"Man, she really, really loves Jesus."

This weekend, I foolishly wasted ridiculous amounts of gas driving around. 



Last week was overwhelming. I had the best Monday ever, but woke up in the middle of the night to my sister by my bedside and the discovery of me having a possible seizure. I did a lot of research on a new med I was prescribed for pain, and sure enough... Seizures had been reported. I was never warned about this, so it left me feeling frustrated and terrified. We aren't sure what exactly happened, but I'm working through it.

I was a mess at school Tuesday. Exhausted. But I went anyway. I tried, I cried, and I received graciousness. Everyone I encountered that day greeted me with a hug. Even though they didn't know the situation, they cared.

I tried to smile for the rest of the week. I tried to schedule my new job orientation. I tried to look forward to my weekend off. I tried.

Plans changed, though. And my mom and I found ourselves back on the road to Children's Hospital nearly two hours away. We got a few kinks worked out and I met with my psychologist. It was another overwhelming appointment, but it was insightful and definitely beneficial.

I tried to have fun with my friends Friday and Saturday night, but I just didn't feel like myself. Instead of really partaking in things, I drove around aimlessly and turned up the radio way too loud. I tried to just be.

I thought a lot about what people probably thought of me after I had been so emotional and upset the whole week. I wondered if they'd deemed me "crabby" or "whiny." I wondered how I could talk to the best friends who wanted to help me, but didn't know how. I wondered what how close my parents were to giviing up on trying to understand me.

I wondered a lot.

After all that wondering, I cried out to Jesus and asked Him how I could move on from this past week. I told Him that more than anything, I wanted people to see HIM in my moments of weakness.

He'd been reminding me of a verse all week long, but it really resonated with me during that drive. 

"...but the Lord stood by me and strengthened me." - 2 Timothy 4:17

I'm going to get back to feeling joy this week. Slowly, but pace doesn't matter as long as I get there.

Three times I begged The Lord to take it away from me. Each time He said, 'My grace is sufficient for you for my power is made perfect in weakness.' -2 Corinthians 12:8-9


Plaid, Stripes, Thankfulness, & Praise

WHAT I'M WEARING :: VEST // Kohl's ::  SHIRT // Old Navy :: JEANS :: Kohl's // FLATS :: Buckle

The cold weather front has arrived here in Minnesota! It snowed Sunday and apparently there's more on the way. My knees are swollen a ridiculous amount, my wrists can't handle the writing school requires, and I feel about 80 years old.

Vests, jackets, mittens, and cute headbands are so in right now. I'm wearing plaid + stripes like it's my job. I hope pattern mixing is still in... ;)

Despite my pain, my teachers, friends, and family have been accommodating. I've been missing some school and my teachers have been incredibly understanding. My medical terminology AP class is tough to keep up with if you're not there to cover the material everyday. It's made up of a lot of quizzes + tests, so being present is essential. I am beyond thankful for how gracious this teacher has been to me. Letting me come in to take tests afterschool and visit for extra help really proves that she is passionate about her students' success.

Pain sucks, but Lord, thank you for teaching me about thankfulness and grace. One day at a time. :)

Psalms 109:30~ But I will give repeated thanks to the Lord, praising Him to everyone.


Distance Never Prevails

I always have to chuckle at the best friends God has graciously blessed with me.

My sweet friend Chelsea lives in a city near Wisconsin. A 3 hour drive stops us from seeing each other on the daily.

My gorgeous cousin Tori lives in Oklahoma. There's just over a 900 mile road trip separating us from heart to hearts and shopping.

My wise friend Elissa lives in Russia. The Atlantic Ocean, 5,000 miles, and crazy timezones keep us from bible studies and stomach-pain-inducing laughter.

Don't get me wrong, the best friends I have here at home mean the world to me. They're blessings all their own and I'm grateful for them every.single.day. There's just a special connection and bond that distance creates.

In enters this girl...

Marie is a German exchange student at our school this year. She's staying with a guy my age and his family for the year. All I can say is that I've adored her since the day we met. Her sweet personality and humor makes me smile every day. Even more than that... We've dubbed ourselves soul sisters. She's a hugger like I am and I'm almost positive that we could carry on conversation + giggle for days straight.

