Dreaming Big Doesn’t Hurt, But Not Dreaming Might…What’s Your Dream?

As we are nearing the end of one year and heading towards the beginning of a new one, many will find themselves taking the time to reflect on this past year.  Have we followed our passions and dreams or did we allow life to get in the way and crowd them out?  Do we still even have the fire and passion to pursue some of those dreams we once had in our younger years?  Perhaps you feel that you have no choice right now other than to just survive and stay above water; let alone be able to pursue a dream right now.

One of the courses I took in college was designed to help us find our passion and/or purpose in life.  I found the process fascinating and when I finished the course over 5 years ago, I was inspired once again to write a book.  As most of you know, I have always wanted to write and be an inspirational speaker, but it just seemed that every time I tried, nothing happened.  That all changed last fall when I began writing my first book, Just Trying to Be a BlessingAll of a sudden the stories and lessons I had learned in my life just started to flow onto the pages and before I knew it, I had a book! I was almost thinking I would never get it done and it’s hard to believe it is really happening.  Have you had an ongoing dream like me that seemed like it was never going to become reality?

Knowing my book will soon be here, I was recently asking people on Linked-In what worked best for them when it came to promoting their writings.  One man told me I should get a copy of a book from John Maxwell called Putting your Dreams to the Test.  In that book, John talks about some who are only dreamers while others actually do what it takes to make their dreams reality.  That made me stop and think about how committed I am at this point to make my dreams reality.  I no longer want to talk about them; I want to be living them.  I love the fact that the book is almost out and I have begun on book #2.  I’m even more excited that I am also finally getting the opportunity to share as a speaker!  It’s only been a 25 year old dream that is finally becoming a reality now!

God says in His Word, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” in Jeremiah 29:11 (NKJV).  He made each one of us with purpose and with passion.  Have you ever met one of those people who from the minute they could talk, knew what their purpose in life was and followed it out from that point every breathing moment of their life?  I stand back and am amazed each time I encounter one of those people. As a person with A.D.D., God knew He couldn’t give me one purpose that long ago and expect me to stick to it throughout my entire lifetime.  First of all, if he gave me this purpose at a young age, by the time I got to 50 years old and He was ready to make this new thing happen, I would have never remembered what it was I was supposed to be doing!   Secondly, He has to mix it up for those of us with A.D.D. or we get bored!

I think our purpose and passion sometimes changes according to the season of life we are in at any given time.  There was a time when raising my children felt like my main purpose and passion.  Now that they are raised, God seems to have given me new direction as well as He is continuing to fan the flames on some older dreams that I just haven’t gotten around to yet.    Unlike the childhood prodigies that follow their life’s purpose beginning just after their first step, most of us probably fit more into this category of various changes throughout their lifetime.  Some might refer to them as our seasons of life.

One of the people in history that I really admire is Abe Lincoln.  Abe was an entrepreneur like me and he seemingly never gave up despite tremendous adversity that he faced year after year.  Jim laughs at me when I get another idea as he knows it will take me down a path for a while where sometimes I win and other times I will lose.  To be honest, I have more losses than wins with my life’s endeavors.  When I do feel like I’ve lost another one, I once again think about Abe and am reminded that great people didn’t do great things without a whole lot of struggle through the not so great tries along the way.

My life’s purpose seems to be doable—what about yours?  God hasn’t asked us to die on a cross and carry everyone’s burdens.  Nor has He put us on the earth without the Power of the Holy Spirit to get us through that which He has asked us to do.  All He has asked is that we find our purpose, follow our passion and let Him do the rest.  Do you have a dream?  Is there something you dreamed about doing many years ago and gave up on it thinking it would ever happen?  Spend time in prayer and ask God to show you the purpose He has for you this upcoming season.  We have a new beginning on January 1, 2012.  What are we going to do to make our dreams become reality?  The fact is dreams will only be dreams if we let them.  Dreams becoming reality require purpose, planning, passion and the tenacity to follow through even when we fail the first time…and maybe the fifth time…and the eleventh time…you get the point.

Thank goodness Jesus never gave up.  I am also very grateful Abe Lincoln didn’t give up either.  Next December, I want to be saying, “Thank goodness you and I didn’t give up.  Look at what God has done in 2012 through us!”  Keep in touch and let me know what dream/dreams you are pursuing for 2012 and keep me posted on how God is bringing you through!

