Kaitlyn Brooke Smith walked into my life a mere 2 years ago. Actually, it won't even be 2 years until August. The previous year, my junior year of college, I had been having a rough time and thus took a break from leading YoungLife. After a series of events unfolded the summer before my senior year, I ended up coming back to leading and being the only Kickapoo girl leader to attend camp with 10 lovely ladies. Only one of whom I really knew. I was so nervous I think I cried to a parent the night we left. And I had never before had a conversation with Kaitlyn Smith.
Within a day or two of the trip, I was already clicking with several of the girls, and some of them, including Kait, were already jokingly & loudly declaring the fact that I have a "donk" to basically the entire camp. It was hilarious. It was such a rough week in some ways - my grandpa had a heart attack back home, there were stealing issues, kids who got sent home from camp, and much more - but it was so beautiful because it also forever bonded me to some girls I may not have ever met. And even in the midst of the chaos, God was most definitely moving.
I'll never forget my first deep one-on-one conversation with Kaitlyn, sitting on a rock outside the snack shop at Sharptop. Or the way my cabin of girls rallied together on the rocking chairs after cardboard testimonies and talked through some of the most intense moments of their life with raw honesty and emotion. Or the fact that our cabin was called "Skunk's Nest." HA. I mean, seriously? :)
Over that next year, my senior year of college, Kaitlyn and I became super close. I'm not even sure how exactly it happened - but it did. I would come to know all about her family and life, and she came to know all about mine as well. When I moved back to Kansas City, she would come visit - in some ways, becoming like an extra member of my family. Everyone who is close to me has either met her or has heard me talk about her.
Well, this Tuesday, May 17th, Kaitlyn graduated from high school. And you bet I was there to see it! I am so proud of her. Here are a few photos:
Kickapoo Class of 2011
Standing in line to get her diploma
Me with Kait & her beautiful mom, Pam
Despite many sadnesses and hardships in Kaitlyn's life, which shoot, my heart still breaks for, she has pressed on. Instead of letting them set her back, she just grew up - yes, probably more quickly than she should have had to. But she has allowed herself to see the good God has worked in her situations - and it is a beautiful thing.
She has a beautiful relationship with her mom, and values her many family members. She is respected by a wide range of her peers. She served on Student Council Cabinet as the Arts Commissioner this year. She is so talented in those ways. She gave up a month of her life last summer to serve the Lord. She goes out of her way to love on and work with special needs students. And a few weeks ago, she was voted Prom Queen.
I almost cried the other night as she stood in line to receive her diploma. I am so proud of her - and I am so excited for the life ahead of her. I know that God is going to use her talents and her huge heart to do big things. Some of which, I strongly believe through visions that I've had, we will be doing together. And that...brings a joy to my heart that I cannot even being to describe!
Kaitlyn...you know how much I love you. I'm so blessed you came into my life and I can't wait to continue on journeying together as you enter the next phase of your life.
This is my prayer for you...
"17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.
18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people,
19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength
20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms."
That you may come to realize that as a believer, the same power is in you as the power God used to raise Christ from the dead. That knowing that would give you hope. And a reason to further study His Word and learn of all His promises for you. That your heart may be enlightened and encouraged to dream big, and to DO big.
I love you kid. Thank you for being such an important part of my life.