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.

Outrun by Fear?…

Why do we fear?… Why do we so casually choose to cultivate a heart of fear, rather than choose to cultivate a heart of love?…

I do this often… I fear things…

Sometimes fear leads me to fear money or the lack of money… Other times fear leads me to fear the future… And, on occasion, fear leads me to fear what others might think or not think of me…

Honestly, fear is something I deal with on a moment by moment basis…

And as much as I’d like to say I’ve overcome fear… Well I haven’t… Because it’s still a part of my lifestyle…

But….. My relationship with it has gotten much better…

Because I’ve begun to realize I fear because my security isn’t completely in an intangible, loving source… God…

Yes, in several areas I do choose to place my security in Him… I do trust and have complete confidence in the work he’s doing inside of my friends and family and even the world… But then, when it comes to my own heart… Well I let fear outrun and overpower me a lot…

I so often forget that I believe in and trust a God who is a reflection of love… And because he is that reflection of love, placing my security in him means I should be cultivating a heart of love…

So then, how do I remind myself of this intangible God and his love when I feel fear?…

Well, I have to remind myself that this loving, intangible God I believe in looks at my heart… I believe when He sees my heart, he sees only the good… That he believes in me, cheers for me and hopes the best for my life…

Because, to me, this intangible God is like the greatest father of all time… Always aiming to bring me high when I might feel low… Encouraging me through others… And providing me with my intangible needs every step of my day…

And I know that might seem a little far fetched to some… And, honestly… Well it used to seem far fetched to me… But then I started to just accept that something greater then mankind loves me, adores me and will take care of my every need… And in that acceptance, I found this powerful love that does outrun and overpower every ounce of fear we all might have…

Unwanted Soul…

There’s something incrediblely fascinating to me about feeling alone…

I think it’s the reality that sometimes our experiences cause us to feel separated from others… Like we don’t belong because life happened and now we feel less than unwanted and undesirable…

Like we have to put up a shield of protection every time we enter a room… Because, if people see how alone we feel, well we’ll be judged and marked as a flawed person…

So, rather than show people how alone we feel, we do things to cover that pain… We turn to things that cause death and destruction in our lives… And those substances, they produce more darkness, more pain and more trouble for us…

For years I turned to food… Because food gave me a sense of being wanted… I felt comforted to a degree…
And I thought once I began to eat healthy and exercise some of this feeling of being alone would fall away… That I would lose weight, become more attractive and then the sense of feeling alone would leave…

But it didn’t…

It only got worse…

And from that spiraled the addiction I had to sugar… And that addiction made me feel out of control… Out of sorts… Even more flawed, undesirable and unwanted…

And the aloneness I felt increased and multiplied…

I was driving myself, my family and close friends crazy… Because I constantly obsessed about not being able to conquer this addiction to sugar…

Of course I left out the feelings I had of being alone… It was unimportant to share all of that in detail…

I mean, who really wants to say, “I feel alone! I constantly feel alone and unwanted at my core… and it’s killing me!!!”

But that’s how I felt… That’s how I felt for years…

And the truth is, it’s no ones fault… It’s not my parents, grandparents, friends or sisters fault…

No one is to blame…

We live in a flawed world…

Seeking acceptance, that I believe, can only truly come from one source…

And I’ve said it before, but I believed that souce is Father God… He is the only source I can go to and feel whole and complete…

And, when I spend enough time in His presence… I can then live my day with a loved, wanted and accepted feeling…

Because the inside of me no longer feels the need to be intangibly loved by my family, friends and peers…

The love I am receiving goes beyond what they can provide for my soul… And so I feel good… I no longer need an addiction to cause me to “feel” better… I just need the love flowing from His heart, and His heart alone…

So if you’re going through a hard time… If you feel alone, unwanted, undesirable and out of control with an addiction… Please be encouraged to know, Father God and His love are the power that will bring you out and away from what you’re experiencing…

Because everything else, our relationships with people, our things, what we do, say and think… To me they are a facade… Seeming to make us feel loved, accepted and wanted… But intangibly, in the depth of our soul, never actually giving us what we truly need… Which is just basic love from and connection to Father God…

Reacting to the Noise…

If the journey of life is really, truly about the process… About the ups and downs we feel emotionally, then I am right on time…

Because my soul feels down… Like it’s dragging around in the tangibleness of life…

I am an emotional being… I get overwhelmed when life doesn’t work out the handful of ways I believed it would… I get angry with God over expectations I create around things He’s placed and spoken in my life… I explain, “You put me on this path… Why isn’t it working?!”

And then I am quickly reminded that I steered the path in my mind the direction I wanted it to go…

And when this happens, I loose quality of life…Because I become overwhelmed, overworked and feisty…

My sister said the wisest thing to me yesterday… “Amanda I think you need to learn to react to situations better… To not overreact or underreact, but just maintain a lifestyle of grace and peace… To just be…”

And I believe this is vital for me… For the health of my soul… Because my spirit constantly longs to be in God’s presence, to just connect and stay connected… To never leave Him… But then my soul longs for all sorts of things… It gets pulled whereever I lead it in that moment… Which causes it to become overwhelmed by the world, my life and the lives of others…

There’s so much noise… Too much noise…

And my reaction to the noise of life is poor… I look at the tangible and it overwhelms me… Because it is continuing to crumble very quickly… My dad, my aunt, my grandmother, my grandfather (has been moved to Texas), their homes, our home…

Where do we go?.. What do we do?.. It’s all still changing quickly…

And though I know my identity cannot lie in anything tangible, I find myself clinging to it- All of it… It’s my childhood… My youth… All that I know… It feels like it’s coming to an end… A quick end, and I have absolutely no control over it at all…

Plus, I’m starting a business, meaning. I don’t have the funds to “save” all of these “things”…

And this is where I believe my ability to react comes in… Because in God’s presence, my soul becomes quite enough to just be

So my reactions must become a series of being… A constant stance in the midst of our shaking world… A tree firmly planted, unmovable on the foundation of God…

Because I believe being firmly planted in God and His presence is where I am made healthy and completely whole: spirit, soul and body…

 

I Don’t Know…

I don’t know… I don’t know where life is taking me…

And, in my opinion, none of us truly do…

But, aside from not knowing where life is taking all of us… Is the fact that following the Holy Spirit has been the best option I’ve chosen in life…

And, I’m going to be very honest… Following Him, His plan and His purpose can be exhausting for my soul…

I believe the soul to be our mind,will and emotions… The middle ground between our spirit and body that can sometimes become confused and a little overwhelmed… Especially when choosing to follow God’s lead…

Also, I like to know what’s next… Not so much because I’m terrified of the unknown, but more so because I just seek the ability to be in the loop… And, I more so fear missing out…

I fear missing out because I’ve always felt a little behind… A little on the outside compared to most people my age… Always arriving late…

And, sure, maybe it’s not really “late”… Maybe, in God’s eyes, I’m right on time…

Regardless, the truth I feel in this moment is not knowing… But, then choosing to be confident in not knowing… Releasing complete and total control to God… Because, at the end of the day, I firmly believe my life, my story, my time belongs to Him…

And maybe, just maybe as I continue to follow Him, not knowing will become a more comfortable place to be… An accepted place in my mind that says, “I don’t know and that’s ok because I will run into the next piece of this puzzle called life soon… And when I do, it will be good enough to move where ever God leads next”…