Dethronement

I see a throne… It’s high and mighty… But I’m struggling with it’s dethronement. Why? Well because I like the kingdom of lies my imagination has cultivated inside of my head.

Actually, I’ve become so good at creating and buying false images that I sometimes get confused over what’s real and what’s false.

You see when I begin to feel really insecure, afraid or alone, I find myself desperately wanting to block those feelings. So, I use my imagination as a tool to place myself somewhere that makes me feel more comfortable than the present moment does. It’s like a place of refuge and security for me when life seems insecure and unknown. I find it comforting to create an untrue scenario that settles any shame, pain, fear or anxiety I feel. I create, and my reality seems to fade a way for a moment.

There’s a huge let down to telling myself lies though… Nothing I’ve told myself is real, but then I’ve created the story so many times that I begin to believe it’s real. And so my soul is trapped in a web of deception and manipulation.

So how do I get out? How do I become free from the mess I’ve created? Well, its taken time, but the Holy Spirit has revealed so much truth to me. He’s shown me that it’s really unhealthy to use our imaginations to create false worlds. He’s also shown me that I exalt my imagination higher than anything else in my life. But, I don’t see how much I worship and praise my imagination because I don’t see it’s true harm. My lies have blocked me from the truth.

However, the amount of disappointment I keep encountering in my life has kind of become a sign that’s helped me look deeper. It’s kind of caused me to start questioning God about a lot of things that I think and believe. I almost feel like I’m standing in front of a brick wall, but I can’t see the wall because I’ve painted a picture on top of it instead. And the picture is just too beautiful to be false. But then when I try to enter the image, I keep running into a wall of disappointment. I keep feeling hurt, let down and deceived. And so I now know that the wall cannot fall until I admit it’s a wall, not a fanatical image.

But, I do believe, on the other side of this wall is a path that will continue to lead me into the purposes and promises God’s intended for my life. And so, I’ve asked Holy Spirit to continue to help me remove the false images and the wall, one lie at a time. 🌱 #cultivatelife #justlive

One Present Moment

Can I be honest?… I think about life and death A LOT!

Seriously though… I think about the reality of mortality and what it means to be fully alive on the inside constantly.

Now, recently the Holy Spirit said, “Just live this summer Amanda. Take the next three months and really focus your attention on living.” Of course I needed to know what He meant… So I asked, and this is what He said…

“When you focus your attention on the past, you’re focusing on death. When you focus your attention on the future, you’re too focused on life. I’m asking you to focus your attention… To focus all of who you are on living. And to focus yourself on living is to focus on just being. I know it’s a lot to ask… Especially with your culture, and the anticipation it has to be in tomorrow. But I just need you to do this. I need you to continue to cultivate this habit until it becomes your lifestyle.”

And I don’t really know how this will shift who I am; however; I’ve already begun to realize how stupid I am for ignoring the present.

You see if you’re anything like me then you’ll understand what it feels like to be miserably obsessed with getting to tomorrow. It’s a constant state of not allowing today to be enough because we’ve been taught to fear being content with the present. It’s almost like it’s taboo to say, “I’m choosing to be fully present today.”

But you know… If I can’t get my mind off of tomorrow and I’m constantly thinking about what it will produce, well then I think I’ll wake up one day in my 70s and realize I’ve wasted my life away by being too concerned about tomorrow. I’ll miss the opportunity life gave me to just live and be fully alive from the inside out.

And I’m not saying choosing to just live means I’m going to become lazy or inactive… But what I am saying is I’m trying to make a better attempt at fully leaving the past in the past and allowing the future to unfold one present moment at a time. 🌱 #cultivatelife #justlive

The Most Accurate

Truth be told I’m not the best at being selfless… If I hadn’t moved home 2 1/2 years ago to help my mom move forward in life, I don’t think I’d be able to be in this moment right now… A moment where I’ve been able to totally lay down everything I want in life to help manage my sister’s art as she follows her dreams in New York City.

And I know this chapter won’t last forever, but lately I’ve found myself wanting to be selfish. A moment happened the other day that forced me to say, “There’s no ‘ME’ involved anymore. Where I am is a result of following the Holy Spirit’s lead, and so a life of selflessness is what’s been cultivated in my heart.”

You see I’ve come to learn and truly believe that selflessness is the most accurate measure of loving someone. Because when we can let go and lay down all of our self to be there for another, well it kind of kills off our ego, pride, envy, jealousy, anger, bitterness and hatred. Selflessness can’t coexist with any of those things because real, true love can’t coexist with any of those things.

And I don’t know if I’m making sense… And I also don’t know what will come from my choices over the past 2 1/2 years, but I truly hope that following Him has led me into a lifestyle that makes helping others cultivate life that much simpler.

🌱 #cultivatelife #justlive

Year Five

Five years ago today I watched my dad take his last breath. All in one moment the reality of death made his appearance in my life.

You see it was evidently clear that I was starring at my dad, but then at the same time I wasn’t.

Every part of him (the smile, the jokes, the instigation I couldn’t stand, the love, the brilliant gifting that made him unique)… It was gone. His essence… His soul… His spirit… The aura that filled his body was gone. And so he was gone.

