Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Bug Spray

So there it was, the day I was leaving for Africa. How often in your life can you say that? "Today, I'm getting on a plane, and flying to Africa." I'm fairly certain I said Africa at least 348 times that week, because I could. {And judging by the amount of times I've used it so far, I'm still going.}

Something in me would light up every time I said it. Light up from praising our amazing God who by no means needed to send me on this trip, but for whatever reason, He was doing just that. That's just so like Him, isn't it? He gets a kick out of writing these fantastic testimonies and life stories for us, because He loves us that much. 

I woke up to a beautiful Santa Barbara day, got my bags together, got one last Starbucks to meet with a friend, and hit the road. That 3 hour drive from Santa Barbara to San Diego was full of "pinch me" moments. Screaming worship lyrics, busting out dance moves, doing as much praising as one can do while driving along the gorgeous 101. 

Being able to spend time with my family both immediately before and after the trip was a real blessing. I'm so thankful that they were able to drop me off at the airport. This was a journey for all of us, really. It was scary for them watching their first born go off on a trip across the world with people they didn't know. It was scary as heck, but they loved me through it. And I'm thankful for that. 

I walked into that airport with all the joy and excitement in the world. Probably dropped another 5 "Africa" bombs between check in and security. Somewhere between taking off my shoes and my watch, it occurred to me that I should check for large liquids in my carry on.  Which would have been a great and responsible realization, if I hadn't juuust sent my checked bag away for the plane. First pocket: clear. Second pocket: clear. Third pocket: a giant bottle of bug spray. So over the 3.4 ounce limit. 

This time, it wasn't exactly an "Africa" bomb that fell from my lips. {mah bad}

I had to think quick. The thought of running to catch my luggage definitely crossed my mind, but I knew it was gone. I threw the bug spray away, lugged my bag back onto the security check, and walked through the magnetic tester. 

I had made it through my entire prayer night without crying {shocking}, but the bug spray did it. The tears welled up from the moment I was cleared to proceed with my carry on. I found my gate, grabbed a seat, and let the tears flow. Crying is totally acceptable in an airport, right?

It wasn't really about the bug spray. Well, okay, maybe it was a little about the bug spray. {Mosquitos love me}. But it was more than that, too. It was fear. And it was heavy. 

So I did the 2 things that I do best. I texted friends {please pray for supernatural bug spray!}, and I got out my journal and wrote. 

{January 8, 2013 // 7:55pm}

God, truth be told, I am terrified of not being prepared. I am afraid of letting you down because of my procrastination, or forgetfulness. But as I sit here, awkwardly crying at the airport, I'm reminded that Your grace is sufficient for me. And your strength is made perfect in my weakness. 

2 Corinthians 12:9

Cover me, God. I know you are big enough to. Cover me, and don't let the bugs bite me. 

I'm thankful for the bug spray incident. Because in a crucial moment, it reminded me that I can't possibly mess up His plan with grace as big as His. 

{And spoiler alert: I didn't get malaria.}

Monday, January 27, 2014

The Prayer Night

Two days before I left, I held a prayer night at our brand spankin' new house. Friends from all different areas of my life piled in, first divided into sub groups of who-knows-who, and eventually settling into one giant circle in our living room. I started setting the tone for prayer, when a dear friend politely interjected. She had heard a word from God as she walked up to our door, a word that led her to suggest that before we pray, the group took the opportunity to fill me up. To fill me up full of love and affirmation, so that I could take it with me to pour out all over Kisoro, Uganda. 

And so it began, each person took some time to share how I have impacted their lives. Some who I have known for years now, and others for just a few months. There were some of the kindest, most meaningful compliments ever given to me said in that circle. And some of the most beautiful, genuine tears shed. 

I can't quite explain the feeling that came over me. Not a single tear fell from this cry baby over here, and I think it was because a significant part of me was quite literally in shock. All I could do was praise God, because I knew that only He was responsible for everything that was taking place. 

