The most amazing love story since Romeo and Juliet haha

Archive for the category “Faith”

Lessons in Rejection

I don’t know about you, but I absolutely adore a clean slate. Happy New Year from the Bradshaws! It’s great to “see” you in 2018.


What a year this is already shaping up to be…My planner (pictured below) has been picked out and ready to go for about two months now. I was drawn to this particular one as it represents my motto for this year ahead of us: “Have courage and stay kind.”


And, that is exactly what I plan to do throughout the stress and chaos of many activities already scheduled months and weeks in advance. In the midst of busy days this is a simple, physical reminder to display peace and joy to those around me (in particular my sweet husband, who often bears the brunt of my stress, as we are prone to do with those who love us unconditionally.)

While I love new technology and its many conveniences (aka my iPhone calendar), a phone buzzing with notifications sometimes leads to more stress and does not allow one to disconnect and simply be. Therefore, in addition to a phone full of notes and reminders, I stick to paper planners to track all the big things, year after year, even in 2018 . Just call me old-fashioned.

I am writing today after my first successful week of the second semester of my Ph.D. program, and in the interest of keeping it real here, I am feeling real, real stressed.

I have a conference deadline looming (yay for the blessing of gaining my first conference acceptance, and at a SKI RESORT NO LESS!), new coursework to manage, and some other projects in the works, and I am meticulously planning each day in an attempt to balance it all. Some days are more productive than others, but 5 days into the new school year, and I am already rocking and rolling.

These two are definitely keeping me grounded. (Please ignore our messy house…just a casualty of being a grad student, I think..But I would rather sacrifice perfection for [rare] time with my family.)


Bear weighs 25 pounds now according to his latest check up at the vet, and he can already see eye level with our love seat. Insert puppy mommy, “my baby is growing up” sad/whiny voice. Also, still in shock that he is going to be MUCH bigger than originally bargained for. But, that’s OK- all the more fluff to love! 🙂 He has started a 5-week puppy kindergarten class, and we are working on clicker training for basic commands such as sit, come, etc.

The photo of Luke was taken on our off day together after one of Bear’s classes. We had just gotten home. Luke was heating up the grill to throw some burgers on for dinner, Bear curled up at our feet, exhausted after class, and we just jammed out to oldies music and enjoyed beers together for half an hour. It was so much fun and stress free! Any time spent with my boys is definitely the highlight of my week, and I had to capture the moment to remember on a day when I am feeling stressed to the max. Like today.

I didn’t sleep much this week due to first week nerves and getting back into a somewhat “normal” sleep schedule after a long break, which probably isn’t helping matters, and I feel the beginnings of a cold coming on. But, after attending each of my 3 classes this week, I am both SO EXCITED by the syllabi and everything I am going to learn (#totalnerdalert) and also slightly pretty  overwhelmed at the semester to come.

I decided to write a blog update because honestly this destresses me (crazy, right?!), and someone recently told me that my words sometimes help to encourage them on days when they are feeling a bit down. I am not sure who all reads this blog, but if you are feeling stressed at the moment, I hope this post helps you know that you are not alone. The rosy social media photos people post only tell one side of the story as all of us experience stress, worry, and various obstacles from time to time.

I also wanted to write a little bit about rejection, because I think this is something we, as humans, can all relate to. That sharp sting of not making a cut for something or not feeling good or worthy enough. Rejection is as universal as it is painful. Whether it is in the dating world and a potential romantic partner decides you just aren’t The One, or in the industry when you present your lightbulb moment in a meeting and get a less-than-positive response from your boss or team or when you yearn desperately for a friendship, and that person just doesn’t like you…it all feels kinda similar. A Spectrum of Rejection that goes from bad to worse….

Today, rejection smacked me right in the face with a no-go professional conference submission.

So what is the blessing of rejection, and what lessons can we learn from it?

At least that is how I try to approach it when I am having a hard time processing something or when I feel rejected…OK, what can I learn from this experience? Why am I being rejected? What (if anything) can I do better next time? Is it me or is it them? (Fair perspective because while I can change me, you cannot force someone to like you, for example.)

Even though I kinda sorta knew in my gut I wasn’t making it with this particular paper at this particular conference, the “We thank you, please try again next time” email still stung.

Even after I read that 50% of people who submitted didn’t get it either…That’s a lot of people out there presumably with high quality scholarship feeling the same exact way I did today.  But yet that other 50% did get in, and I wanted badly to be part of that group.

To this day, I clearly recall feeling the exact same way as a grade school student in a student government election (aka basically a popularity contest at that age. LOL). I remember the butterflies in my stomach when they called out the winners’ names in the gym (because that’s always the best way to lose something as a child, in person, in front of a roomful of all your peers). I shut my eyes tightly, crossed my fingers for luck, and prayed to hear my name. Instead, my opponent beat me fair and square.

