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.

Year Four

From the window of mom’s new house I sit in my bed and watch the river flow as the sun rises every morning. Some days it flows left. Other days it flows right. But then there are days when it’s peaceful and still, reflecting the life around it.

Now, I’m not sure what the river is going to teach me about life yet. I still have about a month to spend with it before heading into my next adventure; however, the peacefulness of the river has definitely caught my attention.

You see when looking into a flowing river you can’t really see what’s being reflected very clearly. The current it moving too fast to get a clear perspective, and so it’s easy to believe things are a chaotic mess. But when the current slows down to a pace of nothing, all of a sudden this beautiful image pops back at you.

In so many ways and for so many reasons this is how I feel about the last four years for my family. The river of life has been a constant, yet messy ebb and flow. Some days the wind would move it violently to the right, and then other days it would quickly changes courses and snap it to the left. But then in moment’s like this, when it’s still, well the reflection reveals how beautiful life truly is. It’s at a calm state of being. There’s no wind to tell it which way to go or who to be in that moment. Instead you can sit back and breathe, while taking in the view of God’s goodness.

You see there were times over the last four years that the chaotic wind and current caused me to question if we’d ever make it through. I would sometimes frantically and fearfully wonder, “Will mom would be ok? Where will finances come from? Will we ever stand in the goodness of God as a family again?”

But now, now that the wind has died down I can see that it was imperative that it blew violently and harshly. I can see that it was necessary that we felt the hard struggle of the moving current below. And I can also see that God knew, in time, we would all be starring at a calm and peaceful river of life that reflects only the goodness He ordained and created within the chaos of the flow.

Going Down

If you’ve ever hiked a mountain before then you know the feeling that comes when you finally reach the top. In an instant all of the work it took to get there means nothing because you feel like you’re on top of the world. And, in a lot of cases, you can see for miles below.

Well over the last few days I had the opportunity to take a short trip to LA and hike my favorite mountain. On day one, our hike was essentially perfect. I was trilled to be in my element; however, day two was completely different. When we got to the top it was almost impossible to see what was below because a deep fog and rain had set in. And though I knew there was a buzzing city below, all I could see was the ledge in front of me.

As I starred off into the unseen distance, thoughts began to tumble through my mind. In that moment I knew we wouldn’t stay at the top for very long, but that we would have to make our way back down to the bottom. However, the hike down would most definitely be different than the hike up. Because on the way down we would be moving faster. The opposition of the climb wouldn’t be there, and we would be free to relax some and have fun.

For so many reasons that’s how I feel about life right now. The months of climbing have been painfully long and at times terrifying. I’ve wondered on many occasions, “When will this be over? When will we finally reach the top?” And, now that we’re at the top I can confidently see the goodness of God for miles.

However, like day two’s hike, there’s somewhat of a mystery to our journey down because a fog and rain have settled in. Meaning, I know in my heart there is so much of life waiting for me at the bottom, but I can’t see it. So, again it’s really going to take faith to put one foot in front of the other and walk down this mountain side.

And sure the journey down will be a lot faster, but it will be filled with things I might not be prepared for because I can’t see what’s in front of me. And yeah, that could create intimation and fear; however I’ve just got to climb down to be a part of whatever is happening at the bottom.

When It’s Finally Over

In the past few months I’ve heard it said at least 20 times now, “Well, hindsight is 20/20.”

And though I do believe that statement is true, I’ve grown to love the confusion and uncertainty built into life. Now, don’t get me wrong… I don’t like to be confused and uncertain; however, without the confusion and uncertainty of tomorrow, how would we ever grow? How would we ever learn? How would we ever become more than what we already are today?

Because I believe that the struggle and the fight and wrestling have made me who I am. And though I dont ever like the confusion and uncertainty of the moment or the season, I would truly be utterly lost without them.

It’s almost like God let’s you feel a little bit of confusion for a moment… Almost like He knows that confusion and uncertainty is not His way, but He knows that you feeling that way will end eventually because if you hold to His ways you will come out on the other side with clarity and peace and prosperity.

In my heart, I hope my family never has to walk through what we have ever again. I pray that these past four years, especially this past year and a half are over for good, but gosh I am grateful for every moment of them.

Grateful because they were filled with moments that helped uproot my weaknesses and insecurities. And now that they’ve all wilted away and died down, I can see that what I hated created a beautiful masterpiece of work. Something that I still can’t fully comprehend or wrap my mind around. But something that is good and viable and was extremely worth my time and tears. Because in this time God helped me grow up and truly mature into a woman who cannot and will not be ransacked, shaken or blown away by the realities that are found within the lows of life.

And you know what? I’m ok with it.

Painless Days

Remember a few months ago when I said I was doing a lot ofoff road following with God?.. Well, guess what?… We’re still “off road” and I honestly have no idea where I’m going…

Plus, to make things a little bit riskier, my “New Year’s resolution” is to not plan… To not think ahead of today… To just be in the now… To let life and God surprise me… To get really up close and personal with the unknown and unfamiliar…

And, although it might sound ridiculous, I’m quickly learning that life is much better like this… There are less things to stress and worry about and more things to enjoy… Because if I’m being completely honest with myself, stress and worry only create unnecessary pain in my life…

And… I don’t really need anymore pain… It’s taken far too long to get rid of the pain of the past… Creating more is just, well it’s exhausting…

But this idea of living one day at a time… Not thinking about tomorrow… Not stressing about next week… Not wondering where I’ll be when this house sells…

This idea is giving me life…

It’s providing me with what seems like more time to rest and relax in the truth that God is going to continue to meet right where I am… That I don’t have to make anything happen any faster than it’s supposed to happen… And, that if I can just continue to stay diligent and disciplined to Him and His ways, well we will continue to make a great team that moves forward in life…

And honestly it’s taken me a long time to be at a place where I can let go of my control… In my mind, my control somehow guarantees I won’t lose in life… Somehow I’ve convinced myself that pain and problems won’t happen if I can predict tomorrow…

But, you know what? Letting go of tomorrow has actually given me the energy to be in today… And if a problem does arise, it’s so much easier to find a solution without the worries of tomorrow and next week getting in my way… My soul feels lighter too, and I can actually think without impending emotions getting in my way…

So, I know it goes against the curve and culture of today, but I’m just fine with just living in the present… I mean, we only have now anyway… Right?

