amo.says

my life in my words


Leave a comment

Open Hands

unnamed

The sight of beautiful things on the horizon! These are the things I’m reviewing as we move towards #ItsJoTime moving in. The Parenting Toolbox includes articles, parenting tips, foster care tips, and notes taken from classes on the road so far.

I was really tempted to name this entry: What To Expect When You’re Kind Of Expecting, but the words to the Laura Story/Mac Powell song, OPEN HANDS, seemed more appropriate a base line.

There are two things that I’ve been expecting for this new year:

  1. Stepping out of my ministry position as Youth Pastor at Westside Church. It’s been a transition in the making for months now. Last Fall, we brought on a great youth assistant who loves our church family and champions the same Orange strategy that I do and have used to help build our kids and youth ministries at Westside. For the past 7 years, I have served as volunteer Youth Pastor of 2Twelve Student Ministries and in the past 4 years, I have served in the paid position of Children’s Director for Westside Kids and Graphic Designer at Westside. As both of these family ministries have grown and are continuing to grow, and with the ever expanding demand for graphic supports, it’s becoming more than I am capable of managing. To continue to promote the growth and focus needed to help each of these areas I am stepping aside as Youth Pastor and bringing in our youth assistant to step into that role from here on. This past Sunday was my last day as Youth Pastor and it was truly bittersweet. I hope those students will continue to know how much they mean to me. I also hope they continue to understand how much potential they have to influence others around them toward brighter and more hopeful futures as they own their faith & embrace responsibility toward each other as human beings. As I take this step away, I will be able to focus even more time, attention and focus to our Westside Kids ministry’s growth and enhancement. In addition, it will free me up for focused time in parenting a teenager of my own!
    15977808_10158091281890486_117157686119664873_n

    It’s been an honor to love and lead this crew through my past 7 years as Youth Pastor at WestsideChurch. Today was my last day in this role and I’m so glad I got to share it with this beautiful crew! I’m looking forward to being able to continue pouring out that same passion and guidance into our WestsideKids ministry and to continue tackling graphic design projects for the church. It’s definitely bittersweet but I know these amazing 2Twelve students are in good hands (and hearts)!!

     

  2. Becoming a Foster Parent! The #AMOdoption journey continues as I move even closer to walking into the role of becoming the parent of a smart, strong, beautiful, lovable teenage girl! She fits so well in my heart, mind and family and I am looking forward to strengthening our relationship and helping her find her voice, space, and landing spot in my home. I’ve been able to spend some quality moments and begin bonding well with my Kiddo during some respite weekends and over Winter Break. I’ve gotten to meet her siblings and their adoptive parents and feel such great joy in expanding my family with them. At this point, I am a foster parent with the potential of adoption, but adoption is not on the discussion table right now—just foster care. At the end of January, I will be bringing my Kiddo home and our journey together will take another step in a promising direction!

Through this transition I am grateful for the love and support of my friends, family, faith, and work communities! My boss at the 9-to-5 job has offered me time off and lots of practical supports in anticipation of my Kiddo’s arrival. My friends and family have offered me lots of encouragement, prayer support and practical supports. My faith community has embraced me every step of this journey and continues to support me in prayer, practical supports, and provided such great opportunities for meaningful connections that have benefitted my girl in this transition and in the road ahead.

At this point, I am still wrapping my mind around everything—it’s been a whirlwind of meetings, processing forms, preparing for school enrollment the first week in February, and getting the house in order for her arrival. I would ask for anyone reading this to consider joining me in prayer for this matter. Things to pray for include:

  • My Kiddo seeing this move as a positive placement toward permanency and me being able to support her in all the best ways as we both move through our own grieving processes—me with ministry transition and her with losing strong connections developed through her current family placement.
  • That we are able to get all the appropriate State/practical supports needed to make it a successful experience for my Kiddo and I.
  • Once she is placed in my home, I will need to pay my agency another large chunk of change, which I knew and planned for in advance. The great thing is that there are many grants that I can (and have always planned to) apply for. Please pray that I’m able to get some (or all) of those grants that I apply for so that I can have some additional financial provision in this journey.
  • That the transition to a new school will go well and she’ll feel it’s a fresh start and a way to reinvent herself and widen the circle.

I would also appreciate any help with practical supports as you are able. Practical supports for now include gift cards for grocery stores (Fred Meyer & QFC preferred), clothing stores (Target, Old Navy, and WalMart), gas stations, as well as meals from local friends/eateries to help us eat well amid all of the introductory meetings with school and care team members, medical appointments, and settling into a home rhythm. If you are interested in helping with any of these practical supports, you can comment here and I’ll be in touch!

