brokenness · death · family · healing · love of god · redeem · restore

A Promise is A Promise

Six-and-a-half years ago my dad unexpectedly died. A month before he passed my parents had just celebrated their milestone 30th wedding anniversary. To celebrate, they planned to take a trip to Hawaii, but… Well obviously, that didn’t happen.

Last week my mom turned 60-years-old. So, in true Winder Sister form and fashion, Bridget and I decided to honor my parents plans by taking her to Hawaii to celebrate.

Now if I’m honest, I was excited the entire time! However, as we zipped up, down and around the island for the week, I never really thought about Dad much. I never truly let myself experience the weight of what it means to honor my parents by fulfilling a promise that was made within the covenant of their marriage.

And so, it wasn’t until we were actually headed to the airport that the heaviness of it all began to hit me. 

You see… Sickness, disease and death sought to destroy the Winder Women by completely robbing us of life and dragging us down a long and sometimes dark path of brokenness, heartache and pain. However, that’s what’s so magnificent about restoration! It’s this beautiful, systematic process where God promises too deeply and divinely heal us from the darkness that has torn us apart: spirit, soul, heart and body.

And… Somewhere along the way, the healing becomes a fulfilled process in certain areas… And you’re able to look at the life (like we have with this trip) and confidently say, “Yeah, dad’s not here… Yes, life has been an emotional, painful, uncertain climb we sometimes didn’t believe we’d make it through; however, we are holding God to His promises. And His promises say, “He WILL vindicate us and bring life to every place the kingdom of darkness has stolen.” His promises say, “He WILL redeem, restore and then supply us with endless joy!” His promises say, “He WILL cultivate the grounds of our brokenness so that they can be made whole, and then we can walk in the maturity of His confidence, security and love.”

And so you see… It is completely healthy to walk through fire and then emerge refined, restored and redeemed. It’s completely healthy to emerge without an ounce of bitterness, anger, hate, heartache and insecurity. It’s completely healthy to emerge more equipped with a heavier, holier suit of armor than when you walked in. 

Because when you do… When you actually surrender your pain, heartache and brokenness to God, then He can come in with His great love and swallow up what the kingdom of darkness has stolen. And then… Then you can move forward to the other side with a healthy, whole and aligned spirit, soul, heart and body. And that side… That realm… That promised land is overflowing with an increase of LIFE…. Life that is beaming and vibrating with a higher frequency of honor, respect, love and gratitude towards God than you ever imagined possible. And it perpetually echos out, “A promise is a promise!” 🌱 #cultivatelife #winderwomen

capacity · grow · healing · keep moving forward · refine

Capacitate

Yesterday, I caught myself looking very intently at old photos…. And they gripped me in such a way that I thought, “I don’t even see myself in these photos anymore. The person I see in these photos is just an image… A mirage… A shell of me in a once lived life. A girl who was searching very deeply for identity, security and belonging. A young woman who needed to be completely stripped down and cleansed of her brokenness, confusion, selfishness and deep-rooted pride.”

And now I do realize we don’t all look at our past selves, only in an effort to compare it to our present selves. However, well… I do because I love to track my growth rate.

Which is why sometimes… Sometimes I wish I could travel to the past and tell that girl, “Hey you, you’re gonna go through a lot of challenging processes, but they will refine you. They will develop and mature you. They WILL cause you to grow. Actually they will propel you to grow in such a way that you’ll feel isolated A LOT. And you’ll feel misunderstood even more. However, your capacity…. Amanda, your capacity to move forward with the plans and the will of God… Wow! It will grow! You will be able to take on more than you ever imagined… More than you ever schemed up in all of those phone calls… Yeah, the capacity God’s going to instill and install inside of you will be so voluminous. So don’t stop. Don’t ever stop growing!”

And you know… I say all of this in this moment because I am wrestling deeply with capacity. I’ve been asking God for months to grow it… To give me a greater understanding of how it works… And He’s been very reliable in answering. But the feeling of growth… The amount of pressure it takes for one to reach the maximum amount one can contain or produce… Gosh it is a challenging process.

