Six Ways to Spend Time with Jesus

Do you have a desire in your heart to spend time with the Lord, but just have no idea how to? Do you hear people say that they “hear” Him, but don’t really understand how that happens? Do you want to know what it looks like to spend time Jesus?

I put together a list of ways that I personally spend time with God. I hope you find it helpful and can implement some of them into your own relationship with Christ.

1. Bible- I think we all know that being a Christian means reading the Bible, right? But how? This is still something I’m figuring out, but after I’m done reading my kid’s Bible that I have absolutely loved and am close to finishing, I plan to dive deep into my real Bible (This is the Bible I have and you can also find some super cute ones on this site in the “bibles” tab if on the hunt for one). I found a “read the Bible in one year” guide that I’m planning to work at (and I can’t remember where I found it), but here are some on pinterest that I found too. I was doing some searching and my goal is to look at the assigned passages and then 1. read it one time through. So, just a general brief read to understand what’s going on. Then 2. read it a second time. This time I’ll pay more attention to detail and analyzing it a little more. Then 3. What is the passage saying? I’ll write down what I think the passage is saying and what Jesus is saying through His words. And last but not least, 4. What is Jesus saying to me through this? This is the most important part. How is it applicable? How does this relate to my life and what is God trying to tell me through this passage? I’m going to write it down and that will give me something to focus on throughout the day. I also might write one verse down that stuck out the most to me and try to “memorize” it in a sense and meditate on it throughout the day. Again, I haven’t started this process yet, but it’s something I plan to do once I am done with my other readings. You might find this helpful if you have no idea where to start with reading the Bible.

2. Christian Music- Life happens. We get busy and sometimes, not purposefully, spending time in the Word can get put on the back burner. One thing I do fairly consistently to spend time with Jesus is play Christian music on my down time. When I’m in the car or in the gym I find stations or the radio to listen to to keep my mind in the right place.

Matthew 6:33 But first, seek the kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

3. Podcasts- I recently have become kind of obsessed with podcasts. I never used to listen to them, but I’ve had a huge spike in interest for personal development and growing my faith. My all time favorite is Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram. He doesn’t sugarcoat things, but also has this beautiful gentle way of presenting God’s word and I absolutely love it. I walk into my day extremely uplifted when listening to him. So, that is my top recommendation. I also listen to Whoa That’s Good Podcast by Sadie Robertson, mostly because she is my total inspiration. I have a couple of others saved in my phone, but haven’t listened to them personally so I won’t recommend them yet! I listen to one pretty much every time I’m in the car, so that’s a great way to hear some Jesus throughout your day too.

4. Talking/Praying- I talk to God, a lot. I pray, but I also just have conversations with Him. And it’s the most comforting thing in the world when you can feel Him listening. Spending time in prayer is so important to express our praises and desires before Him. He already knows what we need, but He wants us to humbly bow down before Him and ask in prayer. And talk to Him. Sometimes, I think of Him like my best friend who I just want to talk to about life with. It’s my way of feeling the most connected.

5. Find Him- Find Him in your day. See the sunshine and know that God created that comforting warmth. Look at the snow and find the pure beauty in it. Hear the birds and know that He put them here for a purpose, like He did with you and with me. Find reasons to thank Him. Don’t always seek Him for your problems or requests (although He likes those too), but remember to be thankful for all that He’s given you too. This helps me connect to Him on days where I don’t feel like He’s there.

Psalm 107:1 Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever.

6. Devotions- These are a great way to get a little bit of Jesus power into your day. I love my Jesus Calling devotions because it literally feels like He is actually talking to you. It’s a great way to get a message that makes sense that gives you something to focus on.

I hope you found these useful and they will kickstart you in a direction to spend more time with the Lord.

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Dear God,

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share these ways that I personally connect with you. I pray that readers will click with one method and hang onto it tight to seek You. Thank you for being such a good Father, always. Amen.

Much love,

Amanda

Shout Loudest For Jesus

As some of you may know, a few months ago I bought a children’s Bible. For those who don’t know why, I wanted to understand the Bible better on a simpler scale. I wanted to know the chronological order of stories that I’ve been told since I was young and I wanted to find out more in words that I would understand easier. Since the purchase, I’ve been slowly picking away at it, absorbing and learning all that I can from it.

On this particular day, I did something different than I have in the past. Most of the times when I read this Bible I just pick it up and start going at it. I don’t really put too much thought into every detail because my goal has been to just get through the whole thing so I can take what I learn and apply it to the real Bible and not be so confused. But, this morning I took some time to pray about what I was going to read and that one of stories would speak a little extra to me.

This is the story that nudged my heart today: Mark 10: 46-52. 

The cool thing about this children’s Bible is that on the very first page of each story it tells where exactly you can find it in the real Bible. So, I read the short story, felt a push at my heart, and took it to the real Bible next to see if there were any details I was missing.

