focus · follow · keep moving forward · soul · Spirit

Sometimes No

Following the Holy Spirit can be simple…

Following the Holy Spirit can be fun…

Following the Holy Spirit can be a life-changing/life-altering adventure of sorts.

But…. Well, what about when He says, “no?” Why is it so challenging to repeatedly move forward when He says, “No. No. No. That’s not it. Keep moving forward. Keep focusing on Me and my ways. I know what I am doing. You must continue to trust me in EVERY area Amanda.”

And honestly… Honestly I HATE when His response doesn’t make sense at all. I hate when I can’t wrap my head around Him and His thoughts and ways. I hate when He can see ahead of me, but then won’t let me in on the design and details because it will stunt my refinement, development, maturity and growth.

But that’s true submission you know?

The ability to keep moving forward with Him, regardless of fully knowing or understanding the “why.”

And I don’t know where you are in your walk and follow with Him right now; however, I do believe following through with the “no” is just as vital as following through with the “yes.” Because, even though the “no” contradicts the souls wants, it also pulls us into a tighter, more intimate relationship with God. It shows that we will trust His ways… And then have peace within that trust no matter the outcome.

And… I don’t know about you, but who wouldn’t want to be closer to Him? 🌱 #cultivatelife

 

focus · follow · higher way · keep moving forward · kingdom · peace · relationship · Spirit

Come Up Here

”Gosh… It’s so beautiful up here. Up here above the chaos below.” That’s what I said to God as I peered out the window from the airplane. It was flying high above what looked like Heaven below.

And He’s been saying, “Come higher with Me.” And I’ve been arguing back, “No. No. NO! Because I don’t know what’s up there. And I have to let go of SO much more of what I want in life. This isn’t fair!”

God’s will… His view of what my life should continue to look like… It’s so freaking complex and misunderstood by my human mind. And… Honestly, it really takes me living through my spirit, rather than my soul and mind to continue to follow Holy Spirit where He’s leading.

But, through the deep struggle in my soul, I push through and relentlessly follow.

And now… Now I can begin to see what He’s been talking about… The reasons why He’s been asking me to, “come higher” and “cultivate life from a state of Heaven.”

And I know it sounds a little strange, but this place we just climbed to has more peace than I ever fathomed could be cultivated within myself. It’s just this constant, weightless feeling that I can’t describe with any single word but “Heavenly.”

Nothing really bothers me up here. My eyes are focused on Him and His will and I’m not overtaken with fear, stress, anxiety and worry. It’s just so still… Even though I have no clue what “next” is.

And I don’t know if this is where you are today. I don’t know what your relationship and path with God look like; however, I just want to speak from a place of encouragement and experience when saying this… Keep following Him. I know He’s frustrating and sees things in such a different WAY than we do, but when we truly trust and follow through wholeheartedly, I believe the destination is so incredibly rewarding. And no, no it doesn’t ever consist of a destination of power, fame or fortune. But it does consist of what we need for basic living… Which are the tools to continue to LIVE and cultivate a healthy lifestyle with Him 🌱 #cultivatelife

brokenness · darkness · death · grief · healing · Spirit

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

Body · darkness · just live · lies, deception & manipulation · refine · soul · Spirit

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 🙃)

Body · cultivation · freedom · healing · just live · love of god · restore · soul · Spirit

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

challenge · cultivation · follow · just live · keep moving forward · process · Spirit

The Best Way

About 7 years ago I was in college, working on something God had me put my entire self into. The idea He gave me seemed simple; however, I never realized how often I would think about the words He gave me to live by.

“Amanda, the journey you’re about to go on will be very challenging. You can move forward or backward, and you can walk away with what you’ve gained at anytime. However, the goal is to keep moving forward… You must keep moving forward so you can master this ancient way of life. It is the best way.”

In the moment He gave me this wisdom I thought, “This is going to be SO cool and SO much fun! Why would I ever want to quit and walk away? Why would I ever want to move backward?”

It’s funny though… Here I am 7 years later and I have so many moments when I want to just quit and walk away with everything God has given me. I want to take these precious stones of wisdom and just go live my own life. I mean… I’ve gained so much intangible wealth from Him… So do I really need to keep moving forward?!

But then I know the task He gave was to master the lifestyle so then I can give it away to others. Which is why I always stay on the path… I always keep moving forward because I haven’t reached the place where I can fully give what my heart desires to give.

And I don’t know if I’m making any sense; however, what I’m trying to say is this… Living a Spirit led life is the utmost challenging way of life. So many other lifestyles constantly pull at us on a daily basis, reminding us why we should or could stop following the Spirit. But then… Well if we do stop, well I believe our spirit will become stagnant and dull. I believe it will be overcome with soulish comments, questions and concerns. And most importantly, I believe we will begin to die. Maybe not a physical death, but a spiritual one for sure.

So please, be encouraged to always keep pursuing the Holy Spirit and His ways. 🌱🌷 #cultivatelife

faith · keep moving forward · Spirit

This Way Next

Can I be honest? Sometimes it’s a challenge to keep using this key called faith to unlock the doors God’s placed in front of me. And yeah, I get that it’s part of the lifestyle of following the Holy Spirit, but sometimes the door He’s given me to walk through is intimidating.

