brokenness · darkness · death · freedom · grief · healing · love of god

Thanks Death

I’m not one to wallow and get down about life and what I’ve lost, but lately I’ve found myself missing my dad more than I can explain. It’s sometimes unsettling the way he’s constantly on my mind, and then I’m forced to think about my reality. My mind begins to remind me that death happened, but that life has continued to go on around me.

And though it is so challenging to understand why he died so young. And though I miss him and the life my family had before he was taken from this earth… Well I am still so grateful to have experienced death.

You see there’s just something so motivating to me about death. I believe death is a being, and I believe anytime we experience him we must respect him even though he’s been so seemingly disrespectful to us.

You see death left an imprint on my life. He left an imprint so wide and so deep that it sometimes felt unbearable to breathe again.

However, since my dad’s death I’ve been thrusted into this place of living. A place that’s forced me to stare down death and decide that I will not allow my experience with him to define me in a negative way, but in a positive one.

Because of death I live freer. I love harder. I think more in-depth. I take risks. I consider others. And though he’s helped toss my world upside down, I give more. I’ve gained more. I stop and think of others and where they might be in life because there is a compassion inside of me that wasn’t there before I met him.

And… Although it’s so challenging to not become angry and bitter with God, I’ve found myself more connected to Him than ever before. He’s shown me what true love is. And within that true love I never feel truly broken or without.

And though I don’t know where you stand today, what you’ve lost or how utterly broken you may feel… Please know this. I believe it’s very healthy to feel every ounce of death. But then I also believe it’s so healthy to live life to it’s very fullest. To love with every part of our hearts we can love with. And though it’s challenging to forgive and not become angry with God, I’ve found that He will fill in the broken and battered pieces when we’re ready to let Him in again.

darkness · demonic · Fullness of Jesus · soul · warfare

When the War Wages

Do you ever feel like your mind… that your soul is being completely assaulted?

Yeah… That’s where I’ve been for at least three weeks now. In this on and off war, and what (at times) feels like a complete assassination of my being.

It’s not fun. It’s ugly. It’s torturous at times. But mostly, it’s spiritual warfare.

I keep fighting back with truth…. The truth of Christ, but the war still manages to wage on.

And my enemy… You know the one of my soul, he continues to attack three particular areas.

First and foremost, he always goes for my body image…. Or the way I physically view myself. I think he knows attempting to destroy me in this area will ultimately destroy me in the other areas because I’ve build up so much false security here in the past.

However, if he can’t get me here… Well then he reminds me that I don’t operate off of the world’s system for attaining provision, wealth and financial security. He shows me that I could have more if I would simply hustle my way to the top of his kingdom.

And if he still cannot get me to crack… Well then he probes at my identity, Cultivate Life and all that God has promised for it. And then he proceeds to remind me how much of a failure he believes I am for trusting in God and His plans, rather than following the world and it’s schemes for getting ahead.

This is always a deep blow.

And… so I am usually left in a puddle on the floor. A complete puddle of frustration and tears. You see I can usually handle him in one or two areas, but when he comes after all three I seem to crack.

I don’t like it at all. It’s cruel and unjust to who I am at my core as a child of God.

So… How do I overcome it? Well, though I’m not the best… I simply remind the enemy of my soul of truth. If he comes after my body image, I remind him that I don’t place value in my body, but in God and His undying love and acceptance of me. If he attempts to remind me that I can make more money and attain more through his system, then I remind him that God has always done far better… And that I need more than what money can provide. I need faith, peace, love and joy. And then… if he tries to assassinate my identity and Cultivate Life, well by that point I’m so tired, frustrated and done with him that I usually demand and command that he leaves in Jesus name.

And then he leaves… And I’m exhausted. But… a battle within the war is won through the name of Jesus ⚔️ #cultivatelife

darkness · Fullness of Jesus · warfare

Spiritual Warfare

When I was a kid I always thought spiritual warfare was this thing that was over when the war was won. And while that’s true, I never really considered how many wars and battles could go on at one time. I also never considered that spiritual warfare is a lifestyle. It’s not a fad we pick up for a moment and then toss to the side when the war has been won or (God forbid) we’re tired because we’ve been praying for days on end.

