Tuesday, March 25, 2014

When Mercy Found Me

Yesterday, my friend Leah shared about how mercy found her on a bathroom floor

As I read her beautiful, vulnerable, honest words, my head was nodding and my heart was swelling. I praised the God who crashed through her walls on that bathroom floor, because He's the same God who crashed through mine in a city college gymnasium. 

I've told this story before on the blog, multiple times in fact. But it's my absolute favorite story to tell, and so in case you haven't heard it, or in case you want to re-hear it, today I share the story of when mercy found me. 

I woke up on January 1st, 2012 around 6AM on the couch of a house I had only been to to celebrate NYE the night before. There was enough champagne left in my system to hold off the inevitable hangover, but it wasn't enough to erase the memory of how I had spent the first few hours of the new year. The time spent crying in a bathroom due to finding out a freshly-ex-boyfriend was in a new relationship. Again. 

It wasn't the first time this had happened. As a matter of fact, it was almost humerous how regular of an occurrence this was. It seemed as though every relationship in the past 3 years had ended this way, replaced in a matter of days. It was enough to kill a girl's hope, for sure. Not only kill her hope, but kill any shred of self-worth that was left from the prior heart break. 

If you pull out your iPhone, open up that calendar ap, and scroll back a few years, you'll notice that January 1st, 2012 fell on a Sunday. And thank the good Lord that it did. 

I had made arrangements to go to church with a friend that Sunday, my first time in longer than I could count. I was checking out a church that I had never been to before, but had heard incredible things. As soon as I woke up on that couch, my heart was aching to get in that building. It was probably aching for other reasons as well, but something inside of me knew that I needed to hear the word of God. 

The 4 hours between 6AM and 10AM felt like forever. It was just enough time for the hangover and shame to sink in, both were wrapped around me like a thick blanket when I walked into that gymnasium-turned-church. 

The worship music started, and as I looked to my left and right, I saw people reaching out to the Lord. It gave me permission to do what felt so counter-intuitively natural to me, and my arms shot up towards the ceiling. I felt His presence for what very well may have been the first time in my entire life, and I reached for it with every fiber of my being. 

The words "I'm desperate for You" repeated over and over and over again in my mind. I have never felt more broken in my life, but I have also never felt more hopeful. The gravity of the fact that I had been living my life in entirely the wrong way sat heavy on my shoulders, but with it, came the life-giving freedom of realizing there was a different way. This wasn't the first time I surrendered my life to Jesus, but it was the first time that 
I fully let go. 

Tears were streaming down my face, my head was throbbing from hangover world, my wonderful friend was praying words over me that I'll never remember, mercy & grace hit me like a ton of bricks, and to this day, my life has never been the same. 

Mercy found me in a hungover, heart-broken state in a college gymnasium. 

Where did mercy find you

Monday, March 24, 2014


Any other retired Indian Princesses out there? I have a solid 5 years worth of daddy-daughter-campout memories. Sometime I'll have to bust out some pictures. You bet I was looking fierce after a weekend with no moms around to force me to brush my hair.

I got to have a serious blast from the past when I joined my dad & sister's tribe at this year's family camp. I had already planned on visiting this weekend, so my mom and I drove up to Dos Picos on Saturday, which pretty much felt like driving straight into the 1990s for me. 

It was so great reliving my Indian Princess days, complete with bead trading, charades playing, and what every camp out needs: smores

Though, this camping experience had one thing that none of my others have had before. A recent purchase that helped me cross something off of my 2014 Bucket List.

I got me a good camera! This one to be exact. And even though I had no idea what I was doing, I had a blast testing it out. 

Can't really go wrong when you've got super cute models and gorgeous scenery, can you?

Glad the dads let us crash their camp out!

It was most definitely a successful family weekend. 

How was your weekend?

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Me & Running

Blogging has influenced me in so many ways. The biggest & most priceless gift has been the way it's impacted my relationship with Jesus; I can truly say blogging was majorly used in the dramatic transformation that took place as I truly surrendered my life to Christ. I found blogs written by women living on mission for Jesus, and realized that my heart ached for that. I discovered that I, too, wanted to live on mission for Jesus. And praise Him for placing that desire on my heart!

Blogging has also brought about other hobbies; some of which have come and gone, but others seem to have stuck for good. Running is one of those hobbies. 

I was never a runner before blogging. If I managed to run a mile, I was dang proud of myself. 2 or 3 miles? Gave myself a major pat on the back, and permission to not work out for the rest of the week. I wanted to be a runner, and would go through phases of running with my roommate or forcing myself to get out there on my own on a semi-regular basis, but it never stuck. It wasn't my thing. 

I started blogging, and found all of these incredibly inspiring stories of women getting healthy. One of my favorites that comes to mind is this amazing woman. Reading these stories gave me new fuel to write my own fitness story. I can vividly remember going to sign up for a gym membership on my lunch break, vowing to use this new step in adult-hood as a means of bettering myself emotionally and physically. Taking care of your body doesn't just seem to impact the body, does it? It definitely does something to the soul, too. 

