Life with Amanda

Just a girl in her twenties sharing a little bit about life, a thing or two about living a healthy lifestyle, and my wonderful journey with Jesus.

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 ūüôā

It’s finally the last semester of college and looking over my transcript I have reflected on some of the habits that I created to earn myself the GPA I currently have. Let me give you a little bit of background. I started at two different community colleges. One was close to home and the other was in Grand Rapids. I left with a 3.8 and 4.0. I transferred to Grand Valley. I maintained a 4.0 up until my junior year winter semester where my GPA got brought down to a 3.9. I THINK that’s what I’ll graduate with (depending on this semester). Pretty close though, right?

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I don’t share this to brag what so ever. I just want to share some of my insight. I’ve had a lot of people ask me how I did it. I’m not a genius. I’m just an average college girl who was motivated and at one point trying to get into grad school. I’m going to give you a few tips that helped me get good grades.

1. Study study study– towards the end of college I slacked a little more in this area, but during my sophomore year I took anatomy and had no other choice but to study my booty off if I wanted an A. Every week after the two days I met for class I would make it a point to look over all of the material again to try to engrave it into my brain. This also made it WAY easier when the exam came around because I already basically knew everything. So the most important thing you can do is spend time in your notes. Even if it’s just a quick look over, anything helps.

2. Stay focused– it is SO easy to get distracted and unmotivated during the middle of the semester. I always did my best to really focus on the grade that I wanted and what I would have to do to get that. I envisioned the feeling of accomplishment I would have if I did get an A. Keep your eye on the prize.

3. Think big picture– for most of college I was dead set on grad school of some sort. I knew to get into any physical therapy or physicians assistant school I would need not a good, but great GPA. Whether grad school is something you’re thinking about or not, think about employers, your parents, yourself, and whoever else those grades might matter to and let that motivate you.

4. Tackle what you can handle– college has SO many opportunities. Which are GREAT. But I strongly encourage you to be realistic about what you can handle and make sure you’re giving yourself enough time for school. Learn to say no if it means you gain much needed homework time.

4. Stay organized/Don’t procrastinate– my planner is ridiculous. I wouldn’t recommend being as organized as I am, but I DO recommend writing everything out for the semester that’s due so you can stay on top of things (side note: This¬†is the Lilly Pulitzer planner¬†I got for 2019 except mine is the smaller one and I LOVE the formatting and bright colors. Recommend!). Do NOT procrastinate. I honestly don’t know that I know a college kid that doesn’t procrastinate, but I was always the opposite. I was the nerd who had her homework done a month ahead of time. Which is excessive and unnecessary (I just felt better getting it done way ahead), BUT procrastinating allows stress and anxiety to build up. It creates sloppy rushed work. Get your assignments, readings, and exams organized and work on them earlier rather than later.

5. Read your books– some classes we all know you don’t have to. But for the most part, when professors suggested we read, I read. And it helped A LOT. It just reiterated what the professors were saying and just reinforced my learning.

6. Make sure you’re¬†passionate about your degree– I learned VERY quickly that chemistry was not a class I would ever be able to take and keep my sanity, so that ultimately drove me to change things up with my degree. I found a path that I’m super passionate about (exercise science) and found the classes to be so much easier because I was genuinely interested in the material. If you’re struggling and not interested at all in your classes, something probably isn’t right. Granted, we all have classes we don’t like, but I’m talking about a majority. Make sure you’re working towards a passion.

7. Give yourself YOU time– it is SO easy to get burnt out in college. I definitely have done that to myself so many semesters. But I’ve finally learned how to balance my life better and not feel bad about kicking back and enjoying myself too. Sometimes the homework or studying can wait until you get your mind right and give yourself some YOU time.

These are a few tips that helped me keep my GPA where it’s at. I hope you find them helpful!

Much love,

Amanda

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

Are you stuck in a bad habit of buying your lunch everyday? Or maybe you pack your lunch, but have a hard time with the “healthy” part. Maybe you’re trying to practice new healthy habits and eating well is one of them. Let me give you a few tips on packing a healthy lunch that work for me.

1. Be realistic about how much you’re ACTUALLY going to eat- I used to pack WAY too much food. I would over estimate how much I was going to eat throughout the day and if it was in my lunch box, I would eat it. It didn’t matter if I was hungry or not. So in order to prevent eating out of boredom I just think super realistically about the foods I pack. How much food do I really need to keep me satisfied and not hungry all day? This may take a little bit of playing with to figure out how much food is enough for you.

2. Pack foods that will keep you full for longer- Almonds and boiled eggs are two favorites of mine that fill me up for a while. High fiber and high protein foods will keep you full for longer. Thus, you’ll eat less throughout the overall day. Look up other foods that can help keep you satisfied, so you’ll eat more of those and less of the junky ones!

