- Peace for Shawn and I, for Kyle and Miranda and Braden and Connor, for our parents and siblings and nieces and nephews and inner circle friends watching and hurting as we go through this
- that God would keep soft our children's hearts toward Him through all the emotions of this hard journey
- strength and stamina; physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually
- that the cancer shrinks to gone, gone, gone!
- gentle side effects to this second round of chemo
- family unity, harmony, love, strength, joy, happiness
- anything else you feel God puts on your heart

Monday, February 16, 2015

A Valentine's Day Victory!

 After a dark and dreary year, we were thrilled to hear that Kristin's cousin Brody was invited into the Chopped Canada Kitchen!  The timing of his episode could not have been better. It was a stark contrast from where we were a year ago on February 14th, and we were thrilled to make new memories on on this Valentine's Day!  
We quickly got busy putting together a Chopped Canada Screening Party as Brody and his gang gathered in Calgary for their own screening party and fundraising event. 
 Here is Brody with his parents Bev & Brian, his wife Sandra, and his brother Brett & wife Kristen at their Screening Party in Calgary.
We were on the edge of our seats watching the show! 
There were tons of tears, oodles of laughter, and even a little yelling at the judges! We had a fantastic time cheering Brody on during each round!  The kids and their dad were thrilled that their mom was honored with such a sweet and caring tribute, and there wasn't a dry eye in our home.
The show twisted and turned it's way through a three course meal and in the end the BEST CHEF WON! Congratulations Brody on a well-deserved win!  We look forward to giving you a real life hug and a heart felt thank you for the beautiful tribute to Kristin, and to the love you have shown her family.
 We celebrated BRODY and his CHOPPED CHAMPION VICTORY 'Kristin style'
...with cake! 
 Shawn and the kids tried to skype with the winner but it was really hard to communicate with all the excitement!  I'm not sure any of us were truly prepared for the emotional ups and downs of the evening, but it sure was fun.  If you've watched the show, you will know what I'm referring to. One moment grieving the loss of Kristin and the next second cheering so loud she could probably hear us in heaven!
We were thrilled that Brody's true character was not lost during the entire episode. From start to finish, he remained true to himself. He was so calm, poised, and caring.  
Kristin would have been SO proud of you Brody, I know we are!
I would also like to extend an extra special thank you to the owners of Charcut Roast House along with Brody's wife & son, his entire family, and the staff that he works with every day.  Your love and dedication to both Brody's talent and his love for his family has been out of this world.  From the bottom of our hearts, THANK YOU!

If you missed the episode, please click here to watch Brody in action:

Thursday, February 12, 2015

How About Them Apples

  We are excited to make this very special announcement...
Kristin's cousin Brody Ashton will be on Chopped Canada this Saturday Feb 14th at 6:00pm!! If he is declared Chopped Champion, he plans to donate some of his winnings to Kristin's memorial fund. I would love to hear Brody's take on how this happened and why, but Kristin would be absolutely tickled knowing that Brody made it onto a TV show!
Back in July 2012, before Kristin was diagnosed with cancer, Shawn and Kristin took the family on a road trip to Alberta to explore Drumheller, Calgary Zoo, and to visit with some of our family. One of the highlights of the trip was meeting up with family at Charcut Roasthouse for dinner. Kristin's cousin Brody is a sous chef at the restaurant, and after reading raving reviews she made it clear that she had to go there! 
  The meal did not disappoint, and it's all she talked about for months! One more thing Kristin loved more than her meal... the cookies!  She even tried to bring some home for us to share, but they didn't make it! She later told us that she enjoyed them on our behalf!
For the months following her visit, she brought up this experience several times.  She would talk in great detail about the food, the service, the experience, but more than that,  she was so incredibly proud of Brody! She very excitedly told everyone she knew about her experience and insisted we all get there! Kristin was very passionate, and she was so excited to share Brody's passion for food, as well as his role at Charcut. 
  Through Kristin's surgery and gruelling chemo and radiation, she often spoke of her Charcut visit. She decided that as soon as she was finished the cancer treatment she was taking us girls on a road trip to Calgary so she could take us to dinner! Exactly one year after her initial visit, we did just that. Kristin was offered a short break in her chemo so Kristin, mom, and her sisters hit the road! You can only imagine how much chatting goes on in a car with 4 women! So much chatting that we somehow missed our turn and ended up taking the long scenic route to Alberta. 
This added time in our journey turned out to be a blessing in disguise as we enjoyed an extra few hours to chat as well as an unexpected stop to dip our toes in the icy blue river. 
 The downside was that this little detour meant we missed our reservation. Kristin was incredibly disappointed and she cried when she realized we just couldn't make it happen. We had no idea what we were missing, but she did. We have yet to make it out to Calgary to see Brody in action, but we hope to in the very near future. If you are in Calgary, Alberta make sure you stop in at Charcut for an amazing meal and say hi to Kristin's cousin Brody!
Brody, if you are reading this, I want you to know how proud Kristin was of you. She was bursting at the seams when she spoke of her experience and she would be just as proud today. No matter how the Chopped episode turns out, she would be gathering up a crowd to cheer you on! 