God has a sense of humor. He really does. I’m an over-thinker and always think there is something deeper with literally everything. I go to the Bible and read the verses. The story in the real Bible was just as short and simple as the Children’s version. HA.

“It’s really that simple” is exactly what God was telling me.

So, let me tell you about this story and where I’m going with this.

There was a guy named Bartimaeus who was blind. He was sitting near the edge of the city of Jericho and he heard voices. As the voices got closer, he realized it was a crowd and someone told him it was Jesus passing through. Bartimaeus or B (I came up with that official nickname for him) shouted for Jesus. “Jesus! Son of David! Have pity on me!” The people around Jesus told B to be quiet. Instead, B shouted louder and louder for Jesus. Jesus told the people to bring B to Him and Jesus asked him what he wanted. B told him that he wanted to see. Jesus said to him “Look and you will see! Your eyes are healed because of your faith.” B could now see and all he wanted to do was follow Jesus from then. And he did just that and went with Jesus and the people.

Bartimaeus is the perfect example of trusting when we cannot see. I personally have been struggling for quite some time with my “post-graduate plans”. Everyone seems to be off to grad school or plans to pursue huge careers. And I don’t mean to compare, but human nature and American culture make me feel like I’m not doing what I “should” be doing. And like Bartimaeus, I feel blind. I feel like I have no idea what’s coming next and sometimes I struggle with “walking by faith”.

But what did Bartimaeus do that inspired me this morning? He calls out to Jesus. There were all of these people around Jesus that could have made him turn the other way for fear of being rejected or pushed aside. The people tell B to be quiet, so what does he do? SHOUTS LOUDER. When society is bringing us down and telling us that trusting in “God’s plan” is ridiculous or that we need to “quiet down” about Him, we should be crying out LOUDER than the first time. We should be praising His name and screaming for guidance because He WILL come through.

What happens when Bartimaeus finally does become face to face with Jesus? Jesus helps him see a completely new and beautiful world that He never knew existed. If we can have faith and trust Him through the times where we feel blind, He will reveal an extraordinary plan that we never would have seen coming had we listened to the people and quieted down. When we feel let down or burnt out from not knowing what’s coming next or where the light at the end of the tunnel is, we should be shouting our absolute loudest and praising the hardest because we know that’s when he’ll really hear us. And at the right time, He will open our eyes to see a beautiful path that we could have missed, had we not cried as loud as we did.

Do you feel blind in the next step of your life? Or are you having a hard time seeing the good in the situation you’re in? I encourage you to learn from Bartimaeus. Cry out louder to God than you ever have before. Keep praising His name. Don’t let others or the world bring you down. You want Him to hear you so He knows you trust His plan. And He will reveal the beauty to you, a beauty that will blow your mind.

Dear God,

Thank you for this message today. Thank you for nudging at my heart to share this story that spoke so deeply and personally to me today. I pray that those who feel blind today, will put their utmost trust in you and shout louder for you than they ever have before. Help them to feel comfort in knowing that you DO have a beautiful plan for them that they will see when the time is right. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Much love,

Amanda

 

Being Obedient to God’s Requests

Some days when I sit down and decide I’m going to write, my mind goes blank. I have a really hard time thinking of what kind of topic I want to cover, how I want to say things, and where I want the blog to go. Other days, the message is clear as can be and I have to stop whatever I’m doing and start ferociously typing before I forget about all of the thoughts that are rushing through my head.

The difference? I one hundred percent believe those two separate ways of creating content are either me doing it my way or God working through me. A lot of my blogs start with these deep thoughts that come at the most random times of the day and I feel so inspired I make notes or stop everything to start writing. And those blogs I believe are my best and most sincere.

And I’m not saying that some of the others are bad or unworthy. God doesn’t usually knock on my door for me to blog about running and kale salads. I enjoy talking about those things and I try my best to put the time and effort into each post. However, there’s something really different and special about blogs that I feel called to write.

This is one of those posts.

But first, let me say that I had a completely separate post typed out for today. I had read it over a few times. I spent SO much time trying to hack at my brain to dig the message out. It felt off. I was frustrated writing it. I was typing it thinking about how the words sounded sloppy and not well written. And today, I realized that that was not the post I was supposed to write.  And then the good Lord comes in and reminds me why I do this in the first place. He gives me the ideas and the sentences to make the messages flow how they should. He gives me that sense of peace during and after the post that reminds me that He was making it so easy for me.

I felt the push today to talk about obedience. And to do that, I want to talk about a story from the Bible that we all know, whether you’ve grown up in church or not. And that story is the birth of baby Jesus. But the specific person I want to talk about in that story is Mary, Jesus’ mother.

This past Christmas, I thought about this story in a different light. I thought very deeply about the character of Mary and was actually totally blown away when I really put her position in the story into perspective.

