Monday, December 29, 2014

2014 Year In Review

2014 was hands down the best year of my life. Pretttyyy safe to say that I'm stoked to relive it. Although, remind me again how it's already this time of year? 

<< January: January 1st, I left San Diego bright and early to pack up and move to a brand spankin' new apartment. I've never been more thankful for good friends than when some were willing to wake up early on New Years Day to help me move. I spent half the month in Kisoro, Uganda, on both my first mission trip and first time out of the country. Most definitely returned changed, and just in time for our housewarming party. >>

<< February: Watched the winter Olympics opening ceremony in style, and started the Beth Moore Breaking Free Bible study (aaaamazing). Spent lots of time with my wonderful girlfriends, hosting multiple Valentine's Day celebrations. Saw Frozen for the first time (game changer), and wrote one of my favorite posts about love languages, and how they relate to God. >>

<< March: Ran the Girl on Fire 10K (gorgeous local race), and spent a weekend camping with the family. Enjoyed gorgeous Santa Barbara, and had a spectacular weekend in Palm Springs at my childhood bestie's bachelorette party! Also, wrote a post about the moment mercy found me, my favorite story to tell. >>

<< April: Heard some powerful truth at the Catalyst church conference, and had a blast running through a vineyard at the Vines Into Water 5K. Celebrated Passover with a local church body, and enjoyed some classy Easter festivities with friends. Wrote a post about the ripple effect, which I still praise the Lord for each time I see my sister proudly rocking glasses. >>

<< May: Was blessed to meet Francis Chan at a free local church event (say whaaa?), and was in my first wedding, which I loved! Not only did I get to celebrate my best friend marrying her dream man, but I happened to walk out with a dream man of my own. ;) Though this month was quite magical, I can't ignore a local tragedy Santa Barbara faced when a shooting took 6 lives in our college town of Isla Vista. Those lives are dearly missed, and will be forever remembered. >>

<< June: After 3 weeks of texting, snap-chatting, and late night phone calls, I made my way up to Northern California for an official date with my sweet PJ. It was a dreamy first date, and I left with confirmation that this wedding crasher was now indeed my boyfriend. Celebrated my birthday surrounded with loved ones, and praised God for an entire year of sobriety! Some favorite posts from this month were on conflict, and the story of how PJ and I met. >>

<< July: Spent 4th of July at home in San Diego, and surprised my roommate with a Brad Paisley bachelorette party. Was rocked at Jesus Culture conference, and had one of the most incredible experiences of my life getting to share my testimony on Sunday, July 20th. I didn't blog much this month, but I did share a sweet story of God's faithfulness. >>

<< August: Was privileged to stand beside my roommate in her wedding, and got into seminary school! Visited the wonderful Kerrie in Tex/Mex, and celebrated Labor Day up in Northern California with the Peej. Also, wrote a post on purity, a topic that's suuuper close to my heart. >>

<< September: Had a blast at Women of Faith, and at the wedding of PJ's best friend. Ran the She Is Beautiful 10K for the second time, and officially started seminary school! >>

<< October: Had our second annual Reed Sister Vaycay with a San Diego staycation, and surprised PJ with tickets to see Luke Bryan and Lee Brice. Went all out with fall festivities at our house, The Hideaway, and brought my roomie up north for halloween weekend! >>

<< November: Kicked off the month with a visit to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and had a magical time at Disneyland later in the month. Continued trekking through Leviticus for my seminary class, and for the first time, enjoyed two Thanksgiving dinners! One with my family, and one with PJ's. Perfect holiday weekend. :) >>

<< December: Finished my seminary class!! And ran my second half marathon of the year, perfectly timed to celebrate the engagement of my best friend. Started getting back in the blogging groove with a post on people pleasing, and on why I write. Enjoyed multiple holiday parties, and celebrated Christmas at home with my family. >>

Such a magical, wonderful, dreamy year. So many big life events packed into 12 months: going to Africa, starting seminary school, falling in love. I close out this year feeling soooo utterly thankful, and thoroughly excited to see what 2015 has in store. 

Happy New Year, friends! Love you all. 

** Previous years in review: 2013, 2012 **

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Why I Write

I started this blog just months after completing college, a fresh new member of the full time workforce with a crisp diploma in hand. I had been a regular blog stalker reader for months, and it had taken me that long to create one of my own. 

I started blogging as a hobby, a means of documenting these years that I was certain would be worth remembering. They were, but maybe not for what I had initially expected. Maybe it wasn't the wine nights, the weekend escapades, or the dinner recipes that I was documenting. Maybe it was something much more than that, something that isn't as evident in a single blog post, as it is witnessed in the collection of entries as a whole. 

