Living Alaska: The Final Post

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Hello lovely readers!

I know, I totally neglected my blog after week three. We were so busy that trying to find time to blog was non-existent. Now that I am home and finally starting to get settled in, I thought I would put up one last post to recap the trip and mention some of our last weeks.

Alaska was a truly amazing place. There are so many things that I could tell you I miss about it (especially the weather), but instead of dwelling on what I miss, I thought I would share with you all what I learned. As some of you may know, I had a pretty rough year last year. There was just a lot going on in my life. Going to Alaska allowed me to finally let go of the heartache, hurt, and trials I had been through. I realized that instead of wallowing in my self pity, that I need to let go and let God. For he is the only one who can make me feel complete.

Weeks four and five of the trip were super great and also challenging, but I felt that I saw the most growth in week six. Not only did our group really come together and step things up, but I truly felt changed as a person. One night I sat in my room with three of my closest friends, until four am, sharing my deepest struggles. They really had to pry them out of me, but it was such a relief to share. In that moment I realized how much I love knowing and caring for other people, but I won’t allow others to do that for me. Being vulnerable is the hardest thing for me to do, but God showed me that it’s okay and that it will only bring us closer together.

Along with letting people pry into my life we were granted the wonderful opportunity to pry into other people’s lives at a local soup kitchen. Many of us said it was one of the best experiences we had on the mission. We worked alongside other volunteers, served the homeless, talked to them, and helped in any other way we could. It was such an indescribable experience to hear their stories and what they have been through. My one friend Alyxx said she talked to a man who spent all of his money to go on a trip with his wife to return and find out he was losing his job. They now live in a tent, but they live life as best as they can. These people may have so little, but they have so much power to change lives. They will forever have a special place in my heart.

After volunteering at the soup kitchen we invited our Cru recruits over for a family style cookout. Several of them came and it was a really fun time. We even achieved our goal of finding the five and the thirty to be a part of UAA’s Cru movement in the fall. At first I didn’t think we would be able to do it, but we did! Volunteering and the cookout were two of the wonderful ways to end our mission off on a great note. Staff returned that same night and helped us to debrief and Saturday and Sunday. From Sunday to Tuesday we all said our goodbyes and made our way home. That was probably one of the hardest things I have ever done. I bawled all the way to my gate.

Alaska was one of the best experiences I have had in my 20 years of life and I cannot wait to apply what I learned their in my life and on my own campus. I learned how to walk in the Holy Spirit, be vulnerable, pray better, and reach others. Along with many other things. I’ll never forget the people I met, the memories and friendships I made, what I learned, or how my life was changed. My Alaska summer mission was so beautiful, inspiring, and something I will never forget!  #AKSM15

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Living Alaska: Week 3

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Sunday June 28th

Today we woke up and headed of the church to continue volunteering. I was in a classroom with the babies during the first service, which I loved, and then I was with two year olds for the second service. It was a lot of fun and a little bit stressful the second service. We had a lot of toddlers who were basically free range. After church we grabbed lunch and then gathered all our belongings and packed up for our overnight camping trip. Once the cars were loaded we drove for about two hours until we reached the Kenai Peninsula where it meets the Russian River. We unloaded, set up tents, and got dinner started. During dinner we had an activity where half of the group had roles and the other half had to be servers. It really taught us how we should be towards others and how we should strive to serve others. It was a lot of fun. After dinner some of us suited up and made our way down to the river to do some fishing. I didn’t begin fishing until about 12:30 am. I wasn’t really sure what to expect either. I had imagined nice quiet fishing where you just sit and wait for something to snag your reel. I was wrong. The style of fishing we did was combat fishing. You constantly had to be casting your line and it felt like if you caught a fish that it was pure luck. A few people caught some fish, but I didn’t. I made it until about 4:30 am and then I headed back to our campsite to get some sleep.

