slow down…

this week i was browsing through pinterest, and i stumbled upon this photo:

photo courtesy of www.gingerunzueta.com/down-time-3/
photo courtesy of http://www.gingerunzueta.com/down-time-3/

i was enjoying all the photos from The Joy Project on Ginger Unzueta’s blog, but this one…i dont’ know. it stopped me in my tracks. it almost made me cry.

i remember that life. i remember days where all i had to think about was which blanket i would use and if my mom was going to make pizza for lunch or ham sandwiches. (side note: my mom always made meals such an event. it wasn’t just sandwiches, it was sandwiches cut in half placed nicely on a plate with a side of chips and a pickle and a glass of koolaid or tang over ice and a pretty napkin…looking back, i really loved those little touches. 😉 thanks mom!) i remember summers of being at the pool all day, then coming home to play outside with my sister, nap on the trampoline while reading a book, or sit and draw in my room. those days were spent in a different mindset.

now…yes…i know….things change when you grow up. of COURSE they change. but the opportunity is still there to just be ourselves in our space. i work a full time and a part time job. i understand what “busy” can mean. but i will take this moment to honestly acknowledge that i have time to spend on enjoying life that i am not taking hold of. we all do. and with that time, i want to remember the little things that make me happy. i want to sit on my porch and read a book, take a walk around my neighborhood, or ride my bike, bake some cookies, and sit in the office and draw. i spend way way WAY too much of my free time scrolling through facebook, watching terrible television programs (although i find television relaxing, i likely watch it too much), and here’s the big one…i spend a LOT of time WISHING i had the time to do other things….and that is where i am wasting. all the time i spend thinking i can’t, i COULD, i SHOULD, and from here on out, i’m making a goal that i WILL.

i like to be on social media. i am very inspired by the beautiful photos i see on instagram, and rejoice in reading about awesome things going on in the lives of my friends, but what about MY life? i just think it is time that i sat on the couch, worked with my hands, and listened to music again. and i know one day, i HOPE one day, i have little babies to tend to, and that will make this harder, so i want to take hold of it now! really, of every “now”, because

“Our days on earth are like grass; like wildflowers, we bloom and die. The wind blows, and we are gone – as though we had never been here”—Psalm 103:15-16

i feel like in different areas of the bible, God wants us to take hold of the idea that life here is short, and He has given us so much to love and enjoy. i think it is time i enjoyed the gifts from God a bit more, and stopped letting myself sit in distraction and complaint.

hope spoken….hope heard

where do i begin…i mean, seriously. where? i can feel my throat get tight and my eyes get hot just thinking about this past weekend. when my sister called me one night last october, and asked if i wanted to go to this conference with her in dallas, i thought…..”um…….sure?”. she gave me no time to decide, which honestly helped me. so i jumped in, bought my ticket to Hope Spoken, and put it out of my mind. as the day approached for us to go, i started to get nervous…no longer sure i wanted to.

courtesy of www.theandersoncrewblog.com
courtesy of http://www.theandersoncrewblog.com

see, at the conference, i heard Jami Nato speak, with great confidence and humor i might add, and when i read her blog, she said it best…”hey, remember how i’m an introvert that everyone thinks is an extrovert?”…this is totally me. my husband swears that i am not, but i’m like Jami…i’m the introvert that when i get in a space to speak i come out like i’m a total extrovert, but really i just want to duck into the little invisible brown box sitting beside me so that no one notices me. the outspoken behavior only happens in smaller groups. but i thought about the 250 women due to be at this conference, and how i would have to MEET some, and SIT with people i didn’t know! and i’m supposed to TALK to these people!?! my sister, lindsey, our friend alissa and i were laughing so much on the should-have-been-11-but-became-14-hour-road-trip, because alissa and i were trying to explain to my sister what it is like to be an introvert. i’m the awkward girl that shoves my hand IN people’s hands, really not giving them an option, because i have to get through that hump. “HI. I’M AMANDA.” (said with great force and in business voice)….

ok, so all of that to say, i started to question if i should be going. thinking about all the times i have ended up hiding in my car during a party…all the times i have run to the bathroom during “meet and greet” at a church service…all the times i felt myself wanting to melt into the wall while i wait on a far more extroverted friend to finish up her 4 million conversations with her 10 new bff’s at a music venue (big breath)…trying to figure out how i can hide or look distracted to pass the time. a conference where i am forced to meet new people? hmmm….maybe not my best impulse decision. but God knew….

