Imaginary Life…

As God has continued to truly leave me somewhat stumped on where He’s leading me, I’ve had to make a conscious effort to remain confident… Constantly feeling fear and insecurity about where He’s led me, but then hearing His voice firmly and repeatedly say, “Be confident in ALL of my ways Amanda. ALL of them.”

And so I pick myself up and choose to grasp confidence over fear… Because in this moment He’s working me through something that has truly destroyed me for years… My imagination: my ability to make up stories in my head to escape my current reality…

I’ve done this for years to escape the stress I’ve felt when my parents wouldn’t stop arguing… Or when I felt so insecure because I hated the body I was in… Or when I didn’t know who I was or what I was doing… Basically anytime I’ve felt fear or insecurity, I’ve used my imagination to conjure up a story to make me feel seemingly better…

The downfall? It’s a story… It’s fantasy… It’s fiction… It’s not real… Meaning I’ve left myself filled with disappointment after disappointment… I’ve created a way to get rid of the stress I can’t handle, and in reverse I’ve caused more stress on my soul and mind…

So God has been working me through it all… And it’s really been a huge mountain to climb at this time… When finances are the lowest they’ve ever been, the house won’t seem to sell and the reality of life is at an all time high… Stress, fear and insecurity seem to be the most obvious route for me… Creating illusions to “make it” through this seems to be the easiest, most mind-relieving way to go…

But with God, well I am pulled to learn a new way… A new route… A better way to navigate through life…

And I’m learning that life… Life is what I lack security in… I lack the confidence to admit to myself that this is my reality… I lack the confidence to be confident in the good and the bad… It’s always easy to embrace and love the good… But the bad, who wants that?…

For me, I’d rather ignore the stress of it all and just create a better story in my mind… I’d rather change the story up some and convince myself of a bunch of lies… I’d rather be weak and cope with what I don’t understand than be confident that bad things have happened and I have to navigate through them…

But that’s when God showed me something… He showed me that deeper than being confident in life (the good and evil) is to be confident in eternal life…

Not Heaven or life after death…

But the truth that I have eternal life living in me… And that eternal life is always aiming to take the ugly parts of life and make them beautiful…

I guess you could say He wants me to be confident in the truth that Jesus is alive in me at all times… That Heaven lives in me at all times, and so a solution is in me at all times… Even when I can’t find it, He’s aiming to create a better life for me…

And so that’s how I feel right now… I see this colossal imaginary mountain I’ve created for 25 years and I feel utterly disappointed… And I’m up against another mountain called the reality of life… And they both seem so big, so scary, so much bigger than me… And I want to run and hide and be confident in the fact that I can create to escape them all… But then God says, “No. No just be confident in all my ways. Be confident in eternal life. Be confident in the truth that I am taking all of this disappointment, pain, hurt, confusion, frustration and stress… I am taking it and making it beautiful. I am making you whole. I am making a better way because that, that is what eternal life through my Son does in your life.”

Needy Necklace…

When I turned 16 all I wanted was a digital camera for my birthday… They were new… They were exciting… Plus no one I knew really had one yet…

So when I went to open my gifts on my birthday I was convinced my parents bought me one…

As I prepared to open the last gift, I kept thinking, “The packaging is too small for a camera. Maybe it’s just super small and sleek.”

But the more I tore back the paper the more and more I was disappointed to find a small, black jewelry box…

On inside was the most beautiful necklace I’ve ever received… A heart with alternating diamonds and sapphires… It was a stunning piece… Something my parents wanted me to have as a sign of maturity since I was turning 16…

But there I sat… Trying to be as “excited” as I could be… But then on the inside I was full of disappointment because I didn’t receive what I wanted at all…

Now it’s taken me a few years and a lot of maturity to realize that that necklace is something I appreciate dearly… It’s so precious to my heart and soul… Especially now that my dad is gone…

But something that makes it even more valuable are the lessons it’s taught me throughout the years…

To me it is a symbol of identity because it’s filled with sapphires fitting for my birthday month of September… But then it’s also come to help me accept deeper revelation God has taught me about who I am in Him… Who He’s created me to be and sees me as in His eyes…

