It’s been a dark, dark year.

I don’t mean to be dramatic. It just really has been.

A year
from hell.

A year
ago today—
when I got
the call.

You know the one. The one that buckles your knees. Steals your breath. Twists your world. Leaves you reeling.

Gasping for air.

Suddenly, as happens to so many of us, with the ring of a phone, I had a new story. A new journey. One I could barely believe. One I didn’t want.

One I still don’t want.

But I am 365 days further into my journey than I was before.
Amen, hallelujah.

And I’ll never have to do those 365 days again.
Thank the Lord in heaven.

And I’m still here.
Yes. Yes. Yes, I am. I am!

Bruised, but standing.
Broken, but stronger.
Confused, but determined.
Exhausted, but breathing.

And I’m not giving up.

I will grieve as I need to grieve, for now I know how.
I will protect as I need to protect, and soothe as I need to soothe, and love as I need to love…myself.
I will take the time I need.
And I will risk as I need to risk.

Because that is what has gotten me through every day of this past year. And if I have made it this far, I can keep going.

I spent most of this past year feeling many things I hope I never have to feel again. One of the worst was feeling abandoned and betrayed by the One whom I had believed loved me most. How could he… How?

But today, I am remembering a story. A true one…

On March 3, one year ago, in the wee hours of the morning, I emailed myself two verses from my iPhone. Little did I know that just a few hours later all hell would break lose in my life. It was months before I found the messages I had sent to myself. This is what one verse said. This is the other.

I was wrong.
What if
I was not abandoned?
I was never alone,
not for a moment.

I would like to believe it. I’m not sure my heart can trust that just yet.
But I’m not stopping until I know
for sure.

by julie rybarczyk


Both images are taken from the best and final scene of Christina Perri’s gut-wrenching video, Jar of Hearts. She got her heart back.


  • Julie

    Thank you so much for all the love, and words, and care – each of you. Friends like you are exactly why I survived this year!! Thank you!

  • Jen

    I will be praying Isaiah 61:3 for you for this next year Julie. The title of the chapter reads “He will rejuvenate His people.” Verse 3 reads “to strengthen those who mourn in Zion, by giving them a turban (helps keep one’s head cool in desert environments), instead of ashes, oil symbolizing joy, instead of mourning, a garment symbolizing praise, instead of discouragement. They will be called oaks of righteousness, trees planted by the LORD to reveal his splendor.

    One thing I know in times like this, is that when we walk the hard parts of our journey the way that you have/do, we can rely on the fact that what remains/emerges on the other side of the pain is what HE has planted. I am hopeful with anticipation for you that you will see more and more of his splendor in your current story.

    Love to you Julie!

  • emily

    Ok – need to say tears in my eyes with reading your story Kellie. Really beautiful – love what the rock symbolized for you and love this creative and sacred marking of your loss. And love what you have seen in Julie…

    365 days Julie – and you are standing. I have seen both the tears and the glimmers of hope along the way – it’s all a very big deal. Seems like one of the hardest things about life at times is just the being. Being in it. Having what you have – sadness, grief, or pain. You’ve done that work – it matters – and there will be more for you. You are something my friend. With you and love you – em

  • Julie

    Wow, that’s beautiful. Thanks for sharing, Kellie.

  • Kellie

    Mercy! I cannot believe it has been a year – when I look back and think about it – I can only see all the courage you have gathered from the depths of your soul to carry on and keep moving forward. I cannot imagine going thru all that you had to face and deal with – but I can say that you have done such a great job of propelling yourself thru the pain, trauma and drama – you are great role model for your kids – showing them that we really can move forward despite dramatic and traumatic setbacks in life. You are wiser than you know and more courageous than you can see from inside. I am so happy that you have made it this far – the coming year will be blessed with joyful new experiences. When I went thru something similar – I had done months of therapy and I was ready to let go of the grief and move on. I decided I needed a goodbye ritual – a final ending – so I wrote the person’s name on a piece of paper and all of the pain that the person had caused me. I folded it and took the paper and little garden shovel to the cemetary – when I got there I had the trowel( shovel ) in my purse- and I went to a little place that felt right – dug a tiny hole and buried that piece of paperpiece of folded paper. I filled up the hole with dirt and put a little rock on top – kind of sqwished down in the dirt. I sat out there and said everything I had always wanted to say – and then prayed for the person – which I thought would be so hard to do but instead it was so healing. The rock on top was a symbol of my own strength. I can’t tell you how much peace I had as I drove out of the cemetary – I left all of that gut-wrenching, crawl across broken glass pain there under that little rock. I felt joy that had been gone for a long time. I have gone to see my rock a few times over the years – it is still there- and I am the only one who knows what is buried under it – and each time I have gone there – it seems like I get a profound message about how much I have grown, learned or changed since that time. I am so glad I ended it at a sacred place – cemetaries are blessed grounds – think of how many prayers are said there. I think Jesus and angels hang out there for those of us in need. Enough of my story – I just want you to know that I think of you and I am really proud of how you have managed all of this – and carried on – you are a strong, capable, glorious woman with much to be admired!


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