Mary and Joseph were together. They were not married. I believe Mary was somewhere between thirteen and fifteen years old. Gabriel came down from heaven and told Mary she was going to be a mother to baby Jesus. I’m sure she was terrified, confused and completely blown away. But what else was she? Obedient. Now, think about that for a second. This young teenage girl who’s not married is told by an angel that a baby of God is going to grow inside of her for the next nine months. Like WHAT? I don’t know about any of the women reading this, but my first instinct would be to look that angel in the face and say “Yeah flipping right. You are a nut job.” But what did Mary say?

Luke 1:38 Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.

In other words, she looked at it as an opportunity to serve her Lord, and said “okay, let’s do this”. How many of us look at scary opportunities that God puts in front of our faces that way? I know I personally question every last detail of requests from God.

“Are you sure?” “Did I hear you right?” “God, don’t you know what’s at stake if I do this?”

Do any of these questions sound familiar? But Mary obeyed, despite the ridicule I’m sure she had. After she explains to people who probably think she’s a nut case that Gabriel came to her and that she’s carrying God’s child, God tells her to travel to Bethlehem. I looked up how long it takes to get from Nazareth (where Mary and Joseph lived) to Bethlehem on foot.

Thirty-three hours.

All I’m thinking is you couldn’t pay me to travel on foot literally about to give birth for thirty-three hours. Despite the crazy request, Mary obeyed.

THEN, to top it all off no one would let Mary and Joseph into their homes. So, to the barn they went. Mary is going to give birth, the kind of birth that all mothers go through mostly in hospital rooms with tons of doctors around them, in a barn with farm animals. I’m not a mother, but holy cow does that sound like the worst experience ever.

Let me sum this up.

  1. Mary gets told she’s going to have a baby although she knows she has never had sex with Joseph and will be persecuted for it by everyone and anyone.
  2. Mary gets told to travel for thirty-three hours on foot ready to pop out a baby.
  3. Mary gets sent to a barn to give birth to this baby in the straw and cold surrounded by animals.

BUT, despite these crazy circumstances, Mary obeyed. Now think about what God asks you to do in your life. Is He asking anything as insane as He asked Mary?

And let me mention Joseph while I’m at it. His wife comes to him and tells him this crazy story and request from God. No hesitation. They did it. They listened. They obeyed. And what kind of world would we live in if they wouldn’t have? Say goodbye to the New Testament.

We have no idea what God really has in store for us when He asks us to do things. Are we afraid to put faith in the unknown? Absolutely. Can you imagine how afraid Mary was? But it’s about trusting the bigger picture that God has planned and putting our complete faith in His requests. We don’t have to know the why yet. Did Mary understand why her? Nope, she just did it. We need to just do it. Trust in God’s plan. Feel blessed that he is asking YOU to do whatever it is he’s asking. He has specifically asked you to do this certain thing because you’re the perfect person for the task. He’s given YOU the tools and knowledge to be the best person for the job. Shouldn’t we take pride in that? He has a purpose that is so much bigger than our understanding at the moment. Obey. Trust. Have faith. He is a good God and only wants the very BEST for you. No matter how scary, how far fetched, or how completely insane the request is from Him, know that He will give you everything you need to accomplish his tasks. He is right there with you. He wants you to trust in His big picture for your life and walk His walk to fulfill your divine purpose He’s created you for.

2 Corinthians 5:7 For we walk by faith, not by sight.

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Dear God,

I pray that this message speaks to those who you’re specifically trying to reach today. You laid this message on my heart for a reason and I pray that that special person or people read this and know it’s for them. Help us to be obedient servants to Your will. You have a beautiful plan for our lives and we have to follow your requests to unleash that. Help us have open hearts and minds to do as You ask and give us the faith to trust Your ways and future for our lives. Amen.

Much love,

Amanda

How to Find Your Own Kind of Worship

What do you think about when you think about worship? Sunday morning songs? Hands reaching for the ceiling during service? Time spent at the alter?

Luke 4:8 And Jesus answered Him, “It is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve.'”

What is worship exactly? It is defined as “to show feeling and expression of reverence and adoration for”. Worship is showing our God we respect, love, and adore Him. We’re called to worship. We are called to spend time with the Lord. But if music isn’t your thing that doesn’t mean you’re out of luck. We all have our OWN ways to spend time with the Lord and no one way is better than the other. Your worship is your worship.

This is something I never understood until fairly recently. I love Sunday morning worship, but I wanted something more. I wanted something that connected me even deeper with Jesus. Thus, this blog was created. Reading, writing and spreading the word via words are my forms of worship. When I sit down with a cup of coffee or if I get inspired during a workout (honest to goodness have written a blog while on the treadmill for an hour), I feel deeply connected with Jesus. I feel as if Him and I type these blogs out together. I’m the earthly writer, but he pops the ideas in my head and helps the words flow. When I read (when I’m not reading books for classes), basically every book I read is about faith in some way or another because of the connection I feel while reading. I love to write in a journal to help me keep track of prayers and write down things I’m grateful for. I crave that content peaceful loving feeling I get when I participate in these hobbies I’ve grown to love.

