Wednesday, October 17, 2018

The Wedding Season

From the beginning of May I started my trek through wedding season. Not only have I been making it through, but the Lord has been taking care of every small detail. The first wedding I attended after the accident, I lasted an hour. My friends were right there beside me reminding me that there was no obligation to stay. I ended up heading home and my sweet friend helped me pack for my move. The second wedding was emotional because it hit close to home and a lot of my AK friends were there. I made it through and didn’t really think too much of what was going on. It was a whirlwind but I think that was better than the alternative of losing my little mind with the hardness that goes along with weddings for me sometimes.
The third wedding was emotional for me to see the father/daughter, mother/son, and bride/groom dance, so I ended up leaving the tent and waiting for them to finish until I came back. What came as a blessing was more of the healing journey for me here at this wedding. I was sitting with with several friends who deeply wanted to know how I was doing. They wanted to know where I was at in life with my grieving process even though I didn’t bring anything up. I had a wonderful heart to heart with the next weekends bride-to-be. We chatted about grief and the sudden deaths that occurred in her family. This friend and her fiance lost 3 loved ones the week before their wedding. I am thankful she shared with me and entered in to where I was. We were never made to do this life alone. So fast-forwarding to their wedding, this bride specifically came over to dance with me during a couples dance because she saw me sitting alone. Knowing my story, she looked at me with tears in her eyes and said, “thank you for coming to our wedding. I know this is hard but I am so thankful you have come to celebrate today with us.” Could she be any sweeter?
Later while everyone is having a wonderful time, me included, I get into a conversation with one of the guests who is persistent I am lying about being single. Wouldn’t you know that another sweet friend of mine is right there listening and just hugs me and proceeds to tell me she thinks of me everyday along with praying for me. Not only do I feel so well known by my friends around me, but I also sense the Lord taking care of all my little needs. I honestly had a wonderful time at each of these weddings. I wasn’t sobbing in the corner, it wasn’t about me, I didn’t draw attention to myself. My friends simply knew my story and supported me seamlessly. I need to mention that I was able to stay 2 weekends with the couple who got married in the third wedding. These friends enter in every time I am with them. We have now attended 3 weddings together and each one of them has been there for me throughout this wedding season. Thank you for both being servants, loving me, loving God, and loving others so well.  
Continue forward several more weeks and I was on my way to Idaho, but first let me just show you how these details were worked out. Mind you this is now my 5th wedding. Tis the season right? I’m just at that age?  Yeah, I’ve heard all that before. Honestly, I came to realize that if I were still in A.K. teaching, I would not have been going to many if any of these weddings. Most of them have been here on the east coast. I am incredibly thankful for being able to attend these weddings and support my friends. It hasn’t been the easiest, but my friends have been beyond loving and supporting, and they have been better than I could have expected. So this wedding in Idaho was the first wedding that Kyle and I would have attended where he was close to at least one person that was getting married. He would have known all the other people because they were acquaintances or friends of ours, but this friend in particular used to hang with Kyle, cook him meals, and was one of the first people we told about us getting married. This one carried a different meaning. Also, several people Kyle looked up to were there, his friends were there, and it just felt strange to go without him. I had apprehensions of attending but I chalk that up to subconsciously knowing it was going to be emotional.
So here were some of the details worked out on my behalf for this Idaho wedding. A friend of mine had their plans fall through about a week before we headed to the wedding. She was willing to find a morning flight with me so I didn’t have to drive alone at 4:30 am to the airport when we left. She literally said, “Whatever you need friend.” I hate that her plans fell through but I felt so loved by her gesture to support me where I knew I would be anxious. For those of you who don’t know where I am at in life, I have been working through anxious thoughts and feelings. A little frustrated that this comes with grief as I have talked to quite a few people who struggle with anxiety after losing a close loved one. Not only did the Lord provide a riding budding in the morning, I picked up 3 of my girlfriends from the airport that night before the wedding, we all caught up, shared about our lives, and created new memories. We met more friends the morning of the wedding where we spent time catching up. The grief hit me on that Saturday as I saw cabin trinkets,airplanes on socks, heard sappy love songs on the radio, and looked at the beautiful mountains outside. The tears flooded my eyes as I looked at my sweet friend. She asked me if I was tired and then realized that it was more than that. I missed my person. I kept thinking, “really, right now?” but as it happened I embraced it so I could enjoy the night with excitement and joy.
