amo.says

my life in my words


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Love Alone Is Worth The Fight

Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.
[Psalm 30:5]

— feeling discouraged.

 

That was my Facebook status a couple of days ago. It was a rough day. It was a rough couple of days. From feeling inadequate at both jobs, to family concerns, to doubts of self-worth, to feeling unneeded, to having nobody show up for my ministry team meeting . . . I went to bed  with my pity party hat on, crying (yes, big girls DO cry), and wondering if what I was doing even mattered. I wondered why I was trying when it didn’t seem like I was actually making a difference. I poured my heart into my work, my passions, my family, and over those couple of days, it seemed as though I had taken 2 steps forward and 15 back—I was failing big time and bringing the people I cared about down with me. I posted the above statement on Facebook, partially wanting to just “leave it behind,” partially wanting to show my weakness, and partially as a landmark frozen in social networking time. So I posted it and traveled from FB Land to my Pillow Palace. The only thing I could do in that moment to calm the mind games was ask God to be with me. No really, I simply whispered as I lay in bed, “God, be with me. Please.” Then, I turned on this song and fell asleep, unmotivated, discouraged, and defeated.

 

 

Then I woke up to a brighter day. The thoughts of inadequacy were still hiding out in the corners of my mind, even as I looked in the mirror and said, “Today will be better. It’s a new day.” The feelings lingered and I kept pressing on. I knew they would—I’ve served in ministry long enough to recognize the mind games and the trying seasons post-victory. I just wish they would get easier to deal with as time goes by. Sadly, they get trickier and hit harder the further in you go. I played some of my favorite praise & worship songs as I got dressed and headed downtown to the waterfront for a special quiet time. The water is where I connect with God the most. The boundless wonder of the fluid mass reminds me that every particle that makes up that large body of water was handcrafted by the same Creator that made me. The the same God that orchestrates the tides also orchestrates my life. The stretch of water that spills over the horizon is as boundless as the Father’s love for me. As I sat by the water, meditating on 1 Kings 19:11-12, I asked for that whisper. I asked for the peace that passes understanding. I asked for the courage to face the earthquake and the fire, and to be able to walk away like guys do when walking away from an explosion . . . in confidence, without looking back. (Look, not all my prayers are PC.)

 

 

After that quiet time, I did what any normal human being would do when they realize they are the solo kid hanging out on a pier by the cold water—I checked my text messages and I checked my Facebook. What I got was that whisper. A very loud whisper. Friends had commented and texted some of the most ENcouraging things and it combated my discouragement like a rookie in a prize-fighting ring. Though the thoughts still clung to me for dear life, they were weakened, primed for a TKO. Part of that TKO came when I showed up to work at Westside. Our associate pastor’s mother noticed me walk in, but my headphones were in (as per my usual bad habit), so I didn’t hear her calling to me. Instead, she followed me into my office and I turned in shock that someone had followed me into my office, and stumbled to my desk as I belted out a terrified scream. Once I calmed down, she asked how I was doing and knowing she hadn’t seen my Facebook post, I broke down in her arms and let it all out. I’m not sure how much of those tears were induced by the circumstances and how much was induced by having the bejeebus scared outta me, but it felt great to cling to her and just cry it out. My co-workers at the other job would be so proud of me (it’s a Counseling Resource Center and they LOVE when you show emotion). After drying my eyes a bit, I went upstairs to see my G-Mama (our Office Admin), who invited me to come talk to her about what was going on, since she had seen the post on Facebook. I talked it over with her and was left even more encouraged and finally began to feel a strong peace about things. My heart had endured some good healing that morning.