She's just one of my people.

What's mind blowing to me is that out of all the places this beauty could have ended up... She's right here in this tiny, Minnesota town of 800. There is no doubt in my mind that God brought her here to teach me a lesson or ten about life.

4,500 miles and that darn Atlantic Ocean will separate us when she returns home, but my time with her now will be worth missing her then. I have no doubt we'll be flying overseas for each other's weddings one day because of our soul sister bond.

Friendships like this one are truly one of God's greatest gifts. Distance means so little when someone means so much. Distance never prevails. I'm sure of it.


A Time To Let Go

After returning home from Bloggy Boot Camp, I had a lot of unpacking to do. It put me into one of my organizational states. I started going through a box of my shoes in the foyer closet and sifting through them. Their "place" in my life ranged from work shoes, to dress shoes, to shoes I forgot I had. There was one worn, faded brown pair of moccasins in that box that I decided it was time to toss.

I held them in my hands and stared at them for awhile remembering all the things I did in them, or rather, what they did on my feet.

When I first started my job... I learned in those shoes.

When I went through 10 weeks of physical therapy... I healed in those shoes.

When I went to visit my Grandpa for the last time in the hospital... I cried in those shoes.

When I went out to dinner with friends... I celebrated in those shoes.

I'm not sure how it's possible for me to remember all the things I did in those shoes, but if I had to take a guess, I'd say it was because I needed to learn this lesson. God used a pair of ragged moccasins to teach me a lesson. Similarly, He used the initially faithless Abraham to teach me about faith and Gomer the prostitute to teach me about mercy and unconditional love. It's amazing to me how He uses the things that seem not to matter in the biggest way.

As much as I hate to put value into a material item, the undeniable fact that those shoes left a lasting impact on me is no exaggeration. They were my favorite and they had been with me. Ragged or not, there was an attachment to them.

That thought led me to thinking about other things in my life that are the same way. Negative friendships that I can't walk away from. Bad habits that have become my nature. Feelings of resentment because I can't move on from the past. That ragged pair of shoes and these thoughts all have one particular thing in common...

It's time to let them go.

Despite memories, despite how hard it is, despite not wanting to feel loss... There comes a point when it is unhealthy to hold onto things that don't serve as a use to us. There comes a point when letting go is essential to our well-being.

Throwing these old moccasins away versus keeping them in the bottom of a box in the closet wasn't exactly a decision that would affect my well-being, but my goodness, it put other things and situations in my life into perspective.

It may not ever be easy, but it is essential to let go of the things that no longer grow us. It makes room for the new. The better. The priorities.


Surrendering To Intentionality

After attending Bloggy Boot Camp {my first blog conference} this past weekend, my heart is full and my mind is overwhelmed. With knowledge. With passion. With gratefulness.

I learned a lot about pageviews, social media, and vlogging. I learned how to grow my blog. I learned exactly what I wanted to going into the weekend... And yet, it didn't seem like enough to me. I didn't feel full.

I don't want you as readers to get the wrong idea of Bloggy Boot Camp. I don't want anyone thinking I'm not grateful for every session I had the opportunity to attend. I don't want anyone thinking I didn't learn in the other FABULOUS sessions. I just want to share what struck my heart chords the hardest.

When we broke apart the large group for a session, the choices were to attend a writer's workshop or a session on making money through blogging. Sensing that feeling of discontentment, I knew I needed to choose the writer's workshop.

Only a handful of women chose that session led by Heather and Vikki along with me, but it was just what my heart needed in every way, shape, and form. I teared up at points in the session because I finally identified with and surrendered to the struggles I saw within my writing. I realized that my inner critic is one nasty individual. I learned just how big my passion for this whole writing thing really is.

I realized that my writing around here isn't always 100% me and honest. When I started blogging, I cried writing my posts. It was therapeutic for me. I realized that lately, I've been getting frustrated emotional instead of therapeutic emotional with my writing. That didn't sit well with me. It's not what I want.

