Tag Archives: God

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.

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To all the has-beens and wannabes

It’s not about “that moment”. It never has been and it never will be. 

I used to think that life was more clean-cut. That a few singular events would mark me. I imagined them playing out over and over again in my mind. Rehearsed the lines and planned the details of how this party was gonna go down. I used to dream of the moments that would define me. Marriage, motherhood, career goals, levels of fame and recognition.

Clouds would surely part and rainbows would light the way for me. People would stand to their feet and acknowledge the finish lines I crossed. I’d get a trophy of some kind because, hey, I just had a “moment”.

This is the nature of the myth we believe.

A myth that life has a defining moment in which we reach our peak, our purpose. The big thing we were born for. The world will cheer for us and time will stand still to acknowledge that we have arrived. Our achievement. Our coming into our own. This is the moment we can rally around and cling to in order to make sense of our existence.

Life is less science and more art. It is about the sequential experience of collective moments.

And yet most of us view our existence in this linear chart of “life-changing” events. We live from dot to dot on the graph because in our minds that is way our lives are graded.

Some of us look towards the blank, flat line in front of us. We squint our eyes hoping to see a big mark in the future that documents one of those big events of life. The time our dream came true. A big break in our career. Getting asked out by that guy you have been crushing on all semester long. We chase big social media platforms because one day something significant will happen to us and we want to be able to share it with as many people as possible. ‘Cause somehow we have begun to believe that validates our experience.

We are hungry wanna-bes. Looking at our future selves and dreaming of what we will become. We anxiously wrestle through discouraging gaps between where we are and where we want to go. There is a vision we have of what we will look like when we are significant. Until then, we are nobodies. Just a faceless person in a crowd waiting to be launched into our lives. Just shuffling wanna-bes competing for a moment in the spotlight. A moment to be seen for our real value. A day in the sun.

Wanna-bes live in the future, but not in a dreamy sort of way. More like we don’t have permission to be awesome yet because we still lack a few things on our resume. As if there is a list with boxes to check before we can officially “arrive”.

Some of us have had those big moments already.

Like the guy who was in a popular band when he was in his early 20s. Now what? Life is all downhill from here? You are the guy who used to do and used to be?  The only gig you can get is an off the beaten path casino somewhere.

The warm sunlight we were basking in has moved on to another person with a fresh accomplishment and a newer idea. Now it starts to get a bit chilly in the shade and we bundle ourselves in blankets in an attempt to recreate the warmth we felt in the spotlight.

Watching the people who have taken our place on the pedestals we once owned. Today seems like a dried up version of yesterday, so instead of watering it with new vision? We let the present go to waste, and devote ourselves to the static shrine of who we once were.

 If the wanna-bes feel like their lives are on hold until “someday”, then the has-beens relive their “back in the day” over and over. Broken record status.

What if that isn’t the way it works at all?  What if our defining moments lie in our ordinary days. The days we practice again because one day we hope to stand on the foundations we are building today. What if who we once were is actually the foundation for us to become who we are supposed to be today?

Thing is, I know a secret about you.

You carry wild dreams in your heart and neon hope in your soul. —> click to tweet

What you have done or what you will do is not what defines you. No single moment creates your legacy. It’s a lifetime. A series of ordinary days that build into an extraordinary story. A life with ups and downs threaded together by a greater purpose. You and those wild dreams you carry in your heart. The neon hope you bring into a dark world. The world needs you. Every day. It needs you to show up and give what you’ve got.

Cause life doesn’t start when we finally “arrive”. That finish line is really just another day in the journey. And life doesn’t end when we reach the peak of something. It shifts us into new territory if we let it.

We are the ones who show up. On the best of days, the worst of days, and the days that seem to blend into everything ordinary around us. We show up because we believe that every breath is a testament to our purpose. We are still here. And we still have life to live. Not yesterday, not tomorrow. Today.

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Nobody Puts Baby In A Corner

Sometimes late at night, this is what I know.

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This blog is not serving it’s purpose if I am ever anything but honest.  Many of your lives are different from mine – politically, romantically, geographically and in our religious views. I really enjoy that about this space and try to mindful of that every time I sit down to type.

