Tuesday, February 17, 2015

What I Believe

I believe that a good, hard work out can turn any day around. Especially the kind that leaves you sore for days. 

I believe that crossing a finish line of a race is one of the best feelings in the world. 

I believe that the most solid friendships can withstand silence without awkwardness. I'm working on becoming more comfortable with silence, myself. 

I believe in one on one convos, heart to hearts, exchanging prayer requests and life updates. I think there's power in being fully known and fully loved, and that's why there's such power in Jesus' love. 

I believe in celebrating with those who are celebrating, and providing a shoulder, a tissue, or ice cream for those who are weeping. I believe in being present through ups and downs, and finding the beauty in both. 

I believe in cubicle dance parties. 

I believe in mid-work-day coffee runs. 

I believe in daily Bible reading. I believe it changes you. 

I believe in vulnerability, and authenticity. If I fell on my face and learned a thing or two in the process, I want to share that. I don't want to pretend that I never fell in the first place. 

I believe in Stitch Fix. I swear half my wardrobe is from them. 

I believe the scary things are almost always the things worth pursuing. 

I believe in online friendships. I may not have met my boyfriend through the internet, but I sure met one of my closest friends.

I believe in the freedom of grieving. I believe grief is an emotion that doesn't need explanation or rationalization. Sometimes we grieve an unexpected medical bill, sometimes we grieve a death, and sometimes we grieve a dropped container of brand new raspberries. Regardless of the circumstance, I believe there's healing that comes from allowing yourself to grieve. 

I believe in the beauty of joy. I believe life is worthy of celebrating, whether it's new love, new life, or finding 5 bucks in an old pair of jeans. I believe that life is hard, and joy reminds us of all that we have to be thankful for. 

I believe that humans were created for fellowship with God. I believe we were made in His image, intended for holy communion with a holy God. 

I believe genuine love requires genuine choice, and out of love for humanity, God gave us free will. I believe that Adam and Eve were given a choice, to seek after God or to seek after the knowledge of good & evil for themselves. I believe they chose the second option, and with that, sin came into the world. 

I believe God grieved for our sinful world, the world that He created out of love. I believe that He loved us so much, and so desperately desired relationship with us, that He sent His only Son to be born of human flesh. 

I believe that Son is Jesus, and I believe Jesus came and died on a cross to take on the punishment of every sin ever committed in our world. I believe His death displayed God's infinite mercy, removing the punishment sin warrants. 

I believe that after 3 days of laying in a tomb, Jesus rose from the dead. I believe that through His resurrection, God's unimagineable grace was poured into our world. I believe that because Jesus lives, we too can have new life. I believe that because He overcame sin, we can have restored relationship with God through Him. 

I believe that salvation can't be earned, and right standing with God can't be worked for. I believe that righteousness and eternal life are gained simply and only through faith in the work that Jesus accomplished on the cross. 

I believe that when a person asks Jesus into their life, they receive Him as their personal Savior. I believe what happens in that instant is that He takes up residence in them, and His Spirit lives inside their heart. I believe that with His Spirit, anything is possible. I believe that because of His love, lives can change in an instant. 

I believe that because mine did. 

I believe that I don't have it all figured out. I believe that some questions aren't answered until heaven, and I believe that's okay. I believe that my God can be trusted with the things I don't understand, and that it's okay to admit I don't have all the answers. 

I believe that pictures always add a little somethin somethin to a blog post. But I also believe that it's okay to have a wordy, picture-less post every once in a while. Especially when you're struggling with consistent blogging as it is. 

So there we have it, a list of things I believe. 

Happy Humpday, friends! Would love to hear what you're believing in today. 

<3

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Our First Valentine's Day

Peej and I celebrated Valentine's Day at our halfway spot in San Luis Obispo. 2 hours each way for me, 3 hours for him. And I know that we'll always remember that time that we drove multiple hours just to spend Valentine's Day together. 

This long distance thing can feel like an inconvenience at times, but I know that one day we'll look back and see a different picture. We'll look back and see two hopeless romantics that added a whole lotta miles to their cars in order to make a whole lotta memories of falling in and celebrating love. 


Memories like getting far less than the recommended amount of sleep to instead wake up early, and meet in a city parking lot. 


