My Year of Brave.

2018 was my year of Brave.

In December 2017, I chose “Brave” as my word for the upcoming year. I made a promise to myself and to the Lord that I would try to be brave in every circumstance I found myself in.

For the most part, I kept my promise. There were a few times fear came and courage was fleeting, but hey, nobody’s perfect!

This blog is dedicated to sharing my year of brave with you. I hope you are ready for a long one.

Here we go.

Act of Bravery #1: Leaving Ministry.

This decision was a difficult and unpopular choice, but it was what God wanted from Joshua and I. Through His grace and strength we have learned so much in this year that I know we wouldn’t have had we not been willing to follow Him on this unbeaten path.

Unpopular choices that are made under God’s direction can be one of the HARDEST decisions in life, but oh, the reward He can bring when you have the courage to do it anyway.

Act of Bravery #2: I turned 30.


Now, I know I didn’t choose to turn 30, it was coming whether I wanted it to or not, but in bravery, I chose to embrace it.

To be honest, 30 hit me hard. I know it is because I thought my life would be in such a different place by the time I hit 30, and it wasn’t. In fact, I was nowhere near where I wanted to be. Thankfully God showed me so much during this time. Mostly that His ways are not my ways and that He is pleased with any life that is serving and worshiping Him. Circumstances like jobs, weight, the number of kids you have or where you live should not play into your worth. I faced 30 with a bravery that depended on God for reassuring words of being enough right where He had me.

A front row worship session with Casting crowns didn’t hurt either!

Many of the next acts of bravery came on an amazing trip with our best friends, Joey and April.

We went on this cruise for our 10 year wedding anniversary.

It. Was. Glorious.

There were many circumstances that arose during this trip that forced me to choose bravery instead of running in the other direction.

Act of Bravery #3: I snorkeled. In open water. I’m still shocked I did this.

I am terrified of living things touching me, swimming around me, being near me, all of the above. But I knew if I didn’t swallow the fear and jump in I would always regret it.

So I did it. I jumped in.

I spent most of the first snorkel session on my friend April’s back, but I did it. By the end of the week, I was swimming alone with no fear. This act of bravery was one I had to ease into and master moment by moment, especially when we saw those barracudas…

Yep. That happened.

Act of Bravery #4: I held a huge stingray.


Massive. Gigantic. Epic creature.

Notice how the guide is really holding her?

It’s because I kept letting her go. Especially after he lifted her tail and showed me her poisonous deathly barb…


I was NOT about to make that stingray stay with me if she didn’t want to.

But I did it.


I’m calling this one a victory. My hands are under that gigantic thing. I dare you to challenge me on this.

Another act of bravery came on this trip, but it wasn’t a fun one.

Act of Bravery #5: A hard conversation.

During the cruise, I had unknowingly said something that hurt my beautiful best friend and we needed to talk it out.

I was ruined.

I wanted to run and hide. I just knew our friendship was over. We both decided this wouldn’t be the end and in bravery, we had a tough conversation. I am so glad she forgave and forgot. We both triumphed that day.

I love you April. Thank you for your gracious forgiveness.

Having hard conversations like that is not my favorite pastime, but in life sometimes they are necessary. We have to have the bravery to push into the uncomfortable. It’s the only way we move forward in relationships. I think April would agree, we gained a new level of friendship that day.


Bravery won and fear lost on a beach in the Caribbean.

Ok, so where am I at now?

Act of Bravery # 6 : I rode a horse.

Maybe I should have named this blog, “The year I got over my fear of animals!”

Riding a horse might not seem like a huge feat to some, but oh my, it was for me.

As you read earlier of my fear of living creatures swimming around me and the terror of holding a huge stingray, you have to know I would have fear riding on an even bigger animal. Plus I am not a small human. I was scared I would hurt the poor thing.

Authenticity people. Embrace it.

But my daughter wanted one thing for her birthday, a horse riding adventure with her family. I wasn’t about to be the reason she didn’t get it.

So, we booked a horse riding session and they brought out a Clydesdale for me.

That’s right. They brought out the biggest horse they had.

Wow. Thanks for making this so easy and not embarrassing at all.

Insert eye roll.

I laughed it off and heaved climbed on to this beauty.

It was embarrassing, hard, funny and wonderful. I’m so glad I faced it all for a wonderful memory with my family because I almost didn’t.

It was SO worth it.

Act of Bravery #7: Weight Loss Surgery.

Gracious, this is a hard one to write about. It scares me to death to tell the world about this part of my year because so many people have opinions about it.

“It’s the easy way out.”

“Why can’t you just eat less.”

“Well, if you struggle now, you will just eat through it.”

Oh wow, I have heard it all.

So sharing something this personal is difficult for me. I don’t want to look weak or create a situation where people are mean, forming opinions about me based on the smallest amount of information. However, I have reached a point in my life where I know who I am and why I made the choices I did. Believe me, this choice was made with LOTS of prayer and counsel. I made the best health decision for me.

In August I had a Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy. They basically just took out a portion of my stomach.

Picture for reference, so you can understand better what that looks like.

Let me tell you. TOTALLY NOT the easy way out.

It was one of the hardest roads I have ever walked down. I didn’t eat regular food for seven weeks. I had major surgery and went back to work after a week.