There is going to be an outrageous amount of change around here. My sponsorships are going to become more social media based. My posting is going to become more intentional. My photography is going to become more of a hobby. My heart is going to be a lot happier.

I hope you'll join me.


It's Going To Be A Glorious Weekend

FRIDAY. It's only about a MILLION happy things today! Not only is it the last weekday, but it's the day I get to tour my dream college campus (ahem... Bethel University), squeeze my friend Chelsea in real life again, and prepare myself for the awesomeness that is Bloggy Boot Camp this weekend! I literally cannot wipe the smile off my face!

After being completely overwhelmed this week, it's necessary for me to enjoy today and the weekend entirely. Not bits and pieces... Not odds and ends... Entirely. Girl time the next two days sounds like a pretty good start to me!

I literally have so much preparing to do today, but something tells me it's going to be a glorious weekend! Can't wait to share all that I learn at Bloggy Boot Camp and use that knowledge to make this little ole' blog more purposeful than ever before! I'm bound to be the youngest woman there, so I'm also excited to share my perspective and influence!

Cheers to the freakin' weekend! I'll drink a kiddy cocktail to that. ;)

Linking up with Alissa!


The Joy Of The Lord Is My Strength

The day that I've been anxiously awaiting for over 6 months is finally here. I was referred to a chronic pain program at Children's Hospital in Minneapolis for multiple reasons ranging from medications that don't work properly to the development of degeneration in my neck. When my parents and I filled out all the paperwork, I had not the slightest clue I'd walk through a journey with injections this past summer/fall. I had not the slightest clue that I'd actually get back to running for a little while. I had not the slightest clue that I'd come down with bronchitis the week I was supposed to start Enbrel. I was clueless when I submitted that paperwork.

I've been dealing with chronic pain for over 4 years now. One of the biggest things I began to struggle with spiritually is only being able to see the here and now. I'm able to be optimistic and speak life to others, but the fears within myself are fed with lies, worry, and doubt from the devil. Allowing that to happen leaves me halfway up a staircase not knowing what to do or where to go. Today, I'm sick of watching that happen and I'm ready to surrender it completely.

Sunday afternoon at work, I excused myself to the bathroom and just sat for a few minutes trying to catch my breath. I was having severe anxiety about my week. Monday: Injections, Wednesday: Make up exams, Thursday: Children's Appointment, Friday: College visit and Bloggy Boot Camp. I was feeling exhausted. Defeated. I started praying and clearer than day He said, "I'm a MIRACLE working God, so don't try to get ahead of Me and rob Me of the opportunity to demonstrate My power in your life." I actually laughed in that moment because it made me realize how ridiculous I am to compare my plans to His. I must always, always {be difficult and} choose the latter when I know what's good for me. Funny how that works, right?

He reassured me again just last night as I was reading Psalms for some closure. I stumbled across Psalm 139 and verse 16 popped out at me. I knew it was a clear sign from God that things are going to get much better in the coming days. That particular verse reads:

"You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in Your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed."

Truthfully, I don't know what today holds. I don't know how I'll be feeling this weekend or into next week. I don't know anything when it comes to His deliberate and oh-so-perfect will... And today? Today I'm done trying to figure it out. All I know for sure is that His grace, not my worry, fear, or doubt - is the thing that will see me through. The joy of the Lord is my strength.


Comfy Fall Attire + Optimism For Tomorrow

WHAT I'M WEARING :: Shirt // Maurice's :: Scarf // Target  Yoga Pants :: Victoria's Secret // Boots :: Nectar Clothing

The two days following a set of steroid injections are t.o.u.g.h. I struggle with finding something to wear because it hurts for the tiniest pressure to be on my neck. I struggle with not wanting to show off all my awesome battle wounds. I struggle with trying to cover up any and ALL swelling. Basically, it's a battle I can't win.

I stuck it out yesterday and showed off my bruises in all of their glory. I tried to wear a scarf but there was absolutely NO way I could get comfortable. Later in the day, I got sick of everyone commenting on the those tiny little bruises and threw on a scarf. Ya win some, ya lose some I guess - and I ended up LOVING this outfit!

