ITS A GOOD PICTURE, BUT…

Ok, so almost three years ago, to the day, some of my best law school girlfriends and I graduated from law school and decided to head to Las Vegas to celebrate.  This was back in the days of still taking pictures on a digital camera (the good ole days) and our last dinner of the trip we were passing around my digital camera looking at our pictures from the trip.

Well, girls, you know the only person you really care about in the picture is you.  We will put some not-so-great pictures of our friends on Facebook if its a good picture of us and always reassure “but you look so good!” or “no way, you look really skinny there!”  So this picture passing extravaganza was not any different.  A certain group picture was looked at by 4 different girls before getting to the last girl who said, “this is a good picture, but my whole boob is out.”  No big deal.  We all had just looked at this group picture and only cared about what we looked like because lemme tell ya, its not like the nudity was hard to miss.

While this is now a running joke with all my friends and i, its so often a picture of my life.  I’m so focused on looking at myself, how do i look to the rest of the world, what are my problems, what am I dealing with, that I’m blinded to whats going on with the people around me. Like the old saying goes “take time and smell the roses”…”take time and see the boobs around you”

No worries, fully clothed
No worries, fully clothed

Also, as if the fact that we all missed the initial nudity wasn’t bad enough, I didn’t delete the picture off my camera and accidentally uploaded it on Facebook and promptly got a text message saying “911 FB emergency. You have a full breast in your Facebook photos”

Seasons of Love

I’ve been hearing about this book “Nobody’s Cuter Than You” by Melanie Shankle for a solid month now and being the excellent social car rider that I am, I downloaded it right before we took off to my grandma’s for Mother’s Day. So long story short, the book is a memoir about the author’s friendships. I loved this book. I loved this author (I could write a whole other post on how much I loved this woman and I probably will. We are soul sisters). I loved her so much I downloaded her other two books and finished them on the ride home, see social car rider. PS BUY THIS BOOK http://www.amazon.com/Nobodys-Cuter-than-You-Friendship/dp/1414397488

So coming off the euphoria that is finishing “Nobody’s Cuter Than You” coupled with my law school BFF coming in town in a few weeks and I’m still riding the whole “I’m not dating for a year, my girl friends are my soul sisters” wave, I started to think about my favorite moments of friendship.  The cherry on top of this little friendship sundae I was making myself was hearing “Seasons of Love” on my playlist this morning….PAUSE…because if you aren’t aware, Seasons of Love is a song from the musical Rent. While Rent has been around for a while, the movie version of the musical was released the Fall of my freshmen year of college and y’all my sorority sisters and I lost our minds. Seasons of Love was blaring from every stereo ( because yes, we still had stereos then) in the Kappa Delta residence. So naturally, we did the only thing sorority girls know how to do when they just LOVE something….we choreographed a dance to the song and performed it at Greek Sing the next year (1st place baby!) Seasons of Love gets me every time…well, that and My Humps by the Black Eyed Peas (clearly, I know good music when I hear it).

“But the truth is, we need our friends. I mean, we need Jesus to truly complete us, but we absolutely need our girl friends, because no man wants to listen to all the words we have to say in the course of a day.”—Melanie Shankle “Nobody’s Cuter Than You”

Because ain’t that the truth. Especially if you’re friends with me because I say a lot of words. Looking back over my most significant friendships from the past 10 years, it isn’t always the big profound moments I remember, but the small ones that made me laugh till I cry. Like, that time my law school bestie Britney and I stopped in the middle of our early morning studying session to do this dance to Coolio’s 1,2,3,4…you know the one where you grabbed your partners hand and dropped to the floor, then switched hands…I am embarrassed to say that I attempted to google said dance in order to insert a clip, but shockingly google was unable to produce the results I wanted when I searched “coolio 1,2,3,4 partner hand grab dance” So thank you for failing me google.