It was NOT easy.

Let me tell you though. It was the BEST decision I could have ever made for my health.


So far I have lost 85 pounds on this journey and I feel like a new person. I can move like I never thought I would be able to again. I can run and play with my kids with ease. I am making great choices with nutrition and my relationship with food has changed immensely.

Also, I bet the next time I ride a horse I won’t need a Clydesdale…haha!

This decision has helped me so so much. I didn’t realize how unhealthy my outlook on food was. I was using it to fill areas of my life that God should have been filling. This surgery and journey made me start to look at food the right way – for nutrition and sustenance.

Complete life change.

In a one hour surgery, I felt like I was given so much. It was hard, painful, mentally and emotionally challenging, but I faced it with a bravery I didn’t know I had. I’m so glad I did it.

Act of Bravery #8: I applied to start my Masters of Teaching from Liberty, and got accepted! 

This is an act of bravery because I will be pursuing my masters while working a full-time job and being a mom and wife. Not to mention I am not the best at academics. I was looking at my transcripts and was more than a little concerned about this upcoming journey. Academics do not come easily to me so I will have to work really hard to achieve my goals in this area. Thankfully I have an amazing husband who pushed me to go for this dream of furthering my education and has committed to help me along this journey.

I am so grateful for the partner he is.

Joshua has helped me through every single one of these acts of bravery. He has walked each one with me and encouraged my heart to move when it needed to. He also gave me a necklace at the beginning of this year that had BRAVE engraved into it. I wore it so often throughout 2018 as a reminder to be brave in everything that came my way. After God, Joshua was and is my number one encourager.

Thank you for all you do for me honey ❤

Act of Bravery #9: A God ordained trip and an “all in” decision.

This last act of bravery was one that Joshua and I shared. For a while now we have felt that God wanted us to do more for Him. To do whatever He wanted, whenever and wherever. We surrendered our lives fully to Him, we just needed someone to call us and we would go. Then we remembered Logan Wolf had called us about 6 months ago and asked us to come to visit Utah. When he had called, our hearts were not ready. We had just been let go from our jobs, had no home, and no money to visit.

But God sparked a match in our hearts, that now seemed to be a small flame.

We knew we had to go.

We took what money we had, bought two plane tickets and went.


This forum could not hold what God did in our hearts that weekend. He answered prayers we thought were too much to ask. He had been preparing our hearts months in advance for what we experienced in Utah that weekend.

Joshua and I left knowing we would be back. God had made things so clear.

We decided to go all in for God and say “yes” to move across the United States and be witnesses in a dark place for Christ.

This was one of the bravest, scariest, hardest decisions of our lives. Saying yes to God means leaving all that we know. This decision will inevitably bring sorrow to our hearts at times, it already has.

We will miss our family tremendously.

But God never said taking up your cross and dying to self would be an easy task. We look to Him every day for the strength and comfort to keep pressing on. He gives more grace than I can comprehend.

These nine Acts of Bravery were my highlights of the year. There were a few more that aren’t entirely mine to share where God used circumstances and conversations to change the course of the year and really my life.

He took this simple word, “Brave,” and birthed in my heart a way to live. To live out each day making conscious efforts to choose bravery when I wanted to choose comfort or retreat. My life is forever changed because of this year and the choices that were made.

I am looking to my 31st year of life with great anticipation and hope.

My word for this year is going to be “Trust.”

The definition of trust in the dictionary is “firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.

The synonyms of trust are confidence, belief, faith, certainty, assurance, conviction, reliance.

I am choosing this year, to focus on trusting my life fully to the Lord.

It’s as simple as that.

Hopefully, just like last year with “Brave” God will work with “Trust” in ways I can’t even imagine. So, as life comes my way this year, I will choose to trust in all things, not just the easy circumstances.

Jeremiah 17:7-8 –“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lordwhose trust is the LordHe is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”



Fear Itself

Franklin D Roosevelt stated in his 1933 inaugural address, “…Let me assert my firm belief, that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”

When I reflect on fear in regards to myself and my Savior, I tend to recall President Roosevelt’s words.

What do I have to fear BUT fear itself?

If we are honest with ourselves, fear plays a huge role in most of our lives.

We tend to live in such a way that our fears can never touch us. We avoid the dark, public speaking, and confrontation like a plague.

Why? Because of fear.

Fear of being hurt, rejected or embarrassed.

We avoid the feeling of fear at any cost. We don’t want to fight the fear, so we choose to remove it.

Instead of facing the dark, we leave the light on. Instead of facing rejection, we avoid relationships. Instead of confronting sin, we give concessions.

Fear can shape how you look at everything and everyone.

Will I fail? Will I mess it all up? What happens if people hate me or make fun of me? What if I lose everything and have to start again?

Fear can keep you backed into a corner, singling you out like a bully who isolates the weakest link.

Fear is not to be trifled with.

It is one of the Devil’s best weapons.

Just look at a few examples from God’s Word.

