Thursday, January 11, 2018

Growth

"Blessed are they that mourn and I accepted it. I've got nothing that I hadn't bargained for. Of course it is different when the thing happens to oneself, not to others, and in reality, not in imagination." I think this is where I get hung up with what C. S. Lewis processes through in his writing A Grief Observed.

I knew everything to be one way, yet I knew that life would bring about changes. I never had a problem with knowing there would be heartbreak, fear, worry, doubt, or change. They had all become part of my vocabulary even at a young age. So why does everything seem bigger now? I question. A LOT. I doubt myself, others, and truth that I have known for years. Why? Because my face smacked on the cement? Does that give me the right to question everything I once believed to be true about my Lord and Savior? I didn't get my way and therefore I selfishly throw a fit? Is that what grief is? Is that what I am doing? I'd like to believe that I am not just throwing a fit. I am learning since I have never done this before.

To me it is a reminder of knowing someone for years and thinking they are the exactly same way when you see them years later. You spend time with them thinking they will be the same old person you once knew. However, their lives continued just as much as mine has, yet I nievely believe that change is unattainable for that person because I remember them one way. It is hard to accept the change, even though it can be a good one. Yes, change can reverse and people can digress as well. I am so quickly reminded that I am not even close to understanding all the happenings in this world. I so desperately want to know, but I get tired of trying to undersrand it all. I can't rationalize how I feel as though God has somehow changed now that something tragic has happened in my life.

It is a similar way of being told truth that cuts you to your core. Or having that one person ask you a question you were unprepared to answer. The question of how long is too long? What is healthy for you? What is your plan? Well as I recall the last time I made any large plans, they all seemed to have fallen apart. I trusted wholeheartedly and walked out the path before me. It was the correct path but it didn't end how I wanted. So the reality I so desperately wanted to come about was abruptly ended. It is the accepting it all that is difficult for me. It is accepting that hard truth. The truth I circle around and around. Kyle is not returning.

I hold on. I say just give me time.  I have those things I am not ready to move forward from. It is my ring. I feel a sense of closeness. Not to the ring itself but to what it represents. Not only was it an amazing gift but it reminds me of what was going to come about. I HAVE to acknowledge what has happened like the change in people for better or worse, acknowledge that I feel as though God is not who He says He is, or acknowledging that I feel so lost making decisions without Kyle. I continue to acknowledge the questions, feelings, and thoughts and keep moving forward. I find the turth that people can change for the better, that God is truly who He says He is, and that I am capable of making positive and beneficial choices for my life without having Kyle's input.

It's funny becuase I do not know about you, but I can feel the stagnant in me. I just don't know how to fix it or sometimes I don't even want to do something about it. I am sure you would say come on Abbey. Just take care of it. Make it better. Fix it. Yeah, that is all great but I become stuck and am not sure which way to go. I become frustrated at God through all my questioning and confusion. I know life is better with God than without Him. Is it because I just don't want to go to hell? I don't think that is the sole reason. I truly want God to be the center of my life. I have tasted that. I tasted it's sweetness the moment I found out Kyle, Scott, Kaitlyn, and Zach were dead. There was nothing left to hold onto but my Savior. The world seemed to slow itself for me. I felt I could process very little and the Lord`s protection was clearly over me. It seemed much simpler when Kyle was alive. I had someone calling me out, I had someone challenging me, I trusted Kyle to point me back to the Lord. I am not saying I had a "good" relationship with God because of Kyle. I am simply saying, I had an amazing counterpart who loved the Lord his God with everything he had in him. For that I am thankful.

So how does one go about getting out of the line of entrapment? First I believe that is why we are called the body of Christ. We are not to do it all alone. When I try, it always turns out badly. We are called to love one another, to speak truth in love, we are called to do our part in the body whatever that is. I am thankful for friends who don't just leave me how they find me. I know it must seem hard to tell me, Abbey, what to do. It isn't that I know everything, I am just a determined person who lives life hard and confidently. When there is something I need to do it, then you better believe I will. So it makes it even harder for my friends to speak truth into my life and call me out on my crap. I promise I am not purposefully trying to be a pain about it. I deeply want people to speak into my life so I can sift through everything said in order to process and see from another's perspective. I know it can be done becuase I allowed Kyle to do it. Along with several other friends that I have developed that kind of relationship with.

Over the past year I have changed.  I have pushed hard.  I haven't stopped.  There was no doubt in my mind that I was to teach, coach, and continue with my masters even when I had people question me as to what I was doing. I was asked it if was healthy for me. I felt overwhelmed but boy did I learn from it all. I struggled but where I lacked the Lord filled in for me. Why? Honestly, if I those weren't in my life, I am afraid that I might have sunk into depression pretty deep, possibly to a point that would take drastic measure to pull me out. That is just pure speculation on my part not actually knowing why I felt compelled to do such a crazy thing. Or perhaps I wasn't ready to process everything going on in my life and I needed distractions. Either way, I have slipped in and out of the feeling of being depressed but I have taken measures to balance my body and mind.

