Monday, August 18, 2014

We Will Not Back Down

I haven't given an in depth update of how life looks and how my sweet fiance's health has been. Cause to be honest, it's exhausting. We have shared progress with family and our church, when we are asked in person. But other than that, we are just walking out of our journey, and that takes most of our energy most days. Just the other day, I was sitting at Starbucks alone getting filled up in the Word, and a girl walked over and tapped me on the shoulder and softly says, "Are you Kasey's fiance." I proudly said, "Yes!" She explained that she went to school with Kasey and had seen my blog posts and wanted to see how we've been. A very sweet gesture.

I was already thinking about writing another blog post to update everyone on how life has been, and how Kasey is actually doing, but after we had talked, it reminded me of something really important. The disease Kasey has been diagnosed with is real, and challenging, but Kasey and I want to be known for glorifying our God and not his diagnoses. So I write, although feeling exhausted, because I need to share how good, how faithful, how powerful, and how personal our God is.

This is what things look like now! Kasey and I, a few weeks ago, didn't go to his scheduled doctors appointment as a step of faith. We felt like there was something more God had for us, besides taking out his colon out or going on immune-altering shots that he would need for the rest of his life. That same day, we sifted through all the information doctors told us, everything we read, and through all the suggestions from family and friends, and came to the same conclusion. Surprisingly, we settled on something that was seemingly unrelated, and the very thing that doctors said had nothing to do with Kasey's condition. Food! We agreed on food! We decided, there has to be a connection between what he's putting into his body and what comes out of his body. Right? Pretty logical! I will remember the night we decided to change our lifestyle. It was that peace, that didn't make sense, that was illogical, and up until that point, we had felt crazy that every doctor told us that diet was completely irrelevant and unrelated. But that's what we agreed on. And even if we WERE crazy, we made the decision together, and we both were in full agreement. Even that felt like a small victory, and we take what we can get these days!

We decided to cut out gluten/wheat, dairy, grains, and seeds. Ha! It makes me laugh even writing it. Out of everything, that was our conclusion. Kasey and I have always eaten more healthy and both are knowledgeable enough to make an educated decision about our dietary journey. We have completely changed what we put into our bodies, everyday meal, everyday! We have been strict and very particular. I have also joined Kasey in this new change. Because part of my commitment to him is walking with him, fully, through the things he does. With our wedding just a few months away, I figured, it's better to mesh our eating styles now in order to create an easier transition into married life. So we eat a lot of really good food. A lot of colorful food! Our meals consist of meat, veggies, fruits, eggs, and anything that isn't processed.

And can I please be the first to announce that Kasey did not have to go back to the hospital. He isn't getting his colon removed. And his bleeding has subsided. Most days consist of texts from my fiance which read, "No blood!" That is our miracle. That is our God showing up in our lives. That is our reminder that God hears our cries, knows our life, and provides real and practical help to us. Has our diet helped? We believe it has made a huge impact, but that dose not discount or negate the work God is doing behind the sense to completely heal and restore Kasey's body.

This is what I have decided. Kasey and I are called to serve God and love people, and that is exactly what we plan on doing. I had a conversation with God. It probably sounded more like me preaching to God, but I told Him this,

" Kasey and I will serve you. If Kasey does not receive full healing and this is our life long battle, then we will still serve you. I believe that You will grace us with the resources and wisdom we need to navigate through life with whatever comes our way. You wouldn't call us and put a plan and a destiny over our lives, so we can sit at home and squander it. You gave us a plan and a purpose because through us You will do a good work. So if You want to use us, please, have Your way. But weather You like it or not God, we will not leave our post. We will stand our ground. And we will serve You in the best ways we know how."

I don't know if God appreciates my spice. But He has loved me in a way, which no other has matched, that my life will forever be spent sharing that same love with others. So Kasey and I march on! Warriors for a cause bigger than our circumstance, and we trust that God has our best interest in mind! Please, continue the prayers, that has been huge for Kase and I during this process.

Our God is so good. Like, really, really good!

I give everything over to You Lord

Sunday, August 3, 2014

It's Not A Sprint, It's A Marathon

Since my last update about finding out that Kasey has a disease called Ulcerative Colitis, he and I have had to pray and discuss a lot about what our life looks like now, and what kind of treatment options we feel are best suited for him. We would both like to thank those of who have been praying along side us. This journey has been hard so far, and we are so thankful for your support, love, and encouragement. To put it nicely, it has been a whirlwind of emotions, questions, confusion, and concerns. Even with our wedding just a few short months away, Kasey's health has been our priority in life. Our thoughts and our energy have gone into making sure Kasey is the healthiest he can be. We have almost had to put a pause button, momentarily, on everything else, just so we can truly feel confident about our big life decisions about his health. Everything that the doctors are offering us are all life altering options. As my sister-in-law put it, "Kasey and I are having to grow up faster then others, by making decisions that others never have to think about." Needless-to-say, it's a lot.

