The Key to Combatting a Greedy Spirit

Just two days ago, I embarked on my nightly walk around a path that I have grown to love. I have been doing these walks for a while because they are a way to disconnect and be with Jesus. I usually put on some worship music and just try to relax and move.

This night however, I felt so empty. I began to explore this feeling and seek Jesus on it. If I am being honest, I have been feeling this way for a while. Empty, anxious, not at peace.

I started to explore these feelings and realized they were ultimately stemming from a root of disconnectedness. I had not been connecting with my Savior in the weeks prior, and the negative effects were really beginning to show.

As the conversation with my heart and Jesus continued, He also revealed to me that I had been operating out of a greedy spirit. Yikes, if that doesn’t sound yucky, I don’t know what does.

So what is a greedy spirit? And how exactly have I been operating out of one?

A greedy spirit is a spirit who always wants more. A spirit that is not satisfied with what it already has been gifted with. This spirit can manifest in a variety of ways, and it is different and unique to each individual. For me, it was showing it’s ugly head in many ways. Some of these being: wanting more success at blogging, wanting more material things, wanting a better body, wanting more friends, wanting more income, etc.

See, the problem with a greedy spirit is it lies to us. It tells us that if we just get that one thing, we will finally arrive at true happiness. However, the truth is that there is no destination for happiness and if we live this way, we will live our entire lives missing all of the wonderful gifts around us.

Another thing a greedy spirit does is it leaves us feeling empty and anxious. The exact feelings I have been experiencing lately. That emptiness comes from always trying to chase after the illusion that happiness is just right around the corner…

The wonderful thing about the Holy Spirit is that if we allow Him, He will guide us into a solution for the emptiness we are feeling. On my walk, He began to reveal to me the solution for a greedy spirit.

A thankful spirit.

An intentional and mindful spirit that lives completely in the moment and is present and grateful for each and every gift.

I truly believe that this is Christ’s will for us: to live with a grateful heart always. 

Here are some beautiful verses about thankfulness that I have been trying to meditate on recently.

“Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,” Ephesians 5:20

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” James 1:17

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Philippians 4:6-7

That verse from Philippians is my LIFE VERSE. It has truly transformed my life and healed me from anxiety. I got away from the thankful part recently though, and I am looking forward to letting it transform my heart once more.

Those are just a few of my favorite verses about thankfulness, but it is a theme that is recurrent throughout scripture! I believe that being truly thankful in all circumstances of life is the key to an abundant and happy life.

So today, I am thankful for so many things. I have only been awake for about two hours but I am thankful for:

1.) Legs that work to get me out of bed in the morning

2.) Hot coffee

3.) My mama who greets me when I come up the stairs

4.) My soft pup who cuddles with me while I wake up

5.) Slow mornings and time off from school

6.) GF donuts 🙂

7.) My gift of writing and the way my soul feels as my fingers hit the keyboard

8.) ALL OF YOU!

9.) All of the wonderful people in my life including all of my friends and my sweet boyfriend.

10.) I am just grateful for life today. For health and wellness. For the very breath in my lungs.

I encourage all of you to write out ten things you are grateful for today, and repeat each and every day. Live slowly and intentionally and don’t forget to take deep breaths. Thank Jesus for each and every blessing, because each and every gift indeed comes from Him.

Be blessed and loved!!

Amanda

I hope you have the courage to begin again.

“I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again.”-Eric Roth

Have you ever gotten so far off track that it is difficult to tell who you truly are and whose you truly are?

Have you ever just stopped and wondered, “How in the world did I get HERE?” 

I had one of those moments last night.

Truthfully, it has been a difficult few months for me. With the stress of nursing school and keeping up with relationships during this busy time, I have slowly but surely lost track of who I am and more importantly WHOSE I am.

Busyness became my identity, and it became a shadow in which I could hide from the REAL condition of my heart.

I think in today’s world, it is so easy to hide. It is so easy to numb.

You can simply find things to make you busy, and suddenly the weight of your feelings and hurts and struggles don’t feel quite as heavy anymore.

At least, temporarily.

I have had two weeks off from nursing school and you would think that at this current moment I would feel refreshed, rejuvenated, rested…?

Wrong. 

Currently, I feel completely worn out, exhausted, stressed out, busy, and SICK.

I NEVER get sick, yet this morning I woke up feeling absolutely terrible and it was such a huge reality check for me. I have been running myself into the ground with things that need to be done that I forgot what I really needed to be doing during this time…rest.

These past two weeks I cleaned my room, purged everything I own, cleaned my car, went to Arizona, worked on my blog, made a bunch of mugs for my etsy shop, worked out a bunch, cooked, shopped, cleaned some more, organized to no end.

I wrote a bunch of to-do lists and crossed everything off of them.

I thought incessantly about all of the things I needed to do/buy/fix that would make me feel happier.

I made “vision boards” for how I wanted my wardrobe to look and my body to look.

I obsessed over how I could feel more happy, fulfilled, content, etc.

And you know what I DIDN’T do once?

Talk with Jesus. Sit with Him and BE STILL. Read the word. Journal. Just rest in His presence.

NOT ONCE. Until last night.

Last night, I finally was able to attend Young Adults which is the ministry I am blessed to be a part of. I met with Jesus during worship in a radical way and He and I decided it was time for a RADICAL CHANGE.