You see, 5 months after starting this blog, I stood hungover in a college gymnasium and surrendered my entire life to Jesus. 5 months after starting this blog, my entire life changed in a single instant. I may not have known it at the moment, but in hindsight, it's evidence is undeniable. And fortunately, I continued documenting the years with little understanding of how pivotal they truly were. 

Over my 3 and a half years of blogging (say whaaa?), this past year has been noticeably quiet. Ironically, the hands down best year of my life has had the least documentation. Perhaps living and creating memories overtook the documenting of them. 

Though it's been refreshing to remind myself that documentation is not a requirement for importance, blogging has also been dearly missed. There's a part of my heart that aches to write out the events, the lessons, the dreams, and the laughs. There's a part of my heart that is incredibly passionate about the documentation and the sharing, even with recognizing that both of which aren't mandatory. A life doesn't have to be shared with social media to be well lived. 

That being said, I'm recognizing that this girl enjoys sharing her life. This girl enjoys documenting, and it will be a 2015 goal of mine to return to this space more regularly. 

But before I can do that, I think it's important to ask myself a very important question:

Why do I write? Why do I share? Why do I document? 

This blog began as a means of simply sharing life, and while there is absolutely beauty in that, I can't say that remains the purpose today. Yes, I want to share my life, but with the hopes that it shines light on something more. 

I write because I want to see God known. I write because I want the world to know about His unfailing love, His unending grace, and His abiding friendship. I write because I want His story to be shown through mine. I write because with every fiber of my being, I believe that His love changes lives. I write because it changed mine. 

I share because I find Him in the details, and it's my hope and my prayer that you do, too. 

I hope you have a very merry Christmas, loves! If you've stuck around through this quiet year, thank you. :)

Friday, December 19, 2014

What I Learned

10 weeks ago, I started a journey called #amydoesseminary. 

70 days were spent reading through the book of Leviticus, and I'd like to think I walked out different than when I walked in. 

I signed up for the class as a fluke, testing to see if any classes were still open. I had probably tried about 6 other classes before typing in the code for Leviticus, and when I saw I got in, I immediately dropped the course. I didn't have any interest in trudging through the book of the law, but after reading the description and the requirements, I realized my mistake. I had to call and get a one-time-only exception to re-add the course I had dropped, and as I snagged the last remaining spot, thus began my study of Leviticus. 

I learned a lot in these past 10 weeks. The girl who thrived under the pressure of school all of her life suddenly found herself overwhelmed with stress. It didn't make any logical sense; I enjoyed what I was studying, only had one course load to manage, understood the material, and typically enjoyed writing about scripture. So why the unexpected anxiety? 

I don't know if there's a clear answer, but here's what I do know: I'm thankful for that stress. I'm thankful that it forced me to take some deep breaths, and completely sift through everything I've ever believed about school. I had to ask myself, why am I doing this? Am I doing it to get straight A's? Or am I doing it to learn? There was never any doubt that the answer was the later, so I was forced to reframe what my 25 year old mind has always believed about success. 

You see, my entire life I measured success by the outcome. A successful course received a good grade; it didn't matter how long I retained the information so long as my report card displayed 'success.' Seminary school has brought me to a new measurement style.

Am I learning? If the answer is yes, then I'm doing what I'm supposed to. If the answer is yes, then I've got myself success. 

So now let's ask the question: did I learn something? Besides some personal growth, did I learn anything biblically? 


I had read Leviticus before, multiple times in fact. But though I had read it, I had really only skimmed it. I had really only read out of obedience, rather than seeking to learn something

This time was different. Perhaps it was essays and homework assignments that forced me to go deeper, or perhaps it was the aid of some incredibly insightful and wise commentaries {it was definitely both}, but either way, this time I learned more than just how to obediently read scripture that doesn't appear applicable anymore.

This time, I gained a deeper understanding of the beauty and necessity of the law. You know that statement of Jesus', "I didn't come to abolish the law, I came to fulfill it?" I get it now. 

I get that the law was given out of love. I knew that before, but now I understand it. Funny how there can be a big difference, right? Between knowing something, and understanding it. Now, I understand that the law was designed to protect what God designed for good. God designed man to live in harmony with all the earth, rule over its inhabitants for their protection, and enjoy fellowship with the one and only God. 

So when you read laws about agriculture and farming? It's so that man can live in harmony with all the earth. And when you read laws about dietary restraints? It's so that man can rule over the animal kingdom for their protection, not for their harm. And when you read laws about maintaining holiness? It's so that man can enjoy fellowship with a holy God. 

