Dusting off Dreams

My kids have big dreams, dreams that are bigger than life itself.  For instance, over the last several months my daughter has been building a "rocket ship" in our living room out of cardboard boxes.  For Christmas, my kids got an upgrade to a 5 foot long rocket ship.  Below is a video of my kids preparing to launch off to space.

Their dreams have expanded my horizons and have taught me child-like faith.  There is something about "getting older" that allows the practicality of life and the limits life offers to begin to bury those youthful dreams we once had.

My daughter has another dream and her dream has inspired me to dust off some of my own dreams.  When she was 4 1/2 years old she took paper, scissor, tape and a pencil and made a little book.  She couldn't read or write at this point in time but she drew pictures.  The book ended up having a story line of a princess captured by a witch and saved by a hero.  It was very cute and I was amazed at her creativity.  The hero of the story, Tot began to take shape and form.

Tot was not a one time incidence.  She began creating more and more books.  However, her creations  much like her personality, were spread all over the place.  I began to help her "organize" her little books.  Last time we organized, Tot was up to 11 "books."  I began to realize that this was a significant moment in her little life and I made sure it was kept together and not thrown away which is what I like to do when there are too many papers (remember practicality).  I still did not understand or realize the depths of her dreams.

One night, she and I were driving alone in the car.  In the backseat, her little voice spoke up,

"Tot will be in the library when I'm 26 years old." 

"What?" I asked.

"Tot will be in the library when I'm 26 years old.  I'll have to probably have other jobs until then, but he will be in the library when I'm 26."

I was astounded at the depths and the practicality of her dreams.  In her young mind, she was going to have her books published when she is 26 and she understood that it will take time, effort, and perhaps pursuing other things in the process.  After our recent trip to Disney World, she added another element to her dream.  She announced that Tot's wife, Micah would be the next Disney princess and Tot would be the next prince.  (So you heard it here first!)

Wow! I began to pray to the Lord after all this.  How in the world do you harness the depths of these dreams to keep them alive, so that she can accomplish some of her dreams?  And then the Lord began to quietly remind me of some of my own dreams.  You see in my younger years I used to dream, too.  Every New Year, I would journal and write out what I hoped to accomplish in the upcoming year.  As we know, the practicality of life gets in the way and those dreams get dusty.  Now that I'm older and "wiser" I no longer keep up with this tradition of writing down dreams that will never happen, what's the point?

The point, I've been learning, is that it is okay to fail and that failure is often a road to reality.  So after seeing the dreams of my kids, the Lord has challenged me to dust off one my forgotten dreams.  One of the ways I can help my daughter achieve her dreams is to show her that it is okay to try, fail and then try again.  Maybe every dream won't reach reality, but as the video above showed, it is sure fun to dream.

So yes, for this New Year, I'm dusting off some old dreams.  I am returning to the wonderment of childhood and realizing through the eyes of my daughter that you can have huge dreams and be practical at the same time.

Where are the dreamers?
Where have they gone?
They are the melody to life's song.

In Christ,

Book Review: Healing is a Choice

I decided to review the book Healing is a Choice by Stephen Arterburn after attending the incredible Women of Faith Conference.  At the conference, they emphasized being healthy spiritually and that we do have choices in how we feel and act each day.  They said if you were having trouble in this area to seek help.  I thought this book would be a perfect follow up to the conference.

Eight years ago, I read Waking the Dead by John Eldredge and then proceeded to read the rest of his works.  Going through his books helped me to sort through a lot of stuff and find a lot of freedom in different areas.  The last couple of years though I haven't really focused on "healing" per se and I began to see the residual effects in my life.  Issues began creeping up slowly, that were just annoying at first but started turning into bad habits.  I've learned that when things continue and I'm not able to stop them, through prayer alone that there is usually something else going on.  I've learned that it is worth finding out what the roots are and attacking them.  After attending the conference, I decided to attack these things head on.  So onto the book review:

Healing is a Choice is slightly intimidating when you receive it because it is 454 pages long!  Why is it so long?  Because it is the book and a full workbook combined.  The book discusses 10 decisions that will transform your life and 10 lies that can prevent you from making them.  The book is actually a fairly quick and easy read.  It is the workbook part that is full and intense.

The author is divorced after a 20 plus year marriage.  He uses much of the book to discuss the process of healing he went through after his divorce.  I personally struggled with how he chose to talk about his ex-wife and his former marriage.  His examples ended up being a hurdle I had to overcome to get to the truths of the book.  However, what I really found beneficial was the workbook portion of the book.  It is excellent and it is filled with Scripture and lots of good questions to ask.  It provided a good quiet time for me to talk to the Lord about some things!  I personally found the workbook  portion to be helpful and healing and it did provide what I was looking for, a format to deal with some of these issues.

