Live Love Learn

walking away

Hi There,

I have been getting a lot of questions regarding my recent relationship. Rightfully so, you would want to know what happened considering we shared our “fairytale” story with you. Rafael’s one request when sharing this story is that I be honest and share the reason as to why I ended the relationship. Before I get into that, let me give you a little backstory.

When we were in college we saw the world through a similar lense. We were both considered Christian leaders. I related to his conversion experience, as he was considered older when he became a Christian and he had a desire to live out the Gospel message more then he did analyze the details of the Bible. When we met in college I was drawn to his love for all people and his Christ-like attitude to live out the Gospel. When we reconnected eight years later, I was coming into our coffee date with the mentality that he was still that same man.

I had heard through the grapevine that he had “fallen away” from his faith, but I didn’t really know what that meant and wanted to find out for myself. I knew that I had my share of doubts and questions in my faith along the way and could relate to him. I made an assumption that part of our “fairytale” was that we would bring each other closer to God.   From the first time we met up and I asked him about his beliefs, he was honest about not being sure what he believed, but I was certain after all was said and done we would both be stronger in our faith.

As time went on, it became more evident that he did not want to grow in his faith in the way that I desired to grow. I finally addressed the issue and discovered that we have two very different belief systems. He was pretty set in his beliefs as was I. We were headed in two different directions. Once that was settled, I knew that not only for me, but for Ellie, I could not move forward in this relationship. I appreciate people with different views. I want to grow and learn, but, for me, when it comes to a marriage, having the same world view is extremely important. It shapes how you understand the actions of your spouse and what you teach your children.

I think Rafael is an outstanding guy. He brought so much happiness, love, and laughter into our family during a really difficult time. He was so good to Ellie and loves her so very much. I will never forget this season in my life and all of the love and the lessons it’s taught me. I wish him the very best in life!

In regards to the next season in my life, I’ve been waiting for a time of being single for a very long time. Before Andrew and after Andrew I’ve been excited to take time to get clear on what the next steps are for my journey. I’m looking forward to learning more about who I am, who I want to become, and where I’m headed. I have this habit of not making decisions and then when I get into a relationship I tend to morph into whatever I think the other person wants me to be. I want to know where I’m headed and so if someone comes into my life again I don’t make the same mistakes I’ve made before.

I’m turning the big Three Zero next month and I’ m feeling a mix of feelings part sadness (because it’s been a tough couple of years and I miss sharing my birthday with my husband) and feeling a sense of excitement and adventure. I’m so grateful for all the love I have in my life and for my beautiful daughter that inspires me daily to be the best I can be, so that I can inspire her to do the same. Hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving. Thank you for following my journey. Blessings.

Food to my Soul

Fotolanthropy event

(That’s me hugging the incredible photographer Taylor Lord (who took our family photos) at the Fotolanthropy event.)

Hi There!

It’s been a little while since my last post, but there is a lot to catch you up on.  First off, this past Tuesday I was invited to be honored at a Fotolanthropy event of the screening of Travis: A Solider’s StoryFotolanthropy is a non-profit organization that chooses inspiring families’ stories and creates a photo album and documentary for the family to keep.  They created this amazing documentary for my family (along with the incredibly talented photographer Taylor Lord and the amazing videographer Claire Huntsberger) . Check it out at www.fotolanthropy.com/agrayfaith/

The event was held at The Majestic Theater in Dallas, TX. I got to stand on the stage with other families that have inspiring stories that have been documented by Fotolanthropy.  This event couldn’t have come at a better time as I’m going through a sad breakup.  I had no idea what this night would do for my soul!

The event was on Veteran’s Day and the man being honored was a Veteran and a quadruple amputee.  His name is SGT. Travis Mills (check out Travisthemovie.com).   Travis was married and had just become the dad of a beautiful little girl when, after dropping his backpack on a land mine received severe damage to both of his arms and legs. After serious medication, surgeries, and coming to the realization that he had lost parts of his legs and arms, he came to the conclusion that his family needed him and he wasn’t going to let this challenge define him.

