Last Monday, I pulled up to our church in Alaska at 6pm. As I turned the corner…there was my first glimpse of the death of my friend Cassie. The white hurst was parked there at the front door, still and silent. I lost it. She was gone from us. Really? Was I sitting in her families car freezing and she was not there? It was all so final and heartbreaking. A flood of memories rushed over me as I thought of her parents inside waiting for friends to come and celebrate their daughters life. That was it. This life no longer mattered to her and is no longer a part of her life. She was enjoying the presence of God, her creator, her Lord and her Savior. My heart was a mess as it backtracked to 8th grade. This girl traveled a road full of ups, downs and she witnessed incredible beauty and far off places. Cassie had a heart that was desperate to love others who were not necessarily easy to love. Her heart broke for children in orphanages in China and Korea. She spoke truth in love to women in the Red Light District of Amsterdam. Every time she would be out on one of her YWAM adventures she would contact me to let me know she had some kids for us to adopt! Cassie also had her share of struggles that taught me much about loving someone through dark times and low places. Worth every ounce of energy, prayer and tears was my friend Cassie. Her story didn’t play out the way I had hoped. Sickness, self image issues and the battle to overcome hard hits of this life kept her in a cycle of joy turning to pain. While my heart is missing her, I couldn’t be more thrilled for how God has rescued her! That was the first time I have had to stare death in the face of a student that I loved dearly. Heaven became such a reality and this life all the sudden didn’t seem to offer much. My passion was renewed in a desperate kind of way for the girls in my life. Cassie’s Dad encouraged me several times on my visit there to continue making “eternal deposits” in the life of girls. When everything in me wanted to throw in the towel, I knew God has designed me for walking these roads with students and even loving them into adulthood. So this is where I stand. I miss her. I will continue to take what I learned from Cass and love unconditionally the ones God places in my life.