You see, I have let the world define what I need to “get done” in a day for far too long. I am quite frankly EXHAUASTED and even my physical body is failing me as a result. I have let the world define what I need to look like, dress like, be like. I am just so tired.

I don’t exactly know what this new “me” will look like. I know Jesus and I still have a lot of figuring out to do. But I do know this, there are some practical things I am going to implement into my life to reprioritize what truly matters:

1.) Spend 30 minutes at night before bed with Jesus. Phone off. Candles lit. Just me and Him and the word. A true date with Him, with absolutely no distractions.

2.) No more watching TV shows while falling asleep. Jesus revealed to me last night that I am afraid of the quiet. It makes me uncomfortable, but He wants to meet me there. So last night was the first night in about a year I fell asleep without my netflix playing in the background. I plan to keep that up.

3.) Declutter, not add clutter. It’s time to stop buying unnecessary things to just fill my space and my heart with. I have decided to take a break from buying material things (only necessities) and instead focus on being GRATEFUL for what I do have.

4.) Be AWARE of God throughout the day. I am talking ACUTELY aware of His voice and His blessings in the day-to-day. Like the birds chirping and the smell of flowers kind-of-aware. I just want to STOP MISSING IT.

5.) Be mindful. Truly taste my food and just live SLOW. I want to take it all in. This life is so glorious and I have been missing the mark lately.

So, these are some practical things I am doing to try to RECONNECT again. I want to live a life of connection. I want to be deeply rooted and grounded in His love for me. Nothing else matters. NOTHING.

So today, if you find yourself in a similar boat, I hope you have the courage to start anew. His mercies are new. And He is always waiting for you to come back home.

The Magic of New Beginnings.

Hello hello to my long, lost blog!

Wow, it has truly been forever since I blogged ANYTHING! Life has been so crazy with nursing school, and it has just been difficult to keep up with this!

However, I am setting new goals and new intentions for the months to come and I would love to blog more!

The title for this blog is inspired by Sseko Designs-an organization I am HONORED to be partnered with. They are a fashion brand based in Uganda and through their sales of BEAUTIFUL leather handbags, sandals, and accessories, they create opportunties for women around the whole world. Sseko creates job opportunities for girls in order to pursue their dreams of achieving a college education! To date, they have sent 87 girls through college!!

Want to get involved with this AMAZING group?! You can become a Sseko Fellow!

Click the link below to join:

ssekodesigns.com/sheiscaptivating

“Every Fellow is paired one-to-one with a woman on our team in Uganda, and her sales directly contribute to earning an additional scholarship for her Sole Sister. Last year, thanks to our Sseko Fellows, we were able to TRIPLE the scholarships we provided to our university-bound team!”

That is a little blurb from their website about being a Sseko Fellow. You basically join and learn about Sseko, and then you can host your own trunk shows and earn commission off of the sales! It is SUCH an amazing way to earn some extra income AND give back 🙂

This new beginning is so magical for me, and I know it could be for you as well.

PS: Check out the blog post I am featured in this week for Sseko! Such an incredible blessing.

http://blog.ssekodesigns.com

Here are some pictures of me in my Sseko goods with the links to purchase!

The Ada Tote in Black:

https://ssekodesigns.com/leather-bags/leather-totes/aida-tote-black.html

 

The Desert Glass Necklace:

https://ssekodesigns.com/accessories/sahara-sunrise-jewelry/desert-glass-necklace.html

VICTORS, not victims.

Okay guys,

I do apologize for not posting on the blog for a while now. Well, I am kind of sorry but also kind of not because the Good Lord has done a work in my heart over the past few weeks. I’m talking a full forced RENOVATION. I am truly a new creation, and am walking in a new level of freedom I never thought was possible. I am just on my knees grateful to Jesus for everything He has done and everything He will do.

He’s amazing.

Anyways, today I felt it laid on my heart that there are so many Christians who just aren’t walking in freedom. Plain and simple. And I totally understand why, because up until this past weekend, I really wasn’t walking in freedom completely either. I was still very much walking through anxiety, fear, stagnation in my faith, doubts, and feeling like I was just being consumed by lies from the enemy every hour of every day. I guess I began to just accept that as how it was supposed to be because “being a Christian is hard, ya’ll” and yes, it is hard. There is some truth to that statement. But I truly believe now, that it was never supposed to be a war. We were never supposed to be constantly in battle against ourselves and our mind. We were never supposed to spend our lives fighting battles that Jesus already WON for us.

Let me tell you about a vision I had during worship a few weeks ago. I was worshipping with my eyes closed (of course) and The Lord began to bring me into a very vivid, very intense vision. In this vision, I was in a dark prison cell. There was cement everywhere, the walls and the floor. There were NO windows. It was dark and grimy and felt…evil. I looked in the corner, and saw My Sweet Jesus chained up and beaten up and bruised and battered. It was a heart breaking sight. In this vision, I had a bird’s eye view of myself, at around the age of maybe 10 or so and I was wearing a white dress. I kept running back to Jesus and ushering him to come with me. I kept grabbing His battered arm, begging Him to get up and come.

He kept pointing at the prison door (which was open) and telling me to leave. There were no words exchanged between me and Jesus, just gestures.