Moses feared to return to Egypt and speak for the Lord because he had a speech impediment. (Exodus 3-4)

The ten spies out of the twelve that Moses sent to explore Canaan were so fearful and scared of what they saw that they convinced all of the people to rebel against what God told them to do. This one act of fear caused them all to wander in the wilderness for 40 years, never being able to enter the promised land. (Numbers 13-14)

Gideon’s life was full of fearful moments. When God found him for the very first time, he was hiding in a wine press, so his enemies would not kill him. (Judges 6-8)

Elijah feared Jezebel and her threats on his life even though God had just used him immensely on Mount Carmel to show His power. (I Kings 18-19)

Peter feared the water he was walking on because of the wind and he began to sink. (Matthew 14)

Now, I can not blame ANY of these examples given for being fearful. If I had been in their shoes, I would have been shaking just as they were.

But why do we fear?

I believe I fear because I don’t fully rely on God. I rely mostly on myself, and because of this, there is REASON to fear.

What do I have that can cause a Pharaoh to release all his slaves or can allow me to walk on water?


Only God can do those sort of miracles. Only His power is able to make up the difference, change the outcome, or you know, defy gravity.

In the face of fear all I need is my Lord. He is the peace in the storm.

The devil, however, makes us feel alone and unable to claim God’s power. He uses another tool in his arsenal.


The devil causes you to feel uncertain, unsure, hesitant, suspicious, confused, insecure, and uneasy. The human response to these emotions is to protect, back away, or run. We are programmed to protect ourselves at any cost. You see it over and over again in God’s Word.

The ten spies knew they didn’t measure up to the giants they saw in the promised land. How could they defeat such huge people when they looked at themselves?

That is the problem though. We are looking at ourselves.

Moses was looking at his speech impediment, not the God who made His mouth. Gideon was looking at his inability to fight the enemy, not the God who found him hiding and called him to more. Elijah was looking at his weakness and human frailty, not the God who had just shown Himself immensely powerful on Mount Carmel.

What would it look like if we were to throw caution to the wind and trust God with it all?

With our mouths, our abilities, our weakness, and even our lives.

Lately, I have been thinking of Peter and his walking on water experience.

What if Jesus himself called you out of the boat to walk on the water? To do something so simple as putting one foot in front of the other. He is not asking you to fight a huge number of people alone or some crazy hard task like defeating a giant with a slingshot and trust.

Just step out of the boat and walk to Him.

Put yourself in Peter’s shoes.

oceanYou know the dangers of drowning. You were a fisherman before Jesus called you to be a fisher of men. You know the vastness of the sea you are getting ready to walk on and the probability of getting swept away. You can feel the wind starting to pick up.

Staring into the face of the knowledge that would keep you from getting out of the boat is the face of your Savior saying, “Come.”

Would you go?

I have been contemplating this thought for a while now.

Would I go?

My gut reaction is, “uh, no…”

“No, I’m not getting out of this boat and the safety it promises. No, I’m not going to think I can walk on the water just because Jesus is. I mean, come on. He is Jesus, so of course HE can walk on the water. No, I am JUST FINE sitting here in the boat watching Peter take that risk. MAYBE if He can walk on the water, I’ll go next.

In the still small voice that God uses to speak to me, He whispers, “but what if you are the Peter others need to see? Get out of the boat and trust me…”

He fillets open my heart and exposes everything I fear.

“…But what if everyone is watching me and I begin to sink, Lord? What does that say then? What will they think of me?”

Still small voice of God: “I will reach for you. I won’t let you sink beyond my reach.”


God whispers back, “Everyone will know you tried and that you have a Savior who will always be there for you.”

“Oh, Lord. You know me so well. You know my greatest fears and failures. You know what the devil uses to keep me in the boat, quiet, hiding, turning away and retreating. You call my name, lock eyes with me, reach out Your hand and speak one word, “Come.”

With that, I am faced with the hardest choice.

Will I stay safe and contained in the boat with all the comforts it can offer? Or will I come forward HAVING to place all my trust in You while the fears scream around me like giant waves of the sea?

“Oh Lord, give me the strength to walk where human feet fail, but where Your power is made strong. Help me reach You, trusting that no matter what is going on around me, YOU are my God, and You have me in your sights and your hands.”

What do I have to fear but fear itself? He conquered it all when He defeated death.

Y’all, He conquered death. What is left to fear?

He is the light. He is the center of every relationship. He is salvation from sin. I don’t have to remove the fear from my life because it is fear itself that reminds my heart of my need for a Savior.

He is a Savior Who is infinite, omnipotent, and omnipresent. He is reaching out HIS hand to you and me.

He can take you from putting one foot in front of the other on a windy sea to fighting giants and circumstances that seem insurmountable.

All you have to do is put fear aside, look Him in the eye, and KNOW He has you in His hands. There is NOTHING to fear when God has your back.

Absolutely nothing.

Psalm 27:1 – The Lord is my light and my salvation – so why should I be afraid? The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble?






A Crisis of Faith


God has so many things to say about this five letter word. Faith may be a small word, but the practice of it can be a huge factor to living an abundant life in Jesus.

In my life, faith can be seen in two extremes.

The first is BIG and EXTRAORDINARY.

There have been times in my life where I have had faith that I’m sure could have moved mountains. I claimed all of God’s promises and was NEVER going to doubt his plans.

Usually, these moments happened when life was good. I had no reason not to trust Him. I was on the Mountaintop, faith was easy to grasp.

The second can be described by the phrase, “A Crisis of Faith.”

