Free and Ungrateful…

My heart has been searching for a solution… For an answer… For a sign… For anything God or the universe might give me to help me move forward in the season of life I’m in…

Because I’m constantly questioning, “Why do I feel stuck? Why aren’t things moving forward? Why are all of these seemingly negative things happening? Mainly, why am I still in Shreveport, LA almost a year later? This was not part of the plan, my hopes or my dreams.”

And the Holy Spirit has led me to this…

The smallness of a moment… The smallness of a season of life… The times when our bank accounts are low and the money isn’t “rolling ” in for some reason… The moments when you know in your heart you’ve followed God just like He said, but feel like every door has been slammed shut in your face… The responsibilities that seem to continue to pile up because everything that could go wrong feels like it is going wrong… The reality of the thought, “Okay… What could possibly happen next? Please let it be good!”

Basically, life feels small… I feel cornered… Cornered by the reality that everything around me has pushed me to have complete confidence and security in an intangible God, who works in intangible ways… And that all ways leading to tangible security continue to fail me quickly…

And because I feel small… Because I feel cornered… Well I am learning to cultivate a new level and lifestyle of humility… A place where I am forced to learn and grow, even when I don’t want too…

And I believe smallness is a great thing…  Because I’m learning that a humble heart is a grateful heart…

So what am I grateful for what you might ask?…

I’m grateful for the fact that I have the freedom to live the life I’m living… God has set me free of so many things from my past, but I choose to complain about the things I don’t have… I spend too much time comparing myself to others and thinking, “If I only had that.” When in reality, I should be grateful that I don’t have to live under the insecurities, pain and burdens of my past… He’s given me a extremely free life… And the Holy Spirit is always opening up new avenues, where I learn new areas that my heart and soul can become free…

Freedom… What a reason to be grateful!

I’m also grateful for my relationship with God… Lately I’ve been angry with God because I don’t see a lot of things He’s promised me becoming a reality… So I’m confused… But then I should just become grateful that I even have the opportunity to cultivate a relationship with Him… And I don’t mean a relationship we find in religion, that’s centered around a pastor or priest and his/her teachings… I mean one where He literally has conversations with me all throughout my day because He is my best friend and closest companion… Because He is the one willing to walk or crawl with me through the ugly, low seasons of life…

And I can go on and on over the things I am becoming grateful for… But mainly my thoughts are leading me to this… As humans, that live in this country, I believe we should be grateful for what we’ve been given and stop looking for things we don’t have… I believe most of us have forgotten that this country wasn’t just given to us… People have lost their lives and their freedom so that we can have it… And I get it, it’s fun to celebrate our country by dressing up, having fun and getting drunk… But are we truly grateful in our hearts?… Because that is where our celebration for our country should come from…

And I don’t know where we are headed as a nation, but my current life status is teaching me that I need to be grateful… And that desire to be grateful is encouraging me to remind others to be grateful too… Even if your life isn’t in a season of smallness right now… Look around and be grateful for the foundation your life sits on…

Because a foundation is the basis of life… It’s what holds us together and keeps things tight and secure… And I promise, if we can humble ourselves and become grateful for what we are built upon, well I believe we will see growth, new life and prosperity like never before…

But, in order to do this, we need to get out of our own heads… We need to stop looking at what we want and start becoming grateful for what we have… We need to think of others more and ourselves less… We have to look up at the world and vast universe around us and not be so focused on the black boxes in our hands…

Life is simple… We’ve made it complicated…

Angry with God?..

Anger… How do I trudge through it with peace in my heart?! I really don’t know.. I definitely feel like I’ve been robbed of so much and that angers me… But more than anything anger is causing me to want to punch God in the face…

And it’s kind of funny… Because, in the past I’ve told others, “You can be angry with God. He can handle it more than anyone I know.” But… Here I sit with so much anger towards Him, and I don’t exactly know what to do with it all.

Why am I angry? Simply put, life is not going according to the plan of Amanda. So much has been shaken and removed from the foundation of my life. I’ve made so many Holy Spirit-led decisions… Decisions that cause me to think, “Why did I follow Him at all?! If I had known this would be life I would’ve created and followed my plans for life!”

And when it comes to Cultivate Life (the business I own), well that’s where I really want to scream at Him. Because nothing makes sense at all.

So, how do I continue to cultivate life in the mist of all of this anger? Food never helps. Complaining never helps. And since I am angry with God, He doesn’t seem to be my most trusted and helpful companion right now.

But isn’t it supposed to be faith (believing in God’s existence and that He’s rewarded us with goodness in the past) that gets us by in times like these? Life has been great in so many seasons before. I have seen opportunities constantly open up and I have felt so much excitement, joy and goodness in my heart…

But in this moment, well I don’t see any of those things happening… And it’s discouraging…

But then it’s been advised that I keep moving forward, even though I don’t feel inspired, motivated or excited at all…. That I move forward with patience, persistence and perseverance…

I guess that’s really what so much of this life is about though… That even when we don’t understand God and His ways that we still choose to follow Him because He does provide the most spiritually uplifting and good life.