This isn’t a “Christian” blog but there are moments when I have to be honest about my faith. Because it is my story. My rock.

I’ve shared pretty openly on here my struggle with fear. Perhaps it sounds silly and even embarassing to admit sometimes. Hey, guess what? I don’t have it all together. I am neither impressive nor perfect.

But, I’m not alone. Seems to me that fear is something all too familiar across humanity. The dread and inexplicable heaviness of a million possibilities. Our imaginations at their worst.

These past few days I have had to really fight this one out. I found out some information that sent me into an internal tailspin. A health risk I just became aware of. I googled all about it. (By the way, NEVER EVER Google anything unless you want to get totally freaked out. Maybe state capitols are okay, but nothing else.).

And Google gave me all kinds of information and stories. Mind you these are rare cases, but each one brought new weight. I added up statistics. There is a .5% chance that we would have this health issue.

Logic would point out that we have a 99.5% chance of NOT having it, but fear rubs the .5% in my face. All I could imagine was that .5%. What it would feel like or how it would happen?

My life is surrounded by a million things to be fearful of. Adoption issues, finances, health, is Russia going to annex Texas next? So many things…

Honestly, I don’t usually let these things bother me. However there are days when I have my guard down and begin to let my mind wonder in all the wrong ways.

Tonight it got to be more than I could take. I went into my bathroom and prayed. I told God that I was not leaving until I felt His presence. I was not getting out until I’d heard Jesus speak to me about this. No, I’m not talking about anything weird or crazy. It’s more an unexplainable peace and calm. Words that run through my mind, but they are not my own thoughts. A sense of Him with me.

I stood there. Nothing. I stood longer. Even longer. Still nothing but me and cold bathroom tiles.

Then, without any warning I began to cry. Not a single tear down the face. A deep, bellowing kind of cry that  told of the things I’d been carrying for so long. This wasn’t about the .5%, it was about something much deeper. I leaned on the wall and sobbed. I couldn’t hold it in if I tried. The poison had to come out. All of it. So I cried some more.

Then came the voice I so desperately needed to hear. More like a whisper rolling through my mind. ” It’s okay baby girl. Lean on me and let’s cry it out“. I lost it. Rolling through my mind was every scene I dreaded, every conversation that haunted me and possibility of “what if” that froze my joy. And out of my soul came the deepest sobs.

How long I stood there with my hot tears I don’t know. I didn’t care. Over and over in my mind I heard “It’s okay, baby. I’ve got this. Don’t worry baby girl…”.

Time seemed to stand still as my tears dried up. I felt my spirit stretching again – fear had shoved it in the corner for far too long. I recalled all the promises I believe that God has given me along my journey and chose to trust that the One who made the promise is the One who keeps the promise.

I don’t know all of your stories or what has bullied you into a corner. Maybe its fear like me. Maybe an abusive history, depression, loneliness, deep insecurity or a relationship on the brink. I don’t know what corner you are in or how long its been your home.

Thing is, everyone I know has a corner but no one belongs there.

Sometimes on nights like tonight we need to stop dragging around the shadow of our bully. We’ve got to look it in the eyes, see it for all it is and then slowly -through our tears- smile. Cause we remember that corners are too small for us. No matter how big or ugly this bully is, it’s no match for our Maker. He didn’t make us for corners.

Whether the pain is reality or something that taunts us from a million “what if’s”, we weren’t made to be controlled by it.

Go ahead. Let the tears come and get the poison out.

There is something in us that needs to shout that we are alive and we aren’t giving up. We won’t be put in our corners any longer. —> click to tweet

Interestingly enough, Passover begins tonight. It is the holiday which celebrates when God brought His people out of  3,000 years of captivity. Thankfully, He has never stopped setting His people free. 

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Things Worth Believing In

believe

It is truth to me as surely as the blood running through my veins and it isn’t up for debate.  It is life the way I see it and the things I choose to believe are true.