We do more than dance to Coolio in the living room together, we do Nascar as well
We do more than dance to Coolio in the living room together, we do Nascar as well

Or the time my sister from another mister, Mrs. Megan Bosse Miller, threw me the best birthday party of my life for my 25th birthday. Note to the future man I will date, birthdays are a big deal for me. They probably shouldn’t be because I’m an adult and all, but they are. So my soul sister knew that studying for the bar was sucking all the fun right out of me, so she threw me a huge pool party complete with a water slide and cowboy boot cake. Because ya know what, that’s what awesome friends do. Fast forward two years and during my 27th birthday, aka the worst week of my life, my sweet friend knowing how important birthdays are to me, volunteered to plan whatever fun thing I felt like doing. Me in all of my self-pity glory wanted to be a social hermit and only have dinner with her, at Chuy’s of course. So off we went, in yoga pants, pretty sure neither of us were wearing real bras, and we rang in my 27th year of life (in her defense, she was pregnant and I was just putting forth my best Eeyore impression) with mass amounts of chips and boom boom sauce.

This photo is actually 10 years old. My heart.
This photo is actually 10 years old. My heart.

Or the time I asked to borrow a black dress from my newish (at the time) friend Claire for a bachelorette party and she so graciously dropped me off 20 black dresses. And thus began the love affair that adult women dream of, we have open wardrobes : )  We have added to this wardrobe love affair by being each other’s go-to “you are the prettiest friend I know” encourager whenever we are having a fat day, gross hair day, PMS day, bad work day, or any Monday.

Our
Our “You are the prettiest friend I know” friendship in one pretty picture 🙂

And I can go on and on and on about my friends. I could tell you about the time I was in the hospital with what turned out to be adult mono and I’d love to tell you I got it from kissing some super hot guy, but the odds are I got it from a sketchy Chinese buffet I had eaten at the week before. But the source didn’t stop my sweet friend Bijaya from sending me flowers anyways.

Because love is sending your friend mono flowers
Because love is sending your friend mono flowers

I really could tell you each of our individual love stories.  Because I remember the exact moment I knew that each of these women in addition to a few others not listed (Kristian, you are def. my people) became my people. A story of all the times they showed up for me in little ways and big ways. Because friendship is really all about showing up….whatever that looks like in each other’s lives….and I could go on and on about all of my sweet friends and the kindness and big love they’ve shown me over the years…but then I’d have to write a book and since Melanie Shankle has already beat me to the punch, I’ll leave it at a post.

And also, if texting about pizza and hair removal in the same message isn’t real friendship. Well ladies, I don’t know what is.

No extra words needed
No extra words needed

THIRSTY

One of the most entertaining parts about leading a life group full of high school girls is learning what all the new cool slang words are..fyi…cool is not a cool slang word anymore…here are some examples:

  1. “RT” as in retweet from twitter is used as a synonym for ditto or me too
  2. “YASSSS” is like your very best and most excited “yes”
  3. “ooooo kill em’” is typically used to tell your friend that whatever they are doing, they are doing awesomely or you think they look really hot or you think they are super funny, etc
  4. “Baecation” in case you all have missed out on the term (bae-like your boyfriend/girlfriend, etc) and I know…how original…you add bae and vacation and you get baecation.
  5. And finally, and the subject of this post…”thirsty” which in the nicest terms possible means too eager to get something and the not so nice definition is well….you know, the not so nice words for “eager” girls

I dropped the no dating for year a few weeks ago in this post http://runningonfaithandsugar.com/2015/04/10/women-of-valor/ and I know everyone has been dying to know so I’m going to attempt to explain in this post.

A wise man…aka Andy Stanley…once said “you are the common denominator in your failed relationships.” But whoever believes that? We are a society of blame-shifters, and I am just as guilty as the next, so I always attributed my relationship problems to the other person. Even the ones that tended to pop up in different relationships. And full disclosure…the main one is…..attention. I love attention. I love to be the needed and valued girlfriend….and who doesn’t love to feel needed and valued (just as a disclaimer, I think your partner should definitely make you feel needed and valued) But, my problem is that I wasn’t finding enough of that in one person. I hung on to old relationships until new relationships developed, or I stayed “friends” with ex-boyfriends while in new relationships. At the heart of this common, so so so common situation in my life, was a heart that found her identity in how much someone else needed her. In the back of my mind, I just kept thinking once I found myself with someone I could see a real future with, he would fulfill all my desires for attention. But then I did meet someone I could see a future with and SHOCK OF ALL SHOCKERS, I did not change.

