Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Goodbye 2014...

2014 was a year of growth and new experiences. The highs were the highest of my life and the lows were the lowest, but I have never had a more exciting time. Here are a few pictures that chronicle my 2014!
 First mission trip with my college life group to Nashville, TN!
 The ladies of the San Francisco mission trip goofing off at the Pacific Ocean! 
 The whole team!

The ladies that became my best friends. Each has taught me a different lesson. I am forever grateful God gave them to me.
 First meeting of the Loft Leadership as a team!
My best friend sister who has loved me and been by my side for 7 years now, my silly cousin on our annual beach photo shoot at Edisto Island.
 My first camping trip with some great friends. First time camping in a tent, first time fishing and first time baiting a hook.
 I got to ride a mechanical bull at a student ministry outreach at my church! 
 A big group of Loft memebers at our first outreach event at NGU!

My adorable brother and sister-in-law came home on leave from the Navy and I spent a majority of their time home singing nursery rhymes and watching videos on my phone with their son!
My first event as Women's Ministry Leader in the Loft!
My great group of girls and I after the TSM Fall retreat! Also my first time leading a group during a retreat!

I have been so blessed in 2014 and I can't wait to see what 2015 has in store!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

What Life with Chronic Illness Has Taught Me

1. Plans change.
I'm a planner. No getting around it. I have a day planner that lives on my desk of my bedroom filled with homework due dates, important events and all sort of everyday reminders. I live to plan. But plans change, and there is nothing wrong with that.  This is especially true for those with chronic illness. My plans and dreams five years ago, preDysautonomia look much, much different than my plans today. Often our plans are replaced by the Father's plans and just between you and me, even though I usually fight it, I would much prefer His.

2. Baths are your friends.
Okay, so this one is a little silly, but bear with me! Almost every day I take a bath, not because I am a clean-freak but because it makes me stop working, relax and do something for myself for a few minutes. Whether it is to cry, read your bible, listen to music or absolutely nothing, it is so important to have that daily time to relax and recharge.

3. You are not your illness.
We, as a whole, love to label. Short, brunette, middle-class, educated, sick... all labels, But labels are not who we are. I am not my labels and I am definitely not my sickness.

4. Time is precious.
Learning that your future looks much different than you expected changes your perspective on many things, including time. Once unlimited, time begins to look limited and honestly, that's the scariest part. But because of the changed perspective regarding time, you learn to value every moment. Instead of putting off dreams or adventures, I've learned to live in the moment. That's right. This planner is becoming spontaneous.

5. You will lose friends.
This is a hard one. People I thought were my friends began to fade away when things became hard and girls I thought had my back were the ones spreading the rumors that I was pretending I was sick for attention. But honestly, were those people ever my friends in the first place? No. The people who were are the ones who are standing by me today. The ones who stuck to my side when I pushed away and loved me through every appointment, every test and every day- good and bad. 

6. It's okay to not be okay.
This is the hardest one. You don't have to be a hero every day.

Monday, December 29, 2014

McKeely Photography

It is rare that you meet someone who is as amazingly talented as she is sweet and if you find that perfect combination, hold on to it for dear life. 

I found it in my favorite photographer/friend Hannah McKeel at McKeely Photography

She is a college student at Anderson studying education and photographs in the Greenville area. I've used a few of her photos from my last shoot throughout the blog, but here are some more of her amazing shots.

 (ignore the muddy feet, but I love, love, love my tattoo!)

She makes you feel totally comfortable and at home where ever you are, no matter if you are a pro model or have never been in front of a camera. 
And knows the best areas for awesome shots! She chose this old, abandoned grocery store as the location as my last shoot and I absolutely loved it! Rustic, but colorful and so full of different options for posing. 

Not only is she my favorite photographer, Hannah is someone I consider a dear friend. She is always smiling and is a ray of sunshine in my life.

I am so thankful God blessed me with her friendship!

If you are in the Upstate of South Carolina, check her out for sure!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Pretty Place

Yesterday a dear friend of mine and I woke up super early and drove to Camp Greenville's chapel Pretty Place to watch the sunrise. As you can guess by the name, the chapel is gorgeous and has the best views in Greenville. Here are just a few of my favorite shots from the morning. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Liebster Award!

Earlier in the week, I was nominated by Kelly from I am Kelly for the Liebster Award! She's a super sweet blogger and writes fantastic posts that detail her life with her husband and her passion for following the Father. You should definitely head over and check her out!

