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Don’t Stop Dreaming

 

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Photo by Teddy Kelley on Unsplash

 

When we are children a question we are often asked is, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”  A logical mind would say that a child has no way of knowing a good answer for him or herself. Lived experience and lack of assessment of abilities and skill sets are absent in childhood, but perhaps childhood is the exact right time to ask that question because the answer comes from the child’s imagination.

 

Imagination is the stuff of dreams and provides the rich soil for hope and possibility.

 

Such imagination and dreams have brought about some of the most amazing inventions in the world, the most moving music we have ever heard, and the most fascinating books we journey through.

 

Perhaps some are downcast and without hope because they gave up dreaming and possibility. And absent these, they lost hope and belief in what could happen. It can be easy to settle for the ordinary then, to become what others are like, and do what others do.

 

Imagination and dreams once ignored or buried are hard to resurrect again absent God’s divine intervention.

 

adult-adventure-background-220147Enemies of imagination and dreams are easy to list, but harder to defeat. Practicality lurks around many a corner and doubt sneaks in behind it. Inaccurate assessment of ourselves fueled by things others say to us is also on the list.

 

 

When imagination, a dream, or a vision is embryonic, it doesn’t take much to keep it from growing. Like any living thing − put it in darkness and restrict its nourishment − death can happen without much effort. Our fall in the Garden leaves its remnants in the fabric of every living thing.

 

But there is one major enemy on the list to thwart imagination and dreams:

 

“You can’t stop dreaming, just because you’re afraid the dream won’t come true…dream’s biggest enemy is being afraid.”

Lisa Wingate in The Summer Kitchen

 

Fear is creative (yet predictable) in its pursuit of us − all humankind. It is one of the best tools because it seldom misses its mark (at least at the outset). You see it in action in story after story from Genesis onward in the Bible. Adam and Eve sinned and knew it so they hid from God. Goliath showed up on the battlefield and the Israelites trembled and Saul was cowered. Peter believed he could walk on water if the Lord called him and he started out fine until he looked down and fear caught up with him.

 

Fear has a fistful of lies: we’re too old, we’re too young, or we’re not smart enough. Add to that lies such as “it’s been tried and failed before,” “how can you make a living trying that sort of thing,” “people will laugh at you.”

 

bright-bulb-close-up-459718If you hear those things, you’re in pretty good company. Noah must have heard them when he started building an ark on dry land. David heard them when he believed he could take down Goliath with a sling. Magellan heard them when he believed the earth was round instead of flat. Orrville and Wilbur Wright heard them when they built a machine in their bicycle shop they believed could fly. A lanky, self-educated, homely man named Abraham Lincoln heard them when he ran for President of the United States.

 

We have limits and boundaries, but when we get lost in them we think we are stuck there.

 

Helen Keller once said, “The most pathetic person in the world is someone who has sight, but has no vision.”

 

Perhaps that is why movies born of imagination capture us time and time again. Books and music do as well. It’s little wonder we cheer for the smallest of creatures − the hobbits − in The Lord of the Rings, even though they don’t have the bow skill of Legolas Greenleaf or the ax skills of dwarves like Gimli.

 

You see, faith is fueled by believing the unseen, imagination, possibility, and dreaming of what can be. I think Jesus knew that when He called a little child to Him in Matthew 18:3 (TPT):

 

“Learn this well: Unless you dramatically change your way of thinking and become teachable, and learn about heaven’s kingdom realm with the wide-eyed wonder of a child, you will never be able to enter in.”

 

Do you have a dream? Do you imagine something you haven’t risked even saying out loud to anyone?

 

If so, then move toward it. Learn skills you need to attain it and keep moving unless the Lord halts you − the Lord…not fear. The Kingdom is waiting for the dream and imagination God placed in you to take shape. Look to Him. Silence the fear and doubt that come from the enemy.

 

“The soul without imagination is what an observatory would be without a telescope.”

Henry Ward Beecher

 

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Photo by RUN 4 FFWPU from Pexels

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He Is More

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When I was a child, one of my favorite things to do was to climb on my swing that hung on a sturdy limb of the maple tree outside our kitchen window. There seemed to be something magical as I pumped my legs to go higher and higher letting the breeze wash over me.

 

The swing transported me to a place of freedom not found when my two feet were planted on the ground. Even now, swinging on a swing gives me that sense of childlike delight, freedom of flight from being earthbound.

 

Those feelings draw us to Disney World and other such places no matter what our age.  Things there remind us of the very best of our childhood dreams. In that place we have permission to be a child again no matter what our age. It is why you can see as many adults of all ages at Disney World as you do children.

