How deep is Your love?

I took the summer “off” from writing. My reasoning was complicated:

1)  Most days I honestly didn’t have words to articulate the mixed bag of hope/ pain/ joy/ nausea/ excitement/ roller-coaster-y grief that my heart had become as I transitioned from Alaska to Iowa to Colorado to (and through) Asia and back again.

2) Traveling through 18 homes / hotels in 5 countries and 7 states in 2 1/2 months felt exactly like the run-on sentence that this is; it was exhausting. Plus, that much transition didn’t exactly lend to a stable internet connection or quiet writing space.

3) And probably most intentionally, my absence from writing was due to the fact that I had the glorious opportunity to stop analyzing the world around me for a while and simply experience the Lord’s beauty in it first hand.

And experience it to the fullest, I did.

I now know what it’s like to run through knee deep flood waters in a Cambodian city late at night shouting, “We’re on a mission! We’re gonna die…” all while laughing hysterically. Our insane laughter was partially because we were being splashed by motos (barely) passing us with a foot margin and partially because I was nervous about stepping onto a downed power line in the murky water below me and electrocuting myself to death.

That night as lightening crackled in the sky overhead, I ran through the streets of Phnom Penh with my co-leader and one of our 16-year old students. Our student had heard the Lord ask him to donate his guitar and book of worship music to a college-age sister-in-Christ (whom he had met only once) so she could start a worship school in a country where only 1% of the population knows Christ; he was thrilled that the Lord had called him to partner with her endeavor and couldn’t even wait until morning to selflessly give up his prized possession.

We arrived at her apartment sopping wet that night and stood in the rain, throwing pebbles at her window, screaming, “Ravii! Ravii come to the window! It’s the Alaskans! Come down! We have a gift for you!” as though we were in a movie or something. Eventually she emerged from the front door and stood with her jaw dropped as my student presented her with the guitar and sheet music. “God is good,” were the only words she said. I stood back and smiled as she stared at the guitar in her hands, saying those words over and over and over again.

IMG_5909I now know the depth of laughter that can cross language barriers when you’ve been befriended by a tiny first grade Thai girl who has chosen you to color with her on the sidelines of her friends’ game of tag because her club foot doesn’t allow her to run. Conversely, I know how absolutely hopeless it feels to stare into her deep brown eyes and pray for her foot to be miraculously healed, only to see that God clearly has other plans for her. At least, for the time being.

This summer the Lord turned strangers on cross-country flights into new friends. He blessed me with the opportunity to hear their stories of courage and redemption as they’ve escaped realities of war I don’t even want to imagine.

There were nights where I sat silently, holding three different women– all of whom are incredibly dear to my heart– as they cried and grappled with the unexpected death of family members. There simply aren’t words in those situations, no matter how frequently they come your way.

IMG_5880Throughout June I prayed as I stood in the Indian ocean, above the border walls of “closed” countries, in school yards, in markets, and under surging waterfalls. In those moments I heard the Lord speak louder than ever before. But I’ve also been face down on the floor, begging Him to speak and heard nothing but silence in return.

The list of things I saw the Lord do this summer seems infinite. While I wish with everything in me that I could relay those stories to those of you reading this… I simply can’t.

There aren’t enough words in the English language for me to explain just how deep and powerful the Love of Jesus has proven itself to be in my life; there aren’t words to do the glory of the Lord justice.

The best way I can explain these last few months (or really, this last year) is to say that adventuring in the benevolent affection of the Father for any period of time is a lot like what I would imagine scuba diving to the deepest depths of the sea to be. There are things down there that don’t (and won’t) make sense to those who have only ever swam near the shoreline or sat in the ocean in a boat.

In my imagination and this metaphor there are fish with lights hanging off of their faces Finding-Nemo-style and majestic unnamed organisms few people have ever seen. Similarly, in reality, there is spiritual battle and victory in Christ, pain and miraculous healing that does take place (even if I’m not the one to see it), and abundantly more grace than I could ever convey.

I understand that as I write this, my words could come off arrogantly, but please know that is not my heart. I long for you to don your own scuba gear and dive into the deep, dark metaphorical waters and explore them with the Lord so you too can see and experience the things mere words cannot explain. For those types of experiences aren’t likely to happen in our comfort zones where we feel safe or from boats where can see the shore.

