Thursday, June 12, 2014

welcome back!

well, it's so hard to believe that it's almost been a year since i last blogged. a lot has happened in the past year!

a year in review {a semi-brief version}:

work: work is different for both me and the hubs! i started a new job back in august at a church here in the area as the director of preschool ministry. it's a great church and we love it. it is very different from the other churches where i have served but that is one of the major things i like about this new ministry endeavor. don't get me wrong...i have LOVED my experiences working for mega churches but i am enjoying seeing how church is done in a different setting.

health: if you've known me for any amount of time, you know that i have struggled with my weight almost my entire life. i decided back in january 2013 to investigate the possibility of weight loss surgery. hubs attended a seminar with me {i was more open to the idea of surgery than he was but he agreed to attend the seminar} and after the seminar we both felt that weight loss surgery was the best option for me. i've not been super public about my decision to have weight loss surgery for several reasons 1) it's a personal decision and i don't have to share everything with the world {but now i am sharing it with all 4 of you that will see this...all of whom probably already knew ;-) } 2) it's not just a personal decision but it was MY decision {along with hubs, of course}! when people hear about someone having weight loss surgery they have a tendency to share any and all horror stories they have heard about weight loss surgery, share about their grandma's sister's friend's brother who had the surgery and gained all of their weight back, or they judge and assume that weight loss surgery means taking the "easy way out." {as an aside, i can absolutely assure you that it is NOT the easy way out...6 months of preparation, the actual surgery process, and the discipline to follow the rules and guidelines after surgery is NOT easy!} basically, i believe that weight loss surgery is  one tool out of many that will help me and equip me to lose weight. if i choose to ignore the number of calories i consume in a day {and also choose processed food over a healthy, balanced diet} and don't make exercise and physical activity a priority then i will gain my weight back. like i said, weight loss surgery is a's not the magic pill that requires no other work or discipline!

wow. that was a long introduction :-). so, i had my surgery in august 2013 and have lost 137 pounds since my highest pre-surgery weight. i still have weight that i want to lose but sometimes i just have to stop and think about the fact that i have lost 137 pounds. it seems crazy and unreal to me. i often let myself get bogged down by the weight i still want to lose and i don't let myself take in the amount of weight i have lost. i can say that i enjoy life a lot more now and exercising is you believe i feel that way?! i can't but i'm so happy that i do!

hubs: i mentioned earlier that work is also different for hubs, too. he is now doing contract work for a company that is literally 5 minutes from our doorstep. he loves it and i do, too. he is so much happier and way less stressed! the last 3 months in his previous job were SO stressful and frustrating. the Lord provided in a way that we did not expect but we are so thankful. i don't know why it surprises me when i realize the Lord knows what's best but sometimes it still does. He used a difficult situation to bring about a better situation for hubs. praise the Lord!

my recent job change did not just mean that i am serving at a different church but that hubs would have to change churches, too. he had been a member at our last church since he was 15 yrs old and when we left he was serving as a deacon and married adult sunday school teacher. no one likes change and this was a big change! hubs was convinced, though, that the Lord was moving us to this new church and that the Lord would give him new ministry opportunities. he was right! we had only been at our new church for 4 months and hubs was asked to  start a new young marrieds sunday school class. we love our class and love the opportunities we have to minister to young married couples. {he has also become the resident go-to expert on apologetics and is even teaching an adult Bible study the week we have VBS focused solely on apologetics...right up his alley!}

paisley: {i couldn't do an update on the alleys and NOT include the furry alley that lives in our house!} she is doing so well...she is as cute and spunky as ever. i'm also fairly certain that she appreciates my more active lifestyle because she gets to go on a lot more walks now than ever before!

well there you go. that's a brief snapshot of the last year. there are obviously lots of details that i didn't include but i covered the high points! i really enjoy blogging so hopefully my next post will happen sooner than a year from now!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

summatime, summatime, sum sum summatime...

 summertime in north carolina...the heat, the humidity, the storms {or should that say...the sun, vacations, the fun :-/ hint: read that with a touch of sarcasm} summer isn't one of my favorite seasons {maybe i liked it a little more while i was in school and benefitted from summer break but even then it wasn't in my top 2}. i have a long history of not wanting to be hot, not wanting to sweat, and really not liking sand so when those factors are in play, summertime = :-/.

