Body · freedom · grow · Mind

This is My Body

This is my body. It’s the only one I’ve been given. It’s the only vessel (that I know of) my spirit and soul will ever live inside of. And… I don’t ever intend on altering it with plastic surgery to make myself feel a false sense of confidence in my outer appearance.

You see… For years I spoiled my body. I constantly fed it things it wasn’t designed to consume because I was broken, insecure and lost. And then… For years I starved it. I didn’t feed it enough of what it needed because I was STILL broken, insecure and lost.

And though I was certain I’d figure out “how” to live in my own version of a “perfect” body… I never did.

You see I couldn’t grasp hold of true confidence in who I was until I accepted that my spirit and soul were both sick and dying and in need of a healer. They were begging for real love and in dire need of true value and worth. (The kind we won’t find down the rabbit-hole of social media or through “self-love”).

My spirit and soul (the two things that matter MORE than my body) needed God. They needed the Holy Spirit. They needed me to fully lean into the fullness of Jesus Christ and His ability to constantly make me well from the inside out.

And I don’t know where you stand with body image and health; however, I do speak from experience when saying this… Let God heal you. Allow Him to transform you into a new spiritual being. And I know Jesus can be a sensitive subject (I’ve had my own personal journey)… But just try and lean into Him and His Holy Spirit.

You see… The Godhead doesn’t need a building to operate inside of. They need something WAY simpler, a bit more complex and incredibility unique… They need us. They need our hurt, our pain and our brokenness, so that they may take it and turn it into pure love, joy and light. And then… Then once they’ve done that, they need us to continue to pursue them with a heart that ONLY craves to follow the path of a cultivated LIFE! 🌱 #cultivatelife

Body · darkness · just live · lies, deception & manipulation · refine · soul · Spirit

Inception

One of my favorite movies is about a man hired to use a dream machine to plant an idea into the mind of another man… It’s called Inception.

In one scene you find Leonardo DiCaprio (he’s the one hired to plant the idea) and his colleagues in a room full of sleeping people who are using the dream machine. One of the men looks at the sleepers, turns to the other men and says, “They come here every day to sleep?” Another man replies, “No. They come to be woken up. The dream has become their reality.”

“The dream has become their reality”… Ironic as it sounds, as I look around at our sleepy culture, I can’t help but think about that line.

You see I believe we, as a whole, are becoming more and more like the sleepers in that room. We’ve convinced ourselves we need the internet and devices to survive. It’s not enough anymore to go through life just being. We’ve found a way to convince ourselves that we need to live in an altered, artificial reality. I can’t share a photo anymore without thinking, “Do I look good enough?” Because I know there are at least a million other women my age using an artificial app to make them look “thinner, thicker, tanner, toner, younger and more flawlessly perfect” than they truly are.

We are living in a dream state. It’s constantly before us every time we pick up these devices to be “social.” And it’s growing to the point that people feel so down on the way their lives really are that they’re physically altering their appearances.

Okay, so I’m not here to talk down on society, but I am here to be honest. I’m here to say we need to WAKE UP! Life… You know, real, actual life is around us. It’s flawed and full of chaos and it might seem unworthy, but it’s REAL and meant to be experienced without the box we all carry in our hands.

And though I don’t know how to help our society wake up and see the truth… I do hope we can find the self-discipline and willpower to put down our mind-altering devices, connect to the supernatural and just live life the way it was originally intended to be. 🌱 #cultivatelife #justlive

(Side note: These photos are what I actually look like. No editing in the posting 🙃)

Body · cultivation · freedom · healing · just live · love of god · restore · soul · Spirit

A Decade in the Making

Okay… Today, I hit the decade mark of losing 100 lbs! So… What does it mean to me to look at the girl on the left, the young woman on the right and the woman in the middle? Well… To me the three make up a cultivated lifestyle of restoration and freedom.

When I finished losing the weight, I didn’t realize I’d spend the next 10 years allowing Jesus to refine, develop, mature and grow me as a whole.

