Click For Hope

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My Dream

Mobile Studio, Clickforhope, My StoryJasmine LopezComment
“As I’m in transition to do #Clickforhope full time, I’ve caved into the overwhelming emotions of will this, can this really happen?!?”
— Jazi

I've always dreamed of traveling the world and photographing inspiring stories.

I've always dreamed of encouraging others to share their stories.

I've always dreamed of having a mobile studio.

I've always dreamed of doing something greater than myself.

I've always dreamed of giving back and making an impact in the lives of others.

I'm learning that dreams do come true!!!

Can I be honest though?!?

The pretty pictures could convey how easy it was to accomplish this dream, but the journey has been HARD. Getting to where I'm at today has been full of challenges and still is; from the renovations to titling to finding the proper insurances to now finding out what the permitting and licensing regulations are. It's been filled with delay after delay. I've been battling the feelings of failure, scarcity telling me you won't have enough time, money or resources and struggles with comparison just to name a few. As I'm in transition to do #Clickforhope full time, I've caved into the overwhelming emotions of will this, can this really happen?!?

Fear has told me I'm crazy, and that my ideas are crazy. It's told me that there's no way this can work. That I can't give back to this capacity, and share all these stories complimentary.

I may not have all the answers, but I can stand here and say that fear has lost. I've pushed through. I am finding the answers. I am trusting in the sovereignty of God to help provide me with all that I need to sustain and help #Clickforhope continue to do BIG things in my community, in my nation and one day around the world!

So I speak to you my friend. What is that dream that you once dreamt of? I encourage you to press in and cling onto that dream. Make it a reality. It's never to late!!!

Photos by: http://www.jennycrugerphotography.com/

Makeup by: http://www.jacquelinegamache.com/

Emery Hope's Legacy

Clickforhope, Family, LossJasmine Lopez1 Comment
"They say losing a child changes you and I would say that's definitely true. I am not the same Skye I was and I don't think I ever will be. And I don't necessarily feel that the new me is a bad thing."-Skye

Please share your story: 

Where do I even begin?

My husband and I have three precious little girls - one is in heaven. We were pregnant with our second and I knew then I wanted another one, he wasn't convinced. It took 3 years to convince him to have our third.

I got pregnant with Emery fairly easily, just like I had both Makenzi and Addison. But somehow early in the pregnancy I knew something was not right. I immediately started having problems very early on. I made it to almost the halfway mark and was in and out of the hospital. There was always something wrong and they couldn't figure out what was going on. The doctors always diagnosed me with a threatened miscarriage and would send me home after a couple of nights in the hospital to just be on bed rest.

Finally around 23 weeks I started seeing a high risk specialist and he couldn't figure out what was wrong either, but could tell something was wrong by the look of the amniotic fluid. He wanted to just keep a close watch on me. I saw him on a Tuesday (after being released from another hospital) and by Friday I was in the hospital very sick. That weekend my water broke and he was going to do his best to keep me pregnant as long as he could. By Monday, we welcomed our sweet Emery Hope into this world at 24 weeks.

She was 1lb13oz and beautiful in our eyes. She was extremely premature. We were told we were in for a long ride in the NICU to be prepared.

Our long ride lasted 23 days. She fought so hard in my pregnancy that in her short time on this earth it was difficult. She had a major surgery because her intestines perforated and she just kept getting infections because of the intestinal perforation. It was all in her body and bless her sweet soul, she just couldn't recover from it.

They tried everything they could. We prayed so many times during my pregnancy we just felt certain God was going to pull her through this. He did but not on this side of glory.

On a Wednesday morning, they told us the words you never want to hear as a parent "it's time to hold her and unplug her." We had to make the decision to hold her while she was still alive (only by machines) or unplug her and then hold her. I had only been able to kind of hold her the night she was born, so I asked to please hold her while she was still alive so I could feel her heartbeat and feel her breaths (even if it was machines). My husband and I both held her. I held her all morning. When they first placed her in my arms, her stats went up higher than they had been in days. She knew she was in her Mama's arms. I was able to hold her until her last breath. The machines still weren't helping her and she was fading fast. I told my husband "please go tell them it's time. She needs to just go to heaven, so she can be at peace." He did and they unplugged my sweet girl. I had them remove her tape so I could see her beautiful face as she took her last breaths. She breathed two short breaths and smiled the sweetest smile. I know in that moment when she smiled at me she met Jesus. She was finally at peace and in no pain.

