Chasing the Right Dream

When I was a kid, I had a dream. My family would spend weeks of summer at my Mimi and Papaw’s house in Tennessee, which I loved. Those were the best days! We roamed the woods, creeks, and hills with cousins. We went barefoot as often as we were allowed. We swam in the pool and waded in the creek. Life couldn’t get better than that!

My dream back then was to make it to this tree in the middle of a field. I would look from my grandparents’ house, out past my aunts’ houses. I would gather up a cousin or 2 and some snacks and head on an adventure. We would go down the hill, across fields and creeks and head in that general direction. Despite my wonderful sense of direction, (I could SO find my way out of a paper bag….but not much else), we never made it there. Nevermind the fact that I didn’t know what I would do once I made it there, I just wanted to go. See this lonely tree up close.

Aren’t you glad your dreams change? Looking back at my childhood makes me smile, but it would be sad if I stayed that same little girl. If I never got beyond the dreams of childhood, I would never have become who I am today. If I never pushed myself to do bigger things, I wouldn’t have accomplished the things God put before me. And if I hadn’t laid this dream down at the right time, I wouldn’t have found new dreams.

Maybe this is an exagerated view of life. Maybe you are thinking that of course you have different dreams now than when you were a kid. However, I think many of us have put ourselves in a box years ago, and we are still trying to uphold that view of ourselves. We wanted to be in a certain occupation as a child, so we think that is what we are supposed to be. Or we thought we would have a family by now. In big and small ways, we still identify ourselves by what we thought in our younger years.

If you are still hanging on to something that hasn’t happened, it might be time to let it go. If you have been striving to meet that goal, it may be that it wasn’t meant to happen. If your life isn’t going the way you planned, maybe your plan is off. No one will hold it against you if you change it some or find something new altogether. The only person that might be offended is you.

Dreams are meant to be held gently and with hands open. They are meant to take off or wait until the right breeze comes along, but they can easily be crushed or smothered. And sometimes, when we aren’t looking, another one lands on our hand. It is just right for us and has found a home. Let’s hold onto that!

Linking with Holley Gerth

Thank You

I thank You that You don’t only use people who have it all together. You don’t expect me to come to You clean and shiny but want me to have an impact for Your Kingdom in spite of my mistakes.

I thank You that You don’t just pick people who are good at everything they do. You give people like me a chance, people who want to help.

I thank You that You put people around me to help me see when I am off course. You know the ways I learn best.

I thank You that You don’t write me off when I don’t see what You have put right in front of me. You give me chance after chance until I do.

I thank You that You know that I sometimes need to experience something before I realize it isn’t the best for me. When I come back, You are there with open arms.

I thank You that You display Your glory all around me because You know how easily I can forget Your power. You love to take my breath away.

I thank You that You draw me in closer and closer to You. You know the way for me to feel joy is to bask in Your presence.

I thank You that when I ask for peace, You provide it for me. You show me how much more important peace and joy are than earthly wealth.

I thank You that You keep pushing me out of my comfort zone because You know there is more for me out there than in the safety I have created for myself. You nudge me until I see it is good to put myself out there.

I thank You that You love me with a crazy love that I can’t even comprehend.

God Is Not Done With YOU

I have epilepsy. Seizure disorder. Whatever they call it these days. Despite being on medication and seizure free for years, this has taken quite a toll on me mentally. I think anyone who has a chronic condition can relate to what I am about to say.

Between the ages of 16 and 25, I had seizures. One minute I would be fine and the next thing I knew, I was in an ambulance with a stranger asking me if I knew my name or where I was. I never knew either. I would spend the rest of the day in the ER slowly gaining the use of my brain. The fuzziness and, quite frankly, blank feeling would eventually go away and leave me with exhaustion. Every time.

There was never an indication before the seizure (that I can remember) that something was not right. All my life, I have also struggled with fainting “spells,” for lack of a better term. However, at least with fainting, I usually have an aura and learned what to do to avoid actually passing out. Don’t I sound fun?

Now, at any given moment, the slightest off feeling or pain can send me into panic. It may not be rational fear, but it is real fear. Since I don’t know what happens before a seizure, my mind tends to go there quickly.

This isn’t a topic I talk about, pretty much ever. I never really know if someone will understand or if they will judge me or think I am crazy. But, honestly, I am past caring. No one can judge me as much as I have judged myself. There have been times I sit and cry and pray. As I type this, I can’t help the tears from flowing. I have beat myself up for not having faith or jumping to conclusions for years and I am done.

