Sweet Home Santa Barbara

Friday, June 27, 2014

The Last Month

This last month of being 24 has been such an insane blessing. One of the things dating has shown me is the immeasurable value of a friend who listens. Not just because she has to, but because she wants to. 

I confess that I haven't always been that friend, but this makes me want to work at being one. I've talked countless ears off in these last 4 weeks, gushing and gushing and gushing about all things butterflies. I can't express what a blessing it is to have friends who listen, who celebrate with me, who praise Jesus with me. 

And you guys? You're that type of friend, too. So many of you have asked for details of how this whole relationship landed in my life. Thank you for asking. Today, I deliver. :)


Oh, how I love those photos. They were taken shortly after PJ and I had our first real conversation, slow dancing to far-from-slow music in the middle of the crowded reception dance floor. We were pushed into the photo booth by two of his friends (thank youuu, Amanda and Kyle), and the result was two different photo strips. He kept one, and I kept the other. 

For each photo strip that came out, a copy was put in a guest book. When ours was glued in, I grabbed the sharpie to write my note:

Thanks for letting him crash your wedding. ;)




The moment on the dance floor wasn't technically our first convo. 

After the rehearsal dinner, two other bridesmaids and I did a Target run, while everyone else mingled at the hotel bar. By the time we got back and finished decorating Colleen's bridal suite, everyone had already been hanging out downstairs for a while. Honestly, every part of me was ready to call it a night. But thankfully, I fought my inner grandma, and went to be social with the other bridesmaids. 

As soon as I got downstairs, I spotted someone I didn't recognize. Not gonna lie, I found him attractive, and was intrigued by the fact that I didn't know who he was. I recognized everyone else from the rehearsal dinner, but not this guy. 

Our little trio of bridesmaids made our way over to his side of the room. He immediately noticed the florescent white liquid in my wine glass, and asked what I was drinking. Not exactly the most common color for a drink, right? I'm fairly certain I made some joke about it being straight up vodka, before confessing that it was a coconut water drink. Intrigued by my response, he asked if I don't drink. I told him no, I don't. 

That was literally the extent of our conversation. At this point, I can honestly say that I had no expectations with this. I didn't know enough about him to be seriously interested, though I was definitely attracted. But I had fully convinced myself that he wasn't. 

Why? Because of so many of my biggest insecurities. One, I was wearing glasses. I knew I would be wearing contacts for the big next day, so glasses it was for the rehearsal dinner. 

If you've been around for a while, you know that I have serious glasses insecurities. They've gotten better, but they're not fully gone. Add in the fact that I told him I don't drink? I seriously doubted that he had any interest, whoever this mystery man was. 

Turns out, I was wrong. :)


Mystery man's name was PJ. He had come down for a weekend getaway with friends, no intentions of going to a wedding. That is, until he was invited to the wedding the night before. Colleen met him at the hotel bar that night, and said "hey! you're here, you're friends with my future sister and brother in law, you might as well come to the wedding!"

{Three words: bless. her. heart.}


The day flew by. Getting ready, taking pictures, having the ceremony, taking more pictures, it was all such a beautiful wedding day. Ironically, as we were getting ready, I was talking to Colleen's older sister out on the balcony. We were talking about dating, and how I hoped one day all this wedding stuff would happen for me, too. 

It will, she said. When you least expect it, you're going to meet him. 

Zero percent of me ever thought I'd meet someone that night


When we got to the reception, all bridal party duties were complete. It was time to have fun, and with my glass of sparkling cider in hand, I was fully prepared for just that. Walking across the empty dance floor, I crossed paths with PJ. He brought his glass to mine for a cheers, "you look beautiful tonight," he said. He said something else after, but the butterflies distracted me too much to remember. 

There are so many details to share about the rest of the night, but for now, I just want to share a few. Like how Justin's aunt (Justin = the groom) created a mission to get us dancing. She was so dead set on it, that she ended up literally grabbing our hands and putting them together. The music was so upbeat, but we just started slow dancing. 

I love that this picture was taken. Neither of us like the way we look (though, I kinda dig that I look like I'm praising Jesus. I probably was), but this so perfectly captures that moment. Everyone dancing around us, and the two of us just engaged in that first real conversation. 

{Aunt Patty's in the blue next to us. You go, Aunt Patty!}

He told me he had been attracted to me when he first saw me, and I asked "when?" With all that hair and makeup did, I didn't think I looked much like the night before. 