My pain had just begun. I had lost my baby. My baby girl. The baby I prayed for and prayed more for than I have ever prayed for in my life. I just wanted her to survive. I don't understand why God took her from me. I never will. I just know I never got mad at Him. I trusted His decision even if I didn't understand it. I wanted her here and I still want her here with me. I found Hope in the Lord through my Emery Hope. I know one day I will see her again and what a sweet, sweet day that will be.

It is still raw for me. Emery has only been with Jesus for 3.5 months. I long for the day I can see her again. My arms ache and my heart breaks in a way I've never felt before. But God has gotten me through my toughest days. I have never felt His presence in my life more than I do now. He comforts me just as He said He would.

I miss her so much I can't even put it into words! But I am so thankful for the promise the Lord gives us. I want to continue to share my Emery with the world, and bring people to Jesus.

How has your story help shape you into who you are today?:

Losing Emery Hope has brought us much closer as a family and brought us closer to the Lord. It makes us stronger and even when days are tough we have each other.

They say losing a child changes you and I would say that's definitely true. I am not the same Skye I was and I don't think I ever will be. And I don't necessarily feel that the new me is a bad thing. I realize how short life is, I love harder, I cling tighter to my husband and my girls, and I realize these precious girls God loaned me He can take back in the blink of an eye. It will forever be in me and I will forever miss Emery.

What compelled you to want to share your story with us today?:

I want to share my story to bring Hope to others that have lost children. I want them to find Hope in the Lord's promise. I want to share her story. I am proud of my sweet Emery Hope, even if I don't have her here to show I want to share her story and how she brought so many to their knees praying and that she continues to work miracles by me sharing her story. I want people to come to know Jesus.

What encouraging words would you give to someone who shares a similar story?:

I won't say it gets easier. In all honesty, it does not. I miss Emery more today than I did the day she went to be with the Lord. I find my strength in Him. I hope and pray that those who face losing a child like I did find Hope in HIM. I pray they go to Him for comfort and for strength. I know without Him I would be lost more so than I am now without Emery.

I would hope people that are facing a NICU roller coaster wouldn't look at our story as the final outcome. In some cases, babies pull through what Emery did fine. The NICU is an amazing place. It's not a place I loved being but I've never been around more caring and thoughtful people.

I pray that people don't feel their life is over when they lose a precious baby. It's hard and it's difficult. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think of her. But I have Hope in my Lord and I know that one day I will see her again! We will be reunited and I pray that if anyone does go through losing a child they find comfort in knowing that truth.

I continue to share my story and my journey on my personal blog - http://www.butterfliesandpinksunsets.com . I want our journey to be shared so people can get help and comfort through our journey.

Cancer | Part 2 | Tim's Story

Testicular Cancer, Cancer, ClickforhopeJasmine LopezComment
"The constant reality of my frail humanity forces a celebration of each day on this earth, and reminds me of the countless invisible threads that form everyone around me; I must be compassionate." -Tim

Please share your story:

I can still remember the very specific point in time when the course I charted for myself and that of my body diverged. I became quite sick midway through high school, and the best and brightest I visited were befuddled by what it might be. Tests were inconclusive; traditional evaluations pointed everywhere and nowhere. It seemed like the flu, came on like the flu, passed like the flu, and yet it wasn’t the flu.

My parents and I moved on; I didn’t ‘feel’ sick any more. I was busy in high school and was never the type to sit still for very long. But something was different: my heart skipped a beat sporadically; my ears rung; my joints hurt; my stomach was never settled; my head ached; my memory was not so sharp. But I never thought of these things as related. They were part of my day-to-day, and for the most part they were a low din not worth dealing with. Plus, I was growing and active: it could have been any number of things, I thought.

Life flew by. I met and fell hard for an amazing woman, a high school crush. I went to a great college. My crush became my girlfriend, who went to college a few towns away. My girlfriend became my fiancé and I graduated; with my fiancé now wife, I moved to Chicago. We studied, we worked, we struggled, we traveled. Each day we fell more in love, each day life got a little better, and yet each day I felt a little bit worse. Imperceptible changes added up to noticeable realities over the years. We lived abroad, we challenged ourselves, we challenged each other, we brought life into the world. I almost didn’t notice the skipping heartbeat becoming more sporadic; my ears roared and my joints ached. My stomach swirled; my head pounded. I never slept. My memory failed.

