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

Jaded Heart?

Unfortunately, it’s been quite a challenge to accept God’s love lately. I’ve just been so caught up in pain, anger, bitterness and sorrow. And, for a brief moment, I almost let them talk me into hardening my heart.

You see… I could feel this wave of emotion and constant thought trying to push their way into my heart so that they could completely own it. I knew the feelings and thoughts weren’t my own though. In my heart I knew they belonged to an outside threat. Something wickedly supernatural that was begging me to follow it over the love of God.

And I do suppose the pain, anger, bitterness and sorrow are a direct result of loss. Sometimes I just feel like I’ve lost so much that I focus on my losses far more than my gains. I look at the past and how painful things have been, rather than focusing my attention to the present where love is.

However, I’m happy to report that my heart hasn’t been overtaken by these dark forces. Instead, I’ve chosen to place my constant focus on forgiveness, grace and love.

And… Honestly, that route has been a challenge too because life and death keep giving me reasons to become angry, bitter and somewhat jaded. But, well I just can’t stand the feeling of their presence anymore.

You see I enjoy feeling the love of God and then giving it back to others way more than I enjoy sulking around like the plague. And so I hope, I genuinely hope the pursuit of forgiveness, grace and love I am focused towards takes me places I never imagined to go. I hope they open avenues, windows and doors I never dreamed of walking through . And… most importantly, I hope they remain my constant way of life. ♥️ #cultivatelife

End the Anger

Anger has been coursing through my veins lately… And while I do realize that the anger is only really harming me, I don’t want to make peace with it. Instead, I keep hoping that it will eventually touch the person I’m angry with and make that person feel pain too.

Life just feels so unfair and unjust sometimes. And I guess the unfairness and injustice I feel has led to my anger.

I’m having a hard time making peace with it too. It constantly runs circles in my mind, and throws my emotions for a whirl.

A wise person said, “Amanda, the unfairness you feel is a result of brokenness and incompleteness. You’re seemingly whole in God and you’re angry because you want that for this person. The amount of brokenness and incompleteness is hurting you. You have to let go and move forward.”

And while I know all of these things are true, sometimes it’s just so challenging to move forward. You know?

And then when I seemingly do… When I’ve made peace… Well there are always these little voices that pop up and remind me of the past. Saying things like, “Well what about this time when this person hurt you here and made you feel so small, insecure and incomplete. Be angry with the life you’ve been robbed of Amanda. Be angry.”

But you know, I’m just so tired of this rollercoaster. And so I’m trying… I’m truly trying to get off of this ride so I can move forward towards the life God continues to unfold in front of me 🌷🙌🏻 #cultivatelife

I Cry

I laid in bed the night before last and wanted to cry because I felt so weak… So emotional… So caught in the chaos and frustration of life.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Life is good. Life is very, very good. But… Sometimes I just want to cry. Sometimes I do cry. I cry about the loss of life my family has experienced. I cry about how God is going to seemingly continue to restore everything and make sense of the pain I feel. I cry because I am weak, and only made strong and stable through Him alone.

It’s funny, people say to me all the time, “Amanda, you’re so strong. You’ve encountered so much and been through so much adversity. You handle it so well. You’re just so strong.”

And as true as my strength appears, none of it… not a single ounce… is found within myself. God literally allowed my world to shake so hard, to the point that there was nothing left to hold onto but Him.

And so when life reminds me of loss… When it reminds me of pain… When I’m left in a constant haze of “why” followed by streams of tears down my face… Well I remember that He’s there. I remember that God is sitting with me while I sit in my closet and cry, hoping for a solution to this madness called life. I remember that my pursuit of Him is the only solution I’ll ever need because He is the only One that keeps me consistently full, at peace and alive! 💃🏻⚔️🎄 #cultivatelife

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.

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.

When It’s Finally Over

In the past few months I’ve heard it said at least 20 times now, “Well, hindsight is 20/20.”

And though I do believe that statement is true, I’ve grown to love the confusion and uncertainty built into life. Now, don’t get me wrong… I don’t like to be confused and uncertain; however, without the confusion and uncertainty of tomorrow, how would we ever grow? How would we ever learn? How would we ever become more than what we already are today?

Because I believe that the struggle and the fight and wrestling have made me who I am. And though I dont ever like the confusion and uncertainty of the moment or the season, I would truly be utterly lost without them.

It’s almost like God let’s you feel a little bit of confusion for a moment… Almost like He knows that confusion and uncertainty is not His way, but He knows that you feeling that way will end eventually because if you hold to His ways you will come out on the other side with clarity and peace and prosperity.

In my heart, I hope my family never has to walk through what we have ever again. I pray that these past four years, especially this past year and a half are over for good, but gosh I am grateful for every moment of them.

Grateful because they were filled with moments that helped uproot my weaknesses and insecurities. And now that they’ve all wilted away and died down, I can see that what I hated created a beautiful masterpiece of work. Something that I still can’t fully comprehend or wrap my mind around. But something that is good and viable and was extremely worth my time and tears. Because in this time God helped me grow up and truly mature into a woman who cannot and will not be ransacked, shaken or blown away by the realities that are found within the lows of life.

And you know what? I’m ok with it.