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Five Years Since We Lost Shannon

Tomorrow marks five years since my best friend Shannon was killed by an act of domestic violence.
She was an incredible friend and mom and just lit up the room.
She saw the good in people and even prayed for the man who she ran from.
She asked others to pray for him as well. She had a sincere and kind heart.
I loved that I could share the fun of high school with her and also was able to have a deeper
friendship and talk about God and our faith. She was the girl who had a sparkle about her but didn’t even realize.
She was so fun. SO FUN. We laughed together. we cried together. I feel like it was another life ago.
Those care free years where you feel like life is moving in slo-mo.
(Below was my 18th birthday. my friends took me to a favorite Cafe in Atlanta.
Of course best friends arrive wearing matching American Eagle shirts.)
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I was able to share some motherhood moments with her…
but it was taken away too soon.

friends5-thebusybudgetingmama 

Over the past couple years I’ve found myself guarding my heart.
Not letting myself think too much on what happened.
Trying to focus and remember the good moments.
But a lump is in my throat as this day sneaks up. And my eyes tear up as memories rush in.
The same feelings hit me like a pile of bricks from when my sister first called me and told me what happened.
In that moment I kept thinking she was going to say she’s in the hospital. get on a flight.
I still can’t get over how a voicemail from Shannon somehow popped up a day or so after she died in my inbox.
I don’t get it except that it was God’s little gift to me. to hear her voice.
Maybe it was a verizon goof…but It was a gift.
One that made me sob and record it so I could always have it.
We were going to meet up soon for a summer trip! I was so excited to get our kids together.
To have some time just with her.
It’s the opening in this video I made soon after it happened.
I can’t bring myself to watch it but thought I would share it here.

Last month there was a week where I just was really struggling.
For some reason she just kept coming into my mind.
And usually I think of her when I’m in the middle of some amazing mom moment
and I feel a painful guilt of how come I get to enjoy this with my kids and she doesn’t?
I know that’s not from God.. and I know that she would want me to live my life but I wish
so badly for her to have had this with me. To be able to snapchat our silly mom moments together.
She comes into my mind when Ive just finished doing something really exciting and I want to tell her about it.
Especially if it’s mom related. Like the events I host for moms.
I so badly want to call her up and tell her about it.
But the thing that was so hard last month was that for some reason It
just was really bugging me knowing details about the day she was killed but NOT all the details.
I kept picturing her in the back of the truck but kept wondering if it was covered?
did she have that dignity or was it an open bed truck? it just was horribly hurting my heart.
And it made stay up at night. I even randomly asked my husband one night if
he remembered what they said in the court room.
Overall I can’t forget the things they talked about in the court room.
That’s the hard part about details they tell you.. you can’t forget them.
I did find some sort of closure knowing what happened…
but it also opened up another door that I wish I could close.
(Our last photo together.)
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As hard as tomorrow is for me, I can’t even imagine
what her family and two children are experiencing.
I just ask that you please stop and say a prayer for them.
Lift them up in your thoughts and prayers tomorrow.
We miss you Shannon and our hearts hurt from the way you
were so violently and tragically taken from us.
But we find peace in knowing you are where we all hope to be one day.
You fought the good fight. You won the race.
Your children are safe. and you have helped so many women find courage.

There have been emails and moments where I’ve felt ok wow yes
this is why I started blogging..this must be why!
A way for others to hear her story
and find strength to choose to leave a domestic violence situation.
To finally find courage to choose the safety of themselves and their children.
She wasn’t able to escape him, but I pray for other
women experiencing this cross, please speak up. please.
You don’t have to do this alone. And you are braver and stronger than you think.

I’ll miss you forever.
 

To read all posts related to Shannon you can click here.
Please share her story..donate if you can.
If you have been touched by her story and would like to 
visit her Memorial Page you can visit here

Please Pray for peace in our world 
and for all those affected by Domestic Violence.

Facing my fears: a Murderer in my dreams

The kids randomly napped for 2.5 hours today..so bed time was pushed back a bit tonight.
Totally worth it though because I slept when they slept! We played our guts out in the backyard.. making mud pies and I worked on painting the DIY play kitchen project. Then after bath and dinner we played on the play room floor. and I squeezed and hugged on the kids more than normal. Bed time went smoother than I thought, considering they napped so long..but I think everyone just needed it.

During that nap today, I had a dream that left me waking up super stressed and anxious and just heavy hearted. Sometimes things trigger dreams for me about Shannon. This time it was the guy at Home Depot who cut the plywood for me. He was super nice and helpful but reminded me down in my bones of how Chris looked. For those of you who are new to my blog, my best friend was murdered by the estranged father of her children, during a custody exchange. Chris is currently serving life in prison. It’ll be 4 years this june. Seems crazy and unreal. I pray Shannon’s soul and for his conversion every night. And that isn’t always an easy thing to do. but she prayed for that too.

I didn’t think much about the similarity when I was there at the store.. it kind of came into my mind and I pushed it out. But it snuck back in while I was dreaming today.

