Two Years Too Long

Well this is not something I’ve ever really talked about on here, but I feel that now is a better time than ever. As many of you know I have felt great loss in my life, I have also felt unbelievable amounts of blessings. It’s life what else could I ask for? Well my time of loss are no greater than anyone else’s, however there is one person that I’ve lost that has effected me unlike any other. This loss shook my world, and honestly if it hadn’t been for the community around me, I don’t know that I would’ve ever been able to begin to heal. So without further delay this is a very defining moment of my story.

When I was very young, I’d say around five years old I had an amazing encounter with someone who would change my life for forever. I was getting ready to go to a church camp in West Virginia. I had never been super involved in church, but my grandmother wanted us to get more involved with Jesus, and that kind of stuff. Well I was of course late as I always was as a child because my family had their own definition of time. So when I got on the bus to go to camp there was one seat left. Once again because of my awful luck it was next to a boy. This boy’s name was Austin, and little did I know it, but I was about to get my first best friend!

Austin and I sat next to each other for the next three hours, and talked about our families, and the types of things that we liked to do. He told me about his siblings, and his parents. He told so much about himself that honestly I just remember thinking that this kid could talk as much as I could. Once we got to the camp we were separated, but when it came to the meetings, and lunch we were always together. It was weird, I hadn’t really had a friend yet, so it was really great to finally feel included, and in many ways loved.

As it came up on the end of the week camp was beginning to close, and many people were beginning to “change”. People were getting “saved”, and realizing the Lord’s passion for their lives. Though the people who were there were only between the ages of 5 and 11 I do in many ways believe they were genuine in their ways. But it was Austin’s change that would forever impact my life. On the last night at camp the counselor/pastor guy stood at the front and did an altar call.He wanted anyone who was ready to accept Christ, and be saved to come to the front. It was then that I saw Austin stand up, and go to the front. He made a proclamation of faith that day, and gave his life to God that day. It was possibly one of the most precious memories that I could ever capture, but I wouldn’t have known that for years.

After that weekend Austin and I continued to hang out, and grow closer as friends. Once we hit middle school we started going to the same school, and come high school we had classes together. It was so cool to have him in my life. We would spend hours laughing, and making jokes, it was honestly amazing.

Now our relationship was not always hearts and rainbows, we definitely had a bad moment, and there is one that I will forever regret. I can not lie and say that in our friendship I didn’t develop feelings that went beyond just a friendship. I was definitely interested in Austin, and I thought he felt the same way. We were hanging out more, and he was more interested in the things about me that laid beneath the surface. So in my mind this meant he was interested in pursuing me. But that wasn’t all true. It wasn’t long after these feelings emerged that Austin began dating someone. I grew very bitter over this, and I was so heartbroken. I was so angry that I pulled away from him, and just about stopped talking to him all together. And it’s so sad because there were times when he would reach out, and I wouldn’t care, and I would just walk away. I went almost an entire year without speaking to him, and it wasn’t until he sat next to me during lunch during our Junior year that we finally spoke, and to be honest it was almost as if nothing had happened. I finally accepted that we would probably never be the same, but that we would always be ok.

Now the summer following my junior year was the summer I became a christian, and I fell truly in love with God. So that year I went back to school, and was so excited to see what God had for me. I didn’t have any classes with Austin, or even lunch, or anything so it was a little weird. It wasn’t but three weeks into senior year that an event occurred that would forever rock my small town community of Nokesville, Virginia. It was a normal Friday night football game just like any other. We the tigers were down by some amount, and were bound to lose the game. Well Austin was out on the field, and at one point took an exceptionally hard hit and got a concussion. I was sitting in the stands with Austin’s new girlfriend Lauren. Lauren had walked off, and ran back telling us of what had happened. She left the game and went to the hospital, and I prayed the whole night.

The next day we had gotten word that he was ok, and that he was going fishing with another one of our friends. The next day was an annual event in my church that the youth group did. It was called class rallies, and it was an event that my class had won every year for the last three years. Well this year was very different.  Something felt wrong the entire night, and I could never point out what it was. I then received a text message telling me that Austin was back in the hospital, and no one knew why. I was extremely thrown off by this, and it ultimately made it extremely hard to focus on rallies. None of us could, we literally prayed the entire night that we were there.

