Learn To Give Like A Boss Before Friday

As you may or may not know my roots run deep with Children’s Lantern. This past summer I made the heartbreaking decision to step down as the feeding coordinator of this bomb charity. Since I’m not heading the Christmas Meals program up this year, the least I can do is trade my birthday for it. If you were planning on blessing me with a birthday gift this week (Wednesday to be exact) and maybe even if you weren’t, would you please consider donating some cold hard cash money to help feed local families in need this Christmas? If you give, I pinky promise that your gift the best birthday gift I have ever been given and I WILL tell everyone how great of a gift giver you are.

The Saturday before Christmas every year, Children’s Lantern volunteers take to the 6 county area to deliver a meal to families in need that have nominated by community members. 100% of what you give will go directly to this program! A small gift of $20 will buy one meal and let’s face it, I spend more than that when I run to Walmart “real quick”. Don’t click the X in corner yet!

If giving monetarily isn’t in the budget, could you email me at amandapedraza16@yahoo.com and nominate a family in need? Children’s Lantern can’t possibly know every family that could use a meal to brighten their spirits or help them through the holidays but you guys know people. Come on, it’s the least you could do, since it’s for my birthday and all.

❤️Amanda

P.S. If you are interested in delivering meals, hit up my email as well and I will pass it along!

Here is the link, just in case you missed it earlier on.

 

 

It wasn’t you, it was me.

Being away from you for so long kind of make me feel like I lost a part of myself. To be honest coming back to you was hard. Really hard. Especially since I dropped you like a hot pizza roll. If you’ve moved on, I understand but before you x out let me explain.

Navigating through this past year has been exhausting and painful and beautiful. I was trapped in a rut, actually it was more like a well. A deep, dark, scary movie type of well. Every time I was nearing the top, the rope would snap and down I’d go dragging my nails down the side.

That’s the thing about this life. There is always resistance. Sometimes we trick ourselves into thinking that resistance serves a noble purpose when it actually is just standing at the door with crossed arms trying to contain us. We always have 2 options when this happens: barge through like a moose or walk away.

I walked away.

I’m actually a little embarrassed to say that I chose to walk away. I didn’t mean to isolate myself and shut you out but in doing so I realized that just being myself is good enough. In fact, I realized it is more than good enough. I learned that God will never lead me where He doesn’t go and I started to heal.

I am beyond excited to be back with this tribe. You are my kind of people. You get me and I get you. This place is for messiness and encouragement and without you there wouldn’t be an us.

2015 has been one wild ride and there were times that it flung us upside down and all we could do was hold onto the lap bar with only 3 fingers but we made it.

Praise God, we made it.

Bring it on 2016. Bring it on.

-Amanda

 

P.S. If you love Adele and want that mug you can get it here.

 

What Have I Become?

I’m in a bit of a predicament, hot water if you will.

Some would say I’m in too deep and others have simply given up. I figured the best way to come clean would be here, amongst my people. You guys get me and you always have.

Some days it’s stronger than others, some days it’s darker than others. Most days it’s sedation and I slip into bliss momentarily but on the rarest of occasion, it’s more like the a sickness.

It wasn’t alway this way. I don’t even know exactly how it evolved. It started out innocent. Just curiosity. Then little by little it became more and more ritualistic.

The stares and rumors no longer bother me.

“How much has she had?”

“No wonder she can’t sit still.”

“Excessive much?!”

I don’t even hide it anymore. The hold is so strong that it can’t be shaken…and I’ve accepted it.

(Inhale deeply and breath out slowly with my eyes closed)

My name is Amanda and I no longer feel the need to hide the copious amounts of coffee that I drink. I’m just going to own it. It’s who I am.

Of course I hear the hear the typical concerns:

“You’re going to get an ulcer.”
Well that’s a risk I’m prepared for.

“Aren’t you worried that your teeth are going to be stained and gross?”
They won’t be any darker than the stain of judgment in your heart.

“Consuming caffeine has been linked to reduced bone mass, osteoporosis is just a few more sips away.”
You know, I’ve been thinking that my bones were too big anyway.

“How many cups have you had?”
Do you floss regularly? Oh, too personal?

