Wednesday, May 20, 2015

5 Days In

I'm 5 days in to this complete social media fast, and here's what I've realized so far:

One // I am blessed with some truly wonderful friends. I can't even remember the last time I simply wrote a blog post, clicked the bright orange "Publish" button, and didn't publicize it in some way, shape or form. 

I honestly didn't expect any one to read Saturday's blog post, and so when those wonderful, dear, loyal-blog-reading friends reached out with their sweet words of encouragement, it just made me feel mighty thankful for such a dear tribe of people to walk through life with. 

Thank you, friends, for constantly chanting "your words matter, Amy." 

Yours' do too. <3

Two // I forgot what it's like to have your phone, just be your phone. You know, solely for communication. Where the only notifications you get are when someone legit wants to say something to you, and they wanted to do so so badly that they took the time to text you. 

Or Snapchat you. {Okay, so I'm not entirely social media free. I mean, does that even count? It's like texting, but with pictures that last .5 seconds. Totally doesn't count.}

Three // When your phone is just your phone, you don't get a whole lot of notifications. 

And you know what I was reminded through that? My identity is secure in Christ, regardless of if my phone is blowing up, or silent as the moment after a bad, confusing joke. 

No matter how many times I hit that home button to see my blank lock screen, I'm still Amy, loved and treasured by Christ. 

It's not "Amy, loved and treasured by Instagram," or "Amy, loved and treasured by Facebook," it's something that is rock solid, and can never, ever change. 

It doesn't depend on my number of followers; it's entirely dependent on Who I'm following. 

Boom clap. 

Four // I genuinely miss it {mainly Instagram}, but not in the way I'd expect. 

It's really not as hard as I thought it would be. I don't miss it the way I would miss sugar or pasta, I don't crave it the way I crave those things {and pretty much all the food}. 

I just enjoy it. I really do love sharing my heart and my world in my little corner of social-media-land. And I look forward to being back, I really do. 

Five // I also have realized how much social media has taken away from my time of blogging, which I want to fix. This "Sweet Home Santa Barbara" blog is what started it all! 

It got me plugged into the blogging world, gave me a glimpse at some women who truly lived for Jesus, and helped me realize that my heart was aching for that. 

It gave me a passion for being a part of a community that shares. That's my favorite thing about the blogging community, we share. 

We share the cool and exciting new trends (hi, my best friend Stitch Fix). We share the life changing events, we share about our jobs, and our families, and our pets. We share what makes our heart beat with passion at a rate a gajillion times faster than it normally does, and we share what breaks it. We share the good times, but we also share the bad. The hard. The "things will never be the same" moments. 

And that passion to share? It's built into me. Right next to the part of me that craves all the food. 

And so, here are a few life updates. 

I've recently become really into trying to figure out how to do my hair. It's something I've always wished I could do, but figured my hair was just destined to always lay plain, and stick straight. 

False. 




I've even pulled my sister into this. 


I've been learning completely through YouTube, and these are my favorite channels:



***

I'm coordinating a wedding this weekend. After going to 6 in the last year, it's about time that I took it up a notch. 

I'm equal parts excited and nervous. Mainly excited, but let's be real. It's my friend Claire's big day, and I want it to go peeerfectly. 

No pressure. 

***

In less than 2 weeks, PJ and I will be celebrating our one year anniversary by running this half marathon. 

We will probably look something like this. 


It's gonna be great. 

***

I'm in week 8 of 10 in my second seminary class! This one has been kicking my butt much more than the last one, time-wise. But it's teaching me a lot about sacrificing time for building a dream. 

And the truth is? I don't even know what that dream is. Right now, it's just the dream of following God's path for my life, and I kinda like it that way. 

***

Enough about me. How are you? 

Saturday, May 16, 2015

One Week

I was sitting in Starbucks, doing homework, when I finally surrendered to something God had been whispering to my heart for weeks. "Put it down," He gently suggested. "Sign out of the account. Delete the app, if you have to. Whatever it takes, put the social media down. Seek Me instead."

Over time, I had noticed it. I had chosen to ignore it, suppress it, deny it, but it was still there. The comparison that was eating away at my joy. The friend who got engaged, the one getting married, the one re-launching her new and improved blog, all of these things that I was not doing. 

