brokenness · death · family · healing · love of god · redeem · restore

A Promise is A Promise

Six-and-a-half years ago my dad unexpectedly died. A month before he passed my parents had just celebrated their milestone 30th wedding anniversary. To celebrate, they planned to take a trip to Hawaii, but… Well obviously, that didn’t happen.

Last week my mom turned 60-years-old. So, in true Winder Sister form and fashion, Bridget and I decided to honor my parents plans by taking her to Hawaii to celebrate.

Now if I’m honest, I was excited the entire time! However, as we zipped up, down and around the island for the week, I never really thought about Dad much. I never truly let myself experience the weight of what it means to honor my parents by fulfilling a promise that was made within the covenant of their marriage.

And so, it wasn’t until we were actually headed to the airport that the heaviness of it all began to hit me. 

You see… Sickness, disease and death sought to destroy the Winder Women by completely robbing us of life and dragging us down a long and sometimes dark path of brokenness, heartache and pain. However, that’s what’s so magnificent about restoration! It’s this beautiful, systematic process where God promises too deeply and divinely heal us from the darkness that has torn us apart: spirit, soul, heart and body.

And… Somewhere along the way, the healing becomes a fulfilled process in certain areas… And you’re able to look at the life (like we have with this trip) and confidently say, “Yeah, dad’s not here… Yes, life has been an emotional, painful, uncertain climb we sometimes didn’t believe we’d make it through; however, we are holding God to His promises. And His promises say, “He WILL vindicate us and bring life to every place the kingdom of darkness has stolen.” His promises say, “He WILL redeem, restore and then supply us with endless joy!” His promises say, “He WILL cultivate the grounds of our brokenness so that they can be made whole, and then we can walk in the maturity of His confidence, security and love.”

And so you see… It is completely healthy to walk through fire and then emerge refined, restored and redeemed. It’s completely healthy to emerge without an ounce of bitterness, anger, hate, heartache and insecurity. It’s completely healthy to emerge more equipped with a heavier, holier suit of armor than when you walked in. 

Because when you do… When you actually surrender your pain, heartache and brokenness to God, then He can come in with His great love and swallow up what the kingdom of darkness has stolen. And then… Then you can move forward to the other side with a healthy, whole and aligned spirit, soul, heart and body. And that side… That realm… That promised land is overflowing with an increase of LIFE…. Life that is beaming and vibrating with a higher frequency of honor, respect, love and gratitude towards God than you ever imagined possible. And it perpetually echos out, “A promise is a promise!” 🌱 #cultivatelife #winderwomen

authority & dominion · faith · family · kingdom · languishing · rule & reign

Rule & Reign

Dominion… Dominion, power and authority… The constant, active and alive keys to the present world and age we’re living in. We won’t survive and thrive, spirit, soul, heart and body, without them. They are essential to moving forward as children of God who are cultivating life within the Kingdom of Heaven.

You see it’s just not enough anymore… It’s not enough for those who believe in Jesus to live and dwell from a place of sonship and daughtership alone. Instead, we must rise to the occasion. We must rule & reign as Kings and Queens from our spiritual positions. We must take our rightful seats as heirs of Christ and focus in on the work He needs us to do in the heavens and the earth.

And I know what I’m saying might sound strange to some of you. Which is why you should know, you are a spirit, with a soul and a heart… Inside of a body. And those four components, they want… No they need to connect to the Godhead and then work together in unison with them for daily living. They need to work in unison for healing, wholeness and restoration to flow into our lives and the lives of others.

And so, wherever you are in this very moment, I hope and pray you are encouraged in your very being to examine your life as a whole. To ask yourself, “Am I ruling and reigning in life? Am I living from a place of dominion, power and authority? Am I exercising the power Jesus has given to me to constantly speak to death, darkness and decay and see that they are canceled, overturned and uprooted? Or, am I sitting back? Going through the motions of life… Living a languishing lifestyle of the spirit, heart and soul because I don’t know how to access and activate what God has given to me fully and properly? 🌱👑⚔️🛡 #cultivatelife

challenge · family · keep moving forward · teamwork

“Help. Me.”

“Help. Me.” is what I quietly screamed at my sister across the gym yesterday. The weight I tried to load onto my shoulders for lunges was entirely too heavy for me to lift.

Of course she quickly looked at me like, “What am I supposed to do Amanda?! You think I can help you lift 80 pounds?!”

But she did. My sister helped me pick up the weight and then together we placed it on it’s stand.

And that’s what this entire journey has been… A constant series of two sisters helping each other move forward right when the other seems like she might crumble.

