Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Confessions from a Runner

I love running, I really do. I love the feeling of pushing myself farther than I thought I could go. I love feeling the muscles in my body work together to push onward with each stride. And I love blasting worship music to remind me of Who gave me this healthy body to run with in the first place.

I love running. But lately, I haven't been in love with it.

{Sounds like I'm breaking up with it, huh?}

Maybe, it has to do with a lingering half marathon that I know I'm not nearly as prepared for as my last one. Maybe it has to do with some stitches that kept me off my feet for a while. Whatever it is, it has me dragging my feet before a run. It has me putting it off until tomorrow, or choosing to stay in bed juust a bit longer before I hit the trails. 

I've been off my game lately, and I'm not afraid to admit that. 

I wanted to write this out, because I know I'm not alone in this. I know I'm not the only person who has a love-hate relationship with running. Or working out at all, for that matter. I know I'm not the only one who can feel the discouragement of knowing I'm not as ________ (insert fast/strong/in shape/word of choice) as I used to be. 

But you know what? I learned something this past weekend. I was reminded that regardless of how fast I run, or how long I run for, or how good (or bad) I feel after the race, 
I still finish. I still achieve. I still accomplish. 

I stopped to walk during this past 10K. I haven't done that when running on my own since I was training for my first 10K back in February. It was kind of this daunting thing hanging over me, I knew it would eventually happen. I knew I would one day have to stop and walk during a run, but I didn't know how I would feel. Would I be upset? Would I be discouraged? 

Well, I don't have to wonder anymore. It happened on Sunday, while running up one of the bigger hills. It was time, it was time to stop and walk. "Is this it? Am I done running?" I thought to myself. I knew it wasn't, but I think I just had to ask myself. I just had to remind myself that no, this isn't it. Yes, it's okay to stop and walk. 

I stopped to walk one other time before crossing that finish line. And you know what? That's okay! I only took 6 extra minutes from my last 10K, but really, that doesn't matter. Even if I had doubled my time, I still would have finished feeling like a champion. 

That's how running works, it's a journey.  Some days you kill it, and some days you don't. But every time you get out there and run? 
You finish. You achieve. You accomplish.

Photographed by Kevin Steele

Monday, September 23, 2013

She Is Beautiful 10K

Wayy back in June, I wrote a post for She Is Beautiful. The race was this weekend, and I could not be more excited to write this review. It's easy to write a review when you have literally only amazing things to say. 

That picture, right there, sums up the race for me. The course was gor. geous. I have run a lot of races this year, and this race was by far the most beautiful one I have ever done. The entire time I could not stop thinking about how lucky I am to live here. 

Do you see all of those women? This race was just for women. It's meant to be empowering, to remind all of us just how strong and beautiful we really are. And that's exactly what it did. It didn't matter how fast we ran the race, we all crossed that finish line feeling like winners. 

The one thing that picture doesn't show is all of the motivational signs that were along the course. It made it impossible to be in anything but an amazing mood as powerful sayings were in sight at every turn. 

And it wasn't only the race that was fantastic, but the packet-pick up party and starting line were rocking too. The starting line even has a photo booth that we absolutely took advantage of. 

Thank you so much She Is Beautiful, for such a fantastic race experience! We will absolutely be back around next year!

Have yourself a fantastic Monday, beautiful! :)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

5 People I Can't Wait to Meet at Influence!

So, you probably already know that I'm going to Influence Conference next week. And, you probably already know that I'm crazy excited to meet so many of my closest blog friends 

But today, I want to showcase 5 peeps that I am especially excited to meet. Why am I excited to meet these gorgeous ladies? Because in my 2+ years of blogging, they have each poured into me a whole lot. They've shared wisdom, encouraged me, supported me, and spurred me on. And I can't wait to hug em' IN REAL LIFE. Yeah, it deserves to be in CAPS again.

So in no particular order, I give you 

5 People I Can't Wait to Meet at Influence!

One // Annie from What She Saw

Annie will be picking me up from the airport, and she is already braced for the hug that is awaiting her. The two of us will be road-tripping from Chicago to Indy, and will be bringing ourselves straight on back after the conference for some #chicagodoublea* action.

*See what I did there?