However, I do believe… I truly, truly believe it is so very healthy to outgrow who we were years ago, months ago or even a few weeks ago. Because if we’re ever going to truly thrive the way God intended us to, then we MUST be willing to capacitate. We must be willing to stare ourselves down in the mirror and say, “I don’t know who you’re becoming or how you’re going to get there, but you will move forward. You will grow. And you will do it with Holy Spirit leading the way!” 🌱 #cultivatelife #keepmovingforward

capacity · focus · grow · heart · process

“Bettering” My Heart

Oh boy… I hear it again, “What’s in your heart Amanda? I’m searching your innermost parts to see what’s planted there and what kind of ground it’s growing on. Are you going to let me have the things that are languishing? Are you going to surrender the fear that’s keeping you from moving forward? And what about the healthy roots that have been established on good ground? Are you going to focus on them and the life they’re giving, or are you going to disregard them because you desire growth in other areas you aren’t ready for yet? Tell me what’s happening inside of you.”

Yes, it’s true. God examines my heart a lot. He inspects the middle ground of my spirit, soul and body more times than I’d like; however, His inspection is always for good measure. He’s always looking to refine areas in me that are broken, afraid and seemingly a little lost. And then He’s constantly prepared to show me other areas that have grown beyond my wildest comprehension.

And, to be quite honest, it’s challenging to listen to God’s plan for “bettering” my heart. But it’s also so good. So good that I have to say, “Okay God, let’s do this! Bring inner healing and deliverance to these areas. Oh, and please teach me how to increase here. I want to thrive at a higher frequency so that I may cultivate a greater capacity for life.

You see I’m sharing this because I hope you have a similar relationship with Him. I hope you live and operate from a real, true spiritual reality, rather than the false reality that’s marketed to us on the regular.

Because living through the lens of God’s reality means that we are constantly and consistently willing to lean into the Kingdom of God and all it has to offer us. It means we meet every challenge He presents us with with gladness in our hearts. Because, when we do… When we truly begin to live from His perspective, well I believe we will cultivate lives (spirit, soul, heart and body) beyond our wildest dreams. 🌱♥️ #cultivatelife

follow · keep moving forward · relationship · teamwork

THIS Mountain

I’m climbing THIS mountain in front of me.

Actually… WE are climbing THIS mountain in front of US.

My sister and I have climbed lots of mountains before… Separately and together. But… THIS… THIS mountain is unique because we must take all that He has deposited inside of us (separately and together), multiply it with a new deposit of His gifts and then produce a finished product.

Funny thing… Neither of us have a clue what the finished product will look like! Oh sure… We kind of know what it might feel like. And we definitely know what ideas need to be incorporated into the whole.

However… the final outcome is a mystery.

And… To be completely honest with you… I like it that way because it reveals how much trust is rooted inside of our relationships with God and with each other.

After all… “It’s not always our business to know why God has asked us to do certain things. But it is ALWAYS our business to follow.”

So… If you’re reading this and you truly believe in the Godhead… If they are really the foundation and bedrock of your life: spirit, soul and body, then you MUST FULLY FOLLOW the Holy Spirit’s lead. And… I’ve learned that He doesn’t normally give a 2-step plan, a 5-step plan or a 10-step plan. He more or less says, “Here’s the next step… Now take it.” 🌱 #cultivatelife #bridgetwinderart #windersisters

challenge · family · keep moving forward · teamwork

“Help. Me.”

“Help. Me.” is what I quietly screamed at my sister across the gym yesterday. The weight I tried to load onto my shoulders for lunges was entirely too heavy for me to lift.

Of course she quickly looked at me like, “What am I supposed to do Amanda?! You think I can help you lift 80 pounds?!”

But she did. My sister helped me pick up the weight and then together we placed it on it’s stand.

And that’s what this entire journey has been… A constant series of two sisters helping each other move forward right when the other seems like she might crumble.

Those are the things no one sees though… The moments where we both want to give up because God’s system for living isn’t working the way we imagined it would.

You see it seemed so simple when He showed me a picture of the outcome. But then I didn’t consider that my choices would lead me to a place that would look like this for so long. I didn’t realize there would be years and years and years of refusing to cave.

And I also didn’t realize my response would consistently be… “Well, I consulted God and He said, ‘No. No, don’t do that. Don’t sell out. Don’t go that route. Don’t buy into what’s cheap, fake and entirely insecure. Keep following me. It will all come together in My timing Amanda. You have to keep trusting Me.”

And so I do… We both do. Actually we all three do. Mom included. Even with the soul-ripping, sudden loss of dad. We have chosen to band tighter to God and go even higher with Him and His ways.