My ways of working through this whole process have been keeping busy and maintaining a purpose such as my career, school, and coaching. It was finding a grievance counselor and talking to her on a monthly basis. It was finding people I could trust to be vulnerable with again without fear of making a fool out of myself. Thank you to those of you who have juat listened to my ramblings. You know who you are. I will be the first to admit I am an emotional female that lacks understanding of why I respond the way I do. I am trying to understand myself better though, and I can say that has happened. I have found specific triggers. I have learned who I can and cannot go deep with. Prayer, prayer, prayer. Oh and asking others to pray for me. It is humbling for sure. Also, I NEED to be in the word, yet that is where I am still trying to improve on. So if you want to pray for me, there is a perfect place to start.

Now here is the thing, if you are reading this and you are grieving, I can promise you that it will not look the same as how I am grieving. I just hope that if you are reading this, you can learn more about my processes of grieving, my Savior that I love with everything I have in me, and how God has worked in and through my life over the past year. I am not defined by my grief and loss of my best friend - fiance - Kyle. I am simply trying to figure out how to  go about grieving, not lose myself to grief, and build a stronger relationship with those around me, and most importantly with my Heavenly Father.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Not Just a Season

Tradition has been a huge part of my family over the several years since I have moved out here in Port Alsworth. We of course do our tradition of watching Home Alone 2 together each year at midnight my time. This has been to include me in family time with everyone back on the east coast. It’s always been full of laughter and such joyous memories. For the past 2 years Kyle has been apart of this tradition.  I know tradition can change. Going through the first seems to be the hardest but I know this will get easier. The gaping hole will begin to be filled in. A new normal tradition will be kept and we will watch Home Alone 2 again this year. We will get our candy canes, eggnog, Christmas tree, and every other Christmas movie we can find to watch. I look forward to it yet I dread it. Mom is here with me and for that I am beyond thankful for her. It will be strange to not have Kyle here but I know that it is becoming more of a norm now and I want to embrace all the feelings and new normal in my life.
This year for Thanksgiving I will go play football like I always have. I will hang out with friends. I will enjoy the moments with my mom. I will still watch Home Alone with my family. I will put up the Christmas lights Kyle bought last year he surprised me with. I will remember the time we spent last year together. I will be Thankful for all the many blessings the Lord has lavished upon my life.
However, it’s hard to not acknowledge the empty holes I feel. There won’t be a man to tackle during 2-hand touch football ;) There won’t be my favorite man to throw me a touchdown like last year. There won’t be bickering with Scott and trash talking each other (in the most friendly way possible.) There won’t be Zach to be silly and joke around with. There won’t be a Kaitlin to laugh and play games with. I look back at last year and I distinctly remember spending quality time with Kaitlin, Josh, Kyle, and myself playing a drawing game for over an hour. Zach came to join in and we all laughed so hard that day. I held Kyle’s hand as we all stood in the Blom’s house going around sharing one thing we were thankful for before we prayed. We prayed and sat down to eat. It just felt so right and absolutely amazing to have each other. It was family. Kyle and I were family even if there wasn’t a piece of paper to prove it. We truly loved each other and we were excited to share it with those around us. I am thankful for the Bloms and how they opened their home to the teachers each year. It was a beautiful Thanksgiving. It was one for the books. It just means this year is going to look different.
None of us had any idea of what was going to happen 2 weeks from then. I know that I would not have changed a thing though. There is just a big hole and I am feeling it. This season has many ups and downs not only for me but also for so many other people. I know that I am not alone. I know these next two weeks are going to be some of the hardest for me. I am trying to brace for it, take it head on, yet here I am trying to avoid it all at the same time. I don’t want it to be. I don’t want my friends that became family to not be here. I don’t like the fact that I am not married and this would have been our first Thanksgiving and Christmas together. These holidays have always been joyous, happy, and relaxing for me. I just know that this year will be different and that is not bad, it just means it is different.
As I sit here in my classroom with everyone gone to be with family and friends for the holidays, I avoid going home. I honestly do not want to go anywhere for that matter because frankly Kyle isn’t anywhere I am or will be going. It has been an emotional last 2 weeks for my students, my friends, and I just have had grief loom over my head. Am I to grieve my own grief? How can I do that when I care so deeply about the people around me who are hurting too? I don’t try to carry all of their burdens but it sure hurts when others hurt. I have found myself encouraging others who have lost loved ones. I hug them in the similar way I have been comforted and encouraged last year. They carry around memories, pain, grief, and loss with them now too. It has become more real in their world than it ever has been before.
I look back and I see all the people, memories, and events that have transpired. I am filled with thankfulness. I see how the Lord has sustained me even when I have no words to say and have little energy to expend. He has been faithful countless times. He has loved me unconditionally. He has fought my battles when I have been weak. He has forgiven me in my anger. He has never failed me. I just can’t make sense of what is going on around me or in front of me. I continue to put one foot in front of the other trusting that He will direct my step each time. I recently wrote to my friend that I couldn’t even imagine the pain God felt when He watched His Son die on a cross. God watched as Jesus was beaten, abused, mocked, and treated like dirt when He was sinless. ALL FOR ME AND ALL FOR YOU! For everyone that has walked, is walking, and will ever walk this Earth. Seems pretty insane to me, yet I am beyond thankful because I will know only then will I truly experience the purest of love. I will be able to see Kyle, Scott, Kaitlin, and Zach again. I will see my Savior face to face where I can truly thank Him. Oh man, will that be the day or what? All is not lost. There is hope and my future is secured through Christ my Lord and Savior.
I was reading one of my devotionals this afternoon and it mentioned that thankfulness is not just a seasonal type thing. It is a way to live life with thanksgiving in your heart and sincerity in our heart while expressing such thanks. May the Lord work in me that I will one day live my life this way. For all of this, even the pain, grief, and loss, I am thankful. I bid you all a Happy Thanksgiving as you embrace those around you.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Doing the Hard