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?  Romans 8:21 (NKJV)

I have to make a plug since it is somewhat related to this topic.  Please bear with me and keep reading!  Not related to my book, God is also opening doors for speaking engagements so that I can tell other women about my relationship with Christ and share my personal testimony as a speaker with Stonecroft Ministries.  If you are local and would like to hear me speak, I will be in Cincinnati on Jan 19, Middletown on Feb 6 and North Dayton on Feb 7.  I would love to include you in the audience one of those days.  Email me with your contact information and I will make sure you get an invitation from the coordinators of the events.  Sorry guys, these groups are for women only.  Feel free to invite me to your church groups though if you’d like!  I love to share God’s goodness whenever I can!

Forgiven, Fun-Loving and Free to Be Me!

I think we’ve all had times where we feel as though we don’t fit in and as though we have people all around us judging every step we take.  It’s not fun to have these feelings, but I think if we can believe in who we are as Children of the King, we no longer need to be bound by what others think.  Rather, we can be confident and know God created us exactly as we are and He thinks we’re wonderful!  He might not always like what we do, but He loves who we are and has great hopes and dreams for our futures.

When my two older kids were in grades 3 and 5, I got fed up with the public school system and decided to move them to a private Christian school.  I would’ve never had the patience or discipline to do home-schooling and this seemed to be a good alternative.  The school we joined was made up of a core group of kids that had been together since kindergarten along with a few here and there like us who had joined somewhere along the way.  Often, when someone had a child with issues, parents sent them to the Christian school as if it were a cure-all for their problems.  So when my kids started, I felt as though the other parents were watching us and our children trying to decide if these were more troubled children who had joined them or if we were truly there for a Christian education.

My son probably didn’t help the situation because he knew they were all wondering about us so he decided to egg it on a bit.  One time when I picked him up for a dentist appointment, he told his classmates that he was going down to juvenile detention for his counseling appointment just to get a rise out of everyone! In a small school, word gets around fast and I found myself having to
defend my son later because of course, we actually did just go to the dentist.  As time went on, it was interesting as everyone began to get to know us and realize we weren’t exactly trouble-makers like they may have originally thought.  However, we didn’t leave the place without putting our mark on it either!

Rob and his friend, Shaun, were 8th graders and their basketball team was going into tournaments for the championship.  They came home one day and said they wanted to shave their heads.  They told me the entire team had decided to do it for the championship game.  I didn’t see that a little baldness could hurt anyone, but I thought are you sure everyone is doing this?  I
don’t think they cared if anyone else did it or not, but these two were determined to make their mark as they left their school and headed towards high school the following year.

Shaun assured me that his mom was OK with it and so after picking them up from school one day, we drove to their friend’s house who owned some clippers to shave the two heads.  When we arrived his parents weren’t there so I just stayed in the living room while the boys went upstairs and created their new look!  Boy was I in trouble!  I didn’t think my husband would care, but he  did.  And when Shaun called his mom to tell her what he’d done, I could hear her cries from across the room.  Oops.  Shaun  thought his mom said OK!

It ended up that no one else’s parents on the team would allow them to shave their heads so it was Rob and Shaun, once again, making a statement!  They didn’t seem to mind though since they were not all that concerned with what others thought about them.  It made for a lot of laughs after everyone got over the shock and we had a lot of fun with it.

I look at that situation and think about the times in our Christian walks that we worry so much about what others think that we forget to have some fun in life.  Christians and their rules sometimes produce the most stoic, boring people I know!  Of course, we need to follow God’s rules and live a righteous life, but what about the fun?  Do you think others will want to be Christians if we ourselves can’t even enjoy the simple things in life?

We need to never forget that God has a sense of humor too.  He created us didn’t He?  Seriously, He shows His sense of humor for  example, in children don’t you think?  He could’ve had us all be born acting like adults, but He didn’t.  He gave us all cute chubby faces that spend way more time laughing and smiling as children than we ever do as adults.  He gives us teeth, and then allows them to all fall out.  As adults we would be horrified, but as children, it’s just life.  I don’t know about you, but I think it’s funny to see little 6 year olds running around without their front teeth without a care in the world!  How freeing is that?

