Challenging Hope…

Hope… It seems like a simple 4 letter word… We all hope for things deep within our hearts…

But, then… Well what happens when what you hoped for in your heart doesn’t happen?..

If you’re anything like me then you can become an angry, disappointed grouch… Stomping around, upset and trying to make sense of life…

I’ve done this very thing my entire life… I’ve set myself up for disappointment upon disappointment based on what I’ve hoped for in my heart…

And then I’ve elaborated on my hopes by creating details… You know, planning ahead in my mind… “This is how it will go. This is what will happen for sure.”

But lately, almost everything I’ve hoped for hasn’t happened… And I find myself irritated… Cornered in a way…

And that’s where I find God encouraging me… Encouraging me to move away from this place where I choose to place my hope in situations, possibilities, places, people, things and dreams…

And honestly, it’s a challenge… It’s a challenge to stand back and say, “I’m not gonna run wild in my mind over possibilities anymore. I am going to use wisdom and keep my hope in God.”

So, then… Well what does it mean to place my hope in God?..

I believe hope, along with faith and love, are the foundation to an identity in God… I’ve had to learn to place my faith in God solely… And a long with faith came confidence, security and trust in Him… But this hope thing, well… It’s different…

Because it kind of has me mastered right now… I’ve used a false sense of hope for so long… Longing for things that I’ve created in my imagination… Day dreaming about possibilities… Stirring up secrets in my heart… And, in the end… Well I only get completely let down with the reality of life…

So, now here I stand… I was convinced I had cultivated an identity in God… Solely and completely rooted in His ways only… But this hope thing has taken me for a loop… And now, well I need Him to reveal to me what it means to have hope in Him and Him alone…

I need Him to teach me how to stop using my imagination to create elaborate plans that only lead to failure in my heart and soul…

He’s brought me this far though, so I do have faith and hope that He will take me one step further…

Free and Ungrateful…

My heart has been searching for a solution… For an answer… For a sign… For anything God or the universe might give me to help me move forward in the season of life I’m in…

Because I’m constantly questioning, “Why do I feel stuck? Why aren’t things moving forward? Why are all of these seemingly negative things happening? Mainly, why am I still in Shreveport, LA almost a year later? This was not part of the plan, my hopes or my dreams.”

And the Holy Spirit has led me to this…

The smallness of a moment… The smallness of a season of life… The times when our bank accounts are low and the money isn’t “rolling ” in for some reason… The moments when you know in your heart you’ve followed God just like He said, but feel like every door has been slammed shut in your face… The responsibilities that seem to continue to pile up because everything that could go wrong feels like it is going wrong… The reality of the thought, “Okay… What could possibly happen next? Please let it be good!”

Basically, life feels small… I feel cornered… Cornered by the reality that everything around me has pushed me to have complete confidence and security in an intangible God, who works in intangible ways… And that all ways leading to tangible security continue to fail me quickly…

And because I feel small… Because I feel cornered… Well I am learning to cultivate a new level and lifestyle of humility… A place where I am forced to learn and grow, even when I don’t want too…

And I believe smallness is a great thing…  Because I’m learning that a humble heart is a grateful heart…

So what am I grateful for what you might ask?…

I’m grateful for the fact that I have the freedom to live the life I’m living… God has set me free of so many things from my past, but I choose to complain about the things I don’t have… I spend too much time comparing myself to others and thinking, “If I only had that.” When in reality, I should be grateful that I don’t have to live under the insecurities, pain and burdens of my past… He’s given me a extremely free life… And the Holy Spirit is always opening up new avenues, where I learn new areas that my heart and soul can become free…

Freedom… What a reason to be grateful!

I’m also grateful for my relationship with God… Lately I’ve been angry with God because I don’t see a lot of things He’s promised me becoming a reality… So I’m confused… But then I should just become grateful that I even have the opportunity to cultivate a relationship with Him… And I don’t mean a relationship we find in religion, that’s centered around a pastor or priest and his/her teachings… I mean one where He literally has conversations with me all throughout my day because He is my best friend and closest companion… Because He is the one willing to walk or crawl with me through the ugly, low seasons of life…

And I can go on and on over the things I am becoming grateful for… But mainly my thoughts are leading me to this… As humans, that live in this country, I believe we should be grateful for what we’ve been given and stop looking for things we don’t have… I believe most of us have forgotten that this country wasn’t just given to us… People have lost their lives and their freedom so that we can have it… And I get it, it’s fun to celebrate our country by dressing up, having fun and getting drunk… But are we truly grateful in our hearts?… Because that is where our celebration for our country should come from…

And I don’t know where we are headed as a nation, but my current life status is teaching me that I need to be grateful… And that desire to be grateful is encouraging me to remind others to be grateful too… Even if your life isn’t in a season of smallness right now… Look around and be grateful for the foundation your life sits on…

Because a foundation is the basis of life… It’s what holds us together and keeps things tight and secure… And I promise, if we can humble ourselves and become grateful for what we are built upon, well I believe we will see growth, new life and prosperity like never before…

But, in order to do this, we need to get out of our own heads… We need to stop looking at what we want and start becoming grateful for what we have… We need to think of others more and ourselves less… We have to look up at the world and vast universe around us and not be so focused on the black boxes in our hands…

Life is simple… We’ve made it complicated…

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…

Angry with God?..