We saw specialists, tons of them, who checked everything, finding almost nothing, except small masses in my lungs and brain that were inconclusive, distinct memory loss and verbal retention issues, voids where my spinal cord had been eaten away, bones fusing together. They all seemed to be leftovers; every test suggested I was as healthy as could be, as if we could see the wreckage from a tornado but no proof that one had ever passed through. I took pills, lots of pills and gave myself shots. Doctors and nurses successfully destroyed my immune system, sending me to the hospital with meningitis and encephalitis, probably from a cold floating around our house. We had no answers, and worse, we had no proof— only wreckage.

This ghost of an illness started creating gaps in our family fabric. Beth was afraid to be intimate for fear of getting me sick. Our son knew I was fragile. I knew I was. We changed our life plans; we denied our desire to bring more life into an uncertain future. We grieved. I questioned myself: was it all in my head? I wanted some real, active, living proof that what I was feeling could somehow be measured. I hated feeling foolish for seeking answers; I desperately wanted resolution. I wanted something that we could treat, something that could restore our family hopes, something that removed my guilt for what this had done to my family.

I learned to cope, to ignore, to push through, to accept my fate. We grew our family, adding two more beautiful people into our world. We lived and we loved. I ignored the deep, hidden longing for proof, a silent prayer that we would one day find something.

And we did: in February of this year, I was diagnosed with testicular cancer. I must admit I had been jealous of some of the cancer patients I’d seen at the hospital— they had something real; they had something that had a game plan. I guess now I did too. We had SOMETHING to treat, finally. We were aggressive: I went under the knife to remove two tumors and a testicle, and a week later my appendix. We jumped at the chance to do a heavy round of chemo to remove what the surgery could not.

And now we wait: to see if the treatment worked, to see if the treatment resolved any of my other issues, preparing ourselves for the possibility that it didn’t. And we live. And we love.

How has your story shaped who you are today?

I don’t remember my childhood. I have Polaroids floating in my head of a few moments but I’m not certain if they are real or recollections from photo albums. I don’t know what it feels like to wake rested. I don’t know how music sounds without the ringing in my ears adding to the composition. I am constantly aware of my body, because its painful reminders mark my every step.

I know the fragility, the temporality of my body. And to be honest, I wouldn’t change it.

The constant reality of my frail humanity forces a celebration of each day on this earth, and reminds me of the countless invisible threads that form everyone around me; I must be compassionate. I reinforce what little my brain understands by reading faces and lips; I must be present. And those lost markers of masculinity—strength, virility, appendage, confidence— remind me of what really defines me. I am vulnerable and human.

What compelled you to share your story?

Hope is not about seeking the answer I want, but accepting the lesson in my journey. My hope is no longer for physical healing, but for spiritual growth, for being rather then becoming.

What encouraging words would you give to someone who shares a similar story?

I’ve always wondered if the next bit of bad news would wreck my faith, if whatever was around the corner would be my faith’s downfall. If the physical, emotional, relational strain would ever be too much for my bride, my family, or my faith. If every future trial had been revealed to me so many years ago in high school, I’d have long given up. If every moment of strength, of hope, of love, of opportunity were revealed, I’d want all of it.

I don’t know what the future holds— I don’t know how we will be tested, or if my body will ever know comfort. What I do know is that from every trial we’ve found opportunity; from every challenge, hope; from every weakness, strength.

Alopecia | Camille

Alopecia, Depression, Clickforhope, Self Harm, Suicide, BullyingJasmine Lopez3 Comments
Even though I am bald, with Alopecia Universals, I know that no one can ever make me feel inferior without me allowing it: and that is something that will never happen again. . -Camille

Please share your story:

My story begins in the 4th grade, when I was at the mere age of 9. My mom was doing my hair for school and she found my first bald spot. She had no idea what it was, so she took me to the first of many dermatologists. This man told my mother that I use to much hair product in my hair, and that was why I had a bald spot.  As more hair started to fall out, my mother got more concerned so we went to another doctor. This doctor told us that it was because I wore my hair in pony tails and it was putting too much stress on my hair. Finally my mother took to the internet and found that I could possibly have Alopecia. And again, we went to another doctor. Finally we had a diagnosis, Alopecia Areata. He wanted me to get shots of corticosteroids directly into my head. Well, anyone that knows me knows that I hate needles. In fact, what 9 year old likes shots? After finding out some pretty negative side effects and only a 50 percent chance of hair growth, we voted against the shots. I did go to another dermatologist and tried everything out there from creams, to lotions, to shampoos, to oral steroids, and nothing seemed to work. So, I gave up on treatment and decided to let it be. The kids at school were relatively fine about my hair loss, although a couple of girls would say things to me when they were mad, but being so young it didn't bother me too much.