In my dream I was with my family and my siblings’ families celebrating the new cousin that was just born! We randomly were in our friend toni’s house. a house I grew up going too. Toni was friends with Shannon too. My parents were there..and my kids.. but ben wasn’t. instead I was married to this other guy whose face I couldn’t really see but he was similar to the home depot guy/chris…just bigger. and I just knew he wasn’t a good guy in my dream and felt the same as the guy in the courtroom. It started off with just a conversation about something random..and then it turned dangerous…I don’t remember what happened but something triggered me to secretly call the police. I was trying to give them the info without him hearing who I was talking too. I felt like I was facing a fear in this dream. facing a situation that happened to shannon and so many other women experiencing domestic violence.

I remember even at one point hugging this man to calm him and to make him think everything was ok. And then we all suddenly were outside. I felt this pressure that something horrible was going to happen. all my family was there…my dad was doing yard work..and there was a van full of sharp tools that I immediately noticed and thought could be used as a weapon. I remember my mom and I making eye contact thinking, hopefully he doesn’t see these here. I remember thinking in my dream how the police were never going to come..why was it taking so long… but suddenly they came.. and he was taken away. and no one was hurt.
and that was it.

I woke up. just thinking how strange the dream was. I think of shannon every day. I wish she was in my dreams…but instead I get weird ones like this. I wish that the police came in time for her. I wish that it would have played out differently. I woke up so heavy hearted. And trying to process the whole thing.

I’m currently planning our Celebrate Motherhood Conference(Retreat)..we just announced it! But I just feel like Shannon would have loved it. she would be right here planning with me. loading up swag bags, praying for the women and decoration shopping with me. I’ll share more about the event another time… but I know that she is watching over us as we plan and pray and prep. She was robbed of her chance to be the mother of her children all these years… and it breaks my heart. But I know that she is up there guiding us cheering us on.
I’m going to have some red roses at the event just for her. She’ll never be forgotten.

I hope there are more women who are saved in time.
I hope that more women don’t have to experience these life or death situations.
Thankful for the good men out there who love and protect and honor the women in their lives.
Hoping for sweeter dreams tonight.
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Women For Courage Luncheon- Domestic Violence Awareness

Today I went to the Women for Courage Luncheon with my mom. The Charlotte event was put on by the Jamie Kimble Foundation. I heard about it months back when a girl named Sharon came across a recipe of mine pinned to Pinterest, came to my blog then clicked through to my post on learning to grieve. Sharon emailed me and we finally met this week at the event. She was one of the event coordinators and is on the board for the Foundation.
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Sharon was best friends with Jamie, who was killed through a similar act of domestic violence, like my best friend, Shannon. Her friend Jamie, escaped an abusive relationship but then 3 months later he drove across the country and shot her and them himself.
Seeing the video showing her life and the hearts of her parents just brought me to tears.
I pictured Shannon and Jamie together looking down on us and the whole room of 700 people.
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(image via)

 I was so overwhelmed with seeing the room full of men and women wanting to celebrate Jamie’s memory and bring awareness to Domestic Violence. I was fighting back tears the whole lunch. We heard from amazing survivors and advocates for domestic violence awareness. I was so touched by the whole thing…seeing so many people gathered together and wanting to take action on this issue. The guest speaker was Jane Randel, co-founder of  the National No-More Campaign.

I have gone through many phases of grief with losing Shannon.
For those of you who are new to my blog, I’ve shared her story from the beginning. But she had finally escaped an abusive relationship and during a custody exchange, he brutally shot her in front of the children. The details are horrific and are straight out of a horror movie or crime show you would change the channel for. I pray for Shannon and her children every night. And I pray by name for Chris’s conversion. That was a big step for me over the years. But Shannon was an incredibly kind and forgiving person.
She prayed for him and asked others to pray for him, even when she was fearing for her life.
He is now in prison serving life with no chance of parole.
I’ve found myself going to a place of protecting myself.
Letting her come to my mind but not able to watch old videos or think too long on old times.
It just hurts too much. And it makes me want to crumble a little bit inside.
But after this event, I’ve realized that I need to be stronger. I need to have courage.
And let myself share her story more and speak more about her.
And know that even though it’s hard we must speak up.
We must be the voice for those who feel they have lost their voice.
thebusybudgetingmama-shannon

One in four women will be experience Domestic Violence in their lifetime.
One in Five high school students report being abused by a boyfriend in High School.
As many as 324,000 women each year experience
intimate partner violence during their pregnancy.

3 women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends in this country every day.
65% of Domestic Violence Murder Victims had separated
from their abusers prior to their deaths.

(stats via)
South Carolina used to be ranked the deadliest state in the nation for women.
In 2014, Alaska took the first spot, but South Carolina was
only bumped to second in the rate of women killed by men.

Jamie’s Parents and friends and family are doing amazing things through her foundation.
Their goal is to stop domestic violence before it begins, through education of young people.
At the luncheon they passed out a card with warning signs.
The whole time I was like I NEED to blog this. I need to pin this.
I need to help put this out there in case someone comes across it that needs to see this list.
Please join me in spreading this list.  You never know who you
know that might need to see this.
DV WARNING SIGNS

Visit JamieKimbleFoundationForCourage.org

Call the 24-hour National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)