I am so excited to finally bring my girl home and surround her with love, care, and support for a successful future! You can keep up with our journey on social media via the #ItsJoTime hashtag and I’ll be sure to post updates here along the way of things I’m discovering as I continue to make this a year of SEEK AND FIND with my little love in tow!

IMG_4468.JPG

A lifetime of safety, warmth, and connection can be found in my Kiddo’s collection of stuffed animals. It’s an honor to join this same vein of support as I step into her world and point her in a positive, faith-filled, successful direction. I look forward to every opportunity to open my heart and hands to continually prove love over time!

 

 

Advertisements


Leave a comment

Good Together | Seek & Find in 2017

The PROMISES of 2017 helped me get through so much of the mess that came packed into the year. This past year has brought pain, sacrifice, the death of loved ones, job focus shifts, large financial undertakings, medial setbacks and political distress. Despite those things, it has also brought a deeper faith, a wider range of relationships and potential additions to my family. I’ve been able to walk into circumstances of struggle and see God provide time and time again. Being able to believe and see God’s faithfulness show up in my life this past year have helped me to choose this year’s word . . . s. Usually I just pick one, but this year after thinking and praying about it, I got a little bit more to go with.

My focus for this year is:

blogseekandfind

A couple of nights ago, I felt a tug on my heart and heard the compelling voice of the Holy Spirit to go to my potential foster daughter’s bedroom and just pray for her while she was away at a youth group sleepover. I tried to reason it away because I was feeling sick and tired, but I couldn’t shake it. So I walked over to her room, knelt beside her bed and prayed that this home would be a refuge for her and that she would find space here to heal, learn, love, grow, and become the incredible young woman she was created to be. I prayed that peace, grace, and love would cover her to remind her that she’s valuable to me and others. As I headed back to bed, I knew that this next year would be one of seeking God for truth and wisdom even more.

14364859_10157496731815486_1408870695411225245_n

Today’s the big day!! It’s my first #RespiteWeekend ever and I’m so looking forward to it! Even though we only get 48hrs., I hope it’s just what she needs to relax and refresh before heading back to school next week! Prayers for a smooth weekend filled with fun & quality connections are appreciated.

Parenting in and of itself is one of the most demanding roles anyone will ever step into throughout life. Parenting a child from a hard place, while pastoring and holding a part time business position certainly adds its own plot points to the story. Still, I am up for this role of a lifetime and look forward to walking through it knowing I’m not alone on the journey. I realize that everyone will have an opinion on how I should parent or what will be the best thing for me and my Kiddo and I am/will be so grateful for every nugget of wisdom I acquire along the way. But ultimately I will need to rely on what God is revealing to me as I seek Him to build my faith, family, connections, and career. He knows me best, knows Kiddo best, and knows how we should build family life best. In my seeking, I know that if I seek all of those other outlets for truth while skipping or diminishing God in the equation, I will continually be stuck in struggle and disappointment. I don’t want my seeking after Him to be lukewarm or passive, but rather intentional and with expectancy. As I seek, I don’t want to just rely on what’s in my mind already. I want to ask questions and prioritize studying God’s word for truth and wisdom along the way.

seekandfind

This is my foundational scripture for my year of seeking and finding.

I would love for you to Seek and Find with me as life unfolds in the valleys, mountaintops, and common hours all year long. I will do my best to share the things I find along the way either here on the blog, over coffee dates and phone calls, or on my social media outlets. I am looking forward to taking time to put more time and attention towards God in my everyday life and see where He leads me!

Happy New Year, everyone!

15822940_10158012369440486_5910569772190354766_n

Welcoming the New Year with dear friends and lots of laughs! Bonus move is New Year’s at the Needle!!


Leave a comment

This Is Living

IMG_20150113_185908

 

It’s a known fact that there is a magazine called EASY LIVING. Personally, I believe they should have called it Easier Living. While life should be loved, and lived to the fullest, I don’t necessarily think ‘easy’ means better. Sometimes easy means careless and aimless. I don’t believe that life should be careless or aimless, rather it should be filled with purpose and adventure! Helen Keller once wrote:

‘Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.’

And oh how I totally get what she’s saying. This past week, my world has definitely turned upside down, but I’ve felt incredible peace in the midst of the chaos. My mother has been in the hospital with some serious medical struggles and it’s not easy to be miles and miles away, unable to really “DO” anything about it but pray and encourage her to keep fighting. Even as I’ve offered to fly home, relatives and doctors have assured me that there is no need and that things are getting better. She’s not 100% free of medical problems, but the red flags are definitely lowering. I give all the credit to God and the many prayers of friends/family members. One of the things that I have noticed a change in during the course of this ‘peaceful’ chaos is that my tendency to give up and expect only the worst has subsided.