After the vision, I was confused and didn’t quite know what God was trying to reveal to me through it. But after asking Holy Spirit to give me clarity, I heard the sentence,

Stop going back to the things Jesus died for you to have freedom in.”

DANG.

I began to tear up and realize that vision was a wake up call for me, and I believe many others to realize that Jesus wasn’t joking when He said, “IT IS FINISHED.” He literally wore our chains and our bruises and our wounds FOR US! We cannot ever, ever become complacent about this truth. So, if Jesus really did die for our suffering and for us to have full freedom, why are so many of us still in bondage?

Good question.

I think the answer was also revealed in my vision…

We willingly go to back to those things. We want to take them back from Jesus (aka take them down from the cross.)

You see, Jesus can completely deliver us from something, yet we keep running back because it is comfortable. Because we have made a home for those things. Things like fear, anxiety, depression, bad health, etc.

I know this is controversial, I will probably get some backlash for speaking this truth, but I know that Jesus is anointing me with this message, so I will preach LOUD for all to hear.

YOU HAVE FREEDOM! YOU HAVE VICTORY! YOU HAVE COMPLETE DELIVERANCE! WALK IN IT.

As Christians, we can no longer have a victim mentality. Because we actually aren’t victims, at all. We are VICTORS.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want Jesus’ death to be in vain. I will never forget the picture of Him in my dream…His suffering. His brokenness. All because of my sin. I will not let His death be in VAIN. Instead, I will take the victory He freely gave me and RUN WITH IT.

Cool story, I got baptized officially last weekend by my sister in a random little lake. As I held her hand walking out into the water, She told me, “As we were walking out, I saw this vision of you RUNNING OUT THE DOOR OF THE PRISON CELL. In your white dress.”

GUYS! Are you serious? He is so cool and so good! He is so willing to give you deliverance form your struggles. Are you willing? Are you willing to give it all to Him and trust that His death was enough??

I will end with a verse.

Luke 11: 24-26 reads, “When an unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and finding none it says, “I will return to my house from which I came. And when it comes, it finds the house swept and put in order. Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there. And the state of that person is worse than the first.”

Guys, Jesus is SO willing to bring you freedom in your life. That’s literally WHO HE IS. But if after Jesus heals and delivers us, we merely “sweep” up the houses of our heart, and don’t do a complete and total heart renovation…like top to bottom sterilization, we are simply inviting those evil things to come back, stronger than before because those things are WELCOME there.

Yikes.

Ask Jesus to deliver you today, friend. But be prepared to do a serious remodeling in your heart. It is Jesus’ job to free us, but it is OUR responsibility to sanctify ourselves and create a place where those spirits are no longer welcome.

Freedom is FREE!! Take Hold of it today.

You are so loved,

Amanda Marie

 

less of me, more of Him

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If you have been following my latest instagram posts, you know that I have been touching on the subject of feeling empty and burnt out lately. I have been feeling quite uninspired the past few weeks, and yesterday the Lord revealed to me why this is. He spoke to me while I was aimlessly scrolling through instagram, “Why do you spend so much time filling up on the world, and nearly no time filling up on THE WORD?”

Stopped me in my tracks.

Okay, God. You totally win on this one. I had nothing to contest. I was completely an utterly convicted.

I think we all can be guilty of this sometimes. It is so easy to spend hours upon hours of our time on social media. Checking Instagram, checking snapchat, checking Facebook…and then doing it all over again.

I started to realize that the reason I was feeling so worn out, uninspired, self conscious, etc. was because I wasn’t allowing God to break through the noise of the world.

You see, the thing about our Heavenly Father is that He so LONGS for relationship with us, but He never forces Himself upon us. He just simply sits and waits patiently for us to come meet Him at that sacred halfway point.

I don’t want to be a woman who is so focused on pleasing the world that I forget to please my Father. I want Him to be proud of me far more than I want the world to admire me. I want to be so wrapped up in Him, that the temporary pleasures of this world seem completely and utterly unappetizing.

So yesterday, I decided to sit down and brainstorm some ways that I can make some very intentional changes in my life in order to redirect my priorities and refocus my eyes on His.

I think that there tends to be a spiral effect that happens in our lives when we begin to take our eyes off of His. We begin to treat others poorly, we lack patience, and anger comes far too easily. We feel tired and empty so we start desperately clawing at anything or anyone to fill us up. We start to treat our bodies poorly and eat foods that aren’t honoring to God. We become lazy, begin to do our work halfway…not giving our best effort. We live life simply going through the motions until one day, we wake up and wonder how the heck we got to this point.

That paragraph above pretty much sums up the past month of my life.

But the amazing thing about our walk with Jesus is that we get endless “do overs.” He never runs out of grace. He never says, “enough is enough.” He doesn’t give up or walk away or lose His patience. And I am so eternally grateful for that truth.

I am starting over again. I’m sure some of you can relate to this cycle of do overs. I don’t want to keep living a life of starting and stopping. I want to start today and continue to grow in faith and in passion for my Jesus. I don’t want to grow apathetic again. I want to wake up each and every day, inspired, energetic, and filled with purpose.

Will you join me?