It is characterized by lots of doubt, confusion, and fear. All feelings that should not be associated with faith.

I picture this kind of faith in my mind like a squirrel in the middle of a road turning back and forth trying to decide if he should continue on across or turn back.

That’s how my faith has been lately.


A couple of months ago, I felt so sure and secure in God.

He was moving mountains and making a way where there was no way. He was doing what gospel music songs are made of. I was on the spiritual high of His love, grace, and provision. I had placed all my faith and trust in what He could do, and He DELIVERED.

Then, I got comfortable in my faith.

I stopped talking to Him, hardly ever read my Bible and worship? Worship was scarce.

Now, It wasn’t like I made a distinct choice to stop talking to Him every morning, or reading His word or worshipping His name…

I just got…busy.

Oh, busyness you wolf in sheep clothing. The devil sure knows how to wield you.

All the good God had given in my job and the kids going back to school came with a mountain of busyness. Homework, meals, baths, laundry, cleaning and a host of other things were piling up on me quicker than I could handle them. Something had to give.

Suddenly those 30 extra minutes in the morning were spent in coveted slumber rather than in His presence. He became less and less important in my daily routine. I pushed Him aside and it wasn’t long before I began to feel it.

The crisis of faith.

I have had many of these in the last couple of years. You think I would learn, but I have always been hard headed. No “easy, learn from others mistakes kinda girl,” or even my own mistakes?! Nope, I’m a “maybe it will be different this time” kind of learner. Maybe I can handle only speaking to him here and there…

Here I was again, in the middle of the road, trying to decide which way I would choose to run.  Would I run to big and extraordinary faith or would I retreat to the small faith hoping God would move, but feeling like He could care less…


Well. I got hit by the car.

Oh man, have you ever done that? Saw a squirrel running back and forth, all the while you’re screaming, “oh no, little guy, keep going! Choose a side! I’m going to hit you!” You are slowing down but there are cars behind you, you can’t screech to a halt or there will be a pile-up?! Oh, what do you do?! You flinch and hope he made it over…then…

Then you hit him.

It is AWFUL. I hate hitting animals, especially when they could have just kept running and made it.

Well, I am the squirrel in this lovely word picture. I got hit.


Like, rolling under the front tires and then the back tires, then by every car that was following.

Nothing outlandish or awful happened, but I had allowed myself to start seeing everything through my sin-scarred eyes and not the heavenly eyes of my Father.

Suddenly everything bad that happened was “Why would you let this happen God?” and “How could you do this to me?”

I fell into familiar sins and didn’t really feel all that bad about it either.

Dangerous, dangerous ground.

I found myself wondering if God cared about me. Circumstances would arise that would hurt me and I began to wonder if He even wanted to help me.  I would sit down to talk to Him but would feel like He wasn’t there.

Have you ever felt like that? Like He is far away and you can’t feel His presence?

I can guarantee you it is not Him, IT IS YOU. Sin, bitterness, self, pride, something is in the way.

All of these were in my way.

Then I got to the place, laying in that street, mangled by all the cars (I’m not giving up on the squirrel analogy – hang with it) that I realized if I had just stayed with the Lord I wouldn’t be in this mess. If I hadn’t tried to run to self-fulfillment and what I thought would ease the pain of life’s hurts I would not be roadkill right now.

I was going to tell you I peeled myself up and ran to Him, but that would be such a lie.

He ran to me and picked up my broken and bruised body. He knew my heart was shattered and I wanted His presence back in my life.

I confessed all my sin, pride, bitterness and anger.

He forgave it all and embraced me.

My crisis of faith had dissipated into a seed of faith about the size of a mustard seed.

Thankfully He said that is all I needed to begin the journey back to big and outlandish.

God is such a good, loving Father.

He is Sure.

Not slack concerning His promises.

He took my heart, so forlorn and broken, and began to mend it. He didn’t scorn and throw “I told you so’s” in my face. He let me exercise my free will and when it had taken me to my end, He embraced my pleas for forgiveness. He met them with grace and mercy.

Where are you today? Have you let busyness or circumstances get in your way?

Maybe something happened that diminished and scattered your faith. Now it is so small, it is almost undetectable. You are caught in the middle of the road, unsure of which way to run.

Run to Jesus. He is waiting with open arms. He will make all things right.

Not easy. Not comfortable. Not trouble free.

But He will fill the scariness of life’s ups and downs with peace, calm, security, and most importantly Himself.

Choose to trust Him today. Choose the big outlandish faith over the crisis of faith. What He can do when you trust Him with your whole heart is unmeasurable.

– Your squished, scarred but mended friend.



The Winds of Change

Change is a unique aspect of life. It can be positive, negative, hopeful, fearful, life-giving or life draining. Change is one of life’s toss-ups, depending on how you look at it.

I have been going through so many changes lately. It is why I haven’t written in two months. To be honest, I’ve felt dumbstruck as to how to write about the changes I have been experiencing because it can be dangerous for a people pleaser like myself.

What will people think?

What will they say?

I arrived at the conclusion that no matter what people say or think, God and I are all that matters. I have grown so much closer to Him through these changes, and He is doing amazing things in our lives. THAT is what matters. HIS voice, HIS thoughts and HIS plans. Everything else melts away in comparison.

