9.29.2011

suitcases.

Since Freedom Day last week, God's been refining my heart. He's chipped away at the shards of bitterness and frustration that were clinging to it because of my scoliosis, and He's somewhat begun to blur the memories of difficult days lived through and tears wiped away because I didn't want to deal with this anymore.... and what I'm left with is a thankful heart. Oh, and it's a happy one too. I really am thankful for these two and a half years. They weren't all bad, just colored a bit by that shell, one both physical and mental, that I was dealing with. And I've come to the realization that the scoliosis that I lived with for over two and a half years was a suitcase I had to carry as I traveled life for a few years. Though some days, it seemed heavier than others, I carried it. And carried it. Maybe one of the reasons it felt so heavy was because I tried to hide it so much.




Last Wednesday, I left that particular suitcase behind. I hopped on a new train without it, for once, and I still don't now where that train's destination is yet. Maybe there's no set destination, maybe living with it then moving on without it is simply the next step in life for me. Regardless, that suitcase is behind me, and I am never going back for it.






And for those who have asked, the brace did not necessarily cure my scoliosis. I will always have a non-straight spine. The purpose of the brace was to stop the curve from getting any worse, and in doing so to avoid surgery. I'll always have it, and I'm perfectly okay with that. God thoughtfully made me this way, so how could I not be okay with it, right?




But I am making plans. If you know me personally, you know that I'm a bit of a planner. I schedule things, I have calendars {yes, plural}, I make lists, I write out goals, and I go a little crazy sometimes if every little detail of my week isn't planned out. Somehow that level of organization has yet to consistently translate into some specific other parts of my life, i.e. my room + closet, my laptop {it's full of random folders}, and my photo archive on my laptop. I'm working on it! But back to these plans of mine. I'm writing out goals, plans, and things I want to do soon.




Funny how once a certain distraction is eliminated, you're more free to focus on living a full life. These goals include doing a photoshoot per week. For those of you who do not know, I'm pursuing photography as my career. I've already done a few shoots, but I am making a point to get a little practice every week, to grow just a little bit more with each passing week. I'm excited, to say the least!




Other aspirations? They're still formulating in this mind of mine. I'm sure you'll hear of them sometime in the free days to come. For now, I'm traveling light.


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9.26.2011

promise.



This past week. Whew. What a week. If you haven't read this yet, please do. Then, you'll know what I mean. And now, this new week has arrived.... this new, fresh beginning, full of promise, but laced with responsibility and things I know I will have to accomplish. I cannot wait for all that it will bring. 




This week will {hopefully} bring a photoshoot or two, going to see a movie with a sweet friend, lots of music {has anyone else fallen head over heels in love with Gungor's new album? oh my goodness....}, and a whole bunch of of autumn- loving.




This week is making lists, lists of what I'm looking forward to for this new season. Season, meaning, of life, and autumn. I make a lot of lists. 




I will be making a new recipe or two.... though I'm not sure it will be this, I am loving this video. The tones, the music, the feeling evokes, I love it all.



ribboned asparagus salad from tiger in a jar on Vimeo.








I'm looking forward to this week.... a fresh start is always good, no? 






Here's to a lovely week coming your way. 







Oh, and before I go, I do have to thank everyone who has been so incredibly supportive following the final chapters of my scoliosis story. I cannot thank you enough. Oh, and welcome to all my new followers! So happy you all are here. :) Have an incredible week, friends. Xo!


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9.22.2011

it's okay to hope: freedom day {the brace post, part three}

{You might want to read this before reading this post.}




Some of you know that for the past two and a half years, I've worn a back brace for scoliosis. On February 4th of 2009, I began a stage in my life that would be the most difficult for me yet. I tried to be okay with  it. But it hurt, badly. It affected me in ways that I don't even want to think about anymore: I was not myself for a long time.... at least, not on the inside. I felt like a different version of myself- a restrained, incomplete version. I became less confident, more tired, wasn't in the greatest mood lots of the time, and was more shy and quiet. Most people didn't realize what this dumb plastic shell did to me. It changed me. And it was not good. But it was God's beautiful, perfect plan for me then. He formed me, planned for me to have this. Why? I wish I knew. But what I do know? He brought so, so much good out of it.