The point is, everyone has their “thing” that makes them feel connected with the Father. It doesn’t have to be singing and hand raising in church or writing in a journal, it can be whatever makes YOU feel like you are giving God you’re undivided, full attention to allow Him fully into your heart for a moment. It’s what makes you feel like you’re showing love and adoration for the Creator and all that He does for you. Worship for you might look differently than it does for someone else.

How do you know what makes you feel connected to God and might serve as a form of worship? I enjoy reading my Bible and closing my eyes and feeling the music on Sunday morning. But I took it one step further because I wanted to worship even harder and do something that made me feel an even deeper connection. I put together a list of questions that helped me figure out that creating blogs is a form of worship for me.

  1. What is something you genuinely love to do? What is that thing that when you do it you forget what’s happening around you? The thing that makes you feel at peace and relaxes you? The thing that maybe you never thought about before because you just enjoy doing it that much that it doesn’t cross your mind? Maybe it’s writing. Maybe it’s building. Maybe it’s public speaking. Maybe it’s whatever you’re degree is in. Maybe it’s simply just reading your Bible, listening to Christian music, or rocking to a beat during the worship service at church. Whatever it is, find those things and write them down.
  2. What are your spiritual gifts? Once you find the thing or things you genuinely love to do, link them with how you can use them to serve God. Have you ever thought that those enjoyable things might be talents that have been given to you for a reason? If you’re a builder, maybe you can get involved in a ministry that builds houses for the poor. If you love to read the Bible, maybe you can form a small group that dives in deeper with the Gospel. If you love public speaking, maybe some sort of speaking ministry is in your future. Connect ways to do what you love and what you’re good at in ways to serve the Lord. Honor Him through your way to worship Him.
  3. Have you prayed about it? Are you still confused on how to feel connected with God? Pray about it. Pray that He will open your heart and eyes to find your thing that makes you love life but can also be used to serve Him. You’ll feel something deeper than you have before once you find it.

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I promise that if you find YOUR ways to worship the Lord and take it up a notch you’ll find a different kind of peace. Doing something that gives God the glory, but is also something that you thoroughly enjoy because He gave us that desire in the first place is a different more meaningful way to worship. I encourage you to dive deeper in your heart and find those things to kickstart your purpose and serve our amazing Creator.

Dear God,

Thank you for being such a good Father. Thank you for walking with us through life and giving us reasons to want to worship you. I pray that you guide whoever is seeking to whatever makes them feel most connected to You. I pray that you open their hearts and their eyes to see their special talents that serve You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Much love,

Amanda

To Those Who Have/Are Struggling with Divorce in Some Way

First let me say that I always promise to be honest. I’m going to share some personal things and I hope you take them for their purpose in sharing this message and look at the big picture.

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My parents got divorced when I was nine. I knew it was coming, but I hoped with all of my being that it would work out, that things would get better. I remember very vividly the feeling of heart break, confusion, and sadness the day that I was sat down and told that my parents’ marriage was over. My nine year old world came crashing down in a matter of minutes.

It got easier. I was more accepting of the situation as I got older. And then high school started. During those four years I struggled a lot, emotionally, spiritually, mentally, and even physically at times. It’s a confusing hard time in a teenager’s life and having parents in separate homes and not fully understanding what happened makes it more difficult.

I am the oldest of three. I was the big sister and felt pressure to be “perfect” for my siblings and my mom. This affected my mental health much more than I thought at the time. I wanted to be the best of the best because I felt that was my duty. I had to fulfill it so there wasn’t so much pressure on my mom to be perfect.

Like I’ve said before, I grew up in a Christian home. I went to church regularly, but I always felt like I couldn’t see or feel God during the tough times. I felt like I was alone. I felt depressed. I felt worthless. I felt like there was no way out and this was my forever. I would lay in bed many nights and cry til my eyes were puffed shut. As a result, I drank a lot. I smoked occasionally. I partied. I snuck out of the house to go do what “cool kids do”. I tried to fill a void with temptations from the enemy that left me more broken than before.

Looking back, I honestly believe many of these insecurities stemmed from feeling emotionally broken from my parents’ divorce. Don’t get me wrong, I love both of my parents SO much and do not blame them individually for this what so ever. Divorce is from the devil and he thrives in the brokenness that follows it. That is who is to blame. The problem with high school Amanda was instead of drawing closer to the Lord during tough times, I looked for comfort elsewhere (because of free will) and dug myself a deeper damaging hole.