Memories like exchanging presents in your backseat, and walking over to Starbucks to get caffeinated, read Loveology, and play footsie. 

Oh, and take selfies.


Memories like watching me get giddy over spending time in Barnes & Nobel, because Santa Barbara doesn't have book stores. And like adding in a little spontaneous shopping, because I can't ignore a good sale, and you're fun to shop with. 

Memories like eating lunch here, where a girl named Bonnie with the thickest, most adorable southern accent took our order, and where we enjoyed yummy sandwiches {you shredded tritip & me portobello mushroom}, played more footsie and took more selfies. 


Memories like walking down the adorable strip of adorable San Luis Obispo stores, and wandering around what you deemed "couples creek." It was as if Valentine's Day threw up all over SLO, and we didn't mind one bit. I'd say we actually enjoyed it. 


Memories like getting delicious ice cream, and playing googly eyes with a hard-to-get 1 year old. Like going back to Barnes & Nobel, because we had 3 hours to kill before dinner. Like each picking up books written by Parks and Recreation stars {you by Ron Swanson and me by Leslie Knope. I'm aware those aren't their real names, but I like to pretend the characters are real}. Memories like situating our chairs so that I could lay my legs over yours, because when you're long distance, you make sure you take full advantage of every cuddling opportunity you get. Or maybe that's just us, but either way, I love it. 

Memories like going back to your car to take a nap in the back seat. Because that seemed like the closest we could get to a socially acceptable nap location, and a nap was necessary after our early morning. 

Memories like you holding up a towel so that I could use your back seat as a dressing room to change before dinner. Like having a couple walk past us and look our way with a "they're totally doing naughty things in that back seat" look. 

That awkward moment almost had me snap into an "i'm so over long distance, this is so frustrating, when are we ever gonna be in the same place" mood. But instead, I chose to relinquish all of those emotions to God, and focus on the fact that one day, we'll look back and laugh at the awkwardness of that moment. Along with the amount of time we spent hanging out in the back seat of your car on Valentine's Day. 


Memories like going back to the restaurant where we had our first half-way date 7 months prior. Like choosing to sit on the same side of the table as opposed to opposite sides, for maximum cuddling and under the table hand holding. 



Memories like enjoying the gorgeous view of "couples creek," and filling up on some seriously delicious grub {lamb chops for you, butternut squash curry for me}.  




Memories like driving in our separate cars to a movie theater a half hour away, because we weren't ready to end the date. Like having a heck of a time finding parking, because apparently Valentine's Day is a popular date night, or something. Memories like getting real creative with our cuddle positions with an immoveable arm rest between us. 

Memories like the long walk back to our cars that neither of us wanted to end. Like the extra long hug goodbye, and the "I'll call you in a half hour to see how your drive is going." Memories filled with the mutual feeling of wishing we were leaving in the same car, in the same direction. 

But we didn't leave in the same car, and we didn't go in the same direction. And that's okay, because where we are right now? It's beautiful. The naps in the back seat, the hours spent in Barnes & Nobel, the awkward run ins with people wondering why I'm changing in a car, well, I can't imagine a better Valentine's Day. 

I love you, Philip James. Thank you for being my best friend, my favorite cuddle buddy, my Valentine. Thank you for never rejecting the idea of another selfie, for never letting go of my hand, and for giving me your opinion on the 10 different tops I tried on at Express. 

Our first Valentine's Day was just the best. And not because of the food, or the beautiful scenery, or the comfortable seats in your car. 

It was because of you, babe. You're the best. 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Valentine's Day

I feel like Valentine's Day has gotten its fair share of negative publicity over the years. Whether it's referred to as Singles Awareness Day, or just another American Consumer Holiday, it's not always welcomed with open arms. 

And I get it, I do. As someone who has been sans-date for nearly all of my Valentine's Days, I understand the lukewarm sentiment. But today, I want to share my love for this holiday, single or taken. 


Some of my most memorable Valentine's Days were not the ones celebrated with a significant other. They were not the ones spent on an elaborate or not-so-elaborate date night out. They were the ones where a single act of completely voluntary love caught me by surprise, and left me feeling blessed. 