The risk associated with following the Lord to unfamiliar, deep, dark places is great– regardless of what that looks like for you. But I dare say the risk of not going, of being lulled into complacency and comfort, or “staying put” because of fear, is much greater. 

Because yes, adventure is out there, but adventure for the sake of itself is not the point.

The ‘point’ can be found only in Jesus’ Love and it is beyond what my heart can comprehend or my brain can explain. All I know is that we begin to discover the depths of Christ’s love when we’re willing to go to the deep places where we feel like our faith may fail.

(In fact, your faith likely will fail. Mine did, more times than I would ever care to admit. Like the night before I boarded the plane to Asia when I dumped everything I owned on the floor of the Yarrow House and bawled, asking God the scariest series of questions I’ve ever asked in my life. Alas, that is a story for another time…)

But our loving Abba-Father? Our Jesus? He will never fail you.

His love only deepens, the further you dive in.

“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of His glory may grant you to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith– that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

(Ephesians 3:14-21)

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Sit and breathe Me in

“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”

(“The Road Not Taken” — Robert Frost)

I read this familiar poem on the side of a coffee cup the other day and couldn’t help but laugh to myself: Nope. That’s definitely not me.

You see, as an English teacher, I think this poem is… how do I say this?  Quaint. I appreciate it for the literary staple and genius it is, but it has never been the way that I handle life. No, I don’t methodically look at my options in life, nor do I opt to take the path less traveled– I take all of the paths possible.

Historically, my approach to life has been to run down every. single. possible. path that is laid before me and not stop running (to and from things) until God gently grabs my arm, pulling me back to His plan. (Or, sometimes if I’m being really stubborn, He constructs a wall for me to slam myself into at full speed, forcing me to stop.)

Hello, my name is Kacy and I readily admit that I am a runner by nature. (This is the spot where you say, “Hi, Kacy…” in the best monotone AA drawl you’ve got.)

As my Alaskan D-day has approached, I’ve sensed that running itch deep in my soul. But in true form to this season, and a promise that I felt the Lord give me back in April, He is doing a new thing in my heart.

He isn’t allowing me to run.

Every time I start to get antsy, God quietly tells me to put away the anxious tendencies of my past and simply be still.

For the record (and in case you’re new here), I don’t sit still well…

I run myself ragged at work and I hike and play volleyball on the weekends and I don’t sleep and then I go back to being awake 19 hours of the day, burning the candle at both ends. But I most certainly do not sit still. (Yes, I confess that I’ve purchased and subsequently drank the “You have to be ‘doing something’ to be valuable” American Kool-Aid. Busyness is an idol in my life, just as it is worshiped by our culture.)

But in this season, my running, Kool-Aid drinking tush has been benched.

Every stinkin’ time I’ve tried to run– be it to new experiences, or from pain and hard conversations, or prayer when I would rather be watching Law & Order SVU on Netflix– I’ve heard some variation of the instruction to sit and wait on the Lord.

For weeks the phrase I heard in my quiet time (as I tried to prematurely box up my life) was “Stay. Be present.” This gave way to God’s best ghetto command in the middle of relational upheaval: “Sit. down. and pray, child.” (I secretly love it when God goes a little bit “ghetto church lady” on me when I get a little too stubborn…)

I sat at ProsperOats (Hashtag: Shameless Denverite plug for my friends’ breakfast bar) ridiculously early one morning this week. As I sat and prayed, trying not to fall asleep in my smoothie, I asked the Lord if He had a new word to accompany the change of seasons I seemed to be teetering on the edge of. “Sit down and pray” just didn’t seem to fit right anymore.

As I meditated (slash napped with my eyes open…), “Sit down and pray” yielded to “Sit and breathe Me in”.

Hmmm… Another sitting commandment… Of. Course.

Lord, I’m so stinkin’ sick of sitting! I whined internally as I pulled out my pencil and jotted down this thought.