Oh, notice I said, brought. Past tense.

2 years. 7 months. 2 weeks. 3 days. It's over.

I'm done.

Forever.


As in, there is no way in the world that I am ever wearing it again.


a little happy, on the way home. :)


In case you couldn't tell, I'm still trying to believe it. Someone pinch me, please. For real? Done?! I cannot believe it! As in, at all. As in, I don't know what to do with myself. Or where to begin! But I have to start somewhere. Want the story?

Yesterday was my scheduled appointment {I had one every six months.}. So, we drove the forty-five minutes it takes to get to the office, and I prayed my little heart out that this maybe, just maybe, would be the end. But I'd had my hopes dashed so many times, I decided to just give it over to Jesus. He had it all under control. Over and over again I claimed the healing He gave to the woman who had faith when she met Jesus. She reached up and sought His favor, His healing, because she.had.faith. that He could, and would, heal her. My heart reached up and sought the same thing, begging, asking that He would heal me. I claimed that verse, claimed the fact that healing is in God's hands. I repeated it over and over to myself. Not because I needed any convincing, but because I needed confindence. That even if I left that office, again, with that plastic shell in my hands, knowing I needed to keep wearing it for yet another six months, I was going to be okay and that it was God's beautiful plan for my life. So I sat in the X-ray waiting room, praying and claiming in a repeating cycle, calming myself down before getting the X-ray.








He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering." mark 5:34















There's this point when I have just gotten the X-ray and have to sit in that room by myself, waiting to make sure that the X-ray turned out okay. I can remember every single instance when I waited there. I think a lot in those long few minutes. About what's happened since I last sat in that same chair, wondering if this, this was going to be the day. The freedom day. In the past, while waiting, my curiosity would get the better of me and I'd peek around the corner, trying to see the X-ray on the computer screen. And then, I'd start to worry. Over-analyzing it, my stomach flip-flopping and my heart sinking. Had the curvature gotten worse? Did I do the absolute best I could have?


Did I do enough? 


But yesterday? Yesterday it was different. Yesterday, I was different. I didn't look, once. I sat there, and you'd best believe it killed me not to take a look. I gave it to God to look at instead. Either way, it was in His hands, not mine. That's a good thing.


I walked back to the X-ray waiting room to wait with my Mom for the next room to be ready, where we would talk with the doctor to see what the next step was. My little prayer / claim cycle resumed as I sat, waiting. Have I ever mentioned that waiting is something i am really, really bad at? {And of course, God gave me something I had to wear and wait two and a half crazy years to get rid of, right? He has quite the sense of humor....} Really bad. I'm so impatient, and I feel like it's a waste of time. But I've come to learn, mainly because of the past two and a half- plus years, how important the waiting seasons are in life. If we never had to wait for something to happen, we wouldn't be half so happy when it happened. As I waited, in that same room I'd been in six months earlier, I committed whatever was going to happen to Jesus. And as the nurse called us back to the next waiting room, I walked confidently, knowing whatever happened, I'd be okay. Just like I'd been okay six months ago. And six months before that.


Inside the waiting room, after the nurse checked my hight and loaded the X-ray onto the computer, my Mom and I talked, she, wondering if her hopes were up too high, I, thinking that, most likely, nothing had changed and that I'd live with it for more time. I was still hoping, though, that God would work a miracle and heal me. I wanted it, so badly. I wanted to be free. To feel like myself again, to not have to live with this anymore. I was tired, mentally, physically, of it. It's exhausting, guys.


waiting in the office.

