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 🌱

brokenness · death · family · grief · healing · love of god · pain · restore · strength

I Cry

I laid in bed the night before last and wanted to cry because I felt so weak… So emotional… So caught in the chaos and frustration of life.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Life is good. Life is very, very good. But… Sometimes I just want to cry. Sometimes I do cry. I cry about the loss of life my family has experienced. I cry about how God is going to seemingly continue to restore everything and make sense of the pain I feel. I cry because I am weak, and only made strong and stable through Him alone.

It’s funny, people say to me all the time, “Amanda, you’re so strong. You’ve encountered so much and been through so much adversity. You handle it so well. You’re just so strong.”

And as true as my strength appears, none of it… not a single ounce… is found within myself. God literally allowed my world to shake so hard, to the point that there was nothing left to hold onto but Him.

And so when life reminds me of loss… When it reminds me of pain… When I’m left in a constant haze of “why” followed by streams of tears down my face… Well I remember that He’s there. I remember that God is sitting with me while I sit in my closet and cry, hoping for a solution to this madness called life. I remember that my pursuit of Him is the only solution I’ll ever need because He is the only One that keeps me consistently full, at peace and alive! 💃🏻⚔️🎄 #cultivatelife

cultivation · develop · family · mature

Grown Up

“Ok… So here’s the plan: we’re gonna come home, help mom, sell the house and move on with our lives. This will take three months tops!” I firmly believe God laughed at my plan that day. To think, after everything my family had been through, that it would only take us three months to help mom. I was ridiculous to think such a thought.

You see over the last year and a half, I’ve had to grow up. There’s no other way to explain what I’ve experienced. Has it been painful? Yeah, parts of it have been extremely painful, confusing and altogether frustrating. Has it been fun? Sure it’s been fun! I mean have you met my sister before? She is THE entertainment.

But you know, I wouldn’t trade this time of growth for anything. Because in this time God has truthfully taken so many broken areas of my life and my family’s life and healed them. And He’s also pushed me really, really hard to be where I am today.

Now, I didn’t really appreciate the dark moments. I didn’t really prefer the moments when I thought money was going to run out and we were going to have to file bankruptcy. But, gosh I wouldn’t trade those experiences for the world. Because in the midst of them I learned how to truly rely on God for everything… I learned how to trust Jesus for restoration in areas I didn’t believe could be fixed… And I had to follow the Holy Spirit, even when I couldn’t see.

So where do I go from here now that the house is sold and mom is settled? Well in this moment, I just choose to believe, listen and follow where ever He leads me… Stay tuned to see 😉!

darkness · death · vulnerability

Family

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Now, I’m not walking around with my chin to the ground. And I’m not depressed, bawling my eyes out, or pessimistic about life… but I am heartbroken. Heartbroken for my mom and sister and even my grandparents. I feel like a piece of my grandfather died two weeks ago. I mean… Can you imagine losing your child? I can’t. Or losing your child so tragically when he was a gift from God. My father should’ve been dead before he was born.

And everything around me feels like a distraction from reality. Then again, I feel like that’s a harsh reality for most of us. TV, social media and so much more keep us distracted from the rawness of life. And sometimes… or a lot of times… life sucks. Personally, I’ve had a really good life. My parents spent 30 years together, nothing tragic has ever happened and my father made sure I got everything I wanted. Which makes me feel so ungrateful and so loved all at one time. So many times he would say, “y’all just don’t understand what it’s like to be me. You don’t appreciate me or what I do.” And at the time, I was so naive, selfish and disrespectful. I would always just brush him off because from the inside, my dad was my dad and his work was his work. I watched him become a custom home builder. I watched him gain enough confidence in himself to build million dollar homes… Still, I couldn’t truly see the beauty of it all… until now. It’s taken his death for me to see the beauty of his life. I can’t even enter our subdivision without instantly thinking of him because he designed and built the guard house… a long with 30+ homes inside.

Each home is custom and quality made. My dad cared that much for people and their wants for the place they rest their heads at night. And I never saw it. I just saw my dad… a goofy, annoying but incredibly loving man who wanted the best for his little “pooches.” He really did look at me with unconditional love. Bridge told me she and dad had a conversation once and he said, “man, Amanda’s not even the same person anymore. I don’t even really remember what she was like when she weighed 230 pounds, without confidence.” He saw me the way I am today, and the beautiful thing is that’s the way God sees us. As we are today… in this moment. He doesn’t compare us to the past or pressure us with our futures. And that’s so beautiful to me. It’s beautiful because I had a father who loved me just the way I was. Yes, he did drive me insane and try to control my life… but he loved me and accepted me and always wanted the very best for me. The best part is he still does… and that will never change.

So, where do we go from here? I hold my sister as she cries and all she can say is “this feels like a dream. I just want him to hold me and hug me.” And my mom says, “if he could just hold me one more time. If I could just go back to the hospital room moments, kick everyone out and let him hold me.” But that can’t happen…. ever. All of those moments are gone. Lost in the past. Stored in our memories. I’m grateful for voicemails, videos and text messages… but I hate to think of the day I might loose all of those.

Life is so precious. Really it is. And I honestly don’t think I’ve grasped how precious it is because I’m still kind of in shock… like Bridge said, “it feels like a dream.” A terrible nightmare. And I look around at the home my parents created together… all of the things they’ve collected over the years. It’s true, you can’t take it with you… but man it sucks for the ones left behind with all of it. Because this was a home with a husband and wife and now it’s a home with a woman who’s lost her husband. It’s not complete anymore. And I hate it. I truly hate thinking these things because it’s reality and reality sucks. But we’ll pick our pieces up and move forward because that’s what my father would want… it’s what he would expect us to do. Mom said, “your dad never told me what to do with the business or how to finish things. He just left it here.” And I told her he didn’t have to worry at all. He knew when Bridge and I got to Shreveport everything would be ok because we would pull together as a team, a family and work together. He knew, like I know, that I would make sure our family would move forward and finish what was started. And… I feel good about that.