Like my first Valentine's Day away at college, when a friend knew my heart was still bruised from that high school relationship, and stole the key to my dorm room to surprise me with a teddy bear and chocolates. 

Or last year, when another friend sent a beautiful bouquet of flowers to my office, to make sure I felt loved, appreciated, valued and celebrated. 

Love comes in many forms. February 14th seems to bring a microscope to the romantic kind in your life, or lack there of. But what about all the other kinds that deserve to be celebrated?






We are born into this world through love; the single greatest act of voluntary love belongs to each and every one of us. 

"Even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into His own family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ. This is what He wanted to do, and 
it gave Him great pleasure."

Ephesians 1:4-5

We are born with the craziest love we'll ever experience right in the palm of our hands, and best part ever? Nothing can take it away! {Romans 8:38-39, check it.}

I pray that this Valentine's Day, you know that you are so loved. I pray that you feel the insane love of God, and you see the outflow of that in the relationships that surround you. 



Regardless of who you're celebrating with, I pray that you celebrate fully and joyfully knowing that yes, we celebrate love every day. But why not go a little harder once a year? 


The roomies and I pumped things up a notch this year by ordering Valentine's Day cards through Tiny Prints. We had so much fun taking pictures together, and looking through all of their Valentine's collection. I was so excited to see that blue box arrive, and couldn't be more thrilled with how they turned out. It's the perfect way to send out a little personal love on this holiday. 



So from our house, to yours: Happy Valentine's Day! May yours be filled with love, hugs, laughs, joy and chocolate. Lots of chocolate. 

Thursday, January 29, 2015

I Don't Want To Be Guilt Tripped

I went to Jesus Culture Conference this past weekend, which I'm sure would surprise no-one-ever by my social media activity. 



This was my second time going, and both times have been absolutely amazing. Worshipping along with so many other Jesus lovers, and hearing incredibly inspiring and passion inducing messages? Can't beat it. I'm pretty sure the Jesus Culture experience is a little slice of heaven. And if so, I'm pumped. 


At one point on the first night, a man came on stage to speak about a featured organization, Feed The Children. He shared a story about his experience with the hunger and poverty epidemic, and then he invited the audience to get involved. He set loose volunteers carrying packets symbolizing children across various countries needing financial sponsors, and as he did, my arm shot up. 

In that moment, I learned a very clear lesson about myself. 

I don't want to be guilt tripped. 

 The truth is, as this man spoke on stage, I only half listened. If I'm being honest, I had heard the spiel before. I had heard the grip-your-heart stories about world poverty, and the touching testimonies of the impact of ____ dollars per day. I have an incredibly sensitive heart that is often quick to grab my check book, so when moments like this happen, I've learned to put the brakes on. I've learned to put my guard up, and check to make sure I'm responding wisely, and not just out of emotion. 

It's true, I don't want to be guilt tripped. And I see the wisdom in that. I see that I'm only given finite finances, and while I wish I could support everything, I can't. I have to discern what is the best use of my resources, what I'm called to invest in and support, not be driven by guilt or impulse. 

That being said, I realized something this weekend. I recognized that I don't want to be guilt tripped, but

I do want to be God-tripped. 

If I'm too busy running my race to check out the opportunity passing me by, I want to be God-tripped. If I'm so stuck in my routine that I mindlessly make decisions, I want to be God-tripped. I give God full permission to stick that speed bump right in front of my path so that I slow down enough to hear His voice. And if I'm not hearing? 

Please, God, trip me. 

This weekend, I got tripped. Zero part of me expected to sign up for a monthly giving plan, but something in my heart moved. I may not have heard all of the details of the man's story, but I've seen my own. I've seen the children in Africa lining up for medical attention, only for 90% of them to be diagnosed with malnutrition. I've seen them beg for food and water, and while keeping my hand down at a conference might be easy, rejecting a hungry child is hard

Something in my heart jumped as I did the math, and realized that even if it didn't add up, it didn't matter, I was doing this. As my hand raised without hesitation, I silently prayed that God would intentionally choose my child. And guys, when I saw her? I cried. 

Christians can have a reputation of getting taken advantage for their generosity. We can be known for mindlessly giving, because we're called to. And really, I don't mind if I seem to add to that stereotype one bit. But here's the thing: 

I'm not guilt-tripped, I'm God-tripped. 

