Prince No-Show

ImageI am placing the blame on my dad for two things in my life: my love of Oreos and my love of fairy-tales. Because when I was knee-high to a grasshopper, my dad would watch Beauty and the Beast (or some other Disney movie) and eat Oreos with me. Now, who feeds a one-year-old Oreos? My dad, apparently, is a crazy man.

As I got older, boys became top priority. At age 3, it was some kid at pre-school named Marshall who I played “Kitchen” with. What kind of 3-year-old has a crush? The same kind who grew up on Oreos and Beauty and the Beast. Not my fault, people.

At age 5, it was some kid my mom babysat named Zack who laid one on me while we were playing “House.”*cough*

At age 6, it was some boy named Brian who I went to kindergarten with. And let’s be real honest here, my mom was the one instigating that one. Once again. . . Oreos and Beauty and the Beast, folks. 

Then there were the two brothers I liked at church. That lasted about 8 years. No big. 

Somewhere in there was the boy in fifth grade that I thought was cute. He’s probably going bald by now. Yeah.

I would (and still do) get so caught up in daydreaming about being whisked away, just like Cinderella. Even though that was unrealistic, that’s what I always wanted to happen. I remember daydreaming that my “Prince Charming” would stroll up into the yard and save me from having to mow the lawn. Yeah, that never happened…bum.

Since I was a kid, there have been others. But we’re not going to talk about that. *cough* Because bottom line, I’m still single. In fact, I’m so single I’ve never even been asked out. And you know what? I’m here to tell you that’s OK. 

Warning: The following message will not be found in any Taylor Swift song.

Let’s face it. Being single is hard. Sure, it can be fun with a group of 5 super single friends gathered around a chick-flick with enough chocolate to put Hershey to shame, hating on guys and making fun of those sappy, googly-eyed girls. . .but what do you do when one by one, those same friends start relationships of their own?

Furthermore, what do you do when those friends are suddenly getting engaged? One minute you’re a happy person, next thing you know you’re over-eating at a wedding reception, checking out the groomsmen. Not that I would ever do that…*cough*

Before you know it, your mind wanders to that one guy you would want to date. . .

Why couldn’t he just like me?

We would be perfect together!

He’s cute, I’m cute…I’m not seeing what the problem is here.

Well…he made eye contact with me that one time…but I swear those eyes were screaming, “Marry me, beautiful!”

And you know what? Maybe he would be perfect for you. Maybe he does feel the same way. But guess what, Poppet? As well-thought-out as your plan is, God’s plan is always better. If you are striving to live for God but you’re single, there’s a reason for that. You’re not ready. . . he’s not ready. . . who knows? I personally like to believe that whoever Mr. Perfect is just can’t handle this much awesome right now. Believe what you want.

All I’ve got to say is that God will bring the right one at the right time and it’s up to us to simply trust Him. If we don’t, we could end up messing something up big time. 

God says in Isaiah 55:8-“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.” 

God has a different way of dealing with things than we do. While we tend to rush into things, God waits patiently until the right time. He knows what the right time is for these things, so we’re just going to have to trust Him.

And hey, being single isn’t all bad. Go walk around the mall in socks and Adidas sandals. Enjoy not having to text someone 24/7. Hang out with friends. Live it up, yo!

But above all else, trust in God to bring the right one along at the right time.


Mr. Hollywood

I’m sitting here drinking something lemony and gingery and iced with sea salt sprinkled all around the rim.

My dad is either insane or a genius.

Oh yeah. And Abby’s got me watching “The Rescuers Down Under” and I think a little Australian boy is about to get kidnapped…what has my life come to? College, come back!

Anyway…this post is a little dedication to my spoiled baby brother-from-the-same-mother who has spent the last two weeks in Savannah, GA. Well, I do miss my punk brother. So I have decided to do a top ten (like I did last summer for Abby, Meredith, and Jaclyn) on simply Anthony. Here it is:

…and now in this movie, the mice are being served pea soup from little crickets (or cockroaches?)…while eating at a fancy restaurant.