I felt a sudden, but hazy urge to study breathing. This led to a super theological Google search of the term “breathe”. Immediately an anatomy book diagram of lungs surrounding a heart popped up as the first search result on my phone. lungsheart

Too tired to think too deeply about anything, I grabbed my pencil and started sketching a pair of lungs. As I outlined and shaded in the sketch in my journal, the words to the All Sons and Daughters song Great Are You Lord started ringing in my ears.

You give life. You are Love. You bring light to the darkness.

You give hope. You restore every heart that is broken.

Great are You, Lord.

It’s Your breath in our lungs, so we pour out our praise, we pour out our praise to You only.

And all the earth will shout Your praise. Our hearts will cry, these bones will sing, Great are You, Lord.

I stared at the diagram on my phone and suddenly felt overwhelmed by realizations about life.

How beautiful is it that we are alive simply because of the breath in our lungs?

I mean, the breath that oxygenates and powers my severely sleep deprived body is a gift from God. That same breath is the breath that we sing out when we praise God– or that we heave out in between deep, broken sobs when we sit crying at His feet when things don’t go the way we think they should.

Our very breath is a gift from God that is meant to show us something about who He is.

And don’t even get me started on the fact that He created our lungs– the lungs that I have taken for granted as a mere organ that keeps me alive– to surround and protect our hearts in the most literal sense.

Are. You. Freaking. Kidding. Me?!

How crazy is that?

How crazy is it that when we are brokenhearted, but use His breath to sing out to Him, that we feel His protection and love in ways we didn’t think were possible?!

I know that’s not a coincidence. No, that is His beautiful creation.

And in the midst of a season where I feel a little bit over exposed and fearful, even a little under protected, it is His breath in my lungs that is protecting my heart in the most literal of senses. And that reminder? That has been all consuming in the best of ways this week.

It is His breath that brings hope, redemption, and allows for new songs to be sung in the midst of changing seasons. It is because of His protection and grace that I can sing out, “Great are You, Lord!” even when I have no idea where I’m walking to or why I can’t run there.

May you experience the goodness of God in the breath in your lungs today. May you see the way that He protects our hearts when we use our lungs and His breath in them to praise Him.

“I waited and waited and waited for God.
    He knelt down to me and listened.
He lifted me out of the ditch,
    pulled me from deep mud.
He stood me up on a solid rock
    to make sure I wouldn’t slip.
He put a new song in my mouth,
    a song of praise to our God.
More and more people are seeing this:
    they enter the mystery,
    abandoning themselves to God.”

(Psalm 40:1-3 MSG)

Hang on loosely

There is no other, so sure and steady, my hope is held in Your hand

When castles crumble and breath is fleeting, upon this rock I will stand

Upon this rock I will stand

Glory, glory, we have no other king but Jesus Lord of all

Raise the anthem, our loudest praises ring, We crown Him Lord of all

The first Sunday in February I stood in my same church, with my same friends, in the same pew that we almost always sit in, and yet something was different.

With my hands raised, singing the song that has become my anthem over the last few months, I opened my eyes to see a small sea of people worshiping in front of me.

Oh no. I think I’m supposed to go… 

As that thought resonated in my foggy, sleep deprived brain, I looked around at the community God has blessed me with. These people. The ones I have “wobbled” with at weddings and hit pinatas with at birthday parties. The people who I have laughed and cried with… mourned disease, death, and brokenness with… These people who know my heart and get me… I mean really get me.

In all my sorrows, Jesus is better – make my heart believe

In all my victories, Jesus is better – make my heart believe

The words swirled around me. How could I leave my people?

Than any comfort, Jesus is better – make my heart believe

But Lord, what about healthcare? What about a salary? I don’t really know much about this job yet… I haven’t even gotten to have an in depth conversation with the director yet… I don’t know…

More than all riches, Jesus is better – make my heart believe

Okay, Abba. I trust You. If we’re going to do this, You’re going to work this out. I have full confidence in that.

Our souls declaring, Jesus is better – make my heart believe Our song eternal, Jesus is better – make my heart believe

Glory, glory, we have no other king But Jesus Lord of all

That was the moment, the moment I knew that I was moving to Alaska.

Yupp. I’ll let that sink in for a bit.

I’ve accepted a position at the Tanalian Leadership Center in Port Alsworth, Alaska for the 2015-2016 school year.

