Author: Amanda

Created on Purpose

Life isn’t about perfection. It’s about faith, family, community, gathering together, enjoying new experiences, and holding on tight to Jesus through the challenges and victories of life. Life is about running hard after our passions and dreams. It’s remembering that the Creator of heaven and earth created each of us from dust, on purpose and for a purpose. You and I have an opportunity to be a part of the story God is writing each and every day.

It can be a struggle to not lose sight of God’s over-arching purpose for our lives when we get bogged down by the routine and hard days of life. It’s easy to get distracted. To grow weary. To be pulled in far too many directions. Sometimes we just need to take a step back. Pause. Reevaluate. Prioritize.

It’s time to be intentional about pursuing God and His purpose for our lives.  A few things I try to remember are to:

Run in my own lane. We are all running the race of life, but we’re meant to run in our own lane      and not someone else’s lane. We need to focus on fulfilling the purpose God has set before us and finding contentment in our current season of life, whatever it may be.

Study, reflect, and pray. My day goes far better when I take even a few minutes to spend time reading Scripture and praying before heading out to work or whatever else my day my hold. I need time with Jesus to calibrate me and set my heart straight for anything that may lay ahead. I am so not a morning person, and it’s hard enough for me to get up, ready, and out of the door on time, but I’m challenging myself to start my day off right in the presence of God.

Celebrate others. I want to live confident in God’s purpose for me and be able to enjoy the amazing things God does in and through the people around me. I may be wishing and praying for a miracle or opportunity in my own life, but that doesn’t have to stop me from celebrating others seeing their dreams come true and prayers answered. Every miracle is worth celebrating. Let’s be a community of people who cheer each other on.

Know when to say no. Living life well is often about balance. We need to know when to say no. Remember the priorities you’ve set, consider your schedule, pray, and don’t be afraid to say no when appropriate.

Start where I am. I love to dream. I have lots of ideas that I would love the opportunity to pursue. But it can be so easy to say I don’t have enough time, money, talent, or whatever it may be. Those are all excuses and often keep us from ever pursuing the dreams we have. I’m reminded again and again to start right where I am on the dreams that are most important to me. I can do what I can right where I am and work towards my ideas, letting the dream unfold one little step at a time.

Kindness Matters

Have you ever dreamed of making a huge impact on the world? The best way we can make a difference is not through one big action. The deepest and most profound impact we can make is through daily acts of kindness.

A smile. A friendly greeting. Giving up a seat to someone else. Standing up for the underdog. Sharing a meal. Caring enough to stop and listen. One act of kindness can make all the difference in a friend, neighbor, or stranger’s life.

Kindness matters. Especially in a world where so much negativity swirls around. We can all use a little (or a lot!) of kindness to brighten up our days in the midst of the good, bad, and ugly. An act of kindness makes a big impact and can turn the tide of the day for us or someone else.

Let’s be intentional and spread a little kindness in the world around us by committing to one act of kindness each day. This doesn’t mean we limit ourselves to one kind act. But in the middle of a routine or extremely difficult day, it can be hard to extend some kindness. That’s where the intentionality comes in. We all need to look up and look out because it will do someone else a world of good to know that someone out there cares.

This is a challenge to you and me to spread kindness in this crazy world. Be creative. Do what you can where you are to make a difference in your corner of the world. Kindness begins with you and me.

Have a story of an act of kindness that’s impacted you? Share your story here. You just might see it featured.

 

New Year, New Commitments

This is the time of year where a lot of people make new year’s resolutions. And in a couple of weeks or months, the newness of the year wears off. Some of the resolutions made fall to the wayside.

My resolution, if you want to call it that, this year is to live one day at a time, one moment at a time. It’s about making daily and monthly commitments to live in abundant joy. Renewing habits. Setting new goals. Implementing steps to fulfilling dreams. I’m personally challenging myself this month to (1) exercise regularly, (2) extend at least one act of kindness a day, and (3) morning Bible study time.

I’m going to take it moment by moment. Day by day. Week by week. Month by month. Year by year.

A failure today is not a reason to quit the commitment. I remind myself to keep fighting for the change I want to see in my life. Don’t give up.

What are you committing to do today? This month? This year?

Acts: Get Up and Go

Acts is the fifth book in the New Testament and a story of the beginning and spread of Christianity following the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is the story of the early church and their challenge to get up and go into Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth to share the good news of Jesus (Acts 1:8). Acts demonstrates the power of the Holy Spirit and the unstoppable progress of the gospel.