To save you a story that doesn’t need to be told, we lost rallies that night, and as soon as we ended it myself and a few others ventured to the hospital. Once we got there it was an extremely sad scene. no one was talking, and everyone was so confused. Well finally someone pulled me aside and told me of why Austin was really in the hospital. It is something that is extremely hard for me to admit, but I’m not gonna beat around the bush about this. Austin hanged himself that day. Hearing these words, let alone repeating them still gives me goosebumps. I just remember hearing the words, and going blank. I didn’t cry, or react I just kind of stood there. I didn’t believe it. So I just went back upstairs, and sat with my friends, and we waited.

One of the mothers was constantly coming upstairs to update us on what was going on. In the time that we all sat there we prayed, cried, and told stories of how awesome our amazing was. I can honestly say I prayed more that night, then probably any other time in my life. We were all constantly coming together to love on one another and bring each other comfort. Finally the mom came up to give us words that no one wanted. “The doctors have done all they could, but Austin’s gone.” Still to this day those words break me like  nothing else. I think of how I fell to the ground and sobbed, and I looked around and saw how there was no answer in that moment for any of us. Just nothing made sense, and at the time there was nothing anyone could say to us to comfort us. But like we had the rest of the night we prayed. We were all in a circle and held hands and began to jsut pray allowed thanking God for the family that we had gained in each other that night, and to thank him for ever memory one of us got the chance to share with Austin.

It was then that Austin’s brother came up stairs. He looked right at me and said, “That’s my brother.” That’s all it took, and I just held him, and cried with him. Like I said there were no answers to what had happened. We didn’t know how to react. It still to this day is a moment that will have forever of changed me.

It was been two years since that rainy cold night, and there’s not a day that goes by that his name doesn’t go through my mind. I find myself just sitting, and talking out loud to him somedays. I held so much back, and never got to tell him I was sorry for walking away, and giving up. He never gave up on me, and I know now today that he never hated me for what I did. it took a lot of myself to see that. It took an extremely long time for me to realize that. But to be completely honest my faith was strengthened beyond all measure through this. I had to fully rely on God more then ever through this. He truly guided me through this.

I can’t say that I’ve completely healed from this, or that I ever will, but I do now that because of the proclamation of faith that Austin made when we were very young that I will see him again, and that no matter what he always loved me. No matter the day I walked away, until the day I walked back, I know he loves me, and the day I get to see him again, will be a most glorious day.

Austin was my first friend, and the love I received from his has forever changed me. i don’t take life for granted. I know that I wont be here forever, so I make use of the days I have. I try to love as well I can, and be a light of Jesus to people who don’t know Him. I wish everyday that I could’ve apologized to Austin, but I know he know’s that I’m sorry, and I know within my heart that I am forgiven. Some days I doubt it heavily, but deep down inside I know it’s true.

I miss him more and more everyday, but I know I will see him again, and that is what gives me a true peace in my life. God’s love and grace is so so sufficient, and I know it trumps and prevails all evil in this world. And until I see Austin again it will be the memories that are with me always. I love him forever and always, and that will never changes!

 

In the path of righteousness is life,
and in its pathway there is no death. Proverbs 12:28

Freedom in Healing

Many of you know of my love for Freedom. I love it so much that I make it proper so it has to be capitalized! Well this thing called Freedom, is something that has truly driven my love for life, hope, healing, and ultimately my faith. I found this amazing lifestyle from a very amazing woman. This woman demonstrates Freedom in her life everyday, so much so that it smacked in the face from the moment I met her. This woman is Kaitlyn Phipps, and let me tell you she’s amazing.

I met Kaitlyn during my freshman year at Radford University. I had seen her a few times, and even went to a wedding where she was. I knew Kaitlyn was different from day one of meeting her. She was so friendly, warm, and willing to let me into her life. It is totally something that made Radford bearable in the beginning stages. I was always greeted with a real, genuine smile. There was always this infectious thing about Kaitlyn that it makes you want to be around her as much as you possibly can. I consider myself truly blessed to call her a friend, and sister.

