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.

My Unorganized Reality…

My spirit sees… It feels something deep within… At my core… At my core I cannot and will not be moved…

But then… Then my mind gets in the way… And I begin to toss around my reality…

I begin to question what I see with my eyes… What I hear with my ears… And what I experience in the world around me…

And that can and does overwhelm me some… Not a lot, but enough to actually think, “How is this all going to come together the way it’s been designed?”…

And honestly… Honestly I need to be encouraged… Encouraged to believe that I won’t become jaded, hurt and in pain again… I don’t want to feel the type of emotional pain I experienced 3 years ago ever again… And so I remain guarded to some extent… And all together pushy and sassy with the people I love because I do feel like I need to protect myself, my thoughts and my emotions…

And in these moments… Well, I miss my dad’s encouragement more than I ever dreamed I would…

And I know God is there… That He is very willing and able to encourage my every movement… But then… Well sometimes I just want what’s tangible… What I know without a doubt I can see with my eyes… Because hearing His voice with my ears doesn’t seem to be enough…

But then I also feel challenged… Challenged and all together flat out motivated to just move forward…

Because this is all I have and it’s finally enough… And my passion to find and reveal God in all things is so apparent… It’s who I am…

So then… How do I overcome the thoughts of my reality?… The ones that ask what tomorrow will bring… Because for me, in this life I’m living, my moments, days, weeks and months are completely unplanned… I don’t know what will come next… I’ve just chosen to ride the wave of all of it… To stay organized and structured and firm within it, but to not plan too much of it… And to just be prepared for the unknown, uncomfortable and unorganized reality I’ll bump in to…

The Reality of Now…

I had a conversation the other day that resulted in this….

That life… All that it is… Well it’s not static… It’s not a constant plateau…

That no matter how much we all think we know what we’re doing… We we’re going… What’s coming next… Well we don’t…

And even when we believe the “next five years” are planned perfectly… Well they aren’t…

Because as I live… As I live a life of grace and choose to seize what’s in front of me in this moment…

Well I’m continuing to learn that there’s really nothing I can actually count on but God… And that security in Him truly is the best answer…

As a kid and in my early twenties… I think I thought, “one day it will all balance out… All of these ups and downs… Well they won’t be here one day…”

But that’s entirely untrue… Because even in the times where I feel the best… The times when everything appears to be great… Well I still have no idea what next week, next month or next year hold…

But I’m learning that having this consistent faith and security in God really are the best choices I can make…

Because no matter what… Even if life serves me that best or most depressing situation… Well I should be well equip to handle it all…

And so… As I continue to live from this place… From this place that says “rest” “be still” “just wait”…. Well im going to strive to realize that life will have more moments like this… That this is only preparing me for other things… And that I just need to be…

An Open Letter to My Father…

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I feel like there’s so much to say… But at the same time I feel like there’s nothing to say…

Because death still sucks… A lot… But then I look and it’s been such a blessing…

And we’re approcehing a second Christmas without you… And you’re missed so much… But the difference is… Well, I can’t really feel how much I miss you anymore… But mom can… Mom feels deeply everyday… And grief experts say that means the love you both had for one another was deep… Deep and unconditional…

I don’t really cry anymore… I did cry three days ago though… Because, since your death, no man has really stepped up and checked on our family as a whole… Like continuously… No one has basically tired to be you…

And I think that’s ok… I’m glad no one is trying to take your place… But then at the same time… Well it hurts to know that we are… For the most part… Alone.. Without a male figure in the flesh…

But then I’m so thankful for God… For Holy Spirit… For their kindness and love… For their ability to fill in gaps… For God’s ability to be a father and a husband… For Holy Spirit’s ability to be a counselor and mentor…

Honestly dad, I don’t know anyone that could actually lead our family through this life altering situation… I don’t believe there is a human alive capable of doing that… So I am so very grateful for God’s blessings and his ability to be solid in our lives through all of this…

Plus, life just seems to move a long… Day in and day out… I feel like I just move farther away from you… My life is changing… It’s good… It’s something you would be proud, excited and joyful about…

And then there’s something else… Because it’s something that might seem a little out there… But when miracles become the theme of 2016… Well I’m believing that…. That all things work together for good here on earth… And in Heaven… Because I believe there’s resurrection power coming…

And dad… Within that… Well I believe that it’s possible to see you again… On the earth… Here… And it’s not a thought I hang on to… But it is a thought I have…

It’s a thought I believe in just as much as I believe in God and his goodness… It’s a moment that I believe could become a reality… Just like the moment we all watched you take your last breathe…

So… within all of the grief… All of the grief that mom mainly feels… Well please know that you were and still are deeply loved by so many… That the impact of your life and death is still felt in the hearts of those that cherish you… And that you are still so respected and admired…

And if God ever decides to resurrect you… Because I believe this would be an end time miracle… Well I’ll just wait patiently… Wait and live and love and enjoy the ride of life…

Because there’s so much goodness inside of each day… And I’m just so blessed to experience it all… To just live and be alive…

Reality Sucks…

Why does life have to remind you it’s real?….

I know that sounds stupid… But that’s how I feel right now…

Life is reminding me how real it is… How real and how much it sucks to embrace reality…

Because I don’t want to go home this week and face reality… Packing… Going though things… Helping mom move forward…

How can I help her move forward when she doesn’t know where to go?… Or what to do?… Or what’s next?…

None of us do…

And I just want her to be so happy again…

But I think I’m learning that her happiness isn’t built around what I think is best for her… Because I don’t know what’s best for her…

I do know that I am 2000 miles away from reality…

And these 2000 miles actually make a difference… Because they allow me to forget about home… About people… And places… About friends…

Out of sight, out of mind… That’s what someone said to me the other day… And it really is so true…

And I’m not bothered by it… But it is so interesting to me… To realize my life truly consists of what I’ve put in it…

Before it’s what my family, my religion, my friends, my school… What they all thought and believed should be in it…

But now it’s really just what I choose…

And that’s good… But I find myself increasingly wanting my mom to have the best… To be happy with life and to be full… It’s important to me… And I can’t seem to keep that out of sight, out of mind….

So what does this week… And the week following… What do they hold?… Well I don’t know the answer… But I believe they will be filled with tears and laughter… And of course the daunting yet raw reminder that life is moving on…

And for the Winder Women… For the ones my dad chose to leave behind… Well this week will be like something we’ve never experienced before… And I guess in the end it will be good… I’m determined to see that…