Growing up was tough and left me with a mindset that “things can only get worse.” Yet through this trying season I find myself ever hopeful and believing for the best. There are definitely moments when my mind starts to get overcrowded with anxious thoughts but I pause, breathe deep, and then (honestly) repeat to myself:

 

 

Then I start recounting all of the moments that God redeemed the tough situations and proved faithful. I think back to the time I was in the hospital due to a UTI after contracting E.Coli from Guatemala. I was in a dark place, near the end of my rope—lifeless and hopeless. Then God broke through my darkness and gave me the strength and courage to reach out. He redeemed the time then and He continues to do it now.

I think back to the time I was near-death after a routine wisdom tooth extraction with an outrageous outcome. I remembered the people and the prayers that surrounded me. And I remind myself that the very same God that carried me through that season can carry me and my family through this one. He’s actually REALLY good at that. Whether we choose to allow Him to diminish the demons that ransack our hearts and minds, He is constantly making Himself available to us . . . until that moment where we throw in the towel and allow Him to show up.

I realize that not every situation has a happy ending, but I’ve been able to see some pretty significant fingerprints of God in these current circumstances. Whether things get brighter or darker, my song will be the same of Daniel 3:18. There will be no snuggling with my demons during this ‘peaceful’ chaos!


Leave a comment

Halfway to Heaven

DOC
A single minute can change your entire life.
Can you imagine what could happen in 100?
Welcome to the 10-Day Do Over Challenge, a small adventure with big possibilities.
Inside this PDF are ten challenges . . . . The hope is that ten minutes of motivation will turn into additional minutes of hustle. 
Don’t read ahead and don’t try to do all the challenges in a day. Cramming all ten into a single afternoon would be like trying to do an entire diet in one day. You’d end up eating ten days’ worth of kale in one sitting and wouldn’t get any healthier in the process. (By the way, kale chips taste like pages of a burnt novel. Someone had to say it.)
Life is too short for long introductions. Let’s go!

— Jon Acuff, creator of the 10-Day Do Over Challenge

 

I'm excited to join Jon Acuff in the 10-day #DoOverBook Challenge!

I’m excited to join Jon Acuff in the 10-day #DoOverBook Challenge!

 

Six days ago I accepted a challenge to take on a “Do Over.” The cool thing is that it actually flows into my theme for the year: RECLAIM.

Today's #DoOverBook Challenge Craft: Creating a huge Bible for our Exploring The Bible series at 2Twelve, out of a couch box, kraft paper, spray paint, paint and masking tape. :O

Today’s #DoOverBook Challenge Craft: Creating a huge Bible for our Exploring The Bible series at 2Twelve, out of a couch box, kraft paper, spray paint, paint and masking tape. :O

When I was a young girl, art class was one of my favorites! I loved making pottery, drawing, creating statues out of everyday pieces, and oil painting (oh baby, that was pure delight!). I also really enjoyed arts and crafts for in-school projects. You know, creating murals, helping to design the bulletin board for the teacher for extra credit, and making Valentine’s Day paper sacks to hang at the front of the class. While I always gave my best effort and enjoyed expressing myself creatively through those artistic means, there were always a couple of girls who were better than me.

DOB2

Crafted some fun little fortune cookies today for my #DoOverBook Challenge. 😀 ♥

They were more popular than I was, so their work got the most Oooohs and Aaahhhs. They used expensive, high-quality materials, while I used the basic Wal-Mart rip-offs of everything. In Elementary School, I decided that I just didn’t have what it takes to be an artist because my work would never be as great as those girls. No one really appreciated my cardboard box and construction paper board game for the Math Class project. They were too busy being blown away by the hand-carved wooden slat and magnet games created by the popular girls. I was dumb enough back then to believe that my work was, and would always be sub-par.

Today's #DoOverBook Challenge Craft: Custom letters to send home to the Fam Bam! ♥

Today’s #DoOverBook Challenge Craft: Custom letters to send home to the Fam Bam! ♥

Tragically, I carried much of that mentality along with me into adulthood and began to see most everything I did in light of the great masterpieces of those who “had what it took.” So when the Do-Over Challenge came, I almost passed it up, thinking I didn’t stand a chance at doing anything meaningful. Still, I sucked it up and put on my brave face, and dared to reclaim the inner-artist I had left behind in Elementary Class. I decided that my Do-Over would involve reclaiming my love for arts ‘n’ crafts. Now 6 days in, I’m realizing just how much freedom and life I feel when I am doing simple arts ‘n’ craft projects. With each project, I’m challenged to think creatively and find purpose for the finished product.

