Saturday, April 22, 2017

Satisfying the Ache

My fingers are itching to type.
They miss writing.
They crave making sentences.
My fingers ache for the keyboard.
The yearn for the feeling of keys underneath them.
My ears long for the clicking sound of nails typing.
I can't seem to shake this feeling.
I can't seem to satisfy the ache.
I can't seem to fill the ache to create.
There is something about computer keys.
There is something about the feeling of my fingers flying across the keys and seeing thoughts formed into coherency on the screen.
I have this need to create, a need that can't stay dormant for long.
My heart yearns for fulfillment of this need.
I can't shake it.
I can't push it away.
I must create.
I must write.
I must type.
My fingers find the right letters automatically.
The fly across the board as if they have wings or a mind of their own.
Oh that feeling when they type.
Oh the bliss of creating something wonderful.
Oh the feeling of accomplishment when the paragraphs are written.
How my fingers ache to create, to type.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Warrior Princess

At our women's retreat this weekend, our theme was all the King's Daughters. We were reminded about how we are chosen and redeemed, what our identity is in Christ, and the 5 crowns promised to us. I was asked to pose another truth that I would like to share with you in this format as well.

We are not just Princesses who sit in a castle and wave to the adoring people below wearing our frilly pink dresses. No. For one, being royalty means a Princess is always on. People look to her constantly as an example. Enemies are watching for the smallest sign of weakness. We are Princesses under constant scrutiny, yes. But that is not all we are. We are warriors. 

Typically when we think warrior we a man in armor ready for war on a battlefield. However, women are called to be warriors as well. In fact, there is a need for us to become warriors. Because of our status as daughters of God, we are a target. Satan wants to destroy us because we are God’s poema, his masterpiece and we are so loved by Him. We are part of an epic battle. But Satan doesn’t want us to recognize that there even is a battle. The enemy knows your name and knows your potential. He has an irreconcilable hostility for you. No one launches a large scale, systematic attack against something that is not considered a threat.

Every one of us has been attacked in one way or another. The approach taken looks different for every person. But his end goal is the same for each of us; that we are distracted from who we really are and what the purpose of our life truly is. It is his objective to lure us off the path of strength, life, and authority and onto a course of intentional destruction. More often than not, you will encounter the greatest resistance when you intentionally decide to follow God. If you think about it, Matthew chapter 3 verse 13 thru chapter 4 verse 1 reveals that right after Jesus was baptized he was lead into the wilderness by the Spirit to be tempted by the devil.

The July before I entered 3rd grade, I was baptized. That August I entered the world of public school. I had no idea what the next three years had in store for me. Over the course of those years, I was bullied by a girl I thought was my friend as she was nice to my face (when she wasn’t trying to one up everything I was experiencing) but would spread rumors about me behind my back. There was also a boy and his friend who started to pick on me after I had to tell him my mom wouldn’t let me have a boyfriend in the 3rd grade. In the 5th grade, I lost my grandfather on my Dad’s side and felt a misconceived sense of guilt because the last time I saw him I ended up being sick and threw up all over their living room floor. I didn’t know what was happening at time, but I was under serious spiritual attack by Satan. I had lit the flame of Christ in me and Satan was doing everything in his power to snuff it out.

That’s the thing. He doesn’t care how old you are, what stage of life you are in, what your financial status is, or whether you are married or not. He will come after you with everything he has in order to destroy you and make you forget WHOSE you are. Especially when you are on the right path. See, we are not warriors in the physical sense. We are warriors in a spiritual battle. 2 Corinthians 10:3-4 says:
For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 
As Warrior Princesses the way we fight will differ from the way a man does in some ways. Male and female each have a role to play. Each of us show a different side of God. Dr. Emerson Eggerichs, author of Love and Respect, said, “Jesus the Lover is pink; Jesus the Lord is blue. Pink and blue together make purple, the color of royalty.” Male and female are different by God’s design. We have each been given different assets and talents to bring glory to God. When used in tandem, we really show the world who God is. Thus the way we wage war may often look a little different from the way our men wage war.