And I supported and rejoiced for all of these friends, I did! But there was something else going on in my heart, even if I didn't want to acknowledge it. 

That nasty comparison was not only sucking up my joy, but replacing it with something dangerous: envy

All the ignoring, suppressing, and denying could not change the fact that something ugly was brewing in my heart. Here I was, in quite possibly one of the most blessed seasons of my life, and I was so focused on everything around me that I was missing it. 

I don't want to miss the time of dating the man I've dreamed about for years. I don't want to miss the blessing of pouring my heart and time into studying the Bible through seminary school. I don't want to miss the people and opportunities God puts in from of me every day. I don't want to miss it because I'm too busy scrolling through pictures of other lives and thinking about what mine is not

And so, I'm giving in to the still small voice in my head saying "Put it down, Amy."

I'm giving it a week, maybe longer if needed. 

There is so much beauty in social media, so many ways that I see God glorified. My personal walk with the Lord would not be what it is today without the example and influence of so many godly women I've met through the internet. 

This fast won't last too long, God willing. But long enough to lift it all up as an offering, and say "God, this can't replace You." 

There is something wonderful and crazy about being known and seen, but it can't replace being known and seen by the One who created me. I want to be sure I can hear His voice above all the others. 

And that's where I'm at today. Humbly standing before God and admitting the condition of my heart, while simultaneously dancing and rejoicing at the thought of just how much He can move and heal and restore when we're willing to put things down for more of Him. 

That's what I'm craving, more of Him. Because I know my pictures and posts and tweets are nothing without a heart full of Jesus as the source. 

Happy Saturday, friends! <3


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Dear Man Whose Car I Hit

The clock was ticking past 5 as I was still sitting in my cubicle, knowing that I had only a matter of minutes to skedaddle and make it in time for my work out class. 

This wasn't just any work out class, it was a) my favorite, and b) that one where it's been far too long since my last work out, and I know I reaaalllyyy shouldn't push it one more day. 

It was needed, both mentally and physically. And regardless of the workload before me, I had to make this class. So I locked my computer, grabbed my purse, and crossed my fingers that I could get through the dreaded Fairview intersection in 10 minutes. 

I did! I even managed to nail my parking job on the first attempt (gave myself a nice pat on the back for that one). With a few minutes to spare, I had just enough time to change into my work out clothes that were tooootally from the "I haven't done laundry in weeks so this is what I have to work with" collection. Everything was looking fine and dandy, until. 

Until. 

That word that signifies the story's about to change, and yupp, you guessed it! This one is. 

I reached down to grab my work out bag and one word came to mind: contacts. They were both vital for the cardio-based work out class, and 100% forgotten as I packed up in the morning. I admitted defeat as I scrounged through my purse and calculated how quickly I could drive home and back. The "and back" part just wasn't going to happen in time. And with an evening full of homework and laundry before me, I figured I just may have to use this as an opportunity to get a head start. 

I silently mourned my work out plans for a few moments before turning my engine back on. Having pulled in with no car to my left, I planned on taking advantage of that space. As my car was turning, I glanced up just in time to see the tan van door I was about to demolish. 

I stopped immediately, both of our eyes like a deer in headlights as we processed what could have just happened. I changed gears, and moved forward into my parking spot, silently thanking God for no or minimal damage, and preparing for a serious chastising. 

The man got out of his car, and examined his door. I was almost afraid to look as he ran his fingers along some scratch marks. I rolled down my window, ready for the much-deserved anger. 

"It looks like I hit you; I'm so sorry," I said. I braced myself as he turned towards me, but instead of resentment and frustration, I was met with unwarranted kindness and grace. 

"You did, but we're not going to do anything about it. I'm just going to go home and buff it out, because if we did something about it, it would ruin your day." 

My eyes welled up with tears, and I said the only words that could come out of my mouth:
thank you. 

He grabbed his gym bag, but before leaving, he said "stop and breath a bit before you go." 

And the tears flowed. 

And flowed. 

And flowed. 

Kindness is powerful like that. I wasn't crying over the situation (okay, maybe a little), or over my work out class, or over the end of a stressful day. I was crying because his kindness blessed me in a way that I didn't know my heart was needing it. 