don't get me wrong, there are great moments that occur in the summertime. vbs, family vacations, july 4 {love fireworks!}, more family time, and it does seem that there is a slower, more relaxed pace of life. {unless you work in children's ministry!}

so i'm not a total hater or summertime grouch, but give me a crisp fall day or a slightly warm springtime afternoon or even some snowfall {more likely sleet in nc ;-) } on a winter evening and a fire in the fireplace with some {sugar-free} hot cocoa and i'm a happy girl.

i will say this, though...i have a new dislike of something that occurs in the summertime. the infamous summertime cold. ugh. i haven't had one of these in years...years...until now. i believe that a cold is worse in the summertime. it just is. 

i've spent the last several days looking at this:

wishing and hoping that these items would help me banish these awful summertime cold germs. at this point? i'm sad to report that the summertime cold germs are still fighting pretty hard to stand their ground and they might be winning. i'm still hopeful, though, as i take my sudafed, tylenol, & slather on the vicks. 

while i sit here sniffling, sneezing, and smelling like vicks vapo rub, i'm longing for fall to come and come quickly. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

well hello there!

i think about blogging and my blog a lot but those posts never leave my head and make it on the "pages" of my blog. i often wondered if blogging was just a phase or fad i went through {you know because a while back everybody and their brother had a blog} and maybe that's why i started blogging but lately i miss it. so, here i am...back to blogging!

it's been over a year since i blogged {16 months, to be exact} so i almost feel like i should just start over! hi, i'm amy and i'm married to joel. we've been married for 4 1/2 years and have one fur baby, paisley. we're both working really hard to get healthier and want to have children someday soon {sooner rather than later, that's for sure}! we've just been plugging through life...being involved and serving in our church {where i'm working in the children's ministry and hubs is a deacon and teaching Sunday school}, spending time with family and friends...nothing too exciting!

we just returned from 6 days in the Bahamas and it was wonderful. i love that when you're on a cruise ship you really HAVE to unplug from the craziness of life these phones, voicemail, text messages, email, social media, etc. it was really the best and something that stuck out to me? i didn't miss it. obviously, i like being able to connect with friends and family in all of those ways but sometimes it's nice to turn off the "noise" and just be. spending time in the Word with the Lord, praying, reading, and just relaxing without the usual distraction and pull of every day life was something i desperately needed! this view didn't hurt things, either:
oh and time spent with this guy?
 priceless. i'm so thankful to have this man as my husband and the longer we are together, the more i love him. i think we were both so grateful for lots of time together without the every day distractions of life.

we also had such a great time together as a mom, my sister, brother-in-law, my nephews, my niece, and my brother-in-law's mom.

on our last night we had a really special time of blessing for my nephew, Andrew. as a recent high school grad who is headed to college, all of the adults wrote letters and prayers to Andrew and it was such a sweet time encouraging, affirming, and loving Andrew.
today is hubs' first day back to work and so today is kind of like our first day back to regular life {even though we returned home from florida thursday night}. grocery shopping, cleaning the house, laundry, working, and cooking dinner are all on my to-do list today. bye-bye vacation and hello, real life.
but this...
won't be far from my mind today!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

You are good

confession: i tend to find a certain playlist on my ipod and listen to it over and over and over {something that i've learned drives joel kind of crazy. he would rather have more musical variety}. i've been stuck on a worship playlist i created that includes songs by kari jobe and gateway worship for the past couple weeks {almost a month, maybe??}.

so as i was driving down the interstate last week i was, of course, listening to this specific playlist. i'm sure i'd heard all of the songs at least 14, 765 times at that point but that morning, the Lord used one of the songs to not to just speak to me but to flat out SHOUT out to me. the song, "you are good" by gateway worship started playing and all of a sudden, i had this flashback to the week Daddy was in the hospital.