Now today I sit in life… Completely disappointed with what God keeps handing me… I want adventure… I want to live… In so many ways, I keep expecting to unwrap a digital camera type of life from Him… Something that let’s me go free from this chapter I am in…

But upon opening everything He’s given me I seem to discover something that’s actually very different… Something that resembles my diamond and sapphire necklace… Something filled with precious value and meaning and identity… Something that He has decided I am mature enough for…

Now my heart is touched by His constant gift of shaping me and molding me into who He needs me to be… But then my soul is severely disappointed because I wanted what was cool, hip and ever evolving…

So I’m left with these questions in mind… What happens when you don’t get what you so desperately want in life, but you do get what you so apparently need? How do you respond to it? How do I continue to make sense of this time in life where I feel somewhat angry and disappointed because I want God to give me what I want, not what I need? How can I be at peace with the fact that He is providing me with what’s of value, not what is easy to come by because it’s part of our current culture? And… How do I actually embrace, “If God sees me mature enough for these gifts, I must be. Even though I don’t feel it or see it or clearly see it at all?”

Being You… Complex?

What’s the biggest challenge of being you? Is it accepting yourself? Loving yourself? Or possibly just being confident in who you are?

What happens when the biggest challenge within you is interchangeable with the person you are at your core? The very essence of you?

For me… As Amanda Nicole…. My biggest challenge of being me is being confident in who I am… And yeah, it’s been an evolution of sorts… But when I dig deep, I know in truth that I’m still not the confident woman I so hope to be…

Now, the person I am at my core is well… To me the person I am, the One I hope to reflect the most is God… His heart… The deepest part of who He is… The purest part of who He is… A place so deep that it takes a walk through fire to truly obtain it in its fullness…

So, my biggest challenge is not just being confident in me, it’s deeper.. Much more complex… It’s being confident in God… In the ways of God… In the ways of His heart…

And it sounds kind of simple… Trust in God… Follow Him… Believe in Him…

But what happens when your heart cries out for more? What happens when the God in you wants more? When He’s asking you to go deeper… To just walk a little bit closer to that fire… To really experience the refine of that burn?

For me… This is my continued challenge at hand… To allow God to keep refining me… To refine me until I am all of myself, but then myself looks nothing like me and everything like Him…

It’s not an easy walk… It’s a challenge that takes days… Weeks… Months… It’s taken years… Heartbreak, loss and severe failure…

But I need this walk… I need it just as much as it needs me… And I don’t know what I’ll “do” with it all, but I do believe it is so rewarding… So meaningful… So purposeful… And it’s allowing me to be confident in Him and ALL of His ways…

Life on the Line…

I found myself sitting at the cemetery today… Why?… I went with mom to pick up the deeds for dad’s plot and the plot she’ll eventually be in…

And I’m not sure why, but death always seems to put life into perspective for me…

Whatever the case, the shortness of life on earth continues to cause me to realize that we should be living life to the very fullest everyday…

Taking risks… Making mistakes… Falling down… Getting back up… It’s all part of the process of this crazy place…

And I guess that’s why I feel more and more encouraged to continue to become confident in following the Holy Spirit…

I said before that I’ve never been confident in the follow… Yes I’m willing and able… But I’m also terrified at the same time…

But then, well if I don’t continue to follow am I even living at all?..

I feel like if I’m not following Him then I’m choosing to follow the ways of the world that surround me…

I mean, if we truly believe in Jesus with our entire heart we should all be following the Holy Spirit…

Life on the line… Head held high… With a heart full of passion and purpose…

When we follow Him there shouldn’t be a question in our minds if we are doing the right/best thing… We should just know and truly trust in the depth of our heart that His way is the best way… That He will not lead us into something bad, but good…

That doesn’t mean He won’t lead us face-to-face with our fears…

The last year of my life seems to be nothing less than facing my fears head on… And you know what, they haven’t destroyed me at all… I’ve actually watched them fall to their knees every time…

And I hope that that continues… I hope, in my deepest of hearts, that I never come to a place in life that I become content… At ease… Ok and settled with what’s hip, average and boring…

Instead, I hope that I always enter everyday with my life in God’s hands… Following the Holy Spirit… Knowing deep down that that could mean my life is on the line, but that living this way is the best way….