I have set specific goals for myself in order to implement these new changes intentionally:

1.) I downloaded the “First 5” app from Proverbs 31 Ministry. Its an app that wakes you up to a very calming alarm in the morning and prompts you to spend your first 5 minutes filling up on scripture and truth instead of immediately checking your phone for texts, instagram, etc. This morning was the first morning I used it, and man did it make a HUGE difference. I found myself walking with a pep in my step this morning instead of complaining and dragging my feet to work. DO IT. DOWNLOAD IT NOW 🙂

2.) Spend 30 minutes in the evening reading scripture/ faith based books/journaling/writing blog posts…whatever creative outlet I feel prompted to. Just as long as my focus is on the Lord for those 30 minutes. Turn my phone off and just be in His presence. I don’t think God NEEDS our time set aside for Him, but I do know He loves it and I do know that I desperately need it.

3.) Eat naturally and wholly, in a way that is honoring to God. I was doing whole30 for about 3 weeks, and then I fell of the wagon a week or so ago and started to eat poorly again. I have no doubt that the way I have been treating my body has played into how I am feeling spiritually and emotionally. All three aspects in our body: spiritual, emotional, and physical are all connected. I am a firm believer that when we treating our physical body in a way that is honoring to God, we reap the benefits both emotionally and spiritually.

4.) Drink more water. Use my “superfood green” powder every day from Itworks. Take my vitamins. Workout 4 times a week for AT LEAST 30 minutes.

5.) Be open and willing for increase and spiritual growth in my life. I think I have been stuck because I have been stuck in my ways for too long. I have hit a plateau because I haven’t been willing or motivated for increase. But I know God is calling me into a season of immense growth. I am expectant and I am willing.

So what are your goals and motivations? How can you turn from the world to the WORD this week and futhermore?

I’d love to hear! Comment below or on my instagram post 🙂

You are infinitely loved and purposed,

Amanda Marie

Is it a Good Fit? 4 Ways to Know if He’s the One By Kathryn O’Brien

That darn Cinderella, always getting in the way of things with her fairytale experience and storybook ending. Such idealistic expectations! Overnight, her life goes from spectacularly glum to just plain spectacular and all it takes is a new pair of shoes, a great dress and a handsome guy. They share a dance, he returns a slipper and that’s that. One stiletto is all that’s necessary for our girl Cinderella to realize it’s a perfect fit: he’s the ONE.

Of course in real life, things play out a bit differently. I mean, who’s going to wear heels made of glass anyway? And gosh, if it was only as simple as someone offering a missing shoe to determine if this is it, if he’s the ONE. Unfortunately, there are no magic answers, but with or without a glass slipper, there are still ways to discover a good fit.

Can you see forever? At the beginning of any new relationship we typically see our guy through murky, make-believe lenses. But perfect doesn’t exist; no man, no relationship, no marriage is perfect (btw, neither are we). Be honest and take a good looks at his faults, his habits, his personality flaws… do you still see yourself together? If you’ve heard how loudly he chews (even in front of your friends), witnessed firsthand his terrible taste in ties, and know full well that he gets cranky when he’s hungry… and love him anyway, then you may have found a great fit. Be patient with each other, making allowances for each other’s faults, because of your love. (Ephesians 4:2, NLT)

Do you still have a life? It’s perfectly appropriate to make your guy number one, as long as he doesn’t expect to be your one and only. Marriage is all about being at the top of one another’s priority lists, but potential life partners need to accept additional items on the list. He gets to keep Monday Night Football and bowling league with the guys; you should continue enjoying yoga class, lunch dates with the girls and phone chats with Mom. If he supports healthy, balanced, appropriate relationships and activities in your life without getting jealous or possessive, it’s most likely a really good fit. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy… (1 Corinthians 13:4, NIV)
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Can you let go? As believers in Christ, wives are called to respect our husbands so much that we allow them the final say. Of course, they are called to love us so much that they seek our opinion, want our advice and ask for our input. Submission is not a difficult concept when you have full confidence in your mate. When you know irrevocably that he loves you wholly, wants only the best for you and has your interests at the forefront of his mind, following the biblical prescription for marriage is beautiful. If his deep devotion for you overrides your fear of losing control, you can almost certainly trust that it’s a good fit. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her. (Ephesians 5:25, NIV)
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Do you like yourself? Significant others have the power to influence us, either in a positive or negative way. When you’re with the one who might be the One, consider who you are and how you behave. Are you kinder, more loving and less of a worrier, or have you let pessimism rule? Have you grown closer to the Lord, standing firm in your faith or have you fallen away? Relationships have the power to bring out the best or worst in us; if you have grown in constructive ways since meeting your guy and he is only bringing you closer to God, chances are it’s a great fit. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. (Hebrews 10:24, NLT)

A while ago, after lots of shoe shopping, I met a guy who made me wonder if he was the ONE. While he never offered a glass slipper, he did help me answer YES to the questions above. And it’s been a fabulous fit for the last twenty-five years.

 

 

 

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BIO:
Kathryn O’Brien writes books for kids and has a heart for moms. She’s published five children’s picture books, including her latest series (Sit for a Bit, Tyndale) and free-lances for several publications. When she’s not writing or enjoying her day job as a Christian school administrator, Kathryn can usually be found texting her three grown children, hanging on the front porch with her husband, or hiking the canyons near her home in Southern California.