I watched as the video took us through Travis’ time in physical therapy.  He talked about how his physical therapist told him that she would work as hard as he would and she wasn’t there to babysit him. He took her words to heart and instead of working out for his daily 1-hour time slot, he worked out for 4 hours a day.  We all watched as he learned how to sit up, walk with his new prosthetic legs, and learned how to use his prosthetic arm all while laughing, cracking jokes, singing, and dancing.

There were images of his daughter lying on his chest looking up at him, not knowing there was anything different about her dad, just content that she had him there with her! This brought up a lot of emotion for me, because even though the circumstances are way different than mine, Ellie was about the age of Travis’ daughter when Andrew got sick, and she was often laying on a hospital bed with him. Mostly it made me sad because the one thing Ellie wants is her dad and I can’t give her that. I could have cried for days, but instead I cried a little and allowed my heart to be inspired and encouraged by this man’s will to not just live, but to live life to the fullest.

The film showed him joyfully doing household duties. You could tell he loved his family so much and that was one of the motivations for him to keep going. At the end of the video, he told us to Never, Never, Never Give Up. I thought that was such a relevant message to all of us in that room, because whether it’s cancer, another illness, losing someone you love, or taking care of a sick child, what we all had in common was that we aren’t giving up. We will keep going for ourselves, for our loved ones.  I was so blessed by this video and it was just the reminder I needed to keep going, keep trusting God’s plan, and keep being of service to others.

Also, on my “what’s new” list this weekend I am starting a 7-month coaching certification program through The Institute of Professional Excellence in Coaching (IPEC). I chose this company as opposed to others because it came highly recommended by my life coach and I connect with IPEC’s style of coaching. I’m always looking to sharpen my skills as a coach and to learn how to better serve my clients.   I’m also excited to share that since launching my life coaching business, I’m finding so much joy and fulfillment through connecting, coaching and inspiring other people going through various transitions in their lives.

I’m looking forward to this new chapter! I’m ready for the time and space to continue the grieving process of the loss of my husband, to truly connect with myself and what I want and where I’m headed, to grow in my skills as a life coach, to learn how to provide for my family through pursuing a career I’m incredibly passionate about and to be in a place to fully trust God to take care of us.  It is when we stretch and challenge ourselves that we see the most confidence and growth in our lives. Thank you for being on this journey with me! It’s easier to go through the ups and downs when I have your love and support. Blessings.

What Might Have Been

AndyandBayweddingday

Today would have been seven years that Andrew and I would have been married. Sometimes I like to think about what our relationship would have looked like had he survived cancer for a second time. I truly believe those would have begun the best years of our marriage. If you’ve read Andrew’s book, A Gray Faith, or some of my earlier posts, it will come as no surprise that we had a rough start to our marriage. The odds were not in our favor.

I was young, insecure, and felt totally out of my element as a wife and as an adult. Andrew was still trying to find his path and wrestled with doubt and questions about his faith (which was a big deal because he had recently graduated from seminary and was looking to serve in the ministry). The combination was pretty turbulent. Add in some depression on both sides and a lot of sleeping on the couch and you’ve got two pretty unhappy people. Part of the reason I believe our relationship struggled was because our personalities were polar opposites. I think it’s what initially drew us together, but it’s also what drove the other one crazy. Many times our communication toward each other was lost in translation. It didn’t help that we were raised in a completely opposite way when it came to money. We felt like we were from two different planets, which made it nearly impossible to understand where the other person was coming from.

After Andrew passed away one of my initial coping mechanisms was to focus on all the reasons we were wrong for each other in the relationship. How frustrated we made each other feel and how we always wished the other person would change. Needless to say, my initial reactions to his death were denial and anger. It somehow made me feel temporary relief to focus on the negatives or the hard parts of our relationship. I guess I convinced myself it would make me miss him less. Well, that worked for about a year, but now all I feel in my heart for Andrew is love. I feel a profound appreciation for his caring heart and deep soul, and all of the other reasons I was drawn to him in the first place. As I’ve shifted my thoughts toward love and gratitude for Andrew I’m finding that, yes, it does make me miss him more, but in feeling the pain of missing him I am on the path towards healing and acceptance of our loss.