My doctor said that I don't have to come back for a recheck for 3 whole weeks which is a mighty victory in itself. We're hoping that I'm officially DONE with these injections and can move onto a self-injection called Enbrel. I think this is going to be a much better fit for me overall and I'm thankful that I made it through another part in this journey! Autoimmune arthritis is one ugly monster that's losing the battle against moi!

The colors in this outfit still scream summer to me, but the boots are all fall! It amps up the yoga pants look and is incredibly comfy which was just what I needed. I have big plans to wear yoga pants again today... Hopefully I'll wake up feeling a lot better tomorrow since I'll be headed to Children's Hospital in Minneapolis to see a whole new panel of specialists. Some weeks... What gives, right? ;)

Linking up with The Pleated PoppyStyle ElixirBecause Shanna Said SoGet Your Pretty On, & Tucker Up!


Senior Homecoming Recap + Photo Dump

Last year as a junior in high school, I wrote a pretty similar post containing homecoming pictures from the week. Reading it back and noticing how I couldn't believe I was a junior makes me giggle... Because now I'm a senior and I'm still thinking the same thing while under a lot more stress about what I'm going to do with my life. ;) HA!

The past week was filled with lots of shenanigans and hanging out with the people I've been with since kindergarten. I don't know where the time goes, but I do know where the memories come from... And it's called staying up way too late practicing for powderpuff football with all these crazies...

My Grandma spent the weekend with us and came to coronation on Sunday night. She lives about an hour away so it was great to have her here the whole weekend! She ended up fixing a little dress malfunction for me, too. Talk about a lifesaver!

My gorgeous friend Stacy was crowned homecoming queen and I couldn't be happier for her. She is the sweetest girl I've ever met and always has something kind to say to anyone and EVERYONE she comes in contact with!

A few of my favorite co-workers surprised me by coming... And I totally cried about it! These ladies are more like sisters to me and I couldn't be more grateful for them!

I got to rock some awesome second day hair on Monday. I also got to sleep in and we know how Kenzie feels about that. ;)

Tuesday night was a volleyball game. My best friend Becca plays and is the MVP in my eyes! We had so much fun supporting her!

Wednesday was nerd day... Oh, dear Lord.

Thursday was another volleyball game. The girls WON and it was such a fun game to cheer for!

Friday was the homecoming football game and homecoming dance. It started pouring the last 5 minutes of the game, but we made do with it and had so.much.fun.!

I was sick with bronchitis and in pain all last week, but I enjoyed every second of homecoming my senior year. Juvenile arthritis IS participating in any/ALL homecoming events your senior year despite pain, fear of what this week's Children's appointment will reveal, and injections tonight. It's smiling when it's hard to want to and it's wearing a ridiculously sparkly dress. It's taking pain pills and wearing pain patches to get through the last dance of your high school career. It's simply dancing in the rain ALL THE DAYS and believing that God has you right where you need to be... :)

Watermarked photos by: Capture It with Vanessa


Yoga Pants & Wasted Makeup

WHAT I'M WEARING :: Cardigan // Stitch Fix :: T-shirt // Old Navy :: Tank top // Old Navy :: Yoga Pants :: Victoria's Secret

Oy. You know those weeks when ya just can't catch a break? That's been my life lately and I've kinda decided to just throw my hands in the air. On Monday, I tested positive for bacterial bronchitis and I haven't exactly worn anything but yoga pants and a bit of mascara this week. I figured it's no use even trying to fix the mess I've become in the past two weeks. Heck, I haven't even put perfume on because the scent of the Vick's Vapor rub is PLENTY. It's also supposed to snow on Saturday... So there's that.

In other news, the always awesome and totally gracious Sarah re-did my blog. I am DYING over this new design and how perfectly she captured "me." I wanted to "re-brand" before printing business cards + heading off to Bloggy Boot Camp next weekend! Seriously, if you're looking for a designer, CHOOSE THIS WOMAN. And sponsor her fine assets, too. She doesn't stop until every last bit of you is happy, happy, happy! 

What do you think of the new look?