Later that day, a different friend and I sat together talking about life. We talked about grief and everything in between. We shared how God has been working on our behalf in every step of our lives. I cherish the moments where I could walk and talk with my friends. I spent time with two other friends who have their own personal struggles and hardships right now. Had I not built these bonds, there would be no connection. There would be emptiness and I am sure loneliness. Each one of these friends have been a blessing, benefit, and a game changer over the years. Thank you to all of my friends who were there for me at this turning point in the wedding season. I also spent time with Julie McFarlane (Blom) who is and forever will be intertwined with my story. She hugged and held me so tightly that all the memories of A.K. flooded through my mind. I felt the loss we both feel, yet the joy of being together, and knowing that God completely has us. It is moments like those that I cherish and love to share. Alright so we danced the night away and I was hugged by many who I know deeply love me and know I love them. This description was a bit longer, but overall it was an incredible time with incredible friends of mine.
Now to the next wedding… thought we were done, ha not yet. So I thought this would have been a normal wedding but after this wedding came clarity and healing. This was the first wedding that when I left, I felt more like the Abbey I once knew. I know that this had been all happening, but I finally felt it to the point where it felt strange and foreign to me. I drove home thinking I should be sad and not happy. Ah, the tables are turning and I am allowing myself to have fun again. I had been doing that at each wedding thus far but I finally felt there be a release at this wedding. I allowed myself to be okay and not weighed down by grief, anxiety, fear, doubt, and I could just enjoy myself. I verbally process so much before, during, and after this wedding.
So what is pretty neat, is that while at this wedding, I ran into the teacher/adviser/mentor who sent me to AK. She shared her story of the impact AK had on her and I could see how her story unfolded and led into mine. If God didn’t take her through what she went through, I would not be where I am at today. Maybe that seems far fetched and it is possible God would have used someone else, but I am glad to know this woman who suggested, set up, and cleared a way for me to head to AK 5 years ago. We talked for at least an hour or two. She encouraged and reminded me of who I am as a teacher. I don’t need to go into details but the impact this woman has had on my life near and far will never be forgotten. You know who you are and I thank you for seeing the potential in me that you once did 7 years ago when I walked through your classroom door. This wedding, I was surrounded by different friends than the ones in Idaho. These are AK people who live here on the east coast. I left out names and thats okay because what I am hoping you see is where God has been healing me. I hope you see where God has supplied more than I could have asked for as well.
Alright so there are just a few stories where I could see the Lord’s hand providing exactly what I needed when I needed. I have been trying to write a blog for at least a week now. I have gone in different directions but after writing all of this, my heart feels lighter and full of thanksgiving as I have seen the Lord use friend after friend to support me. I don't want to forget the ones in my life that pray for me or the ones who text/call either because that helps tremendously. Now, I have a wedding this weekend and a friend of mine is coming here to visit. I am excited to spend time with them and show them a little bit of PA. I will be attending my brother’s wedding early November and then another wedding in December. Since May, I have been invited to 10 weddings and will have attended 9 at the end of December. This does not include wedding shower invites and attendance. I understand this is the season and it has been a really great one honestly. Now as I do sometimes, I ask for prayer to finish strong as I have been feeling the absence of Kyle lately. I think it is hard for me because I know Kyle would have been here at my brother’s wedding. It is a hard pill to swallow and I am trying to do so with grace but it hasn’t been easy. I know the Lord will work on my behalf and go before me as He has so far. Thanks for reading my readers and may the Lord bless you.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