See, I discovered I am “thirsty” too, maybe not the super eager or desperate kind of thirsty, but the thirsty like in John 4 when Jesus meets the Samaritan woman at the well.

Small background into this story: Jesus and his disciples were traveling through Samaria and Jesus stopped by a well in the middle of the day. At the well he saw a woman there trying to get water from the well. This is the Middle East, folks. It is hot in the middle of the day and most women went to get water in the morning or in the evening when it was a smidge cooler. But not this woman. She came at a time smack in the middle of that hot Arab day and that’s probably because she didn’t want anyone to see her. There’s speculation about why she didn’t want anyone to see her…maybe she ran out of dry shampoo the day before, or she was breaking out, or she just ate three hot dogs at Keeneland and was feeling super bloated, but more than likely she was an “immoral” woman.

So here’s this “immoral” woman (and aren’t we all immoral women to one extent or the other, but for another day) and Jesus. And the exchange they have in John 4 is one of the most beautiful passages of scripture. Jesus tells her, “13 Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

I was thirsty.   I was using these relationships as a way to quench my thirst. But I never felt satisfied. No amount of sweet text messages, romantic dates, planned weekend excursions (because if you know me, you know the way to my heart is making weekend plans on a Monday. Holla), etc., was going to quench my thirst when I really needed living water.

So fast forward a few months, a few more failed relationships, a lot of being reallllly thirsty, and here we are IN December 2014. I had listened to Andy Stanley’s sermon about taking a year off of dating at least three times and finally on my fourth go-a-round, it clicked (because apparently third times a charm is not the case in my world). http://northpoint.org/messages/the-new-rules-for-love-sex-and-dating I saw my thirst for what it really was…not me being unable to find the “right person” but me trying to find my value and identity in things that were never intended to hold my value or identity. So here I am…six, beautiful and hard, months into turning from my previous wells and seeking my identity in Jesus.

Another disclaimer, I don’t think everyone needs to take a year off of dating. But as my friend Claire has told me before… I tend to operate better under extremes, ha!, I really felt like this was/is the best way for me to focus on Jesus, no distractions, and hopefully change the dating patterns I have created for myself. I’ll be posting more on the topic as I continue, including a post honoring David Letterman “Top Ten Reasons To Take a Year off of Dating”

Because every post about marriage should include a girl in a wedding dress
Because every post about marriage should include a girl in a wedding dress

Women of Valor

I don’t know what kind of thoughts you have when you hear or read the word “valor” but I think of a medal for extreme bravery.  Bravery that is above and beyond what the average person would do.  The actual definition for “valor” is: boldness or determination in facing great danger, especially in battle; heroic courage; bravery.

The US Military names the category for their top three medals, “Awards of Valor.”  The Department of Justice’s Medal of Valor is the highest national award for public safety officers and is awarded annually by the President to public safety officers who have exhibited exceptional courage, regardless of personal safety, in the attempt to save or protect human life.

So what does this have to do with me? Or you? I venture to say most of us women never think of ourselves as “valorous.”  Yes, that is a word, and yes, I had to google it first.

I have been reading “The Mingling of Souls” by Matt Chandler.  In it, he addresses the verse Proverbs 31:10. “An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels.”  While most of us women might have never heard of the word “valorous” I am confident Christian and non-Christian women alike have all heard the term “being a Proverbs 31 woman.”  So when Matt began to address this chapter in his book, I was prepared to hear a lot of the same things I had heard before, but he mentioned something that totally rocked my Proverbs 31 world.  In the NET Bible, the verse is actually translated as “Who can find a wife of noble character? For her value is far more than rubies.”  Now bear with me for a moment, but the Hebrew term used for “noble character” is the same expression used to describe Ruth in Ruth 3:11 and is used to describe her as a woman of valor.  When the term is used elsewhere in the Bible it is used to describe physical valor in battle (Judges 6:12).