Then came the dreaded middle school. I tend to think that middle school is just some evil place where kids like me go to get eaten alive, but I guess that's just my experience. At the beginning of 6th grade I had lost both my eyebrows, but thankfully the hair on my head was finally growing back. The bullying started slowly and I was handling it as much as I could, but it started to get to the point where I couldn't concentrate in school any longer. I was being called freak and hairless cat, they threw food at me during lunch, would try to trip me, shoved me in the halls and meowed at me. This happened on a daily basis. And what made it worse was that I lost both of my best friends to the bullies: they joined in. From there everything went downhill, I fell into a depression, I began self harming, I stopped eating, and I planned my suicide. This was all at the fragile age of 14. All I could think about were those cruel words playing like a recording over and over. I would come home from school and find horrible messages on my phone or on my social media accounts; there was no way to escape, there was no way out. One night I finally decided to go through with my plan to kill myself, I was desperate to get away from my pain. The only thing that stopped me from taking my life at the very last moment was hearing my sister come home. And it made me wonder how she would have reacted to finding her little sister dead. At that point I knew I needed to fight, and I needed to get help. After going to the school several times throughout the course of three years and getting no help at all, I decided to create a Facebook page. I called it Dare to be Different. There I was able to vent about my experience with bullying and talk to other kids who were dealing with similar issues. At that point I also decided to write a letter to my school superintendent, Dr. Burke. I told him what had been going on and how long I had been dealing with the bullying, and most importantly I told him how his school was handling it! I explained how my grades were suffering due to the bullying and so was my mental health. He came in a few days latter and talked to me. He finally put an end to the bullying by telling those girls if they say one more word to me that made me feel bad about myself they would be expelled! So yes, the bullying stopped, but everything didn't magically get better. Now I was forced to deal with my self esteem issues, my eating disorder and my self harming. I will admit that it took a very long time to put myself back together. But having the love and support of my family and three very special people, Lana Becker, Randi Moxi and Constantine James, helped immensely. 

My Facebook page is now a non-profit organization proudly called Cam's Dare To Be Different. I also have a website, www.camsdtbd.org. I speak to schools and groups sharing my story in hopes to get through to my peers. My motto is to inspire, empower and educate. I want people to understand how powerful words can be; words can heal or they can kill. I have also gotten involved with platform based pageant, and won the title of Miss Teen Illinois International 2014 and I am currently Miss Huntley 2015. My story has been featured in numerous newspapers and magazines, which helps me gain exposure and, in turn, help others. I've also won several awards including The Everyday Hero Award in 2015. My story is also featured in two books: Head On Stories of Alopecia and Bullying is No Laughing Matter. I'm also in the works of writing my own book that will feature 21 other boys and girls who also suffer from Alopecia.

I'm happy to say that I am once again a high honor roll student at Huntley High School, maintaining a 4.0. As a junior, I enjoy taking honor and AP classes to push my self academically. I plan on attending a university in the fall of 2017 to study Psychology! My goal is to touch as many lives as I possibly can. I want people to understand that everyone is different and that being different is not a negative thing. With the help of my family, my friends, all of my supporters, and God I have been able to achieve so many things I thought were impossible. I feel incredibly blessed to be where I am today, and I can't wait to see what the future has in store for me.

Losing my hair for the second time was not nearly as bad as the first and even though I am bald, with Alopecia Universals, I know that no one can ever make me feel inferior without me allowing it: and that is something that will never happen again. 

I finally found my passion, my purpose, my destiny. 

Alopecia | Amy

Alopecia, Clickforhope, Hearing ImpairedJasmine Lopez1 Comment
"Let yourself grieve the loss of your hair. You are losing something that has always been a part of your life. Then, reach out to others." -Amy

Please share your story: 

I have had Alopecia Areata since I was 13 years old. Alopecia Areata is an autoimmune disease where a person's body rejects their hair follicles. Someone with Alopecia have spots of baldness on their scalp, others have no head hair, and others have no hair on themselves at all. Although it's not a physically harmful disease, Alopecia can be psychologically scarring.