Today's #DoOverBook Challenge Craft: Beaded bracelets for my little love bug nieces! ♥

Today’s #DoOverBook Challenge Craft: Beaded bracelets for my little love bug nieces! ♥

I’m really glad I took on the challenge and I’m looking forward to reclaiming even more of the simple joys I left behind in boxes of shame and hurt as this year passes. I know they can only bring bright and beautiful things, because that’s what I see in each of these projects I’ve taken on thus far!

It feels so good to be crafting again! ♥ #DoOverBook

It feels so good to be crafting again! ♥ #DoOverBook

 

What about you? Is there something you’d like to Do Over? Or at least begin to Do Over for 10 days? If so, head on over HERE and take the 10-Day Do Over Book Challenge!

 

Today's #DoOverBook Challenge Craft: Some fuzzy minion friends to share with my real friends!

Today’s #DoOverBook Challenge Craft: Some fuzzy minion friends to share with my real friends!


Leave a comment

BANG BANG | Reclaiming 2015!

Happy 2015 to you and your family!

IMG_20150101_000445

 

2014 was a great year for me, and I’m looking forward to an equally fulfilling 2015. Instead of setting a big resolution each year, I choose to focus on one word and let it become my theme for life choices throughout the year. Last year, my word was WHOLEHEARTED. I took concepts from Brené Brown’s book, The Gifts of Imperfection and divided them up into specific monthly focuses. I won’t be doing the same this year—I’m going to change it up. I’m also going to be blogging more often. I find it completely therapeutic and empowering to use my written voice on this platform and I’m hoping you’ll stick around to watch the fireworks. 😉

Me and one of my housemates, ready to ring in the new year!

Me and one of my housemates, ready to ring in the new year!

 

As I spent time this Fall asking God for a word to challenge and carry me through this year, the resounding answer came around the end of November. That word is . . .

Reclaim Banner

[RECLAIM]

  • To get back (something that was lost or taken away)
  • To make available for use by changing its condition
  • To get a usable material from materials that have been used before
  • To rescue from an undesirable state
  • To restore to a previous natural state
  • To regain possession of

I realize it’s a broad word, but I feel in my heart that it is the perfect next season for me. It’s already creating an expectancy and spark of faith for the things that will come in 2015. I’m not saying I’m going to be a millionaire or that I’m going to hike the planet for a year. What I am saying is that I am expecting God to change the landscape of my heart and open up new doors for exciting adventures to help me reclaim things that have been lost or damaged along the way in my life. That could mean relationships, traditions, mindsets, occupational perspectives, etc. All that to say that I am excited for the brave things I’ll have to face, the mountains I’ll have to climb, the new experiences I’ll embark on, and all the life lessons I’ll learn along the way this year. Stay tuned . . . it may be a bumpy ride, but I’m believing that the person I will be on the other end of this year will be worth the ride!

 

Celebrating with friends is a great way to kick off the first few moments of 2015!

Celebrating with friends is a great way to kick off the first few moments of 2015!

 

As a way to usher in this exciting new year, I was able to join some friends of mine as we celebrated friendship, counted down to a brand new year, and lit up the sky with fireworks and hopes for a better year ahead! Here are some of the pics from that night:

 

Getting ready to ring in the new year with some praise and worship . . . then on to the fireworks!

Getting ready to ring in the new year with some praise and worship . . . then on to the fireworks!

Our gracious host giving us an explanation and the opportunity to write on some of the mortars that we'd be blowing up, to signify blowing  up 2014!

Our gracious host giving us an explanation and the opportunity to write on some of the mortars that we’d be blowing up, to signify blowing up 2014!

These fellas lit up the sky   like pros! One of them even lit up his sleeve for a few minutes on accident :O

These fellas lit up the sky like pros! One of them even lit up his sleeve for a few minutes on accident :O

We also got to celebrate our host's birthday at the party!

We also got to celebrate our host’s birthday at the party!

 

Enjoying a sweet time of Praise & Worship at last night’s New Years Eve Party!


Leave a comment

Pioneer | #Wholehearted Review

Oh 2014, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways . . .

It’s been a while since I’ve visited this here blog. I’ll be real with ya—I’ve been cheating on you! *sigh* It’s true, with my current schedule, I’ve only had time to work on one devotional/blog a month and it’s all been put into our Westside Kids weekly newsletter, THE REFRIGERATOR DOOR:

 

See, look! Our youth and children's ministry parents get one of these delivered to their  Inboxes each week! :O They take a bit of work, but it's a labor of LOVE. :)

See, look! Our youth and children’s ministry parents get one of these delivered to their Inboxes each week! They take a bit of work, but it’s a labor of LOVE. 🙂

 

Still, I wanted to let you know that I think of you often, and I’ve made it a goal this year to get back on track with this blog (along with our weekly RD). There are a lot of cool conversations, design ideas, and stories I really want to share with you in 2015 and I’m moving you up on the priority list . . . HOORAY!!