In Judges 4 we read about a woman warrior, Deborah. We read that once again the Israelites have turned against God and so he handed them over to the King of Canaan by way of his commander Sisera. It’s after 20 years that when Israelites cry out to God for deliverance from their oppression that we meet Deborah. We pick up the story at verse 4.
Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel at that time. She used to sit under the palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the people of Israel came up to her for judgment. She sent and summoned Barak the son of Abinoam from Kedesh-naphtali and said to him, “Has not the Lord, the God of Israel, commanded you, ‘Go, gather your men at Mount Tabor, taking 10,000 from the people of Naphtali and the people of Zebulun. And I will draw out Sisera, the general of Jabin's army, to meet you by the river Kishon with his chariots and his troops, and I will give him into your hand’?” Barak said to her, “If you will go with me, I will go, but if you will not go with me, I will not go.” And she said, “I will surely go with you. Nevertheless, the road on which you are going will not lead to your glory, for the Lord will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman.” Then Deborah arose and went with Barak to Kedesh. And Barak called out Zebulun and Naphtali to Kedesh. And 10,000 men went up at his heels, and Deborah went up with him.
As we read on we see that the Lord did as Deborah had said he would and brought Sisera out. Once they were there, Deborah once again encourages Barak in verse 14. “And Deborah said to Barak, ‘Up! For this is the day in which the Lord has given Sisera into your hand. Does not the Lord go out before you?’” Barak and his men go down and defeat the army, but Sisera flees and is felled by a tent spike brandished by a woman named Jael.

Deborah wasn’t a warrior in the way Barak was a warrior. She was a wife and a prophetess who went to the battlefield because Barak requested it of her. Deborah is respectful of him and his wishes even as she tells him that the honor of striking Sisera down will not be his, but a woman’s, because he refused to go without her. And if you notice, Deborah didn’t take control of the situation into her own hands. She affirms Barak’s leadership by giving him every opportunity to rise up and encourages Barak to lead his army into battle.

See, we are called to fight in this battle in the way only we can. As women, we can encourage our men to step up and lead as they were called to do. We are the help-meet for men, their suitable helper. The way we encourage them is something only we can do.

Take Esther as another example. She didn’t go to the battlefield like Deborah, though as a Royal Lady of that time she may have known archery and horsemanship and may have gone on hunts with the King, but she was the only one who could save the rest of the Jews. Flip over to Esther chapter 4.

In the previous chapters we see that Esther was taken into the palace after the King banishes Queen Vashti and follows the advice from his wise men to make a decree to find a new queen. While she is being prepared to go to the king, we see that she wins the favor of everyone she comes in contact with. When her time came to see the king, he was more attracted to her than any of the other women and she won his favor and approval more than any of the other women and thus he made her queen.

After this we find that a man named Haman is honored and given a very high position in which all the other nobles knelt down and paid honor to him. However, Mordecai, Esther’s cousin, refused to do so because he was a Jew. Thus Haman developed a plot to kill Mordecai by killing all of the Jews disguising his motives by presenting it in a way to King Xerxes that he would think the Jews were a threat to his authority. When Mordecai hears of this plot he tears his clothes and put on the sackcloth and ashes and mourned in front of the king’s gate. Esther hears about this and commands one of the king’s eunuchs to find out why. When she finds out and it is relayed to her Modecai’s command to go to the King, she sends the eunuch back with this message we see in verse 11.
“All the king's servants and the people of the king's provinces know that if any man or woman goes to the king inside the inner court without being called, there is but one law—to be put to death, except the one to whom the king holds out the golden scepter so that he may live. But as for me, I have not been called to come in to the king these thirty days.”
There is some evidence that suggest no one could see the King unless called for by the King or granted permission by the chiliarch who would demand to know their business. This bring up the question of why Esther didn’t just ask for permission. Scholars think that the high position given to Haman was the position of chiliarch. If this was indeed the case, trying to get permission would mean going to Haman and having to reveal her purpose to him. Doing this would put her in a difficult position to say the least. Continuing on in verse 13:
Then Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, “Do not think to yourself that in the king's palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. 14 For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father's house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” 15 Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai, 16 “Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf, and do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my young women will also fast as you do. Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish.”
Despite being scared for her life, she decides to go before the king after a time of fasting in hopes of obtaining God’s favor. She says, “If I perish, I perish.” It reminds me of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego when, in the face on the fiery furnace, they told King Nebuchadnezzar that they believed God would deliver them but if not they would still never bow to any other god. This models such courage and such faith. Esther was in the opportune position to go to the King to get the edict repealed. She knew attempting this might mean forfeit of her life, but she went anyway.