When first diagnosed I had just 3 spots the size of quarters on the back of my scalp. My hairdresser was the one to find the spots. A trip to the dermatologist confirmed the diagnosis. At that time the doctor did steroid shots into my scalp and those spots grew back in.

In my late 20's my hair started falling out again. This time much larger spots. Eventually the back of my head was almost gone. I was perfecting the "comb down" to try to hide my balding spots. I got the steroid shots again, however, this time not all of it grew back. I found myself envying women who could wear their hair in a ponytail. It is funny, as I didn't have very long hair, but I thought "If I could just put my hair up I would look so much better". A silly thought, I know.

Until the age of 37 my hair grew partially in then fell out numerous times. There was only a circle of hair at the top of my head, which I proceeded to shave off. I chose to wear a wig as I wasn't prepared to walk around bald yet. After a month I realized that I wasn't comfortable not walking around bald. I was teaching my children to be happy with who they are and here I was covering who I was with a wig. I felt like a hypocrite. It was a Monday around 11 am when I whipped my wig off at work. I threw it on my desk and decided I was done with that wig. It is my personal choice to not wear a wig, just as it is others' personal choices to wear wigs. Neither is wrong. It has to be what is right for that individual.

One day, while waiting for my food at my local Sonic, the teenage girl who was at the carhop stopped at my window and asked if she could ask me a question. I expected the "Do you have cancer?" question. Instead she asked, "Do you have alopecia?". I told her I did, to which she replied, "I do too, and I have never met anyone else with alopecia before." This chance encounter led me on the path to start a support group through the National Alopecia Areata Foundation (NAAF) in September of 2013.

I wanted to be there for others who were not comfortable, or, those who were upset with their condition. Since I am very comfortable being bald I thought I could offer my support. What I didn't realize was how much I also needed the support group. It is so refreshing to be among a group of people who know what you are going through and have dealt with the stares and cancer questions as well as other issues that come along with losing your hair.

With the loving support of my family and friends, I am a happy, confident, bald woman. My goal now is to educate others on what Alopecia Areata is and to be available to support others who have Alopecia.

How has your story shaped you into who you are today?:

I have been hearing impaired my whole life. I am deaf in one ear and wear a hearing aid in my other ear. Growing up the hearing aides did not work with my type of deafness, so I went without them. Most people knew me as a quiet, shy kid. Often times it was simply not being able to hear people. Eventually I got a hearing aid (at the age of 32).

At this point you might be wondering how that relates to my Alopecia?!? Well, my deafness shaped much of my personality as a kid. I felt like few people understood what it was like to go through life hearing impaired. Eventually I became a bald, hearing impaired woman. Having experienced childhood with people not understanding what I was going through, all of the sudden I was thrown into adulthood with the same feelings. But, as an adult, I felt better being able to handle what life has thrown at me. I wasn't thinking of what others were going through with their Alopecia, because I felt pretty comfortable. Until the Sonic encounter, then I understood there were others out there that needed help.

 Living with being bald and hearing impaired has shaped me into a person who wants to help others learn to live with what life has thrown at them. I am happy and have fantastic husband and wonderful kids, others with the same affliction can reach for the same things, if they aren't already there.

What encouraging words would you give to someone who shares a similar story? :

Let yourself grieve the loss of your hair. You are losing something that has always been a part of your life. Then, reach out to others. Don't let Alopecia be your life, it doesn't define you.

Photos by Jazi Photo

Styled by Co Chic Styling

Makeup by Jacqueline Gamache

Blush Tank c/o Milk Handmade

Alopecia | Caroline

Alopecia, Bullying, ClickforhopeJasmine Lopez5 Comments
"I learned how to hide my AU. I felt as if people wouldn’t accept me for me so it became my secret and only my family and those I truly trusted, which were not many, knew the real me." -Caroline

Please share your story:

My name is Caroline Alanis. At the age of 4, I lost my hair to Alopecia Universalis (AU). For those unaware of this condition, AU is an advanced form of alopecia areata. Although the exact cause of AU is unknown, it is thought to be an autoimmune condition in which an affected person's immune system mistakenly attacks the hair follicles.


