My New & Improved Testimony

Oh, how I've missed this blog. To say I've had writer's block the past few months is an understatement. So much has been going on, yet I have felt so uninspired to write until just last week. First and foremost, I am beyond happy to be writing again and can't wait to get back into the swing of things. I don't have many creative bones in my body, but I do have a vision for this blog and what I want it to be, so I can't wait to get this re-launched and become focused once again. But before I do so, I need to share the emotions I've been feeling the past few months.

Let me start by saying that God has been working through me quite a bit lately. I didn't realize it until I went to lunch with my friend Analisa today, and she complimented my walk with The Lord. I couldn't help but smile ear to ear because it was the nicest compliment I had received in a very long time. I didn't start following God wholeheartdly until I began dating Josh in March of 2013. I always wanted a relationship with the Lord, but never knew how to pursue one. At the beginning of our relationship, it was easy for our friends and families to assume that I was becoming a Christian simply because Josh was a Christian and I will say, they weren't far off by assuming that. Because of Josh, I was able to organize my emotions and work towards something I had always wanted in life: a love for my Creator. Was I an awful person before Josh? Absolutely not. But I wasn't living the life that God was intending me to. I was drinking regularly, pursuing meaningless relationships, and not welcoming people with open arms. That is the cold hard truth and something I am very aware of as I reflect on my life and how far I've come. 

Because I didn't know God, when tragedy would strike, I didn't know who to turn to. In my 22 years of life, I have witnessed a lot of death, more than I would like to admit. It's not something that I ever use as a crutch or an excuse for anything in my life, it just is the reality of my past. When I was in high school, I lost my great grandmother and great aunt, those being the earliest deaths I can remember. Shortly after that, when I was a senior, a sophomore at my school, Christian Stover, passed away suddenly in an accident while riding motorcycles with friends. Having met Christian a couple of times and having so many friends in common, I went to his service at Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, CA. This service is when I decided that I wanted to attend church regularly and pursue some sort of faith. I didn't know what that looked like, but I knew I wanted to know the meaning behind what the pastor was preaching. Once I graduated from high school, I lived the life of a typical college student full of studying, going to visit my best friend in San Luis Obispo where she attended Cal Poly, and working my little booty off. I began going to church with my grandparents at the very church where decided to pursue God and even bounced around to other church services with friends. Still, I found myself lost and not understanding the meaning of the bible and the words it held. A couple years out of high school, I witnessed people I knew go through their own life struggles and did my best to be their rock and shoulder to cry on. In that time frame, I began to wonder what kind of impact that would all have on my future, but never stressed about it, thinking I was overreacting. Unfortunately, shortly after the peak of my struggles, I felt the weight of the world. I made the decision, with the support of my friends and family, to begin seeing a psychiatrist. It was then that I was diagnosed with a mild form of depression and severe anxiety. I was asked to dive into all of my emotions and basically pour my heart out to a stranger. I would be lying if I said it didn't feel strange, but at the same time, I knew I needed to just cry it out. I spoke about past relationships, seeing people I love experience tragedy, experiencing tragedy myself, my struggles with school, and so much more. I left those appointments feeling more somber than I did walking into them and longed for more support and clarity. I decided to stop going after about six months and made a promise to myself that I would fix these issues on my own. Looking back, I laugh at myself. I denied medications and didn't make an effort to exercise, knowing that those things alone wouldn't cure what I was feeling. I wanted God to heal me, but I had so many questions. How was he allowing these things to happen to me? To the people I loved? Was he hearing my prayers? Was he seeing what I was having to endure? How was he going to fix me?