My doctor entered the room, and my stomach dropped. All that waiting was more than this girl could handle, but it was over now. I'd know. I almost didn't want to know. I didn't want to feel that stab of disappointment when he told me to keep going, keep doing what I was doing, and see you again in six months. I didn't want to know, but I did, at the same time. He looked at the X-ray. For a long time. He measured each of the curves {I have two; my spine is in the shape of an S} with some nifty little computer tool. I swear it took for.ever. He asked me some questions, wondering how it felt, did it hurt, was I still wearing it at night only {just since July}, etc. Then he took a deep breath. I did too. He looked up at me and told me that since I had not grown at all in the six months, and since my curvature had not changed a large amount in a year, wearing the brace anymore would have no purpose, no effect.
It would be useless. 
Tears filled my eyes. He kept talking, something about how he still  wanted to monitor it, and be sure that it didn't change at all in the next two years, but that surgery would not be necessary, that any change that happens now will not be fixed by the brace, etc. It was quiet. I could not talk. For real! Then my mom spoke.... "So, she's.... done?" He looked back at us from the computer again. "Yeah. Nothing that brace can do anymore." Tears filled Mom's eyes too, now, and I couldn't stop smiling. I laughed, I think, hardly believing what was happening. I'm pretty sure I made him say it again. This could not, could not be happening. I was done. Forever! Then, the absolute sweetest, happiest ending to this story, this imperfectly, painfully beautiful chapter in my life, began to unfold. I could just feel it. It was God's hand in it all. It was tangible, I'm telling you. It was beautiful, and perfect. He asked me what my plans were for life. College? Career? And so I told him. Told him about photography, my blog, I don't even remember half of what I said. He stood up afterwards and shook first my hand, and then my mom's, thanking us for working with him for the past few years. I thanked him, too.... he's been an amazing, patient, kind doctor to work with and he needed to hear that. We all joked a bit and laughed as we walked out, then thanked him one final time before I smiled and turned away. And I walked out of the room with my mom, down the hallway, grinning, to tell my little bro.

That morning, I had told my mom that I was scared to get my hopes up for the appointment, and she replied with something so simple. "It's okay to hope." And she was right. There's always hope. I can always, always have hope because of my Jesus. No matter what, I was going to be okay. Um, I was more than okay yesterday. We walked out of that office, and I was beaming. I felt like I was glowing. It was freedom day.


happy phone calls!!

I called my dad, I called one of my best friends, I called family and texted friends. Sweet words were exchanged, squeals emerged, and I have not been so happy, so full, free, and content, since February 4th, 2009. My friends all heard at youth group later that night. One started crying happy tears, all gave me enormous hugs. I have had the most incredible people supporting me through this time, and could not be more thankful. Thankful is too little a word, in fact. Much too little. I'm beyond thankful. For my friends from church, who I've known for years. My family small group {my extended family ;)}. My amazing, loving family. Everyone. I cannot describe how thankful I am for every single person who has prayed for me, encouraged me, and made me smile through the pain of the past few years. Ahh, I'm crying just writing this. Such a sappy person today! Ha.




 

We have a tradition of going to Steak n' Shake after these appointments, so we did. Diet vanilla coke, turkey melt, fries. All the way. My phone rang and beeped with calls and messages for the next hour, as I told everyone, and I still didn't feel like it had sunk in. At all.




But the point is, I had the most beautiful, precious, sweet ending to this chapter of my life, and God just worked it out perfectly, as always. He is so, so faithful. Please do not go away from this post without hearing that, please. He. Is. Faithful. And all the glory goes solely to Him for this. I worked really hard to get through it. I tried not to complain or let anyone see what pain, discomfort and junk I was feeling. But not with my own strength, that would have been impossible. Only with God did I get through this. To the glory of God the Father. philippians 2  I refuse to take one tiny ounce of credit for this. It was all Jesus, all strength came from Him. I had faith. That's it.


So, that brings me to today. To a continuation of freedom day. No, it still doesn't feel real, feel possible, but it's done. It's over. And that person that I became, somewhat without realizing it, while I lived, restrained, for over two and a half years? She's gone. I have never felt more like myself. I'm free. I learned more than I could ever tell anyone through that time, but I could not be happier that it is over. It's a new day, a new chapter unfolding. I do not know what's next, nor do I wish I did. So, I'm waiting again. Gotta love it. But, as far as I know, this is the last brace post. That chapter is completed; God wrote the last few pages yesterday. I'm still reliving those, flipping back to them frequently, smiling all the while. And He's writing the first pages in a fresh, new chapter, starting now. Starting now. I like how that sounds.


feeling like that bird, soaring high over the waters.....

Basically, God is faithful. I don't care if you have scoliosis like I do, if you have cancer, if you are lonely, if you are lost, confused, far away from Him, close to Him, He is always faithful. He will never let you go. He never let me go. Not once. I'm thankful. So thankful. And, I'm really, really happy. Really happy. And, what a surprise, I'm waiting again. Wondering what's next. And excited for it. Bring. It. On.


