Friday, August 30, 2013

Finding Freedom

I am in a season of healing. 

The very beginning phases. 
Because in order to be healed, 
you have to admit that you're broken, don't you?


I wrote those words almost five months ago. Five whole months. Man, time flies. And as the time goes, the change comes. The growth comes. And the healing comes. 

I am still in a season of healing. A different one, though. You see, our God is a kind, loving and protective God. He opens our eyes to our brokenness because He sees the big picture. And as we surrender our vision to His, we start to see a teeeensy bit of what He sees. We start to see outside the crooked lines that box in our brokenness. And you know what's outside those lines?


Yesterday marked 60 days since my last alcoholic drink. 60 days. It's incredibly bizarre how this can feel like the biggest life change that I have made in all of my 24 years, and yet also like nothing has changed at all. It oddly feels like I have transported back in time to my 18 year old self, who confidently knew that alcohol was not her thing, but never judged others for it being theirs. I really liked that about her. I'm glad she's back. 

I'm starting to dig a little deeper into this complex heart of mine. When I feel myself get angry, I ask why. When I feel myself wanting to share the latest juicy gossip, I ask why. When I feel myself halfheartedly celebrating a friend's victory because I am secretly seething at the fact that it was not my own, I ask why

So what does this have to do with sobriety? How does analyzing my own issues with anger, gossip and jealousy have anything to do with politely declining that glass of wine offered to me? 

Because it all comes down to finding freedom. And that, my friends, is the season of healing that I am in now. I see my brokenness, God. I see that the issue isn't with the friend who inadvertently made me feel like she didn't care. I see that the issue isn't with telling people about the incredibly interesting news that I am so privileged to know. The issue isn't with the friend who accomplished something that I wanted to accomplish. I see, God, that the issue isn't with alcohol. 

The issues are with my heart. 

And no, from the outside, they may not seem like that big of problems. It's not like I act out on the anger that I feel (very often), and who doesn't gossip these days? Jealousy is something that everyone battles, and at our age, who is going to judge you for having one, two, or four drinks at happy hour? 

If you're thinking these are pretty darn normal, then I would say that you're right. They are pretty darn normal in our world, and they aren't a very big deal. 

But to God? They are. 


It's not because He is a tyrant of a Man upstairs sitting and holding his list of the 10 commandments, slapping them with a ruler each time someone steps out of line. It's not because He created a list a loooong time ago, and simply has too big of an ego to admit "hey, maybe I over did it a bit back then."

God made this list because He knows our human hearts. He understands how they work, and the impact these things have on us. 

He knows what it does to my heart each time I act in sin. Whether it's letting those emotions of anger and bitterness fester, instead of acknowledging the real issues going on in my heart. Whether it's giving into the urge to gossip only to give myself an ego boost of how much people confide in me. Perhaps it's competing with someone only to give myself a sense of value and worth. Or maybe it's having one too many alcoholic drinks to feel like a cool kid, and escape whatever else my mind might want to think about. 

The fact is, I didn't use to give these things a second thought. But now, I do. Now, I have learned to take the time to think through my actions before I complete them, to filter through my emotions before I let them control me. And that, my friends, is finding freedom. 

Finding freedom from myself. 

And finding freedom in the Spirit.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Got My Fix In (& a Birthday Shoutout)

Yay for another round of Stitch Fix! This is actually my forth one, but I didn't post my third because I wasn't a huge fan of anything. Glad I came back for round 4 though, because this fix was definitely a success :)

If you don't know what Stitch Fix is, it's basically a new fun and easy way to get your shopping in. You pay $20 for personal styling and delivery, have a package arrive with 5 items (including one accessory) at your doorstep, and choose what you keep! Whatever you end up keeping, you get to automatically save that $20 you already paid, and whatever you don't want, you send back! Easy peasy. 

And now, let's get on with the good stuff! Bring on the clothes:

1. Amani Cowl Neck Sleeveless Blouse by 41Hawthorn

I love this color, and definitely am a fan of the versatility of this shirt. The neckline can easily be dressed up or down, and as I've said before, I like the longer in the back look. The only cons about this top are the fact that it may be difficult to wash, and it was a bit more than I'd typically pay for a shirt. 

