True Love Waits

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Hello & Happy Monday!

 One of the greatest gifts God gave us was love. As stated in 1 Corinthians 13:13, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” Love is such a powerful word, a striking emotion, and it always accompanies passion. Finding your true love is truly a search of the souls. If it is God’s plan for you to get married, then He has already designed you the perfect person to accompany you on life’s journey. He’s our creator. He knows us better than anyone else.

Who else would you want to write your love story?

Just like God created you, He created your future spouse too. The two of you have been designed to fit perfectly together. Now, does this mean you’ll live the perfect life? Certainly not! But, regardless, your soul has been strategically created to bond with another soul and become one. This is such a powerful thing that is overlooked in today’s world. We were not created for multiple partners. We were created for one person only. Therefore, we can’t just treat sex as something pleasurable and label it as “no big deal.” It is a big deal! In fact, it’s a huge deal! It’s a miraculous thing created by God himself that is intended to allow a married couple to procreate.

It breaks my heart to watch the world hop into bed with whomever they please, commit sexual acts with mere girlfriends and boyfriends, and try to have an intimate relationship outside of marriage. Call me old fashioned, but I’m waiting for my soul mate. I’m not saying the choice to practice abstinence is easy, especially when media scoffs at the idea, but know that you are making the right decision to wait. And, I think it’s even a good idea to pray for your future spouse. God knows who our soul mates are, so we can encourage them by sending up prayers to God asking him to strengthen them in purity and to help them practice abstinence. Prayer is the greatest power on this earth. Without our awareness, if we’re destined to be married, God is already working on crossing our paths with our soul mates at His timing, which we know is always best.

 May God bless each of you, and please know that I’m praying for you all!

I want a crucifixion type of love just like this man. This is an awesome video; check it out!

Spread the Love: Repost from Kate Conner

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If you have some extra time, let’s Pay It Forward and help Jesse and Erica! One of the bloggers I follow is asking for some help for her childhood friend. It’s an endearing story, friends! Check Kate’s story out below!

For the love of…Erica.

Okay, here’s the deal.  I have this friend Erica.  She was my VERY FIRST friend when I moved to North Carolina.  At the ripe age of 6 we wrote plays together and created roller skating performances for our parents in her garage.  She stuck with me through my most horrific, embarrassing acting.  We rode to high school together for a few years and kept secrets for one another – she is that kind of friend.

And guess what: she is getting married!

MAZEL TOV!

But last month, something really mean and ugly happened to my sweet friend.

One evening as her fiance, Jesse, was walking home from work in Atlanta, he was violently assaulted by 2 strangers.  Jesse required major facial reconstructive surgery.  He and Erica postponed their wedding as doctors rebuilt the right side of his face (which was completely shattered) with titanium plates and plastic implants.

They are a precious, brave couple of people who are very much in love.

So here’s what I think we should do:  I think that we should bless them.  I think as much frustration and sadness as these strangers added to Erica and Jesse’s lives – we should add love and grace and joy 10x over.

(This post is in no way sponsored or solicited.  I just believe in loving people in every way we can. Just throwing that out there.  Carry on.)

Erica and Jesse have entered into a contest to win a wedding photography and coordination package worth $7,000.  (Erica is a photographer herself, so the pictures she’ll have of her day are a priority to her, more than flowers, dresses, food and all the other wedding what-not.)  The contest ends tonight at midnight, and she and Jesse are a bit behind.

I hereby launch the “For The Love of Erica (and Jesse, Too) Campaign.”

Will you go vote for my childhood friend?
I promise to share the gorgeous photographs of her wedding with you when they win.

Here’s how to vote/bless:

1.  Go to this Facebook link (here).

2.  Like their status. (The link will take you directly to the status with their names in it – Erica and Jesse.)

That is all.  You’re done.  Go treat yourself to an ice cream for having done a kind thing today.

The contest closes at midnight, so if you could hop on that, that would be great.  If you feel so moved, share the link to this blog on your profile, so that your friends who don’t read here (but should) can vote for Erica and Jesse, too.

C’mon guys.  Let’s spread the love.  For the love of weddings, love, childhood friends, good surgeons, anti-mugging and bullying, photography, and Erica.

Thanks a million,
Kate”

Thanks so much you guys! Let’s kill the world with kindness!

The Meaning of Life | Strive for Inner Beauty

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Hello Everyone & Happy Monday!

May signifies the ending of school, and the beginning of summer. I remember last year being overwhelmed by graduation. I was ecstatic to begin the next chapter in my life, but so nervous for the future. I remember asking myself, “How can I leave all of my high school friends behind? What about the last 13 years? Did I make the right college choice? What does my future hold? What am I supposed to be?”

But, you know what, the entire time God had a plan. I love my college, I’ve made new friends, and I’m working on becoming the person God designed me to be. But, I don’t have all of the answers. None of us do, but the guy upstairs. And, we simply have to learn to trust Him. I pray everyday that He’ll be extremely blunt when it comes to my vocation in life.