But, I’m gonna be really honest. The closer I get to God, the more and more my relationship with Him is like a relationship with any person I am close too… And in any relationship there are times where you don’t really understand why a person does what they do… But I do love Him more than anything or anyone… And I do continue to talk to Him and spend time with Him all the time… But I still want to smack Him in the face and ask, “What the hell are you doing with my life because it’s super annoying and I feel like a fool for following you!”

But… Then, maybe I am on one of the biggest learning curves of my life to date… Meaning, when I look back, I’ll be grateful for the time of anger… Grateful for the growth. And even more grateful for God being God.

It’s All Crumbling…

Over the past few weeks I’ve come in contact with so many people who’s worlds are crumbling to the ground…

Everything they hold dear is being shaken…

From relationships, to deaths to sickness and tragedy… This world is evolving into a darker, sicker and more painful place than it was before…

And as I have conversations with people from all walks of life, my continued questions are, “What and who are you founded in? When you lay your head down on your pillow at night, what are you placing your identity in? What and who defines you?”

And for most the answer is the same… Too many are defined by the tangible… By the world the surrounds us…

When I say the world, I’m speaking to anyone that places their faith, hope and love in what we see… In people, things, jobs, institutions, the government and money… Life that is altogether here one moment and gone the next… The white noise that seems to dictate our lifestyles on the regular because we don’t know what we would do without it…

Let me say something for a moment… And I’m speaking to people in the church too who think in their minds (not in their hearts and with their spirits) that they are stable…

The only thing our life should ever lay a foundation on is God and His faith, hope and love… Not on a Bible, a pastor, a relationship, a job, makeup/clothes/shoes/electronics/furniture, the government, institutions, or money…

We try so hard to establish our careers, buy big houses, own expensive things and go on grand vacations… And what for? To show it off and say, “Look what I’ve accomplished! Look where I am! Look what I own! Look how hard I struggled to reach this success!”

But have you ever focused your attention on being at peace first? Have you ever ventured into the love that comes when we allow Father God to be in the center of our lives? Have you ever lived a life of faith, trusting that God is meeting all of your needs, not your wants?

Because I don’t believe He can properly connect with people that place their heart and energy into the tangible… I believe His Holy Spirit is searching for a group of people right now that say, “I will walk (not hustle or remain stagnant) with You through the ups and downs of life. Because You are the only One that can sustain me when everything is falling apart. You are the only One that continues to take the evil of this world and turn it for good. You in all that You are are enough for me.”

And sometimes it can seem a little crazy. “Ok, I’m going to place my lack of understanding, my fears, my failures… My whole life into the hands of someone who I can’t see… And then He’s gonna make it better? But all I know is this other way of life!”

But I believe that’s the great thing about learning how to have faith and trust in God. Through His unseen process, we give up the things of this world that own us for the one thing we can never own… Which is God. And then we allow His Spirit to completely lead us on this journey… And sometimes the journey is ugly and painful, but we can still have joy, peace, hope and love in the midst of this thing called Life.

Our Purpose… Love…

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In the midst of our reality… As a nation, I believe one of the most important things we can do is simply embrace the simplicity of our purpose as humans… Which is to love and be loved by God…

To move closer to Him as He moves closer to us…

To love and be love…

Because we don’t just need Him in these moments… We need Him all the time… And more than that… He needs us all the time…

I feel like… As a society, and I am equally guilty… We’ve become so caught up and distracted by our ever evolving world… We are so connected yet so unconnected… And if we are that unconnected to each other… Imagine how unconnected we are to God… To His presence…

I don’t believe God makes things like this happen… But I do believe He allows them and uses them…

That the opposite end of what is dark, is light… That the power of the negativity we feel can easily be turned to positivity and light… To love…

And I believe more than anything… That God…. In all of His complexity and majesty is truly just simply trying to love us deeply in these moments of chaos…

And… We don’t have to search for it… Seek it… Or pine for it on our knees… We just have to say, “I accept your love God”…

Because I feel like within that… Within just becoming acceptors of His love, we can quickly become part of the solution… Less of the problem…

We can actually allow God to change our hearts and break down barriers that have been built up between races, ethnicities and religions for hundreds of thousands of years…

We can become filled with love and less about the hate that, in some way, breeds inside all of us…

And more than anything… We can stop reenforcing fear… Because fearing fear is disrespectful within itself…

And as our nation continues to shake… To move… To wrestle with it’s reality… I believe peace can be found… That stillness in our hearts… In our souls… In our minds… Is an option we can easily choose…

But we have to start by growing, by cultivating more light, love and life towards one another in every single hand shake, facial gesture and with every word we speak…

