Discovery + Opportunity = Dreams

 

img_1680

 

My writing this week has been focusing on the themes of discovery and opportunity. Together they help create dreams and dreams are the stuff that shape not only our own destiny, but set the stage for the dreams and destinies of others.

 

The first key is to be in the right attitude and altitude to be in discovery mode. We need to be of a mindset and spiritset to be open to discovery and if we are honest, some of us aren’t. It can frighten us to discover something new in our interior or exterior world because it may require a decision on what we do with the new information. When we make a discovery, we learn something new. Will we perceive it as good or bad?

 

I think discovery mode is something God built into us when Creation began. When Adam was placed in the midst of the beauty and wonder of all He had created and given the opportunity to name the animals, I cannot imagine how much he had to discover as he observed each one and created a name he thought suitable.

 

That was the beginning of discovery and it has continued to this very moment. Think for a moment how curious a baby is about everything in his or her environment. Everything gets checked out to see how it tastes, the texture of how it feels, and what it can do.

 

Discovery is how the baby learns and how we keep on learning unless we slowly turn down the dimmer switch on discovery when we get comfortable with where we are and how we are. By adulthood some of us may be so programmed that we no longer spend much time in discovery mode. We may read about it or watch it happen on TV, in a movie, or the news, but we cease to participate in doing it ourselves.

 

Satan knew that discovery mode was a part of us and it is what he capitalized on in the garden when he tempted Adam and Eve. Maybe that experience is also what caused us to be fearful of discovery ever since.

 

I think God wanted us to discover the wonder and glory of Him through His creation. When we do so it leads us to worship Him. It also allows us to then find/discover opportunities and possibilities and those, my friends, are the stuff dreams are made of.

 

I love discovering new things and my children and grandchildren tease me often when I share random things I have found fascinating in the learning process. If you were to talk with them, they could recite more than a few examples.

 

This Christmas I shared about the story I had discovered about unusual sounds emanating from the Mariana Trench, the deepest known part of the world’s oceans that is located in the western Pacific Ocean. Scientists have apparently been listening to sounds they have picked up and have yet to have a sense of their source. Random fact? Yep! Even so I get excited to realize this gives someone the opportunity to discover something more about the earth God created than we yet know. It opens up the door to imagination and that can lead to dreams.

 

I love to hear about dreams even though I seem to recall few of my own. But there are other sorts of dreams as well that usually don’t happen while we are sleeping. These come when we discover something we are passionate about or do well and dream of what we can do with it. These lead to destiny.

 

Joseph was of course a famed dreamer whose nighttime dreams got him into trouble, but they also allowed him to discover something God intended to do. His discovery made opportunities for him that led to his destiny of saving Israel from certain destruction in the midst of a great famine. Looking at the story more closely reminds me that in the process Joseph also discovered a few things about himself and a great many things about God.

 

When my dad discovered his love of learning as he sat reading his McGuffey reader by the light of a kerosene lamp, it gave him the dream of what an education could provide. That dream was one that he didn’t have the opportunity to pursue, but it created the dream of providing just such an opportunity for me and that set in motion a legacy that has outlived him.

 

I loved learning and loved talking about history with my dad and his dream came true when I received my college degree in education after great sacrifice on his part to provide it. Pursuing that degree is when I met my husband and together we desired to give our two children the opportunity to discover their potential and learn new things to create dreams of their own.

 

Each of them discovered his and her own unique passions, gifts, and interests that opened opportunities that led them to cities hundreds of miles away from us. That was a part of my dad’s legacy and he got to see both of them launched into adulthood before the Lord called him home. They were also a part of his dream.

 

What my dad didn’t get to see was how that legacy got passed on to his six great grandchildren. All six-were/are homeschooled and each are discovering how their own passions, interests, and gifts are opening doors of opportunity leading to dreams of their own. Their dreams are dreams within a dream within a dream (a theme of Mark Batterson’s in Chase the Lion).

