Sunday, April 21, 2013

Vision , Part 2. Dreaming Big.

Several weeks ago, I posted Vision, part 1. And now, here is part 2.
  When I was growing up, I can't remember really hearing anyone every teach me to "dream big", although my mom always encouraged me in all my endeavors. Dreaming big is a new concept to me, but it is one which I am learning from and growing through as a personal individual. And I am now beginning to teach my own kids these things, because dreaming never hurts.  Yes, there is a reality that needs to be held in check to some degree with the dreaming big, but I am learning that to dream helps me to strive to higher levels, levels which I wouldn't try to achieve were I not dreaming.
 Between having some in life avidly encouraging my dreams and a book I am reading, those dreams aren't just ones that sit on paper as "goals" or "things to do", but they become actions playing out in fashions I never would have thought myself capable of doing; they become prayers spoken on a regular basis for the One who can help carry those dreams out, if He sees fit. Some days those dreams feel slow and long and unachievable; Yet other days, the dream feels more like a new reality and it feels like an accomplishment given by God alone.
  In Vision, part 1, I said, taken from the words of my pastor, Vision = A picture of what could (and perhaps should) be.

Vision gives significance to the otherwise meaningless details of our lives.

I was 19 when I got married, and hadn't even begun college, really. That was one of my dad's fears, I think, was that I would not get a degree and pursue my dreams. But, hindsight, at 19, I didn't really know what all those dreams included. I wanted to be a wife and mom, always, so that was part of my dream. But I was unaware of a lot of my abilities yet at that point, leaving it hard to discover real dreams. Now, at age 30, I have discovered some of those things, and vision and dreaming big hold a reality I never knew would exist. I always thought my dream was going back to school. And while, yes, this is still an important desire tucked away in the recess of my mind, in all efforts to pursue it, God has shown me bigger and better things for my life. Like being a mom avidly. Like focusing on my husband and on our lives together. And like helping others, through inadvertant ways I have discovered, like the scholarship in memory of mom, or praying for a friend (customer) who spills a long, heartbreaking story to me. 
  I am a mom, and my kids' lives are going so fast already and my time with them here at home is so limited. Does this mean I cannot pursue a dream? No way. But school can wait. He has made it evident that coffee is my world for now, and that is ok, because in the midst of that, He is providing new ways and new dreams. Like my mom's scholarship. And that is a dream worth pursuing, as well as a dream that can also involve my children with me. This week, we gave out the scholarship to a new student. Hearing her story was really neat and sets the flames burning higher for my pursuit in what to accomplish with it. But after the day was over, I had what at the moment seemed like an awkward conversation, but hindsight is one which was deep and meaningful. My daughter, 10, asked me "Mommy, when you die, do you want me to carry on Nana's scholarship? Will you teach me to do what you do?"  At the onset of the moment, I was unsure how to respond to that. But we've since talked about that, and what a neat opportunity for her to learn to do bigger things. What a humbling experience for me to realize that perhaps what has started as a small seed will, in fact, grow into something enormously beautiful with time and patience and prayer.
  Mark Batterson says in his book , The Circle Maker, "We live in a quick-fix, real-time culture. Between the news ticker and Twitter, we're always in the know, always in the now. We don't just want to have our cake and eat it too; we want instant brand. We want to reap the second after we sow, but this isn't the ways it works with dreaming big and praying hard. We need the patience of the planter. We need the foresight of the farmer. We need the mindset of the sower." 
  Growing up on a farm myself, I understood this well and it resonated deep within me. And as Elizabeth asked me if she could carry that out, that paragraph came back to my mind. Also, it reminds me that what is now can be 10x larger in years to come. And teaching Elizabeth how it works can also be a part of the sowing, a foresight of the farmer. At the awarding of the scholarship, there were other scholarships given, one being the John Bickett Scholarship. John Bickett happened to be the first graduate of Cedarville University, where my mom's scholarship is awarded. But I also happen to be a descendant of John Bickett. Also, my dad was telling me the story this week that my grandpa (my dad's dad) actually founded that scholarship. My grandpa is no longer alive, but seeing how large his once small idea has become was inspiring in the moment. 
  Mark Batterson also said "It's not enough to dream big and pray hard. You also have to think long. If you don't you'll experience high degrees of discouragement. Why? Because we tend to overestimate what we can accomplish in a year. Of course, we also tend to underestimate what we can accomplish in a decade. The bigger the vision, the harder you'll have to pray and the longer you'll have to think...."  
   But my vision isn't limited to simply the scholarship. My vision is to be used by God. I've made my share of mistakes and learned through hard times, but I have a dream that God will one day use me for His glory. Perhaps through my writing. Perhaps in the lives of my kids. Perhaps by touching one of my customers lives deeply. I'm not sure how that will play out through God's time, but it is a vision/dream of my life and gives me excitement each day. Yes, there are days when I feel pointless at times, but then again, nothing is pointless. And, the harder I pray and the more I think, the more He shows me of who I am and how He can use me. 
Vision breeds:

Passion. Wake up excited!


Direction. Practical advantage. Road maps for our lives. Helps with decisions and prioritized values.

Purpose. I matter! I am an important link! A reason to get up in the morning. 

One day at a time, the dreams grow, and dreams are part of vision. And vision is part of purpose. One day at a time. 

Thursday, April 11, 2013


At the beginning of 2013, because of a blog inspired writing I read, I chose a word to define what I wanted the year to be. It is time for me to update on those of you who have followed that choice of mine.
 The word I chose was DILIGENT.
 I wanted to strive to be more diligent in all areas. Diligence requires thought sometimes. Some moments, diligence requires time. Some days, diligence requires practice, patience and persistence.
 Being diligent was something I was somewhat trained to do, unintentionally, by my parents growing up. Dad was always diligent as a farmer and diligent in providing for us at all cost. Mom was a diligent housewife and mother in all areas. I am thankful for that upbringing, and while I could have chosen a different word to define my year, I chose diligent because many areas of my life existed where I was just mediocre and I needed to push myself to new levels.
  So, here is where I stand in diligence:

As a mom: -In my mind, a mom should always be diligent. But then there's reality. And in reality, we moms are tired more often than not. Therefore, some days, it is difficult to be diligent. However, in praying about what I wanted the year to look like and how I wanted my life to form a little differently, I saw that I needed to become more diligent with my kids. I need to put my phone away more often. I need to take more deep breaths when the pre teen temper comes out (in my pre teen, that is!). I need to laugh more and read more and do things my kids like more often. This has been more challenging than I would have thought. (Sidenote: in these moments, I have missed my mom a lot, knowing that she would be one I would typically lean on through these moments of Mom growth). I also needed to be diligent in discipline. I have always been one to discipline and believe in that. Michael has always been consistent with it. However, I must admit, in the last few years, guilt has sometimes overtaken my motherhood (guilt over working a lot or being too tired or being stuck in a depressive state, etc), and thus, I slacked on my discipline. Anyway, all this to say it has been a learning process for me as I have begun evaluating. Putting my phone away is not always easy for me. Sometimes those are the moments I think technology is a beast . However, I have improved in this and that's what I can continue to do. It's important to have that sense of connection; but it doesn't need to be a lifeline.  I have been able to remember myself as a 10 year old girl and what those emotions are like, and thus know how to handle my daughters new roller coaster emotions better. Discipline has become better reinstated. Homework has a timely fashion. And now that it is warmer, we have begun to take the dogs out and walk and laugh. So, there is room for improvement, but it's reshaping little by little.