However, before we dive into a new year, I find it’s only right for me to take some time to share with you how this past year has shaped up with my yearly focus of WHOLEHEARTED. I can honestly say that I’ve seen every aspect of that word show itself in my life this past year. For example, this blog. I’ve been so focused on getting my whole heart wrapped up in the present that I haven’t taken much time to reflect on it here to store for memory’s sake. That doesn’t mean logging it in wasn’t on my mind, it just didn’t make it to my heart this time around. So here’s the recap you’ve all (2 of you reading this) have been waiting for!! (You HAVE been waiting, right?! . . . even just a little? No, okay. Well then just humor me here . . . )

 

January
{Take Inventory of Where You’ve Been And How That Will Propel You To Where You Want To Go}

I cleaned my schedule up for the first time and made it a priority to set some important things as actual dates on my calendar. For instance, my ministry meetings, family phone calls, and workouts. I spent the beginning of the year focusing on what was most important to me and what I wanted to build on for 2014 > time with family. I flew home to be with my family at the beginning of the year and redeemed a lot of time lost with them across the miles. I said NO to a few things that were wants but not needs, and made sure to give myself plenty of downtime to just “BE”—early morning quiet times, walks around Green Lake, walks around Downtown Seattle, crafting, CSI Binges . . . you know, all the GOOD stuff! I still stayed pretty busy, but it wasn’t a bad busy. It was a fulfilling busy that allowed for some special and precious moments to treasure for years to come.

My first (and only) Seahawks shirt! My little buddy Joe is a MUCH bigger fan than I am. ;)

My first (and only) Seahawks shirt! My little buddy Joe is a MUCH bigger fan than I am. 😉

February
{Cultivate Authenticity}

I got even more honest with my accountability partners and with myself. I stopped giving excuses for my actions and said things (in love) that were honestly on my heart. I eased up on the sugar-coating with co-workers and allowed them to see a more vulnerable side of my life. I questioned a lot of the things I had been doing and cut out the things I was doing as a form of escapism from having to face tough life choices. Though I was at church on Superbowl Sunday, I DID NOT watch the Seahawks win the game . . . because if I’m being AUTHENTIC, I really could care less about football. But what I do care about is spending time with people who aren’t afraid to be goofy. So I was upstairs watching Battle of the Year with 2 of my youth group kiddos, having dance parties and eating lots of yummy food!

One of my last nights with my Roosevelt Housemates

March
{Cultivate Self-Compassion}

This one actually took a lot of work throughout the month. Forgiving and offering grace to others is pretty easy to do. Yet when it comes time to forgive yourself or offer grace to yourself, the resistance kicks up a notch. It’s so easy for me to hate on myself, and not in a humble way either. I’ve struggled with self-pity quite a bit in life. God did a lot of work on my heart during the month of March and brought me to a place of reciting to myself in the mirror each morning: God chose to wake you up this morning. You are beautiful and you matter to God. Today is your day to live life to the fullest. Go get ‘em! I think it was a timely discipline because toward the end of the month, I was making a big move . . . from Northgate to Greenlake. It was a big move that was coming at the same time that I was heading out to Atlanta, Georgia for my first experience at The Orange Conference. I was nervous I would forget something, or that things wouldn’t work out, but reciting those kind words to myself each morning eased the stress and made the process easier for me. Though it’s not always those same words, I’ve continued the practice of self-encouragement and it’s made life a bit brighter—to believe for myself that my shortcomings and imperfections don’t define me.