As we know, King Xerxes held his scepter out to her and she followed a typical Near Eastern protocol for presenting a request. She begins by asking a small favor, the king and Haman’s attendance at a banquet she had prepared, and then works her way up to the real issue of Haman’s plot. Esther fought the battle in a way only she could.

Likewise we must fight in the ways only we can. We must armor up and fight the spiritual battle around us. Either we fight, or we forfeit. There is no lukewarm in this battle. C.S. Lewis wrote, “There is no neutral ground in the universe; every square inch, every split second, is claimed by God, and counter-claimed by Satan.”

We have to armor up. In order to do so, we must know what our armor is. Flip over to Ephesians 6.
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,
Our weapon is the sword of the Spirit, the word of God. We use it to counter Satan’s attacks to divide us from God and each other. I would like to pose several ways in which we can wield it.

The first is Prayer.
Ephesians 6:18 – After listing the armor of God Paul continues, “praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,”

James 5:13-16 – “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”
We need to become prayer warriors, praying for all who are in need and even those who are not. We must pray as we rejoice and pray as we struggle. Just as Esther fasted and petitioned God for his favor before going before King Xerxes. We have a great God that hears our prayers and listens to our pleas alongside our praise. We may not get the answer we want, but our Father hears us and knows what is best for us. His will is far better than our own and we must trust His judgement to the fullest.

The second is Words.
Proverbs 12:18 - There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

Proverbs 18:21 - Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.
Our words can be used as a weapon against people or against Satan. They can be used for good and bring life and peace, or even and bring death and chaos. Just as Deborah chose her words carefully so that she did not disrespect Barak but only gave glory to God. Our words are a big deal. The power of our words is stronger than we sometimes realize!
Matthew 12:36-37 – “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
A single word can lift someone up or tear them down. And what we say will comes from our hearts.
Matthew 12:34 – Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.
So the question we have to ask ourselves is, what is abundant in my heart? Is it of God or is it of the world? Our hearts should be filled with God’s word and He should be reflected in our words. In contrast, listening to what other people say about you may cause you to forget who you actually are.
Hebrews 4:12 - For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
God’s word has the power to sever what entangles us. It convicts us when we are in sin. It renews our minds, transforms our hearts, and changes our lives when we read or hear it. We must remember what the Word of God tells us about who we are and WHOSE we are.

Sometimes the way we use our words is to not use them at all. Sometimes we fight by holding our tongue and staying silent as we stand out ground. This may be because what wants to be blurted out of our mouth is not for God’s glory.
James 1:19-20 – Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
It could also be that we just need to be still and know He is God and we are not.
Psalm 46:10 - “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”
It may be we stay silent because we need to shut our mouth and open our ears and eyes to God’s glory. Perhaps He wants to show you that He is fighting this battle and that He is already the victor.

The third way is Worship.

We battle as we worship. Worship is more than just singing before a sermon or songs in general for that matter. We worship God in all that we do, whether at work or home or in our cars; everything we do should bring glory to God.
Colossians 3:16-17 - Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

1 Corinthians 10:31 - So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
When we worship God in all we do, we change the environment around us. Satan will have a harder time getting to us because we will be focused solely on God, bringing glory to Him and not ourselves. Those around us will notice a difference and an opportunity might arise to share the gospel with them.

Above all other ways is Love.
1 Corinthians 13 - If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

James 13:34-35 – “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

1 Corinthians 16:14 - Let all that you do be done in love.

Philippians 1:9 – It is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment.
If we are to look like God, we are called to love. For we know that love is the only way to reach people. In the book Girls with Swords by Lisa Bevere, she says, “Where love is stunted, the darkness of deception abounds; where love flourishes, knowledge and discernment increase proportionally.” To echo this look at 1 John 2:9-11.
Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. 10 Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. 11 But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.
It’s pretty straightforward. Hate lives in the dark while love lives in the light. If what we are doing and what we are saying are not loving, then we are in the dark. This isn’t to say that we condone everything, by no stretch of the imagination. If we have a friend or loved one who is walking in sin, we can confront them in love. There is always a loving way of doing things. This is what we are commanded to do. Everything that we do or say should be out of love, for God is love.

