life update!

June 11, 2013

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Hello Everyone! I’m still alive and well! I graduated from Belmont this past December and I’m currently working full time for a concert series in Nashville. I love my job, and I’m actively working on new songs and left-handed guitar. I have high hopes for lots of exciting music in the future. Stay tuned!

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the beginning.

November 6, 2011

This past week has been pretty overwhelming. On the 29th I had the honor of performing two of my originals at Belmont’s Fall Follies (A comedy show very similar to SNL with featured musical guests.) I’ve dreamt of playing Follies for the past four years when I first saw the Delta Saints play the event. I auditioned last year but didn’t make it through the large sea of qualified musicians. This year I upped my game with a new song, “Quitter.”

This post isn’t really about playing Follies. And although it was an absolute dream come true, it really represents something else: the beginning. The night before Follies, I prayed to God that this would be the day I dare to hope for my musical career. I had no idea how much He would respond with that prayer.

I’ve been working on my guitar and reinventing myself as an artists like crazy lately. I don’t think I was ready before. I needed a season to be at war with the changes of the wreck and decide if this is what I really wanted. It hasn’t been easy. I’ve had the rug pulled out from under me a few times, one specific instance inspired “Quitter,” but I’ve been in a season of trying to obey God. I’m not sure how well I’ve been doing, but I know that for every inch I’m willing to give, He’s ready with miles.

“Quitter” has gone over really well with my peers. I must say, I love singing it. God is so mysterious, because I wrote the song in a lot of pride and anger over someone who hurt me, and God has taken that song and has used it to move others and draw them to Him (including me). I think people relate to recovery stories. They want to recover. They want to grow. They resonate with the truth that in the mess, there is one resounding truth, we’re all human beings created by the Savior and Creator of the universe.

I’m still learning what it means to be a forgiver, and I think the greatest lesson I have to learn is fully giving my life to God. I’ve been a bit overwhelmed by how quickly God is moving my career forward. I almost forgot. God is the Author of Time. He will give me more songs to write in His timing. He will open up the opportunities and help me meet them in His timing. And my greatest priority should not be my music but making Him Lord over my life, which is no small task for a control freak.

So stick around. Things are really moving forward, fast. And I can’t think you enough for sticking it out with me this far. Lord knows it’s been a journey. Here’s to the beginning.

a year ago today.

September 17, 2010

can i tell you a story?

it’s a pretty good story.

a year ago today, i was in a car accident that resulted in the loss of two fingers on my left hand. (this of course is not the good part of the story, but all good stories must have some sort of conflict.) a year ago today, i was running late and got in my van and crossed a busy street. a year ago today, i didn’t see him coming. a year ago today i found myself being carried out of a broken car window. a year ago today i was waiting for an ambulance on a curb shouting out to God.

this was thursday, september 17th, 2009 around 6pm, around 15th and wedgewood.

yesterday, thursday around 2:30, i was dancing in my room trying to loosen up after i accidentally locked myself out of my apartment while taking out the trash. me, being the athletic champion that i am, fell on my left arm, spraining my elbow. i had to go to class, but about an hour later, i could no longer straighten my arm or bend it very far due to swelling. my pain level was pretty high, and everything was feeling pretty ironic. i was worried that i had fractured something, because i’ve never broken a bone, and around 6:00, i found myself contemplating the E.R.

now you can imagine why this might be a problem for me. (by the way, it is extremely ridiculous that this happened to me, and it’s okay to laugh!) but at the time, it wasn’t feeling very funny. amazingly enough, someone from belmont’s athletic training center was available to check out my arm. after finding the center, there just so happened to be a doctor from vanderbilt hospital in the office at belmont. this doctor also happened to know my wonderful surgeon. after examining my arm, he confirmed that i had only sprained it, and now i’m on ice and anti-inflamitories.

so the moral of this story?

well, me being me, i fell on my left arm on the eve of my wreck anniversary. God took the opportunity to remind me, “hey, remember how you are weak and I am strong?” then i was able to avoid the E.R. “hey kristen? remember how I provide for you?”

after twelve months, it can be really easy to forget what it is like to be physically in need, but that was a good portion of my year. so many of my loved ones encouraged me to look on this day with celebration. it is good to remember how far i’ve come.

i’ve waited for this day all year, and it has been quite a year. it has been amazing to see how the events of this past year are lining up in different ways this week. i can say that i am relieved, and extremely thankful. i am overwhelmed by the support, love, and prayers that have been showered in my direction. you all mean so much to me, and even if we do not know each other, thank you for the honor of having you read my story. stick around! i have a feeling that God is only getting warmed up.

september.

