Personal Post: Remembering Kylie | Analisa Joy Photography | Upland, CA Photographer

How does God speak to you? All my life, I grew up listening to testimonies from people telling me about their experiences with God’s voice. It worried me because I never heard that “boom/whisper” that others have described. However, through age and perspective, I have learned that God’s voice reaches out to me in a different way. God reveals himself to me through timing. His timing. 

There are so many parallels in my life that match up to God’s timing, but today I will focus it around Kylie.

A little insight into my life. It is organized yearly, monthly, daily, and hourly. We don’t live spontaneously because my work days are at times scheduled almost 2 years in advance. I usually have my calendar filled in each day up to 3 months. We already have our future children scheduled, when we will move, and when we will pursue new goals and adventures… God willing. Our life is ran by time (and synced Apple calendars). Yet, God constantly reminds me that no matter how much I try to pencil in my future, His plans will always prevail before my own.

I’m not complaining, I love my job. It’s unique and rewarding. However, I miss a lot of events. My career celebrates weekend festivities and therefore I pass up on a lot of birthdays, showers, dinners, bachelorettes, gatherings, and sometimes holidays. I wish these things could be celebrated on a Monday, but my work usually contrasts the schedules of most.

However, when it came to Kylie, God took complete control of my calendar. His timing for who, what, where, when and why was perfectly crafted in all situations. I never had to reschedule events because God used me in His timing.

When Bree went into labor, my calendar was free. I had the honor of sleeping next to her in the hospital and photographing Kylie’s first breath. It was the first time I witnessed a live birth. The thought initially grossed me out, but the reality of it moved me to tears! There is nothing more amazing then to be able to see and capture the miracle of life! I’m not a morning person, but on that day I loved 6:48am because Kylie entered my world!

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Kylie’s Birth

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When Kylie was diagnosed with cancer, I was serving in another country. My phone was on airplane mode and I didn’t have access to anyone in the US. We were purposeful to disconnect from the outside world. However, while laying in bed my phone rang (I still get chills thinking about it). Trent and I looked at one another so confused… our phones were not set up to receive incoming calls. It was my mom and my heart sank when I heard the news. Kylie was diagnosed with cancer. Even with the time change, that night I was able to speak to every family member about Kylie’s situation.

When I finally hung up, it was the first time I experienced a panic attack. I received devastating news and I was “stuck” in a foreign country. At 2am I was frantically crying and packing my bags. Then I realized I was on an island with no access to an airport. To get to Belize it takes land, air, and sea. I went to our group leader to seek out a quick exit plan. I woke her up and I told her that I needed to leave… and leave now! She just looked at me calmly and told me to stop (that was not what I was expecting). She told me to ask God if I should leave. She told me to pray. She told me to not let the devil take over my emotion and distract me from asking God for help and direction. It was the worst news I have ever received and in those moments I didn’t think of God once. I was mad. Upset. Worried. My mind was occupied with trying to leave, my family… Kylie! But I walked outside with my husband and friends and we sat on the beach and prayed. My head was so cloudy and gradually it was filled with total clarity. I needed to stay. I needed to serve.

I didn’t leave. That decision was really hard and at the time I didn’t understand why. It took time, but now I know. I was surrounded by 50 believers who prayed with me, hugged me, and loved on me. During that time, some of them experienced or was going through similar experiences as me. They were able to sympathize, give me wisdom, and provide me guidance.

God sent me to an unfamiliar place surrounded by strangers in perfect timing. If it was up to me, I would’ve imagined myself receiving the news in the comfort of my home near my family. That wasn’t His plan. When God sent me on this trip, I thought it was my goal to serve people. I didn’t realize until later that He sent me away to be served by others.

I’m thankful for those moments when we don’t understand God’s reasoning only to look back later and praise Him for His decisions. I was able to truly seek God in my darkest hours and find clarification. I was stripped away from all distractions and left completely vulnerable and raw. I was able to relate, cry, pray, and learn from the locals in a way that I could have never experienced if it wasn’t for the news that I received. I quickly learned that life is too short to be fearful of sharing God’s message with others (something that I have always been timid to do). Confidence washed over me and I was able to bring my first person to Christ and get them baptized. Another brother that I get to enjoy Heaven with! God’s timing of that trip forever changed my soul. I came back to the US with a new perspective toward Kylie’s situation. I realized that Kylie’s life was not ours to control. I had peace knowing she was in God’s hands.

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Belize

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In Kylie’s final days, I was completely booked with work besides one week in February. My brother called with intuition that we should fly to NY. The doctors were estimating a little more time for Kylie, but he felt differently. We left the next day. I usually plan trips months in advance (along with my family who also live with  crazy schedules). However, every single member in my family happened to have those days completely free. I can’t tell you how many times we try to organize family dinners (sometimes months in advance) and yet we can’t find an evening that works for each person. Yet, a trip across the country fit perfectly in everyone’s timeline.

We all got to individually sit by Ky, play worship music, hold her hand, and kiss her goodbye. She passed away the next morning.

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Visiting Kylie

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Kylie’s Journey

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Death surrounds our daily life. You see it on TV, read about it in magazines, follow it it on social media, and even attend funerals… but there is no manual on how to react when you see someone you love die. When you walk out of the hospital, you hope life shows you mercy and magically stops. We would have done anything to freeze time in order to gain some breathing room. However, when we walked out into the NY streets, thousands of people brushed by us without any knowledge of our heartbreak. Time moved at a frantic pace.

How many people do we pass, honk at, get annoyed with without realizing what they could be experiencing at that moment? It helps me pause before I react to why people may be acting the way they are. We do not know what they could have endured only minutes prior.

Kylie’s Funeral

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In two years of life, Kylie’s testimony reached thousands of people. It became a viral sensation on social media, it hit newspapers, appeared on the news and in highly recognized articles. People prayed for the first time and attended church for the first time. She brought awareness to cancer and caused people to befriend strangers while uniting for a cause. Kylie did more in two years than most do in their entire lives. Her funeral brought thousands of people to church to listen to Pastor Jeremiah preach about God! That’s amazing!! It makes you reevaluate what kind of legacy you want to leave behind. What message does your life send out to others? What do you worry about and find time to prioritize? Are you living a life that is impacting the lives of others?

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Kylie’s journey strengthened my relationship with God. She mended a lot of broken relationships that existed within my own family. She taught me how to be a better mother to my son and to appreciate all his stages… every tantrum, cry, and late night I value because so many mothers who have lost their children would do anything to have those moments.

I cry writing this thinking about my brother and Bree. Kylie couldn’t have asked for better parents to fight alongside her during this journey. I cry for their heartbreak and pain. Yet, I know God has plans for them. Plans still unseen. Plans still unknown. He has ignited a spark and a change in both of them. They have received new ambitions and life goals. They went from living intimate/private lives to being in the public eye and being a voice for childhood cancer. I’m proud of their hard work and the impact they have on their community.

Kylie Strong

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Kylie’s Kolors 

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Make a Difference!

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Although, we mourn her loss on earth, I have peace knowing Kylie is healthy and in the arms of our Heavenly Father. Unwavering faith is from the devil and he doesn’t deserve that part of my life with everything else that he has taken. God deserves the glory because of everything that He has given. He gave us the choice to choose Him and Heaven. A place to escape fear, pain, and death. For that, I’m thankful and I will forever praise Him. We love you Kylie!

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