Coffee doesn’t ask silly questions or make asinine comments, it just understands.

-Amanda

P.S. It’s Friday and I am feeling silly. Please don’t take this post too seriously. It’s meant to make you smile a bit, I mean come on; IT’S FRIDAY!! If you feel inclined to get me that shirt, I’ll take a large.

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Sound Familiar?

Life has been chaotic lately and that’s saying the least. Between holidays, sickness, work, sickness, and more sickness; these last few months have been a blur.

I barely have had time to do laundry let alone crack open my bible and have a full blown study sesh. My prayer life has been put on the back burner as well. Which honestly doesn’t make sense but it has.

I have stressed about the smallest things and taken the burden of things that aren’t mine to be concerned with. It’s safe to say that I was worn way down and almost used up.

So, I did what any women on the brink of going cray cray does. I sat in my bathroom and cried. I cried about my haircut. I cried about my inability to say no. I cried about my dirty toilet. Most importantly, I cried about making my God second in my life.

I was running around doing things on my own without first consulting the great counselor. No wonder I kept feeling run down.

This week I took it back to the basics. I took it back to The Gospel, after all it’s where I got my first taste.

I find comfort there. It’s like homemade noodles. I’m not talking about the ones you get from fall craft shows but more like the tightly wound and thinly sliced ones that I used to sneak off of my grandmas kitchen counter. Like the ones that make your mouth water and fill you to your eyeballs with nothing but wholesome goodness.

The gospel does things for me that I’ll never forget. It opens my eyes to the mess that is Amanda and yet at the very same time tells me of the love and adoration that My Creator has for me.

I’m finding that just because I started with the gospel years back doesn’t mean that the gospel isn’t for me now. It’s not just for beginners.

As much as I’d like to think that I am familiar with it I am always finding that I don’t “got it down”. It’s ALWAYS greater today than it was yesterday. There is nothing better.

Maybe we have heard it a million times but if we want miracles in our life we can’t fall into the trap of familiarity.

When we get in routine, things change. Then the gospel becomes about us and how we feel. A gospel about us isn’t really a gospel.

Don’t let the your passion become a routine. We must strive to honor God with what we’re doing. We have to keep building that relationship.

-Amanda

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Pepperminty Goodness

It’s getting to be office Christmas party time. Some folks settle for a white elephant gift exchange or a secret Santa swap but my boss suggested that we all bring a pound of something to give. I racked my brain until one day last week I got a cute litte package in the mail, That package helped me to decide my pound of gifty goodness.

What I used:
1-14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk
2 cups of milk chocolate chips
2 cups of white chocolate chips
1 bag of Candy Cane Hershey Kisses (got mine for free from Influenster)
1-9X9 pan lined with foil and cooking spray
3-4 peppermint candy canes all crunched up
1-3 year old to unwrap all the candies (optional)
How I did it:
Put 1/2 of the sweetened condensed milk in a double boiler (I used two pots stacked) and the milk chocolate chips. Melt at a LOW heat. Stir occasionally. Pour melted mixture in the 9X9 pan and put in fridge.
Put the rest of the sweetened condensed milk in double boiler and add the white chocolate chips. Melt at a LOW heat. Stir occasionally. Pour melted mixture in the 9X9  pan and put back in fridge.
Lastly, put all of the Candy Cane Kisses in the double boiler.  Melt at a LOW heat. Stir occasionally. Pour melted mixture in the 9X9 pan. Sprinkle the crunched up candy canes on top for a nice festive look.
Score the fudge once it’s slightly cooled for easier cutting.
Enjoy or give as a gift!
Merry Christmas!
-Amanda
P.S. Don’t mind the awful photo quaity. My phone fell in the toilet and the camera hasn’t been the same since.

From This Ohioan To You, With A Crap Ton Of Love 💕💕

I was going through old emails at work and ran across this image. At the time I received the email, it spoke volumes to me. I don’t know where it originated from but I wanted to share it with you in hopes it speaks to you like it did to me.

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Feeling Givey

With all this wintery wind Northwest Ohio has been having lately, I’m starting to get in the holiday spirit. In honor of this newly found cheer I am giving away a few of my favorite things! The only catch is that the giveaway is going to be held on Instagram. If you have an Instagram account feel free to participate! A winner will be chosen Friday, November 21.