After getting out of the hospital, Kasey and I have shared excitement with each other for what God has done in his life. Everything seems like a victory. When he eats and doesn't automatically go to the bathroom, we rejoice. (You never realize what you will be thankful for until it is taken away from you). Although we have been able to see some great strides in the right direction, we have recently been experiencing more setbacks. I took Kasey to get a sigmoidoscopy, last week, in oder for the doctors to do follow up tests on how his colon is doing. Which meant, again, my sweet love was put under and the doctors checked him out. Surprisingly his colon looked beautiful! (Things I never thought I would say).

Unfortunately, after the procedure, Kasey's bleeding started getting worse, and it was very reminiscent of his condition before going into the hospital. So, back to the GI we went. This time, the doctors physician (who was with us some of the time in the hospital), told us that since the steroids weren't working, we would need to look into a more "promising" alternative. She suggested removing his colon or going on immune-altering medication. Not the type of promising suggestions we were looking for. So we left the doctors office and told them we would have to do some serious research and some serious discussing. But we only have so much time with Kasey losing blood. We can't just take a month to pray over everything and visit other doctors offices and ask hundreds of questions, we need to make decisions and we need to make them now. Such a stressful position we are put in. And not to mention that stress makes ulcerative colitis worse - it is like a mean game the disease plays on us.

When I have said that this affects our whole life now, I am not using that term for dramatic affect, it literally alters the way we do things now. What we eat, where we go, how we resolve conflict in our lives, how much we commit to people and responsibilities, and how we view and respond to our relationship with God. Our date night consists of me checking Kasey's pulse in the movie theater, and sitting at our dinner table reading articles about how God uses suffering. Life is just different, not bad, just different.

Kasey and I believe that God could still heal Kasey any moment. But He hasn't, which means we are sifting through tons of information in order to make the best decisions with what we have been given. While this time before our wedding is usually spent planning, preparing, and figuring out ways to celebrate, we have found a new appreciation for each others love and are learning to celebrate in the things that mean the most to us. The way we do things now, is very different. We have to consciously do things on our time, when it isn't the most convenient for us, in order for us to make sure we are slowing down in life and taking care of Kasey's health.

We have grown a new appreciation for the suffering Jesus went through when dying for us. We spend time reading scriptures that remind us that we are not alone in the minimal suffering we are experiencing. We pray a lot. And then we pray more. We do whatever we can that works for us in any given moment when things are hard and confusing. We are learning to trust God, more, with our whole life and believing that He will honor the steps we take. Since there is no big flashing sign that says, "DO THIS," we are having to step out in faith even when we don't see an end or solution to his health issues.

All we ask for, continually, is prayer. Prayer for our decision making. Prayer for wisdom. Prayer for health. Prayer for miracles. And prayer for unity, strength, and a joyful spirit, as we walk through this journey. We are becoming more and more aware, that this isn't a sprint to the finish, it is a marathon that needs endurance. So pray for us if we come to mind - that would be a huge blessing for the both of us.

I give everything to You Lord

Monday, July 21, 2014

Our Trip To The Hospital

Kasey, my fiance, and I have been dealing with some health issues that have come up in Kasey's life. We have been worried, confused, and desperately seeking answers. The depth of our worry has increased this past month because his symptoms have gotten worse. For about 6-7 months, Kasey has had bleeding in his stool (large amounts of blood loss) so we went to get a colonoscopy to see if there was anything the doctors could see from the results. We had a follow up appointment 2 weeks after to discuss things with the doctor. He was diagnosed with a disease called Ulcerative Colitis. The doctor explained what the disease entails and he order a low dose of steroids to try to stop the bleeding. Well, it didn't work.

