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…

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.

Just Me

FullSizeRenderSo as my relationship with God has evolved… as it’s become something other than what others claim to be theirs… as it’s become mine… well I definitely find myself filling more full… rather than empty…

And in so many ways… well I think this a good thing… but now I find myself standing at a little bit of a crossroads… because I find myself content… content with just being me…

And I don’t know what to do with all of that…

In the past I’ve lied to myself and everyone else and said I was ok being alone… that I could handle myself when no one else was around… and I’ve learned that was a lie… a really big lie…

But as I just continue to truly live… and as I continue to truly cultivate this relationship with God… well I am so full…

Meaning right now. I don’t need a huge group of friends around me at all.. and honestly I don’t feel close to anyone right now… I don’t feel close to anyone but myself…

And I think that’s a good thing… because without realizing it, I’ve reached something I’ve always needed… to be close to self… to be so close to self that I am content and happy… not comfortable… not insecure… but just content… that I can truly stand being around me without being distracted by others or other things…

And it’s really taken me so long to come to this place… Maybe it’s happened quickly in the scheme of living out here in Cali… but in terms of life… it’s taken a while…

But the feeling I get when realizing I am so ok with just being and just being me and just being with me… well it’s a satisfying feeling… No longer do I feel like I need to fill my time and space with people, things, books, knowledge and conversation… and I can just be…

And I truly hope… as I continue to live a life of being content with myself…. well I hope I can learn how to include others… and I hope I can learn how to include other things as well.. And I hope this is a true starting point for me to leap from on my own…

Ok… Now Mange the Peace

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when I look at where I am… well it fills my heart… and then I always see the fact that dad is gone.. and that missing him has just become a part of the equation now…
and then I have those moments where I feel overwhellemed… i’m gonna be honest… being home has it’s headaches… my family is going through a lot right now outside of my dad being gone…
with more sicknesses… more deaths… more hurt… more pain… well I honestly asked “how will I mange the peace i’ve gained over the past few months?”….
because this peace is so special to me… and I feel so calm and collected on the inside… and I don’t want it to leave… or should I say…. I don’t want to be stirred up and interrupted…
and then I realize that none of that has to happen… that… if I simply treat this environment like my work environment… with the thought “not my stress. not my drama. not my problem.” well then I should be able to mange the peace…
because guarding it and protecting it have become important to me… truly important to me… and honestly… well I had a moment when I arrived in shreveport… a moment where I thought “oh man, all of these things are so overwhelmming… what are we gonna do? how can they be fixed? how are we going to solve these things?”….
and it might sound harsh of me to say “ont my stress. not my drama. not my problem.”… but for the sake of my health… for the sake of my well-being… well I think it’s ok to say those things… becuase at the end of the day… when everything is said and done… i can’t truly do anything to help solve any of these things….
and maybe god will work it all out… and I usually don’t say this much anymore because I abused it for so many years… but I genuinely mean this…. maybe as I let it go… well maybe god will help work through it all….
and maybe it will be in different ways than I ever imagined… but I guess… within saying all of this… it’s just important for me to continue to live… to live in peace and harmony… in this environment that I’ve created around myself… because it’s mine now… and i don’t want to disrupt it with the stress and drama and problems from outside forces…
and for now… well it’s ok with me…

Hugging It Out

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When someone you love… someone you care about… someone that’s close to you is gone… you make a choice….

Mom said last month that she’s at place in life where she has no choice but to choose to be brave… that’s the option she’s been given… be brave…

And that’s how I feel right now… no one’s telling me to be strong…. I’m choosing to be strong…

And I don’t know if strength chooses you or if you meet him in an ally in the midst of a moment and you choose him… but the fact is he’s there in the moment…. in the moment when you need him… and you just choose…. you choose to be strong in the middle of tears and heartache… because if there’s not strength… then there’s just a tremendous amount of defeat….

And maybe I don’t want to be strong all the time… but let me express the fact that my heart hurts when mom comes home from shopping for Thanksgiving… she walks in the door at 1:15 am… and I just know she bought so many things… but then I know even more… even deeper that it pained her to buy so much knowing that dad isn’t going to be here…

But then what hurts her even more is not being able to buy a lot anymore in general… because what’s the point of buying a lot of food when she is here alone… and those are the moments that I know…. deep down… she’s excited that we are having a houseful for the holidays… she’s excited people are coming over tomorrow and will be here throughout the weekend… because in so many ways…. she… like me… will be full… full and distracted… but full from the love that’s given in the midst of the absence…

And the painful moments seem to hit at different times… and it’s easy to get angry… but more than anything… it’s easy to just me understanding… and to just love in the midst of all the negative, raw and realness we all feel…

It’s better to hug it out while the tears fall…. because no one should do this alone… no one should have to stand and cry and feel this amount of pain in these moments alone… and even when you don’t feel strong… you just choose it…. and even if you think you’re not… you become it…

I feel like strength is becoming a way of life… and I don’t have time for the bullshit that surrounds it… and maybe I’m harsh… and maybe my perspective is different than others… but it’s mine… it’s my perspective on life… on my life and on the lives around me…