Remember, we do not fight to tear down, but to build up. We destroy evil by doing good. And as daughters of God, we can not hold back forgiveness. Refusing to forgive is allowing the devil to win. Forgiveness brings healing to both the one being forgiven and the forgiver. Just as our Father in heaven forgives us, we must forgive those who hurt us. It’s the loving thing to do.

To be a great warrior for God, we must first surrender our all to Him. Any time we feel the push to fight, we must first examine the push and make sure it is of God. Every day we must surrender to Him and His will for us in order for him to work in and through us. It is only then that God can make us into mighty warriors for Him.
Romans 12:1-2 – I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
We fight by sacrificing our worldly desires for the holy and perfect will of God and doing everything for God’s glory. If we live every aspect of our lives for God, the enemy can’t get to us as easily. If we are genuinely striving to be like Christ and are continually focused on Him, Satan will have a harder time swaying our thoughts. More than ever, our focus must be on Christ and we must reflect His love and His light.

The good news is that this battle belongs to the Lord. He has already overcome and conquered. Though that doesn’t mean Satan will stop trying to separate us from our Father. And we will fail, but as long as we get back up again, repenting and putting the armor of God back on and entering back into the fight, He will strengthen us.
Proverbs 24:16 - for the righteous falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked stumble in times of calamity.
We do not rely on our own strength, but the strength of the Lord God Almighty. Philippians 4:13 states “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

We can have courage and know that with God on our side, we will not be defeated. As it says in Romans 8:31-39:
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

And in 1 John 4:4 - Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

As well as 1 Peter 2:9 - But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

Because of everything that happened in my elementary years, I became an extremely shy and introverted person. I unknowingly built walls to protect myself, but they really only served to isolate myself from those that loved me. I clamed up and forgot who I was, God’s beloved daughter, His warrior princess.

I implore you to always remember that you are a child of God. Nothing can separate you from Him. You are His warrior princess and your task is to exemplify Him to all the world, bringing Shalom, peace, to the chaos around you.

Friday, February 24, 2017

"...for Kings and All Who Are in High Positions..."

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
- 1 Timothy 2:1-4

As I read these verses in my Bible study yesterday, a couple of things occurred to me. The first being that not only do I need to pray for other people, but that I need to be lifting up supplications, intercessions, and thanksgivings for them as well. For those like me who hear the word supplication and somewhat get the gist of what it means but don't actually know what it means, I looked up the definition.

Supplication: the action of asking or begging for something earnestly or humbly.

Inserting that definition into the text, it makes lifting people up like this look a lot different. It's not a "oh yeah, I pray for this person for this. Okay cool. Thanks." It becomes a deeper, "Dear holy God, I come to you humbly on behalf of this person, lifting them up to you for this reason that your will shall be done in their life and I pray for this outcome and that all the glory be to you." It's a whole different meaning, a different demeanor.

The other thing that I realized is that Paul is telling Timothy to lift the kings and rulers up in prayer, alongside with everyone else, that they too come to know Jesus and live a peaceful, quiet, godly, and dignified life. In that day and time, that meant Caesar! That meant the officials that persecuted fellow believers! That's a big deal! Of course this is in line with what we see Jesus taught his folowers in what I read today, Luke 6:27-28:

“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you."

So what does this mean for us? We are to pray for our leaders no matter who they are. That means President Trump. That means his predecessor, President Obama when he was in office. And it means the person that will come after President Trump. We are to honor them and lift them up in prayer that God will work through them and for HIS will to be done. We are to pray for them so that they too may lead a "peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way."

It's time to stop the hate. It's time to start praying. It doesn't matter if you like people or not, what they do isn't up to you. You're reaction is. Get down on your knees and pray for people, that they may also know the amazing, life giving, gift of grace from God, our Savior Jesus Christ who died on a cross to redeem us from sin. I pray that you will strive every day to look more like Jesus, just as I am. For I am not a perfect person, but I pray that God will work His will in and through me. For by myself I can do nothing, but it is Christ who works within me.

for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
- Philippians 2:13

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
- Galatians 2:20

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

"If You Can't Say Something Nice..."

It has been a week since the election. Social media has been on fire since Trump became our President-elect. I have seen and heard so many things that have made my blood boil and made me bite my tongue. Riots in the streets, burning the American flag, name calling (from both sides), hate-filled speech; it seems many Americans have gone crazy about the results. I personally don't understand it all.

