assignment · grateful · patient · selflessness · will of God

Place Holder

Living in NY and working for your sister has its benefits… Like sitting on a trash bag in the rain at 6am while your sister sits across the street from you doing the same. Why were we sitting on trash bags in the rain at 6am?! Because two auditions were being held that day, and Bridget wanted to be seen at both of them! So… of course we have to get up early and wait in line, no matter the weather condition.

Now if you knew me 6 months to a year ago I would’ve complained the entire time and the night leading up to it all; however, God has drastically changed my heart… So I waited with a selfless/grateful heart!

And as I waited (number 34 in a line of at least 100+), I watched my sister stand at the head of her line on the other side… And that’s when revelation began to pour into my mind.

My entire life I’ve been told Jesus was selfless enough to take on all of my problems and pain in life so I could stand in the presence of God. And though I mindlessly believed it all because that’s how I was raised, my heart didn’t grasp any of it.

Well that all changed as I sat in the rain on a trash bag.

You see the path I’m on with God right now has continuously asked me to have a very humble, selfless heart… One that thinks of others before myself. So for the first time in my life I’m beginning to actually see what it might’ve been like for Christ to do something so amazing for us… So that we can live healthy, free lives: spirit, soul and body.

And let me tell you, watching my sister from across the street was really, really exciting. She was at the head of her line, promised a place in the audition room because I was willing to wait and be her place holder in the other line.

And did it pay off? Yeah… it did. She was seen at both auditions, and called back for the line she waited in.

And I guess what I’m trying to say is this… I am just so grateful to have a relationship with the God that continues to make me well from the inside out…  And it’s all because Jesus was selfless enough to stand in line for me. 💃🏻🙌🏻 #cultivatelife

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.

awareness · grateful · just live

This is the Day!

“This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.”

Psalm 118:24

Growing up, I continuously heard my grandmother sing Psalm 118:24. We could be anywhere, doing practically anything and she’d freely breakout this phrase for anyone that was listening to hear.

To me… To me these words didn’t mean much of anything at all, but to her… Well you could always tell she had a deeper understanding of rejoicing in the goodness of today.

You see, as I continue to just live in today.. As I continue to just focus on the now.. As I continue to let tomorrow worry about itself and bring it’s own problems and pain… Well I’m learning something else that is revolutionizing my life.

Today is the only day I actually have. Sure I can fantasize and hope and pray for tomorrow, but today… Today is it.

And, in so many ways and for so many reasons today is the day I’ve been yearning for. It’s the day I’ve hoped and prayed for. It’s a day I’ve cried tears over. A day that I’ve wished upon a star to be in. Because you see while I’ve been following the Holy Spirit, Jesus and the Father have been constantly and consistently supplying me with a freer life than I previously had. They’ve been working with me to toss my past, my failures, my fears, my worries and my shame so that I may pick up their grace and freedom and love.

And, in doing so, I’ve become a better person. A more alive and fuller person. An increasingly more pleasant person to be around because I’m not dictated by hate, fear and pride.

And because of this, well I can confidently walk into each day and just live my life. I can truly repeat the phrase, “This is the day the Lord has made; I will rejoice and be glad in it.” Because, though the day might be full of trial, error and terror, it’s still a day that God has fully formed for me. A day that He created for me to walk through in freedom and in love.

Right now you might be thinking, “Amanda, this isn’t making sense. I don’t understand.” And you know what? It’s ok. If you’re anything like I am, you understand what its like to be stuck in a place of worry and panic and fear; however, when we choose to let go of pain and the past… When we give God control of our free will… And when we continuously allow Him to direct our lives, well we find ourselves in a place of peace. And in that place of peace is the ability to just rejoice and be glad in today.

complain · grateful · grow

Sassy and Entitled

When I was 14 years old all I wanted was a pink iPod mini… I mean, Apple had just really started to become cool and I “needed” one…

However, my parents didn’t just buy us whatever we wanted when we wanted it… We’d almost always have to wait until a birthday or Christmas… So I knew this was going to take some great convincing on my end…

For days I went round and round explaining to dad why I needed this new gadget… Finally, he decided if I helped him clean up his job site he would give me the money for the iPod mini…

So I agreed… And, for two weeks, in the heat of a Louisiana summer I cleaned up sheetrock inside of a 3-story house he was completing…