Growing up bald was not easy. Although I had parents that tried to show me how to be courageous and tried to show me just how beautiful and blessed I was, I still had to endure the everyday pressure of life. There was the pressure of seeing little girls with beautiful hair and wishing every day that I had that. There was pressure of kids being mean and pulling off my bandana and laughing at me because I was bald. There was pressure of name calling and bullying.

My parents finally convinced me to start wearing a wig. It didn’t make things that much easier. I remember walking home from school one day with my brother and a girl decided it would be fun to pull it off and throw it on the ground. At that moment, all I could do was cry and run home. Every day I feared leaving the house, the emotional scar is unimaginable.

I learned how to hide my AU. I felt as if people wouldn’t accept me for me so it became my secret and only my family and those I truly trusted, which were not many, knew the real me. In High School only a few knew about my AU. This made it so easy to try to blend in; I never wanted to stand out, never! The ironic part about it was I would always be the one to be called by teachers to lead a project, to sing solos, participate in plays, fashion shows, and they even nominated me to join homecoming queen and enter a beauty pageant. One thing I realized, my fear never really went away by keeping my AU a secret and the emotional scar was also still a part of my life.

When I started my family, my AU was not only my secret but it had become my husband and my children’s secret. I held my family bound to my alopecia. When they were infants, I wouldn’t carry them in public for fear that they would pull my hair (wig). They were taught never to touch mommy’s hair ever! They could never have friends sleep over because it would be very uncomfortable for me to be me in my own house.

I am now 48 years old; married with 3 beautiful daughters. I joined an International Alopecia Group in July 2015 and that's when I realized my journey with AU has prepared me to be able to help others like me. But my baldness was still a secret. How do I encourage others to accept themselves if I myself could not let people know about my condition. So I started telling my husband's family and friends. I only wanted to tell people, not show people. But of course, God had other plans for me. The oddest thing was I started becoming uncomfortable wearing my wigs. This was strange because I have been wearing them for 40 years. It took a lot for me to take a look at myself bald. How can I tell my children and others that beauty really lies deep within if I myself can't see passed my lack of hair.

My husband helped me with my small steps into seeing myself for who I was, a beautiful woman living with AU. Slowly I found myself no longer wearing my wigs. We would go on drives, take walks on the beach and even take a selfie. I felt free, my secret slowly fading; including the emotional scar.

It started getting cold and I didn't like my hats since it looked terrible without any hair. I was pretty sad, because I really did not want to start wearing my wig again. I just prayed and asked God to lead me in what I am supposed to do. On Sunday October 4, 2015, a lady stopped me and said. "Excuse me, can I ask you a question?" I said "sure." "Do you have alopecia?" I said "yes!" She said "so do I.” Then she asked. "How do you do it?" I knew she meant how am I walking around without my wig? I told her "I don't know?" I said "This is all new to me." I told her "God is giving me the strength to do this. I couldn't have done this on my own." So that day, I officially retired all my wigs. Yes I put them all away for that special occasion.

I was so fortunate enough to meet others just walking around bald. They said “I would have never seen you had you worn your wig." How can I reach others if I am not true to myself? It took a lot to accept myself, with lots of guidance from God. I am finally in a place where I no longer need to wear a wig to feel complete!

How has your story shaped you into who you are today?:

Although growing up with AU wasn’t easy, as I look back, it has made me appreciate everything I have in my life. For the longest time I never realized how bound I was by my secret, my emotional scar and my wig.

Now, I no longer hide behind my wig. I am living with AU and you could say that I’m proud that I can say that and show people that I am still beautiful without hair. Now when I tell my daughters it is just hair, it is not just talk, I actually walk the walk. I used to think my lack of hair was an imperfection; I know now that it is my strength.

I am no longer afraid of not having my wig on. It was my armor but I was meant to stand out not blend in. God has always wanted me to stand out, now I am no longer afraid to stand out. I embrace it. And I am meeting and connecting with others who are just like me.

What encouraging words would you give to someone who shares a similar story? :

To all the parents who have children with alopecia, I can only imagine how devastating it is for you. But I must admit, I had great parents who never showed me their heartbreak. They only kept reinforcing I was blessed and special. Alopecia children grow up to be strong. Let them shine! For all the ladies and gentlemen, you are not alone. I know it can be difficult to not have hair but I can honestly say now, I wondered why I waited so long to surrender to alopecia! I understand that our struggles are the same but our journeys are different. So whatever makes you feel comfortable to be you, wig or no wig, let it be your choice. We only have one life to live, so live it!