I can’t tell you what my future holds, but I can tell you that with Jesus by my side, I’ll accomplish everything He wants me to be and fulfill His plan. I’ll do it because I was designed to do it. I’ll do it because I was created by an eternal father who is full of abundant love and grace and who will pick me up when I fall. And, I’ll do it because He’ll never leave my side. I came across some words of wisdom, so I have to share. Have you ever asked yourself what the meaning of life is? What is our purpose? Why are we here? Maybe the following beautifully written words can help you!

PS) Are you raising a teen or a teenage girl yourself? Read clear to the bottom, my friends!

Reflecting on the meaning of life…(Author Unknown)

Take time to think;
it is the source of power.

Take time to read;
it is the foundation of wisdom.

Take time to play;
it is the secret of staying young.

Take time to be quiet;
it is the opportunity to seek God.

Take time to be aware;
it is the opportunity to help others.

Take time to love and be loved;
it is God’s greatest gift.

Take time to laugh;
it is the music of the soul.

Take time to be friendly;
it is the road to happiness.

Take time to dream;
it is what the future is made of.

Take time to pray;
it is the greatest power on earth.

And another one of my favorites: 

For attractive lips, speak words of kindness.

For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.

For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.

For beautiful hair, let a child run his or her fingers through it once a day.

For poise, walk with the knowledge you’ll never walk alone.

People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anybody.

Remember, If you ever need a helping hand, you’ll find one at the end of your arm.

As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.

The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure that she carries, or the way she combs her hair.

The beauty of a woman must be seen from in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides.

The beauty of a woman is not in a facial mole, but true beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul.

It is the caring that she lovingly gives, the passion that she shows, and the beauty of a woman with passing years -only grows!

-Written by Sam Levenson

And finally, here’s Kate Conner’s “Ten Things I Want to Tell Teenage Girls!” Enjoy!

“1.  If you choose to wear shirts that show off your boobs, you will attract boys.  To be more specific, you will attract the kind of boys that like to look down girls’ shirts.  If you want to date a guy who likes to look at other girls’ boobs and chase skirts, then great job; keep it up.  If you don’t want to date a guy who ogles at the breasts of other women, then maybe you should stop offering your own breasts up for the ogling.  All attention is not equal.  You think you want attention, but you don’t.  You want respect.  All attention is not equal.

2. Don’t go to the tanning bed.  You’ll thank me when you go to your high school reunion and you look like you’ve been airbrushed and then photoshopped compared to the tanning bed train wrecks formerly known as classmates – well, at least next to the ones that haven’t died from skin cancer.

3.  When you talk about your friends “anonymously” on Facebook, we  know exactly who you’re talking about.  People are smarter than you think they are.  Stop posting passive-aggressive statuses about the myriad of ways your friends disappoint you.

4. Newsflash: the number of times you say “I hate drama” is a pretty good indicator of how much you love drama.  Non-dramatic people don’t feel the need to discuss all the drama they didn’t start and aren’t involved in.

5.  “Follow your heart” is probably the worst advice ever. 

6. Never let a man make you feel weak or inferior because you are an emotional being.  Emotion is good; it is nothing to be ashamed of.  Emotion makes us better – so long as it remains in it’s proper place: subject to truth and reason.

7.  Smoking is not cool.

8.  Stop saying things like, “I don’t care what anyone thinks about me.”  First of all, that’s not true.  And second of all, if it is true, you need a perspective shift.  Your reputation matters – greatly.  You should care what people think of you.

9. Don’t play coy or stupid or helpless to get attention.  Don’t pretend something is too heavy so that a boy will carry it for you.  Don’t play dumb to stroke someone’s ego.  Don’t bat your eyelashes in exchange for attention and expect to be taken seriously, ever.  You can’t have it both ways.  Either you show the world that you have a brain and passions and skills, or you don’t.  There are no damsels in distress managing corporations, running countries, or managing households.  The minute you start batting eyelashes, eyelashes is all you’ve got.

10.  You are beautiful.  You are enough.  The world we live in is twisted and broken and for your entire life you will be subjected to all kinds of lies that tell you that you are not enough.  You are not thin enough.  You are not tan enough.  You are not smooth, soft, shiny, firm, tight, fit, silky, blonde, hairless enough.  Your teeth are not white enough.  Your legs are not long enough.  Your clothes are not stylish enough.  You are not educated enough.  You don’t have enough experience.  You are not creative enough.

There is a beauty industry, a fashion industry, a television industry, (and most unfortunately) a pornography industry: and all of these have unique ways of communicating to bright young women: you are not beautiful, sexy, smart or valuable enough.

You must have the clarity and common sense to know that none of that is true. None of it.

You were created for a purpose, exactly so.  You have innate value.  You are loved more than you could ever comprehend; it is mind-boggling how much you are adored.  There has never been, and there will never be another you.  Therefore, you have unique thoughts to offer the world.  They are only yours, and we all lose out if you are too fearful to share them.