The stories of Peter, Paul, Lydia, Stephen, Barnabas, Silas, Mary, and Matthais are woven through the pages of Acts. Peter – one of the original 12 disciples. Mary – the mother of Jesus. Stephen – deacon and martyr. Matthais – joined the team of disciples. Silas – traveled with Paul. Lydia – merchant and convert to Christianity. Paul – transformed from persecutor to missionary. Barnabas – traveling companion on the first missionary journey. Through their lives we see Jesus. We realize that each of these people are ordinary people through whom the Holy Spirit worked. Our lives may look a little different than theirs, but the power of the Holy Spirit can fall on you and me just as it did on each of these greats.

I haven’t encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus like Paul did, but I have encountered Jesus. I didn’t get to go on the first missionary journey, but I do get to go out into the mission field God has called me every single day. None of us knew Jesus as a baby like Mary did, but we can celebrate the birth of Jesus and the gift of eternal life. Because of the obedience of the disciples and so many others, you and I have an opportunity to know Jesus and help make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19). Our lives become intertwined with their lives because we are all part of something bigger. As we run after God, we get to play a role in His story.

Join me on a 35 day journey through the book of Acts as we dig deep into God’s word. We’ll get a glimpse into the lives of Peter, Paul, Stephen, Lydia, and more. We’ll learn the value of community from the early church. We’ll be wowed by the miracles on the pages of Acts and begin to see the miracles God is working in our own lives.

This reading plan is basically the She Reads Truth plan for Acts, but I’ve shortened it from a six week study to five weeks. There are six days of Scripture readings each week. The seventh day of each week is set aside for a time of prayer, reflection, and memorization. If you miss a day of reading during the week, use day 7 to catch up. Use this time to reflect on what you’ve read and learned through the week. Challenge yourself to memorize one verse a week. You can pick a verse of your choice to memorize or follow along with me as I work on memorizing the five verses listed at the end of this post.

 

Suggested Verses to Memorize

Week 1: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8

Week 2: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20

Week 3: “Repent,” Peter said to them, “and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Acts 2:38

Week 4: “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved – you and your household.” Acts 16:31

Week 5: “From one man He has made every nationality to live over the whole earth and has determined their appointed times and the boundaries of where they live.” Acts 17:26

 

Our “get up and go” begins with knowing Jesus, experiencing the power of the Holy Spirit, responding in obedience, and running the race God has set before us. Let’s boldly proclaim the gospel message through our lives – both in word and deed.

8 Tips to Building a Capsule Wardrobe

I recently took the leap into opening my own pop-up shop and online boutique, Amanda Suzanne by Shop Stevie. So thoughts of fashion are swirling around in my head more than ever. Over the last couple of days I’ve been looking at some of the pieces I currently have in stock and thinking about how to build a capsule wardrobe. It’s time to share eight of my tips to building a capsule wardrobe, which is all about simplicity and putting together a good base of mix-and-match wardrobe staples.

1. Choose items that work for you and your lifestyle. Think about what fits your day-to-day activities.

2. Simplify. Get rid of duplicates. Own five black tees? Keep your favorite and donate the rest. Give away anything that doesn’t fit or you haven’t worn in a certain length of time (i.e. six months or a year).

3. Start by working with what you have. Don’t immediately run out to buy new items. Look at what you already own that you love, fits, and works for your lifestyle needs.

4. Mix-and-match. Worried that you’ll get tired of wearing the same clothes? Change up how you pair items together to give outfits a fresh look and style.

5. Consider the colors. A capsule wardrobe is about building a wardrobe around key pieces of clothing that work well together. Neutrals are great for these essential items, but don’t be afraid to mix in pops of color and pattern with tops, skirts, and accessories.

6. Select versatile clothing. Avoid those items that can only be worn “if and only if…”

7. Change it up depending on the season. There are lots of items I wear year-round, with more or less layering depending on whether it’s summer or winter. But there are also pieces that I only wear in certain seasons. Shorts are a staple in the summer but not necessary in our Oklahoma winter (although the weather can change in an instant!).

8. Complete your wardrobe. Pick out pieces that you love, flatter you, fit into your everyday life, and coordinate well with the rest of your wardrobe. I love to find pieces that I can dress up or down.

Shop some of my favorite wardrobe essentials at amandasuzanne.stevierep.com:

Get Off the Bus

The plane lands and it’s time to travel from Gatwick Airport to Heathrow Airport. We hop on a charter bus to transport our group the 64 kilometers it takes to drive from Gatwick to Heathrow. The whole day is before us…our next flight to Johannesburg, South Africa, doesn’t leave until the late evening. It’s a great opportunity to see a bit of London. We make several stops throughout the day to see a lot of the touristy London landmarks. There’s not enough time to go in each and every place, but at every single stop, we have the chance to walk.

Take in the fresh smoggy London air.

Interact with locals, travelers, and tourists.

Capture a few moments at each site.

Catch a glimpse of the London culture.

Breathe in the history of the city.

