The Definition

Life can be chaotic and messy. Sometime we may even feel like the mess we are in defines us.

Turns out, we are not defined by our parenting skills or whether or not we order pizza in the middle of the week. We are not defined by the letters after our name on a business card or if we even have a business card. We are not defined by what we’ve accomplished today. We are not defined by the size of our pants even if we wish they were a different size. We are not defined by the new lines and wrinkles we find or by the bags under our eyes.

We are, however, defined by the God who knows us by name. He promises that there is not a single thing that we can do or can’t do that will separate us from His love. He knows how many hairs we have on our head, so relax, He’s got you.

-Amanda

DIY Waxing Fiasco? Ya, me neither…

I have a little problem.

I got myself in a bit of a predicament over the weekend.

I have wandered down various DIY beauty avenues in the past and I have always managed but this time, this time it was different.

I noticed that my eyebrows were getting a little bit out of control and decided to take matters into my own hands. I went to the store and picked out some waxing strips. I used the same brand when I was in high school, which looking back, is probably the reason my eyebrows started a full inch back from where they should have.

That’s neither here nor there, back to the story…

I got the box home and couldn’t wait to get hairless. I had a basic idea of the shape I was going for, so leaving my inhibitions at that bathroom door, I got right to work. I read the directions a few times just to make sure I had a perfect understanding of what I was about to do. My cousin’s wedding was the next afternoon so I only had one shot at this. If I messed up the entire world would know, well maybe not the entire world but at least my extended family.

I slid the plastic strip out from the bag and rubbed it between the palms of my hands. After a few seconds, I slowly peeled the plastic pieces apart from one another, revealing the sticky wax. I then applied the strip, in the direction of the hair growth, to the areas that were in need of attention. I pressed down gently, took a few breaths and counted to 3… then I counted to 3… and then… I counted to 3 once more and finally, in one swift and steady motion I pulled the strip off. I inspected it to see just how much unwanted hair was removed. I checked my brow, it looked about like I planned, more irritated than I expected but shapely nonetheless. I repeated the same steps on my other eyebrow. Same results.  I used the oil it came with and went to bed.

The next morning while I was brushing my teeth I admired my wax job. Dang, this time I even impressed myself. They were a little uneven but hey, it was my first time. I showered and started applying my “going out” makeup. As I was applying foundation I noticed that it seemed as if it wasn’t staying put around my eyebrows. I thought I was imagining it. I continued and just as I was dusting my forehead with finishing powder I realized this figment of my imagination was actually the truth.

I stood back father from the mirror and then got up close. I continued like this for about 5 minutes just to make sure I was actually seeing what I thought I was seeing. Here I was, full makeup ready to head to wedding and everywhere that I ripped wax from my face was completely void of maquillage. COMPLETELY BARE. No hair. No nothing. I tried to stipple some foundation on the spots but it was no use. Now, here I am 3 days later with the same stripes across my head. Has anyone experienced this? If so, how long did it last? Forever?

Right now, the only thing that is distracting people from my bare brows are my nails. Thankfully I found some cute Essie nail appliqués at Rite Aid. They were roughly 12 bucks and you get 18 appliqués. The downfall: the sizes are wack and you can only get one manicure from the pack. Even if you had less than 10 fingers you wouldn’t be able to get 2 manicures out of them because they are flimsy and aren’t easy to cut down to size.

This predicament led me to Jamberry Nails. I found myself a consultant and scheduled a lil get together. I know what you’re thinking and I promise I’m not trying to sell anything (just trying to give you some for free…keep reading!!). I am simply creating awareness and if by chance you would like to try them out but you don’t know a consultant you can use this link to my party. I don’t know how long it will be up for grabs but while it lasts, it’s yours for the taking. I was told that if you buy 3 sheets, you get the 4th one for free. Since I am planning on getting a free sheet I am going to bless one of my awesome blog readers. I will be giving one of you little sweeties a Twitterpated or Chalkboard Hearts, simply because I like you and I like hearts.

 

To enter this giveaway all I am asking is that you comment any of the following:

  1. A silly wax story of your very own.

  2. A link to a picture of a heart shaped something, that isn’t typically a heart shaped something. You know like a chicken nugget or something floating in your cat’s water dish.
  3. The reason you read my blog.
  4. A topic that you think I should spill my guts about.

