When God Asks For His Dreams Back

Dreams come and dreams go. But one thing remains certain.

Some nights I am simply a hot mess. The kind of emotion where you plead, “for the love of God don’t ask me how I am doing.”. Because you know if someone asks, you will have to tell. Not that you want to say, but your tears will betray you. They will come without permission and they will come hard. Steady and hot.

There is a dark side to dreaming and we don’t like to talk about it much. We like the planners and inspirational quotes. All the feel-good things and the stories of those who’ve gone before and tackled the giants. Bringing them down with bare hands and then taking on the perception that we ought to do the same.

Don’t get me wrong. I am all about the big dreams that put a fire in your heart and a spring in your step. But if that’s all I tell you on here then I am lying. Withholding the painful truth.

Sitting here in my chair I can’t help but recount the cycle I know too well. God made promises, but they didn’t come about in the way I expected. A million examples roll through my head. The moments of inception followed by the birth. And then the release. The hand off for someone else to grow the things I have planted.

Handing my work over was never what I planned. My mind envisioned these days of expansion. When I had nurtured this thing inside of me beyond it’s infant vulnerability. When it recognized me and produced the kinds of things I intended for it. Seeing the fullness of what God had purposed it for. So many times I had made plans around the dreams I carried.

I suppose mostly though, I envisioned being there. Still at home in the midst of the dream. Having carved out a space for me where I was safely tucked within the walls of the promise. Somehow it belonged to me and I belonged to it.

But, I am here now. Outside looking in. Watching as new hands shape the things I once held. Because God called me away and invited them in. He asked me to give the dream back. Handing it over for another person to carry. Of course the dream will still be a part of me. I’ll carry it in prayer, but reality is that I am part of that dream’s  past. The founder but not the current CEO of my ideas.

Truth be told, it makes me a bit sad. Sad to not be a part. It is sad to sit outside the house that you have built and watch another family move in. Sad that in so many ways the story didn’t pan out the way I wanted it to. Because the story had chapters that extended beyond my portion. The dream was no longer mine. It had it’s own legs and went on without me. It became an independent being.

And that is the journey of dreamers. We carry things, believe for things, contend for things that are brought forth from within ourselves. Ideas we have created, beliefs we have fastened. But so many times, the intention was never for us to carry it forever. It either outgrows us or we are simply called away to craft a new dream. To create once again in the deep places of possibility. It is the blessing and curse of being a visionary. 

It seems cruel at times, as if it is the dark side of dreaming.

The truth is that it isn’t cruel. It is hard, painful and humbling at times. Dreams come and dreams go. But this one thing remains.

This Kingdom of God is a generous kingdom. One that gives and recieves freely. As freely as God moved and dropped all the seeds of ideas and promises in our hearts, He asks us to hand it back over. Not always, but sometimes.

Because somehow in His all-knowing way, He knows we need some other adventures ahead and to birth new things. He isn’t taking it away – stripping us of all our work.  He is giving us the opportunity to carry more. Fresh new ideas. He is adding to our hearts.

Because He is generous.

Gallons of tears and aching months later, I see that now. I see how it has all played out.

I still get sad and that’s okay with God. He can handle grief.

Today I will let myself get a little bit sad for what is no longer mine.

But mostly I will celebrate that God has allowed me to be a part something so beautiful. His generosity to me in allowing me to have a spiritual inheritance. Those things I get to keep.

Because God is generous.

If  He asks us for the dream back it is because He knows what is best. Because He is waiting to give us something else.

Today, some of you need to hear that. You who are feeling the loss of the dream or promise. The thoughts racing through your mind wondering what you did wrong. Why someone else was chosen to run the next lap on the track you built with your own hands. And then the dread sets in as we wonder the most deadly thought for dreamers. We see ourselves as the victim. The one who was robbed of the blessing and acknowledgment. Fear that who we are and what we have done will be forgotten during the turnover.

The truth is that God is offering to give us more not make us less.

We don’t need to worry about just being the pioneer or the forerunner. Fearful that whatever we birth will be taken away from us. If things are with us for a month or a lifetime, it is because God is generous. On those days where we dread God asking for us to give back to Him what we have built, we remember this. It was His generous invitation to allow us to be a part in the first place. And God’s invitations never run out. There is always more that waits ahead for us. God never forgets. Ever.

