When You Pursue Your Dreams and Fail

BOY SUNFLOWER FIELD

We tend to pursue our dreams in secret, don’t we?

We tip-toe toward them in our fuzzy slippers and robes during the darkest hours, daring not to make a sound as if we don’t want to wake up the dream slayers — the fears and doubts and uncertainties that are deaf but know we’re coming anyway.

We whisper our dreams softly, don’t we?

It’s almost impossible to hear them ourselves and it’s easy to forget we ever uttered them at all. Instead of living them out loud, we tuck them into our books at night and they sit on our nightstand collecting dust until it’s time to read again, then fall asleep again, then dream again.

Why are we so quiet about having dreams, or speaking dreams or pursuing dreams? Can I share something with you?

I’m tired of whispering my dreams.

Not many people know this, but in the past nine months I’ve had an amazing publisher interested in my book — a book that has been a dream of mine for six years. It passed Acquisitions Committee and then went to Publications Board twice. After the second time, they finally settled on a no.

I’ve been sitting with that no for a couple of weeks now, and honestly I’m okay with the answer. But what I’m not okay with is how I’ve handled the process of this dream.

Because I never told more than a handful of people what was happening during the entire nine months. Somewhere along the way in my life, I’ve believed that in order to have a dream you have to keep it quiet until it comes to pass. Like there’s some superstitious jinx on sharing it that will prevent it from becoming a reality.

But you know what the consequence is for pursuing dreams so fearfully and quietly? We lose dreamers. (tweet) We stop teaching others that regardless of the outcome, it’s healthy to dream. And most importantly, we lose the opportunity to show others how to trust Jesus, even when we pursue our dreams and “fail.”

From the world’s point of view, I have failed in reaching my dream. By not getting a book deal, I can easily become convinced that dream has died and that I need to pursue a more “realistic” dream.

But can I tell you something?

I think I actually succeeded. Because every other time in my life when I’ve been faced with rejection, I’ve allowed it to break me. I’ve taken it personally and let it dictate who I am and what I’m worth. And you know what? This was the first time in my life I didn’t do that.

Can I tell you something else?

Over the past nine months, I wasn’t sure if I wanted God’s will for my life more than I wanted this book. I quite honestly had a very, very hard time separating the two, and it became my constant prayer that the book wasn’t becoming an idol. I wasn’t sure where my heart truly stood on the matter.

And you know what else?

While I’m still saddened and disappointed by this loss, my peace and trust in my Lord has not wavered. Even for a second. I know and trust — even when I cannot see — that He has a plan for me and my life. And I know now, by that nonsensical yet supernatural peace, that I do want His will more than a book.

And my most favorite thing of all?

Through this my daughter has gotten to see that we don’t always succeed in everything we set out to do. That sometimes we can reach out and touch our dreams for a split second, but they can still slip out of our fingers in an instant — but that doesn’t stop our dreaming. It just makes us press in and work harder and believe God more. I am proud that she got to see me cry and mourn, but that I can put my hope in Jesus — the Dream Maker — and not just the dream itself.

Because “we are confident that God is able to orchestrate everything to work toward something good and beautiful when we love Him and accept His invitation to live according to His plan” (Romans 8:28, The Voice, emphasis mine).

So in the end, I think I won.

Why would I stay silent about that kind of success?

I think from now on I’m going to live my dreams out loud instead of tip-toeing toward them in my fuzzy slippers and robe. Not because I’m seeking attention or accolades for myself, but because I don’t want to miss out on the opportunity to spur another on in victory. And maybe if we all saw each other courageously pursuing dreams — regardless of the outcome — we’d find the courage to pursue more of ours, too.

So here’s to beating the drum and marching loudly in the dream parade — eyes on the Conductor as He orchestrates everything to work toward beautiful and good things.

Note: This is not a post where I’m searching for affirmation or encouragement or assurances that my book will get published some day. Just wanted to encourage you, my friends, to look toward the sun and find your dreams and pursue them loudly.

What about you? Do you have any dreams you want to live out loud? Please share — let’s encourage each other to wildly dream and love the Dream Giver.

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A New Normal

MIKE PHOTO-DREAM-01

I’m reading Holley Gerth‘s new book, You’re Made for a God-Sized Dream: Opening the Door to All God Has for YouEvery single page is highlighted. I can’t devour it fast enough.

The other day I read the chapter on the disclaimers about God-sized dreams once they come to fruition — disclaimers like you’ll never feel ready. You won’t like your dream sometimes. You’ll feel alone at times.

And then the disclaimer that leapt off the page and has shaken my shoulders and has been riding piggy-back since I read it:

ONE DAY THIS DREAM WILL BE YOUR NEW NORMAL.

Those words have rolled around my brain like marbles caught in the dryer, making noise and banging against every corner of my thoughts. And as I ponder that one sentence, God brings to my mind the past God-sized dreams I’ve had and how they are now my new normal.

  • The husband I didn’t feel I deserved.
  • The daughter who has blessed my socks off and is growing in grace and wisdom.
  • The son I waited two miscarriages and years to have.
  • The job that gives my husband freedom to work in his giftings and succeed.
  • Friendships that edify, encourage and build me up…not tear me down.
  • A household of peace and laughter and freedom to fail.

Each of these were a mustard seed of a God-sized dream long before they became my new normal. They were passing thoughts at first. Then they became prayers. And then blossomed into full-fledged dreams.

