Bucket list dream

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Tomorrow morning at 8:45 a.m., I will be departing from the KCI airport and flying to Washington D.C. where I’ll check off a long-time bucket list item. On Friday, January 19, 2018, I will march alongside hundreds of thousands of people to stand up for the rights of the unborn in the annual March For Life. All my life, I have been an advocate for ending abortion. I chose a long time ago to stand as a voice for those who do not have a voice: the innocent children who are brutally slaughtered. I also want the scared, unsupported women who chose to end their pregnancies in this way to know they’re not alone and there is forgiveness.

“I’ve noticed everyone who is for abortion has already been born.” – Ronald Reagan

When my church offered me the opportunity to attend the March For Life for $550, I knew it was God offering me the chance to fight amongst fellow pro-life advocates and unite in our passion for the unborn. Standing together is the most powerful sign we can make to our government, and I’m praying that God will open their eyes and hearts to be receptive to our end goal: overturning Roe v. Wade (1973). See my post about Roe v. Wade.

“The right to life is the first among human rights. To abort a child is to kill someone who cannot defend himself.” – Pope Francis

In addition to being a part of this beautiful movement, I’ll be able to see all the jewels of our nation’s capital like the Holocaust Museum and the Pope John Paul II National Shrine. A co-worker told me that everything you see in Washington D.C. is historic in some way, so as a first-time tourist, I plan to soak it up as much as possible. I’ll hardly make a dent in sightseeing in three and a half days, but at least I’ll be laying the groundwork for my next visit.

Be sure to check back next week for a full recount of what unfolded during my adventure in Washington D.C. This four-day pilgrimage is sure to be filled with blessing after blessing, and I cannot wait to get there.✈️💞

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Christmas is almost here

It’s the most wonderful time of the year: A time of giving, planning, celebrating, feasting, wrapping, caroling, shopping and most importantly, preparing. You may think preparation in terms of a big Christmas dinner or lengthy gift list or festive holiday decor, but it’s much more than that. Christmas is more than just gift-giving, cookie exchanges or finding the perfect tree. It’s about preparing your heart for Christ’s coming. His life-changing birth that saved us all, wiped our hearts clean of sin and gave us the promise of everlasting life after death.

Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel (which means, God with us). Matthew 1:23

Unfortunately, it’s very easy to forget who the true reason for the season is. It’s easy to get sucked into the vortex of holiday commercialism. All that hustle and bustle – if we’re not careful – can leave us drained and stressed out, which is not the right spirit for Christmas. We should all know that Christ doesn’t care how big our tree is, how tasty our Christmas ham is, or how perfect our Christmas card turned out. All he cares about is how open our hearts are.

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I’ve been guilty of letting my attention drift over the past week. My mind is consumed with getting the right gifts, spending the right amount, and scheduling. But schedules and gifts shouldn’t matter in comparison to spending special time with loved ones. But that’s the curse of holiday stress: it clouds your judgment. So my goal for these last couple days before Christmas is to focus more on what matters: my family and the birth of my Savior, who wants me to make a place for him amidst the chaos we call ‘life’. I hope you can do the same.🎄 Merry Christmas everyone.

“Love & Respect” review

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As of late, I’ve been trying to become a more avid reader. I have a difficult time commiting myself to books. TV shows and movies have never been an issue, but books are a different story. So when my boyfriend told me about “Love & Respect,” a book by Emerson Eggerichs, and asked me if I’d read it, I knew it was my chance to become a devoted reader. He’d heard about the book while listening to a Dave Ramsey podcast. Dave’s glowing recommendation prompted a quick Amazon purchase.

He told me the book targeted married couples, but that anyone in a relationship would benefit. “It will help us learn how to handle conflict better,” he said. Generally, we get along fine but like every couple, we hit the occassional roadblock from time to time. This book was proven to highlight how to fulfill a woman’s desire for love and a man’s desire for respect. By knowing how to fulfill these desires, conflict would be easier to resolve or avoid altogether.