I may be 50 now, but I hope I never lose the desire for fun in my life even in my old age.  I pray that I never become the person that  can’t find the humor or feel free to do something wild and crazy just for the fun of it!  I don’t ever want to become so judgmental in my Christian walk that I spend my life worrying about what others are doing or not doing; rather, I want to be free to be the person God created me to be.  It may not be perfect or normal, but it is me.  So for now, I’m going to hang onto the 3 F’s in my life and rejoice because I’m Forgiven, Fun-loving, and Free to be me!  I sure hope you can find them in your life as well!

As a side note, it was inevitable that Rob and Shaun would shave their heads whether I helped in the process or not.  They are both currently abroad, serving their country as soldiers in the Army National Guard.  Today in their 30’s they still don’t have much hair!

Christianity Isn’t For Cowards

I just finished reading a book called, Call of a Coward, by Marcia Moston. She was one that God called out of her comfortable life and asked her and her family to move to Guatemala to be missionaries.  I’ve always admired people who were willing to put their lives aside and follow Jesus to destinations unknown, trusting that He would take care of them.  It is always exciting to hear and see what God is doing in others’ lives and be reminded that we definitely serve something way bigger than ourselves when we call ourselves Christians.

Even though I’ve always been fascinated with missionaries and their commitment to serve God with everything they have and do, I’ve never been called to do it myself.  On my daughter’s 16th birthday though, she and I boarded a jet with 3 others headed for India to serve for a couple of weeks on a mission trip—this being the closest I’ve ever been to being a missionary.  I remember my mom taking us to the airport and as we were boarding the plane, she was saying, “You don’t have to go.  I can take you back home right now if you’d like.”  She was afraid for us to be going so far into lands unknown and was fearful for our safe return.  I knew though, that I needed to go.  I wasn’t going because I wanted to take time off without pay and live in the land of no toilet paper and sunshine for 2 weeks.  I was, in fact, going because I felt that God had put a call on my life to be there for that time.

I have to say, as we stepped off the plane onto foreign ground, I questioned myself.  Is this really what I should’ve done?  Should I have boarded this plane going half-way around the world with my teenage daughter?  But the wonderful thing about serving a powerful God is when you know that He is leading, the fear falls away and the joy begins in the obedience of following Him.  I would much rather be where He wants me to be in worlds unknown vs. being in the safety of my own home in disobedience when He had called me elsewhere.

There’s an old song that sings, “Where you lead me I will follow, where you lead me I will follow, I’ll go with you, with you all the way!  This is what I want my life-song to be.  Lord, I will go with you wherever you lead me…all the way.  When you say something like this to God though, you have to be ready to be stretched.  God isn’t a God of complacency.  He doesn’t allow anyone to coast through Christianity.  In fact, He’s not satisfied until you are refined through the fires.  He knows that in order for you to be the best you can be and learn to be strong in your faith, sitting on the couch watching TV and eating bon-bons isn’t going to help you grow.  Well at least not in the spiritual realm!  It probably will help you grow in physical ways for sure!  LOL!

One year when I was a single mom, my daughter was having another birthday and my friend’s son was too, just within a few days of each other.  My friend and I were trying to think of something different we could do to make their birthdays memorable.  I think we got the prize that year as we loaded them into the car and took off for a destination unknown birthday trip.  They were both teenagers at the time and as we drove, you could start feeling their fear of the unknown as they already thought we moms had two heads and were crazy anyway!  I’m sure they were wondering where in the heck we were going as after about an hour and a half of driving, we began our trek out into remote areas where there seemed to be nothing but grass, trees and winding roads that would make even the strong sick after a while.  My friend’s son was saying are you going to drop us off out here in the middle of nowhere and leave us or something?

They were both becoming so agitated by not knowing, we decided to go ahead and tell them the truth so they would calm down.  We told them we were going to a place where we could pet tigers and lions.  I was sure with the animal lovers that they both were, they were going to love the idea!  It was too funny though.  Even though we were telling the truth, they didn’t believe us!  They were even more upset then as they really wanted to know where they were going.  They just knew we were lying to them with the lion and tiger story.