"Last night," he said "at the hotel bar. when you were in your glasses."

{At this point in the convo, I seriously just had a moment with God. You would God, You would.}

He wanted to get to know me, so I did what any typical 24 year old girl would do to try to attract a guy: 
laid. on. the. Jesus. 

After being in my fair share of wrong relationships, and finally being in a place where I was content being single, I knew I couldn't even think about getting into a relationship unless we were on the same page about the most important thing in my life: Jesus. And to be honest, I don't think I expected we would be. I think I was being suuuuper up front about who I am and what I'm about fully expecting it to scare him off. 

But just like I was wrong about the glasses, I was wrong about this too. Turns out he liked that I loved Jesus. He agreed with all the relationship boundaries I talked about. 

Everything I doubted he would be attracted to, he was: the glasses, the sobriety, my complete obsession with Jesus. He liked it all. 

I'm kinda liking this being wrong thing. 


PJ and I started talking on May 31, and we haven't stopped since. It's been so fluid, so natural. In these short 4 weeks, I've gotten to see God working so much in him, and in me, and in our relationship. 

There's so many more little stories to share, and words to say, but for now, I think I'll leave at this:

God is so good. 

I kinda like him a lot. :)

Happy Friday, loves! Hope yours is a fabulous one. 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Freedom to Listen

Sobriety freed me. I had no idea how thick the chains were until they were gone, and it felt good. I finally was free to discover who little Miss Amy Reed really is, without the fear of my personality changing after one or two or six drinks. 

I remembered how much I loved sober Amy, how fun and confident she was. In high school, I knew alcohol wasn't my thing, but I didn't judge others for it being theirs. After 6 years of that girl being gone, Jesus brought her back in full force. I truly can't express how grateful I am for that; I missed her. 

I not only was free to discover myself, but I was also freed from a lot of distractions. It's hard to hear God when you're battling a vicious cycle of temptation - guilt - temptation - guilt. It gets exhausting, right? When God so graciously removed alcohol from my life, He removed a big wedge that was getting in the way of my ability to hear Him. 

When I look back over 24, I see so much evidence of hearing God with new ears. One month into the year, I decided to sign up for a trip to Africa. The girl who had never been out of the country was getting on a plane to go share the gospel in Uganda - say what? 

Oh, how I miss those faces. It was staring into them that I saw mission with new eyes. I didn't leave the mission field in Africa, I brought it home with me. Something happened over on that beautiful, green Uganda mountain top. This girl had her heart set on fire for Jesus in a whole new way. 

Somewhere in those first few months of 24, I felt the Lord calling me to switch churches. Logically, it didn't make sense. I had no reason to leave my current church; still to this day, I can rave and rave and rave about how much I love it. But something in me felt it, this unexplainable peace that made the decision pretty easy for me. 

In that transition, God did so much work in my heart. He humbled me, grew me, used me, molded me, challenged me, encouraged me, and loved on me. I've met so many people that I never would have met, and I can't praise Him enough for that. 

24 was a year of learning to hear God, learning to search for His voice and follow it, trust it. It led to so many wonderful things this: new friends, new adventures, new stories. And I know this is only just the beginning. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Start of 24

Did you know that God has a story for you? One that's for you, and you alone. It's individually and uniquely crafted for you to shine the glory of our God into a world that desperately needs it.

 It's pretty amazing, when you think about it. We're all born into this world with this desire somewhere deep down inside that wants to live a life with legacy, with meaning, with purpose. And somewhere along the line, maybe you lost faith in that. Maybe this world convinced you that legacy, meaning, and purpose aren't for everyone. Maybe you're feeling average, normal, unimportant. 

If there's one thing I hope people find from this blog, it's faith. Faith in a God who writes big stories for little people. It doesn't matter how many people your story affects, what matters is how it affects. You are meant to be a light in this world. You are meant to carry the best news that can ever be heard, that there is a God who loves us so much that He sent His Son to pay for our sin, that we may be reconciled to Him. 

And that reconciliation? That friendship that is born between you and the God of the universe?

That changes ev. ery. thing. 


My life is forever changed because of Jesus Christ. I love telling my story, because it's a story I could have never written for myself. One with His fingerprints all over it, and I praise Him for that. Oh, do I praise Him for that. 

There are two key dates in my testimony, two dates that I now look back on as days when "everything changed." I didn't know it at the time; you rarely do, right? But now I know. I know that on those two days, Jesus reached down and with infinite mercy & grace, decided to change my life for His glory. 