Come September, I’ll be boarding a big plane here in Denver, which will take me to a much smaller plane in Anchorage, which will take me to the remote village of 200ish people that I will be calling home for the next nine months.

What will I be doing, you ask? Great question.

I will essentially be the girls’ house mom, mentor, and teacher at TLC– an intermediary program and boarding school for at-risk, native Alaskan students who have graduated high school, but don’t quite have the skill set to go to college or directly into the work force yet.

For the better part of a year, I’ll live in a village accessible only by bush plane, in house full of teenage girls, teaching them how to be adults who live for Jesus. (Ha! Note to self: Figure out how to be an adult sometime before September.) I’ll be leading exegetical studies of the Bible, teaching leadership and life skills, and helping prepare kids for the SAT/ACT, and ultimately college.

Every time I think about this opportunity that the Lord literally dropped in my lap out of no wheremy adventurous, momma-heart gets insanely giddy.

I’m so excited to embark on this new adventure.

There are new people to love, new stories about the power of Christ yet to be written, and hopefully a ton of four-wheeling, hiking, snowboarding, and fishing to be done.

And as my mind begins to daydream about the beauty of the adventure ahead, I begin to think about all the beautiful relationships and fun adventures that I’ve been blessed to have in Colorado in the last year– a year that I nearly missed out on because of my own stubbornness and plans to move to Texas.

Climbing a 14-er in a freak summer blizzard (in shorts) with my closest friends.

Roadtripping to and from Missouri in 25 hours for delicious BBQ.

Hurtling across a valley on horseback in the cool mountain rain.

Leaping through meadows of mountain wild flowers with my roommates.

Learning to drive a stick shift on a nearly abandoned Nebraskan highway.

Holding my students up as they in turn held candles at their friends’ candle light vigil.

Countless weekends of intense volleyball tournaments at Sloans’ lake.

Cliff jumping blindly from 30 feet into Horsetooth Reservoir.

Laughing wildly as I was blindly lead through a death-trap of an ancient amusement park after losing my glasses on a roller coaster.

(Note to self number two: Reevaluate the safety of my life choices…)

But inevitably, my memories lead me back to reality where my heart sinks a bit and my eyes well up with tears as I realize what I’m about to do.

I am going on a beautiful, life changing adventure with Jesus… But I’m going without my people by my side everyday and that has been a bittersweet pill to swallow. If I dwell on that for too long, in typical “overwhelmed-Kacy-processing-style”, my generally cool, calm, and collected demeanor cracks and before I know it, I’m freaking out a bit.

I mean, I’m moving 2,500 miles away from the life that I have watched God build up for the last several years. I’m moving to a village– a literal village– where the only public establishment is a coffee shop. (Because come on, Jesus knows I wouldn’t survive without a coffee shop…)

But in all seriousness, that coffee shop is IT.

There are airplane runways instead of roads, and ATV’s instead of cars where I’m heading. There are no stores, no libraries, no nothing.

I’ll have to order my groceries to be delivered by plane once a month. And while that is REALLY FREAKING COOL, the thought of navigating an entirely new culture without my people by my side makes me a bit dizzy.

True to the gracious nature of God however, I continue to have one phrase ring in my soul whenever my panic level begins to rise– a phrase that I heard at the very beginning of my journey into missions a few years ago.

You have been blessed to be a blessing.

I have not been blessed with such beautiful, God honoring relationships just to lock them away and hide them (and their fruit) from the rest of the world. No, I have been blessed with and transformed by these beautiful people to in turn learn to hold them loosely and release them to whatever God has next for them; just as they get to learn how to release me to the wilderness for nine months.

It is a unique/ glorious/ stressful opportunity to learn how to hang on loosely– to my precious relationships, to my students and co-teachers during my last few months of this season at the Denver Street School, to my Gospel Community…really to everything here in Denver from my family to my sweet Tiny Dancer and her momma– but I know it is a beautiful blessing none-the-less.

As the note card hanging on my wall reminds me every morning, this life is not my own.

These people are not mine to keep. I have been put on this earth to glorify God, share the Gospel, and to be obedient to His calling… even when that calling takes me 2,500 miles outside of my comfort zone.