What started in the gym translated itself outside on the pavement when I suddenly found myself running farther than I ever had been able to before. A love of fitness came over me, and I was feeling stronger and healthier than ever before. 

But God, in His infinite kindness, knew my heart enough to know how easily I could turn this new found love of exercise into an idol. He certainly used a 6 week period of an injury to remind me that exercise can't be where I look to find identity, security, comfort, or confidence. 

As my body healed, so did my heart. I was able to reframe my mindset on running, allowing me to enjoy it without idolizing it. I injured myself training for my very first half marathon, and when I got back out on the streets and couldn't even run a mile straight without stopping, I seriously doubted my ability to ever accomplish that goal. 

7 months after getting my boot off, I proved myself wrong

And 5 months after that, I did it again

Ever since my stress fracture, running has become such a spiritual experience for me. There is never a race that I don't rely on Jesus to get me to that finish line. No matter how short or long, I know He is there giving me strength and endurance. 

{If you don't know who Daisy is, you can read about that here.}

I'm thankful for the way running has grown me closer to God. I'm thankful for the way it always leaves me praising Him and rejoicing with Him. And of course, I'm thankful for the impact it has on my body, health and mind. I never feel stronger than after a good, hard run. 

My 2014 Bucket List included the goal to run at least one half marathon this year. I'm happy to announce I'll be kicking off training, since I've officially signed up for this one in May! 

Considering I didn't train too well for my last half marathon, I really have no idea how training will go. But I do know that I'm excited to get out there and run my little heart out, especially when that means getting some good, quality time with my main Man. 

And just so you know, if I can do this, so can you. Have you ever had dreams of running a race you never thought you could? Maybe a 5K, a 10K, a half marathon, or heck, a marathon? Get out there and do it. Because you can. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

What Weekends Were Made For

This weekend I:

-bumper car'ed
-water balloon tossed
-shot a bb gun
-potlucked with one amazing church family

Talk about a seriously fantastic weekend. 

{I swear I really am a grown up.} 

Friday, March 14, 2014

On Sponsors

You may have noticed that with the new look came a spot on the headbar for "Sponsor," a page that currently has zero information on it. I wanted to share my thoughts on that, and ask for yours too. I know there are sooo many different ways to go about sponsoring, and I wanted to share my vision for Sweet Home Santa Barbara sponsoring today. 

I've had it on my heart to start accepting Sweet Home SB sponsors for a while now, but I want to make sure a lot of thought and prayer is put into that before moving forward. I want this place to be a community, somewhere where all of us can come for hope, encouragement, inspiration, and most of all, Jesus

My hope is that a sponsor sidebar can be just that, a place where we can go for more hope, more encouragement, more inspiration, and more Jesus. A place where we can click and read the thoughts of another woman who's venturing through this thing called life. Whether that means venturing through a season of singleness, or marriage. Celebrating engagement, or nursing a break up. Starting a family, or mourning a loss. Blogs are beautiful, because with all of the thousands of bloggers, there are thousands of stories. I want to celebrate that here; I want to give my readers access to more than just my story. Because really, they're all His stories. 

I've sponsored my fair share of blogs. I've had many different experiences, and through that, I've come to have a vision of what I want the Sweet Home Santa Barbara sponsoring experience to look like. Here's what I have in mind:

-I will commit to reading your blog. While you are on my sidebar, I will be investing time in your words, and your story. 

-I will commit to sharing your blog. Posts that touch my heart will be shared with my audience, either here, or on twitter, or on facebook, or on instagram. And by "posts that touch my heart," I mean anything that moves me, inspires me, encourages me, makes me laugh, makes me cry, entertains me, gets my brain moving, you catch my drift. 

Here's what I'm doing to ensure that I can commit to that: I'm doing a test run with 5 of my favorite blog friends. I'm making sure that I can commit to reading and sharing 5 blogs before I even consider asking others to sponsor Sweet Home SB. It's only fair, right? 

I don't want to have sponsors just to have sponsors. I want to have sponsors because of the community that I hope it will build upon, and because I love blogging and truly want to connect & work with other bloggers. I know you have a story, and I want to do whatever I can to get your words out there even more than they already are. I want to spread His story by spreading yours. 

If you haven't already, check out these ladies and their stories:

Kerrie from Life. On A Mission

Kiki from In It's Time

Leah from Beautifully Molded


What are your thoughts on sponsoring? What do you feel is a good sponsor rate? And what do you look for/expect in a sponsoring experience?

Love you guys! Happy Friday!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Stitch Fix - Jeans Edition

What is by far the hardest thing to shop for? 

I'm gonna go ahead and assume that the majority of you would agree with my response: jeans. So hard, right? The best pairs seem to pop up when you're not looking, but when two out of three of your jeans have holes in the crotch and you're desperately searching for a new pair? Nada. 

Maybe you already know about the fun, new shopping experience {commonly known as Stitch Fix}, but allow me to share why I fell even more in love with them after this last fix: jeans! 