Anger… How do I trudge through it with peace in my heart?! I really don’t know.. I definitely feel like I’ve been robbed of so much and that angers me… But more than anything anger is causing me to want to punch God in the face…

And it’s kind of funny… Because, in the past I’ve told others, “You can be angry with God. He can handle it more than anyone I know.” But… Here I sit with so much anger towards Him, and I don’t exactly know what to do with it all.

Why am I angry? Simply put, life is not going according to the plan of Amanda. So much has been shaken and removed from the foundation of my life. I’ve made so many Holy Spirit-led decisions… Decisions that cause me to think, “Why did I follow Him at all?! If I had known this would be life I would’ve created and followed my plans for life!”

And when it comes to Cultivate Life (the business I own), well that’s where I really want to scream at Him. Because nothing makes sense at all.

So, how do I continue to cultivate life in the mist of all of this anger? Food never helps. Complaining never helps. And since I am angry with God, He doesn’t seem to be my most trusted and helpful companion right now.

But isn’t it supposed to be faith (believing in God’s existence and that He’s rewarded us with goodness in the past) that gets us by in times like these? Life has been great in so many seasons before. I have seen opportunities constantly open up and I have felt so much excitement, joy and goodness in my heart…

But in this moment, well I don’t see any of those things happening… And it’s discouraging…

But then it’s been advised that I keep moving forward, even though I don’t feel inspired, motivated or excited at all…. That I move forward with patience, persistence and perseverance…

I guess that’s really what so much of this life is about though… That even when we don’t understand God and His ways that we still choose to follow Him because He does provide the most spiritually uplifting and good life.

But, I’m gonna be really honest. The closer I get to God, the more and more my relationship with Him is like a relationship with any person I am close too… And in any relationship there are times where you don’t really understand why a person does what they do… But I do love Him more than anything or anyone… And I do continue to talk to Him and spend time with Him all the time… But I still want to smack Him in the face and ask, “What the hell are you doing with my life because it’s super annoying and I feel like a fool for following you!”

But… Then, maybe I am on one of the biggest learning curves of my life to date… Meaning, when I look back, I’ll be grateful for the time of anger… Grateful for the growth. And even more grateful for God being God.

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… 

Broken Comfort Zone..

Do you ever have those moments when you just want to shake life? Like literally pick it up shake it around and question why it’s acting up?… 

Thats how I feel right now…

Like I need to interigate life for it’s actions… For the pain and injustice I feel… For the confusion and misunderstanding in my soul…

And I believe, deep within, that it will get better… It always does… But in this moment, well life seems so off-balance to me… So misleading… Or maybe not leading to anywhere at all…

I think what I’m trying to say here is that I don’t understand why God places us in the situations He places us in when He does… And in the moments where I think I have it figured out, well I quickly realize that I don’t… That I broke the situation down too far, and now I’m left confused and misled…

And then I don’t know what to do with the confusion I feel because it’s so much sometimes…

But then I’m reminded by Him that I’m right where He needs me to be… Even though this place of being isn’t where I want to be because it’s outside of my comfort zone… It is the best place for me…

Because being outside of a comfort zone of once known security and protection has always been good and life giving for my spirit and soul…

Because… It lets me know that I am growing… The growth is just painful at times…

Outrun by Fear?…

Why do we fear?… Why do we so casually choose to cultivate a heart of fear, rather than choose to cultivate a heart of love?…

I do this often… I fear things…

Sometimes fear leads me to fear money or the lack of money… Other times fear leads me to fear the future… And, on occasion, fear leads me to fear what others might think or not think of me…

Honestly, fear is something I deal with on a moment by moment basis…

And as much as I’d like to say I’ve overcome fear… Well I haven’t… Because it’s still a part of my lifestyle…

But….. My relationship with it has gotten much better…

Because I’ve begun to realize I fear because my security isn’t completely in an intangible, loving source… God…

Yes, in several areas I do choose to place my security in Him… I do trust and have complete confidence in the work he’s doing inside of my friends and family and even the world… But then, when it comes to my own heart… Well I let fear outrun and overpower me a lot…

I so often forget that I believe in and trust a God who is a reflection of love… And because he is that reflection of love, placing my security in him means I should be cultivating a heart of love…

So then, how do I remind myself of this intangible God and his love when I feel fear?…

Well, I have to remind myself that this loving, intangible God I believe in looks at my heart… I believe when He sees my heart, he sees only the good… That he believes in me, cheers for me and hopes the best for my life…

Because, to me, this intangible God is like the greatest father of all time… Always aiming to bring me high when I might feel low… Encouraging me through others… And providing me with my intangible needs every step of my day…

And I know that might seem a little far fetched to some… And, honestly… Well it used to seem far fetched to me… But then I started to just accept that something greater then mankind loves me, adores me and will take care of my every need… And in that acceptance, I found this powerful love that does outrun and overpower every ounce of fear we all might have…