Resurrected Life

You know 5 years ago this fall I decided Cultivate Life and I weren’t for each other. I was filled with utter confusion and deep pain as I found myself in the darkest season of my life. I promised myself I’d never allow anything to hurt me like that again because the pain I felt as I watched my hopes and dreams die was heart wrenching.

And then I set sail on a new journey in Cali… Making new a new life and choosing to forget about what I felt was my destiny and purpose. The funny thing is, God had an adventure waiting for me in L.A. that would bring me full circle with Cultivate Life.

He picked me up and put me back together in the craziest environment I’d ever experienced. And the, after He glued my heart back together and saw that I was a whole person, He chose to drop Cultivate Life back into my life again. He resurrected it all.

You see I’ve learned that God is power. I’ve learned that living a life with Him but without His resurrection power is not living at all. I don’t ever want to go another day where I don’t see His Holy Spirit activated and moving in my life. And I realize we don’t always get to this place of power over night… But what I’m trying to say is… If you feel like your life is duller than it should be… If you feel like you’re missing something large and grand and powerful… Then please be encouraged to lean into the life-giving resurrection power of God. Because He alone can take what was dead and buried in the ground and restore it again. He alone can cause parts of your life to become fresh and whole again like never before. And… it all starts as we choose to cultivate life in the Kingdom of God.

When the Darkness Ends

Four years have passed. Four years have passed and the view of my life has drastically changed. I’ve drastically changed.

To say I’m the same person I was when dad got sick and died would be a lie because life and death have altered my experience on Earth.

You see in four extremely short years my foundation and security have been completely restructured. I feel like God grabbed me by one foot and shook me upside down, leaving only the things of Him on me. Everything else has simply fallen to the ground, and been scattered to the wind.

And it hasn’t been all that fun. Losing my foundation was a scary process. One that’s continuously required my full surrender to God, even when He’s had to take certain things without forewarning.

And I know it all sounds a little dramatic… I’m still a little dramatic at heart. However, I wouldn’t trade what I’ve been through for anything. Even my darkest days are worth more than anything of monetary value because they’ve helped cultivate my very heart and soul for the better.

And I don’t know where all of this leads next. I do know that life, life for me, my mother and my sister is transitioning and moving forward. We’re all three setting sail towards new adventures in different places. Places that will for sure be filled with good and evil of all sorts.. However, I’m excited. I’m excited about the challenge ahead and the unknown. And more than anything, I hope to encourage others to just keep moving forward. Even when the possible seems impossible, it’s important to just keep moving.

And sometimes movement is no more than a prayer and a positive thought for the day, but I promise it’s helpful to your heart and soul. Because eventually the darkness ends, the lights come on and you just sit there in awe of how good God has been to truly bring you through the things you thought might’ve destroyed you in the pitch black.

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…

Bye Religion…

If you know anything about me at all, then you know how I feel about religion… I hate it… It’s everything I hope to not reflect… It’s everything I hope that my heart doesn’t become trapped and confined too…

But… Here I sit… Troubled in my heart over religion…

Because over the past two weeks my eyes have been opened to these deep areas in my heart, soul and mind that contain dark corners filled with religious ways… And I hate it…

I hate the fact that I’ve allowed so many tiny areas and spaces in my life to follow man-made structures and practices…

And I believe the biggest thing that troubles my heart is the fact that, when I was growing up I was told, “Doing this is not religion Amanda. This is religion. They are religious. This is the right way to be and to do. Not that.”

But, over the past few weeks I’ve spent time really seeking the heart of God and looking to see what Jesus said… And guess what I’ve learned… Most of what I’ve been taught is garbage. Straight poison and assassination of my heart and soul… It’s what Jesus would’ve considered religion… It’s what He would’ve looked at and said, “You still don’t get it? How much longer do I have to spend time expressing this to you? It takes so little because the healings and miracles come from nothing you do, but everything I’ve done.”

Because I sit in this beautiful home that my father built, surrounded by the reality that my works have not sold this house… And I’ve had people tell me to sprinkle wine juice on the property because it represents the blood of Jesus… And then go back 30 days later and sprinkle olive oil because it represents the Holy Spirit… I’ve had people tell me to turn a St. Joseph statue upside down in my front yard because he is the saint that “sells houses”… I’ve had people tell me to spiritually clean out the environment of the home and then anoint it… I’ve had people tell me to pray more because maybe one of us in the house hasn’t done something “right” in the eyes of God for it to sell…

Guess what… One year and 3 months later it is STILL sitting here…

And, do you know what I see?.. All of these “works”… All of this “doing” has done absolutely nothing for the sell of this home… It just hasn’t…