 

 

 

The pinnacle of it all, and perhaps the driving force behind this post, was what happened later that evening. As our youth group game night began, one of my students asked if they could talk to me in private. We headed to my office and they began to share with me that one of their siblings had undergone tests and that it’s more than possible that their sibling has cancer. The student was overcome with fear and the tears were flowing as they asked me to pray for their sibling and their family. In that moment, I felt a fresh wind in my sails. I felt needed again—not to be their Savior, but to stand in the gap and assure them that their family wasn’t in this fight alone. My faith activated and I prayed one of the most passionate prayers I’d prayed in a while. We both walked out of that office with empty shoulders, having cast all of our fears and doubts on God, believing for the best. We spent the rest of the evening surrounded by people who share our hope, our faith, and our love for full life. Things came full circle and I had seen that not only was this a time for me to lean on others, but to be reminded that whether I’m in ministry or not, God wants me to be a refuge for those in need. In that moment, the student and I were twinsies—both broken, both hoping for greater things, and both putting our hearts in each others’ hands. I believe that’s what God intended from the beginning and it’s one of the lessons that it’s taken me what seems like forever to put into practice: To be able to surrender that image of “having it all together” and walk with others through the truth of “I have no clue what I’m doing, or why I’m doing it because nothing makes sense right now.” In the end, we were left with a hopeful future, knowing that whatever comes our way, we still have each other and we still have God. Before I went to bed last night, I thought to myself, “What you’re doing does matter. Stay the course.”

 

 

To everyone who left encouraging messages on my Facebook, THANK YOU! To Donna Stubbert, THANK YOU!! To Glenda Wright, my G-Mama, THANK YOU!!! And to my 2Twelvers, THANK YOU!!!! Thank you all for helping me stay on the right track and for reminding me of the complete greatness of God! I think I’m ready to go another 5 rounds!

 

rocky


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Hearts Go Crazy

Powerful leaders and rockin' guitars? Hmm. I MUST be in Austin! ;)

Powerful leaders and artsy rockin’ guitars? Hmm. I MUST be in Austin! 😉

My visit home to the ATX was nothing short of jam-packed, fast-paced,
FUN FUN FUN!!

Along with that fun, it was also filled with a lot of growing! I was finally in a place mentally/emotionally/spiritually where I was able to focus on more positive things and choose joy despite inconveniences & last-minute changes. I became more flexible and more vocal about what was really happening in my mind. I gave grace out of true love, not out of “obligation.” I sat and listened while I was dead tired because I didn’t want the speaker to think that they are invaluable—because they certainly are not! They are, in fact, some of the MOST valuable people in my life. I know that we are going to continue to grow as individuals and as a family this year in fresh new ways. The distance is INDEED making our hearts grow fonder, our ability to ask for help more frequent, and our honesty even more valued. Now that I’ve had time to grow close to my family while visiting last week, I’m looking forward to growing even closer to my family across the miles this year!

Here are some of my favorite moments from vacation:

Cupcakes

Being greeted by Mr. Hello Kitty at the airport and heading right over to Anabelle’s school for her big Birthday surprise!

school

Anabelle was SO focused on what the teacher was saying that she didn’t even see us come in through the classroom door (off to the right front side)!

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But when she saw us, she was on CLOUD 9! It was a perfect surprise!

lunch

And then even better because Grandpa and Aunt Mandy got to join her for lunch and playground time!

seargent

We even made a special pit-stop by Grandma’s work, where the nice soldiers gave Anabelle some sweet Birthday moolah!

Trivia

Trivial Pursuit at breakfast with my mom & sis was priceless!

Nate

We got to celebrate family with quality time at my Mamo’s (Grandma’s) house and I got to watch my little cuzzo cub, Nate, walking around!! Precious moments to the max!

Pops

Quality time with this dude was always a win! 🙂 I just forever love my pops!

We were SO loud in the restaurant and it was quite possibly one of the happiest moments we’ve shared as siblings in a VERY long time! 🙂

Grandma

I *rarely* get to see my Grandma Martinez when I go home to visit, so it was super special to spend time with her before I flew home.

science

Vanessa got to show off her science project + got to share some treasured time together discussing/planning her visit to Seattle next summer! 😉

hearts

Vanessa and I also got a chance to compare heart tattoos and talk about life/school stuff. I love quality time with that little Miss!