Kasey started feeling even worse, so he became
adamant about informing the doctor all of his symptoms. He was experiencing things like, high blood pressure, faint, light headed, winded, exhausted, short of breath, and at one point we were sitting on the couch and Kasey turned to me and said, "I feel like I could literally have a heart attach any minute." It was very scary. The doctor told us on Monday (July 14th) that he wanted him to get a blood test done, to check his hemoglobin levels since he had been loosing so much blood in his stools. This was the first time something registered for Kasey and I. Low blood count would equal faintness and fatigue, we looked at each other and knew that this effected out spirit the same, positive, way. So Kasey went the next day, Tuesday (July 15th), to get the testing done. By Wednesday (July 16th) they called him back and said, "You need to go to the ER right now. You have the potential of passing out any second. Your hemeglobin level is at 5.9." (Kasey and I had no idea what 5.9 really meant and what normal blood levels should be at. Come to find out, they do blood transfusion when blood levels hit 8. And he was far beyond that point) I got a call at work on Wednesday, from Kasey, telling me what the doctor had said. I grabbed my keys and I left work. Driving to his house felt like a million miles away, I had no idea what to expect, and honesty got worried that I might lose him.

I picked him up and we were off to the ER. The nurse that took us to check his vitals and get him admitted was shocked to hear that his levels were at 5.9. I didn't understand still, so I asked, "What should normal blood levels be at." Come to find out, for a guy like Kasey, on the lower end of normal, his blood levels should be around 11-12. They got us situated in a room and we found out that Kasey was going to need a blood transfusion. We naively asked, "So, how long will this take? 5 hours? 10 hours?" The doctor politely looked at us and said, "Probably over night." This, in a weird way, was God's way of answering our cries
and prayers for healing, resources, and answers. I sat next to Kasey in his bed and told him, "This isn't exactly how I thought God would answer our prayers." But being at the hospital was an answer to prayer, we just didn't know it was how God needed to bring us peace. Well, 5 days and three pints of blood later, we are still at the hospital. His levels only went to 8 after all the blood he received, which the doctors told us his blood count was probably closer to 4. They said he could have gone into cardiac arrest. So Kasey was right that night we were sitting on our couch, he could have had heart complications and possibly died. A very scary realization that we both faced this past week.

So now what? Kasey and I are making due with what we have. These are the cards we've been dealt and this is the life we have been given. We are making the best of this whole situation and praising Jesus for Kasey's life, along the way. The disease Kasey has, doctors say, is a life long condition. It may go into remission with occasional flare ups, but it is something that we will have to work through indefinitely.

And as much as I don't want to settle for the diagnosis we've heard from the doctor. It is hard to stand our ground and say, "We believe that God is going to do a complete healing of Kasey's body." I'm sure that sounds so hopeless and pessimistic, but it's where I am at. We believe that God is capable, we believe that He can heal Kasey in the snap of a finger, but we also know that if God doesn't heal Kasey over night, that our God isn't any less loving or faithful. I want to see miracles happen in Kasey's life. Kasey wants to see miracles happen in his life. So, as he and I work through doubts and questions and concerns, all we ask from you, is to pray. Pray that Kasey would experience an unexplained, powerful and miraculous healing. That his body would be made whole, and that we would be provided with the proper wisdom on how to best take care of his body from here on out. Pray for miracles! While we know that Kasey needs to be in the hospital right now, we have both talked about the expensive hospital bills and other responsibilities we have. Trying not to worry but instead just trusting that God would continue to provide for us. Spiritually, emotionally, physically, and financially. Please pray with us and for us! We would love your support in this new journey of finding a deeper sense of hope, a strengthen faith, and a positive outlook when it comes to life in and after the hospital.

I am so thankful for Kasey's life. He is still wildly passionate even in his hospital bed. I can't wait to see the comeback of my strong and contagious man. The enemy would love to knock him out of the game, but he has too much to offer this world, God isn't done using him, and He isn't done building a beautiful testimony.

Cheers to an amazing story that is being written before our eyes.

I give everything over to You Lord

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Passionately Loved. Our Engagement.

Kasey and I are happily engaged and we have been sharing our lives with each other over the past few years. Showing one another the depths of our passions, our convictions, and our love. We feel very blessed to be living the life we have. We would be the first to admit, it has taken a lot of hard work and dedication to get to the point we are at today, and we know there is so many more years of hard work  and love to come.
As we recently got back our engagement pictures, I scrolled through them with Kasey by my side. We looked at each other and smiled, knowing that we have seen each others brokenness but choose to fight for each other anyway. It is a humbling experience.
I can honestly say that this man I am honored to marry in 4 short months is the most loving, passionate, relentless fighter, and breath-taking soul I have ever loved. My world would be so dull without his words of encouragement, his surprises, his openness, his tears, his laughter, and his strength.
I am straight up blessed.


A big thanks to our photographer Danielle!
Visit her site:
Connect with her on Facebook at: Danielle Apple Photography

I give everything over to You Lord

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A Young Entrepreneur

Have you ever tried something that you are terrified of? Have you jumped into something with the hopes of it turning out well, but never truly seeing the end result? But you've decided to trust that maybe, just maybe, something great could happen.