For Kristin's friends, please leave a comment for Brody! Cheer him on with us as we watch him duke it out in the kitchen! If you are searching on line after the show airs, he will be in Season 2 Episode 6 "How About Them Apples".

Click here to learn more about the Kristin Erickson Memorial Fund

Monday, February 9, 2015

One Year Later

Hello everyone,
I'm struggling with what to write but felt that I needed to post something. It was one year ago that Kristin passed away and I miss her so very, very much. Kyle, Miranda, Braden and Connor do too. I haven't posted anything to this blog as I initially thought I would. Perhaps going forward I will contribute more. While much has happened over this last year, it feels like so little time has passed. Our family continues to do well, one day at a time, and we are so thankful for the many thoughts, prayers and acts of kindness we have received. I would ask that you keep us in your thoughts and prayers going forward.
Thank you,

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Choosing Joy

When Kristin was diagnosed with cancer on October 29, 2012, our family knew our lives would never be the same.  In an instant, our world as we knew it no longer existed.  Cancer snuck in and filled all the little empty spaces in our minds with fear, anxiety, dread, and weariness.  It did what is expected of it, and sucked the life right out of us.  That was in a split second.
 In the very next second we vowed that we would not allow these things to fill up the space in our hearts and minds. Instead, we chose hope, determination, laughter and even joy! We experienced moments of freedom and peace in the midst of this devastating blow, and moment by moment we put one foot in front of the other and carried on the way Kristin requested.  It was so hard, and the war in our hearts and minds did not let up.  There were no easy moments, every moment was a choice to either get up or give up.

Over Kristin’s 15 month battle, we often thought, ‘Wow, this is the hardest thing we have ever experienced’.  We had no idea that the hardest was yet to come. Kristin was determined that she would not give in to the absolute exhaustion and sadness and said often, ‘Satan get behind me’.  This was a phrase we all learned to say often.  When one of us was weary, another one would say the words out loud to give us strength, ‘Satan get behind us’.
Kristin was knocked down again and again and again, yet she managed to get up each time.  She got up and she fought harder than before! There were times when each of us shook our heads with disbelief. She blew us away with her determination, and we believed with her until the very end that she was going to survive cancer. I think it was her strength that now makes her death so hard.  She was a survivor. She was our hero.

The day before Kristin passed away, our cousin Derek came up to the hospital to give us hugs.  In the midst of his own grief, he reached out and there was wisdom in his embrace. He endured our questions over the mundane things, he let us torture him about his love life, he shared sacred moments of the loss of his father, and he exposed his heart and fresh grief through soft spoken words.  He shared something so huge with us that I haven’t been able to forget it.   We really hadn’t started to grieve the loss of our cousin, or our uncle, and yet our hearts were already so full of sadness. We knew that we couldn’t handle the loss that was coming.  But in his one simple sentence, I felt understood. Reassured maybe?
What he said painted a picture of my grief, and made me see it in a way that was less scary. You see... my sister had a HUGE personality.  Kristin wasn’t the sit back and smile across the room kinda girl!  She was a sit RIGHT beside you, put her hand on your knee and start up a conversation kinda girl!  She was loud, passionate, and a huge presence in our family.  I can admit that I happily took a back seat to Kristin.  I liked that she was our family spokesperson. Kristin liked being on center stage and I preferred to be behind the scenes! One thing we knew for sure was that when Kristin left us, she would leave a massive hole in our lives; a big, empty, scary crater.  No matter how hard I tried, I didn’t see how I was going to get through it, over it, around it, or past it! My gut told me that I could read every book in the bible, sing praises, and pray all day long.... but no amount of positive ‘filler’ would ever fill the hole.  I imagined that I could eat, drink, or sleep the days away.... but no amount of negative ‘filler’ could ever fill that hole.  There would always be the anxiety of that crater. What my cousin said to me truly changed the way I would look at that big empty hole in our lives. 

He said, ‘The person that leaves your life doesn’t leave a GIANT HOLE.  They leave a [insert name here] KRISTIN SHAPED HOLE.  You can try as hard as you want, but you will never be able to fill that hole.  It’s like trying to put a square peg in a round hole.’  I understood immediately, and it felt so good to visualize our emptiness this way. No person, place, or thing could ever take Kristin’s place.