I got to treat my mom to her 1st EVER pedicure! She said, “You made me feel like a Queen!” That’s good, because she TOTALLY is! ♥

Even though I had a short amount of time to spend with everyone, I took any opportunity I could to squeeze in time . . . even if it meant staying out late at the restaurant with my dad and keeping myself occupied with work projects while waiting for his breaks. TOTALLY worth it! :)

Even though I had a short amount of time to spend with everyone, I took any opportunity I could to squeeze in time . . . even if it meant staying out late at the restaurant with my dad and keeping myself occupied with work projects while waiting for his breaks. TOTALLY worth it! 🙂

 

Thinking back to those treasured times with my family brings me peace, knowing that there is healing and maturation in store for this divided heart of mine. Yes, you read that right—divided . . . but not divided for long, I’m sure. You see, currently on one side of my heart is my family back home, and on the other side is my family here in Seattle. These two pieces of my heart are miles apart from each other. Yet I have high hopes and firm beliefs that as I grow this year, they can find a healthy way to come together to make up one WHOLEHEARTED Amo. In pursuit of that merger, I’m reminded of a conversation I had with my Pastor a few weeks ago. We were discussing something in one of our staff meetings and I kept referring to GT Austin (the church I used to attend in Austin) as “My Home Church.”  While I kept saying, “My Home Church,” he stopped me for a second and said, “This is your home church.” In that instance I realized just how right he was and just how much I’d been living with my feet on Seattle soil and my mind on Texas life. I wanted the best of both worlds (don’t we all) but now it was time to settle the roots down into something solid. He meant no ill-will by correcting my phrasing, he simply wanted me to focus on the present and embrace the church family that consistently embraces me. I truly appreciate that wake-up call and refocusing that has me set on a forward path. It’s not wrong to keep my family and their well-being in my heart, however, it is wrong to allow the long-distance concerns to keep me from pursuing my goals and dreams for my life and for my future family. As I continue to travel through this year of WHOLEHEARTED living, I’m learning to change the inner-voice that helps to guide my mindsets. By shifting that inner-voice, I am hoping that I will be able to take full inventory of the life around me and truly embrace all that God has for me here in Seattle!


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Hot Patootie — Bless My Soul

10 points to you if you just started singing the song. 😉

Puget Sound view from Grace's place! ♥

Puget Sound view from Grace’s place! ♥

 

As I sit here in the C Terminal at DFW airport, I find myself mulling over some the wonderful conversation pieces I shared with my friend Grace last night. It’s been a long while since I’ve gotten to hang out with her, so we had a lot of catching up to do during our pre-flight hangout. So much of the conversation was edifying to my soul and gave me a great opportunity of refocus. We talked a lot about the premise of perfection. We talked a lot about the risks that we don’t take due to our upbringing of perfection and how we’ve developed it in our own lives and seen it focused on in the lives of friends.

 

Tram Time at DFW . . . killin' time during my 3 hour layover!

Tram Time at DFW . . . killin’ time during my 3 hour layover!

 

Often times through our discussion, we reverted to the Pinterest Perfect phenomenon. It’s that moment when you’ve seen something on Pinterest, attempted it, failed, and given up because it’s not PINTEREST PERFECT. We discussed the frustration of spending hours on a craft project only to put in our closet of shame and refuse to share it with anyone because we failed. It not only permeates the way we view our next project (if we even decide to take on another), it affects our willingness to risk the next big step in life . . . what if we fail?

 

 

Failure has always been a struggle for me. I’ve grown up on stories of how so-and-so was a failure, and how I would be failure if I didn’t accomplish A,B,C,D, and E. Why don’t I have kids yet? Why don’t I have a boyfriend yet? Why am I not publishing my own books? Why am I not doing ______ in the ministry. Why is our youth group not running 500 students strong? What is the hold up? Why am I not successful? Well, let me tell you, it’s because:

 

I’m not there yet.
We’re not there yet.
Things are moving in that direction, but it’s just not there yet.