Monday June 29th

Regardless of how much sleep we had gotten we promptly awoke at eightish for breakfast. We all gathered around and talked about everyone’s fishing experiences from the night before. A few people went back out to fish some more after breakfast and others of us rested and cleaned up camp. We left our site and hit the road at about noon. We stopped to debrief and also to grab some snacks on the way back, and then most of us fell asleep. When we returned to campus most of us spent the rest of the night relaxing, but my friend Kaila and I, along with our leader, Erin, went to go see the movie Inside Out. It was super adorable and very relatable with how God can work in our lives.

Tuesday June 30th

Today we returned to our normal routine of morning devotions, followed by life group, and volunteering at the Boys and Girls Club. It was so great how the kids greeted us there. They were so excited that we returned. One of the leaders at the Boys and Girls Club really needed our help with a field trip so two of my friends and I said we were up for it. Little did we know that it entailed taking eight students on a scavenger hunt around downtown anchorage by ourselves. It was a little bit stressful, but in the end it was ultimately a lot of fun and satisfying. After volunteering we went back to campus and had group dinner and prayer time followed by fro-yo and hanging out. One of our hangout activities involved Frisbee where I managed to get hit in the face, but it was actually a really funny moment filled with a lot of laughter.

Wednesday July 1st

This morning we did our devotional time at McDonald’s. A few of us were just really craving McDonald’s breakfast. After we returned we went straight into training time and discussed the Holy Spirit and how our lives have changed since we have become Christian’s. After training we went out to campus to evangelize. Today was a little more frustrating than usual. Not many people were around and when we did find people they didn’t seem interested or have much to say. It was a little disheartening, but we persevered and didn’t give up. We returned from evangelizing to have group dinner and a water fight for ne of the staff kid’s birthday. It was so much fun and it was great to see how much joy it brought to everyone. When the party had concluded we went into our reflection time where we spend the night in solitude. Some of us went to a coffee shop to have a change of scenery and it was very relaxing.

Thursday July 2nd

Today we did our devotions as usual and then had some training time. After training we usually go out on campus to evangelize, but campus was closed. Instead we learned about how to evangelize via social media and then we put it into practice. It was really cool and also nerve wracking to evangelize to people in this way. Once we were finished with our media evangelization we split up for men and women’s time. We discussed the passage in Genesis about Rachel, Leah, and Jacob. That passage allowed us to realize that God is worth more than anything. After our discussion time we were served dinner by the guys. They are so great and did a wonderful job with our meal. Once dinner was finished and cleaned up us women decided to watch a movie, paint nails, watch YouTube, and just spend time together. It was a really great time.

Friday July 3rd

It’s hard to believe that today is already July the third. This morning we did our devotions at a coffee shop and then we followed with processing time. It was really great and we discussed how to walk in the power of the Holy Spirit. We had some rest time afterwards and then Life Groups which my friend Kaila and I had the pleasure of leading. We spent the rest of the evening just hanging out, having Thai food for dinner, and then finishing with fro-yo and keeping one another company. It was a relatively chill day and one of the last days with our staff.

Saturday July 4th

Today we started out by going to the Fourth of July parade in the city. It was a little rainy, but we still had fun. Once the parade was over we went to a craft market and looked around. After leaving the city we came back to campus to hangout and have dinner one last time as a full group. It was very bitter sweet. Once dinner was finished and cleaned up, we headed out to Flat Top, where we all gathered on our first night here. It was time for staff turnover. It was quite windy so we gathered on the hillside and we prayed. All of us students huddled together as staff stood behind us with their hands on a few of our shoulders. Staff prayed first and pulled their hands away when they finished. Then us students prayed. When we finished and opened our eyes, staff was no longer there. It was pretty sad, but also cool for all 12 of us students to be gathered together, especially since Jesus had 12 disciples. We then huddled in this cool little tree fort, did some praise and worship, and then headed back to campus to all hangout with one another and play a game. It was a pretty great day.

Living Alaska: Week 2

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Monday June 22nd

I forgot to mention how I finished the day off. We had community night as a group so we went to the park and hung out. After that, several of us students gathered in the boys apartment to just do some praise and worship. It was unorganized, but very meaningful and fun. It was the first time I actually sang without hesitation or anxiety as well. It was such a great and overwhelming feeling of God’s power and grace flowing down on me.