Two // Kerrie from The Williams Post
 Words cannot express how much this girl has influenced me. The first few posts I ever wrote about Jesus were for her link up. I figured I could devote one day a week to getting outside of my comfort zone, into that scary place of mentioning the word "Jesus" on my blog. 
It's crazy to remember how much the Lord has grown me since starting this blog. I really did used to be afraid of saying things like "Jesus" or "Holy Spirit," and now those words seem to fearlessly flow off my tongue. I'm thankful for that, that the Lord has helped me see that often times, the things I'm afraid of aren't so scary after all. 
Kerrie's blog inspired me. Her link ups gave me the push I needed to start talking about what the Lord was doing in my life. And her friendship has never ceased to bless me off the charts. 
Sooo basically, yeah, I'm pretty excited to meet this girl. :)
 Three // Erin from Sweetness Itself
 This girl has an incredibly beautiful heart that inspires me so darn much. Being a fellow Southern California girl, I'm sure we could talk for hours about In N Out and the traffic on the 405 freeway and Reality and how gosh darn lucky we are to live here.

Her passion for purity gave me the courage to write about my own heart for purity, and I can't wait to talk to this lovely lady more about this topic. 
Four // Katie from Unfading Grace
 This girl always blesses me with the sweetest encouragement. I am so excited to hug her in person, and I just know that we will have the best conversations. I can't wait to hear more about her family, I feel like I learn so much about marriage and parenthood from reading her honest and beautiful posts.

Five // Courtney from Splendid Actually
 Courtney has the sweetest spirit, one that I know will just be so contagious in person. We've been social media friends for quite some time now, covering all of our bases with blogs, twitter & instagram. It's most definitely time to take this friendship to the next level, sealing the deal with an in person hug. 
And I can. not. wait!

There are sooo many others that I'm dying to meet, but just wanted to give a special shout out to some women who have greatly encouraged, blessed and just plain old loved on me over the last few years. 
Happy Humpday!

Monday, September 16, 2013


Today, I want to talk about church. This post has been brewing in my heart for a while, and it may be just the tip of the iceberg that is my passionate heart for this subject. I really have no idea where this will go, but for now, I take a deep breath, say a prayer, and write. 



It's one single word, and yet it can carry so many different meanings. For me, it means family. It means a safe place to come and worship the Lord with an incredible body of believers consisting of people who have truly become my brothers and my sisters. It means a place to come and meet my Father, a place where I can always find His presence, His grace and His love. 

For some, it means the same. And I rejoice in that. But I also know that for some, that word carries pain. For some, that word brings up feelings of condemnation and shame. For some, the word "church" is associated with people full of judgement and hypocrisy. For some, the word simply means a weekly obligation. An item to check off the checklist, and little more. 

Today, I want to invite you to ponder what you feel when you think of the word "church." I want to tell you that your feelings are valid. Your feelings are valid because I don't doubt that they come from legitimate experience. I don't doubt that some churches are filled with judgement and hypocrisy. I don't doubt that some churches do treat the Sunday message as an item to check off the weekly checklist. And if you have been a part of those congregations, or if you have simply witnessed them from afar, then I understand your feelings on church.

The fact of the matter is, the church is made up of us. So what does that mean, exactly? It means that the church is going to be a representation of the people that make up the body. If the people in the body are filled with judgement and hypocrisy, then you, as a member will feel judgement and hypocrisy. If the people in the body simply view Sunday service as nothing more than an item on a checklist, then you, as a member, will perceive that. And if the people in the body are filled with the Holy Spirit, then you, as a member will absolutely feel that, too. 

But what's important to remember is that we are all sinners. Jesus loves the church. He died for the church (Ephesians 5: 25-26). But with our human free will, we are perfectly capable of taking something God created with such beauty, and turning it into something it's just not. 

You know what else though? With truly surrendering our lives to God, we are perfectly capable of taking the church and turning it into exactly what God created it to be. A place to come and worship the Lord, to hear from the Lord, and a place to love on and be loved by our brothers and sisters. 

You know when my life changed? It changed when I stopped looking at the leaders of my church as people who were far above me, and started realizing that they were people just like me. It changed when I realized that the holiness that I craved in their lives could be a part of my life, too. I saw that church wasn't just church for them, it was a family. And I desperately wanted that, so I began serving as a member, and lo' and behold, the body turned into a family for me, too.

