death · soul · Spirit · truth

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

soul · Spirit · truth

It’s Fixed!

It’s fixed.

My heart… it’s fixed.

How do I know it’s fixed? I know it’s fixed because I moved forward in life. I spoke to the fear that was trying to convince me to not move forward. I told it to sit down and shut up. I told it that it no longer has power in my life. I told it that I am a whole and complete person without the idols and lies of my past. I told it that I don’t need nor welcome it’s company anymore.

And then I did something… I stepped out again. I stepped out and stepped forward into a completely unknown and unfamiliar arena of life.

You see over the past several months I’ve been allowing God to heal my heart of some deep and delicate pain. Pain that I wasn’t really aware was there. I thought it was gone. I thought I’d dealt with my past.

But you know… Allowing God to work with me and help me process the past has really opened me up to my present and my future. I’ve never felt so capable of thriving like I do in this moment.

And I’m sure there will be moments when my past fears try to break in and lurk around in the depth of my heart. But then I’m even more certain that my healthy heart has the ability to really gain strength now. Strength that will tell my past to stay… Well in the past. 🌱 #cultivatelife

death · soul · Spirit · truth

Thanks Death

I’m not one to wallow and get down about life and what I’ve lost, but lately I’ve found myself missing my dad more than I can explain. It’s sometimes unsettling the way he’s constantly on my mind, and then I’m forced to think about my reality. My mind begins to remind me that death happened, but that life has continued to go on around me.

And though it is so challenging to understand why he died so young. And though I miss him and the life my family had before he was taken from this earth… Well I am still so grateful to have experienced death.

You see there’s just something so motivating to me about death. I believe death is a being, and I believe anytime we experience him we must respect him even though he’s been so seemingly disrespectful to us.

You see death left an imprint on my life. He left an imprint so wide and so deep that it sometimes felt unbearable to breathe again.

However, since my dad’s death I’ve been thrusted into this place of living. A place that’s forced me to stare down death and decide that I will not allow my experience with him to define me in a negative way, but in a positive one.

Because of death I live freer. I love harder. I think more in-depth. I take risks. I consider others. And though he’s helped toss my world upside down, I give more. I’ve gained more. I stop and think of others and where they might be in life because there is a compassion inside of me that wasn’t there before I met him.

And… Although it’s so challenging to not become angry and bitter with God, I’ve found myself more connected to Him than ever before. He’s shown me what true love is. And within that true love I never feel truly broken or without.

And though I don’t know where you stand today, what you’ve lost or how utterly broken you may feel… Please know this. I believe it’s very healthy to feel every ounce of death. But then I also believe it’s so healthy to live life to it’s very fullest. To love with every part of our hearts we can love with. And though it’s challenging to forgive and not become angry with God, I’ve found that He will fill in the broken and battered pieces when we’re ready to let Him in again.

Spirit · truth

Authority

Do you know what I think about a lot? I think about healing… I think about health. I think about the reality that Jesus gave all who believe the power and authority to heal the sick and speak life into the dead.

And then I think about us… I think about me. I think, “Amanda you’ve seen people dying filled with life again. You’ve seen cancer dry up in so many bodies. You’ve watched people in wheel chairs get up and walk again.” But then I also think, “You know Amanda, you also watched your dad die of cancer. You believed in healing and wholeness. And then he was just gone.”

So what’s the point of my thoughts? Well, authority. I believe having an understanding on our authority through Jesus Christ is the point. And I still don’t understand why my dad died. And it doesn’t really bother me at all… But authority. I just hope we’re using our authority.

That’s all. 🌷 #cultivatelife

Confidence · Spirit · truth

All That Matters Now

My path has been different. I’ve never really understood it. I don’t know if I ever truly will. Regardless of it all following God with my entire heart has produced my reality… And my reality is, I’ve gotten to fully become myself.

I’ve been thinking about what it means to fully become yourself… No strings attached… Very little responsibilities outside of what you need. And honestly, becoming your true, whole self is an incredible feeling.

I do realize that I’ll always be broken in some areas. This is a broken world; however, for the past 12 years I’ve chosen to go deeper and deeper into this “follow” with the Holy Spirit… And I’ve come out with a very whole Amanda.

So I want to share what turning 30 in this world means to me….

I look around and see so much brokenness, but I’ve experienced so much healing from God and I just want to help others find the same… I want to extend what I’ve learned, what I’ve gleaned, what He has given to me… I want to share it with the world around me.

Turning 30 also makes me feel like a real adult… Funny thing is I still feel young. Maybe it’s because I don’t have a house, a husband and kids… I don’t know. But I do know that I feel very young and alive.

30 also feels like a launching pad of some sort. A place where I’ll look back and think, “That’s when I was actually ready. That’s when it finally came together.”