I have learned a lot since high school. I think I needed to experience and feel how I did to appreciate the love and comfort that I can feel through Jesus. I now know that during the struggles He is there. Whether I feel or see Him or not, He is right there walking the walk with me and ALL I have to do is turn to Him. This was something I fought and fought in high school because I wanted to do it on my own. But, we can’t fight the devil alone. We can’t fight the emotional problems that divorces leaves us with all by ourselves. The enemy grabs ahold of that pain, especially when that pain is present from a young age and feels normal, and drags you down until he’s taken all of you. But the good Lord can pull you out and make you whole again. I promise I promise I promise. You have to trust Him and let Him work His magic. Find the good things. Seek Him. It gets better.

Words of advice to divorced parents from a child of divorce:

1. Make your kids feel incredibly loved– Middle and high school teenagers can be hard to relate to. I couldn’t stand my mom back then but she always made sure I knew I was loved. I encourage you to always always always make sure they know thy are loved and that you are there no matter what. Hug and kiss them when they don’t want you to. Leave them love notes (even your sons). Be their biggest cheerleader.

2. Make sure they know they can talk to you about anything– They probably won’t want to. But help them feel comfortable and open to share their struggles with you so they know they have you as an outlet if they choose to come to you.

3. Encourage Jesus– I would not be where I am today without the Christian foundation I grew up with. Don’t overdo it, but always give them Jesus reminders, set those moral standards, and keep building that foundation and praying for them. They’ll appreciate it someday.

Words of advice for kids of divorced parents from a girl who has been there:

1. See the light– Whether your parents are currently going through a divorce or you’re in high school, or even college. Know that it WILL get better. You might not even notice the effect it’s had on you because it seems normal. The enemy has made it feel like it’s part of who you are and there’s no changing the damage. That is the farthest thing from true. You are a precious child of God and He has BIG things for you. Keep finding the positives. Strive for happiness. Seek God for comfort.

2. Talk about it– I strongly encourage you not to hold it all in. It builds up and other negative things build upon that until you create this person that isn’t you. I felt for so long like I couldn’t express how divorce made me really feel. Talk to friends you TRULY trust. Talk to your parents. Talk to a counselor (that’s what I did for a while). Get things off of your chest before they pile up.

3. Don’t blame yourself or your parents– Divorce is from the devil. Period. It’s NOT your fault. If you feel like it is, that is a message straight from satan dragging you down. Accept the situation for what it is and move forward. You are not to blame and don’t resent your parents for it. Sin is everywhere in this world and unfortunately, a life changing sin affected your world. But God calls us to love and forgive. Blame The devil and fight against him, not your loving parents and especially not yourself.

Dear God,

Thank you for always being our biggest comforter, even when we cannot see or feel it. I pray that you show those who desperately need you during the dark times of divorce that you are there for them and that all they need to do is reach out to you. I pray that you show them that you want to be there for them, to hold them, to talk with them, and to show them that they will overcome it. Let them see that they are bigger than the situation they’re in and that with your help they can turn it around and use it for good someday. They CAN overcome it, with your help. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Much love,

Amanda

PS: Always here to chat if you need it 🙂

From a Struggle to a Blessing

Do you remember when you were in your twenties and envisioned what you wanted your whole future to look like? Or maybe you’re in your twenties and currently do this regularly. You picture yourself going off to college or heading right into the work force after high school. You think about meeting the one you’re meant to be with, buying a house, and starting a family.

Maybe your future looks different than this, but this has always been my vision. I never expected anything about it to change, especially the starting a family part. My mom was a stay at home mom when I was young and I loved it. I always wanted to give my kids the same at some point. I guess being a young naive twenty-one year old I never contemplated the potential thought of kids not being in my future.

Until this past spring.

I am going to be super open with you all. I was diagnosed with a condition in my uterus called septate uterus. In a nutshell, I have a defect in my uterus that I was born with that created a large septum down the middle. Thus, creating two uteruses. Its not a genetic thing, just a hiccup in my organ development. It’s not detrimental to my health in any way. The only thing it could potentially effect is my ability to carry a baby.

The good news is this is the most common uterine birth defect. Many women DO have babies with this condition and everything turns out completely fine. Some might not even know they have it. But others struggle. Others have to endure a miscarriage or two, or three, before they figure it out. Fertility can be an issue. Surgery can be involved. When a woman finally does get pregnant (if she does), complications and high risk situations are more likely. It can be a long difficult road to having children that could end up positively or negatively.

As a young woman who has never really thought twice about being a mom someday, this news hit me hard. Many women have problems having kids, but you never think it’ll actually be you. And you especially never think that the organ that holds the baby will have something physically wrong with it.

My mom, stepdad and I went to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota this past December, the best of the best, to find out how to move forward. And thank the good Lord I have awesome supportive parents who have walked next to me in every way during this process. I was officially diagnosed with a septate uterus (what we were actually there for and the others we found out at Mayo), polycystic ovarian syndrome (super common condition in women), and a potential blockage in one or both of my fallopian tubes (this one was up in the air because the doctor was only reading the report and did not see this x-ray). Expecting maybe a surgery would at least help the uterus piece, the doctor said he doesn’t recommend anything until after I try to get pregnant someday. So what do I hear? “You have three potential barriers. So, have a miscarriage or two, get frustrated because you’re ready for kids, maybe in vitro or fertility pills, and if all of that fails, then we’ll try something else”.