Church is important. Yes, a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is key. Yes, that is where your salvation comes from, and that is the most important thing on this earth. But a life without community is a lonely life, indeed. And God blessed us with church as a way for us to come together and endure in this marathon called life together. 

Friends, if you have had a negative experience with church, then I highly encourage you to try again. It may take time to find the one that's right for you, but I promise you it's out there. The church needs you.  You are one of the many parts. You have a special function. You were created to be a part of this beautiful body of believers. There is brokenness in the body, that's for sure. But lucky for us, we have a Savior who's grace covers all of our brokenness. 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Least of These Jewelry

It's finally Fridayyyy! This week has felt so dang long to me, but hooray for the weekend!

Today, I am so excited to introduce my lovely friend Natalie's new etsy shop, 

I've known Natalie for just over a year now, and I am so blessed by this friendship. Her kindness and generosity inspire me and bless me on the reg. I am so excited to watch all of the amazing things that the Lord does with this beauty's life. 

Not only does this girl have an amazing heart, but she is incredibly talented as well! She recently started putting all of the sea glass that washes up on the Santa Barbara shore to not just good use, but great use. See for yourself!

The Lord has put it on Natalie's heart to use her talent to help raise support for my Uganda trip. She is donating not 10%, not 20%, but 100% of all profit towards my trip. I have been blown away by this, and words can't even express how much she has blessed me. 

If you have some time, head on over to her etsy shop to take a look at these gorgeous necklaces. I know you will love them as much as I do! :)

And one more time, happppy Friday!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Work in Progress

Yesterday was a busy day. It was just that, busy. Work was busy. And after work was even busier. It was a day that turned this extrovert into an introvert, finding myself cancelling some plans and walking through a significant portion of the day in a daze. 

I needed Jesus. I just did, and I'm not afraid to admit that. The Lord was so faithful to meet me in my busyness. To meet me in the few quiet moments in my car, and to meet me in the middle of my work day, with the craziness of my office surrounding me. I love how He does that, He just never fails to show up when you need Him. 

It was in one of the moments in my car that He directed me to this verse:

Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like Him.
// Colossians 3:10 //

This verse spoke to me, man. It just screamed to me that there is no such thing as being "good enough" at walking in our faith. It's all about being a constant work in progress, surrendering your life up to the Lord right where you're at, and asking Him to bring you closer to where He wants you to be. 


Do you know what renew means? It means to resume (an activity) after an interruption (according to Google). That means that we are called to constantly resume the activity of putting on our new nature.  
No, it doesn't come naturally to us! Yes, we get interrupted. Every. Single. Day. 
But as we bring ourselves to Jesus, He faithfully renews us. Every. Single. Day. 

LEARN to know your Creator. 

We have to learn to know God. Learn, which means to gain or acquire knowledge by study, experience, or being taught (again, thank you Google). This means that it is not innate for us to know God. It is innate for us to know about Him. We see evidence of His creation everywhere we look. The majority of people on this earth would say that they know there is a God. 

But to truly know God, we have to learn to know God. We can do this by studying, such as studying His character to identify what is and is not God's voice. We can do this from experience, learning from our mistakes, and learning from our successes in identifying Him in our lives. And we can do this by being taught, perhaps on Sundays at a corporate church message, or in a more intimate setting with a mentor or a friend. 

If we open our hearts to learning to know Him, He will be faithful to reveal Himself

BECOME like Him. 

According to Google, become means to begin to be.  This verse doesn't tell us to be like God. It tells us to begin to be like God. It's a process! It always is, one that we won't ever reach the end of until the end of our days. But one that we are called to begin right now

This verse, Colossians 3:10, is so powerful. It sums up the Christian lifestyle so perfectly, and it is not just a coincidence that the phrases are listed in this order. Before we can become like God, we have to learn to know Him. How can we be imitators of someone that we don't truly know? And before we can learn to know Him, we have to surrender our hearts to be renewed

In the midst of my busy day, this verse spoke such truth into my heart. It reminded me that this Christian walk is very much a process. 

A process of constant renewal
A process of constant learning
And a process of constantly enduring in the beautiful opportunity 
to begin to be like God. 

Where ever you find yourself in that process today, keep fighting. Keep pushing on. Keep surrendering that beautiful heart of yours to the King of kings. Because watching as your heart begins to be like that of our Father's? Well, there's just nothing like that in this world. 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Influence Link Up!