If I could use one word to describe Kaitlyn it would totally be grace. She knows exactly what it is, and she wants to live it out in every aspect of her life. I don’t think I could truly define grace until I met Kaitlyn. One thing that allowed for Kaitlyn and I to become as close as we are is the amazing book, “Changes the Heal” by Dr. Henry Cloud. This book has changed so many lives, and thanks to the Lord giving Kaitlyn her passion for healing so many more got to experience these changes. This book helps one to see the Lord’s plans, and how to put them into action in one’s own life. Through the passion that Kaitlyn has for women, and their healing I was able to see healing, and how much I truly needed it in my own life. It really brought me the Freedom, and truth that I needed to finally pursue healing.

Aside from the things like “changes” Kaitlyn and I had a really great relationship. I found a sister here in Radford that I needed, and she wasn’t just the big sister who helped get me out of trouble, but the one who then guided me to see the truth necessary to keep history from repeating itself. Like I said before Kaitlyn truly exemplifies grace, and this really shows when she speaks. Kaitlyn has this way about her when she talks about the things she is passionate about it really shows. There is really no other way to put it, he passion and love for things just really show. It helps others to see the greatness of it, and the necessity in whatever it is.

Like most young adults it is really hard for me to accept who I am, and to believe that others love me for it. But that is one thing Kaitlyn does. She shows me that I am loved, and that I am awesome just the way I am, and that I am so free to be me! I can’t say i’ve ever embraced myself the way I do now, nor have I truly ever loved who I am. But with the help of amazing women like Kaitlyn I was able to really see God’s love and how He made me me in His image, and for that I should love myself, and who I am in HIm!

Kaitlyn has taught me a lot in the last year, and I can not wait to see what our future has in store for us, because I know with God at the center of our relationship nothing can stop us. I pray that Kaitlyn be blessed in every way, and that her life, and Freedom be blessed in an abundance.

 

Kaitlyn recently experienced the amazing blessing of getting married, and yours truly got to enjoy the beautiful day with her! It was honestly one of the most beautiful weddings I have ever been to! God’s love, truth, and redemption were all demonstrated so well that day. When Kaitlyn walked down the aisle I immediately looked at David, and to see him smiling at his glowing bride made my heart melt. These two were totally meant for one another, and I feel so blessed to have been invited to that amazing day, and that I got to love the two of them, and be with them.

 

 

I pray that these two amazing people experience God’s love everyday, and that there marriage reflects this love greater than any other. I love them so much, and pray for them often. I pray that they know God, and his plans for their lives daily. I pray that their time in ministry is lived out to the fullest, and that they constantly follow where God wants them to be, and if that means taking them out of Radford that they will trust in Him with their lives, knowing that He will lead them to true, and abundant freedom!

 

Kaitlyn I love you so much, and I thank you for standing beside me, and helping me to grown, and develop into a woman in healing, and freedom. You are such an amazing light in my life, and I can’t thank you enough for that. I thank you for excepting me through my quirks, and weird catch phrases and gestures! I know every time you laugh, and smile at me that its out of a genuine heart. I love you forever, and I can’t wait to see the rest of our journey, and how He works out every little detail 🙂 I love you sister!

 

Sisters Forever

Lately I’ve been writing about some of the amazing women from my summer project, but I haven’t mentioned a select group that easily changed me in ways I can never describe. These women came together with me at the beginning of the summer, and I can now honestly say I want them in my life forever. They display grace, love and truth. These are the women of my incredible bible study!

These amazing women truly changed my life from day one of project. Within four days of project we all knew each others life stories. We were all super open and broken with one another, and that love truly shinned through in so many ways, it’s so beautiful. I can say that the Lord totally put this group together. We all came from completely different walks of life, but the Lord worked out every detail and seriously made these women so amazing. He put us together, and really pulled every string, and they have become a group that I will never forget. So without further delay allow me to introduce you to theme incredible women.

