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… 

Mom-Mom…

img121Not knowing yesterday morning what was in store, I ended my journal entry with the statement that He is “always good”… Fitting for someone who used that line as an honest pillar in her life…

Right now… Now is the time I could easily say, “I don’t know what I’ll do without her”… But that’s not true at all…

Because many, if not most, will miss Delores Winder… The prayer warrior… The one who could heal with the power of God… The one who helped change people’s lives… The one with a powerful, powerful story and testament of true, authentic healing… The one with so much wisdom and love…

But, well… I’ll just miss Mom-Mom… The woman who was my grandmother… The woman no one saw but her family and close, close friends… The one who taught me how to bake, write letters to people and always took the time each year to take my sister and I on vacation with our grandfather… “One day all you’ll have left are these memories of us together,” she would constantly say…

I’m going to miss Mom-Mom like crazy… She was one of the only people that drove me absolutely insane at times, but I still loved her like no one else…

We were so much a like… Bossy, controlling, know-it alls… We both needed to have the “right” answer all the time… Haha!…

She would say, I pushed her buttons a lot… Because if she didn’t have the answer, and I knew deep down there was another way or a better way, well we would argue about it… And I would go on a quest to find it… At first this was a struggle… Me wanting more truth than I’d been given, her telling me that was it… Me believing there was more, discovering the more and then giving it to her…

After a while, well she finally just wanted to know what I’d learned… So we could talk about it together…

So to say I will miss the wisdom God gave her, the way she prayed and the things she taught would be untrue… Because Mom-Mom spent her time pouring every ounce of what she had into mine and my sister’s very beings… She knew that one day she would be gone and we would need it all… To teach others… To love others… To help direct people towards the Holy Spirit and His inner healing…

And so I believe that’s what makes this year so significant for me yet again…

Since entering the nursing home in January, I’ve really had no contact with her… And as pieces of my identity, security and confidence have been shaken from me, well the best choice I’ve found is to just follow God’s lead… Even when I can’t see… And though it’s truly been a shaky year, I believe she would be happy to know that her death hasn’t shaken me at all…

Yes, yes I am very, very sad… But I’m not broken or broken-hearted… More than anything, I feel firmer than ever…

And so I guess, well… I just want to tell her thank you… From the bottom of my very heart, thank you for loving me the way no one has ever loved me before… Thank you for believing in me and what God has given me to do in life… Thank you for teaching me how good God actually is… Thank you for the ups and downs in our relationship, they truly shaped me… Thank you for being my best friend…

And more than anything, thank you for showing me that life cannot be lived to it’s fullest without being healthy and whole from the inside out… That our spirit, soul and body have to be in alignment with Him… And that inner healing, well to me is just another way to say, “it’s time to cultivate life”…

When Do I Get My Mom Back?…

Can I ask a really real question for a moment?…

Life… Can you pause yourself for a moment and answer a question for me?…

When does my dads death stop killing my moms joy, happiness and life?…

When does she start living again?… When will she figure out what’s next and how to move forward?…

Because, I’m gonna be real honest, I miss my mom… Sometimes I miss her more than I miss my dad… And I talk to her a lot… But she’s so different… She’s so sad…

The death of my father and my aunt have kind of placed her in a sad place in life… And I just want to know, when will she be happy again?… When will life be a place of joy and excitement for her?…

Because this has gone on long enough…

And I get it, grief is different for everyone… Everyone heals at a different rate… But I just miss my mom… I miss her excitement for life… I miss her discernment over life… I miss her joy for simple things like plants… 

So I just need to know… When do I get my mom back?… 

Life Lessons… With Death…

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Life’s strange… So many moments don’t make sense until we look back and connect the dots…

Death has definitely become something I’ve realized is part of… Well part of life…

It’s permanent for everyone affected by the one who is gone…

I can’t say I wasn’t, to some degree, prepared for this…

But it’s still sad… It’s still heartbreaking…

Neci was my closest aunt… She was my godmother… And… When I was younger, she was my close friend…

She was the one who looked at me after my dad died and said, “The next few days will be a blur. They’ll all kind of mush together. You’ll be exhausted. People will say things like, ‘I can’t even imagine what you’re going through. Losing a father.’ And you’ll look at them and think, ‘You’re right. Now leave me alone.”

She was right… That’s exactly what it was like…

And now… Now I feel heartbroken for my cousins… They’re more like my younger brothers…

And it hurts me to know that they are hurt… Hurting… And will forever have to live with the reality of losing a parent so young…

IMG_5207But I think… More than anything… In the midst of all of this… Well I believe death… Death of any form encourages me to keep living… To keep loving… To keep, as my aunt would say, “reaching for the stars.”

Because she, like my father, had a lot of faith in me… Always…

And so losing two people that loved me so dearly is sad… But it reminds me that we’re all going to die one day…

Maybe not now… Maybe in 5 years… Maybe when we’re super old and gray…

But we will die… And so how we live is so important…

Actually it’s the most important…

It’s important to forgive… To love… To let go of the bitterness, jealousy and anger we hold towards ourselves, God and one another…

Because when we die… Well I hope that others can see that we lived… That we took risks… That we followed God or whatever higher power we believe in…

And that we followed Him well… Even when things didn’t make sense…