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.

Life of Wants…

IMG_5122I want… I want… I want…

I live my life by a system of wants…

They surround me each and every day… They fill my conscious and subconscious mind constantly…

I’ve never had a birthday or Christmas where I didn’t receive something that I wanted…

You could easily say my culture has breeded a “need” for want in me…

Ironically, I don’t actually need any of my wants… Because to live we only really need water, food, clothing, shelter and a sense of love from those that surround us…

And so it wasn’t until yesterday… Yesterday in the middle of a movie that it hit me so directly…

I believe, my entire life, God has surrounded me… That His desire to love me has been there… Like I believe it is equally there for every human…

But my entire life I’ve ignored that love… The one thing I’ve personally learned produces security, confidence and identity, I’ve lacked…

And, instead… I’ve bought lie upon lie reminding me that my security, confidence and identity are found in making more money, buying more things, influencing more people and having/doing what’s “better or good”…

Yes, I did grow up in church… In a very spiritual/religious household… Where I was told that confidence, security and identity are found in God through Jesus…

However… No one taught me how to actually find these truths and cultivate a lifestyle of them… I was more so pushed towards reading the Bible and listening to a pastor… Saying I have these things, but not actually possessing them in reality…

And I’m not angry or bitter with anyone or anything… I’m more so realizing that the one thing I’ve needed my entire life is the love of Father God…

Because His love is the one thing I can’t live without… Because, without it, I won’t ever feel truly satisfied, confident and secure… And that my identity is right in the midst of it all…

And I am unsure where all of this is taking me… Where the Holy Spirit is leading me… But I do trust that a lifestyle securely founded on a need truly outweighs a lifestyle securely founded on a want…

If I Was a Rich Girl…

About 5 years ago a friend made comment….

We were walking through a shopping mall on Spring Break… And for some reason we were singing “If I Were a Rich Girl”… (Clearly it had been a long 9 hour car ride)…

After lots of laughter… She looked at me and said, “you really are gonna be a rich girl Amanda. One day I think you’re gonna have it all”…

I laughed and said “whatever”… To me it was silly at the time… I mean I was 21, in Bible College… And I had no idea what I was doing with my life….

Over the past 5 years my life has gone through so many transitions…. A lot has gone into making me the woman I am still becoming…

But… Recently my sister said, “you’re the richest  person I know”….

And then I was reminded of what my friend told me…

Now I don’t make millions of dollars… And I don’t live in an expensive home… Or even drive an expensive car…

I have nice thing… I like expensive things… But that’s not what makes my life rich…

What makes my life rich… What makes me rich… Well it’s the amount of truth… The amount of knowledge and wisdom I’ve spent so many years working for…

And… Honestly… The truth… The knowledge… The wisdom…. Well it’s way more worth having than any dollar in the bank…

Because with it I am able to live a fully satisfying life…. Filled with joy, peace and genuine love for myself and others…

And I’ve learned that these things… The things I have in my spiritual bank account… Well they’re far more rewarding… Because they make my life good… They’ve caused it to become a prosperous place…

And I also realize that… Within this truth about myself… Well I have to share my riches… Because if I can’t give away what I’ve learned… If I see someone poor in spirit and health and can’t give them truth… Well then what’s the purpose of having any of my riches at all?…

And so… As I move with life… Moment by moment… Well I hope to continue to learn how to give these things in a greater way than I currently know…

Because to me… Well it’s part of just living…

Hugging It Out

img016 2

When someone you love… someone you care about… someone that’s close to you is gone… you make a choice….

Mom said last month that she’s at place in life where she has no choice but to choose to be brave… that’s the option she’s been given… be brave…

And that’s how I feel right now… no one’s telling me to be strong…. I’m choosing to be strong…

And I don’t know if strength chooses you or if you meet him in an ally in the midst of a moment and you choose him… but the fact is he’s there in the moment…. in the moment when you need him… and you just choose…. you choose to be strong in the middle of tears and heartache… because if there’s not strength… then there’s just a tremendous amount of defeat….