 

Our days fill up with images and sounds, schedules and “to do” lists, and sometimes we skim across the surface of our lives with our eyes and ears half closed. We too often “live in a dream world” as noted in the popular movie, The Matrix.

 

Sometimes we prefer it that way as we trudge through the day. There are bills to pay and not enough money. There are wounds unhealed. There are ailments and illnesses, losses and loneliness. There are dreams that lay shattered and hopes that are fading. There are headlines that remind us much in this world is amiss. It can be easy to think that is all there is or will be.

 

It can be too easy to see the Lord as seeming to stand at a distance unconcerned with our lives.

 

We have images of Him in our hearts and minds. Some of those images are marred by a belief He has betrayed us as a result of our abuse, our lack of healing, our shattered dreams, our unfulfilled hopes and desires. Our churches or other Christians have disappointed or disillusioned us and mar some of those images. I have known those at different seasons of my life as well.

 

But what I know without any doubt is that our images of Him are too small, too narrow, limited, and sometimes too serious. As a result, it can become harder to pursue time with Him and relate with Him in true childlike faith.

 

which-disney-prince-should-you-date-929783554-jan-29-2013-1-600x500As I was journaling after a trip to Disney World and reflecting on the magic of that place, I risked telling the Lord of the delight and wonder I experienced in this manmade place, how it touched places deep inside me unlike anything else. It all seemed so irreverent and unlike any prayers or journal entries I had written before. That day, I leaned in as my heart, mind, and spirit waited to hear His response. What I heard still brings a smile to my face.

 

He reminded me that He knew about my childhood and if I believed, I could experience childlike wonder even now as an adult. He could show me life from His shoulders where I could see everything better. He whispered that I could come running into His arms and He would never drop me. And He reminded me that I sometimes made Him into such a serious papa and that He longed for me to see the twinkle in His eyes and the curve of His smile.

 

Not unlike the images Ken Gire creates in his wonderful book, The Divine Embrace, He reminded me that I could dance with Him, laugh with Him, and crawl into His lap and hide in the folds of His garments IF I would risk being a child with Him.

 

Only when I risk doing that very thing can He transform my view, grow my trust, help me let go of the control I can try to take over my hours and days.

 

And then, I can know more of Him and enjoy Him in ways I never knew before.

 

I can see things much better from His shoulders.

 

I can rest in the certainty that He will never drop me and never let me go.

 

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Photo by Dominika Roseclay from Pexels

 

Feasting with The Threshers

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The fragrance of my father’s smoked ham and baking pies permeated every room in the house. As I walked into the kitchen, it was evident all my mother’s preparations had started early that morning. Potatoes were simmering on the stove, tomatoes were waiting to be sliced, and fresh green beans needed to be snapped.

 

I knew that was my first job of the day before setting the table that was already extended as far as possible to accommodate the threshers that were working in my father’s fields to reap the wheat he had sown last fall.

 

blur-close-up-dinner-161533This was my favorite time of the year and one of my favorite meals. My mother, Delight, was every bit of her name in the kitchen. She had carefully planned for a bountiful table for when the men came in at lunch to eat. She had learned to do it when she was a girl in her own home and now it seemed not to be a chore at all for her.

 

I never tired of the delicious taste of my father’s smoked ham and a favorite pastime of mine was to slip through the English roses that lined the path to the smokehouse and peek inside at the sides of ham and bacon hanging from the ceiling.

 

As I finished snapping the beans, my mother was busy mashing the potatoes, and collecting the ham drippings for the gravy. Rolls were waiting to go into the oven where the pies had been a short time ago. Ears of corn were waiting to be dropped into a boiling pot.

 

I peeked around the corner of the kitchen to the sideboard where the pies were cooling. IMG_3976One. Two. Three. Four. Five. The men would not be disappointed today. No one made better pies than my mother and certainly no one had mastered the crust she created. There would be apple, peach, raisin cream, and two cherry pies. We had finished picking the cherries only a few weeks ago and finished canning nearly 40 quarts of them one day.

 

 

I hurried to set the table as the sound of the combine stopped and the men started to make their way to the house. It was a festive time for everyone and the conversation around the table would be filled with stories of other years where harvests were not as good, other farms that might be failing, and the satisfying enjoyment of my mother’s feast laid before them.

 

It was such a celebration at this time every summer as we gathered the harvest, the fruit of my father’s labor, and blessed those who were hired to help bring in the harvest and enjoy the best lunch anywhere in the township where we lived.

