Twelve Years

Twelve Years

It has been a few months since I last logged onto my blog.

After I verified my identity, (thanks WordPress for rubbing my absence in), I was greeted by an anniversary missed.

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Twelve years.

Twelve years of sharing words, stories and small glimpses of God at work if only attention is paid.

Twelve years of a trembling pointer finger over pressing the publish button and hoping for readers and simultaneously hoping no one read the deepest words from my heart.

Twelve years of cultivating, nurturing and waiting on a dream.

Although those “in the know” deem blogs as having run their course, I am glad blogs still exist and am witnessing many writers returning to the movement of which I am one in this number.

The space of not blogging feels much like not having a conversation with a friend for an extended period of time. Once seated face to face, where do you begin, when there is so much to say?

I suppose it’s wisest to push past regret or shame and simply begin again. Start talking or writing knowing all the gaps won’t be entirely closed with one return conversation but there’s movement; a narrowing of the previous chasm.

My last post in June detailed discovering dug up nasturtium plants. At the time, I believed the event to be isolated. However, it was a nearly daily occurrence this past summer, a major irritant during a hot and smoky summer. Carl and I placed fencing along the driveway to discourage the digging and it didn’t hinder the activity of squirrels and/or raccoons.

When I speak or set an intention, I believe the work is done. I said it, it will happen.
I planted the seed, was a caretaker in the growth, let their be flowers without end.
I don’t expect disruptions especially when I can see the sprouts then leaves and finally the vivid color of buds.

Some of the nasturtium plants died after the repeated upheaval.

Some flowered on very small spindly plants.

However others grew with abandon, stretching tendrils on either side of the initial seeds, leaping over fencing to spill onto the driveway with a profusion of blossoms.

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Dreams aren’t solely about speaking words into existence.

Dreams often require patient waiting, rearrangement and being a vigilant watchman.

A fence doesn’t guarantee a dream will grow and won’t be disrupted.

There will be naysayers.

There will be obstacles.

There will be less than ideal conditions.

We live in a time of instant access and it seems a mystery when our dreams don’t arrive on our doorsteps as quickly or as nicely packaged as Amazon guarantees.

Somehow, twelve years have passed and I failed to notice I was already living a piece of my dream. A dream which had been set in motion day by day and post by post even with large gaps from time to time.

Somehow, I had been busy looking at the holes and not the blooms which stretched forth from every press of the publish button.

Earth.

Seeds.

Life.

Leaves.

Flowers.

Death.

New seeds.

It’s the cycle of life and dreams.

Do you have a dream you believe resembles a hole but if you looked closer, is actually full of rich life-giving soil?

 

the excellence of dreams

the excellence of dreams

What is it about witnessing excellence that makes me swell with emotion?

I think  back to seeing Riverdance for the first time.

I could write an entire post on my affection for Riverdance and Celtic music.

This is not that post.

I remember watching mesmerized with my friend Kim and our girls as we

tried to fully comprehend the brilliance of Alvin Alley’s American Dance Theater.

I held my breath until they performed Revelations. (Watch it now!)

I feel it when a gymnast lands triumphantly on two feet or a triple

axis is thrown in the air and slides gracefully back to solid ice.

I venture to guess that excellence is breathtaking for the spectator to watch

because the performer,

the athlete,

the dreamer

has amassed volumes of hidden work.

Those of us in our seats or on our couches are partakers of the thousands

of early mornings, frustrations, falls, injuries and repetition by those

who have honed their craft to such a degree it now can be deemed stellar.

I have thought about this a great deal as I begin to inch towards turning 50.

The Olympics definitely causes my mind to percolate.

Especially when I realize how many Olympic games I have watched.

How many light years since I dreamed of being like Olga Korbut?

I believe I have sat on my couch too often and too long watching and applauding.

It is easier to believe in other people’s dreams rather than my own.

It’s second nature for me to cheer others on or even participate in the realization of

their dreams.

It is harder to admit that I often wonder if my dreams truly matter or if they will

even materialize.

The Olympics provide the grandest parade to celebrate and examine dreams.

When you learn the back stories of many of the athletes, most often there has been

a hardship to overcome.

It could be an injury or family loss.

Perhaps they lost focus and had to rediscover their passions.

Maybe someone told them they were not deserving to be on the team.

Despite whatever setback they persevered.

I would venture to guess the majority of athletes, who competed these past two weeks

in Sochi, fell more than those who stood in triumph.

We commend each and everyone for doing the work regardless of outcome.

This morning I wrote down a few bullet points to get me focused,

once again.

February is almost over and somehow the lull of winter can dampen our resolves.

If you feel like it is time to pursue your dreams or even accomplish a goal or two,

this is a list of reminders. I doubt any of it will be original.