Because when I think back over my twenties and all of the choices I made and journeys I went on… When I think about the girl I’ve been… Well I just see this girl longing for the confidence, security and the humility to say, “God, I need help with my entire self. I can’t do life on my own.” But then as I see myself in this moment, I see a woman who has stepped into herself and is very excited about what it will bring.

It’s almost like God Himself led me to this place of identity and womanhood when He said it was time. He orchestrated it all, and I was chill enough to follow… Even when it didn’t make sense. So I almost feel like stepping into womanhood is a right of passage God is allowing me to have from His own hand. Not the hand of the world and the earth or their systems… But God Himself.

And I don’t know how I feel about this. But I do believe, if He believes I am ready. I AM READY! And that’s all that matters from here. 💃🏻 #cultivatelife #justlive

Spirit · truth

Figure or Follow?

Living from a place where I don’t try to figure it all out… What a way of life!

That’s where I feel like I need to be right now. Having the discernment to see the truth, but trusting deeply that all of the pieces of the puzzle are coming together as I watch them move.

Because I feel like the wind of God has started to blow in my life in a more violent way than ever before. And when the wind blows you cannot stop it… Because the wind is very about you following It’s own path, not It following you. And I very much agree that it’s time for me to stop breaking things down and figuring out how He’s blowing and why He’s blowing, and instead just be moved. I mean… that’s what Jesus did… Right?

Now I’m not saying, “Don’t seek out His will.” Because we do need to have some type of understanding on how to make decisions. However, trying to solve a puzzle God has designed is extremely complicated, exhausting and time consuming. Plus, doing so causes us to get distracted and miss out on the journey!

So if you’re anything like me, slow down on the inside and just follow where you’re led! And even if it gets dark and depressing for a moment, keep following until the light of His wind pushes you forth. It’s worth it! I promise!

Spirit · truth

Quality of Life…

The day after my grandmother died, a comment was made to my sister… “Well, you know Bridget, it’s really about the quality of life”…

If you knew my grandmother’s story, you know that she was healed 41 years ago in August… But before that day, her quality of life wasn’t that great… In a body cast and neck brace for 19 ½ years, she just wanted to die… Simple… Right?…

But that night, well her quality of life, it increased…

Because she was given a completely restored body…

Some say, her healing was the greatest healing of the 20th century…. And I don’t disagree…

But aside from her physical healing was what she intangibly gained that night…

To me… Physical healing is kind of a smoke and mirrors show… Like God’s way of getting our attention… So that then we can learn what’s truly invaluable and important…

So, she spent her life focused on the Holy Spirit… Focused on how His influence and individual, intimate relationship in each of our lives brings on a greater quality of life… And how, because of the grace of God through Jesus, well we can all gain that relationship… We can all walk with Him on a day-to-day basis…

I believe, so often, we are drawn to God because of a message on eternity, Heaven, life after death…

But what about life on earth?…

My grandmother lived for 89 years…

Was she healthy?… Was she whole?… What does that even mean?…

To me, to me it means that our spirit, soul and body are in health… Of course we aren’t going to be perfect… No one is… But we can keep them balanced…

So, do we have a relationship with Father God?… What about the Holy Spirit?… And do we know who’s blood is responsible for our ability to have these relationships so freely?…

And what about an identity?… Before this year, well my identity was founded in people, places, things, ministries, organizations… Things that can and have failed me… Things that are fragile, here one moment and gone the next…

So, are we firmly rooted in the things of God, so that when tragedy hits we will not be shaken or moved?…

And what about our thought lives?… Our emotions?… Do we try to stay positive under pressure?… Or do we crack and become a sea of emotion?…

And then there’s our physical body… The vehicle or vessel we live in?… How do we treat it?… Do we eat really unhealthy?… Or do we fill it with things that encourage our spirit and soul to perform better?…

I say all of this because to me… To me, this is life in a nutshell… Because health, spirit, soul and body, is the foundation of life… So that we can pursue what God has given us to it’s very fullest…

And it’s not always easy… Sometimes life happens and we get bitter and angry… Sometimes we think about things that we shouldn’t… Sometimes we eat the whole bag of cookies…

But the reality is, I believe, God is about our quality of life… And that He sent Jesus so that we could have that quality of life… And then He sent the Holy Spirit to help us maintain the quality, and then increase life beyond our wildest dreams…

Of course it doesn’t happen over night… It takes time and effort… Because… Well… Life is a journey… A process… A continual climbing of mountains and walks through valleys, with a lot of highs and lows…

But… The good news is, we all have the capability to cultivate the best quality of life possible…

Spirit

Walking with Healing…

The environment I grew up in was one where healing was a common thing…. Probably from the age of two, I was taught that healing is real… And that it’s meant for our world…

