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

It’s Fixed!

It’s fixed.

My heart… it’s fixed.

How do I know it’s fixed? I know it’s fixed because I moved forward in life. I spoke to the fear that was trying to convince me to not move forward. I told it to sit down and shut up. I told it that it no longer has power in my life. I told it that I am a whole and complete person without the idols and lies of my past. I told it that I don’t need nor welcome it’s company anymore.

And then I did something… I stepped out again. I stepped out and stepped forward into a completely unknown and unfamiliar arena of life.

You see over the past several months I’ve been allowing God to heal my heart of some deep and delicate pain. Pain that I wasn’t really aware was there. I thought it was gone. I thought I’d dealt with my past.

But you know… Allowing God to work with me and help me process the past has really opened me up to my present and my future. I’ve never felt so capable of thriving like I do in this moment.

And I’m sure there will be moments when my past fears try to break in and lurk around in the depth of my heart. But then I’m even more certain that my healthy heart has the ability to really gain strength now. Strength that will tell my past to stay… Well in the past. 🌱 #cultivatelife

Without the Idol

I discovered a fear embedded deep within me. I discovered a fear embedded deep within me and it has to go.

It has to go because I need to be free so I can move forward in life.

You see I used to be very good about idolizing people. I used to place all of my faith and myself into humans that didn’t ever deserve that kind of affection and desire because they are HUMAN.

The downfall to all of this is the reality of my fear. Deep within me, I feel that I can’t move forward because the idol is gone but then I’m still convinced I need the idol to be successful.

My soul is lying to me though. And I’m certain I see the truth. I’m certain that I need to move forward without this fear. But a huge piece of me believes I will fail if I move forward without the idol.

But yesterday I made myself sit down and make a list of everything I’ve done in life without the idol. And guess what? The list was long. The list was strong. The list made me realize that I’ve been successfully moving forward without the idol and I need to continue to do so.

And I don’t know if this makes sense to you, but if you’ve ever placed someone on a pedestal in your life then you’ll understand how challenging it can be to move forward without the words they’ve spoken dictating your actions and choices. And so, I hope… I truly hope you can find it within yourself to allow faith and hope in God to become a stronger guide than any human can ever be. And then I hope you move forward and amaze yourself with the things you can accomplish… Freed from every idol that ever held you captive by fear and lies. 🌱 #cultivatelife

The Deadly Seed

“Fear is just a lie running out of breath…” That’s what my best friend said to me a few weeks ago.

She actually said it with such confidence that I began to wonder how to make him actually stop breathing entirely.

You see I believe fear is like faith. Both are small seeds dropped into the ground. The difference is found in how they grow and what they produce in our lives.

While faith grows into something beautiful and produces a flourishing, fulfilling lifestyle, fear’s growth is ugly and often produces a deadly lifestyle.

Now I don’t know where you stand with fear or how you choose to fight through and overcome moments of stress, worry and anxiety; however, I’ve found in increasingly powerful to speak to the areas of my life where I feel fear. I speak to them in Jesus name and command them to stop growing in my life.

And you know, sometimes my spiritual authority feels weak, so then I choose to just surrender the fear and all that I am feeling to God. I choose to allow Him to solve what feels paralyzingly impossible. I ask Him to provide me with peace that surpasses all my understanding. And then the greatest thing begins to happen. I feel at ease, my stress lowers and I have faith that God is in the midst of what looks incredibly frightening. 🌷💃🏻 #cultivatelife

(More in video below)

Square Peg, Round Hole

“Fit in… just fit in Amanda. Figure out how to fit in and then you’ll be happy and confident and secure and complete!!”

This has been a narrative I constantly play out in my head. It’s been a narrative that’s taken possession of every season and chapter of life I’ve ever entered and lived through… This longing, this desire and want to just fit in and fit in well with those around me that are popular and leading the so called “pack” of life.

The funny thing is… It’s never worked.

Fitting in for me has never happened. Ever.

Sure I have dreams of fitting in with the world around me, but then I am left very disappointed when it just doesn’t happen. And then I’m left even more disappointed when I feel like an outsider and a loner because I can’t fit.

After my grandmother was healed she said she always felt like a square peg trying to fit into a round hole. And while I’m not trying to take the words from her mouth, this is kind of what it feels like for me.