I don’t know about you, but whenever I see the word “valor” I never think of a woman.  How incredible that a woman like Ruth, who lived thousands and thousands of years ago in a time where women were thought of as nothing, who was obedient and brave for the Lord was described as a woman of valor?!? Ruth was a woman of valor.  And I am inspired for myself, for my friends, for my family, for all of you, for all of us…to walk into our role as women of valor.  That’s why I have been encouraged to take my own path of bravery….I have given up dating for a year (December 13, 2015 to exact…holla!).  Now this might not sound super “valorous” but for me, it has taken every ounce of my effort and my courage (which is not a lot) and thankfully required me to rely on the Lord for his effort and courage more than I ever have in my life.  I have learned more about myself and my sin in the past few months than over the 27 years of my life.  And I have confidence and faith in God that he is using this moment of bravery to transform me into a woman, and hopefully one day a wife and mother, after His own heart.

 We, as women, have long had our bravery and strength underestimated by society.  In Exodus 1:8-2:10, we see Pharaoh underestimating the strength of women.  Pharaoh was concerned about the Israelites overpowering Egypt, so what did he do…he ordered two Hebrew midwives to kill the male babies born to the Israelite women.  Why just males?  Because he didn’t think the women were strong enough, smart enough, and brave enough, to pose a threat to Egypt.  And God used 5 women…the midwives who spared the Hebrew babies, Moses’ mother who hid him from harm, his sister who made sure Pharaoh’s daughter found her brother, and Pharaoh’s daughter who ultimately defied her father’s orders and raised Moses to ultimately deliver the nation of Israel.  To quote Jen Wilkin in this very, very excellent sermon (seriously, every women should watch)…

Israel’s first deliverer was not a man, in a flowing robe, with a streaming beard, and a miraculous sign.  Israel’s first deliverer was a woman in average garb and streaming tears and a miraculous courage…MAY WE BE THOSE WOMEN TODAY!     http://breakawayministries.org/Resources/talks/Fight-Like-a-Girl

Some Peeps Before Easter

I know, its been awhile, and unfortunately this post will not quench your thirst for a thorough update on my life (ha!).  However, it might shed some light into some dark areas in your life,like it did mine.

FYI, I am super proud of my witty title.  Still working on humility, obviously.

Awhile back, I had someone come to my work to get some help.  When I met with this person, my first thought was “this person looks like they’re homeless”  Now, I meet with people on a regular basis that are down and out, but this was honestly the first person I’ve spent time with that I thought they might not have a roof over their head.

After some discussion, I figured out I could probably help said person and out the door they went.  About a week went by and the person came back in to see me.  I noticed that they were wearing the same clothes they had worn the last time I had met with them and after they left, someone else commented on their appearance.  As I was walking back to my office, I thought…”wow, this so nice of me to help this person.  I am really loving them like Jesus would love them.  Go me!”  I was mentally patting myself on the back for helping someone that honestly…made me feel a little uncomfortable.

It was in this moment of self-congratulations, that I was hit with a ton of bricks.  This person makes me feel uncomfortable because of their outward appearance.  If people could only see some of my inward stuff (pride, envy, crazy facebook stalking…which is probably envy? Or just crazy? I don’t know) then how uncomfortable would I make people?  Would people cringe or step back when I approached them like I am sure some people had done to this person?  Then I realized, thank you Jesus for not stopping at comfortable when it comes to loving me.  As I approach Easter, I am so thankful that I have a Savior who loves me and you enough to not be deterred by the uncomfortable.

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.-1 John 3:16

Because my fondest Easter memories include Evan in bow ties and me in dresses with bells sewn in the skirts.

Models easter 2 easter 3

Relationship Status?

The month of February and love are synonymous.  When you were in elementary school…the school calendar was always decorated with snowflakes for January, leprechauns for March and of course hearts for February.  February naturally makes us think about love.

As a single female among married/engaged/long-term relationship friends, you would think I am going to write about how to be content in singleness or wait for the big picture guy or work on becoming the “right person” but jokes on you…cause I am totally not.

