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.

When It’s Finally Over

In the past few months I’ve heard it said at least 20 times now, “Well, hindsight is 20/20.”

And though I do believe that statement is true, I’ve grown to love the confusion and uncertainty built into life. Now, don’t get me wrong… I don’t like to be confused and uncertain; however, without the confusion and uncertainty of tomorrow, how would we ever grow? How would we ever learn? How would we ever become more than what we already are today?

Because I believe that the struggle and the fight and wrestling have made me who I am. And though I dont ever like the confusion and uncertainty of the moment or the season, I would truly be utterly lost without them.

It’s almost like God let’s you feel a little bit of confusion for a moment… Almost like He knows that confusion and uncertainty is not His way, but He knows that you feeling that way will end eventually because if you hold to His ways you will come out on the other side with clarity and peace and prosperity.

In my heart, I hope my family never has to walk through what we have ever again. I pray that these past four years, especially this past year and a half are over for good, but gosh I am grateful for every moment of them.

Grateful because they were filled with moments that helped uproot my weaknesses and insecurities. And now that they’ve all wilted away and died down, I can see that what I hated created a beautiful masterpiece of work. Something that I still can’t fully comprehend or wrap my mind around. But something that is good and viable and was extremely worth my time and tears. Because in this time God helped me grow up and truly mature into a woman who cannot and will not be ransacked, shaken or blown away by the realities that are found within the lows of life.

And you know what? I’m ok with it.

Another Leap

Another leap of faith with God is verbally in the books… From my mouth, to His ears… I’m gonna follow what seems crazy and strange again. Because I’ve chosen to leave doubt and fear right where they’re at.

And well… This leap means so much to me on so many levels of life.

Mainly? Well mainly it means I’m choosing to trust God again in areas of my life where I’ve felt utterly disappointed.

You see, in the past I’ve found myself following the Spirit and what He’s said for my life, but then I’ve taken the fullness of what He’s said out of context. I’ve placed my guidelines around what He’s spoken. And in doing so, I’ve expected things that were not for that season of life. And… as a result, I’ve found myself hateful, angry, bitter and disappointed with God. He didn’t fulfill things the way I wanted them done or when I wanted them done.

However, experience has taught me that God never breaks His promises… And, when it’s time, He will fulfill all that He’s spoken to my heart.

So, that’s why I find myself here. I hear what He’s saying and I want to doubt because the past hasn’t happened like He said or like I envisioned, but then He’s saying, “Now. Now it is actually time for so much of what I’ve promised you years ago. So much of what you’ve hoped for and dreamed about.” Meaning, I’m choosing to let the past be the past. I’m choosing to let go of the anger, bitterness, resentment, hatefulness and disappointment towards Him. I’m choosing to simply take a leap of faith again.

And yeah, I’m aware I might get let down; however, if I don’t leap with the Spirit’s lead, I’ll never know what happens when I hit the ground.

Doubtful Focus

It’s funny.. The Lord has never failed me in what He’s spoken to my heart, yet I still doubt what He says is to come.

You see He has a pretty good track record of being right. Actually He’s never wrong. He’s always 100% correct when telling me what’s to come.

So why do I still doubt? You’d think I’d flat out believe everything He tells me by now. The good. The evil. The right. The wrong. But I don’t. Instead, I doubt. I get discouraged in my heart and look at the reality of the situation surrounding me.

And I know doubt is the opposite of faith, but I can’t help it. It’s like I almost feel gun-shy about accepting the goodness He says is coming into my life soon.

But I shouldn’t feel gun-shy at all. No, I should hold my head high and keep my focus on Him… On Jesus… On the Father… On the God-head who so willingly leads me through the mountains, hills and valleys of life.

You see to focus on Jesus constantly is an awfully challenging task. There are so many things that try to distract and distress us. Plus, sometimes it’s hard to even understand what it means to focus on Him. But I’m learning that to focus on Him is to focus on faith, hope, love, joy, goodness and peace. It’s choosing to place my entire life in His hands knowing deep down all that I am is because of Him.

And when my ever-so wondering mind strolls down a path of doubt and fear… Well I have to quickly remind myself that I’ve never been peacefully successful on that road. And that it’s time to be led back down the only road that leaves me mysteriously reliant on an intangible God that has never failed me before.

This is the Day!

“This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.”

Psalm 118:24

Growing up, I continuously heard my grandmother sing Psalm 118:24. We could be anywhere, doing practically anything and she’d freely breakout this phrase for anyone that was listening to hear.

To me… To me these words didn’t mean much of anything at all, but to her… Well you could always tell she had a deeper understanding of rejoicing in the goodness of today.