As a 20-something, I have been both accepted and rejected countless times in my life. And, remarkably, each and every time worked out for my good, exactly as it was meant to.

I have been elected for leadership positions for various organizations since that long ago grade school loss…I have won awards, made the grade, been deemed worthy. However, I have also been rejected.

And though it hurt at the time, I have gotten to do some pretty cool things because of those rejections. One that sticks out is the opportunity to serve as the editor of an international travel magazine for my collegiate Capstone project, an opportunity I never would have had if I had not been rejected from something else first. But, even knowing this, those emails or letters beginning with “We regret to inform you” can cause you to question yourself, your value, your contributions at times. You wait on pins and needles to hear the news and then….ouch.

A kind friend sent this Bible verse my way this week, and man, how it has resonated, time and time again in multiple situations.

9 “A man’s heart plans his way,
But the Lord directs his steps.”

Proverbs 16:9 New King James Version (NKJV)


Whenever something doesn’t work out how you had hoped, I believe we have two choices.

We can get mad and sulk…or worse, convince ourselves we really aren’t good enough and simply throw in the towel.


We can pick up the pieces, dust ourselves off, and try, try, try again.

A motto of my mom’s when I was growing up was always, “Winners never quit, and quitters never win.” It used to really irk me when she would say that because it was usually when I was considering quitting something or other. However, she taught me from a young age to always honor my commitments and to persevere to see things through.

Perseverance has served me well in life. I had a former boss tell me the main reason he hired me for a particular job was due to this attribute. That meant a lot to me, but really, I owe this characteristic of mine to the way I was raised and how the Bible teaches us to respond to adversity.

We are to be strong, firm, steadfast.

“2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, a whenever you face trials of many kinds,. 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

James 1:2-4

One thing I know for certain is that life is going to throw challenges out there. For me, this is the first of many rejections in my academic career. However, how many more successes will there also be? OK, so one peer review board of 3 people didn’t like my paper for this particular forum. So what? How many others might love it if given the chance? No one ever said it was going to be easy. But trying again is always worth it.

Another thing I have learned through previous rejections in my life is to not find my value and worth in other people’s opinions.

My ultimate value and worth comes from Jesus Christ alone.

Not from the acceptance of others, not in promotions, or bonuses, or financial gain….sure, all of those things are great. But, I do not place my value on my accomplishments (or lack thereof).  This mindset has helped me to accept rejection as a given, as something that happens from time to time. It still may sting, but there is a peace in knowing that this or that is not the be all, end all, of Amanda Bradshaw’s value.

Thus, in 2018, I plan to have courage by putting myself out there again and again, taking chances. Big gains often come only after big risk.

Constructive criticism used to be (OK, it still is sometimes) hard to take; as a writer, one does not like to see one’s hard work torn to shreds at any level. But, as I first learned in journalism, and now in this Ph.D. program, it’s part of the ballgame. I have come to expect to plan longer to complete assignments, to have them edited, re-edited, and critiqued from every angle imaginable. And even still, some will be rejected. It’s just part of it–the part that is going to ultimately make me even better in the long run. Rejection is part of the learning process and often makes acceptance taste just that much sweeter.

We all have our own struggles, challenges, and rejections in this life, but in my opinion, attitude makes all the difference. When negative thoughts began entering my head today, doubtful thoughts, I banished them, one by one, reaffirming the good things that I have and will achieve and refocused positively on the fabulous semester ahead…starting with hello, my very first ski trip ever and a [different] conference acceptance!! What does one even pack to hit the slopes? This Southern girl has only been around snow a few times in my life, so any recommendations are welcome. 🙂

Have courage and be kind.

2018 is going to be AMAZING.

Until next time in God’s love,



I’ll Be Happy When…I am FINALLY Happy Now.


How easy it is to fall into Satan’s trap of wishing away our “right now” to look at our image of the future. The seasons of life–Summer, Fall Winter Spring–pass in a blur of “I’ll Be Happy When’s.”

I’ll Be Happy When…I don’t have to have a babysitter anymore and can stay home alone.

I’ll Be Happy When…I can sit in the front seat of the car and not the back like a baby.

I’ll Be Happy When…I ace this exam.

I’ll Be Happy When…my shots are over at the doctor’s and I get a milkshake.

I’ll Be Happy When…we drop my brother off at baseball practice and I can listen to MY favorite radio station.

I’ll Be Happy When…my braces come off.

And the bigger ones….

I’ll Be Happy When….I graduate from high school. And College. And graduate school.

I’ll Be Happy When…I fall in love. And get engaged. AND get married.