The next day, Kristin left us.  We tried desperately (mostly subconsciously) to fill the ‘KRISTIN SHAPED HOLE’ with planning a funeral, food, work, activities.... staying busy, busy, busy!  But that hole remained empty.  Kristin is irreplaceable.  It will always be empty.  In a dark quiet moment, I realized that Derek had given me the permission to leave that hole empty. I am allowed to let that ‘Kristin shaped hole’ sit empty and there is a freedom in leaving it just the way it is. I’m allowed to go there and cry and yell into it when I need to, but there is a comfort in knowing that even if I try, I can’t fill it.   It’s not a scary crater anymore, and since I have changed the way I view it, I have noticed that it is filling with beautiful memories all on its own.  I can go and meet her there.... it’s where I can hear her voice and see her smile.   Are you struggling with honoring Kristin’s memory? Are you afraid you will forget her voice? Do you miss her smile?  I challenge you to stop trying to jam the square peg in the round hole. It’s Kristin shaped, only she can fill that hole.
 I know this paints a perfect and pretty picture of our grief (Kristin would say rainbows & unicorns!!).  Believe me, it’s not pretty.  We are overwhelmed every day with sadness, anger, and anxiety, and some moments we are just horrible to be around. Thankfully, we have all found tasks and routines in our day that enable us to keep moving on.  It’s very easy to get lost in work or activities, and it protects us from getting stuck in that dark place.  Just like Kristin said, ‘Satan get behind me’.  We still say it, cry it, yell it, and believe it.  Sometimes after work I get in my car and cry the entire way home. Sometimes I hide and listen to a video of Kristin on my phone over and over. We have been on a journey of faith and love, and although Kristin is not physically here, she still inspires us to be strong in our faith and to love one another.  Please continue to pray for us, and encourage us. We are all making the effort to choose joy and keep our dear Kristin's memory alive forever. 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Monkey Love

I received a text from a friend on the evening before Kristin's funeral.  She really felt for my niece and nephews, and she asked if she could bring a little something for each of them before the funeral. Something to hang on to, something to cuddle, something that would bring them comfort that day and in the days to come.  She offered a small teddy bear or a monkey, but I knew immediately that a monkey would be perfect! What a thoughtful and caring gift.

If you've been following Kristin's blog, you will know that her sock monkey friend, 'LaLaLuna', brought great comfort on some of her most difficult days and also put a smile on her face when she was bored. LaLaLuna was a perfect distraction when Kristin needed to escape the reality of chemo, hospital visits....cancer. 

As you can see, LaLaLuna, as well as Kristin's kids, now have four beloved sock monkey friends to bring them comfort. 

Thank you Corrinna for thinking of the kids and bringing these special gifts on the day of their Mom's funeral. I know that they will cherish them always. You just never know when you need some monkey love!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Graveside Service

The Lord gives STRENGTH to His people;
The Lord blesses His people with PEACE
:: Psalm 29:11 ::
On Friday February 14th at 11:00 am, our family and a few of Kristin's special friends gathered together at the graveside to commit Kristin's body to the earth.  We were told to expect rain, but we were blessed with a dry day and even some beautiful sunshine. A reminder of God's love when we were hurting so deeply. 
Dave Jones :: Brother in Law
Roger Unrau :: Brother in Law
Ryan Erickson :: Brother in Law
Ryan Epp :: Cousin
Aaron Peters :: Cousin
Derek Weiss :: Cousin
 Pastor Jim Lucas shared a special story about Kristin that had us all grinning from ear to ear.  He shared a sermon that he had preached one Sunday morning, and during his sermon he explained that he only hugs family due to society's fear of inappropriate touching.  After the sermon, Kristin approached him and gave him a GIANT KRISTIN HUG and then said to him, 'I guess we're family now'!  When Kristin hugged, she was the person who determined when it was time to let go. She held on tight and didn't let go until she was good and ready. 
   Pastor Jim spoke of how the BEST of Kristin has left her body. What we loved most about her, and what made her so unique, had already gone on to Heaven.  She would no longer need her broken body, and he assured us that she would be made new and we would see her again!  
 Kristin's four children, her three nieces, and two nephews all wrote her beautiful Valentine's messages on purple hearts. After the pastor's message, the kids all approached Kristin's beautiful blue casket and tucked their love letters under the flowers.  Kristin loved holidays, and it was a beautiful way for the kids to all express their love for her while honoring Valentine's Day ~a day of LOVE.

 Shawn and the kids all took turns pulling a beautiful pink rose from the flowers on the casket.
 And then the rest of our immediate family followed.
The rain held off and her beautiful brocade casket mimicked the blue sky peaking out from the clouds above us. She said she wanted cream but they don't make that one anymore. We weren't too worried about that, we knew she loved color...lots and lots of color!
Kristin loved her Mother in law, and was thrilled that she had done the flower arrangements for her wedding. I'm sure she would have been so proud that the beautiful arrangements at both the graveside and church services, were also made by Wiffy with love. 
After prayers, hugs, tears, and of course a few pictures, we left the cemetery with broken hearts.
Come to Me all who are WEARY
and I will give you 
:: Matthew 11:28 ::

Sunday, March 9, 2014

One month ago...