So when I look at these three photos I don’t see me… Instead I see Him… I see what He’s done in me.

You see, He’s taken a girl who was incredibly insecure, fearful, anxious, prideful, selfish, jealous and bitter… And He’s transformed her into a woman that’s confident, secure, courageous, at peace with the unknown, humble (I still struggle), selfless, grateful and full of joy towards others and myself!

When I started this journey I thought I knew Jesus. I thought I knew Father God. I thought I knew the Holy Spirit. I grew up believing in them, but life and death have taught me that I didn’t know them at all because I hadn’t experienced them on a personal level.

So today I can confidently say they are my foundation and source of life. Together, they constantly keep me strong, healthy and secure. While the past versions of me desperately searched for identity and security, today I believe I stand still on the truth that I can’t be shaken, tossed or turned. My life and all that I am is in Him.

And while the world around me continues to try to show me why I’m not thin enough, thick enough, tan enough, flawless enough, beautiful enough, smart enough, successful enough or even “godly” enough… Well guess what? His opinion of me is all that matters. And He says, “You’re more than enough Amanda because I’ve helped you become a new creation and given you new life through Christ.” 🌱 #cultivatelife

addiction · Body · brokenness · fear · freedom · healing · lies, deception & manipulation · process · restore

Alone and Lied To…

Since the age of 6, I’ve struggled with one core thing…

The fear of being alone…

Deep within the core of me, I began to believe a lie… And that lie told me, “Because of the weight I continued to gain, I would never be enough… I would never be pretty enough… I would never be small enough… I would never be desirable in any way”…

And I believed this lie of my soul… I believed it for 21 years of my life…

And the lie took on mutiple forms…

For at least 13 years I hid behind a veil of physical weight, scared of life outside of the shell…

And then the shell started to break, I lost the weight and gained confidence in the body I worked so hard to cultivate…

But then, well there still wasn’t rest in my soul…

Because I still felt like I’d always be alone and unwanted…

And it didn’t matter what my family, friends, mentors and even the Holy Spirit himself told me… Because I believed this one lie…

And so, the lie encouraged a binge eating disorder inside of me… I would binge on sweets when I felt out of control, alone and undesirable…

It was a constant, brutal cycle to my spirit, soul and body for 10 years… And I was afraid it would never leave…

But then… Then something happened… Because God, He took my situation… He took the children that I nannied and taught be about His love for me… He taught me how to love them unconditionally… Even when they might’ve hurt me… Even when they had a hard time… I loved them…

And then, after He taught me how to love them, Father God showed me how much He loves me…

Over the course of 10 months in Los Angeles… A time where I believed I was doing nothing at all, He was working within me…

Not the Holy Spirit… Not Jesus… But Father God Himself…

It’s like He came down and spent time with me everyday… Showing me how valuable I am to His heart, and that there’s no reason to allow my circumstances to cause me to feel alone… That there’s no reason to binge on sweets to feel a void in my heart… A void that only He could and can fill…

Because, as much as I’ve want to be married and have a family, I now believe gaining those things wouldn’t have filled the void I felt in my heart…

Because that void could and will always only be filled by Him and Him alone…

And so, I hope, this story… This piece of my story and who I am will encourage anyone that fills alone to seek out the very heart of Father God… Because, when we are filled to the brim with His love, from His heart… Well the realness of being alone, it completely falls away…

Body

Loving My Body…

Just recently I had a conversation with a friend about health and fitness…

Knowing the journey I’ve been on in life with my weight, image and overall approach to health, she asked if I had “gained a better understanding” of what it means to gain our confidence from within…

I thought about it for a moment… And then realized something…

Honestly, it’s taken me time to respect my inner beauty over my outer beauty…

I definitely feel more confident when clothes fit me well, but the place I was in 3 years ago was scary… I let outer beauty and its importance take me over… It became such a form of control in my life…

But then… Living and working out here in Cali taught me so much about myself…

And I think just being in an environment everyday where I didn’t feel judged by anyone for the way I looked definitely helped… Kimora was a supermodel, but she never looked down on me for the way I did or did not look… She really just helped me accept myself… And I’m still not sure how…