And now, with another God-sized dream becoming clearer and getting a little closer, it scares me in the best possible way that it might one day be my new normal, too.

The weight of it pressing in on me is strangely comforting like a heavy wool blanket on a cold night….hearing Him whisper to get ready…feeling an incredibly calm peace yet not understanding it at all…it makes me shake in fear and leap for joy all at the same time.

One day this dream will be my new normal.

I know this current God-sized dream might look different when it comes to pass than I originally thought, and that’s okay. My husband and my family and my friendships have all turned out differently than I once believed they would. In the best possible way, they are different than I thought they would be.

And God, in His infinite love, made them perfect for me.

  • My husband is everything I wanted and also everything I had no idea I needed.
  • My daughter challenges everything I thought I knew about parenting, and makes me a better mom.
  • My son brings so much joy and laughter after years of pain and tears.
  • My husband has the confidence and courage to pursue God-sized dreams of his own.
  • My core friends don’t live nearby and I see them very irregularly, but the residue of our conversations and time together linger with me for weeks and months until we see each other again
  • The chaos and messiness of my house is what brings the peace and laughter, and the freedom to fail also brings freedom to succeed.

No, it’s not what I expected. But I suddenly could never imagine any of those dreams being any different than exactly how they are right now.

One day this dream will be my new normal.

The funny thing about our dreams is that while you’re dreaming them, nothing seems as big as that dream at that time. Praying and waiting for a husband is Everything. Having children is a soul ache. Strong friendships are a desperate plea not to drown alone.

And then one day they’re just a normal part of your life. Isn’t that the weirdest thing ever?

Because as long as I’ve been waiting for this current God-sized dream to come to pass (six years and counting)…at some point, it will become a distant dream added to the list, and a new God-sized dream will take its place.

It really is the weirdest and holiest thing ever — standing on the edge of a God-sized dream and peering down into it, it seems as big as the Grand Canyon and impossible to cross over.

Then one day you simply check it off the list and move on.

How can you imagine moving on when you’re standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon?

But it happens.

Because each dream God gives is simply a stepping stone to a bigger dream. (tweet) And once in a while He reminds you to look back and you see that the two of you — God and you — have built a bridge and you’re already halfway across that canyon.

One day this dream will be my new normal.

What God-sized dreams have you staring into the vastness right now? What dreams seem impossible? Don’t lose heart, or give up hope, or give up at all.

Keep standing there on the edge. Look back every once in a while and remember the stepping stones that have brought you to your current dream.

And soon you’ll see the bridge, spanning across a magnificent landscape.

ONE DAY THIS DREAM WILL BE YOUR NEW NORMAL.

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Tuesday’s Morning

PSALM 19-01

grab this

Swoon.

David’s lyrical writing, detailed analogies and ability to show-not-tell convince me when I’m the most doubtful that God is a huge fan of writing.

May your Tuesday morning sun

Wake from the tent

And burst forth on your day

With zeal and fervor

Smiling and showering you with kisses

From God Himself.

Are you eager to face your challenge today?

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25 Things to Be Happy About (Part Three)

Apples

When I was in college I picked up a little book called 14,000 Things to Be Happy About. It’s simply hundreds of pages of stream-of-consciousness lists of things that make you happy. When life was stressful or I was feeling blue, I would just pull out that book and smile like crazy. And I would take a red pen and make marks next to the things I really loved and different marks next to the things I really liked and other marks next to things I hoped to experience.

Things like:

  • mason jars
  • the cool underside of a pillow
  • hearty stew in white bowls
  • late Sunday brunches
  • dandelions and buttercups

See? It’s the perfect little book to let your mind wander and help you to exhale, even just a little bit.

Even now, every once and again my mind starts keeping a running tally of things that make me smile — silly things like the first few chews of bubble gum and the names of Northeastern towns like Kennebunkport and Montauk, and finding one last chocolate-covered caramel in your Sea Salt Caramel gelato. And after a while that tally in my head gets too long and I’m reminded again of that sweet little book.

Because while I give thanks and express gratitude to God all the time for most things, sometimes I forget to just appreciate the little things that bring a smile. You know, the small, seemingly insignificant things that help you enjoy life.

So I decided it was time to write part three in this very inconsistent series. (You can read the first post here and the second one here.) And in no order of importance whatsoever, here are 25 things that make me happy:

25 THINGS TO BE  HAPPY ABOUT-01

  1. kids singing the Veggie Tales version of “9-to-5” at the top of their lungs in the car
  2. singing along with them
  3. pink lady apples crisp and cold from the fridge
  4. the smell an empty coffee bag leaves in the kitchen
  5. gray and yellow anything
  6. a full water bottle with ice and fresh-squeezed lemon
  7. school lunches made the night before
  8. new batteries in your wireless mouse
  9. accidental snort-laughing
  10. accidental snort-laughing in public
  11. accidental snort-laughing alone in public
  12. your husband’s smooth dance moves
  13. a new phone case
  14. liquid laundry softener
  15. warming hands on a hot mug of tea
  16. peanut butter granola
  17. thinking about someone and they suddenly call you
  18. freshly manicured short, red nails
  19. finding a favorite item at the grocery store is buy-one-get-one free
  20. exquisite candle jars with exotic scent names like elysian garden and saijo persimmon
  21. white, coral and turquoise in the spring
  22. the voice translation Bible
  23. pinterest
  24. singing along to music while running when you’re sure no one is around
  25. being totally alone in your house, even for just a little bit

What would be on your list?

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