I imagine had he lived, he would have found his true calling. I envision us at Oxford University (one of his dreams), Andrew pursuing further education, writing fiction novels, and speaking all over the world. I’m pretty sure I would be on the same path as I am now (coaching, writing, and speaking) and that Ellie would just be happy to be with her mommy and daddy. I think the cancer would have been a wake-up call for both of us to not waste another day just merely surviving, but living each day with purpose, meaning, and impact. I think our love would have grown closer knowing that we had come through one of life’s greatest challenges and that we stayed by each other’s side.

Since that dream will not become a reality, I will continue to live my life with purpose, meaning, and impact regardless of the naysayers and negativity of others. Because my heart is filled with the inspiration and the love of a man who changed my life by being true to who he was. A man who always sought truth regardless of what anyone else told him. He was brave and his bravery changed my life. I will thrive because of his love. Blessings.

prayerwithrooonweddingday

 

Sweet Moments

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Last night I had the sweetest moment with Ellie. I was telling her a story as she lay in her bed. After the story, I hugged and kissed her goodnight. As I was getting up to leave she said, “Mom, can I pretend Daddy is here with me?” My heart just broke. I told her that he was here with her and he was always in her heart. “I miss him,” she told me. “I wish he could come back.” For the first time, I cried in front of Ellie. I just put my head on her bed and let go. Tears started streaming down my face. She wrapped her little arms around me and just hugged me as she wiped the tears falling down my cheek. She looked into my watery eyes and asked me, “Why won’t God let Daddy come back?”

Through sobs I told her it didn’t work that way. She replied, “ I know Mommy, if Daddy comes back he may be sick again.” I said, “That’s right, baby, and we don’t want him to be sick do we? It’s better that he’s in Heaven and not sick.” She agreed. Then she grabbed her Bear Bear (stuffed animal) and wrapped his arms around my body to give me a great big hug. I smiled through the tears. She then pointed to a picture of Andrew and asked me, “Mom, is that what my Daddy looked like?” Still crying I nodded my head and said, “Yes, baby, that is what your Daddy looked like.”

She watched me as I sobbed and then started making funny faces at me so that I would laugh and stop crying. It worked. I was able to laugh at her sweet attempts to soothe my broken heart. Before I left her room, I told her that it was ok to cry and that sometimes you just need to cry. She then asked me, “Mommy, are you going to finish my book tomorrow?” I said, “Baby, I’m going to work hard to finish the book your Daddy made you (The Ellie Project, coming out May 2015) and then you can share it with the world.” She said, “Thanks, Mommy.” I then gave her a big hug and kiss and said, “I love you, baby. Sweet dreams.”

This moment was so raw, vulnerable, and beautiful. To watch my little girl comfort and love on me when I was hurting for her and for us was priceless. She has the most empathetic heart and it made me so proud to see her caring heart in that moment. I realized that although she’s experienced so much pain at such a young age, God has preserved her tender heart through it all.

I’m so grateful for sweet moments like these with Ellie, because they ground me and they remind me of what is truly important in life: The fact that everything else around me could not be working out, yet I have this beautiful little life that inspires me, keeps me going, and fills my heart with so much love. These moments are timeless and fill me with strength to keep moving forward. Onwards and Upwards.

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Best Investments I’ve Ever Made

me, mom and dad

I’ve admitted to you in recent posts that right out of college I had no concept of money. No concept of how to save it, spend it, make it, or even the value of it. This makes for a rough start to marriage. Luckily for me, my husband had a better grasp on how to handle money. We were both teachers at the time and quickly realized we were draining our savings account each month. Andrew went to my parents (who know a thing or two about how to make money) and asked for advice. They gave him a list of books to read. Two of those books were Rich Dad Poor Dad and Cashflow Quadrant, both by Robert Kiyosaki. The books were life-changing for Andrew and he quickly continued devouring more books in this genre.

Linda and Jim McKissack (my parents) started out as individual real estate agents, then built their own team, and then began owning Keller Williams offices. My mom is now in charge of opening offices in her own assigned region of the country by Keller Williams. My dad has over 100 rental properties and continues to hold and flip houses. They are also #1 in Keller Williams for profit sharing. If you can’t tell, I’m a pretty proud daughter.