After less than two months, I can officially label myself as a “Love & Respect” finisher. I learned a great deal from this book. I laughed, I cried and I trusted that God was speaking to me within the pages. The primary message was Ephesians 5:33: “Each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” This Bible verse directly states that women need love, while men need respect. By understanding your partner’s essential need, you will start to see how your actions or words can come across as unloving or disrespectful in certain situations.

This book is organized into three parts: The Crazy Cycle, The Energizing Cycle and The Rewarded Cycle. Every couple has taken a spin on The Crazy Cycle (“Without love, she reacts without respect and without respect, he reacts without love”). This cycle is where conflict runs rampant and one or both parties are left feeling unloved/disrespected. Eggerichs says the reason for this is because men and women see and hear things differently (blue vs. pink sunglasses and hearing aids). Being aware of this is a start, but in Part II Eggerichs takes it a step further by outlining two helpful acronyms.

C-O-U-P-L-E and C-H-A-I-R-S are both discussed in Part II: The Energizing Cycle (“His love motivates her respect and her respect motivates his love”). These acronyms spell out how to show respect to men and love to women. When a man exercises Closeness, Openness, Understanding, Peacemaking, Loyalty and Esteem to his woman, he provides her with the love she deserves and yearns for deeply. Likewise, when a woman exercises Conquest, Hierarchy, Authority, Insight, Relationship and Sexuality to her man, she is openly giving him the respect he deserves and yearns for deeply.

By following these acronyms on a daily basis, your relationship will transition into Part III: The Rewarded Cycle (“His love blesses regardless of her respect and her respect blesses regardless of his love”). This section teaches that loving and respecting your partner, particularly in marriage, is not about your partner. It’s about your obligation to God. In Ephesians 5:33, God instructs every husband to love his wife and every wife to respect her husband. So regardless of how your partner is treating you, you need to uphold your promise to God by continuing to treat them with the love and respect they deserve. When you understand these cycles, you will understand how to strengthen and maintain your relationship/marriage and stay off The Crazy Cycle.

Thank you Emerson Eggerichs. You taught us both so much.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

New portfolio, same ole me

When I was in my last semester at Washburn, I was enrolled in a course called Career Development and Digital Portfolio. This class, required for seniors, focused on resume and cover letter critiques, career research and of course, digital portfolio creation. There are many free websites builders: Site123, Weebly, Wix, Squarespace, etc. I chose to use Weebly: it was easy to navigate and featured good themes.

At the end of the semester, we presented our portfolios to practice “pitching” ourselves to potential employers (i.e. our professor and classmates). Afterward, my professor told me that my portfolio trumped the majority of my classmates’ subpar efforts. My experiences and skills were highlighted well in my work samples and resume. Plus, my colorful theme displayed my interest in the creative field.

After I graduated, my Weebly portfolio was circulated to help advance my job hunt. I included the link on my resume and LinkedIn profile. As new experiences and skills became a part of me, my portfolio was revised and updated. I strongly believe it’s one of the reasons I gained my digital writing gig in May 2017.

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Then after a couple months in my new job, something happened. I grew tired of my portfolio. The headshot on the homepage was old, and I saw ways to improve the overall layout. I’d heard good remarks about Wix, so I decided to start from stratch on a new platform. I restructured my content, revised my resume and developed a new color scheme. I also used my sister’s keen eye to capture an up-to-date headshot for the homepage. While most of the site was new, I carried over one special thing from the Weebly portfolio:

“To live a creative life, we must lost the fear of being wrong.” – Joseph Chilton Pearce. 

This quote defines my creative journey. I used to avoid mistakes and try to be perfect on the first go, which proved to be exhausting. I realized that the creative journey is outlined by making mistakes and learning from them. Mistakes can bulldoze a path toward better results. As I was designing my Wix portfolio, it took over a month to complete because of revisions, second guessing and mistakes like formatting text incorrectly or choosing a distracting background color or an unreadable font.

