Keep Following

When God gave me Cultivate Life 10 years ago He told me it would be a “challenge” to “keep moving forward,” but that the challenge would always produce more LIFE.

I believe my constant desire for more life is why I always chose the challenge. I want my world to become a flourishing paradise… One that springs forth with more life, love, peace and joy than one can imagine.

However, sometimes choosing to take on the challenge He presents me with isn’t what I want to do because I know it’s going to ask so much of my free-will.

You see I’ve learned that following Holy Spirit is pretty simple, the only real hang up is whether I will obey or not. Will I keep choosing to let go of my free-will and selfish intent in order to follow His will?

And I don’t know if you’ve experienced this before… We do live in a society that practically makes decisions for us; however, I do hope (if you’re reading this) that you’ll be encouraged to use your free-will to step away from society so that you may have a fuller life! I also hope that you’re always encouraged to take on the challenges Holy Spirit places in front of you.

And, if you don’t know how to follow Him, I hope He begins to open up a world of following to you… One that’s full of life, relationship, mystery and anticipation. And I hope, in this following, you take on every challenge, discovering greater ways to live and love than you ever imagined! 🌴 #cultivatelife #justlive

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

Just Float

I’m not very good at resting.

I don’t struggle with eating nutritiously, working out and connecting to God on a daily basis… But rest… WHY do I need to rest?! I love being “busy!” I love having a list with 100 things to tackle!

And I’ve gone through seasons before where God’s said things like, “Okay Amanda it’s time to rest!” I’ve also gone through seasons where He’s flat out driven me into a place of rest whether I like it or not.

And although I know the truth… that rest is essential to a cultivated lifestyle… I struggle in this area deeply.

Somewhere in my mind I’m driven with the thought that I need to constantly move with my own power and might to make sure everything “happens.” I try to do it all. I don’t want to step back and let God do that difficult stuff. I want to do it. I love the impossible challenge!

Lately though everything has kind of come to a halt. I’ve found myself in one of those seasons where God has practically forced me into a lifestyle of rest.

And honestly it’s uncomfortable. I don’t like to stand back and say, “Everything you’ve led me to belongs to you God. So I’m just gonna stand still and rest because there’s nothing else I can do to move this forward. I’m completely stumped. So… It’s on you!”

And as humbling as it is to let go and embrace the reality that I can’t do the impossible, there’s also something so beautiful about it. It’s like a true test of faith and humility to say, “I’ve done enough. I’ve followed the flow as far as it would go. So now I’m just gonna sit back and float!” 🌱 #cultivatelife #justlive

How Did I Become Her?

The unpaved path is rough. It’s lined with more obstacles, transition, pain, sacrifice and cultivation than I ever signed up for.

I remember being a kid. I remember what I wanted in my heart. Then I remember the promises God gave me as I got older. I remember the words He spoke directly to my heart and soul. I was attentive. I was aware. I didn’t miss the call He gave me.

I also remember being 17 years old, 235lbs and the most insecure, intimidated person I’d ever known. I remember thinking, “How will I ever become HER?! How will I ever grow into the woman God sees me as?”

I followed the unpaved path. I’ve followed it for years as I’ve listened to His voice. And there have been so many times I wanted to turn around and go “back.” There have been so many times I’ve convinced myself God lied to me about the promise. There have been so many times I said, “Forget the process! His process is too challenging! He’s asked too much of me! I’ve lost too much!”

But I’ve continued to move forward.

And now… Now I find myself hearing random people say, “You’re so intimidating. You’re so secure. The presence you carry with you is intense, but also so beautiful.”

I kind of laugh when I hear these things. I laugh because I know it’s not me they sense. I know it’s HIM! I know He’s consumed so much of my heart that He’s leaking onto each person I come in contact with.

And then sometimes I cry when I hear these things. I cry because I realize I don’t have a male covering or protection in my life anymore. It’s just me… Me and God. Me and Jesus. Me and the Holy Spirit. They’re more than enough you know?

And I think what I’m trying to say is this… I’ve journeyed all this way to become confident, courageous and humble. I’ve climbed mountains, walked through valleys and forged streams just to become a whole person. I’ve listened and followed when it didn’t make sense just to be in a moment where I can stand on my own two feet and think, “Wow, I can’t be moved. I’m solid as a fortress in Him and Him alone.”