The Liebster Award was reportedly started in Germany as a way to highlight small blogs (under 200 followers) and bring them a little recognition. Liebster means 'dearest' in German, which I think is precious. 

With the award, 11 questions will be given to help you the readers, get to know me, the blogger. After the questions have been answered, you pass the award on to 5 other deserving blogs!

1. How did you decide on the title of your blog? 
The title of the blog, Sincerely, Victoria was supposed to read like a letter from me to my readers. I hope to also have a level of sincerity in my blog that my readers can relate to, hence the "Sincerely" part of the title!
2. What is one word that sums up the heart of your blog and why? 
Like the title, the one word I would use to describe the heart of my blog is sincere.
3. What are your favorite pastimes other than blogging?
I love, love, LOVE reading, shopping, watching Law and Order: SVU, spending time with my little chihuahua, and teaching dance!
4. What is your favorite aspect of blogging? 
My favorite part of blogging is the freedom of expression. 
5. Which project, recipe or idea on my blog would you most like to try yourself?
Kelly doesn't have any recipes or projects, but what I love about her blog is that she writes from the heart, it is evident when you read her posts :)
6. Where does your blog inspiration come from? 
My blogging inspiration comes from my thoughts, dreams, musings and my favorite things. 
7. What is one country in the world you would like to visit? Why? 
If I could visit one country, I'd love to go to Great Britain. I love the rich history of the area and a major selling point is that I don't have to learn a new language to understand everyone!
8. If you have children, what are there names? If not, what are your favorite girl and boy names?
I don't have any children right now, but do have some names picked out for when that time comes. For a little boy, I would use Harrison Samuel which is my last name and my grandfather's first name. I don't plan to keep my last name and am the only child, so the Harrison legacy will die with me, but I love the idea of giving it to my son as a way for the name to carry on. For a little girl, I love the names Zonie (another family name), Harper, Scarlett and Penelope, but haven't nailed down something certain yet. 
9. A long-lost relative leaves you a large sum of money. What do you do with it?
Pay for college, buy my mother the perfect dance studio and pay off my medical bills. 
10. In your opinion, what is the best blog post you’ve written so far? (Include the link!)
My favorite blog post so far has been A Season of Waiting. It was hard to write, but has given me a lot of love and support from ladies who have been in the same situation.
11. Where do you see yourself in five years time? 
In the next five years, I see myself working as a nurse in the local hospital or the pro-life clinic in my area. I will hopefully have made some headway in my Dysautonomia treatment and will be making strides towards a somewhat "normal" life. I hope to also be involved working at my church with middle and high school girls.

For my nominees, I am nominating:
Lacey from The Simple Bride

Monday, December 15, 2014

First Guest Post!


I had the honor of guest posting about my favorite Christmas memory over at Novelties and Trinkets!

This is my first guest post, so I am pretty jazzed.

Please go check it and Megan out! She's a sweetheart!

Friday, December 12, 2014

The Peony Project

Peonies are some of my favorite flowers and how awesome is it to join an amazing group with Peony in the title?

Pretty stinking amazing. 

After emailing back and forth for a week or so, a fellow blogging friend suggested that I join The Peony Project and I have nothing but positive reviews. 

I have been a member for about a week now and the warmth and love I have already found from this group is astounding. If I ever have a question, they answer it. If I have a prayer request, they pray for it. Huge Blessing. 

These ladies come from all walks of life. We have mommas, students, singles, married, dating, business women and just about everything in between.

The one common thread is the love for Jesus and each other. 

I am so excited! A Jesus-focused, blog-loving, sweet community is just what I need. I can't wait to invest in it more.

A huge thank you to Betsy Gettis over at Heavens to Betsy for creating this group and allowing me to be a part of it. 

And please, please, please join if you have not already done so! I promise you won't regret it!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Life with Dysautonomia

Throughout my blog, I will be talking about POTS and Dysautonomia, so here is a quick rundown of the disease!

In the Fall of 2014, I was diagnosed with a form of Dysautonomia called Hyperadrenergic Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia.

What is it?
Dysautonomia is a form of neuropathy that affects the nerves that carry information from the brain and spinal cord to various organs throughout the body. My specific form of Dysautonomia, Hyperadrenergic Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia or HyperPOTS, is very rare and not much information is known about it. What we do know is that it is thought to be a genetic disorder passed from mother to child and comes from an excess of adrenaline in the body.

What does it look like?
For the most part, I look like any other person. I wear a medical alert bracelet on my left wrist and sometimes use a wheelchair if I need it.