The rules:
1. Follow @amandajpedraza on Instagram

2. Repost my giveaway image (the one below) with #ajpedrazagiveaway

3. Tag a friend in the image that you think would be interested in participating too!

-Amanda

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The Deal With All The Hearts

I’ve been contemplating this post for some time now. Anyone that knows me knows that I have what may seem as a slight obsession with hearts. My Instagram is jam packed with heart shaped things. My Facebook wall in particular is littered with hearts, as people stumble upon heart shaped oil spots or heart shaped brown spots on fruit they share them with me.

To most people, this heart finding game is silly and probably a bit annoying but to a select few, it’s something divine. Since you have taken a solemn oath to follow this blog I feel that we are now at the point in our relationship that I can share this with you. You my friend are now considered my “select few”.

I’m going to start this story like you don’t know a thing about me, if you have been faithfully reading my posts you have already been filled in on some of these details.

If this starts sounding familiar, sit tight; the story will change.

My mother passed away September 1, 1997. It was the summer/fall between my 4th and 5th grade year. As you can imagine, it was a difficult transition in my life. One moment I was laying in bed asking God to send me a sign that my mom was in Heaven and the next I was smoking my dad’s cigarettes. My life continued on, yet I never quite felt closure over my mother’s passing. Even though he wouldn’t ever admit it I am pretty positive that my dad didn’t either.

In 2000 was the year that I started to find hearts in mud puddles and smudge prints on the bathroom mirror. I decided that the hearts were the signs that I had been asking for. In 2005, after I graduated high school I was finding random heart shaped things more frequently. I quickly found that these incidents weren’t isolated to only me as my cousin Whitney started finding them as well. I had forgotten about my prayers years before and started thinking that since Whitney and I were finding hearts so frequently it became our “thing”. It was so much our “thing” that we even got matching heart tattoos.

In 2013 about a week before I got married I was going through some of my mom’s jewelry because I wanted to wear a pair of her earrings at my wedding. I opened her jewelry box and couldn’t believe my eyes. It was full of necklaces with heart pendants and just about every pair of earrings were hearts.

I started crying. I was elated…and scared. I was elated because I knew that all the years of hearts were exactly what I had prayed for and that was the same reason I was scared.

The hearts meant that God was real.

Like really real.

Like straight up answering prayers real.

Like making hearts appear in unexpected ways real.

From that time on I kind of kept the heart thing to myself. It was an intimate thing with God and my mom. I shared the meaning of the hearts with 2 people. I never went into any details, I would just say that the hearts remind me of my mom and left it at that.

2014 was my biggest year of heart bar none. I would have notifications and text messages from people I didn’t know and numbers that weren’t saved in my phone and the message would always be the same ” I saw this and thought of you” and attached to the message would be a picture of a carrot or strawberry or even a water spot all in the shape of a heart.

Most recently my bestie sent me a picture of a red balloon that was shaped like a heart.

She brought this balloon into work for me. It had lost its owner and I was more than happy to give it a home. I smiled at the balloon and looked at my calendar. I thought to myself that I better grab a cup of coffee before settling in at my computer. I thought nothing more of the balloon that morning until she handed me this note…

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My heart ached and leapt for joy at the same time. Tears instantly welled up in my eyes and spilled over the 724,350 coats of mascara that I had just applied. I honestly couldn’t even talk. All I could do was hug her and cry and cry…and cry some more. Finally I pulled myself together enough to thank her.  Getting through the rest of the day was a bit difficult, not because I was sad but because I was so enamored of The Lord. How could he love me; someone who I wouldn’t even choose first, so much that He would go out of His way to gain my attention? I know it is the “basic white girl” cliché to say this but I’m going to have to go ahead and proclaim before you and God and everyone that I am blessed BEYOND measure.

Every single picture that has been shared with me has touched my heart. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. If you are a heart sender know that when you sent the picture to me that was the exact moment that I needed to feel Gods love. That was the exact moment that I needed to know that His hand was on me. I really don’t have anything to offer you than my gratitude so thank you for sending heart even when it probably felt weird and thank you for blessing me in my time of need.

