amo.says

my life in my words


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Something Wild

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I did something a few days ago that is equally frightening and exciting . . . 

No, no, I didn’t try to do a cartwheel on my broken toe . . .
Nor did I attempt to make a paper mâché liger . . .

No, no . . . I . . .

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downloaded a Back-To-School Supply List!!!

That’s right, in about a month (or so) I’m going to be a mom—to an amazing teenager!! After my 3rd Homestudy visit last week, we talked timeline and the guesstimated placement of a kiddo in my home will be the beginning or middle of September. Right now, I’m rushing to get things ready for my home inspection this upcoming Friday. At the same time, I’m preparing for our annual Vacation Bible School next week, a visit from my dad over the next two weeks, and prepping curriculum/leaders for Westside Kids and 2Twelve Student Ministries to launch a new school year soon. Did I mention that all of this is happening as I’m recovering from a broken toe & toe surgery? Yeah, I guess you could say I’m an overachiever . . . or insane, either works. 😉

I am beyond amazed by the incredible support I’ve received from friends and family during this time of chaotic transition. The meals, the moving help, the unpacking and building help, help from our Westside Kids/2Twelve team, help from co-workers at #TheOld9to5, the prayers, the laughs, the hugs—all of it has meant the world to me! And now as I am a month away from getting the apartment ready for Kiddo to join the party, I’m reaching out to ask if any of you would consider helping me build a great home by contributing some home furnishing/family needs. Many have asked how they can help and what needs I still have before Kiddo gets here, and to help with that, I’ve created some registries and other support options. Here they are:

PRAYER REQUESTS:

  • A smooth transition from their previous living arrangement into my apartment
  • That the foster/adoption grants that I’m applying for go through, to help offset the agency and court costs
  • For Kiddo to feel welcome, wanted, and valued in my family/friend community
  • Wisdom in parenting, community building, family rhythm setting, and self-care
  • That there will be a lessened strain on ministry/work life in the transition

 

GIFT/CARD CONTRIBUTIONS:

Gift cards in any amount to any of the following places will be greatly appreciated:
Target, IKEA, Wal-Mart, QFC, Fred Meyer, Amazon, Regal Cinema, Starbucks

Additionally, if you would like to write an encouraging/inspirational note to Kiddo, you are more than welcome to!

If you need my mailing address for cards/gift cards, please send me a private message on my FACEBOOK.

 

GIFT REGISTRIES:

At Target: Amo’s Housewarming Registry

At IKEA: Shopping List

At Amazon: AMOdoption Shower

 

I know that we are all in different seasons of life, so please know that any of the supports listed above (regardless of money spent) is greatly appreciated! Thank you for everything you are doing to help build a safe, caring, environment for a precious child to become part of a forever family!

 

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Head To The Heart | The PROMISE of 2016

Welcome to 2016, Y’all!

I think it’s safe to say that 2015 was a wild ride . . . and the destination landed me right here at day one of 2016—a great day to be ALIVE! Last year was a good mix of adventure, opportunities for bravery, and beautiful landmark moments. It was also a year to face some great big fears, take leaps of faith, and asking difficult honest questions. I feel like I got a full spectrum that led me to RECLAIM a great number of things. And now that I’ve been able to RECLAIM those things, I am looking forward to a new year of great and wonderful things.

As I thought & prayed about what my theme for 2016 would be, I found myself ever hopeful and expectant for what is to come because of where the journey of 2015 has led me to. Not that I already know what will come in 2016, but anticipating the growth, grace, and joy of blooming even more in the situations that God has re-planted me in after a year of RECLAIMING. With that in mind, the word that kept resounding in my prayers and my heart was the word PROMISE.