 

I can’t wait to see who THE reader will be!!!

Disclaimer: You can comment up to 4 times. The more comments you leave the better your chances will be. The winner will be decided by a 3 year old who cannot read. I haven’t exactly determined how he will choose but know this; he will not rig this giveaway in any way, shape, or form. The deadline for entries will be midnight on 4/15/2014 same as your taxes : )

 

-Amanda

 

Finding Myself: In The Soup Kitchen Line

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About 4 weeks ago I meet with the administrators of Children’s Lantern, a local non-profit organization. We met to discuss the possibility of me helping out the “Feeding Kids” area that they harbor. Feeding hungry people is one of the most tangible ways that I can think of to show Gods love. Helping others is something that I am very passionate about. I have always had compassion and empathy for others (later I found that it wasn’t empathy, but sympathy I was feeling). A few days after we met, they notified me of their decision. THEY PICKED ME! I couldn’t wait to dive in.

The first thing I attended with Children’s Lantern was the 2014 NOCAC Hunger Banquet. The purpose of this banquet was to illustrate the widening chasm between the different socio-economic classes.

This is my account of what went down that night:

I got off of work later than usual evening due to a webinar and was running a little behind. I got home in just enough time to change my clothes and see my boys before I had to hop back in my car and head to Defiance. I grabbed a random CD and popped it in and skipped over a few songs. I started singing along. The words that were coming out of my mouth started to resonate in my heart. “Like a rushing wind, Jesus breath within, Lord have your way in me.” I started praying that God would use this night to liken my heart to His.

As I was nearing the entrance of the drive to the event I noticed that there were a few people holding signs. UGH! Seriously? Of course “these” people would take advantage of this event. I’m sure they knew people were coming from all over to attend this dinner. As I slowed down to turn into the drive I decided that it was in my best interest to not give them any eye contact and continue on into the parking lot.

WHEW. That was painless enough.

Then what to my wandering eyes should appear, but more cardboard signs and over 8 more of “those” people.

This was nuts! I have never, in my life witnessed that many people asking for money all in the same place. As I sat in my car getting ready to go in, I figured that I better lock my car doors. I typically don’t’ lock my car but heck, there were so many people that were hard up for money that they would probably do anything to try and find some change. So with my doors locked and a false sense of humility I walked through the doors.

We signed in at the front table and then were directed to another line where we would randomly draw out our socio-economic class.

HUH?

Well just as “luck” would have it my group had chosen the poverty dice. We were directed to a large wooden spool that apparently doubled as a table.

The story I was given was likely. I know families that have lived this story. My husband and I worked hard to keep a roof over our heads. We paid our bills and sometimes even had money left over for a rainy day. Without warning, my husband’s employer downsized or I developed a medical condition. The bills kept rolling in but the flow of money screeched to a halt. Thankfully, our children qualified for free lunches at school because that was the only meal that they have been eating for sometime now. That’s how we ended up here. We swallowed our pride and stepped in line in front of a sign that read Soup Kitchen.

As the emcee started sharing stories, all kinds of people started filing in. When I say “all kinds” I mean all the panhandlers from outside, yes the same ones that I over looked and stepped over in the parking lot.

Then the emcee dropped a bomb. My heart exploded and not in a good way either. The people that were out there asking for money weren’t actually homeless and hungry; it was all scripted.

I was so embarrassed. I locked my car doors because I assumed it would get rummaged through. I can’t believe I freaking locked my car doors. One of the ladies that were outside “begging for money” was sitting next to me with her sign. Do you know what her sign said? “I have a name”. That’s it. That’s all it said. I couldn’t believe me. I call myself a Christian yet I couldn’t even look someone in the eye who I thought was homeless because it made me uncomfortable.

I started having second thoughts. Maybe working this close with Children’s Lantern was a mistake. What did I get myself into?

I got myself into something real. On my way there I asked God to draw me near so I could know him more.

His delivered promptly.

Upon hearing real stories of struggle, I heard God. When I saw real tears of struggle, I saw God. When I felt the heaviness of struggle, I felt God.

The Hunger Banquet changed my heart in a big way. Not only did I leave with a newfound humility, it helped me to realize that helping the helpless isn’t for me…it’s for the lives that are touched and the hearts that are healed. It’s not about the money that they may or may not be asking for. Money isn’t even real; it’s merely a method of exchange. It only has worth because we agree it has worth. People are real and often times have very powerful lessons to teach. Can you imagine how powerful it would be if we agreed that everyone was worth it.