Tuesday June 23rd

Today was quite a full day. We woke up at our usual time and started the morning with small group devotional time. This is our chance to just sit with one another, without talking, and reflect on God’s word. It’s a wonderful way to start the day and is something I can continue to do as I return home. After our devotional time we met in our life groups. This group consists of about six of us and two staff members. We go over a devotional story and another book that we are all collectively reading. It allows us to connect with one another and God. After discussing our book and devotion we all met together and discussed the rest of the days plan. We split up into groups of four and went to local Boys and Girls Clubs. I do love kids, but I was feeling drained today and my heart was not 100 percent in it at first. I realized how hard these kids’ lives were though, so I sucked up my pity and decided to build some relationships with various children. They really seemed to enjoy our presence and said they cannot wait for us to return next week. After volunteering we returned to eat dinner, have a little praise and worship, and then we did corporate prayer. This is where we split up into small groups and went through the ACTS prayer method together. We prayed over scripture, wrote down confessions, praised God, and asked for his mercy and forgiveness. It was very calming and a great way to connect with the Lord. After our prayer time we all split off to do our own things. I had a chance to have really great and meaningful conversation with some close friends that I am making here. That was then followed by an impromptu game of cards with one of the guys and just a fun time of hanging out. After ending cards and settling in for the night a few of the girls and I sat in our living room and engaged in very deep conversation and just opened up. It was a great way for us to let go, receive, and offer advice. This went on until about three AM when we finally decided to call it a night.

Wednesday June 24, 2015

Today started off like usual, with devotion time and reflection. After doing devotions we started with some experiential learning. This is where we go outside and learn hands on. Today we talked about grace and truth and how we should strive for that in our relationships, especially with God. After this activity we moved on to another one that was representative of how we are here trying to reach the lost. Some of us were hidden and represented different character traits of the lost. My trait was curiosity. I was representing someone who is a non-believer, but curious about God. Other people were in charge of finding us and trying to have us come follow them. It was a really cool way to have our mission purpose represented physically. During the activity time we also experienced a minor earthquake. It was about a 5.7 magnitude. I honestly had no idea what was happening. I all of a sudden felt the building structure, of where I was hiding, shake and saw everything swaying. I just thought someone was coming down the stairs, but I was wrong. God used this time to help me feel lost and lonely as I waited for those searching for us. That may sound like a bad thing, but it was God’s way of putting into perspective that there are people out there who are lost and lonely and are waiting for his call. That was cool to feel and experience. After our activity, all of us students had family dinner and then moved into processing time. Processing time is where we have to be in solitude, the rest of the night, reflecting and just being with God. I used my processing time to do devotion, read a spiritual book, and just write a prayer to God. It made me realize how I really need to have more time like this with him in my daily life.

Thursday June 25th

Today we woke up and did our devotionals like usual. Followed by devotionals was on campus evangelism time. My friend Lydia and I paired up to go find people. Campus was pretty dead at first, but around 12:00 we finally found some people who were lining up for a barbeque on campus. This was the prime opportunity for all of us to meet some new people. Lydia and I met two young girls who are studying to be nurses. They were super sweet and loved that we wanted to talk with them. One was a Christian and seemed to be interested in Cru and the other was curious, but didn’t really assign herself to any denomination. It was a great time to just be able to talk and hangout with them. After our evangelism time we debriefed and went over different mechanisms of reaching people. It was a nice time of discussion and a time to map out our goals for the mission. Once our training time was over all of the girls separated from the guys and we had dinner, processing time, and girl’s night basically. It was a lot of fun and it carried on into the morning.

Friday June 26th

Today was a pretty interesting day. It started with a great devotional and sharing time in our small devo groups. We decided to do it at the coffee shop to switch things up. After our devotional time we headed back to campus and some of us shared with one another what we had talked about in our groups. That created a little bit of conflict. It was our first time dealing with conflict on the mission, but we resolved it in an effective and timely manner. After we shared and rested a little bit we gathered into our life groups. These are co-ed small groups used to discuss a book we are reading and devotions. Life groups are a lot of fun. When we finished with life group we had some time to rest and then head out to this local music festival on campus, called Goose Fest. It was a lot of fun where we could all connect as a team as well as meet some new people. When Goose Fest was over we headed back to our apartments and did some bonding over a game called Hot Seat. One person is basically in a hot seat as the other players ask them questions for about three to five minutes. It was a great way for us to get to know one another a little bit better. We played for quite some time, hung out, and then went to bed.