And it becomes much more real to hurt for the ones you love when you see that their pain is so heavy… that they are carrying much more than they feel like they can carry in that moment… so maybe that’s what a hug does… maybe for a brief moment the hug says… “hey look I see what you’re carrying… that it’s far greater than you can handle in this moment… and I have the strength to hold it for you… I have the strength to lift up the heaviness you are feeling and just be here… And when you are ready I’ll give it back… but just rest here for a second and let me hold onto the heaviness you are feeling…”

And in a way I feel like that’s exactly what God does for us in these moments…

Lately he’s just been stopping me in the middle of moments in my day and saying “I just love you Amanda”… and I respond with “I love you too”… but maybe in those moments he knows the weight of the pain I am carrying is so much… so he’s “hugging it out” with me… he’ making it a little little for a moment… or maybe he’s preparing me for moments like this one… moments when I choose to make the load a little lighter for the ones around me that are in pain…

And if that’s true… if a simple hug makes the person next to me lighter for a moment… if I am absorbing what they are feeling for a second… that’s worth it… because we were created to do life together… we were created to commune… to laugh together… to cry together… to hurt for one another… and to be the stronger one and carry the load when it’s too heavy for someone else…

And if we can’t do these things… if we can’t choose to reach out to someone next to us in these moments… well then what’s the purpose of being in each other’s lives… because it’s moments like this that make us stronger… that make life more valuable… moments like this cause like to be more meaningful…. and it gives us one heck of a story….

And you know what… I’m ok with that…

Peace: Confident Yet Satisfied

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I had a thought yesterday that went something like this….

If someone offered me a million dollars to change myself… To stop being dramatic and just let life and the things that are inside of it go… Would I do it…

The pay off would be the money… The incentive would be the money…

But as I started thinking about it more I realized it’s a much greater trade off to gain peace… Rather than a million dollars…

And I say all of this because I feel like cultivating a heart of peace is a challenge for me….

So far… When I look at peace… I see that it is quiet and still… It doesn’t have to have a lot going on… It’s confident and secure with what it’s doing in the moment… Even if that security is based in the fact that it doesn’t know what’s coming next…

I feel like peace is confident in the unknown…. Its confident in the unknown and satisfied with the present…

And that’s what I’m aiming to cultivate right now… A peaceful heart and mind… One that is confident in the unknown and satisfied with the present… One that can just be…. That can be in a moment and not feel pressured by the outside world around me…

The outside world that constantly tells me I need to be doing a million and one things… That I need to be comparing myself to others through social media… And that I’m not doing enough…

If I could simply look at the inside world… The one going on on the inside of me… It’s calm… It’s collected… It’s still…

So that’s my focus… It’s my aim… To continue to cultivate the peace inside of me and then carry it with me… And to focus on it when I feel overwhelmed by the unknown and unsatisfied with the present….

And maybe it’s easier said than done… And I probably don’t look at where I’ve been and how far my story has taken me enough…. But I know that once I learn to just live in peace… Well life will continue to stay balanced and even… And I’m ok with that..

Uncommon Peace

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It’s strange… And uncommon… And I feel like something’s off…

Drama has consumed so much of my life that I feel incomplete without it… I mean I feel like I’m lacking…

I’ve never had this much peace and calm in my life…. And I find myself bored at times…

Bored because my thoughts aren’t tangled around a juicy story…. Bored because my attention seems to be on nothing but the present moment…. Bored because…. Well life with drama and chaos seemed to be so much more exciting….

So I find myself in this position now…. Looking for things to fill my mind with…. things other than drama and stress… things that are good…. things that are full of peace….

And honestly, I don’t know peace…. I don’t know peace at all… Because peace makes me feel uncomfortable… and I feel like peace shouldn’t make me feel uncomfortable at all… I shouldn’t feel out of place when I’m in a moment of peace… But I do…

And I believe once again…. that drama and stress… And the rest… well they are one more reason I was so sick… Because no one should look at drama and want it in their lives… I mean really…. what good does it do in the long run?…

For me it’s created a lifestyle that’s completely unnecessary and unlived in so many ways…. because I find myself bored…. boring and needing something to do in the midst… Something creative and fun to fill my time with…

So maybe this is a step in a positive direction… maybe the death of the dramatic part of me… maybe just maybe it’s making room for something else… something better to come in and fill the void… and if that something is peace… well I need to learn to live with it right now… or to live with it in a better way…

Because right now it’s uncommon and unfamiliar and it makes me feel like I am doing something wrong with life and in life… I feel like there’s too much stillness… Too much clarity…. Too much quietness…

Plus I don’t have reasons to make a fuss over things anymore…. I just let them go…. And when something does crop up, well I’m looking for a way to extinguish it as fast as possible…. So that no one gets hurt… Or thrown into a fire ring of gossip and stress…

And honestly, I don’t know where all of this is taking me… Maybe no where… Maybe somewhere.. But I hope it helps me become a better version of me… A less uptight and over-the-top… An individual that’s genuinely concerned with being calm and loving living in the moment….