3 years and a lifetime

I truly love the idea of blogs and how you and I can catch glimpses of seemingly ordinary people who have extraordinary thoughts and experiences. I love stumbling across a blog that changes how I view myself simply because the writers can take their obstacles and victories and make them universal…these blogs make me feel like I’ve got a supporting role in how the world operates and remind me that I’m not alone.

Tomorrow, it will be 3 years since I began this little blog. I had no way of knowing, at that time, it’s purpose. In fact, even supposing that it had any purpose other than to help me sort through my own internal thoughts is pretty presumptuous. Still, I would share and friends would read, offering encouragement and their own stories.

In truth, this blog has been a catharsis. This blog has seen me through some of the darkest days of my life and though you probably wouldn’t be able to pinpoint the dates or the actual events…I can. This morning, I scanned back through some of the posts and knew, with pinpoint accuracy, what was happening in my life at that moment. On that day.

Fortunately, not all days were dark. There were funny stories along the way which reminded me that even though “life” was kicking my ass in a pretty big way (sorry for the expletive but it’s about as close to the truth as I can articulate), God was still there. The world was still turning, people were still continuing with their lives, my dogs still needed fed, and the morning paper was still being delivered. God was there….and He is here.

Without him, I am certain that I wouldn’t be sitting in this house, on this day, blogging. If this little blog does nothing else but tell you that….then I’m good. I would have been the 17 year old I once was and would have fled the scene and the aftermath into a world where destroying me was the objective. I was actually pretty good at that objective, incidentally.

Had it not been for God and my reliance on him to see me through it ~ not around it, but right smack through the middle of it ~ I just don’t know where I’d be but I am certain it would not be here.

 

And, so, wherever you are today, I believe that God wants to meet you in that place. It’s so heavy on my heart this morning to tell you that nothing is impossible, nothing is beyond his reach, and his plans for you are beyond what you can imagine… had I not surrendered myself and relied on him well before I was in the “foxhole”, everything would have turned out differently.

I just want you to know.

Blessings,
Amy 

Attitudes and Kleenex

You know the lady with the red nose, puffy eyes and crazy bedhead from the Nyquil commercials? She looks good compared to me. In fact, she looks like she just walked out from the cover of Vogue compared to me. I just can’t get it together with this cold~ it’s kicking my butt. The Nyquil helped the “sniffling, sneezing, coughing, aching, stuffy head, fever” thing last night but, in exchange, I had some wicked weird dreams. Tonight, I stick to melatonin and discard the crazy witch’s brew.

On the bright side, this is my first hiccup of 2013. Strange as it may sound, the minute the 2012 calendar was discarded into the garbage, things kind of turned round. Life has just been smoother… in every area. SO thankful for that turn of events and it warms my heart when I hear of others experiencing the same good fortune. It feels long overdue, doesn’t it?

And, then, this morning during a rather impressive sneezing bout, I realized that maybe my “luck” didn’t change so much as my attitude changed. Maybe 2013 has been kinder than 2012 because I was focusing on the rear view mirror instead of looking out the front windshield. Maybe I was worried about things beyond my control? Maybe I obsessed on what I thought should be my reward for being so diligent and faithful in my walk with Christ? Maybe I felt like I had “suffered” and now wanted the fruits of my unending unhappiness?

Poor.pitiful.me.

So dumb. Like Glenda in the Wizard of Oz said…”You had the power all along.” I did. Well, I had the power to rely on Christ and not my own feelings. Had I done so, I probably could have saved myself another calendar year of frustration. It wasn’t 2012’s fault…or 2011 or….well, you get the idea. To quote Glenda once again, I should have looked at my feelings and declared “Be gone! You have no power here!”

So I’m laying here mustering up the strength to walk to the kitchen instead of rolling over for more sleep and I’m more thankful today than any day in recent memory. That has got to be attributed to an attitude of thankfulness. I am grateful for this shift in thinking….I don’t deserve happiness but He is merciful and wants us to be happy. I don’t deserve health but am blessed by it. There is nothing like a good, old fashioned head cold to remind you of that!

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  ~2 Corinthians 12:9

Thank God I can boast about my weaknesses….just think of the blog material so many weaknesses can provide!

Be blessed,
Amy 

 

 

Thanks Joel!

