Saturday, June 30, 2012

Dreamscaping 6--God sized dreams need God sized love

“The LORD will work out his plans for my life— for your faithful love, O LORD, endures forever. Don’t abandon me, for you made me.” Psalm 138:8 NLT

This verse contains one of my favorite words in the Hebrew language, Hesed.  It is the essence of the love described in I Corinthians 13--the Love chapter.  I love that it's in this particular verse because it is His lovingkindness--His Hesed--that reassures me that God's dreams are worth pursuing, because He is the one who will work it all out. 
The cry of the psalmist is honest.  Sometimes, as we move forward into the planning stages for the dreams God has given us, it suddenly becomes obvious that God only does God-sized things.  Without Him doing it, it won't get done.  We get the joy of joining Him in it, but make no mistake:  only God does miracles.
He created us to join Him in the miracles He does, no less than He made Peter bold enough to ask to walk on water with Him.  Something strange happens then...we realize we've stepped into something much bigger than we can do--and it's scary.  That's when Jesus grabs us, pulling us out of the wind and waves that scared us and chuckles, "Why did you doubt?"  His tender mercies could never let us drown.  He made us for this. 
For those who love to read as much as I do, I have a couple of book recommendations:   
You Were Born For This and The Dream Giver by Bruce Wilkinson.  Both are outstanding and talk candidly about the decions we have to make when we realize that this dream of God's is beyond what we can do. 

Friday, June 29, 2012

Dreamscaping 5...A dream becomes a plan

Nehemiah gives a great example of a dream becoming reality.  Here are some of the steps he experienced: 

Compassion: "They said to me, “Things are not going well for those who returned to the province of Judah. They are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem has been torn down, and the gates have been destroyed by fire.”  When I heard this, I sat down and wept. In fact, for days I mourned, fasted, and prayed to the God of heaven. "  Neh 1:3-4

A need shared:  So the king asked me, “Why are you looking so sad? You don’t look sick to me. You must be deeply troubled.”  Then I was terrified, 3 but I replied, “Long live the king! How can I not be sad? For the city where my ancestors are buried is in ruins, and the gates have been destroyed by fire.”  4 The king asked, “Well, how can I help you?” 

A Joint request:  With a prayer to the God of heaven, 5 I replied, “If it please the king, and if you are pleased with me, your servant, send me to Judah to rebuild the city where my ancestors are buried.” Neh 2:2-4

Team reconnaissance:  I slipped out during the night, taking only a few others with me. I had not told anyone about the plans God had put in my heart for Jerusalem. We took no pack animals with us except the donkey I was riding.--Neh 2:12

There's much more to seeing a plan come to fruition, but I love the way that God directs all that He leads us into...

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Dreamscaping 4...Visioning as a guide to action

"Where there is no vision, the people perish:
but he that keepeth the law, happy is he."
--Pr 29:28 (KJV)

The vision alluded to in this verse is God's perspective of what is to come, of what He desires to come to pass--it is His dream for us and for those we impact.  As a parent this concept has been foundational to everything I do, but for awhile I lost that vision.

When my first son was born, I had an idea--a vision--of the kind of man I wanted him to grow to be--the kind of man that would make God proud.  Everything I did as a parent was framed in light of that vision.  Correction was loving and consistent because I wanted him to understand the nature of God's laws and character.  Immediate obedience was always the goal because I wanted him to grow to obey God immediately, with loving trust that His rules were for PJ's good. 

When Katie was born with Down syndrome, one of the most disorienting issues was that I couldn't envision who Katie would be as an adult, and every attempt on my part just brought up more pain.  It was a devastating time.  Without that vision, I lost the will to correct her and demand of her behavior and attitudes that would befit a Godly future.  I floundered.  Many times, she floundered.  PJ was in the middle of a neurological crisis I couldn't see at the time but my hesitancy as a parent didn't help. 

A few years ago, I was at a conference put on by the local DS support group where one of the speakers gave a passionate talk about the vision she had crafted for her son when he was just two.  From there, all of her actions and planning were guided by that vision.  Nearly all of those goals have been achieved by her son who is now in his 20's and he is wiser, stronger and more popular than any would have believed possible. 