I’ll Be Happy When…we buy a huge house with a lot of acreage.

I’ll Be Happy When…we make a ton of money and get to travel the world/share the Gospel/buy ridiculously expensive things.

I’ll Be Happy When…We have kids. And those kids grow up & move out and we have peace and quiet–time for just us.

I’ll Be Happy When…My spouse retires and we have more time together.

Goodness, there are so many “when’s.” But those when’s may or may not ever occur! Our only guarantee is today; time is fleeting, and I believe it is each person’s responsibility to make the most of every day they are given until the final, “I’ll Be Happy When….”

I’ll Be Happy When…I finally get to Heaven and get to meet Jesus.

The whole rest of the list is so trivial when it comes to that last point–Meeting Jesus. That is what our whole life should center around. Our actions in this season (in every season) should reflect contentment and joy in His perfect plan for our lives (even if that plan doesn’t line up with our self-made one.) Instead, of “I’ll Be Happy When’s,” I want to have that “I am Happy Now” attitude, in all things, good and bad. What good can be found of TODAY–the gift of the present? What joy could you and I be missing out on if we focus on the “what’s next” above the “what’s now?”


I am Happy Now, because God loved me enough to send his only begotten Son to die on the cross for my sins and save me from the fiery depths of Hell.

I am Happy Now because no matter where this life takes me, I know I will spend my forever in Heaven with Him.

I am Happy Now, because I get the chance to be a wife and share God’s love with my husband, unconditionally, for this moment in time.

I am Happy Now, because I get to live in a new place (Oklahoma) and have new experiences and meet so many new people. I hope to touch their lives, even just a little, with some of the love that Christ has shared with me.

I am Happy Now, because  Jesus put me here, in this season, to overcome trials of many sorts; through His grace, I can exemplify grace to others. Through the challenges I overcome, I will become strong.

I am Happy Now because my life is not perfect; I can use each new opportunity as a learning opportunity to grow in the Spirit.

I am Happy Now because I know Jesus, even though I am not in Heaven yet. He wants to have a relationship with me here on this Earth as my best friend and savior, and He wants to have a relationship with you too!

What makes you happy now? I’ve found a lot of happiness comes down to perspective. Are we focusing on those “have not’s,” those ideas that we aren’t quite keeping up with the mythical Jones’ family? Or are we focusing on what we DO have, which is probably more plentiful than any of us realize on any given day–at least it is in my life!


If you had a Blessings Jar for each day, what would you put into it? There is at least one thing we can be thankful for every day (beyond just November!) I think I may start one for myself if anyone wants to join me on the pursuit of being Happy Now. It’s easy–no real lead up or planning- you just simply Be. 🙂



Prune My Heart, Oh God, Make It Ever True

All gardeners will tell you that keeping up those “Yards of the Year” are a LOT of work. There is constant work to be done, especially if you have rose bushes. You must prune them, care for them and monitor them constantly for them to thrive. My grandmother Omi is a world-class landscaper and gardener, and her yard looks pristine 365 days of the year. She even grows her own tomatoes and cucumbers in her vegetable garden, her own mint and parsley in her herb garden, etc. However, she puts in hours and hours and still more hours of work on that yard. When planning a summer visit, she must be cautious because her plants will die if they are left alone to wilt in the heat; she often waters them by hand 2-3 times per DAY.


But, because she is conscientious and careful about caring for her plants, pruning them back as needed and not allowing weeds to take over or take root in her beautiful flower beds, her plants are lush and green, her tomatoes perfectly round and succulent, and her roses bloom in the brightest shades of red and pink.

In our lives, God is the Great Gardener, the One pruning back the weeds in our hearts, guiding us carefully through trials and troubles of many kinds so that we may gain wisdom and reliance upon Him. He doesn’t promise that we will have carefree lives and that the weeds will never threaten to take over; in fact, the opposite. “In this life, you will have tribulation. But, take heart; for I have overcome the world.” John 16:33.

The cliched phrase “God will never give you more than you can handle” is not based in Biblical truth. Many times, we will find ourselves with more than we can handle ALONE. That is just the point though. All things are possible through God, and in those times, He wants us to draw closer to Himself as He can conquer all.

My Great Aunt Helen used to have a painting in her home that looked a lot like this:


What a poignant reminder of God’s grace and love for us! He is there with us every step of the way even when all seems lost, we are despondent and aimlessly searching through the things of this world for answers. His words are found in the Bible, the one true Map that will guide us through the Deep Waters and onto High Ground once again.