How frustrating is it to be forced to follow a law that doesn't make sense? (Speed limits and red lights when there is no one else on the road, anyone?) It can spark a reluctant and rebellious heart, that's for sure. Understanding the meaning and intention behind the law changes everything. It illuminates the fact that our God is worth obeying because He loves us, not because He is a distant tyrant. 

To close out this post, I want to say a giant thank you. Thank you to everyone who read one of my (multiple) SOS PRAYER posts on Instagram, and prayed. In the moments where I was desperate enough to publicize my melt downs, those prayers were game changers. 

You guys are all game changers, though. I hope you know that. I started this blog in quite possibly the most distant position I had ever been from God, and somehow, He met me in this space. So from the very bottom of my heart, thank you for being a part of it. 

If you obey my decrees and my regulations, 
you will find life through them
I am the Lord. 

Leviticus 18:5

Monday, December 8, 2014

Thoughts on People Pleasing

About 4 weeks ago, I walked into a chiropractor's office with complaints of shoulder pain, and walked out with the diagnosis of a partially dislocated shoulder, along with x-rays revealing a nonexistent lumbar curve, and a whiplashed neck. Talk about the trifecta, right? 

I had no idea that I had any lower back or neck issues. Whatever caused them most likely happened years ago, and my body started compensating as necessary. I didn't feel any serious pain, and any symptoms I may have had went unnoticed. So when I started going to the chiropractor 3 times a week to get these things fixed, I got a few "but you don't have any pain? why don't you wait until you know there's an issue?"

The thing is, sure, my body could continue compensating for these things for a loooong time. These issues could remain hidden for who knows? 10, 20 years? 

But do I really want to wait until I have surging pain to treat the problem? Nooo sir-ee. I do not. 

So how come I so often do that with issues of my heart? 

A post this long definitely requires some fun pictures. So I'm gonna throw in the documentation from our 1920's speakeasy holiday party, and we'll just pretend they totally correlate to the post, mmmkay?

I'm so thankful that just like there are chiropractors committed to refining the spine, there's a God committed to refining His children. 

|| And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue His work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. ||

Philippians 1:6

|| For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him. ||

Philippians 2:13

Recently, God has been doing a whole lotta work on this heart of mine. Seminary school has been the biggest blessing, hands down. But you know what else it's been? Stressful. 

My reaction to the stress acted kind of like my shoulder pain; I couldn't pin point exactly what was causing it, but it absolutely alerted me that something was off. I knew I needed a check up, except instead of a chiropractor, this one required the Big Man upstairs. 

Just like I walked out of the chiropractor's office with a list of things needin fixin, I started noticing a similar list with my heart. Perfectionism, procrastination, these things that didn't show themselves too prominently without the pressure of school. But add deadlines, reading requirements, and essays to the equation? Let's just say I had myself some serious symptoms.

As I asked God to sort through this messy heart of mine, I started noticing some other things. I guess tracing an issue to its source will do that to you, like reaching for a necklace and finding it's tangled to another. 

Something I found? People-pleasing. 

Can I confess something though? I secretly hate the term 'people-pleasing'. I try not to use it for myself, cause if I'm being 100% brutally honest, that doesn't accurately describe what I struggle with. That's what our society calls it, but for me, it's just painting a deep sin in a prettier color. It's appearing others-focused, when really, my issue is wrapped in a buncha self-centered thinking. 

God recently took a big ol' spot light and shined it on this area of struggle for me. For the first time in a long time ever, I started myself some tough questions. And this process He's got me in? It's one that I want to document. Maybe for you who are struggling with people-pleasing too; but really, for me. Because oh how easily I forget. 

When I want to jump and offer to help, I stop and think: am i offering to serve with a genuine heart? or am i offering to serve to feel liked, valued and appreciated? 

When I'm trying to make a difficult decision, and I want to ask a friend's opinion: am i genuinely wanting advice? would i realistically change my mind based on another's opinion? or do i want to feel validated, and approved? 

I'm writing this post after 48 hours of asking those questions, and the result? Serious liberation. I've noticed that as I weed out the "people-pleasing" that is rooted in insecurity, I'm able to truly please people with genuine love. I'm able to discern when my motives are in the right place, and it makes the world of a difference. 

Most importantly, I'm able to identify the root of this "people-pleasing" habit I've formed. I'm able to clearly see that it all boils down to misplaced identity, finding my worth in feeling liked, appreciated, validated and approved by others. Instead, I want to recognize that I am liked by God, appreciated by God, validated through Christ's sacrifice, and approved by the Father, because of the Son's love

Thank you, Jesus, that just like a chiropractor won't leave a spine misaligned, neither will you leave a heart in the condition you found it.