Desert Seasons

“There are many marks of a desert season.
I want to draw your attention to three characteristics: loneliness, longing, and lament.”

I’m currently walking through a Bible Study and today’s session just hit me square in the heart. Thole study is based off of Psalm 107 and today I started out reading through the whole section and I saw a beautiful theme. People were hurting, hungry, lost, fearful, etc and they cried out to the Lord and He delivered them. I’m making it sound a lot more simple than it’s listed. Sometimes they were facing hardship from their own choices and other times it was a way to sharpen them and weed out the sin and struggle to where God was their hope and joy and comfort – yet God always came through.

Desert periods were the topic for todays study and we walked through what does it look like to be in a spiritual desert, what are the marks that we can identify with; and y’all my heart was beating so wildly.
It was like finally I was able to take a deep breath and exhale.

I’ve been saying for the longest time to some of my close friends how I feel like I’ve been walking in a spiritual desert for YEARS, years. I can’t put my finger on the why, the how, or the reason, but it’s like I’m choking on dust, getting a few drops of water to quench the thirst, and then still left thirsty. I struggle with the head knowledge and even with the heart knowledge from knowing Jesus for so long – but getting them to connect, OOPHF, it’s like ramming two bricks together. One of my recent conversations with a friend in regards to that head knowledge made me feel so good just finally verbalizing those thoughts. We chatted about how going to school for Biblical Studies leaves you with A LOT of knowledge. After 4 years of theology, hermeneutics, round table discussions, in-depth books of the Bible studies, etc I’m full of a lot of knowledge and conviction on how to Study God’s Word. I put myself on this standard that If I’m not studying/worshiping/praying like XYZ then I’m not really caring. When the truth is, that’s straight legalism and not a true heart of worship.

The author gives a story as an example from the movie “Three Amigos” when people are longing in the desert and I really want to share that story as well as her question and my thoughts with you today so if you feel like reading on, please do!

“A scene in the movie “Three Amigos aptly depicts the longing in the desert. Lucky, Ned, and Dusty wilt under the head of the blazing sun. The barren landscape drops behind them as they stop to quench their thirst. The camera pans to Lucky first. He lifts his canteen high above his eager mouth, but only two splashes of water barely wet is tongue. Ned tries next. He isn’t as fortunate as Lucky. Something pours from his canteen’s spout, but all Ned gets is a mouthful of sand. Last, it’s Dusty’s turn. Surely his experience will match his amigos’. He longingly raises his canteen and, to the bewilderment of his buddies, water gushes forth. Dusty drinks to his heart’s content, gargles and swishes the excess, and drops the  canteen to the ground. The remnant soaks into the cracked earth. Once Dusty feels Lucky’s and Ned’s incredulous stares, he generally offers, “Lip Balm?”

Q – Have you felt like you’re the only Lucky or Ned in a world full of Dustys?

Can I get an AMEN.
I sat there and found myself filled with SO MANY thoughts that I finished my study, grabbed my laptop and started typing this out (which is probably why it sounds like a stream of consciousness). We live in a society where social media is king. We check in where we’re going, post pictures of our fun times, love photos of other people posting their best looking lives, and at the end of the day we often find ourselves feeling less than or that we are lacking. Our fitness routine isn’t as good as that persons, we don’t get to go on as many vacations as them, our relationships don’t look as fun/strong/happy as theirs do, our children don’t behave so well, our job doesn’t give us those kinds of perks, etc etc etc. I actually just wrote a post on how comparison SUCKS and how we often twist ourselves up into this ball that is just ridiculous.

I’m guilty of this myself.
I post a lot of pretty curated images that took me time and effort onto my pages. It’s part of my business to produce quality content which includes pretty pictures and capturing words and I go through my social media and sprinkle it with “the best” picture from that content. I’m often curious of the opinion people have of me based off of my social media presence. Do they think I live a fun and exciting and adventurous life? Yes, I do, but that’s about like 10% of the time. The other 90% is dealing with building a strong marriage to a military spouse who is gone all the time, living across the country from my support system, moving all the time when I have an adventurous spirit but a settled heart, drama from navy wife life that rivals high school days, and A LOT of alone time. That’s just the tip of the ice burg around here y’all.

I scroll through my instagram feed and see all of these amazing women.
Women who look like Dusty from the story. Women who have it together, who are healthy and fit, who have stunning houses that look so organized, who talk about Jesus as their best friend and pour out just this on-fire spirit that I covet. AND YES I COVET IT, which is totally a sin. Yet when I stop and clear out the cobwebs I remind myself of something: They struggle too.

No one is perfect on this earth.
We all have pain, sorrow, sin struggles, anger, sadness, loneliness, etc. It isn’t always rainbows and unicorns and sunshine, even if that’s what instagram is showing. So maybe this is my way of pulling the curtains back to show you the mess of my heart so that you know you are NOT alone in your struggle either.

