keep moving forward · Spirit

Questioning It All

I had a vision yesterday morning. I was in a dark, spacious cave, and I saw a waterfall flowing from a tall mountain-top of black rock. The mouth of the waterfall was wide. As the water fell, it plunged into a pool at the bottom, and then began to rapidly flow into a ravine. The ravine was different from the spacious cave. It was very tube like, tight and cramped. Still dark, but elevating downward. Then, very suddenly, I saw what seemed to be an end to the darkness… A bright light!

After this played out, I heard Holy Spirit. He said, “You are in a very tight, isolated and concealed space right now. So much is happening at once. I know it doesn’t seem like it is, but it is. Trust the flow. Trust what you feel in your human spirit. Trust the direction you’re being led… Even though you don’t understand. Trust Me.”

And then He stopped talking.

Lately, it’s been extremely challenging to keep moving forward. When you walk through many difficult seasons of life, without breaking into what God’s promised, you begin to question everything. And I have been. I am questioning it all. 

You see… It’s just the insight… The ideas… The concepts He’s given me over the years… Well, I’ve held so firm to them. He revealed them to me, planted them in my heart, watered them, nurtured them, watched them develop, mature and grow… And I see the fruit. I see what His ideas, concepts and dreams have produced in my own life and the lives of those that are close to me. But then… Then I ask, “What about the rest? What about the broad scope of all You envisioned and shared with me? And, I know I lack a lot of understanding, but how much longer will You choose to keep Your work concealed? Because I don’t care about fame, fortune, followers or ‘success.’ That doesn’t move me. Honestly, I only, truly care about You. I care that multitudes see how sensational of a feeling it is to be satisfied by only You. I care to share the same measure of love with others that You have shared with me. Everyone has to know! They must know that You aren’t so much ‘cool or hip or relevant.’ Instead, You’re legitimate and virtuous in Your very nature. You’re exactly what each person needs You to be in his/her own life at any given moment because relationship with you is a lifestyle, not a pop culture phenomenon or religion.”

His response? Quiet. Very still. Actually, His stature is so still that it echoes in a very boisterous way. Which then leads me to be still. To calm my soul. To stay present, confident and very focused on exactly where He’s leading. To not be conformed to my lack of understanding, but to just keep moving forward through this very tight, isolated and concealed space in time. 🌱

Confidence · heart · soul · Spirit · truth

Strength… Without Asking

I heard God so clearly a few days ago…

“I am giving you a new level of strength today Amanda. You’ll need it for the next season you’re headed into after the new year. You will need Me in a greater way than ever before. You will need to place all of who you are… Who I have molded you into… Into My hands. You must rely on Me and My strength to lift you up and hold you tight.” He said.

Of course just hearing His words caused my heart to swell with gratitude.

Why? Well, I didn’t exactly ask for more strength. Instead, He saw my impending need for it in my next season of life. And, because I entirely trust Him, I willingly accepted His gift of strength.

You see I’m sharing this because I want to encourage you to lean heavily into a relationship with Him… One that truly causes you to develop, mature and grow. And I also want to encourage you to listen, believe and follow through with where He’s leading you: spirit, heart and soul.

Because… If I’m honest, I know I wouldn’t have made it through this chaotic year without the strength He’s been actively cultivating inside of my spirit, heart and soul for years.

Because of Him… Because I’ve chosen to place my life in His hands, I’ve had so much peace as the storms of 2020 have swirled around all of us.

And that’s what I hope and pray for you. I hope you have the faith, courage and humility to say, “I see that our world is a constant mess. I hear the billions of voices and vices screaming for my attention of the regular… Which is why, I really need to lean into You for strength. I need You to survive so that I may thrive in the Kingdom of God.” 🌱⚔️🛡 #cultivatelife

soul · Spirit · truth

Sometimes No

Following the Holy Spirit can be simple…

Following the Holy Spirit can be fun…

Following the Holy Spirit can be a life-changing/life-altering adventure of sorts.

But…. Well, what about when He says, “no?” Why is it so challenging to repeatedly move forward when He says, “No. No. No. That’s not it. Keep moving forward. Keep focusing on Me and my ways. I know what I am doing. You must continue to trust me in EVERY area Amanda.”

And honestly… Honestly I HATE when His response doesn’t make sense at all. I hate when I can’t wrap my head around Him and His thoughts and ways. I hate when He can see ahead of me, but then won’t let me in on the design and details because it will stunt my refinement, development, maturity and growth.

But that’s true submission you know?

The ability to keep moving forward with Him, regardless of fully knowing or understanding the “why.”

And I don’t know where you are in your walk and follow with Him right now; however, I do believe following through with the “no” is just as vital as following through with the “yes.” Because, even though the “no” contradicts the souls wants, it also pulls us into a tighter, more intimate relationship with God. It shows that we will trust His ways… And then have peace within that trust no matter the outcome.

And… I don’t know about you, but who wouldn’t want to be closer to Him? 🌱 #cultivatelife

 

Spirit · truth

Bitter-fully Good

Have you ever faced off with bitterness before?

If so, then you’ll understand the constant, alienating feeling of being “wronged.”