the weeks {maybe a month or so} leading up to that very long and horrible week in october the Lord had really been dealing with me regarding His goodness but not just about the fact that He is, indeed, good but that no matter the circumstances, He is good and His plans are good. everything in my life kept bringing me back to that one thought, that one phrase, "Lord, you are good." nothing big or spectacular was happening in my life during that time. in fact, life was actually going well...i had finally gotten into the swing of things at work, joel and i were doing really well with weight watchers and working out, and life was just plugging along. for some reason, though, it seemed as though the Lord kept circling back to the same question to me in my quiet times, prayer times, etc. "do you know I am good? do you believe that My plans for you are good?" and i would always respond in the same way, "of course You are good and i believe Your plans are good."

then, october 4, 2011, our phone rang at 7:30 am and that phone call began the longest and worst week of my life. from the point we arrived at the er and found out Daddy was having a heart attack, i began praying almost non-stop. i would find myself praying for healing and for procedures to go smoothly but i would also make it a point to say to the Lord, "i know You are good and Your plans are good. i trust You." sometimes i wonder if it was as much a declaration to the Lord as a reminder to myself about His goodness.

my "flashback" last week was specifically to the night before Daddy's heart surgery. we all {the whole family} were in Daddy's ccu room and stood around his bed and went around the circle praying outloud together. i stood beside his bed and held his hand and prayed for his surgery to go well, etc. and i will never forget that at the end of my prayer, i again, told the Lord that no matter what, we know He is good, His plans for us are good, and we trust Him. little did i know how much that would be tested the next day and in the coming months.

i'm not going to lie or pretend like i've got it all together. i've had moments {moments? let's be honest...more like days, weeks, months} since that day where i have flat out told the Lord that i don't see how this situation could be good at all. or how my mom having to go through surgery for uterine cancer 3 weeks after Daddy died could be good.

i'm so glad that my feelings don't change the truth about the Lord...He is good and His plans are good even though i look back at the last 4 months and see heartache, hurt, loss, devastation. i also see His comfort, grace, mercy, and steadfast love. i've had to learn to redefine my definition of what good really is.

there's not really a great way to tie a pretty bow around this post because let's face it, i'm still in the middle of trying to understand this new definition of goodness. i'm thankful, though, to follow a God who allows me to wrestle and struggle with my questions and deals with me in a gentle and loving way. some days are messier than others but i'm learning.

i do know this...He is good and His plans are for my good even when i don't understand.

Monday, February 13, 2012

the story of us

1. How long have you and your significant other been together?
we have been together since june, that's 5 years and 8 months.

2. How did you meet? {What's your "love" story?}
we actually met several times before we "met." {i know that doesn't make sense...let me explain.} at the time i was working at hickory grove baptist as the preschool ministry director and several other staff members from our north campus kept telling me about this great guy named joel alley. my response was always, "well tell him about me and we'll see where it goes. i'm not going to chase a guy." well, they encouraged me to attend a Bible study joel taught and i did {not just to get to meet him but it was definitely a perk ;) } . he didn't notice me AT ALL. so i thought, well, this guy just isn't interested in me at all. little did i know that at that time, joel wasn't even remotely considering or looking to date anyone. i also attended several other singles events and joel alley didn't so much as look in my direction. sigh.

fast forward two years {I KNOW...and those staff members kept raving about him throughout that time} the single's minister and his wife decided to just take charge and they invited us both over to dinner at their house. we had a great time and joel even chased me out the door to get my number {shoes half on, untied and everything}. like they say, the rest is history!

3. How long have you been married?
we've been married 3 years and 3 {almost} months

4. If you are married, where did you get married at? Big or small wedding?
we were married at my home church, parkwood baptist church, in gastonia, north carolina. i'm not really sure what qualifies a wedding as big, medium, or small but i'd say we had a big, traditional church wedding.

5. Do you have any nick-names that you call one another? Do share!
we're not that creative as far as nicknames go...
joel's nicknames for me: baby, sweetie, sweets
my nicknames for joel: babe, hot husband {it's how he's listed in my phone contacts ;) }, hubs, my love or love, mr. safety

6. Name 3 things you love most about your honey.
1) he is the most selfless and giving person i've ever met 2) he loves me completely and shows it through his words and actions 3) he can make me laugh like no other person...he is hilarious.