"My scars are a testament to the love and the relationship that I had for and with that person. If the scar is so deep, so was the love." -beautythings

How do you go about daily life without constantly falling apart? People say that time heals the wounds. Well this wound may heal but I NEVER want to NOT feel the PAIN or cry the TEARS when it hits. I want to remember who I loved so deeply and never forget how our beautiful mess helped shape me to be the woman I am today.

I ask questions suchs as: Are the waves getting farther and farther apart? Am I healing and moving on? Am I just doing the daily life to try to make sense of what is left? Am I just being selfish becuase he is constantly on my mind? Am I just having a hard time letting go?

On the opposite side of it all I tell myself phrases suchs as: Other people have it WAY harder than you. You aren't healing. You should be happier than you are. You are just having a bad attitude. People don't want to keep hearing the same story over and over again.

Well lies come and they go and guess what? Lies come back again and again. So what you going to do about them? How do you take care of the lies that you are faced with? You find the TRUTH. You seek the Lord whole heartedly. You run into His loving arms.

I picture a child needing a hug from their earthly father. The child is crying in search of her daddy. She so desperately needs to be held. She sees him and runs into his big strong arms. She is safe for that moment. The world seems like less of a "bad" place. The same goes for our Heavenly Father. He so deeply wants us to know how loved we are. He wants us to run into His loving arms fully trusting in who He says He is. Yet, time and time again we try to face this whole world ALL on our OWN. Why? Is it worth it?

I do not feel like I am who I used to be when Kyle was here. He brought the best out in me, you couldn't wipe the smile off my face nor his. Now it feels challenging to smile and find the joy each day. All the grief, all the pain, all the hurt, all the tears, everything involved in this healing process is always right there on the front door step waiting to come in.
Image result for life is worth living photo versesIf you have read any of my other blogs, then you know that I have been working on being transparent. Some people may think it is ridiculous that I put my life out here for others to read. Do not worry, I don't share EVERYTHING. I share what I feel the Lord has laid upon my heart.

So this week, I know that there was definitely a spiritual battle going on around me. I didn't see it until I was talking to a friend this weekend. I had no idea why I felt the way I did. I just thought life had caught up with me and I didn't know how to process it all. SERIOUSLY people there is a spiritual war waging around us. We are not exempt just because we are doing the hard. Just because I am grieving and have lost so much in the past 11 months, there is still an enemy just waiting to take me down. Honestly, sometimes I go down without a fight, other times, I use everything I have to stand up against him in order to not get beaten down. I NEED friends to come along side me and help pick up the pieces. I NEED to let others in. I am thankful I have friends who will do the HARD with me. The friends who are willing to GET IN my boat and not leave me stranded.