Her talk reminded me of the vision I had lost for my own daughter.  I can't say that I have completely regained that vision yet, but yesterday PJ and I worked together to create a daily schedule and a list of goals for him and his sister that will help her move toward them.  It's a start. 

What is God's vision for those you impact?  Have you asked?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Dreamscaping 3...Heart sickness or a tree of life?

"Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life."
                                        --Pr. 13:12

Most of the time we think of this verse relating to hopes that haven't come to pass yet, but what about the hopes we haven't fulfilled for ourselves by following through on them?  Maybe the reason so many older people die of heart disease has more to do with abandoned hopes than arterial blockages.  On the other hand, if a dream fulfilled is a tree of life, then maybe the fountain of youth is found as we chase the dreams God has for us and delight as He fulfills them when we had lost all hope. 

Don't be afraid to chase God's dreams for you no matter how old or young you are.  If it's His dream, He will make it happen--you only have to hang in there so you can get to watch Him do it. 

Frankly, I needed to hear that myself today.  I have a dream of my own that has little to do with Senior Dreamscaping, but I also fear failure--in other words, my heart is failing as I consider moving forward.  I long for that tree of vitality and life that will come with its fruition. 

Father, Friend...Help us move forward with Your dreams and keep our hearts from failing.  Fulfill what You have placed within our hearts for we need Your lifegiving hope.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Dreamscaping and waiting...

"Until the time came to fulfill his dreams,
    the Lord tested Joseph’s character."

--Psalms 105:19

Two thoughts come to mind here...

1. Whose dream was it?  Was it Joseph's dream or God's dream given to Joseph?  Or both?

2.  Dreams take awhile. 

Continuing my series on Senior Dreamscaping, some may question, "If it was God's dream, why did it take so long?" 

When God gives a dream, it may involve work, but it's not you doing the work.  Since I'm not driving, it's easy to say, "Are we there yet?" 

God's work is more like pregnancy than a do-it-yourself project.  The dream may be implanted by the Father but it's yours to carry.  It's slow.  It stretches you.  It moves from uncomfortable to downright painful.  You are not likely to ever be the same.  You are tested by it and the test imprints itself on you. 

A dear friend of mine just had her third child.  We met every week throughout the time and I watched as she got big (early) and then bigger and bigger.  Her son had a nasty habit of stubbornly pushing on her ribs.  Before the baby came, she cleaned and prepared. That's really all she could do. Once it came, there was even more to do, but she still has no more control over her child's growth than when she carried it. The growth is God's to do.  The care is ours. 

She had wanted a natural childbirth, but ended up with a C-section--and the cord was wrapped around the baby's neck twice.  A natural birth would have killed him.  Things didn't work out the way she wanted--she knew it might not--but after all that waiting she had a wonderful son and it was worth every minute, every pain, every irritating shove. 

Sunday, June 24, 2012


I will pour out my Spirit upon all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy.
Your old men will dream dreams,
and your young men will see visions.--Joel 2:28

Today I joined a couple of ladies during their normal prayer time at my parent's church.  They always have a team on duty during the service to pray--but this was no ordinary prayer time.  During our time, we talked with each other in a prayerful attitude and as the conversation wound its way around, we began to talk about a new kind of Senior ministry. 

Both these women are retired and though their bodies can't quite do what they have in the past, their hearts and minds are as active as ever.  I related how my dad, who has always been active and engaged in ministry, is struggling right now in his retirement because he has so little to do.  I asked him earlier this week about what he has always dreamed of doing but never had time to do and he couldn't remember.  Then as we were talking this morning, I remembered that I catch the best ideas when I meet together with my colleagues and friends.  They also help me remember the ones I've wanted to follow. 