This February and this year, I am focusing on my love relationships with my friends.  I’ve always been a woman that cares about her friendships and puts a lot of effort into them (just ask me about all my bridesmaids’ dresses) but recently God has placed a desire on my heart to really dive deeper in my friendships.

I had the opportunity to go on my church’s high school winter retreat this past month and the theme was “The Fight.”  How our Christian walk is a fight against sin in our lives.  One session focused on fighting for our friends and something the speaker said really resonated with me.  She said, “The devil will get you in one of two ways.  First, by convincing you that what you are doing is ok.  Second, by isolating you and making you feel alone.”

The second point really hit home with me. In my times of great struggle and pain, how often did I allow isolation and loneliness pull me to places I never saw myself going?  And its not that my friends left my high and dry, but I often was not transparent in my struggles.  How can someone fight for you when they don’t know there’s a fight?

So God is pushing me, challenging me, to fight for my friends.  Be vulnerable. Be intentional. Be present.  My friends and small group probably think I’m crazy because I’ve mentioned multiple times about the vision I have for what these friendships can do for future generations.  I feel confident that developing these kind of friendships will change marriages, workplaces, parenting, and future generations.

During that same session, the speaker shared an illustration regarding soldiers in war.  She stated that in the past, soldiers were taught to dig cover for two.  Not just a cover for themselves, but a cover for themselves and their fellow solider.   I hope we all have friendships that reflect that same value…always creating shelter for others.

Obviously, it was only fitting for me to spend my Valentine’s Day weekend with my lady friends.  New friends, old friends, and my favorite friend (my momma)…oh, and getting my hair did.  Cause sometimes you need your friends and some pampering.

Lucky to have these sweet friends to laugh with! Courtesy of the lovely Claire Marie Photography.  See more here:  http://clairemariephoto.com/caitlin-and-ronnie-new-years-eve-wedding-lexington-livery/
Lucky to have these sweet friends to laugh with! Courtesy of the lovely Claire Marie Photo. See more here: http://clairemariephoto.com/caitlin-and-ronnie-new-years-eve-wedding-lexington-livery/

And all the king’s horses, and all the king’s men

Couldn’t put humpty together again…

I’ve been thinking a lot about brokenness.  Not just my own brokenness, but the broken world we live in.

The world that just isn’t fair.  Recently, a friend shared this link

 http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/bennettlester/journal/view/id/54b9a4ecaf3d795b524ae253

If possible, stop reading this post immediately and read the link.  The faith demonstrated from that family in the face of tragedy is powerful.  The mother’s faith in the promise that one day her precious daughter will no longer suffer left me challenged.  Do I really live in the promise and victory Jesus has already claimed over my brokenness? My quiet time reaffirmed this promise in John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world”

God has promised us victory over the broken things of our world. In my journal I began to make a list of all the brokenness I’ve seen in the world and how one day these fractures will be repaired.

One day…that sweet baby girl will get to play with Jesus all day long and no longer feel sick and weak from the terrible disease currently inside her little body.   One day…her mother will be able to run and play with her again. One day….that young woman, who recently lost her mother, will be able to sit at her feet and feel her mother braid her hair again.  One day…that little boy, whose dad left their family, will be able to be in the presence of the unconditional love of the greatest Father for eternity.  One day…the woman, whose marriage left her feeling unwanted and discarded, will get to sit at the feet of the one who showed her how wanted and loved she is by him when he laid down his life for her.  One day, I’ll never have to go to asleep again in fear of not waking up from low blood sugar.

Unlike the children’s nursery rhyme, God has promised me and you (and all those who believe in him) that he will put us back together again.  God is teaching me to have peace and rest in this promise.  I hope you feel this rest too.

It is Well

I haven’t posted on here in forever.  Really, I’ve been contemplating whether or not I’m going to continue with the blog.  But as 2014 came to a close and 2015 begins, I’ve had one major thought in my head and thought if this is my last post, I should share it.