I’ve always known them as Mom and Dad, but Andrew saw them as brilliant business minds and realized early on that he wanted to learn as much as he could from them. Andrew and I started going with my dad on the weekends to look at foreclosed properties. We then started going to the monthly foreclosure sale with my dad to learn and observe the process. After months of learning and building a relationship with a bank, we bought our first foreclosed property with the hopes to flip it. The experience turned out to be a nightmare because there was a lawsuit going on between the bank who mortgaged our new property and the “home owners,” and so now we too were stuck in a lawsuit. I wasn’t sure we would recover from this financial set back. People told us this was a sign for us to stop investing, but instead we thought it would make a great story for not giving up. It took a couple of years to bounce back from that first experience, but we finally did. When Andrew decided to be a youth pastor in Dallas, we moved to Dallas and we turned our first home in Denton into our first rental property. A year later we bought another house and turned it into our second rental property. A year after that, Andrew decided to make a career change and we moved to Cuero, TX. We put our Dallas home up for lease and it became our third rental property.

While Andrew was sick, we saved our money and poured it all into paying down the mortgages on our rental properties. By the time Andrew passed away, we had two houses paid off. This may not seem like a big deal, but to me it was everything. The passive income generated from those two properties gave me the freedom to take a year to heal, get my affairs in order, adjust to being a single mom, and get some therapy, instead of having to worry about finding a new job immediately after everything we’d just been through. The passive income now gives me the freedom to write, to speak, and to coach. It allows me to create the life of my dreams.

Many of us think we can’t invest in real estate because we don’t have the money, the right connections, or the time. There are a million and one excuses we can make for not taking action, but if I can do it, so can you. With that being said, I want to create an opportunity for us to learn more about investing in real estate. My parents are the authors of the New York Times best-selling book, HOLD, and they are going to join me on a free group conference call to share their experience with us on how to buy and hold real estate. If you are interested in jumping on the call please shoot me an email at baileyheard@gmail.com or leave a comment below. I will send you all more details once I get the date and time nailed down.

I’m excited to share more about my investing experience with you and for us to learn more from the pros. Blessings.

Called to Coach

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Have you ever had a common thread in your life that seemed to connect you to almost every success (by success I mean achievement) you’ve experienced? For me, the common thread’s been having a coach or a mentor. When I was winning medals in competitive gymnastics I had great coaches and when I won the Fellowship of Christian Cheerleader’s individual cheerleading competition I had a great coach. When I was successful in a certain class it’s because I hired a tutor. When I was feeling most connected to God I was being mentored through books and devotionals by Beth Moore. I could go on and on. I didn’t actually see this thread until I graduated college and realized that for the first time in my life, if I wanted a coach, I was going to have to pay for one. I don’t think at this point I realized how much having a coach pushed me and motivated me.

Straight out of college I had a serious quarter life crisis and felt so inadequate to be considered an adult. I didn’t know the first thing about cooking, cleaning, working, or any of the skills I thought were necessary to being a successful adult. I was completely overwhelmed and discouraged. So I went out looking for a book on what was wrong with me and to see if anyone else felt the way I did. At the time, it seemed like some of my other friends were coming into their own after college. For me, I thought that my best years were possibly behind me. I was floundering. Then, I came across a book called Twenty-Something, Twenty-Everything by Christine Hassler. I devoured the book and read her second book Twenty Something Manifesto. I thought this author was the only person who could truly understand how I was feeling so after finding out she was a life coach, I eventually reached out to her and asked her to coach me. That was four years ago and ever since that life-changing experience, I realized that not only did I find a great coach, but quite possibly my calling in life.

Over the past four years, I’ve been taking courses such as Mentor Masterclass by Jeannine Yoder (a year long mentorship which prepares you to be a life coach), getting coaching experience, and being coached. Little did I know that all of my training would benefit me in going through one of the most difficult seasons of my life. I truly believe that everything happens for a reason, and although I can’t make sense of Andrew’s death, I realize that all of my training and personal experience has built up to this moment where I am ready to coach and share my experience with others. This is my intention as a coach: to help people not just get through the difficult seasons in life but to also help them discover their unique purpose on this earth.

I’ve received feedback from people wanting to know how they can work more closely with me, so this is what I’ve come up with: You all are the first to know that I am offering a 9-session (45 minutes per session) package for $1000.00. This includes 6 over-the-phone coaching sessions. If you are interested, but not 100% sure if it’s for you, I will do a free 15-minute session over the phone to help give you an idea of what coaching with me looks like. 10% of the $1000.00 goes toward the charitable program Stand Up to Cancer (http://www.standup2cancer.org/) If you know of anyone who might benefit from my services, please pass this information along.