It got to the point where I wanted to start over, but Wix doesn’t let you switch templates after you’ve started. I looked into other sites like Site123 and Squarespace and even thought about returning to Weebly, but all roads led back to Wix, and I knew that was the best site for the design I wanted. After I inputted my headshot and matched the color scheme to the photo’s dominant color, everything fell into place. Now, I have a finished product ready to be viewed by all.

New place, new chapter

It’s official. I live alone. Over the weekend I signed my first solo lease and moved into my one bed/one bath with the help of a stellar moving crew – my family and bf. The majority of last week was spent packing and deciding what was coming with me. The night before, everything was stored in the garage to prepare for the following-day transition. Move-in day would’ve been chaotic enough excluding the fact John and I had his sister’s wedding at 4 p.m. Luckily, with the combined effort of six people, we got everything in the apartment in record time, and we got to the wedding early.

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It’s been a few days since move-in, and I’ve had the opportunity to get my stuff more organized. With a couple shopping trips completed and internet installed, it’s starting to feel more like a home. But that’s doesn’t change the fact that I live alone, which is a situation I’ve never been in before. I’ve always had roommates or family around. The air was always filled with conversation or footsteps. Now, it’s mostly silent with the occassional exceptions of distant barking or hallway chatter.

Before I moved in, I was so sure I wanted to live alone. For months I dreamed about the freedom I would have in my own place:

  • The layout and design of the whole space
  • Full control of the thermostat settings
  • Status of neatness or sloppiness (i.e. dirty dishes)
  • Ability to walk around half-dressed
  • No time constraints or restrictions on company
  • No worries about stuff being used without permission

While these are nice selling points, there are a couple downsides that will take some getting used to: increased feelings of loneliness and anxiety.

  • Anxiety: Before bed, I venture to my front door to double and triple-check the locks. Then a strange noise later on will prompt me to check them again. While a heightened alertness is good, it also increases stress.
  • Loneliness: To cope with the prolonged silence, I always have a movie or music playing. This gives me the illusion that I’m not completely alone.

“When I first lived alone, I was all about the freedom, but I also felt desperately lonely (and scared, and overwhelmed, etc.). It was a major change, and one that took a while to get used to.” – Carolyn Steber, BUSTLE

In a stroke of luck, when I was on Google searching for an image to include in this post, I stumbled across a BUSTLE article by Carolyn Steber called, “13 Tips For Living Alone For The First Time​ & Making The Most Of Your Independence.” As the title implies, it listed 13 ways to make the concept of living alone more enjoyable, safe and less lonely. It was a blessing to stumble across the words of a woman who has been in my shoes. I know now that it’s permissable for me to feel a cluster of emotions regarding this transition. A lifechanging transition like this won’t sink in a day. It will take time, like all good things do.

Demolishing a derby

Being an Overland Park, KS resident for 23 years, it’s no surprise that I don’t have a country background. Dating a country boy has expanded my horizons quite a bit. In the course of our relationship, 19 months, I’ve done several things I never planned on: driving a tractor, stargazing in the back of a truck, and now … attending a Demolition Derby. An event like this was way out of my league, but when he said he wanted to participate, I knew I needed to be supportive – even though I was nervous as heck.

As sad as it sounds, he had to explain what a Demolition Derby was. In my eyes, it’s the equivalent of adult bumper cars, but far more dangerous. He and his brother, Chris, entered in the stock class. They spent weeks fixing up and preparing their cars to satisfy the safety regulations required to participate. John entered a 1987 Cadillac that he spray painted red, white and blue. His brother’s car was sponsored for Rico’s Nachos, so his 1985 Mercury Grand Marquis donned red and yellow spray paint and featured a decal for Rico’s on both sides.

We arrived in Ottawa around 4:30 p.m. just in time to get the cars inspected and approved by 5 p.m. The event started at 7 p.m., but their class didn’t compete until almost last. I was surprised how thrilling it was to watch old, beat-up cars ram into one another. I cheered until I was hoarse (again – don’t ask). When their class was up, the knots in my stomach worsened. I watched them drive their cars into the arena one-by-one, and I continuously prayed to God for their protection. Within sixty seconds, after the countdown ended, one of the cars flipped. They stopped the event as firefighters raced into the arena. After several minutes they announced the driver was okay. With tears welling in my eyes, I couldn’t help but thank God it wasn’t John or his brother who’d flipped.