If you’ve followed this blog at all over the past two years, you know the waters have been choppy.  I think I can easily say while times were hard in 2013, 2014 really brought the pain.  And I kept thinking “it can only go up from here” or “tough it out and things will get easier.”  While, I’m not saying that 2015 won’t be easier or be “an up year,” God is teaching me that life might not get easier (try selling that one in a greeting card, ha!)… BUT He is faithful.  Despite all of the hard times this past year, God has shown me that he is faithful.  Sometimes in big and tangible ways like when I prayed that God would remind me that he didn’t give me a spirit of fear and then this showed up in my devotional the next morning.

devotional

I am not sure what 2015 will hold for me. Maybe 2015 will be full of happy moments (and don’t get me wrong, I hope for that kind of 2015), but if 2015 isn’t easier I know that God is faithful.  And while he didn’t promise me an easy life, he has promised me a better life with him on earth and eventually in heaven.  That is a promise worth clinging to.

Confessions of a Mean Girl

Alright, confession…Mean Girls is probably one of my favorite movies, ever. You know how every male can quote from Billy Madison or Dumb and Dumber…well my friends and I can quote from Mean Girls.   If you’ve never seen Mean Girls…who are you?!? Seriously! Just kidding (kind of), the premise is an exaggerated portrayal of high school female social cliques.   The movie not only provides some of my favorite one-liners… “Oh my God, Danny DeVito! I love your work!” and everyone’s favorite  “If you’re from Africa, why are you white?”

If you’re a woman, I’m sure at point in your middle school or high school career you experienced a mean girl and along the way some older and wiser adult told you “middle school and high school girls can just be brutal” And trust me, I was both the mean girl and victim of mean girls in school and middle school and high school are brutal…but it doesn’t really stop there because you know what…I’m still a mean girl.  Yep, I said it. I am a mean girl.

 But Amanda, you always seem so nice to me

True, I was/am probably nice to you. I used to think of myself as a generally nice person.  I’m not really confrontational. I sometimes have a hard time telling people when they’ve upset me or hurt my feelings.  I try to be the peacemaker, but I mean in a different way. Truth is…I’m the under the radar mean girl. I judge you.  If you’re skinnier than me, wear cuter clothes than me, have longer hair than me (seriously, women with really long hair…I have hair envy), drive a nicer car than me, AND if you’ve ever had anything to do with a guy I’ve dated…I’ve judged you.  I’ve looked for your flaws.  I’ve probably focused in on that small insignificant thing I’ve deemed is “wrong” with you and told it to a friend, or made fun of you, or even just thought myself better than you because of it.

 But, why?

Because it makes me feel better about myself.  Because I’m envious of something you have or that I think you have and if I create a flaw in you or put you down, I feel better about myself.  And you know what I realized, its not a flaw in you…it’s a flaw in me.

 C-O-N-T-E-N-T

I swear, my biggest red button for the devil to push is contentment. At the heart of my mean girl issue is my discontent with some area of my own life, so I am an envious of yours.  As women, it’s probably something we all struggle with to some degree or another.  Lately, I’ve realized that I had been focusing on finding or making up flaws in others, instead of fighting to find contentment where only true contentment can be found  

11I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:11-13 (NIV).

 Mean Girl Boot Camp

So what’s a repentant mean girl to do?  Well first, I’m going to start looking up instead of outward.  Focus on what I have instead of what I don’t have, and quit living in the should have, could have, would haves.  And for the next week, every time I want focus on another woman’s flaws…I’m going to think of one positive thing about her and pray that God will renew my mind to think like He thinks and view others like He views others.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2 (NIV).

annnnnd just to make up for anything mean I’ve ever thought. My super embarrassing 7th grade school picture…frizzy hair (I decided to go to the local Great Clips for a perm), braces, and overall awkward looks

mean girls

 

Because its Valentine’s Day….duh.

