Here is one last remembrance. This one comes from a friend made in Colorado who lives in Iowa. Fun story, it was at her house where Allie and I found out she was pregnant with Paige.
I have written this post in my head a hundred times since Adam asked me if I would be willing to do this. I have talked to Tana several times regarding it too. I am not good at putting my words on paper. I could talk about Allie all day, but adequately describing her on paper is not easy for me to do. And the big thing is, where do I even begin?? There are so many things I could share about the person she was. I feel as though everything that everyone has said would be my story too. Allie was an amazing women and no blog post could even do her justice. But I am compelled to do it, so here is my story about how I met Allie.
Allie and I had the privilege of meeting at Focus on the Family Institute in January of 2002. Within the first few days of being there, we went on a retreat up in the mountains. I had met Allie prior to our roadtrip to the retreat, our apartments were just kiddy-corner from each other, but it was at the retreat that her and I ‘clicked’. She was from Ohio and I was from Iowa. We both had come from such great families and had a good solid group of friends back home, that we weren’t really ‘looking’ to make any best friends at the Institute. We both knew that our time would soon come and go and let’s face it, keeping up with a long distance friendship can be hard. But we both connected on so many levels, there was no denying a lasting friendship was taking place. I remember sitting on a log with her in the mountains listening to her tell me all about her life thus far and her relationship with her Savior. She was genuine and authentic from the git-go. Right away her passion for Jesus and working out was at the forefront. She was up each morning going for a jog and talking with Jesus. When we got back from the retreat, she came over and asked if I wanted to go running. I thought ‘sure, why not.’ I would tend to consider myself fairly athletic and in shape, what would it hurt. Oh yeah, I forgot to think about the altitude, we were in Colorado Springs – the roads were extremely hilly, I was going running with Allie and did I mention the altitude?! Let’s just say, she was very gracious with me that day!! She knew it would be something we would have to work up to if that was ever to happen again. J Thankfully, there was a workout room at our apartment complex. We were there daily working out together reading all the books that we needed to for the Institute. We always had so much fun together – no matter what we were doing. Over the next five months, we spent day and night together. We were inseparable. We were so much alike in many ways and everything just felt so natural when I was with her. Some people that you meet, it is ‘work’ to keep up or build the friendship, but not with Allie. Everything came so easy.
I made a couple road trips back home to Iowa during that time and Allie came with me. It was a blast! I already knew she loved to sing and loved to have the radio on or listen to CD’s constantly. There was never a quiet moment during the trip. We were either singing, laughing or talking which helped to pass the 11 hour trip. One story that stands out the most to me on our trip back to Iowa was when she met my Grandma. My Grandma means so much to me and I wanted Allie to meet her. We weren’t at my Grandma’s 20 minutes and Allie is on the floor getting her 1,000 crunches in for the day. My Grandma looked at me and looked at Allie and we just laughed and laughed. I don’t recall them exchanging addresses, but it wasn’t until a few years later that I realized they would write letters back and forth to each other! Allie would send a Christmas card to my Grandma each year and it meant so much to her. It was the little things that Allie did day in and day out that made the difference and made her stand out from everyone else. She truly knew what the Bible meant when it said to ‘love God and love people’. She lived it out daily.
She also introduced me to coffee drinks from Starbucks. We made multiple trips there during our time in Colorado. We both LOVED to be outside in anyway possible. We made numerous trips to Garden of the Gods and hiking in the mountains and we were continually in awe of our Creator’s handiwork. We were the only two who would lay out by the pool in Colorado in the spring! As mentioned, she loved music. We loved to drive through the mountains with the windows down, her leg was usually up on the dash and we were singing – not a care in the world back then. When I hear some of the songs today that we listened to a lot, I can’t help to think of her and remember all the good times we had had together. Two of the songs that were ‘big hits’ then were Mercy Me’s song “I Can Only Imagine” and another CD she had that had the song “Better is One Day” on it. Little did each of us know that she would be living those songs out just a few short years later.