You are beautiful.  You are valuable.  You are enough.”

Want to follow Kate’s blog? Check it out here: http://kateelizabethconner.com/

Here’s the condensed version:

May each of us cherish yesterday, live for today, and hope for tomorrow! May God bless each of you! Have a wonderful week!

Life is a Gift From Above

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This morning my neighbor lady had a baby girl! In other words, one more of God’s warriors has been heaven sent. All day I kept thinking about God’s plan for this little girl’s life. She was strategically designed and hand crafted by our Savior to carry out the will of our Father. Isn’t this empowering?! We were all born with a purpose. Have you discovered yours?

I’m so enthralled by the entire process of pregnancy; it is truly one of God’s greatest miracles. The idea of a little human being growing within its mother’s womb is incredible. I always imagine all of the mother’s organs and intestines being smooshed to her side to make room for the little one. Not only did God hand craft this little girl, but He chose her mother too. What a blessing for mothers to know they are hand picked as well. God brings certain people into your life for a reason. I’m so grateful He brought this little one into mine! It’ll be a true joy watching this little girl bring her own unique spark to this world.  So, welcome to Wilsonville, baby Holtze! You’re already loved beyond belief.

When I think about the pure bliss of bringing a new bundle of joy into my life today, my heart aches for the 3,700 other babies who will be aborted today. I’ve heard so much talk about the Kony movement lately, but I’m mystified by the fact that people can have so much pity for these children yet ignore the children who are killed every single day by the desperate act of abortion.  These innocent children are designed by God just like each of us. How can we as humans try to end what a wonderful God has created? We don’t even know the heroes we’re killing each and every day by vacuuming their bodies or inducing premature labor or any of those other malicious forms of murder. I don’t mean to bring this up to stir a political pot. After all, life is not a political matter. It is a gift from our Holy Father. Please take the time today to pray for an end to abortion and to ask God how you can serve Him by being a warrior for the innocent children. I’ve listed a great prayer below from Priests for Life.

Lord God, I thank you today for the gift of my life, 
And for the lives of all my brothers and sisters. I know there is nothing that destroys more life than abortion, 
Yet I rejoice that you have conquered death 
by the Resurrection of Your Son. I am ready to do my part in ending abortion. 
Today I commit myself 
Never to be silent, 
Never to be passive, 
Never to be forgetful of the unborn. I commit myself to be active in the pro-life movement, 
And never to stop defending life 
Until all my brothers and sisters are protected, 
And our nation once again becomes 
A nation with liberty and justice 
Not just for some, but for all.

Through Christ our Lord. Amen!

 Have a wonderful week full of many blessings!

A Catholic Confession | Celebrate Reconciliation!

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Tonight, I had the opportunity to listen to a priest who travels around the country engaging Catholics in weeklong missions. My sister and I traveled to an itty- bitty town on the prairie of Kansas, and as I walked in the church, I couldn’t help but be grateful for the beautiful day, and for a wonderful church family. This wasn’t my home church, but I was struck with a feeling of connectedness, hope, and love as I took a seat in my pew.

Tonight, Father Pete focused on reconciliation. Now, as a Catholic, I’ve never quite known how to defend our practice of using a priest to go to confession. All of my Protestant friends just can’t understand this. They’re always wondering, “Why do you use a priest when we each have a direct hotline to God? Why tell a human being what’s you and God’s business?”

Hopefully Father Pete’s wisdom can help answer some of these questions! Tonight, Father Pete said he was cutting the “hotline.” He asked each of us, “If you think you can use your “hotline” to talk to God about your sins, then soon it’s easy to say, Why have a priest marry you? Use the hotline! Why have your child baptized in a church? Just use the hotline! Why call in a priest to anoint the sick? Use the hotline!” See where he’s going with this?

Reconciliation is a gift from our Creator. It is a time to reflect on the sins that are disconnecting us from God by making us less and less Christ-like. Once a Catholic priest receives his holy orders, he becomes our “hotline” to God. When you talk to a priest in a confessionary, it is like talking to Jesus himself. The priest is like the mailman. He takes our letters marked with our trespasses, sorts them, and sends them to their caretaker. Just as it’s illegal to read others’ mail, the priest has no intention of diving into our spiritual matters. In fact, priests are usually granted a grace that allows them to forget the sins of all of us trespassers.

Additionally, Father Pete encouraged us to play doctor tonight, and diagnose our spiritual problem. He pointed out that most people tend to simply confess symptoms, including such things as being impatient with loved ones, not saying our prayers, judging others, being quick to get angry, etc. However, these are simply the symptoms of a spiritual disease. There’s a reason we act the way we do. We have to dig deeper in our souls to diagnose our real problems. Is it pride? Jealousy? A lack of humility? Father Pete said we’ll take our spiritual disease to the grave, but we don’t have to sit back and let it kill us. Until we properly diagnose our problem, we can’t find a solution. The entire church’s penance tonight was to pick a relationship and do something nice for that person to love them a little bit more.