And the kids too… They didn’t love me for the way I looked… They loved me for being myself and giving them what they needed, 120% of the time…

But… I think more than anything, just accepting myself helped has cured me…

Accepting who I am internally has caused me to love who I am externally… I will never ever be super tiny… I’m taller and bigger boned than what Ive been taught I should be… And my chest I broader, which I’ve always disliked…. And I don’t have huge boobs, which I’ve also disliked before…

Plus, I hated all of the stretch marks and extra skin left on my body from weighing so much for so many years…

But the truth is, no one sees any of this but me… And if people care, then they aren’t looking at my heart… They see surface things…

This is my body…  It’s my story… I live my life in it everyday and it deserves to be appreciated as much as my spirit and soul do…

Plus, I’m going to live every single day in this frame for the rest of my life, so I have to continue to learn to love it…

And… As silly as it may sound… I recently started speaking and sending more positive thoughts to the parts of my body I still struggle loving, and it’s helping SO much!..

Body · heart · soul · vulnerability

The Woman I Want to Be….

IMG_5101

Being honest with myself is a treasure… Sometimes I fear that I’m not honest enough… That I hide things from myself in order to protect me from reality…

Other times I think I’m too honest with myself… Too hard on me… Too real with the person that I am… And not focused enough on the person that I’ve become through the process of life…

But lately I’ve had these thoughts… And that’s what they are right now… Just thoughts… Thoughts about the woman I want to be…

But the way I’ve chosen to think this over doesn’t involve criticism… It more involves curiosity and hope…

Because as I see myself getting older… Growing up more and more… I have to admit… I’m not some college aged kid anymore… But I don’t feel like an adult either… Sure I do adult things like working a full-time, nonstop job, paying bills and constantly cleaning house… But I still don’t feel like an adult…

And I’m not sure what point in life decides that we are adults… Maybe when I’m thirty I’ll realize that I’m finally an adult… But today… Today in this moment… Well I am searching some for the woman I want to be…

So in all honesty… As I look at women I admire… Well I see them as very strong, spiritual backbones and pillars of their homes… And I don’t mean the churchy, preachy, scripture reading woman I grew up around… I mean legit women who aren’t all that afraid of anything… Women that are vulnerable and honest… That have experience to draw from… And that are full of wisdom… Not knowledge and understanding…

Because one day I hope to be able to provide my family and children with practical advice that works and that can make their lives easier to manage and sail through…

It’s funny to think how my life has evolved and come to this point… Because through the decisions I’ve made it’s at a place where it could and can go absolutely anywhere…

And I don’t know where it will go… Where I might end up next… But I do see my next direction…. And it’s simply based upon the woman that I want to become… The woman that I want to grow into… The truth of myself that I want to leave behind in the lives of others…

And for me… Right now… Well I think it’s exactly where I need to be….