As a Wife:  this should probably be my husband speaking for me on this one. However, I'm the one doing the evaluating, so I have to be the one to decipher some of that. I have asked his input on it at times, though. I have room for growth, but there have been improvements in diligence here, too. Putting my phone away comes in here, too. Converse with my husband rather than be immersed in my phone conversations. (Doesn't mean never have phone conversations or texts, just means to back off them somewhat during "our" time). Again, for some reason, this is a challenge for me at time, but I have made growth in that area of diligence. It just takes putting it away. Being diligent as a servant to my husband. No, not a slave. A servant. There is a big difference. Marriage requires  selflessness-easier said than done some days. And to be diligent in becoming that is not always something I have done well. I have room to become more diligent with this. He is not one to feel love with words (as I am) so I need to be more diligent in loving him how he feels loved-with my time and my commitment. And I need to be more diligent in loving him his way, not mine.

In my Healthy lifestyles:  I have blogged often about running, so I would say I continue to be diligent with my running. However, there needs to be more diligence in the areas of things such as sit-ups and weight lifting. There was a day, once upon a time, when I was very good about both. And in that day, I preferred my body's outcome. Life has changed, and I recognize those changes, but if I am going to complain about what I feel my body is, I need to be more diligent in that area. Not obsessive, but diligent. To do some situps and weights for 10 minutes a day even. I even was having a conversation with a friend about this, and she said to me, 'It just takes diligence' and I stopped and remembered I am supposed to be better embracing that word's actions! So in that moment, I reminded myself that if I want a better outcome, I have to be more diligent, because running doesn't always cut it. And to go along with that is healthy eating. So, I am by no means overweight, and I shouldn't complain about my weight, but every woman, to some degree, I think, struggles with a slight aspect of this.  I don't drink, I don't drink soda much either, so those are the 2 things people always say to cut out if you want to lose. So, I have to think a bit more about what I need to change in my eating lifestyle  in order to see more results. I have to be more diligent and purposeful about this if I want to lose a little. room for improvement in this area: Become diligent in just 10 minutes of strength training a few days a week to start and.....more veggies???? I have to think about the food one. Man, I do love my food! But change requires diligence.

In my spiritual journey with God: This area of life has become one of the highest values, as it well should always be. I have learned very much about prayer as I have become more diligent in talking with God. And as an author has stated " Sometimes prayer doesn't change the circumstance, it changes me." That has become the case, and I love it. Where do I want to see myself being more diligent in this area??? I need to be more diligent in the scriptures. I believe the Word of God IS the Word of God, and in so believeing, I need to be more diligent in learning it. Even something so simple as a verse a week. Memorizing scriptures has never been my forte, but I have seen the benefits of knowing the Word by heart, and I want that to be active in my life as well. So there is my room for improvement.

In my career:  This particular area of life has been really neat to watch unfold. I make coffee. There honestly isn't much room to grow here, in the sense that there is no ladder for me to climb. However, there are always things to make sure I am doing to the best of my ability. I have learned to become more diligent in polishing dishes (Ugh, still hate that task). but it has opened up doors of prayer for me. And as I have developed diligence in what I do, God has blessed me. With new friendships; with warm words; and with neat projects. It is still not what I want to do my whole life, but it is where God has me now and I have a new love for it. A new purpose. My mom's scholarship goals I place into the career category, and that also is taking off with new vengeance. I do believe I am diligent in that area. Passion breeds diligence. Imagine if I apply that in every area, every day?!

So, there you have it-my diligence update. I will Keep on Keeping on in learning to allow diligence to grow deeper in my heart and in my lifestyle, One Day At A Time.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Letting go and letting Him....

This week I heard an amazing, in person story about a young woman just a few years older than I who had cancer, the doctors went in, and discovered the cancer had disappeared! A real life, 2013 miracle evidence of God's hand. Wow!
 But with that story also come questions.Questions from seasoned believers in Jesus as much as questions from someone who has never claimed a faith. Why does God choose to heal some people and not others??
 I have heard this question before in my life, and to be honest, I generally dismiss it. I am not a debater of theology-in fact, I don't like those type of conversations at all usually. I love to talk about my faith, but I don't like to debate it. I am not one who is really well able to point someone to every verse in the Bible that might answer their question (questions even like "Why does God heal some and not others?"). However, I have to be honest to say that in the moment of being near tears in hearing this woman's amazing story, that very question came to my mind.

