Guest Post for Loved+Blessed

This month I had the pleasure and opportunity to guest write for Loved+Blessed and their blog! Loved+Blessed is a Christian women’s ministry that encourages and supports everyday women. One of the special things that Loved+Blessed offers are encouragement subscription boxes! Each month’s box focuses on a different theme and includes some really sweet items. 

The post that I wrote was before this global pandemic, but I think the words are still true for today. The topic that I wrote about is related to self-care, but also about focusing self-care around Jesus. Below is a small excerpt of my post but please feel free to click the link below to read the full post. 

Self Care is not About You, it’s About Jesus

Maybe you’ve had a really bad day today. Maybe you’re coming off of a really difficult year. Maybe you’re going through a difficult season of marriage. Maybe you have an unbelieving spouse. Maybe you’ve chased screaming children around all day. Maybe you have a child who has special needs and requires more care and attention than you have energy to give. Maybe you’re juggling school, work, and a family. Maybe you’re going through depression and anxiety. Maybe you’ve had a disappointment. Maybe you even have ministry-fatigue. Whatever the situation may be or whatever your life looks like right now–my sister in Christ, I pray that you will be encouraged by these words. I pray that your soul would be revived so that, in turn, your self would be revived. Because, after all, self-care isn’t actually about us. Self-care is about being made alive IN Christ so that we may glorify Him in all that we do. Self-care is about Jesus and it begins with Jesus.”

Click this link to read the full blog post

Love From Amy Blog

Finding Your Joy Again | Guest Interview with Stacy Park of Spark Wholeness

At the beginning of the year, I shared that I had been through a really rough previous year but how I also felt like I was finally coming up for air. I also talked about the importance of opening up to others about struggles, so that you can have support from your community and not go through life alone. 

Last weekend I met up with my friend, Stacy, and we talked about similar experiences and offered mutual support to one another regarding finding joy again. It was such an encouraging and refreshing time to be open, honest, and vulnerable about seasons of joyless-ness while also knowing that these seasons don’t last forever. Sometimes it is actually the tough times that produce the most joy. How can you truly identify what joy is unless you haven’t had it for a while? In the Bible, in the book of James, it is explained that those who follow Christ should actually count trials as joy because we will be strengthened and He has promised that we will not be lacking in anything!

James 1:2-6

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.

After Stacy and I talked about life and things we were learning, we transitioned into talking about JOY! I had some questions prepared beforehand and below is a summary of what we discussed. I had hoped to type this in a dialogue style, but we had such a great time talking that it just became impossible to write down everything we spoke about. We talked, and talked, and talked. Aren’t friendships great?? I hope that you will be encouraged by our discussion. Also, if you follow my Facebook page or IG, I have videos linked from a live-chat that Stacy and I had for her website. 

What does joy mean to you? And what is the opposite of joy?

“Joy is a choice that needs to be made everyday! It is turning from pain and giving all your pain, worries, and care to the Lord–knowing that He will fight for you and give you joy (Exodus 14:13-14). Pain leads to growth and growth leads to joy! The opposite of joy is pain–and often times they both come hand-in-hand.”

What does joy look like to you on the inside? And what about the outside?

“Internally, joy begins with the mind. You have to focus on what is good and the blessings that God has given to you. Internal joy is being able to practice gratitude, even when your flesh doesn’t want to. When you have the right metal frame of mind to focus on blessings and gratitude, the mind can control other parts of the body which can ultimately lead to experiencing joy! An external display of joy can look like having a quiet confidence. You are anchored in peace and you know that your identity is in Christ. External joy will be genuine, as well. If you have joy in Christ–you will not have to “fake” trying to be happy.” 

Can you recall a time that you felt far from being joyful?

Due to privacy, I am not quoting things that Stacy shared with me but I will summarize this section. Stacy shared with me that she has been through a few years of dealing with surprising hardships, challenges, and testing of her faith. She shared with me that these hardships have not been comfortable for her, she has often felt like wanting to run away from the pain, and maybe even question God. Stacy shared that her family has gone through various challenges in the last few years–and that not many outside people knew. While she was still trying to minister and serve her family, not being able to open up to people outside her family was very isolating. 

Do you have any specific Bible references that encourage you when it comes to having joy? What truths do you speak to yourself? What about any specific worship songs that encourage you? 

“Bible verses that encourage me are Philippians 4:8–fill your minds with things that are true, noble, right, pure, and lovely— and Psalm 104–enter His courts with thanksgiving in your hearts. And some worship songs I am loving are from Hillsong, especially New Wine. Truths I speak to myself are that God has not given me a spirit of fear but a sound mind ( 2 Timothy 1:7) and also that I am not lacking anything in Christ. I surround myself with things that remind me of God’s word, truth, promises, and signs of hope. Gratitude journaling is very powerful and helps you to remember what God has done.”

What are some practical things to keep in mind when it comes to finding your joy?