addiction · Body · darkness · soul · vulnerability

Food for Thought

IMG_2456
I think it’s time to talk about some of the things I feel ashamed for… The things that make me human… The things that I believe in my mind will disappear one day but never seem too… The fact that I’ve allowed food to be an enemy and a friend… The fact that it never should’ve been either of those things to me… And now here I am… Here I am and I feel like I’m making my way out of this issue with food and my body that I’ve had for so long…
Because I’m coming to a place where I am learning that food is neither a friend or a foe… And I had a friend… Actually my best friend tell me “maybe you’ll have to gain it all back before you actually realize why you were big in the first place”… And for the last several months… Well I’ve been gaining a lot of weight… and I’ve been learning about myself… I’ve learned that food is my friend when I feel weak… it’s my friend when I feel alone.. It’s my friend when I feel good… It’s there for me when I feel anxious, afraid and bored… It’s even there for me when I am stressed and feel like a wreck…
And then it becomes my enemy after I’ve eaten… Quickly in fact… The food that I’ve consumed becomes my worst enemy and I despise it… I feel guilt and shame and then I hate all things dipped in chocolate and coated with sugar…
You see I’ve allowed this thing… This substance we need to maintain life… I’ve allowed it to become a someone rather than a something…
Growing up it was what I ran to when I felt all sorts of emotions… And even now… Well it’s what I continue to turn too in so many situations…
So… Do I feel embarrassed that I’ve gained 20 pounds of unhealthy weight back?… Yes… Yes I do… But even more so… I feel a sense of accomplishment because I’ve learned something in the process… I’m learning that food can’t be an enemy or a friend anymore… It’s not here to bring me comfort or to hold my hand when I’m afraid… And it sure doesn’t make a good situation better…
I’ve learned that binge eating out of boredom is becoming stupid and dull…. I never actually feel better or less bored in the moment…
And I’m starting to see it’s time to grow the hell up and become the woman who I know deep within me that I can and will be…
So often I feel like a child… Like I’m never going to grow up… When in reality I’m 26 years old… And that’s closer to 30 than I’ve ever been… It’s time that I get it together…
And I feel like I am… Just discussing this in general is a relief… Because it’s practice in coming one step closer to being free…
And as always it’s taken time… It’s taken lots of time for me to come to this place… And I feel like my best friend was so true within what he said…
And maybe I didn’t have to gain all of the weight back… And maybe I did gain some of it back in a very unhealthy way… But the process… The things i’ve learned a long the way… The intangible parts of me I’ve been able to examine and gain a healthy relationship with… Well it’s been good… It’s been good to come this road…
And maybe it’s not the best way… and maybe there could’ve been a way that didn’t include me bingeing on so much food with sugar in it… But I know that within the binging… Within the eating for emotional reasons…. I’m learning how to just be healthy….
And for the first time… Well I feel healthier…. Mentally and emotionally… And now I can carry what I’m learning a long with me in life and hopefully share it with others…
Plus… At the end of the day… Well I finally see me for who I really am… And I’m so flawed… I’m so full of clutter… But I think that’s why I am beautiful… Because I’m just me… And I’m still on this journey in life…
And maybe that journey will lead me to my hearts greatest desire one day… And hopefully I’ll finally have this balanced relationship with me… All that goes on within me and around me… The anxiety, stress, fear, boredom, excitement and so on…
Because when it’s all said and done… Well I hope I’m living a life of progression and goodness…
Body · freedom · soul

What are You Leaving Behind?

IMG_0803

In a perfect world…. no in a complete and well-functioning world…. a world that looked at people with love rather than judgement and hate…. well I believe we really wouldn’t care about money and all of the things it can buy us…

I had this thought last night…. and most of it came from a conversation I had with my mom via FaceTime….

I’m tired of hearing about inheritances…. who gets what…. who got what… and so on…

I’m not talking about anything concerning my dad…. just other family members….

It’s comical to me how some see money and material things as an advancement in life…. something to really propel life forward…. and make it more whole and complete…

I feel like in America we are so greedy…. we work all day to place things inside of our homes that we don’t even have time to spend with…. so basically some of us invest our life and what we make in that life on things that just sit and collect dust….

Lately I’ve been really wanting to decorate my apartment…. to add new things to it and really let my creativity flow more…. but then I find myself questioning whether or not it’s worth spending money on things that don’t really give anything back to me at all…. nothing more than maybe being ascetically pleasing…. And then I’d also fit in a little bit more with those around me for having a home that looks “right”….

And that’s where this whole thought on inheritance comes into play too….

Because in a complete, well-functioning world…. I believe we’d care more about how much we love someone standing in line in front of us…. how much we tried to understand ones that aren’t like us rather than push them aside and reject the thought of even smiling at them…

And maybe it’s something I’m fighting off inside of me…. the want for more…. the sight of so much…. the idea that working in Beverly Hills means there’s a way to gain so much more….

But then I look around and see all of the unhappy faces…. all of the pain… the heartache… and the anger, rage and hatred… and in those moments… well something calmly reminds me that the things that seem to make our world go round…. well they don’t….