You see there is a constant war between dark and light/good and evil going on around us. And although most of us can’t see it, it’s very real and extremely intense.

So… how do we fight in this war? Well when you believe in Jesus Christ that means you’re filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. His power is actually stronger than the powers of darkness and evil. However, we can’t use His power unless we are willing to speak in the name of Jesus.

Jesus’s name is basically like the sword we fight with in the war.

So next time you feel overwhelmed in your mind… Next time you know you’re up against something a human being alone cannot solve… Then speak to the darkness that surrounds you. Tell the evil it can’t come any further because you have a relationship with Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit lives inside of you. And then please be encouraged to make this your lifestyle ⚔️💃🏻 #cultivatelife

(Video below for more)

authority & dominion · darkness · higher way · kingdom · power · rule & reign · warfare

Just a Prince

Yesterday I was on the train heading uptown to SoHo… My stop, “Prince Street.”

Right before the train came to a stop, a new thought jumped on board… “If Satan is just a prince of this world, then why are we letting him reign over it?”

Immediately my mind started to ponder the reality.

You see I believe when we accept Jesus Christ we are invited into the Kingdom of God to cultivate life… Funny thing, the life around us (or the world) is ruled by an insecure, yet very crafty prince of darkness. But then God asks us to take on our royalty and to reign over this prince.

Because I believe God’s view of us is higher than the view He has of Satan. It’s kind of like the monarchy in England. Harry and William are both princes. Both respect their grandmother. They do not try to overthrow her. And they also realize William will be given the power and authority to reign over the people after his grandmother and father pass away. And then Harry knows and understands, and hopefully respects his brother’s anointing and given authority too. He would never overstep it or overthrow it.

So then my question is, “Why do we allow Satan (who is just a prince) to overstep our God-given power, anointing and authority? Why do we casually sit back and allow him to reign over our lives and decide what rules and reigns in the world? Why have believers in Christ become insecure, pathetic losers who just sit in a corner and cry, when we could just take back what’s rightfully ours?”

As a body of people who are supposed to represent Christ… I believe we are lame. I believe we are trying too hard to be relevant and hip with the culture of Satan when God says, “UMMM, Hello! I called you to stand out and be different and actually make a freaking impact because you have been given the power and authority.”

You see I believe our power, authority and anointing through Christ should actually set us apart. Not the way we dress or the things we have or the messages we preach… But the glory of God we walk in through the Spirit in every moment.

So if you half-way see what I am saying… Then please, wake up and take back your God-given power and authority back right now.

darkness · vulnerability

Victorious Life

Growing up I spent a lot of time with my grandmother. Being in full-time ministry, I continuously heard her speak to people about living a victorious life through Christ.

She always spoke about the trial and tribulation we go through in life, but how He brings us through and causes us to be victorious through Him alone.

Well, until this year I never really understood what that meant. You see my entire life I’ve grown up believing in a lot of things I’ve never truly experienced. So, now as I begin to experience real trial and tribulation in life, it’s like these truths in my life are really put to the test and I’m left to discover how real they actually are.

Time and time again I’ve found myself in dark and dreadful situations. Dangerous places that no one would willingly walk into. But, then in the midst of them all I find God, and He gives me the power, faith and authority to stand up to the death and darkness so I can walk out the victor.

Truthfully without His help I’d be the loser. The one who didn’t conquer the dead and dreary. The one who’s been beaten up and destroyed completely; however, I now see that He wants us to live a victorious life.

I believe that Christ died so that we can walk through the ugly parts of life but come out on top. I believe that He is about us reigning with Him in victory. You see, being victorious is a lifestyle. It’s actually a cultivated lifestyle we come by when we choose to just follow Him where He leads. And yeah, sometimes His direction seems poor, confusing and misleading. But I’m learning that He is always right and true and faithful through it all.

And that if we can just remain diligent to Him and His ways. If we can simply praise Him and remain grateful in the midst of what seems painfully dark and challenging, well we will eventually walk out a champion and victor of life.

And, well… Who doesn’t want to be the victor?!

assignment · challenge · darkness · develop · faith · humility · seasons · surrender

Immovable Mountain?