September 2, 2010

well…it’s september. in just over a couple of weeks i will have completed my first year since the wreck. my heart is filled with two very different emotions. one, dread. it has been interesting to be back at belmont for a fall semester. fall semesters are far different from spring semesters. everything is new and there is so much to adjust to. it’s very easy to get wrapped up in the idea of “a year,” but most of all, i fear how i will feel on that day.

last year, around this time, i had this Holy Spirit kind of feeling in my gut like my life was about to change drastically. i felt like i was on an edge and that everything was about to tip into motion. one could argue instead that the motion of my life came to a halt. in so many ways, it did. within the months following my wreck, i learned so much about the importance of rest (however, i still have much more to learn). really though, i think my life just took on a different pace, and maybe a ninety degree turn. God has been teaching me so much over the last twelve months and i know it’s only the beginning.

which brings me to my second emotion: relief. i am so ready to have made it through the first year. someone asked me once if my current state of being with eight fingers was a touchy subject. the answer? absolutely not. this is my reality now. it’s not like a bad breakup that i would prefer not to mention until i’m in a new relationship. getting through the first year is a relief because i can begin to dwell in life outside of the first year of healing.

i have wonderful news to report. when i left for school last january, i measured my grip strength to be around a 24 in my left hand (remember, it was initially a 4?) with my right hand around a 60. i went into the physical therapy office right before i moved back to nashville and my new left hand grip is a 37 with my right hand getting even stronger at a 79. my left hand is now over half the strength of my original right hand grip, and i think my right hand is getting stronger from playing left-handed guitar (which is getting a lot better). overall, everything is getting better. i’m writing again, piano seems to be opening up new creative opportunities, and my degree is taking some exciting turns at belmont this semester. please pray for me as the 17th draws closer. thanks for all the support this past year. more to come!

piano scales.

July 12, 2010

did i mention that i am a music major? well, i am and i’m pretty sure that most music majors from all over the country learn piano before they graduate. at belmont, you have to pass this exam called the piano proficiency and the exam includes a variety of piano skills that have to be demonstrated, one being scales. i, by no means, am a pianist. i have tried to learn several times, but piano is not an instrument that i have ever felt extremely comfortable playing. at the time of my accident, i was in my third semester of piano classes and i was preparing to take my proficiency exam at the end of that course. i was generally ready to pass it. i had learned all of my scales and i was starting to feel like the skills of piano were attainable.

i was really good at scales. now, in the real world, scales aren’t the most valuable of skills to be proud of. no one pays for a ticket to listen to a pianist demonstrate E harmonic minor. but at belmont, it is essential to play scales well for a firm foundation in piano, and i was on my way to piano proficiency greatness.

piano scales were designed to be played by ten-fingered people, so you can imagine my current frustration. i am still required to pass the piano proficiency, and i genuinely want to. i’ve always wanted to be halfway decent behind the ivories, and i want to truly earn the degree that belmont proudly uses to create wonderful musicians. most of my peers have passed this exam by this point in their four-year plan, but i’ve decided to take a vacation from piano classes until the spring semester of 2011 and practice independently until then. because piano is going to be so different for me now, it’s important to explore my current abilities and limits. currently, i’m starting from square one with scales.

i can proudly say that i am working on a method and have mastered the C, G, D, and A major scales. each scale presents a new challenge and the challenges of gracefully moving from white to black keys is much easier with ten fingers. also, i have to deprogram my mind from the original understanding of which fingers move together since i’m learning to play the scales with both hands.

relearning piano and relearning guitar bring completely different challenges and frustrations. guitar is difficult because i’m teaching my hands to do something that is unnatural (playing left-handed) and new (having zero callouses on my right hand after having several years worth on my left). having eight fingers does not play as large of a role in holding me back from learning. piano is different. it is not physically difficult to push a key, but my loss of two fingers seems to be screaming much louder when i try to learn a new scale. because each scale is different, i have to figure out what combination of 3, 2, 1, 2, 1…etc. i can play to get from one octave to the next. i am curious to see how i will progress with the rest of the scales. my goal is to have all of them mastered again by january. by then, i will be starting my first piano class since the accident. i’ll keep you updated!

i’m learning what it means to be content. tomorrow marks seven months since my accident and i’ve gone through a lot of significant struggles and changes since that day. i’m at a place now where i am learning to accept where i am and be content with what i’m doing with my life. i’m not saying it’s easy. some days are better than others and i often find myself feeling extremely behind. because my guitar skills have been stripped away, i often feel like all the work i have done up until this point has been erased and i have to start again at square one.

but it’s important for me to remember where i was seven months ago and where i was five months ago, and so on. i am physically independent again. i am no longer changing bandages on my body. i am a full time student. my life is surrounded by music daily and i am enjoying my time here at belmont. no, i’m not where i thought i would be a year ago, but i am where i need to be in this healing process. i came here to this semester to finish what i started last semester, and that’s what i’m doing.

i’m really looking forward to the summer. i haven’t been able to devote as much time to guitar and piano as i would have liked since i’ve been here and i have cleared my schedule to do just that. i lot of patience is going to be needed ahead. prayers are appreciated! 🙂

adjusting…

January 31, 2010

i know it’s been a really long time since i’ve written. i’ve been in classes for just over two weeks and the adjustment to living a new/old life has definitely kept me busy.