Beneath the idea of money making the world go round is something else…. the intangible… the unseen and for lots… the unknown…. the secrets of what really make this life tick… and it’s not money….

And I don’t know why I feel so strongly about this in this moment…. but I do…. and sharing it… my thoughts and feelings towards it is my way of lifting it from my shoulders all together….

Because in one way or another…. a majority of us feel the need to compete… to have more… to buy more… because we fit i when we have more and spend more…. Right??!…

No…. so untrue….

I think we might feel more satisfied externally…. but in reality we didn’t do anything for this our soul… for the deepest part of who we are… and we just confused our minds on a high level… helped it get mixed up and confused about what’s truly important….

Which leads me to remember what is important…. It reminds me that I had just as much fun playing in ditches as a kid… before my dad made any money and was successful, as I did when he became a success and started moving us into bigger homes with nicer things…

It also reminds me that my car…. no matter what shape, size and color gets me to the same destination the same way….

And that it might be nice to have things…. and passing them on to the next generation has been deemed “important”… but what about passing on gifts like the time my grandmother has taken to teach me how to cook and bake some of her most important recipes…

Or how about integrity and kindness that comes off of a person…. so much so that it leaks onto younger generations and causes them to adapt and share the wealth….

Because… at the end of the day…. I believe the generation after me would be in a greater place if I left them with principles, life lessons and faith…. rather than a sack of money and a huge house….

And it all causes me to question… what are you leaving behind?….

Body · darkness · death · vulnerability

It’s Just a Body

img015

Why is it that we care so much about the physical….. our bodies and what we can see and touch?

I’ve asked myself this question before…. and here I am with it again.

Since experiencing death, I’ve learned that the body really is just a shell… our vehicle here on planet Earth. It’s what disguises and protects what’s most important and vital in this life…. the soul.

I still can’t get this picture out of my mind that surrounds my dad laying in a hospital bed with breathe and then laying in a hospital bed without breathe…. The morning of his death, he had conversation and expressions of love within him… And then that evening I watched his life actually leave his body. And then I was left with only a body… a skeleton made from dust, covered in well… meat.

Yes it looked like dad, but everything that was dad was gone…. his voice, his laugh, his humor, his thoughts and most importantly his love and soul. Those things that I valued so deeply within me were no longer part of life, but only part of my memory…. and it just all seems so strange.

It’s strange how something as simple, but as complex as breathing keeps us connected to this earth… this place called life. And it’s pretty impressive and completely annoying that we choose to care so much about the physical…. this body that’s left behind, thrown in the ground, covered with dirt…. only to become dust again.

Because in the grand scheme of things, this body is so temporary… it doesn’t last long. It’s not made to last long at all. It’s made to age and evolve into something else… to be regenerated into something greater than it was before.

Maybe the bodies greatest purpose is housing the soul. All of this matter comes together so that we can live and love for a little while… and then it just becomes the dust that we walk on…. But what if it’s greatest purpose lies in the dust we walk on, and the amount of lives that cross it?

And the answer is most likely insignificant to me and my life here on Earth…. I don’t need to know these things because, what good will they do for me in life? But honestly, I did find it incredibly fascinating and in a strange way entertaining to watch life leave the body of a human being.

I know it was shocking…. and I know it was painful… but it was also so intriguing and life altering.

I’ve said it several times…. that I don’t know what to do with the moment. I don’t know where to file it because I was feeling so much. As a daughter, it was awful and painful and just so raw and real. But as an onlooker and studier of life… it was kind of cool, interesting and amazing (I am the kid that willingly wanted to study cadavers in high school).

And… a long with the shock I was feeling… I was also feeling aw… Aw and continuous wonder of how incredible God must be to place something so valuable and rare into dust and then have other souls care so much about it…. that when it finally shows the last signs of physical life…. well everyone is completely stunned.

The five of us standing in the room were begging him to keep breathing… to stay alive and take more breathes… we were all begging his soul to stay with us just a little longer and live inside of a dirty, grimy, unhealthy and unsanitary home called the body.