Here are a couple of other thoughts about the book.  He mentions the possibility of using the book in small groups.  After leading small groups for the last 7 years, I would say this would not be a good idea.  The book is pretty intense, and depending on people's pasts could bring up some very deep issues.  When I lead a group SAFETY is my number one concern and it takes time to establish that. The group would have to be safe and the leader would have to equipped to handle the issues brought up.  Finally, if you can't afford counseling with a professional, the workbook portion might be a cost-effective way for you to get help.

Walking healed and whole is a choice.  Often times Christians walk around broken inside but "happy" on the outside.  After years of being around Christianity, I've watched these "happy" Christians crumble.  I've determined in my heart that this is not going to be my story.  What I've learned is that God just doesn't want us to look "good on the outside" but He truly cares about our hearts.  He wants to bring healing to our hearts and sometimes that involves looking at the past and letting God bring truth to the pains of the past.  Don't be afraid to grab God's hand and walk into the past with Him.

In Christ,

PS I received this book free of charge from Booksneeze.  All opinions expressed are mine and mine alone.

Cranky Christmas Love

I checked my e-mail when I woke up this morning and found that an order I had placed last week was canceled because the items were no longer in stock.  I then had to hop on the phone and after 25 minutes of placing a new order was told they were not going to give me some of the "cash" they owed me because the coupon had expired.  I explained it was not my fault because they had canceled the order I had placed while the coupon was active.  By this time frustration had begun to mount inside me - it is early morning, the person on the other end of the line barely speaks English, this is not what I wanted to do with my morning I wanted to blog and spend time with God, it was only $3.60 but it is the principle of the thing - all these thoughts added together and resulted in crankiness towards the person on the other side of the phone.

While I was on hold waiting to speak to a manager, the Holy Spirit was quietly conversing with me.  He reminded me that even while I was on the phone I was spending time with Him and He also reminded me of some of the things I read in The Greatest Thing in the World, things about the development of character.   God works and moves in the dailyness of life and not just when I am in "worship and quiet time" with Him:

Why should God have provided
that so many hours of every
day should be occupied with work? 
It is because work makes men. 

 Character is the music of the soul, and is developed by exercise. 

Active use of the power entrusted
to us is one of the chief
means which God employs
for producing the Christian graces.

In the end, it all worked out, I got my $3.60 back, and I didn't even have to talk to the manager about it. But through it all, I was also reminded of the opportunities God has given me to show His love to other people and not be so American about my rights to good service but to care more about the person serving me and remembering that they have 8 hours to work with cranky housewives who are trying to share the "Christmas spirit" by purchasing items on-line.  Perhaps, I can and should pause and spread the fragrance of Christ through love by being patient, kind and understanding...

Do we carry about with us the thought of
God wherever we go?  If not,
we have missed the greatest part of life.

I realized that being on the phone wasn't just a waste of time (which is what I thought) but rather a chance to feel God's refining fire at work in my heart, teaching me how to love when it was the very last thing I wanted to do.  So once again I am reminded, challenged, encouraged that "in Him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28)."

Which end of the continuum do I want those that interact with me to associate with Christmas - crankiness or love? 

In Christ,

PS The quotes in italics are from The Greatest Thing in the World.

Love: The Greatest Thing in the World

This morning I opened my Google reader and enjoyed a post by Carolyn Weber entitled Christmas Gifting: Commercialism or Commission? The Giving of Grace.  Reading that post lead me on the adventure of starting to read a book called The Greatest Thing in the World.  That book is available online for free.  All I can say is that for me it is a timely blessing of God's truth.  I have been enjoying sitting and reading about 1 Corinthians description of Love and letting the Truth of it seep and soak in and through my life.  If you have a few moments follow my links by starting at Carolyn's website and moving from there to the free e-book.  You will be blessed.

Here are a few teasers from the book in case you need a little motivation:

I shall pass through this world but once.  Any good thing, therefore,
that I can do, or any kindness that I can show
to any human being, let me do it now.  Let me not defer it or neglect it,
for I shall not pass this way again.

Souls are made sweet not by taking the acid fluids out, but by
putting something in -- a great Love, a new Spirit, the Spirit of Christ.
Christ, the Spirit of Christ, interpenetrating ours, sweetens, purifies,
transforms all.  This only can eradicate what is wrong, work a chemical change,
renovate and regenerate, and rehabilitate the inner man.  Will-power does not change men. 
Time does not change men.
Christ does.