Sassy and Entitled

When I was 14 years old all I wanted was a pink iPod mini… I mean, Apple had just really started to become cool and I “needed” one…

However, my parents didn’t just buy us whatever we wanted when we wanted it… We’d almost always have to wait until a birthday or Christmas… So I knew this was going to take some great convincing on my end…

For days I went round and round explaining to dad why I needed this new gadget… Finally, he decided if I helped him clean up his job site he would give me the money for the iPod mini…

So I agreed… And, for two weeks, in the heat of a Louisiana summer I cleaned up sheetrock inside of a 3-story house he was completing…

Of course, there were days  that I would whine and complain and get super sassy… I mean, “Come on, can’t dad just give me the money now” is all I would think…

But he was persistent that I finish the job and finish it well…

Now, don’t get me wrong… I don’t mind getting dirty or working hard today, but in that moment I was not about having to walk 3 houses down from my house everyday to be the clean up crew… I mean, I was super entitled

Entitlement… It’s a interesting word… An interesting word that I keep bumping into in the most random places… I’ve actually come face-to-face with it so many times lately that I decided to really search myself out… Asking God to reveal how entitled my heart is…

And, you know what I found?… I’ve discovered that deep in my heart is a place that believes I deserve all of the goodness around me… Somewhere in there my mind is convinced that life should stay on the rise, without falter…

I honestly believe I’ve taken complete and total advantage of the blessings I have too…

For example, this house we live in right now… All I can seem to focus on is the fact that it won’t sell and that we are losing money because of it… I can’t seem to see that I should be grateful to have the opportunity to even live in a house like this… I mean, I didn’t work hard to make the money to afford it… That’s what my parents did…

I also didn’t work hard for the finances that are paying the bulk of the bills to be here… Again, my parents did that… But I am so sassy all of the time about how much it sucks that we are in this situation…

I keep forgetting that I need to continue to cultivate a lifestyle of gratefulness... My heart and soul keep tip-toeing around the truth that the life I live is free from a lot of baggage, but that other people (and God) worked really hard so that I can live this way…

It wasn’t free for some… I had to watch my parents overcome a lot of adversity to build what my mom has today… It wasn’t a walk in the park for them…

And I don’t want to be entitled… Quite honestly I can’t stand to be around it when I see it in others… But then, well I reject it so harshly inside of myself…

You see, I guess what I am trying to express is that I need God to really help me become grateful for the things I don’t deserve but have been given… I really need Him to help me cultivate another level of humility…. A level that is willing to stay small because my identity and faith is in Him and Him alone… A mindset that is fixed on the truth that His Son gave me the freedom to live a lifestyle free from pain… And that, when I encounter pain, He will use what I don’t really deserve to rebuild and restore an area of my heart and soul… An area that is a little darker and eviler than it should be… An area that is longing to be filled with so much grace and gratitude…

Prideful Conditions…

You know those moments in life when you think, “Gosh I really should’ve listened to what I was told? If I had I won’t be living with this pain now.”

Yeah… That’s exactly what I’m thinking right now…

In the past 72 hours we’ve experienced freezing weather, snow and ice… Well mom has been locked inside for two days, convinced she needs to stay off the roads and out of the crazy conditions…

If you know me, then you know there’s no way I’m staying in… I have things to do… Places to go… People to see…

So for two days I went about my business, and every time I left the house mom said, “Amanda be careful out there. Black ice is dangerous.”

In my heart, I knew what she was saying was true… But in my head I kind of mocked her a little… I mean, I know she cares about my safety… But come on mom, I get it…

Well… Her first day out, she takes 10 steps walking to her car and BAM… Down on the ground she goes. Black ice.

When she finally told me the story, all I could do was laugh… I mean, after all the caution she gave me and then she slips and falls… It was hilarious…

Later that night I was leaving a house to head home… I just made a comment about how cold it was and then took a step down the stairs… Next thing I knew, BAM… I was on the ground…

All I could do in the moment was laugh… I mean, it really was funny… After all of mom’s caution, my mocking/jesting mind and then I end up on the ground…!

After I scooped myself up and got into my car to drive home I started to think… “Geeze, I wasn’t really paying attention when I walked out that front door… I should’ve looked around…” And that’s when God (He’s always on time even when I don’t want Him to be) said, “Yeah, pride Amanda. You didn’t listen to your parent and the pride in your soul got the best of you.”

As funny as the story is, He was right… The pride in me kept saying things like, “Can’t mom just let me be the 29 year old I am. I’ll be fine. I’m responsible. Why does she think I’m going to be so dangerous and careless in freezing conditions?”

Ironically… isn’t that how we are with God a lot of the time? He says, “Don’t do that. It’s dangerous in these life conditions. Be cautious. People out there are reckless because they don’t know what they are doing. I’ve brought you too far to see you caught up in pain again. Please, be safe. Stay alert and aware of your surroundings.”

But we don’t listen… The pride of our heart says, “I know what I am doing. I’ll be fine. It’s not like I am going to end up in that much trouble.” And, because we don’t listen to Him we end up like me… An icy fall and a bruised hip… Pain that wasn’t ever supposed to be in our lives is now there, and we have to wait until it heals…