2. Keller Sheer Swiss Dot Blouse by GLAM

I love the style and material of this shirt. The loose fit makes it extremely flattering for all body types, and the polka dots give it some fun flare. Being that it's see through, it definitely requires a tank top underneath. But, I kind of like that you can add some color to it that way! Only con is that it was the same price as the top above, so again, a bit more than I typically pay for a shirt. 

3. Jaclynn 3/4 Sleeve Button-Up Cardigan by Mak

4. Pop of Color Scarf by Rapti

Big fan of both of these items! They were the two least expensive things in my fix, which is always a plus in my book. Fall is right around the corner, and with it comes scarf season! I've been getting more and more into scarves each year, so definitely ready for that! And, I could always use another cardigan. Especially one with some color, like this gorgeous burgundy. These were both winners for me!

5. Dali Geo Print Skirt by Pink Martini

Loooved this skirt! Especially the way it matched these shoes perfectly. You can absolutely dress this up for work, or down for anything else! Versatile: check! Great print: check! Price? Eeek, that's where this one got me. It was the most expensive thing in my box, so definitely would have had to be my absolute favooorite in order for me to fork up that cash. 

All in all, Stitch Fix did a great job! Thank you, stylist Becky!

I decided to keep one thing this round, and the winner was:


The Jaclynn 3/4 Sleeve Button-Up Cardigan! 

I love it! And I know I'll get a ton of use out of it. 

If you want to schedule your first Stitch Fix, do it right on over here!


And also, happy birthday to the most amazing, wonderful, incredible roommate, friend and photographer that a girl could ask for. 

Kristen, thank you for being all that I could ask for in a friend, and more. 

Side note: I mention January 1st, 2012 a lot as the day that I truly surrendered my life to Jesus. Well, I was standing beside this girl. She is the one who brought me to church that day, she is the one who held me as I cried my eyes out (and has many times since), and she is the one who prayed over me that day (and has many times since). 

I couldn't even tell you what she prayed over me, but man, did it work. 

I love you, Kristen. Happy, happy birthday, my beautiful sister, friend & roommate!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Humor for your Humpday

Since I didn't prepare anything for you today, I decided to share my good friend Tabitha's hilarious vlog that she made.

Besides, the topic is kind of appropriate. (ba-dump-chaaa)

Enjoy! Hope your humpday is a great one :)

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

2013 Bucket List - Progress Check

I skipped this back in July, but a lot has happened in August. So let's recap how this 2013 Bucket List is going, shall we?

1. Run at least 3 races (any distance 5K and over)


-10K Coronado Valentine's Day Race: Feb 17th / DONE! 54 min, 8:30 mile pace

-5K Los Angeles Run or Dye: March 9th / DONE!

-15K San Diego Hot Chocolate Race: March 24th / DONE! 1hr 26min, 9:14 pace

-Santa Barbara Wine Country Half Marathon: May 11th / DONE! 2hr 3min, 9:18 pace

-5K Nite Moves: May 15th / DONE!

-5K Nite Moves: July 10th / DONE!

-5K Bubble Run: September 7th / registered!

-10K She.Is.Beautiful Run: September 22nd / registered!

-City to Sea Half Marathon: October 13th / registered!

If you want to hear more on running, check out this post.

2. Read 30 books

So far, I've completed 6 books.


So may need to adjust that goal to 15, but hey, I'm enjoying reading and that's what counts, right?

Keep up with my recent reads here.

3. Get a passport

Cue major happy dance with the completion of this one!

4. Travel outside of the country (preferably missions related)

You probably already know this, but I'm so happy to report that I am planning to go serve in Uganda in January of 2014!! So that's basically this year, right?

If you want to find out more about that, you can check out these posts, or my fundraising page!

5. Cross off at least 2 states

This is for my 50 State Challenge.

I'll be crossing this one off next month when I go to The Influence ConferenceIllinois & Indiana, here I come!

6. Meet a blogger friend IRL

Crossed this one off when I met the wonderful Julie from An Anchor for the Soul

Recap can be found here.

7. One spontaneous trip

Tahoe: Back in January

8. One random act of kindness per month

These have definitely been happening, but not quite how I imagined it. In the beginning of the year, these seemed to be big, drastic things. It really felt like the Lord was leading me to bless specific people in specific moments. 