Image result for life is worth living photo verses
Now looking back at how I felt, as if I was being attacked by lie after lie, I realize there was more of a distraction. I was so distracted that I was NOT able to pour into others, let alone be around people. I struggle with being NOT KNOWN. Kyle was amazing at knowing exactly what I needed when I needed it. Whether it be a hug, food, a listening ear, constructive criticism, he just knew. That is COMPLETELY gone. I have friends who "get" me and that is so helpful but none of them are Kyle. If you have ever loved someone so incredibly much, had a great relationship with them, and continually sought after Christ, and then all of a sudden it was completely striped away then you can understand how I feel. If you have not I pray you never feel the pain and lost hope I face every single day. Within the first 30 minutes of my day, I have 1 of 3 thoughts. 1. Kyle should be next to me. 2. My best friend is dead. 3. Kyle is never coming back. Any or all 3 thoughts run through my head every single morning. 

Now here's the thing, though I recognize the war, I know where my thoughts are originating from, I am doing the hard. I just need to share, maybe for myself or for someone out there needs to read this. I don't really know but for those of you who read this, there is HOPE.

John Piper said, "Occasionally, weep deeply over the life that you hoped would be. Grieve the losses. Feel the pain. Then wash your face, trust God, and embrace the life that he has given you." "The Bible gives us permission to weep deeply over the life we hoped we would have, and to not feel ashamed of that hope or disappointment. It is okay to grieve those losses and feel that pain." -The Hidden Grief of Singleness Sometimes people sum up how I feel way better than I ever could. 

 LIFE IS WORTH FIGHTING FOR!!! YOU ARE DOING THE HARD!!! 

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Transparency

The infamous question, "How are you doing?" Don't we all love that question? Especially when we can sense that the person is asking out of obligation, duty, or just because that is the "normal' way to interact with other people? Don't worry, I am not going to be a negative person about social interactions and how people should be. It's just a question I am asked over and over again and I have to navigate how to answer the question with honesty and truth. I do NOT like to brush it off and just say that I am fine. I feel as though that would be an absolute lie. Majority of the time, I am processing. I am processing my ability as a teacher, my interactions with others, what I need to do next, I am processing how last December's tragedy intertwines with my daily life. So it kind of is a loaded question when someone asks me how I am doing. I do appreciate the thought though.

So how do you be transparent yet keep mentally sane and not come completely undone every time someone genuinely wants to know how you are doing? Well it probably looks different for everyone. Isn't that just nice? It's like grieving. There is no book that can tell you exactly what it looks like. People can tell you how they have done it or faced it but each situation and person is completely different. It is kind of nice that no one can hold you to a specific standard. But in response to the infamous question, it's worth letting people into your boat and sharing with them. We are all facing some sort of giant in our lives. Why not let safe people in? Why not find someone to help you face yours?

We are not required to do this life alone. We have people around us who care and love. It might not always look like what YOU WANT but it might just be what YOU NEED. I know there are days where I can't face them alone. There aren't specific memories or reminders that "hit" me, it just depends on everything going on. For instance this weekend there were so many "triggers" that just kept building up. It can range from a familiar smell that reminds me of him or a song that I hear. It could be a friendly conversation between friends that reminds me of what is "missing" in my life. It might even look like me missing the support and encouragement that he provided on a daily basis. Or the biggest one, that I just miss his hugs and daily presence. So as I keep on "doing" each day, I am reminded that I am NOT alone. I tell myself that it is okay to NOT be okay.

So the moments I stand in my kitchen and it just hits me, he won't be coming over today. I see pictures of him and the tears can't be held back. They begin to roll down my face and all I want to do is hide my emotions. As my roommate, Asha, works on jewelry in the kitchen, she looks at me and sees how much I am hurting. Normally, I would go hide in my room and just cry alone but today I knew I had to be transparent. I needed to be honest with where I am at in life. I can't hide it anymore. I NEED to let her in. It's the constant reminder that I never got to marry him and NEVER will. NEVER is an absolute. Sometimes I don't know what to do with that. I'll NEVER see him again. I'll NEVER hold his hand again. I'll NEVER pray with him again. I understand there is plenty going for me. I know how much the Lord has provided in and for my life. I am truly blessed and fully loved. I get that, but it does not negate my feelings I have for Kyle. She listens, hugs, and reminds me that it is okay to not be okay.

I have flashbacks to fond memories and stories of him and I together. I share them over and over again because that is when I am truly smiling. Every time I talk about him, it brings a smile to my face and I light up. For instance, August  5th, 2016-Kyle called me from the sat phone at 1 am. It had only been a day but it hit me for how much I miss him. Not like when I was dating before, as in I needed or was obsessed, with Kyle. I just want to be around him and love him. I want this same desire for Kyle but for the Lord. I cried that night because I was SO happy and surprised. He couldn't get out to fly because the weather was so crappy so he called me. I was beyond happy. When I was praying that day, I asked the Lord to just allow him to call so I could hear from him. The later it got the more I realized that it wasn't going to happen but of course he surprised me. Kyle could bring a smile to my face just by being present in my life. It was only a call and it brought so much comfort, joy, and happiness. I love that man so incredibly much and I am not ashamed to tell ya'll!