It has been one month since Kristin's passing and I felt it appropriate to stop and reflect.  So much has happened, so much has changed.  Change is often not easy, particularly when it is not our choice.  So many thoughts and questions are faced daily yet as our family changes some of the ways we do things, we find it difficult but also understand that new opportunities learn, to collaborate, to share and to grow closer.   Our present state stills sees us relying on what I will call "the three F's" - our faith, our family and our friends.  I am daily overwhelmed by the outpouring of love shown to us.  
So, how are we doing now, you might ask?  I am pleased to say we are doing reasonably well as we transition into our "new normal".  This last month has certainly had it's ups and downs, and we continue to take things one day at a time.  For this blog post, I'll share a few positive points as they relate to our kids.  

Connor has adjusted back to school and gets excited to play ball hockey at recess.  The other day he stated that he scored a "natural hat trick" and was very excited about that!  Braden is also doing well in school.  In fact this last week report cards came out and he made the honour role!  I was so proud to watch him get his award at the school assembly on Friday.  Miranda is part of an after school program called Destination Imagination where kids work in teams to learn and experience creativity, teamwork and problem solving.  Yesterday at the middle school challenge her team came in second place.  Way to go Miranda (and team)!  And last but not least, Kyle's soccer team played for the district championship and I am pleased to say that today they won! 

Over this last month, I have somewhat struggled to know how best to thank everyone for their kind words, prayers and generosity.  I have sent some cards, emails, texts, made phone calls, yet I know I have not reached everyone.  As a result, I am hopeful that this blog post will reach many more.  So to everyone, from Connor,  Braden, Miranda, Kyle and Shawn, we say "thank you".  Thank you for all you have done for us and continue to do for us.  While I won't capture it all, thank you for bringing us meals, for praying, for reaching out, for listening, for donating, for being there... I also have a long list of people who have offered assistance in any way, at any time - to you we say "thank you" as well.  Lastly, I continue to be asked "what do you need" or "what can we do for you"?  My answer is "pray".  Pray for our physical, emotional and spiritual health.
Going forward I plan to contribute to Kristin's blog to share her and our stories, keep people informed of how we're doing and perhaps also share some self reflective thoughts and perspectives.  I will not try to fill Kristin's shoes.  She had a gift; a gift to share her thoughts and to care and counsel others.  I hope that as you follow the blog, you will find it interesting, informative and of value to your journey.


Saturday, March 8, 2014

A Daddy's Heart

"I will never leave you or forsake you!"

That is Gods promise to us all, if we trust Him. And we have felt the prayers of all our friends carry us through each moment , and felt we were never alone. Fact is, I know it won't be that long until Kristin meets me at those pearly gates, although I am in no hurry, nor do I want to leave the rest of my family and friends, the reality is, I will come to that time, sooner than many of you,that I also will pass away. The only guarantee we have in this world, is death.
After Kristin left us, our hearts were so torn, so ripped apart. My human expression of tears, never fixed my feeling of the vacuum inside. The friends and relatives loving on me through this time, has cushioned the hurt, yet many times each day, and in the middle of the night, the tears just flow without warning. It is so hard to be up, feel like talking, and for me that is totally out of character, and difficult to find the ability to focus on anything for very long. To watch TV, Olympics or anything, just has no importance, nor gives me much satisfaction. A bit like living in a fog and unable to assert your mind.
My thoughts go to the past 15 months, the hard days, but more and more, the good times and memories. And most important, my family, Shawn, my other daughters and husbands, and the nine grandkids, all trying to handle their emotional roller coaster, keep me trying to look ahead, something we have been unable to do in this past. Many lessons of life we have learned with Kris, continue to push us to be better, more caring, and most important, keep from being too busy, yet staying focused on each other, family, friends and strangers we bump into along our journey. 
Yes, all our days are numbered, but while we are here, each of us can choose to help make a positive difference to all we come in contact with and those we go out of our way to help.
Thank You, to all of you, that took time from your busy lives, to pray for, comfort, feed, give in so many ways, just to love on us in your own special way, we are, and feel soooo blessed by you all, and we as a family, have been praying all along this journey, that God would bless each of you in return.
Love Kristin's dad

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Video Tribute

Kristin absolutely loved taking pictures and capturing everyday moments.  
Her home is filled with pictures, scrapbooks, and photo albums! She didn't tuck them away, she left them out in the open and encouraged friends and family to flip through them when they visited.  
We knew we couldn't fit her entire passion for life into two short songs, 
but here are some of our favorites!

Thank you Roger for spending hours of your time and energy making this video.  
The songs chosen were very special to us,  please listen carefully to the words...

The 1st song:
 Never Once by Matt Redman, 
is truly the anthem of Kristin's Journey.  

The 2nd song:
 was chosen by Kristin's dad.