Subscribe to Lark & Bloom in the sidebar.

Leave a comment or share via social media by clicking here

4 Comments

Filed under Faith, Fire, something bigger, Whimsy

We are dreamers and doers. Now, we need to do something. Right now.

Give what you can to a good cause & win a chance for a free consulting session with me.

photo by Samuel Aranda for The New York Times

photo by Samuel Aranda for The New York Times

 

Everyone has heard of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. If not, I suggest you read this and catch up. I’m gonna be quick and to the point on this. Me and you? We are game changers. World shapers. Because in their core, dreamers believe that things could be different. And right now, our world needs some change.

Ebola is spreading at a rapid rate and absolutely terrorizing people who deserve better. Maybe we don’t know their names and their stories, but they matter. Just as much as our own.

The Raining Season is a group who has been serving the orphans of Sierra Leone for years. And now that Ebola has hit they are continuing to serve the community there and are on the ground providing real-time help.

How can dreamers change the world? We can give ourselves to something bigger. Would you consider donating to The Raining Season as they are working directly with this issue? Even $5 can make a difference.

Every person who donates to Help Stop Ebola, can enter for a chance to win a Storm Session with me valued at $100. Just leave me a comment or tell me on social media that you donated and I will enter you into the drawing that will happen Monday, October 6th.

Lets be about change and living for something bigger. Spread the word and lets help those who need it.

Thanks guys.

I’m glad we are changing the world together.

ebola

Leave a comment and spread the word, by clicking here!

4 Comments

Filed under current events

Living in the tension between dangled carrots and spray painted grass

 

Four o’clock rolled around and all was well. By five o’clock it had all fallen apart. 

I was happy at four-thirty today. Giddy even.

For the past several years I have been working really hard towards a specific thing. You could even call it a promise. Hours have been spent researching the best way to go about pursuing this promise. Pens have run out of ink as I have taken detailed notes and filled out all the required paperwork. Scribbles on paper with charts and lists have covered my dining room table late into the night as I look over my plan.

You have no idea- seriously no idea – how many questions I have been asked and answers I’ve found as I have plotted the path for this big dream of mine to come to pass. It was starting to grow legs and arms and come to life before my eyes.

After holding it with cautious hope, I have recently begun to embrace it. Own it and let the excitement of its existence seep into all the little bits of me. At four o’clock this afternoon, I was talking to someone involved and the details were starting to come together. Ideas were bounced around and getting polished. Life was good at four o’clock today.

Then the phone rang. It was 5 o’clock.

I answered it. On the other end was the woman who held the keys to this little dream of mine being born. Not just in my mind, but in actual life. The kind of life you can photograph and share beyond the limitations of imagination.

It wasn’t good. She informed me of some news that changed the plan. In fact, it kind of erased the plan, burned the paper it was written on and then scattered the ashes somewhere in the Bermuda Triangle. At least that is how it felt by 5:05pm.

The dream doesn’t have to die, but it does have to wait. And it goes to being a bit of a lottery when it comes to how it will work. There are no guarantees really.

The worst part? I started to scold myself for actually letting myself get excited. Chasing this promise has been years of ups and downs. Dangled carrots dropped in front of me and actually believing that I was finally going to get to eat them. I’d lunge to catch the dream between my teeth, but it always pulls right back up out of reach. Sitting there taunting me, but too far to have for myself.

You know what I am talking about. Falling in love only for the other person to back out. Working long hours just to watch another person end up with the credit. Finally saving enough money for a backpacking trip with friends but having to drain your account to pay a car repair. And now you are using your newly fixed car to drive your friends to the airport. Carrots dangled.

Sitting here tonight, I still choke back the tears of disappointment and frustration. This isn’t my first rodeo with “almost but not quite” when it comes to promises. And I’ve come to know what will pop up next.

Spray painted grass, that’s what.

I see the other side where the grass is greener. The side where everything went as planned. A field of grass that grows bright green and beautiful. That piece of earth where the money never ran out and the world is fair. Where people get what they have worked hard for and the rain falls with perfect timing.