I continually see how the Lord is working at just the right moment in my life. I see how my heart is being softened and more willing to share  where I am at in life. It comes down to learning how to trust again. Trust others with my very tender heart that has not even come to close to be fully healed. It is a daily process. Some lyrics come to mind that sum up where I want to be in life, "This is my story, this is my song. Praising my Savior all the day long." Though I may not feel like this every day, I am reminded that my grandmother used to love this song and make these words evident in her life. I am thankful Kyle is able to meet her in heaven. Both of them faced hardships understanding what it looked like to hold on to their Savior. They loved so well. My grandmother was tough and a no nonsense type of woman and I can't help but think that I am so similar to her. I remember words of wisdom she shared with me over the years, the example she had in my life. I miss her as well but am thankful for the memories I have with her. Though people pass from this earth, memories remain. The pain slowly disappears into pieces of thoughts and fond memories. You remember the good and block out the negative. You speak of them because you never want to forget.

In one of my books today's reading referenced
James 1:1-2
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, becuase you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God., who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable. Believers in humble circumstances out to take pride in their position. But the rich should take pride in their humiliation since they will pass away like a wild flower. For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business. Blessed is the one who persevers under trial becuase, having stood the test, that person will recieve the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. Don't be deceived, my hear brothers and sisters. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does NOT change life shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be kind of first-fruits of all He created."

Thursday, October 12, 2017

But Why?

The question word why is a one I hear on a regular basis. Being a teacher and asking/telling my students to do something, they ask me why? Sometimes I stop to explain the reason as to why but other times I use the famous line, "because I said so." It makes me think of my relationship with the Lord. He does not always tell me why even when I ask Him a million times. I ask my friends and family the same thing, but as frustrating as it is, they have no idea either.

This hits home today as I begin writing a new chapter in this "book" I am writing in this life. Hopefully, there will actually be a book one day that I actually sit down and write, but for now I continue blogging. As I sit in prayer and spend time with the Lord, the question "Why?" has been used countless times. It hit me again as I read through my Bible that was so graciously presented to me by my friends this December. For those of you who don't know what I am talking about, Kyle and I decided that we wanted to have a Bible that people could write in as a our guest book at our wedding. So my friends bought me one and set it up at his celebration of life here in Port Alsworth. People could highlight a verse or share a word of wisdom encouragment. I look forward to filling it up more and more as time goes on and the Lord continues to reveal His truth, mercy, and grace in my life through others.

So as I flipped through it today, I came across what my big brother wrote to me. "I don't know why" are within the first several words. Ben had written by the story of Job and this particular chapter resonates very deeply with me. Chapter 42- "Then Job replied, "I know you can do anything, and no one can stop you. You asked, "Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorance?" It is I and I was talking about things I knew nothing about, things far too wonderful for me. You said, "Listen and I will speak! I have some questions for you, and you must answer them." I had only heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes. I take back everything I said, and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance." Job recognized that undeniable sovereignty that the Lord has. 

In the devotional next to chapter 42, it discusses that questioning is not necessarily a bad thing, rather asking the Lord what is going on to say that curiosity should not cause doubt in the Lord. "Walking by faith means walking wherever the Lord leads you." Sometimes that means it might feel uncomfortable, hard, discouraging, challenging, frustrating, amazing, joyous, peaceful, rewarding, or even encouraging. It goes back to a phrase I love to use, "We don't need to know what the future holds, as long as we know the One who holds the future."

So as the 7th this month approached, I lived life as full as I could. I didn't give up when it felt hard. I didn't just hide away from the world this time. I embraced it head on and month 9 was unbearably hard. That will be for another blog. I felt as if I was grasping at something just hold onto. If we go back to the sea analogy, I was in the middle of the storm and I felt less than calm. Or we could pick the working out analogy where you are trying to do push ups and your arms are shaking to get just ONE more. You feel as though you want to give up and you realize you are digging deep. You do it, you have been doing it, you are going to continue doing it. That is totally me. A friend and I were talking and as I looked at them, I said, "I can't do this!" They said, "Abbey, you are doing this." Oh yeah, don't we all kind of need to be reminded that we are doing the "hard" and "tough" on a daily basis?