For a clearer, larger video click link below

Special Song ~Brett Ashton & Sandra Ashton

We had the privilege of traveling to Calgary to visit our 'Alberta family' in July. It was very important to Kristin that her mom and sisters joined her on a road trip. We shared lots of laughs and a few tears too. Kristin couldn't wait to take us to her favorite restaurant CHARCUT. Our cousin Brody works there and she was so excited to show off his passion. Sadly, we didn't make it to the restaurant, but in its place we saw God's creations as we took an unexpected detour through Jasper.

We had a fantastic visit with Brody & Sandra and their handsome new son, our Auntie Bev & Uncle Brian, and cousins Brett & Kristen and their two beautiful kids. It was really hard to say goodbye.

Silent tears rolled down Kristin's cheeks as we drove home. We knew what she was thinking; she had just given her last hugs and 'I love you's' to these people that she was so proud to be related to.

If you knew Kristin, it would come as no surprise that she would have no qualms about asking our musical cousins to take part in her special day.  

Thank you Brett and Sandra for blessing us with your gift of music. You are both so incredibly special, and we know Kristin wouldn't have wanted anyone else to deliver this tender message.   

'His Strength is Perfect'
Sung by Cousins Brett  Ashton and Sandra Ashton

I can do all things
Through Christ who gives me strength
But sometimes I wonder what He can do through me
No great success to show
No glory on my own
Yet in my weakness He is there to let me know

His strength is perfect when our strength is gone
He'll carry us when we can't carry on
Raised in His power, the weak become strong
His strength is perfect, His strength is perfect

We can only know
The power that He holds
When we truly see how deep our weakness goes
His strength in us begins
Where ours comes to an end
He hears our humble cry and proves again

His strength is perfect when our strength is gone
He'll carry us when we can't carry on
Raised in His power, the weak become strong
His strength is perfect, His strength is perfect

Kristin showed enormous strength through her entire life, but especially through her cancer journey.  Her strength was supernatural at times.  When we look back at all the things she did while suffering the effects of surgery, radiation, and chemo, we see that God's strength carried her when she couldn't carry on.  We know He will do the same for us, His Strength Is Perfect

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Special Words: Youngest & Oldest

The children were given the chance to speak about their mom at the funeral. They could write down a few things to say on their own, or have their words read by Kristin's cousin Rena.  Two chose to keep their words and thoughts private, and two chose to share. Kristin and Shawn have raised four incredibly brave children and we are all so proud of them!

Read by Kristin's Cousin Rena
Words from Connor (7)

Mom danced with me. 
Me and mom went to Starbucks. 
I love mom. 
Mom filled me up with love. 
Mom gave me peace. 
Mom coloured with me. 
I wish mom did not have cancer. 
If you ask God about something in your prayer, 
He will answer.

Words from Kyle (15)

Roses are red
Violets are blue
You passed away
believe me you,
left a lasting impression
with all of your love
and your passion, your
vision and your love. 
Lest we forget the
hero of many lives
and our family, Mother, 
daughter, wife, friend, cousin, 
leader, role model, love, 
cousin, that person who
impacted so many lives, 
I love you mom. 
Roses are red
violets are blue
I love you because
you saw me through. 
not to the end, but
where it mattered
you went on
but we stayed
with our thoughts
and our hearts.
Manafest once told me to live on, 
not to hold on,
but hold on, and
be strong. 
These are words to 
live by now.
As much as you might
question how
it's not hard, 
when you have the
memories that I have
to live on. 
Bye Mom, 
Love you,

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Sister Reflections ~Part 2

 Sister Reflections ~Part 2
Read by Kristin's Sisters Keri Jones (left) Kori Unrau (right)

Another Kristin fun fact (one which her closest friends will have a chuckle about) is that she’d always show up with her arms full!! At least 2 giant overflowing heavy bags of stuff. Stuff she may not even need in the next several hours or days even, but she couldn’t leave home without them. A scrapbook… or two, an ipad, a camera… or two! A notebook, a scarf… or two, Multiple pens and her signature sharpie… or two.  A simple trip to the mall and more recently chemo always involved at least one of these overflowing bags. We loved to give her a hard time about them and she was quick to remind us if we ever needed something she would have it covered! Shawn and the kids all developed some pretty amazing muscles carting her STUFF around!

Kristin was a hopeless romantic! We would love to read you the NINE PAGE STORY she wrote of how she met and married the love of her life, instead, we will give you the very short version: God answered her prayer and sent Shawn!
Kristin was very strong in her faith from a very young age.  As she got older she prayed and asked God for someone stronger than her in spiritual and every day life. Over the years as Shawn and Kristin grew as a couple, so did their faith. God was the firm foundation of their family, and each of their children were lovingly dedicated to the Lord. They were taught from a young age to be strong in the Lord, Trust in Jesus, and Never lose their faith.  Kristin was not ashamed of the gospel, and she instilled it in her children.  Kristin and Shawn had no idea how their faith would be tested along the way but they never once faltered. Many times over the years they trusted, believed and thanked God for His many blessings.  It wasn’t all ‘Rainbows and Butterflies’ (as Kristin would say) but they never lost sight of their creator and that He had a plan for their lives. 