 

I woke up, instantly and sadly, at 2:57am this morning. Just another early morning wake up that happens for no particular reason other than to steal my joy.
I used to let EVERYthing steal my joy.
I’ve used the phrase “I’m not going to let _________ steal my joy” about a dozen times since I watched a Joel Osteen broadcast yesterday morning. Simply put, we tend to allow annoyances like rude people, traffic, bad weather and other little parts of life steal our joy from us because we don’t make up our minds beforehand to protect our joy. This message really resonated with me! I’m getting better but I have quite a long way to go. (You should have heard me when I let a customer service rep from my bank steal my joy during Christmas shopping! Deck the Halls was replaced with Deck the Rep~ not a pretty sight.)
Last night, our cable remote was temporarily and certifiably insane as it kept directing my son to channels he didn’t select. As he was beginning to “lose his cool”, I told him to not let BrightHouse steal his joy. Fact is, I’ll probably make this my new mantra and make everyone insane in the process but I just like it. It just makes sense.
So when I woke up at 2:57am, I was hopeful. Sleep may have gone for a moment but it’s coming right back, right? Right? Of course, somewhere around 4am, I realized that sleep wasn’t meant to be and I was about to get pretty irritated by it…then I rolled over and thought to myself “Your life is pretty darn good, Amy. You don’t have a work commute, you have lunch scheduled with a friend, the weekend was amazing and you can catch a nap later today.”
So I was going to let interrupted sleep steal my joy when my life is so good? When God has been and will continue to be so good?

Not today. Who says you can’t teach an old dogs new tricks?

Be blessed,
Amy 

The Bad Break-Up

When I stop to really think about it, it’s somewhat ironic that churches and the importance of selecting the right one is taking up massive amounts of space in my brain and is a topic that my husband and I speak of frequently. I’m relatively sure we went years without visiting one or even discussing religion in even the most general of terms.
Then, I wanted more. The Roman Catholic Church welcomed me with open arms in 1992 and we happily attended weekly. Happily? Hmmm….we did so with obligatory hearts. I wanted to be there but I left the homily behind every Sunday without ever feeling like God knew me. I confessed my sins to the Priest and the magic wand of forgiveness was applied to me, along with a few Hail Mary’s and I literally walked out of the church wondering how it is that the recitation of verses erased some pretty bad sin in my life. What I didn’t know, of course, is that my sins were forgiven once I admitted them to GOD. The Hail Mary was just thrown in for good measure.   My Catholic friends, this is a blog about the church that’s right for me. Please forgive me of any offense.
Eventually, times changed; lives changed; priorities changed. Most of you know that I worked at a large church beginning in 2007.  I had certainly never felt a calling to work in ministry before stepping in to that particular church but my life had become a messy shadow of what it had once been. In short, I was seeking. I didn’t know it then but that’s what I was doing~ seeking relationship and seeking something I could depend on. I found myself working for an Executive Pastor. More importantly, I found glimpses of peace during the work week. Peace in the middle of personal chaos. When I looked around at the staff this church had assembled, there were people who had claimed victory over their own chaos and I was encouraged by their spiritual walk.
As I promoted and was receiving validation from my peers and Pastors, I truly felt at home. My relationship with Christ was blooming~ quickly~ and I began to trust in something like never before. It was a beautiful time…and then it simply wasn’t. Over the 4+ years I worked there, I saw the fallibility that plagues every church. People are people. They make mistakes. Maybe in my own newfound love for this experience, I convinced myself that this church was different. I don’t blame that church~ I don’t blame any church. My immature Christianity simply couldn’t get past the wrongs, the mistakes and the hypocrisy of a few amongst the many. In short, I made the decision to leave. The building couldn’t be where I’d continue to worship and it couldn’t be where I’d continue to be in professional ministry. I’ve mentioned on this blog how hard it was to leave…it remains so nearly 2 years later. But, I no longer belonged and since resigning, it’s been made clear to me that I never will again.

We didn’t think it would be hard to find another church home.

WRONG.

We meandered to no less than 5 churches in search of authenticity, the dwelling of the Holy Spirit, biblical teaching, meaningful praise and worship and a potential for relationships. NOT a small order! On this journey, we have now narrowed it down to 2 and we are committed to making 1 one of these churches our home church where we’ll be rooted and happily serve.