The Holy Spirit, my great friend, then congealed an idea He had implanted earlier in the week.  It involves a weekly or biweekly meeting of seniors to dream again--dream of opportunities not yet gone, dream of ministry needs and solutions, dream of God's dreams for them.  This group could then support each other as they plan and implement the dreams God has laid on each one's heart.  Meeting frequently would give them the chance to keep each other accountable for making progress on their dreams.   One of the women said they often felt pushed aside or unneeded.  This was the kind of idea they wanted and needed to help them move forward when no one else was pushing them.  We prayed together for God's wisdom and will--for courage to move forward and stamina to see it through.  We cried together in gratitude and expectation as we prayed.

These lovely ladies live in Georgia, where my parents live.  I live in Orlando--6 hours away.  I can't make this dream come true for them.  In truth, I couldn't even if I did live here.  As a daughter, I could prophesy it over them, but they will need to dream.  It needs to be directed by seniors, for seniors so that they can minister together for all of us.  We still desperately need them. 

This afternoon, I looked through the Bible to get a vision for what God dreams for us.  Over the next few days, I'll post the scriptures I found and some thoughts about each one.  I hope it will excite you as much as it has me.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Monday, June 18, 2012

Peaceful chaos...

I love my parent's place.  It's a total mess and I probably could connect clutter with peace if I let myself.  Mom and my sister are occupied with VBS so my dad and I are hanging out at the house during the day working and occasionally talking.  It's a contented quiet.  
Kate snuggles with Grandpa
I am more grateful than ever that my parents raised us with a constant undercurrent of the Word in the presence of the Lord.  I wandered into the laundry room this morning and my mom had the phone app, playing Genesis.  My dad picked up the iPad last night and he starts playing with a new app I downloaded, Fighter Verses, finding all the cool parts of it before I've even had a chance to look at it.  When I felt stressed last night, my mom started singing a song she had written last year about being at peace.  It's not fake or put on; it's a normal part of our lives.  Somtimes, after being away, it feels "goody-goody" but it's just the way they live--the way I live. 

Paul said in Ephesians 5:

"17 Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. 18 Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, 19 singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. 20 And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." 

We've had plenty of people on my mom's side that have had issues with alcoholism or drug addiction.  It's never appealed to any of us.  We still struggle with normal addictions like food and "stuff", but even those are gradually fading, generation by generation.  When He gets that big a part of your life, He makes all other idols look like chopped liver.  It doesn't happen overnight, but it does happen. 

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Daddy, sandcastles and waves

“Just as a father has compassion on his children, So the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him.” Psalm 103:13 NASB

Today my head hurts.  We've been at a workshop in Daytona for the last few days and I feel like I've been hit by a truck.  It was a good opportunity and I'm glad I went, but I didn't pace myself as well as I should have and now I'm struggling. 

The best part of the trip this week was that the kids got to spend time with their dad on the beach while I was in sessions. John and Katie love to build sand castles together. They aren't perfect but her dad loves them because he loves her and they get better every year. He watches her carefully keeping her from going out too far in the water or getting dehydrated. Neither one of them get sunburns, but he makes sure she has sunscreen anyway. He really is just about the best dad ever.

Last night, I spent several hours encouraging a friend in her own choice to quit smoking.  She was mad for the reminder at first but as we talked about how much God loves her and wants her free, she got victory over it for the night.  She was back at it again this morning.  I know this is a one day at a time thing for her so I'm not surprised.  I have plenty of those issues myself.  I'm so grateful that my Heavenly Father has so much compassion on both of us, even when we're not managing very well.  For her, it means the Father has left her with no money to buy smokes for the rest of the month.  For me, it's a miserable tummy ache when I eat too much.  It's a good compassion even when it leaves us uncomfortable.  He provides for our real needs and sits down with us to rebuild when our courage and stamina have been knocked down again by the waves of life--like so much sand.  There's no condemnation for our failure, we just start again.  We'll eventually make something more permanent but for now, just the time spent together rebuilding is worth it.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Good Gifts

"So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him." Luke 11:13

We always wonder why great Christians we know suffer, when God has promised that He withholds no good thing from us.  The most Godly woman I have ever known is now trying to raise her kids without their dad who's found someone else.  Another friend is pursuing God daily but has no transportation, can barely walk and now needs to be monitored daily for the condition of her congestive heart failure. 