When Kristin was diagnosed with cancer on October 29, 2012, she told us she did not want her life to be a testimony of her faith because she did not feel qualified. Every day of her 15 month battle, God covered her with His Grace and peace and carried her. God does not call the qualified, He qualifies the called. He had already begun working in her as a young girl preparing her for this road ahead.

A passage Kristin used as a guide is Matthew 5:14-16. It says:

‘You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and keep it under a bowl. Instead they put it on a stand and it gives light to the entire house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deed and praise your Father in Heaven’.

Kristin's children, husband, family, and some friends watched her as she processed the news of her diagnosis.  There were many tough days and she didn’t give up hope. She was not in denial about what was to come, but she simply chose to lean on her faith to ground her and trusted that her heavenly father would take care of the rest. Kristin shone her light for all of us.  She showed us that there is hope in helplessness.  There is joy in sorrow. There is love and patience and kindness that lights up the dark.  Kristin's grace was a gift to her children and she did her best to protect them.  She did what she knew best, and surrounded herself with everyone and everything that mattered to her. She was an example to her kids that we must let our light shine in all circumstances.

Kristin blogged her journey and was true to her faith and belief that God would take care of her family all the time.  She was often overwhelmed (in a good way) with silver linings and Gods blessings. Unexpected groceries dropped off when they were needed most….  Offers of help for the kids at just the right time…  15 months of Meals delivered when she couldn’t even stand… Doctors, nurses, receptionists, and pharmacists always going that extra mile… all on her behalf.  Kristin was cared for by friends, family, and people that didn’t even know her!  Her ability to make and sustain relationships carried her when she needed it the most.  

A friend gave us a verse to share with you, and we think it summarizes Kristin’s life well. 
‘Blessed is the woman who perseveres under trial,
Because when she has stood the test, she will receive the
Crown of life that God has promised to those who love him’
~James 1:12
The crown of life is like the victory wreathe given to winning athletes.  Gods crown of life is not glory and honor here on earth, but the reward of Eternal Life – living with God forever: HEAVEN.  The way to be in God’s winners circle is by loving Him and staying faithful even under pressure. 
Kristin truly enjoyed bible verses, inspiring quotes, and pictures to motivate her when the going got tough. She had them written on plaques and displayed around her house.  She hared many of these on her blog and facebook as well as in texts and emails. She shared this little quote by Nancy Leigh deMoss about a month ago and it has very special meaning to us today. She says…

“You will never be able to fully fathom what God is doing in your life. You cannot possibly see the end of the outcome of each situation. Not yet anyway. But you can be sure that HE knows what HE is doing. He is God and He is working –purposefully, skilfully, lovingly. And one day when you look back on your journey from Heaven’s perspective, you will see HIS hand in all those inexplicable circumstances, and you will say with WONDER and WORSHIP: 
"You have done all things Well”.
We love you Kris! 

Sister Reflections ~ Part 1

Sister Reflections ~Part 1
Read by Kristin's Sisters Keri Jones (left) Kori Unrau (right)

Kristin is the creative writer and editor in our family… She’s also our public speaker, our picture taker, memory keeper, scrapbook maker, handbag wearer, party planner, card writer, prayer sayer, Deal finder, gift giver, tea totler, avid learner, book reviewer, technology learner, faith sharer and the list goes on!
… It’s hard to summarize 42 years into one short tribute, but we will do our best!

Kristin was the first child to our parents Jerry & Evelyn.  She was a perfect baby, an adorable toddler, and she became ‘Krissy’ to those that loved her most!  She had flaming red hair and perfect little curls that became her trademark and something she became SO proud of. It set her apart from the rest of us average people, and with the red hair came a HUGE personality!  She quickly wrapped everyone around her little finger, and there wasn’t a stranger that looked away without giving her a smile. She started talking early and had the gift of gab! She would talk to anyone that would listen… Dad remembers walking with her down Montrose street when she was just a little girl, she looked up at a stranger with a great big smile and told him ‘Jesus loves you!’

Kristin was a very happy little girl and loved playing with her baby dolls, and later with her real live baby dolls, her sisters.  She was proud to show us off, but more than once tried to send us back to wherever we came from! Although she loved her baby dolls, they soon were replaced with books!  Her love for books & learning and reading & writing started at a very early age and followed her into her teen years and high school. 