I believe that people were made to do good. I believe that Jesus is legit. I believe that our journeys intertwine in mysterious patterns that have a funny way of creating brilliant stories we will tell our grandchildren one day.

Our lives will tell our stories and reveal the ideology we clung to.

Life has hard days, really hard days, that call into question if this life is worth living at all. Our golden dreams shatter into tiny metal shards of glitter that stick to our skin leaving us looking more like Ke$ha than we would like. The good ones we hoped would stay forever decide to pack a bag and venture out to their next destination.

I believe that on the hardest of days life is still worth living. When dreams explode and cut us with the shrapnel, I know that our pain has a sort of sacred beauty. For every tearful exit, I believe there is a new kind of glory about to enter. I believe these things because I choose to. Because I want to.

“Sometimes the things that may or may not be true are the things a man needs to believe in the most. That people are basically good; that honor, courage, and virtue mean everything; that power and money, money and power mean nothing; that good always triumphs over evil; and I want you to remember this, that love…true love never dies. You remember that boy. You remember that. Doesn’t matter if it’s true or not. You see, a man should believe in those things, because those are the things worth believing in.”

– Secondhand Lions

What we believe maps out the storyline of our lives. It points us towards our legacy.

I don’t believe in fake or false positivity. Not some empty mantra chanted to mask real emotions. There are bad days – hold them and embrace their pain. But know that it isn’t the end of the story. I believe that hope lives. Always.

Industry standards and self-talk indicate that beauty comes at a price and the only option is to beat our bodies into a mold we can never fill. I believe that value is innate. Never offered on merit.

Violence rages in our living rooms, wars are launched in city squares and the stories of the 27 million slaves in the world buzz through my mind on replay. But, I believe we are capable of love. Made for it, in fact.

The world doesn’t need to hear more opinions, it needs people to really believe what they are saying. Believe it with the kind of conviction that makes you shout it in the rain and hold on to it through the fire. There are things worth believing in. The best is yet to come, love will always win, redemption cannot be stopped no matter how evil its enemy, laughter can’t cure all things but it sure makes them better – a few of my beliefs.

I won’t fight you about what I believe. Maybe you think I’m wrong and you are right. Maybe we don’t see eye-to-eye. That’s fine. Fistbumps and peace to you, friend. I’m not going to fight you.

Choose for yourself what is true and then believe – all the way – believe in it.

Have conviction. Believe in the bigger things, the things worth believing in.

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Why I Speak To Cats In Russian

illustration by Gemma Correll

illustration by Gemma Correll

I speak to cats in Russian.  I know, right?  Weird. Why would a girl from Texas do that?

During the ages of 11-13 I lived in Irkutsk, Russia with my family. So much of my life has been shaped by those years. When there is a bowl of soup in front of me, you can bet I will put sour cream in it. The smell of dill is synonymous with summer in my mind. I believe that eating ice cream in freezing temperatures will keep you warm and I draw a line through my ” 7 ” s and ” Z ” s.

Also, I still speak to cats in Russian. I’m not sure why, it is just one of those things that stuck with me. I wish it was a more useful skill that remained from my time there, like knowing how to tell which berries can be eaten in the woods. That would be helpful to remember. Instead it is the cat quirk that has stayed with me.

In high school I tried to be cool and keep the cat thing under wraps. I was a closet Russian-cat-speaker. I moonlighted as an average American teenager. Pretending to be angsty about life and acting like platform sandals really looked cool. ( they didn’t. The NEVER were cool. )

And I was accepted. I was accepted for the perception of myself I put out there. The bummer was that the acceptance felt really limited to me. My peers weren’t accepting the Russian speaking, politically driven, and senior citizen loving teenager that I really was.

In college it all came out. Time had taught me to embrace some of the cross-cultural traits I had picked up. I developed my friendships differently – high outer walls and low inner walls. I made factual statements in question form and tended to clap in unison with the person next to me.

I stopped hiding all the little things I was so insecure about before. Shout out to hipsters for making quirky cool I guess. I wasn’t afraid of who I was anymore. Encouragements were breathed in deep and owned because they were spoken to the real me.