I’m excited about using the tools and experiences in my life to help inspire hope and make a difference in the lives of others, the way my coach has done for me. In life, there is no manual on exactly what to do, so it makes sense to me to call upon the support of a coach to help you navigate through the ups and downs of life. Knowing we are in this together and having someone to share with and encourage us through the good and the bad can be one of life’s greatest rewards. My mission is to help other’s who are going through difficult times and to inspire and encourage them to discover their unique purpose in life.  If this connects with you or someone you know please feel free to shoot me an email at baileyheard@gmail.com Looking forward to connecting with you soon! Blessings.

That’s My Kind of Barre

PB

(My friend Lindsay and her adorable son Rise modeling his Pure Barre t-shirt)

If you know me well, then you know I have no interest in the bar scene. This is fairly shocking considering my upbringing. As the daughter of a nightclub owner, I spent a lot of Saturday morning’s, during my early childhood, at my dad’s night club (The Texas Star) playing dress up and singing on the stage. I loved making him turn on the smoke machine for a more dramatic effect, and I loved mixing the one drink I was allowed to drink—a Shirley Temple. I even had my 6th grade birthday party at The Texas Star, which some kid’s parents wouldn’t let them attend, understandably. I, nonetheless, thought it was pretty cool. I guess I got it all out of my system really early on because now going to a bar is the last place I want to be on any given night (no offense if that’s your thing).

I did however find a bar, or should I say “barre” that I enjoy. It’s called Pure Barre. After Andrew passed away, my dear friend Lindsay (that is her in the picture with her adorable son wearing a pure barre shirt—obviously she’s been drinking the Kool Aid, too) introduced me to this new workout class called Pure Barre. It took me awhile to grasp the techniques, but once I caught on, I was hooked. Thank you to some special people (you know who you are) for blessing me with free and discounted classes since then.

I’ve always been extremely active, I was a competitive gymnast, competitive cheerleader, college cheerleader and distance runner growing up. But after I got married, I gave myself a break. And boy did I feel the repercussions of that decision. My energy plummeted, I gained the freshman-15 that I never gained in college, all of which probably didn’t help the depression I was experiencing at the time. Really, not until Andrew got sick did I start getting serious again about exercise. I would do my Tracy Anderson DVD’s (Hollywood trainer) at the house, and I started watching what I was putting in my mouth. It was extremely hard work, day in and day out (mostly because I was so out of shape), but slowly it began to pay off. When Andrew got sick, I was just so grateful for the opportunity to exercise because I knew that’s what Andrew wished he could be doing; that perspective completely changed my attitude about eating healthy and exercising.

The home DVD’s got me on the right track, so when I was introduced to Pure Barre, I was in a good mental place to keep the exercise going. I loved that after working out I wasn’t so hungry like I would have been after a boot camp or after running. Because of that, I was able to make healthier eating choices. I started eating My Fit Foods meals (a store that makes ready-to-eat, high-protein, healthy meals) to help teach me about portion control. Quickly, I started seeing positive results. I heard Pure Barre was supposed to help create more of a dancer’s body (long and lean), but I wasn’t sure if that was a possibility at first because I am short and because of the muscle structure I developed as a gymnast. But, contrary to my predisposition, I was able to create more of the long and lean look than I ever imagined possible.

Pure Barre has also been a way for me to have me time, to focus on my health, and to build my confidence—resulting in more confidence. That confidence has had a domino effect that has truly affected other areas of my life. I feel blessed to have found an exercise routine that I truly enjoy going to and that yields a great return, especially because I remember the dread of going to the gym to lift and run on the treadmill and the eventual boredom I experienced from years of pounding the pavement.

If you are wanting to shake things up a bit and try something new, I highly recommend giving Pure Barre a try. It might not be everyone’s thing, but I can say that my experience has been transformative. I would love to hear from you about what workouts you are loving and that are working for you! If you’re ever in the area, you should join me for a Purre Barre class! Love and Blessings.

Get Up and Get Going!

Churchill

(Andrew picked this quote out of many different quotes and kept this band around his wrist while he was battling cancer.)