Transparency is key.
Authenticity is key.
Even if sometimes it’s paired with pretty pictures. 🙂

A Lesson In Pausing

This post is back from when we were adventuring around Sequoia National Park…so excuse the time loop. 😉

I’m a goer and Eddie is a soaker.
I was up making breakfast and enjoying snapping some pictures while quiet clung to the air.
The rain was coming soon that day so I knew that we needed to get a move on. Eddie however was still enjoying relaxing in the warmth of the bed; I finally decided to crawl back in to cuddle with him.
Honestly, I gave the cuddling a whole minute and patted his arm and said we’ve got to get going. He squeezed me tighter in response.
A heavy sigh escaped my chest and I sank deeper into the sheets as I allowed myself to relax; I had to remind myself that this is also why we are here – to enjoy quiet slow mornings in the mountains with one another.
You may be asking, why is Amy even sharing this random 3 minute part of her life with us, and I feel the need to explain.

I struggle, hardwith letting go.
Control runs deep in my bones and I thrive with order, and to-do lists, and schedules, and deadlines. I actually feel like Monica off of Friends when it’s time to clean, prepare for guests, schedule a trip, etc. I find some weird joy in seeing all the things accomplished and in their right place.
I find the struggle even most when I feel like I “should be” doing something. We were on vacation and we wanted to hike in the park and see all the things and laying in bed cuddling just wasn’t going to accomplish that list. I was under this mind-set of if we don’t get moving everything will be lost!

That’s kind of the story of my life.
I find myself wallowing in these fears, these worries, these thought traps of…
If I don’t get moving, I’ll loose everything.
If I don’t accomplish this then what good am I?
If I don’t make this happen then everything won’t workout.

It’s a whole lot of “I” and that isn’t how a marriage works.
In those three minutes of me choosing to crawl back into the bed to cuddle, my flesh taking over and trying to force the hand of control, and Eddie re-grounding me to relax – I was reminded of the fact that we are a pair, a team. We do life together, we grow and learn from, challenge, and encourage each other. We help to see the good in our character as well as the areas that still need refinement. I help to spur him forward and he helps to slow me down.

It’s just another reminder of how God intrinsically wove our stories together to balance each other out – to cause me to stop, pause, and soak more.
I’ve been having a lot of those reminders recently. Those years of pain, and sorrow, and struggle waiting for a husband and feeling like it would NEVER COME and now I’m paired with someone I could have never imagined. Someone who is everything and abundantly more than I even knew I needed. I used to hate the phrase “God’s timing is perfect” and yet here I am kind of lowering my head and reminding you of that statement’s truth. God’s timing really is perfect. It can feel like it takes forever, or like you’re being punished, or even as if it’s all wrongly timed…but it’s perfect.

Pushing Forward

Q || How do you want to push yourself forward?

The last few months have been full of reflection for me.
With all the moving and chaos I’ve found myself really trying to figure out what I want to be doing now that I’m settled for longer than 6 months. There are so many questions rolling around in my head that I don’t even know where to start: how do I want to spend my time, what all do I want to see while I’m on the west coast, who should I be investing in, what will my blog look like, will I get photography clients? I really should just make a list of all the questions and just see what’s next and what I hope to glean from this San Diego living experience.

The time Eddie and I have here will be full of so much joy and adventure and a lot of dang hardness. We will be going through a deployment, seeing all the beautiful places, being apart from family, being apart from each other, making new friends, dealing with disappointment, making adventure happen, going on hikes, being more active…it’s a lot of life coming all together. Yet my heart and mind have come to this place of peace where I wouldn’t have it any other way. I mean don’t get me wrong I’d love to have a “normal” dependable schedule for the two of us and not be far from family & friends, but this has been really really cool to thrive and struggle and grow through together.

Mulling over the question at hand I really do want to use this time to push myself to places I may be fearful of. I want to travel MORE and see all of these places even though I don’t know the coastline or anything. I want to meet new people and invest in them and get to know their stories. I want to push myself to loose this weight I’ve gained and even go further – maybe even 30lbs before age 30?! I would love to get back to a healthy and thriving place with Jesus where I feel full and connected and overflowing to others. I want to connect with my family even with the mile and time difference. I want to dig deeper into my marriage and continue to strengthen it and figure it out and learn how to be husband and wife. Learning to love myself in a healthy, positive, and lasting way would be the cherry on top. I REALLY want to just PUSH.

Right now I have the fire.
Sitting here on a Friday morning typing this out there I have that insatiable hunger in my gut to just make it happen and cross everything off the list. My eyes are clear and my heart is willing; but I know that all days won’t be like this – there will come days that require a little or a lot of effort to make these things happen. So, my tribe, what are YOU wanting to push yourself forward to? Tell me your hopes and dreams and lets chase after them together!