I know you know exactly what I am talking about because you have had to live in the tension between dangled carrots and spray painted grass yourself.

The truth about that grass? It isn’t really green. It has been painted with idealism, envy and a good old-fashioned dose of imagination. It is the futuristic version of what would have happened if everything would have gone our way. The perfect interpretation of our plan before real life happens.

And just like that, we are discontent with where we are. The trinkets we carry as our own are no longer valuable. Our relationships don’t sparkle with endless perfection. Our romances are tarnished with human flaws. Promotions at work that went to another suddenly make our job seem insignificant.

And that’s the biggest problem with chasing dreams, promises and grander plans. Sometimes they don’t work out the way we want and we see our own grass as the enemy.

The other grass surely would have been softer, never needed mowing and would naturally repel all insects so you could picnic in peace. The people who live there are faultless and easy to love. At least it looks that way from here.

But this place? This place is work and pain. Trying and risking over and over. It’s loving the person in front of you when you have a very specific person in mind you’d rather be loving. This grass embeds thorns in your feet if you try to run through it carefree.

Right now at 9pm? I don’t really love my grass. It is poking me in all the wrong places and isn’t growing the way I want it too. But, I am trying to remind myself that the other grass isn’t real. It is spray painted with deceiving filters and all the unwanted parts have been cropped out of the picture.

It’s like Instagram grass. Perfected by perception.

This little patch of field I will go to bed on tonight? It is my home for now and I will be thankful for it. The people parked on this side of the fence with me are my neighbors and they are just as worth loving as the people on the spray painted grass. I’ll wake up in the morning and will choose to enjoy and cultivate the land I have been given.

Continuing to work towards the promise, but choosing to live my life with gusto right here until then. I’ve learned that here in this tension. We’ve got to live settled. Not the kind of settled where you compromise for something lesser. The kind of settled where you find contentment where you are while still working toward something else. That is a thing fought for and hashed out over late night conversations with friends.

There will always be a tension between the carrots we chase and the fields we sleep in. Even when it stings us to the core, we have to let go of our plans and believe the promise.

On the days when a late afternoon phone call crushes you, God has given you a place to sit and rest while you catch your breath. It might not be the perfectly manicured grass you were hoping for, but it is your place for now. And there is a grace to make it home.

Subscribe to Lark & Bloom via email in the sidebar.

Leave a comment or share via social media by clicking here.

16 Comments

Filed under Faith, Fire, something bigger, Uncategorized, Whimsy

When It’s Not Safe To Be You

 We have learned to be the greatest pretenders from the moment we wake till the moment we lay our head down.

photo cred: Art of Street

photo cred: Art of Street

On some days I let myself go there.

I unwind all the pretense and crack open the door to fresh air. Crisp thinking that hasn’t been judged by years of experience and well-meaning advice. All the voices along the way who have confirmed to me what I always suspected. What I always dreaded.

It is not safe to be me.

A scene went down when I was fourteen and it replayed through my mind for years. I was on the lawn of my church with another friend who happened to like the same boy I did. Let’s call the boy we liked “Josh” and my friend who liked him too “Amy”. We were outside obeying Josh’s friends who told us to go wait for them because they had something to tell us.

I remember standing there on the grass trying to stomach what I knew was probably coming. In true teenage fashion, some of our friends had taken it upon themselves to mention to Josh’s friends that Amy and I thought Josh was cute.

Now, let me say this. I wasn’t even allowed to date. I just thought the boy was cute. Which was big for me to admit because I was never the girl picked. I stood on the sidelines of my eighth grade dance never – not even once – being asked to dance the whole night. I’d like to submit a motion that we do away with junior high dances altogether.

When our friends mentioned that we both thought Josh was cute and told his friends not to say anything, they didn’t exactly follow instructions. Off they went to spread the word of our attraction to none other than Josh himself. Which can I just say, in hindsight is hilarious because Josh wasn’t really attractive or cool. I prefer to chalk that crush up to groupthink gone wrong.

Next thing we know, Amy and I were outside waiting to meet with Josh’s friends. Awesome.

A crew of boys came bounding down the stairs with smiles on their faces. “We talked to Josh.”, said the ring leader of this motley crew. ” Told him that both of you think he is cute. And guess what? He thinks one of you is cute too. But just one.”