What a powerful message! Instead of fearing going to confession, let’s try to celebrate it because it will only bring us that much closer to the peace found when  walking with the Lord. May the grace of God work in all of our hearts as we diligently work on our earthly beings so that someday He may say to each of us, “Well done my good and faithful servant!” God bless each of you, and thanks for letting me share!

            Wishing you a wonderful end to your week!

Choose Jesus When You Face a Trial

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This past week, my former teacher, who lost her four-year-old daughter in a tragic car accident in December, posted a note on Facebook about how she’s coping with the trial God has put in her life.  She was an incredible, inspirational teacher, one that truly strived to make a difference in the world. She shed light on the lives of so many students using her genuine compassion, so to see the death of her daughter tear her apart is absolutely heart wrenching. However, now she’s sharing her story of how she’s choosing Jesus to endure the pain. To transform one of life’s greatest trials into a way to continue to praise Jesus and lead people to Him is extraordinary! Her story is so beautifully written that I just have to share it.

I pray all of you who have suffered a tragedy and hit rock bottom may embrace her words as a source of inspiration to rise up with Jesus. And, I’d be ever so grateful if you’d lift this beautiful family up in your prayers.

In Her Words…

“There was a time not so long ago that I (and I mean this literally) thought I would never smile again, shower again. I thought I would never fix my hair again, dress myself, eat. How could I when the world had ended?

But I did. And so many of you lifted us up in prayer constantly. We know you did, because we felt it. Then I made a choice. Or rather, subconsciously made a choice. I don’t ever really remember thinking, “This is what I choose.” But today I find myself surviving, driving Lauren to preschool, taking Jack riding, reading books, cooking. And I know it is because I made a choice.

I chose Jesus. I choose Jesus. Whether or not I knew it at the time, I chose Jesus. Like Jesus said when he began the Sermon on the Mount, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” By God’s grace I have been filled with the Holy Spirit and it is the only reason I could ever survive being apart from one of my children. By the way, he also said, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” He was right.

I miss Kyla so much it takes my breath away. Tears come now like taking a breath. I am still very much in denial, living life for today, thinking tomorrow, tomorrow is when I will finally wake up from this nightmare and then I will hold her. It hurts too much to think about the near future, or God forbid, 10 years from now when I will have been apart from her for 3,766 days. My baby girl is perfect. So beautiful, funny, smart, thoughtful, kind and perfect. The hardest part is thinking about all of the moments she will miss in this world, all of the wonderful things she could have accomplished, lives she could have touched beyond those she already had. But then, it’s a silly thought, because all of those moments put together times a million wouldn’t be as great as one moment in heaven. But as a finite human with a finite mind, I mourn for those moments, thousands of moments that I dreamed for her. But at the end of the day, God’s promises are still true. She is still in heaven. She is still in the arms of her Creator, the very One she was made for.  And we love her with a love so deep and pure, nothing could ever take it away….

The long road we have to travel with our new reality has only just begun, and I ask humbly for your prayers to continue. For peace. For strength. For our heartache. We have been lifting many of you up in prayer as well, with the hope that the struggles you are facing will be met with the strength and power only God could place within you. And also? Thank you.

2 Corinthians 10:5 “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God…”

Romans 8:28-38, Psalms 23, 63, 46, 27, Revelation 21, Isaiah 55……….”

***Names were changed in this note for privacy purposes in respect to the family.

 Let us each take the time today to extend our gratitude to the Lord for the numerous blessings He has provided in our lives. One of my favorite questions is: What if you woke up today with only the things you thanked God for yesterday? Thanks in advance for your prayers for this family!

 Have a wonderful weekend!

Nurture Your Soul

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Hi There!-

First of all, I’m so extremely blessed to have celebrated Easter with such a wonderful family. Can you imagine the amount of love God must have for us to send his only son to die such a brutal death upon a cross?! I can’t even begin to imagine.

When life stresses you out, just remember what’s truly important. While we should always give our best effort in all that we do on this earth, remember that your soul is the only possession you can take with you to heaven. Hence, if you can perfect one thing in your lifetime, make it your goal to nurture your soul! I’ve begun to read the Bible because I realized that every time I need some motivation or a little pick-me-up, I can’t find advice that soothes my soul better than the words of Scripture. For the past few months, I had felt disconnected from God. It wasn’t like I didn’t believe, but that I felt there was a wall in our relationship. The Bible is destroying the barrier, my friends, and it can for you too! Here are a few of my favorite places to seek inspiration for the soul, besides the Bible! Check out these sites if you have a minute.

http://ticklestogiggles.blogspot.com/2010/05/my-birthday-was-awesome.html

A woman celebrated her 35th birthday by carrying out 35 random acts of kindness! What a special day in so many ways! Inspired?! Find it on Pinterest!

http://www.kellehampton.com/

Enjoying the Small Things is a fantastic read! Follow the Hampton family from Naples, Florida as they share family moments, inspiration, creativity, and the story of two little girls, one who has down syndrome. When she held her baby for the first time, Kelle talks of the disappointment she felt because she knew there was something wrong. Now, Nella and her down syndrome are the family’s greatest blessings!