And I pray that He never stops tripping me. 

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Thoughts on a Saturday

I'm sitting here at 8:08AM on Saturday morning with this as my view:


And I figure, what better thing to do than blog out some thoughts. You know, the ones that I've been thinking "I need to blog about this!", and then never doing. I know it's not the strategic blog move to post on a Saturday, but let's all take a moment of silence to remember strategic blogger Amy. 

...

Okay, moment's over. And to be honest, she never was much "strategic" anyway. So, let's commence!

One, I got my first anthro mug. And I adore it, I 100% understand the obsession now. It's so pretty and sturdy and unique and I love her. I fill her with steamed almond milk, because I'm a child apparently. This past week, I thought to myself dang, this would be good warm. So I heated that shiz and boom, hooked. 

Two, let's talk worship. There have been some songs that have been on repeat for me, that definitely warrant a shout out. 



Worship is kind of my jam. I am in no way, shape, or form annointed to serve in that area, but worship changed me. It changed my life. And now, I can't go an extended period time without jamming out to some good, solid truth, or else my heart goes all out of whack. 

My life changed in a worship set. It didn't change after hearing a stellar sermon, or during an intense altar call. It changed during worship. And I have no idea what song was playing, but I know that God's presence was thick. Thick enough to reach down and wrap me up and make me feel safe enough to finally let go of my life. 

And you know what, that Bible verse {Matthew 16:25} is true. When I finally gave up my life, I finally found it. 

Three, I was gonna go on, but I kinda feel good about ending here. To be honest, this has been my first blog post in a while that has just flowed. I miss that, I miss coming to this place with a heart full of passion, and watching as my fingertips almost effortlessly tap a keyboard to present those thoughts. I like when there's no overanalyzing about tone and wording, just me pouring out into a blog post. 

That's how today felt. Maybe I should blog on Saturday mornings more often. 

Monday, January 5, 2015

Currently

I am currently laying in bed at 1:42PM on Sunday afternoon with not a single plan for the remainder of the day. Heavennnn

Perfect time to write a post on life's current happenings. 

***

I'm currently reading this book:


And let me tell you, it's wrecking me good. Isn't it funny how Christian lingo takes these terrible verbs and turns them into profoundly positive statements. 

"This week's sermon wrecked me." "That bible verse destroyed me the first time I heard it."

AKA it spoke to me in such a way that it changed everything in the best possible way. And yes, that's exactly what this book is doing. I'm hoping to do a complete post once I'm done with the book, so more on this to come. For now, I'll just say that if you've ever once thought you struggle with insecurity, pick up a copy of this book stat. And then text me as you read it and we'll gush about how spot on it is. 

***

I'm currently mourning the ending of The Office. 


Unlike everyone else, I decided to jump on this bandwagon a year and a half after the show ended. I binge watched like nobody's bizznass, and finished all 9 seasons in a matter of months. I did fall asleep in a fair amount, but still. Just gives me permission to rewatch all 9 seasons at a later date. 

They were that good. I now understand what all the fuss was about, and I both want to work at Dunder Mifflin in Scranton, PA, and be BFFs with Pam and Jim. And Angela and Dwight. And everybody. 

I'm not quite sure what I'm going to do with my free time anymore. 

***

I'm currently getting back into real life mode after spending time at home for the holidays. Don't be fooled by the fake snow. We were most definitely in San Diego. 




***

I'm currently still relishing in the deliciousness that was consumed at last night's Friendsmasgiving. Yum. 





PJ and I made the green beans, and I was quite happy with how they turned out! 


Sauteed them with some olive oil, garlic, onions, mushrooms, and gave a good solid shake of sea salt and pepper, and boom. Yummy green beans. 

I just may volunteer to make them for Thanksgiving next year!

***

And now, I'm going to go pop myself some pop corn and pick a movie on netflix. But before I head out, I've got a question for ya'll. {Leave it to me to end a light post with a serious question}.

How do you Sabbath? The Lord put it on my heart to spend some time this year really developing a consistent pattern of rest. What does that look like for you? I'd love to hear it!

It's Sunday for me, but this will post on Monday. So happy Monday, friends! Over and out.