darkness · death · heart · pride · process · refine

Two Trees

I left social media. I didn’t deactivate my accounts, but I left… Promising myself I would return when I felt I could consume without being burdened by pride, hate, bitterness, anger, jealousy, grief and shame.

That’s what social media does to me. I pick it up with the idea of “connecting” to “share” my world and the truth I’ve experienced while following God, but then I usually leave feeling worse than when I entered.

You see over the past decade I’ve learned how to connect to God. And… through this single, significant connection I’ve allowed Him to lead me as I’ve learned how to cultivate life.

Actually, He’s emptied me of the dying, decrepit life I was living, restored my broken pieces and parts and then filled me up with grace, love, peace, patience and endless joy.

So… when I sit down and begin to eat the fruit of social media, well my seemingly healthy vessel becomes completely overwhelmed. My insides begin to fill with endless, sometimes useless knowledge of good and evil. And, a lot of the time, what I consume begins to pull my human spirit and soul down as it leads me astray. It begins to probe at my heart, in an effort to cause unneeded division, confusion, jealousy, anger and death in me and with those I choose to share it with. Also… somehow, I become like God because I begin to feel the need to shoulder up the burdens of my world…. As if I even have the understanding and wisdom to solve anything outside of what He’s given me.

It’s not supposed to be like that though. God didn’t create us to carry death and decay. He created us to connect to Him through His Son Jesus, and then point others to that same connection so that they might be made well and new too!

Because… You see when we connect to God and Him alone our souls don’t feel burdened anymore. He gives us exactly what we need when we need it, rather than us pridefully, greedily and selfishly taking from other sources. When we humble ourselves and meet with Him on a moment-by-moment basis, He hands us life-giving skills in increments because He never wants to overwhelm our refinement, development, maturity and growth. 🌱#cultivatelife

follow · keep moving forward · Mind · pride

Circling the Bottom

I don’t want to climb the mountain.
I don’t want to climb the mountain.

Yes I have the strength, the endurance and the capability… But I just don’t want to climb it.

And, so… Rather than climb the mountain, I’ve been circling the bottom for weeks. I’ve been circling it with hopes that He will change His mind.

But He hasn’t. He hasn’t… And so, through all of my whining and complaining, I know I must climb THIS mountain.

I must let go of more selfishness and stubbornness in order to follow Him up.

And I don’t know if you’ve ever truly followed Him before. In today’s culture, a true follow is challenging. We have 72 billion+ reasons to get distracted and misled. However, when we’re willing to go a little bit further with Him, He does open us up to more grace… More wisdom… More peace… And more treasure hidden inside of His heart and His Kingdom alone.

So… Up we go. 🌱 #cultivatelife

challenge · glory · goodness of god · love of god · pride

The Leak Factor

I watched honey run down the side of my breakfast this morning and I immediately thought of a phrase I’ve coined… “The Leak Factor.”

I guess it’s been at least 6 years now since I’ve been using it… And no I didn’t create it, an old friend did.

You see he once said, “Amanda, you have to stay aware of what’s leaking out of you and onto others. Because what’s inside of you will eventually come out. And you want that stuff to be good! You want it to lift people up, not tear them down.”

Now honestly, in the moment I was kind of irritated because I knew he was pointing at the pride, jealousy and insecurity that was “leaking” out of me onto others.

But today… Today I’m really fond of the leak factor. I almost always think of it before I open my mouth or share anything in a social media setting… Because, well, I believe there’s enough hate, brokenness, bitterness, wickedness and insecurity leaking out of people into this world.

And so… I constantly challenge myself to cultivate a heart that’s full of peace, joy and, most importantly, the love found in the heart of Father God.

And I don’t know where you are today? I don’t know what you’re leaking onto others… Hopefully it’s good… Hopefully it’s lovely… Hopefully it promotes life! However, I do challenge you to ask yourself, “What’s leaking out of me and onto others?” 🧐🌱 #cultivatelife

humility · pride

Prideful Conditions…

You know those moments in life when you think, “Gosh I really should’ve listened to what I was told? If I had I won’t be living with this pain now.”