-Amanda

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Fog Delays

I don’t know about you but sometimes God’s truth gets drown out for a moment by the storm I’m in (happened to me all week). It’s like I just can’t see past the fog and it’s so thick that it seems it’ll never lift.

The truth of the matter is that the all the weapons that the enemy uses including discouragement, doubt, and depression have already been defeated.

The war that has been waged was already won.

The only thing left to do is to enforce the victory and keep that memory fresh in our minds so that we are not easily shaken.

Most times, I find that it’s easier said than done. That’s why I am so thankful for my friends that remind me that the enemy is just trying to distract me from the course I’m running.

Distraction gets our eyes off God and that’s when we start allowing lies to speak into our lives.

I have finished this week and I have finished being distracted.

Greater is The One living inside of me than he who is living in the world.

From here on out I’m keeping my chin up, my eyes forward, and I’m going to keep on keeping on!

Are you in?

-Amanda

Photo By: @DEBIKAYO on Instagram
Check out her Blog

The Victor’s Crown

Knock, knock.

Who’s there?

Nausea and headaches.

I wasn’t very thrilled that I was nauseous every 5 minutes but on the other hand, it was the perfect excuse to pull out from the Joyce Meyer conference.

I know what you’re thinking…why would I want to have an excuse to not go out of town with a few ladies.

I was about to embark on a 7+ hour car ride with 3 women that I barely knew. It was exciting and nerve-racking all at the same time. I was about to spend 63 hours with women that I BARELY knew. Now, that might not be a huge deal to some but it was darn near enough to make me puke.

What if I got car sick?

What if I snored?

What if my naked face in the mornings made them cringe?

What if I farted?

What if they didn’t like me?

My mind was full of these what ifs.

I told myself that if I didn’t start feeling better that I was staying home, and with that I started feeling better within a few hours.

Crap.

That meant I actually had to step out of my comfort zone and live with these women for a few days. I finally decided to step out and do something new but in the back of my mind I was bookmarking the old me…just in case it didn’t work and I needed to flip back a few chapters.

I started to pack my suitcase.

I always pack books I’ll never read, shoes I’ll never wear,  yarn I’ll never knit, and dresses I’ll never don. All of the stuff that I fold and roll and shove serves minimal purpose but I bring it along because it keeps the person I let go of the day before at the tip of my fingers.

Packing less stuff makes room for things that you find while you are out on your adventure but I wasn’t so sure I’d find anything so I stuffed my suitcase so full I had to unzip the expansion zipper.

We hit the road.

The trip was mind blowing.

The teachings were eye opening.

The relationships were beautiful.

Our conversations started typical, just scraping the surface. Eventually, they evolved into the kind that almost cut you in two yet somehow make you closer as one. I made the kind of friends that stand nearby with a mop, just nodding, as you word vomit all over the place.

We talked about the things we wanted and lives we hope to lead. We talked fast. We shared our hearts as we sat on a hotel bed, surrounded by pizza and pillows (with minimal concern for calorie counting). Our trip had the stitchings of all the kinds of things that a person will remember for years to come.

This trip was like tacos for my soul. Not any ole taco, but my mother in laws tacos. The kind made with just the right blend of meat and seasoning and care.

My adventure in St. Louis taught me that every stronghold must be broken. It may be uncomfortable but God has planned the outcome so it’s guaranteed to be lovely.

-Amanda

Genesis Men's Choir bringing everyone to tears with their rendition of "Redeemed"

Genesis Men’s Choir bringing everyone to tears with their rendition of “Redeemed”

One the way to grab from fro-yo we found Lisa Bevere. She squeezed my shoulder. We are basically besties.  Me, Alyssa, Lisa, Mandy, and Kate.

One the way to grab from fro-yo we found Lisa Bevere. She squeezed my shoulder. We are basically besties.
Me, Alyssa, Lisa, Mandy, and Kate.

Called out beyond the shore and into the waves.

Called out beyond the shore and into the waves.

Just call me Rosie.

Just call me Rosie.

You can find me in St. Louie...

You can find me in St. Louie…

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