Can I be honest?… I think about life and death A LOT!
Seriously though… I think about the reality of mortality and what it means to be fully alive on the inside constantly.
Now, recently the Holy Spirit said, “Just live this summer Amanda. Take the next three months and really focus your attention on living.” Of course I needed to know what He meant… So I asked, and this is what He said…
“When you focus your attention on the past, you’re focusing on death. When you focus your attention on the future, you’re too focused on life. I’m asking you to focus your attention… To focus all of who you are on living. And to focus yourself on living is to focus on just being. I know it’s a lot to ask… Especially with your culture, and the anticipation it has to be in tomorrow. But I just need you to do this. I need you to continue to cultivate this habit until it becomes your lifestyle.”
And I don’t really know how this will shift who I am; however; I’ve already begun to realize how stupid I am for ignoring the present.
You see if you’re anything like me then you’ll understand what it feels like to be miserably obsessed with getting to tomorrow. It’s a constant state of not allowing today to be enough because we’ve been taught to fear being content with the present. It’s almost like it’s taboo to say, “I’m choosing to be fully present today.”
But you know… If I can’t get my mind off of tomorrow and I’m constantly thinking about what it will produce, well then I think I’ll wake up one day in my 70s and realize I’ve wasted my life away by being too concerned about tomorrow. I’ll miss the opportunity life gave me to just live and be fully alive from the inside out.
And I’m not saying choosing to just live means I’m going to become lazy or inactive… But what I am saying is I’m trying to make a better attempt at fully leaving the past in the past and allowing the future to unfold one present moment at a time. 🌱 #cultivatelife #justlive
Five years ago today I watched my dad take his last breath. All in one moment the reality of death made his appearance in my life.
You see it was evidently clear that I was starring at my dad, but then at the same time I wasn’t.
Every part of him (the smile, the jokes, the instigation I couldn’t stand, the love, the brilliant gifting that made him unique)… It was gone. His essence… His soul… His spirit… The aura that filled his body was gone. And so he was gone.
And so that was the moment… The moment I realized life… Life really, truly is temporal. And our bodies…. Our bodies really are nothing more than the vessel we use to travel in while we’re here on earth.
So now you might be thinking, “Amanda, why are you sharing this?” Well… To be completely honest with you, I just really care about the health of people. Actually, let me rephrase that…. I care about the inner health of people. I care that we are alive on the inside. I care that we thrive on the inside. I care that we find grace, love, forgiveness and healing; and then that we maintain that healing long after our moment of transformation.
You see in today’s culture I believe it’s so easy to get caught up in our outer appearance, race, sexual orientation, religion and political background… But don’t forget, before any of that can matter, we are all intangible on the inside first and foremost. We’re all created with some type of God-spark that makes us eternal and immortal.
And so I guess that’s why I’m writing this…. Because I want to remind you and encourage you to look past the surface of what you can see and shift your focus to what you can spiritually feel. Because the health of that “thing” inside of you, that “thing” we all so casually overlook, is what is truly alive in life. 🌱 #cultivatelife
Unfortunately, it’s been quite a challenge to accept God’s love lately. I’ve just been so caught up in pain, anger, bitterness and sorrow. And, for a brief moment, I almost let them talk me into hardening my heart.
You see… I could feel this wave of emotion and constant thought trying to push their way into my heart so that they could completely own it. I knew the feelings and thoughts weren’t my own though. In my heart I knew they belonged to an outside threat. Something wickedly supernatural that was begging me to follow it over the love of God.
And I do suppose the pain, anger, bitterness and sorrow are a direct result of loss. Sometimes I just feel like I’ve lost so much that I focus on my losses far more than my gains. I look at the past and how painful things have been, rather than focusing my attention to the present where love is.
However, I’m happy to report that my heart hasn’t been overtaken by these dark forces. Instead, I’ve chosen to place my constant focus on forgiveness, grace and love.
And… Honestly, that route has been a challenge too because life and death keep giving me reasons to become angry, bitter and somewhat jaded. But, well I just can’t stand the feeling of their presence anymore.
You see I enjoy feeling the love of God and then giving it back to others way more than I enjoy sulking around like the plague. And so I hope, I genuinely hope the pursuit of forgiveness, grace and love I am focused towards takes me places I never imagined to go. I hope they open avenues, windows and doors I never dreamed of walking through . And… most importantly, I hope they remain my constant way of life. ♥️ #cultivatelife
“Amanda, we slayed that giant in your life. Don’t you remember? Why are you stepping back into the fight with it again? Leave it alone. It’s dead in your life.”
Over the past 24 hours I’ve heard nothing but that type of conversation from the Holy Spirit… A constant reminder that my past was fought and won on the battlefield of life… A constant note that going backwards would be a huge mistake.
Now, I’ll have to admit, hearing the truth does make sense… The war of my past was powerful and extremely challenging. So much so that I sometimes wondered if I’d ever make it out alive.
So I get what He’s saying. Which is why I’m choosing to move forward. However, there is a part of me that thinks, “My past makes sense. My past is comfortable. My past can be manipulated, exaggerated, stretched and understood. My past can’t be that dangerous…. Right?”
But then I know the truth. The truth is that I have to move forward with the Holy Spirit. The truth is that I have to use faith as I step forward and take on a riskier way of life. The truth is that I can’t get trapped in comfortability, manipulation or danger of that magnitude again. The truth is that the giant is dead, and I don’t need to resurrect him at all. ⚔️💃🏻 #cultivatelife
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.
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.
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.