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

Just Float

I’m not very good at resting.

I don’t struggle with eating nutritiously, working out and connecting to God on a daily basis… But rest… WHY do I need to rest?! I love being “busy!” I love having a list with 100 things to tackle!

And I’ve gone through seasons before where God’s said things like, “Okay Amanda it’s time to rest!” I’ve also gone through seasons where He’s flat out driven me into a place of rest whether I like it or not.

And although I know the truth… that rest is essential to a cultivated lifestyle… I struggle in this area deeply.

Somewhere in my mind I’m driven with the thought that I need to constantly move with my own power and might to make sure everything “happens.” I try to do it all. I don’t want to step back and let God do that difficult stuff. I want to do it. I love the impossible challenge!

Lately though everything has kind of come to a halt. I’ve found myself in one of those seasons where God has practically forced me into a lifestyle of rest.

And honestly it’s uncomfortable. I don’t like to stand back and say, “Everything you’ve led me to belongs to you God. So I’m just gonna stand still and rest because there’s nothing else I can do to move this forward. I’m completely stumped. So… It’s on you!”

And as humbling as it is to let go and embrace the reality that I can’t do the impossible, there’s also something so beautiful about it. It’s like a true test of faith and humility to say, “I’ve done enough. I’ve followed the flow as far as it would go. So now I’m just gonna sit back and float!” 🌱 #cultivatelife #justlive

Humble Faith

“Humble yourself Amanda.”

That’s what I hear God saying in this moment.

“Humble yourself so you can move forward with Me.”

And I’m not always the best at being humble. It’s honestly something I find myself making a mental note to pursue everyday.

However when I discovered the area that needed humility.. I thought, “This is strange… Strange but interesting.”

You see, my faith needs humility. My belief system and very way of taking a risk with God needs to be brought low.

Because I’m learning that I still operate off of a belief that I have to keep working really hard in my giftings in order for God to bless what He’s given me.

For some reason I don’t want to just embrace the gifts of God. I keep pushing them away with this attitude that says, “I got this God. Let me work. I’ll give you the glory and the credit, but let me work myself into the ground until I’m exhausted. But then don’t forget I deserve something in return too!!”

It’s really twisted.

And in this moment I don’t know what to do about it all. However, I’m pretty confident that the solution is Jesus. It’s simply believing that all that God has given and all that He continues to give is wrapped up in the lifestyle I pursue with Jesus. Because I don’t deserve the freedom and giftings I have, but then in the same breathe I do. I do because He made it possible for me to cultivate this lifestyle! 🌱 #cultivatelife #justlive

Stand Still Amanda

I keep hearing God say, “Stand still. Stand firm. Stand secure in Me. We’ve come so far. Don’t waiver to the left or to the right. Don’t get forced forward into the hustle of life. Don’t let the past pull you backwards to its prison. Just stay firm in Me. I am your bedrock.”

But… Can I be honest?

This is a challenge for me. Maybe not as great of a challenge as things of the past, but it’s still a challenge.

And in standing still I feel the enemy of my soul throwing every single thing he can at me… You know, the things he knows would normally move me.

But then I feel this even greater presence inside of me. And the presence says, “Cut the head off of your enemy every single time he approaches you. Don’t even let him breathe around you. He has no power. The only power to be had is My power living inside of you!”

So, I stand still. I stand still and chop off every head of my enemy that comes my way. 🌱 #cultivatelife #justlive

Expansion

I told my mom what God told me about blooming. She, who is always wiser than me, said, “Amanda, I know you’re excited, but remember this is going to be a PROCESS. Just like all of the growth you’ve experienced, blooming will take time. A bud doesn’t open overnight. It takes time to expand as it reveals the colorful world inside.”

You know… She’s absolutely right!

While most growth is painful, blooming is not. BUT it does require expansion. Which, like my mom said, takes TIME.

And if you know me, I get caught up with the time things take to get to where they need to be. Sure, I’ve gotten better over the years, but for the most part I still want things to happen faster than they do.

Blame it on our culture that’s centered on instant gratification I guess.

But in really, I’m not up for playing the blame game. I’m more into learning about the expansion process of the bloom!

It’s interesting too. It seems like all of a sudden timing is right. Timing is good. Timing is in season. So many pieces and parts I’ve hoped and prayed would come together are TRULY coming together.

And though there’s a place in me that’s nervous all the pieces coming together might separate again, I’m choosing to stay uplifted. I’m choosing to be strong in my mind, in my heart and in spirit. Because I believe it’s enough as life continues to expand and bloom.

How Did I Become Her?

The unpaved path is rough. It’s lined with more obstacles, transition, pain, sacrifice and cultivation than I ever signed up for.

I remember being a kid. I remember what I wanted in my heart. Then I remember the promises God gave me as I got older. I remember the words He spoke directly to my heart and soul. I was attentive. I was aware. I didn’t miss the call He gave me.

I also remember being 17 years old, 235lbs and the most insecure, intimidated person I’d ever known. I remember thinking, “How will I ever become HER?! How will I ever grow into the woman God sees me as?”

I followed the unpaved path. I’ve followed it for years as I’ve listened to His voice. And there have been so many times I wanted to turn around and go “back.” There have been so many times I’ve convinced myself God lied to me about the promise. There have been so many times I said, “Forget the process! His process is too challenging! He’s asked too much of me! I’ve lost too much!”

But I’ve continued to move forward.

And now… Now I find myself hearing random people say, “You’re so intimidating. You’re so secure. The presence you carry with you is intense, but also so beautiful.”

I kind of laugh when I hear these things. I laugh because I know it’s not me they sense. I know it’s HIM! I know He’s consumed so much of my heart that He’s leaking onto each person I come in contact with.

And then sometimes I cry when I hear these things. I cry because I realize I don’t have a male covering or protection in my life anymore. It’s just me… Me and God. Me and Jesus. Me and the Holy Spirit. They’re more than enough you know?

And I think what I’m trying to say is this… I’ve journeyed all this way to become confident, courageous and humble. I’ve climbed mountains, walked through valleys and forged streams just to become a whole person. I’ve listened and followed when it didn’t make sense just to be in a moment where I can stand on my own two feet and think, “Wow, I can’t be moved. I’m solid as a fortress in Him and Him alone.”

And though I don’t know what lies ahead… I do know that all that He’s done in me has helped me truly cultivate LIFE! 🌱 #cultivatelife