Jesus, make my heart believe.

MyLifeIsNotMyOwn

“And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.”

(Luke 9:23-27)

Oh, Isaac…

All Glory Comes From Daring to Begin

This weekend I had the incredible blessing of attending my church’s women’s retreat in Estes Park. For the last two days, I have “lived” in a beautiful cabin in the mountains with some of the most Godly women I know.

Yesterday, after a full day of hiking, relaxing, cooking, worshiping, and talking, we ended our day in a group prayer session in the living room. And as I sat praying on the floor, surrounded by my spiritual sisters, it hit me.

I LOVE my life.

Had you asked me if I was really, truly happy this time last year, the answer likely would have been no. I was licking wounds left by a rough break up, I lacked a support system, and had built my faith on an incredibly shaky foundation. I didn’t have a community of believers around me (Heck, I didn’t really have a community around me at all) and I had just moved back to the city after a year of living in my personal hell on earth– AKA “the suburbs”.

But now, a year later, most everything is different.

God has restored my life in so many miraculous ways that I still can’t comprehend. I have a small, but beautiful studio in the exact neighborhood that I wanted to live. I am working in my “dream job” at the Denver Street School. I have a great group of friends that only God could have brought around me. I have been able to reconcile things with my ex, and while I wouldn’t consider us “friends”, I no longer shake and burst into tears when I run into him around town. I have a church body that has supported me as I walked back into the darkness of my past, celebrated with me when prayers have been answered, and gently corrected me when I began to make dumb decisions. My walk with God is stronger than it has ever been and He has begun to open new doors for me, revealing new parts of His plan for my life.

One of those doors came in the form of a letter this last week: A letter announcing my acceptance into the Linguistics and Cultural Studies Masters Program at the Graduate Institute of Applied Linguistics in Dallas, Texas.

While I’m excited to see what God has in store for my future, it hit me last night that I don’t want to leave Denver. I don’t want to leave my family (biological or otherwise), my community, my friends, my students… my church.

I want to stay here.

I know that I’m being selfish, but honestly, it seems a bit unfair. The fact that I lived through hell for three years, and now that God has fixed everything that I screwed up, now that I’m happy… that I’m being called away? That doesn’t seem right to me.

The thought of leaving literally brings tears to my eyes every time I think about it.

But as I sat in worship this morning, crying pathetically, I felt God impress the story of Abraham, Sarah, and Isaac into my heart.

Abraham and Sarah waited and prayed for over half a century for God to bless them with a child. And when He finally did, God said,

Take you son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” (Genesis 22:2)

In comparison to my three years and my (mostly) self-induced trials, Abraham and Sarah’s plight seems unimaginable.

Having to wait between seventy and eighty years for a child, only to have God say, I want you to step out in faith and sacrifice your child whom you love… I don’t think that I could it.

I don’t know that I would have the strength or faith to say, “Yes, God. I trust what You are doing and because you first blessed me with this child, I will lay him down as a sacrifice, if that is what you want.” But somehow Abraham did trust God, and God honored that by calling out to Abraham at the last minute to say,

‘Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son from me.’ And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in the thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place ‘The Lord will provide’.” (Genesis 22:12-14)

In my head I know that my life is not my own. I know that I was put on this earth to live for God and glorify Him, but that doesn’t make those moments when God asks you to sacrifice what you love any less difficult or scary.

To be completely honest, I haven’t hit the place yet where I am actually excited to “lay down my Isaac” for the Glory of God… Yet I know that I am being asked to lay down my life here in Denver so that I can help spread His Word all around the world to the hurting and hopeless. Don’t get me wrong– I’m excited to be a part of His great plan, I’m just not thrilled that I have to give up the life that I love to go; At least I’m not thrilled yet… God’s clearly not done with me (thank goodness) and it will be interesting to see how He works all of this out in the long run.

Has God been calling you to lay down an “Isaac” in your life lately?

Whoever loves his life, must lose it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also.” (John 12:25-26)

Born to be an angel

grad party 045

Six years ago, I wandered into a youth group service and took a seat in the last row of chairs in a crowded high school gym. The transformation that happened in my life that night– the night I became a Christian– was more powerful than I could ever put into words. But something else changed in my life that night too.