Our plans vs. His plans

Hello all of my beautiful captivating ladies!

I do apologize for the long gap between my posts. Life has a way of going through ebbs and flows of busy and relaxing, doesn’t it? I am coming out of a busy season and about to enter into another one, but I do want to make it a priority to start posting blogs again consistently. All of you are SO incredibly supportive and I feel so blessed to have you beautiful, wonderful women of God reading my work and being so encouraging each and every day.

I recently have been getting lost on the “dream train” yet again. By this I mean, I have SO many dreams and visions for SheisCaptivating, I sometimes tend to get carried away. I run ahead of God on my dreams…

I think dreaming is an amazing thing. I want all of us to have vision for our lives! Those visions are God-breathed and anointed and so special and unique to just you. But we must always remember that God’s timing for those dreams to come true, is absolutely the best timing.

Let me let you in on some news. A few weeks ago, I posted a few videos about the “prayer and praise reflex” and I told all of you that I didn’t get into nursing school again after having applied several times before. You see, I have always really wanted to go to the University of Colorado for nursing school because that is where I did my undergrad and I really loved the campus. I applied several times and even made it to the interview process there last October, only to find out I didn’t get in. I was super disappointed, but I was so determined to make MY PLAN for going to nursing school work that I decided to apply again this cycle. Well, a few days before I filmed that video, I got the news that I didn’t even make it to the interview process, I got straight up REJECTED.

Yikes.

I think sometimes, we see rejection as God closing a door, when a lot of times it just means He is opening a much bigger door. A better door. A more beautiful door than we could ever imagine.

After I got rejected from CU, I just quietly whispered a prayer to God, “I know you have something better. I am disappointed in this moment, but I’m surrendering this dream to you, yet again.”

God is so faithful, you guys.

Two weeks later, I was driving home from camping with my family in the mountains and I decided to check my email. To my surprise, I found an acceptance letter in my inbox from Regis University offering me acceptance into their BSN Accelerated Program. You see, after having been rejected from CU I actually had completely forgotten about applying to this program. Isn’t that what rejection does to you sometimes? It blinds you to all the other options out there, because the option YOU WANTED was taken away?

I just want to encourage all of you ladies today, if you have dreams and plans deep down in your heart…they are there for a REASON. God put them there! He created us in HIS IMAGE with HIS HEART for things. He places specific dreams in our hearts so that He can accomplish His will in our lives.

If you have been rejected in some form or fashion from your dreams…DON’T GIVE UP.

Hold fast to those dreams and pray through them. Surrender them to the Lord each and every single moment of every single day. He is not a tyrant King. He wants to give us the desires of our hearts. It may just be at a completely different time in your life than YOU would have planned. Maybe it won’t look anything like how you thought you wanted it to look. But if I’ve learned anything…it’s that God takes our dreams and desires and He MULTIPLIES them. He is GENEROUS and abundant in love. He is Master Crafter. He takes our dreams and chuckles and says,”Just you wait, my daughter. I cannot wait to show you just how GOOD I am.”

Isaiah 55:9, “”As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” 

Ephesians 3:20, “20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.”

Keep dreaming, dear captivating one. Your dreams are beautiful and unique to only you.

You are infinitely loved,

xoxo Amanda Marie

 

single for a season, single for a reason

Hello all of my captivating ladies!

I know it has been a week or so since my last post. The Lord has been moving and working and breathing new life into my dreams for this blog, and for this ministry. I have some big and exciting things coming up this coming week that I simply cannot WAIT to share with all of you.

I also know we have been sitting in the #captivatingwoman series for a while. I am planning on expanding and continuing that  series, but the Lord laid this specific topic on my heart this morning while I was staring out the window drinking the first sips of morning coffee 🙂

This past weekend, I attended one of my best friend’s Bridal Shower. It was SO fun. I just love celebrating her in this exciting season of life, and I couldn’t be more happy for her. I started to think about how if she had been engaged and soon-to-be-married about a year and a half ago, I am not sure if I would have been as excited for her. I might have been able to somewhat fake it.. smile and say, “I can’t wait for your wedding!” when really, on the inside, I would have been deeply hurting.

You see, my whole life, I have deeply longed to get married. My parents were high school sweethearts, and so for the majority of high school, every guy I dated had to be “the one.” I thought for sure I would meet my future husband in high school and so I tried desperately to make this happen. And it failed. Time and time again.

And then college came around and I thought I would FOR SURE meet my future husband in college. After all, that’s what college is basically for, right?

WRONG.

Four years went by. Failed relationship after failed relationship. Heartbreak after heartbreak. Before I knew it, I was walking across that graduation stage single as single can be. I didn’t have that engagement ring I had been so longing for, and even worse, I had NO prospects in sight.

So while I was at my best friend’s shower this weekend, I just began reflecting on those seasons. They were definitely extremely difficult and I can still remember the sting of unmet desires and unanswered prayers. But then I began to reflect on how truly SWEET those seasons were, in retrospect. Those seasons were the most intimate and sweet times with my Jesus. He was so near, so close to my aching heart. And He taught me so much.

I thought I would make a little list for all of you filled with lessons from my single seasons.