In the past few months, they have seemed less drastic, and more natural. Blessing a friend by treating them on our lunch or coffee date, grabbing an item from the grocery store for the homeless man sitting outside, these have become regular occurrences. And at first, the end of the month would come and I would think shoot! I haven't done any big random act of kindness!

But I think this has taught me the beauty of incorporating random acts of kindness into my lifestyle. And that, is something that I truly hope to continue in all of my future years to come. 

9. End the year with 0 balance on credit card

Revision: Maintain 0 balance on credit card

This is definitely happening! I am keeping my credit card balance to a manageable level, always paying it off as quickly as possible. It feels mighty good :)

10. Double my savings

Revision: Rebuild my savings

If you're confused about the change in these last two bucket list items, check out this post. 

Last month, I had my savings account at 70% of what it used to be. Goal: get that number to 100% by the end of the year. At the end of August, I have 83% of my account back! 

There have been so many random expenses popping up these days, between car trouble, needing new contacts, all that fun stuff. So I know there is a chance I may need to dip into my savings in the near future, but Lord willing, I know I can get it back to where it was in January by the end of the year!

11. Cut and donate my hair

Crossed off in January.

12. Take Milissa on a sister weekend getaway

This was a mighty fun one to cross off :)

13. Get a blog makeover!

Amy, from the Charming blog, designed this beauty, and I have nothing but amazing things to say about her! If you're ever considering doing a blog makeover, I'd highly recommend this girl!

So there you have it!

I now have 7 out of 13 items crossed off! Not too shabby :) This has been so fun, and I can't wait to make this a yearly tradition. Thanks for following along with me!

{Bucket List progress tracked here}

In other news, Happy Tuesday!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Just call me four eyes

When I was little, I would say that I'm allergic to mosquito bites and cigarette smoke. I made that presumption based on the golf ball size of my mosquito bites, and the way that my lungs felt broken after a whiff of smoke. 

Now that I've got a few years of wisdom under my belt, I can see that I am, in fact, not allergic to mosquito bites or cigarette smoke. I just seem to have been blessed with blood that tastes as sweet as pina colada to mosquitos, and just about everyone and their mother is "allergic" to cigarette smoke. 

So what am I allergic to, you ask? Well, nothing really. Except apparently the contact brand that I've been using for the last five or so years. Yupp, turns out my eyes have decided to go all "ah heyyll no" to Acuvue contacts. (But I love your guys' ad campaign, really do). 

So what does this mean for me? It means I'm wearing these bad boys for the next couple of weeks as my eyes ease up on the temper tantrum:

Being restricted to my glasses really gets me thinking. You see, I've been your good old four eyes since wayy back in first grade, when my teacher ratted on me to my parents. Apparently it's not good to be squinting all the time. Psh, what did she know? 

So off we went to the eye doctor, and I can distinctly remember walking out of the office with my spankin' new pair of glasses, and looking around the parking lot. The blue in the sky! The green in the trees! It wasn't all blurring together. And just as God said "let there be light!", bam! Amy had sight again. 

And you would think that's a good thing, right? Wrong. Maybe it was nice to see clearly again, but it also introduced me to a whooole new element of self consciousness. My teacher had to remind me multiple times to wear my glasses, because I was willing to take the blurry blackboard (do kids even have those these days?), over the embarrassment of the glasses. 

Looking back, I can't even remember where that embarrassment came from. I highly doubt anyone actually told me that glasses made me ugly, and yet, that's how I felt. I carried that with me allll the way until my parents finally let me get contacts in 7th grade. And it was a happy day, let me tell you. 

Over the years, I got way more eye infections than I'd like to admit for overwearing my contacts. (And you wonder how I got an eye allergy...). This especially started happening in college, when late nights of studying (and other activites) would lead to the brilliant idea of sleeping in my contacts. And so, I would be forced to wear my glasses as my eyes would heal. 

Lo' and behold, I would actually get compliments on them. And it was right about then that I realized how ridiculous the self consciousness that I had been carrying for years was. The Lord has even further emphasized this to me, as I realize that my beauty doesn't come from appearance, or fashion, or fitness, or contacts versus glasses. My beauty comes from my Creator in Heaven. 