The election is over. Trump won. Life goes on.

What is done is done. There is no changing it now. Why waste time and energy "protesting"? We could be using that energy to make America, or the world, a better place. Hate never changed anything.  Even some of those who supported Trump are saying and doing things that are highly inappropriate. You can't know a person by how they act or look. Stop judging people and start listening and loving. There are many people who are here legally, and just because someone believes something different than you does not make them wrong or bad. Perhaps we all need to take a page out of Thumper's book.

"If you can't say something nice, don't say nothing at all."
Kindness can change the world. Hate only destroys. So maybe before you speak, think about how the words you say affect those around you. Will your words spread love and kindness, bringing about peace? Or will they spread discord and hate, dividing us further?

If Thumper doesn't convince you, consider this:
"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are you love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." - John 13:34-35
Jesus commands us to love one another. If we aren't loving, we aren't obeying and we aren't exemplifying Jesus. We are all one in the eyes of God. It doesn't matter who you are, who you voted for, or what you've done. God loves each and every one of us and asks us to love him and others as he does.

So I ask you again, are you spreading love or hate? Are you striving for peace and unity or are you simply destroying and dividing?
"Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." - Romans 12:9-21

Friday, August 26, 2016

Learning to Dream Again

Remember when you were a kid and you used to dream of what your future would hold? I remember as a little girl I dreamed of becoming a cowgirl. I would own my own ranch and have horses that I would ride all the time. I'd ride the hills in my boots and hat and chaps and vest, not a care in the world.

Slowly that dream died. I realized that would never happen. Horses were expensive to take care of and I was told my love of horses was a phase that I would grow out of. I did get to take some riding lessons and learned that I hated English style riding. Western had always been the way I wanted to ride anyway. When I finally got to take western riding lessons, I loved it. However, the horses didn't always like me. And thus after a while, my love for horses diminished and my dream of riding the hills and plains faded into the past.

As I grew, I came into the thought process that any dream I had was foolish and would never amount to anything. I wanted to be a singer in a band, but knew it would never happen. I wanted to be an author, and pursued that for a while, but decided that my stories would never be good enough.

There were things I dreamed, and let myself dream about, because they were realistic dreams. Like, I dreamed I would marry a wonderful man who loved me fully and we would have a beautiful wedding. That came true. But I never really considered it a dream. It was realistic. It was something I was sure would happen.

So, when people talk about dreams, I'm at a loss. I grew to loathe the question: "Where do you see yourself in [x amount of] years?" I hated it, and still do, because my answer never changed. "I don't know." Part of it was because God has plans that I don't even know about. I thought I was going to go to Harding and graduate in four years and then get married to a man I met in person, probably live in Texas and never work with youth. After my first year at Harding, God took me to Washington where my aunt, uncle, and cousins lived. My plan was then to live there. I got on eharmony and was only looking in that area. Then I met Tanner. A man from Ohio who loved working with the youth at his congregation. I moved back to Dallas to work at my mom's law firm and started planning a future in Ohio. Now, here I am 4 years later in Lafayette, Louisiana. On top of that, I'm working with the youth and teaching a women's class and in leadership role.

The other part of my hatred of that question was that I didn't have any dreams. I decided to live day by day, week by week. I squelched any grand dreams or hopes that I thought were dumb or unrealistic.

Recently, though, I was convicted to try and dream again. Not just dream, but write them down. Any dream. From cooking the perfect meal, to my future kids graduation and wedding and kids. I realized I did have dreams I'd been shutting out. I had labeled them as hopes.

That's the funny thing about dreams is, we can end up calling them different things. Hopes. Wishes. Prayers.

So as I started writing these things down, I allowed myself to dream without fear, without abandon. I was shocked how many I ended up writing down. And I didn't even include the traveling I would like to do or my future kids graduations and spouses/weddings and their future kids. One that will never be crossed off for me, though, is growing closer to God and learning more about him and his love.

I encourage you to dream and write down those dreams. One day I'm sure I will look on my list and see that many of them have come true and will need to make a new list. Dream. Continue to dream. And don't hold yourself back. God can do so much more that you could ever hope for. You just have to let yourself dream and then give them to Him.