Today I am so excited to be linking up with my fellow Influence Conference attendees! I have been looking forward to this since I was commenting on everyone's posts last year saying "I wish I was there!!" Can't believe it's finally almost time to meet all of these incredible ladies who I feel like I already know in real life!

If we haven't already met yet, hello! I'm Amy. 

I'm a southern California girl who most commonly blogs about Jesus, fashion and running, and who only photographs at the highest quality provided by an iPhone. 
Oh, and I cannot wait to meet you!

Speaking of the conference, let's talk about the 
2 things that I will for sure have packed in my bag:

Well, the first 2 items would definitely be my Bible and my journal, but next on the list is my brand spankin' new Erin Condren life planner.

You may have already read all about my obsession yesterday, but in case you missed it, feel free to see more pics and gushing over here

Next would be my Sweet Home SB business cards that I made specifically for this occasion!

These bad boys have been ready to go, right in my purse ever since I got them in the mail. You might call that being prepared, but really it's just because I would forget to pack them. 

Kind of like I forgot to put my own name on my business cards. {Feel free to laugh}

But let's be real, it totally looks like I meant to add the personalized touch of a signature. ;)

Next, let's chat about the 2 things that I am most excited for

First and foremost is meeting so many of my closest blog friends. All in one place, at one time. I don't think it can get much better than that!

And second would definitely be the learning. Call me a textbook nerd, but I love learning. When you combine that love of learning with learning about Jesus? Well, I'll say it one more time, I don't think it can get much better than that!

Usually, I'm asking time to slow down. But I'm all for the next 2 weeks flying by. 

Happy Tuesday!

Erin Condren Life Planner

I have always been a paper planner kinda gal. I remember wayy back in elementary school, getting excited over the free agendas that they would give us. And in high school and college, writing down my work/school schedule and color coordinating all of my various events was one of my favorite pastimes. 

Go ahead, call me a planner nerd. I embrace it. 

So imagine my excitement when I saw these amazing Erin Condren life planners. I saw my sweet friend Caitlin's review, and just knew this was a match made in heaven for me. So to the website I went, the order was placed, and a couple weeks later I was ecstatic to receive this at my doorstep:

It's perfect. Everything I could hope for, complete with colorful stickers and inspirational quotes. Because who doesn't need those? 

I could not recommend Erin Condren more. Consider me happily set for 18 months of handwritten planning. It's a happy Monday, indeed!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Keep Walking

On Tuesday mornings, I drive to my good friend Tabitha's house for our Stuck Bible study. Seeing as I've been driving to her house for quite some time now, and seem to find myself there multiple times a week these days, I've got it down pat. I could probably drive there with my eyes closed, and I know the parking sitch pretty well. 

Tuesday mornings at 6:30AM seem to be a pretty difficult time to find parking. Seeing as most people are still in bed, it would make sense that their cars are still lining the streets. I usually can't find parking as close as I typically do, but welcome the added exercise of a briskly paced walk (since I'm usually running late). 

This past Tuesday, I was pleasantly surprised to find a pretty good spot. I had a celebratory dance in my mind as I rocked the shiz out of that parallel parking job. I grabbed my purse, my breakfast, my Bible and my study, and heading towards Tab's apartment complex. 

As I walked, I passed one closer spot. "Wow! Another good one!" I thought to myself. I kept walking only to find another, even closer spot. It was right about then that I realized the message that God was showing me. And no, it had nothing to do with parking. 

I based my decision on sight and knowledge, not on faith. I saw the spot in front of me, and it seemed like a good one. I knew from prior weeks that it was much better than my usual Tuesday, 6:30AM parking spot. So I took it, deciding it was good enough for me. And even though I couldn't see ahead of me, I assumed this was my best option. 

How often do I do that in real life? How often do I base my daily decisions on what I see, and what I know? How often do I miss out on the better things that God has for me, because I'm subconsciously believing He is limited by what I see. 

We are called to walk by faith, right? 

For we live by believing and not by seeing. (2 Corinthians 5:7)

It was a simple, yet profound lesson. As someone who doesn't often hear explicitly from God, I was hearing Him loud and clear. Did it matter that I was walking a few extra feet? No. But does it matter when the decisions I'm making aren't where to park, but things that seriously affect my life? You bet. 

