Year Five

Five years ago today I watched my dad take his last breath. All in one moment the reality of death made his appearance in my life.

You see it was evidently clear that I was starring at my dad, but then at the same time I wasn’t.

Every part of him (the smile, the jokes, the instigation I couldn’t stand, the love, the brilliant gifting that made him unique)… It was gone. His essence… His soul… His spirit… The aura that filled his body was gone. And so he was gone.

And so that was the moment… The moment I realized life… Life really, truly is temporal. And our bodies…. Our bodies really are nothing more than the vessel we use to travel in while we’re here on earth.

So now you might be thinking, “Amanda, why are you sharing this?” Well… To be completely honest with you, I just really care about the health of people. Actually, let me rephrase that…. I care about the inner health of people. I care that we are alive on the inside. I care that we thrive on the inside. I care that we find grace, love, forgiveness and healing; and then that we maintain that healing long after our moment of transformation.

You see in today’s culture I believe it’s so easy to get caught up in our outer appearance, race, sexual orientation, religion and political background… But don’t forget, before any of that can matter, we are all intangible on the inside first and foremost. We’re all created with some type of God-spark that makes us eternal and immortal.

And so I guess that’s why I’m writing this…. Because I want to remind you and encourage you to look past the surface of what you can see and shift your focus to what you can spiritually feel. Because the health of that “thing” inside of you, that “thing” we all so casually overlook, is what is truly alive in life. 🌱 #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

Jaded Heart?

Unfortunately, it’s been quite a challenge to accept God’s love lately. I’ve just been so caught up in pain, anger, bitterness and sorrow. And, for a brief moment, I almost let them talk me into hardening my heart.

You see… I could feel this wave of emotion and constant thought trying to push their way into my heart so that they could completely own it. I knew the feelings and thoughts weren’t my own though. In my heart I knew they belonged to an outside threat. Something wickedly supernatural that was begging me to follow it over the love of God.

And I do suppose the pain, anger, bitterness and sorrow are a direct result of loss. Sometimes I just feel like I’ve lost so much that I focus on my losses far more than my gains. I look at the past and how painful things have been, rather than focusing my attention to the present where love is.

However, I’m happy to report that my heart hasn’t been overtaken by these dark forces. Instead, I’ve chosen to place my constant focus on forgiveness, grace and love.

And… Honestly, that route has been a challenge too because life and death keep giving me reasons to become angry, bitter and somewhat jaded. But, well I just can’t stand the feeling of their presence anymore.

You see I enjoy feeling the love of God and then giving it back to others way more than I enjoy sulking around like the plague. And so I hope, I genuinely hope the pursuit of forgiveness, grace and love I am focused towards takes me places I never imagined to go. I hope they open avenues, windows and doors I never dreamed of walking through . And… most importantly, I hope they remain my constant way of life. ♥️ #cultivatelife

Just Righteous

What do you see when you look at this photo? I see a sassy, insecure and entitled girl.. I see a girl that is essentially covered in sin and filth and all that distracts me from God’s goodness and truth for my life.

Now what does God see when He looks at this photo? I believe He sees an obedient, secure and righteous woman who is a queen in His Kingdom. I believe He sees a woman clothed in His strength and dignity and goodness for my life.

Now… you might be wondering why I’m saying these things and what it really means… So I’ll tell you.

You see I believe God is a King that humbly stands at the foundation of His Kingdom. He is a King that reigns with righteousness in one hand and justice in the other. And you know what? When He looks at the righteousness He sees grace… He sees that you have right to stand in His Kingdom because of Jesus Christ. And then I believe He looks at the other hand and sees justice.. And the Justice He has in His hand is pure… It’s unfiltered and real. It causes Him to uphold the law of grace that’s in His other hand.

You see I believe we, as humans, look at ourselves and others the way I look at the picture of myself above. But then God doesn’t look at it that way… Because what He holds in His hands causes Him to only see the good… He only sees you operating at your highest and most valuable potential.. Which is to be a child that has been granted access as a king/queen in His Kingdom.

And I’m not sure if this makes complete sense. Honestly it’s blowing my mind as I write it; however, I long to see myself and others the way God does. With a heart of righteousness and justice for all eternity.

This Way Next

Can I be honest? Sometimes it’s a challenge to keep using this key called faith to unlock the doors God’s placed in front of me. And yeah, I get that it’s part of the lifestyle of following the Holy Spirit, but sometimes the door He’s given me to walk through is intimidating.

So… How? How does one walk through a door marked, “This way next” and still feel confident and courageous while doing it?

Well I personally believe you have to come to that place in your travels with the Spirit… I believe He has to walk you through many doors and chambers before you stand in front of the largest door with the biggest key to date. But then the funny thing about God’s doors is the truth that any key will fit. Because sometimes, in the moment, we don’t have the faith we had in previous seasons. Life has somehow hurt us and dashed the way in which we once believed. And so then we find ourselves with this huge door of opportunity(a door we’ve journeyed to over many travels), but afraid of that the tiny key in our hand is too small to unlock the treasure that awaits.

However, I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t matter how big or small that key in your hand is… Because the key of faith is universal. It fits all shapes and sizes, and it can unlock the biggest and best doors God has created for you to step in to. So please, please do not fear what He places in front of you. Instead walk through the door marked, “This way next” with the only key of faith you’ve ever used.

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.