And sure… Sure it hasn’t been easy. But I can promise you this… My choice to trust God and take risks with Him and His ways have been the best choices I’ve ever made because they’ve made me confident, secure, whole, complete and at peace with the out-of-control world around me. And no, no He doesn’t always make sense. And yes, yes spirituality is almost always terrifying because it means we have to let go and trust in things we might not believe are real. But I just want to encourage you to trust that He’s there. Trust that He’s waiting to lift the 80 pounds you cannot lift alone off of your shoulders. And trust that He will guide you after the weight is gone so you can #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 🙃)

cultivation · faith · grow

The Smallest Seed

The smallest seed planted in the garden… The one that is cultivated with hope and love… That’s what faith is.

It’s not always easy. It’s sometimes a challenge. It requires a lot of feeding, sunlight and attention, but I promise you it will grow into something bigger than you imagined.

Faith is lifestyle my friends.

It’s not something we pick up when we’re desperate for healing or an answer. It’s an alive being we coast through life with. It is the foundation which we should all be build upon.

And Jesus… You know that guy everybody seems to argue about. Yeah, He’s kind of like the sun in the sky… Always willing and able to provide the light the seed will continuously need to get up and grow.

So please, please be encouraged to have faith in your heart… Even when conditions look way to dark to develop and grow. 🌸💃🏻 #cultivatelife

(More in video below!)

challenge · cultivation · fear · seasons

Process: Seasonal

How many times have you heard, “God works in seasons?” Because I’ve heard it for as long as I can remember. And though I don’t fully understand why He created the world to experience seasons…. I do see that our existence as humans is very similar.

Now, the catch is to stay moving with the seasons… To not become stagnant, but to keep moving forward as the Spirit leads.

So then what does it mean to move with His process? Well I believe we have to embrace what He’s given us within each moment.

You see if you’re anything like me then you’re constantly anticipating the future. I live in the future most of the time…. Hoping and creating something much more exciting than my present. However, we can’t get to the future God has for us if we can’t complete the season He’s placed us in in the present.

And I get it… It’s a challenge to be in certain seasons of life He’s placed us in because the growth is challenging and uncomfortable. But you know?… I’ve also learned that if we just choose to submit to where He has us then we will learn the lesson and then be able to move forward to the next season quickly.

Yeah… That’s right. I believe if we can just embrace the healing, restoration, growth and maturity that needs to take place inside of us, then He’ll move us forward to the next thing.

And I know it’s not always a walk in the park. Some seasons of life are like Summer… They’re warm, bright and very friendly… But then others are like Winter… Dark, depressing and oh so cold.

But if we can just live in them fully, we will get to the next destination of our journey with life and God. 🌷 #cultivatelife #justlive

capacity · expansion · freedom · Fullness of Jesus · higher way · humility · kingdom · process · righteousness

Upside Down Kingdom

What happens when you realize you’re wrong? How do you move forward when you see that the picture… The truth… The reality was upside down from what you imagined it to be?

That’s where I stand… Again realizing that my ideals and opinions have been upside down in so many ways…

You see for close to three months God’s been telling me, “Let go of your opinions Amanda. Let go of them and then you will move forward with me.” Funny thing is it’s a challenge to let go of my opinions in an opinionated culture. But I’ve tried, really I have…

And then yesterday something hit me like a school bus going a million miles an hour. Because I realized that I’ve been viewing Him all wrong. You see I set out on this quest to gain a clear and pure perspective of God, but then my ideas of Him are that He’s high and I am low because He is a King on a throne in Heaven somewhere. And, using the world’s ideas of monarchy, well they are high society. So reaching the heights there kingdom is nearly impossible. However, I’m realizing that God isn’t the kind of King we see in movies and on thrones around the world. No, instead He is a King that stands at the foundation of the mountain, or the entrance of His Kingdom’s gates. He’s not on some lofty hillside making Himself incredibly difficult for us to reach.

Now, His knowledge, understanding and wisdom is definitely more sophisticated and complex, but His heart for us is simple. It’s to the point. It’s almost one dimensional in a way because it’s right in front of our face at all times. He loves us and there’s nothing less to that. There’s no judgement or hate or condemnation or spite or even confusion. He just loves and cares for the condition of our heart.

And I know in my heart there’s so much more to discover from this point! However, this is an understanding I’ve needed because the wiring in my brain was off. My opinion led me to believe I’d get to this place in following Him where I’d discover the “top.” But really, what I’ve discovered is that the “top” is relational. And that He isn’t a King waiting for me to climb high and come into His throne room… No instead He is a King that is humble enough to stand at the foundation of His kingdom and say, “I’m right here Amanda. Come as you are into my Kingdom so that we may cultivate life together .”