I’m sure you can guess where this is going.

“So, Josh wants to talk to the girl he thinks is pretty.”. Josh’s friend continued, ” …and it’s not YOU!”.

As the words fell out of his mouth, he turned to me and his finger pointed right at my face. It wasn’t me.

Just like that my friend Amy squealed and ran inside to meet Josh. I stayed there on the lawn alone watching the swarm of them rush back up the stairs. I didn’t cry. I just swallowed it. And then – as easy as that – those words became something I carried around in me for a long time after.

It’s not me.

The sentence rattled through my mind over the next decade. Who I am is not enough compared to who they are. It isn’t safe to put myself out there because it will neither be wanted nor valued.

Fast-forward to college. I had a friend who I had been close to for years. Hours of conversations about dreams and hopes had been invested into our friendship.

One evening she sat me down and told me something that shocked me like nothing else had.

She thought I had a mental illness. I had let someone into the inner workings of my mind and instead of seeking to understand, they judged. And I felt betrayed in a way that shattered so many things I once had thought to be stable. I was embarrassed and exposed.

I bawled for days.

It’s not me. I’m not the one with the beautiful ideas or creative mind. I am the girl who sounds crazy – who no one will ever believe in. It isn’t safe to be me.

There are few things which can create such a desperate feeling inside as when being yourself doesn’t feel safe. If your ideas scare people, your motives are misunderstood and your actions continually rejected then you slowly begin to morph into something that feels less painful.

Something other than yourself. It holds the illusion of safety. Like an internal Switzerland.

And so all the walls go up to shut out the haters. We put on masks so the one pointing the finger saying “It’s Not You” can’t find us. We put our best foot forward trying not to mis-step and bring attention the person that actually lives inside of us.

It is in that place of hiding the miraculous happens. God seeks us out. He finds us. He heals us. Our terror is exchanged for a holy confidence. The whispering lie of  “It’s Not You” is replaced with a steel reinforced truth. That you are fearfully and wonderfully made. That you have in fact, been chosen.

To all of you, who like me, have learned to wear the disguise and cover up the authentic. Who are afraid that the things inside you are not enough or the way you think is overwhelming.

Those of you who don’t feel like you have an invitation with your name on it… Welcome to the world of doers and dreamers.

It may not be safe out here this side of heaven, but we can’t let the words of people shut us down. The world needs people who are willing to take risks and love even when it hurts. Don’t back down. Light up. Dream harder. Go bigger. You’ve been created by a Maker who has your back. With Him you are always safe.

Subscribe to Lark & Bloom via email in the sidebar.

Leave a comment or share via social media by clicking here.

 

26 Comments

Filed under Faith, Fire, My Life Thus Far, something bigger, Uncategorized, Whimsy

He died. And we all came to his party.

I never really knew a tragedy and a party could go together until now.

2 turn tables

I remember being a little girl and laying in bed at my friend Kaleigh’s house. Spending the night at a friends still had all the magic. Being dropped off. Eating food that isn’t a part of your normal menu. Playing with other people’s siblings. Getting ready for bed away from home always made me feel so grown up.

The nights I spent in that house are countless. It is funny what you remember about those times. Kaleigh’s mom always told me not to pop my knuckles or I would regret it when I was older. She was right. Once her dad let us stay up till about ten to finish Pippi Longstocking. And for a second grader that was basically winning the lottery.  As we got older, he watched us practicing the Macarena and told us we looked great. We didn’t.

This past week Kaleigh’s dad, Chris, passed away.

Last night was the visitation and I had to park at another building because the funeral home parking lot was maxed out. I waited quite some time to even get in the door. Finally it was my time to hug the family and say what little I could to communicate how sad I was and how sorry. Those are the times where words can’t really communicate what you have to say. And so you stand shoulder to shoulder in the crowd with your presence doing the talking.

Scanning the room it was filled – literally filled – with people that took me right back to my childhood. The families who all went to the church I grew up in. Teens I was in youth group with who had turned into full fledged adults with wedding rings and mortgages. So many people.

I was talking to a woman named Marsha who was a constant figure in my younger days. Homegroups, mission trips, her kids in the youth group with me. A lot of life connected us even though it had been years since I’ve seen her.