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Some of you might think this is “too private” to share publicly and that I should keep medical information to myself. But in my opinion, we don’t talk about things enough. We’re expected to clam these things up because we don’t want the world knowing there is something medically going on with us. Or anything for that matter. Society expects us to put on our “perfect pants” for everyone else, when in reality we ALL have crap going on. We ALL struggle in some way or another and it is OKAY to open up about it.

So why do I share this story with you? It’s not for sympathy what so ever. It’s not for attention. I share this story for those who have something going on in their lives, not just medical, that need some love and support and to know that someone is there for them. I share this story to encourage and give hope that God has something BIGGER. He has a beautiful plan for the situation you’re in and I promise He will help you understand if you let Him. He will use it for good.

In the midst of the potentials and emotions in my situation, I am blessed. I’m blessed to have found this out completely by accident way before babies were in the picture. I’m blessed to have amazing parents who have been with me every step of the way. I’m blessed to have an amazing God by my side who has a plan and already knows the outcome.

Perspective, gratitude, and trust are my messages today.

God puts us in places in our lives to make us see things differently. I never ever thought that having kids someday might be harder than I think. But I now have a completely different heart for those who struggle with this. I see babies as some of the most precious prizes in the world. Someday, if and when I have kids, I will appreciate them more than anything. God has a reason for changing our perspectives.

God uses situations in our lives to make us appreciate and be more grateful for the good things. I could focus strictly on the negatives of this situation. But I choose to see how blessed I am to already know what I know about my condition. I can’t imagine having problems conceiving someday and not truly understanding why. I appreciate that I can plan accordingly and have an idea of what to expect when that time comes.

Trust. God has a plan. Something good and precious will come of this and I might not understand it, but He already knows. He knows what will happen. He has this situation wrapped around his finger and He has reasons that I’ll certainly ask Him someday if He doesn’t reveal them to me in this life. This is just another obstacle to trust Him with. He turns everything into good.

I encourage you to view unfortunate or confusing situations of yours in a similar manner. How is God using this to change you? Is He working on your perspective? Is He trying to show you the importance of gratitude? Is he showing you how important it is to trust Him? Or is he doing all three?

Dear God,

Thank you for always knowing what the future holds. Thank you for providing situations where we can learn to trust you, grow with you, and lean on you. I pray for struggles or confusions where believers are lost. I pray you focus their minds on you and your purpose and plan. And for nonbelievers, I pray that you show yourself to them so they know they don’t have to face their giant alone. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Much love,

Amanda

What Are Your New Years Resolutions?

It’s finally a new year. Time to start fresh, build better habits, and be the best version of you. If it didn’t happen in 2017, or 2018, it will surely happen in 2019.

Do you want to lose weight? Manage your money better? Quit smoking? Stress less? Take a wild trip?

These are some common New Years resolutions. While these are great things to work on, one resolution that seems to be at the bottom of many priority lists is building better faith.

What are your priorities? Where are you at in your faith? Do you have a relationship with God? If not, have you ever thought about it?

I’m not trying to preach at anyone because everyone has their own ways of being and people who do find the Lord find Him at their own times and at their own paces. But, I do encourage you to think about where you’re at in this area of your life. We all want to get fit, eat better, have more money, and feel less stressed. But we often forget about our spiritual health. We forget to think about how we can make more time for the Word or spend more time praying for others or open up a brand new world of following Jesus.

Focusing on this area of our well-being and spending more time with the Lord makes a HUGE difference in how we see the world. Believe me, I’ve been in the “Not sure how I feel about faith, I’m going to avoid it” boat and the “I want to do what He wants me to do and work on being a better christian” boat and number two trumps number one with flying colors. Number two is a beautiful place to be. Personally, it motivates me. It makes me want to improve other areas of my life. It gives me purpose. It makes me feel at peace and content even during the times of chaos. And the more time I’ve spent with Jesus, the more intense these feel-good feelings get.

As we celebrate the New Year today, think about your resolutions. I encourage you to commit to a workout, work on stress relief, get involved in a money management program, go on that impulsive trip you’ve been craving, but don’t forget the most important piece of your life that holds you together. Don’t forget your Creator. The One who walks along side of you during all of these resolutions. The One who wants to get to know you better. The One who is waiting for you to open your heart up to Him and let Him work on you and through you. Let 2019 be a year of spiritual growth.

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Dear God,

Thank you for another year of life. Another year to create, appreciate, and achieve. Let 2019 be one for the books. I pray that people see You in a new and deeper light this year. I pray that non-believers find your love, and that believers dive deeper in their faith. Thank you for health, safety, freedom, and a fresh start. Amen. 