Stitch Fix takes the fun of getting mail and going shopping, and puts them together in a convenient new way to get clothes. For a $20 styling fee, their team of professionals will specifically style a 5 piece fix, and ship it straight to your door. You get to have yourself a little happy dance as you open your box and try on your fabulous tops, bottoms and accessories, and then choose what you want to keep. Whatever you decide to keep will automatically have $20 off (from that styling fee), and anything you don't keep, you don't pay for. 

I've loved Stitch Fix for a while now {this was my 7th fix}, but realizing that I just saved myself the hassle of jeans shopping? Woah baby, we just took our relationship to the next level. 

If you haven't signed up for Stitch Fix yet, you can do so right here. Signing up on that link gives me referral credit, so we can both rock our fix finds! They not only send great clothes, but accessories too. The necklace in my outfit is from my very first fix!

Outfit details:

Top: Clothing Swap (Thanks, Tabitha!)
Jeans: Stitch Fix
Necklace: Stitch Fix
Shoes: Target (like these!)

Happy Humpday, loves! Hope you're having a great week.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Giving Up Bondage For Lent

Last week, I posted this picture:

and shared that I was endeavoring to give up bondage for lent. No big deal, right? Pretty simple, just cut it out all together. 40 days won't be that bad. 

{Everyone is allowed to roll their eyes with me. }

Let's keep it real: it's daunting, big, unknown, and slightly confusing. But it's something that I want to dive into in this space, for anyone else who may be battling a similar struggle. For anyone who might be finding themselves twisted in some chains, all the while knowing that Jesus is holding the key to remove them. Or, if you're anything like me, maybe you've come to the realization that you're not just twisted in your chains; you're holding onto them. 

This really has nothing to do with lent. It's something that I hope to continue doing for long after the 40 days pass, and hopefully, something I will start carrying into other aspects of my life where those pesky chains can be found. But right now, my focus is on one rather large area in my life where I've been in bondage for a long, long time. And it's something that I desperately need to experience the kind of freedom only Jesus can bring, because it's something I can't simply cut out of my life. 

It's food. 

I have so much to say about this struggle. So much that I have on my heart to share in hopes that it may bring freedom into others' lives, as I'm praying it does in mine. But for now, I'll start with this: last year, I gave up chocolate for lent. And then, enjoyed it for just one day before giving up sugar all together for the month of April. If I'm being perfectly honest, it felt great. Liberating, even. 

But the fact that it only took me a mere few months to get knee deep back into a struggle with food and cravings and perhaps even addiction shows that I was in no way free. I had cut a part of "the issue" out of my life for a portion of time, maybe even developed some self control. But lasting self control can't simply come from self, can it? It requires the Holy Spirit to be the sweet fruit of freedom that the Lord intended it to be. 

I don't think I knew what true freedom was until my birthday of last year, when God so graciously plucked alcohol out of my life, and flung it so far away that I had no choice but to joyfully dance in the sweet, sweet aroma of freedom

I don't have to remind myself not to drink, and I certainly don't need to over analyze it. It just is; I just don't drink anymore. And with a mind at ease and a heart full of peace, I now understand what being free feels like. 

So on the contrary, I know what it doesn't feel like. And I know that I'm not living in freedom in my relationship with food. I haven't for a very long time.

So for lent this year, here is what I'm giving up:

I'm giving up eating for comfort. 

I'm giving up eating because I'm bored. 

I'm giving up over analyzing my food choices. 

I'm giving up comparing what I eat to what those around me are eating. 

I'm giving up feeling guilty over food. 

And I'm begging the Lord to reveal to me other areas in my heart that are living in captivity in regards to food. I'm asking Him to help me take that hand that has been extended out for so darn long. He's been ready all along, I'm ready to be ready, too. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Weekend Rundown {Girl On Fire Race Review}

Hellooo! After an unplanned week off blogging, I'm back and extra motivated by a brand new makeover! The wonderful and amazing Kerrie Williams designed this look, and I am so happy with how it turned out. Would love to hear what you think! Highly recommend working with Kerrie if you're ever in the business of a fresh new face for your blog. 

How was your weekend? Hope it was packed with good things like mine was. This girl came to visit me, and together we ran the Girl On Fire 10K on Saturday morning. It was the perfect morning for a race along the beach. 

The course was just gorgeous, much like this one. It was almost 100% flat {which I loved}, and almost 100% directly next to the beach {which I also loved.}

There was both a 5K and a 10K option, which was great for runners of all levels. One of my favorite sites was passing an elderly person pushing another elderly person in a wheelchair along the 5K course. So darn sweet!

One thing I liked about this race in comparison to the much similar She Is Beautiful race was that they allowed men to run. So if you're a guy and feel like being a Guy On Fire, come join next year!

This was such a great way to kick off our weekend together. Not to mention celebrate the fact that less than 2 years ago, neither of us could run a 10K. And celebrate we did! 

With this post-race grub:

With a reunion of roomies past in the funk zone:

In case you're wondering, yupp, still rocking #adventuresofsoberamy. :) {Thank you, Jesus!}

And we celebrated with an evening on the couch with Friends & Dominos delivery. 

No pictures of that one, but plenty of SnapChats. 

It was such a beautiful Santa Barbara weekend! Hope yours was a great one, too!