So here goes nothing.

My husband, Joshua, and I have been asking the Lord for specific direction in our lives for a while now. We have been in full-time ministry for 10 years, but we sensed God was blowing the winds of change in our direction.

If you have read my blog post Hang on, you know what Joshua and I have faced for the last three years. Walking through deep hurt like that is one of the most courageous things someone can do, but it does take a toll. What made it harder was trying to walk through it while working in full-time Christian service.

Ministry demands constant giving of yourself, and when you are deeply broken you start asking the question, “what part is left to give?”

How can you pour from a broken cup?

It is nearly impossible.


We asked the Lord to lay out His plan for us and to make it obvious. We wanted to KNOW it was Him and not our own selfish desire. We basically pulled a Gideon and laid out the fleece. We needed a sign.

My faith was weak. How could God be leading us away from full-time ministry? It felt contradictory.

Then the Lord spoke His word into my heart – “Amanda…My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways…”

Ok God, do Your will here. My hands, heart, and mind are open to whatever You want.

Joshua and I prayed that prayer so intensely one night. We wanted Him to move so badly. We just wanted to be where He wanted us to be. We laid it out and left it in His hands.

The fleece was soaked on a dry ground the next morning.

I woke up to a text from my dad about a job. A friend of ours had woken up with me on his mind concerning a job in his office that had been left unfilled for two weeks now.

God was on the move.

I went for the interview two days later. The same day Joshua got a call for a job that his good friend, Joey, would leave open when he moved to Michigan. God was working long before we knew it when He called our best friends to move months before. He was working in their lives while also making provision for ours.

God is amazing. His plans are so intricate and detailed.

By the end of that week, we both had full-time jobs, and our kids were enrolled in the school they had gone to the previous year. Their school was thrilled to have them back and were willing to work with us to make it happen.

Needless to say, my mind was BLOWN.

I know God is able and can do way beyond what I can think or imagine, but when he pulls jobs out of thin air and makes a way where there was no way, I can’t help but be left with my jaw on the floor.

In one week, He had supplied us a way for healing while being able to provide for our family. He moved everything into place, and we just followed the path He made. When I stop and think about it, I still find myself in shock sometimes.

This also meant we would have to leave the ministry we were serving in. It was a tough call. We loved those people and felt God was using us there, but we knew in our hearts that this was the road He wanted us to walk. We resigned and gave a two-week notice. I don’t think anyone had any clue it was coming. Joshua and I had gotten good at mask wearing, the art of putting that strong face forward while broken and hurting inside.

It was almost impossible to serve effectively while dealing with so much hurt. Not only were we wanting to heal from the pain Joshua faced as a child, but ministry had compounded the hurt too. It requires a special kind of grit and tenacity to be in ministerial work. You need a soft heart that gives selflessly, but that is also encased in heavy armor, able to withstand the arrows of hurt that fly your way.

Our armor is heavily damaged, and our hearts exposed for too long. We need a time of rest, recovery, and rebuild.

God was gracious to give us that.

A Sabbath.

A time of rest.

My hope is that you can understand, but regardless I know without a shadow of a doubt this is the path God has laid for us. He has shown His hand in miraculous ways, and it has been AWESOME. I am choosing to not let the thoughts of what people will think mess with the greatness of what God has done.

When I let people’s voices drown out the Lord’s voice, I am on dangerous ground. I am choosing today to hear His still small voice whisper above the crowd, “Trust me with all your heart Amanda, lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge me, and I will make your paths straight.”

I don’t know where you live, but in North Carolina, this weekend has been extremely windy. I mean like “hold your clothes on” kind of windy. The local weather stations were even reporting wind warnings because winds had reached up to 50mph, resulting in power outages and trees down in our area.

Wind can be tricky.

It can produce energy by spinning a field full of windmills, and yet it can devastate thousands of people when it yields a hurricane.

Have you ever heard the phrase, “the winds of change are blowing?”

Let me tell you, I have felt them blowing through my life like the 50 mph winds that my physical body has endured this weekend. Today, I stood outside and let the wind whirl around me. I don’t think I have ever stopped and allowed the weather to affect me like that.

It was beautiful. I mean my hair wasn’t beautiful afterward, but standing in the midst of God’s creation and allowing it to literally move me was life-changing.

Winds of change can be as energy producing or as devastating as the forceful winds of nature, but if you can stand still and let Him literally move everything for you, it will make all the difference. It may take you three years to finally give it to Him and see it physically played out, but I have no doubt that He is moving in the midst of the winds of change, no matter how many jobs, houses, churches, or paths it takes you to.

Stand still and let His winds of change engulf you.

It will be out of this world.


Hold your Tongue.

If I asked you, “What comes to mind when you think of my name?”

What would it stir up?

       Amanda Rager

Was it positive or negative? True or false?

Lately, the Lord has been convicting my heart about my tongue and judgments.

I have been reading through James, and I knew I was approaching the chapter about “taming the tongue.” I was so tempted to skip over it and never look back, but I knew God would convict my heart. So, I braved the chapter.

That was fun…said no one. Ever.

It’s chapter 3 if you wanted to know or if you wanted to avoid it…

I had already felt God moving in my heart about my tongue before reading James 3, and I didn’t want to face it.

