Meet Amy

STUDIO_SUNSET4_7489936039Welcome! My name is Amy Pederson, and I’m the writer here at Divine in the Daily. It’s a pleasure and great honor to have you drop by my place. Take off your shoes and make yourself comfortable. Hang around as long as you’d like! Whether you’re here for two minutes or 20 minutes, I hope and pray you’ll connect with something I’ve written.

I write because I’m compelled to write. I write because I’ve been called to write. I write for me. And I most definitely write for you. We’re all in this life together, aren’t we? So let’s connect, here. Let’s go a little deeper, here. In this place, where it’s safe. Where I can be me, and you can be you.

So I’m guessing you clicked on this page to find out a little more about who I am, right?! So let’s get at it.

I’ve been married to my college sweetheart, Seth, for 18 years. Seth loves his corporate work life, and is a wonderful husband and father. We’re parents of three beautiful children, Cooper (14), Elsa (11), and Maisie (4). I live in Minnesota, but am not ashamed to admit that I’m a southern girl at heart. I’d take a 90 degree day any day! I’m a Christian and absolutely love my local church family. Among other loves? Writing, photography, exercising, watching movies, gardening, listening to music, and reading nonfiction. I enjoy spending time with my husband, children, immediate and extended families. And yeah, there’s one more thing you must know…my husband and I LOVE going on cruises and Disney vacations!

Dreams I have on the may-or-may-not-happen back burner include authoring adult nonfiction and children’s books, taking hundreds of thousands of stunning photographs, traveling to Haiti and Africa on countless mission trips, running a marathon, horseback riding through the countryside, enrolling in an adult dance class, and renewing vows with my husband. And I definitely don’t want to forget that lifelong goal of taking 30 cruises. We’ve taken four as a married couple, so we’re on our way, right?! Even more important than all of those things, it would bring me great joy to have a marriage that lasts a lifetime and children who grow up to become all God created them to be. Yes, those would be real dreams come true.

A few years ago, I realized something important. I feel called to be a voice for the voiceless. Let me explain.

I love to advocate for fringe groups…people who have special needs, families of people who have special needs, people who are mentally ill, families of people who are mentally ill, people living in extreme poverty, moms who work part-time, stay at home moms, working moms, single moms, the acute and chronically ill, the elderly, people who battle weight, people who have suffered trauma, people who don’t feel like they fit anywhere, people who want to step out of the box and live a life unexpected. The list could go on and on. Don’t we all feel like we’re living in the fringe at least some of the time?

I’ve taken my inclination for advocacy and built it into my life as much as possible.

I worked as a speech-language pathologist for 14 1/2 years. For the first seven years of my career, I worked in early intervention where I provided therapy in the homes of children 0-3 years old. In 2007, I opened a small private practice which I operated for 7 1/2 years. I prided myself on working closely with families, developing deep and authentic relationships, providing parents with skills to help their children develop speech and language, and instilling hope for a brighter tomorrow.

Speech-language therapy was undeniably rewarding, and I loved working with children and families. But the last 2 1/2 years of my career, I experienced a strong call to spend more time focused on writing, and I wanted space to explore professional photography. After significant prayer, consideration and consultation with wise counsel, my husband and I decided that my last day of work as a speech therapist would be December 18, 2014. So I might be on a long-term sabbatical, or I might have taken an “early retirement” from speech-language therapy. God will lead and time will tell.

Since I was a little girl, I felt called to advocate for children in developing countries. This lifelong calling finally became reality through an undeniably divine series of events over the course of the past 4 years. Our family now sponsors four children through Compassion International – Bethchaida, Djino and Charles in Haiti, and Meranyelis in the Dominican Republic. In February 2014, after much prayer and financial consideration with my husband, I decided to take a sponsor trip with Compassion International to visit our children in Haiti. I blogged about my experience for three weeks leading up to my trip, and every day while I was in Haiti. (If you want to read the entire series, catch it here. Links to all posts are at the bottom.) It was an amazing life-changing experience, and I’d love to get back to Haiti as soon as possible.