I remember one time being diagnosed with an eye infection, and looking straight at my eye doctor and saying "but I don't have glasses to wear." And I really didn't! I had left them in San Diego because that's how seldom I wore them. 

I'm thankful that now, I not only have a pair of glasses that I love (thanks, Firmoo!), but I can rock them realizing that glasses or no glasses, I am Amy Reed, daughter of the King of kings. 

And you are altogether beautiful, darling! Beautiful in every way. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Run, baby run!

Hayyy guys!

This week has been cray-zee. Crazy in a jam packed with super fun things kind of way, but crazy none the less. I've missed you guys, and am happy to be back after not posting since Monday. 

Today's topic: running

I haven't shared too much about how running is going lately, so I thought I'd give you the low down. My running schedule has been allll out of whack lately. Allow me to explain:

May 11, 2013: Ran my first half marathon

Was pretty much on runner's high this day, it was an incredible feeling to cross that finish line after those 13.1 miles. I knew it was something I wanted to feel again, but I also knew I would enjoy a niiice solid break from training. 

And a niiice solid break is what I got. I ran a 5K here, a 5K there, but I think I could probably count on two hands the number of times that I ran in the 2 months following my half. So I did the only logical thing I could think of and signed up for another half, this one. I figured October was plenty far away, giving me plenty of time to train. 

That is, until August came around. And the 8 week mark hit. So I put those running shoes to use and hit the trails. Started with 4 miles, then 5, and hit 6 this past weekend. I usually try to pace myself, only jumping one mile per week. So why the sudden rapid increase? Well, for 2 of the now 7 weeks ahead of me, I won't be able to run :( I'm having a minor surgical procedure done today (prayers appreciated!), and will have stitches in my back for the next two weeks. 

So what does this mean for my half marathon training?

I'm at 6 miles today, and if the procedure goes as planned, I'll have stitches until September 5th. Then what? 

September 7th: Bubble Run 5K
September 22nd: She Is Beautiful 10K

In 5 and a half weeks, I'll go from 6 miles to 13.1. Do I expect to rock this half marathon? Nope. Do I expect it to be humbling? Yupp. 

Do I expect it to be fun? You bet. Do I expect to feel the same incredible feeling at the finish line, regardless of my time? Abso-freaking-lutely.
So this is where I'm at. Nervous, but excited. The times where I can't run always leave me remembering why I love it so much in the first place. And a little humility is good for the soul. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Deal of the Weekend

This weekend's deal comes from one of my favorite stores these days, Cotton On.

I found a skirt that I loved, that was only $15. Score, right? I take it up the register, where an employee kindly informs me that the skirts are 2 for $20 right now. And usually, I don't go for the whole buy ___ for ____ deals, but to get a gorgeous skirt for $5 more? Heck yes, I'm interested!

The super poor, colorless quality of these pictures do not do the skirts justice. The length? Modest, but not too long. The fit? Flowy and flattering. The colors? The floral print is so fun, and the navy is perfect for just about anything. 

And the best news? You can get this deal online, too!


Seeing as I am a passionate Cotton On shopper, I knew that they had a program raising money for Africa. I had bought the $1 bracelet that gives back towards the country, and had heard that the money goes towards getting clean water and providing other means of helping the communities there. 

I had no idea that this money was going towards Southern Uganda, and I probably never would have noticed had this place not just claimed a huge piece of my heart.

I love organizations that give back. And if I'm going to be spending money on clothes, I'm glad that it's going towards a company that has a heart for serving others!

Only in Santa Barbara - The Land Shark!

Happy Monday, friends! Hope you guys had fabulous weekends!

Not too long ago (or try a year ago), I started an "Only in Santa Barbara" topic on this here blog, a place to share all of the fun things to do around this neck of the woods beach. Well, I haven't been posting too much on that, but it's something I want to do more! Mainly to persuade all of you to come visit me. 

You may have already seen on Instagram (@sweethomesb), but I had myself a pretty fun Friday evening on the Land Shark. What is the Land Shark, you ask? Well, allow me to show you:

The Land Shark is a two hour long tour that ventures all over downtown Santa Barbara, and through Santa Barbara harbor. Is it a bus? Is it a boat? Well, whatever it is, it can serve as both. 