 

I love when they pass on their own random facts so I discover new things. For my oldest granddaughter who will graduate in May with a nursing degree, it will often be something about the intricacies of the human heart. For my oldest grandson who is in his second year of college in pre-med it might be something about a brain hack that helps a brain (maybe even mine) at a more efficient level. My middle grandson will clue me in on some new app for my phone while the youngest grandson recently shared some information about the Louisiana Purchase I did not know or had forgotten. With my middle granddaughter I will get to hear the imagination that goes into her plans to be a novelist and my youngest granddaughter will share details about birds than I ever knew existed.  New discoveries are leading to new opportunities and new dreams.

 

Discovery + opportunity = dreams. And dreams are the stuff of destiny and our legacy.

 

Legacy isn’t measured by what you accomplish during your life span. Legacy is measured by the lives that are affected by your life long after you are gone.” Mark Batterson

 

 I forgot to mention the most significant legacy that my dad left and it was certainly his best dream and highest hope. He loved and served the Lord for all of his 84 years and he passed that on to a generation of great grandchildren.

 

What legacy will you leave?

 

img_2190

 

 

 

 

Opportunity: A Date With Destiny

 

img_1676

 

It can be easy to hear the word “opportunity” framed as a great thing someone was given that allowed him or her to pursue something that would not have been possible otherwise. It also can be just as easy to hear someone complain about his or her current circumstances as a result of not being given an opportunity.

 

At the bottom line an opportunity is truly just a chance. That chance means we have a choice or a decision to make. If we do not act to make the choice or decision, we will forfeit our future because the lack of choice or decision becomes a future that is not of our own making. Sadly, it then can be easy to lament that we never had “an opportunity” to get the position, the education, the relational connection, and more.

 

It’s true that the number of opportunities we may have is greatly influenced by a long list of things including where we live, our family situation, our innate abilities, and more. We cannot ignore something in the midst of such a list, however. We still have a responsibility for the choices or decisions we make because our character will guide them as well as shape our character.

 

Many things influence what we believe, but we ultimately choose what we believe.

 

I am reminded of many examples to illustrate these points. Some of them you know well, but only I (or close family members) know others.

 

Noah was given an opportunity to be used to salvage mankind when God determined the evil on the earth had reached such proportions that Creation needed to be destroyed. When He told Noah the plan to destroy the earth by means of a flood when it had never rained, Noah may well have scratched his head. The idea of an ark must have sounded pretty crazy, but Noah took the opportunity, made the choice, risked humiliation, and his destiny to be remembered was sealed.

 

Joseph never stopped telling his brothers about his dreams and their jealousy and envy got the better of them. After they sell him he has the opportunity to feel sorry for himself and give up or look for an opportunity in less than ideal circumstances. In the midst of his slavery, he seems to have chosen to act in ways that made an opportunity for him to become the key man in charge of Potiphar’s house. His character was being shaped and molded so that when the test came at the hands of Potiphar’s wife’s attraction to him, he determined his destiny by fleeing from her sultry pursuit of him.

 

Abraham Lincoln was born into a poor home with what seemed to be few chances. His father was uneducated, but his mother was religious and taught Abraham and his siblings about the Bible. She thought education was important and when a school opened when Abe was seven years old, she made sure he had the opportunity to make the nine mile trip to be able to learn. That chance stirred in him a love of learning that shaped his life and destiny.

 

My father was the youngest of six children. His father died when he was only five years old. It didn’t deter his mother’s desire for him to become educated so he walked to school each day and loved what he learned there, but when he was 13 his older brother was killed when he fell from the barn roof. This brother had been handling all the farming duties and now it fell to my father (with the help of his uncles) to handle the farm for his mother and sisters. It meant he would need to leave school to do that, but he continued to read and learn with a determination that his children would have the opportunity for the education he didn’t have. He never earned a lot of money, but he made certain I had the opportunity to go to college and when I did so I became the first person in my family to earn a college degree.

 

These illustrations may have stirred your own memories of how opportunities have shaped your destiny. The key in each case was to avoid compromising integrity of character to act on the opportunity that came into the person’s life.