I said I couldn't have written this story for myself, right? Case and point: those two dates are the only two dates in the calendar year that symbolize a new start for me. The first occurred on January 1st, 2012, the day I fully surrendered my life to Christ. And the second occurred on my 24th birthday, June 29th, 2013, the day I decided to give up alcohol. 

I just love that God took the two days of the year that I celebrate a new start, and gave new meaning to them. I will never be able to celebrate a New Year's Day without celebrating the day I recklessly abandoned my life for Jesus. And starting this year, I will never be able to celebrate my birthday without celebrating sobriety. 

I had no idea that was going to be one of my last drinks. And looking back on both January 1st, 2012, and June 29th, 2013, I had no idea I would ever look back on those days as good days. They both started hungover, they both started with lots of tears, and heart ache, and shame. They felt like ugly days, to be honest. 

But this is what I love about our God; He takes our ugly and turns it into beauty. For His glory. And, because He loves us that much. 

Before I get into gushing about the amazing, wonderful, blessing of a year that 24 was, I wanted to start at the beginning. I wanted to share that it didn't seem off to a good start when I woke up on my birthday to a thick blanket of guilt, shame, and regret. 

Why do I want to start there? Because I know someone, somewhere might be there right now. Someone might be stuck in the cycle that I was stuck in. Maybe yours has nothing to do with alcohol, or maybe it has everything to do with alcohol. 

Regardless, I want you to know there's hope. I want you to know that there is nothing, I repeat, nothing too ugly for Him to use. When He looks at you, He sees nothing ugly about you. He sees a life that He crafted for His glory, and He's just waiting, ready to write the story of a lifetime for you.

Sometimes, the biggest break throughs happen from the biggest break downs. On June 29th, 2013, I had a break down. I saw my sin so clearly, and it scared me. It scared me enough to run, as fast as I could, straight into Jesus' arms. It scared me enough to admit that I was meant for abstinence from alcohol, and that as scared as I was of sobriety, I was more afraid of what alcohol could do to my life. To my relationships. To my future. 

June 29th, 2013 may have started with a hangover, but it was the last one I'll ever have. It opened the door to a type of freedom I didn't even know existed. 

He took my ugly, and made it shine for His glory, the way that only He can.

Monday, June 23, 2014


How often do you come to the close of a year, and think 

"dang, that was by far
of my life. 
so far." 

{all the dramatic pauses included}

Never, right? At least I usually don't. But this one? This year that not only marks the last year before 25, but my first year of sobriety? This year that marks the year I went out of the country for the first time, to Africa. This year that marks moving into a house that I love with three friends that I love (hi, roomies!). This year that marks being in a wedding for the first time, which, incase you missed the IG post, led to this:

Honestly, it would have been the best year of my life solely for the sobriety factor. But God did what He loves to do, and went above and beyond. He brought me to Africa. He found me a living situation that is exactly what I dreamed of. And with a month left in the year, He plopped this amazing man into my life. 

The plan is to take a little time every day this week to blog about 24, the year that I can confidently say has been my best so far. So, fingers crossed that happens. 

But, since I've got 6 more days to go out with a bang, and since I took today off work (hooray!) and am still up in NorCal, I've got me a hot date with my man. I'll see you peeps manana, mmkay? Same time, same place?

{Also, not gonna lie, it feels really weird to say my man. But it's the really, really good kinda weird.}

Monday, June 16, 2014

A Friendship For The Books

It's one of my favorite people in the whole wide world's birthday today. 

It used to be the one day of the year I could get all sappy on her, but either she's gotten better at handling that, or old age has gotten her more sentimental. ;) Either way, I'm a lover of sap so here it comes. 

I told Kristi that if I ever write a book, she's getting her own chapter. She's taught me so much about friendship, and it would take an entire chapter's worth of pages to express all of it. 

My favorite quality of hers is her honesty. She's not one to sugar coat, and I love that about her. She cares enough about you to tell you when you're freaking out over nothing, over-analyzing the shiz out of a situation, or when you need to ditch the person you're dating because they're not good enough for you in her book. And I've come to find that Kristi's book is pretty spot on. 

It's not easy to keep it real. Even when you really love someone, it can still be way easier to just say what you know they want to hear. Kristi has shown me that real friendship can handle honesty, it strengthens because of it. 