And though I don’t know what lies ahead… I do know that all that He’s done in me has helped me truly cultivate LIFE! 🌱 #cultivatelife

How Did I Get Here?

Last night I sat at a cabaret performance… Which is generally not my chosen cup of tea. And… All in one moment I began to think, “How did I get here? How is this my life? I never asked for this at all, but this is my life.” Then I said it to my sister and she laughed really hard. But it’s true… How on earth did I get here?

You see that’s how I feel a lot of the time… I feel like I’ve lived so many different lives because I’ve moved around so much. Constantly I feel like nothing is ever truly stable. Almost like God keeps me at something until He decides my mission is complete and then He moves me on to something else. At times that means a new city with new people… A new way of life.

And it’s not easy. There are at least 10 times a day when I want what I want… Nothing more or less. And then there are at least 5 times a day when I think, “I should be following my own will and way. I should be creating the goals and calling the shots. Not God. What does He even know? I feel farther away from my hopes, dreams and passion than ever before.” But then I know… I know deep, deep down that I must follow Him. No matter what anyone else tells me they think I should be doing… or what they think God thinks I should be doing… I am going to listen to the Holy Spirit for myself.

And so I guess this is when my hard-headedness comes in. Because I’m going to keep pushing forward. And although it doesn’t make a lick of sense in the tangible, I really truly believe something amazing is happening in the supernatural.

So call me crazy. Maybe I am. But I just have to keep moving forward with Him.

 

Current Chapter

I don’t know where the excitement in my relationship with God has gone. I don’t know where the thrill of following Him went. It was there for years, but now I feel like it’s lost or something.

It’s just… Well our relationship seems to be somewhat stale. And while I talk to Him everyday and He talks back, I just feel like everything is so mundane and routine. And though He’s healed so much of my broken life and brought me through some very challenging seasons of life, well I just don’t understand where the thrill of pursuing Him went.

Sometimes I find myself really frustrated and angry with this too. I love Him so much and I don’t ever want to live life without Him, yet I’m struggling with where our relationship is headed next.

But I guess that means the relationship is real you know? It’s alive because it has highs and lows. I don’t always love the relationship I’m in with Him, but I do love Him.

So then how? How do I move forward? How do I continue to pursue a relationship that kind of feels routine and sometimes like it’s not enough? How do I stay focused on Him and not allow myself to turn and look at the very appealing world around me?… The world that is screaming for me to follow it.

These are the questions my heart constantly faces as I continue to follow. And I don’t have an answer for myself. And it’s tough to turn to others and glean their thoughts and opinions because my relationship with God isn’t the same as someone else’s. We are all on our own journey with Him in life.

However, at this point in my life I feel like I need to fight to stay in my relationship with Him. I need to fight to stand firm and secure. I don’t need to look around and become moved by the world that is constantly setting goals and sprinting past me. I need to walk and remain devoted to Him.

And I know what I’m saying sounds very much like a physical relationship, but it’s the truth. Just like God promises to never leave or forsake me in life, I need to do the same. I need to remain true and pure to Him and Him alone.

You see I believe when we get to these places in our relationship with Him… Places that seem boring and uneventful… We need to stay true. We don’t need to hobbies, Netflix, social media or any other thing to distract us from following. No, we need to keep our eyes focused on Him. We need to keep following, regardless of what we do or do not feel in the relationship. ♥️ #cultivatelife

Risky Business

I used to think I knew faith. I used to think it was simply believing in what I couldn’t see and the impossible.

However, over the past year of life I’ve really realized faith is a lifestyle of risks. It’s choosing to step out into uncertain, unknown and uncommon territory. It’s choosing to simply follow the Holy Spirit with boldness and a heart full of confidence and courage.

To me, that’s what Jesus meant when He said, “You only need faith as small as a mustard seed.” We only need to step out of our comfort zone and do the tiniest thing… The thing that’s different from the way we usually live life.

And it’s not always easy because taking risks asks that we literally leave our old lifestyle behind and pursue something greater and more fulfilling.

But… Well if we don’t step out… If we don’t jump off of the edge of the cliff, then why even believe in life and the divine at all? Why even consider God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit in the tiniest bit if we don’t have the courage to step forward and move with their lead? 🏔🌷 #cultivatelife