As I think of mine and Luke’s journey to Oklahoma, I think of all the past experiences that prepared us for this exact chapter. And, in that 20/20 hindsight, I see all of the ways we were forged through the fire back in GA, all the ways that we were growing as Children of Christ, as spouses, as leaders, as professionals, as friends, as siblings when we didn’t even realize it…What wasn’t clear to me then as I questioned why a day was particularly tough, why a friendship came to a clear end, why a new “quirky” coworker was there for what seemed to be the sole purpose of irritating me…it is so much more transparent now. I see that through those tough days, I gained perseverance, through that friendship ending, I learned how to be a better friend in the future, and through that difficult relationship with a coworker, I learned how to discern when someone is lashing out because they are in pain and how to respond in grace and love. Most of the irritating things that he/she did could all be tied back to their own personal experiences and trials and had nothing to do with me. This is an overly simplistic explanation of course, but I cannot wait to get to Heaven one day to meet Jesus and find out why some things have occurred in my life the way that they have!


I recently re-read this book just last week– a great story about how all of our stories are intertwined with purpose. No spoiler alerts here, but when a elderly man dies, an amusement park maintenance worker, someone who doesn’t feel that he lived any kind of remarkable life at all, he finds out just how much impact he actually had on a variety of others. When he gets to Heaven, he has the opportunity to interact with five different people who explain different lessons to him. He was in each of their lives for a clear purpose–some of whom he never even met face to face, and some of whom played major roles in the cast of his life.

This past week we received the very sweetest card in the mail from a woman whom I have never met in person, and whom Luke has met only once before. And, I will treasure this card for the rest of our lives. You see one of our good friends passed away a couple of months ago, very unexpectedly at a very young age. We were heartbroken of course, and several of Luke’s West Point class shared things on his Facebook page, including us, and others sent something to the Memorial Service. Because we found out about the Service with very late notice, I found myself in a restaurant, on a Sunday of all days, trying to find a florist in his home state who could help us contribute to the service as well. As you may have guessed, most flower shops are closed on Sundays. I struck out twice before finding a kind customer service representative who just happened to be at work cleaning the store and seemed interested in our story. He had heard about our friend’s death on the news, but still, he couldn’t help us. He said their stock was very diminished from a recent wedding; their delivery truck didn’t arrive until Tuesday, there was nothing he could do. He suggested several places for me to call instead. In a leap of faith, I begged him to help me. I said “Do you have anything at all we could use? This is so important to our family.” He hesitated and said, “Well I have one pot. You could come pick it up today and buy something at Lowe’s to put into it.”

We live several hundred miles away. I told him that just wasn’t possible, could they please put it together and deliver it for us? The funeral was less than 20 hours away. He told me he would call the owner and call me back. Disheartened, I assumed we would hear again that there was nothing he could do, if he even bothered to call me back. It truly seemed hopeless; there would be no way we could contribute to the Service at this point. To my great surprise, he called back 15 minutes later, and in excitement told me he had found something that just might work! It was nothing like a funeral spray though. It was a simple pot, but they could deliver it, and work some red, white and blue into it to display the patriotism of Luke’s comrade and friend. The funeral service was just 5 minutes from that shop, so a delivery was no problem! We were beyond grateful and gave him our credit card information, but to this day, we don’t exactly know what that kind Angel chose to deliver on our behalf.

A couple months went by, and we heard from a mutual friend that the Mother of our friend who passed away wanted to get in touch with us. We were a little surprised because the outpouring of support she received after her son’s death was immense. He was so well loved and the Long Gray Line had really stepped forward to honor him properly with far more important people than us. A few days ago, we received a hand written thank you note with her name monogrammed on the front, and I opened it, grateful that she thought enough of us to write, but mostly expecting a form letter-type of thank you in light of this unthinkably difficult time. Instead, we received a true outpouring from her heart of her thoughts, feelings and emotions covering the front and back of the card; an expression of true gratitude for our particular social media post, which had a video of her son that I had saved leading up to our wedding. Through that video, she was able to see and hear him one last time. Also, the simple pot we sent has graced her patio all summer as a reminder of her son. I was floored with this heartfelt thank you, and I learned once again the importance of small kindnesses. What if that shop assistant hadn’t been willing to help me? What if that florist just said “No” which was well within her rights on a Sunday with no stock at all? I am so grateful that they went the extra mile for us that day, in a way that meant so much to his family. This is such a classic example of the goodness that can be found in people’s hearts, that I couldn’t help but share. You never know how your words or actions can indelibly impact another’s life.

In our lives, I firmly believe that God loves us and wants the very best for us as His children. But often, just like in the garden, pruning is necessary for us to become the best versions of ourselves, for us to be the people God intends for us to be. If everything was easy, if no weeds threatened to grow over the rose bushes, if no winter storms loomed to destroy the flowers with frost bite, if no droughts threatened to starve them of nourishment, the plants would not need the Gardener.

rose garden

“Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.” John 15:2.

Best wishes,


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