It's a great, fun outing for everybody. It's a huge hit with the college kids, because you are allowed to bring alcohol on board. A great activity for tourists who are looking for an exciting thing to do in town, and something that kids will enjoy, as you get to see all kinds of sea life!

We did this as a work event with our young employee networking organization, and it was a blast! We could bring guests, so about half the people were company affiliated, and half were guests (Oh heyy Madeleine, Niko & Kali!). Networking was definitely accomplished, along with a ton of fun!

Sooo, wanna come visit now? 

What did you do this weekend?

Friday, August 16, 2013

A little bit of Jonah for your day

Happy Friday!

Any post on a Friday, serious or not, deserves to start with that greeting. Am I right? 

It's been a jam packed week. There's been coffee dates, dinner dates, serious convos, not-so-serious convos, work outs, manicures (okay, just one). A little bit of everything. 

And it's been good, great even. But you know what there hasn't been a lot of? Me and Jesus time. I love starting and ending my days with the Lord, and even that didn't happen every day this week.

I'm starting to realize just how much Jesus time I need. I think the more on mission you get, the more alone time with the Lord you need. Because the fact of the matter is, you just can't be on mission without Christ. 

And guess what? We are all on mission. It doesn't matter if you're gearing up for a mission trip to Uganda, or if you're being on mission right in your home or in your workplace, 
if you love Jesus Christ then you are on mission for Him!
So if you don't feel like you're on mission, allow me to welcome you to the team. You are! You've been commissioned by Him the moment you surrendered your life to Him. And He is using you! Even if you don't feel it.

So as I come to a close this week, I am feeling the effect of my serious lack of Jesus time. I might not be showing it on the outside, but my inside is swimming with frustration and insecurity and selfishness. And those things, well they keep me from loving people the way that I want to, don't they? 

I prayed last night, asked God to fill me with His Spirit so that I would be able to pour out His love, but I woke up this morning still gripping those frustrations. Holding onto them for dear life, as if I could do something about them. 

But the fact is, I can't and I don't want to! I want to show the love of Christ. I want to help people feel valued and cared about. So those frustrations that root from, well, probably this, I want to surrender those to the Lord. Because I can't accomplish what I want to accomplish while holding onto them.

I walked out to my car to take a little breather. I scrolled through the Bible app on my phone, and randomly came to Jonah 2, where Jonah is praying from inside the whale. He is calling out to the Lord, confessing that He needs Him. That He's sinking beneath the waves (literally).

He prays for 9 verses, proclaiming out to God. And then, verse 10, so simple and so powerful. And so revealing of how our God works:

Then, the Lord ordered the fish to spit Jonah out onto the beach. 

  Boom. Just like that, our God was faithful to respond. Isn't He always working like that? Hearing our cries and rescuing us from whatever it is that we're facing? Whether it's the biggest issue we will ever face in our entire life, or simply a case of a frustrated heart.  
The Lord is faithful to respond.

So consider me freshly spit out of the fish, ready to have a good weekend. 

I hope you have one too! :)

Thursday, August 15, 2013

THAT Song, THAT Moment

It's here! It's here! The day that Leah and I have been super excited about for just over a week now. The THAT Song, THAT Moment link up! {If you want some more background, check it out here}

Worship is po-wer-ful. I can't even count the number of times it has brought me to my knees, tears streaming down my face, into a beautiful place of tangibly feeling God's love. That tangible feeling, that's what changes your heart, guys. 

The song I chose to share today has spoken to my heart so many times. When I first truly surrendered my life to Christ, still broken and bruised from an ended relationship, this song captivated me every time I heard it. 

No matter what I am facing, whether it's a broken heart, stress at work, fear of the future, confrontation, anything, Strong Enough by Matthew West speaks straight to my heart 
every. single. time. 

It reminds me that this thing called "life"? It wasn't meant to be done alone. 

Any trial that I face, no matter how big or small in relation to the world and others' problems, it matters to God. It all matters. 

And He will carry me through it all. 
every. single. time. 

What song speaks to you? Join in and share with us, will ya?


