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

Expansion

I told my mom what God told me about blooming. She, who is always wiser than me, said, “Amanda, I know you’re excited, but remember this is going to be a PROCESS. Just like all of the growth you’ve experienced, blooming will take time. A bud doesn’t open overnight. It takes time to expand as it reveals the colorful world inside.”

You know… She’s absolutely right!

While most growth is painful, blooming is not. BUT it does require expansion. Which, like my mom said, takes TIME.

And if you know me, I get caught up with the time things take to get to where they need to be. Sure, I’ve gotten better over the years, but for the most part I still want things to happen faster than they do.

Blame it on our culture that’s centered on instant gratification I guess.

But in really, I’m not up for playing the blame game. I’m more into learning about the expansion process of the bloom!

It’s interesting too. It seems like all of a sudden timing is right. Timing is good. Timing is in season. So many pieces and parts I’ve hoped and prayed would come together are TRULY coming together.

And though there’s a place in me that’s nervous all the pieces coming together might separate again, I’m choosing to stay uplifted. I’m choosing to be strong in my mind, in my heart and in spirit. Because I believe it’s enough as life continues to expand and bloom.

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

Bloom

Refine. Develop. Mature. Grow…

Refine. Develop. Mature. Grow.

This has been the constant flow of my life a decade or more now.

It’s just been this constant reverberation from God to keep moving forward. To keep allowing Him to refine me. Develop me. Mature me. And grow me in all the areas He sees best for my present and future.

But you know what? Last week He said something to me I’d never heard Him say before. He said, “Amanda, it’s time for things to BLOOM. You’ve never really experienced a bloom before, but it’s time!”

BLOOM?!? What?! This has me really excited deep down.

And now I still don’t understand what He entirely means. And I’m certainly not going to go creating scenarios in my head only to be let down by my own expectations. However, BLOOM is such a positive word! It’s full of so much life and color! It’s such a beautiful by-product of what’s been growing for so long under so much pressure and pain.

So if you’ve been following what I write for sometime now, please know that I intend to share all the ends and outs of this spiritual BLOOM! And I’m hoping it will blow my mind in ways I never saw possible! 🌱🌸 #cultivatelife

 

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

The Smallest Seed

The smallest seed planted in the garden… The one that is cultivated with hope and love… That’s what faith is.

It’s not always easy. It’s sometimes a challenge. It requires a lot of feeding, sunlight and attention, but I promise you it will grow into something bigger than you imagined.

Faith is lifestyle my friends.

It’s not something we pick up when we’re desperate for healing or an answer. It’s an alive being we coast through life with. It is the foundation which we should all be build upon.

And Jesus… You know that guy everybody seems to argue about. Yeah, He’s kind of like the sun in the sky… Always willing and able to provide the light the seed will continuously need to get up and grow.

So please, please be encouraged to have faith in your heart… Even when conditions look way to dark to develop and grow. 🌸💃🏻 #cultivatelife

(More in video below!)

When the War Wages

Do you ever feel like your mind… that your soul is being completely assaulted?

Yeah… That’s where I’ve been for at least three weeks now. In this on and off war, and what (at times) feels like a complete assassination of my being.

It’s not fun. It’s ugly. It’s torturous at times. But mostly, it’s spiritual warfare.

I keep fighting back with truth…. The truth of Christ, but the war still manages to wage on.

And my enemy… You know the one of my soul, he continues to attack three particular areas.

First and foremost, he always goes for my body image…. Or the way I physically view myself. I think he knows attempting to destroy me in this area will ultimately destroy me in the other areas because I’ve build up so much false security here in the past.

However, if he can’t get me here… Well then he reminds me that I don’t operate off of the world’s system for attaining provision, wealth and financial security. He shows me that I could have more if I would simply hustle my way to the top of his kingdom.

And if he still cannot get me to crack… Well then he probes at my identity, Cultivate Life and all that God has promised for it. And then he proceeds to remind me how much of a failure he believes I am for trusting in God and His plans, rather than following the world and it’s schemes for getting ahead.

This is always a deep blow.

And… so I am usually left in a puddle on the floor. A complete puddle of frustration and tears. You see I can usually handle him in one or two areas, but when he comes after all three I seem to crack.

I don’t like it at all. It’s cruel and unjust to who I am at my core as a child of God.

So… How do I overcome it? Well, though I’m not the best… I simply remind the enemy of my soul of truth. If he comes after my body image, I remind him that I don’t place value in my body, but in God and His undying love and acceptance of me. If he attempts to remind me that I can make more money and attain more through his system, then I remind him that God has always done far better… And that I need more than what money can provide. I need faith, peace, love and joy. And then… if he tries to assassinate my identity and Cultivate Life, well by that point I’m so tired, frustrated and done with him that I usually demand and command that he leaves in Jesus name.

And then he leaves… And I’m exhausted. But… a battle within the war is won through the name of Jesus ⚔️ #cultivatelife