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Don’t Hold Back

Would you like to know something I’ve learned since moving multiple times?
Don’t hold back.
Just let things happen and make them happen and don’t be afraid to use something or get rid of it or be finished with it. I can’t count how many fancy candles I had that weren’t used, or how many outfits I was saving for “the perfect occasion”, food I was waiting to eat with friends, makeup that I bought for special days…it is just so much good going to waste.

Light that fancy candle, wear those nice underwear, use the expensive perfume, enjoy the makeup, have the tough conversations, read the books, give things away, purge the unused, and be happy.

We are slowly getting settled into San Diego and I’m finding places to hang all the pictures and decorate and unpack and make this house our home – and yet I find myself STILL holding back. Not lighting certain candles because they are pretty or expensive, not wearing a dress because I don’t think it works for the day, not having a conversation with someone because it may be more in depth than I want to go…I’m just holding back – and I’m tired of it.

I’m becoming more and more conscious of investing in PEOPLE than things. I’ve had it backwards for about a year because community in my life has been scarce and hard – but now that I’ve started building some friendships again my perspective is changing, and it’s so so good.

So don’t hold back.
Do something you wouldn’t normally do today – even if it’s light a nice candle and have a bubble bath – who cares if it’s Monday?!

Just Rolling With It

I came to Charleston with all of these expectations.
I was going to come home, enjoy Christmas with my husband and my family, say goodbye to Eddie for a bit. Then work on the house, see my friends, grab coffee, go to barre every day, eat healthy, book photography sessions, go to the church I attended when I was here, go downtown, go to the beach, see family a lot; you know, the works. However it didn’t go that way, right after Eddie left Charleston got it’s first snowfall in like 20 years which shut the city down and kept me inside for a few days, that was ok – I could still get my stuff done after the snow! I spent a night cutting in the upstairs hallway to paint and then the next day I started to just feel really, really off. BOOM I got sick. I have been out of commission for the better part of 6 days and am still getting over it and have no energy to paint, workout, see people, or ANYTHING. Did I mention I have a list a mile long I am hoping to accomplish before leaving Charleston to head to San Diego? And I’m only like a week out?!

I’ve been frustrated; REALLY REALLY frustrated with myself and the situation.
I feel like I have had time robbed away from me and I haven’t been focused to workout like I should, eat healthy like I should, instead I’ve been lounging, sneezing, coughing, eating, blowing my nose, eating, and attempting to get out of the house. Yeah, it basically has been a total let down. I’m also missing my husband like WOAH, the only-communicating-through-email thing sucks when you go days and days without a hello. Yet that’s navy life and I’m learning that I’m a lot stronger than I originally knew.

I woke up Sunday morning and as I was watching the snot roll out of my nose (you’re welcome) and I felt this pang of frustration I finally said “I’m just going to roll with it”. I can’t change the circumstances, I can’t change how much time I have left before I move again, what I can change is my attitude. I was watching this youtube video the other day and the girl mentioned how her mother said “A joyful heart is good life medicine”. So much truth. Our attitudes effect our emotional state, physical state, spiritual state…and I don’t want to live in this negative nancy place anymore.

So heres to just rolling with it and embracing having a joyful heart.

When You Hear A ‘No’

Yesterday I heard the word “no”.
I applied for a company for the blog and to put it simply; they weren’t impressed with my numbers. It was a bit of a sting to come home to and open that email, to hear that they’ve reviewed my work and just don’t find it up to snuff with what their company requires. I get it; there are qualifications you have hit before being able to access certain things…but still, it is never easy to just be told “no” when you were hoping for a yes.

Far too often we talk all about our “yes” moments instead of the all the no’s we receive.
When in reality I think our character is often built from all the times we simply hear no.
In the last few months I’ve been told no about where we will live in San Diego, from companies I want to partner with, from the scale, myself, family, friends, from the Lord, from everything. No is just as much a part of our lives as anything else even when it stings to hear it.

Then there are the times when hearing/saying ‘no’ is such a good thing.
Those moments where we’ve over committed ourselves and we need to turn another commitment down, when we’re exhausted and need a break, when family times comes first, when we need to budget and practice self control.
No is powerful.

So on this Tuesday morning I’m taking a step back from the sting of hearing no to focus on the list of all the other things that need my attention. I’m not going to wallow in it anymore and instead I’m going to look at the positive of the no and maybe even use this as a moment to evaluate if there are areas in my life where eI need to say ‘no’ to.

What about you?
Have you heard a ‘no’ recently that kind of stung?
Do you struggle with saying no when you know you should?
I’m not alone in this right?