April
{Cultivating a Resilient Spirit}

Cultivating a resilient spirit made more sense toward the end of the month as I spent a couple of weeks trying to understand what that looked like in light of working in ministry. It was my first year to attend The Orange Conference in Atlanta, GA and for the first time in a long time, I found “my people.” I found youth pastors who had been down the same road that I had, children’s directors who knew exactly what I was talking about when asking ministry questions, and I found people who weren’t afraid to be Big Kids and ‘let their freak flag fly!’ I flew to the conference solo, representing my church’s kids and youth ministries. When I actually attended the conference, I gained a new large group of buddies to network with. We called ourselves TEAM DETERMINED because we were determined to be on the first two rows at the conference. We wanted to be up-close-and-personal with these mighty voices who had paved, traveled, and re-routed the same roads we’d been traveling on in ministry. We would wait together in line and rush to the main floor once the doors opened each session and we’d save seats for each other. Each session began with praise & worship and I was overwhelmed with the freedom I felt during those worship experiences—something I hadn’t experienced at my own church in over a year. Not that my own church doesn’t do that, but here’s where I’ll get honest. I rarely get a chance to go upstairs for the main service. Is that bad? Yes, I’m sure it is on some level, but Sunday mornings are not always smooth sailing for me. I still get volunteers who say they’ll be there and then don’t show up at all. I still have those moments where I’m ready to sneak upstairs and one of our kids with special needs is in need of a shoulder to cry on while their Small Group Leader leads the rest of their crew in craft or prayer time. I don’t regret it for a second. Do I miss going upstairs to connect with God? Not really. I connect with God in a pretty powerful way on Sunday mornings with our kids, and then I get to listen to the sermon when it’s posted online later that week. But understanding what my resilient spirit is in light of ministry is what made me feel so overwhelmed at Orange. I wasn’t afraid to raise my hands, I hadn’t forgotten how to worship God—I even threw in some kid’s praise choreography ;). I am realizing that my church experience just looks different during this time of my life, and I’m more than okay with that as long as I still know how to connect with God and others in the midst of it.

 

May
{Cultivating Gratitude and Joy}

Gratitude and joy overflowed in my heart as I moved into a new, bigger, space in Greenlake during the month of May! I had new places to explore, and each morning gave me a new view at this special treat of a living space. I missed my old housemates, but I also love my new ones. We spent extra time in May getting to know each other better and creating precious moments. This month, I nailed my focus!

 

Summer and Eve making their debut at the Women’s Retreat!

June
{Cultivating Intuition and Trusting Faith}

Our annual Women’s Retreat was held during the month of June and though I had been working on cultivating that trusting faith and figuring out how intuition worked into all of it, the retreat was a much-needed boost. I was able to come face-to-face with some of my bigger faith questions and got answers to them. I opened my heart a little more to the small group of women I was with and felt challenged to carry that on through the rest of the year (and I have).

 

Who says VBS prep has to be boring? I think Perry the Parrot and The Silver Bullet would beg to differ! ;D

July
{Cultivating Creativity}

Preparing for this year’s VBS was a giant motivator for cultivating creativity. I wanted it to be a more organized, quality experience that focused less on numbers and more on connection. Praise God because that is exactly what happened! We did reach our goal of kids in attendance, which I had cut down to better serve the ratio of leaders to kids, and a large chunk of them were kids that didn’t normally attend our church or previous VBS experiences—it was a whole new crew! The entire month was spent building new sets out of the most random objects and transforming rooms into weird and wild landscapes. It also brought on a new creative challenge—I was going to take a one-week VBS experience and stretch it out to use over the course of a month as part of our Westside Kids curriculum. It was a big undertaking, but my team and I finally got things wrapped up to present a new spin on VBS, both as a series and as a summer camp experience. And since the theme was WEIRD ANIMALS, they even learned a dance to “What Does the Fox Say?” to perform on our first and last days of VBS!

 

Our WHAT DOES THE FOX SAY dance was a total hit! Oh what fun it is to answer life's biggest questions. ;)

Our WHAT DOES THE FOX SAY dance was a total hit! Oh what fun it is to answer life’s biggest questions. 😉

August
{Cultivating Play & Rest}

WEIRD ANIMALS was a huge success, both as a series and a summer camp experience. The kids loved it, the volunteers loved it, our pastoral team loved it, and I already have a handful of folks who have requested to be on the VBS team for 2015! During the rest of the month, I took extra time to unwind and rest, recounting all of the blessings that God had given us. Not only did we get a more focused KidMin team, we also got a bunch of kids that asked their parents to bring them back to our church.

 

Garden of Remembrance | Seattle, WA

September
{Cultivating Calm & Stillness}

To cultivate calm and stillness, I took extra time out each week to just explore the city with no agenda. I allowed myself to wander and take in the beauty of my surroundings. I would go to a new coffee shop and relax with some yummy coffee and a good book. I also spent more time at home, resting and enjoying the surroundings there. It refreshed me and gave me a lot of time to think on the journey I had been on thus far, and allowed me to look forward with hopeful anticipation for the rest of it.