Wishing you a wonderful week!

On God’s Watch, All is Well

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This past week, a Pay It Forward challenge simply fell into my lap. While I was getting my eyebrows waxed (okay, TMI alert) with my sister at a random hair salon, I ran into this woman who I’ve seen running around the same park I do. At first, we exchanged those uncomfortable “Do I know you?” stares, but then I decided to take a risk and ask the lady if it was indeed her. Fortunately I escaped what could have been a very awkward conversation because it did turn out to be the stranger from the park! Soon, I found myself unraveling my entire life story, including where I go to school, what I’m majoring in, and of course, I threw a plug in for the best town in the state (Wilsonville) where Grandma Addy resides! The entire time, she was completely engaged in our conversation, and I could tell she was a very genuine, caring person. So, I told her that if she ever needed a workout partner for motivation for the upcoming swimsuit season, she could run with my friend and I anytime. She took me up on the offer, got my phone number, and off I went with my newly shaped, snazzy looking eyebrows.  :)

I walked out of that salon completely elated. But, to be honest, I was a little perturbed at the beginning of my visit because the salon had the pokiest workers I’d ever seen, and were understaffed. My sister and I had to wait 45 minutes to get our eyebrows waxed, of which time I think I wasted at least 15 minutes complaining. Remember when I said patience is a virtue? I think I have some work to do in that department.

But, when I left, I just smiled because I realized that the entire time, this was God’s plan. If I wouldn’t have had to wait, I would never have encountered Carlena (the stranger). For some reason, God wanted our paths to cross. Why? I’m not completely sure yet. But, I’m already grateful because I know that His plans are far better than mine. He kindled the beginning of a new friendship, and who knows what it will lead to. God is extremely wise, and is constantly crafting blessings that we can’t even begin to comprehend. But in the end, His timing is perfect and so worth waiting for! With that, I have to share a wonderful e-mail my friend sent me about God’s timing!

Me (in a tizzy) : God, can I ask you something?

GOD: Sure.

Me: Promise you won’t get mad?

GOD: I promise.

Me (frustrated): Why did you let so much stuff happen to me today?

GOD: What do you mean?

Me: Well I woke up late,

GOD: Yes

Me: My car took forever to start,

GOD: Okay….

Me (growling): At lunch, they made my sandwich wrong and I had to wait

GOD: Hmmmm..

Me: On the way home, my phone went dead, just as I picked up a call

GOD: All right

Me (loudly): And to top it all off, when I got home, I just wanted to soak my feet in my foot massager and relax, but it wouldn’t work. Nothing went right today! Why did you do that?

GOD: Well let me see….. the enemy was at your bed this morning and I had to send one of my angels to battle him for your life. I let you sleep through that.

Me (humbled): Oh…

GOD: I didn’t let your car start because there was a drunk driver on your route that might have hit you if you were on the road

Me (ashamed): …………

GOD: The first person who made your sandwich today was sick and I didn’t want you to catch what they have.

Me (embarrassed): Oh…..

GOD: Your phone went dead because the person that was calling was going to give a false witness about what you said on that call, I didn’t even let you talk to them so you would be covered.

Me (softly): I see God

GOD: Oh and that foot massager, it had a short that was going to throw out all of the power in your house tonight. I didn’t think you wanted to be in the dark.

Me: I’m sorry God.

GOD: Don’t be sorry, just learn to trust me………in all things, the good and the bad.

Me: I WILL trust you God.

GOD: And don’t doubt that my plan for your day is always better than your plan.

Me: I won’t God. And let me just tell you God, thank you for everything today.

GOD: You’re welcome child. It was just another day being your God and I love looking after my children.

Scriptural References: II Samuel 22:31, Proverbs 3:5, Hebrews 2:13

Let’s all vow to try to adopt this new perspective when things don’t go as we plan, because chances are, God’s interceding on our behalf!

Have a blessed Easter weekend!

P.S.) Love the message within this song by Randy Houser!

Katie Kirkpatrick’s Inspiring True Story

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Why Hello There!

Thanks so much for stopping by! Recently, a friend of mine shared an e-mail with me about a girl named Katie Kirkpatrick. Perhaps you’ve heard her story. If not, I encourage you to prep yourself with a box of tissues and an open heart. Katie’s story is so incredible, and it serves as a great reminder as to how each of us should approach life.

God designed a specific journey for each and every one of us. He didn’t just whimsically send us into this world, but rather we’ve each been created to travel a spiritual voyage, one that is full of blessings we can’t even imagine. But, these blessings don’t always come in the form of big white elephants. Rather, some of them may be hidden in disguise. I’m sure when Katie found out she had cancer, it was absolutely devastating and the furthest thing from a blessing. But, Katie courageously took hold of God’s calling for her life, and made the best of the situation. Through her strength and compassion, she’s touched the lives of many people. Perhaps God’s journey for her was to share His love, and bring back some of His lost sheep.