We talked about how Chris passed way too soon. We marveled at the crowd who showed up. And then she said it.

“He threw a party. And we all came.”

All the magic I had been feeling about the night, Marsha summed up in two sentences. Chris threw a party and we all came. Out of the woodworks crawled people from decades ago. Faces I haven’t seen since church picnics when I was a kid. People traveled from far and wide. Because this was Chris’s party and we wouldn’t miss celebrating him for the world.

Walking to my car, those words just ricocheted against all my thoughts.

I want to live a life that breeds these kinds of parties.  Throw the glitter and spread the dip. It is time for me to throw some serious soirees. Not just to celebrate life when it is over but in the thick of it. Where people line up just to get their feet in the door. ‘Cause they know that what is inside will be spectacular. It will be full of love, full of inspiration and full of life.

What I am about to say is the stuff of overdone graduation speeches. I know that. But I also know that it is true and that no matter how many times we have heard it before – we need to hear it again.

This is the time.

The time to feel all the feelings and love till our hearts bleed out onto the people around us. Soaking up every conversation knowing that it probably won’t be our last, but that doesn’t make it any less special. I want to hug my kids more because I can. And life is good. It may be hard and broken down at times. But it is good.

Those ideas that  are so risky they send comfort zones screaming? I want to do those. And I want to nail them. I know I probably won’t. In fact,  I will fail at many of them. But I will have done them and there will be scars that tell of my adventures into the daring world of possibilities. And I will throw my scars a party because being brave is worth celebrating.

However, some of the things I just might get right. And when I do? I’ll throw a party. Because I can. Because this is life – my one life – and I don’t want to put it off.

But mostly? Mostly I want to dare to open my heart up to people in the boldest of ways.

To love without any catches or qualifiers. The kind of love that is generous even when I feel like my own heart is surviving on bread crumbs. Believing that God will sustain me. The fierce kind of love that makes others uncomfortable with it’s intentional pursuit. I wanna be that girl.

And you?

You should fall in love more. Send out the resume for the dream job. Build a treehouse if for no other reason than it was a weekend of nice weather. Read books in homemade forts with friends because honestly, who wouldn’t love that? Pulling out the destiny in others even when your own seems overlooked. And love Jesus with everything you’ve got.

Because this is life. Welcome to the party.

 Join The Conversation

Subscribe to Lark & Bloom via email in the sidebar.

Leave a comment or share via social media by clicking here.

 

12 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

The wild one

I remember well. Exactly where I was when I first had the words roll through my mind. 

4a32223343b14b527031818e986ee66d

 

I was sitting in a coffee shop just as I had through so many nights of college. It was late. I don’t remember how late, but I probably should have been in the library studying. Instead there I was on the stool situated along the front bar. The large window in front of me opened to the street and looked out over campus.

My worn journal was open to a blank page and I grabbed my pen and started writing. I am sure if I shared with you the exact words I wrote they wouldn’t make much sense to you. Syllables and doodles covering pages and exposing all the bits and pieces of me.

The parts of me that seemed disconnected and disjointed from each other, but all deeply rooted in my heart. That page had me on it. All over it. Even the parts of me that made no sense.

There was no clear picture or plan that emerged. All signs didn’t point to a specific direction my life should go. Destiny didn’t spill out like some sort of code amid the ink blots. It was just my words. The thread of my deepest dream.

I knew at that moment. I wanted to be one of the wild ones.

All the things I wasn’t – I already knew. No one needed to tell me that I wouldn’t be the first girl picked. I never was. Life didn’t have to remind me of all the places I fall short. The times I say the awkward thing or get my feelings hurt when I open my heart just a little too big. My soul bears the scars of close calls and doors shut in my face.

None the less, I couldn’t argue with what I already knew. I was one of the wild ones.

Full of fear and insecurity, but wild to the core. I wanted to chase impossible things and wrap my life with colorful thinking. Thinking that didn’t try to color-cordinate with every person and every situation. I didn’t want to be khaki. I didn’t want to blend in and match everyone.