i could go on and on and on about the conference…how beautiful everything was, how awesome the vibe was, the worship, the speakers. but what i want to say is that God came out in a way i fully did NOT expect. i thought, “yeah, this conference will be super feel-good, all about the hope we have in Jesus and how good he is, etc. etc.”, but these women…they gave their testimonies, and they were h-e-a-v-y. the women that i heard speak talked of broken hearts, loss, fear, and the feeling of utter hopeLESSness. not what i was expecting. but my faith was so challenged. one woman spoke of losing a child at only 11 months. “i could trust God in the cancer, the chemo, the surgeries…but could i trust God in her death?” that sentence will resonate with me. i think we forget that God comes through in ways that don’t always look like the picture in our minds. i thought to myself…do i really REALLY trust God? i mean, have i even thought about what that looks like? the first picture i see is trusting God in the semi-rough, but that, of course, he will come through….right? ……right? but what if he ‘doesn’t’? then what? is he still God? is he still my Lord? do i still serve him? what does it look like to serve him in the storms?

phew.

over the past couple months, i have been asking God to show me my purpose. if you have read my story about patience, then you know adam and i have been trying to have a baby. i recently sat with a friend and cried over feeling like i don’t know what i’m doing, or what i’m supposed to be doing. she said, “i think when you become a mom, you are just going to KNOW!”….but what about now? because all i have is now. i pray pray pray that i will be a mother, but God is holding that back from me for now….so why? one night i called out this question to him…”God, what am i supposed to be doing? what is your purpose for my life?”. his response? “to be my child”. how difficult and how liberating that answer is.

and he really drove it home at the conference. we talked about just listening…being in his presence…seeking him ABOVE all the other things….making him the thing we desire FIRST, before desiring anything else. i want this desire to be pure. i don’t want it to be something i say i desire, when in the back of my head i am still thinking “if i just desire him, then he will give me this thing i want”…

….because what if he never does?

will he still be enough for me? will i be satisfied.

PHEW!

God and i have a long way to go. but this was a start. and i am so so so so 100-times-so thankful for the women i met, for not melting into the walls, or running to the bathroom, for the conversations that occurred, then reoccurred, then re-reoccurred, for the small group of women i truly believe i will keep in touch with and grow closer to, for the raw emotions expressed by the brave speakers, for women who aren’t afraid to admit that their faith scares them sometimes, that they are stumbling, but always getting back up and turning their eyes towards the heavens…that we can all do this together, from different states, but from the same heart. that God has given me community.

hope spoken? hope heard.

hope spoken welcome board

#alindaontheroad

treats galore

swag bag!
swag bag!
my forever community
my forever community

the quest for health…

happy 2014! it’s a new year, and a new opportunity to improve. i know there are several schools of thought on New Year’s Resolutions. some people think they are necessary, some people think they are a setup for failure. some people think you should have them, just not call them resolutions, rather goals. but really, aren’t they the same thing? resolutions ARE goals, just ones wearing a happy new year cape.

so….this year, i have made some goals. and i am a person who feels like chances are fresh at “the beginning” of something. the beginning of the day, the beginning of the week, the beginning of the year. every beginning is to be noted in my world. and this, being the beginning MONTH of 2014 (not the day…i got hung up on the whole “i’m starting this on January 1” thing in the past, and when January 12 came along i felt as though i had failed and would give up) i have some newly set goals for my life that i’d like to give a try.

1) BE HEALTHIER.
not lose weight, because i’ve been trying to keep that resolution for 10 years now, and it seems to not be working. and there is all sorts of psychology to that. so this year, the goal is not to make a subtraction, but to make an addition. so, i will be ADDING healthier food choices to my diet. with that said, i would like to unveil to you an amazing tea i found at Teavana. White Chocolate Peppermint Rooibos Tea. it has zero calories, and reminds me of a chocolate drink. just smelling it is potentially enough to curb my sugar cravings for a bit. now, rooibos tea is a little weird. something about it is medicine-y for the first several sips. but it grows on you. and it helps me not go downstairs to starbucks and order a double tall white mocha…yes with whip cream please.

white chocolate peppermint tea

2) BE MORE ACTIVE.
ANOTHER addition! so, here’s the deal. i’m always saying i want to work out more. and honestly, i do. it isn’t hard to work out once i get myself to the gym or run once i’m outside in the cold with all my bundles on and my awesome new running pants,(thanks husbuddy) but it IS hard to get myself there…to reach the starting point. why? i don’t know. and i’m not sure i will ever figure it out. i like the way i feel AFTER i work out, and sometimes, ….sometimes…the way i feel WHILE i am working out. they always say to choose an activity that doesn’t make you miserable. ladies and gents, after several years of searching, i finally found something that isn’t horrible to me. yes, i will become a yogi, not only for the physical benefits, but for the spiritual. i like the connection, and i like that i’m in a room full of people that want to be more peaceful in life. game on. i also finally figured out how to run and not hate it. …even like it. the key? slow slow slow slow building up. the first time i went out to run, they told me to run till i felt like stopping. that was a whopping 4 minutes and 28 seconds. but now i am running COMFORTABLY for about 30 minutes. time. slow. listen to my body. and now i can be one of those people that goes out and runs a mile and enjoys myself. WIN!