Over these past 10 months, I have been saying how much I want to sleep at the cabin but I just don't know if that would be a good thing to do or not. Finally, Asha asked me if I was going to go through with it. At 11pm we packed up everything we needed and drove over.
With much laughter and preperation, we made ourselves cozy in the cabin. I started and tended the fire, we did a foot soak, discussed fond memories of Kyle, and prayed together. I recently have been told that it is just a cabin, yes, I know. It isn't so much about the cabin as it is me processing through lost hope of being able to live there as Kyle`s wife. I understand that the cabin will not always be a part of my life and thats okay, just as long as I have been able to process through the emotions and feelings I have had. I am just processing through letting go, yet cherish it all. I understand that my life will have new beginnings. I see myself finding a lovely and cute home. It will not be the same as how I pictured it before. I will keep on learning, loving, and growing. Kyle, is NOT my life, becuase in Colossians 3:4-"Christ is your life" so anytime I say that something is MY life, then I am mistaken. My job, traveling, being liked, sports, whatever fills the blank is NOT my life.

I keep coming back to the phrase OPEN HANDS AND A WILLING HEART. That is a challenging prayer to pray as I am not sure what that will bring about in my life. The last 10 months has been extremely quick, hard, slow, and yet unbelievable real. I have been working through the aspects of grieving, being present, yet continually moving forward. So when you feel like giving up and keep saying, "I can`t" just remember that you are. 

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Loved First

"God loved us first so we can love others." 1 John 4:19

God set the perfect example of how to love and be loved. So how to we emulate that to others around us? I believe it looks different for each person we are loving and caring for. There's always more to each person than meets the eye. There's pain, joy, sorrow, struggles, lies, among a variety of other obstacles that one person goes through on a daily basis. We don't always know where someone is at in life, so how do we go about loving that person? How did Christ love others?

I am faced with this question as I tend to get wrapped up in grief, lost in my thoughts, and consumed by all the obligations and requirements in my life. It can get exhausting and at moments, time consuming. So, it must be said that I am thankful for everyone who has loved me through the different seasons in my life over the these past 9 almost 10 months and of course over the past 26 years. I am very quick to admit I am an imperfect person but I am willing to allow the Lord to work in my heart to make me more like him. As I have said before and I will say it again "Love others and love them well. 

The words "part of the process" are very common in my vocabulary lately. I will forever love Kyle, who he was, and who we were. I am just learning how to make that a part of my daily life, yet continue to move forward and be present with those around me. Trust me I know he wasn't perfect nor am I, but what I saw in him was the attitude of wanting to grow and learn. He wanted to take every opportunity to love others the best he could. He didn't do it perfectly and neither have I. Maybe I have written this before but it encourages me again today. Our prayer for our relationship was this:

 "We pray that you show us a unity we could never Imagine. We thank you for this amazing relationship and we pray it never strays from you. We pray we can mirror your imagine in our relationship." 

Now I pray:

"I pray you show me what unity in and from the body of Christ looks like in a way I could never imagine. I thank you for an amazing relationship with a God fearing kindhearted man. I pray I can mirror your image in my relationships." 

I of course struggle each and every day to love others and sometimes even myself. During this fall season and well any new season in my life, I always like to look back at what others seasons looked like. Who was apart of the the seasons, who the Lord brought into my life as well as took out. I look at what I wrote about who loved, supported, cared for, and spent time with me in each season. I am thankful for you all. One of the biggest supporters through all of this is my wonderful momma. 

So often we get caught up in ourselves and forget to love those around us. We are concerned with out schedules, deadlines, needs, wants, school, work, or events. So when do we make time for those who don't fit into those categories? Do we slow down to listen? Do we put our phones down to focus on the face in front of us? Can we step away from social media to spend a lot time with a friend who is in town for a couple hours? I ask myself these questions as well, so: What stops us from just being present?

My mom, has always been good at making time for me. She is always there for me, no matter what,. I never want her to go unnoticed for who she is and how she loves. If you ever get a chance to meet my mom, you should ask her to share her story with you. She has such an amazing testimony of what it looks like to come from a life without God, tragedy, loss, pain, confusion, doubt, yet she is filled with joy, love, compassion, care, truth, a tender heart, and unconditional love for those around her. She has a servants heart and is truly a woman after the Lord's heart. She does not have all the answers, but she knows how to trust God no matter what comes her way. 


She wrote about 30 notebook pages to me 4 years ago right before I moved out here. She sent it with me in hopes that the words written would maybe encourage, challenge, or remind me of who the Lord is. I haven't opened this book in at least a couple years but here is part of the first page.