#1. How do I describe my fireball of a brother? Honestly, I can’t. I couldn’t perfectly describe or sum up Meredith or Jaclyn or Abby and I certainly can’t in this case either. But one of my favorite things about my brother is the way he protects the ones he loves. Like me and Abby…he’s always got our backs.

...see what I did there?

…see what I did there?

#2. I love this boy’s sense of humor! He is one of the liveliest, funniest people you will ever meet.

And, ladies, he's single. Like almost as single as I am. ;)

And, ladies, he’s single. Like almost as single as I am. And that is saying something!

#3. He’s generally a nice guy. What can I say, Mom knows what she’s doing. 37005_1539858901286_3912741_n

#4. He’s the boy with the smile that lights up his whole face. What a gift–to be able to smile to the point of making everyone around you smile too.


#5. Anthony is one of the most passionate people I’ve ever met. He loves to act and, despite what others have said, still holds onto that dream. I think that takes a lot of courage! You go, boy.


#6.He is an awesome older brother to our dear Absy. Not that he isn’t a great brother to me, but you know there’s just something about an older brother-younger sister relationship.

Don’t get me wrong, we do have a very special relationship…


But I mean, come on. Look at these pictures of my gorgeous sibs. How cute are they?



Okay, so there's the top of my head. But you know what I mean.

Okay, so there’s the top of my head. But you know what I mean.
















#7. For an actor, this is a bit ironic, but he usually doesn’t hold back on who he is. A lot of times in the fundamental churches we’ve grown up in, the boys are all well-mannered and courteous. . .but it’s all fake. Often, those church-going guys have been in church their whole lives and know all the answers. While Anthony is very well-mannered and courteous, he’s also real. He’s not going to pretend to believe in something he doesn’t and he’s not going to pretend to like someone– believe me, if you’re on his bad side, he’ll let you know. Yay nonverbal communication!

What a fantastic mustache. Who's that idiot sticking her tongue ou---oh. *cough*

What a fantastic mustache. Who’s that idiot sticking her tongue ou—oh. *cough*










#8. My dear punk of a brother has awesome leadership abilities. He can’t go anywhere without attracting people and making them want to be his friend. Especially the girls that he meets…yes, his sisters know who you are. *cough* He has strong opinions and sticks to his guns. He’s going to do great things one day, ya’ll.

I did say "one day", right?

I did say “one day”, right?











#9. He’s got some serious dancing skills. And as his former “Bop To The Top” partner, I’d like to think that I taught him everything he knows.









And yet, at the same time, the boy can play sports like a beast.


Like I said, I taught him everything he knows. Yessirree.











#10. From my guy experience here in Greenville, I’ve noticed that usually guys who have a lot going for them=jerk. But if you put that same guy in a church setting unfortunately that=bigger jerk. But I am glad to announce that Anthony is one of the most down-to-earth guys I know in the sense that he doesn’t allow looks to get in the way of making friends or just being nice to people. I really appreciate the way he deals with people in lieu of the fact that he could just brush by them and deal with people more in his “social circle.” He’s had his ups and downs, but he’s my brother and I love him quite dearly. So proud of you, baby brother! 


“You Are More Than The Problems You Create–You’ve Been Remade!”

I have found that oftentimes Christian bloggers write these beautiful blog posts loaded down with pearls of wisdom from lessons learned and experiences gained. Usually Christian bloggers have tons of insight, have been in lots of situations, and have conquered lots of sin.  Like if blog posts were baked potatoes, those babies would be stacked high with butter, sour cream, cheese, and bacon bits. If you know what I mean.

No? Yeah, okay.

But as for me and my house, that is certainly not the case. Because I’m a stupid 20 year-old kid who is still in the process of learning the basics.

And by basics, I mean like how to overcome my silly pride and say “I’m sorry.”

I’m certainly no over-comer and I’m definitely your average sinner–I get caught up in my anger, I obsess over things that are out of my control, I’m always thinking of myself. . .

Okay, okay. I’m your average girl… sinner…girl-sinner. Does that sound weird to anyone else?

In this blog, a lot of learning will take place. I wish I could be an Angie Smith or an Ann Voskamp and give you beautiful spiritual wisdom. Or any wisdom. But I can’t. So learn with me.