After these years, I saw my brother lose some of his closest friends and attend more funerals than anyone I had known before the age of 18. I felt those emotions with him and did my best to support him while my heart was breaking too. My baby brother had attended three funerals in two years, the last one being the hardest for me, personally. My brother lost one of his best friends to suicide. This young man was someone I had watched grow with my brother and was someone I had amazing laughs with. He was someone I considered a second brother and as soon as I knew he had left this planet, I quickly remembered what our last hug felt like. This was the hardest death I had experienced yet. This life experience was when I put my foot down and knew that I needed to understand what was happening. Could I ever understand what was happening? Would I ever understand God's plan in all of this? Would I ever have to face a death like this again? When was I going to attend another funeral? I dreaded the day that our family would say goodbye to another person that we loved. 

Flash forward a couple of years and just last weekend, I was given that answer. In December of 2014, my dear friends Analisa, Amanda, and Trent were told that their niece, Kylie Rowand, had stage 4 neuroblastoma cancer at the age of 19 months. Their brother and sister in law, Kylie's parents, shared her story on the Prayers for Kylie Facebook page: "From the beginning Kylie has always been so full of life, so vivacious, independent, free spirit, smart, happy, smiley, a beautiful ray of sunshine. On Dec. 26th Kylie went to the doctors for a swollen eye. The first scan showed a mass behind her eye and doctors hoped it was an infection. Unfortunately it wasn't. In total, little Kylie has her main tumor in her abdomen attached to her left adrenal gland, a dozen small tumors on her liver, over two dozen on her lungs, a tumor behind her right eye, and boney lesions that span from the top of her skull all the way to her ankles, causing her to be unable to walk or crawl because of bone damage... as the doctors described it, an explosion of tumors went off in her body." 

Watching my friends try to process and understand this news was the most heart-wrenching thing I have ever witnessed. However, I watched them turn to God and rely on their faith immediately. By this time, I had been going to church regularly, attending our weekly bible study held at Trent and Analisa's, and felt like I was starting to get a handle on my individual faith. When Kylie was diagnosed, we all did our best to be there for our friends, worried about what this journey meant for them and their faith. I found myself praying for people that were strangers at the time, Kylie and her parents, Bree and Luke. This family was about to endure the unfathomable and they relied on their faith to carry them the entire way. They leaned on God through the good times and the bad, and watching them do so personally grew my faith in the process. After just over a year of fighting this awful cancer, Kylie passed away on February 7th, 2015 at 10:19 a.m. After months of watching Kylie fight through the pain in videos and pictures shared on her beautiful Facebook page, we had all fallen in love with this beautiful soul. Kylie made us laugh when she laughed, cry when she cried, hurt when she hurt, and smile when she smiled. How could a baby that could barely speak a few words, work her way into our hearts and find herself a home there? Her attitude, perserverance, and love for her family taught us all a very precious lesson in life. Being loved unconditionally is a beautiful thing, something I know I take for granted. On Valentine's Day of this year, just one week ago, I sat in a packed church and said goodbye to my hero. I sat with 2,000+ people that loved her and were inspired by her. I watched my friends cry as they said goodbye to their niece and did my best to comfort them, hug them, grab their hand, or simply just say "I love you," any time I would walk by. I sat at another funeral for another life taken too soon. But this time, I felt something different. Although I cried just as hard, especially when Kylie's "dada" Luke gave his speech, kissing his daughter's small coffin just before walking on stage, I felt something I had never felt before at another other of the funerals I have attended. I felt peace. I had peace in knowing that Kylie was free of pain and with our God.

When Trent, Kylie's uncle, ran our bible study the Wednesday before going to see her, I felt compelled to give him some words of encouragement. Although I had promised myself I wouldn't speak, knowing I had time to talk to my friends individually, I felt a burst of energy move through me as I sat there. God was challenging me and asking me to share my struggles, my own testimony and experience with death. When I dealt with death, I had no faith. I wanted to, but I didn't understand so many things, such as why people died and why we had to suffer here on Earth. My friends; they had the faith I so desparately wanted in my times of darkness. I knew they would be a light to this situation and would be able to pour their love into Kylie, Bree, and Luke in Kylie's last days of life. In giving my insight and fighting for words through tears, I instantly had peace that from here on out, we have God in our lives and someone that will fight for our well being every single day. It is an absolute gift that I am here right now. 