Because of my grandmother’s story, I was encouraged to learn all that I could from her about the power of healing…

And over the years I’ve seen lives transformed externally as well as internally…

Well… Three weeks ago I hurt my foot… Unsure of how it happened, I ran on it for 3 days anyway (I am very hardheaded)… Of course the pain was there… And it increased every time I put pressure on it… But I just kept hoping it would go away… Thinking, “oh this won’t last forever”…

By the third day, wearing heels wasn’t even an option… So I settled for sandals and went to church…

Before church even started I heard God start in on me, “Tonight Amanda. I need you to do this tonight”… And by the tone in His voice, I could already tell it wasn’t something I particularly wanted to do…

As the service went on, I knew what He needed and I argued with Him… Back and forth we went over it all… I finally came to a place in my heart and said, “Ok, God… If this is what you want, then you give me your peace and boldness to do it”…

By the end of the service, I decided, “Well, I guess I’ll do it”… So I got up, walked over to the person and spoke exactly what the Holy Spirit put on my heart for the man…

Like that it was done… No more words were spoken, just an in and out type of job…

On the walk back to the car, Bridge and I discussed how happy we were that I finally did this (God put it on my heart 9 months ago)… So I was just happy it was over…

As I sat down in the car, I stretched out my legs and realized… My foot, the pain… It was gone… I rolled my foot around, searching for pain… But nothing was there…

Just a perfectly healthy foot… That ironically was made well, 41 years to the night my grandmother went searching for an answer for my father… But then found herself miraculously healed…

Of course Bridge and I laughed about it all… Especially the irony…

But really, in truth… Well I realized so much that night…

Most importantly, somewhere in the midst of that hour and a half, I let go of a piece of myself… I set my own goals aside for a moment and just followed through with God’s… My thoughts that are always focused on my agenda were laid to the side long enough for me to actually deliver a message for God…

And, in response, my foot was healthy and whole again… Like nothing ever happened before…

And I guess this moment inspires me… Because it’s caused me to look inside of myself and wonder, “Why is my selfish agenda so important?… Why do I constantly need to fulfill what I want?… And how can I create and live a lifestyle that is about fulfilling what God needs?… Also, how can what God needs become what I need too?”…

Spirit

Like the Ocean’s Tide…

So it’s been a full week of what I consider serious revelation… Of what feels to be an almost purging of my soul…

And then I had a dream last night… In the dream, at certain periods of the night, water would flood in through cracks in my walls… The water height in the room wasn’t a lot at first… And it drained out like the ocean tide after rushing in…

But as it drained… It would drag things stored under the bed with it…

The floods became multiple… And then big boxes under the bed started to disintegrate…

It’s like I would lay there, hear the water flood in and then watch it rush out as it took things stored underneath with it…

At one point, the water came up to the top of my bed and rushed over the surface…

It tried to pull my journals away… But I grabbed them quickly… Unfortunately the ink on the inside was smeared everywhere… So I had no idea what they said anymore… No idea what my mind was thinking in those moments of life… Or even how I felt…

And I feel like that’s where I am right now spiritually… That this belief system I’m comfortably laying on is going through some serious changes…

That a tide-like thing is washing away what doesn’t need to be there…

And as parts of my belief system disintegrate, they quickly become nothing more than piles of trash, junk…

And then my thoughts that pair with my beliefs… Things I value so much and hold dear… Well it feels like it doesn’t matter how hard I hold onto them… Because, like in the dream, once the water has touched them… They don’t make clear sense anymore…

And this of course makes me somewhat nervous… Because in the midst of it all… Well I feel very detached… Like I’m floating around… And I’m unsure of what is actually solid and stable still…

death · Spirit · truth

Good v Evil

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Cancer… it feels like it’s everywhere right now. People with it, people getting checked for it, the fear of it.. The fear of sickness and disease is spreading so quickly and I hate it so much. Half of my heritage is built on a healing ministry… on seeing others miraculously healed of sickness and disease. It’s what I know, believe in and have been a part of… And while this is good… a lot of people don’t fully understand it, heck I don’t fully understand it. And I’ve questioned myself for years, “do I want to be a part of this? What is this all about? Why am I a part of this? Do I want to follow in the footsteps of my grandmother?” And after thinking that I did for 25 years, I decided I didn’t. I don’t want anything to do with health as a career.

But now…. now as I watch people become sicker… now that I’ve lost my dad to cancer, well I feel like I should at least express how I feel about all of this in a little greater detail. Because these are things I’ve wanted to say and felt so deeply for so long, but I’ve never fully expressed them to even myself.

