Monday, December 7, 2015

a little throwback


I wanted to post some photos from my church's yearly trip to McCormick's State Park. We go every September and always have an amazing time. Good food, good laughs, and great fellowship. I didn't take nearly as many photos as I have in past years. But it was refreshing to leave the camera in the cabin and just soak in my surroundings. To be in the moment. And I love the pictures I did end up taking. I'll forever be able to look back and remember those fall days spend among the forest with some of my favorite people. 



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Thursday, July 23, 2015

Us


On the 4th of July my family went to our grandparents' home. And I got into a photo shoot mood. This was just a in the moment thought I had but I think it paid off. I can't wait to get some of these in the mail, buy frames for them, and hang them up. So enjoy these photos of my siblings and I.  
And shout out to my sister for taking the ones of me. 



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Saturday, July 18, 2015

When You Don't Get What You Want // part four


"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, 
give thanks in all circumstances,
 for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." 

-1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 


Well, we have come to the end. The end of this little series of mine. But we haven't come to the end of future posts (I have a lot of ideas floating around in my head). And for this last post of this series I'm going to talk about the title. When You Don't Get What You Want. 

When planning to do this series and thinking of what to call it, the title you see now crossed my mind. There couldn't be a more perfect fit. It struck a cord inside me. Because all the things I was feeling and the things I was facing could be summed up in 7 words. At first glance that summed up thought is sad, even depressing. There's something in those 7 words that I believe everyone can relate to. Everyone of us has our own story of being let down or disappointed or feeling lost. And I wanted a real-life title, a raw title, something that told it like it is. Brutally honest even. Because I believe a title can set the whole mood to a story. And it kinda turned out that the past three posts were leading up to this one. A grand finale, if you will. 

But I want there to be happiness in this post too. Though that might come towards the end. Hey, good things are worth waiting for. So bare with me. 

The verse up above says to "rejoice always" and to "give thanks in all circumstances". I didn't feel like doing either of those things when I found out about my tumor growing back. In fact that might be the biggest thing I struggled with this time around. Because I felt like God let me down and that He was doing me wrong. Now, I wasn't screaming at the sky or refusing to pray but I think that I was a little upset at God. Upset because to me I had been through enough crude and I didn't need anymore. I was basically like "um, no thanks, this doesn't work for me". Just a great attitude to have right? 

And satan used this. He fought me with my feelings and how I viewed God. He would plant seeds of disappointment in my heart and mind. All because he wanted me to run from God and straight into fear. But God helped me. Even in the middle of my mess, God was there. And I knew that He understood what I felt, He got it. And when my thoughts and emotions were too complex for me, oh how I could rest knowing that He had it all figured out. And I still can, I will always be able to. :) 

I didn't want any of this. That's a raw statement. It's the truth. I never wanted to have brain surgery twice. I didn't want migraines or vision problems. But life's not about getting everything you want. But you know what I did get? I got what I need, God gave me what He knew I needed. And I can't complain if that doesn't match up with what I want. Because God's isn't the one who needs to change, I am. I need to change and grow more like Him. His ways are above my ways and His plans are always perfect. And my brain surgeries are one way God is changing me for the better.

If I could back in time and talk to a younger me, would I tell myself about the struggles I face? No. Because a younger me wasn't meant to go through these things at that time. God placed these struggles in my life exactly at the right time. So I have no need to doubt Him and think that He's doing wrong. Because He cannot do wrong. And that my friends, is a comforting thought. :)  

Being 17 and having had two major surgeries isn't what defines my life. Or me. And I have to remind myself that. Because a fear I struggle with is thinking that my brain tumor and all that came with it will determine who I am or what I try to be. That it will hold me back from life and reaching goals. Or that I will miss out on amazing things because I'm dealing with my medical problems. So my trials are part of me, a big part; but they aren't me. And the only One who will determine who I am is God. Nothing else can.

Well, I hope that I encouraged others. My goal was to be honest, open and to point all the glory to Christ. And I feel like I reached my goal. I wanted to use the lot that God has given to me to inspire others that no matter what trouble you have to face, if God is for you than no one can be against you. And that it's okay to be confused and to feel a little lost sometimes. You don't have to have every detail figured out. I want to encourage you to let go. You're not in control so don't try to be. It's okay to be falling apart because God will put you back together.
 Go live. And live like you mean it. Don't give your struggles power by being afraid. Take those things to God in prayer. Get alone with Him. And just talk. He is always listening.

 Last but not least. I am thankful for what God is doing in my life. Even though it can be scary and seem like nothing but trouble, God is using it for good. And we could all use some more good. :)


"There are some of your graces which would never be discovered
if it were not for your trials." 

-C.H. Spurgeon




The End. 







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P.S. Here are some photos I took throughout this little journey of mine. :)

After the MRI that would show me that the tumor had grown back. 
In the bathroom before my appointment with my doctor and surgeon. 
The rubber ducky pond at Peyton Manning Children's Hospital. This little pond makes me smile. :)
Waiting for my results at my Vision Field Test about a week before surgery.
My wonderful and strong parents checking me in. 
My IV. I took this photo a few hours before surgery.  
From last week. I'm feeling much better. And very grateful. :) 

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

When You Don't Get What You Want / part three


"Every time you speak out, and say the words I need to hear.
Every time you reach out, I can feel His love so near. 
I hope you know. to me you are, the hands of God."