BlogPromise

[PROMISE]

  • A statement telling someone that you will definitely do something or that something will definitely happen in the future
  • An indication of future success or improvement
  • A cause or ground for hope; reason to expect something

This next year I want to intentionally focus on the Promises of God and see more clearly how they intersect with my life. As a Pastor sometimes it’s easy to see the promises in the Bible as they apply to others around you that you hope to inspire and aid in spiritual growth. But for me, it’s often difficult to apply those truths to my own situations. Not that they don’t apply, but more so that I tend to believe that great things are available to others and sometimes for myself, but not all the time as God reveals so clearly in His Word. Have you ever seen the movie, THE POLAR EXPRESS? There’s one scene in there that could aptly describe what I mean:

My upbringing and circumstances when I was younger led me to believe that things just wouldn’t work out for me. I constantly saw and heard the great things that would happen for others and never believed that I could experience those things. For instance, when I first bought my new car, I was so sure that the dealership would decline me or swindle me or that the car would break down once I drove it off the lot. This monumental moment soon became drenched in unnecessary despair. I remember driving away a little hesitant and doubtful and by the time I made it home, I reveled in the fact that “It’s actually mine. I get to keep it! It’s something I worked hard for and now I can actually call it my own.” There are somedays that I still find it hard to believe that God would bless me like that, but it gets easier after I shut down the doubt by speaking His truths over the situation.

This past year more than ever, as I had to come face-to-face with fears, doubts, worries, and hurts that helped me to reclaim pieces of my life, my family of friends rallied behind me and God revealed Himself in some remarkable ways to help me step off the train of hopelessness and step into a world surrounded in God’s goodness and grace. So as I walk into this next year, I want to rejoice in the promises of God that I overlooked as beacons in my own life. I want to not only become a woman of faith who speaks of God’s promises, but one who lives fully in them as well. I am looking forward to it and making 2016 a year of PROMISE!

In closing, here’s a song that I’ve been leaning on lately as I contemplate stepping into this new year:

HAPPY NEW YEAR, Y’ALL!


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Maps For The Getaway

Reclaim Banner

Well it has certainly been an adventurous year of RECLAIMING 2015! As I look back on the the journey through the year, I know I’ve reclaimed:

  • Strong boundaries to guard my heart, time, and attention in areas where they were non-existent or weakened.
  • Courage to do brave things in a truly vulnerable way.
  • The resilience to not break in the midst of heartbreak and disappointment in contrast to shutting down/crumbling emotionally in silence as before.
  • A deeper and stronger understanding of who I am a person, a woman, a daughter, a sister, a Christian, a pastor, a leader, a human being, and all the other various facets that make up who I am.
  • Friendships that were once lost
  • The ability to accept that things can be great in my life not only because of what I’ve worked hard to earn but also because God is good and just, and desires to bless His people.
  • A hope for things to succeed and not always fail, even when road blocks pop up.
  • A greater love for myself and the way God made me.

Some of the things that have helped me along the way are:

And now as a I close another chapter in this adventure-filled story of my life, I look forward to taking these things I’ve reclaimed with me into the new year as I focus on another theme. What might that theme be? Oh you know, something timeless and powerful. Something that you can expect in  . . . 

ThemeTeaser

 

 . . . stay tuned to find out! 


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Life Of The Party

Birthday cake is for the birds—it's time for Birthday Pie!!!

Birthday cake is for the birds—it’s time for Birthday Pie!!!

We don’t have to be ordinary. Make your best mistakes. ‘Cause we don’t have the time to be sorry. So baby be the life of the party. I’m telling you to take your shot it might be scary. Hearts are gonna break. ‘Cause we don’t have the time to be sorry. So baby be the life of the party.

— Life of the Party by Shawn Mendes

“I’m twelve years old.” I’ll admit, I say that phrase more often than not. The truth is, I’m not really twelve, but sometimes my mind and heart are. Sometimes they’re even younger . . . and I’m okay with that. That may be why many people find it hard to pinpoint my age when I have them guess. I’ll admit, it’s flattering when you’re in your 30s and people still think you’re a young 20’s gal. Pretty. Freakin’. Awesome!