-Amanda

 

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Loving Without Condition

Multiple things have happened publicly in recent weeks that have provoked this post. I was going to wait for the “right” time but I’m sure there is no “right” time for this.

Since I do partake in social media I have ran across some unsettling things lately. The most unsettling of these things is the “Christian” response to homosexuality (It’s in parenthesis because I feel like it is more of a religious response than a Christ like one)

The fist was the outcry of angst about the only openly gay contestant on American Idol. People were tripping out so much that they totally missed that fact that MK Nobilette has a bangin’ set of pipes.

The next event that played out for the entire world to see happened the night of the Oscars. Bart Millard tweeted about how funny Ellen is.

That’s it.

The entire thing blew up and turned into this whirlwind of “Oh you call yourself a Christian?” attacks.

His response?

Well, it was perfect.

It reminded me that God completely adores His children, Ellen and MK included. He loves us (them) no matter our (their) sexual orientation or how many tattoos cover our (their) body. He loves us (them) right where we (they) are. He doesn’t love us (them) with conditions. There aren’t any if-then stipulations.

“Being gay is a sin, it’s in the Bible. “

Yes, that is true. It is in the Bible and out of the 17 sexual sin references only 3 are about homosexuality. I’m not trying to downplay it; I’m just saying that homosexuality isn’t any worse than other sexual sins (i.e. sex before marriage or adultery).

One thing the Bible doesn’t say is to judge others because they sin differently than you do. I suppose that is neither here nor there because when it comes down to it, it really isn’t about us anyways. It’s about God and winning hearts over to Him and hearts won’t be won over by condemnation

So what’s our next move? Well, it’s simple. We hold on to the love and grace that washes over us so it’s easier to do the same to others. We take our own bias out of the equation and allow Christ to work through us. We show our brothers and sisters the same love that Christ has shown us and invest in them. We share with them how Jesus’s love breaks through the chains of bondage. Finally, we remind them that their sin doesn’t have to define them, just as ours doesn’t define us.

-Amanda

Lore Of The Lutheran

In my last post I mentioned that I met some interesting people while I was away for the week.

I feel that I need to elaborate a bit.

Last week I attended a leadership conference in Carefree, Arizona. This conference is the only annual program that truly blends the mission of Lutheran social ministry with proven approaches to leadership, growth, and development. After reading the agenda, I didn’t want to miss out on this opportunity to strengthen my leadership skills and to broaden my professional development.

Did I mention that I’m from Ohio and haven’t seen grass since Labor Day? When it is 24 degrees Fahrenheit, my children think that it’s warm enough to put the windows down in my car while driving. I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t totally looking forward to spending some time in the warm sun as well.

Preparing for this trip I thought that I would just go and sit in on sessions about leadership and that the conference would only have an impact on my profession. I figured I would have very little real life interaction with the other attendees and probably end up only talking about work. I doubted that I would make strong bonds with people and I certainly wouldn’t be leaving with a mentor.

Boy was I wrong!

Not only did I learn about leadership; each person that attended the conference ended up teaching me a little something about life in general.

This may get lengthy but I feel it’s necessary…

Judy taught me that no matter the struggle, there will be a beautiful outcome.

Kelsey taught me to break big problems down into manageable pieces as not to be overwhelmed…and to do it with a smile.

Gina and AnnaMarie taught me that if something isn’t working, don’t force it. Regroup and move on in another direction.

Eric taught me that without commitment you end up without any actual results. If we don’t help out one person when they fall; the whole team will end up on the ground.

Chuck taught me to think about my future and that I must take responsibility for my own development.

Bryan taught me that I must be willing to always have an open door and an open heart.

Phil taught me to take a genuine interest in people around me. To actually care.

Steve taught me about relationships. Even if it’s early in the friendship you should still make yourself available to come to the rescue. Especially, if someone is stranded at the rodeo!

James taught me that a good leader gives clear directions and sets expectations.

David taught me about the element of surprise.

Marti taught me to start where I’m at and to keep persevering and I will accomplish things that may seem out of my reach.

Melinda taught me that as long as I am still hearing from God, I am right where I am supposed to be.

Marlene and Jennifer taught me to play to win but to not be a reckless gambler.