-Francesca Battistelli // Hands of God


I wanted to talk about them. 

I wanted to make this post about my support system. The people in my life have shaped who I am today. And they continue to shape me. I couldn't be a lone ranger. I couldn't up and chase every dream because they wouldn't be going with me. And I need them with me. 

A little fact about me is that I'm not good at asking for help. Letting my walls down and letting people see the weak parts of me isn't something I'm good at. But praise God I have friends who don't let me go through life alone. They help me stand on my feet. They pry my walls down. And I'm forever grateful for it. 

I don't have to tell you that life gets messy. You already know this. And messy can turn to scary oh so fast. You can blink and blam...things are up in flames. And the easiest path is running away from the fire. But they didn't run. They may have been clueless on what to do, what to say, how to act around me or whatever. But they carried the weight on my shoulders, because I couldn't on my own. 

The bond between fellow Christians is something amazing. Not only does God go with us through this life, guiding us and protecting us, but He also gives us brothers and sisters in Himself. He gives us a family that is closer than blood. People to lift our arms when we can't. Just like when Moses needed his arms lifted. People to share life with, through the good times and the bad. People who look past our flaws and shortcomings and love us anyway. Not perfect people. But people chosen of God. 

So I encourage anyone who is stuck between a rock and a hard place to remember your support system. Don't think that you have to carry burdens alone. Because you don't. If you need help, ask. Sometimes asking requires you to lay down your pride and be humble enough to appear weak before others. Because we all are weak. No one is superhuman and able to solve all their problems by themselves. No one has everything "figured out". Such blessings come from fellow believers and fellowship with them. You never know how a friend's advice might help you. There are things my friends have shared with me that I will always remember. And also, be the friend to listen when its someone else's turn to need help. Share each other's burdens. It's not always easy, well honestly, its rarely easy. But it is worth it. 


This post is a thank you to all my supporters. And I love you all. 




To be continued. 




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Thursday, June 11, 2015

When You Don't Get What You Want / part two


"Even though I love this crazy life
Sometimes I wish it was a smoother ride"

-MercyMe // Dear Younger Me


God's grace isn't measured by Him giving us the answers to the questions we have. And God's grace isn't measured by how smooth our lives go.

I've found myself in the mist of my troubles asking "why me?" 

But why not me?

That's not an easy pill to swallow. Why not me? How is my life so special that I couldn't be the person to have certain troubles? What did I ever do to be above having trials? There are thousands of people who have medical problems. And a lot of them are much worse off than me. And most of them don't know the Lord. I do. Yes, I have medical problems. And most of what I face is unknown. But I'm not going through it alone.

Fear is one of our biggest enemies. And you want to know who uses fear like fire beneath us? Satan.
I am the person to run from fire. Or to try and hide from it. I am the person to do everything but face it. When you look your greatest fears in the eyes you really learn about yourself. The world would say that you would see how strong you are. Or how brave you are inside. But it's really the opposite. When you look fear in the eyes you see how weak you are. You see that you can't handle the pressure, you see that the pain is too much. But if you are a Christian you also see how in the mist of all the areas where you are lacking, God is not.

We all can take our health for granted. If you are normally healthy and don't have any serious medical problems you can get stuck in the routine of thinking that sickness will never hit you. I'm not talking about the flu or the colds that everyone gets. I'm talking about the serious stuff.

Growing up I had never thought about being diagnosed with a disease/be told something serious was wrong with me. Well, let's be real. I didn't think about much else but riding my bike, school, and hanging with my friends, My world was pretty small at that point. Haha. But being seriously sick isn't something one thinks of often. You never think that it's going to be you. But for some of us, one day you wake up and it is. It didn't take me long to realize that I was a hospital kid. That I was a sick kid. I became the teenager walking into a children's hospital where everything is "happy" and there are bright colors all over. There are mini versions of everyday things. Toys and children's books. In a way I don't feel like I belong there. I feel too old to be in a hospital dressed up as a playhouse.

I've learned a lot through my experiences. One thing I've learned is how precious everyday life is. Just waking up to the birds singing. Or going on a bike ride. Helping your brother play baseball. Or just sitting by myself in my room writing this post. Sometimes my heart just aches and aches for normal. But God has chosen these things to happen to me, so they can't be all bad.


"Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope: and hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us."
-Romans 5:1-5



I'm going to remember that tribulation works patience, patience works experience, experience works hope. I have to roll those words over and over in my mind. It helps me keep looking towards Christ. 


To be continued. 



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Tuesday, June 2, 2015

When You Don't Get What You Want / part one


"When You don't move the mountains 
I'm needing You to move.
When You don’t part the waters 
I wish I could walk through.
When You don’t give the answers as I cry out to You."