 

This time of year always brings back these memories and the legacy I learned in childhood of sowing and reaping, harvesting and celebrating the evidence of the planting and tending.

 

I loved benefitting from all of it, but the clear evidence of the spiritual principles that were being demonstrated during this annual tradition did not begin to soak in until I was older and my father had stopped the bulk of his farming.

 

As I stopped at the orchard this week to buy rather than pick cherries, my thoughts returned to the precious legacy I had been given. I also reflected on what the bounty of the Lord’s table will be like when He harvests all He has planted in our lives, in His body, the church, and on the earth.

 

What a great celebration that will be!

 

How much He must anticipate inviting us to His table. I cannot imagine the fragrance of that banquet, but I am sure I will be amazed at His bounty and so grateful for the invitation to be there.

 

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Photo by Ian Turnell from Pexels

The Challenge of Change

 

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Photo by Johannes Plenio from Pexels

 

If I were to ask you if you like change, I wonder how you would answer that question. We can tend to have some strong feelings about change − either pro or con.

 

Some of us are adventurous and change in nearly any area offers us the excitement of discovering something new. We like stretching ourselves to expand what we know and testing what we know already. But sometimes that may be in a few areas, but not across all aspects of our lives.

 

anise-aroma-art-277253One person in our family when our children were young was adventurous with food. No matter what restaurant was mentioned, he was eager to try it. He loved trying something on the menu that he had never tasted before. We now have a grandson from another branch of the family tree who is much like that and recently enjoyed sampling snails while he was vacationing in Paris.

 

Others of us like challenging ourselves physically with new or extreme sports to test the limits of our abilities and experience the thrill that goes with it.

 

This summer many of us will go on a vacation. Some will go back to the same cabin or same condo where we have gone for a long time and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Others of us explore maps, tour books, and the Internet to find new destinations each year.

 

Some of us have personalities and preferences that are wired to like and need structure in our routines so anything that brings a change to those things can leave us feeling at sea.

 

Many of these things represent a category of change − things we choose to experience that are different. Harder changes are ones that are not of our own choosing. Those come in various types and sizes and may push us to the limits of our adaptability.

 

Change is a constant in life. We have far less control than we might think or wish.

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Growing up and getting older will be a change we happily anticipate as we think about things we will be able to do that we cannot when we are a child or teen. There is no question we will grow up and get older even if we don’t wish to do that, but as we do we will learn that some things we could do and be previously are lost to us. New responsibilities and tasks come our way. Time to play is limited to fewer hours or even minutes in any given day or week.

 

We also get in touch with how that process of growing older doesn’t go as slowly as we wish. We change schools, homes, jobs, relationships, churches, routines, and more. Our bodies change − sometimes without warning − adding to what we can do or taking away something we thought would never change.

 

We look forward to the change of leaving home and living on our own (sometimes in a new city or state or even country) and we plan the kind of life we want to have (sometimes similar to our parents and other times quite different). Then about the time we feel settled in this new life with a family of our own, change comes to us again − our own children grow up and go on their own way.

 

building-cliff-clouds-67235Whether we love these changes or dislike them, we take with us things that can help us in this new place or season − experience, abilities, skill sets, and more − that can serve as a foundation for where we find ourselves.

 

“When things around you change − where you are, where you’re going − the one fact that remains constant, the one anchor that holds fast, is where you have been.” 

Lisa Wingate inThe Language of the Sycamores

 

The significance of the word “anchor” in the quote is how it fits in our spiritual lives.

 

An anchor is a very early Christian symbol that has been found in ancient catacombs. It brings together the cross and nautical Christian symbolism. That anchor is more significant than where we have been.

 

In ancient times, an anchor was a symbol of safety and symbolizes Christ’s unfailing hope in the midst of life’s upheavals and uncertainties.

 

Change is a constant in this life whatever our proclivities may be. There is little doubt that sometimes change will not be a choice we make, will not be easy or without cost to us. Our source of help is clear in Hebrews 6:13-10 (TPT):

 

13 Now when God made a promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater than himself, he swore an oath on his own integrityto keep the promise as sure as God exists! 14 So he said,

“Have no doubt, I promise to bless you over and over,
    and give you a son and multiply you without measure!”

15 So Abraham waited patiently in faith and succeeded in seeing the promise fulfilled.16 It is very common for people to swear an oath by something greater than themselves, for the oath will confirm their statements and end all dispute. 17 So in the same way, God wanted to end all doubt and confirm it even more forcefully to those who would inherit his promises. His purpose was unchangeable, so God added his vow to the promise. 18 So it is impossible for God to lie for we know that his promise and his vow will never change!