(Disclaimer: I am still technically “single” meaning I unmarried and yes, still not engaged 😉 BUT, the Lord did bless me with an amazing Christian man who I have been happily dating for 10 months now! )

Lessons learned:

1.) Jesus really is enough. I know it sounds so cliche and it can be super frustrating when you hear older married women preach this to you in your seasons of singleness. But He is. If you let Him in during your times of deepest longing, you will discover that He satisfies every longing and desire you have for intimacy and love.

2.) Singleness is a gift. Once again, SO CLICHE, but so true. While you are single, you can focus so much on your relationship with Jesus and your friends and others. It is the only time in your life when you can actually be “selfish” and by that I mean, focus on growing spiritually and emotionally.

3.) The Lord does NOT withhold from us!! Pslam 84: 11 reads,”For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.” When I was single, I always felt like I was missing out on something. I didn’t feel whole or complete. But when I look back, God was not holding out on me! He always knows what is best for us and only He knows when we are ready for a healthy, God-honoring relationship. We have to trust Him with this desire.

4.) Surrendering my unanswered prayers and desires was SO worth it. For the longest time, I just couldn’t seem to surrender my relationships to Jesus. They were my “Isaac” meaning they were the thing that mattered most to me in life and I couldn’t seem to trust Jesus with this deep desire in my heart. However, when I did finally surrender, He did more than I could ever ask for or imagine! HE KNOWS WHAT HE IS DOING.

5.) Allowing yourself to embrace seasons of singleness can actually be such a gift to your future husband! How? Jesus can literally transform you from the inside out during these seasons and there is no greater gift to your future spouse than becoming a woman who is confident in herself and her worth in Jesus alone. NOW THAT is wifey material 🙂

So those are some of my lessons that I learned from my single seasons. I am so glad I had those times in my life. They truly made me the woman I am today! I also thought I would include some tips on how to make it through these sometimes very difficult seasons.

1.) I began praying for my future husband while I was single. I went through a book called “Praying for your Future Husband” By Robin Jones Gunn and Tricia Goyer. SOOO GOOD. I went through it several times and it helped me have hope and vision during those seasons.

2.) I started writing letters to my future husband filled with prayers and hopes and dreams. This also helped me and I know it will be a great gift to my future one on our wedding day!

3.) I focused on my friends and family. I really began to enjoy the freedom and fun times I could have while being single and I made some truly amazing memories with my GIRLS!!

4.) I poured into ministry and serving Jesus. I joined the leadership team at my college ministry and found opportunities to serve people. Serving people gets our eyes off of ourselves and really helps us focus in on what matters!

So, my dear captivating one. I know these seasons of being single can be tough. I know what it is like to pray and wonder if your wedding day will ever come. I know what it’s like to look around and see everyone dating, engaged, or married and feel the sting of that desire burning deep inside your heart. But just remember that our Heavenly Father knows us way better than we know ourselves. He knows exactly what and who we need in our lives at exactly what time. He will never withhold a good thing from us. Speak truth over your singleness today and remember that Jesus alone satisfies and He is desperately jealous for your WHOLE heart. And giving Him your whole heart while you wait for your future spouse will never make it onto your list of regrets.

In Christ,

Amanda Marie

a captivating woman honors her future husband (before she meets him)

This is a post I wrote one year ago and never posted on my blog! I re-read it this morning and realized how relevant and important it is for all you women to grasp. I hope the Lord blesses you with these words.

“This is a vulnerable topic that has honestly been on my mind for quite some time now. I said from the beginning that I wanted “captivating” to be a place where women can come and feel encouraged in their walk with The Lord, no matter where they are on that walk. I never want this blog to be a place of condemnation, legalism, or judgment. I want women (and men) to come to this blog and breathe in a sigh of relief. I want this to be a life-giving place, a place to come and unwind. A place to learn and to grow. A place to further your walk with Jesus, or maybe even meet Him for the first time.

With that being said, I believe the Lord puts particular burdens on our hearts for a reason. I believe He does this because He sovereignly knows that we have a message to give. I believe that He has put this burden on my heart ever since I have been a teenage girl…it simply won’t go away. I have been given the privilege to share my story on this topic to a group of young women only once before, and I pray that I am given many more opportunities in the future.

So, as I promised, this blog is about to get extremely personal and vulnerable. I am okay with that though, there is nothing I would love more than for women to hear this message.

Ladies, you have a choice to start honoring your future husband NOW…even before you meet him. I think I speak for a lot of us when I say that the desire to be married has been written on my heart since as long as I can remember. My parents have modeled a beautiful marriage for me. They have been married 25 years and counting, and I couldn’t be more grateful for that gift. I believe this has probably played into my desire to be married. For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to be a wife and a mother.

The Lord convicted me about two years ago when I started my walk with Jesus. I was always the girl in the relationship. I was always the girl with the boyfriend. I too, have dated guys who I had no intention of marrying. I have dated guys just because in the moment, that was what felt right, or maybe because I was just lonely.

I remember so very clearly the day I decided to do things differently.

“Do you want what you want when you want it? Or do you want who I want for you, when I want them for you?”

That was the question the Lord laid on my heart that day, and I simply could not help myself but to answer back, “Your best, Lord. Your timing.”