Goethe's words: "Talent develops itself in solitude - the talent of prayer,
of faith, of meditation, of seeing the unseen; character grows in the
stream of world's life.  That chiefly is where men are to learn love.

So I have not made my way to the end, but I was enjoying myself so much along the way that I had to share.  I pray you have a few moments to jump into these readings and will be blessed.

In Christ,

A Refreshing look at Isaiah 55

I'm on vacation so here is a recycled post. It is a good reminder:)!
Isaiah 55 contains a variety of verses that probably are very familiar to you.  These verses are usually discussed and remembered in small, separate sections.  While, the individual verses are beautiful and contain beautiful truths when viewed alone, a reading of them side by side reveals God's love in a way that is overwhelmingly beautiful. 
Here is the entirety of Isaiah 55:
The Lord says, "All you who are thirsty,
come and drink.
Those of you who do not have money,
come, buy and eat!
Come buy wine and milk
without money and without cost.

2 Why spend your money on something that is not real food?
Why work for something that doesn't really satisfy you?
Listen closely to me, and you will eat what is good;
your soul will enjoy the rich food that satisfies.

3 Come to me and listen;
listen to me so you may live.
I will make an agreement with you that will last forever.
I will give you the blessings I promised to David.
4 I made David a witness of my power for all nations,
a ruler and commander of many nations.

5 You will call for nations that you don't yet know.
And these nations that do not know you will run to you
because of the Lord your God,
because of the Holy One of Israel who honors you."

6 So you should look for the Lord before it is too late;
you should call to him while he is near.
7 The wicked should stop doing wrong,
and they should stop their evil thoughts.
They should return to the Lord so he may have mercy on them.
They should come to our God, because he will freely forgive them.

8 The Lord says, "My thoughts are not like your thoughts.
Your ways are not like my ways.
9 Just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.
10 Rain and snow fall from the sky
and don't return without watering the ground.
They cause the plants to sprout and grow,
making seeds for the farmer
and bread for the people.
11 The same thing is true of the words I speak.
They will not return to me empty.

They make the things happen that I want to happen,
and they succeed in doing what I send them to do.

12 "So you will go out with joy
and be led out in peace.

The mountains and hills will burst into song before you,
and all the trees in the fields will clap their hands.
13 Large cypress trees will grow where thornbushes were.
Myrtle trees will grow where weeds were.
These things will be a reminder of the Lord's promise,
and this reminder will never be destroyed.

This entire passage of Scripture is about Jesus Christ and the amazing beauty and freedom of His love!  That He offers us life, for free, all we have to do is COME!  Throughout this passage, God continually invites us to COME to Him and listen to Him.  The things He is offering to us as a result of coming to Him are good for us, rich and satisfying!

Sandwhiched throughout this chapter are additonal verses that we as believers today can take as encouragements to what God is doing and wants to do:

You will call for nations that you don't yet know.
And these nations that do not know you will run to you
because of the Lord your God,
because of the Holy One of Israel who honors you.

Beloved, the nations should be running to us!  Let us in confidence, call forth to the nations because God will set them free!

In the middle of this chapter, are the verses: "my thoughts are not your thoughts and my ways are not your ways".  When viewed by themselves, these verses can cause people to be afraid of coming to the Lord in their need, because they think He is saying, "don't question me and you won't understand why such and such has happened."  However, if you view these verses in context, you will see that is a misunderstanding.  God says, "They should come to the Lord, because He will freely forgive them." The point of these verses is that we can come to God and He will freely forgive us.  This incredible idea was, is and always will be GOD's IDEA not our idea.  
So you will go out with joy
and be led out in peace.

Are joy and peace what is leading you in your walk with God right now?  If not, God says they can lead you.  We can't force it, but what I am learning, is that one of the main reasons why I don't experience what God has to offer is because I often have a misunderstanding about His truth and how He operates.  That misunderstanding causes a barrier in my ability to walk in His truth.  When I sit at His beautiful feet and allow His love to change the lie(s) I've been living under, I then begin to live out the freedom He is offering.

Finally, the beauty of the Truth contained in these verses has the ability to bring powerful changes.  "Large cypress trees will grow where thornbushes were. Myrtle trees will grow where weeds were." Our God is a God of redemption and change.  When He replaces things in our lives He doesn't just bring an equal change, He brings a change that far exceeds the junk that was there before.  So give Him full access, it is worth it!
The reason Isaiah 55 is so beautiful is because it is the GOOD NEWS in God's own words!  Our all-powerful God is wanting to set the nations free and offer His forgiveness without reserve.  We have a message of freedom, life and redemption!  Let's walk in it.

In Christ,

Daily Prayer

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