brokenness · death · family · healing · love of god · redeem · restore

A Promise is A Promise

Six-and-a-half years ago my dad unexpectedly died. A month before he passed my parents had just celebrated their milestone 30th wedding anniversary. To celebrate, they planned to take a trip to Hawaii, but… Well obviously, that didn’t happen.

Last week my mom turned 60-years-old. So, in true Winder Sister form and fashion, Bridget and I decided to honor my parents plans by taking her to Hawaii to celebrate.

Now if I’m honest, I was excited the entire time! However, as we zipped up, down and around the island for the week, I never really thought about Dad much. I never truly let myself experience the weight of what it means to honor my parents by fulfilling a promise that was made within the covenant of their marriage.

And so, it wasn’t until we were actually headed to the airport that the heaviness of it all began to hit me. 

You see… Sickness, disease and death sought to destroy the Winder Women by completely robbing us of life and dragging us down a long and sometimes dark path of brokenness, heartache and pain. However, that’s what’s so magnificent about restoration! It’s this beautiful, systematic process where God promises too deeply and divinely heal us from the darkness that has torn us apart: spirit, soul, heart and body.

And… Somewhere along the way, the healing becomes a fulfilled process in certain areas… And you’re able to look at the life (like we have with this trip) and confidently say, “Yeah, dad’s not here… Yes, life has been an emotional, painful, uncertain climb we sometimes didn’t believe we’d make it through; however, we are holding God to His promises. And His promises say, “He WILL vindicate us and bring life to every place the kingdom of darkness has stolen.” His promises say, “He WILL redeem, restore and then supply us with endless joy!” His promises say, “He WILL cultivate the grounds of our brokenness so that they can be made whole, and then we can walk in the maturity of His confidence, security and love.”

And so you see… It is completely healthy to walk through fire and then emerge refined, restored and redeemed. It’s completely healthy to emerge without an ounce of bitterness, anger, hate, heartache and insecurity. It’s completely healthy to emerge more equipped with a heavier, holier suit of armor than when you walked in. 

Because when you do… When you actually surrender your pain, heartache and brokenness to God, then He can come in with His great love and swallow up what the kingdom of darkness has stolen. And then… Then you can move forward to the other side with a healthy, whole and aligned spirit, soul, heart and body. And that side… That realm… That promised land is overflowing with an increase of LIFE…. Life that is beaming and vibrating with a higher frequency of honor, respect, love and gratitude towards God than you ever imagined possible. And it perpetually echos out, “A promise is a promise!” 🌱 #cultivatelife #winderwomen

heart

Look for Him!

“You talk about God too much.”

It’s a statement I’ve heard a lot lately. And… If I’m 100% honest, it doesn’t bother me.

Why? Well because He’s very much a part of my life and my world… He’s sewn very deeply into the fabric of who I am.

So… So why wouldn’t I talk about Him. I mean… Most of us talk about things that are important to us right? 

We talk about our relationships, our kids, our jobs, our future aspirations… We talk about our current realities and how they ebb and flow.

So, it’s normal for me to discuss Him.

But now you might be thinking, “Okay, then show me where He’s ‘etched’ into your life?” And so I will.

I find Him… I find Him in EVERYTHING. I find Him when I sit and listen to friends and family talk. He’s there, showing the wide range of gifts and talents He’s deposited into each one of them. 

I find Him woven into moments that are dark, decrepit and unbearably difficult to handle. You know, the moments where you want to give up? Yeah, I find Him there ready and able to offer a strong, sturdy and secure branch to lean against.

You know where else I find Him? In moments that are completely still… Moments that are motionless. The ones that make you feel like, “Gosh, everything feels as it should be!” Yeah,  He’s right there.

However, I do believe my favorite place to find Him is that “place.” You know the “place” between where you are and where you’re trying to get too. The “place” that makes you acutely aware to look for every clue He might be leaving and how it might significantly connect to the current destination you’re seeking. Yeah, I love finding Him in all of those “places.” It’s just so pure… So divine… Almost like magic! 

So, before I leave you… Before I sign off and begin to get caught up in my reality of communing with and talking to God again… Let me leave you with this… Look for Him. Even if you don’t know Him, or only know a few things about Him. Become a seeker of life, beauty and grace. Open yourself up to the possibility that God might be WAY more than what He is to you in this present moment… I mean I believe He’s WAY more than He is to me in this present moment.