Katie Kirkpatrick lived a life of unquestionable faith in God and belief in Jesus Christ as her Lord. Her contagious spirit, abundant love, and determination make her a wonderful role model for each of us. Here’s her story…(in the words of Georgea Kovanis http://www.brain-cancer-net.org/news/brain-cancer-news-0003.htm).

“Katie Kirkpatrick, 21, had chased away cancer once, only to have it return — to clog her lungs and grab hold of her heart and try to pull her away from those she loved and those who loved her. Breathing was difficult now; she had to use oxygen. The pain in her back was so intense it broke through the morphine that was supposed to act as a shield. Her belly, legs and feet were swollen because her organs were shutting down and her body was retaining fluid.

People prayed for her, just as she prayed for strength and guidance and deliverance from the disease. They raised money to help pay medical expenses, and Katie did everything she could to help herself. She ate well. In the hospital for chemotherapy, she walked laps through the hallways and rode a stationary bike to stay strong. She took her medicine and vitamins and she never complained because she believed everything would be all right.

And that is why all these people came out on a cold Saturday in January, when the sun shone so brightly it made the snow sparkle like the crystal beading on Katie’s wedding dress. They watched, awed, as she summoned all her strength and walked slowly, smiling, down the long aisle of the Church of Christ in Hazel Park on the arm of her father, who himself has cancer.

While some people might have considered this wedding to be a last act before cancer got the best of Katie, it wasn’t that at all. She had hope and faith and when you have those things, when you have a glimmer of something in which to believe, there are no last acts.

She did not use oxygen during that walk; she left the big green tank at the back of the church with her wheelchair. She didn’t want to look back at photos and be reminded of illness at the moment she pledged her love to Nick Godwin, the man who was devoted to her and the man with whom she would build a future. She knew she would get through cancer, she would beat it. And in the end, the very end, she did.

Katie Kirkpatrick grew up in Metamora, a small town full of horse farms and expensive subdivisions in Lapeer County, about 50 miles from Detroit. She graduated from Lapeer East High School, where she was co-valedictorian, a good athlete — basketball and soccer — and the homecoming queen. She was hugely popular. She belonged to a church choir. As a neighborhood baby-sitter, she often canceled her own plans to help out parents in a bind. She counted shopping as one of her hobbies and had a good eye for fashion; she helped family members pick out clothes and even on he morning of her wedding, when she was groggy from morphine, she complimented a friend’s coat and asked if it was new. Last year, $30 at Marshall’s, the friend said.

And Katie smiled.

It was a great smile. Friends said that when she smiled at them, they felt like the most important person in the universe. They liked that she listened to them. When they visited during her many hospitalizations, she always asked what they were up to, what they had received for Christmas, who they were dating. When they got scared about the cancer, she was the one who talked sense to them. Everything will be fine, she said.

Late at night, when she was too sick even to sleep, when the hospital bed in her girly pink and yellow bedroom at her parents’ house couldn’t be adjusted to comfort her, she read her Bible. While everyone else slept, it was her comfort and her companion.

Katie’s parents, David and Niki Kirkpatrick, work for the Lapeer Community Schools District, though her dad, a counselor and basketball coach, is on leave because he has cancer in his brain and her mother, a teacher, is on leave to care for her sick family. Neighbors and friends and church members help. They bring meals. They find housekeepers. They loan their cars and they provide rides because sometimes driving is just too much for Niki, her mind overcrowded with medication schedules, and vitamin smoothie recipes, and doctors’ reports, and wedding plans.

She tried hard to keep everything together because she was the only one who knew everything — what doctors thought about Katie’s prognosis and David’s prognosis. And for the most part, she kept that information to herself. She was their protector, their cheerleader. When Katie ate all of her breakfast — scrambled eggs and toast — Niki told her she’d done a good job. When David put a glass bowl of soup on the stove to heat, Niki took it away from him and showed him, again, that he needed to use a pot. There was no way she’d ever, ever risk hurting them by telling them exactly what the doctors thought. Or, even, exactly what she thought — that it was possible neither her husband nor daughter would be around for a wedding if they waited too long to have one.

David Kirkpatrick, 52, has a loyal following of students and former students who like that he was always encouraging and positive and funny. He’s all those things still, though his mind is a little scrambled from the tumor and he’s often tired from radiation and chemotherapy. Not long ago, he looked at a glass of orange juice and called it tea. It’s not unusual for him to bid a visitor goodnight three or four times in the matter of minutes because he forgets what he’s said. When one of the groomsmen, one of David Kirkpatrick’s former basketball players, saw him dance with Katie to “You Are So Beautiful” at the reception, he sobbed because he hated that two people he cared for so much were so sick.

