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.

Loving Self, Being Me…

img_2611Perfect, whole, complete love… It truly doesn’t allow fear to stand… It’s who God the Father is at His very core… A complete picture of complete love… Love that lacks nothing… That doesn’t cause us to ever feel insecure… In any situation…

Because I’ve searched my entire life for confidence, for security, for self-esteem… I’ve read books, pushed the limits of my insecurities… I’ve tried so hard to become confident with my own efforts…

And yes, yes to a degree what I’ve done has worked… But in so many ways I haven’t been complete… I’ve been lacking pieces… Parts of confidence and security I’ve needed… And I’ve still felt so insecure deep down, so incomplete… Thinking, “One day…. One day I’ll have the right skill set”…

But I’m learning quickly, the closer I get to Father God… To His presence… To His love… The closer I get to a place of pure, authentic confidence and security… The kind that is whole and complete and leaves me feeling like I am lacking absolutely nothing at all…

And it’s not found in a church, a pastor, a mentor, my grandmother, or the Bible… That love… Father God… He is found within my day-to-day activities… The time I sit in silence in the mornings…. The moments I have at night when I lay in bed and think… Even in moments when I am casually living life with others… I find aspects of His love… Of the confidence and security found in His love…

And that love… Well it encourages me… It encourages me to keep living, loving and craving more of what God actually wants and needs from me in life… Which, I believe, is to just be… To just be me… To not push the boundaries of who He’s created me to be by trying to be someone else…

I get hung up on that all the time… I try and become someone I’m not… Because I search and look at those around me… “What are they doing? Why are they doing that? Maybe I should be like her?”… But trying to be like what I see in others, well it always leaves me feeling more insecure about who I am… Who God created me to be…

But then, when I simply stick to myself… Well I find myself loving me… Loving the things I am good at… And life is less stressful… Because I am just being me…

Racey Reality…

IMG_1762I live in a country where I’m allowed to express my mind… My thoughts… My reality….

My reality… My perspective on life has changed with time…

The journey God has taken me on in life has evolved as He’s changed my heart…

Part of the truth about who I am is being from the South… From Louisiana… From a place rooted in culture…

But within that culture is so much…

And part of the truth about who I am…. Who my ancestors were… Well it’s shameful…

I am an 8th generation descendant from a plantation…

Yeah, the ones we learn about in American history classes… A place where people owned people…

And I don’t know that much about the actual act of slavery on my family’s plantation… I’ve been told my ancestors treated their slaves “well”… And whatever the case is…. Well it doesn’t matter… Because my family used to own people… And that in itself isn’t just at all…

And I don’t hold it against them… There’s enough hate in this world as it is… And I don’t need to contribute by holding onto some couple of hundred year old hate…

And as much as I’d like to admit I’ve always been loving and accepting of different races and people groups… Well I haven’t…

I’ve had to learn to love others… To see the person sitting next to me as my equal… That we all bleed the same color and have air coming in and out of our lungs the way God intended…. That we all deserve love, respect and a chance to live a life of potential…

And I’ve asked God to forgive my ancestors… To free me and the life that comes after me of this hate, complete disrespect and crime against mankind…

But that’s the thing… Asking Him to forgive is good… It’s true… It happens… He’ll set the record straight and completely remove all of the curses on my generational line… But… Then living it out is different… Because that means I have to live a lifestyle of love…. To treat every single person I come into contact with with respect…

And I truly thank God for placing me in an environment over the past two years where I worked for an Asian-African American… Where I had to learn how to love them as myself…

And now…. Now when I walk down the street… Well color is color… I see less of what’s on the outside and more of what’s on the inside… I try and engage in conversation and look at the heart… Because the heart never lies…

And, of course, I’m not “there” yet… I have my moments where racism still tries to become a way in me… But then I quickly remind myself… Or have a friend remind me of reality…

And I just truly hope… One day… That I can just live with a peaceful mind… One that doesn’t segregate, discriminate, hate and completely disrespect a people group….

Ambassador…

In so many ways I’d like to say… I’d like to think… I’d like to allow myself to believe that I am a good ambassador of those around me…

That I represent my family, friends and work environment properly…

But then I’m human… So a lot of the time I don’t do what I’d actually like to do… I’m not the best…

But lately… Lately… With my mind changing… With it being sculpted towards the Kingdom of God… Towards actually being the daughter of God I was created to be… Well I find myself also wanting to represent God and his entire unseen Kingdom in a real, but different way…

And it can be compared to my work environment… Where I find myself as an extension of my boss… In public, my responsibility is to represent her the best way possible… In speech and in actions… No one should question what her character is like… Because I should set the best example of her…

And sometimes I do that poorly…

And a lot of the time I do that poorly for God… I represent him in a vulnerable way… Rather than just sharing what he wants… Which is the Kingdom… A way of living that is unquie, but so very true to him and his nature in Heaven…

And that’s where I find myself today… In this desire to want to simply represent myself properly… As an ambassador of God…

And I don’t completely have this new mindset… But I’m believing that it will continue to grow on me… As I continue to pursue it fully…

Continuing to Become Self…

Some moments in life ask more than I thought they would…

It’s almost like everything is moving a long at this amazing pace… I’m over here living in the moment of life…

And then… Well… Well God asks me to do something… And of course I say, “yes”… I reply with an, “yeah, I can do that”…

But little do I know the curve ball that actually comes win acceptance… Because now I find myself in a place of insecurity… A place where I’m once again being asked to allow something to help define me…

Becoming self is such a process… And honestly… Well I believe very few are themselves… Because I continue to learn that being self requires sacrifice… It means putting to the side what you think is right… And then going with what feels right… What feels effortless…

And for me… Well I feel insecure with the unknown… The unknown that will lead me to the next place in my life…

But deep down I feel like this is the best choice for me to make… And with the choice comes more for me to juggle… And while I don’t mind juggling… I am afraid that I’ll get caught up in the juggling and miss out on something…

And deep down I know that’s just my lack of confidence in myself… My lack of not believing in me…

So… In this moment.. Like the other moments of insecurity and non belief… Well I’m just choosing to move forward and do what I’ve been asked to do…