Styled by: CoChicStyling

Photos by: Jazi Photo

Alopecia | Kara

Clickforhope, Alopecia, Depression, AnxietyJasmine Lopez1 Comment
My children think I should walk around without my wig, my husband thinks I'm beautiful just the way I am... I wish I believed them! I look in the mirror and see all my flaws.- Kara

 

Please share your story:

 Hi! My name is Kara. I have had Alopecia for 30 years now. WOW! 30 years! I've never written that down or even thought of that before. I was 13 when I noticed my first patch of missing hair. I thought it was stress/anxiety. It's the prime age for liking boys, worrying about what and how people thought of me and this happens to me? At 13 years of age, I thought all my plans... boyfriends, being beautiful (on the outside), marriage, having a family was gone. I thought the only way someone would look at me now is "Poor Kara, she must be sick." But throughout my life, I've learned that's not the case.

I am a fighter! I am so MUCH more stronger than I ever gave myself credit! Maybe beauty starts from within?
I battle with anxiety and depression (this disease will do that to you) but I've been married now for 17 years to a very handsome bald man and we have 4 children (with full heads of hair!) My husband and children think I'm beautiful and that is all that matters to me.

I have only exposed my head once and that was last summer at the top of Pikes Peak in Colorado. I felt free and scared at the same time. The way my family (sister in law & brother in law included) reacted was so different than I thought, so supportive, crying right along side with me and so proud of me.
I think I'm ready for the world to see me... the real me!!

What compelled you to want to share your story?:
I'm a mom, trying to make a difference in the world. My children think I should walk around without my wig, my husband thinks I'm beautiful just the way I am... I wish I believed them! I look in the mirror and see all my flaws. I want to have the flowing hair and beautiful eyes of a model, but doesn't everyone? Almost everyone? Maybe bald can be beautiful too!

What encouraging words would you give to someone who shares a similar story? :

Not many people are familiar with Alopecia, it has No reason, No cure. No warning!
I thought at 13 my life was over ( I know it sounds over dramatic, but aren't we all at 13),
You can have a "normal" life living with this disease, You CAN enjoy things (like not having to do my hair everyday, shaving, bed head!) There are all kinds of beautiful! I've learned to keep going and thank God I did! Because I have beautiful family and friends that love me for me.

Styled by Co Chic Styling

Makeup: Jacqueline Gamache

Photos: Jazi Photo

Printed purple kimono wrap by: Milk Handmade

See you at Rooted Chicago!!!

PartnersJasmine LopezComment

April 23rd, 2016 | 8am-5pm | Featuring: Bob Goff, Bianca Juarez Olthoff, Helen Lee and other Chicago Speakers

I'm so excited to share that we will be at Rooted Chicago on April 23rd. We've partnered with them to empower and encourage every lady to share their one word story. We will be bringing our photo booth along, and creating an environment for every lady to share their story. I have to honest, I've never been to a women's conference before outside of my own church community. I'm so excited to hear the speakers, but there's also an unknowing of what to expect.  I'm excited to see a community of women from all types of backgrounds come together, and hunger for our savior. I'm excited to see women choose to be vulnerable, and share their one word stories through the art of photography. I'm excited to see new friendships form, and old friendships strengthen. I'm just excited to see how God is going to move!!! And I hope to see you there.

To purchase your ticket(s) visited Rooted Chicago's website: https://rootedchicago2016.splashthat.com/

 

FAMILY | The G Family

Family, ClickforhopeJasmine LopezComment

Please share your story:

Family.

It’s such a simple word, yet, it carries so much meaning. It’s a word that has the ability to stir up all kinds of feelings and emotions with just its mention. For some, it brings up a sweet sense of nostalgia full of warm and loving memories.

It’s home. It’s love. It’s safety.

But for others, it’s a painful reminder of all that was lost and broken. Of everything that was not as it should have been.

It stings. It hurts. It disappoints.

In my life, I have experienced both. Once by birth, once by the grace of God.

The family I was born into was broken from the start. My parents were already treading rocky ground by the time I was born and just a few months later, they were  divorced. As a result, I never really knew or understood what true togetherness looked like. I had no idea what it meant to be a family.

My mom, a severe alcoholic at the time, moved to another city soon after the divorce and left me with my father. Although it was the best choice for me, I missed my mom tremendously. There were weekend and summer visits but none of that time spent seemed to satisfy the craving I had for my mother’s love. She was lost in her addiction and incapable of being the mom I needed her to be.

