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.

When It’s All Shaking…

 If I have to be real… Real and honest… Well then that means I should just go ahead and talk about the things I want to carry… The things that are entirely too heavy for me…I find myself in a place where I want to become overwhelmed… Because isn’t that human nature?… Or so we’ve been taught…

From leaving my job a month ago to pursue something else… To discovering my family and life back home is a complete mess… To not knowing what’s next in my life or their’s…

Well in truth this whole thing is teaching me security… Where it’s found where it’s held…

Because I’ve always had this thing called a safey net… My grandparents… My parents… Or really I guess my mom now…

And then dad died and I thought I learned how to have complete trust and security in God… In His plan… In His provision…

But now… Now that life is once again evolving… Now that at least 10 curve balls have been batted my way… Well I find myself realizing that I’ve still been grasping onto security in other things…

In the job I had… In my grandparents… In their ministry… In my mom… In so many things we’re taught will always “be there” to catch us if we “fall”…

But now I’m learning that these things… These things I’ve held onto… And I honestly didn’t realize I was grasping them this tightly… Well they’re all being shaken… Shaken so hard…

So hard that when I lay in bed at night I can feel shaking all around me.. It’s constant… And I have to check to see if there’s been an earthquake… But then I realize it’s only the spirit realm around me…

And it’s moving so, so very much…

And that’s why I find myself in this moment… This moment where choosing to feel overwhelmed seems like the obvious choice… This moment where I see this big red button labeled “panic” and I want to run full speed at it and press it…

But… But then I’m reminded by God… Over and over He keeps reminding me that that’s not faith and trust… That He… He is my Father… That He loves me so very much…

And that if I just simply choose to trust Him… Well life will work itself out… And that He’s brought me to this place… A place where I can’t allow myself to fear anymore… A place where I just need to believe with my entire being that He is in control…. Even if what’s happening wasn’t part of His plan… It will work out for good…

And I am beginning to believe that more and more… And I want that to be my lifestyle… As I just live….

Learning to Rest…

Rest is a word I’ve never been too fond of making friends with… I mean come on, we live in 2016…. Most see it as “keep doing and doing and doing until you’re dead”…
Or, as it was put to me, “sleep when you die”…

But lately, well I’ve been learning that life without rest… Well it happens to be a mindset of the world…

And, as a child of God, I live in the world… But I’m not living of it and it’s systems and principles…

So this idea… This truth about resting… Well it requires me to shut off and out so much of what’s been a part of my life for 2 years…

It’s requiring me to slow down… To question… To ask myself again, “what do you want and why do you want it?”…

Rest in God is almost asking me to examine where I am, where I am going, and if it’s truly what I want…

And for so many reasons that’s a little discouraging… To be placed in a position where I have to answer questions I was certain I knew the answer too…

But… I truly, with all of my heart, want to be exactly who God has called me to be…

And I believe that is his daughter…

So as I learn how to rest… Well I do hope that it will help and encourage me to just live a fuller life than I am right now…

Waiting…

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Have you ever had to wait for something?… But you don’t really know what you’re waiting for?…

I feel like I am waiting on something… Like I cannot move forward in life until something happens… But I don’t know what that is…

And God feels distant from me right now…

Like I have the security of knowing, if I need him, he’ll be right there… And each time I speak to him he answers… But it’s very distant… Like he’s holding back for some reason… And I have no idea what that reason is…

So I suppose I’ll just wait… I’ll just sit back and wait for him to give me whatever I feel like he’s preparing…

And the preparation feels like he’s getting something ready… But he can’t give it to me jut yet…

And honestly… For me… This could be a challenge… To wait… To be patient… To know something good is coming… To feel it around me… But to not know what that something is…

But if I can’t learn how to just be… How to just wait for the weight of something great… Well then I can’t be the woman God is consistently shaping me to be…

Show Me How…

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As a child… Growing up… I was given one of the greatest friends I’ll ever have…

Long before I actually had a relationship with him… He was made known to me…

Because my grandmother… As well as several around her… Well they had a relationship with him too…

He’s that kind of being… One who can be close to multiple people at once…

And as I grew I always knew that he was trying to become close to me…

But like most great friendships… Well it took time for us to cultivate a relationship…

Because for years I believed I had a relationship with him… I believed it because I was so familiar with his constant presence… Surrounding me most of the time I was in my home or my grandmothers…

But then came the day… The day I was actually able to cultivate my own relationship with him… Because I realized I needed that more than anything I’d ever needed before…

And it wasn’t a Jesus thing… Or a God thing…

Both of the greats I speak of above… Well they are wonderful in all they did and have done… But the one I speak about in such a close and personal way… That’s the Holy Spirit…

And for years he’s been the Garmin… Leading my life from place to place… From Shreveport… To Dallas… To Tuscaloosa… To Dallas… And now to L.A….

He’s always had this compass that directs me… And a lot of the time I have no clue what is coming… I have no clue how the process will be… Maybe I can see the outcome… Or maybe I know the outcome… But the process… The training… The skill it takes to get there… It’s a serious journey… A mission…

But I believe that the Holy Spirit is almost like the spice of life… Without him… Life…. Life would be very bland… Very tasteless… Very unsatisfactory…

But with him we experience far greater…

With him we learn things that no textbook, teacher or website can teach us… And of course it requires trust… Trust that he’s real… Trust that he’s present… Trust that he’s capable of anything and everything… Trust that he is and will continue to be our closest friend…

Because when I’ve felt out of place (all of my life)… When I’ve felt crazy with ideas… When I’ve felt lonely… When I’ve felt full of joy and excitement… Well he’s been there… Through it all…

He’s the close friend that prepared me for the death of my father two months before my father died… He’s the close friend that surprises me with little gifts of goodness… The one that says “don’t do that. Do do that”… And I trust what he says is always the best choice…

Because I’ve learned… And will continue to learn… Even when I think something appears to be impossible… Even when I don’t know how… Well he knows how… He can always direct me down the path marked “how”…

And that’s where I find myself now… Traveling down this path marked “how”… Constantly curious of how it will happen… And having to trust, more than ever before, that I am following what I’ve been given the best way possible…

And it does make me a little nervous at times… I little anxious… Because the process of it all requires a guidebook… A playbook… Directions that look odd…

And I guess that’s how I know that I am making the best decisions ever… Because oddness… Well it’s his language…

And today… Today as I feel a nervous, anxious and a little afraid… Well I believe more than ever that my closest friend will again lead me… That he will show me how…