It’s religion… It’s rubbish… It’s what Jesus encouraged we not do because it’s not the best system to follow… It has too much work involved and leaves our hearts confined to what man believes is “best”… But Jesus lived a life of divine wisdom and understanding, free from wrongdoings so that we could cultivate a lifestyle free from all of this trash… So that we could have divine authority in Heaven and on Earth…

And I believe the greatest wrestling in my heart comes over the fact that I’ve witnessed signs, miracles and healings before… Growing up, I traveled with my grandparents and the ministry God gave them saw an abundance of lives restored instantly…

But… Clearly, there is something off in my head and heart… Because… Ummm, HELLO my father is DEAD… There was no healing or miracle and I firmly believe if Jesus walked this Earth today my dad would’ve been healed 3 years and 3 months ago… I mean Jesus healed “all” that He encountered… And WE, yes YOU and I, are asked to do GREATER than Him…

Clearly, it was super, super, super simple for Him… He never included wine, olive oil, saint figurines, a spiritual cleanse of an environment, or extra daily prayers… It only took believing that God exists in our hearts and that He desires to bring goodness into our lives… It only took complete belief that we have been given all authority in Heaven and on Earth…

It was and is a heart thing…

And I believe, in my heart, that’s what I need… To do away with all of this religious, man-made trash and just follow the ways of Jesus… If it worked for Him and those that followed Him, it should work for me 2,000+ years later… Right?

So, with all do respect to those who I’ve chosen to follow because they’ve taught me so much, here’s where I exit… Here’s where I lay your teachings, ways and thoughts down… Because my heart is coming to know and understand there’s only one person who really knew and understood what He was talking about… And He’s really the only example I’ll ever need…

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”…

Time… A Healer?

I’ve heard it said at least a thousand times now, “Time… Time will help you heal from the death and great absence of your father.. Time will make it easier to live without him”…

And I hate to be the barer of bad news… But… Time, I’m sorry… You haven’t been my source of healing…

For me, experiences, people, places and just Life in general have made it easier to live without him…

New experiences have shaped the way my mind thinks and the the way I feel…

New people have helped open my eyes to see how relatable I’ve become to a group of people I was never relatable to before…

New places have given me the opportunity to try new things…

And Life… Life you’ve given me so much… I feel like you and Death have worked together with Father God to help me heal in ways I never thought I’d be healed… Because you’ve even helped heal things in my soul that became broken before the death of my father…

And so… With all due respect to Time, I’d like to give the credit to other things for a moment…

Because without Father God’s love, Life’s newness and Death’s reality… Well I wouldn’t be who I am right now…

And I am so grateful for the woman I am right now… For the woman I’ve become…

And as hard as it is to admit, I am grateful for the death of my father… It’s made me stronger, wiser, bolder, more confident…

His absence has helped me appreciate Life and my own life so much more… It’s given me so much grace, compassion and love in my heart to share with others…

And, most importantly, it’s helped shape my destiny and purpose in life more than any experience I’ve ever had…

So, again, Time with all due respect… I’d like to simply shine a light on the healing power of Father God, Life and Death for a brief moment… I’d like to shine a light, and then encourage anyone that might feel broken and lost without someone you’ve cherished so dearly in Life… Please know, I’ve felt the same way… I’ve cried myself to sleep at night in disbelief of this trajedy… And I’ve even yelled and screamed and done things that weren’t healthy… All in an effort to make the pain and hurt go away… But then I’ve also learned, newness… The embrace of newness in the time of loss and grief, it’s pivotal moving forward… To moving upward and onward… To becoming a complete and whole person again…

Closure…

Why is it so hard to walk away from something we love so much?.. Why did God place a heart inside of us that can so easily find the good in a person, love that person and then ask us to walk away from that goodness?… From relationships that were cultivated so well and meant so much for so long?…

Before this week, if you had asked me if there was closure in this area of my life, I would’ve said, “yes”… Because there would’ve been no doubt in my mind that that chapter of my life had come to an end…

But then, well this week I’ve found myself with all of these thoughts… Constantly pacing around in my mind… Overtaking and smoothering the light from my soul…

It’s been somewhat of a war in me…

And I haven’t wanted to talk about it… I mean, this was supposed to be dead inside of me… Over and in the past… Because I made that clear in my mind when I took a job in California 3 years ago… 

But, maybe I hid the truth from myself… I’ve been known to do that in the past… So I can see how it’s possible…

And that’s why I need to completely lay all of this down now… Before God… And I need his Spirit to come in now and completely fill what’s feels lacking and without… To show me that this continues to be the best decision that I can make in this area of my life…

And I don’t know if you’re going through something similar… A place in life where closure needs to happen so that you can move forward… So that you can have God’s best for your life…

So, if you are going through this, please know that you aren’t alone at all… That deep within me, I’m having to sort through what I feel versus what I know in my soul needs to happen… 

That closure, in this moment, has to become a part of my lifestyle…