 

This is Jess! She is so amazing there’s almost no words to describe. This girl seriously has the voice of an angel, and when I hear her pray I know the Lord is so pleased. Jess is an incredible sister who has an amazing passion for people. I got to see this amazing woman grow in ways that I didn’t see coming. She was so willing to serve anyone at any chance she got, and to just be there at times. She has the heart of a woman of God, and I know she impacts the Kingdom in a positive way every morning that she wakes up. I was blessed to have this amazing woman become my bible study leader when the staff left. I felt so incredibly blessed to be able to lover her, and grow with her this summer!

 

This is my girl Sara, or as I like to call her, Say Bey! This girl seriously made me laugh every time I saw her. She has such a beautiful heart that it radiates so hard for the Lord. I was so blessed to have actually been able to meet her before we even went on project. So when I found out we were in the same bible study I was over come with joy! This girl seriously has the greatest stories EVER! (despite what anyone else says, I really do love them) I got to hear a great deal about Sara that I never would have heard had I not gone on this project with her. Sara and I grew extremely close, and I thank God everyday that he gave me this amazing woman to love, and to call my sister! Sara was one who I knew would always cheer me up. When she and I had to say our final goodbyes for the summer I didn’t think I could do it. Sara followed me to my car, and hugged me so tightly. I knew in that moment that there was no way our friendship was ending there. She really changed my life this summer, and I can not wait for the next time that she an I are reunited!

 

This here is my beautiful Shelby! I love this girl more than I could ever describe. I was more blessed than I could describe this summer for the pure fact that I got to know, and love this amazing woman. Shelby and I would have conversations that would take us hours to complete. She really helped to guide me, and help to clarify things for me this summer. I got to experience the true joy of this girls love, and how she never gave up on me. Shelby and I have the blessing of having very similar stories, and through that we were able to process things out together, and see that the Lord put us together for reasons that only he could orchestrate. I am more thankful for this girl then I think I even know. She taught me how to stand as a woman of God and be served. I learned to let go, and truly live out my awkwardness, and weirdness to their fullest extent. I was able to constantly be reaffirmed that God is sovereign, and he holds out lives in his hand, and he will never let us fall. He loves us far to much for that. I can not wait till we are reunited, and I can cuddle with her, and love her all over again! When it came time for Shelby and I to say our goodbyes we both agreed that we wouldn’t do it, because it wasn’t our goodbye. So in that moment we hugged one another, and had to fight to let go. I love this girl more than many will ever know or understand, and i’m more thankful then anything that God has allowed me to love her, and have an eternal sister in her!

 

Last but not least is the amazing Julie! This amazing woman was my amazing discipler on summer project. I got to meet with her often and talk out life. She helped me to grow, and understand the Lord’s plans for me. Julie is an amazing example of an incredible big sister. I was so blessed this summer to be able to call her a friend, and she is certainly some one that I will never forget. I will never forget the nights when Julie would let me come to her house in Ocean City, and just talk things out. They usually ended in me crying, and her comforting me, but they always taught me an incredible lesson of just how awesome God is, and how he truly uses everything to glorify the Kingdom. I learned so much from Julie this summer. She taught me that it’s ok to be myself, and that in giving our lives to God we will ultimately have the greatest joy ever. The Lord loves his children, and I am his forgiven, and redeemed, and most importantly LOVED child! I learned that this summer, and every day Julie reaffirmed it! I am blessed beyond words to love this woman. I can not wait till we are reunited, and I know more than anything that I will always have a great friend, and sister in her. I love you my amazing Yulieeee!

These amazing women taught me about life, and what it means to truly be loved. I learned the importance for women to have a close group of women friends. I am so excited to live life with them, and to ultimately spend eternity with them. I am for thankful for that then anything. I love these women with all I have and I know that because of our obedience, and honor to the Lord we will all go so far, and glorify him with our lives. I love these women more then I could ever explain in some blog, but heres to trying 🙂

 

Heavenly Father I thank you for each and everyone of these women. I thank you for giving me the chance to love them, and grow with them this summer. Lord I pray these relationships with last for eternity, and that through our bond you are glorified. For each and everyone of these women I thank you, and I pray that they continue to grow towards you in every aspect of their lives, and walks with you.