Everywhere we went, Allie made ‘friends’ with someone. She was such a smiley, happy and friendly person. I would consider myself ‘friendly’ to people I meet whether it is the cashier, a waitress, etc. But with Allie, by the time we left wherever we were, she knew what was going on in their life and what she could do to pray for them. She just had a way about her that made people feel so comfortable that they would just share anything with her. And if we saw that person again, she would remember their name and ask them specifically about whatever it was that was going on in their life. I was always amazed at how she remembered the things that she did about each person. People matter to God and people mattered to Allie. She looked at people the way God looks at them. She had such an indescribable love for people – a love that only comes from Jesus. She challenged me in so many different areas of my life, but this was one of the biggest things that stands out to me. She let God use her and she had a way of drawing people to Him because of who she was and how she was. Her life was a living testimony for Him and she was always ready and willing to talk about Jesus and share the love of Jesus with anyone she encountered. She took advantage of any opportunity she could to love on someone and love them to Jesus. Everywhere we went, her life exuded Christ and people could see she loved her Savior. A song that I feel really describes her in this area is by Sidewalk Prophets called ‘Live Like That’. I would encourage you to watch this video… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GfosSggwQS0
I got married that following September and had the privilege of having Allie in our wedding. It was a wonderful day and I am so thankful she was a part of it. Her and Adam got married in June of 2004, just a week before I was due with our first baby. It was unknown whether or not we would be able to make the 12 hour road trip to Ohio. Our son was born 3.5 weeks early, so we were able to go. I was so excited to be there and finally be in her ‘home’ where she grew up. I had already met her parents when they came out to Colorado. After meeting them, I see where Allie gets it. Her parents are amazing people who make you feel like you are one of the family. They also love people with a kind of love that only comes from Jesus. I could go on and on about Mike and Tana too. After their honeymoon, Adam and Allie were going to move out to Colorado. They were going to stay with us as a half-way point for them. I remember her telling me then that she thought she was pregnant – sure enough she was! She has already shared how God orchestrated all of that so beautifully. Just as His Word promises that He makes all things beautiful in His time. It was a shock to be pregnant and having their first baby so far away from family, but God knew what He was doing. We have been able to see each other a few times over the years, but definitely not as often as we would have liked. It was hard to be so far away and both of us having such young families that made long road trips difficult. When we would talk, we would laugh about how she ended up with three girls and I ended up with four boys and the differences in each of our families with having all boys or all girls! It was always such a joy and encouragement to talk to her. She always wanted to know how I was really doing. Not a lot of people want to get in ‘deep’ to know how someone really is. Most conversations stay pretty surface level, but with Allie, it was always an in depth and real conversation. I always felt so challenged in my roles as a wife, mother, friend and child of God. She would encourage me on so many levels and especially in my walk with Jesus. She would always want to know how she could pray for me and she would follow up with me on whatever it was that I shared. I always knew I could count on her. She was such a genuine person who lived life to the fullest. Through all of this, it has challenged me to enjoy each moment that I have. To not get so caught up in things, but to really enjoy and be in the moment and savor the stage of life that I am in.
I will never forget the day she called to ask me to pray about her blood test coming up. I was beyond words shocked to even think that she could have leukemia – there was just no way it could be. I will never forget where I was when she did confirm with me that yes, it was leukemia and it was going to be one hard fight. If anyone had it in them, it was her. But I still couldn’t believe it. The next 18 months, she was never far from my heart. I was praying for her and her family like I have never prayed for them before. I was so thankful we were able to make a trip to Ohio to see her Mother’s Day weekend in 2012. Our time was too short, but it was such a blessing to be with her and her family. Our little families were finally able to play together and they had so much fun. We were able to go to church together. I love hearing her sing and it was wonderful to be together with her in His House worshipping Him. I saw her for the final time in July 2013. Again, it was too short, but it is more precious to me than words. I cherish that time so much. I am so thankful to have seen her and to have been with her, even though it was incredibly hard to see her in so much pain.
Since September 2, not a day goes by that I don’t think of her. She is continually on my mind. My heart still hurts daily…just the mention of her name and the tears flow. I still cannot believe she is gone. I keep thinking it isn’t true and it is still all a dream, but it isn’t. I have listened to her voicemails over and over, just to hear her voice again….’Hey em, it’s me.’ I have missed the little notes she would send me for no reason, but they would be so encouraging and just what I needed to hear at the time. I will miss not getting a birthday card from her this year. So many things that I miss and so many things I miss about her. She has made a lasting impact on my life and I will never be the same again because of knowing her. I often wonder what she is doing – no doubt worshipping her Savior whom she so faithfully served here on earth. I am so thankful that I will see her again and that day can’t come soon enough. I am so ready for the Lord to come and take us Home. Allie was such a unique person and there is no one else like her. She was a beautiful reflection of Christ and I know when she finally saw her Jesus face to face, she was greeted with ‘well done my good and faithful servant’.