As I sat back and scanned the gym full of rowdy teenagers, some of whom I had gone to school and grown up with, my eyes settled on the bright red hair of the girl sitting in the row in front of me. “Hey!” I said, as I kicked the back of her chair, causing her to turn around and look at me. “I like your hair. It’s pretty crazy, but it’s cool.” The girl’s face lit up and she smiled as she shyly said, “Thanks” and went back to the conversation that she had been having with the girl next to her.

Later that night, as I sat crying on the floor of the gym during worship, pouring my heart out to God for the first time, I felt someone put their arm around me. When I opened my eyes, I saw that the strange red-haired girl was sitting by my side, hugging me and crying out to God too.

At the time I didn’t know it, but that strange, wordless interaction on the floor of the Aurora Christian Academy gym was the beginning of one of the most beautiful friendships I have ever known.

I found out later that night that the red-haired girl had a name– Danielle. Dani for short.

I found out in the days and weeks after that night that Dani and I were incredibly similar, and it wasn’t long until we were nearly inseparable.

Over the next several years, we celebrated the small victories in our new walks with Jesus together… and we cried together when we failed. We held each other accountable in late night conversations and we became more like sisters than friends.

But unfortunately, neither of us were perfect and over time, we began to drift away from God, and each other, and in new directions; none of which were particularly healthy.

Around this time, I began college and subsequently “more exciting” things began to attract my attention. As I pulled away, Dani stopped trying to hold me accountable for my stupidity and it was only a matter of time until she had fallen back into her old habits as well.

As time passed, we became a duo of a different kind– the Pharisaical kind.  We were insistent on tearing the other one down by pointing out all of the sin in the others’ life– all in a concerted effort to make ourselves feel better about the amount of sin and pain in our own lives.

This tit-for-tat pattern wore our friendship raw for months on end. It seemed like I had lost my best friend over night, but we both knew that that wasn’t the truth. We both made poor choices and it took nearly a year of us digging at the others’ soul to come to a place of truce. But even in this treaty, neither of us were ready to give up the horrible messes of lives that we had reconstructed for ourselves. So instead of asking each other the hard questions when we talked at night, we would talk about school and boys, friends and what was on tv.

It was during this period of truce that both of our lives completely dissolved around us and because we were living on a superficial level instead of the sisterly bond that we both knew existed, neither of us were willing to cry “Uncle!” and let the other know how desperately we needed to talk about the tough stuff; how desperately we needed God.

And it was during this period that I got the phone call; my first phone call of 2011; the phone call telling me that Dani had committed suicide.

I could easily write a blog entry today, on her birthday, about the depravity and injustice of suicide, how angry I was at myself for being so petty, and the how much I desperately miss her… and all of those things would be true. But I’m not going to.

Instead, I wanted to write today to let everyone who reads this know that Dani was the most beautiful, loving, gracious soul I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing.

I want you to know that Dani could put a smile on anyone’s face and had no qualms about being incredibly goofy if it meant that she would make you giggle.

I want you to know that Dani had such a tender heart that she shaved her head when she heard that one of our friends had cancer and was losing her hair from radiation treatments.

I want you to know that Dani was fearless and sang in a regional worship competition, even though she knew that people were going to make fun of her behind her back.

I want you to know that Dani radiated the love of Christ in the midst of persecution and humiliation throughout high school, and after.

And I want you to know that while Dani struggled, hard and long with the scars of abuse and addiction, that she loved God and believed whole heartedly in the redemptive power of Jesus Christ.

Today, Dani wouldn’t want us to weep; Instead, she would want us to go out and be a light to the broken of the world, just like she was to me the night that we met on the rubber gym floor of ACA.

So if you’re reading this and struggling, please know that you’re not alone. Reach out to someone; reach out to God.

Humans are fallible– my friendship with Dani proved this– But God will not fail you, not even when you’re broken and at your worst. Not even when everyone else has.

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

~Psalm 73:26

[On your birthday, I honor you Babydoll. Not a day has gone by that you haven’t been on my mind or my heart since you moved away to Heaven. I love you & can’t wait for the day when we get to worship, side-by-side once again. Love, Kace]