Last week, my husband was out of the country for work. I have always dreaded these trips, because I am terrified that something will happen to me. My girls need me and the fear comes alive when I am alone with my thoughts at night. They just always have. The first day of his eight day trip, I felt the familiar feelings creeping in. You know what though? For the first time, I battled them. I said, “God is not done with me.” I won’t say the fear left instantly or didn’t try to come back the next day, but the noose fell loosley around me. After the first few days, I slept better than I ever have during one of James’ trips. I didn’t worry about if something happened. It wasn’t fun with him not there, but I had peace.

Why am I sharing this? Why am I telling family, friends, and strangers my deep secret fear? Because I finally realize I am not alone. Sitting with our fears in the dark only makes things worse and isloates us. I have been around enough years to know if I am feeling something, I am not the first or only one.

No matter what, if you are still breathing, God has more for you. He is not done with you and your life serves a purpose. You may be telling yourself otherwise, but God wants you to know to keep going. Whatever struggle you have, it is temporary and serves its own purpose. Never forget that.

Linking with Holley Gerth.

We Know How It Ends

Last weekend, the girls and I watched Miracles from Heaven. What a powerful movie! Amidst all the crying, something really jumped out at me.

For those who haven’t seen the movie, it is a true story of a little 10 year old girl, Anna, who gets sick. Her mom fights for her because doctors keep misdiagnosing her. They finally realize she has a rare disorder for which there is no cure. Then one day Anna falls 3 stories and lands on her head. She is cured! It’s a miracle! I swear, between the three of us, the word “Aww” was spoken 873 times. OK, I didn’t count, but it was said constantly.

Throughout the movie, I had to keep telling the girls to remember that we know how it ends. At the beginning of the movie, I had one child next to me. By the end, she was on my lap and her sister was right up next to me. We all cried several times. The only way I could keep them from completely losing it was to keep reassuring them that little Anna was going to be healed.

At some point during the movie, I heard what God was trying to tell me. I tend to forget the same thing in life. I KNOW HOW IT IS GOING TO END. God has won! Satan has been defeated! All the little things in life that make me sad, mad, frustrated, and anything but happy will not last forever. They are so temporary, they are just a bloop on God’s radar. He only really notices them because I do and they cause me grief.

One day, every tear will be wiped away and order will be restored. There will be pain now, but it really won’t stay long. We just have to keep remembering that we know how this is going to end. We will be in heaven with Jesus and none of this stuff will matter anymore. I don’t know about you, but that puts things in perspective when I stop to think about it.

While the end has been determined, the middle is still going on. We still have much to do and knowing that God has won should free up our energy for doing good. Satan knows he won’t get a do over, but he likes to convince us he will. Let’s do all we can to point others to the Winner. Let’s live lives that show we know how this is going to end!

Linking with Holley Gerth

 

Eager Giving

In honor of the first birthday of my book, Intentional Spending, I thought I would write about giving. Again.

Something I am learning the last few years is that the amount of money and time we are able to give is not what is important. It truly is the condition of our hearts. This idea is backed up by much of Scripture, such as 2 Corinthians 8:12. “Whatever you give is acceptable if you give it eagerly. And give according to what you have, not what you don’t have.” Did you get that? Eagerly. Being able to give to others who need it is a privilege. We should be excited to step into someone’s life and bring them up. To show them love. 

Now, I know that idea is counter cultural and not a particularly human view. Our instinct seems to be to gather up as much as we can for ourselves and let those around us figure out their problems. But we don’t live in a vacuum. We as people rely on each other. God didn’t put us on earth to keep our head down and do our own thing, but to be a part of our community. And He wants us to be explosive. He wants people to look at us and say, “Whoa, what got into them? I want to be that joyful and peaceful!” God designed us so that what makes us the most joyful and the most peaceful is not looking our for ourselves, but to give and serve. None of us is our happiest when we are in hoarding mode. It is when we turn outward and love on the people around us and around the world. It takes many of us decades to learn this, and sadly some never learn.

A little known man in the Bible, maybe you have heard of King David, pointed out that everything comes from God. 1 Chronicles 29:14 says, “Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand.” How do we not give back generously what God pours out on us? The truth is that generosity looks different for every family. Some can give a little and some a lot. When we look at the fact that all of it belongs to the Lord, the quantity matters very little. We are just to praise God for who He is and to show our grattitude. There aren’t requirements and specific dollar amounts, but we are simply to give all we can out of our love.