Ever since that day, I have decided to do things differently. Has it been easy? By no means whatsoever. If there is one thing that I have learned, it is that following Jesus is not always easy…and in fact, most of the time it can be really hard.

But I know it will be worth it. I just know it.

The truth is, most of us truly desire to be married one day. That is a good desire, written by a good God, for a GOOD purpose. Sadly, we live in a fallen world and a GOOD God-honoring marriage is extremely hard to come by these days. So how do we begin to do things differently?

We honor our future husband and our future marriages even BEFORE we meet that person.

This can look differently for everyone, as no one’s spiritual journey looks the same.

For me, this looks like thinking about him in my daily interactions with men. It means that when I am going on a date, I am keeping in mind that it doesn’t mean that the man I am dating belongs to me. While he is single, He belongs only to God-and he may also belong to a different woman other than me one day. When you begin to see dating this way, it definitely changes the way you relate to men.

For me, honoring my future husband means paying attention to the way I dress, speak, and act towards men in my daily interactions as well. It means dressing modestly (still cute obviously), and paying attention to the way I am speaking-watching my language and the way I am presenting myself.

For me, honoring my future husband means being a prayer warrior for him. Praying daily for his heart. Praying for his protection. Praying that he resists temptation. Praying that he is waiting and praying for me too.

For me, honoring my future husband means saving myself for marriage physically, yes. But “saving yourself” goes so much deeper than that. It means saving your whole heart for the man you will one day marry-never fully giving away your heart until you know that he is the one you are meant to spend your life with. It means guarding the deepest parts of your soul, and not letting just anyone see what is behind those precious doors.

Honoring my future husband means trying my very best not to let my emotions get out of control. This is very hard to do. I am learning and growing in this each and every day. With the Lord’s help, I am learning to bring my emotions under the control of the Holy Spirit. I am learning to cultivate a spirit of self-control and gentleness. I am learning to stand on the Rock rather than allowing my emotions to govern my life. This seemed impossible to me a few years ago, but with Jesus, nothing is impossible.

Most importantly, honoring my future husband means putting Christ first and foremost in my life. I have learned through many painful dating and relationship problems and failures that people will come and go in my life. There are people who I want desperately to stay in my life that just won’t stay. There are people who I love and love and love, only to have them walk out in return. There are simply no guarantees in this life.

Except for one guarantee.

ONE THING, remains.

Jesus will never give up on me. Jesus will never wake up one day and decide He doesn’t want to love me anymore. Jesus will never change His mind about me. Jesus won’t find someone else to love more than me. Jesus is my constant, and He will always come first.

Putting Jesus first is the greatest gift I can give my future husband while I am still waiting on God’s timing to bring us together. Putting Jesus first means that I am getting my worth from Him alone and that is an amazing gift to my future husband. I will never have to put the burden of getting my worth from him, because I am putting the hard work in now-getting my worth from Jesus alone.”

Put Jesus first today, dear one. I know. I know how hard waiting can be. But I also know that I am not the same person I was one year ago when I wrote this post. My relationship status may have changed. I am not longer single. However, I am also not married yet. There are still parts to this post that very much apply to me even now. The Lord used my singleness in a POWERFUL way. I grew so much and learned SO much. Most importantly, I learned how to gain my worth from Jesus and never from a man.

Let this word sink deep into your heart today from someone who has been there.

You are infinitely and jealously loved by LOVE HIMSELF.

In Christ,

Amanda Marie

a captivating woman honors her body as a temple

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“19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

If you are anything like me, you have heard this verse way too many times to count. In church, bible study, while reading the bible yourself. It is one of those verses that has become overused and too common, in my opinion. I have this belief that we often skip over these “overused” verses because we think we already know their full meaning.

Recently, however The Lord began to do a new work in me and brought this verse new life and new meaning all over again.

You see, I have NOT always honored my body. If any of you have ever struggled with an eating disorder, working out disorder, or any type of self harm or abuse…read on. Even if you haven’t, keep reading because Satan will attack us all in different ways and I know that each individual woman has experienced this in some form or fashion.

Growing up, I always had a TON of self confidence. I am the oldest child of five children in my family and my parents did an excellent job of affirming me and providing a stable childhood for me to grow up in. I know that this is a rarity, and a huge blessing and I will forever be grateful for this gift. However, no matter if your childhood was awesome or absolutely horrible, I believe that there comes a time in every woman’s life when she becomes vulnerable to the enemy’s attacks on her self esteem and body image. For me, this time came around the age of 17.

I was about to graduate high school and my boyfriend of about 2 and a half years broke up with me. I was so devastated. I had never quite experienced a heart ache like that, as I had been so sure that he was going to be “the one” someday. I remember that I was so sad I couldn’t eat for several days. You know that sick-to-your-stomach feeling you get when you experience emotions so strong, like sadness, depression, or anxiety? I wasn’t intentionally not eating, I just couldn’t stand to stomach any food during those first few days. I remember after about a week of the post-break-up-blues, I stepped on the scale and to my surprise, I had lost about 10 pounds in one week! I couldn’t believe it. And I would be lying if I said I wasn’t slightly excited…

“Now I can show him! I will just get into such good shape as an act of revenge. I will make him regret ever breaking up with me.”