When I explained to Bridge that the cancerous tumor in dad’s esophagus and stomach was bleeding, that it was taking blood from his body so it could grow bigger… taking all of the healthy blood, the blood that contains nutrients for the body to grow strong…. Well her response was, “that’s evil.” And honestly she didn’t have to say another word because it is evil. It is evil to have unhealthy cells, cells that your body created team up against you and form a tumor… And then to have that tumor suck actual life from you..  Well that is dark, dark and evil and gross. I don’t even truly know what to make of it…

But you know what’s even darker and a greater evil? Living with the things that created the tumor. Living with bitterness, anger, hate, rejection and jealousy… those things… stress, worry and anxiety… People, they aren’t worth your life. They really aren’t. And I struggle with so many of them on a daily basis. Sure, we’ve been taught it’s Satan making us sick, but I don’t buy that bullshit anymore… Look inside of yourself. Don’t point the finger at others. Point the finger at yourself first. Figure out what’s making you tick before your time runs out. Being bitter with someone because they wronged you… forgive them. Get over that shit and move forward with your life. It’s only harming you. It harms me. It harms me to feel wronged by someone who has given me so much, but then hurt me too, but I have to work at loving that person where they are and forgiving them every time they hurt me. And it’s not easy at first, but it can become a lifestyle if you choose.

And it’s not worth it to stress and worry.. Find an outlet. Talk about how shitty your life is. Be vulnerable with someone. Stop carrying around shame… We all feel like a mistake in someway. All of us. But we don’t have to feel like that if we just share ourselves with one another. I’m thankful that dad started doing this with us before he died… Because he died free from all of this evil shit we choose to carry around.

And stop suppressing it by smoking, drinking, eating, shopping and watching an ungodly amount of TV. All of those things distract us from reality. My dad might have been stressed and worried, which is what caused acid reflux… But he smoked for years to suppress the stress and worry… Which is what helped the cancer grow. And I’ve struggled with food (especially sweets) for years. That’s how I choose to suppress my fears, worry and anxiety. We all do it in some way but I’ve learned it’s not worth it.

And… Do you know why Bridge sketches? It’s not for others. It’s for herself. It’s so she can stay healthy. That’s the reason I’ve been writing for years. It helps me figure out why I am bitter… Why I am hurting… Why I am full of jealousy towards my sister… Stupid jealousy that poisons me and hurts her. It’s how I discovered how much I hate myself and the reasons why I can’t embrace the person I am and want to be. It’s also how I make sure pride, yes pride doesn’t control my life. Actually, I’m not proud. I’m insecure. Insecure about my life, myself and my body. Yes, it’s gotten better… but it’s still something I choose to confidently work with and past everyday.

I say all of this because it’s much easier to choose love. It’s much easier to choose to forgive others and yourself. It’s much easier to look on the inside of you and figure out what’s going on. It may not seem easier, but in the long run… Would you rather be diagnosed with cancer? Would you rather have rheumatoid arthritis? Heart problems? How about cysts on your ovaries girls? Or prostate problems guys? It’s all connected… and you can gain your own solution before it’s physically destructive and deadly.

When I think, “Oh, I don’t want to invite that person, or I don’t want to talk to that person because they’ve hurt me.” I honestly have to ask myself why. Amanda, why don’t you want that person around? Why do you have a problem with them? Why can’t you love them and see that maybe they’ve wronged you because they’re in a lot of deep pain…. pain I don’t know about or even understand? Why do you feel the need to talk about others? Gossip kills too, and I’m equally as sick of it. Does it make us feel better to talk about others? Yes, yes it does because then we can look outside of our own crappy lives and find the things that others are doing wrong. And well… that’s really evil.

When we were kids, I remember sitting at the dinner table as a family. I was about 12, Bridge 10. And mom started gossiping and then Bridge and I chimed in. And we gossiped for so long that my dad finally said, “Enough. I’ve had enough of this. Y’all need to stop gossiping.” I’d never heard my dad say anything like that. Ever. Especially about gossiping. He’d never really given his thoughts towards it. But we all stopped. We stopped and the table was quiet. No one knew what to say, and honestly that’s a little sad. We didn’t know how to move forward with our conversation because gossip was a way of life.

But… it’s better to build people up. I feel so much better when I find qualities in others that are good, rather than bad. We all have both. We all have good and evil in us. It’s just part of life. But we have a responsibility to work as a team… Work together by forgiving ourselves and others. Work together by building each other up…. even when that person isn’t around. Because in the midst of this hard, challenging time… well, I choose to look at it as one of the greatest blessings. Dad may be gone because of anxiety, worry, bitterness and fear… Evil, evil he choose to live with did take him… But in the midst of that evil is so much good. The good outweighs that bad. It’s like eating an apple. The peel surrounds the inside. We have to eat around the peel or take it off before we get to the inside that’s sweet, good and satisfying… And I’m ok with that.