Practice Makes Grace…

Why does it feel so hard that have grace sometimes?…

Why does it feel so difficult to just let things go and move on?…

Why do we have to experience hurt and pain from those around us?…

Why can’t the grown adults in my life grow up and be adults?…

Why was I taught to accuse others?… To become bitter, angry and hateful?…

Why can’t I just choose to love and to leave it all in the hands of God?…

These are the questions that lay inside my mind this morning… My mind that has created so many scenarios over things that probably aren’t true…

And how I want to be so angry with certain people for not having grace and live towards others…

In reality… I believe I should just have grace with the ones that I feel are acusing…

And this is one of the biggest reasons I hate religion… One of the main reasons my family can let me go from cool and collected to fuming red and totally scattered on the inside…

And I truly believe this is not only an opportunity to practice grace and allow God to carry the weight… But I also believe it’s a crucial moment in my life…

Almost like a foundational moment for the next season of life I’ll enter…

A moment that is asking how I’ll choose to handle life when it presents me with things that make me want to be my old self… With things that are so evil looking at their core…

And I truly believe the answer is just simple grace… But I honestly need God to be stronger and show me how to have grace here… Because I don’t want to…

I don’t want to… But I need to…

Because in reality… Well it’s the only thing I see that will help me just live…

Grace… My Story…

img_0596-1In truth… I want to be able to continue to balance this life God has given me… I want to become a woman of balance for life… And I believe that’s part of cultivation… This ability of a sense… That allows you to see who you are… Where you’ve been… And where you might go next… And that’s me…

I grew up in religion… I’ve never fully accepted grace… Because I believed it was for everyone else… What I was supposed to give away… Not for me to keep…

And then I’ve been through consecutive years in my life… Years where I choose to work my way out of religion… Years where I wanted it all settled… I needed it straight…

And those years, well they produced harshness inside of me… I was afraid of letting God reach out to me…
Sure, I could allow the Holy Spirit to lead me… But God… Jesus… Grace… Mercy… I was tired of hearing about it…

So I shelved it in a way… All of the words… I placed them to the side… I had never accepted them fully…

And I didn’t want to hear them at all… Which made me sick… I was going insane…

Trying to work my way out of religion.. It’s just not possible… We have to have grace to get out.. We can’t work to get out at all…

Then I found myself here… In Cali…

Dazed… Confused… Despressed… Sick… And just hurt…

Hurt by myself for working to make things a giant mess.. And so I stopped…

I stopped learning… I stopped trying… I stopped carrying burdens of self and others…

And somewhere… Somewhere over the course of two years… Well I actually gained an identity… An identity based in grace…

Because God, in all of His grace brought me here… And whether it may have been through the encouragement of others… His grace and goodness has been my story while I’ve just lived for two years…

Even through my dad’s death… That could’ve been awful…

But God’s grace and love for me has been so strong… So much so that I’ve been able to be stronger than ever…

And now… Now as I’ve been choosing to come to a place where I just accept my role as a daughter in His Kingdom… Well I am finding that it’s so simple… I don’t have to read my Bible (I never do)… I don’t have to pray like the religious… I don’t have to study like I’m insane and need an “answer”…

I just have to accept grace and love and peace… And within that… Well I don’t care to try and fit in to become secure in who I am… Sure I might want to sometimes… But for the most part, I’ve learned to love me… To give my problems and the ones of others to God… And to stop trying to figure it all out…

And I believe everyone is different… The religious… The non-religious… But we all want better in some capacity…

And honestly… Grace is the only thing I’ve found and accepted… The only thing I’ve learned as a “parent”… The only thing that truly allows us to become good and better in life…

Because if I didn’t choose grace with the kids I nannied… Well… I might’ve gone crazy… But somewhere in there, I learned that they are learning… That they aren’t perfect… That I’m not perfect… And that they deserve patience, love and grace…

Because within it, it builds respect and trust…

And now, looking back… Well… I believe I can continue to allow God to just simply continue to give me grace in the midst of every day life situations…

And that, within itself, produces a huge Kingdom/lifestyle of pure, authentic grace…

Enough for me to just live…

More Love…

All throughout my life… I’d hear the comment, “your father loves you so much. He takes so much pride in you. He is so happy when he talks about you”…

And then… When he died… Well it’s like the comments about my father’s love for me were solidified…

Because again… Well I heard, “your dad talked about you all the time. You could really tell he loved you a lot”…

And those comments… Those statements… Those truths that I heard so many times… Well they struck me this morning…

My dad wasn’t someone who ever really said, “I love you”… Actually it was a very rare occasion when he did…

But his actions always spoke loud and were very clear…

And I think this is how I feel about God…

People who are close to me… Even those who don’t really know me… Well they constantly say, “God must really love you. Look at how blessed you are”… Or, “God just keeps telling me He loves you so much”….

But like my relationship with my earthly father… Well I didn’t and haven’t really accepted that love the way I should…

Because to me… Well this is just life…

But I believe God is trying to show me something… And it’s merely to accept the love He has and continues to pour out onto me… The love that is so evident to those around me… The love that makes me and my life with Him all that it is…

So that I can truly gain this truth that His love for me is so real… So honest and always so available…