Some activities Kristin enjoyed during her school years were playing the organ, and the saxophone.  She loved music but playing the organ wasn’t cool, and after switching from MEI to Abby Sr she gave up the saxophone too.  I’m pretty sure her saxophone is somewhere in her house along with every other collectible or piece of memorabilia from her childhood! Kristin accomplished SO many things and quite literally has a tangible reminder of each and every accomplishment.  It seemed natural that she would one day become a scrapbooker since she couldn’t even throw out a piece of paper with a pencil mark on it. Everything she had represented something important to her and she could tell you the meaning behind every single item in her home!

Along with music, managing the senior boys basketball team, and working through high school, Kristin had the opportunity to travel to Japan on an exchange program.  I remember being so nervous that she was going ALL THE WAY to Japan on an airplane for the very first time by herself! She had a fantastic time and she was so excited to come home and tell us all about her adventure! She met new Japanese friends and we were excited to host a Japanese student upon her return. Our student was Miwa, and she formed a fast bond with Kristin!  They spent hours together and it was a sad day when she had to leave.  Kristin made time to write letters to Miwa and send little packages in the mail.  It was always an exciting day when a letter arrived for Kristin all the way from Japan!  Miwa came back to Canada to stay with us several years later and she has stayed connected to this day. 

When the internet was invented Kristin was THRILLED to connect over email. She was the techie of our family and has always had the latest gadgets.  In her high school years she was given a little red camera that she took wherever she went! This was the birth of a new passion: Photography! Kristin had a gift of capturing everyday moments on film! You can only imagine how drastically things changed when the digital camera was invented.  She went from capturing a handful of photos to an armload and what a gift that has become to her family and friends. (And by armloads I mean dump trucks full!)
Over the years when a new invention came along, she had to have it! We are pretty sure that she owned Abbotsfords first iphone and it’s still put to good use today!  Kristin was also the first in our family to have a laptop, a DSLR, an ipod shuffle, and an ipad! Having all these gadgets made recovering from surgeries, chemo, radiation, and complications a tiny bit easier.  She couldn’t get up or go out so it gave her a way to stay connected. When Kristin didn’t have the energy to speak you could find her sending a quick text or forwarding a picture of her beloved monkey LaLaLuna who was always getting into trouble.
Kristin was a very gifted student and she was always on the honour roll. We rarely saw an assignment that didn’t have a giant red A+ on the front! Kori and I longed to have the perfect report cards like Kristin, but sadly she got all the brains in our family! Only two short weeks ago Kristin was having a rough time and asked me to talk to her to help distract her for a moment.  I asked her for a topic, but it was Kristin-style which means I had absolutely no idea what she was talking about! Instead, I decided to take the opportunity to confess to Kristin that her writing was so good, that I had ‘borrowed’ some of it back in grade eight.  I needed to write a speech for English class and it just so happened that she already had a really good one written the year before!  Of course it was perfect: it was current, already on cue cards, and most importantly within reach!  Kristin NEVER EVER threw anything out (did I mention that already?) and that was to my advantage. Unfortunately my teacher knew that I couldn’t write that well, and I was busted! All these years later Kristin had NO idea, and was shocked when I told her.  She was so happy that the teacher had recognized her writing and she was equally happy that he had failed me for plagiarism! We had a good laugh about it!  

Another story about our childhood that comes to mind is the excitement of knowing that Kristins 16th birthday was coming up and with it…. Her drivers license!  We anticipated ‘cruising’ up and down South Fraser Way with her! Grabbing some cokes from Mcdonalds! Looking for boys!  It was very short lived as she wanted nothing to do with us and viewed her license as a ticket to freedom! Anything to get away from us! On a funny note, one of the first times she drove our parents car, she forgot to put it in park.  The car rolled down the driveway, hit a planter, and came to rest across the street against the neighbour’s house!  We gave her a hard time about it, but she learned a lesson and became a very good driver! We were very happy for her when she bought her first car and she was so proud that she bought and paid for it with her very own hard earned money!
A highlight of high school for Kristin was cooking class!! She couldn’t wait to come home and recreate the recipes that she had made at school.  One day as we drove down the hill near our house we could hear fire trucks and we joked that Kris was probably burning down the house with her newly learned cooking skills! There were no fire trucks in our driveway, but we walked in the door to billowing smoke and inedible muffins! We shared a good laugh and were sure to tease her about it for many years to come.

