Tuesday, September 13, 2011

We Encourage: A Beautiful Community

         This is a little bit difficult for me to write. I'm going to put that aside, however, and I'm going to write about it anyway. I'm going to write about it because it's beautiful and wonderful and inspiring as much as it is sad. I am going to write about it because I feel I should. 
        Three years ago I was a young, Mormon teenager living in Southern California. (Technically I'm still a young, Mormon teenager, but bear with me here.) In our church, like in so many churches, they grouped off people by age into different classes. There is a "Young Women" class and a "Young Men" class for people between the ages of 12 and 17.  That is the group I fit into. From that group I formed the best, strongest, most beautiful friendships that I know will last forever.
      At so young of an age my friends and I were at that point where we could be influenced by anything. Anyone. We really could have gone either way: towards good, or towards the very bad. That is when Briana Boulter Stephen came into our lives.

 Briana and her husband, Eric. I was not shy about letting Bri know how much I crushed on her hubby.

        Sister Stephen was our Young Women's leader. She was young and vibrant and enthusiastic. She was a strong and faithful member of the church. She was the best example any group of teenage girls could ever hope to have. Less than a month after she was called to be our president, she was diagnosed with cancer...and boy, did she show us how strong one could be in times of trial. She came to youth group every Wednesday night despite the fact that she had radiation treatment on Thursday mornings.

Bri finishing a marathon...She's amazing! 

Sister Stephen fought hard, but returned home to Heavenly Father on May 6th of this year. 

"...because of her determination and strong will she fought a valiant fight against cancer. When doctors said she would only live 3-6 months she fought and lived a life filled with joy and service for others for 2 ½ years. However, due to her never failing faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ she knew that she was needed on the other side. She never hesitated to answer yes to the call." - Six Stephens, the Stephen Family Blog. 

I Love Briana Stephen.
I love her, and so does the large community of people she impacted with her beautiful life.
The community she called family.
The community I call family. 

          I was so touched over the weekend, as I was looking on facebook, to see the work that was being done to help the Stephen Family with the burden of medical bills. My best friend's mother organized a huge garage sale this past weekend and received an overwhelming amount of love and help from friends and church members.

 Just one of the rooms filled with donated items. 

My own gorgeous mother, helping with the setup.

Carrie, one of the young women (and my MoH's little sister!)

Other church youth - my little brother among them. 

My little brother being...my little brother. I'm guessing he found that vest among the donations.
My best friend, Kasey and her mother Kristi. They organized all of this! 

Eric, cutting Sister Steven's birthday cake.

I am so lucky. 
So lucky to be a part of a community that cares so much.
that works so hard. 
that loves its members so strongly that they pull out all of the stops to help them.
A community I still feel connected to, even when there are thousands of miles and an ocean between us.

I am lucky to have them. 
I am lucky to have known Briana Stephen. 

The garage sale was a huge success. Despite a huge and random downpour of rain, money was raised well past the set goal to help the Stephen family with medical bills. 


apockylypse said...

I bet the family loved the fact that so many other cared for her just as much as they did. Glad to hear they were able to raise more than enough to help the family, because I know how difficult those medical bills can be.

Kara @ Just1Step said...

Such a sweet gift for you to all do that for her family. I'm so glad you were able to raise enough funds!

Liz said...

Such a beautiful story. So inspiring to read about young people coming together to support those they love.

Emma Frances said...

What a gorgeous post. And what an amazing woman. Thanks for sharing this even though I'm sure itwas incredibly hard. It is helping me to remember all the people who have helped and supported me in my life. Now I need to call them all up and tell them how much I love them.

Rachel said...

beautiful story. powerful woman.

bless you.

Vivian said...

This is so beautiful darling. I am so glad you talk about her so that others can learn from her inspiring life. I will definitely go check out her blog and keep her family on the loop. We are blessed to have amazing people like her in our lives. And best to you for continuing to choose the right. Cute blog!

hannah singer said...

i love how you are honoring your friend. beautiful.

angie on maui said...

I've visiting you from the "We Encourage" link up and felt compelled to comment on this post. I'm so, so sorry for the loss of your friend; what a beautiful and inspiring woman she was! This post is such a wonderful tribute to her and her family and your kind words are helping others to get to know her even in her passing.

I love that everyone pulled together in a joint effort to help raise funds for her family. What an honor it must have been to be a part of that!

Thank you for sharing your story; I have "met" so many beautiful and like-minded spirits through this link-up and feel so blessed because of it.

It's nice to meet you. :)


Jami said...

Thank you for sharing something so special with us. She was truly inspirational, and how wonderful to see a community coming together to help others.

Daryl said...

Thank you all so much for your sweet words. I am so blessed to have a community of people like that in my home town, as well as a supportive community of bloggers on the web. I am so grateful for all of you!

Heather (Boulter) Walden said...

I came upon your blog when I saw the picture of Bri and Eric while searching for something on google. I am Bri's little sister. I am still so touched to read about the many people she made an impression on, and those of you who made such an impact on her as well. My sister loved her young women! She could tell stories about each of you and she really did love her calling to serve you guys!!


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