7. Tell us how he proposed?
we'd been dating for 9 months and i knew he already had the ring but he had made a big deal about wanting to wait to get engaged until we'd been together for a year. of course, i hoped he would propose sooner but he seemed pretty determined to wait until june. so, i was trying really hard to not get so excited and not to start booking reception locations, look for dresses, etc. :) the really challenging part of this situation was that joel was so excited about the ring that he kept bringing it up and wanting to talk about it...which was NOT helpful in my whole trying to not let my excitement get out of hand. so i finally had to tell him that i didn't want him to talk about the ring until he was proposing and he agreed.

the next weekend he had asked me to clear my schedule for that saturday for a day in the mountains {one of our favorite places}. so i thought...maybe he'll propose then! a picnic in the mountains sounds like a perfect proposal idea {and i was secretly hoping he was being so adamant about a june proposal to throw me off to surprise me with a proposal much sooner}!! well, i woke up saturday morning to RAIN. ugh. i'm not gonna lie, i cried and not just a few glistening was the full on ugly cry. i'm pretty sure i told my mom that i didn't think that he was ever going to propose {dramatic, much??}.

joel came to pick me up and said that he thought it would be nice to just go for a drive since it was supposed to rain all day in the mountains. i had already resigned myself to the fact that i wasn't getting engaged that day and i was trying so hard to enjoy the day and not be grumpy. we drove around for awhile {think back roads} talking and listening to music and at this point, it had stopped raining. so we stopped to grab some sandwiches for lunch and i still had no idea where we were going. we ended up at a botanical garden to have a "picnic." we had lunch and i was seriously trying to fight off the tears and not be a grumpy girl {i'm not proud of it, just being real}. after lunch joel suggested that we walk over to the orchid conservatory so that's what we did. we walked through and joel stopped at a bench in front of a beautiful water wall with orchids and everything. we sat down and he said, "i know you don't want me to talk about the ring but what if i wanted to show it to you?" {still not cluing in to what was going on...i know, i know but i had done a great job convincing myself that he wasn't going to propose} i said, "no, i don't want to see it, either...not until you're proposing." at that point, he got down on one knee, said some really amazing and beautiful things and asked me to marry him. obviously, i said yes! :-)

8. Is he a flowers and teddy bear kind of guy for v-day, or strawberries, champagne , and rose petals?
i don't really think that he is either...maybe kind of a mixture. he's a flowers, nice dinner out, and thoughtful gift kind of guy :).

9. Are you a sunset dinner on the beach kind of girl, or pop a movie in and relax on the couch?
i am definitely a pop in a movie, relax on the couch kind of girl. {i like romantic dinners but i'm not a fan of the beach. at. all.}

10. Tell us one thing you'd like to do with your significant other one day. If you could do anything? Go anywhere?
we love to travel and have been to a handful of fun places {pictured below} but we have a list of places we'd like to go; i'd love to get to be a parent with him someday {hopefully sooner than later}; i'd also really love to be able to go on a mission trip with my love someday.

11. Tell us what you plan on doing on this Valentine's Day.
we are going to have a romantic dinner at the melting pot {one of our favorite spots}. i'm working on a surprise for hub's gift...hope he loves it!

12. Are you asking for anything this Valentine's day?
only to get to spend time with my love :)

13. Give us one piece of advice of keeping a relationship strong and full of love.
after only 3 years of marriage, i definitely know that i'm not a marriage expert but first i would say that while i love, love, love being married, it's more than flowers, gushy feelings, and hearts. it's about comittment and dedication even when things are's a daily decision to love another person and put them before yourself. also, you can't expect another person to make you happy...that's not their job {and happiness really isn't the goal of the christian life but that's another post for another day ;) }. bottom line, to have a strong marriage that is full of love, you have to live by the Spirit allowing His grace, love, mercy, and compassion flow through you. i also think it's really important to laugh and laugh a lot. :-)

14. Show us a picture of what love means to you.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


i'm not a fan of anything messy...whether it is describing a room or a difficult situation, i'm simply not a fan. you see, i'd rather have things nice and orderly tied up neatly with a pretty ribbon but that simply isn't the way things are in life right now. {for reals, though, is life ever NOT at least a little messy?}

messy. i think i'm pretty good at looking put together on the outside but the inside on most days? messy. it's been four months since i last blogged {almost to the day} and it's been four months since my life and my family's life was turned completely upside down.