 

October
{Cultivating Meaningful Work}

Taking over a role in any capacity makes you a magnet for tension. The first year that I was Children’s Director, I carried on our Halloween tradition of doing an “outreach” called CANDY ZONE. It was a big fall festival at our church with games, candy, and prizes. However, as I looked back on years past and got feedback from previous volunteers, I discovered that it was less “outreach” and more of a burden. We didn’t get a lot of visitors from the neighbors, just a lot of our own kids from our church. By the end of the night we’d just be dumping half a bag of candy into their buckets to get rid of it. The volunteers were wiped out and some didn’t feel fulfilled in their work afterward. One of my burning passions is to connect more with the community. That was one of the big prizes for me at the church I attended in Austin. We would host a community Easter Egg hunt at a nearby school and do community service at the local parks. Now, they have moved to having Small Groups/Ministries host neighborhood Halloween parties, giving folks a chance to connect even more with the folks ‘in their own back yards.’ So I asked myself and prayed for God to show me a way for our Kid’s Ministry to better connect with our community during Halloween. Then I got connected to an event in the Ballard neighborhood—their annual Market Street Trick-or-Treat. Thousands of kids and their families would trick-or-treat along the main thoroughfare while businesses & organizations handed out candy to them. I got our team to jump on board and the Ballard Chamber of Commerce loved it! Last year, I randomly set up shop at a main intersection and this year, they excitedly asked if our church would take that same spot again because they loved having us there! This year’s event was such a success and brought so many warm fuzzies to my heart and to the Ballard neighborhood . . . or maybe that was just the candy. 😉

 

November
{Cultivating Laugher, Song, and Dance}

‘Nuff said! I was able to cultivate all of those things into a month filled with things to laugh, sing, and dance about!

Dec. 22nd: Reflecting on the generosity of loved ones & colleagues during this season. Whether it's been an encouraging word, a thoughtful prayer, or a warm hug ;D, it has helped to ease the homesickness of the holidays this year. ♥ #AmoXMas2014

Dec. 22nd: Reflecting on the generosity of loved ones & colleagues during this season. Whether it’s been an encouraging word, a thoughtful prayer, or a warm hug ;D, it has helped to ease the homesickness of the holidays this year. ♥ #AmoXMas2014

December
{Celebrating The Journey}

This year has come and gone so fast! December was a perfect setup to reflect on the journey and celebrate every step. I made it a point this year to run a series of photos on my Instgram to help me look back at milestones along the way, so that I’d keep the moments near and dear. If you want to see those, just do a hashtag search on Instagram for #AmoXMAs2014.

 

Thanks for making it to the end here with me! I hope that your year was filled with excitement, wonder, and accomplishments far beyond what you originally set out to achieve. I know mine has! Thanks for sharing 2014 with me. I look forward to sharing even more adventures with you in 2015!

 

Profile_Web

Happy New Year, Y’all!


Leave a comment

When Christmas Comes To Town

 

For the most part, Christmas is a very Merry time for me! Ever since I can remember, Christmas has been a magical day filled with family, friends, presents, and delicious seasonal treats. The days leading up to it are equally wonderful. Life has certainly changed since I left home (almost 7 years ago!), but it’s fun to explore new territory and develop new traditions, while hanging on to some of my old favorites. I know that many of you reading this are already busy spending time with family, but I found myself with some spare time today to create a blog post—which I haven’t done in forever—and thought I’d share some glimpses into my Christmas season this year. So I hope you enjoy them!

 

As you know, I’m a HUGE fan of Christmas—decorations and all! Since it was my first year with space to call my own, I decorated accordingly. I also made sure that we had some sweet Christmas lights glowing from our front yard!

20141226_110837

20141226_110853

 

During the weeks leading up to the holidays, I got to participate in some fun local events:

My Birthday buddy, Maggie, and I celebrated our Birthday with dinner at Red Mill Burgers and a stage play at Taproot Theater.

Had a fun fun Christmas party with our 2Twelve Youth Group!

Got to attend our church's annual Women's Christmas Brunch.  And bonus points cause my table won the game this year! Woot!

Got to attend our church’s annual Women’s Christmas Brunch. And bonus points cause my table won the game this year! Woot!

Enjoyed our office party at The 'Ol 9-to-5, which was especially sweet cause one of my old co-workers is onsite as a temp with us this holiday season while our tech guy is away on vacation. SO great to see him again!

Enjoyed our office party at The ‘Ol 9-to-5, which was especially sweet cause one of my old co-workers is onsite as a temp with us this holiday season while our tech guy is away on vacation. SO great to see him again!