I mean, didn’t the disciples and apostles follow where ever they were led?.. We don’t know how to be led today… We don’t know what it means to live like Christ at all… We are more so consumed with comfort in our “Christianity” than the real life of a follower of the Spirit…

I believe He’s a little too exciting for some… A little to reckless for others… And somewhat of a badass in the way He handles where He chooses to take us…

But, with all of this said… I hope to continue to keep living… To keep learning… And more than ever to keep becoming confidently mature in the follow…

Off Road Following 

If you’ve ever read my blogs or know anything about my personal life, then you know I follow the Holy Spirit…

Growing up I was taught, when we accept Jesus, the Holy Spirit comes into our lives… He is the Spirit of God that lives within us… And that He brings a great host of personality and power to help us cultivate a better life…

When I was young I really didn’t have a relationship with Him at all… I only knew about Him because of what others told me… 

But, as I grew up I cultivated a relationship with Him… And that relationship is something that I deeply depend on to this day… 

Without Him in my life, I’m pretty sure I’d feel dead and confused… Walking through my days and years as a zombie…

So I’m really grateful to have Him… I believe everyone should have their own personal relationship with Him… And that He speaks to us in different ways…

But lately, well my relationship with Him has become frustrating and all over the place… 

And so I keep asking Him questions in hopes that He’ll show me where He is leading me in life…

Recently He said something to me that truly caught my attention.. “Amanda, you aren’t confident in following me. You always follow, but you aren’t secure in my ways.” 

You see, the goal is always fairly simple and clear, follow Him in all of His ways… Listen to His voice and have faith and hope as you follow…

But the more I follow the more He takes me on an “off road” journey… The kind that’s unmarked and unpaved… And honestly, it makes me nervous…

So nervous that I have emotional breakdowns because I feel so confused… Constantly, I look around at what others are doing in their lives and I realize my life looks absolutely different… And then I think “I can’t be following God. Right now, He’s led me to what feels like a brick wall. How can that be good? How can He be good if I feel stranded?”

You see, being “off road” makes me feel insecure and unsafe… My fears become high as my worries point out all of the darkness and danger I see… 

And no, I haven’t bumped into any of the things I fear yet… But gosh I’m terrified of them…

And then I just continue to hear the Holy Spirit say, “Just follow me. You are fine. You aren’t confused. You’re just following me. Be confident in the follow.”

Which causes me to wonder, “How was my grandmother able to follow so well? She always made following Him look so simple and graceful.”

And that’s when He reminded me of what she used to always say… “Never take your eyes off of Him. Never look away from the ways of Jesus. Always look to Him. Especially when you’re in the midst of the storm. Look at Him and you’ll stay uplifted. Look to Him and you’ll remain secure and at peace.”

I never understood what she meant when she said these things… I never really needed them until now… 

But now He has brought me to a place where I have to look at Him and His ways in order to keep moving forward… Because the worry, fear and doubt are so heavy that He must be the only solution… 

Expectancy of Life…

Hope… I’ve been on this journey with hope for a few weeks now…

Discovering exactly what it is and why it’s so important to place my hope in God alone…

And I’m going to be really honest, this has been some what of a challenge… A struggle… I feel like I am struggling with God over this… Placing my hope in Him, but then in constant wonder of why hope still seems deferred…

And so it wasn’t until this morning when I finally feel like I gained more of an understanding…

I had this vision… I saw this mountain I had been climbing… I got to a certain place of climbing and stopped at a cave to walk in and explore… The cave was very dark on the inside, but I felt encouraged to move forward into the darkness… As I moved I looked back and could no longer see the light from the sky behind me… This scared me at first but then I realized I could see around me because an angel was following me with a candle… And I could hear the Holy Spirit say, “I am right here with you. Just move forward in the darkness as I guide you.”

