the retreat pondering the happenings of that day. I won’t get to know my Sam until I get to Heaven; but for now it is enough for me to know that God knows him/her and always has. In the quietness of my heart, He has reminded me: “Before I formed Sam in Shay’s womb, I knew him/her. I have been faithful throughout all the generations of your family. I’m not going to let you down now; my faithfulness endures forever.”

Like Hagar in Genesis 16:13, when she called the name of the Lord, El Roi, (the God who sees me), I knew I had experienced God’s faithful care. In tender grace, He comforted my grieving heart and confirmed the significance of my seventh grandchild. God gave me a day with Sam, and through Sam, He gave me a clearer vision of Himself. He assured me that He knows the whole story. From beginning to end, He sees it all.

©2013 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists