Category Archives: Dreams

What Do You Want?

Yesterday, our pastor delivered a great message that ended with this question: What do you want?

At first I thought it was an irrelevant question for me because, of course, I know what I want. Right?

Wrong.

In the span of the following three minutes, I realized that although I thought I knew what I wanted, I couldn’t articulate it. Couldn’t put into words what was in my heart. And then I started asking myself if what I wanted was really what I wanted. I had to establish some parameters and there was some serious thinking going on there for a bit. I forced myself to zero in on exactly what I wanted.

The spiritual aspect of this question is profoundly simple. We don’t receive the answers we want because we don’t pray specifically enough about what we want. And sometimes our prayers are so vague that there is no way of knowing whether God has answered them or not.

It’s true.

So . . . what do you want?

Think about it. And then pray.

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Filed under Blogging, Christian, Dreams, Prayer, Writing

What’s With the Bucket List?

There’s a lot of talk about bucket lists these days. I get that there are things everybody wants to do at some point in their lives and it’s good to make a list. But this used to be called setting goals or something like that. Whatever. I’ll go along with it and put my mental bucket list down in black and white. This is not an exhaustive list by any means, and honestly, I’m not even giving it too much thought.

1. Travel in Europe – particularly Scotland, Austria, Switzerland, France, Italy. I don’t know why.

2. Publish a book or ten.

3. Live in a log cabin on a mountain in the trees. And Mom, I can hear you laughing.

4. Drive a bright yellow Mustang convertible really fast on an open stretch of highway with the Beatles Revolution on full blast.

5. See a Broadway show – on Broadway.

6. The time to read all the books I want to read.

7. Get my Master’s degree in Journalism. Or something.

8. Go on a road trip across Canada.

9. Take my husband and all my kids and grandkids on a two-week vacation somewhere warm and fun.

10. To be able to have a nice long hot bath whenever I want. Those of you who have seen my bathtub will understand why I say this.

Okay, so these are just a few of my bucket list items. I’ll think of more and let you know.

What’s on your list?

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Filed under Being Creative, Dreams, Writing

The New Year’s Resolution Hoax

Welcome 2013!

Have you got that sheet of paper in front of you, ready to make your annual list of New Year’s resolutions? I’ll bet you’ve got some good ones. Just like last year. And the year before.

Before you start writing, I’d like to take this opportunity to burst your bubble. It’s a hoax. All of it. The whole New Year’s resolution thing was something somebody made up ages ago so you could, for a few minutes on January 1st, feel good about yourself. Anyone with half a brain knows that nothing ever really comes of making those resolutions.

Unless . . .

. . . you have a plan.

Let’s say you’re a fiction writer and you want to get that novel finished in 2013. You can write the goal down on your resolution list, but unless you have a plan to make sure that happens, it will still be on your list at the end of the year. I know this. You need a regular writing schedule. A goal with the number of words you must compose.

Or maybe you want to lose weight or spend more time with your family or get a great new job. You’ve got them written down on your list and you’re smiling. But how will you take that weight off, or be with your family, or find that new job?

Along with every New Year’s resolution you identify, you have to have a plan. A good plan. One that is reasonable and will work for you. Writing down that plan is just as important as coming up with the resolution in the first place. Maybe more.

Then do a checkup on your plan once a month or so to keep yourself on track. Do some tweaking if you have to.

Above all, don’t fall for the New Year’s Resolution Hoax. The goals on your list don’t just happen. There is thought and prayer involved. Planning. And hard work.

At the end of 2013, you want to look at your list and smile in satisfaction.

Happy New Year!

 

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Filed under Being Creative, Blogging, Dreams, Expectations, Imagination, Prayer, Writing

Take the Step

There are things I want to do in 2013. Some of them are things I wanted to do in 2012. Or in 2011, even. So now it’s time.

I have a list. The easy part was making that list. The hard part is taking action.

I know this: unless you act nothing is created or discovered or accomplished.

You’ve got a list too. Maybe not on paper, but there is one in your head. You might not have realized it. Or even called it a list. But it’s there nonetheless.

So, without a lengthy blog post about the whats and whys and hows, just take the step. Do something that brings you closer to your goal. Your dream. Your destiny.

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God Helps Those Who Cannot Help Themselves

You’ve heard the saying, “God helps those who help themselves.” You’ve probably even thought it was a Scripture quote, spoken from pulpits everywhere by well-meaning preachers. I hate to burst your theology bubble, but this isn’t in the Bible.

The truth is, God helps those who cannot help themselves. He helps those who cry out to Him.

He comes to the rescue of the broken, the hurting, the lame and the shattered. He raises to unbelievable heights those who know they could not possibly done it on their own. He resists the proud and the arrogant ones who are convinced they must do it their way. He simply lets them.

God will search for that one who knows their accomplishments will rely on Him and nothing of themselves.  He takes great pleasure in showing Himself strong to the simple, the humble, the needy and the powerless. And let’s face it. We have no power without Him.

God opens doors that have been locked up tight. He arranges strategies that cannot be maneuvered by man’s hands. He puts things into motion, giving opportunities to those who have been cast aside.

When you dare to call out to the Source of all true power, you have found the secret to your most profound and limitless destiny. Your weakness becomes your strength in Him.

We all get the opportunity to learn the same lessons. Forgiveness. Love. Judgment. Redemption. These are the very principles of the Gospel of Christ. When we learn them, we learn who God really is. He is not a God who demands our highest performance. He is not a God who insists we achieve impossible goals before we can be promoted. He made us. He knows our humanity and our inability to reach perfection. And in knowing this, He crafted the remedy that would bring healing, wholeness and power.

It is through understanding His redemption that we will find the key to unlocking our greatest purpose. He takes what’s broken and replaces it with a priceless jewel. We get to exchange everything the enemy dumped on us for a brand new life in Christ.

When we release our dreams and hopes and pursuits and future to Him, He begins a massive outpouring of His favor. We take one step at a time with complete trust in Him, and He makes our path straight.

God helps us because we cannot help ourselves.

A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps. Proverbs 16:9 (NKJV)

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Filed under Acceptance, Bible, Blogging, Christ, Christian, Dreams, Faith, God, Hope, Jesus Christ, Life, Writing

Lessons from Dr. Seuss

I have seen this little illustration from Dr. Seuss many times over the years, chuckled at the cuteness of it, and thought about the truth in these words. Then one of my cousins posted this on Facebook. Time to blog about it, I thought.

1. Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.

God made you in His image, yet there is no one else is just like you and no one who else can do what He has called you specifically to do.

2. Why fit in when you were born to stand out?

There is the potential in every single one of us to be great. To make an impact in the lives of our family, our friends, and even the world. But it takes courage and faith to step out and stand out.

3. You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.

There comes a point where you need to stop blaming the past for your lack of future. You make the choice. No one else can do it for you. Take responsibility for your life and be the person you were destined to be.

4. Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.

Living your life based on what other people think is not really living your life. Think about that.

5. Today I shall behave as if this is the last day I will be remembered.

How different we would be if we took #5 seriously every single day.

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The Log Cabin Dream

For as long as I can remember, one of my dreams has been to live in a log cabin in the woods somewhere. Not too far from civilization, mind you, but far enough to have peace and quiet. There are members of my family who laugh about this dream of mine. And I chuckle along with the secret knowing that they don’t have any clue at all about what really goes on inside my head.

There are few with whom I share my most Cherished Dreams. Very few. First of all, it’s nobody’s business except mine and God’s. Second of all, I don’t need to hear people making jokes or discouraging me about what I hold close to my heart. And third of all, I am careful to guard the dreams others share with me because I know how it feels to have them shattered by careless words.

There is enough doubt and fear in the world to chip away at your confidence without having someone else steal the dream God placed in your heart. Thoughtlessly spoken words can bump you so far off your expected path that you begin to question the validity of that dream. You may even be tempted to give up hope completely. But if you yield to the pressure of those words to abandon your dream, you may well forfeit your unique destiny. And you will rob yourself of the fulfillment that only your destiny can bring.

Every God-given dream has a significant purpose. That’s why the enemy shows up early and repeatedly to shift your focus. His goal is to overwhelm and intimidate you until you’re either immobilized and stuck or moving in a direction that’s ineffective. He will challenge your call, cause you to doubt your dream and question your capacity to deliver on the vision that consumes you — until eventually the fire in your heart flickers and fades away.

No matter how long it takes; no matter how many times you have to tell the devil to take a hike; no matter how many friends call you a nut and forsake you; no matter how it hurts when your family comes against your dream with their love for you—hold fast to the vision God has placed in your heart!

Hebrews 10:23 tells us to keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. We are encouraged to hold fast to what God has spoken to us, not what our family or friends say.

Now go build that log cabin.

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Filed under Being Creative, Blogging, Dreams, Family, God, Hope, Writing

Follow the Rules

I have a vague recollection of having to write these words on the chalkboard back in third grade or so. Definitely not my finest hour, although I maintain my plea of innocence even after all these years.

I have since learned that there are rules one should not break. The consequences can be dire if one oversteps the boundaries set out by the various rule makers of the world. Like speeding through a residential zone = $165 ticket to be paid in full within 10 days or the cops will show up at your door to haul you off to the slammer. At least that’s what they want you to think. This is the kind of rule that demands obedience. Or else. The or else is usually bad enough to make the rule a little easier to follow.

Then there are the suggested rules. These are guidelines that are a good idea to follow simply because other people have gone before you and figured things out so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Most social skills would fall into this category, I think. And procedures for making things, building things, handling things. Consequences for doing it your own way instead could be a hard lesson.

There are also rules for developing the creative process. I’ve made my own list, taking bits and pieces from different “experts” on the subject, and these work for me.