After Kristin became a wife and mother, we often got phone calls around the dinner hour asking how to make this or that. Usually her questions went something like this…. ’I want to make mom’s farmer sausage bean soup, but I don’t have any beans or farmer sausage.  What can I use instead?’  We would laugh and discourage her from making that recipe and steer her towards a recipe that used the ingredients she had on hand.  Later we would find that she made the first recipe with totally different ingredients and she was so disappointed that it didn’t taste like moms!!! I don’t know that she ever found any joy in cooking or baking but she always did her best to feed her family and never gave up. 
Growing up, our favourite family activity was camping. For us it was all about carving sticks, roaming the campsite all day, and burning things… but for Kristin it was ALWAYS about reading and Fishing!! She was the one who was up at the crack of dawn to head out on the lake with Dad. There was often a fish rivalry between her and all of the boys and when we could hear the boat coming towards us we could tell by the look on her face who caught the most fish!  She never wanted to come in empty handed! Having said that, she hated actually TOUCHING the fish as she didn’t want to get smelly and covered in ‘Gore’. (her word, not mine!). 
On one of our camping adventures, all of the kids we were with climbed up a very steep mountainside.  It was almost vertical and we had nothing to grab onto; no trees, no shrubs, no tall grass, or roots….nothing.  As tomboys, Kori and I were quick to join the climb. About three feet up we noticed Kristin standing alone at the bottom and we immediately slid down to her. If we climbed the hill without her, we would be in trouble...  If we climbed the hill with her, we would not be in trouble…. She rarely if ever got in trouble!!!! The two of us encouraged her to climb with us and even stayed back with her to get her up the hill.  It never occurred to us that what goes up must come down.  That day we learned that her fear of heights was very real! Once we got her to the top there was NO amount of encouragement, bribes, or threats that would get her down. Finally we had to call on the adults to help her get down. 
Kristin’s love of camping followed her into her adult years and Shawn and Kristin bought their first ‘Charlie Brown’ trailer (as she liked to call it) shortly after they started their family. They quickly outgrew it and purchased a larger model which they have used many times over. Kristin loved being all cozy with her family which is a good thing because BC camping often means being trapped inside. Smores, games, reading, swimming and anything her family could do together topped her list of favorite things.

Ferndale Washington is one of the family’s favorite camping destinations and Kristin was so proud of both Braden and Connor for learning to ride their bikes without training wheels at that campsite.  Kristin loved sitting pool side with her camera in hand watching Miranda swim for hours. This past July we spent some time as a family where Kristin surprised us all by doing a ‘Cannon Below’ into the freezing cold pool. I remember her telling me that one of her favourite things to do is just float. On that same trip, Kristin spotted a teeny tiny baby bunny running across the grass and suggested that Kyle catch it for us. After he caught it, Kristin played show and tell with her new furry friend. She passed it around so everyone could have a little cuddle. When it ended up back in Kristin’s hands, she thought that it had peed on her.  She flipped it over and exclaimed, ‘EWWWW GORE’ and remained perfectly calm while everyone else burst into a fit of laughter! Turns out the little guy had a run in with a lawn mower!  This story has brought us all a ridiculous amount of laughter over the past 7 months. I guess you had to be there!
Camping wasn’t the only get away that Kristin enjoyed.  She developed a love for travelling early, and Shawn and Kristin enjoyed many trips together including Banff, Europe, Nova Scotia, Quebec, New York, Niagra Falls, San Fransisco, San Diego, and countless weekend get- aways to Whistler, Vancouver, and Victoria.  Kristin and Shawn loved travelling as a family and enjoyed visiting the dinosaurs in Drumheller, Mickey Mouse in Disneyland, and all the awesome animals of San Diego Zoo! Most recently, our family made some amazing memories as the 17 of us travelled to Florida for a trip of a lifetime! We spent two weeks together and it truly was the happiest place on earth! We enjoyed rides, and shows, and some VIP treatment, and we all enjoyed eating our way around the parks too!!
Something that some of you already know about Kristin, is how much she LOVED a party!! She could turn any boring event into a party. Julia Child once said, ‘A party without cake is just a meeting’, but Kristin actually lived it! She never showed up empty handed! And she always loved a crowd!  She never even watched the superbowl or other major sporting events but she looked forward to it because she knew there would be a party somewhere! You knew you would find Kristin wherever friends and family were gathered.
Kristin's love language was ‘Time spent’. And everybody knew it! She loved being with her kids, and would often pull them out of school for a ‘ditch day’ for some one-on-one time! She was so proud of her kids accomplishments and was their biggest cheerleader! She encouraged them to dream far beyond their own expectations, and then taught them to reach for those dreams!
Having alone time with Shawn was also very important to Kristin but also very hard to do with four kids under foot! It often meant taking advantage of short drives and a quick coffee or tea together. Kristin absolutely loved going out on a date ~just the two of them.
Kristin also loved her extended family and her friends, and would never just say ‘let’s get together’, instead she always made a point of choosing a date, a time and a location to meet up for a chat over a ‘TALL VANILLA CHAI TEA LATTE WITH TWO PUMPS MOCHA NO WHIP’!  She didn’t ever want to miss an opportunity to spend time with her family or friends, or even to make some new friends.  Kristin wrote on one of her scrapbook pages ‘Life is way too short to miss the awesome ordinary everyday stuff! She really did have a way of making that awesome ordinary every day stuff feel SO important! She celebrated everyday life!! be continued!