For example, I struggle with self-control in nearly every aspect of my life. A couple weeks ago, God gave me a verse found in Psalm 60.Verse 12 states, “Through God we shall do valiantly: for He it is that shall tread down our enemies.” Whoa. We’re not alone; God is fighting for us.

When I saw this verse, I swear it jumped off the page and grabbed me. . . .we can refer to it as the “ninja verse.” I used this verse in maybe one situation as my way out of temptation, but then continued on my little sin spree with the full knowledge that I didn’t have to keep on in my sinful ways. Chief of sinners right here.

And then what happens, but I soon feel that familiar wall go up between God and I. Of course I know it’s me who has moved, not Him. I try to confess and break down the wall, but I  soon feel hopeless and lost. Because I can’t break it down myself. I feel like I’ve gone too far and I feel like God is through with me.

And then, something that brought tears to my eyes happened. Drum roll, please.

Last night, I was reading in Angie Smith’s book, “Mended.” (High recommendations here, people.) She stated, “Do you think you have sinned one time too many? He says it isn’t so. He still calls to you from the shore. He still invites you to Him. And when you come, He welcomes you at His table.”

I can’t imagine being that forgiving to someone who continuously stabs me in the back. He is the perfect picture of love–kind, patient, not envious.

It’s always at the moment where I’m yelling at the wall I’ve built, crying to God and asking why He isn’t listening to me, that Jesus peers over the wall and reaches out a hand. He is good, victorious, and forgiving. Believe me, if He can forgive me, He can forgive you.

Get back up and let’s get cracking. Don’t let sin bog you down–“you are more.”

A Shot of Espresso

“I don’t want to be here,” I told my mom earnestly, “I just want to be free.”

“You’re in school now; you’re kind of stuck, “she calmly told me.

I breathed heavily, her understanding feeling non-existent, “I hate it. I struggle every day just to get what should get done finished,,,but even then I never finish what I need to. It’s my fault–I know. But I’m not lazy…I just struggle to focus my mind.”

Emotions swirled as I relayed to my mom what I’ve felt this past year. We were driving back from dropping off a friend at her house and I knew my mom was feeling helpless.

But then again, she does have Mandie Russell for a daughter.

“Surely there is something to be thankful for,” she said. I knew she was drawing from Ann Voskamp, an author and blogger that my mom loves. As we pulled into the driveway, she stopped just in view of the purple flower in front of our mailbox. “What about that flower?” she eagerly asked, “You can be thankful for that flower.”

Inwardly I rolled my eyes, not in the mood to be thankful for a flower. A cruise ship? Sure. But a flower? Uh…nuh.

…all right. I was a grouch. Lack of sleep does that to me.

I woke up Monday morning, grabbing my pride,hurts, and stubbornness in preparation for another day on Planet Earth. That’s exactly how to keep yourself from being stepped all over in this life. One thing we all learn is that people can hurt. A lot.

Some hurts are nonsensical–the friend who thinks your choice of media is dumb, the friend who hurls a sarcastic comment your way, unfulfilled dreams of being Belle at Disney World…

Other hurts make complete sense–the authority who chooses favorites, the person who calls you fat, a death in the family, financial instability.

And so, we pick up our “armor” to get us through the day with a minimal amount of pain.

But I guess that’s not what we’re here to do. Maybe we’re put here to be ourselves, lay down the pride, and set aside the angry feelings so we can be hurt sometimes. Maybe if we shut out hurt, we also shut out love and joy and peace. Through the hurt, we reap blessing.

Maybe we’re here to give glory to God (even in times of pain) by being thankful.

Okay, I admit it: I’ve been reading Voskamp too. Darn my mother.

So, what am I learning right now? Simply this…

While my life is certainly not ideal right now and I have a lot of obstacles to overcome, I can be happy.

Despite favoritism.

Despite weight.

Despite working as a laundress.

Despite financial problems.

Despite heartbreak.

Despite school.

Despite high Starbucks prices.

And even despite the fact that the Jonas Brothers now have a song entitled “Pom Poms”. Facepom. See what I did there?