And then, then when you do discover Him in a new way. Lean into all of it. Become submerged in every ounce of goodness, fellowship and awe that you find! I know I will! 🌱 #cultivatelife

darkness · peace · process

The Thrill of Peace

You might oppose me when saying this… But there’s something so thrilling about darkness. Yes, it’s uncomfortable and intolerable. Of course it can feel like a constant circus of chaos and a cave of deep despair. However, in the midst of the darkness, I’ve learned that it is COMPLETELY possible to be fixated on peace and immense joy.

You see I’ve learned surrendering our current darkness to God in exchange for His peace is possibly one of the most powerful things we can do.

We’re literally saying, “Hey God, I am not smart enough, wise enough or understanding enough to carry or solve what I’m experiencing… So I’m gonna give it to you. I’m gonna leave my current circumstances in Your hands. And every time I think of them, I’m going to remind myself that I’ve given You the reins to craft up a solution.”

And sure… Sure sometimes His solutions take many moments to become tangible and complete; however, His solutions always offer up abundant life, light and immense amounts of joy.

And it’s also so comforting to lean into the truth that a being far greater than us loves us, cares about us and is willing to stand up for us when life is caving in at every corner.

So, if you are or have ever experienced darkness so black that you can’t see your hand in front of your face, then be encouraged. Be encouraged because you’re not alone. Many people have walked this road before, and I’ll bet that the ones who’ve trusted in God’s ability to provide solutions have found peace and immense amounts of joy in the midst of the chaos. 🌱 #cultivatelife

Spirit

Ever-Growing

What’s real? What’s true? What’s eternally lovely and ever-growing? That… That is love.

However… It’s not human love. For human love is too faulty. Too futile. It’s too fatal.

You see this love, this love is pure. This love is whole and complete because it’s structured for one place and one place only.

What’s that place you may ask? That place is the heart.

Deep beneath the surface of the skin… Beneath the layers of the ill-beaten soul lies the heart. And it… It is THE prime real estate of the spirit. A place so deep and intimate I’m convinced no man or woman can fully know it.

You see I believe our hearts are created to contain a love that’s so powerful, so magnificent, so great that we cannot help but constantly be overrun with the joy of the Lord when we are consumed with it.

For this love… His love… It brings healing. It brings peace. It brings restoration. It stops anxiety and depression and calamity of all sorts in its tracks. It can stand on every single battlefield and win the war when darkness seems to overshadow life.

It’s the love of Father God. It’s the love that Jesus walked this earth in. It’s what I feel coming off of Holy Spirit when I’m in His presence. It’s the sweetest, most beautiful thing I’ve ever known. And it’s made… It crafted for me and for YOU! ♥️🌱 #cultivatelife #cultivatelove

kingdom · Mind · soul

What Gives God?

How can I confidently stand firm on God and His words and His promises when I have days like yesterday? Moments where I feel impatient and start to flip flop about the promises.

And what about the “bloom?!” God promised I’d see a bloom in my life, but now I feel like He meant the trees around me!!

What gives God? Where are your promises? What’s your delay? What’s the delay? And why do I still have to be still?

In the stillness there’s still growth though… There’s still constant and consistent movement and life.

And even though my soul flips back and forth everyday… I still have hope. I still have joy. I still believe cultivating LIFE in the Kingdom of God is the best way we can choose to live life! 🌱 #cultivatelife #justlive

Spirit

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.

Spirit

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.

Spirit

Sky’s the Limit… Right?

Over the past week or so something has been troubling my heart. Nothing bad has happened, but all of a sudden I feel very distant from God…

You see for almost a decade I feel as though I’ve been climbing this very, very tall, but bumpy mountain range. Now when I began my journey I had thoughts about what life would be like when I reached the top where the sky rested. I just knew in my heart it would equate to an authentic relationship with God, something to cherish and hold close to my heart. Something that reflected closeness and reality.

And, as I’ve climbed, I’ve definitely felt close to Him. At times I’ve looked parts of the sky straight in the eye and thought, “Gosh, I’m finally here. I’ve finally cultivated a relationship with God in this area of my life.”