Katie’s best friend was her sister, Sara Nelms, who is 29, a stay-at-home mom married to a special education teacher, Kevin Nelms. They met while they were students at a Christian college in Arkansas. They have a 4-month-old, Jake, who is plump and cuddly and much loved. Once Niki told a stranger he was the bright spot in the family’s life. A split-second later she corrected herself. The family, she said, has many bright spots. More than once Katie wondered aloud if the children she and Nick have will be as cute.

That was the thing about Katie, she could be exhausted and in great pain and yet she’d say something — about having babies, or about being thrilled with the Calphalon pans someone had given as a wedding gift or the new apartment where she and Nick would live — that made you wonder if she realized the extent of her illness. In Katie’s eyes, there was always hope.

“Sometimes I forget that,” Niki said. “Katie never forgets that. I think, ‘How can she think that?’ “Then I think, ‘How can she not?’ “

Nick Godwin, a 23-year-old Lapeer County Sheriff’s deputy who wanted to be a cop since he was 2, is strong and athletic.

He has loved Katie since 11th grade. (“The first time they ever really talked to each other was at a basketball game,” said Sandy Godwin, his mother. “I think she had him right there. You could tell by the look on his face.”) They dated a bit but broke up when he went away to Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste. Marie.

She was still in high school and wasn’t interested in a long-distance relationship. “I always figured I’d go to college and I’d meet someone there,” Katie said a few days before her wedding. “I wasn’t a big believer in high school love.”

Still, she and Nick remained friends, and on holidays and summer vacations, they spent time together and with each other’s families. “He kept calling when he was in college. He just was consistently always there — not in a bad way,” Katie said. “She couldn’t get rid of me,” Nick said.

Katie, who won a basketball and academic scholarship to Rochester College, a Christian school in Rochester Hills, Mich., dated other guys.

When Nick sent Katie a Valentine’s Day e-mail in February 2002, he decided it would be his last attempt at winning her heart. If he didn’t hear back, he would move on. Instead, he received an e-mail from David Kirkpatrick that said Katie had been diagnosed with a brain tumor and was in the hospital. Nick’s sister called later and told him Katie’s condition was more serious than anyone had originally thought. Nick got in his truck and drove home to see Katie. He couldn’t explain it, but he needed to be with her. “Something about her made me feel differently than anybody else did,” he said.

A few weeks later, Katie had surgery. After that, she had follow-up treatments. She lost some of her language skills; she had to learn to read again. But she was getting better. She was feeling healthy. There were no signs of cancer.

In March 2003, she realized that she might feel something more than friendship toward Nick, but she was concerned about his religious background. She was a devout Christian, had grown up in the Church of Christ. Nick hadn’t grown up in a church. God is important to me, Katie told him. I can’t consider a future with someone who doesn’t feel the same way.

In the summer of 2003, Nick began studying the Bible with Katie and her dad.

In July, she told Nick she loved him.

In October he was baptized in Katie’s church.

The same month, she learned the cancer had returned — this time in and around her lungs.

She went through more chemotherapy, and for a while, the cancer seemed under control. She went to work raising money for the Lance Armstrong Foundation. She spoke to business owners and civic groups and raised $28,000, earning an opportunity to travel to Austin, Texas, to meet and ride with champion cyclist and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong.

Even though she had difficulty breathing, she managed to complete a 7.5-mile ride. It was the fall of 2004, and her cancer was spreading.

She and Nick had been engaged in March 2004. He proposed during a trip up North. They’d already postponed their wedding so Katie could concentrate on getting well.

But by late December, what was the value in waiting? If Katie knew that getting married sooner might be the only way she would have a wedding, she didn’t say.

“This is where we are,” she said to her mother more than once.

“There’s no sense looking back or what if or anything. This is where we are, this is what we’re going to deal with and we’re going to move forward.”

The wedding was beautiful.

The church was full of pink roses and the lights had been dimmed to make it look more romantic than most churches do in the middle of the afternoon.

As Katie reached the end of the aisle and left her father’s arm, Nick turned to her and whispered: I love you.

Their vows were simple and short.

They did not include “till death do us part” because the minister, Garth Pleasant, who has known Katie since she was a baby, doesn’t use that phrase. Instead, he told them that marriage is a little bit of heaven on Earth and that love is unconditional.

After they kissed, they stood together with their foreheads touching for what seemed like the longest time. It was their moment; nothing else mattered except that they were together and they would always be together.

The reception was huge and photographers, a DJ and a videographer who had heard about Katie and had been touched volunteered their services.

People clinked silverware against their glasses, and the bride and groom kissed.

Then it was time for the slide show, showing Katie growing up. Nick growing up. Their life together. That’s when people started crying again, and again when she and Nick danced, very slowly, to “I Live My Life for You.”

Some of her friends from high school, people who loved her dearly, were reluctant to have their photographs taken with her. Katie was the same person she had always been, that’s why they loved her. But did they want to remember her so small and weak, her arms the size of a child’s?