I mean when I really think it through…. I’m sure the soul is pissed to have to live in such conditions. To be taken away from aw and greatness to come here where time is and be a part of this thing called life. And then we decide with our truly remarkable minds to downgrade the value of our lives and trash out our bodies to the best of our abilities.

But at the same time we are encouraged to make something of life… to live and develop this thing called the soul. To increase it’s value and really do remarkable things with it so that generations after us will experience a greater life…. filled with increasing love, joy and happiness.

Ironically I don’t really see the souls of today striving to leave this world a better place. We are too focused on greed, pride, control and overall unkindness… which shows our lack of confidence and security. So… most that think they are doing what they should be doing to fit the status quo should really step back and question: What am I doing? What should I be leaving behind? And why is it important to get married and have kids in the first place?

And I’m not saying that I don’t try and fit in with societies norms. I spend too much time in my own head… worried about things that will be gone in a matter of years.

It would be so nice if I could just step back, value what I have… I mean what’s genuinely important and then choose to live.

And… I guess in a way, I have everything I need to value my soul and mind and this thing called life. Because experiencing the death of my father was more than just an experience. As of now, I think it will go down as the most life altering moment of my life. Now I just need to make something great of it that I can carry with me forever.

Because at the end of the day…. well the soul does have forever.

 

Body · darkness · death · vulnerability

Stuff…

IMG_7015

It fascinates me how much we care about the physical… how much we care about the way we look, our clothes, cars, jobs and houses. It’s truly something else. Since dad’s been gone, we haven’t been to visit his gravesite at all… and honestly, I don’t plan on going at all. He’s not there. His body is there, which is still so strange, but he’s not there. Why in the world would I go visit something that’s not there? It would be like keeping the shell on an egg after you’ve used the egg. No one would do that… the shell is that useless and unimportant. It was here to protect the inside.

It’s the same with us. Dad’s spirit, mind and soul are gone… like his body is so useless and unimportant now that the life inside of it isn’t here anymore. And I’m having a hard time with him… his gifts and talents, jokes and annoyingness being gone. Especially while working on this house….

Dad planned how he wanted the house finished. And now that we have buyers they want to change so much… which is fine because it’s a custom house and dad would’ve worked with them and done what they wanted…. but I hate it. I hate that the last piece of art my dad created and envisioned is going to be changed for someone else. I’m being selfish because I want it finished the way he foresaw everything. I understand business is business… but I feel a little territorial over his work and creation.

But all of those things are gone now… Mom even said yesterday, “It’s true. Like it’s really true. You can’t take any of it with you. Dad’s shoes, his clothes, his office and garage are just like they were when he was here last.” And it’s true… it’s like his things are waiting on him to come home and use them again. They haven’t been used since he was here more than a month ago… and that’s strange too.

But I think in the big scheme of things this is teaching me how stupid it is to care so much about my body, my image and my things. Like it’s really stupid to place so much value and mental effort on things that hold no weight when we’re gone. Yeah, we have to take care of all of dad’s stuff now.. but he doesn’t have to think about them ever again. He didn’t even take the things we buried him in with him. Like he took absolutely nothing…. Only the blessings and things he collected in the spiritual… that’s all he has with him now. He doesn’t have to think about what he’s going to wear, who he’s going to see or how he might need to impress people. Now… well now he can just be himself… which he was most of the time.

But… well, I’m not always good at being me. And I do try to impress people by caring about the way I look or who I am going to see… So how amazing is it that he’s in a place now that it doesn’t matter at all anymore? Like he doesn’t have to care about the judgement of anyone… even his own. Why can’t we all live like that? Doing what we love, dressing the way we want, being who we are and not giving a shit about the thoughts of others? Why can’t we be a little more like Heaven on earth?

I know  should be and I’m trying to be more and more everyday… because it makes life better, easier and simpler to just be rather than try to fit a mold society has painted for us. Because at the end of the day, when it’s all said and done… it’s just stuff… and the stuff doesn’t make us how we are… we make us who we are and that stuff just fills our life.