 

The week before Christmas, we held a special event for our Westside Kids, called JINGLE JAM. It was a huge undertaking, with countless hours of volunteer work and administration, but oh baby, it was TOTALLY WORTH IT!! The giggles, sweet memories, and parent/kid testimonies made the event a huge success. Here’s one of my fave pics of us playing a game where the kids built “snowmen” out of  toilet paper, scarves, and (of course) their table leaders:

IMG_4346

 

On Christmas Eve, I got a big treat—I was able to attend one of our Christmas Eve Candlelight Services. I provided childcare for the 1st and then one of our adult volunteers and a teen volunteer took over for me during the 2nd one. It was sweet and beautiful. One of our Pastors performed special Christmas music with his son’s band, while another Pastor’s wife led the youngsters in a Nativity Story.

20141224_173554

20141224_175615

 

On Christmas morning, I opened my Christmas stockings and enjoyed some of my treats with my tamale breakfast!

So much to enjoy this Christmas morning! Devotions, Tamales for breakfast, Opening stockings, Talking to Anabelle about her visit from Santa, and now off to go Christmas caroling at the Juvenile Detention Center with the #WestsideChurch crew!

So much to enjoy this Christmas morning! Devotions, Tamales for breakfast, Opening stockings, Talking to Anabelle about her visit from Santa, and now off to go Christmas caroling at the Juvenile Detention Center with the #WestsideChurch crew!

I love my stocking stuffers! :D // My fave kettle corn, peppermint chocolates, Jack Skellington socks & NBC bracelets, a youth ministry book, my fave holiday teas, lisa frank erasers, White Squall (a movie I've been wanting to own for years! SO GOOD!), my fave mini crackers

I love my stocking stuffers! 😀 // My fave kettle corn, peppermint chocolates, Jack Skellington socks & NBC bracelets, a youth ministry book, my fave holiday teas, lisa frank erasers, White Squall (a movie I’ve been wanting to own for years! SO GOOD!), my fave mini crackers

 

Then, I went Christmas caroling at the King County Juvenile Detention Center again this year with the crew from Westside Church! It was a great experience to see the difference that simple gifts can make in the life of an incarcerated youth. I’m so thankful that my church creates shoebox gifts for them each year and makes the commitment to see that we are on the scene to sing to the teens!

 

When I got home, I opened the rest of my gifts and enjoyed a tasty lunch with some of my favorite goodies!

WOO HOO!! Santa stopped by my place this year!!

WOO HOO!! Santa stopped by my place this year!!

I even got some AWESOME gifts from my Auntie O back in Austin, plus my family present exchange gift from my cousin's daughter, Sable! It was a beautiful set of handmade earrings and an Old Navy gift card.

I even got some AWESOME gifts from my Auntie O back in Austin (Costa Rican coffee beans!), plus my family present exchange gift from my cousin’s daughter, Sable! It was a beautiful set of handmade earrings and an Old Navy gift card.

20141225_143903

My Christmas presents from Santa: 2 new tops from Rue 21, a new Captain America hoodie from Rue 21, CSI Board Game, CSI mug, Willow Tree “Love of Learning” Figurine, Rue 21 Makeup set, DVDs > Caddyshack II, National Lampoons Vacation Series, Nightmare Before Christmas; And a special book about something I’ll be sharing with ya in 2015! ;D

20141225_144818

Beautiful Christmas presents from friends! Candles, a great book called THE LIGHTLINGS that I think every kid should own, Rudolph mug & stuffed animal, Chocolate, CSI Season 14 DVD, special card w/ photos of some of my Westside Kids, Hobby Lobby + Coffee Date gift card!

 

IMG_20141225_122905

Lunch time! Red beans & rice, cornbread, scrumptious macarons (FAVES!), coffee, peppermint marshmallows. Yummo!

 

And after a nice nap, I was up and ready to celebrate Christmas with my housemates! David cooked a delicious spread, and I provided the hot apple cider and bread. It was such a beautiful feast—so good that we gobbled it up without snapping a photo. But I did get a shot of his appetizer—roasted butternut squash with caramelized balsamic drizzle. Holy yum! Then after dinner, we opened gifts and wished David a Merry Christmas as he headed off to work at the hospital. After he left, Lauren and I snuggled up and watched HOME ALONE 2 together on the living room couch. We were cracking up SO much! 

Just so we’re all aware, Bobby Flay lives at my house!

dinner

My housemates got me this super rad shirt for Christmas. I LOVE it!

My housemates got me this super rad shirt for Christmas. I LOVE it!

IMG_20141225_200106

Cuddled up & cracking up with Lauren watching Home Alone 2 after a DELICIOUS Christmas dinner made by David!

 

 

All in all, it was a fantastic Christmas! I did miss my family, but I got to talk to them throughout the day, so that was a plus. This was such a great season for me and now I’m off to join Heather’s family for some continued Christmas fun. I hope you and your loved ones had an incredible Christmas season as well!

Christmas Photo_Web