But, what happens when the bitterness you’re experiencing is aimed at God?

You see… I’ve been asking myself this question for two weeks now because He’s called me to a higher level of obedience and trust in Him.

However, my selfish ways want things that oppose His ways. The selfish pieces of my heart keep reminding me of how unjust and unfair I believe He’s being towards me.

And… In all honesty, I’m blinded. Blinded by my self. Blinded by my will. Blinded by my desires and ways.

But… I’m also tired. I’m tired of being hostile with my best friend. I don’t like feeling like He’s wronged me when, deep down, my heart knows He’s truly good.

Actually… His goodness is the very reason I keep giving Him my will and selfish ways and desires. His goodness is what keeps leading pieces of my selfish heart to a place of repentance and peace.

And so… Well that’s why I am sharing this. To remind you, wherever you are, to stay focused on Him at all times. And to choose His will over every other thing that’s presented before you. Because He… He is ALWAYS good! 🌱 #cultivatelife

soul · Spirit · truth

Keep The Peace

Keep the peace…. Even when life’s circumstances push you to the limit, remember why you have it… Remember to stay focused on the One that can’t be shaken, moved or truly manipulated.

Keep the peace. Keep it down in you. Hold on to it tight and don’t let it go. I know things can get crazy, hazy and confusing as hell at times, but I hope and pray peace keeps you anchored, grounded and completely secure.

Oh and don’t forget…. You know… The One… The One that holds the peace. Don’t forget about Him.

Always, always, always keep your entire self: spirit, soul and body focused on Him.

You know I never understood that when I was younger… I never understood how my mother, mentors and grandmothers seemed so sure of God. But now… Now that I have a more developed relationship with Father God, Jesus and Holy Spirit I more so get it. I get what it means to feel fear and choose peace. I see why it’s vital to trust the words of Holy Spirit over what millions upon billions of restless, insecure sources spew out.

And I know our world (and maybe even your own personal world) seems to be spinning into a chaotic mess… A mess that we cannot afford to control… But… Well… Keep the peace 🌱#cultivatelife

Confidence · Spirit · truth

“Help. Me.”

“Help. Me.” is what I quietly screamed at my sister across the gym yesterday. The weight I tried to load onto my shoulders for lunges was entirely too heavy for me to lift.

Of course she quickly looked at me like, “What am I supposed to do Amanda?! You think I can help you lift 80 pounds?!”

But she did. My sister helped me pick up the weight and then together we placed it on it’s stand.

And that’s what this entire journey has been… A constant series of two sisters helping each other move forward right when the other seems like she might crumble.

Those are the things no one sees though… The moments where we both want to give up because God’s system for living isn’t working the way we imagined it would.

You see it seemed so simple when He showed me a picture of the outcome. But then I didn’t consider that my choices would lead me to a place that would look like this for so long. I didn’t realize there would be years and years and years of refusing to cave.

And I also didn’t realize my response would consistently be… “Well, I consulted God and He said, ‘No. No, don’t do that. Don’t sell out. Don’t go that route. Don’t buy into what’s cheap, fake and entirely insecure. Keep following me. It will all come together in My timing Amanda. You have to keep trusting Me.”

And so I do… We both do. Actually we all three do. Mom included. Even with the soul-ripping, sudden loss of dad. We have chosen to band tighter to God and go even higher with Him and His ways.

And sure… Sure it hasn’t been easy. But I can promise you this… My choice to trust God and take risks with Him and His ways have been the best choices I’ve ever made because they’ve made me confident, secure, whole, complete and at peace with the out-of-control world around me. And no, no He doesn’t always make sense. And yes, yes spirituality is almost always terrifying because it means we have to let go and trust in things we might not believe are real. But I just want to encourage you to trust that He’s there. Trust that He’s waiting to lift the 80 pounds you cannot lift alone off of your shoulders. And trust that He will guide you after the weight is gone so you can #cultivatelife 🌱

soul · Spirit · truth

“She Gambles with God”

“Does trusting the Lord and not worrying mean we’re coping out?”

“No Bill. It just means we’re doing what God told us to do.”

That… That was a conversation my grandparents had several years ago as they continued to follow Holy Spirit wherever He led them.

And… You know, thisThis is exactly how I feel right now. My lack of worry almost makes me feel like I’m doing something wrong. Like I’m “coping out” on life.

Because, normally, when we say we “trust God,” we still secretly harbor anxiety and worry in our hearts. And then we just keep that “smile” on our faces… You know, the one that says, “I’m good! I’m fine!! I’m trusting God!!!”

However, faith… Faith truly is a lifestyle for me. It’s a real walk that requires so much risk… So much risk that I feel like my forehead constantly reads, “She gambles with God!”

And I guess I’m saying all of this because I want to remind myself and you that it’s okay to wholeheartedly trust God. Actually, it’s 1000% healthy and normal to embrace that initial wave of fear we all feel when we step into the unknown, but then it’s also so healthy to have so much of God within us… So much of Him that we ride over that wave of fear with so much confidence, courage and strength in our hearts… Enough to say, “I will not carry the fear I feel… This fear that would like to collide with my heart and drown me.” 🌱 #cultivatelife

 

 

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.