Jess, I pray she continues to grow towards you, and that she continues to love you, and seek after your kingdom with all her heart. Lord I pray that she sees the lives she’s touched, and that she sees that you created her to be exactly who she is. Lord I praise you for who she is, because she is so beautiful and is going t rock the Kingdom with her passionate, and amazing love for you.

Sara, Lord this girl is truly amazing. I pray that she seek you daily, and love you always. Lord you blessed me with an amazing sister in this woman, and for that I am truly thankful. I thank you for her smile, laugh, and stories. But most importantly Father, I thank you for her heart. lord it is so after yours that it’s truly beautiful to watch. I love her so much and I am eternally thankful that you allowed me to love her, and find a sister in her!

Shelby, Lord where to begin with this one?! Lord she is so amazing. I think I knew from day and that you destined us to be together. Lord you truly blessed me with this amazing woman. She helped me to live out who I really am, and that through it I am loved, and accepted. Lord she really changed me this summer with her amazing heart for You, and I only hope that our friendship will continue to bloom, and blossom for you. Lord this amazing woman has changed my life, and I just really thank you for allowing me to love her, and call her my sister.

Julie, THIS WOMAN IS AMAZING! Father, her heart is so strong for you. I thank you for how she challenged me this summer, and helped me to see where growth was needed, and how it would help me to glorify You in my life. Lord I can not thank you enough for this woman, and how much she taught me! Lord I am truly blessed to have been able to call her my discipler, friend, ann sister. I can not wait till the time where we are reunited, but until then I will just have to continually thank you for the amazing blessing in my life that is Julie!

Lord these women are amazing, and I really can’t thank you enough for them! You really blessed me with them 🙂

 

“We love because He loved us first!” 1 John 4:19

 

A Proverbs 31 Woman

Proverbs 31 is a highly recognized section of scripture. So many have it read on their wedding days, or at funerals even. It is one that is easily recognized by some. I personally never really looked at this passage until this past summer, I never really understood the hype, until now. This section of scripture is simply beautiful, it is a lot of what I hope to be and more. After really reading this, and looking in depth into it I looked into my life to see if I had any women in my life like this. I fortunately am blessed with many women like this, but then I looked deeper to see if there were any that were closer to my age, and by God, I found quite a few. I feel so privileged to have amazing women in my life, but specifically one sticks out to me unlike many others.

This amazing woman is my favorite Ellen Paige 🙂 I was blessed to have her as my amazing accountability partner. I can honestly say I was gravitated to her from day one. She really showed me that she loved me from day one of summer project. Ellen and I both got to live in the amazing J4 apartment together, and grow extremely close, very quickly. Although one thing was different about this relationship from many others that I had on project. Ellen and I had none of the same groups. We weren’t in the same bible study, or life group, or mission team, so it was very obvious that it was totally that Lord working in His amazing ways brought us together.

Now back to the main point of this. Ellen is an amazing women of God, like seriously! She is so enthusiastic about what the Lord is doing in her life, others, and in the world in general. I remember after one day on project Ellen came to me with the biggest smile. She looked at me and grabbed my shoulders, and smiled, and told me, “Brooke I’m so happy we’re going to be together in Heaven.” Now initially this through me off, and I kind of laughed at her. But I look back now and I think of how awesome and true that comment is. Because of Ellen and I’s faith in our heavenly Father, and that His son died on the cross for our sins we do get to be together for forever!

One thing that I can honestly say Ellen exercises in a Proverbs 31 woman is verse 31:25, “Strength, and dignity are her clothing. She laughs at the time to come.” Ellen does an amazing job of constantly looking forward. In being accountability partners we decided to share our life stories with each other, in order to give each other a better idea of how to pray for the other. In hearing Ellen’s story I heard of the pain she had encountered, and how she overcomes it everyday. Ellen is an amazing model of beauty and truth, and I can honestly say that I love, and appreciate her so much more because of her strength.