Much love,

Amanda

 

Give When You Don’t Have

Wow, it is definitely that time of year where life gets crazy! Hence, I haven’t posted in a minute. BUT, here I am with a message that’s been on my heart for a week or so that I can’t wait to share with you all.

It is FINALLY the most wonderful and joyful time of the year. The holidays are in full swing and Christmas is right around the corner. If you’re like me, it is SO much fun to shop for presents for loved ones and get involved in the holiday events.  Christmas lights and parades are my favorites. Christmas cards are in the works. Buying Christmas jammies and Santa pictures with the pup are officially checked off of the list.

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With this time of year, a very specific action is taken. The action of giving. The action of putting yourself on the back burner to bring joy to others. The action of putting someone else’s needs or wants before yours. The action of spreading love. An action that makes God smile from ear to ear.

Luke 6:38 Give and it will be given to you.

Giving is not at all about the “it will be given to you” part of this verse. We shouldn’t do it so we can get something out of it. But giving genuinely from the heart because God calls us to do so is something that He rewards us for. God doesn’t say “Give no matter what your motives are and I’ll give you a million bucks”. He wants us to give with a gracious and loving heart, and in turn He might surprise you with something you weren’t expecting.

Some of you might be thinking “Well, I don’t have enough money or extra time to give to anyone else right now, so this doesn’t apply”. But I’m here to tell you you are absolutely wrong. As a college kid who basically lives off of the land some weeks, my eyes have been opened and I have been blessed in ways I never used to understand or think were possible. I have learned that me “not being able to give” is often just a selfish excuse to buy something unnecessary or waste time.

I lost my wallet a couple of months ago. I had no idea how it happened because I am not usually an irresponsible person. I called places I thought it could be. I searched everywhere. I was frustrated, stressed, and angry.  In the midst of ordering and cancelling credit cards, I withdrew some cash so I could have money to move around. I kept checking my bank accounts just in case (even though I had already cancelled my cards). About two weeks went by before I got my first new credit card. After I called to activate it I had a thought. Within that two week span, I had literally spent the bare minimum because it was a hassle to go to the bank and get money. I had nearly the same amount of money I had in my bank account before I lost my old card and got the new card. And in that moment, I realized how much “extra” money I really do have. Money I could be spending on so many other things or people rather than my petty ice cream runs. God gave me a little wake up call. And about two weeks after that, I got a call saying my wallet was found.

Call it coincidence, I call it a lesson.

As a young adult, God is showing me how to trust Him with my money. Multiple times he has convicted me to give tithing at church. My first thought is ALWAYS “God, are you sure?” “This $20 is literally grocery money” “I cannot afford to just give this away, I’m in college”. And every single time He reminds me that He is the source of my finances and everything will be okay. So, I give.

Recently, I spent more money than I should have on Christmas presents. I’ve been a little bit worried about it but my heart goes crazy for gift giving so I’ve been sucking it up and living with extra little amounts. I was at church this past Sunday, and the pastor was talking about picking a tag with a child on it off of the Christmas tree in the lobby and again I felt the desire to participate. I kid you not when I say I am scraping the bare minimum right now, but I obeyed because God provides. On my desk sits a beautiful gift for a 16-year girl I will never meet.

I’ve had many people say something along the lines of, “You’re in college, you shouldn’t be doing that. You need to spend that money on yourself.” And for a brief second, I think about their words and then I remember who is the one supplying the income in the first place. Every single thing we are given comes from God. There is no luck or accidents. He gives what he gives. So, if he calls us to give and specifically convicts us to give in certain moments, why wouldn’t we?

Luke 6:38 Give and it will be given to you. He will take care of you. Even in the moments when you feel like you don’t have anything to give. Whether it’s time, money, or gifts; He will provide. He always provides.

I listen to messages from the app “Chip Ingram” almost every day. And one specific sermon caught my attention with this story. I don’t remember it word for word but it went something like this. One man and his wife gave about 10% of their annual income for tithing. One day the man asked his wife if they could try giving one more percent and see if they could afford it. They did, and they were completely fine financially. So, the man asked his wife the next year, what if we give one more percent this year? Again, the family did and did not even notice the extra percent gone. To sum up, at the end of the man’s life he was giving 90% of his annual income for tithing. Each year he gave more, his income increased to compensate (hmm, coincidence I think not). Towards the end of his life he was still making enough money to give 90% of his money and still have all of his wants and needs met.

