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In late June we shared one of the many moving stories we read among the entries for the Abingdon Women “Call to Me” Cruise giveaway. The entry was Amanda Dykes' on behalf of Kelli Standish, a woman she describes in terms of incredible courage and strength Coincidently, Kelli used the cruise giveaway as an opportunity to thank Katie Cushman, the woman who helped her survive...and keep the faith.

Here is Kelli's entry:

“The past two years were some of the darkest of my life. My husband was recalled to active duty and deployed to the Middle East, where he dodged riot mobs and car bombs, and then was assigned to a Turkish task force tracking pirates off the Somali coast; I was diagnosed with an incurable rheumatic disease, lost my eyesight, lost my business, lost my beloved cat to cancer, and found myself homeless after the military sent me back from our deployment country and our home had already been rented.
 
My husband and I lived the next year 8,200 miles apart. During this time, I felt my faith was irreparably broken. No sermon or church encounter reached me. If anything, they made me feel more angry, numb, and distant from God. Some rebuked me for my lack of faith and gratitude, and faulted my missed church attendance. One woman told me I wasn’t healed because I hadn’t thanked God for 'smiting' me. 
 
For months, I wondered if I, who had cherished faith and loved God through many dark seasons, had finally reached the end. Was I an agnostic now? Would I ever be able to believe or even speak His name again?
 
One woman was a bastion of grace during this time. Katie Cushman and I had only met once. But when she and her husband heard about my situation, they offered me their guesthouse, for free, for as long as I needed it. And she went so far beyond offering me a place to stay. Through heartbreaking medical news, vet diagnoses, business losses, and long, lonely months away from my husband, she extended incomparable friendship. 
 
The best gift we can give each other in times of devastation is not quick fixes or religious advice, but a safe place to be broken. Katie gave me space to be devastated while covering me with kindness. Rather than trying to fix me, she gave God time to reach me, and me time to reach for Him again. She was the living grace of God to me, when I couldn’t find Him anywhere else. Her love, patience, and unwavering kindness, brought this near-stranger back from a terribly dark place."

Join us in February on the Abingdon Women “Call to Me” Cruise where you'll meet other amazing women with stories to share...women just like you.