Hi There!

I’m not going to lie; I’ve had a difficult time trying to write lately (hence, I haven’t written in over a month). This is my first rodeo with writer’s block. It seems that since the one-year mark of Andrew’s passing (July 26), the reality of my new life has begun to set in. I realized I’ve been running off adrenaline and shock the past year and now the dust is settling and I’m feeling a little down.

This past year, I felt so much purpose and focus on sharing about how Andrew’s courage and faith inspired my life. I’ve spent so much time telling people about A Gray Faith and the message that Andrew wanted to share with the world. All the while, dealing with being the executor of Andrew’s estate, medical bills, getting adjusted to living back in Dallas and being a single mom, my own counseling, and dating Rafael. Needless to say, I was in a little over my head. But, at the end of the day, I knew I wanted and needed to keep moving forward.

But even though I often get excited about new projects, often times I become completely paralyzed by fear when I realize the project will not be perfect by the time I launch. This pattern is one that I find myself in often and one that I think a lot of twenty-somethings can relate to. We have these great ideas and dreams, but when it comes to the grind and the details, fear grabs hold of us and we overanalyze and undervalue what we have to bring to the table. For example, over the past year sometimes when I would tell my story I was completely disconnected with the fact that I lost a husband and Ellie lost a dad. Then I would hear someone else’s story that was similar to mine and I would cry for them and my heart would just break. Here lately, though, for the first time I’m able to connect to my story and feel pain and realize that I went through something difficult and I have experiences that I can use to help others. Even then, I still catch myself thinking “what do I have to say that’s important enough to help someone else.”

I recently told my life coach that I was a little depressed that I was turning 30 in December and had nothing to show for it. She reminded me of the fact that my value doesn’t come from what I do, but in who I am. It was a good reminder because all to often I base my success on what I’ve have or haven’t accomplished career-wise and forget to think about all the experiences that have strengthened and sharpened me into who I am today. Don’t get me wrong, I never want to let go of my career dreams and goals, but I never want to lose sight of where my value comes from.

So, if you are like me and struggling to start something that you know you want to do but you don’t know if you have the self confidence to do it, the best and most difficult advice I can give you is to acknowledge your fears, put your analysis-by-paralysis aside and take action. This blog was mostly written to remind myself to keep going and hoping that you all will help hold me accountable to taking more action in my life and being of service to the world. Love and Blessings!

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” – Churchill

Use Your Noggin

laughing in the sun

(engagement photo 2007)

On July 26, 2014, it will be one year since Andrew passed away.  It feels like it’s taken me the past year just to wrap my mind around what happened.  He fought hard for ten, long months. At the time, ten months felt like several years, but now, looking back, it seems like a whirlwind.

Lately, I have been having the most vivid dreams about being with Andrew when he died. I’m a naturally empathetic person, but lately my empathy has been through the roof. I’ve been so sensitive and fragile, lately.  One of the things that broke my heart this past week was when Ellie saw a guy on a bicycle as I was driving her to school. When she saw the man, she got so excited, but within seconds she let out a sigh and said, “Oh, I thought that was daddy.” She then said, “I wish Daddy could come down so he could see Dallas.” She assured me he would really like Dallas.  It’s moments like these that remind me of the seriousness of our loss. A little girl lost her daddy and I lost my husband.

Even though I’m experiencing more sadness these days, there are still so many moments of hope and pure joy. Andrew’s attitude about life and his example of how to truly live in the middle of dying shapes the way I view everything. In a way, he saved me from living a life filled with fear. I saw how he approached his fear of death; he accepted death by fully soaking up the moments he had and using those moments to give back to others and to leave a legacy of love. Knowing now that our days are numbered and that life is quite possibly shorter than we think, I feel more inclined now than ever to live my life with purpose.

This next week, in honor of Andrew’s life, I want to share stories about him that have challenged me, made me laugh and inspired me.  My hope is that they do all those same things for you.

