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

The Color Process

Pain is temporary if we’re open to healing. Pressure is good if we allow it to shape us in a life-giving way. Growth…. Growth is challenging. And a lifestyle of all three seems to be the challenge of all challenges.

I told you God told me that all of my refinement, development, maturity and growth has led to a bloom. I told you that He said the pain and pressure were about to come full circle and produce something beautiful.

The other day He told me, “Amanda, blooming isn’t painful like growth. To bloom, you have to be in season and ready to go. You have to be ready to open up and show the world your colors. Show them who you are and why you’re this way. A bloom is the prettiest of the process. When a bloom happens everyone sees the beauty that took place during the pain and pressure of growth. People almost believe that the growth period might’ve been easy because the bloom is so beautiful. No one saw the pain, the darkness or the pressure.”

“When you see a plant or a tree, you don’t think, ‘Gosh that plant underwent so much pain and pressure to get to this point.’ No you just look at the beauty and ease of the bloom.. or the fruit. You see what’s coming off of the plant or tree and feel at ease with what you see. You feel peaceful. That’s a bloom Amanda. A constant, yet sweet seasonal reminder of the growth period. Enjoy it!”

And you know… I truly believe what He’s said is truth because I feel so healthy, whole and complete on the inside. It’s almost like the darkness has been completely stripped off of me through His processes so what’s left can be seen in its fullness. And what’s left is light. It’s beauty. It’s incredible, life-giving truth, inspiration and encouragement to keep following His path and plan. To follow even when it’s painfully annoying. To follow even when it’s aggravating and burdensome.

Because the end result… Well it’s just so sweet and beautiful! 🌱 #cultivatelife

Selfless Madness

I’m convinced the most challenging part of being selfless is the reality that you gain virtually nothing from it. Sure there’s some type of intangible lesson learned… But as far as tangible gain, it’s not there.

And that’s where I am right now… Wrestling with God over this idea… Over this lifestyle of being selfless. He told me He’d bring me to this place, a place where I’d be left with nothing more than Him and His wants and needs for my life and others… And so, here I am.

However, He didn’t tell me what came after this place of selflessness. He didn’t tell me I’d have to pitch a tent and live here and that my soul would constantly feel at war. He didn’t tell me that I’d have to grow and adapt and fully embrace every inch of this. He didn’t tell me it would seem confusing, or that I would be frustrated with my reality.

Instead… He just made selflessness sound so good and appealing. He sold me the idea because He knew I’d follow through like I always do.

And so this morning I sat and said, “But what about me?! Don’t I get some kind of something? A reward? Anything?” He said, “No… That’s the point. There’s no reward to being selfless. You have no personal gain. You’re doing this for the gain of others and my Kingdom. It’s not about you. It’s about Me.”

And so… As angry as I wanted to be with Him… I picked myself up and just embraced what He said. I mean He was and always is telling the truth.

And as seemingly frustrated as I feel about where God continues to lead me as I follow, I’m convinced that there has to be some kind of method and outcome to His madness. There just has to be.🌸🌱 #cultivatelife

Process: Seasonal

How many times have you heard, “God works in seasons?” Because I’ve heard it for as long as I can remember. And though I don’t fully understand why He created the world to experience seasons…. I do see that our existence as humans is very similar.

Now, the catch is to stay moving with the seasons… To not become stagnant, but to keep moving forward as the Spirit leads.

So then what does it mean to move with His process? Well I believe we have to embrace what He’s given us within each moment.

You see if you’re anything like me then you’re constantly anticipating the future. I live in the future most of the time…. Hoping and creating something much more exciting than my present. However, we can’t get to the future God has for us if we can’t complete the season He’s placed us in in the present.

And I get it… It’s a challenge to be in certain seasons of life He’s placed us in because the growth is challenging and uncomfortable. But you know?… I’ve also learned that if we just choose to submit to where He has us then we will learn the lesson and then be able to move forward to the next season quickly.

Yeah… That’s right. I believe if we can just embrace the healing, restoration, growth and maturity that needs to take place inside of us, then He’ll move us forward to the next thing.

And I know it’s not always a walk in the park. Some seasons of life are like Summer… They’re warm, bright and very friendly… But then others are like Winter… Dark, depressing and oh so cold.