The truth is, I didn't need a work out class. I needed to hear the words "stop and breath a bit before you go."


Dear man whose car I hit: thank you. 

Thank you for reminding me how powerful it is to live with overflowing grace and kindness in our hearts. 

***

But if we love each other, God lives in us, and His love is brought to full expression in us. 

1 John 4:12

Thursday, April 16, 2015

On Slowing Down

I found myself staring at the perfectly baby blue sky and shimmering ocean, serenaded by the repetitive, evenly paced waves and adorable toddler voices from the nearby park. It was an unexpectedly free lunch break, and I was in my "I need a breather" spot. My happy place, where I can manage the comfort of my car and the beauty of the beach at the same time. 


I read for a bit, leisure reading that has been set aside now that school is back, and reserved 15 minutes for a recline-the-seat-nap. I've been told that I have a skill for managing a solid nap in just a handful of minutes, and sister, that's the truth. 

What I don't have a skill for? Slowing my mind down. 

I remember mentioning to a guy in high school how odd I found it that our minds can never be silent. "Mine can," he said. 

"No, it's really not possible!" I asserted. "Like, even if you try to think about nothing, you're thinking about thinking about nothing." 

"No" he responded, "there are really times where I think about nothing."

I didn't believe him. 

It wasn't until yearsss later that I remembered that conversation and realized maybe he was right. Maybe not all minds are as busy as mine. 

Sitting at the beach on my lunch break, I was keenly aware of my busy mind. With school back in session, my week days can get awfully repetitive. Work - homework - repeat. I was craving a few moments of a slow mind, and even though I knew I would be asleep shortly, my brain wasn't allowing me the quiet I craved. 

"Lord, please teach me how to relax," I prayed. "Please teach me how to slow down."

***

I just posted on busy vs. full, and though I hate to admit it, my current season has busy written all over it. I'm finding myself with a lot more "no"s than "yes"s, a lot more scheduled days than free. 

And staring at the beach, I figured something out. I've been fighting the busy. I've been fighting against it because I don't want to be defined by it, because I have this image of being free and surrendered and busy just doesn't fit into that. 

But I realized that I need to stop fighting it. I need to stop fighting, and start asking. Start asking God to slow down my days. Start asking God to relax my mind. Start asking God to free up my schedule when it needs to be freed, and to give me peace with the to-do list when that's what's before me. I need to start asking God to help me embrace a full life versus get lost in a busy one. 

 I'm asking God to help me find slowness amidst the fast pace. 

And so far? I'm finding it. I'm finding slowness in the freedom to take a study break and let my heart pour out into a blog post. 

I'm finding slowness in doodling love scribbles on post its. 


I'm finding slowness in pausing to reflect on what a beautiful life this is, and how faithful our God is to have fulfilled a dream of going to seminary school. 

I'm finding slowness, and I'm clinging to it. I'm asking for more of it. Because this life is too wonderful to be rushed. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Don't Chase Me Bro - Ragnar Relay


 It's been a while since I reviewed a race, and last weekend's 200 (ish) relay race is most definitely deserving of a blog post. 


Last weekend, 11 friends and I ran our very first Ragnar Relay. And guys, I don't think I can accurately portray how proud I am of us for pulling this off. This relay race is no joke, it's both mentally and physically challenging in a way that even surpasses a half marathon. Some people in our group had never run a race before, PJ included. So that feeling when we crossed the finish line as a team? Welp, let's just say it made all the sleep deprivation and ginormous hills way worth it. 


We were divided into two vans of 6 people, and each person had 3 legs to run. Each leg was anywhere from 2.4 to 12.1 miles, but I'd say the majority were between 3 and 7.  Each person ran anywhere from 11 to 24 miles in total, the average being around 15. 

When someone in our van was running, we were caravanning to the next exchange. It was so exciting jumping out to go cheer on our team mate, watching them slap the slap bracelet onto the next person, and quickly getting back to the van to drive to our next location. 


When someone in the other van was running, they were on caravan duty and we were either eating, searching for a non-porta-potty-bathroom, grabbing Starbucks, or attempting to sleep in our van. The gaps between our legs felt long, but for me they were very needed to re-coop for running again. Plus, I got lucky and was able to sleep pretty well during our night stretch. 