Saturday June 27th

Today our group went on a hike at a place known as Girdwood. It is about an hour from where we are. The cool thing about this hike is that we invited some of the people we had been evangelizing too. Most of them wanted to come along. We spent most of our time there hiking, talking, and making connections. We also got to use this cool little thing, called a hand tram. Two people get inside of it and pull a rope to move it from one side to the other. It stretches over a waterfall. After our hike we visited a bakeshop where we grabbed a few treats before heading back to school. By the time we arrived back on campus we all needed a nap, so that’s what we did. At around seven we all woke back up and had an international dinner. International dinner is where the staff made us foods from different countries and we traveled to their apartments to eat it. It was also a symbol of how many people in the assigned country have heard the gospel. It was a pretty hard truth to hear, but it was cool to learn about other countries and how they need to be reached. After our dinner we all hung out for a little bit and packed up our things for tomorrow nights fishing/camping trip.

Living Alaska (Week 1): Finding Our Way

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Wow! It is so hard to believe that I have now been in Alaska for a whole week. I know I am probably keeping most of you wondering as to what is going on, from lack of news and only posting various pictures. I am going to try to make it a weekly goal to update on my blog from now on.

The beginning of the week started out with everyone flying in and a lot of team bonding. It is crazy how close we got so quickly. Once everyone had arrived we headed to the church we are going to be volunteering at every Sunday, Change Point. After getting to know one another and getting our volunteer opportunity straight we got organized and rented some wonderful backpacks to go on a three day backpacking trip through Denali (McKinley) National Park. The hike proved to me that I am a lot stronger than I think and that God’s beauty is so amazing. I also connected to people a lot faster than I imagined. My two roommates, Lydia and Alex, and I shared a tent and just spent the night laughing until we cried. It was great. As fun as it was we did have a few bumps along the way. Some people had pains, from prior injuries, return and my one friend twisted her ankle. Even though there was pain, an imminent feeling of weakness, and having to use the bathroom in a latrine, we pushed through, completed the hike, and enjoyed our time together in the wilderness. 🙂

After our hike we stopped for dinner in a small town known as Talkeetna, Alaska. According to my sister, and the Internet, the town’s mayor is a cat named Stubbs. It was a really adorable, small, and rustic town. We ate pizza at a very hipster like place called Mile High Pizza Pie and then followed it with some homemade ice cream. It was well deserved. The rest of the night we pretty much all crashed and caught up on sleep. On Saturday we went to the Native Alaskan Heritage Center and learned more about how Alaska became a part of the US, the hardships the indigenous people followed, and how they remain true to their culture today. It was a great learning experience and nice to learn more about the culture surrounding us. After learning about the Alaskan culture we went to experience it head on at the Solstice Festival. We split up into pairs and walked around the city meeting people of Alaska and telling them why we are here and asking what they enjoyed about the area. At first it was a little intimidating, but it ended up being all right. The people were pretty open and supplied a lot of information regarding Anchorage and activities to do. It was a great evening and was followed by some more rest.

The following day, Sunday, we headed to Change Point to volunteer during the first two services. We all ended up working with children and I had the wonderful opportunity of being with the one year olds and no joke their class name was “the walkers.” It was a lot of fun and the children were absolutely adorable. I cannot wait until next Sunday. After church we just rested and hung out with one another.

On Monday, which is when I’m writing this, we had devotional time and then prep for going out and reaching people on the University of Alaska Anchorage campus/ finding people to be a part of the Cru movement on the campus. After prep time we prayed and went out on the campus to find people to talk to. We split up into pairs and were off. I went out with my friend Alyxx. We were pretty nervous and apprehensive at first, but it wasn’t that bad. We talked to about three people before making our last round. I don’t think we were quite prepared for what was to happen next.