When they saw her smile, they realized this was probably the happiest day of her life and they were honored to share in it. And they too smiled for the camera.

Where Katie got the energy to be such a beautiful, gracious bride, considering her deteriorating health, was a mystery.

Three days earlier, she and Nick — who had worked all night on patrol — were at McLaren Regional Medical Center in Flint. She’d gone in for an intravenous treatment to reduce the amount of fluid she was retaining. Katie was especially groggy. Near the end of the treatment, she asked Nick to call her hospice nurse. But she wasn’t available. Katie cried.

She called the nurse herself and said she’d discovered a lump near her neck earlier that morning. The nurse sent a doctor in to see Katie. He told her it appeared to be a swollen lymph node. He asked what kind of cancer she has — it started in the choroid plexus, which is rare and usually strikes children under 5 — and when she told him, he just raised his eyebrows.

Then he changed the subject and asked about the wedding.

She had wedding rehearsal on Thursday.

She tried to rest on Friday.

The day of the wedding, she was up at 6 a.m.

When she left the reception at 11:30 that night — after she’d been serenaded by groomsmen and eaten wedding cake — she was exhausted. Her face looked as white as her gown. As Nick wheeled her to the car, her small body surrounded by the fluff of her white dress, she looked like a snow princess floating through the air.

She looked happy.

Five days later, Katie died.

She and Nick had delayed their honeymoon — a trip to the luxurious Royal Park Hotel in Rochester — and gone to suburban Chicago to consult with a team of doctors. Once there, Katie’s condition worsened. She wanted to come home. Her hospice nurse believes Katie knew she was going to die. “When you’re dying, you know it,” said Jaina Brooks, who had been working with Katie. “She got things done. That girl wanted to spread hope, and she did.”

Katie’s family had her flown to McLaren, and that is where her body — which was so much weaker than her spirit — gave up.

About 1,200 people attended her funeral, held in Rochester Hills at a church much larger than her own in Lake Orion. Rochester College canceled classes for the day so students could attend. Police officers directed traffic. People hugged Nick.

The funeral program included a reprint of the speech Katie gave when she graduated from high school:

“Life is a fragile chain of experiences held together by love. If there could be only one thing in life to learn, it would be to love.”

“If only you can love enough, you will be the happiest and most powerful person in the world.”

While it is tragic that someone should die, especially so young, it’s difficult to see the story of Katie Kirkpatrick Godwin as a sad one.

She did not allow illness to make her weak, she did not allow it to change her relationship with her God or her family or her husband. She did not let sickness stop her from living, take away the hope or faith that made her believe she had a future. She had a lovely wedding and she had love and she gave love and love doesn’t die.

And that is how Katie beat cancer.”

May Katie serve as an inspiration to each of us to embrace the blessings of this world and prepare for the day we’ll meet Jesus face to face. I have an exciting Pay It Forward challenge coming up later this week! Check back in the middle of the week!

Dream Home Sunday

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I hope you’re prepared for your jaw to literally drop. As the finale to my spring break, I decided to treat myself by allowing time to browse realty sites in search of dream homes. I’ve come to accept that I have a severe case of “home addictivism.” It seems to be a very potent virus, and its key symptoms are procrastination and consuming too much time watching HGTV. I’ve heard it’s contagious, so continue reading with caution!

Tonight’s destination is Fort Collins, Colorado. I’ve always dreamed of someday retiring in the beautiful foothills of the mountains. In my mind, I picture darling brooks that run through rigged mountains blooming with wildflowers and being grazed by wild horses. I like to think my dad’s John Wayne movie obsession is guilty for encouraging my imagination.

However, in reality, a month ago I actually rode a horse, and let me tell you, God did not bless me with horse sense. I’m fairly confident my friend’s horse had never heard the phrase “Whoa” used with such aggression nor so repetitively in its life. Graceful is just not my style, especially when I mount a 1,000-pound horse.

It wasn’t my sister’s either….

Much to her surprise, she reenacted her old days of “mutton busting” on her horse, but rather than falling two feet off a sheep, she took a five foot plunge from her horse into a mud puddle. Priceless as it was, I’m grateful her guardian angel was on board that day. I guess all I have to say is God bless cowboys/girls!

But, if my horse skills do happen to improve and God has destined my journey for Colorado, I think I’d prefer to live in the dream home you’ll find below. Words can’t possibly describe how unbelievably fascinating this home is. It offers the cozy mountain escape you think of when you hear “Colorado,” yet it’s very classy. I adore the open floor plan, wood floors, and privacy this home offers. Okay, house inspectors, it’s time for you to take a peak! Let me know what you think! What does your dream home look like?!

I pray God fills your week with many blessings!

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Want more details on this home? Check it out at: http://www.realtor.com/realestateandhomes-detail/5450-Tirranna-Ct_Fort-Collins_CO_80524_M26973-26758?source=web

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