In case you have forgotten, may I remind you?

  • Shower and get dressed
    I have my best ideas in the shower!
  • Pray and stay connected to your Creator
  • Get enough rest and eat the food which fuels
  • Define your dreams/goals
  • Be ruthless with distractions and time suckers
    Social media, television, being overly busy so you “just never can find the time”
  • Schedule time daily or weekly to work towards your dream/goals
    Keep your appointment with yourself.
    Keep your word to yourself as you would to a loved one.
  • Ask for help
    Over the years I have assembled my cheering section, but I have not utilized them in
    a long time. I have neglected an untapped but willing resource.
  • Ask for prayer 
  • Share your dream with someone trusted
  • Write a letter to your future self
    If the thought of sharing your dream with someone else seems scary,
    and it is, write yourself a letter spelling out your dream and encouraging
    yourself to not give up. Put it in an envelope, seal it, address it to yourself,
    put a stamp on it and give it to a trusted person in your life. Have them keep it
    for several months and then mail it to you.
  • Talk to someone who has walked into their dream
    People love to talk about their dreams, especially if they are living in the midst of them.
    Find out their story, it might just inspire you to keep going forward
  • Do the work
    It might mean getting up earlier or staying up later. It may demand saying no to
    some great things in favor of saying yes to you and your dreams. 
  • Take joy/fun/play breaks
    Dreams take hard work but breaks refuel and refocus. They are crucial to help avoid burnout
  • Pray and stay connected to your Creator
    It bears repeating and it is not redundant. It is vital.

I look forward to the day when we will  have done the work long and often enough for others

to stand up from their seats and witness excellence.

I will be standing and cheering too.

I’ll be the one welling up with emotion.

Let’s get to the business of pursuing excellent dreams!

Cover to Cover-Week 5: Are You A Dreamer?

Cover to Cover-Week 5: Are You A Dreamer?

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This week’s readings:  Genesis 40-50; selections from I Chronicles and Exodus 1-6

Are you a dreamer?

I would not consider myself to be a dreamer.  As a child, I don’t remember dreaming about becoming a bride or thinking about my wedding gown…of course, I played with dolls and pretended to be a mommy.  But I don’t really remember dreaming that often.  Even as an adult, I tend towards being more hopeful than actually dreaming.  I love to hear others speak about their dreams and sometimes just marvel at their details and faith.

One dream that I did have was to become a writer.  It was a dream that I held quietly within…no one but God and I knew for quite a long time.  Writing had been a thread that had tied my life together for always yet I didn’t recognize it until I was an adult.  How many annual reviews as a physical therapist did I receive where the constant emphasis was on the strength of my writing…could have been/should have been a red flag…but I would not admit it for many more years.

Once I did finally spit the words out to a few people close to me…the responses were polite and a sweet “Duh!”…and I was encouraged to pursue the dream…believe the dream…reach for the dream…

That dream remained dormant for quite awhile…one would think that by finally mustering the courage…the dream would be swiftly assembled and brought to completion…but it didn’t work that way…life crowds in…vision can be clouded…perhaps God says wait…not yet but soon…during this time, I remember a conversation with a person close to me and I began to talk about my writing attempts…and I am confident that this person meant no ill will to me or my dream said…”oh, the dream…(sigh) it makes me sad…at that moment, I felt like my dream had been crumpled up into a ball and tossed in the direction of the nearest trash receptacle.

This week’s readings spoke to me about our dreams…those that we have…those that are given to us…the reactions of others to our dreams and the care that needs to be taken in continuing to believe in those precious dreams…sometimes when those dreams seem to be against all odds…and lastly, how our Big God can have dreams for us that are beyond our wildest imaginations…all this is wrapped up in the life of Joseph.

Last week, we read that Joseph had two dreams when he was 17 years old.  In his youthful exuberance, he shouted it from the rooftops to his brothers and father.

Be careful who you choose to share your dreams with…Joseph’s brothers were already predisposed to lack affection for Joseph as he was favored by their father and we also learn that Joseph had given their father a bad report about them.  They already hated him and when he told them that he would reign over them one day, this declaration did not sit well with any of the brothers.  In fact, they hated him all the more.  Although Jacob loved Joseph dearly, he could not believe what Joseph was saying and rebuked him however, he did keep the matter in mind.

Dreams can be fragile and can be easily dashed by the disapproval, laughter and unbelief of others.  In the infancy of dreams, it may be best to spend time alone seeking the Lord’s heart about the dream.

Joseph’s brothers try to kill the dream by selling Joseph into slavery but it was God’s dream as well.  He was with Joseph and prospered everything he put his hand.  He was placed in Potiphar’s house…falsely accused…taken to jail…but even in prison, Joseph continued to find favor with others because God was with him.