I wanted a bold life. Those words and images I wrote on the page that night testified to that. I didn’t want neutral. I wanted to be red. And paint in red wherever I went. Marking lives and streets with red letters that declared “Liz was here”. I wanted to leave myself behind.

I was twenty. I naive. But I was right. At least partly right.

Fast-forward a decade. I’ve learned a few things about being wild.

I’ve learned that meals have to be cooked. Houses have to be cleaned. Every day. Jobs have requirements and you have to – you know – actually go to work when you feel like hoping in your car to chase adventure. And relationships? Those take time too.

But mostly, I’ve learned that wild doesn’t mean what I thought it meant when I was twenty.

It isn’t about spontaneous and risky adventures that create envious stories.

Wild is not what we do, but how we think. Daring to believe in what could be. Willing to be the person who changes things. Big or small. Not allowing the realities of life to dull down our spirits. To make us think that this – right here and right now – is all there is.

I was wrong to think that I was the wild one. It isn’t me. It’s you too.

After countless conversations on long phone calls and on sofas in coffee shops, I have realized that I am not the only wild one. You are too. We are all the wild ones. At least that is what we were made to be. The capes may have turned into cardigans and swords into laptops, but we are glowing in our core. Glowing, burning, for something better. Something bigger.

From our cubicles and living rooms we dream into a world that is better. A world that has our mark on it.  Believing that life doesn’t have to play out this way – believing that we could do it better. We could do this better. That despite all our failures and scars from being the last kids picked in dodgeball, there is something in this heart to offer.

Wild generosity is meant to do battle with greed. Wild forgiveness can cut off the cycles of hatred and vengence. Wild hope has the power to reach into the darkest places and sit – be with people where they are. Remind people that we pick them. We see them.

And love? Wild love makes people recognize that they were made for the same thing. To be wild. To dream. To live this one wild crazy life will all we’ve got.

Maybe it’s just me, but I think we are ‘somewhere over the rainbow’ kind of people I think we are wild.

 Join the conversation

Subscribe to Lark & Bloom in the sidebar

Leave a comment or share this post via social media by clicking here.

 

9 Comments

Filed under current events, Faith, Fire, something bigger, Whimsy

There were no ordinary days

I see Ferguson. I see Ebola spreading. I see ISIS terrorizing. I see poverty destroying entire countries. And yet, I dream. I dream of what the Church can be in moments like these…

unnamed

The history of the earth is comprised by stories of men and women like you and me. Experiences compressed through time to make a greater story. This is our moment to tell our story.

Because like it or not, history will read the pages we are currently writing.

I don’t care if they know who I was or who you were. Most likely future generations won’t talk about which church had the most campuses or who toured the conference circuit. They will want to know our true story.

I pray. I dream. I hope that this – this is what our story is:

************

They did something. The world around was falling apart, but the people of God did something. Their plans weren’t perfect, but regardless of failure they got up and kept going. The Church didn’t make excuses, they made progress. Their short-comings didn’t haunt them.

They didn’t gossip the Gospel, they lived it. They advanced it. Each one looking at the brokeness in front of them and responding. Big or small. There were no ordinary days. The Church in that generation found their voice. A mighty voice that roared on behalf of the silent.

They were driven by a love for the Greater. They solved social problems previously thought un-solvable. When they grew weary they rested in the presence of God and drew from wells that never ran dry. The people of God never gave up. They sat around their kitchen tables dreaming into the Kingdom. While riding in their cars they called upon heaven to intervene on behalf of the disenfranchised. Miraculous things happened. There were no ordinary days.

Each one took the tools they had and worked. Labored – remembering the stories of generations before them. Holding to the testimony that has preceded them. The vision was greater than a fleeting pleasure and righteousness grew in their midst.

They risked everything knowing that Eternity calls their name.

There were no ordinary days.

History may have forgotten their names and faces, but a greater Kingdom knows them well. The fruit of that generation is still being harvested today. A group of courageous people who stood up when they didn’t have to. They did something.

************

In the Kingdom there are no ordinary days. Let’s give the historians something to write about. Let’s do something.

 Join the Conversation

Subscribe to Lark & Bloom in the sidebar.

Leave a comment or share this post via social media by clicking here.

7 Comments

Filed under current events, Faith, Fire, Uncategorized