 

Yet, at almost every stop we make, some people in our group decide to stay on the bus and sleep. I know we all have different personalities, and when we travel, we definitely all need to take some down time…time where we can rest, recuperate, and gather our thoughts. We can’t go all of the time, but it’s hard for me to take in that in our limited time in London, many in our group choose to miss out on the sights, sounds, and smells of London. Sleeping on the bus while art, history, architecture, people, and culture await, is the choice of some even though we have another ten hour flight coming up later in the evening.

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10 Things About Me

Hey everyone! I want you to get to know me a little more, so I asked myself a few icebreaker questions. I hope you enjoy learning more about me, and I would love to hear your answers to some of these questions so we can get to know each other a bit.

Q. If you could have an endless supply of any food, what would you get?

A. Tacos, definitely tacos. And hopefully the tacos come with a side of guacamole, queso, and chips.

Q. What’s your favorite thing about the summer?

A. sunshine and long days of sunlight

Q. If you could visit any place in the world, where would you choose to go, and why?

A. My answer can change daily, because I pretty much want to go anywhere I’ve never been before. I like to travel and would love the opportunity to travel to far more places than I’ve been, both in the United States and around the world. The top two places currently on my wish list are Israel and Mauritius. Israel because of the history, culture, and seeing the Bible come to life even more. And I would like to do the standard “float in the Dead Sea” thing. Mauritius is on my wish list because it’s a place I’ve never been, I have friends with family roots in Mauritius, and it’s a beautiful island. I can get my beach time, sunshine, and relaxation.

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Travel Interview #1: Patty Hutton

My first travel interview is with one of my best friends, Patty Hutton. Patty and I have been friends for over 15 years, and I’m excited to share a glimpse into her travel adventures with you! Patty grew up in Oklahoma and graduated from Evangel University in Missouri with a Bachelor’s degree in Government. She then went on to pursue a Master’s degree in Public Policy at Pepperdine University. After graduating with her master’s, Patty became an aid worker and has had the amazing opportunity to travel for both work and pleasure. I hope Patty’s travels inspire you to get out and adventure well.

Source: https://www.facebook.com

Q. Where are some places you’ve traveled?

A. Western Europe, Kenya, Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, South Africa, Swaziland, Botswana, Liberia, Morocco, Cambodia, Philippines, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Croatia, Bosnia, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Greece, Costa Rica, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Canada, Mexico

Q. How do you prepare for a trip?

A. I  think after you travel a lot, you don’t really prepare. I always say to check for your passport, wallet, phone, and charger. Those are actually the only things you truly need to get around. Everything else is really a bonus!

Q. What is your favorite place you’ve visited, and why?

A. It’s hard to say. Each place is special for different reasons. I rarely like to visit places multiple times. I’d rather go to new places, but the places I would go back to without hesitation are Cambodia, Jordan, Ireland, Bosnia, Morocco, and Iraq.

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Gardening Tips & Inspiration

It’s springtime, and if you can’t tell, I’m in the mood for sunshine and gardening. I’ve rounded up some gardening tips to inspire us all to get outside, get dirt under our fingernails, and sow some seeds.

1. Grab a permanent market and write the names of plants on the flat faces of stones. Use various sizes of stones and place at the base of plants for a natural look. [hgtv.com]

2. Plant vegetables successively. Stagger the planting time of seeds to have a continual supply during harvesting instead of an over abundance of a vegetable at any one time. [countryfarm-lifestyles.com]

3. Ready to grow your own fresh food? Consider using a garden planner, such as this one from The Old Farmer’s Almanac.

4. Add some pretty pots and a variety of herbs and plants to brighten up your garden. Shop a few of my favorite garden-inspired products here.

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Things to Do in Portland, Oregon

Portland Saturday Market

The Portland Saturday Market is open every Saturday and Sunday from March through December and features artisans and food vendors from the Pacific Northwest. It’s located off of Naito Parkway along the Willamette River. Meander through the booths, buy a gift or two, sample some kombucha, listen to the live band, and gobble down an elephant ear. [For those of you unfamiliar with the edible type of elephant ear, it is a pastry about the size of a real elephant’s ear covered in cinnamon and sugar goodness.]

Old Town Chinatown

Some of Portland’s must-dos are located within the boundaries of Old Town Chinatown. But whether or not you decide to hit all the must-dos or not, take some time to wander the streets of Old Town Chinatown. Take in all the sights, and see what you discover. Some of the places you may want to stop and experience are Lan Su Chinese Garden, Voodoo Doughnuts [be prepared to wait in line], and the historic Union Station.

Powell’s

An entire city block of books. What’s not to love? If you’re a reader, you better sketch out some good quality time to peruse Powell’s bookstore. It’s hard for me to resist books, and one of my dreams has been to have a library requiring a sliding ladder in my house, so this was a must stop (twice!) for me.

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