 

And that’s OKAY. I think. I believe. I hope. It’s taken me an entire year of RENEWAL to truly understand and be okay with that. Is it perfected in me, nah. But is it a reality I’m growing in, you betcha! I have friends whose focal points of conversation seem to be: 

  • I can’t seem to get this baby weight off fast enough.
  • I just want a bigger house.
  • My family will never succumb to the pressure of society.
  • Being a stay-at-home-mom is the best thing for children.
  • A proper Christian attends small group, a church service, and serves ministries on the street 5 days a week, while wearing the fanciest Sunday best.
  • All the best moms throw Pinterest Baby Showers/Birthday Parties/Spa Nights 
  • I can totally snack at this party because I took all my diet pill supplements today.
  • By the time you’re 30, you should be married with kids and getting your kids learning sign language by the time they are 2 years old. 

 

And if these are the perceptions of “where I should be,” then by all accounts, I’m hosed.

  • I can’t seem to get this baby weight off fast enough. . . . color me Devil’s Advocate, but didn’t you JUST give birth to a tiny human? Give yourself a break—you still have time to slowly get back into a healthy shape. I also mentioned to Grace that one of my favorite things about watching The Biggest Loser is that it reminds me that it’s NEVER too late to turn your life around and make the next best wise choice.
  • I just want a bigger house. . . . A better, bigger, life is not made in a building, it’s made through a lifetime of experiences. If I can’t be satisfied in a small house, I’ll have a rough time being satisfied in a large house. We must make the most of the space we’re given.
  • My family will never succumb to the pressure of society. . . . Because following your child around 24/7 isn’t creepy at all . . . 

  • Being a stay-at-home-mom is the best thing for children. . . . There is a 95% chance that I will never be a stay-at-home mom unless I work from home, and even then, those kids are getting shipped off to school. Color me selfish all ya want. 
  • A proper Christian attends small group, a church service, and serves ministries on the street 5 days a week, while wearing the fanciest Sunday best. . . . Sometimes I just don’t wanna. Sometimes I am too exhausted to. Sometimes I just want to meet with Jesus while I’m sitting by the waterfront and not in a chair in a church building. I don’t always have time to get gussied up in my Sunday best.
  • All the best moms throw Pinterest Baby Showers/Birthday Parties/Spa Nights . . . Clearly I won’t be winning any Mother-Of-The-Year Awards in this category. Come over to my house for a chick-flick, popcorn, veggies + hummus, and irreverent conversation.
  • I can totally snack at this party because I took all my diet pill supplements today. . . . I can totally snack at this party because I now have a healthy relationship with food and I understand why I’m eating it and it’s not to cover up the fact that I feel I’m the odd person out and can’t relate to anyone at this party. I can totally snack at this party because these fruits and veggies are healthy and these cupcakes were made from scratch and not manufactured and over-processed. I don’t have diet pill supplements because I like the confidence that comes with being able to pick out my own foods and be responsible for what I put in my body.
  • By the time you’re 30, you should be married with kids and getting your kids learning sign language by the time they are 2 years old. . . . I’m just starting to learn a little bit of sign language to teach our kids in Kid’s Church right now. I’m hoping to adopt a teenager sometime early next year whether I’m married or not.

And that’s OKAY.

I’ve got a few secrets to share with you:

I went to public school.
I spent the majority of my life eating Ballpark food.
I got caught booty dancing on a table in a classroom at school and flipped off an administrator once.
I sweet-talked (lied) my way out of consequences for that incident.
My mom didn’t use cloth diapers on me.
I’ve never eaten grass-fed beef. Though I HAVE eaten Grass-Fed Beef, it clearly wasn’t  different/memorable enough for me to be able to tell that it was . . .  and I doubt that it will be something commonly found on my own dinner table in the future.
I still don’t eat ONLY ORGANIC food.
I’ve attempted 4 Pinterest projects and failed all of them with flying colors.
Even when I was “required” to wear dress clothes to church, I refused and wore jeans instead.
I have experienced periods of time where I’ve had no social contact for days and been COMPLETELY content with it!

And in the end, I somehow turned out “okay.” 😉 

Amirite??? 😉

 

Do I still have quirky behaviors and a random sense of humor? Yep! and I love it!
Do I have to wake up at 3 a.m. to breast feed my child? Nope! And I love it!
Am I speaking at conferences to crowds of thousands? Nope! And I might someday but for now, the audience I have in Westside Kids and 2Twelve is MORE than enough!
Do I sometimes say the wrong thing at the wrong time? Absolutely! Please forgive me. I’m still learning.