Those are the things no one sees though… The moments where we both want to give up because God’s system for living isn’t working the way we imagined it would.

You see it seemed so simple when He showed me a picture of the outcome. But then I didn’t consider that my choices would lead me to a place that would look like this for so long. I didn’t realize there would be years and years and years of refusing to cave.

And I also didn’t realize my response would consistently be… “Well, I consulted God and He said, ‘No. No, don’t do that. Don’t sell out. Don’t go that route. Don’t buy into what’s cheap, fake and entirely insecure. Keep following me. It will all come together in My timing Amanda. You have to keep trusting Me.”

And so I do… We both do. Actually we all three do. Mom included. Even with the soul-ripping, sudden loss of dad. We have chosen to band tighter to God and go even higher with Him and His ways.

And sure… Sure it hasn’t been easy. But I can promise you this… My choice to trust God and take risks with Him and His ways have been the best choices I’ve ever made because they’ve made me confident, secure, whole, complete and at peace with the out-of-control world around me. And no, no He doesn’t always make sense. And yes, yes spirituality is almost always terrifying because it means we have to let go and trust in things we might not believe are real. But I just want to encourage you to trust that He’s there. Trust that He’s waiting to lift the 80 pounds you cannot lift alone off of your shoulders. And trust that He will guide you after the weight is gone so you can #cultivatelife 🌱

brokenness · death · family · grief · healing · love of god · pain · restore · strength

I Cry

I laid in bed the night before last and wanted to cry because I felt so weak… So emotional… So caught in the chaos and frustration of life.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Life is good. Life is very, very good. But… Sometimes I just want to cry. Sometimes I do cry. I cry about the loss of life my family has experienced. I cry about how God is going to seemingly continue to restore everything and make sense of the pain I feel. I cry because I am weak, and only made strong and stable through Him alone.

It’s funny, people say to me all the time, “Amanda, you’re so strong. You’ve encountered so much and been through so much adversity. You handle it so well. You’re just so strong.”

And as true as my strength appears, none of it… not a single ounce… is found within myself. God literally allowed my world to shake so hard, to the point that there was nothing left to hold onto but Him.

And so when life reminds me of loss… When it reminds me of pain… When I’m left in a constant haze of “why” followed by streams of tears down my face… Well I remember that He’s there. I remember that God is sitting with me while I sit in my closet and cry, hoping for a solution to this madness called life. I remember that my pursuit of Him is the only solution I’ll ever need because He is the only One that keeps me consistently full, at peace and alive! 💃🏻⚔️🎄 #cultivatelife

cultivation · develop · family · mature

Grown Up

“Ok… So here’s the plan: we’re gonna come home, help mom, sell the house and move on with our lives. This will take three months tops!” I firmly believe God laughed at my plan that day. To think, after everything my family had been through, that it would only take us three months to help mom. I was ridiculous to think such a thought.

You see over the last year and a half, I’ve had to grow up. There’s no other way to explain what I’ve experienced. Has it been painful? Yeah, parts of it have been extremely painful, confusing and altogether frustrating. Has it been fun? Sure it’s been fun! I mean have you met my sister before? She is THE entertainment.

But you know, I wouldn’t trade this time of growth for anything. Because in this time God has truthfully taken so many broken areas of my life and my family’s life and healed them. And He’s also pushed me really, really hard to be where I am today.

Now, I didn’t really appreciate the dark moments. I didn’t really prefer the moments when I thought money was going to run out and we were going to have to file bankruptcy. But, gosh I wouldn’t trade those experiences for the world. Because in the midst of them I learned how to truly rely on God for everything… I learned how to trust Jesus for restoration in areas I didn’t believe could be fixed… And I had to follow the Holy Spirit, even when I couldn’t see.

So where do I go from here now that the house is sold and mom is settled? Well in this moment, I just choose to believe, listen and follow where ever He leads me… Stay tuned to see 😉!

death · faith · family · peace · stillness · will of God

Year Four

From the window of mom’s new house I sit in my bed and watch the river flow as the sun rises every morning. Some days it flows left. Other days it flows right. But then there are days when it’s peaceful and still, reflecting the life around it.

Now, I’m not sure what the river is going to teach me about life yet. I still have about a month to spend with it before heading into my next adventure; however, the peacefulness of the river has definitely caught my attention.

You see when looking into a flowing river you can’t really see what’s being reflected very clearly. The current it moving too fast to get a clear perspective, and so it’s easy to believe things are a chaotic mess. But when the current slows down to a pace of nothing, all of a sudden this beautiful image pops back at you.