It's okay to hope. Happy Freedom Day. Xo!


if you have scoliosis and need someone to talk to, please email me. please! God's already started to use this for good, so go ahead! :) I'd love to talk to you!
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9.19.2011

I live for this.

Long walks are my favorite. Especially in the fall.




So, I took one yesterday morning. A really, really long one, not rushed, not planned, just enjoyed. I realized again that fall, is, in fact, here. 




And I fell in love with my favorite season yet again.




Not many words on this Sunday afternoon. Just a happy, full heart after a morning at church.... teaching Sunday school to a group of absolutely precious kiddos, catching up with sweet friends, worshiping Jesus, you know. Sunday things like that. Off to have dinner with more of those sweet friends soon, which means I'll laugh more than I have all week and come home tired, cold from being outside, and smiling. 




Life? Not bad right now. Not bad at all.




Have a perfectly lovely Sunday afternoon, friend.





click on photo for link to source
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9.16.2011

friday's ramblings

Fall has set in. The apple cinnamon tea has entered my house, I'm ready to start knitting scarves again, and you'd better believe that this girl is loving wearing skinny jeans and moccasins daily.




Autumn brings a different mood, does it not? It ushers in thoughts of cooler, crisp air, crunchy vibrant leaves, pumpkin-spice everything, and warm socks. At least, for me it does. What does "autumn" entail, for you?






Something about this time of the year makes me want to cook. And bake. Things like salsa, pies, chili, cookies, etc. Though I can say I've never, ever eaten a beet, I just might have to try this out.



Yep, pretty sure I have to.

And speaking of food, guess who tried her first ever pumpkin spice frappuccino this morning? Mhmm, this girl.




Fall is good.






Oh, and I really must say, I can't believe I've almost hit a hundred followers. Y'all are amazing! Thank you all so very much. Nine more until we reach a hundred.... we can do it guys. :) 

Plans for your weekend? Do tell!

Also, thoughts on the new photo size?


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9.14.2011

fall.



I haven't forgotten about you, I promise. Just been busy living early fall to the fullest. Pumpkins, autumn bokeh, and pretty skies. Life is good.




Besides allergies. Praying these ridiculous allergies will go away so that I don't sound like I swallowed a squeaker from one of my dog's toys....



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9.07.2011

the happy list

I'll be honest. It was one of those days.


I'm tired. Wasn't feeling motivated. And yeah, not in the greatest of moods. But then, as I sat on the lovely screened in porch catching up on general blog loveliness that hey, life's not half bad. Yeah, parts of today? Not so good. But the good overrides the bad, even in today, and there, as usual, was loads more to be happy than upset about. 

So! With all that in mind, I present to you, the happy list. The little things that to me are the big things. Maybe some of my happy will travel all across blog-land to your heart today and bring a smile to your face. I hope so. 



today's happy list:

Our home-grown pumpkins on the front steps. They're too cute!
videos I'd forgotten about, on my phone, of friends when we went out to breakfast this summer. talk about a pick-me-up! 

Polaroid photos.
Scarves.
Vanilla tea.
Sparkly/glittery things.
Rain. + Thunderstorms.


Tire swings.
Trampolines.


Stargazing.
Friends.
Bulky sweaters.
Chocolate sprinkles.
Fuzzy socks.
Country life.
Picnics. 
Treehouses.
Nail polish.
Candles.
Leading worship.
The sky.
Roadtrips.
Teaching Sunday-school.
Magazine bead jewlery.



Here's to a happy rest of your Wednesday, friend.


 What's on your happy list?



to see the full list, go here.
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9.05.2011

just lately.

 alternatively titled: a whole lot of random.

Sometimes, it's just fun to capture a moment with Instagram, on my iPod touch. I do that a lot. I love the vintage look they all have, but as expected, definitely prefer using my DSLR for most of that moment-capturing. :)


                          

Bible time + cute dog.


starfish + sunflower. 


farmer's market flowers.





rainy day streetlights, inspiration wall, quesadillas for lunch, and iced coffee




Having a happy Labor Day, and hoping you are too! Xo.

{all photos taken with Instagram for iPhone}
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