And so that was the moment… The moment I realized life… Life really, truly is temporal. And our bodies…. Our bodies really are nothing more than the vessel we use to travel in while we’re here on earth.

So now you might be thinking, “Amanda, why are you sharing this?” Well… To be completely honest with you, I just really care about the health of people. Actually, let me rephrase that…. I care about the inner health of people. I care that we are alive on the inside. I care that we thrive on the inside. I care that we find grace, love, forgiveness and healing; and then that we maintain that healing long after our moment of transformation.

You see in today’s culture I believe it’s so easy to get caught up in our outer appearance, race, sexual orientation, religion and political background… But don’t forget, before any of that can matter, we are all intangible on the inside first and foremost. We’re all created with some type of God-spark that makes us eternal and immortal.

And so I guess that’s why I’m writing this…. Because I want to remind you and encourage you to look past the surface of what you can see and shift your focus to what you can spiritually feel. Because the health of that “thing” inside of you, that “thing” we all so casually overlook, is what is truly alive in life. 🌱 #cultivatelife

Inception

One of my favorite movies is about a man hired to use a dream machine to plant an idea into the mind of another man… It’s called Inception.

In one scene you find Leonardo DiCaprio (he’s the one hired to plant the idea) and his colleagues in a room full of sleeping people who are using the dream machine. One of the men looks at the sleepers, turns to the other men and says, “They come here every day to sleep?” Another man replies, “No. They come to be woken up. The dream has become their reality.”

“The dream has become their reality”… Ironic as it sounds, as I look around at our sleepy culture, I can’t help but think about that line.

You see I believe we, as a whole, are becoming more and more like the sleepers in that room. We’ve convinced ourselves we need the internet and devices to survive. It’s not enough anymore to go through life just being. We’ve found a way to convince ourselves that we need to live in an altered, artificial reality. I can’t share a photo anymore without thinking, “Do I look good enough?” Because I know there are at least a million other women my age using an artificial app to make them look “thinner, thicker, tanner, toner, younger and more flawlessly perfect” than they truly are.

We are living in a dream state. It’s constantly before us every time we pick up these devices to be “social.” And it’s growing to the point that people feel so down on the way their lives really are that they’re physically altering their appearances.

Okay, so I’m not here to talk down on society, but I am here to be honest. I’m here to say we need to WAKE UP! Life… You know, real, actual life is around us. It’s flawed and full of chaos and it might seem unworthy, but it’s REAL and meant to be experienced without the box we all carry in our hands.

And though I don’t know how to help our society wake up and see the truth… I do hope we can find the self-discipline and willpower to put down our mind-altering devices, connect to the supernatural and just live life the way it was originally intended to be. 🌱 #cultivatelife #justlive

(Side note: These photos are what I actually look like. No editing in the posting 🙃)

A Decade in the Making

Okay… Today, I hit the decade mark of losing 100 lbs! So… What does it mean to me to look at the girl on the left, the young woman on the right and the woman in the middle? Well… To me the three make up a cultivated lifestyle of restoration and freedom.

When I finished losing the weight, I didn’t realize I’d spend the next 10 years allowing Jesus to refine, develop, mature and grow me as a whole.

So when I look at these three photos I don’t see me… Instead I see Him… I see what He’s done in me.

You see, He’s taken a girl who was incredibly insecure, fearful, anxious, prideful, selfish, jealous and bitter… And He’s transformed her into a woman that’s confident, secure, courageous, at peace with the unknown, humble (I still struggle), selfless, grateful and full of joy towards others and myself!

When I started this journey I thought I knew Jesus. I thought I knew Father God. I thought I knew the Holy Spirit. I grew up believing in them, but life and death have taught me that I didn’t know them at all because I hadn’t experienced them on a personal level.

So today I can confidently say they are my foundation and source of life. Together, they constantly keep me strong, healthy and secure. While the past versions of me desperately searched for identity and security, today I believe I stand still on the truth that I can’t be shaken, tossed or turned. My life and all that I am is in Him.

And while the world around me continues to try to show me why I’m not thin enough, thick enough, tan enough, flawless enough, beautiful enough, smart enough, successful enough or even “godly” enough… Well guess what? His opinion of me is all that matters. And He says, “You’re more than enough Amanda because I’ve helped you become a new creation and given you new life through Christ.” 🌱 #cultivatelife

The Embarrassing Truth

This might sound silly, but… do you walk with God?

Of course I don’t mean physical walking. I mean spiritual walking. Are you spiritually walking with God on a daily basis?

You know if I’m completely honest, I’m embarrassed to say I’ve spent most of my life walking with God. I feel embarrassed because the life of a “walker” is constant and consistent, BUT it’s also very slow. It requires patience. It requires self-control. It requires me to listen more and talk less.

And I guess the height of my embarrassment comes when I start comparing my walk to the way other people are running. And wow… Life is surrounded with hundreds of millions of “fast” runners. Runners that make me feel so small for choosing to walk.

But that’s not me. It never has been. Never will be.

And so if you understand where I’m coming from, I hope you’re encouraged to cultivate confidence in the area of walking with God. Don’t look to the left or the right where our culture pulls us to posses everything around us. Instead, just walk with confidence and courage into the life He’s continues to provide you with. 🌱 #cultivatelife