You are Stronger Than You Think You Are!

          I recently had the privilege of listening to Robert Mandu preach this past Sunday. Apparently what he preached on has stirred a lot in my heart. If you haven't heard of him, I suggest listening to one of his messages you can find on YouTube. He is real, honest, and not afraid to say it how it is. He has a gift of preaching and sharing God's Word. This past Sunday he spoke on how a person cannot be content when they are constantly comparing themselves to another person. He went on to say that we lose sight of the Lord and His plan for OUR lives when we are consistently comparing ourselves.
          Often, I find myself in this boat of comparison. How about you? Do you find yourself scrolling through socialMEdia looking at what everyone else has in the world and all the while compare yourself to them? Do you try to make the most perfect picture so that you can get the most likes, comments, and shares. Is that what this life is all about? Have we all become so caught up in what other people think of us? We hide behind masks of "everything is great" and "nothing is wrong." I too play this game. Do not think I am above this or never fall into this trap of the comparison game. Nor do I believe that what everyone portrays is fake. I am just saying be careful not to compare your life to someone else. What if instead of comparing we are encouraging? What if instead of making others feel bad for what they are doing, we see the beauty in the struggles? Why is it so hard to be real? We live in a world of fear. Fear of what people think of us. Fear that people will judge us. Fear that we will not measure up to some standard we have given ourselves or others have given to us. When will it stop?
          If you are constantly comparing yourself to others, it takes so much of your energy: emotionally, physically, and mentally. I all too often forget that God has created me for a specific purpose in this world. He has equipped me with everything I need in order to accomplish the plan for my life. He did the same for each one of you. We are all called to love God and love others, but we also called to our own individual purpose. You may not know what yours is and that is okay. You may not even think that you have one, but you do. The issue is we are looking at other people rather than keeping our eyes fixed on the Lord. If we took our eyes off each other, we might be able to focus on what the Lord has set before each of us. But how do you do that when there is pressure all around you? Hebrews 12:1-3- Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for US, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scoring its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." We do not lose heart. We meditate on His Word, spend time with the Lord in prayer, and we throw off what hinders us.
          Robert Mandu also discusses the importance of being able to have Confidence Under Pressure C.U.P. in another message he gives. He goes on to say that pressure can come in many forms. There is pressure in meeting expectations, not only from others, but trying to meet your own expectations. There is pressure to perform, have the perfect marriage, and be the friend that everyone wants. However, we can look at pressure in a negative way. This is where I kind of got slapped in the face. The pressure I have either put myself under, by others, or have been feeling throughout this grieving process is not just to torture me. It does not have to control me and the pressure ultimately does not have to control you. It has been building me up for the Lord's purpose. In my mind I feel that is so incredibly selfish of the Lord to just use me. BUT then I am disappointing in myself because I am reminded of the prayer Kyle and I prayed each night. "Lord may your will be done in our lives, WHATEVER YOUR WILL. We love and trust you." We clearly asked the Lord to use us, shape us, and mold us to be more like Him, whatever the cost.
          I still don`t understand why Kyle, and my friends had to die that day in December. I do not understand why I could not get married, start a family, be with my adventure partner, Kyle. I do NOT get it, but I know it has already helped me empathize with women who are currently going through loss and grief. It has help me connect with women who have already gone through the initial grieving process and something similar to what I have gone through. God's purpose is bigger than my narrow perspective. I may never see the "WHY" but I have already seen some ways the Lord has used me throughout this tragedy and pain I have and continue to experience. My best friend recently said, "You are the most alive when you are connecting/helping other women who are going through something similar to what you have gone through." She is right because after Kyle died, I lost a lot of joy and zest for life I once had. I want that back. I want to find the deep down joy I once possessed. I want to stop living in a world of comparing myself to where everyone else is at. I want to live out the purpose the Lord has for me. I want to love others and love them well. However, I can't do it by myself and neither can you. It is only by the strength of the Lord and through His continual grace each and every day.
          I see now that the Lord has brought me to a place where I feel challenged to slow down and just spend time with Him. The Lord has brought people in and out of my life where they have been able to help me slow down and just focus. I have never been in this place before of unknown and uncertainty in reguards to what is next for me to do, but if there is one thing I know about God, He will be right there with me every step of the way. I know He will direct my steps if I allow Him to. I just need to get out of His way. I am glad that nothing stops Him from coming after me. I am thankful I am always pursued, always loved, always known, and always fought for. I am still in my right mind, breathing, working out, writing, standing, praising God, and I AM STILL HERE. That alone is the strength of the Lord. What has He given you strength to do my friends? I hope you can take a moment to just thank Him for where He has brought you and how far you have come already. You are stronger thank you think you are.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

A Loving Heart

"Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all you who hope in the Lord." 
                                                                                                                                 -Psalm 31:24
It is amazing to start at the beginning of this chapter when the first words say, "In you, Lord, I have taken refuge." and in verse 6 it says, "as for me, I trust in the Lord." 

As someone who is still going through grief these words should be my heart cry. I love this chapter in Psalm as David cries out to the Lord yet clings to Him through it all. No matter how many times David, doubts, questions, or displays his frustration for the current situation he is in, he always come back to the Lord's faithfulness. David finds through all the wrestling that the Lord is trustworthy. David also came to realize that he was nothing on his own and needed the Lord and His strength. Honestly, this resonates with me more than I probably want to admit. It hits home with the relationship aspect between David and the Lord.