1. Stop saying you’re not creative. God is a creative genius and He made you in His image. Enough said.

2. Stop fearing failure. Everybody fails at something. Just learn from it and move on.

3. Stop sitting on your behind and waiting for the right time instead of doing whatever it is you need to do.

4. Stop discounting your own ideas. Write them down, no matter how far-fetched they seem. Keep referring back to your list. I’ve developed some terrific story lines from ideas I wrote in my little book years ago.

5. Stop thinking there is only one way to do something. There is always a more efficient, faster, easier, fun, interesting, creative way.

6. Stop blaming everyone else. You may have had a terrible childhood or a poor education or got fired from your job. Now it’s time to make a decision to put the past behind and take responsibility for your future.

Are you going to follow the rules?

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Moving Forward

I am taking steps to move my writing career forward, even though I am in a season where long hours of work on my two novels just isn’t possible. The characters in Katie Blue and in The Bond of Seven have been very gracious, if not a bit impatient, in allowing me to complete this particular phase of my life before continuing with their stories. I am grateful to them.

Yesterday I registered a domain name for my yet to be developed website. Insidethewriter.com isn’t up and running yet, but it will be soon, thanks to my graphic designer daughter who has offered to think up something cool and edgy and original for me. I also signed up on some freelance sites where I can get my name out there writing articles, editing, and doing other short assignments.

And then we went to Chapters. What better way to spend a rainy Monday afternoon. Of course, everyone in the area who had yesterday off work because of Remembrance Day had the same idea we did. Chapters was packed. We had considered spending an hour or so in the adjoining Starbucks after we made our purchases, but the lineup to order was out the door. Oh well. The cranberry bliss bar will have to wait.

I did make my annual purchase, however. The big, fat, heavy 2013 Writer’s Market is now sitting on my desk staring at me. I flipped through it last night and noticed a few new features, so I am looking forward to examining some of the details.

So, in case you thought I had given up on writing, be assured. My stories are always on my mind and I keep my little notebook handy to jot down ideas or dialogue or interesting plot twists to include. I read other novels with one eye on the story and the other eye on how the writer has used words to portray people and situations in ways I hadn’t thought of. And I write these blog posts. Not great works of literary genius, but good practice nonetheless.

I am confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in me will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ. (My personalized Philippians 1:6.) And part of the good work God has begun in me is the whole writer thing. When I work with Him, He will be faithful to complete it.

Onward.

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The Book Sale

Once upon a time, I owned a nice little Christian bookstore in a nice little neighborhood. My neighborhood, in fact. It was a sad day when I closed that nice little bookstore, but I had vague plans of continuing to sell my books out of my home or online or anywhere else I could think of. Well, a year and a half later, our garage was still full of boxes of books, CDs, toys, gifts, etc.

Then I had a God idea. I love God ideas, because that means you are never in the idea by yourself.

A couple of weeks ago, I was leaving the coffee shop that I manage and noticed – not for the first time – a vacant unit in the same commercial complex. It happens to be the same complex where my nice little bookstore was located (it’s a dance studio now, by the way). The vacant space has been that way for a couple of years and the thought came to me that I should look into renting it for the months of November and December. I could move my bookstore inventory in there, sell it off at ridiculous discounts, and come out of the whole thing with an empty garage and some cash in my pocket. The plan lodged itself in my brain, fully formed, within minutes. I contacted the building manager the same day and she immediately agreed to my unheard of, and almost insulting, low offer to rent the place. God idea? I think so.

So, with the help of my amazing husband and children, I opened for business a week later.

The inside of my temporary store looks like a garage sale, and that’s exactly how I’ve advertised it. There are no bookshelves or lovely displays. Everything is piled up on folding tables or makeshift ones. There are boxes everywhere. But yesterday, the opening day, my loyal customers flooded through the doors and I sold books. Lots of books. So many, in fact, that the rather aggressive goal I’d set for this sale is much closer than I’d ever imagined it would be this quickly. God idea? Absolutely.

While I titled this blog post The Book Sale, it’s really all about God and listening to Him when He pops these ideas into your head. I don’t even like to think about all the ideas He’s given me over the years that I didn’t pay attention to. Or wrote them off as dumb or difficult or impossible. But I am learning.

A number of years ago, I heard a sermon preached about God, the Ultimate Creator. I had been struggling at that point, wanting more creative ideas. Something new. Something different and unique. The preacher of that sermon said this: If God is the ultimate Creator, and if you are His child, then all you have to do is ask Him to share His ideas with you. You are made in His image, after all, and you have the same ability to create.

Well, that kind of revolutionized my thinking. Or at least the creative side of my thinking. I started asking God for creative ideas for my job, for my writing, for my family, for my church. And you know what? He came through over and over and over again. I believe it wasn’t so much that God was delivering more ideas to me as it was that I was paying attention and looking for them. Some of those ideas have been pretty wild!

So, back to the bookstore. Yesterday morning, before I unlocked the doors, I reminded God that He had given me this idea. He pulled it all together in a very short period of time. I told Him how grateful and excited I was. Then I asked God to do what He does best – be God. I’ve done all I can to make this book sale work. He’s doing the rest.

God idea? No doubt about it.

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