it’s difficult to describe how it feels to be back. i love being here. it’s good to be with all my friends and to have a life outside lazing around the house; however, there is something about the familiarity of the life that i’m living now that takes me back to those first three weeks last september. i’m taking some of the same classes, with the same professors, during the same hours. there are some new factors to this semester; but in all, i think i will feel better once i reach the forth week and i don’t find myself retracing old steps. reliving these first weeks has been a constant reminder of what happened, and that much has been really difficult.

however, i do feel like i am starting to get back into the swing of things. although i don’t think my body has fully recovered from waking up at seven every morning without nine hours of sleep to fuel me for the day, i am managing to get my homework done and make it from sunrise to sunset in one piece. (usually).

everything is still a huge adjustment. i am at a really odd place musically, spiritually, physically…i could go on. this next week starts the third being in classes. i’m looking forward to the fourth.

i’m officially done with physical therapy today! i am thrilled with the progress i’ve made. my hand has improved tenfold since i started back at the end of october. i mastered the dreaded black clothespins, the heaviest weight. and i am especially proud to say i met my grip strength goal today! my initial grip strength in my left hand was a four, while my right hand was around a sixty. my therapist said our goal would be twenty. i was thrilled the day i met the strength of ten, but today, my grip strength was twenty-four. my left hand is at least one-third the power of my right, and that is a huge comfort. when i think back to where i was, this is the sweetest of victories. of course, my therapy does not really end. everyday is a new challenge for my hand, and my hand is meeting it. a good friend asked me the other day what my biggest limitation is at this point (aside from guitar and piano). i answered my grip strength, and even that isn’t so bad anymore.

the dreaded black clothespins

of course, this is not the entire picture of the challenges ahead. i leave for school on the tenth and i have no idea what God has in store for me this year. i do know that i’m pretty much open to anything now. my life is God’s. that’s one thing i’ve definitely taken away from all of this. pray for me with this semester coming up. i’m a little anxious about it still, but i’m also eager for a change of pace. there are a lot of unknowns ahead, but i do know that God is my life now. happy 2010 everyone!

three months.

December 18, 2009

my accident happened three months ago yesterday. obviously since the last entry is entitled “two months,” i haven’t written in a while. somehow i’ve been relatively busy. i was fortunate enough to still have the opportunity to sing in “christmas at belmont,” so i journeyed down to nashville to sing the music i had been learning from home with my peers. it’s a massive event, if you’ve never experienced it. i highly suggest you turn your TVs to PBS on the evening of the 23rd (check your local listings for the time). i’ve included a little sampler HERE — my group, session, singing with our wonderful host, trisha yearwood! 🙂

this past month has been a little bit more directed toward sliding into normalcy. i’m now typing with two hands and learning how to do it better. allowing myself to go out in public without any sort of glove on, unless i’m cold. haha! gripping “paper thin” picks and building up some strength strumming my left-handed guitar. i french-braided my hair for the first time a couple of days ago! and other exciting victories that allow my left hand some independence.

i recently purchased rob bell’s new book “drops like stars.” i highly recommend picking it up. it’s about suffering and creativity — something extremely relevant in my life right now. i’ve been painting a lot. it’s very calming and relaxing for me and it helps me creatively express myself in a time where guitar cannot as easily fill that need. you may have noticed the new banner above, it’s one of my watercolor paintings. it’s good to still feel like an artist. God is healing me with the endless possibilities in creativity.

two months.

November 20, 2009

two days ago marked two months since the day of my accident. people have asked me if the time has flown by. in a way it has, but it also seems like that day was so long ago. isn’t that how it always is? time does seem to move a lot faster when life isn’t all consumed the way mine used to be. i feel like a kid on summer vacation. yet so much has happened in the past two months, i feel like that day was a year ago. i guess it is good to report that my days are not dragging along. but the 17th of the month always seems a little longer.

the past month has thankfully been a little quieter. more physical therapy, no surgery. it’s strange looking back on the challenges from the past two months. the day of my wreck. losing one finger. the week at the hospital. living with my hand attached to my hip. losing another finger. going home to heal. getting acquainted with a new hand. teaching that new hand old tricks…and those are only physical challenges. there have been several mornings i have woke up to look at my hand, only to realize that my fingers are not coming back, and the challenges are not going away. when i dream, i have two whole, healthy hands. i guess there’s a part of me that is under the impression that my body is just going through a phase, like a fractured wrist, and i will heal and go back to the way things were.

i’m slowly learning to see my hand as my hand. i know one day it will feel natural and all, but i also know i’ll look back on this moment and be glad i left it behind. the past two months have been a sequence of events i never want to live again. i never want to go back to the days i had my flap. i never want to go back to the day i saw my hand in the mirror for the first time. i’m sure i will not want to go back to this moment, but i’ve learned we must live in the difficult moments we are in until we can look back and see how far we’ve come.