Spirit · truth

Isolation: The Reality

This is it. This is a cultivated life. It’s a tree, firmly planted… Growing in isolation from the rest of the forest… One that’s nurtured well, develops, matures and grows properly in due season.

Is the isolation enjoyable? Well of course. It’s nice to live in peace. Is it frustrating? Only when I allow it to be.

But I do believe living in isolation is healthy because it promotes so much time with God…. Time that would otherwise be spent distracted by the noise, nonsense, chaos and division that goes on in this world.

But can I tell you what mainly frustrates me about living in isolation? The reality… The reality that I cannot seem to escape the will of God. It’s just there. It’s constantly there looming over my head. And I know I cannot completely move forward until I follow through with the next step.

But you know… Sometimes I don’t want to take the next step because I feel like it’s leading me absolutely nowhere. It’s like I’m walking down a dark pathway that leads to a wall… And I think “Oh great… Now what?” And then the wall opens up as a passageway to the next step… But then I fear to take the step because I just don’t understand where all of the following is leading. I just can’t seem to wrap my mind around what it’s all about.

However, if I don’t… If WE don’t keep following, well then we shut Holy Spirit out. We limit Him. We place Him in a box that says, “Do not touch.” And when we do not touch the things of Him anymore we become very stagnant, much like the chaotic world around us and so disconnected from the spirit that lies deep within.

And I don’t know about you… But I’d rather live in isolation with God all the days of my life then become completely disconnected from Him and the things of Him. 🌱 #cultivatelife

Body · Mind · soul · Spirit · truth

Inception

One of my favorite movies is about a man hired to use a dream machine to plant an idea into the mind of another man… It’s called Inception.

In one scene you find Leonardo DiCaprio (he’s the one hired to plant the idea) and his colleagues in a room full of sleeping people who are using the dream machine. One of the men looks at the sleepers, turns to the other men and says, “They come here every day to sleep?” Another man replies, “No. They come to be woken up. The dream has become their reality.”

“The dream has become their reality”… Ironic as it sounds, as I look around at our sleepy culture, I can’t help but think about that line.

You see I believe we, as a whole, are becoming more and more like the sleepers in that room. We’ve convinced ourselves we need the internet and devices to survive. It’s not enough anymore to go through life just being. We’ve found a way to convince ourselves that we need to live in an altered, artificial reality. I can’t share a photo anymore without thinking, “Do I look good enough?” Because I know there are at least a million other women my age using an artificial app to make them look “thinner, thicker, tanner, toner, younger and more flawlessly perfect” than they truly are.

We are living in a dream state. It’s constantly before us every time we pick up these devices to be “social.” And it’s growing to the point that people feel so down on the way their lives really are that they’re physically altering their appearances.

Okay, so I’m not here to talk down on society, but I am here to be honest. I’m here to say we need to WAKE UP! Life… You know, real, actual life is around us. It’s flawed and full of chaos and it might seem unworthy, but it’s REAL and meant to be experienced without the box we all carry in our hands.

And though I don’t know how to help our society wake up and see the truth… I do hope we can find the self-discipline and willpower to put down our mind-altering devices, connect to the supernatural and just live life the way it was originally intended to be. 🌱 #cultivatelife #justlive

(Side note: These photos are what I actually look like. No editing in the posting 🙃)

Mind · Spirit · truth

Tired Follower

You know.. Anyone that follows what I write should know by now that I talk about the cultivation of life and following the Spirit. I want it to be known that just living the life He designed for us, filled with passion and purpose, is what’s best.

And of course I love to celebrate life’s victories. And I find joy in plowing through the work God has set before me. But… well sometimes the journey is flat out frustrating! Some days I would like to just curl up in a ball and say, “I’m done. I don’t want to follow anymore. I’m frustrated beyond belief with God and His guidance. I opt out!”

And I get that this the life I’ve chosen… And I see that I am going to continue to learn, develop, mature and grow… But today, today the journey isn’t on my favorite list at all. 🌷💃🏻 #cultivatelife #justlive

(Fuller thoughts in video below)

Confidence · Spirit · truth

Remember When?