My father, meantime, was married and divorced three more times. His job required him to travel extensively so he was only home a couple of nights a week. I know he was doing his best to provide a good life for me, but what my dad didn’t realize is that I just wanted him.

His time. His attention. His care. His protection. His love.

By the time I was a teenager I was very independent and self-reliant. Not because I wanted to be but because I had to be. With my mom out of the picture and my dad out of town most of the time, I was left to do as I pleased. I went where I wanted to go, when I wanted to go there and I didn’t ask for anyone’s permission. If I didn’t feel like going to school then I didn’t go, and no one was there to make me. I had the freedoms of an adult but I was just a kid. It may seem like a teenager’s dream but trust me, it wasn’t good.

I needed rules. I needed boundaries. I needed a family.

Thankfully, God already knew that and out of His incredible grace He had a plan to provide me with a second family. And I’m not talking about any kind of regular average family. I’m talking about one of the most amazing families I’ve ever known. That’s exactly how our great God works. He always gives us more than we could even think to ask for.

I met the Taylor family through a volunteer opportunity at my church when I was 14-years-old. It wasn’t long before I started babysitting for them and immediately fell in love with their three children. When they realized my dad was gone most of the time, they began inviting me to spend the night at their house. This became a regular occurrence until I eventually moved in. I loved every minute with them!

For the first time, I got to experience what it was like to be in a real family. To sit down and have nightly family dinners. Together. To have someone who cared if I did my homework or not. To know I wasn’t on my own anymore.

I was soaking it all in. Every moment.

I listened as the kids were read stories and tucked in bed at night. I watched as two parents loved their children well and loved each other deeply. And I learned what it meant to be a mom and a wife and a follower of Jesus. It was exactly what I needed and more.

God was good. So so good.

Fast forward to the day I became a mother. I looked into the eyes of my sweet baby girl and felt a love I had never felt before. It was strong and it ran deep. There was nothing I wouldn’t do for this little person. I was hers and she was mine.

But in the midst of my joy, a sadness started to creep in. I wasn’t sure my own mom felt the same way about me. Perhaps she did but alcohol had robbed me of ever knowing it. Regardless, the damage had been done. She had missed so much. And it hurt.

That’s when God began to work.

God showed me how the lack of a relationship with my mom had left me with a gaping hole in my heart, full of sadness. Lots of sadness. I realized I would never get to experience all the things little girls should experience with their moms. There would never be any hair braiding, tea partying, make-up playing, bedtime story reading, boo-boo kissing, or comforting after a scary dream. The opportunity for those seemingly small & mundane parts of the mother/daughter relationship were lost in the past and could never be retrieved. The wound was deep and it ached to my bones.

I knew there was only one who could heal it.

The process was slow and it was painful. Many tears were cried and many prayers were prayed as God lovingly walked me through the broken areas of my heart. Little by little he put the shattered pieces back together. My heart started to become whole again. The walls I had built began to come down and love started flowing in. With its current came the ability to forgive. I began to see my parents through God’s eyes. No longer was there anger, resentment, or sadness. Only love.

But that’s not the end of the story.

God isn’t just our healer, He’s also our redeemer.

My mom started reaching out to me when I was about 21-years-old. She was trying to get her life on track and part of that meant she wanted to salvage our relationship. I cautiously and slowly welcomed my mom back into my life and it was really nice to reconnect with her. A few years later I got married and became pregnant soon after. That’s when I finally gave my mom an ultimatum – Quit drinking or never know your grandchildren.

She went to rehab a few weeks later.

That was nearly 7 years ago. My mom has been sober ever since. Not only is she sober but she also loves Jesus. God has completely changed her life and I couldn’t be more grateful to get a second chance with my mom. She is such a blessing to me and an amazing grandmother to my children.

My dad and I are also very close now and I have such a deep respect for him. He may not have done everything perfectly but he did the best he could do at the time. He is an honest man who has sacrificed so much for me to have the life I have today. For that I am thankful.

Despite the difficulties, I can honestly say I’m very grateful for the life God has given me. I could have never imagined I’d be where I am today with a loving husband and two beautiful children. Now it’s my turn to decide what the word ‘family’ will mean to my kids. I’m certainly not the perfect mom but I’m doing my best. I can only hope the seeds I’m planting in my children today will become their warm and loving memories of tomorrow.