We began conversation with this one guy and told him why we were here. He replied with “well I’m not one of your people, but I’ll still talk with you about Anchorage.” Once we sat down we asked him questions about his faith and learned that he was an atheist. It was hard to hear, but we wanted to see his viewpoint. After a few minutes of talking another guy, his friend, walked up. We asked him about his faith background and told us he was a Wicken. I’d never heard about that faith before. It was very hard to talk to these guys and hear them distort the gospel. Alyxx and I walked away feeling defeated and at a loss, but we soon realized that only God has the power to change their hearts. We at least took the step to hear them out and talk with them. Just that simple gesture could be enough to put a light in their lives.

Overall this first week has been really great. It has been incredible to see how God can use us to reach others and how he is already molding, changing, and shaping our lives. I have learned so much about myself and how I need to really find my identity in Christ and not other things or people. This week has been a challenge, but a blessing and I cannot wait to see how the rest of this trip will go.

“He give strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall…”

– Isaiah 40:29-30

A Year in Review

          If most of you knew what time it is you would probably be saying, “Why in the world are you still up?” but, like most college age humans, we seem to think sleep is for the dead. I’m just kidding! The real reason for me being up at this hour, 2:00 am to be exact, is because my mind seems to race a lot at night and some of my best work is done in the late hours. I also know that I’ve neglected my blog a little lately. I apologize to my readers. It’s just been a little crazy, but now that school is out and finals are over I plan to return, so don’t you worry!

With that being said I have also had some time to look back on this past year and how crazy it honestly has been. I wish I could say that it has been great and just what I expected, but like anything, you cannot expect the unexpected. That is one thing this past year has definitely thrown at me, the unexpected. I lost friends I thought I was close with and could trust. My beloved grandmother, and only living grandparent, ended her battle with Alzheimer’s. I had to battle it out with a slight relapse of mental illness along with other crazy events. I let most of these things go unseen and only told those closest to me what was happening in my life. Looking back though, I realize how much stronger of a person I have become and how my life has changed in such a positive way.

Instead of dwelling on all of my problems, and getting down and out, I turned to the Lord. I prayed, forgave, and moved on. Once I finally came to the realization my friend dynamics were not the same I allowed myself to open up to new people and grow closer in more positive and Christ rooted relationships. I found friendships that will most likely last a lifetime and I cannot wait to see how they will continue to grow. Like they say “you have to let go and let God.” By the middle of my second semester I had done an almost complete 360. I had a wonderful spring break in the Dominican Republic doing the Lord’s work, I was accepted to a summer mission in Alaska, and my studies were going great. To this day I am at such a great place in my life. I do still have my moments, but God is so good!!

What I want you all to get out of this is that no matter what you are going through, God has given it to you for a reason. He also will never give you more than you can handle. He is truly amazing and so powerful. That is why I choose to live my life truly for him. I realized that I need to stop worrying so much about what others think, because the only opinion that really matters is the Lord’s. Far too often we try really hard to please others and make them happy while neglecting/forfeiting our own happiness.

This past year I realized, I cannot please everyone. I found ways to turn my negatives into positives and use them to grow not only as a person, but also spiritually. As hard as this past year was, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I cherish my new friendships, I reminisce on the times I had with my grandmother before her passing, and I continue to forgive those who did me wrong. Life is too short to remain unhappy, so I take each day as it comes and with as positive of an outlook as I can. It’s definitely not easy and takes hard work, but with God by my side anything is possible.

Waiting on the Rainbow (Dealing with a loss)

Hello everyone. I just wanted to take the time and put some of my thoughts down. Honestly, this is just a way for me to sort of deal with suffering. So here it goes.

I know I have not written in a while and I have contemplated coming back to it. Writing is something I honestly love to do, and a way I express myself, but some other things stood in the way of my passion. I don’t really care to disclose it at this time. As some of you may know, or have realized, about a week and a day after my last post was published, my grandmother passed away. My family and I weren’t expecting it, or at least not at the time. We figured she might not make it through the winter because of spreading illness, but little did we know that she would be gone before Christmas.