I am going to be honest with you. It is a real struggle for me.

Let me tell you why.

I am very insecure, and I have been hurt a lot. Like many of us, I have been the target of cutting words. Kids can be ignorant, teens can be self-absorbed, and adults can be cruel. For whatever reason, I have always felt very different and very unwanted. This was something that I wrestled with constantly. Just ask my mom. She was my constant. She was the one who told me I was beautiful just the way I was, or that people were just speaking from their hurt. It probably had nothing to do with me. She was great, a balm to the hurt, but people’s words still cut deep.

My coping mechanism for being treated this way was to talk about the people that hurt me to the couple of friends I had and to poke at their weaknesses. What started as a way to deal with bullying as a kid/teen morphed into a bad habit as an adult. I wanted to feel better about myself or justify how people were treating me, and I did that with my words.

Does this justify my sin? No.

Does it help you to understand why it’s a struggle for me? Maybe.

Are you judging me right now for my brutal honesty? I hope not…;)

I want to be brave enough to face my sin with vulnerability. In hopes that someone reading this will know they are not alone in whatever they are facing or struggling with. That maybe, in my mess, they can see theirs and have the strength to face it too. This is tough to overcome. For real.

So, I googled the functions of a tongue. It took me on a weird youtube journey. Tongues are interesting and gross all at the same time. I saw too many of them.

Don’t do it y’all.

The tongue weighs about 2.5 ounces. Think about that in regards to your body weight. My tongue is a very small part of my body but a very BIG part of my life. To live without a tongue is to live without taste, talking, singing, and with a great difficulty in digesting food. Trust me. I read WebMD extensively. 😉


The Lord calls the tongue a “small member” and likens it to a great ship’s rudder, the bit in a horse’s mouth, and a small fire that can overtake a great forest. The tongue can be vital and dangerous all at the same time.

Whoa buddy, do I know it.

Recently I was talking to my counselor, and I made a definitive statement about someone. She looked at me with her blue eyes that pierce into my soul and asked, “So, are you their judge?” Um….ouch.

No…no I am not.

Her point in saying that to me was that I have no idea what that person is going through and what has led them to this point. She was absolutely right. I only know what I see, and that is NOT enough to make that kind of snap judgment.

It was hard to hear.

It got me thinking about all the things I have heard about myself from others growing up. Most of them were quick judgments by people who never took the time to know me or what I was going through.

And here I was doing the EXACT. SAME. THING.


The next day in my devotions, I came to Chapter 3 of James. Oh Lord, You have such a way of working those things out. It was perfect timing. My counselor had tilled the ground of my heart, so God’s word was ready to be planted.

James 3: 7-12 –All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.

God can not do any kind of work through my mouth when it shoots “deadly poison.” My mouth shouldn’t bless the Lord and then curse those He made in his likeness, whether they have hurt me or not. Whether they deserve it or not. Whether I am feeling bad about myself or not.


I asked you at the beginning of this blog what came to mind when you thought of my name. I did this for two reasons.

One, to see if you have negative thoughts associated with me and to ask yourself why? I may never cross your mind, but if I do, what thoughts are connected with my name? and why? Is it true because you experienced it with me? Or is it gossip? I did this with various names and I realized what I thought of were things I have heard other people say. Most of which, I have no idea if it is true or not! That is terrible!

Two, I wanted to know if it was my words that came to mind. I hope it was not the bitterness of my words, but if it was, I am sorry. I ask for your forgiveness if you have heard me say anything negative about anyone. I ask for your help. If you hear it happen again, stop me. Tell me what my counselor did. You are not their judge. You have no idea of their struggle or what they have been through. You do not know what has brought them to where they are or to what they did.


Let’s give grace today to those around us. Even if you hear that they are talking about you. Even if they treat you terribly. It would be so easy to degrade them with your words or to even listen to others say negative things- I know! But what would it look like if we stopped the cycle of hurt and gossip and offered grace into the hurt?  It would definitely halt the pattern of slander. I believe God would be glorified, and He would take care of the injustice you feel.

He says so in Romans…

Romans 12:17-21 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Let’s trust what God says today. I’m right here with you. Offer it to Him to handle. He PROMISES He will, and you can trust God on his promises. He always keeps them.

It is going to be HARD. I am scared.

My mind is screaming, “NO! I HAVE to defend myself when wrong is spoken of me. People HAVE to KNOW those things aren’t true. I have to say what bad I can about that person so that I can look better.”

But my heart whispers back, “God has it. He knows the truth. He is ALL that matters. He will right the wrongs. He will bring truth to lies. Vengeance is HIS. Not mine.”

Speak Life. Offer Grace. Be kind.

Let’s brave this storm together.

Let’s hold our tongues. We will be better for it. God will be honored in it.

Let’s do this thing.

A Word.

A couple of years ago I read a book by Debbie Macomber entitled One Perfect Word. It is about choosing a word to intentionally focus on for a whole year of your life. Debbie Macomber wrote about how this practice changed her and how the Lord worked greatly through it in her life.  In her book, she shared fourteen words that each represent the seasons of a particular year in her life.

This book came to me through a dear friend. She had spoken about how it had made an impact on her at a Bible study I was attending. She shared that her word for the new year would be “Joy.”