“Make a list each week of 10 things that make you feel joyful and schedule time for each of those things to happen in your week–it helps to give you something to look forward to. Be in prayer and worship during your commute each day, it helps to set the tone of your day. Take a sabbath and truly rest! Sabbath can be a powerful time to evaluate stress and identify things that are stealing your joy. Also make an effort to take breaks from social media–it is sometimes a joy-killer and comparison is dangerous! Go to workout classes that are fun and make you happy to exercise (ie yoga, pilates, rock climbing, etc). Community is another important thing to have–even if you feel like shutting yourself off from people, make yourself get out and go see your friends, family, church anyway!”

Just for “funzies”, what are 4 things that bring you joy?

“Some types of music that I am really loving are Selena Gomez’s new album, Tayla Parx, and I love turning on Post Malone and jamming out in my car! I am a Rachel Hollis guru and really like her books Girl, Wash Your Face and Girl, Stop Apologizing. Chuy’s Taco Salad with Jalapeño Ranch also really brings me so much joy!”

How can others connect with you (Stacy) and your ministry, Spark Wholeness?

“Readers can connect with me on my website– sparkwholeness.bigcartel.com— I have some new clothing products, including leggings! Readers can also go to the “Schedule Me” section of the website for fitness classes, workshops, speaking events, etc. You can also find me on Facebook and Instagram.” 

Stacy, thank you so much for hanging out with me, being vulnerable, talking about joy, and all the other funzies that we had last weekend!! Readers, I hope something about our conversation will help you if you are also dealing with a season of finding your joy again. Which of these questions, that we discussed, stick out to you the most?

Love From Amy Blog

 

Excuse-Proof Tips to Help You Get to the Gym!

Good morning! I hope you have a wonderful day today. The last two blogs have been of a more serious nature, so today I’m sharing something a little more light and upbeat. Today I’m going to be talking about going to the gym! Yay. (Insert sarcastic tone) 

If you’re anything like me, going to the gym is pretty much the worst thing ever and it takes SOOOO much motivation. I can pretty much make up any excuse to talk myself out of going to the gym. However, I know deep down that it’s actually good for me, I feel and sleep better, and I like being healthy. I have developed a few small habits, over the last couple of months, that have been a great help to get me back into the gym. So far, these small habits have proved to be excuse-proof! I’m going to share these tips with you in the hopes that it helps you conquer your fitness goals, as well!

Excuse #1: I don’t have any clean gym clothes.

Solution #1: Have as many changes of work out clothes as the number of days you go to the gym. So, if you are planning on going 2-3 times a week, make sure you have 2-3 changes of workout gear (ie. 3 pairs of leggings or shorts, 3 shirts, etc…). By having separate changes of clothes for each gym day, you won’t have the excuse of needing to do laundry because you have nothing clean. At the end of your workout week, do laundry for the next week. In the mornings before I go to work, I grab my shoes, a clean pair of socks, leggings, and a shirt that I can leave in my car. I also have a designated gym bag that I clean out every night and leave by my purse. I also feel the most confident about working out when I have gym clothes that I like wearing. And of course, almost every single piece of workout gear that I have is black, haha! Some of my favorite brands of workout clothes are:

Excuse #2: I can’t seem to find any time to go to the gym.

Solution #2: Plan specific dates and times for the gym month-by-month. For example, in January and February, I decided that Monday, Tuesday, and Friday nights were my available times to go to the gym and I need to go as soon as I get off work. I used to get very overwhelmed with trying to plan when I would go to the gym on a long-term basis, but by having a monthly plan of when to go–I can be flexible with my schedule based on the month’s activities and it’s easier for me to plan on a smaller scale. Also, by going to the gym straight after work, I can also eliminate the excuse of “well, now I’m home and I’m just too tired to leave the house again.” 

Excuse #3: I am just too tired. 

Solution #3: This one ties in with #1 and #2 but it’s probably my biggest excuse. I think it’s my biggest excuse because, at the end of the day, I just want to be lazy sometimes. However, if you set a specific number of times you want to go to the gym, plan appropriately to help you achieve that goal, and follow through–the end results will make it all worth it! You will never regret doing a workout after you’ve finished your session. Even though you may be tired–working out may help you sleep even better and give you more energy for the next day! Also, make sure you plan for and pack snacks that you can have pre-workout and post-workout for any blood sugar fluctuations or panic-y, hangry feelings.

I hope you feel encouraged and motivated to get to the gym! Let’s get moving!

Love From Amy Blog

Happy 4th Birthday, Blog: Lessons from Last Year

On January 31st, this past weekend, my blog turned 4 years old! Yay!! I know that year 3 was kind of a wash, but I learned many lessons about myself and life during that time. Today I want to celebrate new beginnings, refreshment, a new year, and new goals–which is what I am hoping year 4 will be for this blog.

I would like to share with you 4 lessons that I learned last year during my little hiatus. While I probably learned more than 4 lessons–these are the ones that stick out to me the most.