3) BE MORE LOVING. MORE JESUS.
i love the “fruits of the spirit”, and i want more of that in my life. i NEED more of that in my life. like….now…..and last month….and in 6 years. i just need it. so, this year, i will ADD these values to my life, to my world.
Galatians 5:22-23
these are the fruits of the spirit…..
love: a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person
joy: to be glad; rejoice
peace: a state of mutual harmony between people; to end hostilities and abstain from further fighting
patience: an ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance; quiet, steady perseverance; even-tempered care
kindness: the state or quality of being of a good or benevolent nature
goodness: excellence of quality; the best part of anything
faithfulness: true to one’s word; reliable, trusted, or believed
gentleness: gradual; mild; moderate; not severe
self-control: control or restraint of oneself, actions, and feelings

***the biggest “fruit of the spirit” for me is gentleness. and i have been desperate to grasp that. all in all, i need to have more of the Holy Spirit in my life. it makes me a better, more loving, effective person in my life. it makes my relationships better, it keeps my heart open. this is a major addition to my life.

4) A BABY.
Now, this one is a bit out of my hands, so to speak, but all my other goals will support this one. the addition of healthier choices to my diet and lifestyle can only prepare me better for this journey. and the addition of more peace, more spirit, more gentleness, more love, more goodness, more kindness, more patience (and so on) can only prepare me better to be a mother, as i know how difficult that can be.

so, here’s to “resolutions”, as i hope my goals will always be dressed to impress me with their dedication to success. wear your 2014 cape with pride.

happy 2014!

confettii pray your hearts are full of family, friends, and love this season, and that you learn more and more everyday how to see the beauty in your years and the blessings of your lives.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

-the rooftop birds

honor and excitement!

www.lindseyjohnsonphotography.com
http://www.lindseyjohnsonphotography.com

recently i started helping out a couple local wedding photographers in the nashville area to capture perfect, beautiful, special days—wedding days! My sister of Lindsey Johnson Photography was recently featured on Ruffled Blog, so, by association, SO WAS I! and it is crazy exciting to be apart of that, as well! Ruffled Blog is an awesome place to get inspired for your own wedding! or, like me, if you have helped plan weddings, it is a place to see REAL weddings. things REAL brides have accomplished. the images that Amanda, the creator, chooses are spectacular. i love love love looking at all these beautiful weddings. you can’t help but be inspired. and, of course, the photography is gorgeous! all of that to say, my sister and i are feeling beyond excited to get this opportunity!

www.lindseyjohnsonphotography.com
http://www.lindseyjohnsonphotography.com

Thank you to Mint Springs Farm in Nolensville for this beautiful property to shoot weddings at! the view out there is a breath of fresh air.

If you would like to see the whole post, please take a look here! Enjoy! and cheers to many more opportunities like this to come!

december…

christmas tree

i’m so happy it is december. so happy it is cold. so happy for changing seasons, family, hot chocolate, baked goods, red and white and green everywhere! it is magical. this year, my husband and i talked about how christmas is as magical as you want to make it. if you were raised in a home where it wasn’t heavily celebrated, YOU can celebrate it! do what you love. here’s a little taste of my holiday cheer….

christmas kitchen

christmas table

i pinned this on pinterest last year, and finally got around to making my own!
i pinned this on pinterest last year, and finally got around to making my own!

little loves

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

it’s october 1st!

family time

i love this season. i love it, i love it, i love it! it is during this time of the year that i get so giddy i can hardly deal with the energy inside my chest! i love october. i love halloween. but really, i just love autumn. i feel so full of life during these next couple months. everything feels exciting. the colors are beautiful, and the time with family is always so necessary.

i just decorated my desk at work for halloween. i plan on buying a mum and putting it in here, as well. tonight, i am going to decorate my house, which means buying pumpkins and mums, making cider, and maybe even baking some cookies. i wish it were a little cooler outside so i could make chili. where we live, we don’t really have a backyard, so i will be recruiting someone to donate their home and their time for roasting of marshmallows. i can’t wait for sweatshirts, boots, and hats.

it really is an amazing time of the year. and God is so good to my family. this month my husband and i celebrate 4 years of “dating”….next month i celebrate my niece’s birthday. she was a miracle baby, and i cannot believe she is about to be 4! my parents will celebrate 38 years of marriage! WOW!

let’s just say that this season i will choose to be nothing but thankful. i will work hard not to complain. i will let praise come from my lips, and i will take time to LIVE…to really slow down and enjoy moments of life with people i love, as i know these moments are fleeting.