Dreams Encouraged

The women will swarm the city this week.  They will come in droves to hear speakers, to receive good gifts, to be honored. They will tour the facility.  They will party.  They will worship.  They will be celebrated, encouraged and rewarded.

This event is the culmination of a year of hard work and achievement.  Many of the women have been working for this for years.  Other women have just started their journey.  Some women have reached the heights of success.  Others are still dreaming of the prize.  Many women are leaders.  Most can only hope.

Each of these women have different goals.  Each of them views success differently.  These women are dreaming of a new life.  They’re hoping for a change in their current situation.  A good change.  A change for the better.  A fresh start.  For some, it’s a second chance.

Many of these women have worked very hard to build their business.  Most, if not all, have struggled.  Some have remained faithful and have reaped the rewards.  Others aren’t sure they have what it takes, but they still put forth an effort.  Many more have fallen by the wayside.  Not because the task is impossible, but because they didn’t persevere.  They gave up when the going got tough.  They moved on when moving up didn’t come easy.

To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life—this is indeed a gift from God.  Ecclesiastes 5:19b

I see myself in each of these women.  I’ve tried to be successful at my dreams.  I’ve persevered. For a while.  I get discouraged. I lose faith.  I back off.  I dream again.  I start the cycle once more.  I wonder if I have what it takes to be successful.  I wonder if I have what it takes to achieve my dream.

Why do I have dreams if I can’t accomplish them?  Is it too late?  Am I too old?  Do I have what it takes? How will I know if I don’t keep trying?

I shared my dream with others last year.  They encouraged me.  I dusted off my dream and began pursuing it.  It’s hard work.  It’s tough to stay motivated.  It’s invigorating.  It’s rewarding.  It’s challenging.  It’s fulfilling.

But I’ve started.  That’s the first step.  Just doing it is a great feeling.

Here’s what I wonder.  Am I successful only if I beat everyone else at the dream?  Am I proclaimed a winner only if I get the top prize?  Is it enough to pursue it and possibly never finish?

Here’s what I know.  I need to remain faithful to the dream.  I need to work at it.  Pursue it.  Try to do my best at it.

I celebrate the fact that I have dreams.  I feel empowered to pursue the ideas I envision.

I am encouraged by others to pursue the dream.  It’s my dream and I own it.

I am rewarded with peace and contentment when I am faithful to the dream.  I measure my success by knowing I’m pursuing the gifts God put within me.

Petty Tyrannies

Her words do me in.  They are sharp.  Cutting.  Unpredictable yet predictable.  Unpredictable because I never know when she will strike.  Predictable because it’s happening too often lately.

She says we’re not the target.  It’s the situation that causes her to be this way.  But those around her are the victims.  Easy prey.

I’ve tried to quietly analyze her.  What causes her to strike?  What is happening in her life that makes her so stressed?  Why is she so tightly wound?  Do I even want to know?

The thing is.  Others notice.  Others hear the words.  Others avoid her.  Her reputation precedes her.

Stress causes people to act out, speak out and mistreat others when it is never their intention.  Our differences will divide us.  If we let them.  We can choose to work and live together in harmony.  Give each other space.  Help each other out.

Free us from the petty tyrannies of each other.  Romans 14:9 (MSG)

I’m the peacemaker of the group.  Usually.  But sometimes I find myself striking back when the words are too cutting.  I find that my sharp words come out when I’ve been wounded.  Hoping to inflict as much damage as I’ve received.  Even if I’m not the intended target.  A person can only take so much.  I tell myself.

But does that really give me the right to strike back?  Does that make it right?  Is getting even ever justifiable?

I’ve begun to realize that I’m prone to getting even when backed in a corner.  I say words that I will later regret.  My thoughts have a bent toward retaliation.  Even though that’s not the way I choose to live or treat people.

I don’t think of myself as evil.  I’m protecting myself.  That’s what I tell myself.  I’m making sure that I’m not walked on.  Not trampled on.  Not chewed up and spit out.