I read this week, "It's not the end of your story. God has more in store for you. He loves you with an unfailing love. Chase after the Lord more than any relationship." DotK

Relationships come in many different shapes and sizes. There are family, friends, acquaintances, best friends, dating, marital, personal, and many other types The quote above says, "chase after the Lord more than any relationship." Do you agree or disagree? 

If you look throughout the Bible there are plenty of chapters and verses that discuss the relational side of Jesus. He was and is completely relational. "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life." John 3:16 In Luke 8:43-48 It talks about a woman who reached out from the crowd and touched Jesus' clothing. Here's what is amazing about Jesus. He STOPPED, asked who touched him, and connected with the woman trembling in fear for being found out she had touched Him in hope of being healed. Jesus could have easily kept on walking fully knowing what had happened. However, He STOPPED to talk to this one woman. I don't doubt there were more accounts of this as to how Jesus lived His life. He was all about the relationships. The main relationship He was most concerned about was with His Father. Having a right relationship with God the Father was the top of the pyramid. Everything else falls into place when the relationship is right with God the Father. It doesn't mean that you do not have to work at relationships even if your relationship is right with the Lord. Rather I think it shows us just how intricate, detailed, and important relationships actually are. 

We are commanded to have loving relationships as well. John 15:12-13- "My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends." There is a constant choice to be a part of relationships. In the book The Broken Way it says, "The best use of your hands is always love. The best way to say I love you is always time. The best time to love is always now." Some of you reading this may be experts on relationships and completely know how to love others and love them well. I on the other hand am not an expert. I aspire to be a loving friend to those around me, in other states, and to those I am connected to around the world. I think it comes down to every interaction, every conversation, every reaction, and a well planned out use of time. People aren't to do lists. Though I have made lists like that in order to not forget who I need to connect with. The same goes for the relationship with the Lord. It shouldn't just be something on your list of things to do in order for you to check it off. It is about connection. It is a relationship.

I think there is a lot of processing on this particular subject for many reasons for me. One: going through grief has changed my perspective on people and relationships. Two: Challenging and strained relationships get me questioning. Three: I am leaving a place where I am surrounded by friends who deeply care for me not because they are obligated to but because they actively choose to be. Four: I am going to begin embarking on a new journey of meeting new people, starting new relationships, and venturing out into the unknown. I want to be prepared in order to love others and love them well. This is just some of what the Lord has been laying upon on my heart in regards to relationships and I wanted to share, challenge, or create some questioning thoughts in my life as well as others.

"To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken." -C. S. Lewis

How will you choose to love others?