I was intrigued. I love this kind of stuff. It sounded poetic and I wanted in. I asked to borrow the book and I read it quickly and chose my word even quicker.

Little did I know that would be the year of undoing.

My word was Hope.

It had been one of Debbie’s words, and I wasn’t feeling that original at the time. It sounded good enough. I wanted to share with my friend a word that I had chosen after reading the book, and “hope” just sounded good, you know?

Everyone likes to have hope…right?

Hope – to cherish a desire with anticipation to want something to happen or be true.

Oh the irony.

I would choose that word and forget it almost as instantly as I had decided on it. All “hope” I possessed flew right out the door with my dreams of how our life, marriage, jobs, home, and ministry would grow.

I lost all hope that year. It would take me years to find it again.


This concept flew back into my brain recently, the idea of choosing a word for the new year. A word that I would intentionally seek out, pursue and study. I determined I wanted to do it. But I would take some time to decide on it. None of this “fly by the seat of my pants and chose some word I hadn’t thought a minute about” business.

It was tough.

A word that I would want to define my whole year.

One that I could cling to and claim.

A word that I would seek out and ask God for in my life.

And one night as I was lying awake, unable to sleep, I caught a glimpse of the sign that hangs above our bed. I sat up and looked at it for a long while.

Brave 2.jpg

I had picked up this sign months ago when we had moved in with my parents. I asked Joshua if I could pick up some things to make the room more “home like.” He gave the go ahead, and I charged Hobby Lobby with debit card in hand.  This would be the only thing I picked up though. I looked at all sorts of signs and pictures but this one just felt right.

And now I know why.

My word for this year is Brave.

Brave – ready to face and endure danger or pain; showing courage.

In all honesty, I have a REAL struggle with being brave. I actually run to being afraid and discouraged when faced with the choice to be strong or courageous.

I obsess and cower when confronted with hard situations.

Just ask my husband.

He knows the depths that my worry and fear can take me to.

But this year, I am going to focus on the word Brave and try to practice it as well. To stand at the ready to endure danger or pain. To show courage and strength in the face of fear and discouragement.

I know I can do this because of the second part of Joshua 1:9, “…for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” 

I don’t know what this year holds. It could be a banner year or one that breaks me down for rebuilding. God only knows, but I feel a rumbling within my soul that He wants me to rise strong and courageous no matter the outcome because He is with me.

I can’t have room for the words fear or worry.

Be BRAVE Amanda. God resides here with you.

Just in the week that this word has been circling around in my brain, God has brought many books to my attention that focus on being brave, and I plan to read these books this year.

Then Joshua and I were walking though TJ Maxx when we saw a sign that said, “You make me brave.” We purchased it right away and gave it to someone that has made being brave easier with their kindness and support.

This year I want the thread of bravery to run through all I do. I want God to do a work in me that allows Himself to be seen because I am not afraid to stand for Him, no matter the cost. Also, I want to breed bravery in others. More often than not, when someone is willing to be brave, stand up, and walk forward, others are more willing to do so as well.

One author that I have been reading after is Brene Brown. I may not agree with everything she writes, but I have learned SO much from her. Her book Daring Greatly is one of the reasons I believe so deeply in vulnerability and authenticity. Vulnerability is the birthplace of so many things we crave in this life : joy, courage, empathy, creativity, hope, accountability.

In her book Daring Greatly she shares a quote by Teddy Roosevelt that has stuck with me and that I want to share with you.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”

Oh, I want to be known as the person who is daring greatly in the arena; moving forward with a brave heart because I have a force within me that no evil can stand against. He has me in His hand and is with me every step of the way, “wherever I go.” No matter if I fail or succeed He is proud of me because I “dared greatly” for him, and His opinion is ALL that matters. I refuse to stand outside the arena and be the one who smirks under my breathe about others who are trying. That person doesn’t win anything. They are miserable. I am done. with. that.

I want my face to be marred with the dust, sweat, and blood of bravery and courage as a child of God fighting and standing for right. I want to be known as someone who speaks truth with courage and tenacity even when its frightening and lonely. Even if I fail, I will know I failed while giving my all, daring greatly for God. I will fix my eyes on Him.

I challenge you to pick a word for this New Year. One that you can look for, study, search out, and even turn around and give to others. And please share with me! I would love to know what word you choose!

Happy New Year! My prayer remains that God will do a great work in each of us for His glory!


“Not Yet?”

My son Judah is four years old. He is a treasure to my heart, and a constant adventure. Even this picture is a tribute to the fact. He was supposed to stand next to me and throw the leaves in the air while the picture was being taken. The idea was to be photographed together laughing and having a fun fall moment while leaves floated down around us. But in usual Judah fashion, when we said “go” he ran forward yelling and throwing the leaves…and we did it about 4 times. Not according to plan, Juju. 🙂

juju.jpgPhoto Creds: April Teceno Photography

Judah is the type of child who wakes up asking questions. I am convinced it is his favorite thing. A usual morning consists of the same three questions asked about, hmmm, 50 times.  Here they are:

Can I have a snack?

When can I watch TV or play Mario?

What are we doing next?

Deep down he knows the answer to each of these questions. We LITERALLY follow the same schedule every day. But he HAS to ask the questions. I think its because he needs to hear the answers said aloud, so nothing is left to wonder in his little mind.