And now we have run into his heart to hide ourselves in his faithfulness. This is where we find his strength and comfort, for he empowers us to seize what has already been established ahead of time—an unshakeable hope! 19 We have this certain hope like a strong, unbreakable anchor holding our souls to God himself. Our anchor of hope is fastened to the mercy seat which sits in the heavenly realm beyond the sacred threshold, 20 and where Jesus, our forerunner,  has gone in before us. He is now and forever our royal Priest like Melchizedek.”

 

In the midst of change, He is our unshakeable hope.

 

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Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Getting Stuck in Mistakes

 

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Recently I sent an anniversary card to some friends of ours. Sending cards is an old-fashioned tradition I still love and I add important dates to my calendar to remind me. (That gives me credit for remembering that I honestly don’t deserve.)

 

After putting the card in the mail, I bumped into these friends while out and made mention of their anniversary coming up. They were very sweet, but reminded me their anniversary was another month and day than I thought.

 

After I got home I checked my contact list and saw that I had the correct date there, but when I looked at the calendar I realized I had only noticed their names on the date and hadn’t checked why. It wasn’t their anniversary, but a reminder they were to leave on a mission trip that day.

 

It was a silly mistake and one that was easy to laugh about, but not all of my mistakes are that way. I have made some mistakes in my lifetime that were far more costly.

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Photo by Element5 Digital from Pexels

 

A funny one our family jokes about now and also was costly happened when we were heading out on a vacation trip. It was one of those we had anticipated for a long time. Our kids were tucked in the back seat shortly after 5AM and with everything seemingly stowed away, we headed out as the kids fell asleep again in the back seat. Several hours later we stopped at the last plaza in our state and aroused the kids to get out and stretch and enjoy doughnuts and orange juice we had brought with us.

 

As we were all shivering, I walked around the back of our car where the trunk was still open. As I casually looked inside I didn’t see the clothes that were on hangers that my husband and I would need for most of the 10-day trip. I walked over to my husband and asked where he had put them.

 

It was then that he realized they were still hanging in the hall closet at home. We had traveled three hours by then and faced the dilemma of what to do. We could keep going and try to buy clothes on the way or turn around and go get the clothes. Ugh!! We were groaning over the lack of a better set of choices.

 

We realized that finding clothes would cost us in time we didn’t want to waste and also fray a budget already stretched tight. The cost of driving back seemed like the least costly option even though it meant driving back three hours in the direction we had just come from. There was a caveat that we called my parents who met us at the entrance to the turnpike we had first entered that saved us a little bit of time.

 

We picked up the clothes and headed back on the road again trying to handle our frustration at the cost in mileage and time. We stopped at the same plaza for lunch where we had enjoyed doughnuts earlier. It was a mistake we never made again on our many vacation trips.

 

“The thing about mistakes is, they become valuable when you learn from them.” 

Lisa Wingate in The Sea Keeper’s Daughter

 

Mistakes.

 

We all make them and hate it when we do. Maybe it’s because of the cost of some of them to others or us. Maybe it’s because it spotlights a flaw. The cause doesn’t change the feelings we have when we make them even though they do become valuable if we learn from them.

 

disgusting-fail-failure-2882Some of us, however, get stuck. We start to believe we are defective because of our mistakes instead of recognizing we are human and prone to make mistakes. When we get stuck in that erroneous pattern of thinking, we paradoxically set ourselves up to more likely make the mistakes we fear. Our overreaction results in messing up.

 

The peril of getting stuck in “mistake mentality” sets us up to also be tempted to make bad choices. It started in Eden when Cain, the farmer, and Abel, the shepherd, each made a sacrificial offering to the Lord. Abel’s pleased the Lord and Cain’s did not. Cain couldn’t handle the mistake and loss of favor from the Lord. He hated Abel’s favor and chose to murder him because of it.

 

The temptation to condemn ourselves when we make mistakes of any size plays into the devices of the evil one who nudges us to believe lies about the whole situation. Left unchallenged, we can become prisoners to the lies and miss the extraordinary things God has in store for us.

 

Our best response to mistakes is to humbly accept we made them and correct anything we can, recognize we can receive grace for them, learn from them, and walk in freedom while still knowing there will be other mistakes ahead.

 

“How sad, I think now, to live an entire life blinded by the ordinary, when the path to the extraordinary waits just beyond the well-meaning prisons of your own making.” 

Lisa Wingate in The Sea Keeper’s Daughter

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