"You are following the Lord's leading and only blessings will come from that. Everything you have experienced up until now has been the Lord guiding, directing, giving, taking away, pushing, pulling, and preparing you for this very journey you are about to embark on." Oddly fitting for the season I am in right?! Thought so, too Just wait...... 9-18-13- "As a mom I want the very best for my children. I pray you wait upon the Lord for His (timing). Particularly (with His choosing) your spouse. Marriage is a long road and you certainly don't want it to be an uphill climb. I will try to be more diligent in prayer for this." -MOM

This hit me hard as Kyle and I talked about how the timing was just perfect for EVERYTHING that came our way. Everything from our first date, down to picking to the venue, and everything in between. I didn't even know Kyle when she wrote this. I hadn't even flown to Port Alsworth yet. Yet, the words 4 years later remind me that the Lord has His perfect timing even when life is HARD and frustrating at times. 

My mom continued to share with me what she learned in one of her women's retreat. So now I share with you as it fits exactly where I am at in life.

9-23-13 "We are to have a resting heart----Psalm 37

We have inhibitors:
  • Fret-Idea of becoming irritated-angry
  • Envy-Grudging desire (jealousy)
  • Time perspective
  • Comparing to others 
Our security
  • To trust in the Lord-Do good in Him
  • God gives always for our good (He never withholds), Always in His timing
Our security measures
  • Trust-have confidence/don't let your emotions lead you
  • Do good
  • Dwell-stay in the Lord feed on His faithfulness. If God tells you to move THEN move
  • Delight yourself-understand where REAL satisfaction comes from
  • Commit-Take all concerns FIRST to God and LET God carry them
  • Rest-BE STILL Who is this that even the winds and waves obey Him
  • Wait-Refrain wait-expectantly
  • Refrain from anger-refrain=letting go-walk away
  • Be meek-HUMBLE-humility ALL else above me
The rewards
  • God will-when He says He will-be assured it WILL be done.
Practical ways to rest and enjoy the ride called LIFE
  • Learn more of God and who He says He is
  • Allow God to be God
  • Release MY grip on all of life
  • Know and be sure God will follow through"
Mom had no idea what I was going to go through these past months. She (and my dad) trusted God with me and my life here. She trusted that God was going to do what He said He would. Thank you mom for leading me back to the Lord each and every day. Thank you for following the Lord and demonstrating a Godly woman for me to look up to. You, mother, are one my best friends and a person I thank the Lord for. We are learning together and I never want to stop. I love mom. Never stop loving! 💕💕

"God is most glorified in me when I am most satisfied in Him."


                                       

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Our Home

Picture a cute little hand crafted cabin located in the middle of no where. It's set back in the woods, surrounded by mountains and trees. There isn't heavy traffic going by, rather you can here the planes taking off and the Hondas on the runway. For some it isn't much but to others, it is the perfect mix between a place of personal space and everything to start a family in. Welcome to Our Cabin. The cabin that I think changed the course of my life as well as Kyle's, but also was the place that built our relationship for what was to come.




As a 26 year old, almost widow/fiance'/girlfriend, whatever technical term you want to use, I would have never guessed my life would be the way it is now. I moved out here from a small podunk town from Pennsylvania. I have always wanted to be married, start a family, and finally have that title "wife." Years before I moved out here, I have never had my "own" house or place to call my "own". I have lived with roommates for over 8 years. I have been in relationships I thought would end in marriage, yet here I am single again still with that hope to be married and start a family one day. I could have been married if I really wanted to, but none of them would have brought me out here. I looked forward to the days where I could plan and design a house. I would imagine what type of house could be built from scratch. It brought excitement into my life as I have planned this "wife" life on several occasions. Yet none of them have panned out the way that has been planned. "Just maybe.....maybe you don't want to change the story, because you don't know what a different ending holds." -Ann Voskamp


So after planning, plans falling through, heartbreak, hopes, and dreams never amounting to anything, I packed up and moved up here to do my student teaching in Alaska. I met many people who welcomed me and allowed me to be apart of their lives. I signed on for another 5 months, after initially saying I'd be here for 6 weeks. During the five months of being a full time teacher, I met Kyle Longerbeam. 👷💃 We hung out countless times, would text quite a bit, and he even asked me out. To his disappointment I said, "No." I had to be honest at the time because I was not ready to be in a relationship. I had just gotten out of one several months prior to us getting to know each other. So, he said, "OK" and we continued to be friends. Over the next several years and even to this day, THAT cabin built our relationship as we built it together.

That may seem strange but it was far from strange in our world. We both put blood, sweat, and tears into THAT cabin. I worked with him multiple times every weekend, on weekdays, and honestly I just absolutely loved hanging out with him at any given time he was working. We would banter, be sarcastic, and share memories that now as I look back, am thankful to have. I had no idea he would pass away before we even could finish THAT cabin. We joked that one day that when he was married, I'd move in upstairs just because I was THAT kind of friend. Though both of us knew that would NEVER happen and our relationship would drastically change if we ever dated someone else. I was just thankful he would let me come "help." Actually let's be honest, he probably loved my company just as much as I loved his (most days).