Remember when you were a kid and your parent said, “We’re not there yet. Sit back and enjoy the ride.”?… But then you, without understanding the concept of waiting, became overly frustrated and tired of riding…

That’s where I am in life right now. I am tired of this journey I’m on with God. I can’t explain it, but I’m just worn out with the bread crumb trail He keeps leading me down.

And I know the weariness of it all won’t last very long, but my question is, “What do I do until then? How do I stay content with my reality?”

You see I don’t understand how Jesus followed the Holy Spirit so well. There were moments when He seemed to wrestle with where He was being led, but for the most part He was so obedient to His Father in Heaven.

And I don’t know if you ever feel the way I do right now. But I do know that following God’s plan is a constant. It seems like just as we arrive at one destination He’s giving us the plan for the next journey. And if He’s not giving us the plan, then He’s asking us to wait on it until it’s fully developed.

And so I guess I want to encourage anyone that feels out of sorts with God right now to be patient. Be patient and be kind to yourself. I mean… You’ve come this far with Him right?! I believe in all of your travels He didn’t bring you this far to just leave you weary and tired from the journey. Instead, I believe He wants to lift you up and give you new strength for what ever is ahead.

Spirit · truth

Just Righteous

What do you see when you look at this photo? I see a sassy, insecure and entitled girl.. I see a girl that is essentially covered in sin and filth and all that distracts me from God’s goodness and truth for my life.

Now what does God see when He looks at this photo? I believe He sees an obedient, secure and righteous woman who is a queen in His Kingdom. I believe He sees a woman clothed in His strength and dignity and goodness for my life.

Now… you might be wondering why I’m saying these things and what it really means… So I’ll tell you.

You see I believe God is a King that humbly stands at the foundation of His Kingdom. He is a King that reigns with righteousness in one hand and justice in the other. And you know what? When He looks at the righteousness He sees grace… He sees that you have right to stand in His Kingdom because of Jesus Christ. And then I believe He looks at the other hand and sees justice.. And the Justice He has in His hand is pure… It’s unfiltered and real. It causes Him to uphold the law of grace that’s in His other hand.

You see I believe we, as humans, look at ourselves and others the way I look at the picture of myself above. But then God doesn’t look at it that way… Because what He holds in His hands causes Him to only see the good… He only sees you operating at your highest and most valuable potential.. Which is to be a child that has been granted access as a king/queen in His Kingdom.

And I’m not sure if this makes complete sense. Honestly it’s blowing my mind as I write it; however, I long to see myself and others the way God does. With a heart of righteousness and justice for all eternity.

Confidence · Spirit · truth

Square Peg, Round Hole

“Fit in… just fit in Amanda. Figure out how to fit in and then you’ll be happy and confident and secure and complete!!”

This has been a narrative I constantly play out in my head. It’s been a narrative that’s taken possession of every season and chapter of life I’ve ever entered and lived through… This longing, this desire and want to just fit in and fit in well with those around me that are popular and leading the so called “pack” of life.

The funny thing is… It’s never worked.

Fitting in for me has never happened. Ever.

Sure I have dreams of fitting in with the world around me, but then I am left very disappointed when it just doesn’t happen. And then I’m left even more disappointed when I feel like an outsider and a loner because I can’t fit.

After my grandmother was healed she said she always felt like a square peg trying to fit into a round hole. And while I’m not trying to take the words from her mouth, this is kind of what it feels like for me.

Funny thing is all of this trying to “fit” has produced A LOT of self-centeredness in my heart and soul…. Because, rather than being confident and secure in the way God has created me… Rather than standing firm in who I am as Amanda, well I find myself doing everything in my power to fit into that round hole.

So now, well I find myself having to set aside this deep want to fit. I find myself having to let go of the source of my insecurity. Because the insecurity has led me down a very unsatisfying road… One filled with endless thoughts in my mind that cause me to feel small and inadequate and unworthy.