On our last day together I went to tell Ellen “good bye” and I couldn’t do it. I found myself at a loss for words, because I knew I’d never meet another like her. She showed me that she loved me by praying for me constantly. I was blessed this past summer to truly have the greatest sister, friend, and accountability partner EVER! No one can argue me on that. She is so knowledgeable, and passionate about love, and healing that it’s honestly one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. She is honestly a Proverbs 31 woman.

I know this amazing woman will be an even greater Wife, and mother someday. I can not wait to stand beside her when all of that happens. That days of her and I just running around everywhere, and going to Wal-Mart to buy mozzarella sticks, and other things that we didn’t need were always amazing. I am blessed to have this sister for eternity, and to know that no matter what she is with me, and apart of me. I love you my amazing and precious Melon 🙂

Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.- Proverbs 31:30

Heavenly Father I praise you for giving me Ellen. She is truly an amazing blessing in my life, and without her this past summer would not have been the same. She is truly a woman to be praised, because she praises you with every aspect of her life. Lord she has been an incredible example in my life, and I can’t help but look at her and smile. Lord when I hear her pray to you I know you smile. She is so quick to fall on her face and cry out to you, and in my book that is a noble act. She drops her pride and falls to you, the greatest father she could ever have. I thank you for putting this amazing woman and I together, because she truly changed my life. I pray that in the coming years of her life, that she stays on track with you. I pray she seeks you daily and follows every plan you have set out for her. Lord I pray for her heart, and that it constantly seek after you, and no one else. I can not wait till you bring  the ultimate man into her life, and she is knocked off her feet. Lord I know he’s coming, and i just pray that when he does she once again falls on her face thanking you for him. I can not wait to see this beautiful woman again, and I pray that she always knows that I love her so, very much. I thank you so much for my amazing melon/ ellen paige:) she truly is amazing. I say all these things in your sons name, Amen!

I Wont Give Up :)

“We’ve got a lot to learn, but God knows we’re worth it!”

I can’t explain what it is, but this song has changed my life hardcore in the last few days. The first time I really heard this incredible song was at my friends wedding. It was their wedding song, and I just remember thinking it was so perfect, but at the same time I had never really listened to it. So just a few days ago I downloaded the complete song, and fell in love. I’ve literally had it on repeat since. The song is so beautiful, and I can’t help but just love it so much!

I have found the true beauty in understanding that the Lord created us be loved, but also to love. Loving people can often be one of the hardest things we have to do as not only believers but people in general. I have found that because of my past hurt when people who “loved” me hurt me I forgot how to really allow others to love me. It has done nothing but rip my life apart. I don’t let people in, and I fight them when they want to be in, and apart of my life, and ultimately it does nothing but bad. It causes me to not have close relationships with men, no matter the type of relationship. It could be a completely platonic relationship, and I’ll still fear the relationship. I like to make a lot of these problems up in my head, but I can honestly say that I do this because it makes me feel like I wont get hurt in the end. When really all it does is mess everything up and cause me to make stuff up in my head.

After hearing this song I realized in the full capacity that LOVE IS A CHOICE! Yes God may put someone in my life, but I have to chose to love them or not. We can see all over the scripture where love is demonstrated, but it is only said once where love, and feelings are mixed, but in context that’s not necessarily what it means. Philippians 1:7 says, “It is right for me to FEEL this way about you because I have you in my heart.” This feeling is from already loving the person not from a before stand point. I say this because often I get the wrong idea that the feelings I’m having toward someone are necessarily always from God, but that’s not always true. The Lord puts people in my life, but I have the right to chose whether to love or not. That goes in both the loving way, and friendship way.

I have found the beauty in this choice, and vital it is in our lives. I want to chose love everyday, and in that comes sacrifice, and a sense of dying to self. It is one of those things that is forever on my mind. I want to make my relationships mean something, even if they are only meant to be short lived. The Lord has blessed me with so many opportunities, and I don’t want to waste them.

Jason Mraz did a great job in writing this song. He lays out the truth, and beauty in this wonderful song. “I wont give up on us even if the skies get rough” That line is prime truth. love is not easy, but it’s so worth it.