In so many ways and for so many reasons this is how I feel about the last four years for my family. The river of life has been a constant, yet messy ebb and flow. Some days the wind would move it violently to the right, and then other days it would quickly changes courses and snap it to the left. But then in moment’s like this, when it’s still, well the reflection reveals how beautiful life truly is. It’s at a calm state of being. There’s no wind to tell it which way to go or who to be in that moment. Instead you can sit back and breathe, while taking in the view of God’s goodness.

You see there were times over the last four years that the chaotic wind and current caused me to question if we’d ever make it through. I would sometimes frantically and fearfully wonder, “Will mom would be ok? Where will finances come from? Will we ever stand in the goodness of God as a family again?”

But now, now that the wind has died down I can see that it was imperative that it blew violently and harshly. I can see that it was necessary that we felt the hard struggle of the moving current below. And I can also see that God knew, in time, we would all be starring at a calm and peaceful river of life that reflects only the goodness He ordained and created within the chaos of the flow.

cultivation · faith · family · goodness of god · grateful · process · seasons

When It’s Finally Over

In the past few months I’ve heard it said at least 20 times now, “Well, hindsight is 20/20.”

And though I do believe that statement is true, I’ve grown to love the confusion and uncertainty built into life. Now, don’t get me wrong… I don’t like to be confused and uncertain; however, without the confusion and uncertainty of tomorrow, how would we ever grow? How would we ever learn? How would we ever become more than what we already are today?

Because I believe that the struggle and the fight and wrestling have made me who I am. And though I dont ever like the confusion and uncertainty of the moment or the season, I would truly be utterly lost without them.

It’s almost like God let’s you feel a little bit of confusion for a moment… Almost like He knows that confusion and uncertainty is not His way, but He knows that you feeling that way will end eventually because if you hold to His ways you will come out on the other side with clarity and peace and prosperity.

In my heart, I hope my family never has to walk through what we have ever again. I pray that these past four years, especially this past year and a half are over for good, but gosh I am grateful for every moment of them.

Grateful because they were filled with moments that helped uproot my weaknesses and insecurities. And now that they’ve all wilted away and died down, I can see that what I hated created a beautiful masterpiece of work. Something that I still can’t fully comprehend or wrap my mind around. But something that is good and viable and was extremely worth my time and tears. Because in this time God helped me grow up and truly mature into a woman who cannot and will not be ransacked, shaken or blown away by the realities that are found within the lows of life.

And you know what? I’m ok with it.

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…

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”…

darkness · death · family · healing · life · pain · peace · teamwork

Maintaining Life, with the Lows…

What happens when you continue to feel your world, life as you once knew it, shaken?… Shaking… 

Because that’s exactly what mine continues to do… All year long… Over and over and over again… But then something deep inside of me reminds me that I have to stay strong for my mother and sister… That I must maintain balance, order and peace…

But it’s not my balance, order and peace I’m aiming to maintain… I honestly don’t have any of that without God… All of the equilibrium I need to maintain is a direct reflection of His love, nurturing, mentorship and guidance in my everyday life… 

Honestly, He is the only one that can truly get us through this time… This season…

And it doesn’t always seem fair and just… But I promise it’s very alive and real…

More than anything I believe it’s just life… And life, in so many ways, amounts to the way in which we choose to navigate through it all…Because hard times are real… And they don’t always make sense… And becoming angry with someone you love for being in a season is dumb, exhausting and all together not accomplishing much of anything…

I’m not angry with my mother at all because I don’t believe she placed herself here… Life did that… Cancer, sickness, disease, old age, reality, death, depression, grief… It’s all a part of life… 

And I believe so many times we aren’t taught how to manage the grief, the bad times, the heartache and the reality of death… The reality that people, people we care deeply about will and do leave us everyday because it’s a part of the grand scheme of how this place called earth and this thing called life work…

But how do we manage it all? 

Sure we can read our Bibles, talk to others and keep believing it’s going to “work-out”… But then what happens when life keeps coming?… How do we continue to navigate through the muck and mire of the present?… Do we know how to balance and maintain it all?…

Because I don’t believe we can carry it… It’s far too heavy a load… But we must be aware of it and use wisdom to solve it all…

And that’s pretty much how I feel right now… I can’t carry the load of my family home being for sale, money being low, helping mom get back into life, or the fact that I have no idea what’s next in my own world… But then I can navigate through it with the help of the Holy Spirit… I can use His wisdom to solve these problems… 

And when they still seem unsolvable, well I can hope and believe and pray for the very best… I can believe that soon we’ll all four (the Holy Spirit included) be on top of this mountain together…