3. Try to balance your carbs, proteins and fats between meals and snacks- Although I did say to pack high fiber/high protein foods, its important to try to keep a balance between carbs, fat and protein as well. For example, maybe pack a salad with lots of veggies for your main meal and add grilled chicken for some protein, a small side of whole grain pasta salad for carbs (you can eat this as a snack), celery with peanut butter for fat and veggie side, almonds for protein and fat, whole grain crackers for carbs, and an apple for a fruit serving. Try to keep your food as relatively balanced as best you can.

4. Don’t pack a HUGE meal for lunch- pack a light main meal and a lot of snacks. If you bring something heavy and only eat that one meal your whole day at work, you’ll probably crash and find yourself wanting to take a nap in the afternoon since your body is spending so much energy digesting your big meal. Instead, pack lots of snacks and a lighter main course so you can keep your energy levels more stable throughout the day.

5. Portion appropriately-¬†READ NUTRITION LABELS. These labels will tell you what a portion is and how many calories/macronutrients are in one serving. For example, one serving of almonds is MUCH smaller than you think. One small handful or 23 nuts is the average portion size for one serving of almonds and equals about 160 calories. Calories add up, so making sure you’re portioning according to the nutrition labels will help you avoid eating too many calories.

I hope this helps!

Much love,

Amanda

 

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

 

HAPPY HOLIDAYS LOVES! I hope you all have some wonderful plans for the upcoming holidays. Eat lots of goodies, spend time with family, and find some time to relax!

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With the new year approaching, I’ve decided to make a few GOOD changes with this blog. This will be my last post for 2018, so I can enjoy the holidays and browse/prep some new content ideas.

I’ve been researching and learning a lot about blogging lately. It’s turning into a newfound passion of mine so I’m tweaking and changing as I continue and as a I learn.

So here are a few updates to expect:

1. Upgrade- I’ve been using a free WordPress template because I wasn’t sure what my plan was with this whole thing yet, but I decided to upgrade so more options to play with and an actual website: http://www.lifewithamanda.com . YAY.

2. Pictures- I was previously using some of the pictures that were just offered from the wordpress gallery and some of my own but I’m going to TRY to stay away from this and only use mine to be more original. This could get difficult with lack of time to take pictures sometimes but that’s my goal. Although some of you maybe didn’t notice the difference!

3. Format- I have definitely been all over the place with posting and formatting and trying to figure this whole thing out (at least I think I have been) My plan is to be more consistent with formatting/fonts/etc. so everything will hopefully look a little more clean.

4. Consistency- I have also been posting SUPER randomly. But I want to create a consistent schedule so you know what to expect and when to expect it. SO, this is my favorite news because I’m so excited. Every TUESDAY at 7:00pm I will post a deeper faith-based blog and every THURSDAY at 7:00pm I will post a health/lifestyle blog. If this gets to be too much I will definitely let you know if I decide to cut back on posts, but I’m trusting that God will give me what I need to maintain that schedule. I LOVE my faith posts. But, I also haven’t been posting about health or lifestyle as much as I want to as well. So, this way we get the best of both worlds and you know exactly what to expect!

Like I said, I’m learning and changing as I see necessary so if I make any other updates, I will be sure to let you know. Bear with me as I work on these changes and do my best! Some of you maybe didn’t even notice some of these things I mentioned, so if that’s you then ignore my perfectionism (the content is really what matters, right?). I hope you are all as excited as I am to take on these new changes. Expect a post on January 1st to kick off the new year.

Also, if you’re interested in seeing some of my day to day foods, workout videos, and overall tidbits about my day or different recipes/quotes/happiness stuff, follow my instagram account: amanda_bartle_

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I have another account, amandabartle_health that I used in the past to post all of my “health related” info, but I discontinued it because I found it much easier to just post everything on my personal page. So that one is NOT where I post anymore (it’s only still active because I’ve been using it for some ideas and such).

The important things:

-Keep an eye out for Tuesday/Thursday posts at 7:00pm starting January 1, 2019

-Follow me on Instagram to see some good stuff or to stay tuned in on my life

-Have a wonderful Christmas and fun-filled New Year’s celebration!

Talk soon.

Much love,

Amanda

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

With all the snow we’ve had lately I thought it would be a good time to post a soup recipe! Gavin’s mom gave me the base of this soup and then I added some more goodies and it was delicious.

I don’t typically measure anything when I cook, I just throw things together and measure by taste. So, I hope these measurements are decently accurate. Just add where you think is necessary based on preference. Lots of nutritional foods, but some not so much for flavor. It’s all about balance. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

-1 can of sweet corn

-2 cups? chicken broth

-1 can of black beans

-1 can of white beans

-3 packages of pepper jack cheese

-1 cup chopped cilantro

-1 package of cream cheese

-4 pieces of chicken breast

-3/4 cup onions

-1/2 jar of salsa

Add these to a crock pot for the day and you’re good to go. Super easy and super good!

Much love,

Amanda

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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