I want to think I’m better than that. I want others to think I’m better than that. I want to think that others don’t see the real me.  I want them to see the good in me.  I want them to believe in me.  I want them to trust me. I want my reputation to be honorable.

If I have to justify my petty tyrannies to others, then I know I’m doing wrong.  Why don’t I repent and choose to do better, be better instead of continually explaining away my shortcomings?

I remember Jesus in the garden when Judas Iscariot betrayed him with a kiss.  When Jesus was arrested, he went quietly.

I remember Jesus was put on trial.  Listening to the lies.  The false charges brought against him.  He stood there quietly.

I remember someone shoved a crown of thorns on Jesus’ head.  He was beaten and stripped of his clothes.  He didn’t fight.  He didn’t try to escape.

I remember Jesus was ordered to carry the cross that he would die on.  He carried that cross up the hill with the little strength he had left.  He was nailed to that cross.  He knew he was going to die.  I wonder if he wished he was already dead.  So he wouldn’t have to suffer more.

He had no strength left to fight, yet he was willing to die so he could save everyone fighting against him.  He could have called on heavenly forces to save himself, but he died alone so everyone else could live.

I remember Jesus on the cross.  A soldier slit his side.  A thief on one cross insulted him.  Another thief recognized Jesus and asked for forgiveness.  In his dying moments, Jesus forgave him.  He told the second thief they would be together in heaven later that day.

 Strength is for service, not status. Each one of us needs to look after the good of the people around us, asking ourselves, “How can I help?” That’s exactly what Jesus did. He didn’t make it easy for himself by avoiding people’s troubles, but waded right in and helped out.  Romans 15:2-6 MSG

I see a pattern in my life that doesn’t match up to Jesus’ example.  If I’m going to be like him, I need to think like him.  I need to act like him.  I need to embrace his willingness to forgive at all cost.  I need to love others as he did. I need to ask how I can help.  I want him to look at me and tell me that he’ll see me in heaven when my time comes. 

Love of My Life

I think back to the day I married him.  35 years ago.  Some things have changed.  Some things have remained the same.

I think of the things that drew me to him.  I think of the things that I love about him.

His love for God

His humor

His musical talent

His work ethic

His honesty

His straightforward answers

His knowledge of the Bible

His love of pepperoni pizza

His patience

His love of sweet iced tea

His gift of helping others

His Christian heritage

His love of the color green

His playful spirit

His ability to avoid vegetables

His positive attitude

His leadership

His appreciation for good food

His love for family

His business insight

His mean sax playing

His ability to cut his own hair

His fondness for watching movies

His need for noisy distractions

His love of dogs

His taste for Peter Pan peanut butter

His eagerness to explore unsafe areas of new cities

His giving spirit

His love of a good joke

His interest in history

His beard

His respect for his dad

His act of honoring his mom in her final years

His willingness to serve others

His support

He’s the love of my life.  He’s my best friend.  I would marry him all over again.


Words Matter

He enjoyed his work.  The actual work, that is.  He had built strong relationships with co-workers.  People respected him.  People asked for advice.  They asked for his opinion.  They valued him.  They sought him out.  He felt accepted.  He mattered to them.

Then there were others.  They didn’t show respect.  They micromanaged.  They second guessed.  They nitpicked.  They changed the rules without explanation.

Little by little their words chopped off pieces of his heart. His love for the mission was muddled.  His tolerance was short.  His attitude grew cold.

He felt underused.  Devalued.  His years of experience were pushed aside.  His expertise was left unused.  His strengths and skills were overlooked.

I’ve been there.  I’ve had people in my life who were insecure.  Trying to prove their worth by belittling others.  By putting someone in their place when they didn’t know their own place.

Words are powerful.  They can make you feel like a million bucks.  They can make you feel penniless.  Empty.

His love language is words of affirmation.  Too many important people in his life have not affirmed him.  He’s crying out for acceptance.  For validation.  The people who should have said those words never said them to him.