From now on, I'm going to try and consciously walk by faith instead of sight. Because the fact of the matter is, I couldn't even possibly dream up the future that God has for me. So why would I limit my decisions based on what I see now, when He sees everything. He sees all the possible options, and because He's a good and loving Father, He wants to give me the best one. 

And guess what? He wants to give you the best one, too. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Financial analyst by day

So I seem to have developed myself an "About Me" slogan. You can find it on Facebook, or Twitter, or on this here blog.  

"Financial analyst by day, blogger by night. And Jesus freak 24/7." 
Sums me up pretty darn well.  

I've blogged a little bit here and there about my job, but mainly just about how it found me. I thought today I'd go into a little more detail on what exactly this "financial analyst" side of me does. 9 hours a day. 4-5 days a week. 

(If you're confused on that schedule, check out this post)

Growing up, I always wanted to be a teacher. Ever since elementary school, all the way up through the middle of college, that was the plan. In elementary school, I wanted to teach elementary school. In middle school, I wanted to teach middle school English. And in high school, I wanted to teach high school math. 

English was always my thing. I wrote poems, stories, scripts, journals, everything. My mom had been a math major (at UCSB, too!), and for that reason, she always kept me working on my math skills. Even as I was glued to the Diary of Anne Frank in middle school and getting a deficiency notice in pre-algebra (yupp, that happened), she pushed me in math. 

And thank goodness she did, because when it clicked, it clicked. I'm a stubborn wanna-be perfectionist, and when they opened up the honors algebra II/trigonometry class to anyone who wanted to try it, I jumped on board. Even when my counselors advised against it, I pushed through. And lo' and behold, I fell in love with math. Took 2 years of calculus before graduating high school, and bam. My dreams of becoming an English teacher turned into dreams of becoming a math teacher. 

Fast forward to the middle of college when my path changed. To keep this post from becoming an essay (already well on its way), I'll skip the minor details, and just say that I developed an interest in business. Corporate America was flirting with me, and I was definitely interested. 

And as you probably know, I've been in Corporate America ever since graduating in March of 2011. Here I am, on job #2, and still loving it. Will I be here forever? No clue. I'll be here for as long as God wants it.

So what does a financial analyst do? Well, I would imagine that we are all slightly different. Depending on the company, and depending on your particular focus. I work for a large engineering company. There are different branches of finance within our company, and my particular team is called the Financial Planning & Analysis team, or FP&A.

Our team's job is to analyze and keep track of the financial metrics for our division of the company. What are financial metrics? Bookings, sales, profit and cash. My focus is bookings, which I find super interesting because it's all of the future business that we are hoping to bring in. 

Being in a large, public, corporate company, we are given goals for the amount of dollars we must bring in with these various metrics each year. It is my job to help make sure that we meet those goals, and I am extremely privileged to work on a team with incredibly intelligent and successful men and women that make that possible.  

So now that you have an idea of what I do, I thought I would see if you have any questions! Could be about work, could be about getting a job after college, could be about what to do in college to prepare yourself for the workplace. I know a lot of you guys are either in college, or young professionals like meee. So if you have any questions, feel free to throw em' out there. 

Happy Humpday!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Are YOU on Facebook?

Cause Sweet Home SB is!

If Facebook is your way of staying connected, you can now find this little ol' blog over in your neck of the woods! My hope is that this page would become more than just a place to find links to blog posts, but a place for us to connect, too!

I'd love to use this to ask you guys questions, get your feedback, find out more about YOU! And ideally, it'd be awesome if you guys can connect with each other, too. 

So if you are a FB pro, you know where to find me :)


A Beautiful, Laborless, Santa Barbara Day

I hope you had a wonderful and laborless Labor Day! I spent mine on a boat, sailing around gorgeous Santa Barbara with some of my favorite people. 

Not too shabby, not too shabby at all. 

Can you guess which of the above pics were taken with Madeleine's super cool and professional camera, and which were taken with my iPhone? 

Yeah, I couldn't tell the difference either. 
(Remind me to put "Invest in a big girl camera" on the 2014 Bucket List)

I spent the day staring at my beautiful home, and wondering how on earth I got lucky enough to live here. 

I also spent it screeching with joy at every animal that we saw. 

Thank you, God, for making this world such a beautiful and incredible place to be.