Still, I am now another year older and though I don’t particularly “feel it,” I know it in my mind and heart because those are things most affected by my aging. I’ve learned a lot in my 34 years of living, and I’m excited for all the other things (wonderful and terrible) that I will learn as I continue to age. As I was driving to breakfast (Birthdays call for fancy schmancy breakfasts at the Whole Foods hot bar!!!) I reflected on some of the things that have shaped who I am as I’ve grown. I thought it might be fun to share some of them with you . . . and since today’s magic number for me is 34, I’ll give you a laundry list of 34!

  1. Fun doesn’t get old and you’re never too old to have fun.
  2. Hurt people hurt people.
  3. If you ever get an idea to write a story about sparkling vampires, don’t. Just stop right there.
  4. You cannot control the way people treat you, but you can control the way you respond.
  5. Flossing IS important! Flossing IS important!
  6. You don’t have to reward yourself with food. You are not a dog.
  7. Life is not a wish granting factory.
  8. God’s silence is not evidence that He’s absent, apathetic, or angry at you.
  9. You need people of all ages, backgrounds, in different life paths in your circle of friends.
  10. It’s a good idea to spend time with people that are not like you. They will help you see who you really are when you’re out of your comfort zone.
  11. It’s okay to cry.
  12. Confidence is silent. Insecurities are loud.
  13. Generous hands are never empty.
  14. Its okay to not be okay, but it is not okay to stay that way.
  15. I know there’s a lot people say who always talk about the youth as, “Yeah, they’re the future of the church, but I say they’re the PRESENT of the church. They don’t get a pint-sized version of the Holy Spirit when they commit their lives to Christ. They get the full deal, so you’re engaged with the future of the church and the current generation of the church.”
  16. Don’t let someone who gave up on their dreams talk you out of going after yours
  17. I am weird and quirky and random and awkward and that is wonderful. I’ve fought hard to stop hiding who I am and I owe it to myself to stay free from the lies that say that those are bad things.
  18. Get fit. Exercise and healthy eating are not dirty words. They are empowering and refreshing and the hard work pays off. Trust the process.
  19. God will never be handcuffed by your failures or unleashed by your successes.
  20. You are not alone.
  21. “I find men who might be giants of faith, who might be leaders of society, who might rise to subdue kingdoms, who might be noble amongst princes, but they go down, because they allow suggestions of Satan to dethrone their better knowledge of the power of God. God, help us tonight.” — Smith Wigglesworth
  22. You cannot out-give God.
  23. When my spouse is my source of life, I blame them as the source of our problems. I try to control him; I try to manipulate him into someone that is more like me. When my children are my source of life, I use them to impress other people. When my parents are my source of life, I make decisions based on how they think and feel.
  24. Bravery feels like wanting to cry, throw up, not sleeping very well.
  25. Adventures don’t come with details – errands do. And we were created for more than errands.
  26. Home is ultimately not about a place to live but about the people with whom you are most fully alive. Home is about love, relationship, community, and belonging, and we are all searching for home.
  27. “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” — Winston Churchill
  28. You cannot please everybody and you shouldn’t have to.
  29. Being a follower of Christ does not make you a ‘doormat.’ Your voice should be heard, your heart protected, and your worth understood.
  30. “Run mad as often as you choose, but do not faint.” — Jane Austen
  31. You can give up on someone as soon as God does.
  32. Don’t take yourself too seriously.
  33. “To be nobody-but-yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody but yourself—means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight—and never stop fighting.” — EE Cummings
  34. Remember WHO you are and WHOSE you are.

To all my friends and family, near and far, thanks for being a part of my life—no matter how long you’ve been a part. You make it awesome and worthwhile and exciting. Here’s to another wonderful year in the 30s!

Thanks for all the Birthday wishes!

Thanks for all the Birthday wishes!