So together, the 3 of us moved forward… The more I walked the more I felt fear… I kept thinking, “Where am I going? What am I doing? I know God is with me and I know I can see, but I do not understand where He is guiding me.”

Then I looked to my left and saw a wall that scaled high… I looked to the right and realized the path was very, very narrow… If I stepped too far to the side I would fall into a deep abyss because I was walking on the side of a cliff…

In the darkness I kind of froze… But then the Lord said, “Just keep moving and do not be afraid I am with you.” So forward I went… I felt like we had been walking for hours, maybe even days… And I didn’t know where He was guiding me…

All of a sudden, in the distance, I could see a something… It was a pinkish/purple colored shimmer of light… Almost glow-in-the-dark, but translucent… I didn’t know what it was and God wasn’t saying a word… So I approached it… Then He said, “This is treasure. Take as much as you can carry, turn around and go.”

Not knowing what it was I picked up as much as I could carry on my journey back to the mountain side…

As I walked I felt afraid, but then something else began to spring up inside of me… I felt hopeful… For the first time on my journey I felt this deep imbedded sense of hope…

And then I heard the Lord say, “You are carrying hope… This is hope in Me.” No sooner had He said that and the gems in my hand began to light up in the most beautiful pink/purple color I’d ever seen…

I just smiled deep within… For I knew the journey back through the cave would be long and at times scary, but I felt hope that the distance I walked would would bring me life… Great life to hold onto and share with others in the future…

After the vision I thought back about something God shared with me last week concerning hope… He said, “Amanda, hope in me is the expectancy of life.”

You see, even when nothing makes sense… Even when we don’t have understanding at all… Even when everything is falling apart… I believe we are asked to have faith and hope in God… Because at the end of the day, faith in Him means that we are willing to follow even when everything is dark… And hope in Him means we expect life, whatever the cost, to come from our great journey(s) through the darkness…

I personally have no idea how much longer I will have to walk through the darkness to get back to the mountainside where there is light… I do realize I might have moments where I feel tired, weak and somewhat afraid… But, more than anything, I do believe I now have the hope required to keep moving forward towards the expectancy of life…

Challenging Hope…

Hope… It seems like a simple 4 letter word… We all hope for things deep within our hearts…

But, then… Well what happens when what you hoped for in your heart doesn’t happen?..

If you’re anything like me then you can become an angry, disappointed grouch… Stomping around, upset and trying to make sense of life…

I’ve done this very thing my entire life… I’ve set myself up for disappointment upon disappointment based on what I’ve hoped for in my heart…

And then I’ve elaborated on my hopes by creating details… You know, planning ahead in my mind… “This is how it will go. This is what will happen for sure.”

But lately, almost everything I’ve hoped for hasn’t happened… And I find myself irritated… Cornered in a way…

And that’s where I find God encouraging me… Encouraging me to move away from this place where I choose to place my hope in situations, possibilities, places, people, things and dreams…

And honestly, it’s a challenge… It’s a challenge to stand back and say, “I’m not gonna run wild in my mind over possibilities anymore. I am going to use wisdom and keep my hope in God.”

So, then… Well what does it mean to place my hope in God?..

I believe hope, along with faith and love, are the foundation to an identity in God… I’ve had to learn to place my faith in God solely… And a long with faith came confidence, security and trust in Him… But this hope thing, well… It’s different…

Because it kind of has me mastered right now… I’ve used a false sense of hope for so long… Longing for things that I’ve created in my imagination… Day dreaming about possibilities… Stirring up secrets in my heart… And, in the end… Well I only get completely let down with the reality of life…

So, now here I stand… I was convinced I had cultivated an identity in God… Solely and completely rooted in His ways only… But this hope thing has taken me for a loop… And now, well I need Him to reveal to me what it means to have hope in Him and Him alone…

I need Him to teach me how to stop using my imagination to create elaborate plans that only lead to failure in my heart and soul…

He’s brought me this far though, so I do have faith and hope that He will take me one step further…