Sarah taught me that if everything is important, than nothing is.

Megan taught me that being accountable is one of the best attributes I can possess as a leader.

Mahalia taught me that leadership comes from the inside. People must have the choice to not follow you before they will.

Lori taught me that when I tap into my God given purpose I will find myself at the intersection of being and doing and then I have arrived.

Becky and Melissa taught me to have confidence and not be afraid to take charge. Fear doesn’t just hinder the person that is afraid; it also holds back the entire team.

Jordan taught me about depth. People can’t be sufficiently described by lists of traits and characteristics.

Laurie taught me to relax and not be so quick to answer. I need to take my time and mull things over instead of acting on impulse.

Have you ever attended a work something and then were pleasantly surprised?

-Amanda

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The Best One Of All

I need to apologize. I neglected you last week and I am sorry for that.  I was in Arizona for work and I honestly believed that I would write a little, really I did. I tried to write on the plane but the guy in the next row was reading EVERY word I typed. It was too much pressure. I decided to wait until I got to the hotel.  

Shortly after feeling that first ray of sun on my face, I changed my mind. I ended up spending all of my free time getting to know new people.  I met some really interesting people. I will work on that post for this week as well.

Now on to business…

Lately, I have been studying love; true love. I can’t think of a more beautiful love story of courtship, marriage, and lasting maturity than the 117 verses between Ecclesiastes and Isaiah.  It speaks volumes of a love that is so full of passion that it actually laughs at the terrors of hell. This love can’t be bought or sold. The flame of this kind of love stops at nothing; it can’t be contained.

At times, Song of Solomon has been considered to be taboo and to be quite honest, I thought it was too.

When I really began to delve into this song of all songs, I realized that it wasn’t “soft porn” like this sex crazed society has made it out it be. It’s a delicate portion of Scripture that I so desperately needed.

My relationship was failing and I had been told countless times that I was no longer loved. I had no idea what I was going to do. Everything I did to “fix” things, only ended in tear stained pillow cases.

One night, I basically begged God for a biblical perspective on love and the next thing I knew, I was receiving a sweet word that pointed me toward this bit of Scripture.

“There’s no one like her on Earth, never has been, never will be. She’s a woman beyond compare. My dove is perfection, pure and innocent as the day she was born, and cradled in joy by her mother. Everyone who came to see her exclaimed and admired her. All the fathers and mothers, the neighbors and friends blessed and praised her. ‘”Has anyone ever seen anything like this—dawn-fresh, moon-lovely, sun-radiant, ravishing as the night sky with its galaxies of stars?’”- Song of Solomon 6:8-10

As I sat there sobbing in front of a group of women I was only on a first name basis with, I realized something.  

That was it.

That was the moment that I had been asking for.

That was all that I needed to hear.

It didn’t matter how much some man loved me. It mattered how much my God loved me and that was the only truth I needed to hear.

Song of Solomon opens before the wedding, the wifey to -be is longing for the intimate caresses of the man of her dreams, however she recommends that they let their love develop on its own time. As the song comes to an end, both the husband and the wife are confident and secure in their love for one another. They even sing of the lasting nature of true love, and they long to be in each other’s presence.

All I needed to do was to stop trying so hard and simply allow the love between the man of my dreams and I to naturally blossom again.

I’m a pusher, so this part was a bit hard. Every time I wanted to push, I wrote it down. Every time I wanted him to hold me, I wrote it down. Every time I wanted him to tell me that he loved me, I wrote it down.

Instead of nagging him about all of these things, I nagged God about them.

Slowly our hearts were changing and before I knew it we were planning a wedding.

God came to my family’s defense. He unlocked my husband’s heart, whispering grace. This is the most beautiful display of love that I have witnessed.

Although I can’t say that we actually sing about our love, we are eager to see each other at the end of the work day. All it took was a little urge from above to make us realize that marriage is to be celebrated, enjoyed, and revered.

I know what you’re thinking. Ya, all this sounds really great but you want practical application. If this resonates with you, keep reading : )

  • Give your husband the attention he needs and not the kind you like to give (aka nagging).
  • Praise and encouragement gets you a lot farther than criticism will ever get you.
  • Enjoy each other. Delight in God’s gift of married love.
  • Reassure your commitment to your husband if necessary. After all, marriage is intended for peaceful and secure love.

-Amanda

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