In our almost 7 years of friendship (say what?), we've walked through a lot. We have that friendship where when there's something to celebrate? We're there. When shit hits the fan? We're there even faster. 

I recently joked that when I get married, I need to give my future husband a cheat sheet. It'll read:

When angry, get flowers. 
When sad, give a hug. 
When super excited, have a dance party. 
When hyperventilating crying, call Kristi. 

Any Grey's Anatomy fans out there will get it when I say that she's my person. 

As you get older, you grow and you change. Some friendships get to the point where the original stuff you have in common, you just don't have in common anymore. For Kristi and me, we did grow. And we did change. But something else happened as we got older, we made a conscious decision that this friendship? It's not changing, even if we do. 

And it hasn't changed, it's only gotten stronger. 

I love you, Kristi!! Thanks for being my other half. 

And for the next 13 days, I officially get to call you old. ;)

Thursday, June 12, 2014

When Iron Sharpens Iron

Alright ya'll, I'm about to break blogger code. Like, big time. I'm gonna talk about the C word...


I know, I know. Accepting Jesus and becoming a born again Christian is supposed to eliminate any and all conflict from your life. And if you experience any teensy amount of it, it's a sign that you're doing it wrong. 


I hope you caught that heavy sarcasm. But in case you didn't, let's just say I'm doing it wrong. 

There's a lot going on in my life right now. Some really, really good things, and there's some really, really hard things. As my good friend Annie said, "good & hard usually come together, I think." 

I think she's right. 


When I heard that statement, I knew I had to write it down. I wrote it down months ago, and oh, does my people-pleasing, affirmation-desiring heart struggle with the thought of not being loved by everyone. 

But alas, now it's not as much a thought as a reality. And to be honest, it's okay. It's more than okay, it's got me reaching out to Jesus with all my might. It has me asking for faith that He is at work where I can't seem to find Him. It has me surrendering "me! me! me!" and the desire for everyone to love me, for "Him! Him! Him!", in hopes that that He may be glorified. 

I'm currently walking through a difficult season of engaging with someone who strongly dislikes me. It started out extremely painful for me, but with lots of prayers & help from the Lord, it's gotten easier. And I'm learning a lot. So today, I share. Because even though it's far from a pretty topic, I think it's something that needs to be discussed. 

How do we walk through conflict in a God-glorifying manner? 

I don't have it all figured out yet, but here's what I have learned: 

One // "Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone." Romans 12:18. 

My mom taught me that conflict takes two. I'm so, so thankful for that lesson. It's so easy to think "this is just their issue," and to some extent, that may be correct. But I really believe conflict originates with tension between 2 people. 

When there is conflict in your life, search the scenario for any reason that you may need to apologize. Forget about what they did, or how they acted. Focus on what you did, how you acted, if there is anything you could have done differently to show more love to this person. 

And if you find something? Own up to it. Apologize. If you can't find anything? I'm gonna go ahead and suggest asking the Lord for an extra dose of humility, and for help examining the situation through those eyes. He has a way of bringing things to light when we truly invite Him in to do so. 

If you find yourself apologizing, you can experience peace regardless of the outcome knowing that you are doing your best to resolve the conflict. 

Two // Know when to step back. 

I learned this one through the trial and error technique. (and error, and error, and error). 

I'm a fixer, a 'kill em with kindness' girl. You're mad at me? No problem, I'll just treat you extra nice until you forgive me. Cause it works that way, right? There's nothing a good forced hug can't fix. 

Wrong. Everyone is different, and while I'm a 'let's figure this out right now because my insides feel like they are a twisted up slinky' kinda gal, you might not be. You might need time, and I need to respect that. Or, maybe you don't need time, maybe you simply have decided you just don't like me. I need to respect that, too. 

Have you done all that you can to live in peace? Is there still conflict? Know when to step back. 

Three // Learn to listen without defending. 

Boy, do I struggle with this. I'm a defensive person by nature (working on it). I'll listen to you, but I want to have my turn to come to my own defense afterwards. 

God has so graciously been sorting through that with me. He's helping me see the damage that defensive behavior can have, and really, why is it necessary when we have a God who defends us? 

Letting that really sink in has helped me to let go of my defensive tendencies. It helps me really listen, and generally if someone's upset, they want to be heard. 

Four // Filter what's being said about you. 

If I'm being honest, in the last couple days, I've had some extremely hurtful things said about me. And considering the good work it's doing, I'm actually okay with that! I'm learning to consider the source

How well does this person know me? Take the complaints made against you to others who know you well; verify their truth before you take it to heart. Pray about it, ask God to reveal validity in anything said. 