One way Andrew challenged me was through encouraging me to use my brain.  I’ve always been extremely trusting of what others had to say and never saw a reason to question things.  Andrew, on the other hand, questioned everything. At the time, it drove me completely crazy. But now, I am so grateful he taught me to have awareness, to not just believe what others say, but to question and test it for myself.  The first place this really came up for me was in church. Up until I met Andrew, I pretty much took whatever the pastor said as truth.  Andrew, on the other hand, would listen, dissect and test the sermons.  We had many long discussions after church about why a given statement contradicted another, and we would usually end those conversations without any answers. But getting answers wasn’t the point; the point was that we didn’t want to be ignorant and to accept without thinking was ignorance in our book.

As time went on and we had hundreds of these conversations, I started to see life from a different perspective. I started to value having my own personal opinions based on things I had thought through. Andrew’s mind and his ability to process a lot of information quickly was one of the gifts that made him so intriguing. I valued his opinion because I knew he truly thought through everything. I still have a tendency to be lazy intellectually, mostly because the vast amount of information is often overwhelming. And to be honest, I’m not always that interested in the subject matter. But, to this day, I try and remember what Andrew taught me about valuing my own opinions by thinking through the words of others. In a way, this process made me more open minded and allowed me to see other points of view. It has also enabled me to connect with more people.

As much as all of Andrew’s thinking took me on one heck-of-a roller coaster ride, I will remain forever grateful for what he taught me: the principal of learning to think for myself and how to value my well, thought-through opinions. I hope that you will be challenged and encouraged, as I was through my time with Andrew, to think for yourself and value your own personal and wonderful thoughts, Much Love!

 

 

 

 

Here Comes The Bride

Here comes the bride photo

On October 20, 2007, I was married in the chapel at Denton Bible Church (the church I grew up in). It was a beautiful day and a beautiful wedding.  We were surrounded by so much love.  The years flew by and like many marriages, ours was filled with ups and downs. To this day, I would say that nothing has challenged me and stretched me more than marriage, with the exception of being a mother.

Three years into my marriage we found out we were having a baby. A few months into my pregnancy we got an invitation to a wedding from a dear friend I cheered with in college. The Houston wedding was close to Andrew’s family in South Texas so we thought we’d make a weekend out of it by going to the wedding and then spending some time with Andrew’s parents since we didn’t get to see them much. It did cross my mind that Rafael might be at the wedding, because I knew that he was law school roommates with the groom.  Andrew did not love going to weddings, but I convinced him to go by telling him that we would leave early to head to see his family, which was still a good two-hour drive from the wedding.

After the wedding was over, I went to the foyer where many of my old squad members were standing. We were hugging and catching up when all of the sudden I saw Rafael walking towards us. I darted to the bathroom to try and avoid what I thought would be an awkward situation.  After standing in the bathroom for a few minutes, I realized I had to come out at some point, and when I did, Rafael was standing there talking to Andrew. I said a quick hello and to this day I can remember the look in Rafael’s eyes. It was a look of admiration, but also sadness at the same time.  They wrapped up their conversation and I grabbed Andrew’s hand and we headed towards the car.

A year later I was eating dinner with a dear friend from college. She would always fill me in on how everyone from the spirit squad’s were doing. I was shocked when she mentioned that Rafael’s brother passed away in a freak accident.  She told me about how she believed the experience had changed his life and caused him doubt in his faith. When I heard about Rafael doubting his faith, my heart sunk. I was heartbroken for him because of the loss of his brother and for the loss of his faith. For some reason, I felt that if anyone could talk to Rafael about his faith it was me.  Back in college we talked a lot about our faith, had similar conversion experiences, and had a passion to love people like Christ loved people.

The evening I found out about Rafael’s loss, I asked Andrew if I could try and find Rafael on Facebook and send him a message. I asked Andrew if I could tell him we were sorry for his loss and that we could understand struggling with one’s faith. I also wanted to tell him that we were there for him.  Andrew agreed and I sent Rafael a message. I felt that if anyone could relate to Rafael’s faith struggle it was Andrew because although he was a man of faith he had seasons of doubt and tons of questions that weighed on him.  Maybe it was the fact that Rafael’s brother had died a year earlier and he hadn’t heard from us then, maybe it was that he still had feelings for me—I don’t know.  What I do know is that Rafael’s response had a cold feeling to it, though I could tell it meant something to him that we reached out.

Six months later, I would be able to relate on a much deeper level to losing someone you love.  My life was taking a turn towards the unexpected. The life I once knew was about to change forever.

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