What happens when the situation… When the problem… When the mountain wouldn’t seem to move?

How do we react when we know God is working, but we can’t seem to understand why He can’t show off and make the big problem instantly disappear?

All these years of following and He still continues to be the strangest, yet most fascinating mystery to me. I’ve never met anyone like Him, and I hope I never do.

Since the year’s started I’ve gotten pretty adjusted to living in today, without planning ahead. Each day is basically a mystery waiting to be solved. However, the sell of my family’s home still continues to baffle me. It’s still ours. We still live in it and pay for it. We are still patiently waiting for the buyer to come.

And though I’ve spent a good amount of time wrestling with God over His lack of “magic,” I’m now coming to a place where I’m actually grateful it hasn’t sold yet. Because, rather than see the mountain disappear, I’ve had to follow God up and over it. Which has been a wild adventure for my insecurities, fear and shame.

You see it’s been a steep and very challenging mountain to climb. One that has required more of me than I ever imagined I could give. And, just when I begin to think I can’t take another step forward, I look down and remember who’s holding my hand. I remember that I’m following the steps of the God that is greater than all of the problems in front of me. And though I’d like them to disappear, conquering them with His help has been so much more fun!

He’s shown me that there’s nothing to really, truly fear at all. Nothing can destroy me when He’s got my back. And I believe my time in Shreveport has become a place where I’ve had to wrestle with God over who He actually is. And as the wrestling is coming to an end, I am able to step back and realize this is the very place He’s always wanted me to be. In a place where I will not stand down because I will hold Him accountable to His words and promises as He pushes me to be the very best version of myself possible.

And I don’t know what this entire season of life is meant for in my future. I keep telling mom I don’t understand why it’s necessary to be so strong in Him and His ways. But, I do see that His lack of moving this mountain of problems is quickly becoming the greatest mountain of purpose.

brokenness · challenge · darkness · death · family · languishing

Death Halts Life….

Have you ever walked into a situation completely blind?… Believing in your mind you know the solution will be quick and simple, but then very quickly realizing, “This is going to take much more time and effort than I thought.”

That’s been my year… A continuation of, “How much longer is this going to last? How much longer do I have to struggle? How much more can I endure?”

Now, don’t get me wrong… This year of life has had it’s ups, but it’s downs have been frustratingly out of my control…

Which is why, as I sit down to write, well I want to look over what I’ve really learned…

Never did I think coming home to help my mom move on with her life would have so many trials… Never did I think it would cause me to keep choosing selflessness over my own wants and desires… Never did I think the Holy Spirit would lead me into places that terrified me for a moment, only to realize the things I feared didn’t destroy me at all… They’ve actually made me stronger…

However, I guess the greatest thing I’ve learned this year is that death… Death halts life…

The last three and a half years have definitely had their fair share of tragedy and heartbreak… It seemed just as we would begin to heal from one thing something or someone else was shaken loose from our reality and realm of life…

And as we adjusted, well I thought life would just evolve and continue to pan out for the best… And while it was for Bridge and I… Well mom’s story was a little different… Unknown to me, a year ago, she was stuck in a continuous season of death…

Now, what does a season of death look like you might ask? Well, the excitement and joy that always encompassed my mom was dry… She was a shell of herself in so many ways… She was stagnant, unmoving and unwilling to even try the unfamiliar for fear of the unknown…

Life, the life she’d known for 30 years was gone… Changed in an instant… Halted by death… And understanding how she would pick up the pieces and move forward wasn’t even possible because she kept focusing on things that were making her sad and depressed… She kept looking at the pain and destruction of it all… She wasn’t focused on the life she now had to live, but the death of the life she once had…

Funny thing about death… The more you hang around it, the more you become attracted to it and it’s ways… Because very quickly my sister and I found ourselves somewhat locked into this lifestyle… A lifestyle that wasn’t advancing life forward… And very quickly I found myself saying things like, “Gosh I miss my life. I miss my freedom. I miss the joy that I once had before.”