The point is this. The business of searching for a church home is very similar to recovering from a break-up and beginning the dating process. You’re scared, you’re more than a little wary, you’re hopeful and you’re trying to make a really informed decision because the thought of another break-up is enough to take your breath away.

That “gut” feeling is important but it’s prayer that will make the decision easy. Wherever we end up, there will be problems and mistakes and good intentions and all of that because people are people. I think that knowing that going in is what will sustain us through those issues. The church is made up of the people IN it and the church is bigger than even those people. For the last 20 months, we’ve floundered with a church home, maybe, but God has given us the brothers and sisters of Tres Dias and God has given me an amazing group of women that I walk through life with every Tuesday morning. THAT is church, too.

But it is time~ I feel like the infatuation of “dating” churches has grown stale and I’m ready to slip the ring on my finger. I promise to accept my new church with all their mistakes just as long as they accept all of mine. My eyes are open and my heart is receptive. The bad break up is finally behind me.

Blessings,
Amy 

Have you stopped moving?

My son and I began a new business not quite 8 weeks ago. I’ll actually always remember the date we launched our Facebook page and link to our website because it just so happened to be on the same day my good friend and previous boss passed away~ November 13, 2012.

Over the course of the last 2 months, Dr. Sayers (the staff called him Doc but I always used his full name for some reason) has drifted in and out of my head dozens of times. Maybe more than dozens, actually. Every time I see that silly little pageant “queen”, Honey Boo Boo, for instance. I can literally hear Dr. Sayers yelling “Work it, Smoochie!” from his office, laughing each and every time. I read about the fiscal cliff and see him standing him in my office, shocked that the national population didn’t get the gravity of what was about to happen to small businesses. I see a car like his and remember him challenging me to a race out of the parking lot~ he was pretty insistent on reminding me that his car was faster than my Mustang. (Now, that was never proven so it’s still up for debate as far as I’m concerned.) He was pretty serious about that race, though, because we left the office at the same time one evening and he had tires squealing out of the parking lot before I could put my seatbelt on. When I caught him at the light, I looked at him and he was smiling from ear to ear. What could you do but laugh…

it was a season in my life that I know was orchestrated by God himself.

Here we are nearly 2 months later and my heart still aches for the loss his family has endured..for the loss I, too, have endured. Solace comes in knowing that he understood my season in his office had come to an end. He wasn’t bitter that I had this new business I wanted to kick off ~ he was supportive. So, when Nick and I launched the Facebook page that we had been so anxious to introduce to family and friends, I had peace in my heart…despite it being hours after his passing. I felt, and still do, that he would want our lives to go on. I felt his encouragement even though the tears flowed.

Nick and I have been blessed with business through the holidays and are constantly on a quest for consistent dog walking opportunities. I’ll blog more about all of that tomorrow but, if you’re in the Tampa area and want to know more, our website is found here.

Life does go on…after break ups, divorce, losing jobs, and even the death of someone we hold dear. I think so many people get stuck in the quicksand of grief or despair and just never regain the strength to fight their way out. It’s a new year with new possibilities and I’m prayerful that all who find themselves unable to move forward, despite the greatest disappointments, will find renewed strength and vigor.

Blessings,
Amy 

The year of Intentionality

Like all of you, I am just beginning to realize it’s a new year. 2013. Sounds almost futuristic, doesn’t it?

Let’s talk resolutions. Do you have any? If you do, I’d love to hear from you on February 1st about how it’s going. It’s certainly not that I don’t have great faith in your intentions but intentions are far different from intentionality so just make sure that if you’re serious, be intentional. Let me lay this out in black and white for you.

I intended on going to the gym a lot more last year.
I wasn’t very intentional about making it happen.

in·ten·tion (noun)

an act or instance of determining mentally upon some action or result. 

in·ten·tion·al (adjective)

done with intentional purpose or on purpose; intended: an intentional insult.

See the difference? One is a noun and is a decision with well meaning behind it. The other is an adjective and it is DONE.
Whatever changes, tweaks or improvements you want in your life for 2013, go make it happen! Take better care of your body~ a holy temple. Take better care of your mind~ release an unforgiving attitude or letting go of fear. Take better care of each other~ without love, we are nothing.  Tackle your addictions and get help, if necessary~ no man is an island.
Do it with intentionality~ get it DONE and take it from the place of a mental decision to a purposeful completed task! You CAN do it!
Happy New Year, my friends!
Amy