As Sara Groves tells us on her latest commentary record, the only thing we can conclude is that the things that we think of as good things are not the same "good things" that God is thinking of.  Her song summarizes it so well.  Pain, thirst and lack are no measure of His faithfulness.  The greatest gift He gives us is Himself through the Holy Spirit. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Listening at camp

Ok, this time I get to brag...

Last night I picked up my son, PJ, from his first church camp.  He's 12 and just beginning to get oriented within that group of kids.  He shared a cabin with about 8 guys his age, and only really knew about 3 of them when he left.  As he ran into the building to get something, one of the guys from his cabin said,

"Hey! That's PJ!  He is so cool!" 

That was pretty shocking to me since he's had such a hard time with friends at school, so I asked him why PJ was so cool.  The kid basically said, "He really listens to people and doesn't hurt anybody." 

Wow!  He must have gotten it from his dad--his mom would talk anyone's ear off.  This is a huge change for a kid that has been diagnosed in the past with ADHD--and deserved it. 

Besides the obvious gratitude, the Lord reminded me this morning of James 1:19:

"My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,"   

He's not necessarily slow to speak, but I am grateful to see him recognized for being quick to listen.  Gotta go now.  I'm going to cry...

Monday, June 11, 2012

Neon Stop Signs

 "Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything."
Ps. 46:10 (MSG)

I think it's funny that my dear Friend would orchestrate this amazing verse to refer to my career, not just my life.  (I happen to be a transportation engineer and planner.)  It's as if he wrote a huge, flashing neon sign saying, "This means you!!"

Being still is not something I innately treasure, though it has become a delight as I grow older and busier.  Without time to take that long loving look at my Lord Jesus, I end up working like the devil--hurried, frantic and ineffective--"All sound and fury signifying nothing."  I look like I'm doing a bunch but nothing gets accomplished. 

That's when I have to make a choice:  Do I want to look good or be good?  Do I want to please men or God?  Proverbs 29:25 tells us the fear of man (people pleasing) is a snare.  When the boss shows up, people cry "Look busy!!" but that is a kind of work that just wears you out.  God's work is the kind of work that happens in pregnancy.  You do what you can and He does the real work.  That's what Jesus talked about when He said, "My yoke is easy and my burden is light."  It's not about image, it's about growing and stretching so that something vibrant and alive can be birthed in and through you. 

Father, I love Your stillness.  It gives me solid ground for standing and clarity of mind.  Thanks!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Clutter and love...

"12 Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13 Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others."  Col. 3:12-13

Today is the day to brag on my husband.
I have struggled with the "maintenance" issues of life (like decluttering and cleaning) for as long as I know.  More often than not, I just don't see it.  When I see a messy counter, I see a beautiful thing or two in the middle of a dozen decisions I don't know how to make and it freaks me out.  Now that I don't have full time work, I really want to have a beautiful, peaceful home, but it still eludes me.  I'm beginning to think it just isn't in my core competencies.  Only God would make your primary job the one you just can't do--so you can depend on Him to grow you through it. 

This morning, John gently pushed me toward the laundry room and kept throwing me back in there.  Was I kicking and screaming? No, but he did hug me whenever I asked for it with a puzzled look on his face.  Surely, the decisions in there should be easy in comparison to the rest of our world!

In comparison, yes.  Easy?  No.  

But they must be addressed.  He doesn't love the clutter.  He tends toward the gently OCD so it is a regular offense for things to get like they do.  Today he exercised Herculean feats of love (as he does every day) by making allowance for my faults and forgiving me while he gently pushed me toward a better pattern.  My heart rate hasn't quite gone back to normal, but there are a few surfaces you can see now.

Thanks, sweetie.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Failure is my own loss...but I can start again!

Ok, so it only took 2 days before I missed posting. No surprise there. My engineer training says I should be consistent and orderly. My innate nature says, Meh... Just cause I failed doesn't mean I'm going to stop (though I will take a day off during the weekend). 