I have embarked on a new adventure this year that has left me nervous, excited, and inspired. I have started my own business. This thought of becoming my own boss hasn't been a random, flippant thought. It has been years in the making, even when I didn't see it, so to say I'm surprised that I have decided to pursue my own business venture would be a lie. At a ripe 24 years of age, I made my mind to create and build a business that helps engage people into the mission and vision of companies. When I decided that this was the direction I wanted to go, I didn't just quit my "day job," and run into an open field and frolic in success. Instead, I knew that building a business is a process that has many different steps involved. Here are some of the thoughts I have been implementing:

1} Make a Plan 
Before starting your own business, it would be a good idea to have a plan! Seems almost comical to say, but having a plan that is sketched out will help you stay focused and keep you on target with your goals. Don't quit your current job when you have no foundation to fall back on. I know some people can get over zealous and decide they want to quit everything to pursue their new business. (And I am sure that has worked for some) I have found that it is wiser to build your own business while having some steady income to take care of living expenses. You don't want to start a company that is birthed out of stress or begging clients for their business because you are in desperate need of money. I don't ever want to get into a place where I feel like I "need" my clients money. I want to be able to help build businesses and be paid for the work I accomplish for them. Decide, early on, what you want your company to look like and how you want it to be presented. Set goals that can be accomplished in 1 year, 5 years, and 10 years. Think ahead and stay on top of what is happening in your industry so that you can become the leading resource for information and innovation.

2} Make an Investment 
Make sure you are investing into your company, just as much as you want others to. What type of products or partnerships are going to help you lay the best foundation for your business. For me, I designed and ordered my Business Cards, I bought a new Apple computer, the Square Card Reader, pens, notebooks to take notes and write down miles in my car, a receipt carrier for future tax purposes, Adobe computer software for designing, and I purchased social media programs that help me manage my clients accounts. So I made an investment into my company! Over $2,000 to start my business. But I needed each of those things on the list in order to truly reach the people I want to reach. So what are you doing to invest into your company - it may not look like a financial investment, it could look like an investment of time spent researching or time spend working on different projects. Do the things you hate first, and make an investment that will produces long term benefits. It's worth it!

3} Build Relationships
I can't stand companies that are built off of fake smiles and fluffed up rhetoric, in order to obtain people's money. I just won't create that kind of business for myself. I value people and relationships too much. I won't fake meaningless relationships for the sake of obtaining new business. I want to build something that brings true joy and accomplishment, and to me, that is through truly great connections with people. When you have great relationships with people, you will find that it is easier to partner with them and to understand what their business does and how you can help.

4} Stay Persistent 
For me, this ties into number 3. When you are building relationships with people, because you authentically care, doors will naturally open. So stay focused on who your target audience is, engage in their world, find out ways to connect on different levels, and don't be scared if someone tells you "no!" Take a "no" as "not today." This will help you stay persistent in pursuing and building networking connections with people. If you're like me, when you hear "No" and you automatically feel denied and stop desiring to connect with that person on a business level. I don't want to get in a habit of that. When I pursue building a relationship with someone, as a potential new client, and if they decline to not do business with me, I want to take their "no" and ask myself "why?" This will only help me become more refined and better equipped to serve the people I work with.

5} Do Something That Scares You Everyday 
Want to stay away from a stagnant business? Try doing something that scares you, everyday! This will help you reach new heights, accomplish things that seem out of reach, and it will open doors that you otherwise would have missed. I am still learning how to not let fear drive my decisions. Nobody wants a "safe" way of living - sure it can feel comfortable, but it will never let you reach your full potential. The things that scare you can seem totally ridiculous - I'll be honest with some of mine. I get scared to send a potential client a quote for how much my services will cost. (I literally have to amp myself up before sending it) I get scared that my business will turn out to be a complete disaster, so I don't tell many people about it. I am scared of "failing," so I walk on egg shells when I really should be thinking of ideas on how to walk on the moon. These fears can seem so silly and so trivial to some, but they are my battles to conquer. So as I figure out how to maneuver through my hangups, I encourage you to do the same!

I am happily pursuing a dream of mine - with all the ups and downs, I will stay focused on my goals and work hard! Cheers to being a young entrepreneur and congratulations to all the other young and successful business people!

I give everything over to You Lord

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Gabriel Hudson Parker

Oh the joy it was to meet my darling nephew Gabriel Hudson Parker this weekend!
I had the opportunity to visit Salt Lake City and love on this precious little one.
I was able to capture moments of my sister and brother-in-law in their "natural habitat." 