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Functioning Griever

     In my life, knowing who God is has not changed. God has been constant in my life since I was a child. He is the only one who has never let me down. He has always spoken to me very clearly. I pray and He has some sort of response for me. It comes out through another person and their words and sometimes through reading. The Lord has stayed consistent through good times and the bad. Through tragedy, I have perceived the Lord as having changed. It becomes a struggle of doubting and questioning His goodness and presence in my life. Through it all though, I am continually learning more about Him because I ask tough questions while I wrestle with my feelings and doubts. God`s character hasn't changed due to my circumstances, no, what has changed is my perspective due to my circumstances. My perspective of people, this world, my Heavenly Father, love, relationships, time, and my perspective of myself have all developed over time. I was recently told, "The same spirit that brought joy in your life is the same spirit today."
     Through this perspective shift, God has been working to create a softer and willing heart, open hands, and a perseverance to walk with strength down every road set out before me. I don't know where you are at in life when you are reading this, but I tell you that it is worth having a relationship with Jesus Christ. Now, it won't always be easy like some people portray. It won't make you a better person. It is an opportunity to realize that you are nothing without Jesus. That He has saved your life through His death on the cross many years ago. This death that Jesus suffered though brought us life. An everlasting life that my beloved, Kyle, believed that him and I would one day experience together again after this life. I have no doubt in my mind that Kyle loved the Lord with everything in him. I am forever joyful that people poured into him and preached the gospel to him. I love how we had a deep connection through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. However that doesn't remove the grief that I feel. The deep longing to be with my Heavenly Father and the desire to be united again with Kyle one day. I quickly forget how Kyle would point me back to the Lord and I am feeling that lacking in my life. The problem being is that the relationship with Christ is not contingent on Kyle being here. It is dependent upon how I communicate with God on a personal level. No human being can be that buffer between God and me. Friends can come along side me to help encourage, to keep my eyes set upon the Lord, but my PERSONAL relationship with the Lord is all on me. The same goes for you. If you are relying on people to be what you need rather than the Lord, then you have it all wrong too. The key word is RELYING. Relying on the Lord on not others throughout this journey of life. 
     If you have experienced the death of a loved one then you know the grief I am talking about. "Grief is a process." It comes in stages, waves, or whatever words you like to use to describe what grief feels like. Though grief may feel suppressing and heavy. Grief, or the feeling of loss will never go away. It won't be as in your face or showing up in every situation or circumstance. So as I continue to move through life I am able to make more conscious decisions in my life, hence functioning griever. It has been said that you shouldn't make any rash decisions in your first year of grieving. Well that is exactly what I did. I came back to Port Alsworth for another year. I finished my masters, coached for the season, and taught full time. It was hard but it was exactly what I needed and for the hard I am thankful. Lately, I feel the lacking presence of Kyle in my life. For several years Kyle has been a leading voice in my life when making life choices. Now, I don't need a man to make a decision in my life but with having Kyle be the "go to guy" making decisions feel kind of hollow or lonely. Honestly, I miss hearing his thoughts and opinions. I miss him challenging me to think deeper. I miss the person who has been cheering me on for years. I miss my sounding board. I miss Kyle.
     So, here I am, thinking about where my life is headed.After coming home from our first away basketball games this weekend, I felt the absence of him even stronger than before. It has been a consistent feeling every weekend when I come home. To come home and realize that I would have been coming to my husband of 6 months hits me hard every time. It knocks me to the ground. Each time I pick myself up, dust myself off, and continue working as a teacher. See last year I was so numb that I really didn't notice a difference. It was more of going through the motions. I am trying to realize that I keep facing the hard reality that I am still grieving and that's okay. I still need to process it whenever it hits. So I continue to pray and seek Godly counsel. I am thankful for friends and family both here in Port Alsworth as well as all over the world who have supported and loved me through this tough time in my life.
     Port Alsworth will always be one of my homes as will Pennsylvania. Home is where I can love and be loved. I love all my people here and I love all my people back on the east coast. It is hard to know what this next chapter of my life holds, but I do know the one who holds my future. I am thankful for the experiences, life lived here, and friendships made. There is much I feel I am grieving as I move forward. I'm not sure I can put it all into words but maybe one day I will. I plan to do the hard and jump.I plan to walk forward knowing that the Lord will provide when I need Him to. Already, I have been told about a job in North Carolina, Texas, and Pennsylvania. I am praying and trusting God that He will show me where He wants me exactly when. I pray for open doors, a willing heart, and open hands.
     As I look back over the years, it has been amazing to see what I have been able to do.What an exciting Alaskan adventure it has been already! It was supposed to only be for 6 weeks in the very beginning. I have traveled all over the state of Alaska with friends and the Lady Lynx basketball team. I have had experiences that have shaped and made me who I am today. I have healed in more ways than one out here. Living in Port Alsworth brought about many friendships, prospects of marriage, a hope for a future, love, and laughter. This place became my home. As I was discussing what it looks like for me to continue forward one of my friends brought up the point that one of the reasons it is so hard for me is because ever since I moved here it has been Kyle and me. We have always done everything together. Flying, hiking, running, exploring, movie watching, dinner making, story telling, crying (on my part), experiencing loss together, stranded, and became best friends. Kyle, as my friend, told me has been a constant for the last 5 years, even if he hasn't been here for the last year of it all. He has still been a major part of my life during all of this grieving. Deciding to move has brought out more grief and unknowns. I want to be ever present while I live the last few months out here.
      So, anyone who knows me knows that I will continue to seek what the Lord has in store for me no matter where the road takes me. So as of right now there are many options out there for me. I do not really have anything set in stone other than I plan to travel the lower 48 in the next 6 months or so. I look forward to the conversations that will be had, the new experiences to be made, and the doors the Lord will open. This is a new season in my life and I am just trying to figure out what it all looks like from now until a new chapter begins to be written.

Thursday, January 11, 2018


"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.