How can a person live life to the fullest when others’ words have damaged them to the point they believe those words?

Be kind to yourself, or you may have less tolerance for people who criticize and belittle you.  No one should be made to feel worthless.


They’ve made me feel like a prisoner
They’ve made me feel set free
They’ve made me feel like a criminal
Made me feel like a king

They’ve lifted my heart
To places I’d never been
And they’ve dragged me down
Back to where I began

Words can build you up
Words can break you down
Start a fire in your heart or
Put it out

Let my words be life
Let my words be truth
I don’t wanna say a word
Unless it points the world back to You

You can heal the heartache
Speak over the fear
(Speak over the fear)
God, Your voice is the only thing
We need to hear

Words can build us up
Words can break us down
Start a fire in our hearts or
Put it out

Let my words be life
Let my words be truth
I don’t wanna say a word
Unless it points the world back to You

Let the words I say
Be the sound of Your grace
I don’t wanna say a word
Unless it points the world back to You

I wanna speak Your love
Not just another noise
Oh, I wanna be Your light
I wanna be Your voice

Let my words be life
Let my words be truth
I don’t wanna say a word
Unless it points the world back to You

Let the words I say
Be the sound of Your grace
I don’t wanna say a word
Unless it points the world back to You

Words can build us up
Words can break us down
Start a fire in our hearts
Or put it out

I don’t wanna say a word
Unless it points the world back to You

My Crush

I remember his name.  I remember that he piqued my curiosity.  I’m not sure why it was him.  But it was.  I thought he was the most handsome guy I’d ever seen.  I listened to his every word.  I noticed what he wore.  I thought about him every day.  I watched him playing sports. I tried to memorize his schedule, hoping to run into him.  I listened for his voice.  When I walked past him, I hoped he would make eye contact.  I wanted him to notice me.

I could imagine our first date.  He would hold my hand.  Smile at me.  Whisper sweet nothings into my ear.  We would pack a picnic lunch and sit under a tree.  Just the two of us.  It was a sweet dream.  Never a reality.

I’ve crushed on many boys during my youth.  Most of them didn’t seem to know I was alive.  Some were personal friends.  Others were classmates.  Still others were long distance crushes.  They were all very real to me.

I have found the one in whom my soul delights.  Song of Solomon 3:4

I know someone who has a crush on me.  He knows everything I think.   He sees everything I do.  He hears everything I say.   He wants only the best for me.  He knew me before I was born.  He says he loves me.

He teaches me lessons.  He gives me tests.  He lets me make my own decisions.  He fights my battles.  He protects me.  He provides everything I need.  He’s an artist.  He’s a creator.  He is original.

Sometimes I feel like he’s trying to get me out of my comfort zone.  Then I realize he’s the one who made me.  He knows my strengths and my weaknesses.  He knows I need some pruning, and he knows there are parts worth keeping.

I’m not sure why he chose me.  After all, I sometimes ignore him.  At times, he’ll ask me to do something and I get so scared.  I think he asks too much of me.  Other times, I just don’t feel good enough for his love.  I want to be like him, but I feel like I’ll never measure up.  He still says he loves me.  No matter what.

There are some things about him that I just love.  I can talk to him anytime.  Anywhere.  For any reason.  Plus, he is always faithful.  He is always available anytime I need him.  He never leaves me.  If I mess up and confess, he forgives me.  Every time.  He’s the best.

He has one son.  He asked his son to die for me.  So he did.  He died for me.  He. Died. For. Me.  I read that he died for you, too.  He said he did it because he loves me.  He lives in a place called heaven.   He asked me to move in with him someday.  He’ll let me know when that day comes.  Until then, he’s getting my new home ready.  He’s also preparing a feast for me.  He said the invitation is for anyone who will accept it.  All we have to do is believe.

I’ve accepted his invitation.  Now I wait and do my best to become just like him. I want him to recognize me when he sees me.  I want him to welcome me home with open arms.

This guy’s a keeper.