faith that can move mountains

Sunny days seem to hurt the most.
I wear the pain like a heavy coat.
I feel you everywhere I go.
I see your smile, I see your face,
I hear you laughin' in the rain.
I still can't believe you're gone.

The first time I heard this song, every line made me think of Arissa more... Obviously it applies, but every new line took me back to a single moment or a hundred different moments that I spent with her... Let's talk about my friend Arissa... I literally can still close my eyes and see her sweet face smiling at me... The face she made right after she said "I love you" or "blu blu."** Her eyes a little squinchy, her head tilted... It's a picture I'll never forget. Then her sweet face turns into her scary face, and , wow, there are no words... at that point, her laughter echos in my head... both her normal laughter, and her eyes crossed, fanning her face funny laughter... I still can't believe she's gone....

It ain't fair, you died too young,
Like a story that had just begun,
But death tore the pages all away.
God knows how I miss you,
All the pain I've been through,
Just knowin' no-one could take your place.
Sometimes I wonder,
Who'd you be today...

One year ago today Arissa left her home in Indiana to return to her home in Tennessee, but ended up at her home with Jesus... Today is her first birthday in Heaven! I am celebrating for her today and I hope you'll join me! I don't know what Arissa would be like if she were still with us today, but I imagine she would be an 11 year old version of the same kid she was a year ago... smiling, laughing, making us laugh, but tormented emotionally... She'd still have that knubbie, and I'm sure she'd still spend a lot of time in that corner... But, just as she grew every day that I knew her, I imagine she would still be growing closer to the Lord, and healing more and more all the time... That's who I imagine Arissa would be today, if she were still alive... Now let's talk about who Arissa is today! I'm certain that she's smiling, laughing, and making everyone around her laugh all the time... She has five perfect fingers on her hand, she's never in the corner, and she hasn't experienced any emotional torment for a year! She's closer to the Lord than she ever was or could be here, in fact, I bet she's holding His hand and saying "blu blu"** to Him right this very moment, and as of a year ago, she's completely healed of all emotional and physical harm that she ever experienced. That is amazing and the greatest picture imaginable of the incredible grace of God!

Man, I miss her so much... everyone who knew her does... we've all cried, we've all felt like it's not fair, she was too young... Her story was just beginning... The truth is, God had something better for Arissa.... It's completely fair, she is an amazing child! Her life here was not fair, but the Lord took her away from that life early on... Her story had just begun, ten short years prior... death tore all of those hard and sad pages away, and filled her new story with great things and the incredible reality of being in God's amazing presence! That is a wonderful story... a best-seller! and even better, God wants to fill our stories with those same pages, and one day our new pages and Arissa's new pages will intertwine! I cannot even fathom greatness to that extent, but one day I'll live it, and then I'll understand...

Sunny days seem to hurt the most.
I wear the pain like a heavy coat.
The only thing that gives me hope
Is I know I'll see you again someday.

I praise God for that little girl every day, and will continue to until the day we're reunited... In the 81 days I knew her, she taught me more about life, the changing and renewing power of God, and death than I could have learned in a lifetime...

Arissa's death marks the start of the most difficult few weeks of my life... When I think about it like that, I know I would never never willingly relive those few weeks... never.... But Arissa's death also marks the start of huge growth in my life... When I look at the way the Lord used that tragedy and the hard times that followed to strengthen me and bring me closer to Him, I would relive those weeks as many times as I needed to... I'm learning to make sure I don't just praise God and recognize His grace in really great times, but to dig deeper to see how God's grace is continual, as He constantly floods us with His love and guidance through the hard times that He let's us experience... They're not times to feel angry at God or cheated, but they're times to experience closeness to God like you've never known!

Please keep Arissa's family in your prayers today and this week, and keep Arissa's friends and housemates up in TN in your prayers also... It's a hard time for us, but praise God that it's a time of celebration for her!
Friends... Family... Students... haha, that's how I address the classroom.... Speaking of the classroom, please, please, please keep these ER kids in your thoughts and prayers as they return from Thanksgiving break today, and as they go home for Christmas break in a few weeks... and praise God for revealing His grace in their lives by bringing them to the ranch! I love all of you so much! Keep in touch, and thanks for your prayers!

Anna Kathryn

"I thank my God everytime I remember you;
in all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy!"
-Philippians 1:3

**"blu blu" is our secret language for "I love you!"

Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, "Why couldn't we drive it out?"
He replied, "Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you."
Matthew 17:19-21