It was priceless to see their faces as we pulled into the reserve and they saw the lions and tigers everywhere around them.  I think they thought we had literally lost our minds.  It is kind of scary when your teenage kids are thinking what we are thinking about doing might be dangerous when the two of us moms are saying, “Come on! It’s going to be fun!  Let’s do it!”  That day, we did actually pet lions and tigers.  I thought it was so cool to be standing there beside this huge lion and petting him. At first when I began to pet him, he flinched as though he had a fly on his back or something and scared me to death! I then realized the huge difference between him and me.  I may think I am strong and brave, but beside him, I was reduced to fly level.  The lady who was telling me how to approach him and pet him, told me I needed to get through his large main so that he could actually feel my hand vs. thinking  of me as an annoyance.  As I pressed through the deep fur, I found myself actually watching this lion find enjoyment from the massage I was giving him once he could actually feel it!  Imagine that! After leaving the reserve that day, we were all high on having stepped out of our comfort zones and done something very few can say they ever did.  We had blazed new territories that day and it felt good.

I can relate this to my Christian walk as well.  Often, God asks me to go to destinations unknown.  It’s not always clear across the world to India or to dangerous settings such as the tiger reserve though.  Sometimes, He sends people to me that simply need to hear about Him and the free gift of eternal life He has to offer them.  He isn’t here in the flesh to tell them so He
expects me to use my voice to share.  If you’ve ever tried to tell someone about your faith, you know, it can be really scary at times.  It’s not scary because of the message, but more so for the fear of rejection when we do.  There have been other times, He’s asked me to go to a neighborhood of high crime and pass out hotdogs and befriend those living in the area.  He even asked me to go speak to crowds of people several times about hot topics like abortion.  Talk about scary!

Putting all of that aside though, one of the scariest things ever in my Christian walk is to totally put my trust in God, especially if I were trusting Him to intervene for one of my children in need. Praying for them and then getting out of His way so He can reach them has often proven most difficult and downright scary.  We all like to be in control and often when we ask God into our lives, we even try to control what part of our lives we let Him into.  Some people say the prayer to ask God to come and change them, make them new.  Then they start telling God, “Let’s not deal with that sin right now, or that issue.”  You can have all of me God, but just don’t ask for this one little part of my life over here.  I want to remain in control of that area.  It takes a brave person to say, “Here I am Lord.  I will follow you wherever You lead me and I will allow You to have control.”

Who better to trust though than the One who created us in His Image to get us through this life?  The fun part about following God is He is full of surprises!  I have done things that I would’ve never done before I had Him in my life and reaped great satisfaction from having been obedient.  Just like the kids when they didn’t believe us when we told them where we were going, I’ve actually felt the same when God has asked me to do something unusual.  Just think about how Noah felt when he was told to build the ark!  You get the point?  If you’re bored with life and feel as though you have no purpose—everyday feels the same, I dare you to examine yourself.  Are you trusting God for your day?  Did you ask Him this morning to lead your steps and to open doors of adventure on your path?  Perhaps He has already given you a challenge and you’re still standing at the door, shaking in your shoes, afraid to move
forward.

God is like that big, strong lion and if we can just begin to shed our fly mentality and realize we were created in His image, we will begin to rise to new heights, taking chances and
stepping out to do what He’s asked us to do. No longer do we have to live in complacency and boredom when we have the Creator of the universe guiding us to destinations unknown!  Knowing that you are in God’s will each day fills the voids that you’ve been feeling with excitement and joy when you know you’re fulfilling your purpose here on earth, even when we’re just doing the everyday things.

We can no longer be content with just brushing the surface of who God is; rather, we need to press in and get to know the heart of Him.  It takes courage to step aside and allow God  to guide and direct rather than you being in control of everything.  However, once you do get beyond the surface, you realize that it is not nearly as scary as you thought it might be.  Rather, it is comforting to know that this One that invites you to Him will also guard and protect you throughout your walk with Him.  You no longer need to be afraid… you just need to trust.

Lord, I pray for those reading this today.  I ask that You will give them adventures that will stretch them and mold them into the person You created them to be.  You may not be asking big things of them; rather, You know exactly what they need to grow.  Help them to not be afraid, but to be brave.  Show them Your great power and teach them that even in their times of fear, You are strong and courageous—standing in for them in their time of need.

If God is doing something big in your life or has even asked you to do something small that you wouldn’t have done before you knew Him, send me a note on the blog for others to see or privately to justtryingtobeablessing@gmail.com and let me know.  It is exciting to see God at work and encouraging for those still afraid to see others stepping out and being blessed!  It would also be encouraging for me to know this helped someone to be courageous in their walk with Christ!

2Corinthians 12:10 Therefore, I take pleasure in weaknesses, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. King James 2000 Bible (©2003)

Phil 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

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