Kids_8

DSCN6326

Compassionbloggers2015

I50A5614

In July 2014, I had the great honor of being invited by Compassion International to join a sponsor trip to the Dominican Republic with bloggers Kris Camealy and Sandra Heska King. In August 2014, I made the news public with this post. On January 8, 2015, just two days before I was scheduled to leave on the trip, my husband got the unfortunate news that he has eye cancer. This was, of course, totally unexpected. We debated whether I should cancel my travels, but ultimately decided that I would go as planned. (Five days after I returned home, we found ourselves at Mayo Clinic for three days of diagnostic appointments.) No doubt. The eye cancer news left me feeling emptier, more emotional and vulnerable than I would have otherwise, but my trip to the Dominican was still a dream come true. It was still an honor of a lifetime. Advocating for children living in extreme poverty is something I take seriously and embrace whole-heartedly. Just as I did in Haiti, I surrendered myself fully to the experience, and would do it again in a heartbeat. (To read all my posts from the Dominican Republic trip, click here.)

On June 1, 2015, I received a completely unexpected invitation to join a mission trip to Africa on November 27 – December 6, 2015. It was incredibly humbling to join this mission trip, particularly since I dreamed of serving in Africa for as long as I can remember. On this trip, I traveled to Kenya with a team of nine others. We stayed at an orphanage and served orphans, widows, and local villagers during our 10-day stay. While we were in Nairobi, we also visited an amazing ministry that’s operating in Kibera slum, Africa’s largest urban slum. Click here and scroll to the bottom to read all the blog posts from my Africa trip.

Before I wrap up, let me share a little more about who I am and my call to write.

My best and most authentic voice has always been in writing. I was the girl who kept diaries in 7th grade and kept journals going on and off all the way through adulthood. So it’s no surprise that a series of events between 2003 and 2012 led me to believe that God was calling me to write. Not just for myself, but for the benefit of others. During those years, I experienced God intimately and undeniably as He continually called. One thing led to another, and then another. I read books that moved me deeply, brainstormed ideas, experienced visions, attended conferences, wrote life goals, spoke with speakers and authors, encountered a whole host of individuals that inspired me to write, and met with wise counsel. In January 2010, I even purchased a domain and spent hours setting up a blog with a different name, but never published a single post. Finally, in April 2012, after feeling a strong call to write for nine years at that point, and having just had our third child, I decided to move forward with the creation of this blog. By July 30, 2012, Divine in the Daily was launched and is still going strong today!

Most of my life I would describe myself as being a perfectionist, wanting to have life under control, always wanting to do what is “right” and “best,” and as having way too high of expectations for myself and others. I’ve worked hard to make life fit in a pretty little box, to control for everything that might come my way. But in the summer of 2004, my family of origin began a long journey that’s ultimately taught me that life on earth will never be perfect, that my expectations will never be fully met until I’m in heaven. And that the weight of the world is on God’s shoulders, not mine.

You see, my younger sister, Tiffany, was hospitalized ten times and participated in at least four rounds of rehabilitation due to struggles with mental health and addiction between 2004 and 2010. Our family went through hell and back for SIX. whole. years. To keep my sanity, process everything that was happening, and document the craziness, I wrote…pages and pages and pages. My sister now has two children and has, for the most part, been healthy for 4 3/4 years, thanks to medication and a hearty support system. (Visit the mental health page to view the posts I’ve written about Tiffany, and the guest posts she’s written as a contributor to this blog.)

I’ve come to realize that those six years were necessary for me to get a grip on what the very worst of real life can be. Those years also helped me realize that I’m no longer willing to live in a slumber, merely surviving each day, waiting for the next to pass. That’s a boring, mundane, depressing and predictable life. So rather than just survive, I’d love to see us live lives in which we’re able to thrive. As human beings, we need a source of hope, joy and purpose in our lives. We were all created for a reason, to fulfill a specific purpose here on earth. As for me? I’m ready to live out that purpose, and I’d love to see you do the same.