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I Was Made For Loving You

I was a second year student in Master’s Commission in Austin (Ministry Training School) when I was presented with the opportunity to serve at Royal Family Kid’s Camp (RFKC), which was being hosted by my home church (GTAustin). It was there that a fresh part of my soul came to life. After sitting through hours and hours of required training, I wondered what I had gotten myself into and then on the first day that campers arrived, I was presented with the answer: An unforgettable and truly treasured summer experience! Working with RFKC allowed me to make a positive impact on the lives of kids ages 7-11 in the foster care system who had been abused, abandoned and neglected. Spending time with those kids tugged on my heartstrings and caused me to pray hopeful prayers like I had never prayed before. After that first summer, I decided to volunteer another 2 years in a row. I wish I could’ve committed to more. Experiencing life with those beautifully broken kids for just a week each year ignited a burning passion in my heart that has never subsided. I knew from that period in my life, as a 20 year-old, I wanted to adopt.

The more I thought about it and prayed through it, I decided that I wanted to adopt a teenager. As a young adult, I’d always felt a strong connection to teenagers and the desire to mentor them and bring them hope, truth, and a positive voice that would help them discover who they were created to be. Knowing that most adoptive families choose to adopt babies, leaving teenagers to remain in foster care for the majority of their teenage life before aging out, the choice was simple. I will gladly take in all the drama, the boy/girlfriends, teenage heartbreak, student council, puberty, forgetfulness, hangovers, SAT prep, therapy appointments, school clubs, fundraisers, etc. with loving arms to give a special teenager a second chance at family. I will willingly care for them deeply on their best and worst days and do my best to help them become a successful, moral human being who can rise above hardship and pursue their own hopes and dreams with gusto.

I solidified in my heart and mind that even after I was married, my husband and I would adopt our first child because I wanted that child to know that we chose them first. Even after trying out dating sites, joining church small groups, attending various meet-ups with affinity groups, and even invested flirting with baristas and guys at the gym, I was still striking out in the dating department. As I grew older I found myself without the prospect of a boyfriend so I made a promise to myself that if I wasn’t married by the time I was in my 30s, I would move forward with the adoption process as a single mom. After I turned 30, I began moving forward with that decision. I confided in and dialogued a lot of the pros/cons with my therapist and accountability partners. I researched the different kinds of adoptions and read countless stories online. I attended a foster care/adoption orientation at a local adoption agency. I told my parents and certain family members about my decision. After that, I joined a monthly meet-up group for Single Mothers by Choice in Seattle that I meet with regularly. While most of them are pursuing single motherhood via IVF/IUI, there are some of them who are either currently foster parents or in the process to foster-to-adopt. It has been such a relief to share my fears, dreams, hiccups, and victories along the way with the amazing ladies in my SMC group!

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While at home on vacation last month, I told the rest of my family members and friends that I met up with. I would like to say that everyone has been just as excited and encouraging as I had hoped, but that’s not my reality. I even had someone very close to me make a comment about what a shame it was that I would never get to be a “real mom.” Still, the beacon of hope has shone bright through many others who have responded with joyful encouragement and powerful prayers of blessings. And because of that, I’ve been able to stay focused on the positive aspects despite the harsher realities. I know this is an unpopular and rather abnormal route for someone like me to take, but I’ve never really been normal (and I’m totally okay with that) and I really do feel at peace with moving this process along. I have prayed about it, dialogued about it, researched it, and prayed even more. Despite the many discouraging “worst case scenarios” posed by some of those close to me that I’ve told about my decision, I cannot shake the belief that this is the best next thing for me. Many of those I’ve told are worried that this means that I’ll never get married or that I’m giving up on marriage. On the contrary, I believe that God is bigger than that and He will still be able to bring along the right person to parent this adopted child with me. But even if I don’t get to experience my dream of married life, I will be content in knowing that I am building a strong family in a powerful way.

Hands

So why write about this now? Why leave this here? Because tomorrow, I begin the next big step in this process. Tomorrow I will begin my state-required Caregiver Core Training.  I will spend 24 hours preparing myself even more for the rest of this (up to) 2 year process that it will take to welcome a teenager to call my own into my home—who will know that they were chosen in love, prayed for and cared for despite the turmoil they’ve had to endure. I’m capturing this special glimpse into the future here now so that I can look back on this in years to come and thank God for allowing me to be a part of this process—for better or worse and everywhere in between. I want to always remember where this began and watch it unfold in all of its brut-iful glory. My dream and desire is to walk away from this process ready to embrace the most precious gift I could ever ask for—the gift of Motherhood.


