fuzzy wuzzy cindy was a great caterpillar...

firstly, i am going to email each of you who i got a reply from back, but be patient, because there are a lot! and secondly, i want to thank each of you so much for being part of my life and for praying me through this.... GOD will get me through this.... He is getting me through it!

so many neat things happened the past couple of days in indiana, things that give me comfort and things that reassure me that i have a purpose here... i've really been feeling useless this week since arissa was my day and night.... we were two peas in a pod... when you saw one of us, you knew your were about to see the other one.... without her here, i really don't feel like i have much of a job... i just don't have anything to do... so that reassurance was much needed!

here are a few things that happened:

*"Let's prayer." -Arissa
*"I like when we prayer together." -Arissa
*tucking arissa in one night after we prayed: arissa: "do you think God is amazing?" me: "yeah, i do..." arissa: "i do too.... and miss anna kathryn?" me: "yeah?" arissa: "i think you're amazing too..."
*Arissa: "And God, thank you for Miss Anna Kathryn, because she really is in my heart... and so are you... but not satan... and God, just crush satan right now, so that no one will go to him anymore, and everyone will come to you..."
*Arissa: "Do you think God cares if we repeat things sometimes when we pray?"
Me: "Not at all..."
Arissa: "Good... Because everytime we pray together I'm always gonna start like 'Dear God, thank you that we get to spend this time together.'"

arissa and i used to pray together every night..... i started and she closed........ these were definitely the most precious moments i spent with arissa every day, and probably the most precious moments i spent with God.... everynight i saw that child growing closer and closer to her Creator.... in the beginning she basically just repeated what i said, but after a little while she started really talking to God from her heart, and asking me questions afterwards..... she was so thankful and so loving and there was no doubt that she loved Jesus Christ and that she loved me... when she got home for thanksgiving break, her grandmother asked her what she has learned since she's been here and she said: "what i've learned most is really how to pray."
now..... as many of you know..... i'm not typically one to pray outloud in front of anyone ever..... but God doesn't care what our weaknesses are, because He can break those barriers and work through us anyways! and He taught that beautiful child to love Him and to share that love with Him, and used somebody who never in a million years would have imagined being used that way! how incredible! i am so greatful that He chose me as one of His tools in helping Arissa learn this!

*Dr. Pardue: "Are you likin' it over there at the ranch?"
Arissa: "Huh? Lichen? Are you talking about botany?" a proud moment for a botany teacher!!

if you recall, i also felt that teaching botany was a huge weakness, and something i was terrible at.... but wednesday night, arissa's grandmother took us to see her room, and while we were there, she said "one of the first things arissa said to me when she got back was 'grandma, i LOVE science! we're learning botany, and that's the study of plants, and did you know that moss is a nonvascular plant, because it doesn't have tubes to carry the water?' and went on and on about botany!" wow! another barrier! and you know what.... i am SO scared of having a different student to teach, because the only options are middle school english and history or high school english and history, and while i LOVE the girls and am thrilled to be one of their "mentors" (teachers), i do not so much love english or history, and am not so thrilled to teach either..... but arissa, in those comments to her grandmother, showed me the power of God to give me the ability to do something i don't think i can do..... and who knows, maybe God put an english teacher somewhere inside of me..... i did learn from the best (coach moore! ...does this mean i get the flying frog? haha)

*arissa runs down stairs at 7:15 am, with her red sweat pants on and entirely TOO much energy for that early!! "miss anna kathryn! i have 5 shirts on! two tee shirts, my purple sweater, my red sweat shirt, and a jacket!" this happened at least 3 times a week!!

at the visitation, arissa was so made up, and in such a grown up outfit.... you wouldn't know it was the same kid..... she looked so serious and that's so not her! and you know what, it was a HUGE comfort to me to see her like that, because it made it so so so clear to me that that body was not her! it was her body, her shell.... it contained none of her liveliness or her personality, or her soul.... if it did, she would have had on red sweat pants, a funny face, and been giving me a knubbies up..... Arissa is with Jesus! her body is in the ground in laporte, indiana, but she is with her Father, and everything i love about her is not dead and buried! it's relocated, and my only comfort comes in knowing that i will be reunited with that amazing child again! maybe not tomorrow or the next day, and that's the hard part, because i miss her so much, but i'm certain that i will see her again! and she'll be even happier and bouncier than when she was here, because she will have nothing to fear, and nothing to be sad about! that body, as beautiful as it was, was not my arissa......

one of our songs here at laurel ridge is 'go light your world'... a song about spreading the gospel to unbelievers...... one that we listen to over and over and over again, because it's a beautiful song.... now... the main girls who to my previous knowledge loved this song so much were camile and laura.... arissa usually belted out 'come, now is the time to worship' or 'agnus dei' while she was in the shower instead... but at her funeral, the song that her grandmother chose to play, because arissa loved it and sang it so much when she was home, was 'go light your world.' we had no idea she loved that song so much! but it makes sense, because even in her death, God continues to use her to spread knowledge of His love to people who have no idea.... i already know of one little boy who accepted Christ this week because he knew arissa, and he knows she's with the Lord right now! my prayer is that so many more, in indiana and beyond, will see His glory through her life and her death, and come to know Jesus Christ as well....

here's something neat, and light........
the first field trip we went on this year was to an apple orchard..... i'm pretty sure the first time i've ever been to one..... and while we were there, we had a funeral for a caterpillar.... fuzzy wuzzy cindy..... and as arissa was very intricately building the gravesite, the conversation went like this :
arissa: "she was a great pet...."
emily: "why don't we go around and each say what we loved most about fuzzy wuzzy cindy..."
me: "fuzzy wuzzy cindy was a great caterpillar.... i'll really miss her.... that journey from indiana to east tennesse.... wow..... etc............"
i have a great picture of her sitting next to fuzzy wuzzy cindy's gravesite, and holding her microphone (or stick, which i also have in my room....)
the second time i went to an apple orchard was thursday morning... and there was a funeral there too..... because the cemetary that arissa was buried in is in the middle of an apple orchard! i can't wait to go back there, and use that same "microphone" and say what i loved most about her!

it was really great for me to go to indiana... there were a couple of negative things that came up, but they just made me happier for her that she doesn't have to live on this dangerous and scary earth ever again.... and i feel so much more at peace.... i'm still sad, because i loved that little girl so much, and i always will... day to day life will still be hard without her here, because everytime i walk by her door, i see an empty room, and i remember how much i miss her... i'm still gonna cry, and i'm still gonna feel a huge void... but i'm gaining strength everyday.... GOD is giving me more and more..... i'm gonna hold onto Him in this scary and hard time, just like arissa held onto His word in her last moments on this earth..... He took her from her fear and pain and into His arms, and I know He'll hold me too, and get me through this..... you guys are amazing, and i love you so much for praying for me and my ranch family and arissa's family.... this e-mail is incredibly long, but i'm so encouraged, and just wanted y'all to know that, and to know that you had a hand in that.... i can't thank you enough! keep prayin for us as we move into a normal schedule monday morning without arissa... and i'll keep prayin for y'all, and thanking my God for putting you each in my life!

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