Usually I give him the same answer over and over again, each time becoming increasingly frustrated. “No Judah.” Not now Judah.” “After your nap Judah.” “Nothing Judah!”

And almost every time he answers back with those big brown eyes staring straight at me, “Not yet?”

“Not yet, Momma?”

He needs to know these things WILL be coming. It’s just not yet…but soon.

Well, last week this scene was unfolding like it usually does. I was vacuuming his room and he was 27 questions deep into the morning when he asked about something again. I answered, “No Judah.” To which he replied, “Not yet?” God stopped me dead in my tracks. I froze in realization that I am Judah.

My mind began to flood with everything that I constantly ask the Lord for. Day after day. My prayers are filled with requests. Mostly for myself, if I am being honest.

And lately His answers have been “No.” And my heart will inevitably whisper, “Not yet. Not yet. Right Lord?” I have to know that these things I am praying for will come. That one day it will be here, He is just making me wait for right timing. Just like I do to Judah.

But what if that is not the case?

What if the answer is No.


What will I do then?

It was in that moment when I was vacuuming and heard Judah’s sweet voice say those two small words that God filleted open my heart and threw a realization on me that stopped me dead in my tracks. I looked up, stopped vacuuming and caught my reflection in a mirror in his room.

“God, is this what I am doing?”

I turned off the vacuum, went into my room and collapsed into my desk chair.

I was shaken.

It was one of those moments that felt like God struck right to the center of me. He peeled back a piece I wasn’t willing to let be touched. In the words of a four year old.

Some of the best things that have happened to me are because He has told me an affirmative, “No.” Why is it that I just now am realizing that I am fighting Him on it?

I know that I know God loves me and wants the best for me. He has told me over and over again in His word. That I am loved and treasured. That He WANTS to bless my life.

He just never said when or how.

I have treasured and held close to my heart verses like Proverbs 3:5-6, Psalm 37:4, Romans 8:28.

But recently I read 1 Peter 1:6-7 :

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

and James 1:2-4 :

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

My face was ripped clean off.

As I read these passages I was reminded of something my counselor asks me whenever I bring her situations that I am struggling through and asking God to relieve. She just asks these two simple questions EVERY TIME.

“What might God be doing in this trial?” “What might He be teaching you?”


Who wants to hear that? Who wants to think about that?

I just want this awfulness to GO AWAY.

I want people to treat me with kindness!

I want sin to let go of me!

I want hurts to be healed!

Wrongs to be righted!

I want life to be easier than this!

I don’t want to be stuck here, in all of this!

But what about James 1? What about rejoicing when I face trials of various kinds?

He says it will produce steadfastness.

Steadfastness – being immovable, unable to be shaken, deeply rooted.

I really believe that God is trying to produce steadfastness in me. Because before all of this I was very movable, easily shaken, and blown by every wind.

Through each circumstances He has rooted me down deeper and deeper to Himself. And He has done this through giving most of my requests an affirmative “no.”

It was like through those two small words from Judah that my eyes were opened to what He was doing for me.

He is securing me to Himself. He is making my heart, joy, peace, comfort, strength more dependent upon Him instead of my circumstances. He knew what I needed for that to happen.

I needed everything I found comfort in, security in, to be ripped away. So that I could find everything I truly needed in Him.

Here are some examples in my life where this has happened so very clearly.

I found comfort and peace in relying on Joshua, my husband, for every answer. He is the leader of our home and I thought that meant he had to make every decision and I was supposed to just follow in line. God began undoing everything that we had built on Joshua’s shoulders and we learned that we had to lean on each other and God to be able to even limp through this trial. It brought so much authenticity into our marriage. We were able to see each other for exactly who we were. Not this “perfect” persona we had built for the “perfect” marriage.

I have rest and contentment when I am in my own home surrounded by the things that we have built for ourselves in the last ten years. God hasn’t let me live in my own home for 3 years now. I have lived in a camper, a college dorm, and my parents house. This has given me a renewed sense of thankfulness for everything I am given, big or small. And a realization that we need much much less to be truly happy in this life.

I really appreciate feeling in control of my life. Being in control of my feelings, not allowing anyone to see the slightest misstep. Not allowing anyone to hurt me because I haven’t allowed anyone too far in. That blew up in my face when I was going through such a deep hurt that I didn’t know up from down. I lost all control and had to allow myself to be vulnerable and open with people. It has been one of the most hurtful seasons of life, but oh, the treasures He has allowed me to behold in people. To be truly seen, embraced, and loved anyway? It has changed my life forever.

You have to know that in these three instances I asked for Joshua to be healed quickly, for Him to give us a home of our own again, and for me to pull it together. His answers would be and still are, no, no, and no.  And until that moment in Judah’s room I kept whispering back, “not yet…? Not yet, Lord? Soon though?” But the answers may keep being no. I am choosing to look for the lessons and promises in the No’s.

So far they have been life changing and always for my good. God knows the bigger picture. I will try to trust Him in every no and try not to answer back with questions.

Today I will rest in Him.

Because He is doing a great work of steadfastness in my life. Linking my every happiness to Himself.

And really, what in this life could compare to what He has to offer?

James 1:17 – “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”