Yeah… That’s exactly what I’m thinking right now…

In the past 72 hours we’ve experienced freezing weather, snow and ice… Well mom has been locked inside for two days, convinced she needs to stay off the roads and out of the crazy conditions…

If you know me, then you know there’s no way I’m staying in… I have things to do… Places to go… People to see…

So for two days I went about my business, and every time I left the house mom said, “Amanda be careful out there. Black ice is dangerous.”

In my heart, I knew what she was saying was true… But in my head I kind of mocked her a little… I mean, I know she cares about my safety… But come on mom, I get it…

Well… Her first day out, she takes 10 steps walking to her car and BAM… Down on the ground she goes. Black ice.

When she finally told me the story, all I could do was laugh… I mean, after all the caution she gave me and then she slips and falls… It was hilarious…

Later that night I was leaving a house to head home… I just made a comment about how cold it was and then took a step down the stairs… Next thing I knew, BAM… I was on the ground…

All I could do in the moment was laugh… I mean, it really was funny… After all of mom’s caution, my mocking/jesting mind and then I end up on the ground…!

After I scooped myself up and got into my car to drive home I started to think… “Geeze, I wasn’t really paying attention when I walked out that front door… I should’ve looked around…” And that’s when God (He’s always on time even when I don’t want Him to be) said, “Yeah, pride Amanda. You didn’t listen to your parent and the pride in your soul got the best of you.”

As funny as the story is, He was right… The pride in me kept saying things like, “Can’t mom just let me be the 29 year old I am. I’ll be fine. I’m responsible. Why does she think I’m going to be so dangerous and careless in freezing conditions?”

Ironically… isn’t that how we are with God a lot of the time? He says, “Don’t do that. It’s dangerous in these life conditions. Be cautious. People out there are reckless because they don’t know what they are doing. I’ve brought you too far to see you caught up in pain again. Please, be safe. Stay alert and aware of your surroundings.”

But we don’t listen… The pride of our heart says, “I know what I am doing. I’ll be fine. It’s not like I am going to end up in that much trouble.” And, because we don’t listen to Him we end up like me… An icy fall and a bruised hip… Pain that wasn’t ever supposed to be in our lives is now there, and we have to wait until it heals…

faith · keep moving forward · love of god · pride · selflessness

Selfless Solution…

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Image, 2014

Selflessness… It’s a place of pure heart and soul… It’s not a boastful place… It’s not a jealous, angry or bitter place… It’s not a place where pride, lust or envy can stand… Selflessness is a very protected place… It’s found straight within the heart of Father God… And it’s an attribute that is completely innate to His character… His love… His very being is selfless…

And I don’t mean the selfless heart of a parent who sets Himself aside to care for His child who needs Him… I mean a type of selflessness that doesn’t allow anyone to feel inferior to another…

Because I’m coming to a place… A very distinct place in my heart… One that’s causing me to look at what we (as humans) are creating in our social worlds… And I can’t say hate is the word… Because the word I have is far different than that… I basically feel broken on the inside…

Because I believe real selflessness is the ability to look around and see how much we are destroying one another in our world… To see it and to stop… Because where is our vulnerability, our reality, our realness and our truth?…

My sister, whom many believe is making “bank” on artwork, isn’t… She’s living with me in expensive L.A… In a one-bedroom apartment… Her room and art studio is our living room… And she usually makes just enough to pay for rent, bills and food… And sometimes mom helps out… That’s what no one sees….

Me, I left my job… Yeah, the really cool, fabulous, celebrity-driven one… I left that one in February… Not knowing what was next, but knowing in my heart it was time to go… That that chapter of my life was over… And I’ve been living off of savings since.. And it hasn’t been fun all the time… Sure, there are moments when I think, “Gah, this is a great adventure,” but a lot of the time I find myself thinking, “what the heck am I doing?!”…

And I talk to my friends… They’re spread all over the world… Truly… And guess what… From marriage, to death, to divorce, to college and babies… They’re going through ups and downs too…

But then we’ve helped create and encourage this place… Our social world… A place where we give others a false image of what we want them to see us doing… Because then we believe we’ll feel better for the areas where we don’t feel like we’re adding up… Yeah, we might call it “being creative”… Or, as the kids say, “it’s all about the Instagram flow”…