Now, if you know me at all then you’ll understand that I (almost) always try to figure out how this relates to my spiritual life… How it relates to my relationship with God and spirituality as a whole…

And honestly… Well honestly making sense of this entire year has taken time and I am positive I will continue to look back and try and make sense of it for years to come…

But for now… Well this is what I see…

I believe we, as believers in Christ, are caught in a season of death… That, for the most part, our focus is on the cross… That we look at all the pain he went through and destruction He faced for us, rather than what He did when He was alive on this Earth and what He can do with us now that His Spirit lives in us…

Now, I’m not saying to forget or discredit the cross… It was most definitely a defining moment… But what I am saying is that when we focus on the pain, when we lift up what brought His death, well we can easily slip into a stagnant, stale lifestyle…  We can easily get caught in religion and doctrine and forget that the lifestyle of following Christ is supposed to actually be ALIVE because we have the spirit of God within us today… That He is here to move us forward in our spiritual growth… And I don’t mean picking up a devotional, watching a sermon or attending church… I mean, how many of us actually access the presence of God while sitting in our car or standing in line at the grocery store? How many of us actually know what it means to be involved with the God-head on a daily basis? How many of us can rely on and have relationship with Him without the guidance of our religion?

Because when I look around at church and all this religious propaganda we’ve created, well I just see a stagnant, stale, unmoving group of people… People who are unwilling to move forward with God because it might mean walking away from life as we’ve always known it… Unwilling to just follow wherever the Spirit leads us…

You see, I believe having Him in our lives not only makes life come alive, but He also leads us past all of our comfort zones… I don’t believe He is about staying in one place at one time for too long… There’s too much work to be done… There are too many seasons of refinement, development, maturing and growth He so wants to walk us through… He’s constantly aiming to refine and define us so we can flourish…

And honestly, I don’t know what it’s going to take for us to wake up and realize, as a
whole, we are dead… A group of people who proclaim life, but practice a lifestyle of death…

But I do always hope and believe for better… I have too… In this year I’ve not only witnessed death halting life, but I’ve also witnessed life moving forward for my mother… Sure, some days are slower than others… But everyday we choose to put more faith and hope and love into life, is one more day we are choosing to cultivate a lifestyle of life over a lifestyle death…

darkness · hope · just live

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…

cultivation · darkness · death · family · grief

Year Three…

This time of year will come and go every year… For the rest of my life…

And honestly, well it has gotten easier… But I wanted to share how I feel about being three years into life without my father…

Three years without dad has been different… It’s been strange… I’ve grown up… I’ve had to learn to put my complete and total confidence in God as my Father…

His death has motivated me to just live life and take what comes as it comes… To be a better problem-solver… And then, to place my faith in my Heavenly Father when I no longer know how to solve those problems…

I’ve watched my mother struggle with her reality… Struggle with her identity, confidence and security… And she’s really been on her own, coasting through life… Without much support…

She is now the strongest woman I know… Because she’s lost more than any human I know, but she still gets up everyday and tries… Even when she feels lost and confused…

I think what I want to say more than anything is… We live in a day and age where we are so connected, yet we aren’t a community of people that truly love one another and are there for each other…

We are more there when it’s convenient… Or when tragedy strikes… But then once the smoke dies down, we are gone… Back to our own lives, our own drama… Our own selfish intent… I am equally at fault for this…

We live behind screens and black boxes that promise to keep us close and connected, but are really tearing us apart…

Yes, you now know some of my thoughts and feelings because of this this blog… But have you taken the time to actually get to know me, my story, my ups and downs…

Are we learning, growing and cultivating life together?.. Or are we filled with useless information about one another?…

What if we took the time to care a little bit more?… To put down those black boxes and actually do life together… To actually do more than send a text message… But to go out of our way to help those in our community?.. To build one another up, rather than tear one another down?..