But if we can just live in them fully, we will get to the next destination of our journey with life and God. 🌷 #cultivatelife #justlive

Caution: Story in Motion

My life… It feels like a movie set right now. The film is rolling and the story line is moving, but I don’t exactly know how the plot is going to develop yet… I mean it’s clearly developing in front of my eyes. But… what is it going to become? What will my life become as everything continues to advance?!

Am I nervous? You know, I’m less nervous today than I was yesterday. The Holy Spirit seems to keep providing me with peace for the process.

So then what am I learning about this process? Well… It’s a lot easier when I don’t over plan, overthink or over complicate the story. It’s a lot simpler when I just stick with His plan on the narrow path.

You see my path is actually so narrow that sometimes it’s felt unbelievably challenging to keep walking down. And then other times it’s felt like a dark journey to nowhere.

But for some reason… Well I believe I’ve stepped onto a place on the path where I can finally see pieces of the plot of my story falling into place. And though I’m somewhat skeptical, I feel like the journey is about to become less of a mystery and more of a masterpiece.

The Process Continues…

I’m gonna be really honest… I don’t like to lose…

Losing is … Well it’s losing… It means so many things at one time…

And, other than being a cheerleader in high school, I’ve never been a part of a sports team… But I did go to a winning high school and college… So, as a fan, winning is something that resonates with me often…

But then, what about those moments when we lose… Like last night… BAMA had an undefeated season and we lost on the greatest stage in college football…

And I don’t discredit Clemson at all, I think the game was great and they deserved to win… But it doesn’t take away from the fact that we did loose… And now we have to wait until August for another shot…

Which is why,  for so many reasons, I am still learning that failing, losing, making mistakes, having someone that’s just a little bit better is healthy… It’s good for my spirit and soul… Because it teaches me that life is a process…

BAMA will have another chance… In my opinion, they train and play a better game than a lot of teams… And I love the mentality Saban has instilled into his players…

So, to me, losing won’t define the team or the fact that we are still champions at heart…

Because sometimes that’s that the process life brings us to… We come to a season in life where we’ve been winning more than seems fair, and then life happens… Someone is a little bit better or we aren’t prepared… Sometimes we are just young and immature…

And because of that immaturity, we need several months or years to grow and become more well-rounded, well-adjusted leaders…

And that’s really, truly frustrating in so many ways… But, I believe, if we trust God… If we trust ourselves… If we trust that we are working simultaneously with God in life to accomplish what’s best, well then I believe He will give us another shot… Another opportunity, at some point, to win…

And sometimes, winning at life is as simple as cultivating a lifestyle of forgiveness and grace… Other times it might mean moving forward with our goals and dreams… And then maybe it might actually mean getting another shot at the National Championship…

What ever the case might be, I believe the way we respond to it all is so important… Because our response when we are down reveals who we are on the inside… It is a real character defining moment… A moment that I believe should encourage us to allow the process of life to continue…

Life, the process…

img_2628Life… A journey… A process… A continual climbing of mountains and walks through valleys, with a lot of highs and lows…

I believe every person on earth experiences it… This thing called life…

And while some are flourishing and truly thriving, others are languishing and searching for significance…

I also believe it’s possible to thrive in several areas, but then completely coast through and feel lost and confused in others…

For me, well it’s a moment-by-moment choice… And some moments feel longer and more confusing than others…

And with the cultivation of life, I also believe a change in seasons happens a lot… And some of those seasons can seem so long and boring… And their length requires patience…

Patience of the soul… Because our minds, emotions and the human will want to control it all… They want to move forward with the way the rest of the world is moving…

And in an age of instant gratification… Well, sometimes it’s truly easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle… To feel like we have to move from one thing to another, without slowing down to rest…

In this season of life, I’ve learned that rest is so important…

Because for me, well rest can often times feel uncomfortable… I like to be around people… I like to be doing a million things at once… I left an environment full of constant, quick motion… Always running and running…

And so slowing down, well it’s been a bit of a challenge for me…

It’s been a challenge to take every day as it’s given, and trust that God is going to reveal everything I need in that day, for that day… And that I’m going to grow accordingly…

And honestly… Honestly, I have no idea how long this season is going to last… But in the midst of it all my heart has changed so very much…

Because the ups and downs of the mountain I am on have allowed me to see life in a way I’ve never seen it before… I feel like a different person… I closer version of myself than I’ve ever been before… Truly, more authentic to the way I was actually created to be…

And, so… Though I have no idea how much longer this will all last, I am confident that the change inside of me is real, genuine and true… And because of that, well I’ll just keep firm to the process…