When we are honest about who we really are, we can be loved for who we really are. And we all need to be loved. —> click to tweet

Sure, I am still quirky. I’d like to think it is charming in a Zoe Deschanel kind of way, but it probably isn’t. And it doesn’t matter really because it is who I am.

So many of us are surrounded by people who care about us, but we still don’t feel loved. Perhaps it is because we aren’t being honest and showing them our true selves. The cat thing is a funny example, but there are more serious things we keep hidden.

Our sins, our weaknesses, past failures or deeply rooted insecurities. Maybe you struggle with depression and are afraid people will misunderstand you. Perhaps you think your religious beliefs will be judged or maybe you are afraid your personality isn’t right.

I believe we were all made to be loved. By God and by others. So be yourself – insecurities and all – and be loved for it. And if you speak to cats in Russian too, let me know. We could start a club.

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The Dirty Gospel: Naked Runners and Other Scary Places

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The scary troll under Fremont Bridge in Seattle

Yes,  you read that correctly. Naked runners. The Dirty Gospel is about to get interesting.  If you are new here, take some time and catch up on other posts from this series. For the rest of you old timers, I’d like to tell you a story.

About this time three years ago it was a lovely Sunday in Seattle. The sun was shining and a crisp autumn breeze was blowing leaves around as I loaded my kids in the car after church. I was taking my brood to a Thai restaurant in Fremont to meet up with friends for some post-church Pad Thai. Yummy, no?

My kids ( ages 4 & 1 at the time) were playing in the backseat as traffic slowly crept along. I veered left to cross into Fremont over the bridge from Queen Anne. As luck would have it, I got there just as the drawbridge was opening up to let a boat cross through the canal. It was a stunning day so I knew there was most likely a line of boats coming through. We could be here a while.

Tait was in his car seat directly behind me and his little feet kept kicking the back of my seat. I turned around to tell him to cut it out and that is when I saw them. Right next to our car. Gulp.

A small group of men and women who were jogging in place on the sidewalk just to our left. They were naked. And they were wearing pumpkins on their heads. I told my kids that we were going to play a game and everyone needed to close their eyes. NOW.

Thankfully my kids obeyed and I scouted out the other surrounding areas. A few lanes over there was another group of nude runners also with pumpkin faces. Every fall in Seattle there is a run in the city where the participants wear nothing but pumpkins on their heads. And I was in the middle of it. Stuck in traffic on a drawbridge with about 10 of these nude squash lovers. Awesome.

I came up with some lame game that, by the grace of God, my kids played which involved looking at the floor the whole time.

Finally, the bridge came down and all the traffic started to move. We passed about 15 other naked runners before arriving at the restaurant. Miraculously my kids didn’t see any of the XXX track and field stars we passed.

And that is my story. It reminds me of the time I accidentally took my daughter to the funeral of a slain gang member. But that is another story for another day.

Why did I tell you about the naked pumpkin runners? Because the Dirty Gospel is like that sometimes. God called us to Seattle. A place where crazy things happen and no one seems to get arrested for it.

When God says “Pick up your cross and follow Me” there is a good chance He will lead us to locations that are unknown and scary. Places we never planned on going.

God takes us to places that seem to turn our plans inside out. And that is where He builds the “more than we can ask or imagine” dreams. —> click to tweet

The career change we never saw coming. The relationship that ended before happily ever after had a chance to happen. New cities that seem hostile to the life we want to live. Or maybe it is adults who run naked with pumpkin hats in front of your preschoolers.

Following God can seem to oppose what we would like if it were left up to us. Our outcomes and prefered endings are rarely where we end up. Along the way something miraculous happens. God moves and does the unimaginable. The option we didn’t know ever existed opens up. Suddenly these scary places aren’t so intimidating anymore. God is there with us and He turns the nightmare into a dream.

This is the Dirty Gospel. Following God into places that scare us and challenge our trust in God. This is the story of God who always steps in and does His part. Covering your kids eyes so they don’t see the craziness around them or rebuilding the dreams that broke down long ago. It doesn’t matter what it is or where He takes you. The Gospel is enough for whatever we face.

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