Of course, there were days  that I would whine and complain and get super sassy… I mean, “Come on, can’t dad just give me the money now” is all I would think…

But he was persistent that I finish the job and finish it well…

Now, don’t get me wrong… I don’t mind getting dirty or working hard today, but in that moment I was not about having to walk 3 houses down from my house everyday to be the clean up crew… I mean, I was super entitled

Entitlement… It’s a interesting word… An interesting word that I keep bumping into in the most random places… I’ve actually come face-to-face with it so many times lately that I decided to really search myself out… Asking God to reveal how entitled my heart is…

And, you know what I found?… I’ve discovered that deep in my heart is a place that believes I deserve all of the goodness around me… Somewhere in there my mind is convinced that life should stay on the rise, without falter…

I honestly believe I’ve taken complete and total advantage of the blessings I have too…

For example, this house we live in right now… All I can seem to focus on is the fact that it won’t sell and that we are losing money because of it… I can’t seem to see that I should be grateful to have the opportunity to even live in a house like this… I mean, I didn’t work hard to make the money to afford it… That’s what my parents did…

I also didn’t work hard for the finances that are paying the bulk of the bills to be here… Again, my parents did that… But I am so sassy all of the time about how much it sucks that we are in this situation…

I keep forgetting that I need to continue to cultivate a lifestyle of gratefulness... My heart and soul keep tip-toeing around the truth that the life I live is free from a lot of baggage, but that other people (and God) worked really hard so that I can live this way…

It wasn’t free for some… I had to watch my parents overcome a lot of adversity to build what my mom has today… It wasn’t a walk in the park for them…

And I don’t want to be entitled… Quite honestly I can’t stand to be around it when I see it in others… But then, well I reject it so harshly inside of myself…

You see, I guess what I am trying to express is that I need God to really help me become grateful for the things I don’t deserve but have been given… I really need Him to help me cultivate another level of humility…. A level that is willing to stay small because my identity and faith is in Him and Him alone… A mindset that is fixed on the truth that His Son gave me the freedom to live a lifestyle free from pain… And that, when I encounter pain, He will use what I don’t really deserve to rebuild and restore an area of my heart and soul… An area that is a little darker and eviler than it should be… An area that is longing to be filled with so much grace and gratitude…

death · grateful · grief · healing · pain · redeem · restore

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…

darkness · death · grateful · grief · pain

Love

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The absence of my father hits me in the strangest ways. Like yesterday when LeBron decided to return to Cleveland. I was in the gym when the news broke and all I wanted to do was tell dad… and then I realized, “Oh no. Oh no that’s not possible.” And it hurt for a moment. It hurt really bad because there wasn’t anyone to share that moment with.

Later Bridge asked me if I heard the news and I instantly started talking about it and included all of the details surrounding the Kings “return…. but it wasn’t the same. And then mom walked in the room and I told her about it… Her response, “oh that’s cool.” Which hurt. It didn’t hurt that she didn’t really care… It hurt to truly realize that life without dad sucks.

All I could think in those moments was that I’ll have so many more disappointing like that one. So many more moments when I want to talk to dad about sports and he won’t be here…. Even this morning I cried while watching more coverage of the big return. It just hurts that bad to know he’s gone forever.

And I don’t know when that will get easier… or if it will ever get easier to live with the fact that dad’s not here to talk sports with me anymore.

I do know that I’m grateful though… grateful that he taught me so much and we were able to share a bond like that. And maybe this experience is teaching me how to be a little more grateful for the people in my life… to find things I like about them, rather than the things I don’t.

In the past, I’ve been the queen of criticism. I mean, I can tell you about problems all day long and why “so and so” is this way or that way. I can also use my dramatic attitude to focus on the problem… which makes me even more critical of the person, always looking for their flaws.

And, who wants to be associated with someone like that? Not me. I would never want to be friends with me at all. But maybe looking at the situation that way will cause me to want to be friends with myself a little bit more. To actually associate with me on a regular basis and find the good things in me that I like, the qualities that might be good.

Maybe having that kind of attitude will help me love myself more and in return love others more.

Though I’ve come a long way with my insecurities, sometimes they get the best of me and bring my criticism to full boil. And, in those moments I’m ugly to everyone. But it doesn’t have to be that way. And I’d feel a lot better about myself it I just learned to love me. All of me.