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New photos of Giffords posted on Facebook

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(CNN) -- US Rep. Gabrielle Giffords will leave her rehabilitation facility and begin outpatient therapy by the end of June, her spokesman said Sunday.

She will depart TIRR Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston and remain in Texas for therapy, C.J. Karmargin said.

News of the milestone in Giffords' recovery came as the public saw the first photos of her face since she was shot in the head in January.

Taken outside, the photos show her smiling. She has short hair and is wearing glasses. One photo shows her alone, smiling at the camera; in the other, she is sitting alongside her mother.

The photos, published Sunday on her Facebook page, were taken May 17 -- the day before she underwent skull surgery at TIRR Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston, according to a message alongside the photos.

May 17 was also the day after Giffords, D-Arizona, attended the launch of the space shuttle Endeavour. Her husband Mark Kelly was commander of the mission.

"It was very inspiring to see how much she had recovered in 4 1/2 months," photographer P.K. Weis of SouthwestPhotoBank.com said in a statement. "I was excited to see her and to see her smile. She was glad to see me, was in a good mood, smiling and laughing and seemed to enjoy the experience. I certainly did, too."

He, who's known the congresswoman for more than a decade, said "her staff asked me to do it because she wanted someone who was not a stranger -- someone she would be comfortable around. The photos were taken in her room and in an outside area of the hospital."

Previously, Giffords' office had released a photo of just her hand, holding her husband's hand.

The Facebook post Sunday quickly filled with dozens of comments and "likes."

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She was beautiful before

and she is beautiful now. I hope and pray that she will continue to improve and will be able to return to her normal life. I realize that she has a difficult road ahead.

I would like to paraphrase Robert Frost: "She has promises to keep, and miles to go before she sleeps."