So… How? How does one walk through a door marked, “This way next” and still feel confident and courageous while doing it?

Well I personally believe you have to come to that place in your travels with the Spirit… I believe He has to walk you through many doors and chambers before you stand in front of the largest door with the biggest key to date. But then the funny thing about God’s doors is the truth that any key will fit. Because sometimes, in the moment, we don’t have the faith we had in previous seasons. Life has somehow hurt us and dashed the way in which we once believed. And so then we find ourselves with this huge door of opportunity(a door we’ve journeyed to over many travels), but afraid of that the tiny key in our hand is too small to unlock the treasure that awaits.

However, I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t matter how big or small that key in your hand is… Because the key of faith is universal. It fits all shapes and sizes, and it can unlock the biggest and best doors God has created for you to step in to. So please, please do not fear what He places in front of you. Instead walk through the door marked, “This way next” with the only key of faith you’ve ever used.

courage · develop · expansion · grow · process · seasons · Spirit · warfare

She Swings a Sword

Have you ever willingly walked into a season of life before unaware of what’s ahead? Knowing deep in your heart it’s the best thing you can choose to do, but then also hating the fact that you have to set aside your own life?

That’s where my life has been for a year and a half… Completely glued to the reality that my family lost more than we could seemingly navigate through on our own.

And yes, I’ve complained for a good portion of this journey at home in Shreveport. I’ve been angry and frustrated with God. I’ve questioned Him up and down for His plan and way with my life.

You see, for almost 8 months now I feel like I’ve been at war with God. An inward struggle has been taking place inside of me. A real wrestling with the Almighty that’s caused me to hold Him to His words about life, truth, grace, restoration and Jesus.

It’s like He’s been standing in front of me on a training field with a sword, pushing me every way possible to learn how to fight back and defend myself with His truth in my hands.

And I’m not entirely sure what the training ground is preparing me for because I haven’t seen the battlefield He’s taking me to yet. But, I do see that the world is the darkest version of itself it’s ever been. And so I know that a great war is eminently approaching.

So, more than anything, I’m grateful that He’s pushed me past my limits. I’m cheerful for the opposition that’s taken place in my soul. And though He’s never harmed me or taken me into a truthfully harmful place, He has positioned me to become a warrior… A warrior who gracefully, yet powerfully swings a sword of life and truth in the face of fear, darkness, death and destruction.

glory · Spirit

Are You Lit?..

“It’s gonna be lit!”

These four words constantly tumble out of the mouth of a teenager I’m close too…

Now, if you’re anything like me, then you’re trying to stay up to date with “what the kids are saying today…”

Because, well why not… They are the future…

And since they are the future, well I’ve pondered this word “lit” for a moment… And my thoughts have led me to this…

Are we lit?…

Seriously… Are our souls lit on the inside?..

Do we have some type of light turned on in us that’s shining out for darkness to see and feel?…

Because I believe, more than ever before, we need to become “lit” on the inside… We need a constant stream of light flowing from us…

Because our use of darkness has increased… We are now creating more hate, bitterness, anger, pride, lust, jealousy and envy…

And… A lot of times, I can feel the darkness all around me… Sometimes it even resides in my own heart… But then I’m quick to ask myself, “Am I lit?”

And if I don’t find myself lit… Well, how can I become lit?.. How can I become bright again?..

I believe that each soul needs light… That light is the basic necessity of the soul…That the soul craves light like our bodies crave food…  That without it, the soul is dull, dark and dead…

So… If you’re like me… If you find yourself dualing with darkness and in great need of light… Or, if you’ve never been “lit” from the inside… Please know that the light I talk about can be found in its purest form in the heart of an Intangible God… 

And… When we feel down, low and altogether dull, there is something greater than what we are feeling… And that greater thing, who is simply God, can and will give us light when we choose to accept His love…

Light that will fill us up and cause us to feel so whole and complete… So alive and with filled with Life!..

follow · life · soul · Spirit

Just Walk…

img_4301If someone asked me “Amanda, what’s the biggest thing you struggle with today?”…

I’d have to say my pace…

Most of the time, my days and weeks are inconsistent… I jump all over the place, meaning my soul is never consistently following the Holy Spirit’s flow… He’s moving right a long at His chosen pace, but then I’m jumping from one task to the next… And I become overwhelmed with not being able to keep up, which leads me to feel overworked and frustrated…

Plus, the constant pace of the tangible is very overwhelming to me… “Hustling” has become the way of life for so many people… And, if you’re like me, choosing not to hustle might place you in the “lazy” category… Or worse, it might cause people to think, “she doesn’t want this bad enough”…

And this is why, I believe, we are created to be consistent on the inside… That God has asked us to walk… Not to sprint… Not to run… And not to hustle… To do what’s simple… Just walk…

Funny thing, walking is when I feel consistent… It’s when I feel balanced… It’s when I feel healthy and whole from the inside out…

So, as the week continues to move… I ask you to join me, as I choose to just walk through life… Because walking is so much more beneficial to us than running or hustling… Because, when we walk, we can actually see life… We allow ourselves to stop and talk to people… To consider what might be dying or growing on the inside of us… And most importantly, to give us the opportunity to be grateful for the fact that we are alive…