One of the reasons I believe I was created is to connect with other human beings through my writing. Writing helps me release unrealistically high expectations of myself and others. It helps me process my reality. I write about what I see. I write about what is. I write about beauty that exists in its natural form. In fact, my writing has nothing to do with contrived human perfection. It’s all about authenticity and finding joy and peace right where you are.

So from here on out, I choose to intentionally and continually release perfectionism and replace it with God’s grace. This trading perfectionism for grace is a battle. I haven’t won yet, but I’m fighting it hard, daily. Because it’s a fight worth fighting. Because the rewards of living in grace are worth it. So I choose beauty. I choose good. I choose to let the Holy Spirit live in me, so I see what He sees rather than what I see. I choose to live and love and experience the beautiful purpose for which God created me. I choose to follow the dreams God’s placed on my heart. I choose to experience the joy and fullness of life God intends me to have here on earth.

Well, friends. What can I say, but thank you. I’m so grateful you’ve chosen to join me on this journey. And please accept this as a warm invitation to return anytime. I love your presence in this place.

I love to hear from readers! If you’d like to connect via email, send your message to amybpederson@hotmail.com. If you’d like to connect via Facebook or Twitter, please visit my Connect page where you’ll find links to both!

pinksig

Pederson 92

Pederson 16

Who I Am writer • photographer • storyteller wife to seth • mom to cooper, elsa & maisie christian • speech therapist • justice advocate 1
What I Love photography • exercising • gardening watching movies • reading • listening to music kenya • cruising • haiti • disney 2
it's a pleasure To meet you! I'm Amy! Take a peek around, get to know me a bit, then read below if you want to go deeper and learn more about my story.
Where I Live minneapolis • minnesota (but i'm a southern girl at heart) 3
Battles I've Fought (myself & alongside others) panic attacks • addiction • schizoaffective disorder lung transplant • lice • eye cancer • chronic bleeding burnout • job loss • unexpected diagnoses & discoveries 4
Dreams I Hold Dear authoring nonfiction & children's books renewing vows with my husband advocating for women & children in Haiti & Kenya 5

Hello and Welcome! My name is Amy. I'm honored that you decided to go deeper and read more about my story. My story is like yours, long and much more complicated than it seems on the surface. If we're going to swap stories, it's only fair that I tell you mine. So sit down. Relax. And enjoy the short, but sweet and condensed version of my first 40 years.

I'm the first-born of two public school teachers, with one younger sister and one younger brother. We lived in a small town and did fun family things like take bike rides, fly kites and go for picnics at the park two blocks from our house. Sure, tough things happened to us like my dad getting diagnosed with skin cancer and my grandma passing away when I was 10, but for the most part, life was simple and good.

Looking back, I can say with certainty that I thrived in a small-town environment where everyone knew my face, my name, and my family. Life was predictable and comfortable. I was involved in ALL the extra curriculars, and got along with everyone so much so that I was named Homecoming Queen my senior year of high school. I often look back at that girl with awe. Was that really me? So social. So involved. So fun. So carefree and all she could be.

I began taking photographs when I received my first camera at age 9, and began writing for fun when I received my first diary at age 12. Photography and writing were "far out there" careers I considered among an assortment of traditional career paths, including nursing, medicine, psychology, ministry, teaching, physical therapy and occupational therapy. In the fall of 1994, I began college with a major in speech-language therapy.

It was there, in my first year of college, that I met my college sweetheart and soon-to-be-husband, Seth. I graduated in May of 1998 and we were married just one month later!

Immediately after our wedding, we moved to Indiana where my husband worked full-time for the United States Olympics, and I went to two years of full-time graduate school for speech-language pathology. It was a crazy and stressful time and one I would never want to relive, but hallelujah, we made it through!

After I received my graduate degree, we promptly moved back to Minnesota in an effort to be closer to family when we had children. We found a nice apartment in the suburbs of Minneapolis, and I landed my first job doing speech-language therapy home visits with families and children 0-3 years of age. Seven years later, I resigned and opened a small private practice where I served children 1-12 years of age, continuing to provide therapy in the comfort of families' homes.