You see, as I continue to just live in today.. As I continue to just focus on the now.. As I continue to let tomorrow worry about itself and bring it’s own problems and pain… Well I’m learning something else that is revolutionizing my life.

Today is the only day I actually have. Sure I can fantasize and hope and pray for tomorrow, but today… Today is it.

And, in so many ways and for so many reasons today is the day I’ve been yearning for. It’s the day I’ve hoped and prayed for. It’s a day I’ve cried tears over. A day that I’ve wished upon a star to be in. Because you see while I’ve been following the Holy Spirit, Jesus and the Father have been constantly and consistently supplying me with a freer life than I previously had. They’ve been working with me to toss my past, my failures, my fears, my worries and my shame so that I may pick up their grace and freedom and love.

And, in doing so, I’ve become a better person. A more alive and fuller person. An increasingly more pleasant person to be around because I’m not dictated by hate, fear and pride.

And because of this, well I can confidently walk into each day and just live my life. I can truly repeat the phrase, “This is the day the Lord has made; I will rejoice and be glad in it.” Because, though the day might be full of trial, error and terror, it’s still a day that God has fully formed for me. A day that He created for me to walk through in freedom and in love.

Right now you might be thinking, “Amanda, this isn’t making sense. I don’t understand.” And you know what? It’s ok. If you’re anything like I am, you understand what its like to be stuck in a place of worry and panic and fear; however, when we choose to let go of pain and the past… When we give God control of our free will… And when we continuously allow Him to direct our lives, well we find ourselves in a place of peace. And in that place of peace is the ability to just rejoice and be glad in today.

When the Darkness Ends

Four years have passed. Four years have passed and the view of my life has drastically changed. I’ve drastically changed.

To say I’m the same person I was when dad got sick and died would be a lie because life and death have altered my experience on Earth.

You see in four extremely short years my foundation and security have been completely restructured. I feel like God grabbed me by one foot and shook me upside down, leaving only the things of Him on me. Everything else has simply fallen to the ground, and been scattered to the wind.

And it hasn’t been all that fun. Losing my foundation was a scary process. One that’s continuously required my full surrender to God, even when He’s had to take certain things without forewarning.

And I know it all sounds a little dramatic… I’m still a little dramatic at heart. However, I wouldn’t trade what I’ve been through for anything. Even my darkest days are worth more than anything of monetary value because they’ve helped cultivate my very heart and soul for the better.

And I don’t know where all of this leads next. I do know that life, life for me, my mother and my sister is transitioning and moving forward. We’re all three setting sail towards new adventures in different places. Places that will for sure be filled with good and evil of all sorts.. However, I’m excited. I’m excited about the challenge ahead and the unknown. And more than anything, I hope to encourage others to just keep moving forward. Even when the possible seems impossible, it’s important to just keep moving.

And sometimes movement is no more than a prayer and a positive thought for the day, but I promise it’s helpful to your heart and soul. Because eventually the darkness ends, the lights come on and you just sit there in awe of how good God has been to truly bring you through the things you thought might’ve destroyed you in the pitch black.

Downfall of Me

Forward doesn’t seem as scary as it used to. You see forward with the Holy Spirit used to cause great fear, anxiety and worry inside of me because I constantly looked around at the lives of others and how I didn’t match up. I was obsessed with the reality that I wasn’t getting what I wanted in life because I was choosing to follow through with His will and His plan.

However, 2018 has been a new year for the way I choose to do life. God has constantly and consistently backed me into a corner and removed fear, anxiety and worry from my heart.

And He’s actually taught me that the greatest thing I can choose to do with my life is follow Him and His complete will.

Now before this year I would’ve told you that I knew how to follow the will of God over my own. I probably would’ve tried to convince you that I was good at it too.

However, I’ve learned that I was so wrong. Wrong because to actually follow what He wants for our lives is challenging. It’s definitely one of the most challenging things I’ve ever consistently done.

Because He constantly asks that we set down our own agendas, pride, fear and dreams to follow His divine will and plan.

And if you’re anything like me, well it’s easy to live in this selfish world and whine about His request to abandon your own will for His.

But, in doing so, I’ve found more peace, more hope, more love, more grace and more actual fulfillment than I ever did living life the other way.

So… I’m happy to report that it might seem peculiar and uncommon to completely surrender your wants, dreams and ambitions to God. However, it’s worth it. It’s worth every heart that you encounter that needs to see a little piece of Jesus. It’s worth letting go of selfishness and self-centeredness to be all that He needs us to be and nothing more or less. Because, at the end of the day, I believe His plan and will is all that truly eternally matters for us.