Funny thing is all of this trying to “fit” has produced A LOT of self-centeredness in my heart and soul…. Because, rather than being confident and secure in the way God has created me… Rather than standing firm in who I am as Amanda, well I find myself doing everything in my power to fit into that round hole.

So now, well I find myself having to set aside this deep want to fit. I find myself having to let go of the source of my insecurity. Because the insecurity has led me down a very unsatisfying road… One filled with endless thoughts in my mind that cause me to feel small and inadequate and unworthy.

However, God keeps telling me to just “stand firm. Stand firm in who I’ve created you to be Amanda and you will stand out as yourself.” And I don’t know if anyone else feels like that right now, in this place where you keep trying to fit to finally feel complete, but I just want you to know it doesn’t work. It’s exhausting and time consuming and ironically very self-centered from the way in which God would like us to be. Because instead, He needs us to stand firm and be secure in who we are in Him. He needs us to be all that HE needs us to be, and not what we see by viewing someone else’s projected life. And yeah, it does feel a little bit uncomfortable at first to let go of this way of life; however, once we’ve done it… Well we’ll find ourselves in more peace and satisfaction than before. Plus, not fitting in might actually cause us to stand out.

Timing of the Trees

I’ve been coming to my grandmother’s house on Cane River my entire life. It’s a place that is 100% country, yet southern.

While sitting on her porch yesterday I found myself very confused about a patch of trees. “Where did they come from? Did they grow over night? Why was I just now noticing them?” This is all I could think… So I asked my grandmother.

And she replied, “Oh they’ve been there for quite a while. Really small things. But you know, just in the last two years they’ve shot up like that and now you can’t see the road or field on the other side of them.”

I just kind of sat there and thought for a moment… To me it was kind of interesting that they’d been growing so long without any notice; however, now they’re tall enough to block the field view and I really notice!

I tell this story because the trees remind me of God’s timing.

You see I believe when we live a life that follows God’s ways we must also follow His timing… And for me, well I’ve always struggled with staying on God’s time table. I want what He’s planted in my life to grow up big and tall right NOW! I don’t like to wait for His process because it seems so long and drawn out at times.

But in reality He needs the time to cultivate and nourish these things inside of me. His ways require that we become strong and sturdy and capable of withstanding a lot. And like those trees it takes many years for this to occur.

But then, at the right time… Well I believe you have a moment like I did yesterday. One where you look over and think, “Where did they come from? They’re so big and tall and full of life that they distract and puzzle my mind.”

And I don’t know what God’s planted in your life in different seasons, but if you just continue to allow Him to cultivate it… If you just allow Him to strength you, give you an identity in Him and make you whole and complete… Well one day I believe you’ll look over and see that all of that time wasn’t a waste because something great did come forth. And now the things planted are taller than you and you can go places with them that you never fathomed.

Sky’s the Limit… Right?

Over the past week or so something has been troubling my heart. Nothing bad has happened, but all of a sudden I feel very distant from God…

You see for almost a decade I feel as though I’ve been climbing this very, very tall, but bumpy mountain range. Now when I began my journey I had thoughts about what life would be like when I reached the top where the sky rested. I just knew in my heart it would equate to an authentic relationship with God, something to cherish and hold close to my heart. Something that reflected closeness and reality.

And, as I’ve climbed, I’ve definitely felt close to Him. At times I’ve looked parts of the sky straight in the eye and thought, “Gosh, I’m finally here. I’ve finally cultivated a relationship with God in this area of my life.”

However, at this place in my life… Well, I’m coming to what seems to be the highest point of the range I’ve been climbing. And, for some reason… Well I don’t feel the way I thought I would.

You see instead of feeling close to God, I look out at the journey below and look up at the sky above and I realize that there’s so much about God that I don’t know at all. In a way, the sky intimidates me because I know in my heart it stretches so far upward and sideways. And all of those thoughts and feelings about reaching the top and being close to God have somewhat disappeared because I realize that I am so very distant from who He really is.

Now, in this moment, well I feel two distinct things. Half of me is in awe that there is still so much to learn about Him (I mean, I’ve been at this concentrated journey for a decade. That’s a long time). But then the other half of me feels a little lost and a little confused because I don’t know where to go from here in my relationship with Him. It’s all very puzzling to me.

And, sure eventually the Holy Spirit will point the way. But right now I can’t help but sit here amazed, yet questioning God and who He actually is.