i've followed Jesus for 26 years and have walked through challenges, difficulties, and struggles before but i've never had to face anything like this. i'm going to be honest {why stop now, right?;) } that it's the hardest thing i've ever dealt with to this point in my life. sometimes {most times} i'd rather keep the messy stuff to myself and most times that's appropriate, but sometimes it spills out on the "pages" of this blog and i'm learning to be okay with that. i'm learning to be okay with messy. this journey we call life? it's messy and if we're going to live it, we're going to have to face those difficult situations and challenges.

so here i am, four months {almost to the day} later and i'm still pretty broken and raw from everything my family and i have walked through, but the Lord has been so gracious, patient, loving, compassionate, and merciful to me. over and over i end up before Him with my hands outstretched offering up "the mess" because i've learned first hand that He is close to the brokenhearted . can i say that i'm thankful for these trials? i can't say that i'm there, yet, but i am so completely thankful for the Lord's goodness and patience while i've wrestled and struggled through all of this.

a lot of things have been uncertain over the last four months but there are several things that are certain. my God has been faithful, gracious, merciful, and compassionate as i've faced this messy, difficult journey.

praise Him...He is good.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

my daddy

my daddy went to be with Jesus two nights ago. that's hard for my mind to comprehend right now, much less see it in print on the computer screen. it was sudden, unexpected, and the most difficult thing i have had to face in my life up to this point.

i'm a daddy's girl so obviously i think he was the best and most incredible husband, father, papaw {or poppy}, uncle, co-worker, friend that you could ever have. i think, though, if you knew him, you would agree with me. he was absolutely incredible. i've known for awhile that not every girl has a daddy like mine and i've been aware of how blessed i was to be able to call jim grayson my daddy. so i wanted to take a second and write about Daddy so you could get to know more about him if you didn't know him personally. {plus, he was amazing and i just want to talk about him. i love him so much.}

one of the most important lessons i learned from Daddy was that our faith is real...following Jesus every day is what life is all about. i didn't just see my daddy attend church on Sunday morning and then put his Bible on the shelf for a week until the next Sunday...he lived what he believed. any time i had a problem or a question, Daddy's solution was to always look to Scripture to see what God had to say about that particular problem or question. in fact, any time i approached him with a worry, concern, or problem he would always say to me, "it's going to be alright baby girl" and then he would guide me to Scripture that applied to the situation. he loved Jesus with all his heart and it was evident in his daily life. i was also blessed to have the opportunity to see first hand what a Godly marriage looks like. Daddy adored my mom and loved her with a selfless love. he truly fulfilled the role as the spiritual leader of our family but he led with such a kind, quiet, and gentle spirit. i have been able to walk through life with an understanding of the love of my Heavenly Father because of my earthly father.

Daddy loved his family and i believe {and other people have since confirmed} that anyone who knew Daddy knew that his family was his top priority after his relationship with Jesus. he was always there...chorus concerts, ball games, special events, math homework in the evenings {math was his strength--definitely not mine!} around the kitchen table, family vacations, major and minor emergencies. if it involved his family, Daddy was there no matter what. i always knew that Daddy felt that no matter the activity, the time that we were spending together was priceless. Daddy didn't just spend time with me, my mom, and my sister...our whole family was important to him. He was like a second Daddy to many of my cousins.

in the last few days, we've also had the opportunity to hear about what Daddy was like at work and i'm not surprised by what we've heard. everyone {literally everyone} loved and adored him. Daddy made a huge impact on the people with whom he worked and one major thing that stands out to me is that he lived out his faith in his interactions with his co-workers. we've also heard about what an incredibly gifted engineer Daddy was and that he was an integral part of his company.

i am beyond grateful that the Lord allowed me to have 32 years with jim grayson and i am crushed that my time with him is over for now. my Daddy faithfully followed Jesus and while i am devasted at my loss, i am full of joy because of all Daddy has gained. he is in heaven doing what God created Daddy to do...worship the Lord forever.