My grandmother’s passing has definitely been hard for me and I’m still trying to figure out how to cope. Her death was probably one of the biggest losses I have ever had in my life and I feel that it’s time I finally open up about it and just show how God worked in my life during such a hard time.

The beginning of my grandmother’s journey home began the day I arrived home for winter break. Other than having Dementia, and occasional bad days, my grandmother was doing okay. The last time I had seen her was for thanksgiving. My family and I went over to her assisted living facility for a nice lunch. This was obviously a God thing, but our thanksgiving lunch with her was more than we could ever ask for. She was bright eyed and cheery and she managed to eat most of her food. All together, it was just a great day for everyone and the best shape my family and I had seen her in, in a good while. I was not expecting what was coming next.

After arriving home and taking my last final of the first semester, I was so tired and all I wanted to do was rest. As I was about to lie down, my mother said she was going to see my grandmother and that I could join her if I wanted too. At first I said, “I would love to, but I just can’t function today.” As I laid down I just had this gut feeling, God speaking to me, telling me I needed to go and see her because time was limited. So I did. I didn’t want to believe this feeling inside and was expecting her to be in the state I left her in.

When my mom and I arrived the nurses warned us that she was in bed and that she hadn’t been eating or wanting to eat. I walked into her room and over to her bed so I could say hello and give her a kiss. I had really missed her. The state I found her in shocked me though. Her body was limp and her eyes glazy. This wasn’t the Ganny[1] I had known or ever seen. I tried to hold back tears as long as I could, but after several minutes, I just couldn’t do it anymore. I fled the room, tears streaming down my face. At this point I knew it wouldn’t be long. I wish I could have denied the inevitable, but that wouldn’t be worth it, because at this point my family and I knew she was dying. God was ready for her to come home. For the next few days I spent just about every minute by her side. I would occasionally leave and grab a bite to eat or go home to sleep at night. Other than that, I was always with her. As hard as it was, I would not have wanted it any other way. I loved just holding her hand and rubbing my fingers through her hair. She still had a great grip. I also would sing to her my own rendition of “You are my Sunshine,” that went like this. “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy when skies are grey. You’ll never know dear, how much I love you. Lord, please take care of my sunshine today.” I changed the last line because I felt like “please don’t take my sunshine away” wasn’t appropriate or selfish. Looking back now, even though she is gone from this earth, she is my sunshine in heaven.

By Wednesday, I was grateful that she was still holding on. But I felt God telling me that Wednesday was the day she would journey home forever. My friends knew this was not easy for me and they pulled me away to grab dinner and to take a break. I honestly was not with the program though and was still feeling so lost and sad inside. After grabbing dinner and taking a breather, I returned to my grandmother’s to be greeted by family, who also came to visit every day. We all talked for a little while in the living area and then I decided to step away to be with my grandmother. I hated the thought of her being alone. As I approached her bedside and to give her a kiss, I realized her breathing was very heavy. This hurt so badly, but I knew God was taking care of her. My mom and I then decided in order to make her feel more comfortable; we should give her a quick sponge bath and a change of clothes. While that may not sound like a lot of fun, it made me feel great inside, just knowing I could help and comfort her. Plus, she took care of me when I was little. After we had gotten her all situated my family, aunts, uncles, cousins and I gathered around her bedside. Her breathing kept picking up and it was not easy to watch. Honestly we all began to sob and I had to step out occasionally. The nurses were supposed to be coming with some medicine though, to help slow her breathing and ease any discomfort she might have. A little while later, my younger cousins and two of my aunts left to head home for the evening. The rest of us gathered around my grandmother’s bedside to serve as a source of comfort. I of course had to be right next to her holding her hand. Even as her breathing slowed, her grip was still strong and she made an effort to try and watch all of us. For a while we sat in silence and sometimes we would just talk to her. As ten o’clock approached though, she took her last breath. I’ve never seen someone die or take their last breathe before, so I initially freaked out a little. I also knew she was gone because that strong grip she had before, was no longer there. I didn’t want to believe that this just happened and I wished that I could just hold her hand forever. As hard as it was, I knew now that she was where she belonged. She would no longer have to battle with Dementia. She was in a place where she could now remember everyone’s name, and where she could finally be with her husband. (I can rest assured that she is in heaven and watching over me because she was a very faithful and wonderful woman who devoted her life to Jesus Christ.)