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Cinderblock Garden

aliens

Busy, busy, busy . . . that’s what my life can seem like. I like to use the word “FULL,” but y’know, tomayto-tomahto. As I’ve been in conversations recently, I find myself eternally grateful (like those little aliens from Toy Story) for my community of friends near and far. They keep me sane, they keep me laughing, and most of all they keep my life full. Because of them, I find even greater purpose in what I do in life. One of my sweet friends recently asked me, “When do you ever take time off for yourself?” My reply was, “Every chance I can.” 

I realized at that point that it was possible that people considered my work week schedule to be overwhelmingly burdensome, but it’s not. Thinking through that actually helped me to realize how much better I’ve gotten at guarding my life schedule through the years. It can seem a preposterous endeavor to think that my phone would be open to our ministry families and our teens 24/7, but I consider them part of the family (of sorts) and I enjoy being able to use my time to listen to, pray for, and encourage my family. Plus, I’m really bad at reaching out to others, so when I hear from folks it reminds me not to get stuck in my solo bubble. Although it may seem ridiculous now, I’m actually hoping that when I have kids of my own, those opportunities will be equally granted to me and I’ll be able to call on others for a good shoulder to cry on/listening ear/prayer partners.

I will admit that I work a lot, but I never feel that it is burdensome. If anything, my work world only get tough when I don’t offer myself enough grace to rise beyond my failures in each job. For instance, when I make an error in uploading our quarterly journal to our website at The ‘Ol 9 to 5 or when a kids/youth event didn’t go as I planned. I have high hopes that God will continue to work through these situations with me as I continue to grow in Him and in the faith-filled community I am part of. It’s actually quite reassuring to see how much I’ve been able to create good work/non-work divides in my life through the years. I used to be a TERRIBLE workaholic, and now I’m only a mid-level one. 😉

I realize that in the place I’m at in life, my days off look differently than others but I still find time to feed my body, soul, and mind in the mix—you know, like any other normal grown adult. 😉 Though some of my days off might include a ministry event, I lucked out with the opportunity to be a part of kids and youth ministry. That means that my events include lots of laughs, fun, and adventure. I feel that if I were a mom with my own kids, I’d be doing similar things on the weekends—I love the idea of having weekly adventures! Also included in my time off is other adulty stuff: trips to get fro-yo, household chores, Netflix binges, family phone calls, working out at the gym, watching copious amounts of YouTube videos, fun research projects, weekly errands, and lots of coffee shop exploration!

Still, there are times that I find my mind focusing on “work” projects during non-work time. Often I find myself watching a TV episode on my laptop and all of a sudden something in the show triggers an idea that I want to incorporate into one or both of my jobs and then my mind just fixates on it, drawing all my attention away from the show and onto the project. I’d be more than open for any ideas on getting better at managing that! In the meantime, I’m taking each battle as it comes.

I really do enjoy being in this season of life where I’m able to have a lot of flexibility in my weekly schedule while still learning boundaries in it. I realize that there will come a time (hopefully soon) where either a guy or a child will come into the picture and in a sense, I’ll be living for two. My life, schedule and focus will change in a lot of interesting ways when that time comes, but right now I am treasuring the life I’m leading here and now.

I enjoy days like today where I sleep in until 10am, watch 3 episodes of Parenthood while eating breakfast & cleaning my room, just before I head out the door to Target, the mall, and late lunch. I enjoy sitting here at Bauhaus coffee shop planning for my upcoming trip to Atlanta and watching people jog and walk around the lake across the street as I enjoy my strong coffee and rice krispy treat while listening to the Bonnie & Clyde soundtrack. I’ll enjoy prepping my meals for the week when I get home later and watching a few more episodes of Parenthood before I call it a night, ready for what awaits tomorrow. But most of all, I’ve enjoyed taking this time to reflect on where I’ve grown in life and the joy I’ve had in writing my thoughts out here for you to read. Thanks for sharing life with me!