 

 

All that to say, I’m enjoying the journey—the journey of being okay with growing and learning. The journey of being okay with not being perfect. The journey of understanding that not only was I born for greatness, but I am great right here and right now, simply because God loves me. I don’t have to rise to perfection. I can finally come to terms with living my best life possible right now, complete with victories and valleys! Also, let me (hopefully not) be the first to tell you that life is SO much fun when you don’t have it all figured out! 😉

 

So many great things come out of my quality times with my Gracie Lou Who! 😀

 

As Grace & I finished up our conversation, we reflected on the beauty of seeing mistakes as stepping stones in a forward motion. We rejoiced that we were both on a good track to make the best of the worst situations. It reminded me of a moment yesterday morning (oh stressful Sunday mornings) and one of my youth girls asked me how I was “keeping it all together” when I had teachers out with the flu, last-minute changes, etc. and I said, “I choose joy. If I allow these circumstances to push me down and get me running away, nobody wins. I will be miserable and ineffective for what God has called me to do. These situations suck,* but I choose joy. It’s the only way forward for me.”

 

Today, let’s choose joy. Let’s choose to be imperfect. Let’s choose to be okay with being completely ourselves and not let our mistakes define us. Let’s step forward and move on to the greater things that God has in store for us!

 

* That’s youth pastor of the year award material right there, folks!


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Rich Girl

♫ If I were a rich girl . . . ♫ 

I would buy all of these awesome clothes!!

Cardi Shirt Dress2 PolkaDotty FullSet Blue Dress1

 

You probably wouldn’t guess it by my everyday looks, but my personal (ideal) style is SOOOOO pricey! While I do enjoy thrift shopping here and there, it’s not my favorite venue for clothing. I much prefer vintage clothing that’s sold in a way that I don’t have to dig through bins and racks. Actually, I think Cher Horowitz had it right with that computerized closet (AMIRITE??). My favorite way to shop is actually online through shops like Etsy and Mod Cloth, but WOAH DANG are those places pricey!! Other places I love that are pricey . . . ProjectX and SOUL CYCLE. There are many key pieces that catch my eye, but seriously, check out these prices on some of my faves at SOUL CYCLE:

SC1 SC2 SC3 SC5 SC4

 

I’ll admit, from time to time, I will spend the hefty fine on the glam goods. For instance, I dropped a pretty penny on this puppy:

 

 

Okay, so to me, a pretty penny sounds like $35.75. I realize that doesn’t sound like much, but for a girl who grew up in her brother’s hand-me-downs and Wal-Mart gear, it totally is. However, I just couldn’t resist ProjectX goods. They only create small batches of their gear that sell out like hot cakes! I’m still holding out hope that I’ll get the jump on this one that will be in their web store next week:

 

Screen Shot 2014-01-08 at 8.54.27 PM

 

One of the constant things I have to remind myself when shopping in schmancy stores is that,”It will still be there and eventually will go on SALE!*” As I was scanning the interwebs, drooling over all of these wondermous finds, I couldn’t help but think long and hard about something that really hits home for me. You see, I often point the finger and laugh at the fact that my siblings have expensive taste in entertainment, accessories, hair products, clothing, tech gadgets, and eateries . . . all the while I am just as guilty. Exhibit A:

 

Yeah, this is TOTALLY happening next month!

This wasn’t a cheap deal, but it is TOTALLY happening next month!

 