 We prayed for my mom's healing, so why didn't that happen? Mom had never been had had an amazing impact on many around was young...I needed my kids needed their nana.....and so on.
  However, as soon as that question came to mind, so did an answer, or even a whisper.

 Because as Romans 8:28 tells us that " Everything works together for good those who love Him."

John tells us He leaves us peace....He does not give as the world gives.

Do I believe that God could have healed my mom? Absolutely! Did we pray for it? Yes, we did. But sometimes, what many don't realize, is that God's answer is sometimes "No."  And if we allow Him, He will work it out for His good. " How could good come from death?" I have been asked....Why does God allow so much yuck if He is a good God??
 Well, I'm not here to debate that. I am simply here to tell my story, and my mom's story.

Post losing my mom, I went through some really dark days. I questioned God. I was angry. I acted out in that anger at times even. But now, 2 years later, because I have allowed God into all those cracks and brokenness, He has filled them with healing and light and now what was a very yucky, tough time, has led to some intense healing and better days.
  After intense brokenness inside the home some days because of my depression and my distantness and   lack of obedience to God, there is a new healing and a new blooming in the life inside of our home. I have a deeper love and respect for Michael and I have a renewed joy as a mom. Does that mean all days are rosy?? Absolutely not! Let me not be unrealistic here-we all know I'm about having an honest blog. Some days are as rough as the raging seas, but it is because of where we have been that we can recognize God better ....even in those rough seas. I had to go through those dark moments to find a renewed faith and vigor in my walk with God.

 After much grieving and tears and sadness, God has used that experience of losing my mom to open up new doors that never would have been available to me in that fashion before- walking through the doors of helping other young women my age or thereabouts- who have also lost their mom to death. Before having that experience myself, I was unaware how many other women have walked that road. Granted, I knew it was there ; I just never was in the line of having much conversation about it with anyone who'd experienced it. After I lost mom, I felt very alone in the aspect of not having a girlfriend who truly understood what I was experienceing. Now, because I have walked that, God has opened doors for me to be able to be that maybe to another woman. Had I not experienced that, I wouldn't be able to make those connections. Because it is so true, that until you have, as a young mom and woman, experienced losing your own mom, can you truly understand what that young woman feels.Please understand, I am not saying here "YAY, ME!" what I'm saying is "YAY, GOD!" Because He is taking something yucky I had to walk through and using it for His good with other women. (I hope). I have new relationships that I may never have had otherwise- Rachel, Jontae, Teresa, Angie, Courtney just to name a few.....God has taken that pain of losing my mom and turned it into a deeper understanding.
 Not to mention the scholarship we have in memory of mom, which can go on to help students in need who will in turn touch the lives of many with cancer. Yet another piece of good God has allowed to turn from the bad.

In the midst of grief and what I walked through, I was clouded often times in my own walk with God. I had to go through that to get to a new, deeper level with Him. A new understanding of who He is. A deeper grasp of grace and forgiveness. Did God allow mom to die so I would have to experience the yuck of my own darkness? No-that was my choice. Again, I am not here to dive into theology. I'm just simply saying God allows free will decisions, and I didn't always choose wisely. But in the midst of that, God taught me so much that I never would have learned otherwise. And He is so good. All the time. Even when I am not...

One of the best things I can say that came out of mom's death is that she now has abundant life. Sometimes God's answer of "No" is a beautiful "Yes" for the one who is sick. Mom now has perfect health and beauty and laughter again. She is no longer suffering and one day I look forward to walking those streets of gold with her and laughing with her again.

All this to say, when we pray, sometimes God says "Yes!" But other times, He says "Not now, child. I need you to trust me."
   I read something I really liked this week. It said " When God leads you to the edge of the cliff, trust Him fully and let go. Only one of 2 things will happen. Either He'll catch you when you fall, or He'll teach you how to fly! "
 One day at a time, keep letting go. Let all areas of life.