Take a look at how adorable this family of three is!

I give everything to You Lord

Monday, April 7, 2014

Do not apologize for existing.

I heard this spoken word from Natalie Patterson. A poet. Her words have been helping me release some of the junk and pain I am still holding onto. The internal war I face, daily. The battle of perfection. The desire to be loved, and accepted - while feeling like I never amount to, "enough." Oh to be a woman. It takes strength to be confident. I am just not there yet. 
... Yet. 

 Here is Natalie's spoken word:

"I was not always confident to speak the words the way I felt them.
Thought silence would suffocate the pain - It does not.

I taught myself to come alive.
I wrote.
And wrote.
And wrote.
Until my mouth could form the words that my backbone wouldn't carry.
I wrote, until I found the truth of things, until I saw the light again.

There is always light somewhere.
Beyond the bruises, and the names you call yourself.
Sometimes your worst enemy is in your own skin.
Sometimes it shares your face and claims to love you.
That hateful voice is not love.
I promise you.

There will come a day, that your fight is bigger than your fear.
That you nearly claw your way out of your body to prove that you exist.
Leave that skin for someone else and design your own wings.
You, are a masterpiece. Magnificent in your glory. Have you seen her lately?

The girl. The girl with the halo smiling and welcome home hands.
She is the best thing never seen cause your to busy being scared to be great.
And I get it.

Sometimes your body is as cumbersome as adulthood is.
Sometimes your drowning and wonder if anyone even notices.
Read books for answers and nothing speaks to you.
We are told that our complexity is a burden by people to weak to embrace their own condition.

To be selfless, exist, restless, unhappy - and never, ever expected to verbalize it.
We are told, to balance the uncertainty of this world with grace in stilettos heels, with a perfect complexion.
And that is just not realistic.
So lets rewrite these unspoken rules.
The ones that shackle us to people we never intended on being.

News flash.
You're allowed to fart.
And cellulite.
Well... cellulite is the devil.
"Get out you naked girl with cellulite."
Said no one... ever.
So get over it.

High heels aren't a requirement.
And a flat stomach isn't for everyone... cause chips are delicious.
You are allowed to be as you truly are.
There is space for every person on the spectrum.

We are dynamic, if nothing else.
Gorgeously ourselves.
We are women of something grater.
Speak, and the universe will react.
Align your actions with your intentions and watch your life become as breathtaking as sunset.

I dare you."

I give everything over to You Lord

Monday, March 10, 2014

Filled Up From Friendships

It has been a rough couple of weeks, emotionally, finding out about some devastating situations that have happen to people I love and cherish. I have cried, been angry, been confused and it's something that I can't get off my mind. God is good - I know this to be true - but this world is hopeless and extremely broken. In the past few weeks I was, unfortunately, reminded how much devastation plagues our world. This is not intended to be a downer post - this is actually a post to thank my friends and boyfriend and to share how fulfilled and blessed my life is.  

This morning, in the midst of knowing some of the situations that people are facing around me, I scrolled through the photos on my phone. {I do that a lot!} While I was scrolling through the pictures, I was reminded of how blessed I am to have such wonderful friends. Kasey and I attended a wedding this past weekend {Congrats Scott & Alyssa}, and a situation arose that made me look at him and express how thankful I was to have such great friends. There have been several decisions I have had to make along my journey that could have easily caused me to become isolated. But now, because of how my life has played out and the decisions I've made, I barely have a free weekend without spending time with friends or family - and dating Kasey continually keeps my life adventurous. As an introvert, I crave quiet rooms, sketch books, silence, and stillness. Kasey is very aware of my need for time by myself, and he knows when I need to curl up in a ball and not talk. But, thankfully, his vibrant spirit also helps me refrain from becoming a little recluse! I am so glad that I have girlfriends that are powerful, strong, open-minded and encouraging. I adore them and appreciate them - especially because I know how it feels to lack a solid group of girlfriends. & I am also so grateful for Kasey and the life he and I continue to create for ourselves. He helps me so much. On the way to the wedding he helped me clean deodorant off my dress, whipped lipstick off my teeth, got me a protein bar and banana cause I was "starving," & he even fixes all my stray hairs that fly in the wind. After all of that, I looked at him and said, "You must wonder how I manage to get ready in the morning, huh?!"

But more then just being aware of those small but important things, Kase brings me joy, laughter, excitement and love. He is an unbelievable combination of passion, kindness and understanding.

Today I am thankful. Thankful for friends, and my relationship with Kasey. My heart is so full.
My life is blessed.