However, God keeps telling me to just “stand firm. Stand firm in who I’ve created you to be Amanda and you will stand out as yourself.” And I don’t know if anyone else feels like that right now, in this place where you keep trying to fit to finally feel complete, but I just want you to know it doesn’t work. It’s exhausting and time consuming and ironically very self-centered from the way in which God would like us to be. Because instead, He needs us to stand firm and be secure in who we are in Him. He needs us to be all that HE needs us to be, and not what we see by viewing someone else’s projected life. And yeah, it does feel a little bit uncomfortable at first to let go of this way of life; however, once we’ve done it… Well we’ll find ourselves in more peace and satisfaction than before. Plus, not fitting in might actually cause us to stand out.

Spirit · truth

Timing of the Trees

I’ve been coming to my grandmother’s house on Cane River my entire life. It’s a place that is 100% country, yet southern.

While sitting on her porch yesterday I found myself very confused about a patch of trees. “Where did they come from? Did they grow over night? Why was I just now noticing them?” This is all I could think… So I asked my grandmother.

And she replied, “Oh they’ve been there for quite a while. Really small things. But you know, just in the last two years they’ve shot up like that and now you can’t see the road or field on the other side of them.”

I just kind of sat there and thought for a moment… To me it was kind of interesting that they’d been growing so long without any notice; however, now they’re tall enough to block the field view and I really notice!

I tell this story because the trees remind me of God’s timing.

You see I believe when we live a life that follows God’s ways we must also follow His timing… And for me, well I’ve always struggled with staying on God’s time table. I want what He’s planted in my life to grow up big and tall right NOW! I don’t like to wait for His process because it seems so long and drawn out at times.

But in reality He needs the time to cultivate and nourish these things inside of me. His ways require that we become strong and sturdy and capable of withstanding a lot. And like those trees it takes many years for this to occur.

But then, at the right time… Well I believe you have a moment like I did yesterday. One where you look over and think, “Where did they come from? They’re so big and tall and full of life that they distract and puzzle my mind.”

And I don’t know what God’s planted in your life in different seasons, but if you just continue to allow Him to cultivate it… If you just allow Him to strength you, give you an identity in Him and make you whole and complete… Well one day I believe you’ll look over and see that all of that time wasn’t a waste because something great did come forth. And now the things planted are taller than you and you can go places with them that you never fathomed.

Spirit · truth

Sky’s the Limit… Right?

Over the past week or so something has been troubling my heart. Nothing bad has happened, but all of a sudden I feel very distant from God…

You see for almost a decade I feel as though I’ve been climbing this very, very tall, but bumpy mountain range. Now when I began my journey I had thoughts about what life would be like when I reached the top where the sky rested. I just knew in my heart it would equate to an authentic relationship with God, something to cherish and hold close to my heart. Something that reflected closeness and reality.

And, as I’ve climbed, I’ve definitely felt close to Him. At times I’ve looked parts of the sky straight in the eye and thought, “Gosh, I’m finally here. I’ve finally cultivated a relationship with God in this area of my life.”

However, at this place in my life… Well, I’m coming to what seems to be the highest point of the range I’ve been climbing. And, for some reason… Well I don’t feel the way I thought I would.

You see instead of feeling close to God, I look out at the journey below and look up at the sky above and I realize that there’s so much about God that I don’t know at all. In a way, the sky intimidates me because I know in my heart it stretches so far upward and sideways. And all of those thoughts and feelings about reaching the top and being close to God have somewhat disappeared because I realize that I am so very distant from who He really is.

Now, in this moment, well I feel two distinct things. Half of me is in awe that there is still so much to learn about Him (I mean, I’ve been at this concentrated journey for a decade. That’s a long time). But then the other half of me feels a little lost and a little confused because I don’t know where to go from here in my relationship with Him. It’s all very puzzling to me.

And, sure eventually the Holy Spirit will point the way. But right now I can’t help but sit here amazed, yet questioning God and who He actually is.

soul · Spirit · truth

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.

Confidence · Spirit · truth

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.