Well days turned into weeks and weeks into months. At first, I started working out just once a day. I would go run on the treadmill or a few miles outside, nothing too crazy. But then slowly, one workout began to not be enough anymore. I would go to the gym in the morning and run, and then I would come home and do a TV workout on top of it. I would eat only around 800 calories a day. Things began to spiral out of control very quickly…

And you see, that is what so often happens to us with self destruction behaviors such as these. It begins with a WOUND, and we try to cover that wound with unhealthy “self improvement.” Maybe it was something someone said to you when you were young, or a boyfriend’s remarks about your body, or maybe like me, you just wanted to get revenge on the heart that shattered yours. Satan is so evil and conniving that he is eagerly searching for a wounded heart to devour. He is looking for a broken heart so that he can crawl into the cracks and take over.

My eating/ working out disorder lasted for the entire summer before I began my freshman year of college. I lost about 25 pounds that summer all within in about 2-3 months. I got so skinny at one point, I actually stopped getting my period for a month or two because my body was beginning to shut down. The worst part is, the skinnier I got, the more “problems” I would find with my body. It was an endless and very dangerous cycle.

My biggest fear was gaining the “freshman 15.” I continued my behaviors for the first half of my freshman year, but honestly with all the drinking and partying I was doing, it was nearly impossible to stay as skinny as I was. So, my self destructive behavior turned more towards drinking. I would go out with my roommates 3-4 nights a week and drink all of those nights. I don’t need to elaborate more on this, you get the point…I was desperately trying to cover a wound in my heart that I HATED. I didn’t want to feel the pain, so instead I tried to cover it up.

I praise Jesus that He rescued me from this pit of self destruction. I was saved my junior year of college and ever since then, I have had a much healthier view on working out and dieting. However, recently I realized that I had been actually avoiding working out all together and I had to get into my heart and do a “heart check.” It is so beneficial to be synced up with your heart… the Holy Spirit lives there, and if you let Him, He will always let you know what your heart is saying in any situation.

So, whenever I start to experience an “avoidance” behavior, I go into my heart and I ask it, “Heart, why are you avoiding this situation? What makes you completely avoid working out?”

The truth came out, loud and clear, ” I am afraid I will fall back into those same self destructive patterns again.”

Sisters, please hear me out. If we never attend to our deepest wounds, they will keep resurfacing in all types of behaviors. Whether it be blatant self destruction or complete avoidance…

After this realization, I decided I was going to ask Jesus into this area of my life. I wanted His help to find the balance in it all. I wanted complete healing and restoration in this area of my life, and so I did. When I asked Him for His help, He gave me that verse from 1 corinthians that I posted at the top of this post. And something completely new and different clicked in my heart when I read it over again…

YOU ARE NOT YOUR OWN.

Jesus died (aka paid the ultimate price) for YOU! Therefore, the least I can do is honor Jesus with my body.

You see, once I realized that Jesus was actually LIVING in my heart and making that place HIS PLACE, I felt a newfound love and excitement for self-care. I wanted that TEMPLE to be the cleanest, prettiest, most beautiful place in the world because MY JESUS was living there!! I wanted to start taking care of my temple. I wanted to start feeding it the right foods and working out to honor Jesus, not to self destruct. The transition occurred in my heart from self-hatred to self-love and therefore, all of the healthy behaviors started to flow freely and naturally out of that heart.

So, if you are interested in the rest of this post, I wanted to share some of my recent tips and tricks to self-love and self-care.

1.) Work out at least 4 times a week. For me, I decided that walking for about an hour and a half is much more enjoyable and refreshing for me than pushing it hard in the gym. So, I throw little Charlie (the baby girl I nanny) in the jogger and we walk all around the neighborhood for an hour and half!

2.) Drink TONS of water! I got a cute water bottle to help with this, and I also love drinking those naturally sweetened fizzy drinks. I aim for about 8 glasses a day.

3.) Eat the foods GOD made as close to the way He MADE them.

4.) Speak life over my body. Be gentle to my heart and encourage her for all she is doing.

5.) I started a new skin care routine! I am so excited to be starting a skin care regime from Rodan and Fields. I honestly have always been so skeptical of this company, but I was offered a blessing of trying out the “REVERSE Regime” and so far, I am actually LOVING IT! It is a regime designed to rejuvenate and renew skin as well as get rid of dark spots (which I struggle with after years of acne.) I wanted to post a before picture of my skin (NO MAKEUP AT ALL) gasp…. Just kidding, part of this self love process has been accepting myself without makeup and beginning to see myself as totally beautiful without it! Anyways, I will be updating you all on this new skin care and health routine all along the way and when I finish the Rodan and Fields regime, I will post another “after” picture of skin! PS: The consultant who provided me with the product’s name is Cassandra Exsted (cassandraexsted@gmail.com) She is wonderful and I appreciate her so much! Contact her if you are interested.

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There it is, a no makeup selfie and you know what? I can truly say I love myself now. Jesus has healed every broken place that has to do with my self image and I love HIM SO MUCH for it. Praise Him.

LOVE YOURSELF TODAY, sister.

A captivating woman knows that her body is a temple. It is home to her SAVIOR. She wants to practice self care for this very reason.

I hope this post encourages you to love yourself today and see yourself the way Jesus sees you!

In Christ,

Amanda Marie