I have never felt more full of love than on that night. And my friends, that is what life was made for. We were created to live in fellowship with God, and in fellowship with other people. It even says so in the Bible, "The Lord God said 'It is not good for the man to be alone.'" {Genesis 2:18}. 

We were made to fill each other up, to love each other, to support each other, to push each other closer to Christ. And on that Monday night, surrounded by some very dear friends, that is exactly what happened. They filled me up, they loved me, they supported me, and they pushed me closer to Christ. Oh, did they push me closer to Christ. I went to sleep that night praising Him so, so much. 

I am so grateful for that friend who spoke up and boldly proclaimed that she had word from God. Because of her and every single person in that room, my heart was exploding from love before I even set foot on a plane. 

And it's a good thing too, because boy, did He have work coming for that thing. 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Today is the Day

I'm sitting here at a Starbucks, putting together thoughts to capture this moment. Today is the day, the day that I hop on a plane to Africa.

Let's just sit with that for a second. I hop on a plane, to Africa

This is a dream come true on so many levels. And how often do you approach a situation, and really know that it's going to change your life? Most of the time, the gravity of something doesn't hit until it's over. You end up looking back in hindsight, and thinking "wow, that was a big game changer!"

But this is different. This, I can walk into knowing that it will be something that I remember for the rest of my life. I want to appreciate every single moment knowing that it may never happen again, because for all I know, it won't. I want to soak up every part of Africa, and tuck it somewhere special in my heart to keep for long after I leave the soil. 

It's crazy to think that all of this is happening as a result of a gchat conversation {thank you, Google!}. 6 months ago, Diana told me she was thinking of going on this trip. I did what any normal person would do, and asked if I could come too. I don't think either of us thought I was serious, and yet, here we are, 12 hours away from getting on our journey to go serve in Africa

We serve a crazy amazing and creative God, that's for sure. 

Thank you for being a part of this journey. Thank you for loving me, and supporting me, and encouraging me. Thank you for inspiring me, and motivating me to live with reckless abandon for Jesus.

I won't be updating my blog, but I will be updating Facebook, Instagram (@sweethomesb) and Twitter

I love you, and I'm thankful for you. Every single one of you. <3

See you on the other side!

Monday, January 6, 2014

2014 Bucket List

Last year, I chucked resolutions out the window, and put together a 2013 Bucket List instead. I loved checking up on my progress, even when I wasn't doing super hot with some of those goals. I've been thinking and praying over this year's list, and I'm excited to share it with you. 

Without further adieu:

2014 Bucket List

One // Go through the Our Daily Bread Daily Devotional Bible. 

I got this bible last year, but wanted to wait for the start of the year to go through the Daily Devotional portion. Really excited to finally start!

Two // Go out of the country. 

This one rolled over from last year. Something tells me it'll be crossed off soon. ;)

Three // Read 20 books. 

Last year, I came up pretty short on my reading goal. In the last month, I've really fallen in love with it all over again, and I'm feeling good about getting 20 good reads in this year. 

Four // Invest in a good camera. 

Shh. Don't tell my iPhone.

Five // Send one piece of snail mail each month. 

Confession: I am the worst at getting things in the mail. I am the queen of mailing birthday presents late, letters late, everything late. I'll manage to have what ever I'm mailing sitting in my house or my car for weeks before getting to the post office. 

So, this is on the Bucket List to challenge me. One piece of snail mail per month. Packages count, letters count, post cards count. Just gotta get myself in the habit of getting to that post office {on time}.

Six // Be in a wedding for the first time. 

This will be crossed off in May! :)

Seven // Run one half marathon. 

I know if I don't do it, I'll lose the ability to. So I'm going to make a goal of running at least one half marathon a year. Who wants to run one with me? 

Eight // Put 10% of each paycheck into savings. 

Last year, I had the goal to double my savings. That didn't go so well, though I did pay off my credit card!

This year, I'm making the goal more specific. Going to try putting 10% of every paycheck straight into savings. Wish me luck!

Nine // Host 3 dinner parties. 

Having just moved into a brand new place with a beautiful kitchen, I feel obligated to make use of it. I'm excited to invite people into our home! 