I don’t think I am oversimplifying this. God just wants our intentions to be pure, and when they are, we will be unstoppable. He will make sure of it.

Linking with Holley Gerth

Marked for Jesus

My knees are callused. Do you know how happy that makes me?

Maybe that sounds weird, but just like scars show what we have been through, my knees show my prayer life. Months ago, I started the habit my Grandma modeled for me all those years ago. I can still see her on her 93 year old knees by her bed every night. It is already hard enough to get down and back up now, so I can’t imagine what it must have been like for her. She had dedication!

When I first started making kneeling to pray a nightly habit, it was not always easy to remember. I would get comfortable in bed and then remember and have to get out, but now it is second nature. I find I concentrate better in a kneeling position and I am able to focus on the conversation. I try not to rush through, but that happens sometimes.

Why am I glad I have calluses? Well, for one, it means my knees have adjusted to the sensation of carpet. Kneeling on carpet leaves a mark and will leave the skin feeling irritated. Since I have repeatedly done this, my knees have toughened up. Having that toughness means I can pray a little longer without thinking about discomfort.

Another reason to rejoice is that this shows the progression of my prayer life and relationship with God. Prayer used to always be quick and quiet to me. It was like reading my list to God and maybe throwing in a “thanks” somewhere. Praying out loud in a group made me break into a sweat. God dealt with that by having me start a prayer team at church.😉 Now that I am more comfortable praying out loud and for longer periods, He has had me start getting on my knees.

Calluses on any body part means less sensitivity. That is generally seen as a physical side effect, but for me it is a heart one as well. I find I am a little less sensitive to criticism these days. Really that means I am accepting instruction better and not assuming I know the right way all the time. (Maybe that is just a byproduct of getting older, but I also attribute it to more time in prayer.) God has also made my soul MORE sensitive so my feelings are LESS sensitive.

Praying on my knees every night has helped remind me that I am not in control. Every night, I worship God and give Him the glory in this simple action. I point the good back to Him and know that everything else will work out. Once I gave back the control I thought I had, God started showing me areas I am lacking and how I can help others. He brought me to a new level in our relationship.

Just like I saw my Grandma’s dedication, I hope my girls see mine. Whether they ever see me on my knees or not, I hope to show them and those in the world that I am marked for Jesus. He has done and will continue to do so much for me that I want His love and grace to just pour out of me.

Where in your life have you seen spiritual growth lately? Let me know in the comments!

Linking with Holley Gerth

Step Up Our Game

This is one of those posts that I am writing for myself. Feel free to imagine you are reading my personal journal! I know it is universal, so I will share with you what I am learning.

Over the weekend I have wrestled with something. I heard some words that I took to be harsh – maybe they were a wake up call. I have grown comfortable and was called out on it. I fought it and felt angry for a full day. Sleep did not want to come and I did NOT want to accept this as truth.

Let’s be honest: Satan is doing everything he can to keep us from fulfilling our calling. He wants us doing the bare minimum and justifying it as “Hey, I’m doing more than other people are.” He knows he lost the war, but he also knows he can win some battles still. He can keep us complacent and not very effective. He also knows we like to tell ourselves that we are doing everything we can. (Or is that just me?)

Whether or not we are in the end times, things have gotten worse. We can all agree on that. Satan has stepped up his game, so it is time to step up ours. He is pushing more for a “me” mentality and we need to counter with a “you” mentality. So many people are hurting or lost and they need our friendship. The world needs to always remember there is a God who loves them, and we are just the ones to show them.

Eventually, I gave up and thought, “OK God. You win! I will step up and do this bigger thing.” But that isn’t what He wants to hear. God wants me all in, not in by default or in by guilt. If I am not all in, I am out. If I allow any bitterness to take root, I may as well step aside. I would be hurting the Kingdom of God and I don’t want to do that. I want to go out into the world and be a light. I want to show nonbelievers that the difference between me and them is Jesus. I want to show them that no matter what I have done, I am cherished and accepted. They can be too. Isn’t that what the world is searching high and low for?

If you are doing something because you feel like it is the right thing to do or because you feel like you have to, I ask you to stop. Pray and ask God to change your heart and help you be all in. He is waiting to take you places you never even dared to dream about!

If you want to read my latest guest post on marriage, you can find it here!

Linking with Holley Gerth