The next days that followed were not easy. Her funeral was being planned and arrangements were being made. On December 20th, 2014, her 74th birthday, my beloved grandmother was laid to rest. I, thankfully, was blessed with the opportunity to speak at her funeral. I thought I was going to be so nervous and also have a break down, but God and my Ganny, held me together and got me through. God’s presence was so strong and amazing.

Even though it has been two months since her passing, it is still very hard. Sometimes I think she is still here and that I’m going to visit her the next time I am at home, but them I am faced with reality. Most people think when you lose a loved one with an ongoing illness or disease that it’s easier to deal with and get over the loss because you know they are no longer suffering. Honestly, it is not though. Yes, I am so happy for her, her healing, and the experience she now has in heaven, but no matter what, losing someone is still very hard. I spent a lot of time with her, even as her illness progressed. I helped to take care of her and just show my love and support for her. I long for the visits I will no longer get to have with her or just being able to hold her hand. I lost her once before, to the disease, but I could still physically be with her. Losing her this time was losing the last piece of her that I physically had and could hold onto. God really helped me through it all, and honestly for those who don’t have God in their lives, I don’t know how they can make it through a time like that. His presence was so clear and comforting to me. Because of him, I know she didn’t have to suffer and died in peace. Thankfully, I am left with all of the wonderful memories and moments we spent together, from family vacations to her just watching my sister and I. Her heart was filled with God and so much love for everyone. I hope to be at least half the woman she was. I now live my life, and everyday, just trying to make her proud. I miss her so much and will continue too, but I know she is where she belongs, home with her Lord and savior and my Papa. I love you so much Ganny and you are forever on my heart and in my mind. This isn’t a see you later, but an until we meet again.

In Loving Memory of my grandmother, Joyce K. Baughan

[1] The nickname my cousins and I gave my grandmother, and called her, ever since we were kids.

Share Your Love

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With Christmas fast approaching I have been doing a lot of thinking and most of that thinking has been centered on my grandmother, the only living grandparent I have left. Why? You may ask. Well, for those of you who do not know, I have a grandmother who suffers from Dementia. The disease began to takeover her around my sophomore year of high school and has progressed greatly up until now. She is at the point where she can’t walk or speak much, but occasionally she’ll mention someone’s name or say something that makes sense. It definitely has not been easy watching this happen to her and at the beginning I spent a lot of time crying over it, but as it has progressed I have come to terms with the illness.

The Christmas season can make it especially hard. As a child my family and I would spend many Christmas mornings with her, as she would come to see what gifts Santa had brought my sister and me. Then, on Christmas night, my whole mother’s side of the family would gather at her house to have dinner and open presents. It was always a lot of fun and many memories were created. As Dementia slowly took my grandmother, Christmas changed. She no longer lived in her house and having her come over for Christmas breakfast just became too hard and too dangerous. Now, it has gotten to the point where she can’t come out at all and she doesn’t even know what day it is or that it’s even special. My family and I are trying to create new memories though by visiting her on the special days and making the most of them. It definitely has not been easy, but we do not know how much time we may have left with her.

I am not sharing this story to make anyone feel sympathetic for me, but I am sharing it in order for others to realize how much family should mean to them, especially at Christmas. Some of you may be in the same boat as I am, and I feel for you, and others, your grandparents may be perfectly well. I just ask that no matter what, you hug and love on your loved ones as much as you can this Christmas season and everyday, for we are not guaranteed another second in this world. I have been surrounded by a lot of loss lately and it just makes me so much more grateful for my family and the time I have to spend with them. So this Christmas season try to mend broken relationships and just give as much love as you can to those close to you.

XOXO, Sarah

In honor of Joyce Baughan (my grandmother) and in loving memory of Dr. Bill Bosher (a great man and friend).