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Lara Bars

Before I get started, let me just say that this is not a sponsored post. LARABAR has no idea that I am even writing about them, I just love their bars that much that I want to devote an entire post to them.

True love, folks. True love. 


Back in April, I did 30 days with no sugar. And "no sugar" to me meant that I looked at the ingredients in everything I ate, and if I saw the word "sugar" or "honey" or "agave" or "maple syrup" or pretty much any name that I didn't understand, I put the item down. 

I was shocked to find that many of the things I considered to be healthy snacks, had sugar in them. Now, I'm not preaching that all forms of sugar are bad. I'm fully aware that some of them are better than others, but I wanted to take time away from it all to rid myself of that dang sweet tooth. 

LARABAR was pretty much the only bar that I could find without sugar. I've been hooked ever since. They are so good, that you don't even miss the sugar or honey or agave. 

When I was on vacation with my sister, I stocked up on bars for us to have for breakfast, dessert, snack, anything. I knew my sister was a picky eater, and pretty much sticks to only carbs, turning her nose to anything with color. But I was certain that she would love these bars. 

And love them, she did!

We had three different flavors:

The Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough and Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip bars did have sugar in them from the chocolate chips, but the Apple Pie bar? None!

And guess which one was my sister's favorite? (And mine too)

The Apple Pie bar! 

But seriously, they are all delicious. And they are all jam packed with natural, healthy ingredients.

If you haven't already, try one today! They have a ton of flavors, so be sure to let me know which one turns out to be your favorite!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Uganda - What am I doing there?

Good question! Now that you know how this happened, let's get into the good stuff. How will I be serving in Kisoro, Uganda?

Kisoro is in South Western Uganda, as is the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park:


The Bwindi National Park is home to half of the world's population of mountain gorillas.


Up until the 1990's, this forest was also home to an unreached people group called the Batwa (the pygmies, or "short people"). 


In the 1990's, the Batwa people were evicted from their homes by the government to provide refuge for the mountain gorillas. They moved from the jungle to Kisoro, where they have been struggling to adapt ever since. 

I will be partnering with local Ugandan believers to share the gospel, and serve the Batwa people. Our goal is to establish new churches where this group can enjoy fellowship, worship and community. I firmly believe that while on this trip, we will all come into a deeper understanding of who our amazing God truly is, and who He intended us to be. "We" includes the Batwa people, the existing Ugandan believers, and those of us traveling from the United States to serve. 

Because the fact of the matter is, no matter where we stand in our walk with the Lord, we all have a lot  to learn. 

I have no doubts that this will be a life changing experience for me, and it is my hope, that the people I am privileged to serve and serve with will also experience the life changing Spirit of our Heavenly Father. 

So how can you get involved?

If you feel it on your heart to get involved with what the Lord is doing in Kisoro and with the Batwa people, there are many ways for you to be a part of this!

First and foremost, you can pray. You can pray that the Lord's will would be done in these lives, that His incredible, powerful, unfailing love would become more real to these people each and every day. Starting today. 

Should you feel led to get involved with what the Lord is doing in my heart for Uganda, there are multiple ways that you can do this, as well. 

You can share. You can spread the word about what's going on in Kisoro, and how the Lord has called me there. You can blog it, tweet it, instagram it, facebook it, whatever your social media method of choice is, feel free to put this on blast. 

Go ahead and steal the button, if you want. I know we're told not to steal, but I think this is alright in God's book :)

Amy in Uganda
<a href="" target="_blank"><img src="" alt="Amy in Uganda" width="200" height="200" /></a>

And finally, if you are feeling called to give, then I will be blessed to receive whatever amount is on your heart. Every dollar counts, every dollar matters, and a dollar given in obedience to the Lord will bless you just as much as giving $100 will. 

If you're reading that thinking "Shoot dang, I am called to give!" then you can do so on my fundraising page

I want to take a moment to truly thank you all for how incredible you have been on this journey so far. You have been some of my biggest supporters, and I know it's because you see the Lord working in my life. It's not because you want Amy to go to Uganda, it's because you want Jesus to go to Uganda, and bring Amy along for the ride. 

Thank you for the encouragement. Thank you for the support. And really, just thank you for the love. 

I love you guys. I really, really do.