However, at this place in my life… Well, I’m coming to what seems to be the highest point of the range I’ve been climbing. And, for some reason… Well I don’t feel the way I thought I would.

You see instead of feeling close to God, I look out at the journey below and look up at the sky above and I realize that there’s so much about God that I don’t know at all. In a way, the sky intimidates me because I know in my heart it stretches so far upward and sideways. And all of those thoughts and feelings about reaching the top and being close to God have somewhat disappeared because I realize that I am so very distant from who He really is.

Now, in this moment, well I feel two distinct things. Half of me is in awe that there is still so much to learn about Him (I mean, I’ve been at this concentrated journey for a decade. That’s a long time). But then the other half of me feels a little lost and a little confused because I don’t know where to go from here in my relationship with Him. It’s all very puzzling to me.

And, sure eventually the Holy Spirit will point the way. But right now I can’t help but sit here amazed, yet questioning God and who He actually is.

soul · Spirit

Year Four

From the window of mom’s new house I sit in my bed and watch the river flow as the sun rises every morning. Some days it flows left. Other days it flows right. But then there are days when it’s peaceful and still, reflecting the life around it.

Now, I’m not sure what the river is going to teach me about life yet. I still have about a month to spend with it before heading into my next adventure; however, the peacefulness of the river has definitely caught my attention.

You see when looking into a flowing river you can’t really see what’s being reflected very clearly. The current it moving too fast to get a clear perspective, and so it’s easy to believe things are a chaotic mess. But when the current slows down to a pace of nothing, all of a sudden this beautiful image pops back at you.

In so many ways and for so many reasons this is how I feel about the last four years for my family. The river of life has been a constant, yet messy ebb and flow. Some days the wind would move it violently to the right, and then other days it would quickly changes courses and snap it to the left. But then in moment’s like this, when it’s still, well the reflection reveals how beautiful life truly is. It’s at a calm state of being. There’s no wind to tell it which way to go or who to be in that moment. Instead you can sit back and breathe, while taking in the view of God’s goodness.

You see there were times over the last four years that the chaotic wind and current caused me to question if we’d ever make it through. I would sometimes frantically and fearfully wonder, “Will mom would be ok? Where will finances come from? Will we ever stand in the goodness of God as a family again?”

But now, now that the wind has died down I can see that it was imperative that it blew violently and harshly. I can see that it was necessary that we felt the hard struggle of the moving current below. And I can also see that God knew, in time, we would all be starring at a calm and peaceful river of life that reflects only the goodness He ordained and created within the chaos of the flow.

Spirit

Going Down

If you’ve ever hiked a mountain before then you know the feeling that comes when you finally reach the top. In an instant all of the work it took to get there means nothing because you feel like you’re on top of the world. And, in a lot of cases, you can see for miles below.

Well over the last few days I had the opportunity to take a short trip to LA and hike my favorite mountain. On day one, our hike was essentially perfect. I was trilled to be in my element; however, day two was completely different. When we got to the top it was almost impossible to see what was below because a deep fog and rain had set in. And though I knew there was a buzzing city below, all I could see was the ledge in front of me.

As I starred off into the unseen distance, thoughts began to tumble through my mind. In that moment I knew we wouldn’t stay at the top for very long, but that we would have to make our way back down to the bottom. However, the hike down would most definitely be different than the hike up. Because on the way down we would be moving faster. The opposition of the climb wouldn’t be there, and we would be free to relax some and have fun.

For so many reasons that’s how I feel about life right now. The months of climbing have been painfully long and at times terrifying. I’ve wondered on many occasions, “When will this be over? When will we finally reach the top?” And, now that we’re at the top I can confidently see the goodness of God for miles.

However, like day two’s hike, there’s somewhat of a mystery to our journey down because a fog and rain have settled in. Meaning, I know in my heart there is so much of life waiting for me at the bottom, but I can’t see it. So, again it’s really going to take faith to put one foot in front of the other and walk down this mountain side.

And sure the journey down will be a lot faster, but it will be filled with things I might not be prepared for because I can’t see what’s in front of me. And yeah, that could create intimation and fear; however I’ve just got to climb down to be a part of whatever is happening at the bottom.