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.

soul · Spirit · truth

Year Four

From the window of mom’s new house I sit in my bed and watch the river flow as the sun rises every morning. Some days it flows left. Other days it flows right. But then there are days when it’s peaceful and still, reflecting the life around it.

Now, I’m not sure what the river is going to teach me about life yet. I still have about a month to spend with it before heading into my next adventure; however, the peacefulness of the river has definitely caught my attention.

You see when looking into a flowing river you can’t really see what’s being reflected very clearly. The current it moving too fast to get a clear perspective, and so it’s easy to believe things are a chaotic mess. But when the current slows down to a pace of nothing, all of a sudden this beautiful image pops back at you.

In so many ways and for so many reasons this is how I feel about the last four years for my family. The river of life has been a constant, yet messy ebb and flow. Some days the wind would move it violently to the right, and then other days it would quickly changes courses and snap it to the left. But then in moment’s like this, when it’s still, well the reflection reveals how beautiful life truly is. It’s at a calm state of being. There’s no wind to tell it which way to go or who to be in that moment. Instead you can sit back and breathe, while taking in the view of God’s goodness.

You see there were times over the last four years that the chaotic wind and current caused me to question if we’d ever make it through. I would sometimes frantically and fearfully wonder, “Will mom would be ok? Where will finances come from? Will we ever stand in the goodness of God as a family again?”

But now, now that the wind has died down I can see that it was imperative that it blew violently and harshly. I can see that it was necessary that we felt the hard struggle of the moving current below. And I can also see that God knew, in time, we would all be starring at a calm and peaceful river of life that reflects only the goodness He ordained and created within the chaos of the flow.

Confidence · Spirit · truth

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.