I know, I haven’t posted in forever. No excuses except for crazy busyness, BUT I couldn’t let a Valentine’s Day go by without a little something.  I don’t know about y’all but I feel like Valentine’s Day (can we abbreviate to Vday, typing it out is going to get old…real fast), is a polarizing day.  People either love Vday or pretend to hate it.  Think about your instagram, twitter, facebook over the last 24 hours…its probably either full of people posting gifts from their significant others or girls posting about what they’re doing with their girlfriends, what they’re daddy got them, how they don’t need a man (Ladies, nothing wrong with hanging out with your girlfriends, having your dad get you a gift, or being independent…just making an observation).  Can you imagine if guys posted that way? “Hanging out with my bros/brahs, dudes (Idk..whatever you all call each other)” or “My mom is the best! Look a t the teddy bear she sent me!” I’m laughing as I type it. PLEASE, if you’re a guy and you do this today, direct it to my attention.

Anyways, back to the point. Vday can be so polarizing and I think it’s mainly because single people don’t want to face a day that presumably makes them think about something they are not experiencing. I get that.  Sometimes it isn’t fun to be reminded of your single status. I’m single and I’m not really in the hate Vday camp.  Actually, I really enjoy the holiday. Mainly because I have a sweet tooth the size of the Grand Canyon and it constantly needs to be filled…so anytime I can eat more chocolate…I’m good.  But leading up to this Vday I wanted to focus more on the love part of the holiday. Not in romantic way, because, well, I’m single…but just in a how can I love people more this week?

For me, the first step in loving more was to look back at where my ability to love even comes from…“We love because he first loved us” 1 John 4:19 (NIV).  I’m sure the rest of you, like me, have heard this verse. It’s a pretty famous one.  Makes the rounds on the instagram quotes pictures.  But over the past year, I’ve had the privilege of learning so much more about how much God loves me.  If you read my blog at all, you know that 2013 was an exceptionally tough year.  I’m reading a book by Jerry Bridges, Trusting God Even When Life Hurts, and he really focuses on how adversity can bring us a better understanding of who God is… in the words of my clever 16 year old life group girls…RT!!! Seriously, they RT short for retweet like in twitter to show they agree. Ha! I love this and try to use it whenever possible.

 Over the last year, my family and I dealt with a situation where we were lied to, hurt, and betrayed.  When it all came to the surface, every single bone in my body wanted to be mad at the betrayer. I wanted to yell, scream, and just be plain old mean to that person.  I wanted my love to be conditioned based on that person’s actions. I thought they deserved my anger, my meanness. Before I waged full-scale Amanda mean war, I felt God directing me to slow down, take a deep breath and spend some time with Him.  Wouldn’t you know…I just couldn’t be mad at that person. Off came the William Wallace war paint.  God practically yelled at me through my Bible and prayers…”Amanda, this hurt you’re experiencing…this is a small sliver of the hurt I feel when you sin against Me…BUT (and this but is big and it is good) My love for you is unconditional, I created you even though I knew you would sin against Me and I still sent My precious son to die for you.  Talk about an amazing, gut check lesson.  God used a moment of pain in my life to teach me so much more about the depths and heights of His love.

 So shew, that took a lot more words to write than I originally planned on, but I’ve been attempting to take what I’ve learned about God’s love for me and use it in the way I love others.  Let me tell ya, it is hard work to love others even a teeny tiny bit like God loves us.   For me, my love work over the past week hasn’t pushed my love boundaries because the people I love are difficult to love, but it has pushed my own selfish boundaries. Loving people takes a lot of time…time that if i give other people, I can’t spend on myself…you know to love people you actually have to be apart of their lives, hang out with them, do things they like to do…which totally throws my selfish gear in overdrive.

 If you follow me on instagram, you probably think my only friends are high school girls (which sounds kind of creepy) but I have the privilege of working in a high school ministry and being around some amazing young women. This week, I dedicated to them. I want them to know how awesome, special, and loved they are so they received my time and awesome trampoline skills (jk..my physical therapist mother has made me afraid of trampoline injuries so I’m baby with my jump tricks).

So I don’t know if you’re single, married, engaged, lovey dovey, wherever you may fall on the relationship spectrum…you can let Vday be a time to just love the guts out of somebody.

 AND I’m linking my favorite video. ever. on how much God loves you.  I’ve posted it before, and I love it. I think I could watch it every single day.