-Lauren Daigle // Trust In You 



Have you ever felt disappointed? I'm not talking about the feeling when you miss out on a sale or even the feeling when someone flakes on you. The feeling I'm talking about is the one that hit me like a tsunami a couple of weeks ago.

I've never discussed my brain surgery on this blog, well at least not directly. I've wanted to, tried to, and given up. Those half-posts weren't meant to be read. But I think this one is.
I had to have brain surgery when I was 15. This was a year and a half ago. The reason for my surgery was a tiny tumor that was growing in my left optical lope. Which was causing vision problems and painful migraines.

Anyway....I had the surgery. God gave me amazing peace through it all. My family and friends supported me through everything. My surgeon is a very talented man. I lived. And with only a small side effect. That side effect is a small blind spot I have in my vision. The blind spot is more annoying than troublesome. And honestly I don't even notice it 75% of the time. 

I don't know how many MRI's I've had or doctor visits. Or how many times I've been the hospital. But it got tiring very fast. Almost to the point where I hated going. Not because I felt sick or that I was ungrateful. But because I got tired of being there. At the hospital. Laying in an MRI machine or waiting in my doctors' offices. Being there would almost make me feel down or sad.
But I got to walk out. I got to leave the hospital and go back to being normal. I love normal. No problems, I can forget my trouble and breathe.
God let me heal. He let me go home. God has showed me amazing things about life, Him, me and much more from my surgery and all the checkups that followed. My surgery was blessing that looked like a curse. That doesn't mean it always felt like a blessing but I know it was.

8 months ago my brain doctor said that we could move me up to 6 months between MRI's. I was so happy. I even did a fist pump right there. It felt like I starting to wave goodbye to my trouble. It felt like I was home free. I was rounding third and headed to slide into home. (Yes, I just pulled a baseball metaphor. My brothers play.)

But a couple of weeks ago I got tagged out.

My last MRI showed that my tumor had grown back. Though not as big as before. None the less, it was back. What might be the saddest moment of this story was when my mom looked at me as the tears filled her eyes. She asked if I was okay. 
My answer? 

"I'm fine, I'm fine. I don't want to talk about right now. Just wait, I don't want to talk about it now!"

Was I fine? No. Did I want to talk right then? No. There were too many emotions. Too many feelings. My head didn't know what emotion to address first.

The song at the beginning of this post hits my situation right in the face. Especially the line "When You don't give the answers as I cry out to you." I've cried a few times these past 2 weeks. It hits me at random moments. Sometimes I'm fine and sometimes I'm breaking down.



To be continued.





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Thursday, May 28, 2015

being a big sister


"Here's to your bright eyes, shining like fireflies."
-Souvenirs // Switchfoot

"Your hope dangling by a string, I'll share in your suffering. To make you well, to make you well." 
-Gone, Gone, Gone // Phillip Phillips   


I am the oldest girl in my family. The oldest granddaughter to my grandparents. Being second oldest in family of six kids is quite a story to tell. Today I wanted to share some of the things I've learned about being a big sister.

Playmate/adult. I didn't realize how big of responsibility being a big sister would be. I think I started babysitting (along with my older brother) around 12. When the parents are gone, you are in charge. You are the adult. Yet you still play and sometimes are part of the trouble. I go from coloring pictures to putting my foot down. Haha. I've stayed home with my siblings so many time now that it doesn't even really feel like babysitting. Over the years I just got used to it. It also showed me how much maturity I lack. It's like a tiny glimpse into parenthood.

Looking out for them. I find myself checking up on my siblings.
Do they have water for the baseball game?
Make sure you tie your shoes!
Where is the first-aid kit?
Give me a moment, I have to see what my brothers are up to.
And I have worried about them. I'm very protective of my little siblings. When someone hurts them, it bothers me more than if I was the one hurt. You want to shield them from danger. And they normally find it annoying. I've been called "mom" before. Haha. What can I say?

You have to chill. I can be overbearing. *insert nervous laughing*. And I know that I am. And maybe I'm a bit of a control freak...But I'm learning to back off. I can get into "parent mode" and forget that I'm just the big sister. So yes, I've also been called "bossy". My advice here is the let some things go. You don't have to be checking up on them every minute. And normally what you have to say about a situation isn't needed...Let up on the sass.

Strive to be better. My biggest concern (not that I always remember this) is that I am a good example to my siblings. I want to show God in my everyday actions. I want to give good advice and to be humble. Sometimes as the older kid you can get a big head. You can think you know every thing and your pride can take over. Some of my siblings aren't Christians. They need the Lord, they don't even realize how lost they are. I pray that my life reflects the Truth. I pray that they don't think of me as "the big sister who knew all the answers" but as someone after God's heart.

God has used my place in my family to show me amazing things. He didn't have to make me a big sister. Or give me incredible siblings, who aren't perfect. I have amazing examples through my friends who are also big sisters.

I can't express how tight my heart is wrapped around my siblings.
I don't know what I would do without them.
They are the loudness I miss when I'm away.
They make up my favorite photos I've ever taken.


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Here are my three little brothers. Jonny, Tim, and Seth. They make up 3/4 of my younger siblings.