And, if you have a platform… Use it for life… Stop playing into society’s lie that we have to “have it all”… New clothes, shoes, swimsuits and cars always…

Trust me… It doesn’t do anything uplifting for the spirit and soul… And when you lay in bed alone at night, it cannot and will not bring you the comfort and peace you are longing for…

Because spiritual treasures are only found within the intangible… Within the heart of Father God…

Which is why, losing my father has taught me to love hard… To look around… To help those that might be having a bad day… To lift people up and encourage them… To get out of my own selfish agenda and become a part of something bigger than me… Even if that means smiling at the stranger next to me… Or God forbid building community and relationship with those outside of my race, religion or my way of thinking!… Shocking right?…

Truth is meant to open our eyes to a new world… To the reality of life… To motivate us to become something better… Something greater than we were before we saw it…

And… Death, death has been truth in my life… It has opened my eyes and drawn back the curtain so that I can see what’s authentic, real and true… It’s given me dark times… But it’s also given me life…

Death, I respect you as a whole… You are very wise in your teachings…

And now, I have faith in the truth, that we have come to a time where, if we don’t place our complete identity, security and confidence in God… Then life will be harder than it’s ever been… If we do not turn to Him and solely Him for all of our needs, we will become more lost, confused and deceived than ever before…

And who really wants that?.. I don’t want that for myself, my family, my friends or even someone I meet on the streets…

So if you’ve followed this blog for 3 years, thank you… Thank you for listening to me try to make sense of my world in a public setting… Even if you don’t agree with what I say, I appreciate the fact that you took the time to read…

There’s a heart and soul behind these words… And I believe we are all worthy of expressing ourselves in our own God-given way…

And, I hope, more than ever… You are encouraged to just live life… To become secure and confident in Father God when your life is shaken to it’s core… To have faith in Jesus… Not so that you can go to Heaven, but so that you can receive good in life, even when the world says you should receive bad for the bad thongs you’ve done…

And most importantly, to me, that you allow the Spirit of God to lead and direct every step you take… Even when it means moving home to help your mom finish moving through this thing called “life without dad”…

addiction · darkness · healing · pain · value & worth

Unwanted Soul…

There’s something incrediblely fascinating to me about feeling alone…

I think it’s the reality that sometimes our experiences cause us to feel separated from others… Like we don’t belong because life happened and now we feel less than unwanted and undesirable…

Like we have to put up a shield of protection every time we enter a room… Because, if people see how alone we feel, well we’ll be judged and marked as a flawed person…

So, rather than show people how alone we feel, we do things to cover that pain… We turn to things that cause death and destruction in our lives… And those substances, they produce more darkness, more pain and more trouble for us…

For years I turned to food… Because food gave me a sense of being wanted… I felt comforted to a degree…
And I thought once I began to eat healthy and exercise some of this feeling of being alone would fall away… That I would lose weight, become more attractive and then the sense of feeling alone would leave…

But it didn’t…

It only got worse…

And from that spiraled the addiction I had to sugar… And that addiction made me feel out of control… Out of sorts… Even more flawed, undesirable and unwanted…

And the aloneness I felt increased and multiplied…

I was driving myself, my family and close friends crazy… Because I constantly obsessed about not being able to conquer this addiction to sugar…

Of course I left out the feelings I had of being alone… It was unimportant to share all of that in detail…

I mean, who really wants to say, “I feel alone! I constantly feel alone and unwanted at my core… and it’s killing me!!!”

But that’s how I felt… That’s how I felt for years…

And the truth is, it’s no ones fault… It’s not my parents, grandparents, friends or sisters fault…

No one is to blame…

We live in a flawed world…

Seeking acceptance, that I believe, can only truly come from one source…

And I’ve said it before, but I believed that souce is Father God… He is the only source I can go to and feel whole and complete…

And, when I spend enough time in His presence… I can then live my day with a loved, wanted and accepted feeling…

Because the inside of me no longer feels the need to be intangibly loved by my family, friends and peers…

The love I am receiving goes beyond what they can provide for my soul… And so I feel good… I no longer need an addiction to cause me to “feel” better… I just need the love flowing from His heart, and His heart alone…

So if you’re going through a hard time… If you feel alone, unwanted, undesirable and out of control with an addiction… Please be encouraged to know, Father God and His love are the power that will bring you out and away from what you’re experiencing…

Because everything else, our relationships with people, our things, what we do, say and think… To me they are a facade… Seeming to make us feel loved, accepted and wanted… But intangibly, in the depth of our soul, never actually giving us what we truly need… Which is just basic love from and connection to Father God…