And maybe I don’t want to be strong all the time… but let me express the fact that my heart hurts when mom comes home from shopping for Thanksgiving… she walks in the door at 1:15 am… and I just know she bought so many things… but then I know even more… even deeper that it pained her to buy so much knowing that dad isn’t going to be here…

But then what hurts her even more is not being able to buy a lot anymore in general… because what’s the point of buying a lot of food when she is here alone… and those are the moments that I know…. deep down… she’s excited that we are having a houseful for the holidays… she’s excited people are coming over tomorrow and will be here throughout the weekend… because in so many ways…. she… like me… will be full… full and distracted… but full from the love that’s given in the midst of the absence…

And the painful moments seem to hit at different times… and it’s easy to get angry… but more than anything… it’s easy to just me understanding… and to just love in the midst of all the negative, raw and realness we all feel…

It’s better to hug it out while the tears fall…. because no one should do this alone… no one should have to stand and cry and feel this amount of pain in these moments alone… and even when you don’t feel strong… you just choose it…. and even if you think you’re not… you become it…

I feel like strength is becoming a way of life… and I don’t have time for the bullshit that surrounds it… and maybe I’m harsh… and maybe my perspective is different than others… but it’s mine… it’s my perspective on life… on my life and on the lives around me…

And it becomes much more real to hurt for the ones you love when you see that their pain is so heavy… that they are carrying much more than they feel like they can carry in that moment… so maybe that’s what a hug does… maybe for a brief moment the hug says… “hey look I see what you’re carrying… that it’s far greater than you can handle in this moment… and I have the strength to hold it for you… I have the strength to lift up the heaviness you are feeling and just be here… And when you are ready I’ll give it back… but just rest here for a second and let me hold onto the heaviness you are feeling…”

And in a way I feel like that’s exactly what God does for us in these moments…

Lately he’s just been stopping me in the middle of moments in my day and saying “I just love you Amanda”… and I respond with “I love you too”… but maybe in those moments he knows the weight of the pain I am carrying is so much… so he’s “hugging it out” with me… he’ making it a little little for a moment… or maybe he’s preparing me for moments like this one… moments when I choose to make the load a little lighter for the ones around me that are in pain…

And if that’s true… if a simple hug makes the person next to me lighter for a moment… if I am absorbing what they are feeling for a second… that’s worth it… because we were created to do life together… we were created to commune… to laugh together… to cry together… to hurt for one another… and to be the stronger one and carry the load when it’s too heavy for someone else…

And if we can’t do these things… if we can’t choose to reach out to someone next to us in these moments… well then what’s the purpose of being in each other’s lives… because it’s moments like this that make us stronger… that make life more valuable… moments like this cause like to be more meaningful…. and it gives us one heck of a story….

And you know what… I’m ok with that…

It’s Not Concrete Anymore

IMG_1136

Can I do this day without as much drama as I did yesterday? Can I take the stress I felt from yesterday and decrease it? God how can I truly move onto the next phase of my life if I’m staying so low? That’s what I’m doing right now…. I am staying low because I am lowly in my words, thoughts and actions… but I need to rise above drama and stress… because that’s not the way to live…

It’s not very becoming to be this way…. to continue to stir up a mess and leave myself wound up for no reason at all…. I don’t miss dad like Bridge does right now…. Is something wrong with me?… two weeks ago I cried myself to sleep 3 nights in a row… now I feel empty about the entire life-altering situation…. how do I move forward? do I move forward? or does grief come to me?

I don’t feel worried or stressed for mom either and I don’t really know why… it’s kind of like I just feel like it’s all going to work out… I have to have this kind of attitude about my own life…. so I mineswell have it with mom and bridget’s too… I guess in this strange way we are all using faith like never before… in extremely different ways… ways that are personal and central to us… but none the less very important to each one of us…

And I don’t know where any of this will take us… I don’t know how living in Cali will become a relationship and a family…. I don’t know how Bridge’s living in Cali will become her career and I don’t know how mom’s living in shreveport, moving through the mess and mud will become her new life… it’s all a mystery now… before life seemed simple… it was for sure that dad and mom would alaways be in shreveport with their house and the business….

Now… now all of that has changed… and it’s not concrete anymore…. Nothing in my life is concrete anymore…. I guess it would be wise of me to allow myself to become concrete…. To really know and understand me… For who I am and what I want…. Because if i know me…. if i am continuously familiar with who I am… Well then I will stay true to me…. I won’t really fidget when life begins to change again… I’ll just go with the flow of things and live my life in peace…

That’s what I need God…. to live my life in peace….