If something is said that simply isn't true or isn't applicable, let it go. Don't be angry, don't be bitter, just let it go. It can be hard, I know. But trust me when I say that with Him, it's possible. 

Five // Be cautious of gossip. 

It's good to seek counsel during times of conflict, Lord knows I've got about a dozen regular people I go to for prayer/advice. But there is a very fine line between seeking wisdom on a matter, and venting/complaining/gossiping. Be aware of that; make sure your words are bringing life to the already difficult situation, and not death. 

{This is another one that I learned from trial and error and error and error and error.}

Six // Remember where your identity lies. 

People pleasing is a symptom of fear of man. Wanting to be liked by everyone? Yupp, fear of man again. 

We are not called to fear man, we're called to fear God. He loves you so, so, so, so, so much. Remember that. That's where your identity lies, that's where your worth and value lie. And the way He feels about you? That will never, ever change. 

Seven // Love. 

"Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins." 1 Peter 4:8

Love will win every. single. time. 

I'm not saying run up and love on the person every time you see them (see number 2). They don't have to know that you're loving on them, but you will. Love them in your thoughts. Love them in your words to others. Love them in your prayers. Love them so the enemy doesn't win with the bitterness he wants you to feel instead. 

Just plain love them, even when it's hard. And if you don't think you can? Ask Jesus to help you. I promise you He will. 


So there you have it folks, seven things I've learned in this instance of conflict. If you have conflict going on in your life, know that God not only can use it, He wants to. He's awesome like that. 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Happy Birthday Madeleine!!

Today is the birthday of one of my favorite people. And since it happens to fall on a Thursday, I thought I'd do a little Throwback Thursday, Madeleine style. 

You see, our friendship has gone through many seasons. So let's take a walk down memory lane, shall we? We've had the "YOU LIKE TO DRINK? I LIKE TO DRINK!" phase.

We made a pretty dashing beerpong team, did we not? Alcohol, always the building of a solid relationship. But alas, we had to grow our roots a little deeper. So we ventured into our running season. 

And then, Madeleine realized that her knees were not huge fans of running. So we started a "let's make healthy dinners!" season. 

It was kind of difficult because right around the time I went vegetarian, Mad and her boyfriend Niko went paleo. Kiiind of hard to cook a meal that is both of those things, but you know, we made it work. 

And because we needed entertainment during our meals, we kicked off our "Friday Night Lights" season. 

We watched the entire series from start to finish. Or, I guess I should say they did. Because, I slept through about a third of the episodes. Whoops?

Madeleine is one of my favorites because she is always down to take jumping pictures:

Get In N Out to celebrate staying awake past 11pm:

Have a spontaneous dance party outside the car:

Be used as a prop in a photo:

So blurry, but how could I not include the picture where she filled in as Todo for this Dorothy shot? 

Basically, Madeleine is one of my favorite people because she is just plain awesome. And not just as posing as a little black puppy dog. And not just because our friendship survived my sobriety, though that is a big plus. 

Love you, Madeleine!! So thankful for your friendship, and for your blogtogropher skills (yeah, all the fancy fashion posts are due to her). You really are the best, and I'm lucky to have you!

Happy Birthday!!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

My Best Friend's Wedding

My bestie got hitched!

Don't let the cropped iPhone photos distract you from how seriously gorgeous this wedding was. Colleen made the most beautiful bride, and her bridesmaids dresses? Let's just say I was not at all disappointed. 

I couldn't be more thrilled for Colleen & Justin. I've mentioned before that I've known Colleen since second grade, that means this fall it'll be 18 years of friendship. We've quite literally watched each other grow up, and by the grace of God, we've gotten to watch each other fall in love with Jesus. I also had the privilege of watching her fall in love with her handsome hubby, Justin. 

Colleen is one of the kindest, most generous people I know. I'm so happy that she's found a man who reciprocates both of those things, and who loves her to the moon and back. It was an amazing day celebrating the union of these two!

My mom and dad were there too, which made the evening extra special for me. Aint no party like a Reed fam party! 

It was their 30th wedding anniversary yesterday, definitely thankful to have those two as my parents! The older I get, the more appreciative I am for all the sacrifices they've made for me along the way. 

The weekend was a truly blessed one for so many reasons. :)

We're so happy for you, Colleen! We love you!