But for every unhappy circumstance, there’s at least one thing to be thankful for. Here are some from today:

Dad making my coffee. Hot. With hazelnut creamer. In a thermos. Yes.

Alone times.

Amazing devotionals. 

Disney songs at work. Hakuna Matata.

Talking with Katelyn over buggies full of mangling. (I’ll explain later?)

My work buddies.

A tall, iced hazelnut macchiato from Starbucks at lunch. Espresso, baby.

A friend who was willing to drive me to Starbucks…*cough* Mooch alert, ya’ll.

Sweet, savory strawberries. (Somebody please start something called “Sweet, Savory Strawberries”. I don’t care if it’s a band!)

Just-ripe bananas.

Getting off work early.

Library trips. 

Simple dinners with Mom and Dad.

Evening walks with my Mama.

More coffee in the evening. My days are really bookmarked by coffee…

Phone calls with my amazing brother.

And there it is. Simple as that–simply seeing the beauty in the simple things and thanking God for them. It’s like a shot of espresso for your joy meter! …if joy meters are equivalent to coffee…

Bear with me here.

Wrinkles In White Blouses

It started more than 20 years ago. I was non-existent, but God decided that should change. I don’t know why but for whatever reason, He wanted me in His story.

From the start of my beating heart to the formation of little toes and fingers, God molded me exactly how He wanted me.

He breathed life into my lungs and filled my soul with who He wanted me to be; He filled me with Amanda, meaning “worthy of love”. I like to think that He gave me that name because He knew I’d need to be reminded that He died for me, believing that I am worthy of love.

And you know what? If He can love me this much, believe me, He loves you too. So, so much. 🙂

This is the God who would even love the Joker. Now that’s legit!

Getting off that rabbit trail, if we fast-forward 20+ years we’ll see this same little piece of God’s handiwork (hi) in the middle of a laundry department, allowing lies to become greater than truth.

It was the blouse that needed special attention being handed to a co-worker.

It was the cargo pockets that wouldn’t settle perfectly during a personal battle of “who can  iron the best”.

It was the hour and a half plus that it took to finish the mangling. Some things just take time?

It was the white blouse that kept crinkling, despite attempts at perfection.

Most importantly, it was the criticism of me that convinced me that my coworkers were being favored while I was being stepped on.

It was these few little things that sent me flying over the edge of sanity into a sea of jealousy and great feelings of injustice.

…I really need to work on this pride thing…

Between the loud hum of machinery and the lies swarming in my head, it’s a miracle I didn’t go crazy. (No comments from the peanut gallery!)

You’ve been here longer; you should be the favorite. 

Maybe if I just…go more slowly…pay more attention…what the heck do they do differently anyway?! They’re no better than me. Right? Right.

No, no. I’ll just shut up and not talk anymore. That’ll show ’em. Yeah.

But in the end…we are talking ironing here. I know. But I’m a girl. This is just how we roll, man. Don’t harsh the mellow.

Furthermore, this comparison game is no good. Everybody is different.

Some are itty bitty. Some are medium-sized.

And some, such as myself, come in more of a Venti size. With extra whipped cream. If you catch my drift. *cough*

There are blondes and brunettes and red-heads and uh…black-heads. See what I did there?

And yeah, some iron better than others. That’s OK.

Because God created you for a purpose. And that purpose may not be tied into beauty or intelligence or great talent or anything like that. Heck, you may even stink at ironing.  It’s OK.

I will never be the gorgeous intellect that is my bestie, Meredith.

I will never be the athletic, smart, weirdo that is my lovely Jaclyn.

I will never be the beautiful crazy that is my friend, Eddie.

I will never be the down-to-earth, independent, caring person that is my friend, Katelyn.

I will never be my sweet, hilarious, crazy-eyed sister, Abby.

I will never be my cool, movie-staresque, passionate brother, Anthony.

I will never know history like my dad.

I will never have my mother’s strength or patience.

I am Amanda Lee Russell, hand-crafted by God and loved just like anyone else. I have my quirks, but I know God is getting right on that.

Get it? So back off, haters!