Sweet Home Santa Barbara

Monday, July 21, 2014

When Life Happens

I've been neglecting this space lately. Honestly, I feel like I've been neglecting it for the majority of 2014. I kicked off the year going to Africa, came back, and something shifted. At first, I thought it was just the Africa thing. I thought I was avoiding coming to jot down my thoughts, because I couldn't figure out what my thoughts were. I couldn't possibly get out the words to capture what happened in my heart over there, so I kind of just didn't

I tried writing about other things, and yet I still found myself not writing. I still found myself consistently choosing other things over blogging, whether it was time with friends, or time alone with God, or time with sleep. 

2014 marked a shift. A shift that left me with more living, and less writing. And at a certain point, I became okay with that. I knew writing was a big passion of mine, but I knew following Jesus where ever He took me was an even bigger one. I knew that if He was calling me to invest in my real world community instead of my online one, I had to be okay with that. 

I think it helped that part of me knew I wasn't done with writing. 
Part of me knew that He wasn't done with my writing. 
It was just a shift, and I gave into it, trusting Him fully. 

While there are many things that I miss about regular blogging, one of the biggest is the documenting. I love looking back over the years, and walking through the memories. Some things that deserved to be documented, and plenty that probably didn't, but I love that it all was. 

Some things just hands down deserve to be documented, and this weekend, one of those things happened.  

I don't even care that I look ghostly in these pictures, they bless me more than I could even express. This weekend, I had a brand spankin' new view at church. I stood behind the pulpit for the first time, instead of sitting in front of it. I had a mic strapped on for the first time, spoke for multiple services for the first time, and busted out all my best hand gestures (those are a fairly regular occurance). 

This weekend, I got to preach the gospel. I got to share the story of how Jesus has transformed my life, and was privileged and blessed to encourage others in their journey with Him. 

There are no words for what happened in my heart on that stage. All I know is it's what this heart was made to feel. 

I've been speaking at a Wednesday night gathering I'm a part of, and the passion I feel for teaching about the Lord is unreal. There is so much to the story of how that even started, how I even got to be in this body of believers, and on that pulpit in the first place. Maybe one day, I'll share the whole story here. It's a likely possibility. 

But for now, here's what I have to say. Our God makes dreams come true. Our God creates each person so uniquely, and places specific desires in their heart. He delights in fulfilling those God-given desires.

Growing up, I had a passion for speaking. In my high school youth group, I asked if I could speak one Sunday and share my testimony. It never happened, and I was disappointed at the time. I can look back now and realize that it was most likely because my testimony hadn't even begun yet. 

Somewhere along the line, the teenage insecurity kicked in and pushed out that passion for speaking. You put me in front of a classroom in high school or college, and my knees would start shaking like no other. Being in the limelight had no appeal when the voice quivers came in full force. 

With Jesus in the picture, that passion slowly started coming back. I'm not sure when it even did, but somehow, I was speaking and teaching and loving every minute of it. Somehow, the desire to share my testimony publicly resurfaced, and lo' and behold, our pastor asked me to do just that. 

Sunday was a day I will forever remember. It's a day that I hold onto as the beginning of something big, dreaming with expectant faith that my God has a plan here. 

Because my God makes dreams come true. 

Dream big, my friends. 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

My Better

I don't often hear audibly from God. I always feel His leading, constantly experience His peace, and I know He's there. But tangibly hear a voice that's not my own? That's pretty rare. 

So when it happens? You bet I hold onto it. 


It seemed like a typical Sunday. Besides the fact that I was coming off a church conference high, everything else seemed normal. I woke up, got ready, made my way to the high-school-turned-church down the street, embarked on my usual round of greetings/hugs, and went into the theater for service. 

Worship started, and I was whole-heartedly worshiping, while utilizing the spiritual gift of multi tasking. {you know you've done it too}

My mind was in two places, half focusing on the powerful lyrics of praise, and half focusing on a potential love interest. Thoughts were swirling as we sat for a slower song, which is usually my prime time to channel my inner rebel and stand. But for some reason, this time I sat. I sat, and I thought. 

When I was just about to reach a personal record for the amount of over-analyzing performed during a worship set, a voice stopped me. Clear as a bell, I heard the words that I haven't since forgotten. 

Amy, I have better for you.

The sentence repeated itself a handful of times, as my mind just soaked in that moment. It took me a while to come back enough to realize I had missed the cue to stand, and was now the sole individual sitting in the midst of a raised audience. 

Dang, I thought to myself. 

I wrote it down. I let that promise sink in good and deep, because I knew there was no other alternative for processing a word like that from God. 

It had nothing to do with the person on my mind, and everything to do with a loving Father trying to get His daughter's attention. Mission completed, Big Guy. 

I didn't know exactly what "better" was, but I knew my God was revealing to me that He had a different plan. And praise the Lord, I was finally at a place of trusting Him enough to know that
His plan is the only one I want. 


We were driving in the car, stuck in San Francisco traffic. I knew I was falling pretty hard when I didn't want the traffic to clear. I was enjoying just being with him, miles of break lights and all. 

There were moments of silence, and I actually enjoyed them. They gave me time to soak up everything that was happening, the butterflies and the magic and the jitters of a new relationship. The stuff that you never want to go away. 

In one of those silent seconds, that story came to me. I went back to that moment of hearing that promise from God, and I smiled from head to toe realizing the truth of that statement. 

I looked down at our holding hands. I've got a story for you, I said. 

I finished, and paused. With the biggest smile on my face, I squeezed his hand a little tighter. 

You're my better, I said. 


He has so much better for us, guys. I never want to forget that promise that was given to me that Sunday morning, because I never want to settle for less than His plan. 

It's not just with relationships. He has a perfect plan for me, and a perfect plan for you. So easily we can look to this world, and try to figure it out on our own. Try to accomplish our dreams, go after our goals, strive to be the person we want to be. 

Guys, He's got better for us. So much better. And I hope, and I pray that none of us miss it. 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014


You know when you build something up so much in your mind? When envision it down to the tiny details, start thinking about it way too far in advance, and have a perfect image in your head? When you've imagined it being so awesome, that there's almost no way it can live up to the expectations? So it doesn't and you just shrug and move on with life? Yeah, you know what I'm talking about. 

This was so not that. 


I can honestly say I've been thinking about my 25th birthday since I turned 24. I'm usually not that girl, but this year was going to be special. It wasn't just turning 25, though that's a big one in and of itself. It was marking a whole year of sobriety, and that I wanted to celebrate. 

I envisioned a beach party, a 'come when you want, leave when you want' kinda thing. Super low key, just a day for any and all friends to come and hang out and celebrate life. I envisioned a mocktail bar, a little touch to bring the sobriety factor into the party. I envisioned fun, and relaxing, and rejoicing. 

Welp, friends. That's exactly what I got. {thankyoujesus}

You know it's a good day when you hardly take any pictures. You also know it's a good day when there's salted caramel latte cupcakes involved. 

My friend Madeleine made these. She asked what kind to make, and I told her something that reminded her of me. I'd say she nailed it, yes?

Everything about the day was so wonderful, exactly how I'd hoped it would be. 

The one teeensy detail I didn't expect was this guy:

He drove 5 hours each way just for my birthday, and met about 35 of the most important people in my life all at one time. I'd say he's a trooper, wouldn't you? 

I'm feeling mighty lucky right about now. And 25 is looking pretty darn good. 

Happy Humpday, loves!