 

Each day is an opportunity for each of us. What will we do with those given to us?

 

When Frodo was lamenting the task that had fallen to him in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring, Gandolf tells him, All we have to do is decide what to do with the time that has been given to us.”

 

Because an opportunity isn’t an opportunity if you have to compromise your integrity. It’s the decisions when no one is looking that will dictate your destiny. In fact, your integrity is your destiny.”   Mark Batterson

 

img_1669

 

2017 – What Do You Want to Discover?

img_1668

 

As one year ends and another begins, it can provoke me to reflection and goal setting. Looking backward gives me reason to celebrate as well as mutter. I celebrate the good things the Lord showed me and the things He and I accomplished together, but I also mutter over things I failed to finish (or start), time lost or wasted, and opportunities I didn’t recognize or risk taking. What is important is not to get bogged down looking over my shoulder, but instead to look forward to the new blank pages of the year ahead.

 

The truth is that some of those pages are already filled with special dates secured for specific grandchildren’s basketball tournaments, musical performances, and graduations. I already anticipate those with joy and excitement.

 

My challenge is to not be too quick to fill too many of the blank pages of the New Year. It can be easier than I wish to do just that, but I know from past experience that if I do that I will often find myself speeding through days and months at a rate that robs me of the gift of discovery.

 

I confess I am not a fan of those resolutions so many people list at the beginning of a new year. Don’t misunderstand. I do believe goal setting is important, but it seems that for me a list of resolutions adds to my “to do” list and that can add pressure and stress to what may be an arbitrary standard I have set for myself.

 

Of course I want and need to exercise more, lose some weight, read more, rest more, etc., etc., but I think I want something more than that as my priority.

 

I want to allow time for discovery and I want to savor the discoveries I make!

 

I love learning new things, discovering something about the Lord, something about nature, something about relationship, or something in myself that I had not seen or seen in quite the way I might now discover.

 

I want to see the one special stone in the midst of a roadside of pebbles. I want to notice img_1665
the sunrise and sunset for the varying hue of colors that appear on different days and in different seasons. I want to observe the nuances of the person I am having coffee with. I want to notice the differences in the songs of birds. I want to tune in more closely to the Lord’s voice to discover what is on His heart rather than focusing on what is on mine.

 

The wonder of childhood is that discovery is an everyday part of life that happens multiple times during the day.

 

The result? Joy. Delight. Dreams. (Just to name a few.)

 

Adulthood can erode those very things! Life gets busy. Responsibilities multiply. It’s all a part of our transition from one part of life to another, but I think if we cease to discover, a very special part of us that God created starts to shrivel up a bit more and we become a bit less than He created us to be.

 

The meanings of the word discover are rich indeed. Here are just a few of them:

  • Find something or someone unexpectedly
  • Become aware of a fact or situation
  • Be the first to find or observe a place, substance or phenomenon
  • Perceive the attractions of an activity or subject for the first time
  • Be the first to recognize the potential of someone or something

 

A byproduct of discovery? Not only does it serve as fuel for our dreams, but it also shifts the focus from “I” as the center of our day. It helps us to see “the possible” that instills hope and nudges us away from the obstacles of “can’t”.

 

What might change if you looked at 2017 as an experience of discovery?

 

You will never know unless discovery becomes a value worth allowing time for because you don’t know what it is yet! It has to be discovered!!

 

God is writing His story through you! Mark Batterson in Chase the Lion states this:

I don’t know what dream God has given you, but it’s a dream within a dream called Creation. It’s also a story within a story called Redemption. God is writing His-story through you, and it always starts with a dream. You may not see yourself as a dreamer, but you are one. You have dreams that you aren’t even aware of, dreams you haven’t thought of as dreams.”

 

Discovery is a byproduct of God’s Spirit dwelling in you filling you with wonder, opening you to dreams and possibilities that were not even on your radar screen until you discover them.

 

I think when we make discoveries, God must smile that we see something He has seen all along!

 

img_1678