But I honestly believe it’s one of the most selfish thing we can do…

To cause someone else to feel insecure and inferior about how his or her life isn’t adding up and fitting the social norms of life…

Why aren’t we breeding confidence and security in one another?… Why aren’t we talking about the reality and struggle it’s been to get from point A to point B… Yeah, sure I traveled the world last year for “free,” but did anyone see what it took for me to get there?… No one really knows how long it took for me to grow close to this family… I’m gonna be honest, it was a bitch… An uncomfortable one, that required patience and a total heart change on my end…

So as I sit here, I continue to wonder… How much longer is this going to go on?… How much longer are we going to be selfish and cause those next to us to feel less than they are?… And I get it.. We can’t make anyone feel anyway… But that’s just it… Through our images of life, we are… Our inability to be vulnerable and authentic is breeding and multiplying so many insecurities… Just look at most teen girls.. They wear enough makeup to be the lead in a Broadway production… It’s not pretty… It’s just sad… And no one is giving them a more powerful alternative…

So… I believe we need to come together and be a selfless solution, not a selfish problem…

humility · pride

Humble Moment

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What makes the west coast different from the south?…. Well the fact that no one really cares about you the way they do in the south…

I’m so used to “southern hospitality”…. So accustomed to meeting people and learning about them…. It’s engrained into me to care and to want to know about others and make people feel welcome and loved….

But out here….. Out here life is so very different… Especially in L.A….. People don’t really care…. There’s too much focus on self….

And I find myself loving my southern roots that much more… I find myself appreciating the place I was raised…. It’s just so much different than this place….

And I don’t know where my life is going from this point…. From this moment….

I don’t know where this year of my life will take me….

A year ago…. Well a year ago…. I was in Dallas trying to make a business… A dream a reality…. I was sick too… Mentality sick and stressed…. Losing too much weight… Overwhelmed…. And I wanted to kill my best friend…. If he didn’t kill me first….

Dad was still alive too…. He was alive and I still had a whole, complete and functioning family….

Life’s different now… It changed shape… And it’s evolving so much… Sometimes I feel like it evolves everyday….

New thoughts… New people… New experiences…

And I’ve been encouraged to discover myself…. To truly live in this moment and break me down… To not allow myself to become distracted with the things that are around me…. But to be consumed with what’s inside of me… To really become a friend of myself…

And honestly… It’s a challenge… It’s so much easier to allow myself to remain distracted…

But… this morning I’ve allowed myself to take a solid glance at what I’m gaining in the moment…. and once again…. I feel blessed…

A long with bitterness, jealousy and judgment…. I struggle with pride…. Having this “know it all” attitude… It’s really ridiculous… And I’ve made excuses for it for years… I’ve also had friends help me dig my way out of it all and truly embrace humility…. But I know deep down that it’s still a struggle…

It used to take effort to ask questions when I didn’t know the answer…. and I used to hate being wrong… I’d always act like I had the answer or knew what someone was talking about….

Today things are a little different…. but I see this opportunity to seize humility again…. So I’m going to take it….

We hired a new nanny…. She’s from New Zealand (the country I want to travel to the most)… which is cool to begin with…. A long with being so friendly and kind…. She’s also 19… And it’s never struck me until this moment….

In moment I am trying to accommodate the mother of the children better… I am trying to meet her expectations and learn how to be better…. Which can be challenging…

And I find myself asking someone 7 years younger than me how to do my job better… because she is a better nanny than I am… She’s better with the children and they listen to her more than they listen to me….

So in this moment…. I find myself asking someone younger than me “how?”… How can I be better? How do you handle the kids? What causes them to listen to you? What does the morning routine look like to you?

And… in the midst of it all… I can see myself growing some… Or I can see that I have grown… Because I am willing to ask questions to be excellent and accomplish what’s in front of me… I am willing to go out of my way… To lower the gate of pride and embrace humility… to admit that I don’t know, so I need someone to teach be how… to teach me a better way… And in this case it’s ways and tricks I don’t know or haven’t stumbled upon…

And it’s so helpful… and I love that we can do life like this together… That others can help us in ways they don’t even realize… While she thinks she’s helping me with the children… She’s really helping me become a better, more humble version of me…. And honestly, I’m ok with that…