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.

Alone and Lied To…

Since the age of 6, I’ve struggled with one core thing…

The fear of being alone…

Deep within the core of me, I began to believe a lie… And that lie told me, “Because of the weight I continued to gain, I would never be enough… I would never be pretty enough… I would never be small enough… I would never be desirable in any way”…

And I believed this lie of my soul… I believed it for 21 years of my life…

And the lie took on mutiple forms…

For at least 13 years I hid behind a veil of physical weight, scared of life outside of the shell…

And then the shell started to break, I lost the weight and gained confidence in the body I worked so hard to cultivate…

But then, well there still wasn’t rest in my soul…

Because I still felt like I’d always be alone and unwanted…

And it didn’t matter what my family, friends, mentors and even the Holy Spirit himself told me… Because I believed this one lie…

And so, the lie encouraged a binge eating disorder inside of me… I would binge on sweets when I felt out of control, alone and undesirable…

It was a constant, brutal cycle to my spirit, soul and body for 10 years… And I was afraid it would never leave…

But then… Then something happened… Because God, He took my situation… He took the children that I nannied and taught be about His love for me… He taught me how to love them unconditionally… Even when they might’ve hurt me… Even when they had a hard time… I loved them…

And then, after He taught me how to love them, Father God showed me how much He loves me…

Over the course of 10 months in Los Angeles… A time where I believed I was doing nothing at all, He was working within me…

Not the Holy Spirit… Not Jesus… But Father God Himself…

It’s like He came down and spent time with me everyday… Showing me how valuable I am to His heart, and that there’s no reason to allow my circumstances to cause me to feel alone… That there’s no reason to binge on sweets to feel a void in my heart… A void that only He could and can fill…

Because, as much as I’ve want to be married and have a family, I now believe gaining those things wouldn’t have filled the void I felt in my heart…

Because that void could and will always only be filled by Him and Him alone…

And so, I hope, this story… This piece of my story and who I am will encourage anyone that fills alone to seek out the very heart of Father God… Because, when we are filled to the brim with His love, from His heart… Well the realness of being alone, it completely falls away…

Story and Identity…

Recently I sat asking myself questions about me…

In the midst, there was a statement asking for a description of a life experience I’ve been through that’s completely shaped who I am…

So, I sat there for a moment… And thought… Because I truly wanted to give an honest answer…

And so I decided that watching my father die had actually shaped me the most… Because it was the most heartbreaking, yet fascinating moment of my life… I can’t replace it with anything… It was amazing and significant to watch, and it truly changed me from the inside out… I will never be the same…

From that moment… Death, the reality of it… Well it became a part of my story…

Our story is who we are… The light… The dark… The pain… The smiles… The ups… The downs… The backwards… The forwards… The regret… The joy…

All that we experience, it’s contained within us… Within our story of life… And our story continues to go as we continue to live… Because it exists as we exist…

And when we are gone… Well hopefully we left such a story, a truth, realities of life that it’s all very worth sharing…

Because can you imagine not knowing?… Not understanding a person for who he or she really is or was?… We do it every single day… Everywhere we go, I believe we judge mostly because we don’t know what’s stored in the depth of another… The light that can be found beneath all of the darkness… Whatever it may be… It is there…

Of course… I equally believe the fullness of life comes through God’s love and the grace of Jesus… But then what?…  Then how do we actually figure out who we are?… What’s past love and grace?… What does that grace card actually grant us access too?… And how do we begin to actually live amazing, fulfilling, truly authentic lives?…

I believe identity is the solution… Because, when we begin to capitalize on what it means to just be us and to be us really, really well… Well, we can discover our identity is found in our story because it is who we are… Our strengths and weaknesses… The way in which we choose to handle life then versus now…

And so then we can come to a place where we judge a little less… Accept and embrace one another a little more… And choose to actually give the person next to us a sense of selflessness, rather than a sense of judgement and inferiority…

Life in Fireworks…

So much of life feels like a big firework show…

I don’t mean the kind we have in the convenience of our backyards…

I’m referring to the type we drive distances to see… The ones that give us chill bumps because they are so spectacular… The kind in which we have no true control over… Because we didn’t purchase them or help arrange them in a systematic mode for launching….

Instead we are asked to sit and watch the show…To wait for the reveal…

To relax and take it all in as it comes…

To just be a part of the experience while we are here for this brief moment…

And in the waiting… Well there’s a feeling of anticipation… A certain sense of mystery… Because we don’t truly know what’s going to be revealed when the explosion happens…

Sure… We’re aware that it will be thrilling and exciting… But the size, shape and color are a mystery…

And, at first glance, all we can see are glowing balls of fire with a speedy tails of light… Something we know, in our hearts, contains a vast amount of potential…

But then we are so unaware of what will actually explode from that ball of light… Because it’s been left up to the maker to decide…

And then in watching it… When the fullness of the moment is revealed… Well it’s absolutely incredible… All we truly find ourselves doing is standing in complete awe of what we see…

And we know what we see is good… Because it’s beautiful… And usually it completely exceeds our expectations…

And for so many reasons… The reality of fireworks completely inspires me…

Seeing them reminds me to get excited about what’s coming in life… To love the anticipation, the trill and the beauty of every moment leading up to the actual reveal of the explosion…

Because once the explosion happens I’m left in awe and complete fascination… And life seems to stand still for a moment so I can take in the beauty of what I’m witnessing…

And I know not all moments in life leave us feeling good… But I do believe that in the mess of our reality is the potential for light… The potential for goodness… The potential to stand in awe of what life actually is and how good can possibly come from areas that look pitch black…

The Glass and the Bee…

I watched a bee on a window yesterday… He flew in circles trying to figure out why he couldn’t get beyond the piece of glass in front of him…

To me… Well he could see so much possiblity and opportunity behind the glass… But then an invisible wall kept preventing him from actually accessing it…

Watching him reminded me about how I feel… About how I feel about idols… About ideas and beliefs I’ve allowed to control my life… About how I stopped listening to what’s new and unfamiliar…

And that’s when I realized… There must be more there… More idols I don’t see… More beliefs and ideas holding me back…

And I do believe we don’t experience everything at once… That the revelation of truth is a process… Because well we have to process it…

But I’m learning that I’ve allowed myself to buy a lie… A lie that tells me I am still a very insecure person… And that lie has become an excuse…

Living in insecurities was something I did 6-7 years ago… And though I’ve grown and tossed most of them… There are a few I still hang on to.. And in the midst of hanging onto them… Well I’ve allowed myself to believe I’m an insecure person…

It’s rather exhausting… And I do feel like that bee I watched yesterday… With so much cabability and confidence he tired to fly through the glass… But then this clear object kept him from what he truly wanted…

And I believe this is where I need to have grace with myself… It would be easy to get angry and continue to try and break down what’s in front of me… Or I can have grace and move away from what I’ve allowed to stand in my way…

I can simply go around it…

Stop paying the thoughts and beliefs I have on insecurity any attention… And just go around them…

And in that… Well I believe I’ll be able to just live in pursuit of what’s on the other side of the glass…