They restarted the round and within five minutes, both John and Chris were out. John’s back wheel came off when the drive axle snapped, and his brother’s battery had taken a tumble and loosened its cables. Whenever a car cannot compete anymore, drivers are required to “break their stick,” which is taped to the outside of their door. Once their stick is broken, other cars can no longer hit them. It was unfortunate they were both out so soon because they didn’t place in the top five. However, they were in good spirits because of the fun they’d had. Plus, John received an offer during the event from a fellow derby attendee to purchase his Cadillac, so win-win.

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All you can do is pray

I thought this morning would be a typical Monday: press the snooze button a couple times, get dressed, pack my lunch, and leave for work at 8:30 a.m., but that isn’t how it went. “Amy! There was a mass shooting last night at a concert in Las Vegas – around 50 people were killed and hundreds were wounded. They’re calling it the worst mass shooting in our nation’s history.” 

I heard these words tumble out of my mom’s mouth as I rubbed the sleep from my eyes. Mass shooting … 50 dead … Las Vegas … concert … It took a few minutes for me to process what she’d said. This isn’t the first time I, or any other US resident, has received news about a mass shooting. Sandy Hook Elementary School (Dec. 2012), San Bernardino (Dec. 2015), Aurora, Colorado (July 2012), and Virginia Tech (April 2007) are just a few from a long list of tragedies our country has endured in the past decade.

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I’m devastated every time a mass shooting occurs. My head fills with questions. Who is capable of committing such an act? Why did they do it? How will the families of the victims ever recover? My heart breaks for the third question. How would you recover the loss of a loved one to a brutal murder like those in a mass shooting? Does the person responsible deserve forgiveness? Even as a Catholic, even I used to think no. How could anyone forgive a person who caused such horrific bloodshed on our American soil? The truth is, it will be hard and it will take a long time, but as I learned from “The Shack” (2017 Christian film), forgiveness IS possible.

Stephen Paddock, 64-year-old Las Vegas suspect, opened fire on 22,000 Jason Aldean concert attendees from a corner room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel. After firing shots for 5-10 minutes, the police found him dead with 18-20 weapons. The panic that ensued when the hailstorm of gunshots rained down was beyond chaotic. People ducked for cover or ran in different directions trying to escape the terror. I can’t fathom the fear they all must’ve felt, unsure if they would make it out unharmed.

During my drive into work, I listened to K-Love, a Christian radio station. The morning show hosts were discussing how difficult it is to find good in this tragedy. They interviewed a woman who attended the concert with her 11-year-old daughter. The women had a military background so, when shots started, her instincts kicked in and she helped people get to safety. When she explained the good in a tragedy like this to her daughter, she pointed out that when chaos broke out, everyone united to help each other – and that is what matters here.

As I was driving and listening, I prayed. I prayed for the victims, those still alive and those who are not, all the victims’ families, and for the gunman. I prayed for his soul because even though I don’t know why he did what he did, I want him to repent for his sins and turn back to God. I’m angry at him for what he did to my fellow brothers and sisters, but he is still a child of God. I’m certain God will bring out the good from the evil Stephen Paddock unleashed on our nation. My hope is that the Las Vegas mass shooting will create more bridges for unity rather than walls for separation in our country.

“I know we are searching for some kind of meaning in the chaos, some kind of light in the darkness. The answers do not come easy. We can take solace that even in the darkest space can be brightened by a single light, and even the most terrible despair can be lightened by a single ray of hope. 

We pray for the day when evil is banished and when the innocent are safe from hatred and from fear. May God bless the souls of the lives that are lost. May God give us the grace to heal, and may God provide the grieving families with the strength to carry on. Thank you, and God bless America.” – President Trump 

Read latest Las Vegas mass shooting updates: click here.