In THAT cabin, we had countless talks about our "relationship." It was an never ending, on going, discussion almost every month. We would have "sit downs" and discuss the reasons why we "could't" "shouldn't" or "wouldn't" date each other. Often, I would end up in tears because it hurt me and it hurt him that we just never were at the same place with it all. I would leave knowing he was frustrated with me, or vise versa. However, we would always seem to mend the friendship and continue being apart of each others lives. I would pop over to "check in" with him or just be over there to listen and keep him company. He didn't allow or invite many people over, so my "pushy" "I'm going to be your "friend" attitude allowed our relationship to grow into what it became in June.


In THAT cabin, I have cried countless tears over the past several years, more so now than ever before. I painted the walls, helped move the weather port, assist in building the pallet wall, design the pantry, jack up and move the small cabin, organize, clean, and continually cheer Kyle on as he worked to fill a dream he had of building his own home and living in Alaska. I loved his ambition, hard work, and determination to finish what he had started. I loved watching the progress over the years and finally be able to hang out with him in the bigger house rather than the small mouse infested cabin we would spend hours in talking and hanging out in over the years. I was one of his biggest cheerleaders and I am thankful that I had that opportunity to do so. So I have quite a bit of stock in that cabin, not as much as him, but I was there right by his side from start to where it is now.


 

We planned and planned to build THAT cabin to become our home for at least the next year. I recently talked to one of our friends who said, "everything that's here is a clear indication that he was prepared and completely building this place for his bride." To know that I was going to marry him, brings me so much joy, even when the tears don't stop rolling. He wanted to make it comfortable, functional, and affordable. He doesn't know it, but I didn't care if we had "everything" all I really wanted was to be married to him and wake up in "our home." Somehow I feel robbed that I will never get that change with him. However, God has bigger and I think better plans for THAT cabin than I ever will. 

I can say that the memories we built will NEVER be burnt, given away, used up, or taken away. I cherish each and every memory from the sarcastic jokes, to him falling down the scary stairs....you know what I mean if you have ever been in there, to Asha, Kyle, and I hanging out sharing laughs, to skinning a bear while I colored, to countless stressed out moments of him holding me while I cried, to story upon story shared time and time again. The memory of him leaving a lawn full of dishes, clothes, and stuff that Asha and I cleaned and took care of. It is also the memories of him telling me in the middle of a misunderstanding how he would marry me right then and there, to the time planned of eloping just so we could live together and forgo the goodnight sayings each evening. Of course I could go on and on but there are just several memories that stick out in my mind. I am thankful that I had years and years of fond memories with Kyle. I just have some amazing texts from him about THAT cabin. Such as: "Good thing you don't have to live it then because there's going to be a lot of wood, and animals on the wall. lol Ultimate bachelor pad. No woman will ever stay around after stepping foot in it." -2015 I guess some things change over time!

                        

As these memories remain, I create new ones there. I have written several blogs there as the words just seem to ooze out of me. It has been a place of solitude, healing, taking a walk down memory lane, as well as a place to remind me how good the Lord has been to me and us. I am proud of Kyle for all his hard work over the years, thankful for the friends who helped him, came and to sit with me there when he can't, and the good talks I have had with God. This is a journey, a process, a stretching period in my life, and my life has been forever changed since the first day I met Kyle. Funny how I can write so many words just about one place. I don't even do THAT cabin justice for what Kyle has put into it. I can only speak from my side of it all, but I  know Kyle is proud of who I have become through all of this and I do wish he were here to see the impact he has made on my life along with the many others. 

I wanted to just share some thoughts and feelings on how this whole process and how it has been going. I am not going to be buying THAT cabin, as I do not think this is the best financial move for me. I know that it will be in good hands and that the Lord has His hand in it all. Nothing is finalized yet,so if anyone wants to know, there you go. I finally cleaned out his belongings for the most part and I could just help my grieving process continue. It is not complete or finalized but it has been a good cleansing for me (as well as the cabin ;)). It is just a place yet it isn't. It is a part of my life, a majority of Kyle's and I am thankful for what it was and is.

           

Our home is not here on earth, we must set our eyes upon our heavenly home. Heaven, where the Lord has gone before us to prepare a place for us. Each and everyone of us who have chosen to accept a personal relationship with our Heavenly Father. We get wrapped up in the world around us. We collect personal effects and belongings. We get the items we "need" and items that we want. Eventually, we will pass from this earth and cannot take such items with us. They really don't matter in the grand scheme of everything. However, while we are here on earth, we are called to live life, but not get caught up in this life we live. THAT cabin was exactly what it needed to be when we needed it. I will forever remember it and be thankful for it.