A cup-bearer and baker also were accused but not falsely.  They each had dreams while in prison that they did not understand.  Joseph not only had dreams of his own but God gave him the gift of interpreting dreams.  Joseph interprets both dreams…one with a favorable outcome, to which Joseph asked to be remembered when the dream was fulfilled.  The other dream had an unwanted outcome.  Both dreams were interpreted correctly yet Joseph remained in prison…forgotten it seemed.

But wait…we are not finished with dreams…Pharaoh also had dreams which had no interpretation.  Alas now the cup-bearer remembers Joseph…he is sent for and states that he cannot interpret but God can.  When Joseph finishes explaining the dreams and the strategies needed to avoid certain death for all, Pharaoh agrees and is actually led to say,

“Can we find anyone like this man, one in whom is the spirit of God?”
Genesis 41: 38

and
“Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one so discerning and wise as you.  You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders.  Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you.”
Genesis 41: 39,40

Pharaoh’s words to Joseph must have been overwhelming and so much larger than what he had envisioned the dream he had delivered years ago to his family…and yet the dream was only partially complete.  Pharaoh gave Joseph a wife of a prominent Egyptian official.  Upon the birth of his sons he said this:

For Manasseh: “It is because God has made me forget all my troubles and all my father’s house-
                          hold” 
Genesis 41: 51

For Ephraim:  “It is because God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering.”  
                        
Genesis 41: 52

Joseph was 30 years old when he entered his new role of service for the Pharaoh.  Thirteen years had passed since the birth of his dream…a time mixed with much sorrow, pain, suffering and injustice.   My Bible study notes say that Joseph went from shepherd to slave to convict to ruler.

As the famine stretched farther and farther, Joseph’s family of origin begins to feel the effect and must travel to Egypt in search of food and they come face to face with Joseph.  I find it so interesting that the brothers do not recognize Joseph but he immediately recognizes them.  I am sure Joseph looked different in his Egyptian attire and surely they never believed they would ever see him again.  Perhaps they never had really seen him…even when he lived among them. 

When sharing dreams with others…pick people that know you and really see you…pick those with discernment and always ones that are willing to take your dreams to the Father for the safest keeping.

Genesis 42: 8,9 says:

“Although Joseph recognized his brothers, they did not recognize him.  Then he remembered his dreams about them…”

At 17, Joseph had a dream…soon after his brothers sold him into slavery…he excelled and then was imprisoned…he excelled again and at age 30 became second in command over Egypt…there had been 7 years of plenty and only 2 of the 7 years of famine when Joseph sees his brothers’ faces for the first time in 22 years (if my math is accurate)…it is only then that he remembers his dream…a dream that had been buried for years and tossed into a cistern…time had mellowed Joseph and he does not mention this dream…but he remembers it.

This is what Joseph has to say about the dream once he revealed his identity to his brothers:

“Come close to me…I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt!  And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you…But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.”
Genesis 45: 5,7

Joseph comforts his brothers:

“Don’t be afraid.  Am I in the place of God?  You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”
Genesis 50: 19-20

Joseph had a dream…a God-given dream…a dream that took many twists and turns and at times was forgotten…abandoned…but God never forgot and He was with Joseph every step on the way to fulfillment…a dream that grew exponentially from the one that Joseph believed in his teens.

Are you a dreamer?  If so, what is your dream?  Have you grown weary of waiting?  Does the reality of your life today weigh heavier than your dreams?  Do you feel you don’t qualify to dream?  Have others scoffed at your dreams?  Did you have a dream but you have forgotten it?  Do you think that dreams are for only the young at heart?  Do you think it is too late to dream?

Maybe it is time to go before the Lord and spend some time together lingering over your dreams…His dreams for you.

Wherever you find yourself today…start dreaming and keep on dreaming…ask God if your dream is too small…He may say it is time to expand your vision…I know that I am going to stop hoping and do a bit more dreaming…putting my faith in a God who is able.  Dust off those dreams that you have discarded and go before the Lord and get His heart, mind and eyesight.  Remember He is always with you even when you find yourself veering off course and in a foreign land…who knows…it could be all apart of His wondrous plans and purposes towards you.

Oh, and one last thing…for all you dreamers and wannabe dreamers:

“Now to Him Who, by consequence of the action of His power, that is at work within us, is able to carry out His purposes and do super-abundantly, far over and above all that we dare ask or think [infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes or DREAMS]–To Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever. Amen (so be it)”

Ephesians 3: 20, 21 (Amplified) 

That’s plenty for this week…I didn’t forget about Moses…we will chat about him next week…won’t you join me…and as always, you can join us here.

P.S.  February’s reading schedule is listed in The Library!