It is a gift that I have a loving family, parents that want the best for me, a boyfriend that wants to give me his heart forever, friends that lift me up when i'm down and know just how to make me feel special, and so much more. Kylie was put on this planet to serve her God and in my opinion, she surpassed any expectations He could have had for her. In Luke's speech, he said this, "Kylie didn’t choose this life, but she lived it remarkably. She was destined for greatness. In Matthew 28, Jesus gives us our calling as His followers, He calls us to “go and make disciples of all the nations.” I KNOW many of us want to leave an unforgettable impact, we want to love others relentlessly, without condition or expectations and with all of our being. We know what we want but so many of us struggle to figure out what our purpose is every day. We know one day we get to return home and have God welcome us with a hug and we hope to simply hear 'well done good and faithful servant.' We desire something that Kylie completed in 2 short years. We live our whole lives seeking purpose and meaning and influence, and Kylie‘s entire life was living that out. My girl never got the life her mother and I so desperately wanted for her, but boy did she use the one she was given. She took a childhood that was surrounded by doctors, tests, surgeries, devastating information, professionals losing hope, and absolute heartache, and transformed it into a childhood of countless interactions with family and God. She formed a community from all over the world and united it in prayer, faith, and encouragement. She produced smiles amidst pain, and portrayed joy beyond suffering. Kylie may not have even known the enormity of her actions, she was simply living the best way she knew how. GOD gave her a heart that would never be tainted by the cruel reality of cancer. He gave her a smile, that while it felt the sting of her illness, always found a way to come back, brighter and bigger and more determined than ever. God gave her a spirit that would fight every minute of every day, when so many of us would have understood if she wanted to quit." 

I had writer's block because I felt like I had nothing important to say. I felt like nothing I had to say mattered when I knew so many were suffering out there. I have quickly come to realize that my trials and triumphs have made me who I am. This path to faith wasn't a bright one, but where I stand today is full of hope. "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Hebrews 1:11. I never want to take for granted what I have in this life, but I know I have a lot of work ahead of me. I am blessed, but I still have stresses. I am thankful, but I still have worries. I am loved, but I still get scared. I don't know what the future holds for me, but I do know one thing: my God will get me through whatever it is. I am a strong believer in "God doesn't give you more than you can handle." He hand selected Kylie's family and loved ones to get her through this life, and because of that, she got through the cancer. Kylie didn't lose her battle as my dear friend Amanda, Kylie's aunt, said. She is now home, she is now healed, and we will see her again someday. Leading up to this point, I thought my testimony was done. I thought that my story of finding God was complete. Oh boy, was I wrong. Kylie was the missing piece to my testimony and her story caused me to fall even more in love with my faith and God himself. Kylie, I don't even know how to begin thanking you. I will carry your story in my heart wherever I go. I promise to take care of your family, some of my best friends in life, as much as I possibly can. I promise to help them sort through the pain and give them a good laugh when they're feeling down. I promise to live every day remembering your sweet giggle and the image of you "shaking yo cheese." I promise to live my life in honor of your legacy. Needless to say, my questions I had before my faith have been answered. God is guiding me through life and is here to help me through he hard times, I just need to feel and welcome his presence. He always has heard my prayers and knows my path in life. He will get me through anything in my life, as long as I let him. 

Thank you for listening to my testimony and allowing me to get these words off my heart and into print. I cherish and love you all for supporting me in my walk with God and these events that shape me into the person I am today. I am forever grateful for each and every one of you that have shown me love over the past couple of years.


{Photographs by Analisa Joy Photography. Click here for her entire blog on Kylie's Celebration of Life.}


  1. Very strong of you to share this with the world!! I am so proud of you and love being able to watch you grow in life and in faith!! I love you so very much💗


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