What does it feel like?
To put it in a word: tired. Fatigue is a major side effect along with syncope (fainting), migraine headaches, anxiety. difficulty in digestion, difficulty in adapting to different temperature, heart palpitations and tremors.

To learn more, click here!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

A Season of Waiting

After three weeks of prayer, conversations with trusted friends and deep thought I have decided to take time away from dating.

For a long time I have found my value, worth and identity in relationships. I let my loneliness and worry of never finding anyone control me. If I was in a relationship, I would convince myself that he was "the One" despite any warnings from friends, feelings of unease and knowing in my heart he wasn't a man I could spend the rest of my life with. If I was single, I would constantly search for someone to ease the loneliness.

I was never happy on my own and saw myself as worthless if I wasn't "wanted" by the opposite sex.

Because of that I found myself in a few different relationships ranging from unhealthy to worse. In one relationship I was talking about marriage with a guy after a month of dating, I gave my heart away quickly and was offended and broken hearted when things didn't work out due to immaturity on both parts. In another I dealt with a guy who was constantly putting me down and trying to change me. In the worst , I knew everything was wrong from the beginning but I was so scared of being alone and so desperate for attention that I stayed in despite losing trust and respect from my friends and family.

Because of this, I was broken hearted, bitter, and felt like I had no value.

It wasn't until a conversation with a friend discussing how the Father pursues us, that I realized that everything I was looking for in a man could be found in the Lord.

My value comes from Him.
My worth comes from Him.

He pursues ME.

Where does that leave me? Healing and trying to pursue the Lord with a healthy reflection of how I used to pursue guys.

So during this time, I will be focusing on Him, giving my attention to areas that deserve it like school, friendships and spending time with Abba.

But for now, I am enjoying life as a single woman, pursing the Lord as best I can.

This is my healing season.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Where you go...

For a long time I have been running from the idea of missions. Sure, I'll go to San Francisco or Spain with the Loft, but that's it. No going any further. No pushing the limits. I like to play it safe.

That ended today.

In the Loft this morning, a Journeyman, Maggie, came to speak about her experience overseas and how the Lord continually showed up and showed out. Then she began speaking about opportunities to serve as a student through the IMB and I honestly, my mind was anywhere but her presentation until I heard the words "Sex Trafficking"come out of her mouth. If you read my last entry, you'll remember that the children I worked with in Brazil were mostly bought out of prostitution and slavery, so women and children in that lifestyle way heavily on my heart.

For the rest of her presentation I was struggling with God. Finally I decided that to prove God wrong (like I really could), I would talk to Maggie and she would tell me that I wasn't qualified for the trip.

Turns out that the trip had filled earlier that morning, but I could almost hear God saying "You're not getting away from this that easily", and Maggie told me that though the trip to Thailand was booked, she knew that there was a woman who was looking for individuals and I was perfect for the job.

During service after my meeting with Maggie, I couldn't tell you what the pastor was preaching about (Are you seeing a pattern?) because I was thinking of how I could get out of this mission trip. Traveling with a team is one thing, but going to a foreign country by myself? That's way outside of my comfort zone.

As the service ended, there was an opportunity to commit to missions, whether it be short or long term which involved filling out a card and walking to the front of the church. As I was holding the commitment card in my hands, I looked up and my mother was handing me a pen and I heard the Lord say "Stop Fighting" and before I knew what I was doing, my card was filled out, I was standing in front of the alter of the church and tears were falling down my face.

So, I'm going.

Where? I don't know.

When? I don't know.

The one thing I do know: I've stopped fighting.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

First Steps

One of the most rewarding parts of being a dance teacher is watching the "Ah-ha!" moment when a young dancer finally grasps the concept of a new move.

I had one of those moments today in class with my elementary aged girls.


A perfect pickup requires standing on one foot, a plie on a single leg, then with the same one foot on the ground, spanking the ground on the floor and landing on the tap of the shoe.

Confused yet?

I received the same look from my girls that I assume is on your face.
But quietly in the corner I heard a sound that was distinctly a pickup and I turned around to see the smallest little dancer of the class beaming. It was clear that she was pleased with herself, but the joy I found in watching her begin to understand and master such a scary monster of a step was greater than either of us could comprehend.

Take a step back.

I'm only a part time student teacher watching her student. Can you imagine the joy our Creator has when He watches us, His beloved children, as we start to understand His great joy and love for us?

Friends, think over that.

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