  1. Material things will not and do not make you happy. I mean, I guess they kind of do–but if you go in with the mindset of “well, if I get this or that then I’ll feel better about myself,” you will be wrong. I think in the first couple years of blogging, I tried to accumulate so much stuff because “that’s what everyone else was doing” so that things could showed off and reviewed. While yes, I know that some bloggers do a really good job of giving reviews, writing about fashion and style, and marketing for other companies–I was doing a really bad job at it. After a while all of the stuff I had was beginning to crowd me and make me feel overwhelmed with the amount of money I was spending and also just how much stuff I had to maintain. I do not mean to offend other bloggers at all, because I know that many have full-time careers through them, but this was a lesson that I learned because of my blogging and social media experience. This lesson made me check my heart and evaluate the motives behind my materialism. I have since adopted a much more minimalist mindset.
  2. Moments with Jesus are powerful and change everything. If you read my last post, you’ll know that I mentioned my battle with anxiety and depression last year. There were many times that I felt so paralyzed by it all that I couldn’t really pray anything other than “Jesus, help me.” My quiet times with Jesus were not as often as I would have liked–but the moments that I would meet with Him and when I felt so desperate–I knew He was with me. I would instantly feel peace and an assurance that He knew exactly what I was going through. The times that I spent in His Word were so powerful because everything was relevant and applicable to what I was dealing with. That’s one of the amazing and powerful things about the Bible and gospel message–it is alive and active (Hebrews 4:12)! I encourage you to, even if you don’t know what to do or what to say, spend time with Jesus! He loves you, He is waiting for you, and He has given us access to Him at all times (Ephesians 2:18).
  3. Life is precious. Life is short and must be valued and celebrated! Last year, my mom went through cancer treatment and throughout the whole process, the reality of mortality was scary. It made me want to make the most out of the time that I had with her and my family each day, to not complain, but to plead with God for more time. As I mentioned in my last post, she is now cancer-free and God was, and is, so gracious to our family. I know that this world is not our home and one day we will be in eternity. I am so thankful for the promises of God and the hope we have of spending eternity with Him. I hope, very much, that you have the same assurance as well. I don’t mean to turn this post into a morbid topic, but that’s just reality.
  4. It’s ok to wear black 99% of the time. I’ve come to the reality that I just really like to wear black. I used to think it was boring, I really should wear more color, or that everything just looked the same. But that’s just me and my style–and I love it. Yes, I do have some color in my wardrobe–but it will most likely be accompanied with black. It’s classy, versatile, appropriate for all-year wear, and it’s great to mask the occasional coffee spill. Ha!

Those are my top 4 lessons of the last year! Some are pretty serious and some are not as much–but I think important, nonetheless. What are some lessons that you learned last year? I would love to know!

Repost | Beating the Winter Blues

Y’all. I think the groundhog lied. I’m starting to feel as though winter will never be over. I try not to complain too much because I know there are places much colder than Oklahoma. However, I’m over the teasing of the Oklahoma weather system. One day it’ll be 20 degrees and the next it’ll be 70. I feel like I could go crazy at any moment, haha! Not to mention, also, that my hands and feet are chronically frozen. Whatevs.

Today I’m reposting a blog post that I wrote a little over 2 years ago. It’s so easy to write content and then just forget about it. However, I thought it would be fitting to repost this one–because maybe some of these tips will be useful to you too during this frigid and glacial time. Ok, I’ll stop being dramatic now. Enjoy!

Beating the Winter Blues 
December 17, 2016

Now that daylight savings time is over, the days are much shorter and it gets dark SO much earlier. The other day it was almost pitch black at 5:00 in the afternoon and I felt exhausted because it felt like it was 10:00 at night. Does anyone else get into hibernation mode and become a complete couch-potato? Not to mention that it is also becoming colder and blankets, comfy clothes, and blasting the heat sound so much more appealing than anything else. In case this fits your description here are some things you can do to help beat the winter blues.

Stay active

The winter weather and darkness can make you feel like a completely unmotivated blob. Try to get in at last 30 minutes of exercise a day by either bundling up and going for a walk, going to the gym, or park a little further away from the front doors of places where you are Christmas shopping. I know that my mood and energy levels are significantly different when I make an effort to get moving.

Be around people

Surrounding yourself with people who care about you and vice versa can lift your spirits so much! Being with family and friends is definitely better than secluding yourself. I know that some people can only handle so much “people time” and need some time to be alone–but don’t make the being alone part a lengthy habit.

Plan things

Instead of just going home and planting yourself in front of Netflix, why not plan something fun? Some ideas are going ice skating, going out to dinner or having friends over for dinner, driving around to look at Christmas lights, go see a movie at the theatre, FaceTime or Skype someone who lives out-of-town, go see a Christmas play or show, etc.

Fun night at home

On the nights that you just need a relaxing evening at home, plan what you are going to do that evening. Find a movie that you love, pop some popcorn, make some coffee/tea/hot chocolate, put on a face mask, read a book, give yourself a manicure/pedicure, etc.

Light

Just because it is pitch black outside, it does not mean you have to be in the dark, as well. When you are home, light some candles, plug-in those Christmas lights, light a fire in the fireplace, and just make it cozy.