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Now let me finish by telling you how I have been blessed. The reason I share this is so you can see how big and powerful He really is when your heart is open to giving. The biggest blessing I have received, entirely by the grace of God, is in the spring I will be graduating 100% debt free. Tuition has come out of my pocket, through completely random scholarships I didn’t know I qualified for, from a big scholarship I was granted in high school, and through financial aid with amounts that varied from a couple of hundred dollars one year to a couple of thousand dollars other years. There is no other explanation besides putting my trust in Him throughout the process. I don’t think a lot of students who graduate with a bachelor’s degree can say they graduated with zero debt (unless they have parents who can graciously afford to pay for it). I’m not saying this will happen to you, I’m just saying that He controls our finances more than we think and wants us to be willing to give from the heart as much as we are to receive.

Give from your heart. Give because you want to. Give when you don’t think you can. Give out of love. Give with the right intentions and He will recognize you. The gift of giving is a beautiful thing we celebrate this time of year. I hope this inspires you to think about where you could be giving a little more to someone who maybe needs it more than you. Happy Giving Season loves.

Dear God,

Thank you for this happy and wonderful time of year where we get to see the power of giving in a beautiful way. I pray that you touch the hearts of those who need to hear this and guide them in whatever direction you want them to go. I pray that you help us realize how much we do have and what we could be doing to help others during this holiday season. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Much love,

Amanda

Count Your Blessings

Tonight, I had a mental breakdown. And why did I have this mental breakdown? Anxiety, perfectionism, and stress. All things that I guarantee most people struggle with in some way or another. My reasoning was the most ridiculous one ever and moms WILL laugh in my face because my mental breakdown doesn’t come close to the reasoning for most of theirs.

My precious monster of a dog refuses to run on a leash. I was at my internship all day, have a long list of to-do’s to get done before leaving for the holiday, a pile of homework, my room is disgusting, Mount Everest is waiting for me to fold laundry, I have been eating junk and barely working out the past few weeks, and I have to wake up at 3:45am for work tomorrow. And the night I just want to go for a relaxing run, he decides to drag me across the parking lot.

I locked myself in the bathroom and bawled. I know this is pathetic. I know a lot of people are thinking “these are the problems she’s crying about?” But if you’ve been in college, you know the end of the semester is the painful part. It’s the time when the tears flow and the stress gets real. So yes, I had a breakdown because my dog wouldn’t go on a real run with me. When the crap piles up, regardless of what your “crap” is or mine, stress, anxiety and tears all come out to play.

I texted Gavin (my boyfriend for those who don’t know) and was sending heaps of messages talking about how upset I was. After a couple of “Amanda, breathe” replies, he sent one that completely shifted my mindset.

“Embrace the SUCK.”

For someone who does quite the opposite when the “suck” part occurs in my life, it was odd to me that it hit me the way it did. And I got to thinking about seasons in our lives. Some are more stressful than others. Some are packed with Jesus, friends, and family galore and others feel like you’re never going to make it through. This particular season for me has been a busy one, with extra presentations and group projects than ever before. But what does crying do? It allows the enemy to get inside my mind and alter the way I think to make me believe everything in my life is bad. It’s just a bad day, not a bad life. It’s just a long season, not a bad life.

This lead me to think about perspective. What am I stressed about?

Washing and folding laundry. How blessed am I to have enough laundry to need to wash and fold it.

Cleaning my room. How blessed am I to have my very own room.

Homework. How blessed am I to have the opportunity to be in school to create a better life for myself.

Eating poorly and not exercising. How blessed am I to have the privilege to have the time to ever take care of myself.

We are so incredibly blessed beyond belief. We live in a country where we don’t have to worry about our next meal or how we’re going to clothe ourselves. We have all that we need and more by the grace of God. And when I realize these things, I feel ashamed about stressing in the first place.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 In every thing, give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

Gratitude.

Being grateful for what we do have. I personally tend to focus so much on what went wrong in my day and what I’m stressed about. What’s the next thing I can knock off of my stress list? When in complete reality, I 100% should be focusing on what good things I have and how completely ridiculous stress even is most of the time.

Jesus gave us His life. He didn’t give it up for us to be stressed, anxious, and ungrateful. In all things, give thanks. He is good.

With thanksgiving being this week, I think it’s important to talk about this. If you struggle like I do finding the light some days, if currently you’re in a stressful season, I encourage you to “embrace the suck”. Don’t let it tear you down. Don’t let the enemy alter your ways of thinking. Find the things to be grateful for. Turn those stressors into gifts of gratitude for the Lord.

And when you’re struggling to find the good, pray. God reveals himself in the smallest most beautiful ways during the times we feel the negative piling up. Ask him to help you see. You’ll find blessings in the tiniest beauties.

Find your blessings. Count your blessings. Be grateful for your blessings.

Dear God,

Thank you for the beautiful holiday where we give thanks for all that you have provided. You are so incredibly good to us. You give us our needs and some of our wants on the days we don’t always deserve them. Help us to search and find You during the hard seasons, during the bad days, and during the time we fed especially ungrateful. Please help our hearts be full of gratitude and love this week. In your heavenly name, Amen.

Much love,

Amanda

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