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I’ve Got The Power

hero

One of my favorite shows as a kid was HE-MAN AND THE MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE. As a child, I believed that ordinary people could be capable of extraordinary things. Every time that Prince Adam transformed into He-Man, my heart fluttered because that meant that I could be a hero just like he was. So many of my own personal heroes have been ordinary people—just like you and me. Now that I’m older, I get to live in a land of opportunity to be a hero to others. It’s not my life goal, nor is it a temporary aspiration. It’s a focus. It’s a dream. It’s a hope, a whispered prayer—that God could use an ordinary person like me to do extraordinary things.

I can’t say I’ve arrived, because I always feel like there’s more I could do, more I could be, more I could focus on. Still, I look back at my personal heroes and feel as though I’ve joined their ranks. And here’s why:

  • I came from a broken family and I’ve been able to mend and redefine many of those relationships. That’s what my heroes did for me when I was broken.
  • From an apathetic kid who found it too hard to love myself or others, I’ve grown to discover the beauty and power of loving everyone, myself included. Which is exactly what my heroes fought to bring about in my life.
  • For years, my heroes spent countless hours thinking about me, praying for me, investing into my life. Now as a Children’s Director and Youth Pastor, I get to do the same thing and repay the kindness—not out of obligation, but out of the honor in sharing the gift of life with others.
  • Like my heroes, I’m not afraid to face the tough situations anymore. We definitely still feel the tension. We still have to hammer our way through the “What-Ifs,” but it’s worthwhile when the fear is defeated and the courage shines through. By no means have we mastered this, but we don’t let it stifle us as much as it used to.
  • My heroes taught me how to live in the dreams that God has given me. I don’t just chase them, I seize them and I ride the wave as long as I can with all the “umph” I can. I once dreamed of moving to Seattle to mentor teens. I waited 8 long years to realize that dream. It’s been a long bumpy road, but I don’t regret a second of it. I hear that dream singing back to me when a teen tells me that God answered their prayer or that they want to know more about the Bible and call me their Youth Pastor. Dream. Come. True . . . and then some, because I also get to equip and train our volunteers to do the same for the Kid’s Ministry.
  • My heroes and I take our beatings like champs. We cry. We endure the mind games. We pray. We kiss the mind games goodbye. We binge watch chick flicks (just me??). We pray some more. We take a deep breath. We take the next step in the right direction. Then just when we think we’ve got it all under control, we miss the mark again, and start the cycle all over again.

I could write chapters about the things that heroes go through . . . but I’d just be wasting my time . . . because you already know. You are a hero to someone. Whether you know it or not—whether you think no one is watching or not. There is someone in your community that sees you, studies you, Facebook stalks you, and secretly wishes to spend hours with you because they are attracted to your personality, beliefs, and way of living. So let me ask you this:

What kind of hero do you see in yourself?
What kind of hero do you want others to see in you?
What drives you to battle?
What passionate thing tugs at your heart so much that you lose sleep over it? 

Chase that. Today. Take little steps if you must, but don’t let it out of your sight.

You are a hero to someone. They are watching how you treat others. They are watching how you take care of yourself. They are studying your habits. They are wondering if they could ever be as Smart/Beautiful/Kind/Compassionate/Giving/Humble/Resourceful, etc. as you are.

I’ve been blessed to have others in my life to set a heroic example for me—pastors, friends, authors, designers, missionaries, etc. I’ve taken pieces of them and incorporated it into who I am today. And while I may not be a hero to anyone directly today, I keep clinging to the hope that I could be someone’s hero someday. And until that someday comes, I will be my own hero—the best version of myself. The version that gets up after getting pushed to the ground, wipes off the dirt, and tries again. The version that chooses to qualify people before I disqualify them. The version that speaks life and not death. The version that understands that I can’t save the world, but I can make a dent of a difference if I’m diligent in what God has called me to do and who He has called me to be. I hope that you’re able to find people to invite into your life that can set a heroic example for you as well. All good heroes need a team of other heroes to make them superheroes!