And by pretty well, I mean maaaybe a few hours. If that gives you a frame of reference for the amount of delirium we were experiencing by our last leg. ;)


Running at night was amazing. My favorite leg was my middle one, a hilly 10K at around 9PM. The cool temperature made the hills so much more bearable, I need to start running at night more often! 

Even Ryan Gosling enjoyed it. 


One of the most special things for me was getting to run my final leg in the area I grew up in. I didn't realize I was finishing at my high school until I looked at the map the day of the race, and it literally felt like jogging down memory lane. 


Except, let's be real, there were points where it was walking down memory lane. Because man, combining the final leg with the most brutal hills was an ugly combination.

But overall, it was such an incredible experience. There were moments of complete exhaustion, the last leg for everyone I talked to was really rough, but I would do it again in a heart beat. (True story, I already started looking at the Washington one for 2016). 


And so, for anyone who's interested in the amazing experience of a Ragnar Relay, I give you:

Amy's Tips and Tricks for Surviving {& Enjoying} Ragnar

One: Make sure you have at least one (preferably two, one for each van) really, really good planner. 

We're talking coordinating and collecting money from 12 people, renting 2 vans, making sure everyone has the required gear, there's a lot that goes into this. It's more than a regular race, so be sure you've got a good planner to see all the coordination through to the finish line. 

{A huge thank you to Nikolay and Tim for being our planners! We couldn't have done this without you!}

Two: Get matching shirts! It makes things so much more fun. 



{Thank you Tim for making this happen!}

Three: Make sure you can stand to be in very close quarters with your teammates for a very long time. We're talking 30 hours in a van, people. 

Luckily, my teammates were some of my favorite people in the world. Sooo, I lucked out. 


Four: Have back up people ready just in case. We had some last minute changes, and needed to find an extra person. We were fortunate to have Tamara happily step in, and not mind being the only girl in her van. You go, Tamara! 


Five: Bring a foam roller. And use it. 

One of those things we did. And one of those things I learned the hard way. I'll let you guess which is which. 


Six: You can't have too many snacks in the car. It's just not possible, so over prepare. Same thing with water. 

Also, bring energy gummies. Everyone in my van knows what I'm talking about. 

Seven: Get markers that are car-safe so that you can decorate your van {and tag other people's vans}. This is a huge deal at Ragnar, and makes things so much more fun. 



Eight: There will be time for showers and sleep after the race, I promise. Enjoy the experience, delirium and all. 


Interested? Find a Ragnar near you here. And then let me know about it, cause I just might want to do it with you. 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Busy vs. Full

Hi, friends! I promise I haven't left you hanging on the final post of the "Love Without Sex" series. PJ and I have gotten some good questions, and we're so looking forward to sitting down and answering them together. That's coming soon, but in the meantime I'm popping in to say hello. (Insert brown haired waving girl emoji that I use all.the.time)
 
How's life been for you, lately? For me, it's been feeling a liiiittle like a train moving at 100 miles per hour. It's been great scenery, and a no-doubt enjoyable ride, but boy is it hard to sleep on a train. Any one else feel like sometimes, the days can be exhausting?
 
That being said, life is full and sweet and good. Last weekend was packed with much needed family time, and I'm back in the swing of seminary with a new class on 1 Corinthians. I get to see my sweet Peej this weekend, and we're spending our time together running a 200 mile relay race. (Yupp, you read that right, check it out.)
 
I'm learning to intentionally fight getting stuck in the busy-ness, and I talk about that over on Annie's blog today. I'm learning that we were not called to a busy life, but a full one. And I don't want my schedule to ever encroach on the gift of fullness that He died so I could experience.
 
And that's where I'm at. Living and soaking in one full day at a time, trying to surrender my schedule & seek God in all things.
 
Where are you at, my friend? What do your days look like, and how can I be praying for you in your current season?
 
I'll leave you today with a few recent favorites. A favorite song that is currently still on repeat (24+ hours going strong), and a few favorite pictures that capture the sweetness cultivating in this season.
 
I hope your season is cultivating sweetness, too. :)
 
 

 
Photos by Jessica Fairchild, Dress from Stitch Fix