I missed out on posting here, but I also missed out on my own time before the Father.  We spend time together all day, but I love having that special time with Him.  It was a long day and by the end of it I didn't have energy to do anything but play spider solitaire.  The Bible Gateway verse for this morning was:

“The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights.” Habakkuk 3:19 NIV

How true.  That time I spend with Him first thing gives me the energy to finish strong.  Without time with Him first thing, the day feels like one sucker punch after another.  Missing out means I miss out on the strength I need for the day.  Still, Lamentations 3: 22-24 says:

22 The Lord’s lovingkindnesses [a]indeed never cease,
For His compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore I have hope in Him.”

I love that He allows new starts.  All or nothing thinking can keep you discouraged. It's a process.  I am so grateful for His new mercies because they mean that no matter how many times I fail, I can restart.
What are you consistently failing at that you can restart anew?  Is it a diet (me too!)  Is it an exercise plan  (me too!) 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The root of Godly power

"And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge —that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."  Ephesians 3:17-19

Paul links power with understanding God's love.  It is the power to root down like a tree; the power to stand tall and strong, confident before all others; the power to see beyond pain and painful places to understand the unfathomable love of God that allows us freedom to cause each other pain.  He knows that without that freedom, we could not freely love each other.  It is the power to continue to overflow His love on others even when they spit on us.  It's the power to change diapers on a cruel parent in their old age.  It's the power to speak kindly and truthfully to your boss and friends, regardless of the outcome.  It's the power to love your husband, even if he never comes back.

The Christian life can't be lived without that power.  We can look moral but we will just come off as fake and religious.  When it really gets into us--beyond just knowledge, but into the core of our being--we begin to act in His unmistakable love, and that will make all the difference. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Fully alive, made in God's image

"The glory of God is man fully alive, and the life of man is the vision of God."--Saint Irenaeus

Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” Gen. 1:26

"How deep the Father's Love for us/How vast beyond all measure/that He should give his only Son/to make a wretch His treasure."--Stewart Townend
"I just showed up/for my own life/and I'm standing here taking it in/and it sure looks bright."--Sara Groves

This practice of feeling before God is wonderful and painful, but it beats the alternative.  Life is painful.  It's easy to want to avoid that pain, but the alternative is death: a hollowed out existence like the sound of a calliope ever circling and going nowhere.  It is clear that God didn't see Adam as the final version of who He made man to become or He would not desire that we become conformed to the image of Christ.  Jesus was known as a "man of sorrows, aquainted with grief," yet it was He, "who for the JOY set before Him, endured the cross."  The two emotions are inextricably linked.  It took tremendous pain to get to that joy.  It always will for us as well.  We could not become like Him without that pain.

Feel it. There is joy beyond.


Monday, June 4, 2012

Morning Manna

I have neglected this blog for far too long.  As with morning manna, the Lord has promised if I stop and speak with Him every morning, He will provide what I need for the day.  He has reminded me that if I don't stop, I miss out.  This morning, I believe He is extending that to this place.  He has manna for you too (and please go to Him first to receive from His hand) but He gives overflow for me to give away if I will patiently go and pick it up each morning.  As with the Israelite's manna, it may not be there later and it will spoil if kept to the next day, so I'm going to try to bring it to you, even if it is small, each day. 
I have always loved thoughts.  Some kids go around the house humming or beating on things or zooming their little cars.  I played (and prayed) with ideas: 
  • Why are we here? 
  • Why are we so blessed? 
  • What is our purpose and meaning?
I have sung and played and taught but it has still been only a venue for the innumerable thoughts that hum continually through my head.  Some teach, some minister through music.  I guess thinking is just what I do.  He often directs my thoughts, like a playground coach--sending me here and there to find the most precious jewels. 

This week as a part of my time with Him, He has required me to sit and feel.  I'll admit it's a new practice for me.  Mostly it has been a time to feel what I haven't wanted to feel, so it hurts a bit, but I feel so much lighter for the rest of the day.  It is delightful sweetness to feel it in His presence.  He tells me that my pain is precious to Him and that He holds all of our tears in a bottle

Try it for yourself.  I'd love to hear what He does with you...