For 14 1/2 years, I gave my ALL to my speech-language therapy patients, their families and caregivers. It was good work, and I'm honored to have impacted their precious lives in such meaningful ways. But looking back now, I see God at work, molding me and preparing me for my future work as a writer, photographer and storyteller. Doing home visits taught me how to develop a quick rapport and deep, meaningful relationships with people I'd never met before. Working with families and children with special needs provided me with a hearty dose of reality. Does joy come quick and easy? For some, but not for all. Are struggles, pain and hardships overcome with a snap of the fingers? Absolutely not. Life is a journey. Our stories are continuously unfolding. We wake up, day after day, only to begin again, with hope afresh. Yes, those 14 1/2 years of speech-language therapy created in me a love of STORY, an ability to enter into peoples' most intimate spaces, understand where they'd been, where they wanted to go, and relate right then, right there, right now, right where they were. 

During my 14 1/2 year career in speech-language therapy, Seth and I had three children, Cooper (14), Elsa (11) & Maisie (5). I won't even dive into motherhood right now. Because let's just be real. Motherhood is life changing. I've never been the same since I had children, nor will I ever be the woman I used to be. Mothers unite, right?!

We moved into a house, then into another house.

My husband worked at an agency for 10 years, then at a Fortune 500 corporation.

Life was unfolding so perfectly, so precisely. But the truth is, after we moved into the houses, after we landed the jobs, after we had the kids, life started unraveling and quickly became complicated.

My dad got laid off from his job as a band director two years before retirement. A propane tank fell on my mom's hand and broke her finger. My sister moved to Los Angeles, dealt with SIX SUBSEQUENT YEARS of significant addiction and mental health issues, and gave birth to two children, one who had a serious medical problem requiring surgery three days after birth. My brother got in a major accident. My dad had a heart attack. My husband got eye cancer. My dad was diagnosed with a rare lung disease which, over the course of years, lead to a lung transplant. My mother-in-law had a heart attack. I experienced several years of chronic bleeding with multiple doctor visits and no answers. Our kids had lice three times. There were other diagnoses and discoveries we kept private because some things are well...private. To top it off, I experienced a 10-day period of panic attacks in December 2016, which were followed by yet another significant life-changing event mid-January 2017 and my grandfather's death in late January 2017.

Somewhere early in the mess, I began to sense a strong call to write. The call began in early 2003 shortly after our oldest child was born, and peristed for nine years until 2012. I continued working in speech-language therapy, all the while documenting my far-fetched writing dreams in private journals.

Finally, after years of dreaming and feeling called to write for someone other than myself, I launched my first blog, Divine in the Daily, in July of 2012. It was a success by most measures. I wrote faithfully in that space - 439 blog posts to be exact - from July 2012 to December 2016. During those 4 1/2 years, I wrote and photographed my way through life-changing mission trips to Haiti, Dominican Republic and Kenya. I left my 14 1/2 year career as a speech-language therapist to pursue writing, explore professional photography, and spend more time with our children while they were still somewhat small. In December 2016, I left my blog of 4 1/2 years to launch a new site, THIS WEBSITE, a space where I can merge my love of writing, photography and missions for the long haul.

So here we are.

As you can imagine, there are a million details I neglected to mention in this retelling of my story. But I'm pretty sure you get the point. I know you understand because you've lived quite the story yourself.

Today I'm thanking God for His story, for the story He's writing through each one of us. I'm hoping, believing and trusting that my experiences, my life, MY STORY will help me tell YOUR STORY with more heart, greater authenticity and deeper understanding.

Thank you for visiting. Thank you for listening to MY STORY. Thank you for giving me the great honor, privilege and opportunity to hear and tell YOUR STORY with words and with photographs.

May we leave a legacy of beauty, authenticity, strength and passion. May we listen, attentive and alert. May we see with eyes bright and clear. May we be truth tellers, never discounting our pain and our past for the sake of putting on a good face. May we live wild and free in the awkward tension of reality and redemption. May we know without a doubt that our story matters.

Know without a doubt that YOUR story matters.

See the significance of your story.

Menu