Ten // Take a Reed Sister VayCay part 2. 

This was such a hit last year, that it needs to become a yearly tradition.

Eleven // Do something special one on one with Mom, Dad & Mike. 

Because my sister isn't the only one in my family, ha. 

Twelve // Go whale watching.

I've always wanted to do this, so 2014 is the year to get er done. 

 Thirteen // Cross off one state.

For the 50 State Challenge. Who wants a visitor?

 Fourteen // Spend one day a week social media free.

I'm sure this won't be easy, but I really want to put the cell phone down more this year. So once a week, I'll do just that. 


There you have it! 14 things to cross off in 2014. 

Did you make any new year's resolutions or goals? Would love to hear them!

Friday, January 3, 2014

The Letter

I have a yearly tradition of writing a letter to myself. A letter to recap the year before, and to dream about the year to come. 2014 letter, let's do this. 


Dear Me, 

It's been almost a half hour, and those are the only two words I've managed to keep. For some reason, it's really hard to capture 2013. From afar, it doesn't seem like a big year. Still living in Santa Barbara, still working the same job, and yes, still single. But when I really dig into it, when I think of who Amy Reed was on January 1, 2013, and who she is now, on January 2, 2014, the beauty of the year comes into view. I thought I found myself in 2012, and perhaps I did. But it was really only the beginning. 

In January, I can remember people sharing their words for 2013. I remember the blog posts, the Instagram pictures, and the Facebook statuses. I didn't pick a word, because I had never done that before. I wasn't sure how I could summarize and predict an entire year after such a game-changer {aka: 2012}. But a quarter of the way in, a word came to me. I just knew I had found my word, and sitting on the other side, I can affirm that I had. No word better describes 2013 than the one that came to me way back in March: surrender

It was, indeed, a year of surrender. I had tasted Jesus in 2012, and I could see that He was good. I could see the life He had for me, and I wanted it bad. I wanted the freedom; I wanted the holiness; I wanted the purity. Things I never thought were possible for little ol' me to attain. And the truth is, they're not. But for Him, those things aren't just a possibility; they're a reality. And with Him, I can find them too. If I surrender. 

So surrender I did. I surrendered my eating habits, my fitness habits, my career, my finances, my dating life, my whole life. It didn't happen over night, for I had a firm grip on many of those things. But little by little, my grip loosened. Because little by little, I started to trust Him enough to give them up. I started trusting Him enough to say "You know best, take this, and do what you want with it."There is so much beauty in surrender. From it, blooms freedom, joy and faith. 

I'm thankful for who 2013 made me to be. I'm thankful for the existing friendships that deepened, and the new friendships that formed. I'm thankful for the moments that made me laugh hard enough to be considered an ab work out. I'm thankful for the inside jokes, the coffee dates, and the hours spent watching Friday Night Lights. 

But you know what I'm also thankful for? The moments that brought me to my knees, with ugly tears and all. The moments that humbled me. The times when I was so very conscious of my desperate need for His grace. 

It was a good year. The great times, the hard times, it was all just a beautiful, beautiful year. I hope the surrendering never stops. 

And cue to: 2014. 

I've got big dreams for this one. That's something He's showing me right now, how to dream without fear of failure. Because really, who cares if we fail, right? He guarantees us a good ending either way. 

I'm dreaming about my church, and where God wants me in it. I'm dreaming about speaking, and sharing the words that He puts on my heart. I'm dreaming about this blog, and the encouragement I hope will be found here. And I'm dreaming about, well, what every single girl dreams about. 

I don't know what 2014 will have in store, but something in me knows it will be good. For starters, I'm going to Uganda. So you know, there's that. 

Last year, I shared a verse God put on my heart for 2013. Last night, I read a verse and just knew it was the one for 2014. 

This year, I hope to gain a better understanding of just how good He is. I hope to slow down, and really take the time to experience His goodness. And I hope I take His goodness, and respond with generosity. I hope I will be generous with my time, and generous with my money, and generous with my love. 

Dear 2014: Bring it on.