Who knew that web browsing could lead me to realize that I am, in fact, a “holier-than-thou” snob when it comes to comparing my life to my siblings. I realize that as I walk into this year of WHOLEHEARTED living, I need to let go of playing the comparison game with my siblings. For many of my friends, the Judge Judy game comes in handy with others in society that seem more elite, or others who parent differently, or politicians. For me, it’s mostly just with my family . . . and even then, mainly my sibs. It’s easy with them—we’ve lived our entire lives together. We get on each other’s nerves so well. We know exactly how to get the other to smile after we’ve upset them. We all know how to survive on next-to-nothing, and we each have lofty goals of a “better life.” One thing I’m challenged with is learning to give up that game with my family. I’ve spent years differentiating my family members from myself and because of that, I’ve forgotten to accept and rejoice in the things that we DO have in common. Another challenge is learning to balance this “better life” idea and applying it not to the ‘someday future’, but to the present. I want to be able to wake up every morning accepting that this IS the “better life” now simply because God, my family, and my friends are a part of it! Now I’ll have the chance to do that with one less ‘plank in my eye.’ 😉 Something I really enjoy about shopping is being able to take time through every purchase debated to reflect on the value of people and character over the value of possessions. I enjoy learning daily just how much of a RICH GIRL I really am! I am rich in love, family, friends, faith, hope, and life ! . . . of course, it doesn’t hurt that these cute items will also be a part of my life next week when they come in the mail:

ComingSoon2 ComingSoon1

hehehehhe!

Oh how I do LOVE a good sale!

More than I’m looking forward to stocking these in my closet, I’m looking forward to being back home next week—back to my roots and my family that loves me and fuels my life! I’m also thankful that I had a chance to analyze this issue BEFORE I go home, so that my time there will be even more meaningful!

*does not apply to ProjectX gear 😉


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Wholehearted Mess

HNY2013

WOW!!

I can’t believe 2013 has come and gone!

That up there was my first post of 2013 and here we are at my first post of 2014!

 

As you know, each year I choose a new word to (in a sense), define my year. It’s not the penultimate goal, but rather a guiding star through the mountains, trails, and valleys of the year. Last year, my word was RENEWAL. In true form, it was indeed a year of RENEWAL. I established new relationships that helped me heal, I scaled back on certain things in life, while taking on others I deemed more important. I messed up and made mistakes, then learned to get back up on my two feet with the help of friends and family. I ended the year with a more positive and hopeful outlook. I gained confidence and walked in blind faith through the seasons.

In conversation with a close friend about how my word for the year always proves to be fruitful, my friend suggested that I make my word for this year ENGAGED. So that, you know, I’d end up engaged to a guy. 😉 Yea though that was a tempting thought, I decided to forgo that word and instead choose one that didn’t just focus on being romantically fulfilled, but rather wholly fulfilled. That’s why the word for this year is WHOLEHEARTED.

 

WholeheartedWord

 

Inspired greatly by the 10 Guideposts for Wholehearted Living from Brené Brown’s book, Daring Greatly, I wanted this year to be focused on taking those pieces of life that had been renewed and begin to interlock the whole puzzle and see what kind of masterpiece God is shaping this beautiful mess into. I want those life lessons and memories to flourish this year in an all-encompassing way. Whether or not this year brings a romantic relationship my way or not, I’ll be okay because my heart will be whole in other ways. No matter what I face, I want to walk away from this year knowing that I put my entire heart, mind, and effort into all of the things that God wants me to pursue. Here’s the approach I hope to take this year:

 

Wholehearted

 

My hope is to focus on the following during their respective months throughout the year (administrative attack, ahoy!):

January:  Take Inventory of Where You’ve Been And How That Will Propel You To Where You Want To Go.
February: Cultivate Authenticity
March: Cultivate Self-Compassion
April: Cultivating a Resilient Spirit
May: Cultivating Gratitude and Joy
June: Cultivating Intuition and Trusting Faith
July: Cultivating Creativity
August: Cultivating Play & Rest
September: Cultivating Calm & Stillness
October: Cultivating Meaningful Work
November: Cultivating Laugher, Song, and Dance
December: Celebrating The Journey

Each month my goals and prayers will be focused on that month’s respective theme. Now, I’m fairly sure that if I do this the “right way,” none of this will matter and I’ll get thrown off-track/schedule and hit some road blocks along the way. However, that’s what makes this journey SO brutiful! I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to embark on this epic journey through 2014!

 

NewYear4

HAPPY NEW YEAR, Y’ALL!

Now off I go to celebrate Day 1 of 2014 with a piping hot bowl of black-eyed-peas and greens!!

. . . Once a Southern girl, always a Southern girl, eh? 😉