It's been almost a year and a half since June 17th, 2017; the day that my life changed forever. One minute I was kayaking on the lake with my best friends and the next, I was in my worst nightmare. The image of Ashton's kayak flipped over is still engrained in my memory. I didn't believe it when they said he was really gone. I still can't believe it sometimes.

I couldn't look at that lake without being furious. This more than tough time made me question everything. Why him? Why now? Why didn't God change this situation? My life was shattered into a million broken pieces. How was I going to make it through the unthinkable?

I lost faith in God not understanding why He wouldn't step in and make everything good all of the time. Why didn't He save Ashton that day? Jesus began to remind me that because of sin and brokenness of the world, we will experience more than we can handle on our own. I realized that God doesn't promise a pain free life, but He does promise to help you through it all. He didn't take away my pain; He held me while I hurt. He promised to come and carry our burdens for us, to never forsake us, to carry us through each storm.

A song that perfectly sums this is up is "Even If" by MercyMe.

"I know you're able and I know you can, but even if you don't, my hope is you alone."
"They say it only takes a little faith to move a mountain, well good thing a little faith is all I have right now."
"God when you choose to leave mountains unmovable, give me the strength to be able to say it is well with my soul."

We never have to go through anything alone. God will grow something beautiful out of your pain, your hardships, and your storms. I learned so many irreplaceable lessons from this unthinkable tragedy. When we cannot find joy in our circumstances, we can find joy in God, who is unchanged and unchanging. I learned to truly cherish life because I realized how short it can be. I learned to rely on my friends, family and most importantly, God. I have learned to truly live life to the fullest because that's what Ashton did. As Ashton used to say, "Be kind, be fearless and change the world."